The Soror Mystica: Partnership in Alchemical Practice
Teacher: Brian Cotnoir
Length: 2 hrs
In the history of alchemy and in the stories of transmutations we come across the Soror Mystica – the mystical sister – the partner with whom the work is done. This exploratory talk will look at several famous alchemical partnerships to come to an understanding of the nature of this relationship and perhaps define it. To this end, attempting to leave behind what we think we know, we will draw directly from the texts and images of the 4th century Alexandrian alchemists Zosimos and Theosebia; the French medieval pair Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel; the alchemical couple depicted in the Mutus Liber; and the 17th century English alchemists Thomas and Rebecca Vaughan. From here we’ll consider other creative artistic partnerships in an alchemical light, developing the idea that this type of work is not an ordinary collaboration but a work that goes beyond what either individual could achieve alone – a working idea that could be used in our alchemical, artistic, mystic practice.
Brian Cotnoir is an alchemist, artist, and filmmaker. A contributor to Frater Albertus’ Parachemy, he is also the author of a series of Alchemy Zines. His books include Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter, The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy, Alchemical Meditations, On the Quintessence of Wine, and the Emerald Tablet, his translations of and commentary on, the earliest Arabic and Latin versions of this seminal text. His Emerald Tablet was part of the Language of the Birds: Occult and Art show in 2016 in New York City. An alchemical composition of his “Egonomen nekros,” was part of the 2018 exhibition at Green-Wood Cemetery, The Power of Image: Life, Death, and Rebirth.
He occasionally gives talks and has presented workshops and seminars around the world on various aspects of alchemical theory and practice based on his research.
His film work has been screened at Museum of Modern Art, Sundance Film Festival, HBO, PBS and other international venues. Khepri Press, launched in 2014 with the publication of the Emerald Tablet, is the vehicle and portal for his alchemical work.