In ancient times, scholars from India to Greece and Egypt described not only four elements comprising the physical world—earth, water, fire and air—but they also referred to a mysterious ‘fifth essence’ that was beyond the physical realm and linked us to the spirit world. In various cultures, the fifth essence was called akashi, aether, or the void. In fact, it was thought that all of creation, including humans, consisted of these five elements.
The fifth essence played a role in alchemy, the predecessor to the science of chemistry, that involves the transmutation of base metals into gold.There have been no shortage of confusing, coded formulas for doing so over the centuries, but alchemy also reaches into a realm beyond the everyday world. To succeed with the process requires the alchemist to undergo a spiritual transformation…through the fifth essence. The creation of gold ultimately becomes secondary to the transmutation of the alchemist who discovers the ‘philosopher’s stone’ and the elixer of life.
In my novel, FIFTH ESSENCE, a modern-day alchemist vanishes, as did his predecessor and the predecessor before that one—a renowned French alchemist named Fulcanelli. Meanwhile, a decades-old secret government project seeks the elixer and searches for the missing alchemists. The name of that project is Aurum, a Latin word that means golden.
Recently, I was making one final reading of the novel before it came out in print and near the end Aurum plays a major role. As I finished making minor corrections, I walked out into the kitchen, sat down, and there in front of me was Trish’s most recent issue of Mountain Astrologer. It was open to an article called, THE SOLAR BEACON, and the author to my surprise was named Aurum. Just one word, an apparent pseudonym.
The article included an odd editor’s note that said, in part, that the article was for entertainment and critical thinking. “The author is merely transmitting Neptune’s passage through Pisces by mixing fact with fiction and, as is happening everywhere these days, leaving it to the reader to decide which is which.” The note also included this head-scratcher: “Readers are advised that Aurum (astrologer and entertainer) does not exist.”
My mystery novel (about Aurum rather than by Aurum) is also meant for entertainment, and—I guess—critical thinking if you want to look into the history of alchemy. What I tried not to do was what writers of both alchemical and astrological texts are often notorious for accomplishing. That is, writing in a code that the reader must understand before making sense of what was being written. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded so that you don’t have to be an alchemist to understand what’s going on in my mystery and you can enjoy it without knowing much of anything about alchemy.