Behind the Scenes in the Spagyrics Lab
Soxhlet extraction employs a glassware apparatus that gently distills alcohol, which then condenses and flows over the plant being extracted, and once full of solvent to a set point, siphons back down into the receiving flask, starting the process of evaporation over again. The boiling point of alcohol is 173°F, which keeps the extraction at relatively low temperatures during the continuous extraction process. Some of the benefits of this type of extraction are the reuse of the solvent to extract multiple batches of the plant matter into the same amount of alcohol or water, thus having the possibility to create a very concentrated extraction in a relatively short period of time. In alchemy, when something is distilled or volatilized it enters into and absorbs the energy of the astrological principles at play, and thus aids in the evolution of the liquid. It represents a symbolic death (the spirit volatilizing into a gaseous state) and then rebirth as it condenses. Using soxhlet extraction generates a very quick cycle of continuous symbolic death and birth throughout the process, helping to evolve the energies of the medicine. As the pure alcohol is evaporated and condensed over the medium, it is able to pull more active components out of a plant. Compared with common tincture-making, which involves macerating a plant in alcohol for a set amount of time, then straining and adding more herb, at a certain point the alcohol is saturated and no longer able to draw out the active components of the plant being worked.
The term calcination comes from Latin calcināre, meaning “to burn like lime” which refers to the process of burning limestone to lime for making cement. Calcination in regards to works in the vegetable kingdom, generally refers to the process of burning down the plant matter and purifiying the "body" (matter) of the plant. The plant material is burned to a white ash, releasing the carbon that bonds the mineral matrix making up the plant body. This ash is leached with distilled water and filtered, which removes everything that is insoluble. This mineral laden water is then evaporated and the mineral salts are allowed to crystallize. These purified mineral salts are then added back to the extraction containing the sulfur and mercury, or soul and spirit. Most of the active components of a plant being extracted tend towards acidity, whereas the mineral salts are basic. This union between the active components and the salts generates unique components, causes esterification, saponification, and creates a medicinal extraction that utilizes the entirety of the plant (parts) in right relation with itself and it’s own principles. Calcination is an integral part in the hermetic arts and philosophy, the burning away for purification and exaltation is a natural process. Our bodies do this daily in our digestive system, utilizing a "secret fire" to breakdown our foods into absorbable minerals and useful compounds for the generation of energy and tissue. This purification and exaltation manifest in our humanity through our expressions in the world, through the art we make, the love we share, and the presence we carry.