"Alchemy is analogous to artistic activity but it’s more complex, having links with philosophy, chemistry and so on, but also with religious ritual. The alchemist gives himself over to the sacred beings of the primary imagination, and, as Auden rightly says, risks being possessed by them and going mad. He does not primarily seek to transform them into a work of art but to allow them to transform him into a wortk of the Art.
If he survives this process (which can be seen as the inverse of the artistic process - the primary imagination is brought to bear on the secondary), then his transformed secondary imagination will simultaneously take on the creative power of the primary whose images can then be actualized, e.g. as the Philosophers’ Stone."
- Patrick Harpur “Mercurius” (via iwalkamongyou)