QUINTESSENTIAL – The `fifth essence’ of ancient and medieval philosophy, supposed to be the substance of which the heavenly bodies were composed, and to be actually latent in all things, the extraction of it by distillation or other methods being one of the great objects of alchemy.
“‘Quintessential’ began life as an alchemical term, the Quinta Essentia, the fifth that arises from the four elements mentioned in the etymology above. The Fifth was thought to be the fabled Philosopher’s Stone which the alchemists sought, a Stone that could cure illness, extend life, and turn base metals into gold and silver. How to combine the four elements to make the Fifth was the great problem of alchemy (from the Arabic ‘al-kimiya’).”
~from Etymologically Speaking
Earth, water, wind, and fire, each has its beauty, and each its own means of destruction. How to make something of gold from elements seemingly base and incompatible? The mystery of the ages, but I have the key at last.
Discovering the secret required that I define “gold.” The Fifth Element, that binder of the universe, out of which any and every thing of value springs, is not hard to find once you know what it is. The “Fifth Element” is Love – the concept postulated by the movie of the same name. And what is “Gold?” Gold is the fruit of the tree of life – and the tree of life is what grows from joining earth – our foundation, with life-giving water, the wind of change and movement, and the fire of the Spirit of God. We are all the same, all made from that same “God Stuff.” Adding Love to anything creates Gold.
This “secret of alchemy” became clear to me yesterday as I was gazing at our granddaughter Zoë. From my perspective as her grandmother, her “Nini,” I see the four base elements exemplified in the earth, water, wind, and fire of Ashley and me and our son Matt and our daughter-in-love Suddie. When Love is added to the mix, what might have been incompatible becomes something singular and beautiful – out of the four, when Love is added – the Quintessential Fifth Element comes the Gold of new life. That Gold for me is Zoë.
The most wonderful part of this secret is that each of us is Gold for someone else (or certainly should be seen as such). I see in Zoë the beautiful combination of the tree of life from her parents and grandparents that grew out of Love. Our children are Gold, our grandchildren are gold. And all are precious, with more value than anything else in all creation. And that gold only becomes tarnished and impure when it is abused, neglected, and deprived of Love.
The quintessential element of Love is what transforms all that is base into the purest, shining, treasured, priceless Gold. Poor, silly alchemists! The secret was within easy reach. They just needed to open their eyes.
Now you all know the secret. You are all in possession of four elements, and have available to you the bottomless well of the fifth. Why not stir it in and make some gold of your own – the Gold that will always be enough. . .