An Interview with Orval C. Graves
Reprinted from Issue 18 of The Stone, January - February 1996.
This interview was conducted on October 31,
1990. I had reached Mr. Graves at his California home, having met him in 1989 at
San Jose, California during an Alchemy class. I regret that Mr. Graves has since
RH: Yes, I did.
OG: Oh good. Did you happen to get one when they
were making what they call the alembic, the alchemistís condenser?
RH: What I had was a simple tube that went from
the flask through a bowl of water. Did you have a different one at another time?
OG: Yes, when we started out, but it was too
expensive. We started out making the condenser out of metal, real hard metal,
and it could withstand the strain, but they were too expensive and they didnít
sell. But thatís about all that I could add other than that the research
library was encouraged to find the modern authors and research. I think that
thatís where (Albert) Reidel got his idea of carrying on with his various
contacts around the country.
RH: Did you use the book Alchemy Rediscovered and
Restored by (Archibald) Cockren much?
OG: Yes we did. That had, as I recall, a
comparison between the oils of metals and the oil of the various herbs. And as
you probably know, George (Fenzke) had perfected that for the herbs.
RH: Yes, he was quite a fellow. He kept up with
things after studying at the college (AMORCís Rose-Croix University), and then
with Albert (Reidel) for awhile.
OG: Yes. He sent me a letter from Germany. That
someone had discovered over there and was working on our type of laboratory
Alchemy. And evidently he encouraged them and has contact, but Reidelís group
has kind of gone by the wayside but they had nobody there to encourage them.
RH: I think that there were probably among his
students some people like George (Fenzke) who, had they had the interest, could
have taken things on, but I think Mrs. Reidel only wanted someone who would do
exactly like Albert.
OG: And then Albert got off on the Hebrew ladder
of the Qabala and things of that sort, and he went a little bit overboard. Which
is very interesting (Qabala), but I didnít think it stays close to Paracelsus.
I tried to encourage everybody, even though they didnít understand it, to
follow Paracelsus. And I still think heís the best with that book (the two
volume collection of writings edited by A. E. Waite). Whatís similar to it,
did you hear of Richard Ingalese, did I mention his name?
RH: Yes, you did at the class in 1989, and Iíve
read They Made the Philosopherís Stone that he wrote.
OG: Well, he wrote twelve books. If you could
find any one of them it would be worth it, but a couple of them are really into
Alchemy, laboratory Alchemy, as we followed Paracelsus. Theyíre very hard to
find. I have all but two of them, I think. One of them had to do with History
and Power of Mind. You have probably heard of that. That was as popular as the
Bible was for a few years, but that was more or less mental alchemy Ė that
wasnít the physical. His book on reincarnation and another one, I canít
recall the exact title, but it had to do with the old masters. He never
identified who the masters were. But after he got his oil of metals he
disappeared and no one has ever seen him or his wife again. Iíve heard of him.
(Laughter). Down near Los Angeles where he was supposed to have talked and
studied, and I tried to interview different people and they couldnít give me
information at all.
RH: Do you know the formula that you had in
classes in the 1940ís for St. Germainís tea? How did you happen to find
OG: Well, it was very natural. There was a man
from Holland who was an AMORC member, a Dutchman and a young man -- you might
have run across him. He didnít have time to attend the Alchemy class but he
got interested in it and I told him about St. Germain and so on, and he said
that someone over there in Holland had the formula, and he compared it and got
some notes out of the Ö have you seen the book St. Germain by Manly P. Hall?
RH: Yes, I think I have seen that one. I am
familiar with the one that Isabel Cooper-Oakley wrote.
OG: They were similar. And so, he put great store
Ė Iíve double-checked two or three cross ways and then it came out very
similar. I think itís one of the most potent books on St. Germainís tea that
Iíve ever seen. The references to it, anyway.
RH: Right now I am trying to get some of the
European flowering ash, or the manna resin to make up a little bit (of the tea).
Itís not so easy to get.
OG: No, it isnít. I remember that we had a
very, very difficult time. In fact, we had (laughs), we didnít have it very
long. You know, you get such a small amount. But, Iíve given up and havenít
tried to use that formula. For awhile you could get it in health food stores
(this was a product of Frater Albertus which was distributed through ParaLabs),
but it didnít have the manna and it didnít have a couple other things in it.
So, I just stick to melissa. (Incidentally, it was after Graves efforts to
follow Paracelsus in all things that melissa became the first herb used in the
AMORC classes, as it was considered by Paracelsus to have more quintessence than
other herbs. The tradition was passed down to the students of Frater Albertus,
to the AMORC classes that were revived in 1989, and in the first lessons of The
Philosophers of Nature Ė Jean Dubuis got his start with one of the old AMORC
RH: Thatís pretty good stuff isnít it?
OG: Did you ever hear of that little tonic,
"bitters" thatís in health food stores?
RH: Yes, like Swedish Bitters?
OG: Yes, thatís the one. You saw what they said
about Paracelsus on that.
RH: Yes, I went through quite a bit of Paracelsusí
writings and Iíve never really seen quite the same formula.
OG: (Laughter). No. I agree with you.
RH: I wonder if there was really an exact formula
that was produced from, or if it was more or less the spirit of some of his Ö
OG: Well, this is my off the cuff thing to you
Ė you follow the process and let the formula come out of its own accord. Test
it. I think that Cockrenís book kind of hinted at that. But the formula, St.
Germainís formula, did vary from time to time, but that (one) we got from
Holland, he claimed that he got it from some native over there, that I liked a
bit better than some of the other ones.
The interview was then finished.
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