Unless the greater alchemy has first taken place within the soul of man, he cannot perform the lesser alchemy in the retort. This is an invariable rule, although it is cunningly hidden in the allegories and emblems of Hermetic philosophy. Unless a man be born again, he cannot accomplish the Great Work, and if the student of alchemical formulae will remember this, it will save him much sorrow and disappointment. To speak of that part of the mystery which is concerned with the secret life principle within the actual nature of man, is forbidden, for it is decreed by the Masters of the art that each shall discover that for himself on this subject it is unlawful to speak at great length.
-Manly Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages