By Sean Martin
Alchemy has regularly been considered as 'the heritage of an error', an instance of mediaeval gullibility and greed, within which alchemists attempted to show lead into gold, create exceptional wealth and locate the elixir of existence. yet alchemy has additionally been defined as 'the mightiest mystery guy can possess', and it obsessed the likes of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and plenty of of the founders of contemporary technology. This publication explores the heritage of the so-called Royal paintings, from its mysterious beginnings in Egypt and China, during the Hellenistic global and the early years of Islam and into mediaeval Europe. the various maximum minds of the center a long time, figures resembling Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas have been interested in alchemy, and mythical alchemists equivalent to Nicholas Flamel have been notion to have truly succeeded find The Philosopher's Stone. in the course of the Renaissance, Paracelsus and his fans helped revolutionise medication, and through the 17th century, alchemy performed an incredible function in paving the best way for contemporary technology. in the course of the 20th century, it grew to become a spotlight of curiosity for the psychologist Carl Jung and his fans, who believed that the alchemists had came upon the subconscious. during this absolutely revised variation, Sean Martin has accelerated the sections on chinese language and Indian alchemy and has additional new fabric at the courting among alchemy and early sleek technology, whereas additionally creating a clean overview of this such a lot enduringly mysterious and interesting of topics, to which all others were defined as 'child's play'.
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Additional info for Alchemy and Alchemists
The belief that all things in the visible world have counterparts in the invisible world, the abode of spirits and gods, implies that the smith, in effecting changes in the visible, material world, was also making changes in the other world and vice versa. This linked the craft inextricably with the spiritual, and suggests a possible reason for why matter and spirit were seen as being so closely aligned. The work of the smith was to shape metals that had been taken from the womb of the Great Mother and ‘improve’ them through the process of smelting.
Flamel was not a monk, but a scrivener, who earned his living from copying documents in Paris. These could be anything from books to deeds of covenant or letters, and he would have no doubt encountered alchemical manuscripts in the course of his work. One night an angel came to him in a dream and showed him an old book with magnificent illuminations. Flamel reached out to touch the book, but both the book and the angel vanished before he could hold it in his hands. The book was written by a certain Abraham Eleazar, and it appeared that he was describing the art of transmuting metals into gold.
He went to Santiago in 1378, and spent more than a year there before meeting one Master Canches. Canches, a merchant, realized that Flamel had in his possession an ancient Kabbalistic text that was thought to have been lost forever, and willingly explained the figures for him. Canches returned to France with Flamel, eager • 64 • Alchemy 16/10/06 11:15 am Page 65 ALCHEMY IN THE WEST to see the original from which Flamel had made his copies, but died at Orleans. Flamel returned to Paris alone and worked without ceasing for three years.
Alchemy and Alchemists by Sean Martin