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A L C H E M Y

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Bianca
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« on: August 02, 2007, 02:06:07 pm »





                                                             A L C H E M Y




            




In the history of science, Alchemy (Arabic: الخيمياء, al-khimia) refers to both an early form of the investigation of nature and an early philosophical and spiritual discipline, both combining elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, Astrology, semiotics, mysticism, spiritualism, and art all as parts of one greater force.                                                                                              

 Alchemy has been practiced in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Persia, India, and China, in Classical Greece and Rome, in the Muslim civilization, and then in Europe up to the 19th century—in a complex network of schools and philosophical systems spanning at least 2500 years.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2007, 09:10:06 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2007, 02:10:51 pm »





Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline





Alchemy was known as the spagyric art after Greek words meaning to separate and to join together.


Compare this with the primary dictum of Alchemy in Latin: SOLVE ET COAGULA — Separate, and Join Together.



                                  

The best known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into gold or silver (less well known is plant alchemy, or "Spagyric"), and the creation of a "panacea," a remedy that supposedly would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. Although these were not the only uses for the science, they were the ones most documented and well known. Starting with the Middle Ages, European alchemists invested much effort on the search for the "philosopher's stone", a legendary substance that was believed to be an essential ingredient for either or both of those goals. The philosopher's stone was believed to mystically amplify the user's knowledge of alchemy so much that anything was attainable. Alchemists enjoyed prestige and support through the centuries, though not for their pursuit of those goals, nor the mystic and philosophical speculation that dominates their literature. Rather it was for their mundane contributions to the "chemical" industries of the day—the invention of gunpowder, ore testing and refining, metalworking, production of ink, dyes, paints, and cosmetics, leather tanning, ceramics and glass manufacture, preparation of extracts and liquors, and so on (It seems that the preparation of aqua vitae, the "water of life", was a fairly popular "experiment" among European alchemists).

Indeed, from antiquity until well into the Modern Age, a physics devoid of metaphysical insight would have been as unsatisfying as a metaphysics devoid of physical manifestation. For one thing, the lack of common words for chemical concepts and processes, as well as the need for secrecy, led alchemists to borrow the terms and symbols of biblical and pagan mythology, astrology, kabbalah, and other mystic and esoteric fields; so that even the plainest chemical recipe ended up reading like an abstruse magic incantation. Moreover, alchemists sought in those fields the theoretical frameworks into which they could fit their growing collection of disjointed experimental facts.

Starting with the Middle Ages, some alchemists increasingly came to view these metaphysical aspects as the true foundation of alchemy; and chemical substances, physical states, and material processes as mere metaphors for spiritual entities, states and transformations. In this sense, the literal meanings of alchemical formulas were a blind hiding their true spiritual philosophy, which being at odds with the Medieval Church was a necessity that could have otherwise lead them to the "stake and rack" of the Inquisition under charges of heresy.  Thus, both the transmutation of common metals into gold and the universal panacea symbolized evolution from an imperfect, diseased, corruptible and ephemeral state towards a perfect, healthy, incorruptible and everlasting state; and the philosopher's stone then represented some mystic key that would make this evolution possible. Applied to the alchemist himself, the twin goal symbolized his evolution from ignorance to enlightenment, and the stone represented some hidden spiritual truth or power that would lead to that goal. In texts that are written according to this view, the cryptic alchemical symbols, diagrams, and textual imagery of late alchemical works typically contain multiple layers of meanings, allegories, and references to other equally cryptic works; and must be laboriously "decoded" in order to discover their true meaning.
                                     
In his Alchemical Catechism, Paracelsus clearly denotes that his usage of the metals was a symbol:

“ Q. When the Philosophers speak of gold and silver, from which they extract their matter, are we to suppose that they refer to the vulgar gold and silver?
A. By no means; vulgar silver and gold are dead, while those of the Philosophers are full of life.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 10:37:56 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2007, 02:13:43 pm »








Alchemy and Astrology





Since its earliest times, Alchemy has been closely connected to Astrology—which, in the Islamic world and Europe, generally meant the traditional Babylonian-Greek school of Astrology.

Alchemical systems often postulated that each of the seven planets known to the ancients "ruled" or was associated with certain metals.

See the separate article on Astrology and Alchemy for further details.

In Hermeticism it is linked with both Astrology and Theurgy.
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2007, 02:15:31 pm »








Psychology





Carl Jung saw alchemy as a Western proto-psychology dedicated to the achievement of individuation; in his interpretation, alchemy was the vessel by which Gnosticism survived its various purges into the Renaissance. In this sense, Jung viewed alchemy as comparable to a Yoga of the West.

Jung also interpreted Chinese Alchemical texts in terms of his analytical psychology as means to individuation.

The act of Alchemy seemed to improve the mind and spirit of the Alchemist.
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2007, 02:18:10 pm »








MAGNUM OPUS




The Great Work; mystic interpretation of its three stages:


nigredo(-putrefactio), blackening(-putrefaction): individuation, purification, burnout of impureness; see also Suns in Alchemy - Sol Niger

albedo, whitening: spiritualisation, enlightenment
 
rubedo, reddening: unification of man with god, unification of the limited with the unlimited
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2007, 02:20:24 pm »







Alchemy in the Age of Science





Western alchemy was a forerunner of modern scientific chemistry. Alchemists used many of the same tools that we use today. These tools were not usually sturdy or in good condition, especially during the Dark Ages of Europe. Many transmutation attempts failed when alchemists unwittingly made unstable chemicals. This was made worse by the unsafe conditions.



Up to the 16th century, alchemy was considered serious science in Europe; for instance, Isaac Newton devoted considerably more of his time and writing to the study of alchemy (see Isaac Newton's occult studies) than he did to either optics or physics, for which he is famous. Other eminent alchemists of the Western world are Roger Bacon, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Tycho Brahe, Thomas Browne, and Parmigianino. The decline of alchemy began in the 18th century with the birth of modern chemistry, which provided a more precise and reliable framework for matter transmutations and medicine, within a new grand design of the universe based on rational materialism.



In the first half of the nineteenth century, one established chemist, Baron Carl Reichenbach, worked on concepts similar to the old alchemy, such as the Odic force, but his research did not enter the mainstream of scientific discussion.



Matter transmutation, the old goal of alchemy, enjoyed a moment in the sun in the 20th century when physicists were able to convert lead atoms into gold atoms via a nuclear reaction. However, the new gold atoms, being unstable isotopes, lasted for under five seconds before they broke apart. More recently, reports of table-top element transmutation—by means of electrolysis or sonic cavitation—were the pivot of the cold fusion controversy of 1989. None of those claims have yet been reliably duplicated.



Alchemical symbolism has been occasionally used in the 20th century by psychologists and philosophers.

 Carl Jung reexamined alchemical symbolism and theory and began to show the inner meaning of alchemical work as a spiritual path. Alchemical philosophy, symbols and methods have enjoyed something of a renaissance in post-modern contexts, such as the New Age movement.
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2007, 02:22:48 pm »








Medical alchemy




Traditional medicines have been transmuted by alchemy, using pharmacological or combination pharmacological and spiritual techniques. In Chinese medicine the alchemical traditions of pao zhi will transform the nature of the temperature, taste, body part accessed or toxicity. In Ayurveda the samskaras are used to transform heavy metals and toxic herbs in a way that removes their toxicity. In the spagyric processing of herbal medicine similar effects are found.                                         

These processes are actively used to the present day.


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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2007, 02:25:42 pm »








Nuclear transmutation




In 1919, Ernest Rutherford used artificial disintegration to convert nitrogen into oxygen. This process or transmutation has subsequently been carried out on a commercial scale by bombarding atomic nuclei with high energy particles from modern particle accelerators and in nuclear reactors.                 

Indeed, in 1980, Glenn Seaborg transmuted bismuth into gold, though the amount of energy used and the microscopic quantities that are created would negate any possible financial benefit, unless the energy used is considered to be free and microscopic production becomes macroscopic production.
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2007, 02:27:38 pm »








Unduplicated transmutation claims





In 1964, George Ohsawa and Michio Kushi, based on the claims of Corentin Louis Kervran, reportedly successfully transmuted sodium into potassium, by use of an electric arc, and later of carbon and oxygen into iron.[citation needed] In 1994, R. Sundaresan and J. Bockris reported that they had observed fusion reactions in electrical discharges between carbon rods immersed in water. 
       

However, these claims have not been replicated by other scientists, and the idea is now thoroughly discredited
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2007, 02:35:34 pm »








Alchemy as a subject of historical research




The history of Alchemy has become a vigorous academic field.                                                     

As the obscure hermetic language of the Alchemists is gradually being "deciphered", historians are becoming more aware of the intellectual connections between that discipline and other facets of Western cultural history, such as the sociology and psychology of the intellectual communities, Kabbalism, Spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, and other Mystic Movements, Cryptography, Witchcraft, and the evolution of Science and Philosophy.






                                                 HISTORY:  Alchemy in history



 
Extract and symbol key from a 17th century book on Alchemy. The symbols used have a one-to-one correspondence with symbols used in Astrology at the time.

FAKEAlchemy encompasses several philosophical traditions spanning some four millennia and three continents. These traditions' general penchant for cryptic and symbolic language makes it hard to trace their mutual influences and "genetic" relationships.

One can distinguish at least several major strands, which appear to be largely independent, at least in their earlier stages: Chinese Alchemy, centered in China and its zone of cultural influence; Indian Alchemy in the Indian subcontinent; and Western Alchemy, whose center has shifted over the millennia between Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Islamic world, and finally Europe.

Chinese Alchemy was closely connected to Taoism and Indian Alchemy was related to the Dharmic religions, whereas Western Alchemy developed its own philosophical system, with only superficial connections to the major Western religions. It is still an open question whether these two strands share a common origin, or to what extent they influenced each other.

A major text of Alchemy, called the Mutus Liber, was published in France in the late 17th century. This was a 'wordless book' that claimed to be a guide to making the Philosopher's Stone, using a series of 15 symbols and illustrations.

A connection has been made between Islam and Egypt in a great deal more sources than one might expect, when it comes to the subject.                                                                                     

One source in particular gives further background into the probable founding of the name itself in the following passage: "...The concept is a very ancient one, which seems to answer to deep human motivations. It came to Medieval Europe by way of the Arabs. When they invaded Egypt, which they called Khem, in the seventh century, the Arabs discovered that the Egyptians were masters of the art of working in gold. They called gold-working al-kimiya - 'the art of the land of Khem' - and so, according to one account, the word 'Alchemy' was born."
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2007, 02:39:32 pm »








ETYMOLOGY





Chemistry (etymology)



The word Chemistry comes from the earlier study of Alchemy, which is basically the quest to make gold from earthen starting materials.
                                                                                                                                         As to the origin of the word “Alchemy” the question is a debatable one, it certainly has Greek origins, and some, following E. A. Wallis Budge, have also asserted Egyptian origins. Alchemy, generally, derives from the old French alkemie; and the Arabic al-kimia: "the art of transformation." Some scholars believe the Arabs borrowed the word “kimia” from the Greeks. Others, such as Mahdihassan, argue that its origins are Chinese. A tentative outline is as follows:


Egyptian alchemy [5,000 BC – 400 BCE]

Greek alchemy [332 BC – CE 642], the Greeks founded Alexandria and the world’s largest library

Chinese alchemy [142 CE], in the book The Kinship of the Three by Wei Boyang

Indian alchemy [200 CE-present], related to metallyrgy; Nagarjuna was an important alchemist

Islamic alchemy [642 - 1900 AD], the Arabs take over Alexandria; Jabir was the earliest chemist
 
European alchemy [1300 – Present], Saint Albertus Magnus builds on Arabic alchemy

Chemistry [1661], Boyle writes his classic chemistry text The Sceptical Chymist

Chemistry [1787], Lavoisier writes his classic Elements of Chemistry
 
Chemistry [1803], Dalton publishes his Atomic Theory



Thus, an alchemist was called a 'chemist' in popular speech, and later the suffix "-ry" was added to this to describe the art of the chemist as "chemistry".
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2007, 02:49:45 pm »








 SEE ALSO:





Other alchemical pages

Alchemical symbol
 
Alchemy in art and entertainment

Alembic

Alkahest

Astrology and alchemy

Berith

Jakob Boehme

Circle with a point at its centre

Duality
 
Elixir of life

Robert Fludd

Four Humors

Gold water

Hermeticism

Homunculus

Ethan Allen Hitchcock
 
Carl Jung
 
Michael Maier
 
Musaeum Hermeticum

Isaac Newton

Paracelsus

Philosopher's Stone

Quintessence

Herbert Silberer

Transmutation

Vulcan of the alchemists







 OTHER RESOURCES




List of alchemists

List of magical terms and traditions

List of occultists







RELATED AND ALTERNATIVE PHILOSOPHIES





Western mystery tradition

Internal alchemy

Astrology

Necromancy, magic, magick

Esotericism, Rosicrucianism, Illuminati

Taoism and the Five Elements
 
Asemic Writing

Kayaku-Jutsu

Acupuncture, moxibustion, ayurveda, homeopathy

Anthroposophy

Psychology and Carl Jung
 
New Age

Tay al-Ard







SUBSTANCES OF THE ALCHEMISTS




lead • tin • iron • copper • mercury • silver • gold

phosphorus • sulfur • arsenic • antimony

vitriol • cinnabar • pyrites • orpiment • galena
 
magnesia • lime • potash • natron • saltpetre • kohl

ammonia • ammonium chloride • alcohol • camphor

Acids: sulfuric • muriatic • nitric • acetic • formic • citric• tartaric
 
aqua regia • gunpowder

carmot







 SCIENTIFIC CONNECTIONS




Chemistry

Physics
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2007, 02:51:52 pm »








 NOTES




^ Blavatsky, H.P. (1888). The Secret Doctrine. Theosophical Publishing Company, vol ii, 238. ISBN 978-1557000026. 

^ Paracelsus. Alchemical Catechism. Retrieved on 2007-04-18.

^ Meyrink und das theomorphische Menschenbild

^ [1]Alan Tillotson, AHG, D.Ay., PhD "Safety and Regulation"

^ [2]Michael Tierra, AHG, OMD, L.Ac. Processing Chinese Herbs

^ http://www.herbalist-alchemist.com/benefits.htm

^ The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy: An Herbalist's Guide to Preparing Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs by Manfred M. Junius Healing Arts Press 1985

^ Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time - The Unexplained, Volume 1; Published by H.S. Stuttman, Inc. © Orbis Publishing Limited 1992, Westport, Connecticut.

^ [3] Mahdihassan S. "Alchemy, Chinese versus Greek, an etymological approach: a rejoinder"
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2007, 02:55:43 pm »








REFERENCES





Cavendish, Richard, The Black Arts, Perigee Books
 
Gettgins, Fred (1986). Encyclopedia of the Occult. London: Rider
 
Greenberg, Adele Droblas (2000). Chemical History Tour, Picturing Chemistry from Alchemy to Modern

 Molecular Science. Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 0-471-35408-2.
 
Hart-Davis, Adam (2003). Why does a ball bounce? 101 Questions that you never thought of asking. New York: Firefly Books. 

Marius (1976). On the Elements. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02856-2.  Trans. Richard Dales.

Weaver, Jefferson Hane (1987). The World of Physics. New York: Simon & Schuster.
 
Zumdahl, Steven S. (1989). Chemistry, 2nd ed., Lexington, Maryland: D.C. Heath and Company. ISBN 0-669-16708-8. 








EXTERNAL LINKS





Wikimedia Commons has media related to:



AlchemyThe Alchemy website - Alchemy from a metaphysical perspective.
 
The al-kemi.org website - Alchemy from a spiritual/philosophical perspective.

Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
 
Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Alchemy

Antiquity, Vol. 77 (2003) - "A 16th century lab in a 21st century lab".

The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry, Muir, M. M. Pattison (1913)

"Transforming the Alchemists", New York Times, August 1, 2006. Historical revisionism and alchemy.

Electronic library with some 350 alchemical books (15th- and 20th-century)

Jung and alchemy
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2007, 10:41:00 pm »

           

                                                    T H E   A L C H E M I S T
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