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The Secrets of the Alchemists

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Other books in the series. Mysteries of the Unknown 1 - 10 of 34 books. Therefore, by using chymistry to purify now-poisonous substances into medicines, the chymist returned them to their wholesome, pristine, prelapsarian state as they were created by God in the beginning.


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In effect, the chymical process was thus redemptive, and the chymist participated as a co-redeemer of a fallen world. Jan 04, Duke rated it really liked it Shelves: Principe's summary and evaluation of hermetic alchemy as understood by occult practitioners of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is at best myopic.

He conveniently overlooks in this section natural poetical metonymy of language though he appears to love the term Decknamen , the overt mythological and theological references in dozens of pre-nineteenth-century alchemical plates, paintings, and treatises, and Blake's, Scot's and others' treatments of alchemy years before the occult Principe's summary and evaluation of hermetic alchemy as understood by occult practitioners of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is at best myopic.

He conveniently overlooks in this section natural poetical metonymy of language though he appears to love the term Decknamen , the overt mythological and theological references in dozens of pre-nineteenth-century alchemical plates, paintings, and treatises, and Blake's, Scot's and others' treatments of alchemy years before the occult revival and the popularization of mesmerism.

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However, Principe mentions throughout the book that Christ is used to symbolize the Stone - but nothing more - and the alchemical process is often analogized to or allegorized as Christ's passion. Perhaps Principe should take another look through the Theatrum Chemicum to see just how closely tied many thought and still think alchemy and Christianity were On page Principe is quick to suggest that Chaucer "takes a position in his Canterbury Tales " on alchemy after quoting a few lines from a modern translation of "The Canon's Yeoman's Tale.

The Yeoman's position on alchemy is not Chaucer's position at all. And in the original Tales , Chaucer's Yeoman attributes much of what Principe quotes to Hermes, though I can't speak for Principe's edition. And not to mention Carl Jung's life's work refuted in a mere 20 pages! Many of the pieces necessary to understand the esoteric side of alchemy are here: In short, this book contains many of the necessary shells, but Principe does not crack them open - look behind or within them - to discover the common meat.

Because of this, at times I felt he was misleading, but I rated The Secrets of Alchemy four stars because of the depth of understanding he has of what some call contemporarily exoteric alchemy. Principe would do well to study the layers of language and symbol that to me appear to be lacking in his consciousness yet which he mentions occasionally in his book. The grammatos kills, Principe, but the pneuma gives life. Oct 13, Alan Lenton rated it it was amazing. The first thing to note about this book is that the title is somewhat misleading.

Alchemy - Sacred Secrets Revealed

It would be more accurate to call it a history of alchemy. I was nearly put off buying it because of its title, but in retrospect I'm glad I wasn't, because it's a very interesting book. What the author sets out to do is to restore an understanding alchemy of within its historical and cultural framework. I think he succeeds in this aim.

There is in Western society a tendency to think of alchemy as being something va The first thing to note about this book is that the title is somewhat misleading. There is in Western society a tendency to think of alchemy as being something vaguely to do with magic - but nothing could be further from the truth.

The work of most alchemists would be recognized today as experimentally rigorous, and based on the best theories of the nature of matter that existed at the time. Take, for instance, the search for the legendary Philosopher's Stone, the secret of turning lead into gold. We know that's not possible to do chemically today. Why do we know that? Because we know that lead and gold are elements. The elements are defined by the number of protons in their nucleus.

Chemical reactions only work on the electrons in atoms, and you can't change the make-up of an atomic nucleus by fiddling with its electrons. But we didn't find this out until about a hundred years ago. In the golden age of alchemy, which roughly coincides with the Scientific Revolution , the belief was that matter was a compound, and the properties of any given piece of matter were determined by the proportions of more fundamental substances.

Theoretically, if this were the case it should have been possible to change, for instance, lead into gold by altering those proportions in lead until they matched the proportions that defined gold. It was this theoretical view that drove the search for a substance that altered these proportions. This is a simplified view; the book explains in much more detail. The book covers the history of alchemy from its beginnings in the third century AD through to its effective demise at the end of the 19th Century.

The Secrets of Alchemy by Lawrence M. Principe

Along the way it discusses many other aspects of alchemy, including its impact on early medicine, laboratory work, and chemistry. It also looks in more depth at some of the work of famous alchemists, including the attempts of the author to recreate their work in the lab - with interesting results. Well worth a read if you have any interest in the history of science.

Apr 25, Karla Huebner added it Shelves: This book provides a remarkably clear and readable history of alchemy from ancient to modern times. That's not to say that everything about alchemy is or can be clarified, but the author does an impressive job of conveying what scholars have learned he points out that many recent books repeat errors that had long ago been cleared up by scholars writing in other languages and places alchemical practices within their historical context s. Rather dazzlingly, he even manages to unravel some of th This book provides a remarkably clear and readable history of alchemy from ancient to modern times.

Rather dazzlingly, he even manages to unravel some of the obscurantist language used for alchemical writings and to duplicate some of the recipes in the lab. The book is largely but not entirely chronological in organization, and while the author's reasons for discussing recent 19th century to present beliefs about alchemy before covering Golden Age alchemy do make some sense, by the end I felt it was a mistake to abandon chronology. While the notion that alchemy was really about personal transformation and not chemistry may date to the 19th century, the section on the Golden Age makes clear that by that time ideas of alchemical transformation already extended at least for some people beyond the purely chemical.

In any case, this book gets across the science and technology without entirely rejecting other, more metaphorical, meanings. Feb 12, Tikitu De added it.

The Secrets of Alchemy

Textual history is freaking complicated No Greek precursor or any earlier Greek citations of it have been located despite exhaustive searches. It first appeared appended to a work which itself has complex and obscure origins, the Textual history is freaking complicated Sep 14, Joseph F.

What I thought was a book on the history of an occult subject, turned out to be to my surprise, was a book on the history of science! And it was a great surprise. Turns out, alchemist were not pitiful tinkerers wasting time on an impossible goal. They were serious scientist for their time; at least how science at the time was understood. Before atomic theory, there was no reason why you could not to base metals into gold. Also, to my surprise, all that talk of alchemists conc What I thought was a book on the history of an occult subject, turned out to be to my surprise, was a book on the history of science!

Also, to my surprise, all that talk of alchemists concerned really with a spiritual search and not truly interested in physically making gold is really a 19th century revisioning thanks to the occult revival of the times. The author, like a detective, recreates in his lab experiments that were performed by alchemists.

Did he find the philosopher's stone? No, of course not. But to his amazement, he did witness certain phenomena that he did not expect to see.