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By Sean Martin

Alchemy has commonly been seen as 'the heritage of an error', an instance of mediaeval gullibility and greed, within which alchemists attempted to show lead into gold, create magnificent 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 lots of of the founders of recent technology. This booklet explores the heritage of the so-called Royal artwork, from its mysterious beginnings in Egypt and China, in the course of the Hellenistic international and the early years of Islam and into mediaeval Europe. the various maximum minds of the center a long time, figures corresponding to Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas have been attracted to alchemy, and mythical alchemists similar to Nicholas Flamel have been inspiration to have truly succeeded find The Philosopher's Stone. throughout the Renaissance, Paracelsus and his fans helped revolutionise drugs, and through the 17th century, alchemy performed a big position in paving the best way for contemporary technological know-how. throughout 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 found the subconscious. during this totally revised version, Sean Martin has extended the sections on chinese language and Indian alchemy and has further new fabric at the dating among alchemy and early sleek technology, whereas additionally creating a clean evaluate of this so much enduringly mysterious and interesting of topics, to which all others were defined as 'child's play'.

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The texts attributed to Geber were enormously influential, among the most notable being The Summit of Perfection,The Investigation of Perfection and The Discovery of Truth. 1190– 1264), who edited the texts and wrote commentaries on them. All of the great minds of the period had something to say on alchemy, and here we start to detect the presence of European adepts who were starting to write original works themselves, and not merely reworking the Arabs. The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century Alchemy tended to attract scholars and priests.

Mercury Mercury is the most important, as he is not only related to the art’s mythical founder, Hermes Trismegistus and the Greek god Hermes, but is also seen as the personification of the work. Mercury means change, and that he is so important in the art illustrates the belief that alchemy involved liberating latent forces in matter and transforming them into something greater. Indeed, alchemy is sometimes referred to as the ‘art of transformation’. Mercury is either represented as a winged messenger holding a caduceus, or is sometimes portrayed as an hermaphrodite.

Aquinas, despite being not at all well, obliged with a seminar on the Song of Songs. Tradition holds that Aquinas died before he managed to complete the talk; this would explain why the Aurora breaks off before reaching the end of the Song of Songs. The Aurora, as it has come down to us, is the description of a life-shattering experience that could very well be Aquinas’s revelations of December 1273. It is certainly possible that it was a transcription of Aquinas’s final talk, as other of his works as we know them today were also transcribed by pupils.

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