Many people ask, “What is alchemy?” or “What does an alchemist do?” To sum up the definition in one word: transmutation. It can be medical, spiritual or practical, like creating gold from other earth elements but it is really based in all three aspects. Todays alchemy is steeped in ancient studies of past scientist that believed a connection with source was needed to change matter. Many ancient alchemist were scientists as well as philosophers and paved the road to all branches of modern scientific studies. Today we will share many of the key players who advanced this study.
Records of Mesopotamian glass-making recipes dating from 1300–1100 BCE contain instructions for the astrological timing of various procedures. But the earliest works of true alchemy is believed to be Mary the Jewess. She is considered a “sage” from the 1st to 3rd century and is mentioned in several of the oldest alchemy books known, however, there is no written works of her own.
Zosimus ca. 250 AD, an Egyptian alchemist born in Greece is considered the father of alchemy. He believed all substances are composed of the four elements of nature: fire, water, air and earth and compiled a 28 volume encyclopedia. He created one of the first definitions of alchemy, “The composition of waters, movement, growth, embodying and disembodying, drawing the spirits from bodies and bonding the spirits within bodies.” (from Mendeleyev’s Dream—the Quest for the Elements).
Zosimus’ works contained a spiritual component as well. He believed that by following the basic concepts of meditation and contemplation of the divine, he obtained a better result. He also credited Mary the Jewess in many of books which were mostly burned in the Alexandria library during a battle between Roman emperor Diocletian and the Christians.
Geber was an obscure Franciscan monk from southern Italy and lived 721-815AD. Many consider him the first practical alchemist but he was also a chemist, engineer, geographer, astronomer, astrologer, philosopher, physician, pharmacists and physicist.
A 15th century Benedictine Monk named Basil Valentine became famous for the twelve keys, steps to the Philosophers Stone, turning metals into gold at the quantum level. This sparked the alchemist rage of the medieval times.
Alchemist used symbols to notate their work to protect the meaning, but the symbols also became the shorthand of science notation; the precursor to the modern table of elements. The earliest and most basic symbols included the four elements, the three principles (sulpher, salt & mercury) and connected planets with metals (the moon/silver, sun/gold). Later these developed into a more cryptic meaning, salt is the key, for example.
Sir Isaac Newton known as a physicist and mathematician, disguised his alchemical investigations with codes, obscure symbols for chemicals, and colorful metaphors. His notes contain cryptic references to “Green Lion,” “Neptune’s Trident,” and the “Scepter of Jove”. Newton believed that ancient Greek and Roman mythology contained hidden alchemical secrets.
We started this alchemist journey with a woman so let’s end with an amazing female scientist that lead the way in chemistry and dedicated her life to the study of radioactivity. Marie Curie’s brilliant work on subatomic chemical change is transmutation! Although she consider herself an atheist and not an alchemist, the two time nobel prize winner obtained the transmutation that hundreds of scientists envisioned. Curie stated, “I am one of those who think, like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.”
A modern day connection between science and spirituality. All life sciences are the puzzle pieces of our connection to source, a higher entity, spirituality. Go out there and find your new discoveries and make a change!