The story

Making a Magical Substance for Health and Wealth - Discovery of Alchemy Transcripts by Newton

Making a Magical Substance for Health and Wealth - Discovery of Alchemy Transcripts by Newton

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

A recent auction has led to the discovery of one of Isaac Newton’s alchemy transcripts, which may just be one step towards creating the magical substance known as the philosopher’s stone. According to Live Science , the manuscript dating back to the 17th century, was concealed within Newton’s private collection. The title of the document translates to " Preparation of the [Sophick] Mercury for the [Philosophers'] Stone by the Antimonial Stellate Regulus of Mars and Luna from the Manuscripts of the American Philosopher ."

Newton is reported to have written more than a million words pertaining to alchemy throughout his lifetime, but his manuscripts have been scattered about, as most of them were sold by his family in London in 1936. Many writings have ended up in the hands of private collectors. The philosopher’s stone manuscript actually resurfaced in Sotheby's in New York in December 2004. It had previously been offered at Bonhams in 2009, and eventually sold at Bonhams in Pasadena in February 2016.

Newton's 17th century manuscript with text copied from an American alchemist's writings, as well as descriptions of one of Newton’s own experiments. ( Chemical Heritage Foundation )

The manuscript was purchased by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Indiana University has created a project known as The Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project , which is an online repository and will contain the newly found manuscript.

The history and story of the philosopher’s stone are intriguing and somewhat mythical, as the substance is believed to have magical powers that will bring health, wealth, and possibly eternal life. The tale of the philosopher’s stone originated in Western alchemy, and is believed to have the ability to transform common metals, like copper and tin, into silver and gold. It is also known as “the tincture,” and “the powder.”

  • Mystical Science of Alchemy Arose Independently in Ancient Egypt, China, India
  • The Legendary Emerald Tablet
  • From Magic to Science: The Intriguing Ritual and Powerful Work of Alchemy

The Alchemist in Search of the Philosophers Stone. (1771) By Joseph Wright of Derby .

Turning metals into silver and gold was a process that involved heating the base metal in a pear shaped glass and then carefully watching the color changes. Alchemists believed that in addition to its ability to turn metal into gold and silver, the philosopher’s stone could be used to create an “elixir of life” – curing illness, prolonging life, and revitalizing the soul. It is easy to see why the philosopher’s stone would have been desirable, as it had the ability to grant someone both health and riches.

Many modern individuals are familiar with the idea of the philosopher’s stone thanks, in large part, to JK Rowling’s “ Harry Potter ” series, as the first volume revolves around Harry Potter and his friends trying to protect the “philosopher’s stone,” (also called the “sorcerer’s stone” in American editions) a magical stone that would bring riches and eternal life.

Newton’s handwritten transcript outlines the process for making “philosophic mercury” for the philosopher’s stone. Newton copied the text from well-known American chemist George Starkey. Starkey studied at Harvard University before travelling to England in 1650 to work with other chemists, including Robert Boyle, who was one of Newton’s contemporaries. To control other chemists’ access to his experiments, Starkey published his works under a pseudonym - Eirenaeus Philalethes .

  • The Weird Wolds of Yorkshire: Inside the Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle
  • Alchemy and Immortality – The Tale of Nicolas Flammel and the Lapis Philosophorum

James Voelkel, one of the curators of rare books from the Chemical Heritage Foundation, told Live Science that it is unclear whether Newton actually carried out Starkey’s alchemy experiment, or if he merely just wrote it down. However, he did much more than just copy the text word for word. In addition to copying Starkey’s text, Newton added additional notes and made corrections to the philosophic mercury process. Then, on the back of the manuscript, he wrote instructions of his own experiment, distilling lead ore.

“Philosopher's stone” as pictured in Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 21. (1617)

The discovery of Newton’s transcript as related to the philosopher’s stone provides insight into Newton as an individual and a scientist. He is most well-known for his studies of gravity and motion. However, the transcript for the philosophic mercury, as well as Newton’s many other alchemy transcripts, show that his studies and practices covered a much wider scope, as well as illustrating his connections with other scientists from his era, including Starkey, Boyle, and others.

Featured Image: William Blake's Newton.” (1795) In this work Newton is depicted critically as a "divine geometer". Source:

By MRReese

Isaac Newton's occult studies

English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton produced many works that would now be classified as occult studies. These works explored chronology, alchemy, and Biblical interpretation (especially of the Apocalypse). Newton's scientific work may have been of lesser personal importance to him, as he placed emphasis on rediscovering the occult wisdom of the ancients. In this sense, some historians, including economist John Maynard Keynes, believe that any reference to a "Newtonian Worldview" as being purely mechanical in nature is somewhat inaccurate. [1] Historical research on Newton's occult studies in relation to his science have also been used to challenge the disenchantment narrative within critical theory. [2]

After purchasing and studying Newton's alchemical works, Keynes, for example, opined in 1942 at the tercentenary of his birth that "Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians." In the Early Modern Period of Newton's lifetime, the educated embraced a world view different from that of later centuries. Distinctions between science, superstition, and pseudoscience were still being formulated, and a devoutly Christian biblical perspective permeated Western culture.

Newton believed that metals vegetate, that the whole cosmos/matter is alive and that gravity is caused by emissions of an alchemical principle he called salniter. [3]

Houston Methodist Hospital Set To Terminate Unvaccinated Employees

Joe Martino 1 minute read

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Houston Methodist Hospital is set to terminate employees who refuse COVID-19 vaccines. As of June 12th, a district Judge has shot down a lawsuit the employees have filed against the the hospital. The employees, led by Jennifer Bridges, are set to file an appeal and are prepared to take the case all the way to the supreme court.

This case will be important to track as this may set the tone for how private companies will approach the ‘mandating’ of vaccines that governments had suggested would not be policy. If people can be fired for refusing a vaccine, is it fair to say these vaccines are truly not mandatory?

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!


Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Mythical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Digitized & Put Online (Along with His Other Alchemy Manuscripts)

In his 1686 Principia Mathematica, Isaac Newton elaborated not only his famous Law of Gravity, but also his Three Laws of Motion, setting a centuries-long trend for scientific three-law sets. Newton’s third law has by far proven his most popular: “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” In Arthur C. Clarke’s 20th century Three Laws, the third has also attained wide cultural significance. No doubt you’ve heard it: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Clarke’s third law gets invoked in discussions of the so-called “demarcation problem,” that is, of the boundaries between science and pseudoscience. It also comes up, of course, in science fiction forums, where people refer to Ted Chiang’s succinct interpretation: “If you can mass-produce it, it’s science, and if you can’t, it’s magic.” This makes sense, given the central importance the sciences place on reproducibility. But in Newton’s pre-industrial age, the distinctions between science and magic were much blurrier than they are now.

Newton was an early fellow of the British Royal Society, which codified repeatable experiment and demonstration with their motto, “Nothing in words,” and published the Principia. He later served as the Society’s president for over twenty years. But even as the foremost representative of early modern physics—what Edward Dolnick called “the clockwork universe”—Newton held some very strange religious and magical beliefs that we would point to today as examples of superstition and pseudoscience.

In 1704, for example, the year after he became Royal Society president, Newton used certain esoteric formulae to calculate the end of the world, in keeping with his long-standing study of apocalyptic prophecy. What’s more, the revered mathematician and physicist practiced the medieval art of alchemy, the attempt to turn base metals into gold by means of an occult object called the “Philosopher’s stone.” By Newton’s time, many alchemists believed the stone to be a magical substance composed in part of “sophick mercury.” In the late 1600s, Newton copied out a recipe for such stuff from a text by American-born alchemist George Starkey, writing his own notes on the back of the document.

You can see the “sophick mercury” formula in Newton’s hand at the top. The recipe contains, in part, “Fiery Dragon, some Doves of Diana, and at least seven Eagles of mercury,” notes Michael Greshko at National Geographic. Newton’s alchemical texts detail what has long been “dismissed as mystical pseudoscience full of fanciful, discredited processes.” This is why Cambridge University refused to archive Newton’s alchemical papers in 1888, and why his 1855 biographer wondered how he could be taken in by “the obvious production of a fool and a knave.” Newton’s alchemy documents passed quietly through many private collectors’ hands until 1936, when “the world of Isaac Newton scholarship received a rude shock,” writes Indiana University’s online project, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton:

In that year the venerable auction house of Sotheby’s released a catalogue describing three hundred twenty-nine lots of Newton’s manuscripts, mostly in his own handwriting, of which over a third were filled with content that was undeniably alchemical.

Marked “not to be printed” upon his death in 1727, the alchemical works “raised a host of interesting questions in 1936 as they do even today.” Those questions include whether or not Newton practiced alchemy as an early scientific pursuit or whether he believed in a “secret theological meaning in alchemical texts, which often describe the transmutational secret as a special gift revealed by God to his chosen sons.” The important distinction comes into play in Ted Chiang’s discussion of Clarke’s Third Law:

Suppose someone says she can transform lead into gold. If we can use her technique to build factories that turn lead into gold by the ton, then she’s made an incredible scientific discovery. If on the other hand it’s something that only she can do… then she’s a magician.

Did Newton think of himself as a magician? Or, more properly given his religiosity, as God’s chosen vessel for alchemical transformation? It’s not entirely clear what he believed about alchemy. But he did take the practice of what was then called “chymistry” as seriously as he did his mathematics. James Voelkel, curator of the Chemical Heritage Foundation—who recently purchased the Philosophers’ stone recipe—tells Livescience that its author, Starkey, was “probably American’s first renowned, published scientist,” as well as an alchemist. While Newton may not have tried to make the mercury, he did correct Starkey’s text and write his own experiments for distilling lead ore on the back.

Indiana University science historian William Newman “and other historians,” notes National Geographic, “now view alchemists as thoughtful technicians who labored over their equipment and took copious notes, often encoding their recipes with mythological symbols to protect their hard-won knowledge.” The occult weirdness of alchemy, and the strange pseudonyms its practitioners adopted, often constituted a means to “hide their methods from the unlearned and ‘unworthy,’” writes Danny Lewis at Smithsonian. Like his fellow alchemists, Newton “diligently documented his lab techniques” and kept a careful record of his reading.

“Alchemists were the first to realize that compounds could be broken down into their constituent parts and then recombined,” says Newman, a principle that influenced Newton’s work on optics. It is now acknowledged that—while still considered a mystical pseudoscience—alchemy is an important “precursor to modern chemistry” and, indeed, as Indiana University notes, it contributed significantly to early modern pharmacology” and “iatrochemistry… one of the important new fields of early modern science.” The sufficiently advanced technology of chemistry has its origins in the magic of “chymistry,” and Newton was “involved in all three of chymistry’s major branches in varying degrees.”

Newton’s alchemical manuscript papers, such as “Artephius his secret Book” and “Hermes” sound nothing like what we would expect of the discoverer of a “clockwork universe.” You can read transcriptions of these manuscripts and several dozen more at The Chymistry of Isaac Newton, where you’ll also find an Alchemical Glossary, Symbol Guide, several educational resources, and more. The manuscripts not only show Newton’s alchemy pursuits, but also his correspondence with other early modern alchemical scientists like Robert Boyle and Starkey, whose recipe—titled “Preparation of the [Socphick] Mercury for the [Philosophers’] stone by the Antinomial Stellate Regulus of Mars and Luna from the Manuscripts of the American Philosopher”—will be added to the Indiana University online archive soon.

Related Content:

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Isaac Newton, World's Most Famous Alchemist

Lawrence Principe was sorting through a collection of old chemistry books at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia when he stumbled upon a forgotten manuscript handwritten by Sir Isaac Newton. Any Newton manuscript is of interest, but this one was worth its weight in gold, literally — as Principe, a chemist and historian of science at Johns Hopkins University, recognized immediately. Holding the yellowed manuscript in his hands and studying the scribbled words, he understood that he was looking at one of the best-kept secrets in the history of science. Today revered as the father of modern physics and the inventor of calculus, Newton was describing a recipe for the Philosophers’ Stone, a legendary substance that reputedly could turn base metals like iron and lead into gold. Newton’s dabblings in alchemy are well known, but his belief that he had found the closely guarded blueprint for the Philosophers’ Stone was astonishing indeed.

Newton was not the only intellectual heavyweight from his era trying to make gold. The recipe for the Philosophers’ Stone had come from his older contemporary, the famed British chemist Robert Boyle. As it turns out, Boyle was a devotee of alchemy too.

If two of the greatest scientists who ever lived were dedicated alchemists, then alchemy needs a makeover, a big one, contend Principe and his colleague William Newman, a historian of science at Indiana University. Back in the day, the two argue, alchemy was not the misguided pseudoscience that most people think it was. Rather, it was a valuable and necessary phase in the development of modern chemistry. Among alchemy’s signature accomplishments: creating new alloys manufacturing acids and pigments inventing apparatus for distillation, the process used in making perfumes and whiskeys conceiving of atoms centuries before modern atomic theory and providing a template for the scientific method by running controlled experiments again and again.

Aiming to restore alchemy to its rightful status, Principe and Newman — who came to the field separately but joined forces after meeting at a conference in 1989 — went through medieval alchemical texts, letters, and laboratory notebooks filled with odd symbols and coded language. Then they did something unheard-of in recent times: They made replicas of the laboratory glassware used by 15th-, 16th-, and 17th-century alchemists and re-created their experiments firsthand.

“There were reasons that alchemists thought they could make gold,” Newman says. “They had theories about the nature of metals that made them believe they could manipulate their structure. They also conducted experiments that they believed proved minerals could be made to grow.” In an age when there were no microscopes to penetrate living cells and no understanding of the nature of atoms and molecules, the alchemists were not misguided so much as misinformed, doing their best to make sense of a world they could not see. That they understood as much as they did is the real marvel: In pursuing what today seems like little more than witchcraft, the alchemists were in fact laying the foundation for modern experimental science.

Newman did not know much about alchemy as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the mid-1970s. His passion at the time was literature. When he started to study the poets William Blake and William Butler Yeats, he did what young academics always do: He checked out their sources. To his surprise, he found that both poets had drawn inspiration from alchemy. Newman noted that Blake was born in 1757 and that Yeats died in 1939: “They reflected a creative interest in alchemy that spanned the late 18th to the early 20th century — exactly the ‘rational’ period of the Enlightenment and of modern science — at the same time that most historians were branding alchemy delusional.” What was going on? he wondered.

Newman decided to look more closely at the alchemists who had influenced Blake and Yeats. These included a shadowy 13th-century figure known as Geber, whose magnum opus was called The Sum of Perfection . “Not a modest title, right?” Newman says, laughing. Some historians had identified Geber as the translated name of an eighth-century Islamic alchemist, but Newman’s research turned up evidence supporting a different interpretation: Geber was actually the alias of Paul of Taranto, an obscure Franciscan monk from southern Italy. To alchemists toiling and tinkering in the laboratory, Geber was an infallible master his book was regarded as the bible of alchemy. “That’s how much influence he had,” Newman says.

Whoever Geber was, Newman was struck by the range of ideas in his book, which contains everything from details about refining metals to a description of the essential behaviors of matter. It was clear that medieval alchemists were struggling with fundamental questions that would later become central to chemistry and physics. For instance, Geber believed that all matter was composed of invisible particles called corpuscles and that these corpuscles could be manipulated even though they could not be directly observed. He wrote about all sorts of material transformations (what we would now call chemical reactions) in terms of microparticles and pores, using concepts and terminology that foreshadowed the thinking that would emerge during the Scientific Revolution three centuries later.

The way to manipulate corpuscles, Geber instructed, was to “follow nature wherever possible.” In other words, alchemists had to discern and then mimic natural processes. Their idea of natural processes was much different from ours, however. “Most alchemists believed metals were not elements as we think of them today,” Newman says, “but rather compounds of sulfur and mercury or sometimes mercury, sulfur, and salt.” Sulfur was what made metal hard, they theorized mercury made it more fluid. In that framework, iron was composed primarily of sulfur. Gold, which was malleable and softer, consisted mostly of mercury. Though the alchemists missed the mark, their conception was not too far from an understanding of pure metals as distinct from alloys and ores.

Misunderstanding which materials were elemental and which were composites led the alchemists to believe they could create gold from lead or other base metals if only they got the formula right. And the essential ingredient that would make it all happen? The elusive Philosophers’ Stone. Alchemists before Geber had used all sorts of ingredients derived from plants and animals in an attempt to make the Stone. Some had even experimented with human blood. According to Newman, one of the earliest promoters of science through experimentation, the 13th-century philosopher Roger Bacon, argued that creating the Philosophers’ Stone required blood because each person was thought to be a microcosm of the whole world. Therefore, human blood contained at least a little of everything in nature.

Geber, who tried to create gold by removing sulfur and adding mercury, pooh-poohed this idea in The Sum of Perfection . Using “organic materials as blood, fat, saliva, and so forth was irrational,” he wrote, “since Nature herself does not make the metals beneath the earth from human blood.” Geber’s way of thinking became the new standard for medieval alchemists as they started distilling mercury and combining it with different metals in an effort to make the Philosophers’ Stone.

As Newman read old alchemical texts, he discovered that by the late 15th and early 16th centuries (the time of da Vinci and the beginning of the Renaissance), alchemists had refined not just mercury but also their core ideas about matter. Newman links this shift in alchemical thinking to the wondrous new stories that miners of silver and copper ore in central Europe were then telling, of giant trunks of minerals branching out into limblike veins deep underground. The mineral finds were real — deposits of metallic silver truly can spread out in rock in shapes that resemble huge, intricate trees — but the interpretation was not: The apparent similarity between these deposits and trees inspired the notion that minerals might develop and change like living things. Renaissance alchemists now theorized that base metals (the ones earlier alchemists thought were made mostly of sulfur) were imperfectly developed, or immature, forms of gold. “In other words,” Newman says, “gold was the perfectly ripe ‘fruit’ into which subterranean base metals would eventually grow if left long enough within the earth.”

Following this line of thought, alchemists believed that gold became inert and stopped growing once it was removed from the earth, just as a flower dies after being plucked from a plant. There should be a way, then, to bring mined gold back to life. Reanimating gold, the reasoning went, would be easier than adjusting the formula of base metals by adding and removing sulfur and mercury. Thus began the Renaissance equivalent of the great California gold rush. Well-trained, intellectual alchemists sold the prospect of making gold to rich patrons, and less well-educated alchemists with day jobs tinkered the night away trying to make gold in makeshift kitchen laboratories. According to Newman, “the 17th century was the age of gold, both searching for it and making it.”

In his ongoing investigation into this remarkable era, Newman became intrigued by one of the most influential of the 17th-century alchemists — another mysterious figure, a man named Eirenaeus Philalethes, who was said to live in colonial America. His real identity was cloaked in secrecy, but his alchemical writings were read throughout Europe. Detective work by Newman proved that Philalethes did not really exist. Another respected American alchemist, George Starkey, had created him out of thin air to boost his career. In the European alchemy circles Starkey inhabited, he could boast that he was the only one who had met the great Philalethes. Better yet, Starkey confided to Robert Boyle, Philalethes had told him part of the top-secret process for making the Philosophers’ Stone. In 1651 Boyle took the bait and asked Starkey to teach him chemistry so he could make the Stone himself. (Boyle, considered the father of modern chemistry, knew almost nothing about it until he studied under Starkey, according to Newman.) A Boyle notebook uncovered by Principe in the mid-1990s describes how a wandering alchemist seemingly transformed lead into gold before his eyes. “The powder that was employ’d in the operations was not weigh’d,” Boyle wrote. “I cannot tell precisely how many parts of lead were transmuted by it, but I remember the Gold weigh’d much above half an ounce.” Whatever Boyle actually saw, it was enough to convince him that making gold was possible.

Like Newman’s, Principe’s immersion in the labyrinthine world of alchemy began in college, in his case in the early 1980s, after he read The Twelve Keys , an allegorical work written in the 15th century by an influential alchemist and supposed Benedictine monk, Basil Valentine. In his work, Valentine included an illustration that, Principe suspected, depicted a method for rendering gold — normally one of the most stable elements — volatile.

Looking around for other documents describing the volatility of gold, he found a treasure trove of writings on alchemy by Boyle. One of those manuscripts included a description of an absolutely real substance then called Philosophical Mercury — a liquid form of mercury that could dissolve gold slowly, a pivotal stage in gold making.

Today Principe suspects that Philosophical Mercury was the prized ingredient that Isaac Newton had sought from Boyle for years — a crucial component for making the Philosophers’ Stone. But like most alchemists, Boyle kept the details of his alchemical work hidden he even withheld a part of the recipe for making red earth, which he believed was the direct precursor to the Philosophers’ Stone. “Red earth was thought to be about as close to the Philosophers’ Stone as you could get,” Principe explains. “It was said to change lead into gold, but a lot less efficiently than the Philosophers’ Stone itself. It was assumed that if you could create red earth, it would be relatively simple to get to the Philosophers’ Stone from there.” The age of scientific transparency was still a good century or two away.

Newton was even more secretive than Boyle, disguising his alchemical investigations (he wrote more than a million unpublished words on the subject) 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.” Newman has not yet figured out what substances any of these terms refer to.

To really understand what Newton was seeing in his laboratory, Newman realized in 2002, he needed to repeat some of the old alchemical experiments himself. He started by building replicas of alchemical furnaces and glassware, including distilling apparatus, with the help of Indiana University’s chemistry department. One key alchemical experiment was called the Tree of Diana, a magical-looking demonstration that metals could grow like vegetation. Newman learned that the Tree of Diana really works. “If you immerse a solid amalgam of silver and mercury in nitric acid with dissolved silver and mercury, you produce tiny, twiglike branches of solid silver,” he says. Today this process is regarded as a simple matter of chemistry. But to Newton, the Tree of Diana was evidence that metals could be made to grow and, therefore, “possessed a sort of life.”

The image of the growing metallic tree can be found in another type of experiment, one that Starkey, Boyle, and very likely Newton all conducted: the attempt to synthesize the Philosophers’ Stone. Principe, who had studied the alchemical work of all three men, came to the same conclusion as Newman and decided that he, too, had to replicate the long-abandoned alchemical experiments firsthand. He culled recipes from alchemists like Starkey and, after “a lengthy process involving various materials and numerous distillations,” obtained Philosophical Mercury, just as Boyle had 350 years earlier. Principe mixed the Philosophical Mercury with gold, sealed it in a glass egg, and watched. Just as Starkey and other alchemists reported, strange things started to happen inside the egg. The mixture began to bubble, rising “like leavened dough,” Principe says. Then it turned pasty and liquid and, after several days of heating, transformed into what he likens to a “dendritic fractal”: another metallic tree, like the trees the miners saw underground, only this one was made of gold and mercury.

Principe’s tree, like all the trees any alchemist managed to create, did not actually grow any gold, of course the gold that came out was no greater than the amount that he put in. But the experiments proved something that Principe had long suspected. Alchemists were not just tinkering blindly. In fact, they produced what he calls “a solid body of repeated and repeatable observations of laboratory results.” In their tightly controlled experiments they made metals bubble, change colors, and grow sparkling filaments, and they did it over and over again, establishing, in a crude way, the foundations of scientific experimentation. In the process they were learning fundamental principles of chemistry: breaking down ores, dissolving metals with acids, and precipitating metals out of solution.

Ever since he found that singular Newton manuscript, Principe has wondered what was going on in the mind of one of history’s most brilliant scientists. How close did Newton and Boyle think they had come to making gold? Did they believe that with just a few more tweaks, their experiments would eventually work? Principe says yes, they probably did. Why, otherwise, would the highly apolitical Boyle have lobbied the Houses of Parliament to overturn a law forbidding gold making? “He was a very scrupulous man, and before he went about doing transmutation, he wanted to make sure it wasn’t against the law,” Principe says.

Further evidence of their seriousness emerged after Boyle’s death in 1691. In life, Boyle had guarded his recipe for red earth as if it were the most precious thing in the world. But upon his death, his executor, the philosopher John Locke, also an alchemist, was more generous, sending Newton the recipe along with a sample that Boyle had made before his death.

No one knows what Newton did with the red earth. Principe notes that Newton suffered a mental breakdown a year after Boyle’s death and wonders if that episode might have been brought on by mercury poisoning. After all, the first steps in making red earth require repeatedly heating and cooling mercury. “Shortly after he would have gotten copies of this recipe, he was distilling mercury,” Principe says. But Newman thinks that Newton’s breakdown is just as likely to be related to Locke’s trying to set him up with a well-to-do widow. “Newton had a sort of pathological fear of females, and around that time Locke was pressuring him to date. That may be what pushed him over the edge,” he notes. (Newton is believed to have died a virgin, according to historian Gale Christianson .)

No matter how skillfully the two giants of 17th-century science manipulated the red earth and set their sights on the Philosophers’ Stone, they would have failed to make gold. We know now that such a transformation requires not a chemical reaction but a nuclear one, far beyond the reach of the technology of the time. By the early 18th century, alchemists had given up on their quest for gold. “They’d figured out that in a practical way their attempts to make the Philosophers’ Stone never worked,” Newman says. That does not mean that their other work was abandoned, however. As Newman says, “The goals of 18th-century chemistry — namely, to understand the material composition of things through analysis and synthesis and to make useful products such as pharmaceuticals, pigments, porcelain, and various refined chemicals — were largely inherited from the 16th- and 17th-century alchemists.”

Without the pioneering alchemists, none of that would have been possible. “They were the masters of premodern chemical technology,” Newman says. As the true power and limitations of chemistry came into focus, interest in the Philosophers’ Stone simply faded away, much as the belief in the classical Four Elements had faded away centuries before. Almost overnight, the perception of alchemy became conflated with an unforgiving view of the protoscientific world as one populated by mystics and superstitious fools.

As for Isaac Newton’s prized sample of red earth from John Locke, it was very likely thrown out after Newton died in 1727. Unless someone kept it. Imagine a little packet of Philosophers’ Stone stuck between the pages of a book from Newton’s library. If it is out there, for the sake of alchemy and science, let’s hope Newman and Principe are the ones who find it.


Disguised as a pilgrim, to ensure his safety in Christian countries, with only his faithful wife Perenelle aware of his real plans he ventured to Spain where he sought council from scholarly Jews. But they were suspicious of this Christian mystic and refused to help him translate the book.

On his journey home, while staying in Lyon, Flamel met Maestro Canches, an old learned Jew who revealed to him that Abraham the Jew was a great master of the Kabbalah and that his book had disappeared centuries ago. Canches accompanied Flamel on his journey back to Paris but died seven days later leaving Flamel to journey home alone.

Canches had translated a few pages of the book with which Flamel was able to translate the remaining pages to achieve its core secret, as outlined by Abraham the Jew. Flamel claimed to have achieved transmutation by having transformed half a pound of mercury into silver, and then into pure gold using The Philosopher’s Stone, which he described as a reddish ”projection powder”.

Supporting his claims of success, at this time Flamel and his wife became immensley rich and began building free hospitals and safe houses for the poor, and made substantial donations to Parisian churches. Because Flamel didn’t use his wealth selfishly, he is alleged to have achieved the transmutation of his own soul (spirit over matter).

Making a Magical Substance for Health and Wealth - Discovery of Alchemy Transcripts by Newton - History

Good day students and welcome to the end of the penultimate year. It&rsquos not too long before you take your N.E.W.T.s and graduate! &hellip I guess when I put it like that, it sounds a bit scary. I can assure you that you will be fine, well, at least for today&rsquos final. After all, you did make it this far, so I have faith that most of you will succeed. We are all going to be shoulder deep in laboratory work next year and it will be more hands-on than anything else we have done in this course. I&rsquom incredibly excited to guide you through it all, and I hope you find the matter as fun and interesting as I do.

Now with that out of the way, let&rsquos get on with today&rsquos topic, which is probably one of the most anticipated topics of this course: the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. The Philosopher&rsquos Stone is an artifact that I have brought up time and time again over the years, quite possibly just as much as I&rsquove uttered the name Paracelsus! Despite that, we have never spent considerable time going into depth on the stone itself, which is precisely why we are here today. I will throw in a disclaimer that we will not be creating the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, for the same reasons as to why we didn&rsquot create our own Elixir of Life in addition to the fact that no one has succeeded in creating the stone since Nicolas Flamel. Trust me, if I possessed a Philosopher&rsquos Stone, I would not be here teaching at Hogwarts. Instead we will be looking at what exactly the stone is, the history of it, and various texts and possible theories surrounding what could create it.

From both written accounts of the stone by various alchemists and the notes from Nicolas Flamel that are preserved at the Beauxbatons library, the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is described as a &ldquobrilliant ruby-red stone that almost has a black glint in certain lighting.&rdquo It is almost &ldquocrystalline in appearance, yet it is cloudy when peering through the stone, and it is almost wax-like in touch.&rdquo The creation of the stone is often seen as an alchemist&rsquos ultimate goal in their practice. Although it is an actual, physical artifact, the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is also symbolically used in other alchemical practices such as Hermeticism. Generally, &ldquoobtaining the Philosopher&rsquos Stone&rdquo in a non-literal sense means that one has achieved their ultimate goal in the case of Hermeticism, it means that they have reached the Rubedo stage of the Great Work. Symbols in allegorical art, such as phoenixes, eagles, the Great King, and Rebis, as well as others, are code for the stone. Even if it isn&rsquot obtaining the Philosopher&rsquos Stone itself, most alchemists&rsquo personal goals involve using the stone in some way, whether it&rsquos to transmute metals into pure gold or to create the Elixir of Life, which as we already know are both abilities of this alchemical artifact. Other rumored abilities include curing illnesses, creating homunculi, reviving dead plants, and turning crystals into diamonds, along with several more. Though to be fair, some of the lesser known abilities attributed to the stone, such as curing illnesses, may have come from mixing it with other alchemical substances (e.g. Panacea) and therefore may not actually be a power of the stone itself. Regardless of whether it possesses these extra abilities, it&rsquos safe to say that the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is the single most powerful sought-after alchemical artifact of all time.

It&rsquos fairly obvious why so many would like to obtain the Philosopher&rsquos Stone: money and immortality. However, it&rsquos also easy to see the consequences should the stone fall into the wrong hands. Luckily, those who have been able to create the Philosopher&rsquos Stone thus far have been morally good. For example, Nicolas Flamel donated much of his wealth to his alma mater, Beauxbatons Academy. However, what if the stone were to make its way into the hands of someone who wasn&rsquot so charitable. Aside from possibly creating a homunculus body as we discussed in Lesson Five, imagine what someone like Voldemort would have been able to achieve if they were in possession of the stone. They would certainly have enough gold to bribe whoever they wanted as well as possess one of the most important ingredients in creating the Elixir of Life. They could perhaps find a way to spread an illness more deadly than dragon pox and be the only one with the cure for it. The possibilities are endless. Although it is a tragedy that the most recent Philosopher&rsquos Stone was destroyed, ending the lives of two of the most brilliant alchemists within the last millennium, it&rsquos also a relief in a way that there isn&rsquot a chance for it to be used for evil. Plus, I&rsquom sure someone will eventually find the secret to creating the Philosopher&rsquos Stone again, as has happened over and over since the beginning of alchemy. I see some puzzled looks around the room. Here, let&rsquos discuss this a bit more, shall we?

With such a powerful artifact floating around throughout the ages, it really brings up the question of how the Philosopher&rsquos Stone come to be. As we know from Year Two, Lesson Three, the first written account of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is accredited to Zosimos of Panopolis. That&rsquos where the story starts for Muggles, but magihistorians have a much better insight on the origins of the stone. They trace the Philosopher&rsquos Stone&rsquos roots back to ancient Egypt. Knowledge on how to create and use the stone was shared in alchemy circles, possibly during the time of Zep Tepi. Not only that, but there&rsquos speculation that there were several Philosopher&rsquos Stones in circulation, which may partially explain how the ancient Egyptians were so advanced for their time. There is also a theory that pharaohs might have known how to create the stone due to the myth that they were descended from the gods. Although this would make sense with Zep Tepi, there has been no confirmation whatsoever of a pharaoh obtaining a Philosopher&rsquos Stone.

Magihistorians theorize that when the Greeks took over Egypt and knowledge was being recorded in books, information about the Philosopher&rsquos Stone and a recipe for producing it existed in the Library of Alexandria in one of the texts Alexander the Great brought from the Pillar of Hermes. If this is true, it&rsquos unfortunate to say that this knowledge was probably lost in either the fire that destroyed the library or the events that occurred afterwards, where more texts were destroyed during invasions. If all written knowledge of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone was destroyed, how come it wasn&rsquot lost with time? Well, even though explicit written information on how to create the stone was lost, other knowledge wasn&rsquot, and it was brought to Persia and Arabia, as we know from Year Three. Texts written by alchemists like Zosimos, among others, interested those in the Arab empires and eventually the Byzantine Empire. The most notable one is Jabir ibn Hayyan, or Geber . Ah, I can see the recognition in your eyes in&hellip at least for some of you. For those of you who seem to be suffering from a slight case of amnesia, he was our Alchemist Spotlight for Year Three, Lesson Three. As we have learned already, Jabir had a theory wherein if we were to take Aristotle&rsquos basic qualities (hot, cold, wet, dry) and rearrange them in a metal, it would result in a completely different metal, as long as there was a catalyst in the process. In Greek this was called xerion, in Arabic al-iksir (which, fun fact, is what the word &ldquoelixir&rdquo was derived from), and it was described as a dry red power that was made from the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. Of course there were always going to be critics over whether or not transmutation in general was possible, and many pushed back on Jabir&rsquos theory specifically even a few centuries later. But considering that Jabir created this theory in the eighth century, it was a huge breakthrough in both alchemy and the history of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone.

We&rsquove talked about Egypt and Arabia, but what about Western Europe? Well, as mentioned in previous years, alchemical texts weren&rsquot brought to Europe until 711 C.E. during the Dark Ages, and there was a serious learning curve when it came to deciphering these texts due to the amount of symbolism in them. The earliest European alchemist connected with the Philosopher&rsquos Stone was Albertus Magnus. It was rumored that he had discovered a way to create the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. Although Magnus is the reason for the many translations of the Emerald Tablet and had written that he witnessed a metal being transmuted into gold, it was never confirmed that he was in possession of the stone, and if he did indeed have it, he certainly wasn&rsquot as public about it as the Flamels were. From then on, interest in the Philosopher&rsquos Stone spread throughout the continent like wildfire, with the height of interest during the Renaissance. Now, with the International Statute of Secret Secrecy in place as well as Muggle implementations of modern science, the interest in creating and using the stone remains only within the magical community however, the tale of Nicolas Flamel and the stone remains a recurring topic within Muggle pop culture and literature.

During the peak of interest in the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, several texts were written, published, and hidden about possible recipes for creating the stone, and there&rsquos certainly a plethora of theories by credible alchemists for us to go over! As we know from the beginning of Year Five and our discussion of alkahest, Paracelsus believed that alkahest was actually the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. Now we all know that I do love rambling about Paracelsus, but I would have to disagree on this theory. The Philosopher&rsquos Stone is confirmed by the life and texts of Nicolas Flamel to be able to transmute metals and produce the Elixir of Life. Alkahest, if you recall, is the universal solvent and can therefore dissolve any substance. Now, it&rsquos quite possible that alkahest could be created through the use of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, it may be a byproduct of the stone, or it could be a way to dissolve the stone to see exactly what ingredients were used to make it. However, it&rsquos extremely unlikely that alkahest and the Philosopher&rsquos Stone are the same substance.

One major text on the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is Mutus Liber , an anonymous collection of fifteen illustrations that was published in La Rochelle, France in 1677. It&rsquos considered by alchemists (especially Eugene Canseliet) to be a symbolic instruction manual on creating the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. It&rsquos easy to see why this would be the first interpretation that comes to mind. I have included Emblem 6 on the right, which depicts two alchemists processing a red item that is then handed off to a person in red, who is confirmed to represent the Sun in Emblem 13. The entire text follows these two alchemists in their work and shows several scenes of them gathering materials and completing processes such as calcination and distillation. Other interpretations of the text have been that the illustrations are meant to convey the achievement of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone in a hermetic or spiritual sense. Interestingly enough, a few Muggles have recently taken an interest in Mutus Liber and are trying to decipher the illustrations however, there has been no luck as of yet in decoding the text.

A much more recent discovery is a recipe of Sir Isaac Newton&rsquos that was originally thought to be a recipe (pictured on the left) for the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. It was hidden in his private collection, and when it was sold to the Chemical Heritage Foundation at an auction in California in February 2016, MACUSA was scrambling to get ahold of it. The original manuscript was quietly switched out for a copy that contained no mention of magic or the wizarding world and is now kept at the Egyptian Centre for Alchemical Studies. Upon further inspection, the recipe unfortunately isn&rsquot for the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, but instead for a material that Newton believed to be used in making the stone, called philosophical mercury , which we learned about briefly in Year Three. This liquid substance could be transmuted from antimony and had the power to make gold multiply and grow, according to Newton. Although transmuting it from antimony seems like an easy enough task, the transmutation is actually quite difficult, and as such, philosophical mercury has gained a reputation for being an elusive substance within the alchemical community. It has also never been confirmed that Newton ever created the Philosopher&rsquos Stone using philosophical mercury, and the substance itself hasn&rsquot been studied enough to confirm Newton&rsquos claims on its wealth producing powers. However, it&rsquos entirely possible that this substance could be an ingredient in creating the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, although I would say it would need to be used in conjunction with an ingredient that would act as a coagulant. I would also like to mention that Newton&rsquos recipe isn&rsquot the original recipe for philosophical mercury - George Starkey is in fact the original creator. Newton simply took Starkey&rsquos version, made a couple of notes on the recipe, corrected a few mistakes, and was able to produce the final product.

Our final text today that might be the key to the Philosopher&rsquos Stone is the Ripley Scroll . Well, this manuscript is less of a published book and actually more of six meter long scroll covered in illustrations (some of which I have included down below), with verses of a text titled &ldquoVerses upon the Elixir.&rdquo The Ripley Scroll is named after the 15th century alchemist Sir George Ripley, one of England&rsquos most highly revered alchemists. His writings were popular among prominent alchemists even centuries after his death in 1490, his most popular work being The Compound of Alchemy . Keeping this in mind, there is absolutely no evidence that Ripley designed the Ripley Scroll and that the scroll wasn&rsquot merely given this name because it includes poems associated with him. Although both the poems and illustrations are heavily coded in symbolism, like most alchemical texts from both the Medieval and Renaissance eras, it&rsquos considered among the wizarding community to be the closest written work that we have to a step by step recipe for the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. There is so much detail in both the illustrations and the verses that it shows and explains different stages and processes. Of course, it would take someone completely fluent in Renaissance Hermetic symbolism to understand a majority of it, and it does not help that the original 15th century text is lost and all that remains are 23 copies, which are all variations or translations of the original. So far, no one has been able to decode the entire scroll, but if you are interested in reading through the text, you can view it here along with the emblems.

As much I would love to continue talking about theories and texts on recipes for the Philosopher&rsquos Stone (as there are plenty more), all of you still have a final to take! Actually, I suppose now is the time to announce that your final exam won&rsquot be a test, but in fact an essay that involves critical thinking on our subject today. Don&rsquot look so scared, it&rsquos not as bad as it seems. As always, when you are done with your final, place it on my desk, and I will hopefully see all of you in class next year.

7. How to Make Concentrated Ormus


I&aposd like to start this section off with a word of warning. Be careful what you put into your body, and do your research! Some websites suggest creating a Copper Ormus tincture, even though Copper is poisonous to the human body. This information could result in permanent physical damage or even fatality. A rational chemist/scientist might argue that the chemicals used to extract Ormus are corrosive (such as lye), and the fumes released during repeated boiling are toxic. Note that the alkaline solution of lye is corrosive to the skin. Getting this substance on your skin, in your eyes, or in your mouth before neutralizing the pH will give you a chemical burn. Finally, many critics of Ormus argue that a material with superconductive properties occurring abundantly in nature should be very easy to detect, yet no actual scientific (and repeatable) discovery has suggested such evidence.

If you are in the business of trying to extract concentrated Ormus, you need to be vary careful of the pH balance of the tonic you are mixing. You are trying to get the seawater to be as "base" as possible, and if you drink something that is too acidic you will burn your esophagus and possibly die. Those who make Ormus have done tons of research on their own (outside of this article) to find the perfect recipe for their brew. They usually have a past with magick and alchemy, and have a high respect for the chemicals and compounds they are working with.

Methods for Extracting Ormus

With that being said, according to Barry Carter, acquiring Ormus concentrate is actually quite easy, and there are several ways to do it. The easiest (but least effective) way to extract concentrated Ormus is to take a tin can and put a magnet underneath the can, on the outside of the bottom. Fill the tin can with non-processed water and then stir the water. Let the water sit still for a few hours, and then use an eye dropper to take several squirts of water from the center at the top of the can. The Ormus will try to get away from the magnet, because it levitates on magnetic fields (like most other superconductors). For more about this theory, please see the article "Patterns in Motion." Repeat this process until you have a substantial amount of the Ormus infused water. For this method, you do not need to check the pH balance, and can drink your brew right away.

However, the aforementioned method of extracting Ormus is not the most commonly used. Rather, alchemists tend to take the process much more seriously. Even though Ormus can be collected at any point throughout the year, many alchemists believe that the best time to collect Ormus is during the three day period leading up to a full moon. Conditions and energies at this time seem to be best suited in producing the most optimal and highly-charged Ormus. While the following information is a recipe to create monoatomic powder, the m-state Ormus, there are many recipes on the internet and it is definitely worth reading through them to find similarities, techniques, do&aposs/don&aposts, and other information that might be valuable to you in your quest to extract Ormus.

Before you even begin to create your Ormus brew, you need to prepare the surrounding environment. Cleansing the environment with Orgone wands or crystals is a great way to rid the surrounding area of toxic electromagnetic radiations. Alchemists suggest turning off any wifi signals or technology that may be present in the immediate area (Ormus elements are turned into their metallic form when surrounded by cell phones and wireless technologies). Many people also use sacred geometry, such as the flower of life pattern, to raise the vibration of the alchemical process and brew itself. If this sounds too "out there" for your critical mind to handle, then at least recognize that what these people are doing is creating an intentionality. They are focusing their energy and the energy of the room to create a certain product. Intentionality is key, and an essential ingredient to a high vibrational Ormus product.

The most common way to make Ormus is through a Dead Sea Salt reduction (sometimes referred to as reconstituted sea water), creating what is called a "cookie" or "doves" and oftentimes referred to as the "Wet Method Approach." The wet method is where the person takes sea water and precipitates it with lye (sodium hydroxide). Since lye is corrosive, some people opt to use baking soda, but most Ormus alchemists argue that this is not standard procedure. This will raise the pH balance to 10.78 (but should not get higher). If your pH balance does go higher than 10.78, you run the risk of creating a “Gilcrest precipitate," and toxic, heavy metals may form. You should shoot for the "sweet spot" of 10.7 (not yet OK to ingest). If your concoction goes over a pH balance of 11, then you should throw out that batch and start all over. This method will create a white precipitate (the "cookie"), which is about 70% Magnesium, Calcium, etc. and about 30% Ormus. Some alchemists have taken this sea water precipitate and converted it to metal (research information about Don Nance).

Do 5-7 rinses of the precipitate, which requires you to drain the water, usually done with a rubber hose, away from the precipitate and then "rinse" or pour in new purified water to the concoction. After these rinses you&aposll notice the pH go down to about 9.2-9.4. For example, if your pH goes to 9.10, that is 10x as basic as 9.0. For health reasons, you shouldn&apost drink anything with a pH balance of over 10. Rather, let 9.5 be the highest pH balance you drink.

Most recipes suggest mixing 1-2 teaspoons of the Ormus with purified/distilled water and then drinking that twice throughout the day. However, it is always wise to start with small doses and then work your way up to what feels right for you. Also, before you swallow the drink, swish the Ormus around in your mouth for a few minutes. This helps the remineralization of the teeth. Drink with intentionality. Ormus goes beyond the physical.

To make a topical agent, take Celtic sea salt (damp and gray) and mix it with grape seed oil (about half and half). Over a period of three days, shake the concoction and then let it settle once a day. After the product has set, you can take the oil off the top and use it topically. This will help with pain and injury, the effects happening almost immediately.

On a final note, remember that Ormus is extremely susceptible to electromagnetic fields/frequencies (EMFs). EMFs will turn m-state elements back into their original metallic state of matter. To avoid this from happening, many people wrap their brew in tinfoil. Wrapping the brew in tinfoil should be sufficient to protect the Ormus from any radiation or electronic waves in the surrounding area.


Alchemy has been a field of study since antiquity. As the time went on, the lack of common words for chemical concepts and processes, as well as the need for secrecy (presumably to avoid Muggle persecution) led alchemists to borrow the terms and symbols of biblical and pagan mythology, astrology, kabbalah and other esoteric fields. This marked a progress in alchemical research, as it allowed the exchange of ideas between alchemists. However, this also ended up making the plainest chemical recipe read like an abstruse magic incantation, Ώ] probably confusing the learning and spreading of alchemy as a science.

Dzou Yen, widely considered one of the fathers of Chinese scientific thought, was an alchemist in the fourth century B.C., during the final years of the Zhou Dynasty. Ε]

The best known goals of the alchemists were the transformation of common metals into gold (a phenomenon called Chrysopoeia Δ] ) or silver, the creation of a Panacea, a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely, and the discovery of a universal solvent. Ώ] At least two of the three primary alchemical goals were achieved by the famed French alchemist Nicolas Flamel sometime in or after the 14th century, with his creation of the Philosopher's Stone and, by extension, the Elixir of Life. Ζ] Flamel went on to live to the 1990s and to six centuries old, until the destruction of the Stone by him and his alchemical partner Albus Dumbledore. Η]

African wizards have always been particularly skilled in alchemy and Astronomy. Some scholars, like Kennilworthy Whisp, believe that Quidditch was introduced in Africa by European witches and wizards travelling there in search of alchemical and astronomical information. ⎖]

Paracelsus, apart from his important contributions to the field of medicine, was also a secretive alchemist in the sixteenth century. ⎗] ⎘]

According to an alchemical work, which original translation from Latin dated back to 1557, the constituents of the perfect medicine, were Vinegar, Salt, Urine, Sal Ammoniac and a particular Sulphur Vive. ⎙] ⎚]

Alchemists' greatest prestige came not from their trademark mystic and metaphysical speculation, but from their more mundane contributions to various chemical industries, such as ore testing and refining, metalworking, production of inks, dyes and cosmetics, ceramics and glass manufacture, preparation of extracts and liquors and the invention of gunpowder. The preparation of Aqua Vitæ was also a popular "experiment" among European alchemists. Ώ]

The sixth-year Potions curriculum at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry covered alchemy and, as such, Libatius Borage's Advanced Potion-Making included a brief historical and scientific overview of alchemy. Ώ] According to Professor Horace Slughorn, the preparation of an antidote for a blended poison following Golpalott's Third Law incurred in an almost alchemical process. Γ]

There is a Centre for Alchemical Studies in Egypt. This may be the largest centre in the world, although this is not clear. ⎛]

During his world tour, Elphias Doge observed the experiments of Egyptian alchemists. ⎜]


By refining bases into gold and ingesting the "fake" or synthetic gold, the alchemist believed that immortal life would be delivered. The idea that fake gold was superior to real gold arose because the alchemists believed the combination of a variety of substances (and the transformation of these substances through roasting or burning) gave the final substance a spiritual value, possessing a superior essence when compared to natural gold. [2] Gold and cinnabar (jindan) were the most sought-after substances to manipulate and ingest, believed to have longevity and thus able to elongate the life of the consumer.

Cinnabar is a mineral with a reddish-brown colour and is the most common source of mercury in nature. [3] The significance of its red colour and difficulty with which it was refined implied to alchemists its connection with the search for immortality. The colour was significant to symbolic belief as well, red being considered in Chinese culture to be the "zenith of the colour representing the sun, fire, royalty and energy." [2] Cinnabar could also be roasted, which produced a liquid form of silver known as quicksilver, now known as mercury. This substance was ingested but it could also be combined with sulphur and burned again to return to its natural form of cinnabar, the solid seen as the yang to quicksilver's yin. [2] In China, gold was quite rare, so it was usually imported from other surrounding countries. However, cinnabar could be refined in the mountains of Sichuan and Hunan provinces in central China.

Although the majority of xian (immortality) elixirs were combinations of jindan, many other elixirs were formed by combining metallic bases with natural herbs or animals bi-products. The rhinoceros' horn was commonly used in medicines and elixirs and was held to have fertility-increasing abilities. Elixirs were composed of metallic compounds such as gold and silver, but could also be made of more lethal components like arsenic, and sulphur.

East Asian vs Eastern Mediterranean views Edit

Both the Eastern practice and the later Western practice of alchemy are remarkably similar in their methods and ultimate purpose. To be sure, the desire to create an elixir of immortality was more appealing to the Taoists, but European alchemists were not averse to seeking out formulas for various longevity-boosting substances. The secret of transmuting one element into another, specifically base metals into gold or silver, was equally explored by both schools for obvious reasons.

In the European outlook, the ability to turn relatively worthless materials into gold was attractive enough to allow medieval alchemy to enjoy extensive practice long after the Chinese form had been forgotten. Alternatively, transmutation was also a means of accruing the precious metals that were key in making life-extending elixirs, and were otherwise expensive and difficult to obtain. Alchemical knowledge in the East and West favored different opinions of the true form of alchemy due to different theological views and cultural biases, however these disputes do not lessen the integrity of alchemy's canonical nature.

Chinese alchemy specifically was consistent in its practice from the beginning, and there was relatively little controversy among its practitioners. Definition amongst alchemists varied only in their medical prescription for the elixir of immortality, or perhaps only over their names for it, of which sinology has counted about 1000. Because the Chinese approach was through the fundamental doctrine of Yin and Yang, the influence of the I Ching, and the teachings of the Five Elements, Chinese alchemy had its roots considerably more in obtaining a higher mental-spiritual level.

In the West, there were conflicts between advocates of herbal and "chemical" (mineral) pharmacy, but in China, mineral remedies were always accepted. In Europe, there were conflicts between alchemists who favored gold-making and those who thought medicine the proper goal, but the Chinese always favored the latter. Since alchemy rarely achieved any of these goals, it was an advantage to the Western alchemist to have the situation obscured, and the art survived in Europe long after Chinese alchemy had simply faded away.

Despite much research, many scholars are still unable to marshal conflicting evidence in order to determine when exactly Chinese alchemy started. It was thought that China was making gold about one thousand years before Confucius' time, but this is contradicted by other academics stating that during the 5th century BCE there was no word for gold and that it was an unknown metal in China. [4]

However, despite the uncertain origins, there are enough similarities in the ideas of practices of Chinese alchemy and the Daoist tradition so that one can conclude that Laozi and Zhang Daoling are the creators of this tradition. In her article, Radcliffe tells that Zhang rejected serving the Emperor and retreated to live in the mountains. At this time, he met Laozi and together they created (or attempted to create) the Elixir of Life (Radcliffe, 2001), by creating the theory that would be used in order to achieve the making of such an elixir. This is the starting point to the Chinese tradition of alchemy, whose purpose was to achieve immortality.

One of the first evidence of Chinese alchemy being openly discussed in history is during the Qin's First Emperor's period when Huan Kuan (73-49 BC) states how modifying forms of nature and ingesting them will bring immortality to the person who drinks them. [5] Before Huan Kuan, the idea of alchemy was to turn base metals into gold. Conflicting research on the origins of alchemy are further demonstrated by Cooper, who claims that alchemy "flourished well before 144 BCE, for at that date the Emperor issued an edict which ordered public execution for anyone found making counterfeit gold". [2] This suggests that people were well aware of how to heat the metals in order to change them into a desired form. A further counter to Pregadio from Cooper is the latter's contention that an emperor in 60 BCE had hired "a well-known scholar, Liu Hsiang, as Master of the Recipes so that he could make alchemical gold and prolong the Emperor's life." All of these conflicting origins considered, it is nearly impossible to claim any absolute knowledge on the origins of Chinese alchemy. However, historical texts of Daoist teaching include alchemical practices, most of which posit the existence of an elixir or the Golden Elixir that, when ingested, gives the drinker eternal life.

As there is a direct connection between Daoism and Laozi, some suggest he played a major role in the creation of Chinese alchemy. Zhou Dynasty philosopher Zou Yan is said to have written many of the alchemical books, although none of them have ever been found, nor have the existing ones been credited to him. [4] The likeliest proponents of Chinese alchemy are as previously stated, Laozi, and Zhang Daoling as well as Zhuangzi. Each of these men are major icons in Daoist teachings. Although these three are credited with the creation of alchemy, there is no definitive proof to suggest or dispute that they were responsible for its creation.

Yin and Yang Edit

The concept of yin-yang is pervasive throughout Chinese alchemical theory. Metals were categorized as being male or female, and mercury and sulphur especially were thought to have powers relating to lunar and solar respectively. [2]

Prior to Taoist tradition, the Chinese already had very definitive notions of the natural world's processes and "changes", especially involving the wu xing: Water, Fire, Earth, Metal and Wood. [6] These were commonly thought to be interchangeable with one another each were capable of becoming another element. The concept is integral, as the belief in outer alchemy necessitates the belief in natural elements being able to change into others. The cyclical balance of the elements relates to the binary opposition of yin-yang, and so it appears quite frequently.

Watch the video: Jeffrey Raff - Jung and the Alchemical Imagination (June 2022).