The practice of Real Alchemy is inherently dangerous. Formal his book is a revelation of the genuine craft of alchemy as it was meant to be practiced. Real Alchemy is an easy to understand manual in Practical Alchemy. It explores the History of Alchemy to the present day, as well as practical. One of the few practicing alchemists in the modern era, Robert Allen Bartlett explains of that for yourself after reading the new book on Alchemy - Real Alchemy.
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download Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy on musicmarkup.info ✓ FREE SHIPPING This book is equivalent to a 5th or 6th grade class book for Hogwarts. Editorial Reviews. Review. Robert has created a work for the ages in this book -- a true classic. Filled with many useful examples and explanations, I rank this. Real Alchemy book. Read 18 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A ground-breaking modern manual on an ancient art, Real Alchemy draws.
No comments Books used by alchemists offer insights into the relationship between these early chemists and their texts. Philosophers call it the examiner and the stilanx. Poets say that in this bath Vulcan washed Phoebus, and purified him from all dirt and imperfection. It is produced from the purest mercury and sulfur, under the genus of vitriol, in metallic form and brightness. All this fits the famous image of alchemy depicted by the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder around His engraving The Alchemist shows a laboratory in turmoil, littered with paraphernalia and smoky from the fire, where a savant works urgently to make gold while his household descends into disarray all around him. It is being carefully directed by a scholar who sits at the back reading a book.
In the Leiden Papyrus, which dates from the third century A. Put them together into a vessel. Add sharp vinegar or the urine of a youth; heat from underneath until the liquid looks like blood.
Filter it from the sediments, and use it pure. Keep the silver in the mixture for long enough and it will seem, to an untrained eye, that you have turned silver into gold — though Principe notes that he found, after some trial and error, urine works far better than vinegar. You have to admire an author who cooks with his own urine for the sake of research.
Give the eggs to toads, who will hatch them into chicks with serpent tails and will eventually mature into basilisks.
The basilisks are kept in kettles buried underground and then incinerated, their ashes constituting the necessary powder. These two recipes — one relatively practical, one fantastic and absurd — represent the variety and difficulty of coming to grips with alchemy. There must also exist some body of theory that provides an intellectual framework, that undergirds and explains practical work, and that guides pathways for the discovery of new knowledge. This, too, was by design.
Anonymity, pseudonymity, secrecy, mysteries, false trails, and subterfuge fill the entire subject from beginning to end. The Secrets of Alchemy is one of those rare books that, in the best possible sense, asks many more questions than it can answer, with each answered question suggesting a host of other lines of thought. The Secrets of Alchemy moves swiftly through the history of the practice, from its earliest Egyptian, Greek, and Roman origins, through to its adoption and development in the early medieval Arab world, and on to its rediscovery by Christian Europe in the High Middle Ages.
Indeed, as Principe shows, this mystical science remained remarkably malleable in its ability to respond to issues of the day, and reveals its comprehensive impact on more respectable strands of philosophy and religion.
Greenblatt includes only one reference to Arabic culture in The Swerve, a footnote in which he discusses how they destroyed books. But the long tradition of willful obfuscation, of fraud, and of constant reinterpretations and misunderstandings surrounding alchemy explains why Principe, having moved chronologically towards the Early Modern Period, suddenly breaks this sequence, leapfrogging to the 19th century.
He does this in order to debunk, in advance, many of the misconceptions surrounding alchemy that emerged in the past years, which disrupt our ability to see clearly how the Early Moderns actually saw their own world. In Chapter Six, Principe discusses replicating alchemical experiments in the modern laboratory, and provides a tutorial on decoding enigmatic texts.
The first major theoretical direction for alchemy was based on the observation that certain metals could be colored so that they mimic the appearance of gold. Witnessing this action, alchemists such as Zosimos sought a tincture which would allow transmutation. Zosimos was an alchemist who lived around the year A. Their research program was based closely on the mechanisms of action that can tint metals.
He cites the material of earlier practitioners often, giving the impression of a thriving alchemical 'scene' in his era.
Importantly, even in these early writings we witness the use of secrecy. Secrecy had already been a part of the trade literature, because they were trade secrets of artisans that had real economic value. Zosimos takes this tradition even further, employing Decknamen, or cover names for materials which would be discernible to a practitioner but difficult for outsiders to interpret. He also employed literary narratives, describing chemical processes in the form of allegorical 'dreams'.
These dreams are a common feature for mystical revisionists to latch onto, as their esoteric and ostensibly revelatory nature implies the supernatural.
The stone is a legendary substance said to be capable of transmuting all base metals into gold. In the tenth century Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadhani tells the tale of a Muslim ambassador visiting Constantinople. There he witnesses the transmutation of lead into silver and copper into gold by two transmuting agents, one white for silver and another red for gold. These two agents would come to be known as the basic appearance of the Philosophers Stone.
Critically, most seekers after the stone believed that it had already been created. This caused the curious situation where by the golden age of alchemy in Europe, the 'final steps' to making the Philosophers Stone were well known. The debate was about which ingredients to use and how to prepare them. Of course, we do not have any compelling evidence the stone ever existed beyond eyewitness accounts.
In these final steps, the alchemist is to take the substance which forms the stone and place it into a Philosophical Egg. The Egg was a beaker with an 'oval body and a long neck'. The beaker is then completely sealed and heated, a process which should immediately strike anyone with chemical experience as carrying a high risk of explosion. Indeed, many such vessels did explode.
Once the aspiring chrysopoeian has managed to steadily heat the vessel without its explosion for forty days, the mixture should turn black.
This blackness is the first sign one has succeeded in finding the right mixture for the stone. Next one must continue heating at a constant temperature, a task that is trivial with modern electrical equipment, but in those days meant grueling work beside the furnace, using uniformly sized blocks of wood or charcoal and careful intuition, as even thermometers did not yet exist.
Eventually in some weeks the substance should turn white, at which point it may be used to transmute silver.
The red stone however requires further heating. Regardless, the stone must then be mixed with real gold or silver, and given Philosophical Mercury to allow it penetration of solid metals. Finally, the alchemist may test their creation by mixing the stone with melted base metal in a furnace to produce silver or gold.
This last step is known as 'projection', and would thus come to represent disappointment in contemporary popular culture. Beyond its ability to practically achieve chrysopoeia, the legendary stone gained further mythological powers as time went on.
An alchemist writing under the name of Lull for example, conceived of the stone as a universal healer. They said it held the ability to 'heal' lesser metals into perfect gold, cure all illness, and turn lesser gems into precious stones. From a modern physical perspective there's no good reason to expect all three of these things from the same substance, but it presumably seemed plausible to pre-modern ears.
This addition to the myth is a large part of alchemy's and by extension later chemistry's association with medicine. Critically, Western alchemists did not believe that the stone would grant eternal life. Rather, by healing all illness the stone would prolong life to its natural span. Alchemical Practice and Thought Who practiced alchemy? One of the most important points to understand about alchemists, which Principe stresses over and over, is that alchemists were probably no more mystical or religious or unempirical than other contemporary disciplines of their time.
Given the premise that alchemy was about discovering a physical substance which has a physical action on metals, it's not surprising that actual alchemists relied on a great deal of practical laboratory work for their investigations. Alchemy then was usually practiced among intellectual experimentalists, artisans, get-rich-quick schemers, and counterfeiters.
As previously mentioned, the latter group created much trouble for alchemists. A common accusation leveled at alchemy was that it encouraged fraud by getting peoples hopes up about impossible promises of riches, then incentivizing them towards counterfeiting once it becomes clear that they're not making significant progress in achieving real transmutation. Leo Africanus, a freed slave surveying North Africa for the pope wrote negatively of alchemists he encountered in Fez, Morocco.
He describes a group of people that stink of sulfur, gathering around the local mosque at night to debate methods of achieving the stone. Meanwhile their actual trade is in illicit counterfeit currency, a crime for which most of those convened at the mosque have had their hands removed.
This is admittedly something like how I imagine cryptocurrency conferences work. Epistemic Attitudes In Alchemy Because alchemists believed that the stone already existed, great patience was given to work that could be credibly claimed to have been written by an adept, that is someone who is reputed to have already prepared the stone. Ciphers, coded language, allegorical literature, 'dispersion of knowledge' a technique whereby authors would hide processes across multiple books or texts, pseudonymous authorship, all of this was readily accepted by aspiring adepts.
These techniques were meant to ward off those who were not familiar with previous literature, that is to say people who have not made achieving the stone a central goal of their life. We might also speculate though Principe does not that they have the added benefit of forcing literature review from aspiring adepts in a similar manner to mathematical notation today.
The empirical basis of alchemical approaches varied widely. In terms of trends the early schools were probably closely connected with the observed action of counterfeiting methods, the Arabic schools focused more on esoteric approaches, and in the transplantation back to Europe during the middle ages a more empirical strain is found again. One of the most bizarre impressions of pre-modern and early-modern thinking, which I witness surprisingly often, is the idea that empiricism simply didn't occur to pre-modern and early-modern thinkers.
Given that the very word empiricism gets its roots from the Greek philosophical traditions this seems unlikely. A particularly striking example of commitment to observation comes to us through George Starkey, an American alchemist living in the 17th century: When the Great Plague of London--the last major outbreak of bubonic plague in Europe--erupted in , the licensed physicians fled the city. Starkey and his fellow advocates of chemiatria, however, stayed behind.
They challenged the fleeing doctors to test whose medicines would cure more people of the disease. The challenge went unanswered. During the height of the contagion, Starkey caught the plague himself and died a few days later at the age of thirty-seven.
One of the odder episodes in the history of alchemy comes to us from its development in Arabia. In it they propose first that the metals are compositions of four qualities: hot, cold, wet, and dry.
To determine the exact composition of these qualities in a metal, an alchemist is instructed to do the following.
First, these four qualities are placed on a grid, with a 'semiquantitative' scale of their degree of presence in a particular metal. Then, Pythagorean numerology is used to determine that things corresponding to seventeen will predict the nature of reality. This is used to form the size of the grid, along with other details. Once the alchemist has the grid, they use an algorithm to place the syllables of Arabic words for metals onto it. Another algorithm converts the grid into the specific weights of the metals.
Ostensibly, this might seem completely insane. However, Principe provides further details and context which make it less obscure. Essentially, the Pythagorean numerology might be thought of as a universal prior. The Arabic words come into the picture because in the Islamic mythic tradition, the Arabic language is given to Muslims by Allah.
This would make the Arabic names for metals god's names for them, and they thus probably reflect some sort of fundamental properties. In essence these alchemists are attempting a side channel attack on god's dictionary.
We can safely assume however that this methodology, while clever, did not achieve the stone. It does however demonstrate some of the way pre-modern people thought about the world they inhabited. Another curiosity in this vein comes to us from the laboratory notebooks of George Starkey, a priceless set of artifacts that survive to the present day.
Among his mundane observations about the exact weight of materials used, what was witnessed, and other minutia, comes an entry that seems bizarre to the modern reader: "At Bristol, on 20 March , God revealed to me the whole secret of the liquor alkahest; let eternal blessing, honor, and glory be to Him.
And that's if you believe in divine revelation at all. Here Starkey records this as something no more unexpected than any other successful result of his research. What's going on? Principe explains that in the early modern period, Europeans conceived of the world as being deeply layered and connected by god's authorship.
All knowledge was a gift of god, in the literal sense. Even if knowledge came through an intermediary, such as a book, teacher, or observation of the natural world, that knowledge originated from god.
It was quite common to publish texts whose purpose was for educated readers to find connections, either as a personal pursuit or in periodicals which collected and published the best interpretations from readers. To the pre-modern and early-modern mind, metaphors and analogies, which we conceive as the product of human pattern matching, were part of the territory itself rather than the map. Such abstract connections were a method of examining the underlying architecture of god's creation.
In addition to showing that chrysopoetic texts are enciphered rather than gibberish, it also displays some of the impressive abilities of premodern chemists. Basil Valentine for example manages to volatize gold, an operation widely considered impossible by then-known chymical knowledge and essential to the creation of the stone.
His experiment can be replicated today using modern equipment, and Principe found it to be an extraordinarily difficult and subtle endeavor. Somehow, Basil Valentine accomplished this feat using technology available to him in the 16th century.
Principe notes that realistically, whoever Basil Valentine really was the name is almost certainly a pseudonym , they had great practical skill and would likely be a revered experimentalist even today. Being known as an adept could cause you trouble.
While the alchemist never did manage to make the stone for his captor, he did help discover the secret of making porcelain.