A Short Introduction to Alchemy


Alchemy is an ancient skill of transforming base metals into precious ones, and the aspiration to find the Philosopher’s Stone, that is, the search for the elixir of life. We distinguish Alexandrian protochemistry, Arabic alchemy and European spiritual alchemy, although this art had a deep mystical meaning for almost all alchemists.

Alchemy has long been practiced in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, the Far East as well as in Europe from antiquity to modern times, to the establishment of today’s chemistry.

The name came to Europe in the 13th century when translating the Arabic name al-kimia (الكيمياء) into Latin. The English translator did not know how to translate the Arabic al, so he left it in the original. Thus a form of alchemy entered European culture. The Arabic form of kimia originates from the ancient Greek χυμεία hymeia, meaning ‘mixture’, which was first used by Zosimus of Panopolis (350-420) as a name for the art of metal conversion around 400 AD. There is also an opinion that the term hymeia, or kimya, comes from the word Kem (“black earth”), the name by which Egypt was called in antiquity.

The art of metal conversion, Zosimus named after the alleged sage and prophet Khemes, the founder of alchemy about whom little has been learned to date. Zosimus cites him as a great sage and founder of alchemy.

Alchemy was studied both as a theoretical skill and as a practical skill. The main goals of the alchemical study were the discovery of the Philosopher’s stone, that is, the process of metal transmutation, which was the “Great Work” (Magnum opus) in the narrow sense, and universal medicine.

Alchemists believed that there was a way to convert any kind of metal into gold, with the help of this stone. By turning it into a liquid, an elixir of life was to be obtained which was to enable longevity to the possessor. The art of metal conversion was named by Zosimus after the alleged sage and prophet Khemes, the founder of alchemy, about whom little has been learned to date. Zosimus cites him as a great sage and founder of alchemy.

The “great work” is the main part of practical alchemy, symbolized by the “solar tree,” by means of which a red stone was to be obtained which enabled the transmutation of the metal into gold.

Ancient and Hellenistic Egypt

This mystical teaching comes from the ancient Egyptian text Tabula Smaragdina. Alchemists believed that it was written by Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes three times the largest), which is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth, the god of scripture and wisdom. The Tabula Smaragdina is a text of a magical character, which describes the process of preparing the Philospher’s stone. This text has been studied for many centuries by alchemists to decipher and unravel its secret.

Protochemistry initially developed in Egypt, where the first chemical apparatuses were developed. The golden age of Alexandrian alchemy lasted from the end of the 3rd to the beginning of the 5th century. The most famous Greek alchemist was Zosimus of Panopolis, who lived in Alexandria. He wrote a large number of works, many of which have been preserved. Significant from that time is Mary the Jew (Mary of Alexandria), who invented the water bath (kerotakis), which is still named after her today, and Cleopatra the Coptic, the namesake of the Egyptian queen, who invented the distillation apparatus.

In the Hellenistic period, alchemical knowledge, along with other knowledge, is stored in the Library of Alexandria. Part of that knowledge will be saved from the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and taken to the area of ​​the Middle East, where it will be taken over by the Arabs and further developed.

Arabic alchemy

During the Abbasid dynasty, in the 9th century, the Arabs founded the Academy of Sciences in Baghdad, where ancient works were translated from Greek into Arabic and thus preserved for future generations. Among these works were alchemical ones, and the importance of the Arab contribution to the development of alchemy and chemistry is evidenced by the words that came into universal use: alchemy, alcohol, elixir.

The most important Arab alchemists were Jabir ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber (750-c.815) and al-Razi (865-925). Geber’s most famous work is Summa perfectionis magisterii.

European alchemy

During the 12th century, Arab philosophical and mystical texts reached Europe through the Middle East and Spain, rediscovering Aristotle’s philosophy for a new European audience, along with the works of Arab scholars Avicenna (980-1036) and Averroes.

Until the 15th century, alchemy was practiced by wizards, magicians and the most learned people. At its core, it was believed that it was possible to make the Philosopher’s stone, which would turn base metals into gold and make an elixir of life and eternal youth (which has nothing to do with today’s concept of immortality and materialism). Thanks to alchemical research, many chemical discoveries have been made.

The principles of alchemy can be summarized: From one everything, from everything one, in one everything. One of the symbols of alchemy is Ouroboros: a snake that eats its tail.

Alchemy & Demonology

There are some demons that can assist the alchemist on his journey, depending on the stage of spiritual transmutation he is at. The main ones are Lucifer, Lilith, Paimon, Abaddon and Leviathan.

Summoning such demon98s can move the alchemist from a lower point of transmutation to a higher point, and it can also allow the alchemist to achieve what some would consider supernatural powers, such as the ability to communicate with the spiritual world, visit the astral realm, improve ordinary mental faculties and develop supersensible means of communication and control of external objects and even people.

If you wish to walk the path of alchemy with the help of powerful demons, I can help you achieve that through my ritual work. You can request a ritual on this page and I will do what is necessary to assist you.  

Astennu Sever

Practicing occultist and writer with a particular interest in summoning magic. I conduct summoning rituals for clients - https://occultist.net/request-a-ritual/ To learn more about practical magick, get my latest book "The Psy-Mage Compendium" on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ouvops

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