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Alchemy
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

The Alchemical symbol showing the serpent of Arabia, the triple sun, and the moon

ORIGINS:

There are many theories. All we know for sure is that the practice of alchemy began in Alexandria, Egypt.

Alchemy was thought, by the ancient Egyptians, to have been taught to mankind by their god Thoth. Thoth was originally a moon god, and was later associated with writing and knowledge and was called the god of wisdom, learning, and magic. Thoth is considered to be the son of Re by some and the son of Horus by others. Re was their god of the sun. Re is depicted as a falcon wearing the fiery disc of the sun on his head. Horus is the lord of the skies. Horus is the divine falcon. Thoth was said to heal the injured eye of Horus. Thoth was invoked in many spells utilized in popular magic and religion. Thoth is portrayed as an ibis-headed man or as an ibis. The ancient Egyptian language is the second-oldest recorded language (after Sumerian). The ibis was considered an earthly manifestation of Thoth. Ibises were embalmed and buried in clay urns and burial crypts of Saqqarah were said to contain several million mummies. Job 38:36: "Who hath given the ibis wisdom and the rooster insight?"

Yet another tradition says that the science of alchemy was brought to Egypt by refugees from the sinking continent of Atlantis.

Hermes Trismegistus/"Thrice Great Hermes" was described as the earthly incarnation of the Egyptian god Thoth and was portrayed as an Egyptian priest, or a pharoah, who taught the Egyptians all their magic. Hermes lived 2500 years before Christ. He is credited with having written: Tabuka Smaragdina or the "Emerald Tablet." This Emerald Tablet was said to contain all hermetic teachings - the thirteen precepts - including the fundamental principles for the Grand Arcanum, or "Great Secret." There are many references to the "Emerald Tablet" in all alchemical writings.

A soul that has gained no knowledge of the things that are, and has not come to know their nature, nor to know the Good, but is blind, such a soul is tossed about among the passions which the body breeds; it carries the body as a burden, and is ruled by it instead of ruling it. That is the vice of the soul. On the other hand, the virtue of the soul is knowledge. He who gets knowledge is good and pious; he is already divine...

Hermes Trimegistus, Libellus X, Corpus Hermeticism.

Traditionally, writing can be placed in the First Dynasty, but more recent discoveries have placed writing BEFORE this. Coptic, the liturgical language of the Coptic Church, is a form of the Egyptian language and thus we could say that the Egyptian language has been used for 5,000 years. This Egyptian is the longest spoken language in the world. Both Sumerian and Egyptian writing are thought to be connected. However, the Egyptian language did not use any vowels.

Ancient Egypt has continued to be a source of inspiration for mystics and followers of the occult. For many centuries alchemy was the exclusive province of the priesthood, and its secrets were transmitted only to initiates. Alchemy was pre-Christianity and thus considered pagan. The hermetic creed, alchemy and astrology probably originated from Alexandria (see above). The earliest legends regarding magicians were from the "westcar" papyrus which dates from circa 1700 B.C. Interestingly, many psychics name themselves with Egyptian names or claim to be reincarnated Egyptian priests or priestesses.

    There are two types of Philosopher stones in tradition alchemy beliefs:

  1. white stones which converts prima materia into silver AND
  2. yellow stones which changes prima materia into gold.

Alchemists have made numerous attempts to create prima materia and the Philosopher's Stone.

The alchemist's search for the elixir of life, which would give its creator immortality is even more difficult than the Philosopher's Stone.

    THE ELIXIR MUST INCLUDE FOUR ELEMENTS:

  1. fire
  2. water
  3. earth
  4. air
    AND THREE PRINCIPLES:

  1. animal
  2. vegetable
  3. prima materia or tan.

To work with these ingrediants many thought it was neccessary to use crocodile livers, human skeltons, mandrake roots, and gall bladders of antelopes.

Famous Alchemists:

The Rosicrucians:

The Rosicrucians were said to follow the teachings of Paracelsus.

    Rosicrucian Concepts

  1. The origin of the universe is divine.
  2. The soul is a spark of the divine consciousness in the universe.
  3. The moral law is the basic law of the universe.
  4. The soul-force possesses potenially the powers of the divine principle at work in the universe.
  5. Life has a purpose. Life is not meaningless.
  6. Man has free choice.
  7. Since the individual soul is part of the universal soul, man has access to powers he does not know, but which time, knowledge, and experience will gradually reveal to him.

.....The Rosicrucians

Articles on Alchemy:

Various Articles About Alchemy

SOURCES:

Brewer, Douglas J. and Emily Teeter. Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Budge, E.A. Wallis. Egyptian Magic. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1971.

Page, Michael and Robert Ingpen. Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1987, 141.

Putnam, James. Egyptology. New York: Shooting Star Press, Inc., 1990/

Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddess of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2003.

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