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    Brief History of Alchemy in the West

    Alchemy~ ALCHEMY IN THE WEST ~


    The Illuminated who taught and practiced the form of Illuminism we call Alchemy originated with the tribal shamans and city dwellers of ancient cultures, who called their teachings the Divine Art. The Divine Art came to be called Alchemy after the Greek word ‘chemae’ (‘refining the black earth’--from earlier Egyptian) was used in the Fourth Century to symbolize both material and spiritual transformation. Arab mystics who later took up the Greek teachings added the prefix ‘Al,’ signifying Divine spirit; thus ‘Alchemy’ means ‘refining the Divine spirit out of the black earth.’

    There are two kinds of Alchemy, an outer, physical, Alchemy and an inner, spiritual, Alchemy. Physical Alchemy attempts to create a substance, the Philosophers’ Stone (also called the Elixir or Tincture), which has the power to transmute one metal into another, as well as regenerate and prolong human life. The belief that this was a spiritual undertaking led to the idea that the practitioner of Alchemy must first attain to a state of spiritual grace before he could obtain the Elixir or Stone. Spiritual Alchemy attempts to transform man into a state of spiritual grace by uniting the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. By re-attaining this ancient union from which man had fallen or strayed, man could once again manifest the powers of the Spirit he had lost. The Philosophers’ Stone symbolized these powers. The combination of the two kinds of Alchemy gradually developed into a system where the language of outer Alchemy was used to describe inner alchemical transformation.

    In the world’s oldest civilizations, astrology’s ability to connect the heavens with the earth made it a basis for all spiritual undertakings. Astrology was combined with mathematics to create a matrix for the application of spiritual ideas to earthly existence. This matrix formed the basis for cults of Illumination, which came to form the mystic core of many religions. The oldest references to Alchemy come from China, where ancient Chinese alchemists called the Philosophers’ Stone the Tan Stone, the Dragon’s Pearl of Great price. The Chinese derived mercury from cinnabar, and they called mercury the soul of metals, likened to the human soul. Early Chinese alchemists sought the Elixir of Immortality, and only in late Chinese Alchemy was the transmutation of metals sought, after the importation of western ideas. The Chinese alchemist Liu An wrote in 122 that "gold grows in the earth by a slow process and is evolved from the immaterial principle underlying the universe, passing from one form to another up to silver, and then from silver to gold." Chinese Alchemy was transmitted to India, where one of the names for Alchemy was Rasayana, the art of restoring health and promoting long life through plant extracts. A 12th Century manuscript called Rasarnava states that "it is mercury alone that can make the body undecaying and immortal." Yoga, which means ‘reunion,’ developed as the primary form of Alchemy in India, particularly Tantric (or Sex) and Kundalini Yoga.

    When the early Sumerians arrived from Asia, they brought with them a religious mythos of divine "star-fire." This manifested as a cult of sex magick employed by priests and nobles to regenerate or prolong life. The initiates became Children of the Gods and claimed immortality by ‘climbing’ the two sacred trees on the mountain that connected heaven and earth. This was accomplished by a spiritual journey through the Underworld, and thus the Guide to the Underworld became a symbol of these Mysteries. This hidden or occult knowledge passed through the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Hebrews and Arabs. Almost all religions originating in antiquity had an inner mystical teaching. However, since mystics did not adhere to the dogma of any one religion, many religions considered them to be heretics, a word which originally meant ‘one who chooses for oneself.’

    The basic alchemical doctrine of the seven planets and their corresponding metals, and the four manifestations of matter (fire, air, water, earth) were transmitted from Sumeria and Babylon as the "Chaldean Art." The Sumerian mythos was transmitted to the Persians as a cult of fire-worshippers. About 1200 BC, the Persian prophet Zarathushtra (whom the Greeks called Zoroaster) reformed the Persian fire-worshipping cult by defining fire as a symbol of a divine energy which brings mental enlightenment and spiritual illumination. He believed the world was made of fire, water, earth and an all-nourishing ether. As the religion of Zarathustra developed, the esoteric teachings became occult teachings among the Magi.

    From the time of Orpheus, many ancient Greek philosophers taught spiritual ideas which were later assimilated by alchemists. The Sixth Century BC Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus believed that a spiritual fire was the cause of all motion and life, and that the inner fire had to be circulated to regain immortality. In the Fifth Century BC, the Greek philosopher Empedocles wrote that the separation of the four elements in the spiritual vortex of the universe gave rise to an imperfect creation which man could redeem by the manipulation of the elements within him. Xenocrates, Plato’s successor at the Academy, taught that man’s Olympian (heavenly) nature must be united with his Titanic (earthly) nature to achieve man’s redemption. Aristotle elaborated on the make-up of Empedocles’ four elements and added the Pythagorean fifth element, the quintessence, which was attained when the other elements were in balance.

    The seven metals were believed to have a spiritual life, and many theories of the evolution of metals were explored. The most popular was that all metals were evolving into gold, and that by manipulation all other metals could be transmuted into their highest evolutionary state as gold. Another theory held that all metals other than gold were created imperfect and needed to be redeemed into gold by transmutation. Alchemists spoke of the seed of metals, the procurement of which would allow the alchemist to transmute one metal into another. The theory that metals were made of atoms was put forth by Anaxagoras in the Sixth Century BC, and later by Democritus in the Fourth Century BC, and the manipulation of these invisible particles was thought to be one way to transform metals. The idea that metals grew in the earth under the influence of their planetary patrons continued up until the 16th Century, when mines were still closed to allow the metals to re-grow. While spiritual alchemists speak of the metals as being the seven centers of consciousness within man which correspond to the seven heavens, physical alchemists speak of the seven earthly metals that correspond to the seven planets of the ancients.

    When the religious cults of the Jews and Christians began to take hold, each of these religions gave rise to sects devoted to secret teachings of spiritual attainment through transformation, an esoteric form of Alchemy. "The Vision of Ezekiel" is an example of Elohist Jewish mysticism. Standing by a river in Babylon, the prophet saw a throne whirling through heaven, accompanied by four winged creatures. On the throne was a human being, surrounded by radiance like a rainbow. "The Ascension of Isaiah" is an example of early Yahwist Jewish mysticism. This text describes the ecstatic ascension of the prophet Isaiah through the seven spiritual realms with the aid of words of power. Jewish mystics codified their knowledge in the First Century under the title ‘Work of the Chariot’ (the Merkavah), wherein the seeker must discover the Chariot within the heart to ascend through the seven sephira (spheres) of the ‘Tree of Life.’ An early form of this was the Bahir Illumination, later called the HaKabbalah.

    Jesus was a Jew who spread the Nassorean (‘little fishes’) cult founded by the Jewish wonder-worker, John the Baptist. According to the Gnostics, Jesus taught to certain of his Apostles the ‘Gospels of Resurrection.’ These Gospels taught a methodology to attain the Resurrection while still living and to prepare one to rise through the seven heavens, gaining passage from the Angel who guarded each one. The Apostle John ascended the seven heavens (opened the Book of Seven Seals), and recorded his visions in "The Revelations of Jesus to John" (The Apocalypse). John had a typical alchemical vision of the self in transformation: "I am the First and the Last, and he who lives; I was dead, and behold, I am living forevermore; and I have the keys of death and of hell." The Gnostics, arising from a combination of Greek, Persian, Jewish, and Christian influences, taught that the light spirit of man had been imprisoned in physical matter by a dark force. Adam, the original androgynous spirit of the universe, was now broken into all the souls of men, and had to be reunited by man’s effort. This required a spiritual passage through the seven planetary spheres guarded by spirits, with the aid of gnosis, the knowledge of astral magic practices. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea threw out over half of the scriptures in use by Christians, including all references to mysticism or the Gnostics.

    When Alexander the Great, a student of Aristotle, built Alexandria on the Nile River delta in 332 BC, it quickly became a center of learning in the ancient world. Scholars of all kinds moved to the city to teach and to learn. A great library was established at the Temple of Serapis, where the Mouseion became a university. The library was said to contain over 700,000 manuscripts collected from all over the ancient world. In the Third Century BC, Alexandria attracted such teachers as Euclid, Archimedes, Hipparchus, Eratosthenes and Aristarchus of Samothrace. The ruler Ptolemy Philadelphus even acquired the personal library of Aristotle for Alexandria, and Greek philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Egypt.

    Egyptian physical alchemists were among the most advanced metallurgists in the world, and they had devised many forms of gold-plating and imitation gold. However, Egyptian law forbade the publication of alchemical secrets. Consequently, few alchemical manuscripts appeared in Egypt until the work of the Greek philosopher Democritus (470-380 BC), Physika kai Mystika, was published in Alexandria by one of his students around 200 BC. Democritus was the first philosopher to describe the color changes that take place during the alchemical Work: black, white, yellow and red. Based on the theory of the four elements, Democritus divided the alchemical Work into four stages. He originated the idea that the Work "lies only in the rotation of the elements," resulting in the fifth element, the quintessence. The old six or seven steps of the alchemical transformation were now sometimes reduced to four. Then, the Alexandrian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (100-160) put forth his geo-centric theory, with the four elements of the earth, the seven planetary spheres and the twelve signs of the zodiac; subsequently, the alchemical Work was also divided into twelve stages. Afterward, alchemists divided their Work into four, seven or twelve steps.

    The greatest achievement of Alexandria was the rise of the eclectic philosophy, which takes the best ideas from many different philosophies and combines them. Plato taught that only a direct experience of the Divine would allow the soul to attain salvation, and the Greeks generally held the philosophy of Plato to be the highest wisdom, until the translation of the Jewish scriptures in the Sepuagint. The attempt to bring the two philosophies into harmony resulted in the rise of the Hermetic Tradition, and its greatest work, the Poimandres. Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods and Guide of the Dead, was transformed in Hellenistic Egypt into Hermes Thrice Greatest, teacher of spiritual wisdom. The Poimandres, today called the Pymander of Hermes, was written around the First Century BC in Alexandria, and combines Platonic philosophy with Jewish theology. Throughout the work, directions are given for attaining the Great Work of Alchemy.

    The Jewish Platonic philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - 45) further expounded on this in his work, On the Creation of the World, originating the idea of the divine creative ‘logos.’ While Philo said that the union of the arkhe (ruling beginning, the heavens) and the telos (end, the creation of man) was the grand expression of God’s essence, he declined to tackle the subject of redemption. Another creation of the eclectics of Alexandria, Gnosticism, took up the idea of redemption, but followed the Jewish mythos that it was the redemption of the universe, not the individual, that was important. Christian Gnostics such as Basilides and Valentinus of the Second Century utilized St. Paul’s "spirit, soul and body" in their theology of the Divine and Natural races of man, setting the stage for the further development of individual redemption. The Christian theologian, Origen of Alexandria (185-254), in his On First Principles, developed the idea of the continuation of the personality as a unique aspect of the Divine, destined to retain its uniqueness when it was reunited with its Creator and containing within itself the "seeds of restoration." Subsequently, the Hellenistic philosopher Plotinus (205-270) combined Platonic, Christian and Gnostic ideas on the importance of the redemption of the individual, giving rise to the philosophy of Neo-Platonism. Plotinus developed the idea that the lower emotional or sensual personality must be overcome or "forgotten" if the higher personality of the intellect is to attain reunification with its Divine Source. According to his student Porphyry of Tyre (262-310), who published the teachings of Plotinus in the Ennead, the last words of Plotinus were: "Strive to bring back the god in yourselves to the God in the All." This philosophy provided the basis for the alchemical Work.

    Plotinus taught that the soul could attain salvation (reunification with its Divine Source) quickly by meditating on its own Divine Nature, and he therefore eschewed a belief in astrology, since he considered the divine soul a co-creator of the heavens. However, his student Porphyry (a former Christian) taught that the soul’s progress was incremental over time through the doing of good works, and he believed the knowledge of astrology helped one to understand the soul and its relationship to the Divine. Porphyry’s student, Iamblichus of Apamea, originated the concept of ‘theurgy,’ the use of ritual to invoke spiritual powers to aid the individual’s transformation from a fragmented soul into something pure and unchangeable, and defended his ideas in his work, On the Mysteries. Interestingly, these three approaches to individual redemption are represented by the three methods of Alchemy: the lightning way, the wet way and the dry way. Around the year 300, Zosimos of Panopolis (Akhmim) published an encyclopedia of 28 books on Alchemy. His work used sources such as Babylonian astrology, Greek philosophy, Egyptian magic and Gnosticism, and combined the practical Alchemy of metal working with the spiritual Alchemy of ancient Greek philosophers. Zosimos accepted the Hermetic teaching that the origin of the term ‘chemae’ was from the books of the Divine Art of attaining immortality given to man by the fallen angels. He is best known for the highly detailed dreams he had of undergoing the alchemical transformation, and for his codified method of the Great Work of Alchemy known as the Formula of the Crab.

    The last of the Ptolemys, Cleopatra, had lost Egypt to the Roman Empire in 30 BC. Subsequently, the influx of false alchemical gold into the Roman economy was so devastating that the Emperor Diocletian issued a decree in 290 that all books on "kimia" were to be destroyed. When Rome became officially Christian in 325, Christians undertook the conversion of pagan Alexandria. In 382, the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius made heresy punishable by death, and in 391, he ordered the destruction of the famous Temple of Serapis. The destruction of the university and library, with its knowledge collected from throughout the ancient world, marked the end of Alexandria’s golden age. Spiritual Alchemy was spared by the Christians because it was not specifically pagan. The Fifth Century Bishop of Ptolemais, Synesius, published a work of dream interpretation and Alchemy, while in the early Seventh Century, the alchemist Stephanos of Alexandria became the court alchemist of the Christian Emperor Herakleois I of Byzantium. Stephanos wrote a book on Alchemy that laid out in nine chapters the entire Great Work of Alchemy as a means of spiritual regeneration. He revealed the secret that the mercury and sulphur of the alchemists did not refer to the physical substances, but were qualities. In 642, Arabs bearing the new religion of Islam captured Alexandria, and the mantle of alchemical study and research passed from the Greeks to the Arab world.

    Prince Khalid ibn Yazid, born in Damascus in 660, summoned Greek philosophers from Egypt to Damascus and ordered them to translate alchemical works from Greek into Arabic. He was, however, unhappy that none of them could actually create gold. When the visiting Alexandrian alchemist and Christian scholar Morienus did so, Khalid became his student. Eventually, Khalid learned the secret of the Great Work of Alchemy from Morienus, who had in turn been a student of the Alexandrian alchemist Stephanos. Prince Khalid died in 704.

    The potent combination of Neo-Platonic and Gnostic ideas with Greek Alchemy and Islamic mysticism combined to produce the great Arabian Alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan. Al-Jabir was the son of Hayyan, a Shi’ite druggist of the Azd tribe from the town of Kufa. Jabir was born in the town of Tus in 721, and within a few years his father was beheaded and his body impaled for political activities. Jabir was raised in Arabia by relatives. There, he studied under the scholar Harbi al-Himyari. Acquiring a great knowledge of the arts and sciences, Jabir became an alchemist at the court of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Jabir was also a close personal friend of the great Shi’ite Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, who was Jabir’s master in the Sufis. He became friends with the Caliph himself, and wrote a book on Alchemy for him titled the Book of Venus.

    Al-Rashid was so impressed with Jabir’s scholarship that he financed his massive acquisition of old Greek alchemical and scientific manuscripts from Byzantium. Jabir wrote books on many different subjects, including astronomy, astrology, geometry, medicine, chemistry, philosophy, and Alchemy. The distillation of liquid mercury (quicksilver) from cinnabar was practiced at an early date and probably gave rise to the alchemical dictum that one must ‘separate the volatile from the fixed,’ as well as the alchemical belief that mercury was one of the primary constituents of matter. Jabir originated the idea that metals were composed of mercury and sulphur. Trade with China brought Chinese alchemical knowledge to the attention of Arabian scholars, and Jabir adopted symbolism of the Ming-Tang, the Temple of Enlightenment. The central glyph of this system was a magic square of nine numbers, with the number five in the center. He derived the numbers one, three, five, eight, seventeen and twenty-eight from the square after separating the gnomon. Jabir applied these numbers to his understanding of the alchemical elements and their successful manipulation, and his mystical interpretation of this magic square resulted in its use being adopted by the Sufis. He emphasized the rhythms of circulating energy, which he referred to as the "weight," and his emphasis on the importance of balance in the alchemical Work is considered one of Jabir’s most important contributions to the Art.

    Al-Jabir founded an alchemical school, whose students produced a large number of alchemical manuscripts. The oldest known reference to the famous Emerald Tablet occurs in the writings of Jabir, who quoted it from ‘The Secret of Creation’ by the Greek wonder-worker and Pythagorean master, Apollonius of Tyana. Evidence indicates the manuscript came to Arabia from Greece by way of Syria, not Egypt as is commonly supposed. Tarikas (secret societies) such as the Roshaniya (Illuminated Ones), known as the Lamp-Makers for their secret of creating the inner Light, began to flourish and an Arabian sect of the Illuminati, the Isma’ilites, preserved many of Jabir’s writings. Medieval alchemists knew Jabir by the Latin form of his name, Geber. Al-Jabir ibn Hayyan died in the year 815 in the town of Tus.

    Many Greek manuscripts were translated into Arabic at a college run by Hunain ibn Ishaq, born at Hira in 809, and other Arabian alchemists followed Al-Jabir. One of the best known was the physician Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya, called Al-Razi, born at Rhagae near Tehran in 825. Al-Razi added salt to Jabir’s mercury and sulphur as a basic element of metals, giving Alchemy the mercury-sulphur-salt combination still used today. He also began the classification of substances as vegetable, mineral or animal. Other Arabian alchemists who published alchemical works included Maslama ibn Ahmad (Al-Majriti), Muhammad ibn Umail, Ibn Arfa Ras, Aidamur al-Jildaki and Abu’l-Qasim al-Iraqi. Al-Iraqi revealed that fire alone will not effect the transmutation, but that the white or red elixir must be added for success. Arabian culture and knowledge began to be transmitted to Europe after Islamic Moors invaded Spain under Tarik ibn Zayid in 711, and built three great universities there at Toledo, Cordoba, and Seville.

    Gnostic and Neo-Platonic works were brought to France in the Ninth Century, where they were translated by Johannes Scotus Erigena, a Scottish mystic from Ireland. Subsequently, Christian mysticism re-emerged as the Mystery of the Holy Grail. However, despite the practice of Alchemy among the ancient Greeks, Alchemy was generally unknown in Europe prior to the Arab invasions. After Toledo was re-taken from the Arabs in 1105, Archbishop Raymond founded the College of Translators there for the purpose of translating Arabic works for Europeans. The earliest known translation of Arabian Alchemy into Latin was Englishman Robert of Chester’s translation of the Book of the Composition of Alchemy by Morienus in 1144. Robert was also the first to translate the Koran and the Arabian form of mathematics known as ‘algebra.’ His most influential work was the translation of the ‘Emerald Tablet’ from Jabir ibn Hayyan’s writing. Increasingly, scholars such as Gerard of Cremona, in Lombardy, Adelard of Bath, Roger of Hereford and Maimonides the Jew revealed the vast Arabic knowledge to Europeans. As a result, a wave of alchemical studies was ignited throughout Europe.

    Some of the greatest minds of the time studied Arabian Alchemy. These included the German Bishop Albertus Magnus, born in Suabia in 1193, and his famous student, Thomas Aquinas; the Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon, born in Somerset in 1214; and Arnold of Villanova, physician to kings and popes, born in Valencia in 1235. New ideas gave rise to new divergent religious sects, and even the Knights Templar were harboring some form of mysticism in their strongholds. The Church responded to this outbreak of freedom by pressing rulers and Christians to murder "heretics." Alchemists who were not Christian or who were thought to express heretical ideas in their writings were "tested" by the Church after Pope John XXII issued a decree prohibiting the practice of Alchemy in 1317. Fortunately, many alchemists avowed Christian beliefs or were so cryptic in their Work that they were largely unmolested by the Church.

    Alchemists continued to study and publish throughout Europe, and a significant number of alchemists were members of the clergy, including Abbots, Bishops and Cardinals. Many kings and princes were alchemists, and had their own alchemical laboratories or paid for those of the many alchemists they hired. It was not uncommon for alchemists to be extremely learned men, many of them physicians, who traveled widely in search of alchemical knowledge at a time when such travel was dangerous. In the 15th Century, increasing resistance to the censorship of the Church and the invention of the printing press helped to break the Church’s hold over what knowledge was made available to the public. Powerful people were starting to chip away at the ‘walled Christianity’ of the Church. In 1463, Cosimo de Medici paid Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) of the Florentine Platonic Academy to translate and publish the landmark work Corpus Hermeticum, fourteen treatises on Gnostic and Neo-Platonic philosophy. Ficino also translated other works by Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus and Pseudo-Dionysius. By 1500, printing had become established throughout Europe, and the spread of ideas that resulted helped to bring about the Reformation.

    By the beginning of the 17th Century, a new religious freedom in Europe brought a new surge of mysticism. Alchemical and Kabbalistic texts multiplied, and scholars began identifying themselves as Rosicrucians or Masons or Alchemists. In 1614, German Protestant Johann Valentin Andreae’s Fama Fraternitatis R.C. started an avalanche of "Rosicrucian" publications and alchemical treatises. The Jewish Kabbalah became a popular scheme for spiritual transformation among Christian mystics, and the teachings of Illuminism spread throughout Europe, influencing a wide range of scholars and philosophers. Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the father of modern chemistry, was a secret, but unsuccessful, alchemist; and even his friend, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), left voluminous alchemical notes in his manuscripts. Alchemy was denounced by a frustrated Robert Boyle in his influential book, The Skyptical Chemist, and the scientific community spawned by the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th Century. Yet as late as 1780, Cardinal Prince de Rohan was conducting alchemical experiments with the infamous Cagliostro.

    During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), Catholic and Protestant armies had continually clashed throughout Germany and many Protestant Rosicrucians fled to England, where the English nobility supported the Rosicrucians. The establishment of the Royal Society and activities by occultists such as Elias Ashmole helped to create an atmosphere where occult Freemasonry could arise. Masonic lodges were one of the ‘carriers’ of the Rosicrucian / Kabbalistic / Alchemical doctrines that gave birth to the modern magickal tradition in England. The word magic had been taken from the Magi, and consisted largely of astrology, divination, summoning spirits and making amulets and talismans. Magic became magick, that is, a system of spiritual transformation, when Masons and Rosicrucians institutionalized their practices as Magickal Orders. The most successful of these Orders were the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) a sex magick lodge, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in London in 1888. This group had descended from the important and influential continental alchemical society known as the Order of the Gold and Rose Cross.

    The OTO spawned many offshoots, including the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC), a Rosicrucian group founded by American Lewis Spence in 1909. The Golden Dawn’s most successful initiate, Aleister Crowley, devised two systems of attainment of the Great Work, one using Yoga techniques he learned in Ceylon and another utilizing techniques of sex magick (Crowley had taken over the OTO). Crowley transmitted this system to all of the many offshoots of his Work, including the Order of the Silver Star (AA), the Great Brotherhood of God (GBG), and Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft. Although he did not directly address the subject of Alchemy in the original publication of his monumental Book Four (Magick in Theory and Practice), Crowley later added a general explanation in which he concluded that anything can become a sacrament to aid our transformation under the right circumstances. He indicated that even the ‘charcoal burners’ could aid the internal processes of Alchemy by properly preparing a substance and ingesting it. He preferred to call it magick, however.

    Most Alchemical manuscripts extant in the West today were written or translated in Europe between the 12th and 18th Centuries. During the Middle Ages, Germany was the hotbed of Alchemy, where hundreds of alchemical manuscripts were published. Afterwards, France became the center for alchemical studies. The works of the early 20th Century French alchemist Jean-Julien Champagne (Fulcanelli), published and popularized by his student M. Eugene Canseliet, contain spiritual Alchemy as well as esoteric chemistry. Unfortunately, most French alchemists make a limited interpretation of Fulcanelli’s works, and are little more than ‘charcoal burners’ and ‘puffers.’ France today is the world’s greatest center of primitive chemists bent on turning lead into gold and discovering a magick potion to gain immortal life. One of the more illuminated of them, the modern French alchemist Jean Dubuis, founder of the Philosophers of Nature, said, "You will transmute nothing if you have not transmuted yourself before."



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