Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Transcript of The Silvery Water by Ibn Umayl at-Tamîmî by An Islamic artist 739H/1339, probably in Baghdad. Topkapi Library (Public Domain)

Grandfathers of Alchemy, Forefathers Of Chemistry

Alchemy is a word almost everyone has heard of, but few have ever committed more than a handful of hours trying to grasp what this heavily loaded symbolic word actually means, in its entirely. So often the interested are discouraged by the complex matrix of bizarre symbols and motifs which include nightmarish creatures and semi-divine humans emerging from shadows searching for pure alchemical gold of a type that cannot be bitten, to test its fortitude. Even fewer know that the ultimate goal of the Western alchemist was ‘Projection’, achieved after successfully creating the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, and this powder of projection was thought of as having the ability to transmute lesser metals and substance into their higher form; with gold being the ‘king’ both temporally and allegorically.

Multiplicatio’ emblem from Philosophia Reformata, by Johann Daniel Mylius, 1622. In this image “multiplication” is illustrated with a pelican and a lion feeding their young. (Public Domain)

Multiplicatio’ emblem from Philosophia Reformata, by Johann Daniel Mylius, 1622. In this image “multiplication” is illustrated with a pelican and a lion feeding their young. (Public Domain)

The Ultimate Goal Of Alchemy

Alchemy describes historic explorations into natural philosophies and while this philosophical, proto-scientific conquest originated in Mesopotamia and Greco-Roman Egypt in the first few centuries AD, it was subsequently practiced across Europe, Africa, and Asia. The primary goal of the alchemist was to purify, mature, and perfect different materials and substances. Early experiments played an important role in the development of scientific knowledge, especially in the discipline of chemistry, where alchemists essentially founded its development. But alchemy had a parallel philosophy which attempted to identify precursors and base elements, and mythology has corrupted these arts into the greatly simplified idea of hooded old men locked in moonlit tower-laboratories attempting to turn base metals such as lead, into gold.

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