Chapter I (foreword)
The Heretic Science
To be an alchemist or even to give the slightest hint that one is engaged in that kind of hokus-pokus can usually cause good citizens to smile overbearingly, for alchemy isn’t something that one can take seriously in our age. So that usually settles the matter, but it has not always been so.
During the medieval age it was a dubious affair to be involved in the production of gold— which is one of the issues in alchemy—and if an alchemist did succeed in producing gold, he or she could count on having a stormy and uneasy life from then on.
The medieval age had both its male and female alchemists, but most preferred to remain anonymous, and they still continue to do so.
There are several reasons why alchemists will not step forward and reveal that they are trying to make gold—or even have done so—for it is with gold as it is with guns: both can have a highly demoralizing effect on weak souls and bring forth their worst sides. This has been the experience of alchemists through the ages, and the wisest of them kept their knowledge and ability to themselves.
Besides, and this might be the most essential part, gold cannot be made in our days skeptics say, for it is an unchangeable element, and so it will remain.
Therefore one cannot sell gold that has been made in an artificial manner, or in other words, “homemade.” For customs and authorities need to see both the name and address of those that buy and sell precious metals, and if the papers are not in order you are doomed.
If one sells it anyway then one is a criminal that cannot account for the gold.
This is the case in a nutshell. Nevertheless alchemists have through all ages dared to claim, that gold can be made, and this being even the finest and purest 24 karat gold. It can be done by a trick, and manipulation of natural laws.
What should one believe for here statement stands against statement? This in itself is very exciting and challenging, and the disbelievers have never stopped a budding alchemist from attempting the process.
But what is alchemy actually? The best explanation given could be the one that stems from the German chemist, doctor and alchemist, J. R. Glauber, who lived in the 17th century. He is no longer remembered as an alchemist, but as the chemist that discovered karlsbadersalt, which in our days is called sodium sulphate. His era had a special name for it, namely sal mirabile Glauberi: Glaubers wonderful salt. For it was effective against even the hardest case of constipation.
Glauber discovered it when he worked with a chemical/alchemical process, for he didn’t make a sharp distinction between chemistry and alchemy. About the Art of Alchemy he has said something very relevant and essential. The following quotation is from a chemical/alchemical work of his published in Paris,1659:
Alchemy is a thought, an image, a discovery, through which the species of metals go from one natural state to another.
In another work, that also was published in French, Glauber says the following about the purely chemical side of alchemy:
The ancients have given this art the name alchemy, that is, saltfusion.
Glauber’s explanation of what alchemy is sounds very modern, for in these years physicist from all over the world have been working with fusion of deuterium at room temperature, called, cold fusion.
But the question is: what did Glauber understand by the term “fusion”?
I decided to find out, and came to an astounding conclusion.
J. R. Glauber was a respected chemist and a reasonable man. He knew the gold process, and has described it several times in his books, but he did not produce gold in large amounts. This would only give him problems he states in one of his scripts. Here we still are today, for if gold can be made artificially in a lab, the world economy and gold markets would collapse. This used to be, and still is, a dilemma.
In the 13th and 14th century, alchemy in Europe was so widespread that the pope in 1307 issued a ban against gold that was made by alchemists. He demanded that all who made artificial gold should be outlawed. At the same time there where heavy fines for those who traded it.
When something is forbidden one would assume that there is a reason for that. One wouldn’t forbid something that doesn’t exist.
In 1404 Henry the 4th of England issued a so called “Act” according to which it was a crime against the state and the crown to practice goldmaking.
Later, in 1688, goldmaking was again permitted for many competent chemists and alchemists had moved abroad, and that was a thorn in the eye of the English king. He therefore issued a so-called “Act of repeal,” according to which the whole amount of silver and gold produced should be reported to “Their Majesties Mint” in the Tower of London. Full market price would be paid, and no questions asked.
This is historically interesting, for there is the possibility, that there is still artificially made gold bars in the Bank of England. But we will never know the whole truth.
The word alchemy itself is thought to come from the Egyptian word “chem.,” which means “black earth.” From this we have the term alchemy. But there is also the possibility that the term alchemy could come from the Arabic word “El-kimya,” which possibly has root in the even older Sumerian word “ki,” which means “earth.” or that which today is termed “salts” in chemistry. It is in this sense that Glauber defined alchemy as a “fusion of salts”. But he couldn’t have known about the Sumerian culture, for it was first brought to light after the great archaeological excavations around Nineveh in the middle of the 18th century.
Today alchemy has wound up on the same shelf as ghosts and UFOs. Many have seen them, almost everybody has heard about them, but nobody really believes in them. There is something absurd and ambiguous about these things, and without personal knowledge one cannot have an informed opinion.
After eight years of working with alchemy, I feel that the time is ripe to transmit some of the observations and experiences I have reaped. They range from a purely philosophic attitude to alchemy, through fairy tales and religion, to an earthbound and practical work, that has confirmed the old alchemists thoughts and statements from the past up to our own age.
To begin in alchemy demands a naive soul combined with an attitude that goes against the grain of established science which still maintains that gold cannot be made. Yet, if one enters the great work that alchemy is, there is a reward to be found, and it is a great one. For an amazing and wondrous world that one didn’t know existed opens up. One can experience it personally.