She wrote her doctoral thesis on the history of science and magic in Europe from to —the same subject her protagonist, Dr. Soon after, she is looking at the alchemical manuscripts of 17th-century English alchemist and astronomer, Elias Ashmole, including the enigmatic Ashmole Harkness has left breadcrumbs throughout her All Souls trilogy that make the story all the much richer for the medievalist fans of the series.
Welcome to the strange, wonder-filled world of medieval alchemy! Diana studies alchemy, as does Deborah Harkness. We have J. Taking it back to and the UK release of J. The mythical stone was considered to be a purifying agent, and thus could purify the human body to achieve life everlasting. Or, you know, give Voldemort legs. But, in alchemy, there are no simple definitions. Just as Diana explains in her Visualizing Alchemy lecture at the onset of the TV show, alchemical ideas are both literal and metaphorical. It was understood to be the combination of all of the elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, of the female and the male, of all things into one unified whole—a symbol of the interconnectedness of all things.
In some ways, our medieval predecessors grasped that gender exists on a spectrum, but the alchemist friends often used the distinction of male and female as opposites, in a reductive interpretation of gender. In simplest terms, alchemy is the study of transformation, be those transformations spiritual or material. Alchemists had their own mythologies, their own symbols, their own spiritual system to understand the world around them that drew on everything from the Egyptian god Thoth to modern conceptions of the periodic table and medieval Christianity to early chemistry experiments.
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Alchemists reduced the world into elements and were fascinated by opposites, and the union of those opposites, like in the androgyne , an alchemical depiction of a being embodying the union of female and male, light and dark. Alchemy has roots in ancient India, China, as well as ancient Egypt. The Egyptians likely gained an understanding of alchemical processes in mummifying bodies.
In fact, the word alchemy and chemistry too for that matter can be traced to the Egyptian word khem , which referred to the annual flooding of the Nile. It was the Greco-Egyptian alchemist Zosimus of Panopolis, who wrote the oldest, preserved alchemical texts around CE where he writes about the transmutation of metals, his different instruments, and even his careful observations of how two substances can transform into something entirely new a basic principle of chemistry to this day.
After the Arabs took control of Egypt, Greek texts were translated to Arabic paving the way for Arab alchemists. In the eighth century, Arab alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan or Geber became the first alchemist to mention important compounds like silver nitrate, red oxide of mercury mercuric oxide , and corrosive sublimate mercuric chloride.
Bestselling in Alchemy
The devastation of the bubonic plague in Europe perhaps spurred on the need for a deeper understanding of the natural world and the human body. With complex illusions to Egyptian, Greek, and Arabic myths and symbols, alchemists were conflated with sorcery and magic, and often still are today. It was an association not altogether unfounded as they danced between the physical and the metaphysical.
In both the books and now the TV show, it is this dance between science and magic that draws Diana to the study of alchemy. After the death of her witch parents, Diana shuns all things magical, refusing to practice or hone her powers. Strangely enough, this is what also brings her to alchemy.
PDF The Stone of the Philosophers: An Alchemical Handbook
She looks to alchemy to see how humanity could turn away from a world with magic to a world of science. Medieval alchemy in many ways marks a transition into a new, more method-based science. MDS "scheduldes" the words that describe the numbers are user-added, and based on public domain editions of the system. Wordings, which are entered by members, can only come from public domain sources.
Where useful or necessary, wording comes from the edition of the Dewey Decimal System. Language and concepts may be changed to fit modern tastes, or to better describe books cataloged. Wordings may not come from in-copyright sources. Related tags alchemical symbols 11 alchemy art 39 box al1 13 chemistry 54 esoteric 65 esotericism 33 Geschichte der Alchemie 12 hermetic 12 Hermeticism 47 history history of science 46 intention to buy 12 intention to get 12 Jung 29 Jungian 13 kesling-library 16 magic 41 magick 47 manual 16 medieval 13 Middle Ages 13 mysticism 21 non-fiction 83 occult occultism 50 paperback 16 Paracelsus 11 philosophy 38 psychology 61 reference 16 religion 22 science 68 spirituality 55 symbolism 31 symbols 11 to-buy 12 to-read 51 Western esotericism 12 wishlist 16 What is MDS?
This type of iron was studied by Europeans in the 17 th Century, allowing them to refine their own iron and steel-making processes, showing how the influence of the Indians in the history of chemistry directly influenced the industrial revolution.
In addition to producing the finest steel in the period of Roman rule, the Indian alchemists were renowned as the manufacturers of the finest dyes, glass, cement, tanning solutions, and soap. By the Sixth Century, when Western and Northern Europe were deep within the Dark Ages, the Indians explored such processes as distillation, sublimation, calcinations, and the preparation of salts, compounds and alloys.
Certainly, the foundations of the history of chemistry lay in Egypt, Greece, Rome and India, but most of the techniques were based upon trial and error or were tied closely to theological beliefs. The Islamic Age, which gathered knowledge from both East and West, would see the first systematic approach towards chemistry and would become the doorway by which Europe would enter the history of chemistry. Martyn Shuttleworth Jun 17, Retrieved Sep 23, from Explorable.
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