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History of alchemy - Essay Example

Although many terms, fundamental laboratory procedures and theoretical structures used by alchemists are still employed by scientists and medical practitioners today, alchemy is unlike modern science in that it included practices and philosophies associated with spirituality, religion and mythology. Alchemy is a gift from the gods. The mythological son of Greek god Zeus and Olympian god, Hermes, is said to have founded alchemy, an amalgamation of Greek philosophy with the sciences and crafts. These principles were founded, not in Greece but Egypt by Arab intellectuals in the seventh century then European scholars adopted the concepts of alchemy during the 12th century. From then until the 1700’s “chemists” in Europe practiced the art which was dismissed by intellectuals as not philosophical enough and by the ruling class which was fearful of gold being created in laboratory which would undermine their wealth and authority. Many monarchies forbid the alteration of metals while kings secretly supported alchemists hoping to enrich themselves. Alchemy was not respected by scientists and intellectuals throughout Europe who “distanced themselves…casting alchemists as charlatans.” (Alchemists, 2011). Roger Bacon (1214-1294), a noted scholar and inventor, was also a physician and England’s first alchemist. ...
“The Church took her place as one of his foremost adversaries, and even the friars of his own order refused his writings a place in their library.” (Cockren, 2012). Bacon was sent to prison

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in 1279 and forced to repent his actions. Ancient Chinese folklore refers to alchemy, specifically the first Taoist pope Chang Tao-Ling born in A.D. 35, who was entirely devoted to meditation study refusing offers of high positions in the ruling regime. He preferred to live in the mountains of Western China where he studied alchemy and spiritual matters. He led a mystical life and according to ancient myth possessed a formula that extended life. Alchemy was practiced in China before the Christian era and its origins likely extend further back in Chinese history. An alchemy practice that includes a chemical, spiritual and personal aspect to create the Philosopher’s Stone was called the Magnum Opus, or The Great Work. The Stone was a red colored material capable of transforming metals like iron into silver and gold. “Discovering the principals of the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the defining and at the same time seemingly unobtainable objectives of Western alchemy.” (Cockren, 2012). The seven metals of alchemy; gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, lead and tin were used in a medical capacity. The remnants of this line of thought linger even today. Copper bracelets are sold in stores and on television claiming to have healing properties. Metals correspond to seven “planets” which, in turn, directly relate with particular fundamental personalities, qualities and body functions. Mars is viewed as active and masculine aligned with iron, blood circulation and muscles. Venus is passive, artistic and feminine associated with copper, the kidneys and nutrition. Jupiter the


Name Instructor Class Date History of Alchemy Alchemy is commonly regarded as a pseudo-science whose medieval practitioners attempted to turn lead into gold but it is much more. Alchemy has a rich, mystical history involving several fields of study including philosophy, metallurgy, astronomy, medicine and chemistry…
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