What is Alchemy?
April 9, 2017
Dictionary.com says that Alchemy is a form of Chemistry and a speculative philosophy practiced in the late middle ages.
I agree. However, I also see Alchemy as the bridge between Witch Doctors of tribal communities and Modern Scientists in high tech civilizations. They were well educated shamans who used written language, symbols and math to preserve their findings and formulas.
This would explain the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Alchemy. However, this doesn’t account for the practical aspects of Alchemy. Written language could be accountable for the creation of the Alchemist. This would certainly explain the I Ching, The Vedas and Egyptian Alchemy as some if not the earliest known written works for those cultures.
Chinese Alchemy, Indian Alchemy and Egyptian Alchemy seem to develop independently. The development of written language and math within these cultures seem to play a significant role in the rise of Alchemy.
This makes sense when most early cultures used written language for receipts and for tax purposes. The new technology of written language in combination with mathematical equations are the building blocks necessary for scientific inquiry.
Imagine what that must have been like in a world where only a handful of people know to calculate and write; and all the big breakthroughs are taking place by the blacksmiths and the Witch Doctors who go by instinct as a craftsman instead of by concept and equation.
It is these dynamics found in Alchemy that make it confusing. The early alchemists studying these breakthroughs would have had trouble expressing these concepts on paper, instead focusing on the practical formulas and processes that show results time and time again; and reserving the concepts from their witch doctor traditions through oral transmission of High Priest to student based on his rank within the mystery school.
This lost of oral tradition in Egyptian Alchemy lead to much speculation and further inquiry by Greek Scholars in the Hellenic World and by Islamic Scholars before finally finding its way back into Europe by late Antiquity.
It is this Egyptian-Greek- Islamic-Early Renaissance Alchemy where we get the word: Al- Art and Khemet- Black Land which refers to the rich fertile valley of the Nile river. A Four Part Lecture series on Amazon Prime by Adrian Gilbert, calls his series part of the “Invisible College” puts things in perspective.
His first installment is about Ancient Egypt, where Gilbert discusses the practical application of Alchemy as early Chemistry. He explains how mummification was an early form of Alchemy. Jewelry making was also a early application. Gilbert describes the process of beautifying jewelry to make it look like Gold, and not to turn it into actual gold, which is where modern mans magical presumptions of the Philosopher’s Stone first originate.
Again, if Gilbert’s findings are right, this interest in craftsmanship by early Alchemists could explain the Al in Al Khemet.
However, this doesn’t explain the independent traditions of alchemy in: Egypt, China and India how remained isolated until modern times. Or what about the Shaman tradition altogether with special emphasis on the Amazonian tradition whose ancestors found a way to take the vine of one plant and mix it with the bark of another from millions of different plant life to create the most powerful psychedelic known to man.
Again, imagine trying to figure out this information in a way that future scholars can understand while at the same, you are the first generation of scholars.