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The science of Alchemy

Updated on February 26, 2015

Alchemy is the name given to ancient chemistry, whose prime aim was to find a substance called’ The philosopher’s Stone’ which was believed to be able to change lead into gold. It was also believed to give immortality. In alchemy, it was believed that the whole universe was made up four primary substances namely air, water, fire and earth. It was also believed that these substances and consequently the whole universe had qualities of being dry, moist, hot and cold. The four primary substances are known as the four elements. It was thought that one substance could be changed into another by changing the proportion of elements in them.

Many people believe that alchemy is as old as the civilisation itself. It gained recorded prominence near 50 A.D. ad remained in distinction till mid 18th century. Many eminent scientists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Pythagoras, were followers of alchemy.

A person named the Count of St. Germain who was first seen in 1710 and last in 1992, 282 years afterwards, was believed to have attained the height or rather the apex of the science of alchemy. This person’s existence is full of mystery. To start with, when he was first seen he was introduced as Count of St. Germain to a young Countess. But throughout his existence, nobody came to know about his real name, age, native country, family background or any other vital details. He was a possessor of unimaginable wealth, though nobody knew about his profession. The Countess who met him in the year 1710 also met him in the late 1750s, but was stunned to see that he did not have any signs of age on his face or body. He did not look even a minute older. The Count claimed that he had attained the powers of immortality and was able to create gold with the help of alchemy. He was always clad in the most expensive clothing and carried diamonds in great numbers instead of money.

He was supposed to have died on 27th February 1784 and was buried. But this was not the last of him. In 1785, a meeting of the co-members of the occult took place in Wilhelmsbad. There St. Germain appeared once again and this uncanny appearance of him was witnessed by many people. It is said that once he was up and alive again, there was no stopping him as he appeared so many times in front of many people to make his presence a well witnessed one. Every time he was seen, there was no sign of age on his face. He looked young as ever. After his reappearance, he was seen in the company of many kings such as the king of Sweden, and also with many members of the occult.

The Alchemy Circle
The Alchemy Circle

In 1972 a man who claimed to be Count Germain appeared on the national television and did something that nobody had ever done. He made lead turn into gold, which is considered to be the ultimate goal of alchemy. Is it possible that this man was genuinely the Count, who had appeared 188 years after being declared dead? Had he successfully achieved things pertaining to the occult which are beyond the wildest dreams of most of the people? At least the reports indicate he did. The case remains unexplained.

The effects of Alchemy have been vast and profound. As the followings of this tradition continued to grow new branches of science emerged. Robert Boyle, the father of chemistry was an alchemist. He had accomplished extensive work in this field. He gave birth to Paracelsian iatrochemistry or the medical applications of Alchemy. Sir Isaac Newton was also a student of Alchemy and his theory of gravity was deeply effected by this. Alchemy also contributed in many other branches and studies of applied science like:

  • ore testing and refining,
  • metalworking,
  • production of gunpowder,
  • ink, dyes, paints,
  • discovery of many cosmetics,
  • leather tanning,
  • study of ceramics,
  • glass manufacture,
  • preparation of extracts,
  • process of distillation,
  • arrangement of elements according to their properties helped in the formation of the initial periodic tables.
  • developing different kinds of liquors etc.


The Emerald Tablet

The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Smaragdine Table, orTabula Smaragdina is an encrypted wisdom text which is said to contain all the necessary and elusive knowledge of the prima materia and its transmutation.

Sir Isaac Newton, being one of the most prominent alchemists translated the tablet. He presented the following points in his translation:

  1. Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
  2. That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing
  3. And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
  4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.
  5. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
  6. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
  7. Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
  8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven & again it descends to the earth & receives the force of things superior & inferior.
  9. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world
  10. & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
  11. Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing & penetrates every solid thing.
  12. So was the world created?
  13. From this are & do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world
  14. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished & ended.

Do you believe that alchemists still live secretly among us ?

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    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      16 months ago

      Thanks Pooja but I doubt that they do. Applied sciences are the main stream subject now and after the advances in chemistry, alchemy is obsolete.

    • profile image

      POOJA 

      16 months ago

      Thats a great article. I think alchemists still secretly exist among us!

    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      16 months ago

      Alchemy is considered to the precursor to so many fields in applied sciences.

    • profile image

      guest 

      16 months ago

      wow! there are so many things about alchemy that I never knew before reading this hub

    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      3 years ago

      Thank you so much brother.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 years ago from london

      I am here again, my brother. Very, very wise statements that you are making here. I have sat in meditation daily for almost 33 years, and I am enrichened by the fruits of inner experience. Still, I'm so happy to encounter a discerning Soul. God bless you, my brother, may the eternal Brahman grant you Peace.

    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      3 years ago

      It is really great to know that you are a practising Bhakti Yogi. I've always had much respect for Bhakti Yoga. Very less people in this world today seek spiritual actualisation. Those who do are the ones I would credit for most of whatever good is left on the planet.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 years ago from london

      Thanks Gaurav. I feel honoured, and grateful.

      I am a Bhakti Yogi, that is to say, I follow the devotional approach, the way of the Heart. I am familiar with the beauty of what you write, but I'm more like my Spiritual Teacher Sri Chinmoy. I would also say with the Seer Thomas A Kempis, that I would rather feel compassion in my heart than speak of it.

      It's all inspirational here, and your Hub definitely has its role, but mine is the way of feeling; the way of experience; the way of the Heart. So kind of you to ask. Much peace.

    • profile image

      Vinay 

      3 years ago

      very interesting Sir . thanks for knowledge

    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      3 years ago

      Thanks Manatita44, would you like to share some thoughts on the subject?

    • Gaurav Oberoi profile imageAUTHOR

      gaurav oberoi 

      3 years ago

      Thanks Manatita44, would you like to share some thoughts on the subject?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 years ago from london

      Well written article, Gaurav Oberai , and an interesting read.

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