Alchemy Fact Or Phalicy Essay Research

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Alchemy: Fact Or Phalicy Essay, Research Paper Alchemy: Fact or Phalicy ALCHEMY: The science by aid of which the chemical philosophers ofMedieval times attempted to transmute the baser metals into gold orsilver. There is considerable divergence of opinion as to the etymologyof the word, but it would seem to be derived from the Arabic al=the, andkimya=chemistry, which in turn derives from the late Greekchemica=chemistry, from chumeia=a mingling, or cheein, `to pour out` or`mix’, Aryan root ghu, to pour, whence the word `gush’. Mr. A. WallisBudge in his “Egyptian Magic”, however, states that it is possible thatit may be derived from the Egyptian word khemeia, that is to say ‘thepreparation of the black ore’, or `powder’, which was regarded as theactive principle

in the transmutation of metals. To this name the Arabsaffixed the article `al’, thus giving al-khemeia, or alchemy. HISTORY OF ALCHEMY: From an early period the Egyptians possessed thereputation of being skillful workers in metals and, according to Greekwriters, they were conversant with their transmutation, employingquicksilver in the process of separating gold and silver from the nativematrix. The resulting oxide was supposed to possess marvelous powers,and it was thought that there resided within in the individualities ofthe various metals, that in it their various substances wereincorporated. This black powder was mystically identified with theunderworld form of the god Osiris, and consequently was credited withmagical properties. Thus there grew up in Egypt the belief

thatmagical powers existed in fluxes and alloys. Probably such a beliefexisted throughout Europe in connection with the bronze-working castesof its several races. Its was probably in the Byzantium of the fourthcentury, however, that alchemical science received embryonic form.There is little doubt that Egyptian tradition, filtering throughAlexandrian Hellenic sources was the foundation upon which the infantscience was built, and this is borne out by the circumstance that theart was attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and supposed to be containedin its entirety in his works. The Arabs, after their conquest of Egypt in the seventh century,carried on the researches of the Alexandrian school, and through theirinstrumentality the art was brought to Morocco and thus in the eighthcentury

to Spain, where it flourished exceedingly. Indeed, Spain fromthe ninth to the eleventh century became the repository of alchemicscience, and the colleges of Seville, Cordova and Granada were thecenters from which this science radiated throughout Europe. The first practical alchemist may be said to have been the ArbianGeber, who flourished 720-750. From his “Summa Perfectionis”, we may bejustified in assuming that alchemical science was already matured in hisday, and that he drew his inspirations from a still older unbroken lineof adepts. He was followed by Avicenna, Mesna and Rhasis, and in Franceby Alain of Lisle, Arnold de Villanova and Jean de Meung the troubadour;in England by Roger Bacon and in Spain itself by Raymond Lully. Later,in French alchemy the most illustrious

names are those of Flamel (b. ca.1330), and Bernard Trevisan (b. ca. 1460) after which the center of ofinterest changes to Germany and in some measure to England, in whichcountries Paracelsus, Khunrath (ca. 1550), Maier (ca. 1568), Norton,Dalton, Charnock, and Fludd kept the alchemical flame burning brightly. It is surprising how little alteration we find throughout the periodbetween the seventh and the seventeenth centuries, the heyday ofalchemy, in the theory and practice of the art. The same sentiments andprocesses are found expressed in the later alchemical authorities as inthe earliest, and a wonderful unanimity as regards the basic canons ofthe great art is evinced by the hermetic students of the time. On theintroduction of chemistry as a practical art, alchemical science