Alchemy refers to a quest for a fabled elixir or kimia (Old Persian for "elixir", later arabicized as alchemy) capable of turning copper and other base metals to gold and also a quest for something to prevent human beings' bodies from becoming old. Alchemy is both a philosophy and an ancient practice that seeks to prepare the "elixir of longevity" or philosophers' stone, accomplish the transmutation into gold, and attain ultimate wisdom. It supposedly involves the manufacture of several substances with unusual properties, as well as improvement of the alchemist. Some alchemical sources treat the various substances, equipment and processes in an allegorical sense, as metaphors for a spiritual discipline. Practical alchemy, on the other hand, can be viewed as a protoscience, the precursor to modern inorganic chemistry, having provided many procedures, equipment and names of substances that are still in use.
- The matter lies before the eyes of all; everybody sees it, touches it, loves it, but knows it not. It is glorious and vile, precious and of small account, and is found everywhere... But, to be brief, our Matter has as many names as there are things in this world; that is why the foolish know it not.
- The Golden Tract concerning the Philosopher's Stone.
- Why should I use many words unto you? For this thing is extracted from thee, and thou art its ore; in thee they find it, and, to speak more plainly, from thee they take it; and when thou hast experienced this, the love and delight of it will be increased in thee. And thou shalt know that this thing subsists truly and beyond all doubt. ... I have not known any Stone which might be likened to this Stone, or which may have the effect of it. For in this Stone the Four Elements are contained, and it is likened to the world and the composition of the world.
- "The Interrogations of King Calid, and the Answers of Morienus" in De Transmutatione Metallica.
- The alchemical tradition assumes that every physical art or science is a body of knowledge which exists only because it is ensouled by invisible powers and processes. Physical chemistry, as it is practiced in the modern world, is concerned principally with pharmaceutical or industrial research projects. It is confined within the boundaries of an all-pervading materialism, which binds labor to the advancement of physical objectives.
- Manly Palmer Hall, in Meditation Symbols in Eastern and Western Mysticism.
- It is a mistake to confound Alchemy with Chemistry. Modern Chemistry is a science which deals merely with the external forms in which the element of matter is manifesting itself. It never produces anything new. We may mix and compound and decompose two or more chemical bodies an unlimited number of times, and cause them to appear under various different forms, but at the end we will have no augmentation of substance, nor anything more than the combinations of the substances that have been employed at the beginning. Alchemy does not mix or compound anything, it causes that which already exists in a latent state to become active and grow. Alchemy is, therefore, more comparable to botany or agriculture than to Chemistry; and, in fact, the growth of a plant, a tree, or an animal is an alchemical process going on in the alchemical laboratory of nature, and performed by the great Alchemist, the power of God acting in nature.
- Franz Hartmann. (1890) In the Pronaos of the Temple of Wisdom, containing the History of the True and the False Rosicrucians. p.129
- These are not fables. You will touch with your hands, you will see with your own eyes, the Azoth, the Mercury of Philosophers, which alone will suffice to obtain for you our Stone. ... Darkness will appear on the face of the Abyss; Night, Saturn and the Antimony of the Sages will appear; blackness, and the raven's head of the alchemists, and all the colors of the world, will appear at the hour of conjunction; the rainbow also, and the peacock's tail. Finally, after the matter has passed from ashen-colored to white and yellow, you will see the Philosopher's Stone, our King and Dominator Supreme, issue forth from his glassy sepulcher to mount his bed or his throne in his glorified body... diaphanous as crystal; compact and most weighty, as easily fusible by fire as resin, as flowing as wax and more so than quicksilver ... the color of saffron when powdered, but red as rubies when in an integral mass...
- Heinrich Khunrath in Amphitheatrum.
- The alchemical operation consisted essentially in separating the prima materia, the so-called chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive principle, the body, which were then reunited in personified form in the coniunctio or 'chymical marriage'... the ritual cohabitation of Sol and Luna.
- Carl Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis.
- If by fire
Of sooty coal th' empiric alchymist
Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold.
- The starving chemist in his golden views
- You are an alchemist; make gold of that.
- I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself.
- William Butler Yeats in Rosa Alchemica.
- Alchemy may be compared to the man who told his sons he had left the gold buried somewhere in his vineyard; where they by digging found no gold, but by turning up the mould, about the roots of their vines, procured a plentiful vintage. So the search and endeavors to make gold have brought many useful inventions and instructive experiments to light.
- There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.
- Transmute yourselves from dead stones into living philosophical stones.
- Alchemy is the art of manipulating life, and consciousness in matter, to help it evolve, or to solve problems of inner disharmonies.
- Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision.
- The science of alchymy I like very well, and indeed, 'tis the philosophy of the ancients. I like it not only for the profits it brings in melting metals, in decocting, preparing, extracting and distilling herbs, roots; I like it also for the sake of the allegory and secret signification, which is exceedingly fine, touching the resurrection of the dead at the last day.
- Martin Luther in Table Talk.
- One becomes two, two becomes three, and by means of the third and fourth achieves unity; thus two are but one.... Invert nature and you will find that what you seek... Join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought...
- Maria the Jewess (c. 300).
- Alchemy is the art of far and near, and I think poetry is alchemy in that way. It's delightful to distort size, to see something that's tiny as though it were vast.
- Many have said of Alchemy, that it is for the making of gold and silver. For me such is not the aim, but to consider only what virtue and power may lie in medicines.
- Although Alchemy has now fallen into contempt, and is even considered a thing of the past, the physicain should not be influenced by such judgements.
- Scholasticism with its subtle argumentation, Theology with its ambiguous phraseology, Astrology, so vast and so complex, are all children's games when compared with alchemy.
- O, he sits high in all the people's hearts;
And that which would appear offence in us,
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
- The glorious sun
Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,
Turning with splendor of his precious eye
The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold.