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Alchemy is understood as a whole system of transformation of metals and the human spirit that exists in various systems. Many scientists of the past were stubborn explorers in their work, looking for hidden possibilities, including spirit in every inorganic grain of matter.
Alchemy contained not only the banal search for gold, this science was fed by the ideas of Gnosticism, which formally until the beginning of the Renaissance was in oblivion. These personalities will be discussed below.
Albert the Great (1193-1280). The master was born into a wealthy family of Count von Bolstedt. Legends say that as a child, Albert's academic success was rather modest. No one thought that in the future he would become one of the most prominent scientists. The miracle that happened to the young man explains this transformation. The Virgin Mary appeared to Albert, who entered the Dominican order, from whom he asked for a clear mind and excellence in philosophy. In that era of endless wars, monasteries were a quiet place where one could practice culture. Although Master Albert belonged to the Dominicans, he received significant relaxation in the observance of the charter. In order for the scientist to be able to do research, he was even allowed to use his personal capital. After spending several years in Cologne, Albert moved to Paris. There he begins to give lectures for his master's degree, which are very popular. Albert was not only a philosopher, he was distinguished by his versatility. Albert studied plants, minerals, animals. He left work in inorganic chemistry, which was well ahead of its time. Five alchemical treatises that have survived to our time are signed by his name. The most famous is called "On Alchemy". Since 1244, Thomas Aquinas becomes a favorite student of Albert the Great, who is present during the experiments on obtaining gold. The alchemist is credited with many miracles, fairy tales have been composed about him. At the end of his life, the scientist lost his memory and locked himself in a monk's chum. When Albert died, all of Cologne put on mourning clothes. In 1931, the scientist, philosopher, alchemist and sorcerer was officially canonized by Rome.
Arnoldo de Villanova (1240-1311). The great scientist received an excellent education. He studied classical sciences in Aix-en-Provence, in Montpellier - medicine, then there was the Sorbonne. Among Arnoldo's close acquaintances were the English monk Roger Bacon, the author of The Mirror of Alchemy, and Albert the Great. I must say that de Villanova envied his Dominican colleague, who had much more opportunities for experiments. After graduating, Arnoldo traveled all over Europe, becoming a popular and expensive doctor. However, unusual techniques and free talk led to persecution by the church authorities. Strange potions, amulets, hypnosis - all this indicated a connection with evil spirits. In medicine, the scientist used gold as a universal medicine, not hesitating to also use the achievements of alchemy (mercury, salts, sulfur compounds). De Villanov's life was different from religious alchemists like Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, or Thomas Aquinas. While teaching at the University of Paris, Arnoldo makes such bold speeches that the Inquisition was alarmed. Speaking about alchemy, it is worth noting that the scientist is considered one of those who really managed to create the philosopher's stone. This is indicated in his treatise "The Great Rosary", however, there is no historical confirmation. Arnoldo claimed that he was able to carry out the transformation of lead into gold. After the death of the scientist, the church decided to condemn him. Most of de Villanov's works were burned, and friendship with the pontiff did not help. It is not clear today what kind of works that have come down to us, in fact, belong to the master.
Raymond Llull (1235-1314). In addition to the official history of alchemy, there is also a more reliable, oral history, passed down through generations of adepts. Raymond Llull is considered one of the greatest alchemists of all time. The official history disputes this. The fact is that shortly before his death, in 1311, the scientist released something like an autobiography, where he indicated a list of all his works. No alchemical treatises were found there. But for reasons of a religious nature, Llull preferred not to advertise this aspect of his activities. The scientist was born into a wealthy family and devoted his entire youth to love affairs. However, his next passion, showing his eaten away by disease, called for the service of Christ, who can give an eternal reward. This, as well as mystical visions of a religious nature, so shocked Llull that he promised to devote his life to serving the Lord. In 1289, theologian was introduced to alchemy by Arnoldo de Villanova. Legends say that in London, at the request of King Edward, an alchemist transmuted metals, creating six million pounds of gold. The Franciscan monk traveled a lot, he learned Arabic, wrote works on physics and astrology. In addition to the activities of the alchemist, Llull did a lot to spread Christianity, he founded many educational institutions. The gold coins he created are said to still exist, and they are called Raymundini. Legends say that the alchemist was even able to receive the elixir of immortality, but refused to accept it.
Vasily Valentin. It is believed that this pseudonym belonged to a certain monk from a Benedictine monastery in Erfurt, Germany. Valentine is without doubt one of the most famous alchemists. True, they say that his texts actually belong to a whole group of authors. Nevertheless, his treatises are most often translated and republished. Valentine's authority as a scientist is also high. His name is mentioned in connection with many chemical discoveries. The alchemist is also a rather mysterious person. During his lifetime, Valentin's works were not published. According to legend, in the middle of the 15th century, several decades after the death of the scientist, one of the columns in the Erfurt Cathedral suddenly split. There they found alchemical treatises that belonged to the Benedictine, including the famous "Twelve Keys to Philosophy." Nevertheless, the scholarly monk did exist. Even some facts of Valentine's biography can be found out from his works. In his youth, he visited England and Belgium, contemporaries recalled him as a great scientist in the field of medicine and natural sciences. Vasily Valentin was able to discover antimony and clearly identify the third alchemical element - salt. They wrote that the monk much clearer than others outlined the soul of metal, which he called sulfur, the substance - salt and spirit - mercury. The famous maxim of the alchemist says: "Penetrate properly into the bowels of the earth, and you will find a hidden stone, a true drug." The first letters of this saying in Latin make up the word "vitriol". This is the name Valentine gave to the secret salt and solvent used in his magisterium. Many principles of the alchemist were borrowed later by Paracelsus.
Paracelsus (1493-1541). This famous physician is no less famous as an alchemist. He was one of the first physicians who began to consider the processes in the human body from the point of view of chemistry. Although many deny the role of Paracelsus as an alchemist, the scientist nevertheless used some alchemical methods to obtain medicines. Paracelsus was born in 1493 in Switzerland, his pseudonym consists of two parts. The Greek word "para" means almost, and Celsus was a Roman doctor of the 5th century, who, according to the scientist, was inferior to him in skill. Educated at several universities, the doctor traveled around Europe, healing mainly through natural remedies. In 1527, Paracelsus received the title of Doctor and Professor of Medicine at Basel. There, he illustratively burned books by such authorities as Aristotle and Galen, whose ideas he found outdated. Paracelsus boldly went against tradition, developing his own methods. Experience and mysticism helped him. The scientist believed that magic could give a doctor more than all books. Paracelsus spent a lot of time searching for the philosopher's stone, but he believed that he could not turn metals into gold. The alchemist needed him to give the elixir of immortality and prepare miraculous medicines. I must say that this point of view became a turning point from alchemy to chemistry. Alchemy of Paracelsus is the chemistry of life, a science available to everyone. You just need to be able to use it. A person endowed with intelligence can create something that nature would take for many years. Also Paracelsus predicted modern homeopathy. Modern medicine in general owes a lot to this scientist. He openly ridiculed the theory that depicted epileptics as possessed by the devil. The scientist himself stated that he was able to create a philosopher's stone and will live forever. But Paracelsus died at the age of 48, having fallen from a height.
Nicola Flamel (1330-1418). France has always been famous for its alchemists, but it was this adept who became the most famous. Flamel was born into a poor family, at a young age he went to Paris to become a clerk. By marrying an elderly woman, Nikola received capital and opened two workshops. This marriage allowed Flamel to enter the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. He decided to start selling books. Rewriting them, the Frenchman became interested in alchemical works. The beginning of his career was a dream in which an angel appeared to a scribe and showed a book in which secrets still unsolved were hidden. Flamel himself in his work "The Interpretation of Hieroglyphic Signs" told how he got the ancient big book. Nicola understood little then either about primary matter or about the method of obtaining the philosopher's stone. Flamel was convinced that he was about to fulfill his prophetic dream. Nikola began to study texts and figures, and even his wife was involved in his secret occupation. Flamel received the secret of primary matter either through a pilgrimage, or through the initiation and help of another alchemist. Three years later, according to the scientist, he was able to obtain the Philosopher's Stone in his basement, thanks to which mercury was turned into silver. Soon the alchemist transmutes the gold. Since 1382, Flamel begins to grow fabulously rich. He buys houses and land, builds chapels and hospitals. The alchemist donates money and does charity work. Even King Charles VI learned about Flamel's unexpected wealth, but with the help of bribes, the alchemist managed to convince everyone of his poverty. In 1418, the death of a wealthy craftsman was recorded. But only his story did not end so easily. The traveler Paul Lucas, who lived in the 17th century, heard from a certain dervish that he knew Paul Flamel. The alleged alchemist, having learned the secret of the philosopher's stone, also discovered the secret of immortality. Having faked death, he and his wife began to travel the world, eventually moving to India.
Bernardo, the Good Man of Treviso (1406-1490). This alchemist deserves a special mention among other adepts. This count of a small Italian border state, subordinate to Venice, began his work at the age of 14. And the philosopher's stone was found by him only at 82 years old. Bernardo was introduced to the mysterious alchemy by his father, who gave him to study old works. Following the advice of his predecessors, the young count spent several years and a lot of money, but did not achieve success. The first series of experiments took 15 years of life and most of the capital, but no success happened. Following the advice of one official, Bernardo evaporated crystals of the Philosopher's Stone for five years. The poor alchemist tried many methods, turned to various treatises, but all was in vain. By the age of 46, there was practically nothing left of the Count's former wealth. For the next 8 years, he, together with the monk Geoffroy de Levrier, tried to isolate the primary matter from chicken eggs. Unsuccessful, Bernardo began to travel around Europe, trying to find a true adept. The alchemist, in search of a secret, even visited Persia, Palestine and Egypt. At 62, Bernardo found himself in the Greek Rhodes, without money and friends, but in the belief that the solution was close. The alchemist even borrowed money to continue experiments with another scientist who knew the secret of the philosopher's stone. According to legend, just before his death, the secret was revealed to Bernardo. He also managed to unravel the secret of a serene life - you just had to be content with what you have. Bernardo's works are full of allegories, they are understandable only to real alchemists-practitioners. The good fellow from Treviso was able to perfectly study the theory of magistery, which was due to him at the end of his life.
Denis Zasher (1510-1556). The real name of this adept remains unknown. He was born in Guienne in 1510 into a noble family. Educated at the castle of his parents, Zasher went to study philosophy in Bordeaux. A certain alchemist became his mentor, who introduced a young curious person to this occupation. Instead of academic disciplines at the university, Zasher was looking for recipes for transmutation. Together with a mentor, he moved to the University of Bordeaux, ostensibly to study law. In fact, the couple tried to test their recipes in practice. The future adept's money quickly ran out, literally flying into the pipe. At 25, Zasher returned home, but only to mortgage his property. With bad experiences, the money quickly melted. Having pledged the property again, Zasher went to Paris. There, to his surprise, he found about a hundred practicing alchemists. The scientist spent several years alone, studying the works of ancient philosophers. Finally, in 1550, Zasher managed to get gold from mercury. The alchemist thanked the Lord and vowed to use this gift exclusively for his glory. Zasher sold his property and distributed debts. He moved to Switzerland and then to Germany, where he intended to lead a quiet, calm life. However, a relative of Zasher killed him in his sleep, escaping with his young wife.
Edward Kelly (1555-1597). The real name of this Englishman is Talbot. Parents dreamed of seeing him as a notary, which is why they sent him to study law and Old English. However, the young man became interested in decoding old manuscripts. Kelly learned to forge old letters by engaging in fraud. However, he was quickly caught, sentenced to exile and cutting off his ears. The disgraced Talbot decided to change his name. In Wales, Kelly unexpectedly found an ancient manuscript that spoke of gold and the transmutation of metals. The document was purchased for next to nothing, along with a mysterious powder that was in a box of paper. But Kelly, having studied the document, quickly realized that his meager knowledge of chemistry would not even allow to understand the terms. Returning secretly to London, Edward calls for the cooperation of his acquaintance, John Dee, a well-known occultist to this day. After examining the powder, friends discovered that it is capable of turning lead into gold! Dee and Kelly came into the confidence of the Pole Laski, continuing their experiments at his home in Krakow. There were no results, in 1585 the alchemists moved to Prague. There Kelly performed a series of public transmutations that stunned the city. He became the idols of the secular public, a welcome guest at receptions.Even Emperor Maximilian II, who made Kelly a marshal, fell under the charm of the wonderful powder. Only now Kelly himself did not become an adept, using the old stocks bought with the manuscript. Boasting brought collapse closer. The emperor ordered the alchemist to produce several pounds of magic powder, when Kelly was unable to do so, he was sent to prison. Loyal friend John Dee, appeals to the Queen of England, did not help either. While trying to escape from the fortress, Kelly fell and broke his legs and ribs. This damage became fatal for him. Although the alchemist was not a real scientist, but was rather a clever fraud, there is a lot of evidence in history of his miraculous transformations of metals into gold.
Alexander Seton. Little is known about this Scotsman; until recently, his work was generally attributed to another, Michael Sendivog. It was to him that Seton, before his death, gave a little powder, which he began to demonstrate, posing as an adept of Cosmopolitan and the author of the treatise "New Light of Chemistry". The first mention of it dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. Seton by that time was already quite an accomplished alchemist. In 1602 he showed his friends in Germany the transmutation of an unknown metal into gold. It is only unclear where Setok learned his art from. It is also worth noting his selflessness. Wherever he went, promoting alchemy, his experiments ended with a miraculous transformation. At the same time, the scientist himself was not concerned with enrichment, but with the conviction of the doubters. The precious metals created by Seton even simply distributed to unbelievers. In those days, the adepts changed the vector of their action. Their actions are no longer self-directed. Seton became a missionary for his science, which was then a rather dangerous occupation. The cosmopolitan traveled through Germany without giving out his real name. After all, both the church and the greedy monarchs hunted him. In the end, the young Elector of Saxony Christian II, not satisfied with a small portion of the powder, ordered the seizure of the alchemist and demanded that he reveal the secret of the philosopher's stone. Seton refused to do so. At that moment Sendivog was in Dresden, who begged the Elector to allow him a meeting with Cosmopolite. The alchemist promised to tell his secret in exchange for salvation. Sendivog sold his property, bribed the soldiers and stole the scientist. Dying from his torture wounds, Seton still refused to share his secret. Sendivog got the alchemist's wife and some powder, and later part of the glory. Seton's treatise "The New Light of Alchemy" Sendivog published in his own name.
Seefeld. For a long time no one knew anything about this alchemist, who lived in France in the middle of the 18th century. It was only in 1963 that Vernard Jusson told the story of Seefeld in his Alchemical Investigations. Those people who could not be suspected of lying wrote about the alchemist, besides, they received all the information first-hand. Seefeld was born in Austria in the second half of the 18th century. From an early age, he became interested in alchemy and the search for the philosopher's stone. His unsuccessful attempts caused a wave of ridicule, so the scientist had to leave the country. He returned to the country of Seefeld only 10 years later, settling in the small town of Rodau. There he demonstrated to his master and his family in appreciation the transmutation of tin into gold. Soon the whole city knew that they had a real alchemist. The quiet life did not last long - the gendarmes from Vienna came. In the capital, everyone noticed that Seefeld had a lot of gold. The alchemist was accused of fraud and deceit and sentenced to life in the fortress. Over time, Emperor Franz I decided to pardon the scientist, but demanded that he continue the experiments exclusively for him. Having proved his skill, the alchemist escaped from Austria. He began to lead a wandering life, he was seen in Amsterdam and Halle. Over time, Seefeld seemed to disappear into thin air. It is unclear whether he was an adept or a real alchemist. Perhaps, over the years of wandering, he simply met another master, who presented him with a wonderful powder. It is possible that Seefeld repeated the fate of Sendivog - possessing the Philosopher's Stone, never having learned to create it.
Eirenei Filaret. This man is one of the most mysterious in history. He was born in England, presumably in 1612. This follows from the fact that when writing his main work in 1645, Filaret was not even 33 years old. Filaret spent his early years in North America, where he became close to the pharmacist Starkey. In his presence, the alchemist conducted experiments, creating a lot of gold and silver. The Alchemist is similar to the Cosmopolitan in that he burst into History, already possessing a full knowledge of the innermost secret. In the book "Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King," Filaret himself says that he seeks to help those who are lost in the labyrinth of delusions. This work was intended to illuminate the path for those who want it. Through his work, the alchemist wanted to teach people to create pure gold, since the worship of this metal leads to vanity and luxury. The treatise was supposed to make gold and silver a common thing. It was said that the alchemist had demonstrated his talents to the very English king Charles I. At the same time, Filaret's powder had amazing power. In 1666, the alchemist appeared in Amsterdam, instructing to translate his work into Latin. At the same time, Filaret claimed that he had so much of the Philosopher's Stone, which would be enough to create 20 tons of gold. Even less is known about the end of the alchemist's life than about its beginning. He just disappeared. Many believe that Filaret used the Philosopher's Stone to create a potion of immortality. It was said even after that Eireneus Filaret and Count Saint-Germain are one and the same person. And even Isaac Newton himself highly appreciated the alchemist's treatise, leaving many notes in the margins of the book.