On Alchemy, also see Myth*ing Links related page: Minerals:
The Alchemist's Workshop:
http://www.levity.com/alchemy/info.html[Note: this portal page from the UK, if left up long enough -- about 6 minutes on a dial-up modem, suddenly starts playing about 3 minutes of gorgeous, etheral music, which then vanishes. A discreet "bar" at the bottom of the page will allow you to re-play. The site seems to be about a video game, but I can't figure out what -- or where -- it is.]
This amazing site from Adam McLean in Scotland is "dedicated to Alchemy in all its facets." It's an obvious labor of love. I'll let McLean tell you about his site himself:Over 70 megabytes of information on alchemy in all its facets. Divided into over 1300 sections and providing thousands of pages of text, over 1700 images, over 200 complete alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material. There is also a searchable graphics database with 800 images, and a database of alchemy books with 4600 entries and 5 megs of text. It was first launched on 7th May 1995 and new pages are continually being added. There are about 400 people accessing this site each day....Mercifully, the site has a good search engine! Some materials are also available in French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Among the many excellences on this vast site are special sections on Inner, Islamic (including Egyptian), Indian, and Chinese Alchemy. In addition, McLean offers information on conferences, alchemical societies, magazines & journals, study courses, related websites, and even an e-mail discussion group for those whose alchemical interests are serious.
From Adam McLean's site comes "Mary the Prophetess," a 16th-17th century alchemical text transcribed from the British Library MS. Sloane 3641 folios 1-8. From a brief passage of poetry at the end of this prose text:http://www.levity.com/alchemy/images_s.html...Mary the Light of dew, and Art has got
In three hours to tye the Knot.
Pluto's daughter, it is she
Who bindeth Loves confederacy
Joyned with three seeds she does aspire
To be exalted in the Fire.
This is "Alchemical Symbolism, Imagery, and Music," again from McLean's site. Alchemical imagery really excites me whereas most alchemical texts do not. Thus, I find this page's many links to manuscript art truly delicious -- I plan to spend a great deal of time here.http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2006/08/01/alchemy-without-the-shame/
Also included are a few hundred of McLean's own exquisitely handcolored alchemical woodcuts; some of these are even "animated," by which I mean that you'll see an image and suddenly it'll be peeled back, like turning a page in a book, and another image will appear, and another and another. It's very cool <smile>.
(See directly below)
[Added 14 February 2010]: This is an excellent Discover Magazine blog, "Alchemy without the Shame," from August 1, 2006 by science writer Carl Zimmer (it includes many reader comments). Here are some excerpts:http://web.archive.org/web/20070311041314/http://www.geocities.com/babech.geo/home.htm:...Once the icon of the bad old days before the scientific revolution, alchemy has been emerging in recent years as more of a proto-science. Indeed, a fair number of the heroes of the scientific revolution were dyed-in-the-wool alchemists. Robert Boyle, one of the founders of chemistry, wanted to reform alchemy, not destroy it....
...Alchemists believed that the life was the greatest transmutation of all, and they believed that the philsopher’s stone would serve as the ultimate medicine. While a lot of alchemists dealt in Kevin-Trudeau-style hogwash, some did important work....
I first came to appreciate the importance of alchemy in the rise of biochemistry while working on my book Soul Made Flesh, on the history of neurology. Thomas Willis, the first neurologist, started out as an alchemist, deeply influenced by Van Helmont. He came into contact with Robert Boyle through their shared interest in alchemy. And his first important work was a book that used alchemy to reinterpret physiology. Instead of the four humours, Willis saw body being made up of corpuscles of different sorts, borrowing concepts of Van Helmont and other alchemists. These corpuscles interacted with one another to produce changes, just as ferments made bread rise and grape juice turn to wine....
The intersection of alchemy and biology is just further evidence that science does not advance by simply wiping the slate clean and starting completely from scratch. Some of the most dramatic revolutions were born within systems of thought that today seem hopelessly backwards. I wonder how twenty-ninth cenutry historians will look back at our own revolutions today. Who will be cast aside as the new alchemists?
[Updated 14 February 2010: Yahoo axed their Geocities pages years ago so this site is now only available on Web Archive; this is their most recent March 2007 page.]
This is "Herbs & Alchemy," a collection of well-chosen links by Barbara Harrison Beegle (another of her sites is on my Grailpage). Currently, she has 21 alchemical links: 16 are handpicked texts from Adam McLean's site (see above). If going directly to McLean's site overwhelms you (and it could), you might prefer to start here with Barbara's excellent choices. Among them, you'll discover much fascinating information.
This is The Gnosis Archive from Stephan A. Hoeller, Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica in Los Angeles. You'll find an introduction to what gnosticism is (see direct link below), translations of primary texts, a bookstore, readings, meditations, and audio clips of web lectures (including one on Harry Potter and Tolkien -- I only had time to listen to a few minutes of this one but found it delightful).http://www.gnosis.org/whatisgnostic.htm
I met Bishop Hoeller in the 1980's when he was a guest speaker in one of Professor Birger Pearson's graduate gnosticism seminars at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At the time, I was interested in locating lost gnostic texts and reasoned that doing pastlife regressions with people passionate about gnosticism would be an ideal way to look for clues. Since I had a decade's experience in regressing people, I wrote Bishop Hoeller about my plan and he responded that he was interested in being one of my subjects. We made several appointments, but they always got cancelled by one or the other of us. It slowly became clear that our mutually hectic schedules were too much of a hindrance -- and the plan faded.
During that time, however, I did drive down to Los Angeles with several friends for an Easter service and was very moved, both by the man's sincerity and his congregation's belief. Gnosticism isn't my current path, but for those interested in it, Bishop Hoeller is a reliable guide. [Update, 16 February 2010: see below in the BOOKS section for his recent 2002 book.]
"What Is a Gnostic?" is an engaging, clear essay by Stephan A. Hoeller (see directly above) for those new to this ancient tradition.http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm
"The Gnostic Worldview: a Brief Summary of Gnosticism" is another excellent introductory essay, a companion piece to the above, by Stephan A. Hoeller.http://www.ritmanlibrary.nl/index.html
Remo F. Roth site
This is the website for the J. R. Ritman Library of Hermetic Philosophy in Amsterdam:...With this collection, the founder of the library aims to make available the manuscripts and printed works in the field of the Hermetic-Christian tradition. The collection offers a wealth of information for the study of this spiritual tradition, which has exerted a notable influence in the course of our era; for instance in 2nd-century Alexandria (Gnostic movements), in the thirteenth century (European mysticism), in the second half of the fifteenth century in Italy (revival of interest in Hermetic philosophy) and in the first half of the seventeenth century in Germany (Rosicrucians and theosophical movements)....Navigation isn't as clear as it could be. I was beginning to think the site offered nothing of value to its online audience until, after clicking on many categories, I finally found what I wanted: actual manuscript pages with descriptions of the books from which they came. You'll find these treasures under Recent Additions to this Site [link updated 14 February 2010] -- beautiful manuscript art, essays, also an interview with the library's fascinating founder, J. R. Ritman (who recently nearly lost his collection to a large, cold-hearted Dutch bank -- it's a heartening story). [Annotation updated 14 February 2010]: Of special interest is the library's large Kabbalah collection; unfortunately, their 2001 link is now dead so you'll have to do a search for "kabbalah" to find the many links.
In addition to its fabulous collection of works dating from the 10th century onwards, the library also has its own publishing branch -- here's the publication list: http://www.ritmanlibrary.nl/pub.html.. [link updated 14 February 2010].
[Annotation revised 4/22/01]: This is "The Wheel Image of Niklaus von Flüe as Symbol of the Subtle Body" by Jungian, Remo F. Roth. It's a lengthy, thoughtful paper, illustrated and carefully documented. About its human subject, Roth writes: ...Niklaus von Flüe was born in the year 1417 in Sachseln, in the vicinity of Lucerne, and died at the age of 70 in the year 1487. He claimed to have had visions already in the womb. This series of visions continued during his earthly life and concluded with the so-called vision of the terrible countenance of God.... I would have preferred a less Jungian amplification of the Wheel Image and more biographical exploration of a unique 15th century hermit/saint -- yet the paper remains useful and succeeds in whetting one's appetite for more. [FYI: the above PsychoVision link was the only one this Myth*ing Links page had on 11/13/98, when the site was launched, until 25 April 2001, when I added all the others.] _____________________________________ BOOKS Mentioned or Relevant [Added to this page 16 February 2010] ____________________________________ ..In Christian Controversy in Alexandria, working with primary sources and translating many of them himself, Dr. Everett Procter focuses on Clement of Alexandria's strong opposition to the Gnosticism of Valentinus and Basilides. All were 2nd century Christians, struggling to develop a Christian theology in Egypt's sophisticated, wealthy port city of Alexandria (second only to Rome in that period). Dr. Procter and I were colleagues in graduate school at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where we entered the same year in a small class of about a dozen. We studied the Gnostics under one of our favorite faculty members, Dr. Birger Pearson, as well as visiting professor, Kurt Rudolph, and James M. Robinson, an occasional presenter at weekly colloquia. For me, the Gnostics were one interest among many. For Everett, they were his sole focus and consuming passion. For one seminar, for example, I wrote a 3 act ballet based on Valentinus' creation narrative involving Sophia -- I provided story, stage directions, even lighting cues (I did stage lighting in a local community college so including this was second nature). Poor Dr. Pearson, who I thought would be delighted by my desire to popularize this precious material, struggled to put on a tolerant face, but I could feel his hidden dismay and puzzlement over my having hatched a "Sophia Ballet" out of his heretofore pristine, arcane world. Everett, on the other hand, as I recall, wrote a great analysis of several writings of Clement of Alexander. Despite the disparity in our interests, we were friends and I had the privilege of reading some of the early drafts of his brilliant work. I also wrote comments for the back cover of the published book (see the amazon link above and click on "backcover" image). About his audience, Dr. Procter writes in his brief Preface: This book is intended for general readers and specialists in the history of early Christianity, Gnosticism, patristics, theology, and classics.... I highly recommend this 1995 work for anyone interested in that tumultous period in which Christian theology was being forged from many disparate sources and unreconciled views, setting the stage for schisms and debates still haunting Christianity today. ..This is The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity by Hans Jonas (first published in 1958). It's somewhat dated by not having the Nag Hammadi texts available when it was written (as you'll see if you read the excellent amazon reviews), but I still find this classic introduction to Gnosticism both luminous and exciting. Jonas is not only an impeccable scholar but also a splendid writer -- he writes from his soul, unlike Kurt Rudolph (see below), who writes from intellect alone. My paperback copy of Jonas' book is heavily marked with appreciative marginal comments and favorite passages. If you want a general work on Gnosticism, I strongly recommend starting here. ..Kurt Rudolph's Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism is also a classic -- subtle and well written (first published in Germany in 1977 and in translation in the USA in 1983). Here again, my hardback copy is heavily marked up, calling my attention to countless useful passages. "Luminous" isn't a word I'd ever use in describing Rudolph's work but that doesn't mean it isn't of great value. As mentioned above, I knew him from a seminar he co-taught with Birger Pearson. His life and training in East Germany was very different from Jonas' and certainly from ours. His habit of reading his own mail, for example, while we were nervously giving student presentations, was disconcerting but we decided that must be normal behavior in East Germany. What most stands out in my memory is that when Rudolph fled East Germany, he not only had to abandon a country and family he loved, but also his entire library -- every book, everything. For a scholar, that's like being forced to abandon great swaths of one's own life-history. I can't imagine the pain of such decisions. So, no, his work isn't "luminous" nor does it contain much of his soul. After such immense losses, one could hardly expect otherwise. ..The Gnostic Gospels is by Elaine Pagels, who also spoke at UCSB a number of times during my graduate years. That was back in the 80's and female scholars were still looked upon as somewhat problematic. I liked her approach and analysis very much, however. I have not read this 2004 work but have used enough of her other books in courses I've taught to feel secure in recommending it. See amazon's reviews for more reactions. ..Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions And Literature is by my former professor, Birger A. Pearson, published in 2007. I only learned of its existence tonight [16 February 2010] in tracking down relevant books for this new section, so I haven't read it. But I know Birger as a meticulous, caring scholar. He may not have liked my "Sophia Ballet," but that's because his style of scholarship is so completely different from mine. He did, however, respect my later, more orthodox work -- and I will always respect his. This is doubtless a splendid book, well worth reading. ..The Nag Hammadi Library, with James M. Robinson serving as general editor, is a treasure trove of documents buried in the desert in the 4th century and discovered in December 1945 near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. Translating all the documents, many of them damaged, took three decades of painstaking work. I find the material fascinating, arcane, convoluted, confusing, illuminating, all at once. But it's definitely not for beginners (unless you're a reincarnated gnostic <smile>). See the excellent and informative amazon reviews if you're interested. ..In the 1980's, the field of Religious Studies was largely dominated by Christian professors, some of whom were even trained in Protestant or Catholic seminaries. So it will come as no surprise that just as female scholars were problematic, a Gnostic bishop would be even more so. Regardless, his scholarship is sound and valuable. This is Stephen Hoeller's 2002 Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing. I only learned of its existence tonight so haven't read it, but it's certain to be intriguing. Again, check out the reviews on amazon if you're interested. ..This is Alexander Roob's The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism, a book filled with alchemical art. One amazon reviewer says the reproductions are poor; others say they're gorgeous. Another reviewer warns that there are 2 versions with the same title and cover -- one has under 200 pages, the other over 700. I've written one seller of a used version to see if it's the 700 page one. If it is, I'm ordering it and will let you know if it lives up to its rave reviews. Meanwhile, see the bottom of my page for an illustration I found years ago, taken from this book. ..Without Jung's work, I wouldn't be who I am today. It's that simple. The hardcover edition of his Psychology and Alchemy is one of the first I read in 1963. In addition to Jung's remarkable writing, the many illustrations are wonderful. Jung's study of alchemy reassured him that he wasn't crazy. My study of Jung reassured me that I wasn't either <smile>.
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Copyright 1998-2010 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Latest Updates after 11/13/98 launch:
22 April 2001 (added new link but removed it 4/25 as I suspect it's a hoax);
25 April 2001 (more new links): unless noted, all links are from today, 4/25/01.
14 February 2010, 10:30pm: I'm linking this page to my new Gold page, so added a new link (with alchemist image), did a links check, changed text colors & other format things, and deleted a few words here and there.
16 February 2010, 6am: added new opening image and rearranged sequence of Adam McLean links below it. Added 2 new, ungroked links (below). Later, same day, added a Books section with 9 entries. Deleted the 2 ungrokked links because they turned out to be inferior.