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New publications on alchemy


New books issued in 1998:


Hornfisher, Daniel. Löwe und Phönix: Das große Handbuch der praktischen Spagyrik und Alchemie
Daniel Hornfisher. - Braunschweig: Aurum Verl., 1998

"IF YOU  WON' T  KNOW  WHAT IS WORLDLY: HOW DO YOU WANT TO REALIZE  WHAT WILL BE HEAVENLY ?"
(A.J. Kirchweger: Aurea Catena Homeri)

Hornfisher's book "Löwe und Phönix" is a very valuable compendium of the alchemical art. The main emphasis, however leads to the practical labwork, although aspects of inner alchemy are treated too.

The author describes all facets of alchemy in a certain order. Beginning with some important comments about history and hermetical theory, then, there are following all facets of the herbal, animal and mineral work of Alchemy, inner Alchemy, profane Alchemy and finally,  the description of the Great Work. Most valuable is the one chapter, entitled "How to read old texts". The author shows many indications,  how to avoid severe confusion when one's studying old alchemical texts. Great benefits in this book are given by the numerous quotations of original passages of texts and its parallel elucidations by the writer. Many intimations, which occur, rely on so well known terms as the "Secret Fire", "Vitriol", "Saturnus phil." , "Mercurius phil.", "The Salt fire" and much more. One could claim, all these essential terms are linked together over the whole text of the book, almost like modern hypertext documents.
So the appendix of the book proves the high competences of  Daniel Hornfisher. For instance, there could be found Basil Valentine' s "The Lapis Ignis" & "The Twelve Keys", Hollandus "Opus Saturni" and Ripleys "Secret Book". Moreover, there a several descriptions of certain Menstruii, which are especially important for the practical work. The reader will find the descriptions and preparations of  "Spiritus Vini", "Tataric Spiritus Vini", "Kerckring Menstruum", Basil Valentine's "Fiery or Ardent Spiritus Vini", "Acetic Acid", Basil Valentine's "Vinegar of Antimony", "Spiritus Urinae", "The Universal Menstruum" and finally the most important "Sweetened Acid".
At the end, there are some tips and tricks, how to establish a alchemical home-lab and a short glossary about alchemical terms. An extended listing of  the bibliographical references is also available, especially recent reprints of scarce classical texts, which are published in alarming small editions.)
I have already studied a lot of so called "modern" books about alchemy in the last 25 years, but this one should be the most emphasizing and enlightening book for me, which I ever held in my hands. I think, it is suitable for the beginner and also for the more advanced practical person. Daniel Hornfisher seems to be a very experienced alchemist for many years and therefore he is able to lead the aspirant from the very beginning to the desired end. The whole content of that book is one unity, all chapters are important and depend each other, like the classical style of the old alchemical tradition. The plates of the "Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon" accompany all chapters in a intentional certain order (!)
However, the author also goes on by the tradition of the old sages: "Ora, Lege, Lege, Lege, Relege, Labora et Invenies."
- Johann Plattner


Lawrence Principe Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle & His Alchemical Quest: Including Boyle's "Lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation of Metals. Hardcover ISBN 069101678X
The Aspiring Adept presents a provocative new view of Robert Boyle (1627-1691), one of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution, by revealing for the first time his avid and lifelong pursuit of alchemy. Boyle has traditionally been considered, along with Newton, a founder of modern science because of his mechanical philosophy and his experimentation with the air-pump and other early scientific apparatus. However, Lawrence Principe shows that his alchemical quest--hidden first by Boyle's own codes and secrecy, and later suppressed or ignored--positions him more accurately in the intellectual and cultural crossroads of the seventeenth century. Principe radically reinterprets Boyle's most famous work, The Sceptical Chymist, to show that it criticizes not alchemists, as has been thought, but "unphilosophical" pharmacists and textbook writers. He then shows Boyle's unambiguous enthusiasm for alchemy in his "lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation and Melioration of Metals, now reconstructed from scattered fragments and presented here in full for the first time. Intriguingly, Boyle believed that the goal of his quest, the Philosopher's Stone, could not only transmute base metals into gold, but could also attract angels. Alchemy could thus act both as a source of knowledge and as a defense against the growing tide of atheism that tormented him. In seeking to integrate the seemingly contradictory facets of Boyle's work, Principe also illuminates how alchemy and other "unscientific" pursuits had a far greater impact on early modern science than has previously been thought. - Publisher's information.


The Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon. Translated by Mike Brenner, with an Introduction and Commentary by Adam McLean.
The Hermaphroditische Sonn- und Monds-Kind was printed at Mainz in 1752. Although the text is relatively obscure and impenetrable, the power of the series of twelve engravings attracted people to this work, and the fascination of these images still remains with us today. The work was reprinted twenty seven years later in the well known German alchemical compendium Hermetisches A.B.C.
The work is divided into twelve sections each headed by an emblematic figure. The text of these sections begins with an 'explanation of the figure', followed by a short verse, a 'paragraph' with its 'explanation', and lastly a 'canon' or short verse with its 'explanation'. The main focus of this present book is to provide for the first time a translation of the text into English, and to suggest ways in which the symbolic sequence of this work can be explored.
This series has often been reproduced in modern books on alchemy, though no one seems to have attempted to interpret the work. The engravings contain many familiar alchemical figures, the green lion, the raven or black crow, the white swan, the ouroboros, suns and moons in abundance, but it is not easy to tease out an interpretation or find a clear path through the symbols. In writing his commentary on the Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon, Adam McLean has adopted the approach he has taken in his other commentaries to works with emblematic sequences in the Magnum Opus editions - he exposes the structures underlying the symbolism in the emblem sequence rather than rigorously analysing the text.
Mike Brenner has done us all a great service by undertaking this translation. Some of the language is rather challenging, and it is difficult to find the exact terms in modern English for some of the abstruse concepts in this eighteenth century alchemical work. This book also includes the original German text, so that people who know German can make their own alternative reading of passages.
Limited edition of 300 signed and numbered copies. 112 pages.
[Available through alchemy web bookstore.]


Emblems and alchemy. This book, published as Glasgow Emblem Studies Vol 3, is associated with the international Colloquium on 'Emblems and alchemy' held in Glasgow in June 1998. This volume is edited by Alison Adams and Stanton J. Linden.
Contents:
Bernhard F. Scholz Alchemy, Metallurgy and Emblematics in the Works of the Seventeenth-Century Dutch 'Bergmeester' Goossen van Vreeswijck (1626-after 1689)
M. E. Warlick The Domestic Alchemist: Women as Housewives in Alchemical Emblems
György E. Szönyi Architectural Symbolism and Fantasy Landscapes in Alchemical and Occult Discourse: Revelatory Images
Stanton J. Linden The Ripley Scrolls and The Compound of Alchymy
Lyndy Abraham Edward Kelly's Hieroglyph
Stephen Clucas 'Non est legendum sed inspicendum solum': Inspectival knowledge and the visual logic of John Dee's Liber Mysteriorum
Peggy Muñoz Simonds 'Love is a spirit all compact of fire': Alchemical Coniunctio in Venus and Adonis
Paul Cheshire Milton's Use of Lunar Imagery in Paradise Lost
Ilana Zinguer Les frontispices emblématiques: intentions de Béroalde de Verville
Susan Sirc Alchemy, Alchemical Emblems and Goethe's Novel Die Wahlverwandtschaften
[Available through alchemy web bookstore.]


Allen G. Debus, Michael Walton. Reading the Book of Nature: The Other Side of Alchemy. Hardcover 1998 ISBN 0940474476


Diana Fernando. Alchemy: An Illustrated A to Z. Blandford. Hardcover 1998. ISBN 0713726687
In these last years of the twentieth century, there has been a revival of interest in the genre that is Alchemy and its mixture of ancient Wisdom and novel experimentation. Neither a science nor a philosophy, Alchemy has been the subject of controversy and fascination for centuries. Containing over 500 entries, this comprehensive new illustrated dictionary is a veritable Pandora's box of information, written with an earthy sense of humour, but always retaining the exuberance of the early practitioners of the art. As a practising alchemist and linguist, Diana Fernando has been able to return to original sources and re-interpret their meanings. In particular, she has drawn on many Arabic and Kabbalistic manuscripts to provide an original viewpoint.
The strong and important visual aspect of Alchemy is maintained by the author's skilful artistry in over 160 illustrations created especially for this book, taking her inspiration from the great symbols and emblems of every aspect of the alchemical phenomenon.
Like the symbol of Mercury itself, Alchemy is ever moving and ever changing and has much of relevance to tell us today. In this entertaining and deeply satisfying book, the entries cover everything from laboratory experiment to the exploration of the soul. - Publisher's information.


Vladimir Karpenko. Alchemical coins and medals. [Available through alchemy web bookstore]
Throughout the alchemical tradition, the apparent success of a transmutation, particularly one performed in public, was often commemorated by the minting of a coin or medal. These were often presented to the local prince or nobleman who on some occasions was present at the actual transmutation. In some cases the medal was even said to have been made from the transmuted metal itself. In this book Vladimir Karpenko provides an exhaustive survey of these alchemical coins and medals, drawing together the many references in alchemical literature and identifying what can be found of their history. As a number of these coins still physically exist, the author provides us with the information on where they can still be found.
This book contains an edition of H.C. Bolton's late 19th century survey of alchemical coins with Vladimir Karpenko's notes and amendments, together with Vladimir's own more complete listing based on his extensive research, and an essay on alchemical coins and medals. The book is enriched with as many illustrations of these alchemical coins as it has been possible to obtain.
This book opens a window into the mysterious world of alchemical transmutation, and the strange coherence of this idea in the alchemical tradition.