Alchemy

I went to Borders today ’cause I had a coupon (which, of course, I put in my shirt pocket and completely forgot, ah, well) and while there I picked up Brian Cotnoir’s book on Alchemy. The thing I like about this too-slim volume is that it focuses, for a change, on physical rather than philosophical or psychological alchemy. A lot of nonsense has been written about the topic, and it’s nice to see someone actually go through, for example, laboratory procedures. Still, Cotnoir doesn’t abandon the philosophical roots of alchemy, giving them plenty of emphasis. I’m just very pleased someone is still doing physical alchemy. The book’s a fast read.

One way to conceive of alchemy is as a ritual in which one uses physical substances rather than, say, divine names or sigils. By transforming a substance, we transform part of ourselves. The problem is, physical alchemy requires a bit of an investment and space. Still, it’s worth learning about the actual laboratory procedures if we want to understand the symbolism.

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