alchemy

Alchemy And The First Degree Of Craft Freemasonry * Paul Hardacre (2013)

Now this is unfortunate and also a little awkward. I discovered this publishing house because they published a book by Angel Millar. I ordered a few titles, but one item was out of stock. For a while I was inquiring about the last item and when I thought I could just buy a title that I wanted to get anyway and inquire again, this might help. It did! Good. Then I -quite by accident- run into a ‘blog’ saying that the publishing house will seize to exist because of financial problems…

Yep, Salamander and Sons will publish no more books. In fact, they will sell their leftover stock until 31 March 2016 and the remaining items will be destroyed. This is too bad, because Salamander and Sons published some interesting items on alchemy and a few similar subjects. The books look great and are not too expensive.

The present title is a lecture of the publisher that he held before his own Masonic lodge in Thailand. It is only just over 30 pages and Hardacre speaks about (not surprisingly) alchemy and Freemasonry. Only on a few occasions these two subjects seem to come together, but the little book makes a nice read to tell you a little about both subjects from the title.

Get it, before it is gone…

2013 Salamander and Sons

Three Treatises of Art * Russell Yoder (2014)

Another small booklet of Salamander and Sons and, coincidentally or not, also translated and edited by Russell Yoder.

This time Yoder translated three texts, this time from the 18th century. The first, and nicest, text is Alchemy for the Behmenist Adept. Apparently in the 18th century USA there lived alchemists who were followers of Jacob Boehme (1575-1624). Boehme is more famous for his Christian, mystical writings, but he also wrote of alchemy. The compiler of the anthology even makes it seem as if Boehme writes of ‘physical alchemy’ and some remarks even suggests that he did practice this, or at least, saw it being practiced. The compiler made a nice text, mostly consisting of quotes from various works of the Teutonic philosopher.

Then follows an esoteric tale about an alchemist who found a “little farmer” who proves to be far superiour in knowledge to the traveller. So much even that the farmer does not give away his secrets.

The last translation is a number of texts from the Gold- und Rosenkreuzer (founded around 1760) who form one of the sources of German highgrade Freemasonry. The texts are also alchemical in nature.

68 Pages in, again, a relatively expensive title, but a nice read nonetheless, especially the first text.

2014 Salamander and Sons, isbn 978098720654

Hyleal, Pri-material, Catholic, or Universal Natural Chaos * Henricus Khunrath (2014)

A long time ago I ran into the publisher FBN Press. This must have been before June 2007 when I went from an html website to WordPress. FBN Press has a whole range (some 300) republications of texts of which the copyright has expired. Many of these texts are alchemical. I bought and ‘reviewed’ quite a few of these A5 photocopied and thin booklets. I have no idea if FBN Press is still running, but they do still have some sort of website.

A while ago I was looking to get the books of Angel Millar. One of these books is published on the Thai publisher Salamander and Sons. This publisher proved to publish a whole range of alchemical books too, of recent alchemists (Lapidus), but also of more famous, Renaissance alchemists, such as Heinrich Kunrath (1560-1605). The current title is a selection of the famous Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom). A very small selection too! The little book is only 38 pages, while the Kessinger reprint of the Latin version has 288 pages according to Amazon. The FBN Press booklets have similar sizes, but Salamander and Sons’ publications look a lot better. That shows in the price. It is $ 15,- (plus shipping) when you get it from the publisher, $ 20,- when you get it from Amazon. Quite a price for a 38 page book.

The anthology and translation is made by Russell Yoder who published similar works. He added another translation of his of the 1704 text From F.R.C., an alchemical, Rosicrucian poem.

Khunrath’s text is certainly what you can call a “Hermetic text” in the contemporary meaning of the word. It full of heap of symbolism, references, Latin phrases (usually not translated), with beautiful images in which he also uses different languages. In his text Khunrath continuously cross-refers to practical and philosophical alchemy. He describes how everything comes from “Hyleal, Pri-material, Catholic, or Universal Natural Chaos” and works towards perfection. The text is an amusing, but not easy, read; nicely published, but -like I said- in a fairly expensive little book.

2014 Salamander and Sons, isbn 0987520644

Alchemy * Titus Burckhardt (1960/2006)

This book was originally published in German in 1960 and already in 1967 there was an English translation. In 1997 Fons Vitae republished this English translation which was reprinted only in 2006. The Fons Vitae version is beautiful to see. The book is a bit more yellow than in the picture, has a wonderfull, minimalistic design and a matt cover.

Anyway, Burckhardt (1908-1984) wanted to show that alchemy was actually a “science of the cosmos, science of the soul” (as the subtitle goes) and not the proto-science (or worse: ‘primitive science’) that is so often made of it. In little over 200 pages Burckhardt speaks about alchemical symbolism and the aims and goals of alchemy. His Traditionalistic approach makes the book a wonderfull read in which you will not only learn a lot about alchemy, but you will also be able to see it as a spiritual path. Contrary to some Traditionalistic writers, Burckhardt offers a nice read in a stimulating tone. Lastly, the author reproduces several images that I never saw, mostly from manuscripts that he found in the Basle University library.

A wonderfull book indeed.

1960 Alchemie; 2006 Fons Vitae, isbn 1887752110

Alchemical Traditions * Aaron Cheak (editor) (2013)

“Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde” is the most massive Numen Book to date. With 684 pages, “Alchemical Traditions” definately leaves the notions of being a journal. Also this latest volume seems more academic than its predecessors. The massive bibliography is bundled in the back and there are bios of the authors referring to their respective academic statuses. The subjects are not the most common though and most essays are readable and interesting.
This book opens with a general overview of alchemy over the world. The first texts are about the more famous forms of alchemy, the Egyptian and Greek. Soon we leave for the East with Taoistic, Hinduistic and Tibetan alchemy. Part II becomes more about alchemy; its processes and symbolism, but we also quickly move forward in time until we reach the previous century with modern-day alchemists, alchemy and modern art and horticulture. Indeed, with this book you will get all aspects of alchemy, with much stress on the non-material approaches.
I particularly found the articles about less-known alchemies, the Hindu and Tibetan, interesting to read and the highlight of “Alchemical Traditions” certainly was Hereward Tilton’s “Heinrich Khunrath’s and the making of the philosopher’s stone” in which the texts of this famous alchemist are combed through and cross referenced to other writings.
If I am not mistaken, the coming publication with be the next “Mimir”, or perhaps “The New Antaios” will see the light of day before that.
2013 Numen Books, isbn 0987559826

The Tower Of Alchemy: an advanced guide to the great work * David Goddard (isbn 1578631130)

I would probably not have known David Goddard if he wasn’t brought specifically under my attention. And still it took two missed workout weekends and a long time before I first laid my hand on a book by this Englishman. Quite by accident actually, I wasn’t looking for it, but when I saw this title in a shop in Utrecht (Netherlands). I decided to buy it and see what Goddard is all about.

Goddard is a student of several esoteric schools. After having been under the care of the Kabbalist Halevi from England (kabbalahsociety.org) and studied alchemy, hermetism, tarot, Grail legends, Keltic mythology, (vajrayana) yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism and more, he founded his own school called “The Pharos”. In close relation with his students, Goddard says to teach them the oral esoteric tradition. This is done by summercamps in England and weekends and lectures all around the world. A lot of practical instructions and teachings are given and Goddards methods include meditations and visualisations. I have never been to any of his classes, but probably still will some time.

“The Tower Of Alchemy” is Goddards best-known title. It is a practical guide divided in 17 chapters. Each chapter opens with a theoretical basis of things to follow. The book is supposed to be a step-by-step beginners book and begins fairly simple. In the theoretical parts Goddard very nicely interweaves various Western and Eastern knowledge, compares traditions and symbols and makes several very interesting links. After this follows a practical part with a meditation often involving a visualisation. After a couple of these it became clear to me that this isn’t really my cup of tea, at least not from the book. I started to skip the practical parts. After these parts you always get a ‘contemplation’ section, which is a long quote from different texts that refer to the practise you just conducted.

This book really is for people who want something else than just plain theory or absorbing information. If Goddards method appeals to you, you have the big advantage that you can easily contact ‘the master’ himself and attend a lecture or visit him in his centre in England. See www.davidgoddard.com for more information.

George Ripley (pbn press)

Verses From the Ripley Scrowle (from Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, 1652) (16)
‘A Short Worke That beareth the Name… of George Ripley’ (Ashmole 1652)
The Mystery of Alchymists
George Ripley

Three texts by another famous alchemist from the UK. The well-known Ripley-scroll comes back again as #36 of the series, but with another text and with the images, this time you get a part of the alchemical poem. The other texts are also alchemical poems.

The Ripley Scroll * George Ripley (fbn press)

Of the famous Ripley scroll there are 21 copies left in two versions, 17 in the main version, 4 in a variant. The work contains beautiful drawings, with aside those a poem-like text. Some of the more famous alchemical drawings come from this text and in this booklet you get them in an agreeable black and white quality.