Tag Archives: Adam McLean

Autobiography – Adam McLean (2020)

Adam McLean (1948-) is the (in)famous man behind Alchemywebsite.com. I remember knowing that website for as long as I have access to the internet, so even when it was still hosted at Levity.com. This book shows why that recollection is correct.

Of course McLean did way more than hosting a website. He is probably best known for coloring Alchemical plates, but he published many, many Alchemical texts, wrote books himself, had some journals (the most famous of which is the Hermetic Journal), etc. etc.

Now that McLean is starting to become of age, he not only started to look back at his life, but also to sell his massive collections of book, tarot decks, paintings, drawings and whatever he collected during his life. And a collector he sure is. As an example. Quite late in his life McLean developed an interest in the art of tarot cards. In the next decade he collected several thousands of them!

The autobiography starts quite autobiographical. McLean was interested in electronic devices and chemics from a very early age. He experimented, created his own devices and picked up an interest in maths. Formal education did not quite bring what he hoped, so McLean started to look for other ways to pursue his interests. Needless to say that somewhere along the line, he got interested in Alchemy.

You can read how he prints his own books, what projects he worked on, how he met people such as Joost Ritman of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, conferences he organised and attended, the many times he moved residence, his experiments with early computers and indeed, how he created a website as soon the internet became available to the general public.

(Overly) active, even obsessive perhaps, McLean goes after anything that triggers his interest, being it surreal art, Jeroen Bosch, mathematics, magic, (al)chemy, etc. A driven man indeed and he still is. Also his entire life he tries to convince people that a more rational approach of his subjects is to be preferred, something which is not always received with applause.

The book is an amusing read. Here and there I got some context to history that I was (vaguely) aware of before, such as the founding of the Ritman Library. As the book continues, it becomes less autobiographical though and more a list of McLean’s numerous projects.

2020 Kilbirnie Press, isbn 979-8669905583

The Hermetic Journal 1978


As I said in my earlier review of a course by Adam McLean, the author has been active with the subject for a long time. He has published a journal since 1978!

These journals are apparently scanned and made available as printing-on-demand books. The journal has run from 1978 to 1992 and are avaible for Kindle via Amazon, but also in print from Adam’s own website.

The first issues (the first two are printed in this little book) contain quite some occultism and esotericism and of course alchemy. Explanations of alchemical “mandalas”, ceremonial magick, Satanism even, can be found within these pages. Also lists of “other occult journals”, references to all kinds of groups that are active (or were, probably). Also published are translations of texts that in the time were hard to get.

All in all a varried journal with (to me) content of varying interest. It is a great idea to make such old material available again. The books are not too cheap, $ 20,- to $ 30,- per book, depending on your choice for softcover or hardcover. An advice. Go to the Amazon kindle versions of the journals were you can see the tables of content, so you can better choose which issues you are going to purchase.

How To Read Alchemical Texts – Adam McLean (2011)


During my early days on the internet I had an interest in all kinds of things esoteric. I soon found Adam McLean’s Alchemy website which he started in 1995. McLean was mostly known for coloring alchemical drawings that most knew only in black and white. This was but on small part of the alchemical investigations that McLean has undertaken since the 1970’ies (!).

The website still looks pretty much like it used to. An html website with images for navigation. Now I see that the author gives urls on his website in his many books, I get an idea why that never changed.

For many years I forgot about McLean and his website even though I do buy an occasional book about Alchemy. Recently I thought to see what books are available and I noticed that there are several study courses. Some somewhat expensive, but this particular one is well-priced.

It is a 219 page book with 23 lessons that McLean suggests you take about a year to work through. Each lesson is introduced and most contain excercises. During the lessons you are introduced to different kinds of alchemical texts, practical, philosopical, Paracelsian, spiritual, cosmological, allegorical and poetic. Also McLean explains different styles and approaches. You will learn to recognise the different types of texts and will see that often one text contains different types.

The reason for the above is, and McLean keeps stressing this, to make you able to read the text as it was supposed to be. He renderings, rewritings and explanations stay as close to the original texts as possible. McLean sees no use in throwing in wild esoteric explanations to a practical text and no modern systems in allegorical. Do not read a meaning into the texts is the basis for the whole course.

The book contains no images, no tables with symbols and their explanation, even hardly a glossary. These are not the texts that the author presents. It is all about reading Alchemical texts.

As you saw, you will get a wide variety of Alchemical texts, old, less old and from practical to cosmological (but never esoteric!). Personally I did not enjoy all these different texts, but it is nice to be able to read such a variety of sources, particularly because there are also texts that are not all available in English.

2011 Alchemy Website

The Rosicrucian Emblems Of Daniel Cramer – Fiona Tait / Adam McLean (0933999887)

This small (80 pages) and very expensive (about E 17,- / $ 15,-) book is a translation of the “Sacra Scriptura, de Dolcissimo Nomine & Cruce Iesu Christi” written by “Daniele Cramero D.” The “Sacra Scriptura” was published in Germany in the year 1617, just one year after the famous “Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rozencreutz” that caused a big stir in the society of these times. Still the “Sacra Scriptura” is fairly unknown.

There are 40 emblems, each accompanied by a quote from the Bible and two lines in latin. The texts are translated by Fiona Tait. The emblems the Protestant theologian drew are really simple and nothing like the famous “secret symbols of the Rosicrucians”, which on first hand made me feel a little disappointed. I love the layered symbology and the mathematic design of for example the secret symbols. But, when reading through this little book here, the drawings together with the quotes and ‘poems’ are actually quite beautiful. It seems that there were meant for meditative purposes.

This little book is part of the series “Magnum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks” that is run by Adam McLean, probably the expert on Alchemy/Hermeticism of our times. He wrote the introduction and commentary which shed some extra light on this little work. The Sourceworks series contains some other titles that I find extremely interesting, so I think I will get some more in the future. Just imagine, the “Splendor Solis” in english with images, “The Amphitheatre Engravings Of Heinrich Khunrath”, “The Steganographia Of Trithemius”, the “Alchemical Engravings Of Mylius”, the “Atalanta Fugiens of Michael Maier” and the list continues. McLean makes classical alchemical writings available to a normal audience.