From Arabic al-kimia (of Egypt) and old Egyptian keme (black, fertile soil), alchemy is the ancient science of elements and interactions in both the natural and the spiritual realms. Spanning 2,500 years and informed by Hermetic and Neoplatonist influences, it has been practiced in the classical Greco-Roman world, medieval Europe and the medieval Middle East and Orient, and up to the present in esoteric circles. Alchemists have three main pursuits:
- the transmutation of base metals into gold by means of the Lapis Philosophorum, the Philosopher's Stone;
- the concoction of the Elixir of Life, a universal medicine;
- the reconciliation between spirit and matter and direct knowledge of the Divine
This concise dictionary of alchemy provides clear access to one of the major roots of Western esoteric thought. Subjects include alchemical processes and procedures, the natural elements and apparatus used, major practitioners and philosophers, and concepts and beliefs. Distinguishing this guide from similar ones is the addition of etymology, connecting the language of alchemy to its Latin, Greek, and Arabic sources. Symbolic pictographs accompany half of the over four hundred entries, and a fascinating illustration from the long tradition of alchemical art introduces each letter of the alphabet.
Most important is the author Jordan Stratford's unique perspective as both a modern Gnostic priest and a Freemason. He also brings to bear extensive knowledge of the depth psychology of C. G. Jung, who based his key concept of individuation on the premise that what the ancient alchemists truly sought was inner transformation.