Alchemy is an early form of chemistry, and its traditions were used in ancient Egypt, China, India, and medieval Europe. The word alchemy comes from Chem, meaning the black land or the land with Black Earth. Hermes described alchemy as majesties, a man that came from the city of Atlantis and was later deified. He became the ancient Egyptian God.
The Emerald Tablets describe the key tenets of alchemy and the fundamental secrets of the grand arcana, which was the great secret of her mistress’s majesties. There are two types of esoteric alchemy: a transformation of an immortal into a god or goddess or an enlightened one, also called spiritual alchemy or esoteric. It is a transformation of base metals into gold.
Alchemical symbols hid what alchemists studied from those not necessarily initiated when the church persecuted people. There are seven chemical processes in both esoteric and esoteric alchemy. Books about Alchemy provide insights into chemistry’s origins, scientific methodologies’ evolution, and the interplay between science, philosophy, and spirituality throughout different periods. By studying alchemy, you can better understand the cultural and intellectual heritage that has shaped our society.
10 Books About Alchemy (Magic, Herb, Occult & Fiction)
Alchemy was a proto-scientific system that sought to understand, transform and purify natural materials. It started in Egypt when exactly no one knew for sure. The details of Egyptian alchemy are also unknown to us, as most of the chemical texts from Egypt have been lost Egypt. Alchemy was tied to Taoism and, by extension, traditional Chinese medicine. Indian alchemists also focused on medicinal alchemy, while those in the West and the Middle East had different goals.
The most important book in Alchemy is “The Emerald Tablet.” It is revered as a foundational work in Alchemical philosophy and is considered a concise summary of Alchemical principles and teachings. It explores concepts such as the unity of the universe, the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the transmutation of substances. The famous phrase “As above, so below” is associated with the Emerald Tablet, emphasizing the interconnectedness of different levels of existence.
Do you want to know about Alchemy? I will discuss ten fiction and non-fiction books about Alchemy that will help you learn and know about them. Let’s go!
1. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy
The language in this book is very simple for you to understand. The author is very straightforward, and he explains in such a way that there’s no way you can be confused. He takes you through the journey of the history of alchemy. He then brings you to the uses of alchemy from medieval times into today, from understanding that the first psychologist was an alchemist. So he answers questions like What is alchemy? He discusses how you become your own Philosopher’s Stone.
If you study spirituality, you are going to love it. It discusses things like the land of Kim and the relationship between Christianity and alchemy, especially during medieval times. So in that time, Christians always had the wrong thoughts of alchemy, and he explained why, what happened, and what thoughts he used. He also talks about the symbology that alchemists use, like roses.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy describes the law of the mind, in which alchemists use things differently from the imagination. So it’s taking your masculine and feminine energy, uniting it, and becoming whole. It is one of the best books on Alchemy I have ever read.
Author: Dennis William Hauck
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: New Thought Spirituality, Magic Studies, Occult
Available: Audiobook | Paperback
2. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs provides an extensive list of herbs, their magical properties, and practical uses in spellwork, rituals, and divination. In this book, we’ve got the power of herbs. The author talks a bit about the general nature of her biology and then her magical way.
So he talks about timing and tools, the old visualization, and a couple of little paragraphs on each. Then he goes through some spells and procedures. So how to enchant herbs, tuning to herbs you’re working with and plants, and then making sachets, pockets, etc.
We get into the chunk of the book which is all about magical herbs. So all of everything, how all of this is all herbs. Sometimes it gives you the planets associated with the elements, and then it will go through the powers. So for this one, its powers are healing wishes and luck.
Those are the attention intentions that are aligned with it. Then, it will go through a section on magical uses. The section on magical uses is fantastic because it gives you some ideas on what you can use those herbs for.
Author: Scott Cunningham
Average Rating: 4.8/5
Category: Gardening Encyclopedias, Herb Gardening
Available: Paperback | Kindle
3. Moon Spells
I was drawn to Moon Spells, a non-fiction book because I have recently begun reading about astrology and have become fascinated with learning about the Moon. The Moon has so much influence on the tides and therefore influences our bodies because we are primarily made up of water. How much of our emotions, fears, anxieties, and creativity come from whatever cycle the Moon is within?
So this book, in the beginning, gives you a lot of information about the Moon. It gives you information about the waxing and waning cycles of full moons. You will learn when it’s best to try to manifest something new into your life or let something go. Also, it gives you incredible detail.
Moon ceremonies, moon observances, or sacred moon rites can easily replace the word spell. Many religions have rituals using tools such as candles, incense, statues, and holy water. The use of color and representation is also significant to certain religious groups. Then this book isn’t necessarily about witchcraft, Wicca, or any specific religion. It’s a combination of spirituality.
The whole middle section of this book is different spells and rituals you can do. At the end of this book, there are a lot of excellent references. The author goes a little bit into numerology and a little bit more into astrology, and I would say the end of the book is more of a reference guide. Overall, this was a pretty quick read.
Author: Diane Ahlquist
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Occult Magic, Alchemy
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD
4. The Alchemist
The Alchemist is about a boy named Santiago from Andalusia in Spain. Santiago keeps getting the recurrent dreams of a treasure waiting for him somewhere, and he’s supposed to chase it. He’s supposed to follow it. Somewhere in his heart, Santiago keeps feeling that he showed no matter what. This dream is as Santiago begins his journey.
He meets a lot of people on the way. He travels through many different regions, and everything adds to his experience, enriching his life. Once he starts to travel on the way, he meets the king of Salem and many other people, and everybody in some way nudges him to follow his dream. So that’s as far as the story goes. The end makes it even more interesting, for the lack of a good word.
This book is written in simple, lucid language that will impact everybody, even if it has to be a kid from school reading it or somebody who is probably 60. Not once will you feel you’re not following what the author says. The dialect is so simple the choice of words is so beautiful. The Alchemist is a book with something for everybody, regardless of age.
Author: Paulo Coelho
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle
5. Alchemy & Mysticism
Alchemy & Mysticism is a passion biblioteca universalist book. Every single line is so heavy with information it can only read a paragraph at a time, but each paragraph is pages long. Going into this, you must know that alchemy is not the art of turning base metals into gold. Some con men, possibly women, decided to make money by persuading people to turn base metals into gold. But that’s not the point of alchemy.
Alchemy teaches you how to change yourself from something base and grotesque into something refined and closer to whatever your conception of God. So alchemy is the art of becoming more godly. However, the art is fantastic because of alchemy as well. So they had to speak in allegories. They had to talk in code, so everything had to be shown, not what it was.
Every picture you see in the book is a code for something else. For example, the snake is its code for the information you see. Then the number of petals on the flowers will represent something. Once you know the code, you can work out the exercise or practice and what you must do to attain this form of godliness or greater perfection.
Author: Alexander Roob
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Medieval Art, Mysticism
6. Alchemy of Herbs
This book shows you how to use hubs to do many different things. For example, how to use hubs for anxiety, depression, or physical ailments. So it shows you how to understand the condition of your body and then look at the different energetics that comes with plants and ailments.
There are many recipes for all the different ways you can use herbs. But what is also important to the recipes is that it gives you the proper proportions. So it will tell you to use garlic and honey, but then the right quantities because that’s also important if you’re interested in learning how to use herbs in four different circumstances, like vegetable soup for insulin resistance and type two diabetes. You still have to go through your medical processes. But it understands how to use herbs in many different contexts around your body.
Alchemy of Herbs also comes with the endnotes or resources gallery and other places and things you can further reference using herbs. So The Alchemy Of Herbs is a good book to understand how herbs are used fully.
Author: Rosalee De La Foret
Average Rating: 4.8/5
Category: Holistic Alternative Medicine, Cooking with Herbs, Spices & Condiments
Available: Paperback | Kindle
7. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: The Alchemyst
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series consists of six books incorporating mythology, magic, and adventure elements. Nicholas Flamel is an actual person who lived during the late thirteen hundred and early fourteen hundred.
Then, after he passed away, all of the legends started saying that he was an alchemist, a scientist from that era. He created the Philosopher’s Stone, turning regular metals into gold and providing immortal life. That person and those legends are all featured in this book, and two other characters are actual people from history.
What happens in this book is that the legends are true. Nicholas Flamel and his wife created the Philosopher’s Stone and have lived off it ever since. In this book, they’re living in modern-day San Francisco. Nicholas runs a bookshop, and his wife works in a coffee shop across the street. They are both employees of two teenagers, Josh and Sophie, twin siblings.
One day, the bookstore gets attacked by Dr. John D. and these creatures called Golem. He wants the Philosopher’s Stone and the Codex, a book filled with all these spells, including how to create and use the Philosopher’s Stone.
One of the good things about this book is that it is clever. The author researched history and legends, and different stories and found a way to work them into these stories. Any possible legend you’ve heard of is incorporated somehow into this book. It also brings in many new legends and stories and often brings a new twist to those old legends we are all familiar with.
Author: Michael Scott
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Mysteries & Detective Stories for Children, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD
8. Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist is a popular Japanese manga and anime series. We follow Edward and Alphonse Elrick in this series, known as alchemists. Alchemy combines magic and science, where you can create one thing from something else using what’s known as transmutation. Before the story begins, our brothers are younger.
They dabbled in alchemy that they didn’t completely understand, and the transmutation process went wrong for them. This meant that the eldest brother, Edward, the blond-haired one, lost an arm and a leg as punishment. The younger brother Alphonse became a soul bound to a suit of armor.
When Fullmetal Alchemist begins, we made the brothers around 14 years old, and they are on a quest to get their original bodies back. The first part is the humor. What’s great about this series is that our two main characters act like brothers.
The next part I want to mention is that the story is complex and emotionally gripping. Things start small, with two brothers trying to regain their bodies. But slowly, more and more people become involved in this quest. People try to help them. They tell more and more people what they’re doing, which gets bigger and bigger.
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Average Rating: 4.9/5
Category: Science Fiction, Manga for Young Adults, Fiction Comics & Graphic Novels
9. This Dark Endeavor
This Dark Endeavor is a prequel to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and it is about 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein, his brother Conrad, his cousin Elizabeth and his friend Henry. What happens is Victor’s brother Conrad falls ill, and nothing can save him. So Victor delves into the science of alchemy and goes on various dangerous journeys to procure the ingredients to the elixir of life, which will hopefully save his brother.
There will be a love triangle, but it’s interesting because it is two guys and a girl, like many love triangles are. But it’s from one of the guy’s points of view, and she doesn’t even like him. The beginning was slow. It took me a super long time to get into it. Halfway through, and then it gets exciting, and it’s fantastic.
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Fantasy & Magic, Literature & Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD
10. The Black Arts
The Black Arts says an absorbing account of witchcraft, demonology, astrology, and other mystical practices throughout the ages. It is a classic study of the occult reintroduced in a 50th-anniversary edition. While it is classic, it has references. But it also felt like it had so much of his own opinion, like when it came to astrology.
If you are interested in a book that is more of a reference study based on magicians, alchemists, and astrologers, especially ancient times, this book is for you. For me, it was a little bit too demon-heavy and devil-heavy that’s trying to vibe high.
Author: Richard Cavendish
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Religious Controversy, Occultism
Romance Books About Alchemy
If you’re interested in romance books, here are a few recommendations:
The Alchemist’s Daughter by Katharine McMahon: This historical romance novel follows the story of the daughter of a renowned alchemist. She becomes involved in a web of love, secrets, and alchemical pursuits in 18th-century England.
Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman: While not strictly a romance novel, this young adult historical fiction book features elements of romance. It is set in Elizabethan England and follows a girl’s life with a twisted leg. She faces the world of alchemy and discovers unexpected connections and relationships.
The Alchemist of Loom by Elise Kova: This is the first book in a fantasy romance series called “Loom Saga.” It takes place in a world where alchemy is central and follows the story of a master thief and a dragon-turned-human alchemist. They form an unlikely alliance and struggle in a dangerous world.
Alchemy’s Daughter by Mary A. Osborne: Set in 14th-century Italy, this historical novel explores the life of the daughter of an alchemist. She grapples with her family’s secrets, love, and the pursuit of alchemical knowledge.
Fiction Books About Alchemy
If you’re looking for fiction books that focus on the theme of alchemy, here are a few recommendations across different genres:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: This internationally famous novel is a spiritual allegory that follows the journey of a young Andalusian shepherd. He sets out to discover his legend. While not explicitly about alchemy, it explores transformation, destiny, and pursuing one’s true purpose.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: This historical fiction novel represents mystery, history, and alchemy. It follows the story of a Harvard graduate student. She uncovers a hidden family legacy of witchcraft and alchemy dating back to the Salem Witch Trials.
The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani: This is the first book in the Ben Hope series, which blends action, adventure, and historical mysteries. In this installment, ex-SAS central Ben Hope goes on a quest to find the secret formula of alchemy that holds the key to immortality, facing danger and adversaries along the way.
The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary: This historical mystery novel is set in Victorian London and follows an investigative journalist’s adventures. She uncovers a series of murders with connections to alchemy. It combines mystery, suspense, and historical fiction.
Each book presents its unique take on alchemy within its respective genre.
Nonfiction Books About Alchemy
If you’re interested in nonfiction books that provide scholarly and informative insights into the subject of alchemy, here are some recommendations:
The Alchemist’s Handbook: Manual for Practical Laboratory Alchemy by Frater Albertus: This book offers practical guidance on alchemical laboratory work, including techniques, equipment, and procedures. It provides a hands-on approach to alchemical practice and is a helpful guide for those interested in alchemy as a laboratory science.
Alchemy – An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz: This book explores the psychological aspects of alchemy, focusing on the symbolism and inner transformations depicted in alchemical texts and imagery. It offers a Jungian perspective on alchemy and its connection to individuation and the human psyche.
The Hermetic Museum – Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob: This extensively illustrated book presents a visual journey through the history of alchemy, showcasing alchemical artwork and symbolism from different periods. Through stunning images, it offers an overview of alchemical ideas, texts, and historical figures.
The Alchemical Body – Siddha Traditions in Medieval India by David Gordon White: This book examines the alchemical traditions and practices in medieval India, focusing on the Siddha tradition. It explores the intersections of alchemy, yoga, and Indian spirituality, shedding light on the unique contributions of Indian alchemists.
These nonfiction books offer in-depth analysis, historical context, and scholarly perspectives on alchemy. Today, alchemy is primarily studied as a historical and philosophical subject. Its texts, symbols, and concepts continue to be explored for their cultural, symbolic, and esoteric significance. While alchemy as a practical science has largely been superseded, its influence on the development of scientific thought and its historical importance cannot be denied.
Fantasy Books On Alchemy
If you’re interested in fantasy books, here are some recommendations:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The first book in the “Kingkiller Chronicle” series, this epic fantasy follows the life of a gifted musician and arcanist. While alchemy is only one aspect of the magical system in the book, it plays a significant role in the protagonist’s journey and the exploration of the world’s mysteries.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson: This fantasy series is set in a world where alchemy, known as Allomancy, is a central magical system. It follows a group of rebels. They strive to overthrow a tyrannical ruler, utilizing alchemical abilities to enhance their physical and mental capabilities.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker: This historical fiction novel incorporates elements of magical realism. It tells the story of a golem brought to life by an alchemist and a jinni released from a flask, exploring their journeys and interactions in 19th-century New York.
The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan: This series is set on the brink of the industrial revolution, featuring a blend of flintlock fantasy and alchemy. It follows various characters, including powder mages who can manipulate gunpowder and alchemists who develop potent elixirs. They struggle with political intrigue and warfare.
These fantasy books offer imaginative worlds where alchemy plays a significant role in the magic systems, character development, or thematic exploration. They provide diverse settings and storytelling styles within the fantasy genre.
Medieval Alchemy Books
If you’re specifically interested in books that explore alchemy during the medieval period, here are some recommendations:
The Forge and the Crucible – The Origins and Structures of Alchemy by Mircea Eliade: This influential work examines the origins and development of alchemy across various cultures, including the medieval European context. It provides insights into alchemy’s symbolism, practices, and philosophical foundations.
The Alchemical World of the German Court: Occult Philosophy and Chemical Medicine in the Circle of Moritz of Hessen (1572-1632) by Claus Priesner and Karen Reeds: This book explores the role of alchemy in the German court during the late medieval and early modern period. It examines the alchemical activities, patronage, and networks of the court of Moritz of Hessen, shedding light on alchemy’s social and cultural aspects at the time.
Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire by Tara Nummedal: Focusing on the 16th and 17th centuries, this book focuses on the practice of alchemy within the Holy Roman Empire. It explores the relationship between alchemists and political authorities, examining how alchemical pursuits intersected with religious, political, and social dynamics during the medieval and early modern periods.
These books offer scholarly and historical perspectives on the practice, beliefs, and societal context of alchemy during the medieval period.
Books On Alchemy History
If you’re interested in delving into the history of alchemy, here are some books that provide valuable insights into the subject:
The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy by Mircea Eliade: This influential work explores the historical origins of alchemy across various cultures, tracing its roots from ancient Egypt to medieval Europe. It examines the symbolic language, practices, and philosophical underpinnings of alchemy throughout history.
The History of Alchemy by M. M. Pattison Muir: This classic work provides a comprehensive overview of the history of alchemy from its earliest known origins to its later developments in Europe. It covers the key figures, texts, and significant milestones in alchemical history, making it a valuable resource for understanding the subject.
The Golden Game – Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century by Stanislas Klossowski de Rola: This book focuses on the visual aspect of alchemy by showcasing a collection of alchemical engravings from the 17th century. It provides historical context, explanations of the symbolism, and insights into the artistic representations of alchemical ideas and practices.
These books offer diverse perspectives on the history of alchemy, ranging from scholarly analyses to explorations of the cultural and artistic aspects of the subject. They provide a deeper understanding of the development and significance of alchemy throughout different historical periods.
Old Alchemy Books
Several old alchemy books are historically significant and offer insights into the practices and beliefs of alchemists. Here are a few notable examples:
The Rosarium Philosophorum (The Rosary of the Philosophers): This 16th-century alchemical text is a collection of symbolic and allegorical images accompanied by brief captions. It explores the stages of the alchemical process and the transformation of matter and the soul.
The Book of the Seven Climes (Kitab al-Aqalim al-Sabaa): This book is written by the Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber) that dates back to the 9th century. It discusses alchemical concepts, procedures, and laboratory techniques, covering distillation, sublimation, and transmutation.
The Ripley Scroll: This medieval alchemical manuscript, believed from the 15th century, is named after its reputed author, George Ripley. It features intricate illustrations and symbolic imagery depicting the various stages of the alchemical process.
Splendor Solis: This 16th-century alchemical manuscript attributed to Salomon Trismosin is a visually stunning work containing colorful illustrations and poetic verses. It explores the spiritual and transformative aspects of alchemy.
The Mutus Liber (The Mute Book): This alchemical work was Published in the 17th century and consisted of intricate and symbolic illustrations without accompanying text. It is open to interpretation and invites the reader to engage with the images to decipher their meaning.
These old alchemical books provide valuable insights into the historical development of alchemy, its symbolism, and the practices of alchemists during different periods. They offer a glimpse into the worldview, techniques, and philosophical ideas prevalent when they were written.
Alchemy can be considered a philosophical tradition as well as a proto-scientific one. Throughout history, alchemy incorporated elements of philosophy, spirituality, and mysticism alongside its empirical observations and laboratory work.
Alchemists subscribed to the Aristotelian idea of the four classical elements Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. They eventually added three more substances to that list mercury, sulfur, and salt, which they believed were combined to create compounds such as metals and even the bodies of living things.
This secrecy, allegory, and mystical thought contributed to the modern view of alchemists as sorcerers or magicians. Whether alchemists used this magical language to hide their knowledge simply or if they believed in the spiritual and supernatural connection to their work remains to be seen. It was a mixture of both.
In general, Alchemy had three main goals. The first was converting base metals like lead into precious metals like gold. This process was called crispier. The second was manufacturing the elixir of life, staving off death, and curing all illnesses. Lastly, creating an alchemist or a universal solvent can dissolve anything, even gold. These goals eventually got tied to the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone.
Nowadays, sciences are simply the study of different natural phenomena. Physics has no goals other than understanding the fabric and forces that make up our universe. Physics and all other sciences have plenty of practical applications, but it would be strange to say that the point of physics was to make quantum computers.
So how is it that alchemists thought these goals were possible? Did they come out of nowhere? In the beginning, alchemy didn’t have these same goals. Alchemists came from metallurgists, doctors, and natural philosophers trying to understand the world around them.
If a smart person wrote something down in a book from long ago, those ideas would usually be taken for granted. So alchemists synthesized their observations and experiments with the ideas of Aristotle and Plato and from religious or philosophical traditions.
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