Well, many have heard tales of the alchemists
who attempt to turn lead into gold. This is true, but it is one
of many facets of diverse and fascinating art.
Alchemy was the forerunner to chemistry and in
the manipulation of materials, alchemists developed many of the
basic techniques used in chemistry and metallurgy today. Much
work in alchemy revolved around the search for the elixir of life,
and in the process advances in medicine were made.
Alchemy is also highly spiritual. Indeed the
alchemist sees very little distinction between the purification
and perfection of materials he performs in his laboratory, and
that of his own mind body and soul. The alchemist searches for
the elixir which will give eternal life, not just externally,
but internally. The spirit may leave the body and live on in the
afterlife, thus the alchemist becomes immortal. Naturally, alchemists
tend to be highly spiritual.
There is a multicultural aspect to alchemy. As
we know it, alchemy was developed in the near east first in Egypt,
Greece and Arabia before it found its way to Europe. However at
the same time and independently, the people of ancient China and
India were developing their own alchemy. Despite their separation
by culture all these forms of alchemy shared similar attributes;
metals being used in preparations to aid the body, the pursuit
of the transmutation of metal into gold, and a highly spiritual
side, linked closely with the manipulation of materials.