It’s October, so obviously we’re obsessing over all things mystical and magical. Today's topic? Alchemy. Alchemy is a branch of natural philosophy dating back to ancient times. It was one of the very first forms of science, and it’s viewed as a precursor to chemistry, but it also has a spiritual and mystical component. The aspect of alchemy that particularly peaks our interest is its relationship to gold.
The main goal of alchemy is transmutation, or the changing of one form of matter into another, in this case changing base metals like lead and mercury into gold. Alchemists believed that it was possible to create a substance called the Philosopher’s Stone (yep, the very same “sorcerer's stone” from Harry Potter) which could not only change metals into gold but also allow humans to achieve immortality. The philosopher’s stone symbolized perfection and enlightenment. Alchemy’s sister science was astrology, and both were used to search for hidden knowledge of nature and the cosmos that could be harnessed by man.
Because of its magical and mysterious nature, alchemy has been portrayed in literature and pop culture for years in everything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the most commonly recurring references to alchemy is the use of alchemical symbols. In fact, the symbols that we use to represent each astrological sign are alchemical symbols that represented the chemical operations in experiments. The most commonly used alchemical symbols are those that represent the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), and those that represent metals and correspond to each of the planets. If you’ve ever seen your astrological birth chart, you’ll notice that the symbols representing the planets are the very same alchemical symbols.
In our daily lives, we feel a connection to the ancient principles of alchemy when we see the magical way that gold gleams when hit by the light and the transformative power of putting on a pair of our favorite solid gold earrings. So if your favorite gold jewelry piece feels to you as if it’s infused with a little bit of magic, you just might be right.