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Pieter Bruegel the Elder . The Alchemist (1558) as an engraving by Philipp Galle
some element symbols :
1 =  tin , 2 =  lead , 3 =  gold , 4 =  sulfur , 5 =  mercury , 6 =  silver , 7 =  iron

Alchemy or alchemy (also alchemy ; Greek-Arabic- Middle Latin alkimia , neo-Latin alchymia , early New High German alchimei , alchemey ) denotes from the 1st / 2nd Century the doctrine of the properties of substances and their reactions. It is an old branch of natural philosophy and was conceptually separated from modern chemistry and pharmacology in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries and finally replaced by these subjects. It is often assumed that the "production" of gold ( gold synthesis ) was the only goal of the alchemists . The spectrum of the alchemists, however, ranges from practical early chemists and pharmacists, early ideas about the structure of matter, including the convertibility ( transmutation ) of metals and other elements or minerals or salts, to strongly mythical speculations with ideas about a simultaneous one Change of the adept , who recently found the interest of the depth psychologist Carl Gustav Jung , for example , to the “gold makers”.

Etymology and Origin

Hermes Trismegistus , engraving
Joseph Wright of Derby : The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher's Stone; Oil painting, 1771
Elemental symbols of the ancient philosophers
1 = fire, 2 = earth, 3 = water, 4 = air
Wagner creates the homunculus , 19th century copperplate engraving.

The oldest known records of alchemy, particularly the Tabula Smaragdina , come from ancient Egypt and Hellenistic Greece . Since this came first exclusively on the Arab world to Europe, the word comes Alchemy (about medieval Latin alkimia , French-Spanish taught and naturalized since the 14th century) is probably of Arabالخيمياء / al-ḫīmiyāʾ orالكيمياء / al-kīmiyāʾ , which in turn has its origins in Greek (possibly χυμεία chymeía for "mixing" or χημεία chēmeía for "metal casting", "casting", - Middle Greek pronunciation for both chimía  - or χυμός chymos for "liquid") could. The meaning of the word has not yet been clarified with certainty and the possible interpretations are diverse. Paracelsus and Georg Agricola used the words chymia for alchemy and chymista for the alchemist. For example, according to older assumptions , alchemy can be translated as “art of the Egyptians” or from Coptic / ancient Egyptian kêmi “black [e earth]” (compare also Kemet ) in another reading as “doctrine of casting ”.

The Tabula Smaragdina was the fundamental book of the (occidental) alchemists. It is a collection of a few, difficult to understand and in need of interpretation , probably originally Greek, later in Latin version, ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus , in which the entire world wisdom is to be contained.

Area of ​​responsibility and achievements

A common goal of alchemists was the transmutation of base metals into gold and silver. That this was possible at that time was by no means generally recognized even among scholars in the Middle Ages; great scientists like Avicenna , Ramon Lull and Arnaldus von Villanova rejected this. However, this did not prevent a large number of alchemical writings from being slipped on them (e.g. Pseudo-Lull ), which was a common practice in early modern and medieval alchemical literature and makes it difficult to assess. Another problem is that it is not always exactly clear what is meant in alchemical texts by the chemicals mentioned there, which are usually not available in pure form.

The Philosopher's Stone was there the alchemists particular, the conversion of a base metal to gold or silver enabling "tincture". It is not consumed in the process, similar to a catalyst in today's chemistry. Alchemy, however, was only partially dominated by the idea of ​​the artificial production of gold and the philosopher's stone; since antiquity, people have been looking for a universal panacea both in the West and in the Orient (also often in connection with the philosopher's stone) ( Panacea ). A sought-after universal solvent was called Alkahest .

In addition to a theoretical component, there was a practical part that required careful handling of the distillation , extraction and sublimation equipment. In the Arab world, Rhazes was a typical representative of the exclusively practical orientation of alchemy.

Table of alchemical symbols ( The last Will and Testament by Basil Valentine, 1670)

In Greco-Arabic alchemy, the primordial elements earth, water, air and fire were known according to Empedocles ( four-element theory ). There was also a already in approaches to Aristotle existing conception of opposing principles (hot - cold, dry - wet), who had their equivalents in alchemy. According to this, the substances should first be freed from impure ingredients for transformations by applying the principles (such as heating, cooling, adding certain substances) and traced back to the materia prima , which then z. B. should be converted into gold.

In the Arab world, from the 9th century (with forerunners in late Hellenistic Egypt), the elements sulfur and mercury were also of particular importance, which also became decisive for Western alchemy, which became known through the mediation of Arab authors from the 12th century developed over Spain. They took on the role of "principles" in the transformation of substances. The principle of sulfur (or philosophical sulfur ) was assigned to fire and air (combustible), the "principle" to mercury (Mercurius, philosophical mercury ), earth and water.

Most of the alchemists of the Middle Ages were clergy, especially in monasteries. It was not until the end of the Middle Ages that it penetrated broader circles, which was evident in the emergence of the first alchemical writings in the national languages. One of the oldest German-language alchemical treatises is Alchymey teuczsch , some of which was written in cryptography , a manuscript written in 1426 by several authors from the county of Hals . Alchemy was also promoted or even practiced by high clergymen and princes. The alchemical authors of the Middle Ages were mostly loyal to the church and tried to integrate their work into church teaching. Correspondingly, decrees were not directed against alchemy itself, but rather fraudulent alchemists (such as the bull of Pope John XXII. 1317 against alchemical counterfeiters), or other excesses (many citizens were so obsessed with them that they got into debt or caused fire).

In the early 16th century Paracelsus introduced a third principle, “salt”, which partly reflects the importance of mineral acids that has now been discovered. The goal of him and his successors was primarily the renewal of the medicine of that time and discoveries in pharmacy ( iatrochemistry ).

Alchemists often had a command of silence regarding their knowledge towards outsiders. They used an encrypted technical language that was not understandable for the uninitiated. Many secrets were only orally entrusted to the most trustworthy disciples ( adepts ), the term adept receiving the meaning of initiate . From the 16th century onwards, alchemical knowledge spread to wider circles with the advent of printing, which replaced handwriting. The first dictionaries by Conrad Gessner and Andreas Libavius for alchemists were published in order to make the knowledge available to a broader number of researchers. In particular, the Alchemia by Libavius ​​(1597, 1606) is considered to be the first modern textbook on chemistry, whereby alchemy in the narrower sense of the transformation of metals was treated together with practical recipes and theory from antiquity.

The alchemists also often included astrology , so the metals stood for heavenly bodies: gold for the sun, silver for the moon, iron for Mars, mercury for Mercury, tin for Jupiter, copper for Venus, lead for Saturn (see also planetary metals ).

In contrast to the occasional misstatement, alchemists only dealt allegorically with the production of living artistic beings ( homunculus , basilisk ). Echoes of these occult experiments can still be found in Goethe's Faust I and Faust II , in Hoffmann's Sandmann and in Meyrink's Golem . Chemical elements were also personified in pictorial representations. From the union of man and woman, for example, hermaphrodites were born that bore the characteristics of both raw materials. This does not mean the creation of an artificial being, but a chemical reaction is interpreted pictorially. The often artistically elaborate illustrated books mostly have an allegorical and meditative character and are not a guide to real experiments. The egg was considered an alchemical symbol.

The alchemical ideas were based on the then common and binding natural philosophies. Even if some of the ideas of the time may seem absurd, the formation of theories about the changes in substances in practical laboratory work led to modern natural science. In alchemy, the experiment acquired a completely new status for a science that was principally anti-Aristotelian. The transition from alchemy to the materials sciences that are still common today, such as metallurgy , pharmaceutical and medical research, happened in some cases smoothly, but certain traditions became obsolete.

Alchemists were often associated with mining and metalworking as early chemists and metallurgists . In addition to pharmacy, other areas were e.g. B. glass production. The experimental application of alchemy is the basis for the (re-) invention of porcelain and black powder in Europe . The porcelain, for example, was a by-product in the search for gold. An alchemist at the Saxon court, Johann Friedrich Böttger , saved his life by delivering at least “ white gold ” to his “employer” . The alchemist Vincentio Casciorolo from Bologna first produced a phosphorescent substance in 1604 , the so-called "Bolognese light stone" or "Lapis Solaris". This discovery encouraged discussions about the nature of light and led to the first spectroscopic investigations as early as 1652 . Hennig Brand from Hamburg was an alchemist who discovered white phosphorus in 1669 and its chemiluminescence ("Phosphorus mirabilis") and thus the first chemiluminescence reaction. This chemiluminescence reaction found its way into forensic chemistry as a Mitscherlich sample and is still an impressive experiment today.

Work equipment

Retort (left)

Some of the alchemists' vessels were named after animals, such as hedgehogs, goose or the human couple.

Magnum opus

Opus magnum or the great work is a term in medieval European alchemy that refers to the successful conversion of the raw material into gold or the creation of the philosopher's stone . It was used as a metaphor for a spiritual transformation in the Hermetic tradition . The way to the production of the Philosopher's Stone or Lapis Philosophorum ran over four, later three stages, depending on the representation one can even assume seven or twelve stages.

The practical application of the magnum opus was to transform base materials into gold by transmutation, by guiding the base material through the “red stone”. It formed the counterpart to the simpler little work , in which the "white elixir " was used to transform base materials into silver.

In alchemy there was always a dispute about how the stages should be designed in detail. In a four-stage process, the “blackness” (nigredo) is the beginning and symbolizes the original state of matter. This state was also referred to as the materia prima . As further processes, the phase of "whitening" (albedo), "yellowing" (citrinitas) follow and end in the highest level of "reddening" (rubedo). These levels were based on the Greek philosophy of quaternity or the four- parting of a process into melanosis (blackening), leukosis (whitening), xanthosis (yellowing), iosis (reddening). This idea is based on the ancient theory of the four elements of earth, water, air and fire. It was not until the late Middle Ages that the quaternity became a trinity, whereby the stage of xanthosis , i.e. yellowing, was omitted.

Another division was: Materia Prima, Calcination, Sublimation, Solution, Putrefaction, Distillation, Coagulation, Tinctura, Multiplication, Projection.

Over the centuries the magnum opus developed into an inextricable mixture of the most diverse instructions and experiences, which made the practical process increasingly incomprehensible. Usually one wanted to hide one's own ignorance or disguise failures. The instructions were also symbolic, ambiguous and written in mysterious language. Paracelsus goes beyond the four stages and describes, among other things, in his De natura rerum the process of a seven-stage transmutation. With George Ripley , after his Liber duodecim portarum, there are already twelve stages in gold production.

It was precisely this inextricable web of thoughts and images that led the founder of analytical psychology , Carl Gustav Jung , to the conclusion that the step from quarternity to trinity can be explained with internal and psychological reasons. It was not external or practical processes that were described in the Great Work , but rather internal connections were unconsciously projected into the matter and the way of working.

This approach also developed parallel to practical alchemy in occidental mysticism . The Rosicrucians spoke of spiritual or theoretical alchemy, which was supposed to bring about a perfection of one's own person. Gustav Meyrink ties in with this tradition in his works; see the mystical interpretation of its three levels:

  • nigredo (putrefactio) , blackening (putrefaction): individuation , purification, burning out of impurity; Sol niger (black sun)
  • albedo , whitening: spiritualization, enlightenment
  • rubedo , reddening: union of man with God, union of the limited with the unlimited

Depth psychological meaning

As already explained under Opus Magnum, alchemy was not just a practical discipline in the sense of a "meta-chemistry". Rather, it also has a philosophical dimension. The various alchemical processes - such as the transformation of a certain metal into another - stand for the development of man, i.e. H. for internal psychological processes. Because the " transmutation of the psyche" as taught by the ancient mystery cults , through suffering, death and the transformed resurrection of the adept to a new, divine existence, has been projected onto matter in the alchemical workshops since ancient times. It led to the "transmutation of matter"; Through dismemberment, burning and treatment, the mineral substances suffer all the torments of change just like the person destined for redemption and change. The aim was to transform lower substances or metals into the most precious metal, immortal gold, or into a universal substance (lapis) or into a redeeming universal medicine. The discovery of this analogy was the first to describe Zosimus from Panopolis in his dream visions.

In his major work, Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism (1914), the psychoanalyst Herbert Silberer was probably the first to work out the psychological dimension of alchemy. The Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung saw in the working methods and transformational images of the alchemists a parallel to the dream images of modern people during their biographical self-discovery. Personal problems, seemingly unsolvable tasks, existential crises or necessary maturation processes play a major role. He called this process individuation and described in detail the processes and laws of this unconscious world of images or “transmutation of the psyche”. He regarded the research of individuation as an essential task of his analytical psychology .


The term " spagyric " (from the Greek σπάω spao = "I separate" and ἀγείρω ageiro = "I unite, I bring together") is a term introduced by Paracelsus , which he used synonymously for alchemy. He saw the task of alchemy not in the production of gold, but in the production of medicines. He chose the term "spagyric" to distinguish it from other directions. As a result, spagyric was seen as the medical field of alchemy. Spagyric drugs are medicines that are produced on the basis of alchemical or spagyric knowledge. Vegetable, mineral and animal substances are used as the starting material for spagyrika.

Great alchemists

Alchemists of ancient Egypt as well as ancient

Chinese alchemists

In China, alchemy was part of religious Daoism . It was believed in some systems that human beings can attain seven stages of development: godlike, righteous, immortal, Dao people, wise, virtuous, ordinary people, and slaves. The first three levels are immortal. Anyone can climb this ladder from slave to godlike. The leap from the fourth, still mortal, stage of the Dao man to the fifth, first, immortal human stage cannot take place by oneself, but alchemy is required for this.

The Chinese alchemists believed that in cinnabar (dan) they had found at least the main component of the elixir of life for achieving immortality. Cinnabar is poisonous because of the mercury it contains. Since it is difficult to dissolve, it does not have so strong an acute effect. But since cinnabar was used as a medicine for a long time, people died from chronic mercury poisoning. Both the first emperor of China and later customers of the alchemists and alchemists themselves died of alchemical medicine. Therefore, alchemy was declared Waidan (outer cinnabar) and Neidan (inner cinnabar) was invented. Neidan is based on meditation and other spiritual methods. Today only Neidan is practiced. Ascending from one level to another should be done by cultivating the Dao. It does this by collecting energy (qi) and uniting spirit (shen).

The first specialists in the arts of immortality were the Fangshi , who offered shamanistic practices, were sought out by emperors and nobles and occasionally supported. From this tradition comes Wei Boyang , author of the oldest Chinese alchemical treatise Zhouyi cantong qi ("On the unification of the correspondences"), who according to legend, lived during the 2nd century AD. He is said to have the following myth: After a dog fell dead in an experiment concerning the right elixir, the master said, “I have given up the way of the world, my family and friends to live in the mountains. It would be ashamed to go back without finding the Dao of the sacred immortals. To die by this elixir cannot be worse than to live without it. That's how I have to eat it. ”He swallowed the elixir and fell dead on the spot. After the disappointed students left, the dog and master woke up and soared up to heaven to become immortals.

Another was Ge Hong (284–364 AD), whose main work is called Baopuzi (“He who embraces the uncut log” or “The master who embraces simplicity”). The Shangqing School later adopted some of his techniques.

Lü Dongbin , one of the Eight Immortals , is said to have been one of the first to focus exclusively on Inner Alchemy . His student was Liu Haichan; Zhang Boduan (987-1082 AD) is said to have received his knowledge from this. He wrote the Wuzhen pian ("About the comprehension of reality"), which transfers the expression of external alchemy to internal changes. The aim is to create the shengtai ("spiritual embryo" of immortality). After his death, many schools of Neidan were established. His students founded the southern branch of the " School of Perfect Reality " (literally "The Way of Realizing Truth").

Geber, father of chemistry
The "alchemical figures" of Nikolaus Flamel

Alchemists of the Arabic-speaking culture

Replica of the laboratory of Andreas Libavius ​​in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Western alchemists

Archaeological finds

In 2010, the remains of an alchemist's workshop from 1570 to 1600 were found in a waste pit on the north side of the former Franciscan monastery in Lutherstadt Wittenberg . It is the oldest known find of this type in Europe, alongside the remains of an alchemist's workshop from the 16th century, which were found in the Austrian Oberstockstall at the end of the 1970s . The many broken glass vials were restored under the direction of the archaeochemist Christian-Heinrich Wunderlich and presented at an exhibition on alchemy in the State Museum for Prehistory in Halle in 2016. There were many residues of antimony (the amount would have been enough to kill half of the inhabitants of what was then Wittenberg) as well as mercury and, for example, the remains of a small dog that had been heated in a clay vessel. So far the laboratory could not be assigned to an alchemist known by name; it probably came from the vicinity of the Saxon court. Paracelsus in particular advocated the use of antimony in pharmacy (in addition to its effect as a separating agent from gold), although it is very toxic.

During the excavation in 1980 in a church belonging to the Oberstockstall estate in Oberstockstall , the buried remains of an alchemical laboratory were found under a floor tile (apart from valuable metal objects such as scales and mortars, which were no longer found), such as bowls, stills (including an alembic for falling distillation made of glass), vials and bottles made of glass, remnants of over 300 crucibles, remnants of the melting furnace (wind nozzles etc.), sample shards and around 100 ash cupels, remnants of copper objects (sieves, brushes, tubes), bone remains (probably for the extraction of bone ash) . One bowl could be dated to 1549, two tiles to about 1560, a coin from the time of Rudolf II to after 1576. Pieces of wood were dendrochronologically dated to 1586, 1590 and 1596. The laboratory was located in the vaults of the sacristy of the church and overlooked the high altar.

The parish ( Kirchberg am Wagram ) was subordinate to the Cathedral Chapter Passau . The excavator Sigrid von Osten found historical evidence of people interested in alchemy in this area, such as the von Trenbach family, who also had connections to mining . Urban von Trenbach was pastor in Kirchberg from 1552 and Bishop of Passau from 1598. Another candidate was Viktor August Fugger, who had been pastor in Kirchberg since 1572 and died in an accident in 1586 shortly after being appointed abbot in Zwettl Abbey , which may have ended the laboratory. On the portal of the church there are grimaces that are reminiscent of Baphomet representations.

Museums and exhibitions

  • Exhibition on the topic of alchemy in the Kulturforum Berlin 2017
  • "The search for the world secret", special exhibition in the Landesmuseum Halle (Saale)
  • Alchemy and art in the Foundation Museum Kunstpalast
  • Permanent exhibition "Alchemy in Weikersheim" at Weikersheim Castle to Wolfgang II. Von Hohenlohe


Older literature

  • Martin Ruland: Lexicon alchemiae sive Dictionarium alchemisticum, cum obscuriorum verborum et rerum Hermeticarum, tum Theophrast-Paracelsicarum phrasium. Palthenius, Frankfurt 1612. (Reprint Hildesheim 1964; (digitized) )
  • Titus Burckhardt : Alchemy - Sense and Worldview. Walter Verlag, Olten 1960. New edition as: Alchemy - sense and worldview. Chalice, Xanten 2018, ISBN 978-3-942914-28-4 .
  • Edmund O. von Lippmann : Origin and expansion of alchemy. 3 volumes. Part I – II: Springer, Berlin 1919 and 1931; Part III: ed. by Richard von Lippmann, Weinheim an der Bergstrasse 1954.
  • Karl Christoph Schmieder : History of Alchemy. 1832. (Edited and newly set and revised edition with a foreword by Marco Frenschkowski. Marixverlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-86539-003-X ) (digitized version ) .
  • Hermann Kopp : Alchemy in older and more recent times. A contribution to cultural history . 2 volumes, Winter, Heidelberg 1886, Volume 1 , Volume 2 .
  • John Ferguson Bibliotheca Chemica . 2 volumes. James Maclehose, Glasgow 1906 (Bio-Bibliographisches Lexikon), Volume 1 , Volume 2 .
  • Günther Goldschmidt: The Origin of Alchemy , in Ciba magazine 1938, No. 57.
  • Günther Goldschmidt: The medieval alchemy. In: Ciba magazine. 6, 1939, No. 65, pp. 2234-2267.
  • Wilhelm Ganzenmüller : Alchemy in the Middle Ages . Paderborn 1938. (Reprint Hildesheim 1967)
  • Eric John Holmyard : Alchemy. Penguin, Harmondsworth 1957 and 1968.
  • Stanislaus Klossowski de Rola : Alchemy. The secret art. Munich 1974.
  • Johannes Fabricius: Alchemy. The medieval alchemists and their royal art. Copenhagen 1976.
  • Hermann Beckh : Alchemy. From the secret of the material world. Edited by Willem Frans Daems. 3. Edition. 1942. (Reprinted in Dornach 1987)
  • Gerhard Eis : About the speech and the silence of the alchemists. In: German quarterly for literary and intellectual history. Volume 25, 1951, pp. 415-435; also in: Gerhard Eis: Before and after Paracelsus. Investigations into Hohenheim's ties to tradition and news about his followers. Stuttgart 1965 (= Medicine in History and Culture. Volume 8), pp. 51–73.
  • Gerhard Eis: The alchemists' sense of social and ethical responsibility. In: Files of the XVIII. International Sociological Congress / Actes du XVIII e Congrès international de sociologie, II. Meisenheim am Glan 1962, pp. 244–252.

Julius Ruska was one of the leading historians of alchemy, especially in the Arab world (see literature listed there).

Classic compilations of alchemy were De Alchemia , Artis Auriferae , Musaeum Hermeticum , Theatrum Chemicum , Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa , Deutsches Theatrum Chemicum and Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum .

Current literature

  • Jette Anders: 33 alchemists. The hidden side of an ancient science. Past Publishing, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86408-204-7 .
  • Manuel Bachmann, Thomas Hofmeier: Secrets of Alchemy . Schwabe Verlag, Basel 1999, ISBN 3-7965-1368-9 .
  • George-Florin Calian: Alkimia Operativa and Alkimia Speculativa. Some Modern Controversies on the Historiography of Alchemy. Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU, 2010. (online)
  • Reinhard Federmann : The royal art. A history of alchemy. Paul Neff, Vienna / Berlin / Stuttgart 1964.
  • Horst Friedrich: Alchemy: What is it? Edition Efodon, Michaelis Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-89539-608-7 .
  • Helmut Gebelein : Alchemy. Eugen Diederichs, Munich 1991. (2nd edition, ibid. 1996, ISBN 3-424-01062-6 ).
  • Helmut Gebelein: Alchemy. (= Diederichs compact). Kreuzlingen / Munich 2004, ISBN 3-7205-2501-5 .
  • Bernhard Dietrich Haage: Alchemy in the Middle Ages: Ideas and Images - from Zosimos to Paracelsus. Artemis and Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zurich 1996, ISBN 3-7608-1123-X . (2nd edition, ibid. 2000, ISBN 3-7608-1222-8 ).
  • Margareth Hagen, Margery Vibe Skagen: Literature and Chemistry: Elective Affinities. Aarhus University Press, 2nd edition, 2013.
  • Daniel Hornfisher: Lion and Phoenix. The great handbook of practical spagyric and alchemy. J. Kamphausen, 1998, ISBN 3-591-08432-8 .
  • Otto Krätz : 7000 years of chemistry: alchemy, the black art - black powder - explosives - tar chemistry - paints - plastics - biochemistry and more. Verlag DW Callwey, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-933203-20-1 .
  • Jacques van Lennep: Alchemy. Contribution to the history of the alchemy. 2nd Edition. Brussels 1985.
  • Stanton J. Linden (Ed.): The alchemy reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Stanton Marlan: The black sun. The alchemy and art of darkness. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010
  • Zweder RWM von Martels (Ed.): Alchemy Revisited. Proceedings of the International Conference on the History of Alchemy at the University of Groningen April 17-19, 1989. (= Collection de Travaux de l'Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences. Volume 33). Brill, Leiden / New York / Copenhagen / Cologne 1990, ISBN 978-90-04-09287-7 (English).
  • Christoph Meinel : Alchemy in the European history of culture and science. (= Wolfenbütteler Research. Volume 32). Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 1986, ISBN 3-447-02655-3 .
  • Tara Nummedal: Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire , University of Chicago Press 2007
  • Raphael Patai: The Jewish Alchemists. Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • Emil Ernst Ploß, Heinz Roosen-Runge, Heinrich Schipperges , Herwig Buntz (eds.): Alchimia. Ideology and technology. Munich 1970.
  • Claus Priesner , Karin Figala (ed.): Alchemy: Lexicon of a hermetic science. Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44106-8 .
  • Claus Priesner: History of Alchemy. Beck 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-61601-3 .
  • Lawrence M. Principe : The Secrets of Alchemy. University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  • Alexander Roob: The Hermetic Museum. Alchemy & Mysticism. Taschen Verlag, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-8228-8803-6 .
  • Hans-Werner Schütt : In search of the philosopher's stone. The history of alchemy. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46638-9 .
  • Joachim Telle , Sven Hartman: Article Alchemy , Part I by Sven Hartman, Part II (historical) by Joachim Telle, in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Volume 2, De Gruyter 1978, pp. 195-227.
  • Jörg Völlnagel: Alchemy. The royal art. Hirmer Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7774-6071-0 .
  • Jost Weyer : Alchemy in the Latin Middle Ages. In: Chemistry in Our Time. 23rd year 1989, p. 16 ff.
  • Michael Wächter: Brief history (s) of the discovery of chemistry in the context of contemporary history and natural sciences , Verlag Königshausen und Neumann, Würzburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-8260-6510-1 .
  • Dierk Suhr: Die Alchemisten - Goldmacher, Heiler, Philosophen , Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2006, ISBN 978-3-7995-0163-7 .

Psychological and mythological interpretation


  • Volker Fritz Brüning: Bibliography of the alchemical literature . 3 volumes, KG Saur Verlag, Munich 2004–2006:
    • Volume 1: The alchemical printing works from the invention of the art of printing up to 1690 . 2004, ISBN 3-598-11603-9 .
    • Volume 2: The alchemical printing works from 1691 to 1783 . 2005, ISBN 3-598-11604-7 .
    • Volume 3: The alchemical printed works from 1784-2004, supplements, registers . 2006, ISBN 3-598-11605-5 .

Web links

Wikisource: Alchemy  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Alchemy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Alchemy  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Early New High German Dictionary . Volume 1, p. 759 f.
  2. Jörg Barke: The language of the Chymie: using the example of four prints from the period between 1574-1761. (= German linguistics. Volume 111). Tübingen 1991, p. 174 and more often.
  3. Herwig Buntz: Alchemy. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 30 f .; here: p. 30.
  4. Johann Hübner (Ed.): Curieuses and reales Natur-, Kiunst-, Berg-, Gewerck- und Handlungslexicon [...] Leipzig 1712 and 1717 (respective keyword “Alchymia”).
  5. Herwig Buntz: Alchemists in the service of Bishop Peter Philipp von Dernbach (1672–1683). In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 3, 1985, pp. 335 f.
  6. See, for example, Ursula Klein: Connection and Affinity. The foundation of modern chemistry at the turn of the 17th to the 18th century. Birkhäuser Verlag, Berlin 1994, p. 177 ff.
  7. ^ Jack Lindsay: The origins of alchemy in Greco-Roman Egypt. London 1970.
  8. ^ Heinrich Schipperges : Historical Concepts of a Theoretical Pathology. Manuscript studies on medicine in the late Middle Ages and early modern times. Berlin / Heidelberg / New York / Tokyo 1983 (= publications from the Research Center for Theoretical Pathology of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Without volume), p. 65.
  9. Syed Mahdihassan: Alchemy in the light of its names in Arabic, Sanskrit and Greek. In: Janus. Volume 49, 1960, pp. 79-100.
  10. Michela Pereira: The alchemical corpus attributed to Raymond Lull. (= The Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts. 18). Warburg Institute, London 1989.
  11. ^ Dietrich Brandenburg: Alchemy and Medicine. On the medicine of antiquity and the Islamic Middle Ages. In: Medical monthly. Volume 28, 1974, pp. 531-535, and Volume 29, 1975, pp. 25-28.
  12. Ernst Darmstaedter : Medicine and Alchemy. Paracelsus Studies. Leipzig 1931.
  13. Arthur John Hopkins: Alchemy, child of Greek philosophy. New York 1967.
  14. Edmund O. von Lippmann : Chemical and Alchemical from Aristotle. In: Archives for the History of Natural Sciences. 2/3, 1910/1912, pp. 234-300.
  15. Herwig Buntz: The European alchemy from the 13th to the 18th century. In: Emil Ernst Ploß, Heinz Roosen-Runge, Heinrich Schipperges, Herwig Buntz (eds.): Alchimia. Ideology and technology. Munich 1970, pp. 119-210.
  16. Compare the duality of other religious and spiritual systems, such as Yin and Yang in Daoism or Ida and Pingala in Ayurveda and Yoga
  17. Rainer Rudolf: , Alchymey teuczsch '. In: Author's Lexicon . 2nd Edition. Volume 1 (1978), Col. 209.
  18. Joachim Telle, Alchemie II, in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Volume 2, De Gruyter 1978, p. 208.
  19. Jörg Barke: The language of the Chymie: using the example of four prints from the period between 1574-1761 (= German linguistics. Volume 111). Tübingen 1991.
  20. Berend Strahlmann: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, Weinheim 1972, p. 92.
  21. ^ The first textbook of chemistry: Andreas Libavius' Alchemia (Frankfurt, 1597) , ETH-Bibliothek 2019
  22. Hence also in English Mercury (next to quicksilver ) for mercury
  23. Jost Weyer: Alchemy in the Latin Middle Ages. In: Chemistry in Our Time. 23rd year, 1989, p. 16 ff.
  24. Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub : Goethe as an alchemist. In: Euphorion . 3rd episode, 48, 1954, pp. 19–40 ( digitized version (PDF) from
  25. ^ Syed Mahdihassan: Alchemy with the egg as its symbol. In: Janus. 63, 1976, pp. 133-153.
  26. Johann Jakob Bachofen : Mother Right and Original Religion. Using the selection by Rudolf Marx ed. by Hans G. Kippenberg. 1927. (6th edition. Stuttgart 1984, pp. 21–42: The egg as a symbol )
  27. Harald Tausch: Memories of the earthly paradise. Persia and Alchemy with Paul Fleming and Adam Olearius. In: What a Poëte can! Studies on the work of Paul Fleming (1609–1640). De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-027877-4 , p. 389, footnote 74.
  28. Paul Diepgen : The Elixir. The most delicious of medicines. CH Boehringer Sohn, Ingelheim am Rhein 1951, p. 17 f. and 43 f.
  29. Opus Magnum In: Claus Priesner, Karin Figala: Alchemie. Lexicon of a Hermetic Science. Munich 1998, p. 261.
  30. ^ A b Carl Gustav Jung: Collected Works. Psychology and alchemy. 7th edition. Zurich 1994, p. 268.
  31. Michelspacher Cabala: Mirror of Art and Nature . 1615.
  32. George Ripley: Liber Duodecim Portarum. In: Theatrum Chemicum. Volume III, Strasbourg 1659, pp. 797 ff.
  33. Meyrink and the theomorphic image of man ( Memento from September 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  34. Mircea Eliade: Blacksmiths and Alchemists. Herder, 1992.
  35. Carl Gustav Jung: "Herbert Silberer, who unfortunately died prematurely, has the credit of being the first to discover the secret threads that run from alchemy to the psychology of the unconscious." Mysterium conjunctionis. Volume 2, Olten 1956.
  36. ^ Carl Gustav Jung: Collected Works. Volume 13, 1978: Studies on Alchemical Concepts. In it: "The Visions of Zosimos" from 1938/1954.
  37. ^ Carl Gustav Jung: Collected Works. Volume 12, 1972/1980: Psychology and Alchemy. 1944/1952. In it “Dream symbols of the individuation process”, 1936 and “The ideas of salvation in alchemy” from 1937.
  38. Jette Anders: 33 Alchemists. The hidden side of an ancient science. Berlin 2016.
  39. Christoph Seidler: The poison mixer of Wittenberg. In: Spiegel Online. March 17, 2016. Here it is dated from 1520 to 1540.
  40. World secret deciphered. Christian-Heinrich Wunderlich in conversation with Anke Schaefer. In: Deutschlandradio Kultur. November 24, 2016. Wunderlich dates here from 1570 to 1600.
  41. The alchemist from Oberstockstall and his many riddles , culture and wine. The excavator was Sigrid von Osten
  42. ^ Special exhibition Alchemy ( Memento from January 13, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), State Museum for Prehistory, Halle, November 25, 2016 to June 5, 2017.
  43. Werner Soukup, Sigrid von Osten: The Alchemist Laboratory of Oberstockstall. A preliminary report on the status of the research project. In: Communications from the Society of German Chemists, Department of Chemistry. Volume 7, 1992 ( PDF )
  44. Exhibition on alchemy in the Kulturforum Berlin 2017
  45. Alchemy "The Search for the World Secret", special exhibition in the Landesmuseum Halle (Saale)
  46. ^ Alchemy and Art in the Museum Kunstpalast Foundation