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Alchemy is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on January 1, 2005.
Article milestones
January 19, 2004Refreshing brilliant proseNot kept
November 12, 2004Peer reviewReviewed
November 28, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
July 14, 2007Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article


Sullies the very reputation of WikipediaEdit

An abominable article, clearly written primarily by a "fan". The section on so-called modern alchemy is atrocious. The first part says little more than the fact that there are lots of interpretations, that there are a lot of books, and that the section's author believes many if not a majority of those books and interpretations are wrong. And why is there any mention whatsoever of "Nuclear transmutation"? It has no more place here than the mention of the modern medical treatment of conditions such as schizophrenia would have in an article about Demonology or Exorcism (unless as evidence against the very integrity of those subjects).

A *major* rewrite is needed, to make it clear that the prevailing modern view of alchemy is as a historical artefact and not an ongoing field of discovery. That still leaves space for mentioning the opposing view that some feel the field remains valid and that indeed some still pursue it. But to remain a true representation of what "alchemy" means to the majority, it would have to be made clear that such an opposing view is a minority one. Just because a few people today still worship Odin doesn't change the fact that in the general use of the word, "Odin" is an historical concept.

A quick but good start would be simply to change the second word of the entire article from "is" to "was" (with corresponding tense changes across the remainder of that sentence). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:39, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree about the Nuclear transmutation bit at least. That's been discussed here before but I think that there's enough info in this article now to satisfy folks that physics w/o Hermetism ain't alchemy. The only way it's related is by popular misconception. The see also link should be sufficient. Yeah... the modern alchemy section needs work...Car Henkel (talk) 15:15, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Middle Eastern and European OnlyEdit

There were very similar ideologies/practices in other parts of the world. I am thinking of China. This article pretty much only refers to Europe. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:02, 13 July 2011 (UTC)


There is a lot of weird double-talk in this article. It starts off with things that may make sense to someone but are very awkwardly phrased, such as "These are not mutually exclusive, but complementary instead, as meditation requires practice in the real world, and conversely" and "The Great Work; mystic interpretation of its four stages". But then we have things later on that are more disturbing. "Alchemy is the science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter" is not only a strange, dubious, and vague statement, but it also directly contradicts the introduction, which (more correctly) identifies alchemy as a protoscience, not a science. "A scientific theory says that if Alchemy is stopped in the process of deconstructing, the object will be destroyed" is just totally indecipherable gibberish. Can someone with some knowledge of history take ownership of this page and rein in the crazies a little? (talk) 20:41, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Going a step further, in fact, I find that versions of the article from the 2005 time frame (back when this was a featured article) are quite excellent. Easy to read, informative, and interesting. The current version doesn't even hold a candle to it. It seems like over time, the page has been contaminated by way too many occultists trying to advertise their pet theories and whatnot. Can we just revert to the featured version? (talk) 20:52, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

I agreeEdit

There are also some major problems with equating nuclear reactions with alchemy, due to their connection with "transformations" of elements from one kind into another. Nuclear reactions, as said in discussions earlier, need no invocation of "the spirit" of the elements to describe what is observed. Hard science alone seems to do the trick. Also, much of the history seems to have been ignored regarding the fact that alchemists poorly understood the chemicals they were working with: for example, "Oil of Sulfur" never had any sulfur in it, and was actually dimethyl ether. What passed for "observation" in these pre-scientific days were things like the phases of the moon and other random observations which today seem irrelevant. Hucksters who claimed to turn lead into gold were often hung or run out of town when it was shown that their "gold" coins were counterfeit. This likely attempt at "political correctness" toward alchemists obfuscates the idea that alchemy is largely an artifact of history, mostly of interest to historians of chemistry. Paul E J King (talk) 13:53, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

20th century?Edit

Possibly odd question here, but is the part about alchemy being practiced up to the 20th century not erroneous, considering there are countless living, practicing alchemists today? (talk) 13:02, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

I believe that in the old days, alchemists were taken more seriously by the general public. I would challenge people to come up with any serious discoveries in the 20th century. I would think Pauling, Schroedinger, Einstein, and Rutherford would feel quite insulted if they thought that their pioneering work on nuclear reactions was just another form of Alchemy. Thus, I don't think anyone would agree that these guys are alchemists. Paul E J King (talk) 13:53, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Try Professor Lawrence Principe of Johns Hopkins who is successfully reproducing the early stages of one of the classic texts on a thoroughly scientific basis. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:27, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

major changes?Edit

A few months back (possible close to a year ago) I was reading this article, back then the page refered to alchemy as the ancient study of various sciences, now the page states that alchemy is a philosophy and practice of achieving wisdom and immortality? I'm confused, I have always interpreted alchemy to be the ancient study of science combined with various magical and spiritual such things(due to widespread belief of such things in ancient times) but the apparently major changes that have occured since I've last been on here are confusing to say the least, can anyone inform me as to what has occured and why the article has changed so much, thanks ( (talk) 15:05, 3 July 2009 (UTC))

Yes, the focus has been greatly lost, now it's focused more in Esoterica rather than in reliable sources. To put it bluntly, there's more evidence pointing to Alchemy as the proto-science that tried to turn common metals to gold than there is to this notion that Alchemy was "wisdom" or "philosophy".-- (talk) 17:29, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Do you happen to have a source for that statement? Because most research I've read on the topic suggests that the mystical aspects of alchemy are in fact present in even the earliest texts, and form the basis rather then a later interpretation of or addition to the alchemical tradition. See especially the articles on early chinese and greek alchemy in Debus' 'Alchemy and early modern chemistry: papers from ambix'; in both cases it is argued that the mystical aspects are in fact present in even the earliest traditions, although in the case of greek alchemy the mystical and physical aspects tend to be more rigidly divided then in chinese alchemy. Concluding that alchemy is foremost a pseudo-science seems to me to go far beyond the scant evidence that we have; it is an expression of modern bias rather then actual research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:20, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

It sounds like the person who wrote the above statement has mainly read about what is called Philosophical Alchemy. In fact, Practical Alchemy is characterized by major contributions leading to modern-day chemistry and science. For example, the Chinese you mention actually developed important methods in the separation of metals, especially separating gold and silver. Practical methods, not spiritual metaphors. It is important to remember the difficulty of using these methods in Europe, where people had to disguise what they were doing lest they be seen as sorcerers (chemistry was mysterious) or that they would be perceived as having more gold than their King, who would seize their property (much like Russia is doing right now to its successful businessmen). So, they wrote cryptic texts that are only understandable if one also understands the properties of the metals and minerals involved in the process of extracting, say, gold, from ore. When one knows the properties of these materials, one can easily read through the lines of the poetry. People did find these chemical processes impressive, tantamount to discovering immortality, but Francis Bacon famously wrote how disgusted he was to see the preponderance of uneducated people successfully attributing superstition to the practical chemistry that was in fact taking place by those legitimate alchemists doing important work. I think the statements below are also ignoring this very important fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

It must be remembered that Alchemy is a pre-cartesian activity and divisions like Philosophical, Mystical and Scientific are almost meaningless.--Alchemist Jack (talk) 21:38, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
I concur with the above. Alchemy never pretended to be science or proto-science - when alchemy began there was no such thing as science, just technologies, recipes to achieve this and that, passed from master to apprentice and kept in secret. Considering it an "ancient study of science" or a pseudo-science is, at least, weird and self-contradictory. Alchemists called themselves philosophers, and although the term might loosely mean "one who studied bodies of knowledge before science (the scientific method) existed", they were always quite careful in stating that even their metals had little to do with the common metals -- they were more interested in the metal's souls than the metal's dead bodies (the common metal). Yet this is a difficult matter to present, due to alchemy's double nature, a practical manipulative one and a meditative one. It's not a "either-or" situation. Both attitudes, the technology and the wisdom, occured at least since Zosimos; although Marie-Louise von Franz states that it occurred long before him, as the practical execution of the technologies would be accompanied by religious chants (Egypt mummies) or the melting of ores done at an astrologically selected time. It's as if you selected an appropriate day and put up a ceremony to change your engine's oil or do a PET scan. --Xyzt1234 (talk) 11:39, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Fulcanelli made a strong distinction, in Dwellings of the Philosophers, between alchemy, with its double nature, and archemy, consisting of primitive chemical and metalurgical manipulations for strictly pragmatic purposes. No accompanying philosophy, no alchemy.--Xyzt1234 (talk) 21:06, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Nuclear Transmutation is not Alchemy.Edit

The Nuclear Transmutation section seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with alchemy, and I decided to be bold in fixing it, and remove the section. However, someone named momofusan reverted my edit and said I need to get consensus here. I disagree that something this obvious needs discussed at all, especially with that whole thing about "being bold" to improve articles, but undoing his undo would be an edit war, which is bad, so here I am. So, "Get consensus" about fixing it so work can finally get done. So inefficient... (talk) 04:11, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Both are about changing one element to another. Nuclear Transmutation is how one of the mundane stated goals of alchemy can be achieved with SCIENCE! It is relevant for that reason. Ian.thomson (talk) 04:13, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

To add to the paragraph above, when people wrote about transmutation they were in fact talking about the separation of different elements, not transmutation, but for a while, they had no way of knowing whether they were tranforming something into something else or separating one thing from something else because after all, it was all new! What they were doing was also scientific, they just didn't know enough about how it was happening, and like most scientists, came up with explanations that we now know are not exactly true. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:43, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

I don't get it. It took place 200 years after real chemistry was invented. EDIT: Oh, I see what you mean. In that case, it needs rewritten to say that specifically, instead of looking out of place. The section needs to clearly explain that nuclear transmutation takes the place of alchemy or whatever. I didn't get it, and the reason I didn't get it was because it was not written as it should have been. It doesn't need removed, as I thought, but it does need fixed. (talk) 04:15, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

I would like to clarify that nuclear reactions are not alchemy only because there is not any spiritual transformation of the chemist in the process. A lot of focus is placed on the idea that alchemy is about transforming "base" metals into gold. This is just a symbol of a more profound, spiritual transformation of the alchemist and this is the true purpose of alchemy. —Preceding by A. Almeida comment added by (talk) 23:55, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

While there always was a spiritual component, early on, the material component was what they were focused on, the spiritual stuff was the "why," not the "how." Purely spiritual alchemy came about because material alchemy wasn't working until it developed into chemistry. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:27, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Ian Thomson, are you saying that thousands of years ago, when they discovered how to separate gold from ore, they weren't practicing chemistry? Separating the gold from the lead is an important chemical step in the process. Today, it's called metallurgical science and technology, not "spiritual alchemy"! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:57, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
...I really don't like it when people put words into my mouth to completely turn around what I've stated. It's rude. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:42, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Ian, to be fair, you did write "material alchemy wasn't working until it developed into chemistry." In fact, thousands of years before Europeans coined the term "alchemy" the chemical processes used in alchemy were developed in the Oriental mining industry and they worked, without a doubt. Please understand that I am trying to make sure that false claims are removed from this page because when Wikipedia is misleading it does a disservice to honest people seeking knowledge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:50, 16 February 2011 (UTC)


The history sub section is too long, since there is a sub-article on just that. I propose to cut it down, moving anything there of value not present on the sub-page over, ensuring that nothing is lost William M. Connolley (talk) 14:43, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

I've done it (still the same me, BTW). I wondered about the timeline, but then decided it was negligible and probably OR anyway WMC 23:14, 8 January 2011 (UTC)


Sadly,I don't know how to add pictures or I would, but I think the article would be more interesting if someone added pictures (like the seven metals of alchemy). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Angelcook (talkcontribs) 22:15, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Chemistry (etymology)Edit

The etymology here doesn't agree with what is at purportedly the main article, Chemistry (etymology). Since that does indeed purport to be the main article, I'm going to force agreement here or gloss over the cracks unless someone objects William M. Connolley (talk) 15:24, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

FYI: The Chinese word for alchemy (liànjīnshù) literally means "the skill to smelt metal/gold". Manonbridges (talk) 21:17, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Article LackingEdit

It seems the article is lacking quite abit. Like what kind of influence did they have on modern chemistry..etc The use of distillation, the creation of flasks that influenced modern chemistry flasks, various chemical elements discovered by alchemists etc.


16:56, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Alchemical HealingEdit

Alchemy is the art of transmutation of energy. Some people may pretend to use it to turn metals into gold, but before anything else, it is a healing art (such as Reiki but much more advanced and requires much more study). There is nothing in the current article that talks about the alternative medicine side of Alchemy.

Maybe one aspect of Alchemy is a version of chemistry before there was science, but there is another aspect of Alchemy that is still being practiced and taught today, although it is not as widespread as Reiki.

There is a lot of work to do on the article to bring the various aspects of alchemy in an objective and balanced ways.

First, Alchemy is a path towards enlightenment (which includes health and longevity).
Second, Alchemy is a healing art (which includes alternative medicine and wisdom).
Third, one of the advanced paths of Alchemy is transmuting the energetic structure of matter to turn metals into gold, although I haven't seen it yet.

Healing (and everything resolving around it) should be one of the main aspects of the article, not a sub-sub-sub section of it.

For now, I'll simply flag the article as "Alternative Medicine Project".

Here are some sources to start working with:

- Search "Alchemical Healing" in Google, you'll find plenty of brief information and people teaching various aspects of it.

- The Master Alchemist who taught me Alchemy has a book: Mystical Alchemy:The Path to Enlightenment

- There is a clear definition and description of Alchemical Healing here. According to Wikipedia external link guidelines, this should be considered as an external link: "Sites that fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources." Also, the amount of details and controversial nature of the information makes most of it non-suitable to directly include in the article which should remain more neutral, objective and descriptive.

The main challenge may be to find sources as there are few books on the topic and many aspects of Alchemy cannot be found on the Internet. After other people start updating the structure of the article, I'll add a more accurate definition of Alchemy as well as update information about the healing part of it. Other people have to get involved.

A major issue is the reversal of legit modifications on controversial topics. I'm sure this can be avoided with proper communication and education.

Here is some more information to correct. The philosophical stone is the result of the perfect alignment of the physical body, the soul and the spirit which are the three phases of alchemy leading to enlightenment. I'm currently only completing the first of the three Alchemical phases so I can't say much more about the philosophical stone.

There are many alchemists alive today. One extremely powerful and known Alchemist is Jacques Tombazian who has over 60000 hours of therapy experience and who has several foundations. He mentioned there was less than 10 people on the planet with this level of enlightenment and power. Another very powerful and known Alchemist is Marc Berriault. I do not know the other very powerful ones but they all know each others.

I'll let other people structure something out of all this information and I'll contribute to the article later.

Mdavid9 (talk) 03:08, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Please, actually review the guidelines I left on your talk page, you will save everyone some time and effort. I did not just make those up, they represent site-wide consensus. The only reason I have been the only one to revert your edits is because I have been the only person active in the article when you added your material. Other editors have had plenty of time to restore your work but have not because they don't meet the guidelines.
I have already explained "search for it on Google" is not a source. I have also already explained that it is your job to bring sources for any information you bring, not other editors' responsibility. - personal sites and sites meant to sell products typically do not meet the reliable source guidelines (click here to read them). - personal sites, sites meant to sell products, and social networking sites typically do not meet the guidelines. I have already explained this.
It is not just an issue of source being on the internet, we accept books from academic and/or mainstream publishers as sources. Wikipedia is not concerned with "truth," it just summarizes what sources have to say. We don't accept personal interpretations of subjects, such as the philosopher's stone. There are many interpretations of that, your's is only one of many. If you can find a reliable source (again, click here to read the guidelines) that presents a view you like, you're welcome to present it, but if it is incorporated into the article, it will be incorporated as one view among many.
Here are the general notability guidelines, which is the standard Wikipedia uses to define whether or not someone is "well known." Unless Tombazian or Berriault are mentioned in multiple non-trivial publications not connected to them, they aren't considered notable. Ian.thomson (talk) 12:17, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
As an Alchemist, the quality of this article is very bad. It describes Alchemy as an ancient art that is irrelevant to modern times. In reality, it is a healing art that exists since a very long time and there are many Alchemists alive today and schools teaching it. Major work is required on this article and I am not going to dig for sources to do it all myself to get it undone right after. You and others have to do some work and I will simply contribute.
Links that "contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources" are to be considered according to the guidelines. The Wikipedia brings a 'rational skeptic' and neutral point of view on all the facets of Alchemy. One of the links I provided brings considerable additional information from the holistic health and spirituality point of view and respects the guidelines.
Yesterday I looked in the "Electronic library" of alchemical books (in the external links). The books were often mentioning Alchemy as a medicine (alternative medicine). There are lots of sources there, however, most of these books are in Spanish and French! Good sources have to be written by Alchemists or people who have studied the topic. Newspapers can't be considered a reference on anything related to spirituality, energies and healing because newspapers are written by people who don't know about these topic.
This brings a more fundamental issue that applies to other Wikipedia articles.
--Mdavid9 (talk) 15:31, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The links you have provided all went to sites dedicated to selling products. Those are excluded from the guidelines. The encyclopedia does not exist to conform to individual editor's beliefs, but simply to summarize mainstream sources. In the case of fringe theories, mainstream views of the subject will be more weight than the subject's view of itself. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:48, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Addendum/clarification: Wikipedia does not exist to promote ideas, only report what has mainstream attention. Wikipedia:TEND#Righting_Great_Wrongs"So, if you want to... Spread the word about a theory/hypothesis/belief/cure-all herb that has been unfairly neglected and suppressed by the scholarly community, ''''On Wikipedia'''', you’ll have to wait until it’s been picked up in mainstream journals, or get that to happen first. Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought or original research." (See also WP:NOTPROMOTION and Wikipedia:Advocacy). Ian.thomson (talk) 17:56, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The sites don't fit the description of 'personal websites'. As for selling 'something', Universities and newspapers websites are selling something so that's not much of an argument.
IMO World is an institution and school of various Alchemists. The observable reality is that 1. there are Alchemists institutions running today and 2. they teach alchemical healing. The fact that this Wikipedia page says Alchemy is an ancient art irrelevant to modern age and that it doesn't mention it can be used for healing makes the article disconnected from reality. I can understand Wikipedia isn't concerned with the truth and went from rational skepticism to irrational skepticism in order to get approval from other skeptics, but this level of disconnection from the observable reality is ridiculous.
"On Wikipedia, you’ll have to wait until it’s been picked up in mainstream journals, or get that to happen first." Thanks for the idea, I'll work on that.
Mdavid9 (talk) 17:51, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
University books don't have "buy stuff here!" on every other page, unlike the sites you've been linking to. Newspapers and universities specialize in distributing mainstream information. Those sites you've been linking to specialize selling other things. Your argument that they are selling a product is incomplete and reaches teh wrong conclusion: universities and newspaper sources sell the products that Wikipedia asks for (mainstream information), while the sites you've linked to sell quack medicine, giving some non-mainstream information to try to legitimize their trade.
Wikipedia could not care less about "truth" or "observable reality." We care about verifiable source being cited. I don't see how you don't get this by now. It prevents crazy people who have "seen the truth" from mucking up the encyclopedia (do we really want psychotics like David Icke, Pat Robetson, John Todd, Glenn Beck, or [guy] to control the most used general reference site?), and allows for an encyclopedia that most people can agree with.
Just as everyone else, including trained scientist and doctors, has the chance of being wrong about alchemy, so do you. This is why we stick with mainstream sources instead of sites by snake-oil salesmen. You may think of it as irrational skepticism, but it's really just being smart enough to believe everything that's ever been written.
There is also the issue of whether or not these schools are notable. If noone cares about those self-proclaimed alchemists except for them and their customers, then there won't be third party sources about them, which means Wikipedia doesn't have sources for them. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:44, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
A few questions.
1. Reiki does have a good information page. The issue is not about whether healing arts are possible or not. It's just a huge difference in the structure of the information page of two different healing arts. Some schools teach both Reiki and Alchemy. Why such a difference in the article structure?
2. Even if an article was to go out in a newspaper, that would be irrelevant in terms of providing much useful information. Newspapers only summarize and vulgarize topics without understanding much about them. What needs to be done in order to get information out then? Where do the information about Reiki come from?
Thanks for the link about the 'dude' editing your page, I had a good laugh :)
Mdavid9 (talk) 03:09, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Consider starting a page on Alchemical Healing. If you do, it will likely go to WP:AFD. If it survives, your viewpoint will be strengthened William M. Connolley (talk) 08:22, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Do you have sources to support your opinion that alchemy is a healing art? It is my opinion that a range of interpretations should be covered, but they should all have reference to alchemical sources. There are countless modern interpretations of alchemy. The idea of turning the article on Alchemy into an article for healing seems suspect, especially considering that there are many references to alchemy being considered a physical substance. I am not saying that I am of this opinion, but if you research the history you will see it come up many times. The fact is that the peoples of antiquity did believe it to be so. Since this is a historical subject, the history should be at the forefront. To simply discard the history and convert the article into advertisement for a modern alternative interpretation is not beneficial to anyone researching this subject. I am not against anyone's opinion, I am simply stating that I would expect to see references to support everything in this article. That will bring this article to where it is supposed to be: an unbias, supported and well-researched paper on the subject of alchemy.
Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 07:10, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Although there has always been Alchemist throughout the ages, the problem is that it is a very underground community, and that it has always been an oral tradition for the most part. Two very powerful Alchemists are Marc Berriault and Jacques Tombazian, who are now both dead. Marc Berriault's website is now gone, and Jacques Tombazian's website is most likely going to also disappear soon enough. There has been massive efforts throughout the ages to suppress this knowledge because it is a direct threat to authorities and established power structures.
Jacques Tombazian however did publish 2 books: Mystical Alchemy: The Path to Enlightenment, and The Path to the 5th Dimension.
Where there is a lot of confusion around Alchemy is that there are several paths: Dry Path, Wet Path and Royal Path. Jacques Tombazian and Marc Berriault both walked the Royal Path, which is about the transmutation of consciousness from within. The Dry Path is about working with metals to forge a philosopher's stone. The Wet Path is about working with the essence of plants to achieve the same goal. I do not know much about the Wet and Dry paths, but if you search online, there is information on those topics. However, real Alchemists are extremely rare but there are a few here and there. I don't think it will make it to the mainstream anytime soon.
I'm not trying to convince anyone, but rather, stating what I know for sure on the topic to clear out some confusion for those who seek the truth.
Etiennecharland (talk) 06:34, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

Boyle as AlchemistEdit

WMC, from time to time I've noticed you clearing the brush, so to speak, but always WP:NPOV and for the better... that I've ever seen anyway. I'm disappointed to find misleading comments and alleged WP:COPYVIO obscuring your deletion of Boyle's Alchemy.

However, Boyle's biographers, in their emphasis that he laid the foundations of modern chemistry, neglect how steadily he clung to the Scholastic sciences and to Alchemy, in theory, practice and doctrine.<ref>{{Cite journal | doi = 10.2307/2707281 | last = More | first = Louis Trenchard | title = Boyle as Alchemist | journal = Journal of the History of Ideas | volume = 2 | issue = 1 | pages = 61–76 | publisher = University of Pennsylvania Press | date = January 1941 | accessdate = 30 March 2010 | jstor = 2707281 }}</ref>

— Deleted

Don't you think it's worth mentioning that the "Father of Chemistry" was an Alchemist? Here's the paragraph from the abstract of the article I cited. It's called WP:V...

It has been generally known that Robert Boyle was an alchemist; that he accepted, theoretically and practically, the transmutation of the elements; and that he was convinced he had solved the problem. But unless his two neglected tracts on the subject and the scattered references to it throughtout his work are collected and studied, one is apt to overlook what an obsession it was. The biographers and admirers of Newton attempted to save his reputation, as they thought, by suppressing the evidence of his interest in alchemy, or by asserting that he was attempting only to expose its charlatanry. Boyle's biographers cannot be accused of a like policy; but, in their emphasis on his institution of modern chemistry, they neglected to bring out how steadily he clung to the Scholastic sciences.

— Louis Trenchard More, "Boyle as Alchemist,", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jan., 1941), pp. 61–76

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Stable URL:

Science can't change where it came from, own the mayhem.—Machine Elf 1735 22:23, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Yes, like I say: it looks like a copyvio to me. Someone has danced the words around a little to try to hide it, but it remains quite clear. Would it not be simpler to just use text fro the RB article, and simply state that he was an alchemist, without the literary pretensions of the copyvio? William M. Connolley (talk) 23:16, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
"Try to hide it" is exactly what you did. I'll watch your edits more closely for WP:DONTLIKE/WP:NPOV in the future. You're clearly ignorant of what a WP:COPYVIO is, if not WP:V. You should educate yourself. I will check up on the RB article to make sure it's WP:NPOV in this regard, thanks for the tip. Perhaps quoting the entire paragraph would improve this article, thanks again.—Machine Elf 1735 23:33, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Busy bee...
Machine Elf 1735 00:44, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Issues with Article, New ContributorEdit

I'm a new contributor to Wikipedia. I am concerned about the Alchemy article for a number of reasons. Firstly, I would consider the authority figures on alchemy to be the alchemists themselves. Currently there is a lot of bias information which just doesn't appear to come from any source, and bares no direct connection to alchemy. This is always a problem concerning the topic of alchemy, since it does appear to be a topic which invites alternative theories and opinions. For this reason I think the Wikipedia article should focus on providing alternatives, but with reference to the original sources, being the alchemical tracts themselves. This will weed out theories with no standing. Personally, I am well read on the subject, and although I do not claim to fully understand alchemy, I certainly do know the history extremely well. I admit that I do not see where many of the opinions on the article come from, and I think there should be a reason for such opinions to be posted (sources).

I would like to see an overhaul of the article. Personally, I am willing to be part of this, and I am willing to help actively maintain this article. I feel I can provide valuable input, including sources supporting a range of interpretations. I am well read in the history, particularly 15th to 18th centuries. I also have a Ph.D in Philosophy.

I'm not sure how many people are actively maintaining this article. If I see no response then I will begin to make changes, though I hope we can all discuss in detail prior to this, at least among the active members.

Please reply if you agree or disagree.

Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 06:51, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

People are watching. The best way to approach this is WP:BRD: viz, try making changes, but be willing to stop and discuss them if people disagree William M. Connolley (talk) 07:18, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good. I have changed the first paragraph. It is now more accurate. I don't know why copper was mentioned, when lead was always mentioned as the preferred metal for transmutation, due to its low melting point. Silver is also mentioned frequently, it is not only gold that the alchemists claimed to transmute base metals into, I don't know why this is so often overlooked. The general sentence structure is improved as well. I can provide references and sources for everything if needed. Though I'm new and so I'm not entirely sure where I include the reference to the source documents. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 07:41, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Someone changed "Philosophers' Stone" to "Philosopher's Stone" so I reverted it back. The apostrophe should be at the end of the word, since the Stone is belongs to Philosophers, not a single Philosopher. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 07:48, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
OK. I see why. It's because the "Philosopher's Stone" article is wrongly named in the first place. I changed it back again for now. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 08:29, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Why is there a mishmash of practical, spiritual and history under the heading "Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline"? I intend to separate these into separate sections and elaborate on all three. Psychology should also be a subheading under "Modern connections to alchemy". Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 08:29, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
I can see problems with your changes already. You need to be aware of the sensitivity to pseudoscience. So your change of Practical alchemy, on the other hand, can be viewed as a protoscience, the precursor to modern inorganic chemistry to It is generally accepted that alchemy was protoscience, a precursor to modern day chemistry is unlikely to be acceptable William M. Connolley (talk) 08:47, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Why is that? I changed it to "It is generally accepted that alchemy was protoscience, a precursor to modern day chemistry, having provided many procedures, equipment and names of substances that are still in use." Which says the same thing. I removed the word "practical" because this makes an assumption that the was always difference between practical or spiritual alchemy, whereas these are actually two modern interpretations; the original texts do not make such distinction, but the issue is what the original texts actually meant. I removed the word "inorganic" because it implies that alchemy only affects inorganic chemistry, which is not true, as it affected chemistry in general. In fact, if alchemy only affected inorganic chemistry then it should not be considered a protoscience for chemistry itself. I would like to hear your thoughts on why my could be considered unacceptable. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 09:01, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
No, it doesn't say the same thing at all. Indeed, you are perfectly well aware that it doesn't say the same thing, because you go on to explain exactly why you changed it, in order to change the meaning.
Alchemy, (I say) is generally accepted as having two components: pseudoscientific and protoscientific. Therefore it is incorrect to say that alchemy (unqualified) was protoscience. Your assertion that there was only one component is a controversial change to the accepted structure of the article and is unlikely to survive William M. Connolley (talk) 09:08, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
OK. I understand, and I also agree with you. The difference between "alchemy can be viewed as a protoscience" and "alchemy was protoscience" is a large one that I overlooked. I thought I had covered it with the preceding statement "It is generally accepted" but I can see how this could lead to confuse. I will change it, thank you for pointing it out. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 09:23, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
For the record, you do not have to worry that I may attempt to make the article bias towards any particular opinion or interpretation. I intend only to contribute in a professional and unbias manner. If you feel that any contribution I make is bias, then please raise this issue. I'm sure it will turn out like this one, to be only a misunderstanding. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 13:26, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Reverted some of the old intro paragraph. Tried my hand at making it the best of both worlds and edited for conciseness, language, etc. Car Henkel (talk) 23:11, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Where did you get this from: "mirroring her principles in the plant, animal, and mineral microcosms"? The mirroring is of macrocosms, not microcosms; alchemy is the microcosm. This: "Practical alchemy, on the other hand, can be viewed as a protoscience, the precursor to modern inorganic chemistry", why only inorganic chemistry? Do you have evidence that the alchemists only experimented with metals and minerals, or did they experiment with organic compounds too? If so, the statement is incorrect. I also mentioned why I am against "practical" in an above comment. Anyway, the whole paragraph needs citation to support either argument, or if there are sources for both then both should be mentioned. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 05:15, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Retained 'inorganic' from the previous intro. I get if you want to change it, but the language that distinguishes two sorts of alchemy should stay for the reasons mentioned above. I understand the problem with dividing it in two (practical/spiritual (prefer exoteric/esoteric but whatevs.)), but that's the approach writers like Holmyard take and is probably best for this to stay consistent. Re 'mirroring...': Yeah I tried to summarize something you had inserted... maybe poorly (but mirroring macrocosm *in* the microcosm... makes sense to me?) :) Did this because there was just too much good stuff in the previous intro paragraph that got blown away. Car Henkel (talk) 13:30, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
I just had to change "Practical alchemy" to "Alchemy" because practical alchemy is a term assuming there is a separation between practical and spiritual alchemy, which is a matter of opinion. I changed "inorganic chemistry" to "chemistry" because the alchemists did experiment and add to chemistry in general. Would you say that distillation is only for inorganic chemistry? It must be chemistry in general if this statement is to be kept as it is otherwise factually incorrect. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 03:23, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
Changed "Some alchemical sources treat the various substances, equipment, and processes in an allegorical sense, as metaphors for a spiritual discipline." to "It is suspected that some alchemical sources treat the various substances, equipment, and processes as metaphors, in an allegorical sense." No claiming this is this, this means that, especially right up in the into. Better to do the interpreting and opinions in its own section, and according to WP:NPOV, with citation. Will Timony, Ph.D 06:28, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Also changed "The alchemists stress an adherence to nature, mirroring her principles in the plant, animal, and mineral microcosms they observe." to "The alchemists stress an adherence to nature, mirroring her principles in the plant, animal kingdoms." This makes more sense (plants, animals and minerals are not necessarily microcosms). Will Timony, Ph.D 06:30, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I tidied up the headings and sections. I was previously confused as where to add any information with history, mythology & philosophy all over the place. So now it's rearranged. No information has been added, edited or removed, only rearranged. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 09:16, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

If no one is going to provide citation for the second paragraph (after the intro) then I vote that we remove it. It is covered in History anyway, and looks horrible with all the citation needed marks all over it (why are we keeping it if there is no citation?) Thoughts? Will Timony, Ph.D 06:35, 29 May 2011 (UTC) Will Timony, Ph.D 06:36, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I went ahead and removed the second paragraph. If someone has a serious problem with this then you're welcome to put it back in again. I feel it is best to be removed because it is redundant (since the same is stated much better at the top of the History section) and it has several statements with no citation. If someone wishes to revert it then I'd expect citation to be found. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 13:27, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I've revised some of the intro changes. I've changed "is" back into "was": all this stuff is past. I've also restored the PS itself being medicine, rather than asserting that the practice is the medicine William M. Connolley (talk) 09:04, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

OK, but it now repeats itself, so I deleted the second sentence "In other versions, this philosophy and practice is said to help the alchemist prolong youth, resist death, and attain ultimate wisdom." That also doesn't make sense (what other versions?) Also corrected spelling error. All good now. Will Timony, Ph.D 09:55, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Woah. Can someone please academically justify what's going on here? There seems to be drastic move here towards minimizing non-physical aspects of alchemy, branding it as a 'spiritual interpretation' while physical/exoteric aspects or what's usually known as 'pratical alchemy' is being branded as just plain 'alchemy'. Information is being moved out of sections related to spiritual alchemy and then later deleted as biased? In one of many examples "Several early alchemists, such as Zosimos of Panopolis, are recorded as viewing alchemy as a spiritual discipline..", is now "Several early alchemists, such as Zosimos of Panopolis, are believed by proponents of internal alchemy to be viewing alchemy as a spiritual discipline". This has been done in spite of the well referenced page on Zosimos that gives overwhelming evidence that this is fact not belief. The clarity, language, and historical accuracy of the article is suffering in the process.

A variety of authors highlight the necessity of alchemy's spiritual nature. Statements from academics like von Franz that support these facts are being deleted. Even Holmyard, who writes on exoteric alchemy notes that it can not be "properly appreciated if the other aspect is not always borne in mind." (p.16) "One should never lose sight of the fact that the Philosopher's Stone, elusive goal of the alchemical Quest, is both a material and a spritual realization." (Stanislas Klossowski de Rola. The Golden Game. p.19) It's fact... plain and simple. Same goes for the reality of metaphor, symbolism, allegories etc. If any one can quote from a recognized academic source on alchemy that the importance of the spiritual or internal aspects of this topic are somehow minimal, modern invention, biased, an opinion, isolated, or irrelavent, please let me know. Car Henkel (talk) 01:31, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, exactly this is what is happening. The Alchemy article is not an article for you to forward your particular interpretation of "spiritual" alchemy. This is the cause of our disagreement. But I am correct in trying to neutralize this article WP:NPOV. I'm sorry, and I don't mean to sound aggressive, but you are absolutely pushing spiritual way too far and you must understand that this is a mythological and protoscientific article primarily, and your interpretation (whether true or not) must come secondary to that. I know you have very good intentions, you want to share your knowledge of what you believe is real alchemy, but this is the wrong place to do it. I recommend you make a new article dedicated to the spiritual interpretation where you can go into massive detail and bias. I'm not completely against your interpretations, and you are very knowledgeable in that area, but again, it this is not an article about spirituality. I'm not saying that it should not mention spirituality, but I'm saying that you should not make the entire article bias towards it, which is what you appear to be doing.
Following are the academic, peer-reviewed sources you asked for:
Alchemy Tried in the Fire by William R. Newman, Lawrence M Principe, p37
"The key result of its prevalence is that the spiritual interpretation has served - sometimes almost unconsciously - to set "alchemy" radically apart from "chemistry" in the modern sense. Yet as we have elsewhere shown, the foundations of this interpretation of alchemy - whether spiritual or overtly Jungian - are strikingly weak, as they are based ultimately upon Victorian occultist views with very little reference to the historical reality of the subject."
Secrets of Nature, Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe by William R. Newman, Anthony Grafton, p397
"The chief problem with the esoteric view is that even laying aside the more extreme positions, the historical record (as Waite, for whatever reason finally concluded in 1926) simply does not countenance it. Although the works of many alchemical writers contain (often extensive) expressions of the period piety, imprecations of God, exhortations to morality, and even the occasional appearance of an angelic or spiritual messenger, we find no indication that the vast majority of alchemists were working on anything other than material substances towards material goals. The distinctions in tone and attitude towards spirituality that quite admittedly exist between many "alchemical" texts and more modern "chemical" texts can be explicated without recourse to the spiritual interpretation's disjuction between "alchemy" and "chemistry" and its labeling of them as esoteric and exoteric traditions, respectively. First, it must be remembered that transmutatory alchemy fell out of widespread popularity at around the time of the widespread secularization of intellectual culture that occurred in the eighteenth century. Most alchemical texts originated in a culture of greater religious sensibility than our own and thus naturally exhibit more spiritual and religious expressions than do later works of "chemistry." Second, the secrecy and "initiatic style" ubiquitous in works on transmutation led quite naturally to a tone of mystery absent from later, more "open" writings of eighteen-century chemistry. This emphasis on secrecy led originally to the fairly common contemporaneous invocation of morality or divine agency as "gatekeepers" to secret knowledge, but in the nineteenth century to a linkage of the arcana of alchemy to the secrets of "the occult" as whole. These culturally based differences of expression and tone do not countenance the spiritual interpretation, which fails to recognize the cultural context of the alchemical texts."
Newton and Newtonianism by James E. Force, Sarah Hutton, p211
"Atwood's treatise touched off a huge resurgence of interest in alchemy, but almost entirely within the context of Victorian occultism. Hundreds of books, including adulterated "translations" of alchemical classics, appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century, all but a few very embracing this new "spiritual interpretation" of alchemy. According to this interpretation, alchemy had little to do with chemistry, and was aimed instead at the internal purification, spiritual exaltation and perfection of the would-be adept."
On the Edge of the Future by Jeffrey John Kripal, Glenn W. Shuck, p27
"The spiritual interpretation of alchemy that was made famous by Jung in fact reflects religious convictions typical of nineteenth-century occultism and is not supported by the antique and medieval alchemical sources."
Man, Myth & Magic by Richard Cavendish, Brian Innes, p752
"A purely spiritual alchemy would never explain the existence of alchemical laboratories in which physicians honestly and fanatically sought for occult medicines."
New Age Religion and Western Culture by Wouter J. Hanegraaf, p512
"Although the history of spiritual and psychological interpretations of alchemy prior to Jung is in urgent need of further investigation, what is known at present confirms by previous conclusions. Jung's view of spiritual alchemy, like his view of gnosticism, was rooted in 19th-century esoteric/Romantic and occultist worldviews."
The source of the spiritual interpretation of alchemy is 19th century occultism and adulterated documents. You are welcome to write about spiritual alchemy, just please don't keep putting it everywhere; put it clearly marked as an interpretation under its own heading and leave the historical and mythological facts alone. Please. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 08:41, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I reverted some of your more bias recent changes. I don't know why you can't accept for an opinion to be presented as an opinion. Even if citation is provided (which is was not where I reverted), we must still present all interpretations as such, as we discussed regarding primary and secondary sources. You don't need to insist on making all your statements written as absolute and indisputable facts. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 09:55, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Final note: the secondary sources you quoted from in your defense are not academic, peer-reviewed publications. The secondary sources I just quoted from are academic and peer-reviewed. So please don't present your sources as credible for factual statements, they are only credible to be used as sources on opinions regarding particular (in this case "spiritual") interpretations, and must be presented as such. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 10:08, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I used the above quotes to put together a skeptical paragraph for the Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline section. I don't expect you will like it, but it is sourced from 6 different academic and peer-reviewed publications (5 of which were included as citations) and all say the same thing, and so beyond the opinion of one individual. If you read the books, they also include their own credible sources for this information. I'm glad that we're starting to bring the Alchemy article back into the realm of actual historical research and facts, as opposed to the opinions of individuals, which is where it was leaning. If you disagree please first read Policy: Verifiability, not truth. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 14:51, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
The quotes you've presented make a strong case against the historical validity of occult revivalist thought, Jungian analysis of alchemy, and spiritual alchemy in isolation. This is not what we're talking about. What we're talking about is reflecting the equal importance and sometimes integration of physical and non-physical (or practical/spiritual) aspects of alchemy. Wanna try again?
This is simply not opinion. You're seriously making a case that Holmyard, von Franz, and Klossowski de Rola are not not academic enough (what?), while you're again pushing for inclusion of more info on The Book of Aquarius? Just to be clear, I'm not promoting modern new age interpretations, and would like to see that minimized too. I'm pushing for a summary that does not flatly contradict the lives and writings of countless historical alchemists like Michael_Maier, Khunrath, Gerhard_Dorn, and Zosimos_of_Panopolis, not to mention the corpus hermeticum which was pretty much the cornerstone text of alchemy in medieval Europe. This conversation has already been had further up this page. Since you're in the habit of accusing me of some sort of bias, I'd like to note that your work here appears to be single-mindedly and suspiciously promoting the recently posted online book of aquarius. Anything inconsistent with this book (which is about doing chemistry experiments on your own urine... let's be honest) is being hacked apart. This is absolutely ridiculous. I'm hoping that some other contributors can add their 2 cents on this so that this back-and-forth doesn't degrade further. Car Henkel (talk) 15:29, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
You are arguing an opinion, not a fact. The authors you mentioned, while some are academics, they did not publish peer-reviewed publications, which is what I said and what you asked for. Many of the authors you mentioned were simply part of the end of the occult revival, which many modern peer-reviewed academic publications (quoted above) have spoken out against. As for The Book of Aquarius, I only mentioned (below, in the discussion about possible new sources) that it be considered as an example of an extreme view on one interpretation - I am in no way trying to promote the book, and I don't see how my actions could be taken as such. The Corpus Hermeticum as is available widely today is a 19th century publication (adulterated from the original) which forwards the new (at the time) spiritual view with no reference to earlier works and no direct connection to the original alchemical source. The sources I provided above are precisely talking about modern spiritual alchemy, as they clearly state, which they proceed to elaborate on by explaining how it arose from the occult revival of the 19th century and did not exist before this. So I did exactly what you asked for and provided academic peer-reviewed publications which argue against exactly the biased opinion you are trying to push. Pushing one interpretation and editing the article to state this as fact, and citing unreliable sources, as you are doing, is bias. Citing primary sources without interpretation and secondary academic peer-reviewed sources to back up every statement, as I am doing, is following the policy of Wikipedia. Simple. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 16:43, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
A summary of the argument: I believe spiritual alchemy should be confined to its own section and the spiritual interpretation should not be mentioned always and equally alongside to the academic, historical and mythological evidence. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 17:00, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry. Everything you've written here is [[1]] false. You seem to be unable to make the distinction between modern / occult-revival esotericism (what you're talking about), and the spiritual and symbolic aspects of this topic documented and evident through at least the last thousand years (what I'm talking about). In summary of my argument, the spiritual or non-material aspects of this topic are academically recognized, historical, well documented, and not merely a modern interpretation. Deleting, and minimizing information on this only creates a major disconnect with the biographies, works, and references on the alchemists found throughout this site. That.. and it's simply historically inaccurate. Car Henkel (talk) 18:23, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
The reliable sources above claim that "spiritual" alchemy was part of the 19th century occult revival, read the surrounding paragraphs if this is not clear (most are on Google Books). I'm just the messenger. To present spiritual interpretation as an opinion would not create a disconnect, I'm not trying to remove all spiritual references, only confine them to where they are appropriate. Yours words and actions are not in agreement; I am happy for philosophical alchemical principles to be present (which are mentioned in primary and reliable secondary sources), such as "polarity", "as above, so below", etc. but what you've been adding is occult revival ideas about "the real substance is the mind of the alchemist", etc., for which there is no reliable evidence for. I've listed this dispute in requests for third party opinions. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 02:04, 31 May 2011 (UTC) Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 02:08, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Oy. I've read them. The only point Newman makes is that alchemy is not spiritual in isolation, and that some alchemists contribute greatly to the dawn of scientifically valid chemistry. Absolutely. All the other quotes are not relavent to the discussion at hand as previously stated. It only proves that occult revival and Jungian interpretations are very popular but historically not-all-that. Absolutely agree. If you want more sources to back up both our views go through the archives. (Though I don't think anyone has been so off before as to suggest that adherance to the corpus hermeticum and spiritual aspects didn't happen until the occult revival.) This discussion has been had before and it seems like great pains were gone through so that this article could encompass the spiritual, historical, and scientific importance of this topic. You want spiritual alchemy to have it's own section? Fine. There was a reasonably okay one before you removed information from it to other sections of the article (confine you say?). However, what you're doing here is inserting vague language and deleting referenced sections of what was until very recently the spiritual alchemy section. If you want me to restore the spiritual alchemy section to its former state, and then work on enhancing it, I can certainly do that. However this thing where you take every quote and statement of fact about the spiritual aspects of this topic and alter it to make it seem like some isolated modern invention is as already demonstrated, inaccurate nonsense. If I were to return the gesture, I could insert "some alchemists" and "the proponents of practical alchemy speculate" into every single other statement but this would be equally unhelpful. If you agree to this strategy of restoring the old spiritual alchemy section, I will certainly insert all the evidence as listed above and more to support a solid historically valid subsection that clearly demonstrates that the ideas you're associating with spiritual alchemy are not occult revivalist. But we need to come to an agreement in principle that the spiritual, historical, and scientific importance of this topic are all *equally* relavent to this article - as has been done before. Though it's valid to explore topics of skepticism and disagreement I would certainly not go into a topic I knew little about and start deleting valid points, inserting misleading language that detracts from the evidence and quotes. And... this thing about bias? If someone makes a valid well-referenced statement about some aspect of 'spiritual alchemy' in a section relavent to spiritual alchemy, that does not in itself make it biased. If you feel that those valid referenced statements about 'spiritual alchemy' out-weigh the ones about less spiritual aspects, then by all means write some valid well-referenced points about other aspects in a relavent place. Are we agreed?Car Henkel (talk) 04:32, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I didn't delete info from under the spiritual heading, except one short paragraph which you reverted back in again, I only moved most of it into History, because it was history. We are not agreed. You are giving undue weight to a fringe theory. You are arguing an opinion, which is based on what you think are reliable sources (because they support your view, but are not academic peer-reviewed), but multiple academic and peer-reviewed sources declare this as a modern fringe theory (which you discount my saying it is talking about something else, when it is clearly talking about what your theory). Fringe theories are OK, but should not receive undue weight. The concept that alchemy is about (and by this I mean: the original sources we're speaking of) spiritual enlightenment, or the growth of the body, mind, soul, etc. is a modern interpretation, this is what you have been pushing, everywhere and strongly in the intro paragraph, and this is what the academic peer-reviewed sources have disproven based on historical evidence. It should not be given great weight or equal standing, but mentioned as an interpretation and opinion in its own section. I'm sorry this has become a hostile argument, we're both sure we are right and the other is wrong, but I do know you don't have bad intentions. I'm done arguing now, you can reply again if you choose, I'll wait for the third opinion. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 04:59, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

Ok, from what I can tell, the problem paragraph in question is this one:

The double origin of Alchemy in Greek philosophy as well as in Egyptian and Mesopotamian technology set, from the start, a double approach: the technological, operative one, which [[Marie-Louise von Franz]] call [[extravert]], and the mystic, contemplative, psychological one, which von Franz names as [[introvert]]. These are not mutually exclusive, but complementary instead, as meditation requires practice in the real world, and conversely.<ref name="FRAALC97">von Franz, M-L. Alchemical Active Imagination. Shambala. Boston. 1997. ISBN 0-87773-589-1.</ref>

Franz was a student of Carl Jung's, and their work on alchemy is notable and influencial. It would be undue weight to not include their views. BUT, Franz's views should be labelled as such (as is the case with anyone's views), and original research needs to be removed. While there were clearly alchemists that saw their work mystically, those who saw it practically, and those that saw it as a combination, we need a source that says as much. I'll have to go find the sources for this, but from what I've read the purely spiritual interpretations didn't start until the Renaissance (when folks like Jacob Bohme started combining it with Kabbalah). However, before then, the heavy influence of Platonic and Hermetic philosophy, and (in the middle ages) widespread influence of the Abrahamic religions meant that mostly spiritual terminology was what was available to refer to physical processes. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:39, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Thank you. von Franz / Jungian views should be retained and clearly labeled as such and the original research should go. Regarding "a source that says as much" I took a shot at doing this over at the Philosopher's Stone page. See section - Interpretation. There's some references in there that give good backing to the dual/combo reality. Hopefully this, along with evidence from 16th century as you suggest (I'd add Khunrath as an important example... can add some quotes to support from Craven), Zoismos as in the article, the opinions of von Franz etc., is evidence enough that this is not a modern fringe idea and should continue to have equal footing in the article.Car Henkel (talk) 17:06, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
So... the root of our argument is a disagreement concerning what alchemy is. I'll suggest the following for a compromise which will allow us all to continue to work together without conflict in expanding and correcting this article, which would be beneficial for all (editors and readers alike.) Please reply as to whether we can all agree to the following:
(1) All statements in this article should have citation, because this subject is so sensitive to interpretation, so we should be very strict against original research. We should not allow any statement without a source. All sources should be scrutinized against WP:IRS. All current statements without citation should have sources found, or else they should be removed, even if you believe them to be accurate (if you do then you can revert them back in with citation.) Currently a lot of the history has no citation, so I will attempt to find citation for this, or if I can't find any, then parts will be removed. Also note that a lot of spiritual interpretations sources which have been used are not in accordance with WP:IRS, and so better sources should be found, or the statements should be removed. (WP:NOR WP:VNT)
(2) As there appear to be conflicting reliable sources, all statements should say who is actually presenting the option/fact, which connects into the following point:
(3) Every statement which supports one interpretation but not another, should say which interpretation it supports. In which case all spiritual statements should begin with something along the lines of "according to the spiritual interpretation...". Also the modern academic statements (which I will be adding) should also say "according to modern scholars..." (both still need reliable sources to be included.) (WP:NPOV)
(4) All interpretations (especially spiritual) should be clear, and not gibberish. I'm thinking about Magnum opus section particularly. It should be made to actually say something understandable by the general public, or else removed. Probably better to merge it into Great Work. But this applies to all sections, and all new statements added.
Concerning the skeptical paragraph Car removed from Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline, yes this was not written from a neutral point of view, and I was planning on changing it today. I will rewrite it so it fits in more with the section and clearly states that this is an academic opinion. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 03:50, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I've removed the request for third opinion, since 3 people have participated in the discussion and we appear to be reaching a consensus. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 04:20, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Final note: I'm not confident that there are actually any academic and peer-reviewed works, from a respectable publisher, which support Car's version of the spiritual interpretation. If these can be found then I have absolutely no problem with equal footing, as long as the citations to these reliable sources are included. Otherwise, I still have a problem with equal footing, and the spiritual interpretation should be minimalized to fringe theory only. But we can do this without arguing simply by saying that academic, peer-reviewed reliable sources are equal, whereas if these cannot be found then an interpretation cannot be presented equally to conflicting sources which are more reliable per WP:IRS. Agreed? Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 04:28, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I checked all the sources used to support spiritual interpretation. There are only four:
1. [ Alchemical Active Imagination]. Non-academic, non-peer reviewed, published by Shambhala press (alternative publisher).
2. [ The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy]. Far from academic, non-peer reviewed, published by Checkmark Books (from their site: "a publisher of children's books and young adult books")
3. Some random web site that doesn't even exist anymore.
4. A short article posted on
Do you see my point? These are all unreliable sources. Reliable sources must be found and if that happens I will happily back off and accept that I was wrong on my above points. Otherwise: fringe theory with minimal emphasis. That's just the way it works here. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 09:40, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
An analysis of Car's sources: Eric John Holmyard is outdated as so is reliable as an academic, but not peer-reviewed, and modern sources are considered more reliable on Wikipedia. [ The Golden Game] is published by an illustrated art publisher and I find no claim anywhere that the authors are academics, nor is it peer-reviewed. [ The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton] is published by Cambridge University Press (so far so good), but not peer-reviewed, but that's OK because it is not a secondary source, as it states in the introduction: "The Alchemy Reader is a collection of primary source readings on alchemy and hermeticism". It therefore cannot be used as a reliable secondary source or for forwarding an interpretation. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 09:56, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Nonsense. To reiterate - I'm merely supporting the fact that (as Ian Thomson eloquently stated above) "there were clearly alchemists that saw their work mystically, those who saw it practically, and those that saw it as a combination". This is not a fringe theory. This is historical fact. This article should reflect that fact.

You're talking circles. I've provided academic evidence, and a third party seems to agree with me that "there were clearly alchemists that saw their work mystically, those who saw it practically, and those that saw it as a combination". I'm going to consider this discussion concluded so we can get back to repairing the article. I've done a quick search and here's some more university published or otherwise serious sources that mention a pre-occult-revival spiritual element to alchemy. I'm sure I can find more.

  • The quest for the phoenix: spiritual alchemy and Rosicrucianism in the work ... By Hereward Tilton
  • The Virgin Mary as alchemical and Lullian reference in Donne By Roberta Albrecht
  • Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., alchemy, and the creation of New ... By Walter William Woodward, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture
  • Alchemy and Finnegans wake By Barbara DiBernard
  • Prophecy, alchemy, and the end of time: John of Rupescissa in the late ... By Leah DeVun
  • Historical Studies in the Language of Chemistry By Maurice P. Crosland
  • Restoring paradise: Western esotericism, literature, art, and consciousness By Arthur Versluis
  • Art & alchemy By Jacob Wamberg
  • The alchemy of light: geometry and optics in late Renaissance alchemical ... By Urszula Szulakowska

As you've agreed - equal footing. Instead of the approach mentioned above I suggest you simply put reasonable citation needed marks beside points you think are controversial or inaccurate. I agree that some of the references in the article are crud and will endevour to fix them. Car Henkel (talk) 16:34, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Twisting words again. Ian.thomson didn't even agree with you, he only said that there was a mystical element before the occult revival, but that does not mean that the spiritual interpretation as it is today arose before the 19th century (which is what we are talking about.) None of the sources you just supplied are both peer-reviewed and support your views. No one is arguing that alchemy does not have a mystical element. The argument is about your particular interpretation, the "spiritual" interpretation. The mystical aspect of alchemy is recorded all throughout history, but this does not imply that alchemy was internal, which is what you have been editing into the article, citing unreliable sources. The reason I'm going round in circles is because you flatly ignore evidence that is not in your favor. You don't even care to explain your use of unreliable sources for the statements you have already made. Instead you just give another list of sources, most of which are unreliable, and the rest don't even support your view. You even deleted a paragraph with numerous academic, peer-reviewed sources just because it didn't fit in with your view, not caring to mention this on the talk page. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 01:08, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Some of the peer-reviewed sources you mentioned above are excellent sources for supporting the philosophical, theological and prophetical aspects of alchemy. I'm not and was not and never will, argue against these aspects. But none of them support your statements, such as this one: "In the eyes of Hermetic practitioners, the heart of alchemy is spiritual. Transmutation of lead into gold is presented as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection" You asked to differentiate between these terms but you're attempting to use sources for one in order to support the other. There are virtually unlimited references in alchemical sources applying to the spirit, soul, God, life, anything else you can think of. This does not support the statements you are making. It simply means that the alchemists thought science, philosophy and theology were are intricately connected, which they are probably right about. But, this is not what you have been editing into the articles; you have been adding modern spiritual alchemy (new age) ideas which arose in the 19th century, and which have been academically proven to be historically invalid. The theological and philosophical aspects of alchemy can be emphasized. But don't pretend that this is what you have been doing or this is what these sources represent; you have been editing in spiritual interpretations from unreliable sources and mentioning sources that do not support your interpretation. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 07:53, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Let's backtrack a little. My objection is to the claim that the alchemists were not using material processes at all. This is the only part I object to. If a reliable source can be provided which supports this then that's OK (if it's from a university publisher and has two authors then it's peer-reviewed, university publisher with one author then it may or may not be peer-reviewed, otherwise likely not.) By "spiritual interpretation" I'm referring to the belief that alchemy is a spiritual discipline, and the physical aspect was either non-existent or only a projection of the internal state. You could write a lot about the spiritual aspects without having to make this claim, many of the spiritual points may still be valid and supported by sources, but it is the claim that this is the only aspect of alchemy which I am objecting to. Anyway, let's just continue as you said and we'll see how the article develops. At least we appear to have performed a good analysis of sources. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 01:14, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Credible SourcesEdit

We need to discuss what is to be used as sources for alchemical articles and statements therein. On Wikipedia, secondary sources are preferred, although primary sources are also allowed depending on context. However, this is assuming that the secondary sources are factual. On alchemical subjects all secondary sources, without exception, are interpretations. This makes them subject to WP:RSOPINION, in which case all secondary sources for alchemical related articles must not be used for factual statements unless it is made clear that the information is an opinion. Another point to consider is that no interpretation is allowed on primary sources, they must be quoted directly and not interpreted. Whereas all interpretations must come from secondary sources.

What this means is that with alchemical topics on Wikipedia, in order to conform to the rules of Wikipedia, we should use PRIMARY SOURCES for factual statements (e.g. alchemy turns base metals into gold or silver), and we should use SECONDARY SOURCES for showing different interpretations (which is extremely important to the topic of alchemy, as it is mostly interpretation.) If secondary sources are used to make factual statements then we must show that this is an opinion based on a particular interpretation, as stated in WP:RSOPINION.

Summary: PRIMARY SOURCES (original alchemical texts) for factual statements on alchemy, which must not be interpreted. SECONDARY SOURCES (modern alchemical commentaries) for interpretations on the previous factual statements.

Every statement must have a source, or else this is just going to turn into a battle between spiritual/practical/skeptic interpretations. Following what I have said above we will be able to make a detailed, informative, and totally unbias article. Remember that the truth is not important to Wikipedia, only that the sources are credible. It is not Wikipedia's job to teach what alchemy is, it is Wikipedia's job to give a broad overview allowing the reader to see every side of the debate without confusion or being pushed towards one interpretations or another. The reader will make up their own mind in their own time, or lose interest. Wikipedia is helping them to come to their own conclusion, not giving them a conclusion. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 06:06, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

You state the problem with this yourself: "On alchemical subjects all secondary sources, without exception, are interpretations". Since this is the case, we can't go pulling 'facts' from these primary sources that are often shrouded in symbolism. Then we too would be making an interpretation based on our own research. This is discouraged. For instance, if someone got it in their head that the secret to alchemy was housed in something ridiculous.... like let's say rat blood or pigeon eggs... they would have no trouble coming up with with quotes from primary sources re: philosophical egg, sanguine, vile substance etc. that would support their opinion. However, that opinion is not echoed in any reputable secondary source. No, we should strive to be consistent with this site's policy outlined in WP:IRS. Yes the academic secondary sources are interpretations, but they are educated, reviewed interpretations.Car Henkel (talk) 17:58, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Hi Car, I understand what you're saying but I was thinking along slightly different lines with what I wrote above, so I'll explain further. It is of course possible to pull particular sentences from the primary sources and to further any particular interpretation. This is not what I meant. Of course this would be interpreting the primary sources and therefore it would be quickly reverted. What I meant was more along the lines of my additions to Philosopher's stone, which was to use the primary sources to show what the mythology of alchemy/philosopher's stone is. This is what was lacking previously. There were no descriptions of what it looks like, does, etc. Of course very few people actually take those descriptions seriously, but that is not the point, the point is that alchemy is a mythological subject and so the article here should actually address what the claims of alchemy are - regardless of whether this is a metaphor. Then the interpretations of this (secondary sources) should be presented to say: this person believes it means A because x, this book forwards the view B because y. What I am saying is consistent with Wikipedia's policies in WP:IRS because it clearly states that secondary sources which are only opinions (ie. interpretations) must be presented as such. For history of alchemy, secondary sources should be used. To make the entire article based on secondary sources will effectively end it from being an article on alchemy, and making it into an article on interpreting alchemy without actually saying what alchemy is supposed to be, since no secondary source actually addresses the issue of what the claims of the mythology are in an unbias manner. This is why both are necessary and what I am saying is correct by the terms of WP:IRS. Will Timony, Ph.D (talk) 01:47, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
In other words (to draw on Bible study for metaphor), instead of just presenting the exegesis of different authors, presenting the relevant verses that are discussed? Not simply presenting the verse or our own exegesis of it. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:39, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, although now I'm thinking that Alchemy and History of Alchemy should have more academic, peer-reviewed sources. Philosopher's stone on the other hand is a mythological article (alchemy has historical existence, the stone does not), and so the primary sources are more appropriate there than they are here. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 06:37, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Some potential sources?Edit

Decided I'd look through Google books to sort through the new-age stuff and the fantasy books for some potentially useful sources:

Anyway, I have to go, my ride's waiting on me. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:21, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Very nice, I'll take a look at these. I'd also like to add:

  • The Book of Aquarius, Forgotten Books, 2011 - A nice change from modern spiritual alchemy, this one is a commentary on 50 alchemical sources and forwards the view that the philosopher's stone is real, as opposed to symbolic.

There are quite a few others published by Forgotten Books that could be of interest. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 15:30, 29 May 2011 (UTC) (formatting) Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 15:30, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


  • Linden, Holmyard, and von Franz are good candidates for sure
  • Also suggest John Read's From Alchemy to Chemistry?
  • Newman's work tends to be very lab chemistry oriented and might not be a good pick here.
  • Waite. Tough one. He does a lot but does so much he makes mistakes. Maybe too non-academic. Repeats fabulous tales about Sendivogius and Seton for example that have since been proven false.
  • Book of Aquarius. Again! Very recent, non-reviewed, non-academic, internet posted 'book', not even printed. Poor resource.Car Henkel (talk) 02:12, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Concerning Book of Aquarius, yes recent. Regarding academic, there are no academic extremes (all are more neutrally objective, or skeptical), but we still need to mention extreme interpretations to give a good overview. It's a great source of quotes too, which is why we are listed these books here. Also Forgotten Books does appear to be publishing it, because it has appeared in their database now with an ISBN number, which usually means the book will appear on Amazon shortly after. So it does have a publisher, and an ISBN number. I personally really like this book, even if I don't believe what is saying is 100% correct, the commentary is still very interesting for anyone studying alchemy. I wouldn't say it is a new idea either, it forwards urine as the key ingredient, which has been a popular choice in the past. No need to disregard something like this. It sounds to me that you are very much against this one book, but not for a reason I can see other than it doesn't forward your particular view. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 08:41, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually, just because it has a publisher or is on Amazon doesn't make it a reliable source. We have no idea who its written by, its not peer-reviewed, its not from a publishing house that specializes in fact-checked academic works (just printing public domain stuff), noone appears to have written about it, and it appears to be pushing some fringe material. We can use it to present views representative of the new age community's view on alchemy, but it would be preferable to use a more notable work, or a secondary source that reviews the new age community's view on alchemy. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:39, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, makes sense. I've come to the opinion that we should be stricter on sources, as I stated in the thread above. I'll attempt to put together a list of academic peer-reviewed sources on alchemy that can be used. I'd also like to see a list of academic peer-reviewed sources which support the spiritual interpretation. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 03:55, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, of the sources I found, page 5 of The Alchemy Reader describes Thomas Tymme's The Practise of Chymicall, and Hermetical Physicke (1605) discussing "powerful theological, philosophical, and epistemological resonances" in alchemy "which distinguish it from exoteric alchemy's preoccupation with metallic transmutation." As I remembered (although this wasn't one of the sources), the spiritual interpretation started to arise in the renaissance. The work also discusses how authors would mute the difference between the practical and spiritual aspects, seeing the processes for purifying base metals as metaphors for the same processes which purify the sinful soul. The book also points out some religious roots for alchemy. Page 8 and 9 discuss the spiritual aspects of Zosimos of Panopolis's work and the influence of Platonism, Gnosticism, and Judaism upon his thought. It quotes Holmyard (who tends to focus on the scientific aspects of alchemy) as describing Zosimos's writings as "a bewildering confusion of Egyptian magic, Greek philosophy, Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism, Babylonian astrology, Christian theology, and pagan mythology."
Prospero's America is pretty much focused on how ideas from "Christian alchemy" influenced the founding of New England, that John Winthrop saw the refinement of gold as a metaphor for restructuring the economy to Christian ends.
Page 16 of Atoms and Alchemy suggests that Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and other theologians picked up alchemy as theological response to demonology.
Page 15 of Holmyard's Alchemy discusses the exoteric and esoteric aspects of alchemy.
I suspect that the current trend of focusing on the material aspects of alchemy are to counterbalance the few century's focus on the philosophical aspects, and to prevent accusations of new-age pseudoscience from the scientific community (notice that the secular Gaia theory is not completely thrown out the window, while Teilhard de Chardin's version from the natural theology filled The Phenomenon of Man went fairly unnoticed for quite some time). The thinking seems to be that if alchemy is to be the ancestor of modern science, like modern science it must remain secular and silent on spirituality.
There's also a couple of books I remember from my local library I'll have to grab when I can. Unfortunately, I don't have a car and it's over 90F/32C outside (and it's humid heat too), so I'll have to arrange to go to town with my dad when he goes to work. At any rate, I need to get some food in me. Ian.thomson (talk) 16:03, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I expect you are correct that the emphasis on material is in response to the general public opinion that alchemy is really a spiritual discipline. Alchemy is more related to philosophy than anything else, in my eyes. Science is almost a practical philosophy, but leaving out the questions that can't be answered. Alchemy was then a sort of theoretical science, physically experimenting on philosophical ideas. This is the connection between alchemy, science and spirituality. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 01:31, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Noted that a template was placed on the references section. Double checked and none of these are used in the article. Suggest to go ahead and replace these as Ian Thomson suggests.Car Henkel (talk) 05:15, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Book Mystical Alchemy: The Path to Enlightenment, published by Institute for Energetic Medicine (2005)
It has a better description here
It is currently available online here
Mdavid9 (talk) 03:10, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Re: Modern connections to alchemyEdit

I think In literature, In contemporary art and In film should be merged into Alchemy in art and entertainment. In traditional medicine is not really to do with alchemy, and so should be deleted. Psychology can then be moved under the heading Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline. Thoughts? Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 15:23, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

It appears no one has any objection, so I will do this at some point in the next few days. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 06:24, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Re: A&E - agreed. Re: Traditional medicine. I dunno. Have you researched this to prove it has no connection? Re: Psychology - Agreed as its own sub heading.Car Henkel (talk) 16:59, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Re: Traditional medicine. Wikipedia policy states that the author or restorer holds the responsibility for citation, and any statement with no citation may be removed (it can then be restored if citation is found.) I added citation needed marks a few days ago and no one has attempted to fix it. Also it isn't written very well. If anyone cares they can edit it back in, written better and with citation. Currently it adds no extra value to the article. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 02:01, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually I'd like to see Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline separated separate sections for spirituality and philosophy, since there is no objection to the philosophical concepts of alchemy, but there is objection to the spiritual interpretation. So it would make more sense to write about these separately in order to avoid confusion across interpretations. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 06:26, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

How would you distinguish these two things? You seem to equate 'spiritual' with the 20th century stuff. If so, then something about modern esoteric interpretations could live in a subsection under Alchemy as a philosophical and spiritual discipline.Car Henkel (talk) 16:59, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I equal spiritual with 20th century stuff. Perhaps we've even been arguing about different things the whole time, that would explain the above argument. In which case, separating and defining these would be in order.
Spiritual: "the substances and processes were metaphors for an internal state"
Philosophical: "alchemists stress an adherence to nature", "alchemists believed the stone is a microcosm of the world"
Theological (Christian): "alchemists believed the stone is a symbol/projection of the Trinity" Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 01:51, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Also to separate these would get the skeptical paragraph I wrote more clearly referring to the modern spiritual interpretation, and away from the philosophical and theological principles. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 02:05, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Merged, removed, moved. I also slightly edited the skeptical paragraph so it refers only to the "modern" "exclusively spiritual interpretation" Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 02:17, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Yes. Thank you. I think we're finally moving into the light here. :) So... to define things... (to me) common convention for the purposes of alchemy is:
Practical = I primarily work on things in the material world that are not me. This may include but is not limited to spagyrics, chemistry, mettalurgy etc.
Spiritual = I primarily work on things that are me. This may include but is not limited to: Christian based approaches, kabbalistic approaches, internal nature-based approaches, personal approaches based on some other mythological/internal/philosophical aspect, Jungian approaches, modern interpretations like Hauck etc.
Combo = I do both of the above in one way or another.
(This is why I prefer the exoteric / esoteric wording but that's not convention so let's stick to the above.) Car Henkel (talk) 02:34, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking the separation to be presented along these lines, so all is separated but still connected into each other. Example:
Alchemy is lead->gold, elixir of life, blah blah. The practical operations of alchemy evolved into chemistry, blah blah. Alchemy comes from a time when science, philosophy and theology were not separate, blah blah. Philosophical principles mentioned include polarity (details), as above, so below (details), etc. Theologically alchemy has been connected to the trinity and blah blah. Many modern Hermetic schools believe the substances and processes are metaphorical for internal states, but modern scholars object, blah, blah.
I'd prefer that the philosophical aspects are not mentioned in the context of spiritual interpretation, or these might be associated with that in the sense that people would think that the philosophical aspects are only part of the spiritual interpretation. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 04:27, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Re: History of AlchemyEdit

I added a new section to History of Alchemy for 17-20th century history with numerous citations. I intend to find citation where not present for the rest of the History of Alchemy article. Some parts may be changed or removed if citation cannot be found. I would appreciate help in doing this. I will also merge in parts from History into the History of Alchemy article, so both are consistent. I will then rewrite History (in this article) to be a shorter version of the History of Alchemy article, but with the same sources. This will make both articles consistent and correctly sourced. Will Timony, Ph.D (talkcontribs) 07:33, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the history section on this page should be minimal (like a couple paragraphs maybe) as this information belongs on the History of Alchemy page. Please use citation needed marks instead of deleting and I can help dig up references. We can continue that conversation on the relevant page. When I can, I'm going to have a look through the history section and see if any of the things transferred there from the spiritual discipline section would serve a good purpose if transferred back. Car Henkel (talk) 16:50, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Done. The stuff in there is probably a three way tie between stuff that belongs in the article intro; stuff that should stay as a history blurb; and stuff that should be moved out to the history article. Car Henkel (talk) 04:09, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Ongoing Notes Regarding rewritesEdit

Inserted a section specific to alchemy as a protoscience / exoteric aspects. This could certainly use more work to achieve balance in the article but I'm probably not the best person for that job. A change was made regarding the esoteric section to be more geared towards hermeticism. Will adjust to make it more clear that this involves all esoteric aspects. A sub-section needs to be written to distinguish the spiritual-in-isolation and occult revivalist approaches as suggested and I'll do my best to contribute.Car Henkel (talk) 05:15, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Article merged: See old talk-page for History of Alchemy merger discussion Car Henkel (talk) 04:27, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm thinking a next step is to move some of the information up the page into an overview section (see Spanish version). It was recently noted that the timelines implied in the hermetica/'ancient Egypt' history is still seriously messed up. The history section as a whole could still use some significant editing. Car Henkel (talk) 05:03, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Have done some fact checking on the Greek and Egyptian sections of the history. Suggest that to fix the current problem, the following is done:
  • Combine to 1 sub-section called something like 'Alchemy in Greco-Roman Egypt' supporting that we're talking about one historical occasion (recorded birth in the West c. 3rd century Egypt) that was influenced by Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture. Not 3 different alchemical eras or developments.
  • Get rid of the bits that define Greek philosophical schools (should include Platonism, Stoicism from that source). A few good links to the relevant pages should do the trick instead.
  • Clearly separate out the info re: metallurgy, legend, philosophy, and written record that's mashed together and sometimes repeated.Car Henkel (talk) 20:33, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Hoping to take a crack at the Medieval Europe section soon:

  • The bulk of it is a discussion of Faith vs Reason and its figures(independent of alchemy). This could be trimmed down and I find it to have far too much weight.
  • Would like to balance it with more discussion of texts, authors, alchemists, translations, specific to alchemy of this period
  • Will likely draw heavily from Holmyard. Other good sources?

Concerns?Car Henkel (talk) 22:26, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Lead rewriteEdit

Hello. I want to respect the amount of effort going into this deep article! Sadly I'm not such a deep student of these traditions- However I have lately been following some broad & imaginative re-interpretations of the human record- such as Joseph Farrell's conjectures holding all ancient sources to a frighteningly consistent scrutiny.... In any case I was rather put off by this article's lead paragraf. It seemed poorly integrated into the article's more informed & WP:NPOV. I felt it was dismissive of persons who pursue[d] traditional Alchemys as genuine personal practice, and conveyed a\evival persons. So I have taken a crack at writing a more comprehensive & NPOV lead- without expanding much. I will be pleased if any editors would care to alert me to any contentious readings of it; I would also celebrate considered additions! Hilarleo Hey,L.E.O. 07:49, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Sweet. I did trim it down and re-add points from the old. Some points like for instance "humanity and the cosmos" could probably use a deeper exploration in the body of the article to establish the validity of the statement. The article would really benefit from that and I hope down the road there'll be more concepts alongside history.Car Henkel (talk) 16:53, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Outline and TemplateEdit

Howdy. Made a bunch of changes at Outline of Alchemy and am going to take a crack at Template:Alchemy soon. Anyone want to join in/look it over/have input? I've made entries on the related talk pages. Car Henkel (talk) 22:16, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Very Silly content in this article entered in past few monthsEdit

I have reverted some additions to this article, made relatively recently, some of which is either wrong, irrelevant and POV and some of it is extremely silly and baseless.

Here are the changes:

The gist of the edits attempts to:

(1) reintroduce Persian alchemy, which has gradually and completely been removed from the article over the last few months and replaced with "Arabic" alchemy, even though Persian alchemy represents the bulk of the content of what is formally known as alchemy.

(2) Restore the extremely silly removal of the Egyptian section, which someone had replaced with "Post Greco-Roman Egyptian" alchemy: An attempt to erase the history of Egyptian alchemy and make it look like it was "Greek" or "Roman" in origin.

If anyone can point out why we need this content please feel free to discuss, but otherwise will proceed with the edit.

Even after this changes, this article has severe issues correctness as well as structure introduced recently as the original editors appeared to have abandoned the article.Janus945 (talk) 06:11, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Hi There: Please follow the policies outlined in WP:V and WP:EP to help improve content. Blocks of referenced content are not "baseless". You'll need to back your points up with references. Content will likely be restored. In response to your points:
  • The section title was: 'Alchemy in Greco-Roman Egypt' That's Egypt.
  • Alchemy in the Islamic World section encompasses both Persian and Arab contributors. You might want to take this up at Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam Car Henkel (talk) 17:14, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
Please don't patronize me. I know "Greco-Roman" Egypt is Egypt - you did not get my point obviously. Secondly, there is no significant contribution from arabs to alchemy. Can you name one? Either way, people are generally referred to by their ethnic background not their religion.Janus945 (talk) 01:50, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
In looking through the pages at Category:Alchemists_of_medieval_Islam there seem to be several examples of non-Persian alchemists from this period. Better addressed at Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam, but this seems to refer to the Islamic Golden Age developments in the Islamic World – not necessarily any single religion, ethnicity or nationality. Please refer to the policy links above and on your talk page. WP:IRS WP:VER. Blanking isn't acceptable. If the existing content is silly, please make changes in line with reliable sources that say so, or that support an alternate view. Car Henkel (talk) 17:10, 17 January 2012 (UTC)


Quote " Michael Sendivogius (Michał Sędziwój, 1566–1636),...... is also credited with distilling oxygen in a lab sometime around 1600." Rubbish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:29, 22 April 2015 (UTC)


This edit established the usage of the page as BC/AD. Kindly maintain it consistently in the absence of a new consensus to the contrary. — LlywelynII 07:59, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

Roger BaconEdit

See his article. There are very solid scholars who hold the view that was expressed in this article, that he encountered the Secret of Secrets early and it radically realigned his course of studies, so the idea isn't WP:FRINGE. It is, however, only an unproven theory and should not be stated here as settled fact (WP:LIE), particularly as that aspect of his personal development is entirely irrelevant to this topic (WP:SCOPE & WP:UNDUE). He also taught at Paris, so not sure what the irrelevant focus on Oxford was doing there. — LlywelynII 08:42, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

Also removed this claim—

Bacon maintained that Albertus Magnus' ignorance of the fundamentals of alchemy prevented a complete picture of wisdom.

pending some source to that effect. He railed against Albert, but afaik only on the subject of his lousy grasp of Aristotle and languages apart from Latin. — LlywelynII 08:46, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

Some extraneous sectionsEdit

The introduction to the article is the overview, so these overlong recapitulations of the same material as the lead and the same material as the body need to simply have their important pieces used in one or the other:

Relation to chemistry

Relation to chemistry

Practical applications of alchemy produced a wide range of contributions to medicine and the physical sciences. The alchemist Robert Boyle[1] is credited as being the father of chemistry. Paracelsian iatrochemistry emphasized the medicinal application of alchemy (continued in plant alchemy, or spagyric).[2] Studies of alchemy also influenced Isaac Newton's theory of gravity.[3] Academic historical research supports that the alchemists were searching for a material substance using physical methods.[4]

Alchemists made contributions to the "chemical" industries of the day—ore testing and refining, metalworking, production of gunpowder, ink, dyes, paints, cosmetics, leather tanning, ceramics, glass manufacture, preparation of extracts, liquors, and so on. Alchemists contributed distillation to Western Europe. The attempts of alchemists to arrange information on substances, so as to clarify and anticipate the products of their chemical reactions, resulted in early conceptions of chemical elements and the first rudimentary periodic tables. They learned how to extract metals from ores, and how to compose many types of inorganic acids and bases.[original research?]

During the 17th century, practical alchemy started to disappear in favor of its younger offshoot chemistry,[5] as it was renamed by Robert Boyle, the "father of modern chemistry".[6] In his book, The Skeptical Chymist, Boyle attacked Paracelsus and the natural philosophy of Aristotle, which was taught at universities. However, Boyle's biographers, in their emphasis that he laid the foundations of modern chemistry, neglect how steadily he clung to the scholastic sciences and to alchemy, in theory, practice and doctrine.[7] The decline of alchemy continued in the 18th century with the birth of modern chemistry, which provided a more precise and reliable framework within a new view of the universe based on rational materialism.


  1. ^ Arthur Greenburg. From alchemy to chemistry in picture and story.
  2. ^ H. Stanley Redgrove. Alchemy Ancient and Modern p.60
  3. ^ Mitch Stokes. Isaac Newton p. 57
  4. ^ Principe & Newman 2001, pp. 397–8,400
  5. ^ William R Newman & Lawrence M Principe (1998) "The Etymological Origins of an Historiographic Mistake" in Early Science and Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 1 pp. 32–65
  6. ^ Deem, Rich (2005). "The Religious Affiliation of Robert Boyle the father of modern chemistry. From: Famous Scientists Who Believed in God". Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  7. ^ More, Louis Trenchard (January 1941). "Boyle as Alchemist". Journal of the History of Ideas. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2 (1): 61–76. doi:10.2307/2707281. JSTOR 2707281.
Relation to Hermeticism

Relation to Hermeticism

In the eyes of a variety of esoteric and Hermetic practitioners, the heart of alchemy is spiritual. Transmutation of lead into gold is presented as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection.[1] This approach is often termed 'spiritual', 'esoteric', or 'internal' alchemy.[by whom?]

Early alchemists, such as Zosimos of Panopolis (c. AD 300), highlight the spiritual nature of the alchemical quest, symbolic of a religious regeneration of the human soul.[2] This approach continued in the Middle Ages, as metaphysical aspects, substances, physical states, and material processes were used as metaphors for spiritual entities, spiritual states, and, ultimately, transformation. In this sense, the literal meanings of 'Alchemical Formulas' were a blind, hiding their true spiritual philosophy. Practitioners and patrons such as Melchior Cibinensis and Pope Innocent VIII existed within the ranks of the church, while Martin Luther applauded alchemy for its consistency with Christian teachings.[3] Both the transmutation of common metals into gold and the universal panacea symbolized evolution from an imperfect, diseased, corruptible, and ephemeral state toward a perfect, healthy, incorruptible, and everlasting state, so the philosopher's stone then represented a mystic key that would make this evolution possible. Applied to the alchemist himself, the twin goal symbolized his evolution from ignorance to enlightenment, and the stone represented a hidden spiritual truth or power that would lead to that goal. In texts that are written according to this view, the cryptic alchemical symbols, diagrams, and textual imagery of late alchemical works typically contain multiple layers of meanings, allegories, and references to other equally cryptic works; and must be laboriously decoded to discover their true meaning.

In his 1766 Alchemical Catechism, Théodore Henri de Tschudi denotes that the usage of the metals was a symbol:

Q. When the Philosophers speak of gold and silver, from which they extract their matter, are we to suppose that they refer to the vulgar gold and silver?
A. By no means; vulgar silver and gold are dead, while those of the Philosophers are full of life.[4]

During the renaissance, alchemy broke into more distinct schools placing spiritual alchemists in high contrast with those working with literal metals and chemicals.[5] While most spiritual alchemists also incorporate elements of exotericism, examples of a purely spiritual alchemy can be traced back as far as the 16th century, when Jacob Boehme used alchemical terminology in strictly mystical writings.[6] Another example can be found in the work of Heinrich Khunrath (1560–1605) who viewed the process of transmutation as occurring within the alchemist's spirit.[5]

The recent work of Lawrence M. Principe and William R. Newman, rejects the 'spiritual interpretation' of alchemy, especially as applied to medieval, 16th- and 17th-century alchemy, showing that it arose predominantly as a product of the Victorian occult revival.[7] There is evidence to support that some classical alchemical sources were adulterated during this time to give greater weight to the spiritual aspects of alchemy.[8][9] Despite this, other scholars such as Calian and Tilton reject this view as entirely historically inaccurate, drawing examples of historical spiritual alchemy from Boehme, Isaac Newton, and Michael Maier.[10]


  1. ^ Antoine Faivre, Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Western esotericism and the science of religion. 1995. p.96
  2. ^ Allen G. Debus. Alchemy and early modern chemistry. The Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. p.34.
  3. ^ Raphael Patai. The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book. Princeton University Press. p.4
  4. ^ Théodore Henri de Tschudi. Hermetic Catechism in his L'Etoile Flamboyant ou la Société des Franc-Maçons considerée sous tous les aspects. 1766. (A.E. Waite translation as found in The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus.)
  5. ^ a b Raphael Patai. The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book. Princeton University Press. p.3
  6. ^ Daniel Merkur. Gnosis: an esoteric tradition of mystical visions and unions. State University of New York Press. p.75
  7. ^ Newman & Principe 2002, p. 37
  8. ^ Newton and Newtonianism by James E. Force, Sarah Hutton, p211
  9. ^ Principe & Newman 2001, pp. 395–6
  10. ^ Calian 2010, p. [page needed]

 — LlywelynII 08:58, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

Cool beans. But I think the net effect of some of this has been to take us back to a place of presentism, where the protoscience is overemphasized in the lead, and Hermetism has been muted. I'm going to make some edits to try and adjust this again. Maybe it's high time to have a go at inserting a "Concepts" section or something like it to correct this. Inserting the 'magnum opus' information in the Medieval Europe section for instance is problematic. The concept is much older, going back to the foundations of Western alchemy. Car Henkel (talk) 17:38, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Text I just reverted on women in chemistry.Edit

Here's what the source says:[2] "If we define chemistry as the use of chemical equipment and processes,1 then it can be argued that the first chemists we can identify by name were two women. These were Tapputi-Belatekallim and (—)-ninu (the first half of whose name has been lost), and both lived in Mesopotamia some time about 1200 B.C. during the period of the Babylonian civilization.2 Accordi/ig to clay tablets, these women were perfumeresses who obtained the essences from plant sources by means of extraction and distillation procedures.5 Tapputi, the female overseer of the Royal Palace, was in charge of the manufacture of perfume products, and she had worked out the steps of preparation by her own methods. It is not surprising that these early records point to women as the first chemists, because the equipment often derived from culinary items, and the whole concept of devising systematic and quantitative extraction procedures resembles that of a cooking recipe."

It needs to be paraphrased in someone's own words of course, although some quotation could be used, eg the definition. Doug Weller talk 18:11, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Women in alchemyEdit

I've added some other info so it wasn't all about Mary the Jewess. The bit about her might need some work as it seems to be branching from the content on her page. I've left some spots redlinked if there's an interest in adding articles. For possible source: WARLICK M. E. Angelic Conversations and Practical Advice: The Role of Women in Early Alchemical Philosophy. (I haven't seen more than the abstract)

We could add a pic from mutus liber or something as there's a lot of female symbolism going on in the emblems and texts. Car Henkel (talk) 03:59, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Europe, Asia and EGYPT?Edit

Hi, may I ask why all continents were named...but Egypt which is a COUNTRY is used like it wasn't part of AFRICA...??? ALCHEMY is an AFRICAN tradition, not only Egypt..thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Egypt is in the lead because it is discussed, with sources, in the article. What sources do you have for the rest of Africz? Doug Weller talk 19:38, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The reason the intro lumps all of the Asian and European countries together into their main continents is that there were a lot of their countries that were hotbeds for unique alchemical traditions. Plus, Egypt appears to be the motherland for alchemy and should be mentioned either first or last even if we did list Africa. To expand that to Africa would be like saying that Chinua Achebe is just "African" instead of Nigerian -- dismissing Africa's rich diversity. Although the Muslim world include(d/s) North Africa, alchemical research there was mostly preserving Greco-Egyptian works or else took place in Southwest Asia. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:00, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

General IssuesEdit

The sections are currently in the order history, core concepts, modern alchemy. It makes sense to make the topics more chronological. I suggest putting modern alchemy following the history of alchemy. The history section has many subsections, this is appropriate, but they are very lengthy. East Asia is very brief while Europe is covered within two subsections ("Medieval Europe" and "Renaissance and early modern Europe"). I also think it should be important to update the information in the modern alchemy to reflect a similar amount of information as the history section. The introduction for the modern alchemy section is excellent, and does a great job capturing the opposing views toward alchemy, but the elaboration in subsections is surely lacking. The literature subsection contains zero citations. I believe it would be beneficial to clarify what the core concepts section is. This is the section overview: "Western alchemical theory corresponds to the worldview of late antiquity in which it was born. Concepts were imported from Neoplatonism and earlier Greek cosmology. As such, the Classical elements appear in alchemical writings, as do the seven Classical planets and the corresponding seven metals of antiquity. Similarly, the gods of the Roman pantheon who are associated with these luminaries are discussed in alchemical literature. The concepts of prima materia and anima mundi are central to the theory of the philosopher's stone." Not only does it contain zero citations, but it is pretty hard to relate this to the following two "core concepts" discussed. I also think the Magnum opus subsection needs to be elaborated on, and additional sources should be found. The biggest issue I have with this article is the lack of appropriate citations. Pottere5 (talk) 19:41, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Traditional medicine sectionEdit

I edited one sentence that implied that transmutation was a factual occurrence in traditional medicine, from: "Traditional medicine sometimes involves the transmutation of natural substances, using pharmacological or a combination of pharmacological and spiritual techniques. to: "Traditional medicine can use the concept of the transmutation of natural substances, using pharmacological or a combination of pharmacological and spiritual techniques." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mwehman (talkcontribs) 14:58, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

More women in alchemyEdit

There were plenty more notable women in alchemy. The women may have run the labs or chosen to deter from the traditional female roles.Bactx9 (talk) 16:49, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

Alchemy as protoscience and philosophyEdit

As the sourced information in this article and History of Chemistry make it clear, alchemy had philosophical and proto-scientific aspects.

In this article, the Hellenistic Egypt section mentions that alchemy originally consisted of metallurgy, "dyeing and making artificial gemstones, cleaning and fabricating pearls, and manufacturing of imitation gold and silver," without the "mystical, philosophical elements" of later alchemy. It also identifies "alchemy's roots in Greek philosophy" such as Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Stoicism.

Under Islam, alchemy became more firmly "based on scientific methodology and controlled experimentation in the laboratory," thanks to Jābir ibn Hayyān, who is "considered by many to be the father of chemistry." Alchemists of this era also sought to express the philosophy in clearer language (which goes against the original intention of mysticism, to hide something from those who have not been initiated into the mysteries). It is during this era that we get the word "Alchemy," from al-kīmiyā.

The European Renaissance was "The dawn of medical, pharmaceutical, occult, and entrepreneurial branches of alchemy..." Different authors took it in different directions.

During the early modern era, alchemist Robert Boyle tested a variety of empirical claims in alchemy, and what remained became the basis for modern chemistry. To treat alchemy as distinct from historical chemistry is like treating modern farming as totally unrelated to Sumerian agriculture. We don't make sacrifices to Enki anymore, but Sumer is where we got irrigation from.

Regarding the sources cited here, Cathy Gutierrez's "Plato's Ghost: Spiritualism in the American Renaissance" covers too small an area in both time and space to give an adequate overview of the history of alchemy, and alchemy is not even it's main topic. Spiritualism is Gutierrez's main topic, so that source is about as appropriate as a book about homeopathy (even if rightly skeptical and scientific) in the History of astronomy article. Essien and Umotong's "Elements of History and Philosophy of Science" is published by Lulu Press, a pay-to-print publisher which does not meet our reliable sourcing guidelines.

The following sources cover the relationship between alchemy and modern chemistry:

  • John Read's "From Alchemy to Chemistry,"
  • F. Sherwood Taylor's "Alchemists, Founders of Modern Chemistry,"
  • Philip Ashley Fanning's "Isaac Newton and the Transmutation of Alchemy: An Alternative View of the Scientific Revolution."
  • Eric John Holmyard's "Makers of Chemistry."
  • M.M. Pattison Muir's "The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry."
  • Stanton J. Linden's "The Alchemy Reader: from Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton."
  • Richard Morrison's "The Last Sorcerers, The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table."

Many of the above sources also discuss alchemy's relationship to philosophy. The works of Mary Anne Atwood and the relevant works of A. E. Waite (when he's not just presenting primary sources), Herbert Silberer's "Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts" and R.B. Onians's "The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate" also discuss the relationship to alchemy and philosophy. Just because it's not analytical philosophy doesn't mean that it never was philosophy. Were Albert Pike's "Morals and Dogma" edited for a generalist audience and were Manly P. Hall "Secret Teachings of All Ages" edited to remove his heavy theosophical bias, I'd also recommend those, but they're definitely not introductory like the prior works I've cited.

Ian.thomson (talk) 16:27, 25 March 2018 (UTC)

@James343e: Regarding these changes:
  • The lede is supposed to summarize the rest of the article instead of being it's own material.
  • Alchemy wasn't just ancient, but also medieval and even early modern.
  • "precursor to chemistry" is, at best, redundant to "protoscience." Alchemy is what Kuhn is referring to when he says "for example, of fields like chemistry and electricity before the mid-18th century". There wasn't a sudden moment where alchemy was replaced by chemistry, but a gradual shift over time. Looking below the most favorable interpretation, it implies a disconnection that's no different than saying that Ptolemy wasn't an astronomer because what he studied was only a precursor to astronomy, or that Isaac Newton wasn't a physicist because what he studied was only a precursor to modern physics.
  • Again, Gutierrez's "Plato's Ghost: Spiritualism in the American Renaissance" is about as relevant as a book about homeopathy in the History of astronomy article. Seriously, it's continual is academic lazy.
  • Of the other sources:
  • Godfrey-Smith, Betz, and Shummer, Bensaude-Vincent, and Van Tiggelen use the exact works "precursor to chemistry," and Enghag comes extremely close to it, but many of those citations do not provide in-depth coverage and most by do not by any means specialize in the relationship between alchemy and chemistry (unlike the several sources I've cited). In some cases, their use of "precursor to chemistry" is in the sense of "protoscience," not necessarily in the sense of disconnection. Even where they intend to convey disconnection, they do not trump specialist sources on this matter.
  • Enghag uses "alchemy" interchangably with pre-modern chemistry. Heilbronner and Miller's entire chapter is "Alchemy: the Chemistry of the Middle Ages." These sources discount disconnection between alchemy and modern chemistry. Chapter 2 of Clarke and Rossini explains that the idea of disconnection between alchemy and chemistry is an outdated view. Shummer, Bensaude-Vincent, and Van Tiggelen place alchemy's "origins in metallurgy and medicine," (Shummer, Bensaude-Vincent, Van Tiggelen p.11). I have to conclude that the result was cherry picking from a Google books search rather than actual study on the topic.
Ian.thomson (talk) 18:57, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
@Ian.thomson Do you realize you are the only one who is fully deleting (not fixing) my editions? So maybe no other editor agrees with you. You do not look like an editor who wants to achieve consensus, but to impose his one. Rather than trying to fix my editions, you try to absolutely delete them all. Rather than making a constructive criticism, you try to make a destructive criticism. "It is usually preferable to make an edit that retains at least some elements of a prior edit than to revert the prior edit." Source:
You also make ad hoc excuses for completetely deleting my editions. First, you said that I cannot use unrealible sources coming from an unreliable source like Lulu Press. When I used Oxford UNiversity Press, Springer and the like, you authomatically find another excuse ad hoc: you say that they are not experts on chemistry or they do not cover the differences between chemistry and alquemy in detail (even though the books are about the history of chemistry or general philosophy of science). That is a subjective interpretation, the only objecitve thing is that alquemy is widely considered to be a precursor of chemistry. Also, the fact that I checked the books online doesn't make unvalid the sources. The authors explicitly said that alquemy is a precursor of chemistry, and it has nothing to do with how I read the books. You remind me of what Karl Popper calls "unfalsifiable". No matter how good is my edition, you always find an excuse to delete it, and I cannot falsify your statements, since you always find new excuses ad hoc to delete my changes.
If you want to cooperate, rather than fully deleting my editions, let's try to find a COMPLETEMENTARY leading sentence which fix both your opinion and mine, not only yours.
Here is my suggestion: "Alquemy is a philosophical and protoscientific tradition that was a precursor of chemistry and practiced...". It is not redundant, but extremelly relevant to summarize the article in the leading sentence. Some people only uses Wikipedia to check fast what it is "Alquemy" not to read the whole article. The leading sentence must include its relation to chemistry, which is unpolemic.
If you want this another one is also possible: "Alquemy is a philosophical and protoscientific tradition, often considered a precursor of chemistry, that was practiced in..."
Do you have any other suggestion to fix (rather than fully delete) my editions?
Please note that we should make an effort to have a COMPLEMENTARY leading sentence which fix the opinion of all editors. Hence, I think constructive criticism is better than destructive one. James343e (talk) 18:57, 25 March 2018 (UTC)
About sources for the history of alchemy: this field of history has experienced many exciting developments in the last few years. There are many recent books on alchemy by outstanding living professional historians of science such as Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins University), William Newman (Indiana University), Tara Nummedal (Brown University), Pamela H. Smith (Columbia University), and others. Medieval and early modern alchemists included not only the long-known and so often parodied mystical philosophers and charlatans, but also famous figures such as Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle, as well as many lesser-known artisans who worked productively and successfully on pharmacy, metallurgy, ceramics, etc. for practical purposes and for princes. These new developments in our understanding of the history of alchemy are only partly represented by the current Wikipedia article. The sources cited in that article are mostly old, and often written by poorly informed authors.Ajrocke (talk) 12:53, 26 March 2018 (UTC)
@James343e: Your posts demonstrates that you either have not read anything I written or are having serious difficulty following what I'm saying. If you aren't going to read anything I write in good faith, then you are the fundamental problem here. You need to learn to communicate, which includes more than posting irrelevant screed, it requires listening/reading.
Re You do not look like an editor who wants to achieve consensus, but to impose his one. -- see WP:Assume good faith, a foundational site policy. Such words are an indication that you're not really trying to see things from other's perspectives, a key element in collaboration.
Re You also make ad hoc excuses for completetely deleting my editions -- You're the one adjusting your tactics to justify your original position that alchemy is distinct from pre-modern chemistry. Your failure to find adequate sourcing or phrasing is not a fault on my part. Also, you seem to be under the impression that the names of fallacies are magic words to win arguments. Even if that were the case, you have to pay attention to what someone actually says in order to do that. At any rate, this isn't an experiment for a theory, this is a work of literature to summarize the position of sources, many of which you refuse to acknowledge, and the ones you cite are demonstrably cherry-picked and out of context. If this were an experiment, you would be ignoring the most pertenent and pointing to outliers that vaguely resemble your hypothesis.
That you even need to argue the fact that I checked the books online doesn't make unvalid the sources is a sign that you're not actually reading my posts and don't even seem to be aware that I've also cited sources. This provides further evidence for my actual problem with the sources: that you have completely ignored their context both internal and external.
The only source I could possibly be honestly interpreted as having dismissed because they are not experts on chemistry is Plato's Ghost, which again, is about Spiritualism. If you can't tell the difference between that and alchemy, you should stay away from any esoteric, occult, and probably even religious or philosophical articles. It's like citing a source about Mormonism in an article on Ptolemy, or the Nuwaubian Nation in an article on Taoism. Even if the latter was in some small way influenced by the former, sources on the former are not sources on the latter.
I never complained that the sources do not cover the differences between chemistry and alquemy in detail. I said "relationship," and demonstrated that the sources that start to go into detail explain that pre-modern chemistry was alchemy (i.e. no difference). That you say "differences" betrays that you are still operating from the position that there is a difference between alchemy and pre-modern chemistry, which (as Ajrocke and I have both explained) does not reflect specialist scholarship (especially current scholarship). Per WP:DUE, the alchemy article would give priority to sources about alchemy over sources about unrelated topics like Spiritualism, and over sources that only mention alchemy in passing. We also are supposed to summarize everything the work has to say on the topic instead of cherry-picking three words and calling it a day.
And again, the lede summarizes the body of article. If you want to change the lede, you need to demonstrate how the body of the article supports your wording. As both Ajrocke and I have explained, the article doesn't support implying that alchemy was something distinct from pre-modern chemistry -- either currently or especially if updated with the most prudent scholarship.
Many of the points I've stated above are things I've already said, which you've refused to even acknowledge, let alone address. As long as you're being bull-headed about this, compromise will be impossible. Actually read what people say instead of cherry-picking whatever you can find to make strawman arguments with. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:14, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
Also, the lede (if you read more than the first sentence) already covers alchemy's relationship to modern science: In Europe, following the 12th-century Renaissance produced by the translation of Islamic works on science and the Recovery of Aristotle, alchemists played a significant role in early modern science (particularly chemistry and medicine). Islamic and European alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today. The first sentence of any explanatory work (be it an encyclopedia or a technical manual) should be as succinct a summary as possible. "Protoscience" covers the quoted portion quite well, without implying that alchemy and pre-modern chemistry are distinct (as "precursor to chemistry" potentially does). Ian.thomson (talk) 20:24, 27 March 2018 (UTC)
@Ian.thomson: "Protoscience covers the quoted portion quite well, without implying that alchemy and pre-modern chemistry are distinct (as precursor to chemistry potentially does)." What are you talking about? "Precursor to chesmitry" does not suggest that pre-modern chemistry and alchemy are distinct, precursor to chemistry suggests that alquemy is a precursor to modern chesmitry, since chemistry is a scientific discipline. If it is not scientific, we are talking about other thing. Is that your excuse to delete not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six but seven references?
"Such words are an indication that you're not really trying to see things from other's perspectives, a key element in collaboration." Are you kidding? Have YOU tried to see things from others perspectives? You only try to impose your own criterion making ad hoc excuses to avoid refutation, just like a pseudoscientist like Freud would do. You did not change partially but totally my editions, proving my point: you don't want to collaborate but to impose your own criterion. Again, the fact that I read the books online does not prove that the sources were invalid. That is an argument ad hominem, you are critizicing my person not the sources per se. If X says Y, you must criticize Y not only X. It does not matter if I read the books online or in paper, if I read the books fast or carefully. If the sources are valid, they will remain valid, regardless of how I read them. Seven sources. Some of them could be invalid, but not all, which proves you are doing vandalism. I will stop this conversation since this is a waste of time. Some of us have a life outside Wikipedia. I let you "win" this debate online, only because I have other things more important to do than continuing an edit war with you. If that makes you happy, congratulations.
From what I see from your form of writing and poor logic (you use a lot of fallacies), you will never write any great work from an intellectual point of view, nobody will remember your works when you are dead. The reason is obvious: you don't write to find the truth, but to win a debate. In that sense, you resemble a contemporary sophist. Have a nice day. James343e (talk) 20:24, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
the fact that I read the books online does not prove that the sources were invalid - That you keep using that strawman argument shows that you're not actually here to improve the encyclopedia but to argue, and that you have not honestly read or comprehended what I've written. Please, quote where I made that argument. You've had ample opportunity to do so and yet you've failed in that respect.
How can you pretend to be so mature and logical when all you can do is sneak back after a month and hope I don't respond to your intellectually dishonest argument that indicates effective illiteracy on your part?
Ian.thomson (talk) 21:54, 24 April 2018 (UTC)


"Although the historical Flamel existed, the writings and legends assigned to him only appeared in 1612."

Actually at least as early as 1561, as this front cover shows (Wikimedia Commons). Renard Migrant (talk) 20:50, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

Vague leadEdit

The lead fails to explain the origins of alchemy in 4th century Ptolemaic Egypt. (talk) 21:00, 22 November 2018 (UTC)

Return to "Alchemy" page.