Overview: For an apparently defunct subject, alchemy has had a vast impact on the modern world. On one hand, its spiritual theories have been informing religious thought since the 3rd century, culminating in the overwhelming influence they’ve had on the reconstructed esoteric and magical movements of today. On the other, its relentless curiosity, specialist equipment and experimental methodology made it the early crucible of many of the sciences, notably chemistry, but also physics and pharmacology. Despite science’s understandable reluctance to acknowledge it, alchemical ideas have, directly or indirectly, led to breakthroughs in the understanding of gravity, electromagnetism, atomic theory, medicine and even quantum mechanics. Now, as modern academics put its illusive, elusive language under the microscope, they’re discovering that alchemy, far from being the bumbling precursor to science or alternative philosophy for religious refuseniks that it has been painted as since the mid-18th century, in fact tied together a complex web of intellectual connections and cultural exchanges between a vast range of subjects, both arcane and mundane.
All About History – History of Alchemy, 5th Edition 2023
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