The word alchemy derives from the Arabic al-al-kimiya or khimiya, which is probably composed of the article al-and death khymeia Greek meaning “melt”, “put together”, “welding” “ally”, etc. (of khumatos, “which was assembled, an ingot”). From the root “Chimia” also derives chemistry, modern science that according to most owes its origins to this ancient discipline, before the birth of the scientific method. Gershom Scholem, however, think instead that the term kimija, although part of the Arabic language, finds its origin in the Kabbalah and Hebrew that means “what comes from God.” Another etymology connects the word with Al Kemi, which means “Egyptian art”, being given that the ancient Egyptians called their land Kemi and they were considered powerful mages in the ancient world. The term may also derived from Kim-Iya, Chinese term meaning “juice to make gold.”
Beyond its literal meaning, we are faced with an old esoteric philosophical system, which mixes elements of chemistry, physics, astrology, art, semiotics, metallurgy, medicine, mysticism and religion into a harmonious whole … or at least he proposes to do, based set three ambitious goals: to win omniscience, create universal panacea (cure for all diseases, prolonging life indefinitely) and finally the most famous of all: transforming metals into gold. To do this the famous philosopher’s stone was essential, not really identified this substance, could also be a powder or liquid, not necessarily a stone in the literal sense, according to some it would be even a plant.
Someone suggested this role for the small musky, known as Scientific moschatellina Adoxa, typical herbaceous undergrowth of beech, which was once was common to all temperate and cold zones of the boreal hemisphere and now reduced to a few characteristic zones of the Maritime Alps and Ligurian Apennines.
Here is the stone in all its splendor sealed, described in a sonnet of 1329:
For those who can not solve, or thinning
The body does not, it’s quicksilver
For those who can not fix it and talkative
For those who can not hold, we must do a duet
Kiss the closely
With living water and dissolved salt,
It holds well and is devoid of shell
It is the earth mother who gives
And then you will see dark escape death
Back and you will see the sun shining and beautiful
With many flowers around him
This is the stone, this is
philosophers of the ancient script
who fought on the anvil hammer
Extract the text Acerba. It is in the Code Riccardiano n.946, in the code Magliabechiano II-III 308 to 406 of the National Library of Florence.
The author is Cecco d’Ascoli, pseudonym of Francesco Stabili, who was an astrologer, philosopher and alchemist. In 1324 he was sentenced by Fra Lamberto da Ciangulo of the Order of Friars Preachers to be burned as a heretic. The sentence reads: “Accursio Brother of the Order of Friars Minor Inquisitor in Florence, saw a report that was sent July 17, 1327 by Brother Lamberto of Bologna Master Cecci against Ascoli stated that … heretic and told the court the secular or ducal vicar will be subject to penalties owed; condemned the book of Astrology which he is the author and another, in the vernacular, entitled the Acerba , declared that it would be burned and excommunicated all who this or similar books. ”
Alchemy, in addition to being a physical discipline and chemical, implied a growth experience and a trial release and safeguarding author’s experience. For this reason it often came into conflict with the dogmas of the Church, to be open warfare in medieval feudal. Alchemical science was considered sacred and reduced to a kind of philosophical and metaphysical knowledge, taking mystical connotations, so that processes and alchemical symbols often have a meaning on the inner spiritual development in connection with the purely material processing physical. For example, gold and silver took in alchemical iconography symbolic features of the Sun and Moon, light and darkness and of male and female coming together in the Great Work .
Cosmic elements were important not only for their influence on the alchemical processes, but also for the parallel which linked the natural elements, based on the belief that says “what is below is like what is up “therefore the knowledge of alchemy was closely related to Astrology.
Traditionally, each of the seven celestial bodies in the solar system known to the ancients was associated with a metal determined: the Sun rules the Gold, perfect metal, symbolized by the red color and retained as the masculine principle. The Moon is connected to the Silver, on the floor just below, the feminine principle symbolized by the white. Mercury is naturally connected to its namesake element which, being volatile, had from the beginning a separate treatment. Venus in copper, which at one time been considered as the time when gold and silver are mixed; ancient metallurgy indeed consider metals as compared to intermediate degrees of perfection, represented by gold: more the metal is more distant from the Sun it was difficult to break free of “waste” land. Hence the need to melt them and hope to successfully transform them just gold. Then came March, attributed to iron, Jupiter tin and Saturn finally lead … and it is the influence of this planet that connected it to the Renaissance melancholic mood.