2 – History

chartresThe thing we call alchemy, first started being alchemy in Egypt in the early Christian era.  At least that’s when people first started writing about it.  Depending on who you read, you might make a case for predecessors in the shrines of the Far East, the schools of Greek antiquity, or the forges of Middle Earth. There might even be a story or two involving pyramids, UFOs and the longevity of Moses.  The former is context and the later is bullshit.  Alchemy is applied Hermeticism and started in Egypt with the person who wrote under the name of Hermes Trismegistus.

Early alchemists of the Greco-Roman era wrote their mystical texts under grand pseudonyms like “Moses”, “Isis”, “Ostanes”, and “Cleopatra”. The trend of using pseudonyms has been a constant feature of alchemy since.
When the Islamic Golden Age made a thrust through Egypt in the 8th and 9th centuries, Alchemy was adopted into this culture. We have alchemical texts today thanks to their survival in the Arabic language. Medieval Islam contributed important new Hermetic texts such as the Emerald Tablet. Important strides were also made in early chemistry and the two fields are not easily separated. Alchemy is often viewed as the quest for manufactured gold (or chrysopoeia), an occupation of practical chemists of the day.
Alchemy made its way into Europe in twelveth century Toledo.