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Alchemy

Category: Mystic groups and systems

Alchemy is a system describing the spiritual world, the methods for gaining spiritual experience and the spiritual path.  The word alchemy is derived from an Arabic word al-kimiya.

In order to obtain a spiritual experience, many very early practitioners noticed that you could use techniques that did not involve chemicals or drugs and techniques that did.  If any system was to be devised therefore, it needed to be one that described chemical processes and repeatable chemical processes, as well as non-chemical processes.  Thus it was out of the art of spiritual experience that chemistry was born, as the experiments devised to find out the best and most reliable way of obtaining the drugs used for spiritual experience also enabled people to find out more about the world of chemicals.

Out of alchemy was also born medicine.  In order to obtain spiritual experience one needs to be well.  To be well you need to restore balance and this is best achieved using plants and the key minerals [zinc, potassium etc] needed by the body.  Thus alchemists were key in documenting which plants could be used to cure illness, and which plants contained which minerals.  Paracelsus, for example, was essentially both a medical and spiritual alchemist.

The need to describe chemical as well as non-chemical processes in detail and precisely, was brought home to many early alchemists by the fate of people like the Persian alchemist Ostanes, who died attempting to use the drugs he had manufactured for 'separating the soul from the body' – achieving an out of body experience.  He was all too successful of course, but he didn't come back to tell us about it.

 

The operation

If we ignore the chemical descriptions of the processes used for healing, which have no need for interpretation,  all the other descriptions in alchemy describe the non-drug based techniques for obtaining a spiritual experience.  They are couched in coded language.

All alchemical formula, in other words, if you ignore those that really do apply to chemical operations, are methods for achieving spiritual experience, but coded methods.

They use a code for the materials and a code for the execution, so unravelling them is highly complex, but the majority of the coding relates to the human body.

The metals map to chakras, and in general the three Principles - Salt, Sulphur and Quicksilver - map to the three energy channels found in the Hindu/yoga system of Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.  The objective is to figuratively purify the chakras/metals, so that the crown chakra is opened.  There are benign ways of doing this without provoking a kundalini experience, but in alchemy, the emphasis appears to have been on using sexual techniques.   In effect, alchemical methods are based on sexual energy and the conversion of sexual energy into kundalini energy.  Thus the main techniques of an alchemist are

Sun Moon and Cock

An alchemist by definition therefore is someone who uses sexual energy.  Many magicians were alchemists, it was a very effective way to obtain these powers.  Many martial artists are alchemists.   There is a correspondence between many of the materials and the trigger points used in Chinese Qigong for example.

An alchemist is in some ways just another name for someone who practises Tantric sex!

The Sufis – Idries Shah
Many, if not all the ideas of alchemy as a spiritual process are present in the teachings of the Chinese sage Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, …. We also find the elixir theory of a preparation or method which confers immortality, in the philosophers of China connected with alchemy, and in the Hindu Atharva veda, whose date is earlier than 1000BC.

Many of the coded texts, simply describe the subtleties of Sex magick, Peaking and Sexual Stimulation techniques.  In some cases they might describe a method that a person has found to work, where to put the heel, how long to employ the ...... well you get the idea.  

But there are very definite links with the overall spiritual path.  Purification is mentioned as is Purgatory and there are numerous pictures of people being placed into coffins [sensory deprivation] to provoke rebirth experiences, just as they did in the old Mystery religions.  Alchemy merely carried on the traditions of the Mysteries.  Instead of being locked up for three days in a pyramid, you were locked up for three days in a coffin or tomb.  The overall objective was the same as all the systems on this web site – unity/moksha/enlightenment/ nirvana whatever you choose to call it – the merging of your will with that of your Higher spirit.  And finally annihilation.  It is why the alchemists talked about 'dying' twice - once during rebirth and again at the very last stage of annihilation.

The alchemical process is thus a sort of combined spiritual path with techniques, how you perform each technique and then what technique is appropriate to each stage.

As the symbolism is quite convoluted, I have provided a section in the symbol section which perhaps sheds more light on the process - see Alchemical symbols.

alchemy woodcut duos caputis melior uam unus
est by dashinvaine

History

The roots of alchemy go back 7000 years. 

It was being practised in Egypt in 5000 BC, and was practised in the Persian Empire, Mesopotamia,  India [from 1200BC], China [from about 14-AD], Japan, Korea and in Classical Greece [from about 300 BC] and Rome. 

The Muslim civilizations were at the forefront of Alchemy in the period of the Islamic Golden Age or Islamic Renaissance.  European alchemy was practised throughout the dark ages, middle ages and up to the 20th century, so it is an abiding system.

The introduction of alchemy to Europe occurred in 1144, with the completion of Robert of Chester’s translation into Latin of the Arabic Book of the Composition of Alchemy. This was not, however, the only source of work on the subject.  Albertus Magnus (1193–1280), for example, was both a Dominican and an alchemist and commented on alchemical authorities like Hermes Trismegistus and Democritus, comparing these to the writings of Aristotle and Avicenna, where they concerned the “transmutation of metals”. Thomas Aquinas was an alchemist and Albertus’s student.

By the end of the 13th century, alchemy had developed into a fairly structured system of belief within Europe.

All alchemical literature is coded and symbolic because the risk of persecution was high at the time these ideas were described and it was also felt there was a need to keep secret what the followers believed to be fundamental truths in case they were misused.

Idries Shah – The Sufis
The transmission of the lore of alchemy is also stated to have been in the hands of ancient masters, some of whom are named.
These include Hermes, according to the Eastern and Western writers, known to the Arabs as Idris. Western authors and practitioners accept the transmission from Hermes to such an extent that alchemy is often called by them the Hermetic Art and has been so styled ever since they accepted this origin from the Arabs.
The Spanish-Arab historian Said of Toledo (died 1069) gives this tradition of Thoth, or Hermes:
"Sages affirm that all antediluvian sciences originate with the first Hermes, who Iived in Sa'id, in Upper Egypt. The Jews call him Enoch and the Moslems Idris. ……

Kimiya-yi sa'ādat (The Alchemy of Happiness)– a text on Islamic
philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111).

The ideas have traveled and been exchanged.  It is the same philosophy, there is only one Great Work.  The same could be said for the Way of the Tao, or the way of the Rosicruceans, there is only one Way because there is only one spiritual world.  In the alchemical world, however, it has been made more complex because there are ‘charlatans’ as Shah calls them and there are simply chemists.

Idries Shah – The Sufis
The facts are far less complicated than they have appeared to those who have not linked Sufi allegory with what is often only derivative literature.
The first thing to remember is that the people who are indiscriminately lumped together as alchemists, and whose work has so often been treated as a whole, in actual fact constitute several different kinds of people, working along different or analogous lines.
Goldsmiths' recipes, originating at an early date, are no proof that alchemical terminology was not used by mystics.  Two people, each supposed to have attained the elixir, may very well be in the one instance a charlatan, in the other a mystical teacher.
Abundant evidence in the literature of the middle ages points to a constant struggle towards a form of mental development, couched in alchemical terminology……
The material was not examined in the light of the idea that alchemy was the terminology adopted by a teaching school for the projection of its allegorised message, which originated completely outside the metallic context.
The literature of alchemy, lumped together as one phenomenon, is so immense that lifetimes have been spent in an attempt to understand it. It includes forgeries of greater or lesser plausibility in Greek, Latin, Arabic and later Western languages. These writings are sometimes incoherent, veiled in false symbolism and shot through with allegory and such bizarre imagery as dragons, changing colours, blazing swords, false metals and planets.

Basic concepts

Outside the symbolism used in the techniques, a more general symbolism was also used.

Energy - Prima materia

Prima Materia is the name given by the Alchemists to ‘the primitive formless base of all matter, given particular manifestation through the influence of forms’.  In other words the raw energy from which form and function derive. The definition is identical to that I have given for energy.

The Alchemists describe the process of  creation and evolution as one of taking prima material – which exists in a state of chaos [unordered] and turning it into either function/system [called the active principle] or form [called the passive principle].      Prima materia contains all that is needed as an ingredient to create form and function – all that is needed is to apply the heat of creation.

BUT, the terminology is also used to describe some of the processes during spiritual experience, thus beware, as the same terms can have different meanings

Paracelsus rather confusingly used the term  Iliaster or Yliaster.  It is possible it derives from the two latin words hyle (matter) and astrum (star or planet). The figurative [not literal] planets were the source of function.

Accordingly, the first body, the Yliaster, …. contained all the chaos, all the waters, all minerals, all herbs, all stones, all gems. Only the supreme Master could release them and form them with tender solicitude, so that other things could be created from the rest.

Spirit

Spirit is usually called spirit in alchemical thought, although there are [unfortunately] variations.  In his "Physica" (1633), the alchemist Jan Baptist van Helmont, wrote: "Ad huc spiritum incognitum Gas voco," i.e., "This hitherto unknown Spirit I call Gas." Further on in the same work he says, "This vapor which I have called Gas is not far removed from the Chaos the ancients spoke of."

The Trinity

There are two meanings for anything involving three.  The very specific one can be found in the section on  Alchemical symbols. The more generic one uses universal symbolism -  the Creator is symbolically represented as the Sun, whereas the Moon is symbolically the Created.  If we reincarnate we follow the path to the Moon – the blue route.  If we follow a spiritual path that is intended to avoid reincarnation then we follow the path to the Sun – the route of Fire and purification as well as the red route.  The alchemical picture below shows this.

 

Tabula Smaragdina – Hermes Trismegistos

It is true, without lie, certain and of all truth
that which is below is like that which is above
and that which is above is like that which is below,
to work the miracle of the one thing
and as all things have been and came from one
thus all things were born in this unique way by adaptation.
The sun is the Father
The moon is its Mother
The wind carries it in his belly
The Earth is its nourisher

 

The lion with the serpent is also shown; the sun, moon and the crucible in which to purify and the ‘sun/moon/cross’ symbol above the cup – the monas hieroglyphica

See also the Scales.  A man who appears to have big thighs and a large collar.

The spiritual path

The entire philosophy of the alchemists revolved around their belief that man's soul was divided into  the Higher Spirit and the rest of the soul.

Adepts believed in the macrocosm-microcosm theories of Hermes Trismegistus , that is to say, we were a copy of a part of God [Father Son] and that by ‘purification’ of the human soul one could obtain ‘gold – reach the Higher spirit.  

Reincarnation

Even speaking of reincarnation in the Europe and Middle East of the 1200s would have been classified as heresy – reincarnation and the blue route was removed by the political Church leaders very early on from Christian Church dogma on the basis that people are more likely to try harder in this life, if they think they only have one life and not lots of goes at it.  Add the threat of hell and you have the perfect ‘mind control’ belief.  Good for discipline and it ensures obedience and is politically useful in controlling people, when you have no police force and only a rudimentary system of justice.

But, the alchemists never lost their belief in reincarnation and like their Eastern counterparts believed that the objective of our lives was to avoid coming back to earth – not because the earth was such a bad place, but because it meant our job on earth had been fulfilled - we had fulfilled our destiny

Given the belief in an enormous number of other levels of heaven and kingdoms in the spiritual world, it also did not mean ‘extinction’, it meant the continuance of a spiritual life, but in the spiritual world on another plane or level.

alchemy woodcut omnia unus est by dashinvaine with
Ouroboros, Eye of God and Sun and Moon

Alchemic stages

Alchemy is not a chemical technique for turning base metal into gold.  The base metals are symbolic of the spiritual states reached at each stage.

The process of going through the stages of the spiritual path are known in alchemy as The great work (Latin: Magnum opus) – thus a lesser version or more correctly a part of the Great Work.  It is all in coded language. 

There are as many great work descriptions as there were alchemists - all tried to describe the steps they had been through.  Thus we have no generic spiritual path.  In putting together the spiritual path for our site, we have tried to make the final diagram a generic synthesised version of all these individual alternatives.  There is one oft cited spiritual path that had four stages:

  •  Personality breakdown/Purgatory known as nigredo.  The colour that symbolises this stage is black. Allegorically, the alchemists described this  step as a form of cooking. 
  • Purificationin alchemy this is known as albedo -  whitening -  purification, the washing away of any remaining impurity.  Allegorically, this stage ‘washes away  impurities using  aqua vitae’.
  • Relearningknown in alchemy as  citrinitas, or yellowing.    This is not  achieved through direct spiritual experience, although we have to stop corrupting the ‘cleaned up software’.  The alchemists symbolically defined this stage using gold
  • Execution – in alchemy this is known as rubedo, reddening.  The colour is important as it ties in with the idea of dawn -  of cochineal or rosy rays of light, of true spiritual awakening.  It is from where we get the phrase ‘something dawned on me’.  The mystics would say you have ‘unification of man with god’.   
The Emerald Tablet, a key text of Western Alchemy,
in a 17th-century edition

In one of the oldest documents  that  provides a "recipe" for the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, the procedure consists of seven stages:

  1. solutio or liquefactio, the "dissolution" or "liquidation" of the materia prima
  2. putrefactio, also nigredo, a "blackening"
  3. albedo or "lightening", the putrid or blackened substance is made white or pure once again, symbolized by the transition of the raven into a white dove.
  4. citrinitatio or "yellowing".
  5. destillatio, or "reddening"
  6. coagulatio or fixatio, a coagulation or solidification of the materia
  7. tinctura, the completion of the lapis

This has been used to devise our spiritual path as it covers all the stages.

It is clear that the alchemists devising these stages had actually been through them, but not all of them had been through all the stages - hence the differences.  The description can be mapped very easily on the types of spiritual experience people have these days, though the ordering may not always be the same.  Thus the alchemical process is an important one from our point of view.

In the diagram below we see the philosophers beavering away allegorically trying to turn lead into gold.

Julius Evola – The Hermetic tradition
The hermeticist performs certain operations by which he actualises and brings to perfection a symbolic ‘matter’.
In the symbolic language of alchemy, this precious stuff is the ‘gold’ – the soul which is a by-product of self-transformation.

The picture below shows the purgatory stage – getting rid of all those erroneous beliefs and demons.

 

Tree of dark and light from Valentine
Weigel Studium Universale, 1695.

The Higher spirit, Intelligences and God

The Alchemists believed that the Higher spirit/the ‘Son’, and all the Intelligences as well as the rest of the soul are all ‘spirit, or if you prefer the analogy all ‘software’.  Although everything is software, there are restrictions on what can communicate with what in the software world or realm.  Only the Higher spirit has access to the Intelligences and ultimately through them God.

There was belief in a hierarchy of ‘Intelligences’ – spirits of gradually increasing functionality – all in the spiritual world – all ‘software’.  Eventually one rose to the Intelligence that has the highest functionality – it being the sum total of all possible created function and you had ‘God

Destiny and the project plan

The alchemists thought of creation like an ongoing massive project – the Great Work.  Meister Eckhart stated a number of times that creation had not stopped it was continuous.  He also believed that the Creator’s plan had already been worked out, in effect, the Creator had worked out what was going to happen – not to the fine detail  - but in strategic terms.
What was not complete and what is ongoing is its implementation on the hardware – the physical universe – the testing.
Meister Eckhart like most alchemists, believed that we did have Free Will, so we decided [along with everything else] how we were going to tackle our part of the Great Work, [if we did it at all] but that we also had a destiny and we were on earth to do a job.  If we didn’t do it, we went round again.  Thus reincarnation for an alchemist, was the lot of those who did not fulfil their destiny.
Our personality was the big clue to what our destiny was, as our personality is given to us to help fulfil our destiny.  This is why many alchemists were also astrologers or at least interested in astrology.  They wanted to know why they were on earth.
And from this comes the expression

KNOW THYSELF

If you know yourself you know your destiny.

Meister Eckhart selected writings – edited and translated by Oliver Davies
People should not worry so much about what they do but rather about what they are.

It was also why in the time of Eckhart astrology was part of religion.

Joseph Wright - The Alchemist

In summary

An Alchemist can be a Sufi, a Rosicrucean,  a Hermeticist,  a Yogin,  a Ninjutsu and Ninpu practitioner,  a Qigong practitioner,  a ‘martial artist’ and so on.  

Alchemy was called Kabbalistic divine magic. ……

There is only one spiritual world, the techniques are shared by all systems.

There is only one Great Work.
Everyone has a destiny whatever ‘religion’ they think they follow.

There is only one Brotherhood.  There are millions of ‘Brothers’ who have achieved unity with their higher spirit, who quietly carry on the Great Work knowing their destiny.

If you feel that you are part of a ‘religion’, you do not understand.  Religions divide, and divide and divide.  But, no one is separate at this level, there is only one Truth.
Some of the techniques may differ between each of these systems, although the techniques in Alchemy are on the whole the same techniques.  The stages described in the spiritual path may differ slightly in name and symbolism.  But there really is no difference between any of these systems – only names, names used to protect and hide and divert those who wished to persecute and control.

References

An extremely large number of people practised alchemy - too many to list.  In the table that follows, a selection are mentioned and where they are on the site in their own right, a link is provided.  The observations are simply a broad interesting sample from the thousands of works those not listed separately have produced.  Those for whom observations have been provided in this section are shown in bold.  Some understood a great deal more than others, but in each case you can see that all had grasped the fundamentals.

Much alchemy is based on the work of Hermes Trismegistus.  The Emerald Tablet - Tabula Smaragdina - described above has its own entry on the site.

Early Alchemists

Zosimos of Panopolis

Apollonius of Tyana

Kanada

Wei Boyang

Khalid ibn Yazid, "Calid" [3]

Jābir ibn Hayyān, "Geber"

Al-Farabi/Alpharabius [4] 

Ibn Umail

Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi [30]

Al-Tughrai [5]

Artephius [6]

Zhang Guolao

10th to 14th Century

Albertus Magnus
Avicenna

Roger Bacon

Arnold of Villanova

Raymond Lull [2]

Thomas Aquinas [1]

Farid ud-Din Attar

14th century

John Dastin [7]
Petrus Bonus [8]
Ortolanus or Hortulanus [9]
Jean de Roquetaillade [10] 

15th century

George Ripley

Thomas Norton

Johannes Trithemius

Johann Georg Faust [11]

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

Paracelsus

Nicolas Flamel

Marsilio Ficino

16th Century:

Simon Forman

Melchior Cibinensis [12]

William Bloomfield

Thomas Charnock [13]

Edward Kelley and John Dee
Gerhard Dorn

Martin Ruland the Elder [14]

Giordano Bruno

Samuel Norton [15]

Basilius Valentinus

François Béroalde de Verville [17]

Heinrich Khunrath

Oswald Croll

Jean D'Espagnet [18]

Michał Sędziwój [16]

Michael Maier  

Jacob Boehme

Jan Baptist van Helmont

Arthur Dee [19]

Johann Daniel Mylius

Rudolf II

 

17th Century:

Thomas Vaughan/Eirenaeus Philalethes [pseudonym]
William Backhouse [20]
Baro Urbigerus [21]
Ali Puli [22]
Daniel Stolz von Stolzenberg
Johannes Nicolaus Furichius
Edward Dyer [23]
Elias Ashmole

John Pordage
Thomas Henshaw [24]
Edmund Dickinson
Johann Friedrich Schweitzer [25]
Giuseppe Francesco Borri
Robert Boyle
George Starkey [26]

Gabriel Plattes
Hening Brand [27]
Johann Joachim Becher [28]
Sir Isaac Newton
Georg von Welling [29]

18th Century

Count Alessandro di Cagliostro

Count of St Germain

Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i

 

19th Century to present day

Shaykh Muhammad Karim-Khan Kirmani

August Strindberg

 

 

[1] Thomas Aquinas was a pupil of Albertus Magnus
[2] Raymond Lull - is possibly better described as a Troubador and failed alchemist
[3] Khalid ibn Yazid (died 704 was an Umayyad prince, who took an interest in the study of alchemy in Egypt. He facilitated translations into Arabic of the existing literature and thus played a key role in the preservation of alchemic knowledge
[4] Al-Farabi wrote: The Necessity of the Art of the Elixir, an alchemical work; he is better described as a Sufi
[5] Al-Tughrai - Mu'ayyad al-Din Abu Isma‘il al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Tughra'i (Persian: اسماعیل طغرایی اسپهانی‎) (1061 – c 1121) was an important Persian alchemist, poet and astrologer.  Many of his poems (diwan) are preserved as well as his books on alchemy and astrology. In the field of alchemy, al-Tughra'i is best known for his large compendium titled Mafatih al-rahmah wa-masabih al-hikmah, which incorporated extensive extracts from earlier Arabic alchemical writings, as well as Arabic translations from Zosimos of Panopolis' treatises in Greek.
[6] Artephius - (c. 1150) is a writer to whom a number of alchemical Arabic texts are ascribed - the Ars sintrillia, Clavis sapientiae or Clavis maioris sapientiae, and Liber secretus, which was mentioned by Roger Bacon many times.  Eirenaeus Orandus provided an English translation of the 'secret booke' in 1624. The Latin editions of Clavis Sapentia are “highly abridged and lack the original diagrams” found in the Arabic text.
[7] John Dastin -  (c.1293-c.1386) – appears to have studied alchemy but not been an alchemist.  Work attributed to Dastin was included in the 1625 Harmoniae imperscrutabilis Chymico-Philosophicae of Hermannus Condeesyanus, the 1629 Fasciculus Chemicus of Arthur Dee, and the 1652 Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum of Elias Ashmole. 
[8] Petrus Bonus Lombardus -   is best known for Margarita preciosa novella [1330], an influential alchemical text and  Introductio In Divinam Chemicae Artem
[9]Ortolanus (fl. 1358) - is best known for his commentary on The Emerald Tablet.  A commentator rather than an alchemist

[10] Jean de Roquetaillade (1366)  - was a French Franciscan spiritual alchemist.  He wrote De consideratione quintæ essentiæ and De extractione quintæ essentiæ; likewise Libellus de conficiendo vero lapide philosophico ad sublevandam inopiam papæ et cleri in tempore tribulationis. His prophecies and violent denunciation of ecclesiastical abuses 'brought him into disfavour' with his superiors, resulting in his imprisonment.  He also wrote Visiones seu revelations.  Although all his works are likely to be genuine reflections of his spiritual practises and experiences, it is unknown to what extent his work was ‘doctored’ after his death.
[11]  Dr. Johann Georg Faust - ( c. 1480 – c. 1541) was more of a magician than an alchemist.  His life became the subject of Christopher Marlowe's play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (1604) and Goethe's - Faust (1808).
[12} Melchior Cibinensis was a Hungarian 'alchemical writer' known for the Processus sub forma missae, which contains the symbolism, but is not the work of an alchemist.
[13]  Thomas Charnock (c1526–1581) was a failed English alchemist who devoted his life to the quest for the Philosopher's Stone.  He was unable to decipher the Medieval English texts on alchemy which he used, which were "as harde to my understanding as yff I had harde one rede a booke off the language off the natione which dwell in the fourth parte off the worlde named America."  His failure he put down to “impedance by worldly necessities".
[14] Martin Ruland the Elder (1532-1602 was a alchemical chemist and healer, a follower of the physician Paracelsus.  He wrote "Curationum empiricarum et historicarum Centuria" in 10 volumes.
[15]  Samuel Norton (1548–1621)  - published a great number of alchemical tracts; and Elias Ashmole as well as the British Library and the Bodleian Library have/had copies.  Among the Ashmolean MSS. is The Key of Alchimie, written in 1578.  Despite this, his knowledge appears to have been theoretical.
[16]  Michał Sędziwój (Michael Sendivogius, Sędzimir) (1566–1636) was a Polish alchemist and medical doctor. A pioneer of chemistry, he developed ways of purification and creation of various acids, metals and other chemical compounds. He discovered that air is not a single substance and contains a life-giving substance-later called oxygen 170 years before similar discoveries by Scheele and Priestley. According to A E Waite, Michael Sendivogius was a disciple of ‘Alexander Seton’ and the New Chemical Light which is alchemical, was the work of his master who was dubbed ‘the chief martyr of alchemy”.
[17] François Béroalde de Verville (1556 –1626) was a writer whose subjects included history, mathematics, alchemy, medicine, painting, sculpture, love and silk! He wrote in both verse and prose, and in all manner of tones (satirical, moral, spiritual, philosophical, political).  There is the probability that he was a practising spiritual alchemist
[18]  Jean d'Espagnet (1564 – c. 1637) was a French lawyer and politician, and writer on alchemy. In 1601 he became President of the Parlement of Bordeaux. In this position he was involved, with Pierre de Lancre, in ‘witch-hunting’ in Labourd.  As such there is no evidence he was an alchemist.
[19] Arthur Dee (1579 –1651) was the eldest son of John Dee.  He lived in Russia a while and Rasputin later stole a number of Arthur Dee's translations of his father's writings into Russian. They were later returned to the Imperial Library in Moscow.  Upon his retirement Dee became a friend of Sir Thomas Browne. On Dee’s death, the bulk of Arthur Dee's alchemical manuscripts and books were bequeathed to him.  Dee's Fasciculus Chemicus, is his best known collection of writings on alchemy.
[20] William Backhouse (1593 – 1662) - was an English Rosicrucian philosopher, alchemist, and astrologer. He is perhaps best known for adopting Elias Ashmole.
[21] Baro or Baru Urbigerus was a seventeenth-century writer on alchemy, not an alchemist
[22]  Ali Puli, also known as Alipili, is the  author of a number of alchemical texts, the  most influential of which is Centrum Naturae Concentratum. It is most noted for the following passage, which implies he was a spiritual alchemist:
I admonish thee, whosoever thou art, that desirest to dive into the innermost parts of Nature, if that thou seekest thou findeth not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee
[23] Edward Dyer – may have been both a Rosicrucian, and an alchemist, he had a great reputation as a poet among his contemporaries, thus one might better classify him as a troubadour, in support of Queen Elizabeth I
[24]  Thomas Henshaw (1618–1700) was ‘a significant figure in English alchemical work’ from the 1650s onwards; he used the pen-name "Halophilus".  He knew William Backhouse, and spent some time in Padua – a key centre for alchemy.  On his return to England, Henshaw joined the "chemical club" set up in 1650 by Robert Child: whose members included Thomas Vaughan.  Henshaw is referred to in the preface to Elias Ashmole's Way to Bliss (1658) as an expert, and Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652) made good use of Henshaw's library. Henshaw later lived in the ‘Moathouse’ and set up a utopian "Christian Learned Society" and helped set up the Royal Society.
[25]  Johann Friedrich Schweitzer - was a Dutch physician and spiritual alchemist who "transmuted lead into gold”.   He is known for his books Vitulus Aureus (The Golden Calf 1667), Ichts aus Nichts, für alle Begierigen der Natur (1655) and Miraculo transmutandi Metallica, Antwerp, 1667.  He is said to have known Baruch Spinoza.
[26] George Starkey (1628-1665) – from Bermuda, was a spiritual and chemical alchemist, and writer of numerous influential tracts that influenced both Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. One tract of his for example is called The Reformed Commonwealth of Bees (1655). He died in the Great Plague of London in 1665.
[27] Hennig Brand(t) was an aspiring alchemist in Hamburg, Germany - a ‘searcher for the Philosopher's stone’. He discovered phosphorus  in 1669 – the chemical, - but whether he discovered Phosphorus the symbol is unknown.  By the time his first wife died he had exhausted her money on his spiritual pursuits. He then married Margaretha, a wealthy widow whose financial resources allowed him to continue the search.
[28]  Johann Joachim Becher was a German aspiring but failed alchemist/magician.  Bill Bryson, in his A Short History of Nearly Everything, notes: “ the German Johann Becher, produced a sober and unexceptionable work called Physica Subterranea, and was certain that, given the right materials, he could make himself invisible”.
[29] Georg von Welling (1652–1727)  - was a Bavarian writer alchemy and theosophy, known for his 1719 work Opus mago-cabalisticum.  A writer not a practitioner.
[30] Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi - was a chemist. 
He dabbled in alchemy, but appears not to have understood the symbolism.  This lack of understanding led to rather tragic consequences – some of the medicines he introduced were based on mercury the metal [which is poisonous].  Avicenna stated:
"al-Razi meddles in metaphysics and exceeds his competence. He should have remained confined to surgery and to urine and stool testing—indeed he exposed himself and showed his ignorance in these matters".
Al-Razi was very critical of Galen, without fully understanding the spiritual references in Galen’s thinking.  When challenged once on his alchemical researches Razi said
"I have been working on the characteristic properties of metals for an extended time. However, it still has not turned out to be evident to me, how one can transmute gold from copper. ….I very much doubt if it is possible..."
In effect, he took the processes and substances to be literal, not symbolic. He ended up going blind.  Heavy metal poisoning can have this effect.

Observations

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