Derived from the Arabic root “kimia”, from the Coptic “khem” (referring to the fertile black soil of the Nile delta), the word “alchemy” alludes to the dark mystery of the primordial or First Matter (the Khem). The discovery of this elusive original matter, from which all others are deemed simply polluted variants (the purist being Gold), is considered the alchemist’s central goal — along with the discovery of the Stone of Knowledge (The Philosophers’ Stone) and the key to Eternal Youth. As you can imagine, not the simplest of day jobs. As well as reams of text, the ins and outs of the alchemist’s task, steeped as it is in a dizzyingly complex symbology, has given birth to a whole host of strange and wondrous imagery over the centuries. Here we pick out some favourites, many found on Wellcome Images and the brilliant Manly Palmer Hall collection at the Internet Archive.
In this section of the site we bring you curated collections of images, books, audio and film, shining a light on curiosities and wonders from a wide range of online archives. With a leaning toward the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of materials which truly celebrates the breadth and variety of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it. Some of our most popular posts include visions of the future from late 19th century France, a dictionary of Victorian slang and a film showing the very talented “hand-farting” farmer of Michigan. With each post including links back to the original source we encourage you to explore these wonderful online sources for yourself. Check out our Sources page to see where we find the content.
Wonderful series of miniatures from a late 12th-century herbal with delightfully abstract depictions of plants including Cannabis), and a variety of medieval medical procedures, such as cauterization and the removal of haemorrhoids. …Continued
In this elaborately produced volume, beautifully illustrated by Willy Pogany, Hungarian-born linguist Ignác Kúnos presents 44 folktales from Turkey, including princesses, dragons, wizards, witches, and …Continued