You've discovered alchemy....
but now you want to know more.
Getting to know alchemy intimately can be a daunting task. And, with being a topic that is subject to much dogmatic, new age, or mystic thinking, how can you be certain that the information you are acquiring is even authentic?
Listed below are 5 books for the beginning alchemical enthusiast that deliver clear and applicable knowledge. Although no one book can provide you with a complete understanding of alchemy, the resources listed here are a great place to begin securing knowledge of this vast and ancient science.
Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy
by Brian Cotnoir
"The Purpose of this book is to provide an entryway into the world of alchemy, its fundamental principles, and practices."
The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy by Brian Cotnoir is an awesome place to start if you have never engaged with alchemical wisdom and practices before. This book features a great overview of the alchemical art and historical perspectives found there in it. The Author takes the time to explore the principles and elements of alchemy -both internal and external- and the way these principles have been viewed throughout time. The three foundational principles of alchemy -Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt- are each given their own chapter and help guide the alchemical novice towards the understanding of complex and profound natural laws. Brief descriptions of alchemical cosmology are also explored. These explorations show how alchemists have been relating stars and planets to both the physical and spiritual anatomy of man for thousands of years. After gaining this perspective of 'as above, so below - as within, so without,' the author then takes you into a few of the laboratory operations used by traditional alchemical practitioners of the past. These laboratory processes were designed to extract the 3 principles of nature and utilize such extractions to open up the potentials of the body and mind so that the individual can access the divine existence that is stationed within.
by Robert Bartlett
This is an amazing book for those interested in engaging with the physical practice of alchemy. The first half of the text focuses on providing great insight into the general history and philosophy of alchemy. After securing a detailed overview of these philosophies, the author then explores how to apply this theory with step by step instruction that can help guide the beginning practitioner through their own alchemical lab work. Robert Bartlett helps the starting alchemist create a laboratory set up from simple and cheap materials that anyone can acquire. His improvised laboratory methods are referred to as "guerilla alchemy," but he also provides great insight into what kind of modern equipment to purchase if the individual chooses to invest in their practice. For those starting their laboratory practices, this book should be considered an essential guide.
Spagyrics: the alchemical preparation of medicinal essences, tinctures, and elixirs.
by Manfred Junius
'Spagyric' is a word thrown around by those who have interest or experience in working with physical elements to better understand the alchemical art. Like most alchemical books, this one too begins with an exploration into the basic principles and philosophies of alchemy. Understanding these alchemical foundations is necessary for those that wish to apply its associated theories to the physical world. Spagyrics is also a book with much focus on laboratory extraction methods, specifically for the herbal kingdom. The author looks at many of the famed techniques and preparations of ancient and traditional alchemy. This text also provides clear imagery for the devices and equipment used to perform the experiments listed. Spagyrics can also be considered a crucial guide to alchemical practices for the beginning artist.
by Three initiates
The alchemical practice is related directly to Hermetic thought. Most of the hermetic philosophies have found their origins in the Corpus Hermeticum or ancient Egyptian wisdom. The Kybalion focuses directly on the pillars and key points of this wisdom by exploring hermetic philosophy. These foundational principles, described in this book, go into detail about the archetypes that make up our reality and experience. These foundational archetypes are dissected for their function and expression. A path of alchemy is designed to lead the alchemist back towards the divine as to be the Self-awakened. Without knowledge of how the world and the mind function, this path of awakening is much harder to navigate. The Kybalion features very clear and easy to understand information that deals with rather large and profound topics which are needed to understand the inner work of alchemy more fully.
REX Research: Alchemy Index
The last book is actually a forum for alchemical manuscripts. If you really want to dive in head first, then you will start reading the traditional texts of ancient alchemists. This forum features a huge variety of traditional texts that range from alchemical theory to direct creation of the philosophers stone. Because alchemical texts are often mystified and coded, reading such works may be rather confusing, but with the books listed above, and the resources they provide, you may be able to make some sense of what is being expressed. The reading list provided in this index can keep you busy for months if not years. I consider these traditional works to be of great value when engaging fully in an alchemical practice. The ancients had great insight into the nature of reality and the transmutation of materials, information that modern texts touch little on.
Avery is the lead Alchemist at Kymia Arts and routinely shares information on general alchemy topics as well as our methods and products.