From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde
Edited by Aaron Cheak, PhD
Numen Books 2013 ∙ 684 pages ∙ 40 illustrations
Spanning the world's artistic, scientific and religious traditions, alchemy has embraced and continues to embrace the complete spectrum of existence. From metallurgy to metaphysics, alchemy engages the technical, fine and hieratic arts in order to provide a living phenomenology of the one, single, elusive process that acts through all things. Ultimately—in its guise as ars transmutationis—alchemy penetrates to the heart of the transfiguring spiritual intensity that underpins the perfection of life, not only from 'mineral to man', but from humanity to divinity.
Despite this profoundly all-embracing purview, alchemy continues to be conceived as either proto-chemistry or proto-psychology. The present volume seeks to redress this false dichotomy by exploring alchemy as a quintessentially integral phenomenon. Opening wide the full spectrum of alchemy—from east to west, in history and practice, from antiquity to the avant-garde—our aim is to penetrate as deeply as possible, within the limits of a single volume, into the rich practical and experiential traditions of the alchemical mysterium.
Featuring both well-established scholars and emerging, cutting-edge researchers, this book synthesises a quintessentially high caliber of academic authorities on the vast and baroque heritage of the alchemical world. As a whole, the volume seeks to strike the perfect balance-the golden mean-between strict, historical objectivity and empathic, phenomenological insight. Drawn from international ranks (Europe, the Antipodes, the Americas) and cutting across disciplinary boundaries (Egyptology, Classics, Sinology, Indology, Tibetology, philosophy, religious studies, Renaissance studies, history of science, art history, critical theory, media studies), the contributors to this volume include some of the most gifted investigators into the world's esoteric lineages.