The ancient art of alchemy was comprised of primitive science, medicine and metallurgy. The medieval sages made herbal remedies, tinctures and supplements from such things as plants, ashes, bones, and even egg shells. In ancient Rome the hermetic science was widely popular and was even used to help speed the recovery of wounded gladiators after battle. A great compendium of alchemical knowledge was written two thousand years ago in the first century by Pliny the elder and it was called Historia Naturalis. This written work offers a look into the past as it provides generous insights into the heart of what medieval alchemy was really about. The art is of course much older since it predates the pyramids on the Giza plateau.

The natural tools of the alchemist were called the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. 

The three principles were philosophical salt, philosophical sulfur, and philosophical mercury.  

The alchemists built their own wood fired furnaces which were called athanor and normally had an adjoining sandbath as depicted in the writings of Nicholas Flamel in his hieroglyphical figures.

Other basic hand tools of the alchemist were mortars and pestles, retorts, bottles and corks, crucibles, tongs, stirring rods, cleansing satchets, trevets and the like.


                                                                                   William R. Newman on Why Did Isaac Newton Believe in Alchemy



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Pliny’s Natural History is an astonishingly ambitious work that ranges from astronomy to art and from geography to zoology. Mingling acute observation with often wild speculation, it offers a fascinating view of the world as it was understood in the first century AD, whether describing the danger of diving for sponges, the first water-clock, or the use of asses’ milk to remove wrinkles. Pliny himself died while investigating the volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79, and the natural curiosity that brought about his death is also very much evident in the Natural History — a book that proved highly influential right up until the Renaissance and that his nephew, Pliny the younger, described ‘as full of variety as nature itself’.

John F. Healy has made a fascinating and varied selection from the Natural History for this clear, modern translation. In his introduction, he discusses the book and its sources topic by topic. This edition also includes a full index and notes.

for my 2017 magnum opus or the great work of alchemy I will be focusing upon the Paracelsus method and for this I will be constructing a custom retort/alembic with special features since I will be able to use it as a distillation retort, or a distillation alembic (minus drip rail) or an alembic with a blind head for circulation. One of the other major benefits of utilizing this set up is that when using it as a retort for alchemical distillations I will be able to actually open the glass afterwards which is a great obstacle overcome in the labyrinth of alchemy. I will be posting images here of the construction of this modern alchemical apparatus as well as links to some of the main components. The Paracelsus method was an advanced method of adepts. It was said to be a shortening of the great work compared to older methods from ancient times.       

alchemical curcurbit.

glass bushing adapter

male adapter

bent adapter

alchemy supplies.

distillation head for alembic.

condensing arm.

alchemy flask

rubber stoppers

alchemy alembic distillation, modern alchemy alembic. (minus drip rail) 

500 ml flask

ground glass stoppers.

the order of the twin serpents



mercurius coagulatus