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Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul Paperback – January 1, 1997

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Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Eminent Swiss metaphysician and scholar Dr. Titus Burckhardt was devoted to studies in art, art history, and oriental languages, and embarked upon journeys through North Africa and the Near East. In addition to writing books in German, he translated many important works from their original Arabic.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Fons Vitae; Revised edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887752110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887752114
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

TITUS BURCKHARDT, a German Swiss, was born in Florence in 1908 and died in Lausanne in 1984. An eminent member of the perennialist school, he is perhaps best known to the general public as an art historian. He won much acclaim for producing and publishing the first successful full-scale facsimiles of the Book of Kells, a copy of which he presented to Pope Pius XII at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. He later acted as a specialist advisor to UNESCO, with particular reference to the preservation of the unique architectural heritage of Fez. Besides his studies in Islamic art, mysticism, and culture, such as Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, Fez: City of Islam, and Moorish Culture in Spain, his best known works are: Sacred Art in East and West, Siena: City of the Virgin, Chartres and the Birth of the Cathedral, and Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. Two notable compendiums of his work have also been published: Mirror of the Intellect: Essays on Traditional Science and Sacred Art and The Essential Titus Burckhardt: Reflections on Sacred Art, Faiths, and Civilizations, both translated and edited by William Stoddart.

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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on December 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
_Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul_ by traditionalist author Titus Burckhardt is a unique book which examines the science of alchemy in the light of its traditional interpretation. Burckhardt quotes extensively from such figures in the traditional school of thought as Rene Guenon, Mircea Eliade, and Julius Evola (who all had written on alchemy), as well as Carl Jung, the depth psychologist who attempted to understand alchemy in terms of the collective unconscious (relating it to the process of individuation). Burckhardt begins by noting that contrary to the modern historical and scientistic interpretation, alchemy was not so much a forerunner of modern day chemistry and science as it was a process of spiritual growth embodied in tradition. Burckhardt notes how alchemy had its origins in the Egyptian deity of Thoth-Hermes and in the writings of Hermes Trismegistos which came out of Egypt. Later, alchemy was to come to play an important part in all the world's great religious traditions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, and primitive Japanese religions as well as the three monotheistic religious traditions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Much of this book is spent discussing various source materials from these three monotheistic religious traditions as they relate to alchemical transformation. Burckhardt notes that alchemy did not derive from a desire to enrich oneself by transmuting base metals into gold as had originally been conjectured. Rather, the gold came to represent a spiritual state attained by the alchemist. Much of this book is spent discussing the seven base metals as they relate to the seven planets and the four elements (air, earth, fire, water) as well as the ether.Read more ›
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A. M. Haqq on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Interest in alchemy has been greatly enhanced during this century through studies and research carried out in this field by historians of science and also by psychologists. The historians of science have thought in their studies to discern in alchemy a primitive chemistry and the roots of the modern science whose name derives from alchemy. The psychologists, beginning with C. G. Jung, who devoted two works to the subject, regard alchemy as a psychology couched in the language of metallurgy. Rarely has a study been made of alchemy as a science of the soul in the light of a spiritual principle that manifests itself at once in the soul and in the cosmos and therefore relates soul and cosmos, or the microcosm and the macrocosm, intimately to one another. In fact one can say that the book under review is the first work in which integral alchemy, as a spiritual science of the soul but related both in language and inner correspondence to the cosmos, has been elucidated both with precision and in depth. As the author says, "spiritual alchemy was not necessarily involved in outward metallurgical operations, even when it made use of them as similes. It is nevertheless to be supposed that originally the inward and outward work went hand in hand, for, within the framework of an organic civilization orientated towards man's highest goal, a craft can only have meaning when it serves a spiritual way" (p. 92). In this as well as many other passages the author has expounded not only the principles of alchemy but also of all traditional cosmology, and even of art which is closely connected with it.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Fuller on December 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you've ever heard the phrases 'aqua vitae', 'the chemical wedding', 'the philosopher's stone' and wondered from whence these concepts came, Titus Burckhardt sums them up nicely in this cogent little publication that is more a tractate than a book, more a treatise than an introduction. Mr. Burckhardt treats the subject of alchemy with both the practicality of the operative form of the art, and the spirituality of the speculative form it takes. The text unfolds laconically, introducing the main topics of the royal art in neat little chapters that stick to the subject at hand and finally realizes the prize in the explanation of the 'great work' (another phrase you may have heard of). A wonderful addition to any student's library, esoteric or no.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ishraqi on September 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the few "must read" books on the Hermetic-Alchemical tradition by a modern author. Burkhardt is uniquely qualified to author such a book due both to his life long study of a variety of Traditional religions (with special focus on Sufism and Islamic Esoterism) and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Alchemical Tradition. His grasp of the subject really shines through in the book and it quickly becomes apparent that he has a knack for reducing (often) complex and hard to grasp concepts into clear and concise text.

As another reviewer noted the Alchemical tradition can be found in a variety of guises throughout the worlds religions and peoples.. From China to India to Europe... So learning a little about it cant hurt and might just help you understand some the deepest mysteries of religion. Knowledge of Alchemy is a must for those who wish to study comparative religion as well.
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