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The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy (The Weiser Concise Guide Series) Paperback – May 20, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Cotnoir is a dedicated Alchemist who has been working in the field for over thirty years. He has contributed several articles to Parachemy: Journal of Hermetic Arts and Sciences, the alchemical laboratory bulletin of Frater Albertus. He is currently hard at work on completing his magnum opus, Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter. The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy is his first full-length book.

James Wasserman is a lifelong student of esotericism. His published works cover a wide range of subjects within the field--everything from his groundbreaking Egyptian Book of the Dead, edited by Dr. Ogden Goelet, to his classic The Templars and the Assassins, and the controversial Slaves Shall Serve. He lives in New York City with his wife Nancy.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Weiser Concise Guide Series
  • Paperback: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Red Wheel Weiser (May 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578633796
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578633791
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stavish, The Institute for Hermetic Studies on November 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy by Brian Cotnoir is exactly as the titles says - concise. The beauty is that it is direct and to the point. Its downfall simple - for someone without any background in general Hermeticism the lack of elaboration on some points can be difficult. However, this lack of extensive theory is also what makes the Concise Guide useful for those seeking practical experiments. There are experiments that are to be done, ideas to be contemplated, and new things to learn. While at times it reads like a cook book, it is important to remember that alchemy is an operative art and science. This is not a "touchy feely" book, it is a book designed to give operative laboratory instruction as related to the Great Work, and that it does. Students who have read The Alchemist's Handbook by Frater Albertus, Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy by Mandfred Junius, Real Alchemy - A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Bartlett, or The Path of Alchemy - Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic by myself,will find the material in Cotnoir's work very easily understood. Those without any previous reading in laboratory alchemy may consider making it a companion read to one or more of the previously mentioned books.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first heard that someone had written a concise guild to alchemy, I was very skeptical. I have read, and worked with, a few practical texts previously, and I simply did not think that a concise guide would be much use to me. I was wrong. I honestly return to book again and again to reference one point or another. I would not throw away the classic works of Frater Albertus or Manfred Junius, but I honestly recommend this guide to others. There are a number of matters from the classical works that I just did not really understand until I read this book. There is also some information that I simply have not encountered elsewhere. I have to agree with Mark Stavish, this is not the end all be all of alchemical works. It delivers what it promises, and I am glad I bought it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Written by Brian Cotnoir (a dedicated alchemist and contributor to "Parachemy: Journal of Hermetic Arts and Sciences") and expertly edited by James Wasserman, The Weiser Concise Guide To Alchemy, a straightforward compression of thirty years' experience, research and study into a concise introduction to the craft. Chapters discuss the theory and practice of alchemy, including herbal work, mineral work, purification of slats, aspects of cosmology, time, and microcosm in alchemical theory, and much more. A handful of black-and-white illustrations and diagrams clarify salient points raised by the easy-to-follow text. Highly recommended for anyone curious about the metaphysical practice and art of alchemy, or needing a quick refresher course in its basics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By xul on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent, serious book, complete with appendixes and bibliography. Candidly and honestly, Mr Brian Cotnoir states at the beginning of the short chapter 17, page 100, on the Opus Magnum that he had not yet attempted the Great Work but had done some aspects of it. By contrast, most books on alchemy restrict it to psychic aspects, neglect the operative and philosophical sides of the triangle and, often with reference to Dr C. G. Jung's psychology, go to great lengths to find analogies between what they think is the Great Work and the inner development of the soul.

Perhaps, as in many other cases, less is more, especially if holistic dynamic balance is achieved.

Although the author concentrates on the operative side of alchemy, his introductory chapters are amongst the best condensations of hermetic philosophy to be found anywhere. When Mr Cotnoir writes a sentence, most others write a page. He makes it clear that, even if one decides to pursue operative alchemy, he cannot at all dispense with hermetic theory and inner work on his soul.

The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy was published in 2006. May Mr Brian Cotnoir have meanwhile succeeded or in future succeed in accomplishing the Opus Magnum. To him the sincere best wishes of this reviewer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lucia Capodilupo on January 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy is an excellent book that though concise is comprehensive in its explanation of the philosophy and techniques of alchemy. Brian Cotnoir presents his vast knowledge in a way that is clear, well-organized, and handy for reference. Newcomers to the alchemical tradition as well as those who've long been fascinated by alchemy will find valuable information and insights in this book. If you really want to know what was going on in the alchemist's lab, this is the book for you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Krisztian on May 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cotnoir presents us with a rather good anthology of this mysterious (and often ill-represented) field called alchemy. There're many introductory books on this subject; for a neophyte interested in the practical aspect, this is a good beginning. I would however also suggest the work of another American alchemist's, Mark Stavish's The Path of Alchemy (2006). Stavish's approach seems more mature, and well-rounded; Cotnoir's literary skills may not be on par, but his passion for the subject is unmistakable.

This is in no way a bad review. The question is how serious is the reader about the subject? If you want a path that's more laid out, with the introduction to Kabbalah and it's relation to alchemy, also homework exercises to explore, then I'm more impressed with Stavish.
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