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Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde Paperback – August 22, 2013
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There are several notable contributions to the volume. Dr. Leon Marvell provides an engaging treatise on Surrealism and alchemy. Also, there is an interesting take on the Alchemical transfiguration of the Eros by Paul Scarpari. However, the detailed account on the Alchemy of René Schwaller de Lubicz by Dr. Aaron Cheak, the fascinating review of the Hindu alchemic tradition by David G. White and the intriguing article on Reading as alchemical process, by Dr. Mirco A. Mannucci, are some of my personal favorites. Overall, this book is a must read for those who have an interest in alchemy.
Dr. Aaron Cheak is to be congratulated for presenting a skilful insight into the world of perfection (read purification) through the prism of the alchemical transmutation.
That being said, is one of the reason that I give this text 5 stars, as not knowing a whole lot really didn't matter, and what I ended up coming away with was ALOT more then I went into the book with. Though one caveat in this area would be that if you don't have any knowledge in Hermetic/Neoplatonic/Kabbala or even classical mythology (especially Greco-Roman and Egyptian) you’re probably going to have a much harder time with this text. But even if this is the case, as long as you don't mind researching topics as you go along, then go for it. Just realize this is going to be quite a labor of love and your probably going to miss quite a bit your first time through.
What you get in this lengthy and weighty tome, is exactly (which is rarer then you might think) exactly what it says, the first half is a sweeping look from the beginnings, threw to contemporary times. Now of course it isn't all inclusive in this aspect, because you could fill probably a dozen volumes with that alone, but, it does an admirable job of covering a lot of terrain within the pages it does use.
This book consists of different academic essays on different areas of Alchemy, from different viewpoints and so forth, because of this some of the essays can be pretty dry reading, though I felt that the bulk of the text wasn't too bad. Just keep in mind you may have to practice some resolve at times to trudge through some of the essays, Algis Uzdavinys essay, which is the second in the book, was probably the worst in dryness for me. Not because what he is talking about isn't interesting, it’s just the man is really long winded.
The second half of the book deals more so with the application of theory and the physical art itself, though the book combines the two staples of alchemy, which is physico-spiritual very very well, and stays with this moniker throughout.
I loved more than half the essays in this book, and I will certainly be reading this book several times again as the years pass I am sure, but my two favorite are Mirco Mannucci's "Altus Ominous Aphorism: Reading as Alchemical Process" the quote he uses as the backbone of this rather small but wonderful essay, "...lege, lege, lege, relege..." or "Read, Read, Read, Reread." Words to live by!
The second was Leon Marvell’s, "Take two emerald tablets in the morning" Just the wit of the title alone had me giggling... but an excellent essay on surrealism.
Over all, this is a difficult book, but if you are going into any weighty tome of esotericism, it’s going to be this way. But not all tomes are worth their weight and effort. This one, solidly is!
Granted the price for a paperback, kind of high, but the quality and quantity of the contents more than makes up for it. Normally this would be a bit of a check mark to four stars for me. But this book really blew me away.
If the alchemical arts interest you and you want to have a solid understanding in the length and breadth of them, then get this book. You will not be disappointed. And even if you don’t intend to read this book cover to cover, it is a book that I would find hard not to be used over and over again, even if as a reference.