Symbolism, Sacred Art, Metaphysics

Alchemy: Science Of The Cosmos – Science Of The Soul


“Muhyi’d-Din ibn ‘Arabi regards gold as the symbol of the original and uncorrupted state (al-fitrah) of the soul, the form in which the human soul was created at the beginning. According to the Islamic conception, the soul of every child unconsciously approaches this Adamic state, before being led away from it again by the errors imposed on it by adults. The uncorrupted state possesses an inward equilibrium of forces. This is expressed by the stability of gold.”

“. . . since nearly all traditional forms in life are now destroyed, it is seldom vouchsafed to the conservative man to participate in a universally useful and meaningful work. But every loss spells gain: the disappearance of forms calls for a trial and a discernment; and the confusion in the surrounding world is a summons to turn, by passing all accidents, to the essential.”

Here we are treated to those metaphors which establish certain attitudes in the soul: trust, confidence, hope and detachment. Spiritual attainment is described via the alchemical tradition, whereby man’s leaden nature is returned to its golden state. This opens the possibility that one can re-congeal in a nobler form. Thus, what Rumi means by, “Feel joy in the heart at the coming of sorrow.”

Product Description

Fons Vitae is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Alchemy, dedicated to Madame Edith Burckhardt. Spiritual attainment has frequently been described in the terminology of the alchemical tradition whereby man’s leaden dull nature is returned to its golden original state. This has often been referred to as ‘spiritual alchemy.’

In this wonderfully insightful volume, we are treated to some of these metaphors which have been found useful for establishing certain attitudes in the soul, including: trust, confidence, hope and detachment. For example, there is a clear symbolic relevance in the following analogy: When any substance or entity undergoes dissolution (this could be even a relationship), it must eventually be resolved or re-crystalized in a new form.

This opens the possibility that the new entity could re-congeal in a higher and nobler form. This what Rumi means by, “Feel joy in the heart at the coming of sorrow.” Ibn ‘Arabi mentions in his Wisdom of the Prophets that distress is to be welcomed as it incites the soul to move forward.

Titus Burckhardt

In addition to writing books in German, he has translated many important works from the Arabic. Of his own books, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, Sacred Art in East and West, Moorish Culture in Spain, The Art of Islam, Siena: City of the Virgin, Fez: City of Islam, Chartres, and a collection of his essays Mirror of the Intellect have all appeared in English. The last three, as well as Alchemy, were translated from the German by Dr. William Stoddart.



An author who knows what he is talking about.--- 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.
I., Amazon Customer, Sep 22, 2007
Essential ----Perhaps the best introduction to the study of alchemy you can find. Can be difficult to read at times indeed, but it cannot be otherwise when it comes to specifically complex subjects such as this one. Absolutely worth it.
G., Amazon customer, Nov 18, 2019
[A] unique book which examines the science of alchemy in the light of its traditional interpretation.... 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. In addition, the concept of the "chemical marriage" of sulphur and quicksilver, sun and moon, king and queen to achieve gold is explained. Various symbols including the ouroborus, the caduceus (or staff of Hermes), the Christian cross, and the seal of Solomon are explained in terms of the alchemical meaning. In addition, alchemy is related to the system of yoga and the kundalini, as well as other far eastern traditions. The athanor or the oven in which the alchemical elixir is prepared is also explained in terms of its symbolism. Burckhardt also includes a section discussing the life of Nicolas Flamel, a fourteenth century alchemist who came into contact with a special alchemical treatise. In addition, the Emerald Tablets are discussed, which reveal the principle "whatever is below is like that which is above" showing the direct relation between macrocosm and microcosm (Man).
N.A.B, Amazon customer, Dec 26, 2004