Remedies Herbs were popular (home remedies) Head afflictions=sweet-smelling herbs like rose, lavender, sage

, and bay Heart problems=plants like saffron, basil, and rosemary Stomach aches=wormwood, mint, balm Lung afflictions (pneumonia, bronchitis)=liquorice, and comfrey (used in bronchitis medicine today) Malaria=Cinchonaà plant derivative from Peru which cured quickly and acted on only one type of fever. --This hurt “humour” belief and people discovered that disease caused fever. Ear ache= roasted onion on ear Stye= rub eye with tail of black tomcat Scurvy=drinking lemon juice Mental illness= Jean-Baptiste Denis est. new technique of transfusing blood to patients. When arterial blood from lambs injected into patients, seemed to recover. Method stopped when patients died. Large scale preventive measure for epidemic diseases did not come until 1764, when Dr. Clarke invented small pox vaccine after discovered that people with slight cases were immune to future attacks.

General Overview of Alchemy Hello! I am Cosimo the alchemist. We Renaissance alchemists believe that we can change any substance into any other substance. For example, lately I have been trying very hard to convert common metals into gold and it just isn't working. Maybe you could help me. Anyhow, I'll work on that later. Any proficient alchemist, like myself, must have a well stocked and maintained supply of materials. You can look around my lab if you like. (Alchemy Lab JPEG 48k) Because I do most of my work with metals, my supplies are quite different than those of other alchemists like my friend Arthur, who conducts most of his experimentation with herbs and other organic material. In our times, an alchemist like my friend Art who spends most of his time working with plants is much like an herbalist and will sometimes even work on a large experiment with our local herbalist. Some of the metals I use most are: steel, copper, iron, and occasionally lead. Very rarely do I use valuable metals (not that all metals aren't valuable) such as gold and silver. Otto Tachenius of London wrote an interesting account of the Golden Nail Transmutation that you might like to read.

Not only are we alchemists of the renaissance interested in converting lesser metals to gold and silver, but we are also on a quest to be the first to discover the Philosophers Stone. It is thought that this stone is a magical substance that can cure all disease and make transmutations much easier. A transmutation is the transformation of one substance to another by changing the elements of the substance. As serious as we are about locating 'The Stone', we actually know very little about it. Sometimes in our quest for the philosopher's stone we discover other elements. Two of my friends discovered phosphorus in their lab not too long ago. You can visit the Laboratory of Rycharde d'Simmons and Edmonde da Vizquel and get their view of an alchemist's role if you wish. Women are considered a dishonor in the society of alchemy. A woman, Sybyll, has dared to risk the scrutiny of the Baron. I don't give her long before her lab is closed down and she is jailed for practicing witchcraft. (JPEG 83 k) Painting by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) The Alchymist in Search of the Phiosophers' Stone discovers Phosphorus [1 ] Our study of alchemy is actually closely related to many other topics, too, such as religion and astrology. Many royalties around these parts believe that many of the procedures I use try to transmutate metals into gold are closely related to death, corruption, regeneration, and resurrection. By now you may be wondering how astrology fits in, but is actually quite simple. We alchemists believe that every planet, the sun, and the moon each represent a metal and that the location of the specific planet and the moon determine the success or failure of an experiment. Some of the specific metals and their corrusponding astrological bodies are: Sun ~ Gold Moon ~ Silver Mars ~ Iron Venus ~ Copper Jupiter ~ Tin Saturn ~ Lead Mercury ~ Mercury (Quicksilver) For more information on astrology, visit my friend Thespis. I have a great many alchemist friends and acquaintances. There are a few pictures of them

working hanging in my Gallery of Alchemists if you would like to take a closer look. Well now you are aware of my extraordinary profession. So, how about helping me change this iron into gold. Hey, wait. No, don't leave. Where are you going? Help me! I'm not crazy! I'm not! Come on, please! Please, prithee, pray! PPPPLLLLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE!!!!!!! Written and compiled by Sol Schulman [Setting: Alchemy lab from the Renaissance: various beakers, test tubes, mortar and pestle. Backdrop of athenor - chimneyed brick 'oven'. On floor is a replica of the alchemists' pentacle. Alchemists costumed in 'lab coats' of the time.] Rycharde: Good morrow, and welcome to my laboratory. I am the great Rycharde d'Symmonds, the celebrated alchemist. And to my left is my friend and loyal colleague, Edmonde da Vizquel. Edmonde: Good day, friends. Welcome to our humble laboratory where we will be instructing you in what you would call a crash course about the science of alchemy! To get started, it is important to understand that one of our main goals as alchemists is to transmutate different substances into gold or some other precious metal. Gold - the metal of kings; the symbol of kings. For you women in the audience, we must tell you, alchemy is not a course that you can pursue. We both will be watching carefully that you do not pursue this topic beyond what we share with you. Alchemy in the hands of a woman is believed to be witchcraft. Rycharde: Although some of we alchemists also participate in medicine, do not confuse us with herbalists. Edmonde:

As you can see, you are in the laboratory, typical of an alchemist's laboratory in the Renaissance. Rycharde: Here, [Pointing to the pentacle in the foreground of the lab.] we have a pentacle on the floor, containing the symbols we use for the four elements and the processes we use while working. There is a pentacle in almost every alchemist's lab. Edmonde: In the back of our lab, [Pointing to backdrop of athenor.] we have the athenor, or brick oven, as you may call it. It is used for heating liquids and melting substances. Rycharde: On the side of the lab, there are all sorts of beakers and vessels in which the liquids we handle are combined and integrated into the compounds we use in striving for our ultimate goal . . . Edmonde: the Magnum Opus, of course! Rycharde: The Magnum Opus is the dream of every alchemist. It is a solution, that when touched with lesser metals, will transform, or transmutate that metal into gold, thereby making that alchemist richer than a king! Edmonde: As you know, the dream of every man is to become rich and famous, to have all of the coinage he desires and more. Achieving the Magnum Opus, therefore, is something every alchemist would like to achieve. Rycharde: Nothing is ever completely free, however. When an alchemist creates the Magnum Opus, he becomes a divine individual, able to perform any alchemical experiment to perfection.

Edmonde: In the final stage of creating the Magnum Opus, "the King is reunited in the Fire of Love with his blessed Queen" and becomes the perfect conjunction of man and woman. In other words, a transsexual being. Rycharde: While this may seem very vulgar to you, it is actually a great honor to us; this being is regarded as one of the most respected individuals in all of Europa. Edmonde: Alchemy has been around for thousands of years, since the times of the mysterious Egyptian Empire. People have been interested in alchemy because it has the ability to make one rich if gold can be easily produced. ["Alchemy teaches that God is in everything; that He is One Universal Spirit, manifesting through an infinity of forms. God, therefore, is the spiritual seed planted in the dark earth (the material universe). By art, it is possible to grow and expand this seed so that the entire universe of substance is tinctured and becomes like the seed - pure gold. In the spiritual nature of man this is termed regeneration; in the material body of the elements, it is called transmutation. As it is in the spiritual and material universes, so it is in the intellectual world."] Rycharde: We do not perform magic. Something cannot come from nothing. Alchemy is the science of multiplication and is based upon the natural phenomenon of growth . . . it is the process of increasing and improving that which already exists. [Some alchemists have philosophized "Through art (the process of learning) the whole mass of base metals (the mental body of ignorance) is transmuted into pure gold (wisdom), for it is tinctured with understanding. If then, through faith and proximity to God the consciousness of man may be transmuted from base animal desires (represented by the masses of the planetary metals) into a pure, golden, and godly consciousness; if also the base metals of mental ignorance can be transmuted into genius and wisdom, we ask then why not also can the material elements of the universe be multiplied? "] Edmonde:

Our goal in the laboratory is "to carry out, as far as possible, the processes which Nature carried out in the interior of the Earth. We are trying to create what we refer to as the philosopher's stone, an elixir that we believe has the powers to transmutate lesser metals, such as copper, tin, and other similar metals into the more precious metals of gold and silver. We are also trying to do the following: - to create homunculi, or living beings - to prepare a universal solvent which will dissolve every substance which is immersed in it; to restore a plant from its ashes (palingenesis) -t o prepare spiritus mundi ( a mystic substance possessing many powers, the principal of which is its capacity for dissolving gold) - to extract the active principle of all substances - to prepare aurum potable, liquid gold - gold itself being able to produce perfection in the human frame. Rycharde: For this to occur, the lesser metal must go through at least the following twelve processes: calcination, congelation, fixation, dissolution, digestion, distillation, sublimination, separation, incineration, fermentation, multiplication, and projection. There are 109 processes in all, but let us continue with just these. Edmonde: Calcination is the breaking down of substances by heating them and burning them, and it usually is done in an open crucible. Rycharde: Congelation is the conversion of a less viscous, or thin, liquid into a viscous, or thick, liquid - slower than molasses in January, if you need a description. Edmonde: Fixation is the process of making a volatile substance into a fixed or solid substance so that it remains permanently unaffected by fire.

Rycharde: Dissolution is merely dissolving a substance into a liquid - one of our simplest transformations. Edmonde: Digestion is the slow modification of a substance by gentle heat. After digestion, this elixir will become a fiery, red liquid into which metals will dissolve. Basically, it is liquid fire. Rycharde: Distillation is the separation of an unstable component from a substance by heating it to drive off any volatile components as a vapor, which is then condensed and collected in a cooler chamber of the device that we use to perform this process. This is very similar to the process of distillation that you use when you modern people distill water. The substances must be liquid, otherwise the process would be sublimation. Edmonde: Sublimination occurs when a solid is heated and gives off a vapor which condenses on the cool upper parts of the device that we use for this process. Sublimination would be different from evaporation and distillation in that there is not liquid form in between. We have a substance called sal ammoniac, an example of this - what you call a salt and ammonium blend in modern science. Rycharde: Separation is self-explanatory. It is the action of separating two opposite components from each other. It is related to the conjunction process, which is the exact opposite in that it combines two opposite substances. Edmonde: The next process that we would like to share with you is incineration - different from what you may think, though. We take a substance and transform it to a new substance that has a soft and waxy consistency, usually by mixing in water at some point. Rycharde:

Fermentation occurs when a substance, usually of an organic nature, rots. During this process, gas bubbles are released from the substance. Edmonde: As Rycharde mentioned earlier, we do not perform magic, and that would include the subject of taking one substance and duplicating it out of thin air. In our world, multiplication is the process that we depend upon, a complex process by which a fermented substance transforms another, that resulting substance now having its power multiplied. Rycharde: The Magnum Opus, the result of taking an element through the aforementioned processes, is called the universal elixir or philosopher's stone. If dissolved with the correct amount of metal and run through different stages of digestion, it will eventually become an elixir for the transmuting of lesser metals. As much as we strive for this goal, we actually know very little about the structure of the stone, the size, the color, etc. Edmonde: Achieving the philosopher's stone is our main ambition. Of course, no woman has ever attempted this. Rycharde: Women are considered a dishonor in the society of alchemy; we believe that only men are capable of achieving the philosopher's stone. Remember, women, you would be labeled as a witch for even attempting any of what we have discussed here. A woman, Sybyll, has dared to risk the scrutiny of the Baron. I don't give her long before her lab is closed down and she is jailed for practicing witchcraft. Edmonde: We shall see. Now, on to Medical Alchemy. Rycharde: Right, Edmonde. Medicinal alchemy was one of the primary sources of medication that could be used for a patient in the Renaissance. Alchemists used

the four elements on the pentacle to determine a treatment for diseases; these elements symbolized many objects, diseases, and philosophies, as well.

Edmonde: [Standing over the pentacle on the lab's floor.] For example, the symbol fire on our alchemists' pentacle represents the season of spring, the direction of east, the emotions of anger and grief, the heart organ, the need for sunlight, and the sense of sight. Air on the pentacle symbolizes the season of summer, the direction of south, the emotion of attachment, the human organ of the lungs, the need for oxygen, and the sense of smell. Rycharde: The pentacle symbol of water represents the season of autumn, the direction of west, the emotion of desire, the organ - kidney, the needs for water, and the sense of taste. The earth point of the pentacle symbolizes the season of winter, the direction of north, the emotion of fear, the organ - liver, the need for food, and the sense of touch. Medical alchemy is based on these analogies, and our people believe that all forces must be balanced for a person to be healthy, an idea that can be traced to Oriental sciences. You will even notice the top of the pentacle is represented as 'spirit', all things coming together. [Turning away from the pentacle and back to the lab.] Edmonde: One area we have not explained yet to you is the aspect of astrology in alchemy. We believe the two are connected in some ways. Rycharde: One example of this is that we believe that every planet, the sun, and the moon represent a different metal. Some of the connections are as follows: the sun is connected to gold, the moon to silver, Mars to iron, Venus to copper, Jupiter to tin, Saturn to lead, and Mercury to mercury - or quicksilver. Edmonde:

We also believe that the location of a specific planet and the moon on any given night will determine the success of an experiment. I have a fellow alchemist who will not partake in any kind of experiment or demonstration unless the moon and Mercury are in the exact location he believes is necessary for a successful experiment. Rycharde: On the other hand, if the moon and the corresponding planet are in the wrong position, an alchemist could very well damage his laboratory or worse. We alchemists are very superstitious about all of this. Edmonde: Because alchemists participate in dangerous and unusual experiments, we take many precautions so as not to burn or injure ourselves and our laboratories. Performing experiments only on nights where the moon and corresponding planets are in favorable positions is, as extreme as it may sound, one of these precautions. Rycharde: Another precaution that alchemists must adhere to is to read the label on whatever flask is being used to make sure he understands which solution he is working with. Some alchemists forget to do this, resulting in an explosive disaster! Edmonde: A warning: if you do not know what a solution is, do not attempt to smell, touch, or especially drink it! Instead, dispose of it in a safe manner. Rycharde: Sometimes, you may find a flask with an old, faded label that cannot be decoded. [Holding up a flask.] Our paper and ink is not as durable as what you use in your schools. In addition, we alchemists secretly code our equations for all of our chemical processes so that none of our discoveries can be stolen by a competing alchemist. [Picks up chemical equation notebook and takes it to safe and locks it up. Returns to talk to audience.]

In your scientific world, you are accustomed to chemical equations that can be read be all chemists. The work that we are doing right now will eventually lead to what you do today, but for now, it will remain a secret. Edmonde: There are also some chemicals you should take precaution with. One of these is phosphorus, a substance that has been recently discovered. [Holds up tube of 'phosphorus'.] It will burn into your hand, a very unpleasant experience. Rycharde: Another of these dangerous acids is mercury. [Holds up test tube of same.] Mercury is amusing to handle, but it will be absorbed into your skin, reaching harmful amounts, and it gives off intoxicating fumes that can be very dangerous. This we have also just discovered due to the death of one of our other colleagues. Edmonde: That is the end of your crash course in alchemy today. We hope you have enjoyed our session this fine day. Rycharde: [Turning to Edmonde, who is beginning to go back to his work in the lab.] Be careful in handling that solution, Edmonde! It will set fire to the lab if dropped! Edmonde: [Fumbling the flask.] Oops!!

(JPEG - 65k) Painting by Heindrick Heerschop The Alchemist's Experiment takes Fire (17th Century) [1 ] Written and compiled by VirRen Team from a student project in 1997

(JPEG - 98k) Painting by Jan van der Straet (1523-1605) Distillatio, late 16th century [1 ] (JPEG -80k) Painting by David Scott Paracelsus Lecturing on the Elixir Vitae, (19th Century) [1 ] (JPEG - 118k) Painting by Sir William Fettes Douglas The Alchemist, (19th Century) [1 ]

(JPEG - 58k) Painting by Jan Steen (1626-1679) The Village Alchemist [1 ] (JPEG - 50k) Painting by J. Zoffany David Garrick as Abel Drugger in Jonson's The Alchemy (c1770) [1 ] (JPEG - 100k) Painting by Adrian van Ostade (1610-85) The Alchemists [1 ]

(JPEG - 70k) Painting by David Teniers (1610-1690) The Alchemist, c1645 [1 ] (JPEG - 60k) J.J. Rink, based on a painting of David Teniers The Laboratory, 1793. [1 ]

Alchemist's Lab

Return to Alchemy Lab

An Alchemical Laboratory c.1540 by Tom McRae "This reconstruction is really quite small being scratch built to a scale of 1/12th. Vessels are mainly made from FIMO and the solid looking walls and flagstones are actually just painted card. The model is electrified with candles and athenor fire flickering. Dried snakes hang from the left hand side of the front beam while at left hand wall remains of a spillage can be seen beside the bench. A rat lies poisoned in the spillage, reminding us of the toxic conditions in which those pioneers worked. A great press can be seen at the left of the back wall and the Athenor is built at the centre with the bellows to its right. Vessels stand on shelves around the athenor for heating at different temperature gradients. To the left of the front shelf can be seen The Pelican with its akimbo tubes for spirit production. On the floor in front of the bellows stands a cauldron of decomposing organic material, best not to enquire too closely. A large pentacle has been drawn in the centre of the floor with candles at each point. Within the circle a mortar like altar is used to hold mixtures which "Other Powers" are invoked to charge with occult powers. A ritual sword leans on the altar used to close the circle when the Practitioner started working."

As I am sure you have seen, life here in the Renaissance is much different than "modern life", and just as everything else is, the apothecary is quite different. Here I, Bartholmew the Physician, can show you some of our Renaissance

medicine that will open your eyes to what things were like during our time. Our medical and surgical practices will astound you. My fellow doctors, most of who have no formal education and have taught themselves, are, well to be frank, unskilled compared to your physicians. Most of our surgeons actually end up harming more of their patients than not. Here in the Renaissance, we have a much lower rate of survival than in your times. In fact, the average person lives almost 30 years less than those in your time. If we become ill or suffer a major injury, we have much less of a chance to make a complete recovery, if any recovery at all. Once one of us becomes injured or sick, we are limited to few options, most of which are controlled by social status and wealth. The first option, which is usually the best, is to contact a physician. Physicians are learned men who have gone through schooling and have studied standard educational programs followed by a deep study of philosophy. Their diagnoses are usually based on a thorough examination of the body and the urine. ( However, not much will be done with the significance of urinalysis until the invention of the microscope around 1590.) This study of the urine was called uroscopy. My assistant can tell you a little about the practice when you have the time. Talk with Bartholomew's assistant about uroscopy Unfortunately, physicians like myself are very rare and are available only to those who can afford us. I would suggest that you visit the University of Padua where many of my fellow physicians work and teach to learn more about the great physicians of the day. A second option is to find a surgeon. In most cases, the surgeon, the dentist, and the barber are all one in the same person. My suggestion is only to visit the surgeon/barber to get your hair cut, not your skin! Contrary to what you may think, usually the surgeon is a poor choice. Most of our barbers (surgeons or dentists) are self-trained and really don't know too much about medicine. Take another hint; there are no pain killers! They also use equipment that is flimsy and unsterile which causes infections these surgeons don't know much about. You may wish to stop at the barber shop and talk to the Barber/Surgeon Antonio. A final choice is to try one of the "physicians cookes". These

come in two varieties: an apothecary or a herbalist. The herbalist (JPG-75k) uses interesting homemade concoctions to try to relieve anything from pain to fighting diseases. Included in these concoctions are the parts of many plants and animals. One concoction I've seen included newts' tongues or worms' livers. What this herbalist didn't know is that most of his concoctions contain very few substances that have a real medical value, although some do. An apothecary can only give out medications that have been prescribed by a physician or surgeon. You may want to stop by the University of Padua to visit Cosimo the alchemist for information on this ancient "art". Most of the medical practices used here in the Renaissance are based on one key philosophy: "The human body is made up of four basic elements of the earth - earth, air, fire, and water. Medicine should attempt to restore the normal balance between these four parts of life." ( Miquel 40) In observance of this philosophy, one of our most frequently used techniques, which is quite simple, is to put leeches on the body of a patient suffering from high blood pressure. By sucking out the patient's blood, the leeches do help to lower the patient's blood pressure. (What people in the Renaissance don't know is that it only works for a very brief period of time and has many dangerous drawbacks and side-effects.) Unfortunately, we are faced with many illnesses, some of which are devastating such as the Black Death (you can learn about this terrible affliction at the Globe Theatre) and the Sweating Sickness. My assistant can tell you about the Sweating Sickness if you wish. Speak with Bartholomew's assistant about the Sweating Sickness Throughout the Renaissance, we have gone through many technological advances, including those that have resulted from having to deal with the improvement of warfare technology, such as the transition from the classic bow and arrow to our Renaissance guns. By far, the best surgeons around here are those who are part of the army. These military surgeons also seem to make the biggest discoveries because they come in contact with larger problems more frequently than the common barber/surgeon. One army surgeon and a friend of mine, Ambroise Pare, recently became famous for discovering that hot irons should not be used to cauterize bullet or metal-tipped arrow wounds. Until his discovery, nearly anyone who was shot in battle died from loss of blood, infection, or internal bleeding. Pare also

discovered ways of "tying off" the arteries when he amputates a limb. Pare also recognized the necessity of keeping wounds clean. He devised appliances such as artificial limbs and trusses. Pare made this modest statement about his success with his patients: "I treated them, God cured them." Following Pares' discoveries, many physicians have begun to make new and more significant discoveries involving our body systems and anatomy. Groups of physicians, barbers, and anyone else interested - including myself - will gather for public dissections (JPG-13k) of criminals. (Some are alive, others are already dead. It depends on what the punishment is for.) Not only do these dissections provide the criminal with what he deserves, but they also provide us with an opportunity to gain knowledge in this fine field of medicine. In the long run, this will help to save the lives of our fellow citizens. These dissections have helped us to gain a much better understanding of the human anatomy. Another of my fellow well-known Renaissance gentlemen who has helped our society advance in medical technology is Leonardo da Vinci, who was one of the first to realize that to successfully treat most diseases, we must learn about and study the human body. He is a strong supporter of "human dissections" because he knows it is necessary to make medical advances. On this principle of Precipitation, was the Golden Nail of the great Duke of Florence made; which Ferdinand the first of happy Memory, graced with this Testimony, which is to be seen with the Nail at Florence. "Mr. Leonard Turneisser in my sight and presence, turned an Iron Nail heated in the fire, and immersed in Oyl, into Gold; done at Rome the 20th day of November after Dinner." Such Nails, I have also, in Sport, sometimes made, with my own hands, but such as deal in Metals the vulgar way, think it altogether impossible that Gold and Iron should Conglutinate; and therefore they firmly believe, that This Nail is really changed out of Iron into Gold, and that which confirms their belief, is, that Gold doth not adhere to Iron; yea Gold melted, corrodes It in a moment, and turns it into Rust [as Common Sulphur doth]. But Gold is connected with Iron, by means of Precipitation, as I have said, on the same reason and ground, for which Iron precipitates Copper: Cut then an Iron Nail into two parts, moisten the end, at least with Spittle, and presently touch that part with Cupreous Vitriol, and in the very punctum, the extremity of the Iron, waxeth red, and hath now acquired the nature of Copper; Now Gold is easily associated to and with Copper; and so fit a cuspe, or point made of Gold to this Cupreous Iron; and with Borax and Golden Solidature or Soder (Gold Glew, which is

made of Copper Money, a little Silver and Gold melted at the Eye is better) melt it after the accustomed manner, in a fitting Coal-fire, and then you shall have the Golden Nail so much spoken of. Turneisser tinged this Nail with Ferrugo [Iron rust], wherewith he hid the Gold, and so (without doubt offered it to that great Prince, to handle with his hands, which being so disguised, the Skilfullest person, that is, would have judged to be Iron. And then heating it be the fire, and dipping it in a certain Oyl (as the Testimonial says) and washing away the Ferrugo, the Gold appeared. This was the Artifice, if it be worthy of that name. Though Daphne fly from Phoebus bright, Yet shall they both be one, And if you understand this right, You have our hidden Stone. For Daphne she is faire and white: But Volatile is she; Phoebus a fixed God of might, And red as blood is he. Daphne is a Water Nymph, And hath of Moysture store, Which Phoebus doth consume with heate, And dryes her very sore. They being dryed into one, Of christall flood must drinke, Till they be brought to a white Stone: Which wash with Virgins milke, So longe untill they flow as wax, And no fume you can see, Then have you all you neede to aske, Praise God and thankfull be.

Student Project: 1997- Zhejuan L) Part I: [In Sybyll's alchemy lab. Assorted vials, containers, notebooks on lab table. Pentacle on the floor, open hearth furnace in the background. Sybyll is dressed in a black cape with gold ties and has an air of authority as she speaks.]

Merry meet and God bless ye, kind ladies and generous sirs. Be pleased to let me introduce my humble and modest self. I am Sybyll, an alchemist from the Renaissance. I have come from afar through innumerable hazards, braved untold perils, traversed through time itself to come before you today to bring to you, a most singular, enlightened, sophisticated, civilized, and, if I may be so bold as to add, clean group of humans . . . What was I saying? Oh, yes, to bring to you the wonders and mystery and secrets of alchemy . . . for a price, naturally. First, we'll start with the pentacle that you see here on the floor of my lab. The four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, have their own symbols. Air is represented by the circle, fire by the triangle, earth by the square, and water by the crescent - all points on the alchemist's pentacle. You have probably seen one in Rycharde's and Edmonde's lab. There are four conditions in which these elements may be found: moist, hot, dry, and cold. Air is moist and hot. Fire, naturally, is hot and dry. Earth is dry and cold. And finally, water is cold and moist. In addition, the art of astronomy is quite closely related to alchemy. A very clear example of that are the seven basic metals. Each is governed by its own planetary body. The sun rules gold, the moon rules silver, Mercury - mercury, Venus rules copper, Mars - iron, Jupiter - tin, and lead is ruled by Saturn. I also have cures and elixirs collected from all over the known world. [As talks about each, holds up a vial of each item.] Perhaps you, young lady, would care to buy a silver elixir to cure warts. Or this, which takes away all the ills of the body. Or a maybe you'd care for a lizard's tongue, some herbs perhaps - not for cooking - these herbs have special properties. No? Not one of you? Surely someone must . . .well, if you're going to be that way, never mind then. If you don't wish to buy anything, then let me give you a brief introduction to the subject of alchemy, and perhaps hearing of my art will convince you to purchase some of my wares. We alchemists have always been very concerned with changing lesser metals into gold. In fact, that is what alchemy revolves around: the changing of a base metal into gold. Transmutation, we call it. One might ask, why this obsession with gold? Well, there is the most obvious answer: gold is extremely valuable. A person who can turn lead into gold will soon be the richest man (or woman) in the world. He'll have jewels and silks

and spices . . . be renowned throughout the world . . . be sung of by the bards till every living man, woman and child knows his (ahem, her) name. . . Was I saying something? Ah, yes, about gold and transmutation. There is another reason for trying to create gold, this one derived from ancient superstitions. In the days of old, even before my time which, as you know, was quite awhile ago . . . if I were living in your 'now', I'd be . . . too old for a woman to want to think about. Anyway, in our day, people worship the sun as the giver of all light and life. Gold, because of its color, is thought to be a part of the sun fallen to earth and, therefore, sacred. We believe gold to be the perfect metal because of its beauty, luster, and lasting quality. The more philosophical of us believe that learning to transform a lesser metal - silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin, and lead - into this perfect metal is the first step to learning how to transform humans, such as we are, into a more perfect being. Only we don't mean beings who will be extraordinarily intelligent or anything of that sort. We mean a being that will not be affected by any disease and that will never die. To live on forever and ever . . . to never face the judgments of God . . . to . . . Sorry, I was drifting again. Back to the point then. The more philosophical among us wished to perfect human beings, and thus we search for the elixir vitae, the elixir of life, the fountain or youth, the . . . Well, I can't think of any more names for it but you understand my meaning. This elixir is said to cure all diseases and provide longevity. Ah, you look at me expectantly. Indeed, I have a recipe for this, too, but I have never found all the ingredients requisite for its making. However, I have already given away . . . offered to sell . . . more secrets today than most alchemists would consider revealing in a lifetime, except to their apprentice. This secret of the elixir vitae I intend to carry to my grave. And don't think you can steal it, either. The formula is written in symbols so that only I may understand it. Why, you ask, would one write formulas in symbols which one may forget the meaning of? The reason we alchemists use symbols is very simple, simple enough to fit into one word: protection . . . from the nobility and royalty, from the common people, and from the Church. Some lords have been known to capture and torture alchemists for their priceless secrets. In fact, I once had a rather nasty run-in with a baron who . . . well, I'd rather not discuss it. From the commoners who might try to gain our secrets, we also must protect ourselves. The Church, well to put it bluntly, they aren't fond of us. The Church probably is the greatest threat to alchemists as a whole. To gain the Church's . . .

continued tolerance, we have resorted to writing a version of the Bible which treats us more kindly. Divine persuasion never hurts! Overall, being an alchemist is a risky position to choose, especially for a woman, but then again, this is the Renaissance; many positions are risky. The dangers involved in my career of choice aren't something I really care to talk about. A person might wonder how we have tried to go about making gold from another metal. That brings us to Aristotle's theory on matter. His theory was that all matter comes from a single, formless substance. This substance is what makes up the four elements of fire, earth, air and water. All things on earth were formed from a combination of these elements. Wood for instance, can burn, and so has the quality of fire. It grows from the earth, is nourished by water and air, so wood - in effect - is a combination of all the elements, as most things are. It is our belief that one substance can be changed into another by altering the balance of the elements. So if we can somehow correctly alter the elements in a base metal, we will have gold. There are some alchemists who believe that the way to create gold is to start with the metal of lowest esteem, lead, then change lead to tin to iron to copper to mercury and finally to gold. One might ask, how will I change the balance of these elements to achieve my goal? Well, so far as transmutation is concerned, what we have searched for is something called the philosopher's stone. (That name is really a misnomer since it wasn't really a stone. Some of my associates believe that the philosopher's stone is some gray, semi-solid substance. But no matter what you think it may look like, all alchemists agree that the philosopher's stone will change any base metal into gold.) In fact, I have this recipe here which I borrowed from a traveling astronomer. It's guaranteed, if you follow the instructions exactly, to make the philosopher's stone. Give me a minute. Ah, here it is. [ Sybyll holds up a slip of paper.] Now as I was saying, I borrowed this from - well, 'borrowed' isn't the word; it's more like I, well . . . let's forget we saw that. And if a short, gray-haired old man asks, you never saw me. Now have I told you everything I intended to share with you about alchemy. Ah, there is one more thing, quite unique. The homunculus. You look puzzled! What is it, or more aptly, what is he? A homunculus is a laboratory-created little man, the Renaissance version of what you consider to be a clone. Only a

homunculus is a human in miniature. Other than his size and that he was never born to any mortal mother, a homunculus is exactly like a normal man. In fact, I have a formulae on how to create one . . . you're not interested? How about powdered silver? A cure for influenza? A lead vase? A purple pigeon? A formula for making sugar from salt? Or. . .or . . . Part II: [Sybyll transforms herself into a modern woman historian.] I'd like to give you a brief history on alchemy. Alchemy is an ancient science concerned with the changing of base metals into gold and with discovering a way to cure all diseases, including of course the plague, and a way to prolong life. Alchemy, which is a mixture between science and superstition, goes as far back as ancient China and Egypt. In China, it was associated with the Taoist philosophy but was so clouded with mysticism that it soon degenerated to nothing more than a set of superstitions. In Egypt, the secrets of transmutation of metals were kept by the temple priests but later became widely known in the academy at Alexandria. Alchemy didn't become popular in Western Europe until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The alchemy of the Renaissance had its basis in Eastern Chinese - mysticism; the skills developed in Egypt and were based on Aristotle's theory of matter. I think each one of you knows the name of the most famous alchemist who ever lived. (If any alchemist from the Renaissance knew who he was, that person would doubtless find it a great irony. The most famous alchemist probably never 'existed'.) Who, you may wonder. None other than Merlin. While he's been called magician, wizard, prophet, and seer, if the great Merlin ever did exist, he was probably an alchemist, not a sorcerer. Alchemy was really the transition between ancient superstitions and modern science. Within the Renaissance, alchemy itself endured a transition from superstition to the more practical, such as creating medicines. Alchemy, as a whole, was a bridge between mixing eye of newt with tongue of snake to curse a neighbor and the splitting atoms to bomb a city. I recall some group saying that they thought the stupidest thing the people of the Renaissance believed in was that all objects were formed from fire, air,

earth, and water. I have to disagree with that. That belief is very similar to what we believe about matter in the twentieth century. Fire can be connected to plasma, air to gas, water to liquid, and earth to solid. And plasma, gas, liquid and solid are the four states in which we believe matter can exist. Even today, we still seek to make gold from other materials. Not real gold, of course, but a metal that looks like gold. In addition, scientists are still trying to cure all diseases and trying to find the elixir vitae. Alchemists also contributed many inventions to the world such as the chemicals in dyes, varnish, medicine, glass, and steel. They found cures for some diseases. They also developed waterproofing for leather and cloth, rust inhibitors, luminous ink, smelling salts, sleeping potions, new kinds of explosives (not necessarily a good thing) and pain relievers. Yes, some of the alchemists were frauds out to cheat people for money, but some alchemists tried to make life better and easier for the people. And a few did succeed in making life a little bit better. ml#anchor69236,SU NA:2007-01,SUNA:en&start=30&sa=N,SUNA:200701,SUNA:en&start=40&sa=N