Some mysteries flow over the centuries. Some never are solved, and the passion to discover it never dies down. There is one that has persisted down through the ages. It is the mystery of alchemy.
What is Alchemy
The Royal Society of Chemistry had this to say about alchemy: “Simplified, the aims of the alchemists were threefold: to find the Stone of Knowledge (The Philosophers’ Stone), to discover the medium of Eternal Youth and Health, and to discover the transmutation of metals. To the medieval alchemist’s mind the different elements were but the same original substance in varying degrees of purity. Gold was the purest of all and silver followed closely.” (https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/alchemy/what-is-alchemy) It has been seen as sorcery and witchcraft by many over the years. Sad to say, this filtered over into anyone who practiced any form of medicine.
Alchemy was early chemistry but done in a way that made it look shady. It sought answers that appeared to be magical. In truth, those who practiced it were the earliest chemist. They just didn’t understand what they were working with.
Playing With the Supernatural
The early years of chemistry did seem like witchcraft. The understanding of the physical world around us was limited years ago. Anything that stretched beyond the understanding of the present day was witchcraft and deserved death. That meant even the legitimate explorers of chemistry were seen with distrustful eyes.
It was all connected to magic. That was deemed evil and dangerous. It was observed as a slight against society and God. Alchemist looked into the supernatural to find the secret for long life and riches untold.
A Joy for Writers
The supernatural has always been a wonderful playground for writers. It should be. Everything is possible. There really are no rules as, to our knowledge, it is not a real possibility.
Alchemy has been dabbled in by many authors. By dabbled, I mean mentioned or highly woven into a plot. This can be a subject matter that can allow characters the ability to do so much more. Even with a book that shows alchemy as nothing but science fiction, it can add so much more depth to the plot. It is a great mystery to give all the needed twists and turns in a story.
What stories involve alchemy can you name?