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The word alchemy conjures up images that are magical and mystical.


Alchemy differs significantly from modern science in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, religion, and spirituality.

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Alchemy is an ancient art. The philosophers stone, sits at the heart of it.

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The mysterious stone was said to transform base metals such as lead, into gold.


However, the gold in this instance symbolizes not just the valuable metal, but the transformation of the spirit, e.g. enlightenment.

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It was also to represent eternal life.

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Alchemists are concerned with their own spiritual and personal development.

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The motto of the alchemists is ‘solve et coagula’ meaning ‘solution & coagulation’

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The early alchemists were secretive about their work.

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Their secrets are still held within symbols, pictures, riddles.


Alchemical symbolism features birds, animals, colours and parables, as well as archetypal symbols such as the cosmic egg.

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The Smaragdina (Emerald) tablet illustrates the key tenets of alchemy. It was found by Alexander the Great, in the tomb of Hermes.

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Those who dabbled in alchemy include Isaac Newton.

The most commonly used symbols include;

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– The 4 basic elements of Air, Earth, Water, Fire

– The 4 seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter


– The 7 planetary metals, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

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– Alchemical sprits of World, Silver, Mercury, Copper, Tin



Check out my other posts on symbolism, tattoo art, design and culture

I create under the name ‘Punctured Artefact’. I create tattooed leather art, custom tattoo & flash. My work features a lot of symbolism. Have a look at my website 

Dionne x