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Alchemical Traditions

BY AARON CHEAK, PHD. Spanning the world’s artistic, scientific and religious traditions, alchemy has embraced and continues to embrace the complete spectrum of existence. From metallurgy to metaphysics, alchemy engages the technical, fine and hieratic arts in order to provide a living phenomenology of the one, single, elusive process that acts through all things. Ultimately—in its guise as ars transmutationis—alchemy penetrates to the heart of the transfiguring spiritual intensity that underpins the perfection of life, not only from ‘mineral to man’, but from humanity to divinity.

Paperback  | 6 x 9 | B&W | Illustrated | c. 800 pages
Auckland · Rubedo Press · 2019


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Alchemical Traditions

From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde
Revised & expanded edition

Edited by Aaron Cheak, PhD


SPANNING THE WORLD’S artistic, scientific, and religious traditions, alchemy has embraced and continues to embrace the complete spectrum of existence. From metallurgy to metaphysics, alchemy engages the technical, fine, and hieratic arts in order to provide a living phenomenology of the one, single, elusive process that acts through all things. Ultimately—in its guise as ars transmutationis—alchemy penetrates to the heart of the transfiguring spiritual intensity that underpins the perfection of life, not only from ‘mineral to man’, but from humanity to divinity. 

Despite this profoundly all-embracing purview, alchemy continues to be conceived as either proto-chemistry or proto-psychology. The present volume seeks to redress this false dichotomy by exploring alchemy as a quintessentially integral phenomenon. Opening wide the full spectrum of alchemy—from east to west, in history and practice, from antiquity to the avant-garde—our aim is to penetrate as deeply as possible, within the limits of a single volume, into the rich practical and experiential traditions of the alchemical mysterium. 

Featuring both well-established scholars and emerging, cutting-edge researchers, this book synthesises a quintessentially high caliber of academic authorities on the vast and baroque heritage of the alchemical world. As a whole, the volume seeks to strike the perfect balance—the golden mean—between strict, historical objectivity and empathic, phenomenological insight. Drawn from international ranks (Europe, the Antipodes, the Americas) and cutting across disciplinary boundaries (Egyptology, Classics, Sinology, Indology, Tibetology, philosophy, religious studies, Renaissance studies, history of science, art history, critical theory, media studies), the contributors to this volume include some of the most gifted investigators into the world’s esoteric lineages. 


Originally published in 2013, the new, revised edition of Alchemical Traditions is an expanded edition in every sense. Most notably, it features the addition of two substantial research chapters focusing on Islamic alchemy (integrating original translations from Henry Corbin’s work on The Book of Seven Statues) and Carl Jung (focusing on the deification experience at the root of his Red Book). It also includes an important theoretical chapter exploring the relationship between internal and external alchemy. The volume as a whole is richly illustrated with over a hundred images from the alchemical canon, both ancient and modern. The new edition is estimated to appear in November 2019.


C O N T E N T S 


Preface
Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations



Part I: Cornerstones 

Ancient Alchemies, East and West


Introduction: 
Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium
—Aaron Cheak

1. The Perfect Black: Egypt and Alchemy
—Aaron Cheak

2. Telestic Transformation and Philosophical Rebirth: 
From Ancient Egypt to Neoplatonism
—Algis Uždavinys

3. Metallurgy and Demiurgy: 
The Roots of Greek Alchemy in the Mythology of Hephaistos
(Discussions)
—Rod Blackhirst

4. Taking from Water to Fill in Fire: 
The History and Dynamics of Taoist Alchemy
—Aaron Cheak

5. Mercury and Immortality:
The Hindu Alchemical Tradition
—David Gordon White

6. Iatrochemistry, Metaphysiology, Gnōsis:
Tibetan Alchemy in the Kālacakra Tantra
—Kim Lai

7. The Sister of Prophecy:
Al-kīmiyā as Divine Science
—Aaron Cheak

8. Between Internal and External Alchemy:
A Third Position
Mirco A. Mannucci

PART II: Interzones

Alchemies of the Spirit, Body, and Word 


9. The Alchemical Khiasmos:
Counter-Stretched Harmony and Divine Self-Perception
—Aaron Cheak & Sabrina Dalla Valle

10. Altus’ Ominous Aphorism:
Reading as Alchemical Process
—Mirco A. Mannucci

11. Turris Philosophorum:
On the Alchemical Iconography of the Tower
—Christopher A. Plaisance

12. Of Ether, Entheogens, and Colloidal Gold:
Heinrich Khunrath and the Making of a Philosophers’ Stone
—Hereward Tilton

13. Becoming an Angel:
The Mundus Imaginalis of Henry Corbin and the Platonic Path of Self-Knowledge
—Angela Voss

14. The Kiss of Death:
Amor, Corpus Resurrectionis, and the Alchemical Transfiguration of Eros
—Paul Scarpari

15. Agent of All Mutations:
Metallurgical, Biological, and Spiritual Evolution in the Alchemy of René Schwaller de Lubicz
—Aaron Cheak

16. Gnōsis of the Eternal Æon:
Jung and the Serpentine Path of the Soul
—Hereward Tilton

17. Take Two Emerald Tablets in the Morning:
Surrealism and the Alchemical Transubstantiation of the World
—Leon Marvell

18. Incredible Lunatic of the Future:
The Alchemical Horticulture of Alan Chadwick
—Rod Blackhirst

19. Alchemical Endgame:
‘Checkmate’ in Beckett and Eliot
—Dan Mellamphy

Abbreviations
Bibliography
Contributors

Please note: table of contents may be subject to change prior to publication.



About the editor


Dr. Cheak is a scholar of comparative religion, philosophy, and esotericism. Straddling the interstices between Hermetic and integral philosophy, he received his doctorate in 2011 for his thesis on René Schwaller de Lubicz, and served as president of the international Jean Gebser Society from 2013–2015. He has appeared in both academic and esoteric publications, including Light Broken through the Prism of Life (2011), Clavis (2014), Diaphany (2015), Octagon (2016), Lux in Tenebris (2017), The Leaf of Immortality (2017), and The Celestial Art (2018). As a translator of French, German, and Greek, he is also bringing a number of important projects to fruition through Rubedo Press. He currently lives on the west coast of New Zealand, where he maintains an active interest in tea, wine, poetry, typography, and alchemy.