There are many languages used by alchemy - the language of
substances and the practical operations in flasks; the language of
philosophical and cosmological ideas; the language of allegories; and
language of emblematic symbolism, among others.
I am devoting much of my time now to trying to enthuse people to explore
with me this symbolic language of alchemical transformation. I have spend many
years researching and discovering these emblems in early printed books and manuscripts.
Many of the emblems I have been researching are entirely unknown to people.
Sadly there is very little interest in this material, despite my trying to
bring these incredibly beautiful, enigmatic and powerful images to people's
attention. Most people seem to rely on the few selected images in popular books,
which often give an uninformed and misleading commentary to the symbolism of the
emblems. The writers of these books have not seen the mass of material which I
have been able to explore, so their views are entirely limited, uninformed and more
than often completely wrong. Locked up in these emblems is a language of alchemy that is
awaiting for people to explore.
The only way people can come to appreciate alchemical symbolism is for them to
study all the material of the tradition. Merely selecting out a few items that
appeal to them aesthetically will not lead them to a true encounter with this
symbolic material. Of course it is difficult for the modern eye, educated by television
and the constant bombardment of sophisticated imagery in magazines and books, to appreciate
and read the clumsy lines of a woodcut or the tangles of hatching in an engraving.
To make these images more approachable today, I have been making coloured versions
of emblems for many years, but have accelerated this work recently and now have made
over 830 (as of August 2004). Thus I have created a resource of alchemical imagery
that has never been seen before, which will be found essential for anyone wishing
to understand the richness of this entirely neglected ocean of symbolism. Thumbnails of
these images are provided on the alchemy web site in my Galleries
and you will find these have migrated out onto other peoples websites
all over the internet. I have now made these available in high quality images on a series
of three CD-Roms
In August 2004 I decided to set up this Alchemical Emblems Project
in order to try and get people to explore this imagery and discover the profundity of
its symbolic language.
This project can provide a number of ways in which people can learn about these emblems,
or assist with the ongoing research. You can follow these up over the next few pages.
Introduction Resources Studying emblems Supporting the work