No. 14. Albertus Magnus - The Compound of Compounds
Translated by Luc Villeneuve
With an Introduction by Adam McLean
The Dominican Scholar Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) seems to have had a considerable interest in alchemy and there are numerous alchemical writings attributed to him. The better known of these are his Book of Minerals, the Semita Recta (the direct way), the Alkimia minor and the short work, the Compositum de compositis, translated here by Luc Villeneuve from a French version of the text.
This book, written in the thirteenth or early fourteenth century and thus one of the earliest works of European alchemy, is remarkably clear and straightforward. It outlines the alchemical process, placing it within a theoretical framework, then demonstrating how to carry out the work in practice, avoiding allegory and obfuscation.
Whether this was written by Albertus Magnus or some other now unknown writer, the book presents such an exciting and clear account of the nature of alchemy, that one can see people, centuries later, poring over its pages trying to tease out and work the process shown here in all its practical details. Even after 800 years it still speaks freshly and eloquently of the mystery of alchemy. It deserves recognition as one of the key foundation works of European alchemy. It is sad that it has taken so long to make it available in English.