Adam's Alchemy Weblog 2014|
I have decided to start a weblog of my activities related to my work with alchemy and the alchemy website. The Alchemy Website now at www.alchemywebsite.com was established in 1996 and is the longest surviving and most authoritative site devoted to alchemy on the internet.
The weblog provides a continual update on my work with alchemy as well as providing tidbits of news and information relevant to alchemy.
Art weblog Tarot weblog Archived weblog 2006-2013
31 August 2014
Yesterday I made some interesting discoveries. While reseaching a particular manuscript I came to realise its clear relationship to another alchemical work of the period, and then to a further group of manuscripts. This did not really require any great insight on my part but as no one seems to be looking at this material except myself, I am the one to discover things. This has made me determined to publish these interesting emblematic works, which will probably make three new titles for the Magnum Opus! No doubt only a handful of my regular customers will see the value of these pieces. So many publishers in dealing with alchemy merely churn out the same old material that has been around since the end of the 19th century. No one ever seems enthused by the sort of material I am uncovering. I sell only a handful of books. I will be long dead before people catch up with my output and way of working with alchemy. It is a great problem for me - should I just give up and spend the rest of my life studying and investigating or give my remaining active years up to making material available to others through publishing? When I discover something like I have just uncovered, I am faced with more work making this available to others, or should I merely just keep this to myself? If I put it up on my website freely, other people will merely steal it and claim it as their own work. Yesterday I even found that someone had put all my oil paintings into a file on one of these file sharing systems - of course they had removed my name so I get no credit for the thousands of hours I struggled to make these paintings. I will now have to go and fill in a load of forms to establish my ownership of this material and get this taken down. The person that put it up did not have to establish that he owned the copyright! It is the injured party that must do all the work to establish that it is his original material. The file sharing system through its clever well paid lawyers excuse themselves of any responsibility. The owners of these systems don't care one jot as they make their money by drawing large numbers of people to their site and extracting advertising revenues. I feel sick of the Internet and the license it gives for parasites to steal other peoples' material and masquerade it as their own. I enthusiastically embraced the Internet when it started some twenty years ago, now it is a hostile environment within which I have to struggle to avoid being taken advantage of and erased. I was once a generous sharer of information with others, now I have learnt to trust no one. The parasites and cut and paste buffoons with not one gram of creativity in their being have ruined my easy going relationship with others.
24 August 2014
I have been able to make considerable progress on writing a commentary on the series of alchemical emblems that will be the subject for my next book in the Magnum Opus series. In recent times I have not felt it necessary to provide much in the way of explanatory commentary but this series with its complex layers really needed some way into exploring its structure. There is still a good bit to do to finalise the text but I expect to be able to publish this in September.
5 August 2014
There have been quite a few changes I have had to make in my work over the last months. My attempt to extend the Hermetic Studies series by issuing five new volumes in inexpensive paperback editions has entirely failed to generate any enthusiasm - most only selling around ten copies. This has totally shocked me especially the lack of interest in the 'Little Work' which is the source for the Rosarium series. As always I am so far ahead, or is that out of line with, the current alchemical community. The scholarly community don't rate my work as I have no scholarly credentials - while the speculative, esoteric, Jungian people find me too scholarly and critical of their perspective. I find myself also in much the same situation regarding my interest in tarot art. The art historians dismiss tarot as ephemera, while the bulk of people involved in tarot are doing fortune telling with tarot cards and find it inexplicable that someone focusses only on the artwork. Somehow I always find myself abandoned in the middle. That seems to be my place.
So what to do next ? I am tempted to give up up publishing. I will make a few more attempts with items for the Magnum Opus series, even though this needs me to do much more bookbinding. Unfortunately as I am getting older, this is becoming an increasingly difficult task, one which I was hoping to be able to phase out, so I have decided I will have to increase the prices for my books. I have substantially increased the prices for the Hermetic studies paperbacks as only 50 copies will ever be issued, making them a collectors item in the decades ahead. The price will further increase as the stock level falls.
I am currently working on one of the few series of alchemical emblems that I have not yet published in the Magnum Opus. It is still a few more weeks away from publication, as I am still writing the introduction, and trying to provide some description and explanation of its complex and dense layers of symbolism.
Whether anyone outside the small band of my regular customers will have any interest in this at all, remains to be seen. My regular customers will get a discount, as without them over the last few years the Magnum Opus project would already have been wound up.
10 June 2014
My new fibre optic broadband with its relatively fast upload speed has meant that over the last two weekends I have managed to backup most of my files onto online storage. This now amounts to 800 gigabytes. There is a little more to do but this means that I now feel that my work and archives are protected against a fire at my workshop, some unrecoverable hard disc failure, or a virus that wiped one of my hard discs. No longer will I have to rely on carrying around in my pocket a hard disc backup. Years, indeed decades, of work is now protected.
5 June 2014
I now have five items available in the re-invigorated Hermetic Studies series.
Response to this series has been rather thin. Producing these books has taken a great deal out of me and I feel I now will have to slow down somewhat. It is no longer easy for me to undertake this work. If I were in my 30s or 40s it would be easy for me to push on, but being 66 this takes its toll. I have no one to help me with the publications and as sales are slow, I am effectively subsiding these sales with the many hundreds of hours I put into them. There seem to be only a handful of people who share my enthusiasm for original alchemical material, and these are insufficent to make the project viable financially. I have decided to only ever issue fifty copies of each title publicly. Once they are out of print I will sell a batch of twenty copies privately at a premium price as they will then have become collectors items. For years people have said to me that they would like to be able to afford to buy my books, but when I issue some at a reasonable price then they still do not buy them. If this series does not sell quickly then it is unlikely I will be able to continue it without a subsidy. Much the same thing happened with the Opuscula Alchemica series of paperbacks which have sold abysmally, only about 10 or so copies of each having been bought in over a year. This I have had to abandon. I will sell off the remaining few copies at a premium price. These will become quite rare with only 20 or so copies of each printed. The specialist bookdealers of the future will make a killing from selling off such small editions. It seems increasingly likely that I will later this year have to go down the same road with the Hermetic Studies paperbacks as well.
I will now have to reduce the time I spend on book production and instead devote most of my time selling off my extensive collection of Modern Tarot decks which will provide a more stable income for the time involved.
3 June 2014
Uploads and downloads. With my higher speed fibre optic broadband I have begun to backup all my archived data onto an online storage facility. For years I have carried around with me a small portable hard disc with a backup of my files in case there were some disasterous fire at my workshop. My archives in many ways documents late 20th century alchemy, and I feel the need to preserve this. Backing up to online storage seems quite a slow process and it will probably be a week or so before the entire upload is completed. Rather timely with the Cryptolocker randsomware threatening users computer files. Then I will be able to relax about this problem. Now I only have to find some solution to the piles of papers I have in my workshop!
I have decided to finally abandon providing material on CD-Roms in favour of downloads. There are ways in which one can protect files against being copied and pirated, methods which up till recently were only available to large software companies are now affordable by the likes of myself. So I will see how this goes over the next few months. It took me about six hours yesterday editing the relevant pages on my web site, so now all the study courses etc., are accessible through a download page.
29 May 2014
I have another two books in the reborn Hermetic Studies series nearing completion. I should have the proof copies back from the printer in a few days time so I can make any corrections and send these off to be printed next week. Expect an announcement in a week or so when I will have copies for sale.
29 May 2014
I have done some provisional work on my coloured alchemical emblems files, which I used to provide on a set of four CD-Roms. I am now going to issue these as downloadable files. It appears I have about 1100 coloured emblems from alchemical, astronomical and emblematic sources. I have compiled these into one large file which is in the form of a Windows exe reader. This allows the user to zoom in to see all the details. This file will be protected. If I did not protect it then it would be instantly pirated. This means that the user cannot print these files directly from the viewer program, so I am providing some printable copies which have my copyright notice embossed into the image which will allow users to print these out if they wish. The total size of the files needed appears to be going to be about 750 Megabytes. That is why I needed the fast fibre optic upload speed.
These image files will only be available for the Windows operating system - I cannot create protected files for Apple as I don't have an Apple computer. I hope to finalise work on this project in the next few days and be able to begin selling these next week.
28 May 2014
Today I had fibre optic broadband installed. This is what is termed "Fibre to the Cabinet" which means the last 200 yards are not on fibre but use the existing copper wires. However this does give me a massive increase in speed, especially for uploading files. My old ADSL managed (on a good day) an upload speed of about 350-500 Kilobits per second, while the new system promises to give 18-19 Megabits per second upload. I have been waiting for this for some years. I have been supplying some of my study courses in the form of downloads for some months. I was hoping to have the fibre optic in place earlier, as it took over two hours to upload my Study Course on Alchemical Symbolism to a customer. Of course it would take only take the customer about 10 minutes to download on a standard broadband, but during the uploading my computer was stressed by the multitasking and everything worked very slowly. So now it should take about ten minutes for me to upload the file. It also means that I can get offline backup for my computer files. This has always been available but it was just too slow on standard broadband. I have many thousand of files, images and texts, amounting to about a terabyte. Apparently using old broadband it was estimated it would take about three months to create an initial backup and my computer would be slowed down as the files were backed up. Now with the faster upload the inital backup could probably be done over a weekend.
This does mean that I can develop more material that can be supplied to customers as downloads. One of the first will be my coloured alchemical emblems. I hope to rework the files and make my complete suite of emblems available in a few weeks time.
13 May 2014
The Rosarium Philosophorum must be one of the best known of alchemical works. It was printed at Frankfurt in 1550 in the compendium De Alchimia opuscula complura veterum philosophorum. It is essentially a fusion of two separate works. A Latin rosary, that is, a gathering of quotations from various ancient alchemical authorities under various themes, together with twenty woodcuts with short German verses. The woodcuts have now become well known as they present a coherent sequence involving a King and Queen, the sexual union of a male and female, death, descent into a tomb, rising and falling of spirits, fusion into an hermaphrodite, and a resurrection scene. The source of these images was unclear until the publication in 1989 of a French version of a German manuscript dated 1549 a year before the printing of the Rosarium. When I decided to make an edition of this in order to draw peoples' attention to this source for the imagery, I was rather disappointed by the fact that it was very difficult to see the full sequence. The French version has 24 illustrations and although some of these linked directly to the Rosarium it seemed that the manuscript from which this was taken did not present the full set of imagery. I decided to check into this and this weekend managed to obtain a facsimile of the original German manuscript. Imagine my delight as I found it actually had 40 images, part of which had the complete Rosarium sequence. The French book was flawed. So this means I can now issue a English translation of this work, which is undoubtedly the source for the Rosarium images. I know few people will care a jot about this, but it is an important discovery and perhaps in time it will be recognised by others. In the meantime I will print this in my Hermetic Studies series, which will sell a handful of copies, then doubtless disappear.
13 May 2014
I have now published another title in the Hermetic Studies Series. This is number 11 The Pandora Woodcut series. It provides a translation of the text describing each of the eighteen famous woodcuts.
7 May 2014
I have today added a further seven pages of sources for alchemical symbols to the website page of graphic symbols. When I have time I will add some links to woodcuts and engravings of alchemical apparatus. I have also split this weblog as it was getting too large at 500k of text, so was taking a long time to load on some systems. So if you want to see entries previous to 2014 you will have to look at the archive page.
6 May 2014
Having made the decision a few months ago to re-enliven the Hermetic Research Series, I have had a burst of creativity. I have been able to make some abandoned publishing projects, languishing on my hard discs merely as magnetised patterns, into actual real physical books. There is a great deal of work involved in this, however, and some other projects have had to give way to this new publishing momentum. As I am having these books printed, this means I do not have the ongoing commitment of my time to bookbinding. It also means I can issue these at very modest prices.
I intend to limit the edition to only 100 copies. I will buy a batch of 100 copies from the printer and sell these direct to customers. I have three items now in book form, with a further six in preparation over the coming months. Sales of the first two items have been extremely slow, but I always expect that, as it takes people time to adapt to a new project. I always have much more enthusiasm for alchemical material than my potential customers appear to have!
As I am now 66 I have to be realistic and cannot expect to be actively publishing for much longer. I have set a deadline of 2018, when I will be 70, to cease my publishing business, sell my apartment and move into a smaller place where I will be unable to undertake bookbinding. Then I hope to have some years to devote myself to research, painting and studying mathematics. This also means that I will have to find some way of disposing of my extensive collection of alchemical books. This will be no easy task and I will have to try and find someone here in Glasgow I can train up to undertake this. It will need first a full catalogue of my book collection. To help pay for this I will sell off some of my personal copies of now out of print Magnum Opus books to some of my regular customers who missed out on these.
I am aware that I cannot merely continue as I have been and just hope that things will work out. At 66 have to be realistic about my life expectancy. I have seen a number of writer and artist colleagues die in their 60s, and it is always sad to see that they left many projects incomplete. I also want to avoid leaving the problem to my partner Franzeska and my sister, of what to do with my collections of books, paintings, tarot cards etc., should I die or become incapacitated in some way through illness. There remains so much to do, but sadly my time is now rationed.
A colleague has suggested I create a Facebook page in order to keep people in the wider community other than this little weblog, informed about my work.
15 April 2014
The first two titles in my revived Hermetic Studies series are now ready for sale. These are available direct from myself in the form of paperback books at a relatively low price. This avoids my having to bind these up in leather which was taking up so much of my time. I will have to reserve binding in leather to my Magnum Opus series. For those few people who would like to have these in hardback, they can buy these from Blurb - a link is shown on the pages. I have a number of items lined up for publication in the Hermetic Studies series, so more will be announced next month. This has given me the opportunity to revive old projects which I had worked on some years ago but had not been found relevant to the Magnum Opus series. Please click on the covers below to see more details of these books.
14 April 2014
Yesterday I had a rather neat idea that sorted out a problem I had not been able to resolve. As people will know, I have always been very interested in alchemical allegories, those little stories in which the alchemical process is explained using a sequence of dramatised events. I had thought of creating a large book of these allegories to accompany a study course, but when I worked out how much material needed to be included, the book became so large and consequently expensive that I could see no way I could publish it. The idea that came to me was to issue a series of three or four shorter volumes in the Hermetic Studies series, now in paperback editions. This would mean people wishing to study this material could purchase these at a reasonable cost. So I will, when time permits, begin to layout the material into book form.
8 April 2014
My Hermetic Studies Series has rather languished with no new titles being issued since 2005, whereas the Magnum Opus series has continued to flourish with three or four new titles appearing each year. The idea for the Hermetic Studies Series was that it would provide a vehicle for research material, or editions of works which were not necessarily up to the high standards set by the Magnum Opus series.
I have now decided to revive this series, but cannot follow the original binding in leather. I am getting too old to be able to undertake a new round of binding up items - the Magnum Opus is challenging enough ! So I have decided to issue some new titles to be printed and bound in paperback format. This means these books will be considerably cheaper than the classic hardbound leather editions - prices will be around £12 ($20). I have two items currently in preparation and will post information about these in about two weeks time.
26 March 2014
A few months ago a student of alchemy contacted me about the Samuel Norton Key of Alchemy manuscript which I and some colleagues had transcribed back in 1996 for my alchemy web site. There was one section missing and he offered to make a transcription. Apparently there are a group of modern practical alchemists intrigued by this manuscript. This led me to taking a more focussed look at the entire transcription and I realised that there were some lacunas and in any case the language and spelling made this work difficult to understand. I decided to edit the language into modern English and resolve some of the problems. So I have now completed this and intend publishing it in printed form. As I cannot undertake substantially more bookbinding, I have decided to issue this in the Hermetic Studies series and have copies printed by Blurb, and reserve the leather hardback bindings exclusively for the Magnum Opus series. My skin problems on my hands, particularly the fingertips, now make it uncomfortable to undertake long periods of bookbinding.
It will take a few weeks to get copies set up on Blurb. I have decided also to issue another book in the Hermetic Studies series shortly.
11 March 2014
This morning I posted out the initial orders for the Teletes. This leaves ten copies to sell at the special rate for my regular customers. I am not sure what I will be working on next. There are a number of half completed projects that will need my attention.
10 March 2014
I have now completed the production of number 49 in the Magnum Opus series. This is a remarkable and rather obscure item, the Teletes, a set of five large format engravings. I am providing a standard format book which contains my analysis of the imagery and a large portfolio 12 by 17 inches in size. Because of the portfolio and the additional postage costs this will be an expensive item. I have decided to make 20 copies available at a discounted price to my regular customers. I expect this offer should be totally taken up within a couple of weeks. After this the price will have to rise.
You can see details on this page
6 March 2014
I have almost completed work on the next book in the Magnum Opus series. This will be quite an exceptional production as apart from the usual book there is provided a portfolio of prints of the complex diagrams. When I started out editing the book I thought to issue this in A4 format, but as I proceeded with it I realised it would be best if the readers were provided with large format reproductions of the five tables, and thus the solution of the standard format book with an additional portfolio presented itself. I have now made up a batch of these portfolios and will bind up the books early next week. This is rather a fine production, but as with most of my books I do not expect it to sell well. As always it will be the second hand book dealers twenty years from now who will make the profit from my books.
On a more negative side, I have had to decide to abandon selling the large format A2 prints. These sell very slowly and recently two prints went missing in the post to the USA. The economics of running the printer means that I have found I cannot make any profit from selling these. The large format printer has to clean itself every time I turn it on, and it uses up ink to undertake this cleaning process. A complete set of twelve inks for the printer costs about £1000 and it exhausts these up in about six months of cleaning. These printers are only economic if they are working hard every day. Just running off the occasional print every week or so is totally uneconomic. So I have been making a loss and the recent problems of nondelivery led me to reassessing this. It is a great pity as the prints are astounding and were reasonably priced.
20 February 2014
I am currently working on number 49 in the Magnum Opus series. This is a large complex diagram with many component parts. I first came across it back in 1981 and I have long wanted to create an edition of this obscure item. The book requires a rather intricate layout which is requiring a great deal of my concentration, but it should be completed in a few weeks time.
As the Magnum Opus series has spanned many years - 35 years in fact - I have often wondered how many people hold a complete run. Many of those buying copies I issued in the 1980s have not been able to continue buying the post 2000 issues, and of course many of the younger collectors who have bought all the recent issues have not been able to find (or afford) some of the copies from the early period. I only know of three individuals who definitely hold complete runs. I would be interested to know of any others. My books do hold their value and I expect in the longer term that might be a good investment.
It is becoming more and more obvious to me that I will not be able to continue working at my present pace for much longer, so I intend over the next two years to push the various publishing projects on which I have been working into printed form, then run down the production.
Those who know my work will have realised that one of my main interests lies in alchemical and hermetic manuscripts and some printed books with series of images. I have published editions of most of these:-
The Crowning of NatureThere still remain a few series of images that I want to edit into books, and once this is done I feel I will have provided an almost exhaustive survey of this material. Then I may feel it is time to cease actively publishing and devote the little time left to me to research and documentation. Running the publishing business does not always allow me much time for reading and research.
The Rosicrucian Emblems of Cramer
Hermetic Garden of Stolcius
The Rosary of the Philosophers
Amphitheatre Engravings of Khunrath
The Key of Boehme
Fludd - Origin and Structure of Cosmos
The Paradoxical Emblems of Freher
Alchemical Engravings of Mylius
The Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon
The Three Tables of D.A. Freher
The Viatorium of Michael Maier
The Pneumo-Cosmic manuscript
The Three Tables of Man - coloured
Seven Keys of Honoratus Marinier
The Solidonius Manuscript
On the Music of the Spheres by Robert Fludd
Bonacina. The Preparation of Potable Gold
The Allegory of Palombara
Gualdi Philosophia hermetica
17 February 2014
The Gualdi is now for sale - see this page.
12 February 2014
I have just completed work on a new volume in the Magnum Opus series. This is the Philosophia Hermetica by Frederico Gualdi, a series of thirteen emblematic coloured drawings illustrating a set of fifty one verses. I first became aware of this at the Alchemy conference at El Escorial in 2008 when one of the speakers, showed illustrations from one of the manuscripts.
I was delighted in 2012 to find that an American publisher was issuing a translation of this work and immediately bought a copy. My delight turned to dismay when I read the translation. In places it was incomprehensible. I looked at the original Italian and it did not seem incomprehensible at all. I was saddened that such a wonderful little book was being made so impenetrable.
How can one make sense of "...and homogenei living, and not dead, and of full spirit otherwise the nature multiply, or Generare not will it less the art to nature assister could the mineral kingdom there is a recommended method..."
So I decided to try and rescue poor Gualdi's little work. My edition is at least comprehensible and coherent.
I will be binding up copies over the weekend and should have them for sale early next week.
27 January 2014
In the last few days I have found at the bottom of a box of papers a small number of copies of a book I produced back in 1985 which has long been out of print. This is the Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, number 4 in the Hermetic Research Series. I took a look for the price of secondhand copies on AbeBooks and found one copy at GBP 75 ($125) and another at GBP125 ($206). The lower priced item was missing the two fold out plates. The copies I have to sell are in perfect condition, as they have not been handled for nearly 30 years. I will sell these for GBP 75 ($125) plus postage GBP 4 ($12).
If you want a copy email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a Paypal invoice. Remember to tell me your country of residence so I can invoice you in pounds, dollars or euros and apply the correct postage. First come first served !
Alchemical, astrological and
emblematic art prints
Alchemy and art
Art books Series
Study course on Bosch's
Garden of Earthly Delights
New Hieronymus Bosch Website