Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I loved this slim volume on the prehistoric origins of alchemy. I never knew that -lithic man first worked meteoric iron, and thence came to venerate rocks from the sky. Of course it makes sense that iron from the sky would be easier to access, etc. And now I understand better the veneration of Qaaba!
Eliade traces alchemy back to its archaic routes via ancient spiritual traditions like Yoga and Taoism, but also studies historians of chemistry and metallurgy. He shows how the Eastern alchemical traditions were forged (nyuk nyuk) by smiths and smithing guilds which often were "secret societies" before 'civilization' was widespread. Very interesting stuff.
I'll never think of Shadrach, Mishak, and Abednigo in the same way again.