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11 March 2004 @ 10:13 am

taken from http://www.levity.com/alchemy/paracel3.html

been doing some research on alchemy for my art coursework (XD) and have found some interesting things..

"...the greatest difficulty is to find out the material of this Stone; for they have called it vegetable, animal, and mineral, but not according to the literal sense, which is well known to such wise men as have had experience of divine secrets and the miracles of this same Stone."

So, according to this, the Philosopher's Stone is not, in actual fact, made of parts of human bodies. Methinks the element of "human bodies" was added in to give a certain drama factor.. >__> Bleah.

Also, from Chapter 8 on the site, it states that most of the people who have tried experimenting to find the stone have used materials from plants, minerals and animals. The materials from animals were a by-product, so to speak, meaning they did not have to be slaughtered in order to obtain the materials, for example: hairs, urine, eggs, and milk. Others might have been taken from dead animals, such as the gall, blood and fish scales. Another more abstract source would be from dragon's blood.

I have decided to base my theme for my art coursework on alchemy! XDXD Will be drawing much inspiration from FMA, and will need you guys to comment and critisize! XD

I will be publishing one "issue" of comics (like American comics, but drawn manga style) at the end of the year for evaluation, and by then I'll be posting the pages on DA.

Hm. Yeah. That's all. <3
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
i controleverything on March 10th, 2004 06:46 pm (UTC)
I always find it funny that most alchemists would go insane because of the materials they often used.

Good luck on your project! :D
scimitarsmile on March 10th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC)
You asked, so here's one of the few bits in FMA that's pretty accurate to original alchemy: the use of code in the texts. As in, Marcoh's use of recipes to encode his studies, Edward's use of travelogues, and Roy's use of women's names. Okay, so that's in the manga (don't know if they've referenced it in the anime), but it's pretty close to what the original alchemists did to protect their research.

The philosopher's stone, in the common version, is not something that would create human alchemy, or bring back the dead. Most of the time, the philosopher's stone was simply believed to be something (or a series of somethings) that would transmute lead into gold.

That's code, however.

See, 'lead' was considered the crudest, most base form of metal, and gold obviously would therefore be the purest, most perfect metal. (They hadn't heard of platinum, but whatever.) However, when you get into the point behind alchemy, it soon becomes clear that the real purpose wasn't chemistry, but self-enlightenment. The philosopher's stone, therefore, is something that can transform a person from their base, material, primal instincts - "life is brutish and short," to quote Rousseau, if I recall correctly - into some elevated being. Not quite God - this was mostly during centuries where such outright blasphemy was unthinkable - but damn near close. So to speak.

In that sense, then, the Philosopher's Stone, in traditional Alchemy, is not a thing but a process.

There are seven steps in Alchemy. Hm, let me see if I can remember them, have them around here somewhere. Calcination, dissolution, separation, conjunction, fermentation, distillation, and fusion. In essence, it's a series of break-downs and buildups, where the old or unuseful self or knowledge of self is sluffed off.

Yes, there were a number of alchemists who were chemists, as well, because they were also trying desperately to find a way to turn lead into gold. Most of that search, however, was related to the need to provide results of some sort for a study that is pretty much a one-person-route. You can't sell an alchemical interaction, in this traditional sense, only show someone else the path and let them walk it. Unfortunately, few patrons are willing to let you sit around and burn your Self down and rebuild your Self as a godlike being without getting something for their troubles. Hence the carrot of "be good to me, and I just might be a step closer to turning all your crap into something of monetary value." Obviously no one ever achieved that end, but based on the writings, more than a few may have achieved the personal enlightenment at the heart of true Alchemy.

Which, in that sense - all the flash and grandeur aside - FMA is very true to the traditions. Al and Ed aren't only on a journey to restore their bodies, but also in the process of learning what is important, what can be done, what shouldn't be done, and what really matters. Naturally I expect this to get muddied as the story continues - 52 episodes is a damn long time to learn one's values - but at the heart, that's a huge message of the story. So, in that sense, yes, FMA does call on the same archetypes of the Hero's Journey as traditional alchemy.

Whew, and I bet that was way more than you thought you'd ever need to know. Although, if you're interested, I can name some texts that might be useful for traditional alchemy, as well as a few modern interpretations that may be more accessible - plus, cool designs to copy! ;D

- Sol
Toranekodarkyo on March 10th, 2004 10:56 pm (UTC)
Uwaa, suge resarcho da! *goes goggly eyed and faints* Thanks a bunch! Another insight to add to my list. ^^

If you don't mind, couldja give me the address (or whichever) for the texts and images? Thanks!
Emerauld: riza! // tears_priestessemerauld on March 11th, 2004 07:14 am (UTC)
I want to marry you. <3
scimitarsmile on March 11th, 2004 07:49 am (UTC)
Actually, I'm considering doing an alchemy FAQ on Scimitar Smile, for anyone who doesn't know the basics (or advanced bits). Can anyone think of any questions? Will post on fm_alchemist as well.
silver_arm on March 10th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC)
Wow, what an amazing topic for research! You've got the cogs in my head turning now...

... I wonder if such a topic would be possible for my Honors Thesis? I guess alchemy would be a fascinating subject of research for someone with deep interest in science...