A Science of Secrets

Exploring Early Modern Alchemy

Interior of an Alchemical Laboratory. Wellcome CollectionAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Welcome to A Science of Secrets: Exploring Early Modern Alchemy! This exhibit wants to do just that: explore what early modern alchemy was, who practiced it, how they wrote about their ideas and why they pursued ‘magical’ goals. In modern media, alchemists are often lumped in with wizards and warlocks in fantasy books. But they would not have thought of themselves in this way and they don’t write about themselves that way. Alchemists are now considered proto-chemists who contributed a lot to early chemistry and to medicine. This exhibit hopes to peel back the veil on this mysterious practice and show you the real people behind this discipline.

Four poems and one prose treatise are the focuses of this exhibit. Although they come from different decades across the centuries when alchemy was popular (or beyond), they share many of the same features. If you want more information about these items, see the About page. There is also an index of terms in the about section. However, alchemy was a vast phenomenon that spanned centuries and countries. It would be impossible to cover everything. These works are largely from the French or English tradition and I hope they provide a glimpse into alchemy.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and respect the lək ə̓ʷ ŋən peoples on whose traditional territory the university stands and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

UVic recognizes that colonization and associated attitudes, policies and institutions have significantly changed Indigenous peoples’ relationship with this land. And for many years those same things served to exclude Indigenous students from higher education.

Home Page 🔥 A Brief Introduction 🔥 The Motivations of Alchemists
Alchemical Metaphors and Practices 🔥 About 🔥 Index