Alchemy Journal

The Practice of Alchemy . . . Notes and experimental chemistry

Alchemy is a philosophical and protoscientific tradition practiced throughout EuropeAfrica and Asia. It aimed to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects. Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of “base metals” (e.g., lead) into “noble metals” (particularly gold); the creation of an elixir of immortality; the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and the development of an alkahest, a universal solvent. The perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus and, in the Hellenistic and western tradition, the achievement of gnosis. In Europe, the creation of a philosopher’s stone was variously connected with all of these projects.

Western occultism (and, indeed, pre-modern Western science) is strongly focused on a system of four of five elements: fire, air, water, and earth, plus spirit or ether. However, alchemists often spoke of three more elements: mercury, sulfur and salt, with some focusing on mercury and sulfur.


Salt is an element of substance and physicality. It starts out as coarse and impure. Through alchemical processes, salt is broken down by dissolving; it’s purified and eventually reformed into pure salt, the result of the interactions between mercury and sulfur.

Thus, the purpose of alchemy is to strip down the self to nothingness, leaving everything bare to be scrutinized. By gaining self-knowledge about one’s nature and one’s relation to God, the soul is reformed, the impurities expunged, and it is united into a  pure and undivided thing. That is the purpose of alchemy.


In alchemical illustrations, the red king and the white queen also sometimes represent sulfur and mercury.

Sulfur and mercury are described as originating from the same original substance; one might even be described as the opposite gender of the other–for example, sulfur is the male aspect of mercury. Since Christian alchemy is based on the concept that the human soul was split during the fall season, it makes sense that these two forces are seen as initially united and in need of unity again.


Mercury is the passive female principle. While sulfur causes change, it needs something to actually shape and change in order to accomplish anything. The relationship is also commonly compared to the planting of a seed: the plant springs from the seed, but only if there is earth to nourish it. The earth equates to the passive female principle.

Mercury is also known as quicksilver because it is one of the very few metals to be liquid at room temperature.

Thus, it can easily be shaped by outside forces. It is silver in color, and silver is associated with womanhood and the moon, while gold is associated with the sun and man.

Mercury possesses the qualities of cold and moist, the same qualities ascribed to the element of water. These traits are opposite those of sulfur.

In 1891, the practice of spirit photography gained more credibility when Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-developer of the theory of evolution, spoke out with the belief that spirit photography should be studied scientifically. He later wrote about his own investigations into it and included a statement that he believed the possibility of it was real. He did not feel that just because some of the photos that had been documented were obviously fraudulent, that all of them could be dismissed as hoaxes.

A “PANDEANOTYPE” is a way of combining Van Dyke and Cyanotype – can dyke painted first with cyanotype painted around the core or centre – once exposing the paper with image and taken back to the darkroom- take a digital photo of the chemical reaction before washing in water – This image is the PANDEANOTYPE, combining alchemy with modern technological abilities to view the captured energy or spirit that is caught or attracted to the exposed chemicals during exposure to the open air/clouded sky – exposing chemicals while there are clouds or rain will attract the strongest of spirit or surrounding energy to the image resulting in clear phantom imagery before the wash.

Week one – Tuesday morning 10th October 2017 approximately 9:10am went into photo darkroom with the prepared van dyke paper and started sun exposure – the day was cloudy and overcast with low wind conditions

Finished processing by 10:00am

After the 5 minute exposure time I took the work and dipped into fixer for 10 seconds dripped dry and then dipped into water for 10 seconds dripped dry and then clipped onto raised board along the darkroom drying area watched the images processing – as the fixer was still active and tbe paper only washed in equal time. Every 5 mi uses for the next half hour I took digital photos documenting the changing images – specters occurred throughout this process.

Tuesday 17th October I painted a series of cyanotype papers and a series of cyanotype and vandyke mixed ready to expose tbe next morning . . .

Friday 20th October – rainy, high humidity, cloud coverage even – cyanotype processing – print of grandfathers brother in his mason suit –

Due to chemical sensitivity I have given processing time double – 10 mins as the van dyke was 5 mins under same condition but no rain

Photography – principles of optic refraction . . .

Morphology of the optic nerve – solitary of the eye – Arthur conan Doyle – ghost photography, with glass plates – the image is captured using a coating of silver salts invisible to the naked eye, its called the latent image – chemical compounds in the earth at houses or places and the minerals in the stones can retain images of a person who is no longer living.

Btterflies and moths take their heat from the sun and when it deserts them they die, nature grows old and decays, this is the process of alchemy

Black moths thrive on the dark and on tbe cold – they feed on butterflies

“The terrifying beauty of light befallen into darkness . . . beginnings with no end but for the lining of a remembered soul”

Under skies that are only partly cloudy, something interesting happens. A phenomenon called the ‘broken-cloud effect‘ can occur, which causes higher UV levels – higher than a completely clear sky would allow. A survey conducted at six U.S. cites in 1994 found cumulus clouds could raise surface UV-B by 25%, and in 2004 Australian researchers reported that the UV-B rays associated with DNA damage were up to 40% stronger under partly cloudy skies. How does this happen? Scientists don’t have a solid answer, but there seems to be two main causes. The first is UV rays bouncing off, and being reflected off the sides of dense clouds, and the second is UV rays being redirected as they pass through very fine wisp-like clouds. An American Scientist article suggested last year that a combination of these thin refracting clouds high up and thick reflecting clouds down low could result in a significant UV boost at the surface level.

What causes the Earths magnetic Field?

Our planet’s magnetic field is believed to be generated deep down in the Earth’s core. Nobody has ever taken the mythical journey to the centre of the Earth, but by studying the way shockwaves from earthquakes travel through the planet, physicists have been able to work out its likely structure.

Right at the heart of the Earth is a solid inner core, two thirds of the size of the Moon and composed primarily of iron. At a hellish 5,700°C,
this iron is as hot as the Sun’s surface, but the crushing pressure caused by gravity prevents it from becoming liquid. Surrounding this is the outer core, a 2,000 km thick layer of iron, nickel, and small quantities of other metals. Lower pressure than the inner core means the metal here is fluid.

Differences in temperature, pressure and composition within the outer core cause convection currents in the molten metal as cool, dense matter sinks whilst warm, less dense matter rises. The Coriolis force, resulting from the Earth’s spin, also causes swirling whirlpools. This flow of liquid iron generates electric currents, which in turn produce magnetic fields. Charged metals passing through these fields go on to create electric currents of their own, and so the cycle continues. This self-sustaining loop is known as the geodynamo.

The spiralling caused by the Coriolis force means that separate magnetic fields created are roughly aligned in the same direction, their combined effect adding up to produce one vast magnetic field engulfing the planet.

Cyanotype and Van Dyke on paper – Image a photographed inverted image of rubbing taken in the crypt at St Martins in the Cross

Cyanotype and Van Dyke – Etching used on Cyanotype and photo of rubbing on the Van Dyke. The reflection is  of the artist and photographer upon documentation.

Van Dyke on paper – image of artist as a child is centre of the chemical reaction to the sun. The chemistry was exposed directly after application

This paper was processed 4 times and washed without any fixer for the Van Dyke. First wash Cyanotype, seconed Van Dyke, third Cyanotype, fourth Van Dyke. Base image used was an a4 image of relative as seen in previous works.

Cyanotype and Van Dyke on paper – Cyanotype base coat and VanDyke exposed with image.

Cyanotype and Van Dyke mix – etching of flowers used for exposure with the Van Dyke coating

Van Dyke on paper – The paper used had been drawn on before being painted with chemical – colored pencil and pastel – A wooden stencil of a tree was used on top of the Van Dyke when exposed to the daylight.