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Essential Elements

2 3 Early alchEmy a wee bit of magick The roots of chemistry stretch far back into the dim and distant past, to when our ancestors first prepared coloured earths for paint, learned the secrets of fire and started experimenting with the arcane intricacies of cookery. The ancient Egyptians knew of seven metals, as well as carbon and sulphur, all easily extracted from natural ores. The art of Khemia, supposedly revealed by angels, linked the metals to the seven known planets and assigned them qualities opposite top left. Ancient Indian treatises speak of three gunas, fire, earth and water. Chinese sages used two more, metal and wood top right. To the later Greek philosophers all things were made of earth, air, fire or water opposite lower left. Naming them elements, Aristotle added a fifth, quintessence, which formed the heavens. Another philosopher, Democritus, proposed that dividing matter over and over again would eventually leave an indivisible atmos. Scorned by Aristotle, the atom was largely forgotten for centuries. With the fall of the Greek empire, investigation of Alkhemia moved to Arabia. Books like AlRazis The Secret of Secrets and Jabir ibnHayyans The Sum of Perfection told of an elixir of life that could grant immortality and transmute base metals into gold. The quest spread to medieval Europe where alchemists like Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Nicholas Flamel hoped to find the allpowerful Gloria Mundi or Philosophers Stone. Slowly, through experiment, trial, error, intuition and the odd happy accident, they laid the foundations of a body of lore.
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