What Is Alchemy?
The medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir.
Many archai were proposed by the Pre-socratics, most of whom tried to reduce all things to a single substance. However, Empedocles of Acragas selected four archai for his four roots: air, fire, water and earth. Empedocles roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy.
In alchemy,earth was believed to be primarily dry, and secondarily cold, (as per Aristotle). Beyond those classical attributes, the chemical substance salt, was associated with earth and its alchemical symbol was a downward-pointing triangle, bisected by a horizontal line.
Common Earth Elements Include:
- And More!
Fire is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. It was commonly associated with the qualities of energy, assertiveness, and passion. In one Greek myth, Prometheus stole fire from the gods to protect the otherwise helpless humans, but was punished for this charity.
In alchemy the chemical element of sulfur was often associated with fire and its alchemical symbol and its symbol was an upward-pointing triangle.
Ancient and modern opinions differ as to whether Empedocies identified air by the divine name Hera, Aidoneus or even Zeus. Empedocles’ roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy.
In ancient Greek medicine, each of the four humours became associated with an element. Blood was the humor identified with air, since both were hot and wet. Other things associated with air and blood in ancient and medieval medicine included the season of spring, since it increased the qualities of heat and moisture and the optimistic temperament (of a person dominated by the blood humour).
The alchemical symbol for air is an upward-pointing triangle, bisected by a horizontal line.
In ancient Greek medicine, each of the four humours became associated with an element. Phlegm was the humor identified with water, since both were cold and wet.
Other things associated with water and phlegm in ancient and medieval medicine included the season of Winter, since it increased the qualities of cold and moisture, the calm temperament, the feminine and the western point of the compass.
In alchemy, the chemical element of mercury was often associated with water and its alchemical symbol was a downward-pointing triangle.