“A process by which paradoxical results are achieved or incompatible elements combined with no obvious rational explanation.”
True alchemists worked alone, shrouding their work in secrecy, in laboratories hidden away from prying eyes. They created symbols in order to communicate and note their work. There are seven alchemical metals(gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron & tin) . Each element has a physical representation, but it also has a deeper meaning, sometimes obscure and confusing. This was deliberate, to ensure that only the truly devoted could peel away the layers of mystery to find their true meaning.
Virtue and perfection. The basis of alchemical legends and the prize which drew many false alchemists to the discipline. The ability to turn common metals into gold is an alchemical legend. But what it truly represents it a quest or journey from greed, hate and selfishness into love, virtue and compassion through a process of self-purification. The true alchemists knew this. Gold is therefore a symbol of this transition of the soul.
Dense, ductile and very soft. This blue-white metal has poor electrical conductivity but has protective qualities. As an alchemical symbol, lead is the ruler of the dark, lustreless prime matter. It is the first and oldest of the seven metals of alchemy. It is also the symbol for Saturn in astrology. The ancient technologists blanched the dull metal by placing lead strips in pots with vinegar, or burying it in animal dung. The vinegar fumes and gas from fermenting dung corrodes lead into lead white. Heat this gently, and it turns yellow: a form of lead oxide known as litharge or, in the Middle Ages, massicot. Heat it some more, and it goes bright red. Both of these substances were used by artists – red lead was, for a long time, their finest red, used for painting many a bright robe in the Middle Ages. To the alchemists, those colour changes weren’t just a way to make pigments. They signified some more profound alteration taking place in the metal, bringing it close to the colour of gold. It’s no wonder, then, that their experiments often began with lead.
Exposed to air, it may go on taking up oxygen until it turns black. The bright red that thrilled artists of old has become dull chocolate brown on paintings throughout the world as it oxidzes further with age. And the sulphurous fumes of pollution react with red lead to from black lead sulphide. There seems to be no getting away from it: lead has a glum and melancholy heart.