Fields Book 
Store - Soulful and scholarly books from the world's spiritual traditions

Modern Alchemy: Occultism and the Emergence of Atomic Theory (New)

by Morrisson, Mark

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket

Book ID: 9780195306965, 0195306961

$29.95

Please inquire for availability

Description

While many alchemists were intelligent and well-intentioned thinkers, their experiments are usually regarded as failed wizardry, not scientific investigation. Whether seeking to produce a miraculous panacea or struggling to transmute lead into gold, the alchemists' extreme goals faded with the rise of scientific pursuits. The transition from alchemy to modern science is thus seen as one that discarded fantastic ideas about philosopher's stones and magic potions in exchange for modest yet steady results. It has been rarely noted, however, that the birth of atomic science coincided with an efflorescence of occultism and alchemical tropes that attached deep significance to questions about the nature of matter and energy.

Mark S. Morrisson explores this brief revival of scientific interest in alchemy and its surprising connections to the emerging subatomic sciences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He shows that a resurfacing of occult circles and alchemical tropes had a traceable impact upon the science of the day. He reveals unexpected interactions between science and the occult, such as the Alchemical Society in London (1912-1915), the research program of "clairvoyant chemistry," and the attempts of academic chemists, inspired by the alchemy revival, to transmute the elements-even to make gold.

Morrisson's important research uncovers the surprising story of how this alchemical revival influenced, and was in turn profoundly shaped by, conceptions of matter emerging from the new science of radioactivity. Examining scientists' publications, correspondence, talks, and laboratory notebooks as well as the writings of occultists, alchemical tomes, and science fiction stories, Morrisson argues that as modern nuclear physics was born, the trajectories of science and occultism-usually seen as antithetical-briefly converged.

Features

* Significant contribution to the fields of history of science and history of occultism.
* Proposes the interesting theory that hermetic and Theosophical groups were attempting to re-enchant science.

Reviews

"Modern Alchemy explores the revival of alchemy in the early twentieth century, revealing a remarkable interaction between occultists, Theosophists and cutting-edge science on radioactivity. Mark Morrisson shows how pioneering work on intellectual borders led to transmutations, a contest between radio-chemistry and nuclear physics, and even changed attitudes to world finance and the gold standard. A fine work of cultural history, Modern Alchemy will be valuable to those interested in Western esotericism, the history of ideas, alchemy and science, literature and discourse." -- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, author of The Occult Roots of Nazism and Black Sun

"Morrisson's Modern Alchemy is an ambitious and original account of the dynamic interactions between chemistry and the occult during the tumultuous transformations of science at the dawn of the twentieth century. Drawing from scientific publications, literature, occult manifestoes, and a multitude of other sources, the story told here cannot fail to provoke and at times astonish. Morrisson amply demonstrates that truth is at times much stranger than fiction could hope to be." -- Michael D. Gordin, Princeton University, author of A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table

"Modern Alchemy is a wonderful achievement. This genuinely exciting book draws connections and parallels that would have escaped less imaginative scholars. Mark Morrisson succeeds magnificently in integrating the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of sober science and the occult." -- Philip Jenkins, author of Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History

The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Penguin Classics) The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Penguin Classics)
Copenhaver, Brian
Penguin

A rich, wondrous anthology of the Western magical tradition, from the Old Testament to Doctor Faustus and Paradise Lost, now in a Penguin Classics black spine edition

." . . as when iron is drawn to a magnet, camphor is sucked into hot air, crystal lights up in the Sun, sulfur and a volatile liquid are kindled by flame, an empty eggshell filled with dew is raised towards the Sun . . ."

The Bible is full of stories featuring forms of magic and possession--from Moses battling with Pharao...
More

Price: $17.00

Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich
Kurlander, Eric
Yale University Press

he definitive history of the supernatural in Nazi Germany, exploring the occult ideas, esoteric sciences, and pagan religions touted by the Third Reich in the service of power

The Nazi fascination with the occult is legendary, yet today it is often dismissed as Himmler's personal obsession or wildly overstated for its novelty. Preposterous though it was, however, supernatural thinking was inextricable from the Nazi project. The regime enlisted astrology and the paranormal, paganism, Indo-Ar...
More

Price: $35.00

The Voynich Manuscript The Voynich Manuscript
Clemens, Raymond
Yale University Press

Many call the fifteenth-century codex, commonly known as the Voynich Manuscript, the world s most mysterious book. Written in an unknown script by an unknown author, the manuscript has no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich. The manuscript appears and disappears throughout history, from the library of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to a secret sale of books in 1903 by the Society of Jesus in Rome. The book s language has eluded deciphe...
More

Price: $50.00

East Anglian Witches and Wizards  ( Witchcraft of the British Isles ) East Anglian Witches and Wizards ( Witchcraft of the British Isles )
Howard, Michael
Three Hands Press

In his fourth book in the Witchcraft of the British Isles series, Michael Howard examines the Craft of East Anglia, one of the richest areas of historical witchcraft and folk magic in England. From the private witch of William the Conqueror to the cunning men and women of the marshes and fens, to the Toad-witches and the appalling deeds of the witch-finders, the book is a trove of historical information on the actual folk magical practices of East Anglia. Also examined are the spirits of localit...
More

Price: $19.95

Tarot Sola Busca: Ferrara XV Century Tarot Sola Busca: Ferrara XV Century
Lo Scarabeo
Lo Scarabeo

One of the oldest tarot decks ever created, the Tarot Sola Busca is known for its alchemical symbolism and for having inspired many of the minor arcana of the Rider Waite Smith deck. The first entry in Lo Scarabeo's new Anima Antiqua series (Ancient Soul), this deck has been lovingly printed with great care from originals found in the greatest collections of rare tarot decks. This is a limited-edition, numbered deck printed on the highest quality stock.

The companion booklets f...
More

Price: $34.95