The Magic Circle Of Rudolf Ii Alchemy And Astrology In Renaissance Prague

The Magic Circle Of Rudolf Ii Alchemy And Astrology In Renaissance Prague Cover

Book: The Magic Circle Of Rudolf Ii Alchemy And Astrology In Renaissance Prague by Peter Marshall

When Rudolf II was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1576, he quickly filled his castle with artistic and scientific treasures. Marshall returns repeatedly to Rudolf's attempt to create a "theatre of the world" in Prague Castle and how it transformed the city into the last great cultural center of the Renaissance. Rudolf himself is relegated to the sidelines for much of the book's middle section, as the focus turns to the brilliant minds attracted to Prague's climate of Intellectual openness. The emperor, says Marshall, had a sincere but undiscriminating thirst for knowledge, open to both "fact and fantasy"; thus the community deftly sketched includes alchemists and prophets like John Dee as well as scientists like Kepler and Brahe and artists like Arcimboldo. Marshall, a cultural historian (The Philosopher's Stone), also explores Rudolf's apparent madness, concluding the emperor suffered from manic-depression, and while "eccentric and insecure," he was not insane. The final chapters depict the dwindling of Rudolf's kingdom, as he sank further into melancholy; prolonged conflict with the Vatican over his tolerance of "heretics" (such as Protestants and Jews) led to political intrigues against him. Yet, Marshall argues convincingly, his intellectual legacy bridged the gap between the medieval and modern worlds. I first heard about Rudolf II while reading To Have And To Hold: An Intimate History Of Collectors and Collecting. Even though Rudolf II was Holy Roman Emperor, king of the largest empire in Europe, that part of his life is the least interesting and thankfully The Magic Circle of Rudolf II does not spend too much time on politics. Rudolf, too, would have been pleased. Rudolf II was one of the world's greatest collectors, he spared no expense in finding rare and exotic objects from around the world to fill his castle in Prague. He never married, had a stable of 'imperial women', rarely left his castle or appeared in public, had little interest in the affairs of state - all of his energies were in his collections and in the Occult Sciences of astrology and alchemy. He was so wealthy and patronized so many artists and intellectuals that Prague became Europe's late Renaissance cultural capital for about 30 years around the turn of the 17thC. Peter Marshall does a wonderful job of revealing this eccentric and fascinating monarch, and the amazing artists and thinkers that were a part of his world. It was because of Rudolf's patronage that foundational scientific works were created, such as Kepler's "New Astronomy". Although Rudolf's ultimate quest was to find the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary alchemy rock that made one immortal, he inadvertently helped lay the foundational stone of the scientific revolution by allowing many great minds to flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and creativity. It is called the "Rudolfian age", comparable to the "Elizabethan age" (Elizabeth I of England). History has not been kind to Rudolf, only in the past 50 years or so has his life been been re-examined beyond the lens of his political failures, and his contributions to the arts and sciences been given their due credit. His life story will be appealing to anyone with an interest in collecting, astrology/alchemy, science history, European history, and eccentric monarchs. Marshall writes in a very readable style and brings life and color to the period, people and events.

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The Alchemyst The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel

The Alchemyst The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel Cover

Book: The Alchemyst The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Twin 15-year-old siblings Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs in San Francisco across the street from one another: she at a coffee shop, he at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Fleming. In the vey first chapter, armed goons garbed in black with "dead-looking skin and... marble eyes" (actually Golems) storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage and swipe a rare Book (but not before Josh snatches its two most important pages). The stolen volume is the Codex, an ancient text of magical wisdom. Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel, the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold, and make a potion that ensures immortality. Sophie and Josh learn that they are mentioned in the Codex's prophecies: "The two that are one will come either to save or to destroy the world." Mayhem ensues, as Irish author Scott draws on a wide knowledge of world mythology to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and their hired gun—Dr. John Dee—against the forces of good, led by Flamel and the twins (Sophie's powers are "awakened" by the goddess Hekate, who'd been living in an elaborate treehouse north of San Francisco). Not only do they need the Codex back to stop Dee and company, but the Immortality potion must be brewed afresh every month. Time is running out, literally, for the Flamels. Proceeding at a breakneck pace, and populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires, the novel ends on a precipice, presumably to be picked up in volume two. They say that out of the mouths of babes...etc. In this case, I borrowed a book from a grandson. He was right. This is a terrific story and a great family adventure. I see that some of these reviews, in fact, most were not necessarily written by young adults. It's always clear. And though I kept in mind as I was reading that this was not specifically addressed to my generation, still I fell under the considerable spell of a really good story which transcended age. When I see a review getting very very literal and probing,even"erudite" I must say, I have my doubts as to the reviewers intentions. I was up for a good read, plain and simple and I got it. The ability for young readers to Google every single character except the twins is unparalleled in fiction. My grandson showed me how and what could be more engaging. It lends a life beyond the story. Great! Starred Review. Grade 6-9–Scott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he incorporates ancient myth and legend and sets it firmly, pitch-perfect, in present-day California. At the emotional center of the tale are contemporary 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie, who, it turns out, are potentially powerful magicians. They are spoken of in a prophecy appearing in the ancient book of Abraham the Mage, all but two pages of which have been stolen by evil John Dee, alchemist and magician. The pursuit of the twins and Flamel by Dee and his allies to get the missing pages constitutes the book's central plot. Amid all this exhilarating action, Scott keeps his sights on the small details of character and dialogue and provides evocative descriptions of people, mythical beings, and places. He uses as his starting point the figures of the Historical alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife, who have found the secret of immortality, along with mythical beings, including the terrifying Scottish crow-goddess, the Morrigan; the three-faced Greek Hekate; the powerful Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet; and Scathach, a legendary Irish woman warrior and vegetarian vampire. While there is plenty here to send readers rushing to their encyclopedias of mythology and alchemy, those who read the book at face value will simply be caught up in the enthralling story. A fabulous read.–Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Key 4 By Basil Valentine

Key 4 By Basil Valentine Cover All flesh that is derived from the earth, must be decomposed and again reduced to earth; then the earthy salt produces a new generation by celestial resuscitation. For where there was not first earth, there can be no resurrection in our Magistery. For in earth is the balm of Nature, and the salt of the Sages. At the end of the world, the world shall be judged by fire, and all those Things That God has made of nothing shall by fire be reduced to ashes, from which ashes the Phoenix is to produce her young. For in the ashes slumbers a true and genuine tartaric substance, which, being dissolved, will enable us to open the strongest bolt of the royal chamber. After the conflagration, there shall be formed a new heaven and a new earth, and the new man will be more noble in his glorified state than he was before. When the sand and ashes have been well matured and ripened with fire, the glass-blower makes out of it glass, which remains hard and firm in the fire, and in colour resembles a crystal stone. To the uninitiated this is a great mystery, but not to the master whom long experience has familiarized with the process. Out of stones the master also prepares lime by burning which is very useful for our work- But before they are prepared with fire, they are mere stones. The stone must be matured and rendered fervent with fire, and then it becomes so potent that few things are to be compared to the fiery spirit of lime. By burning anything to ashes you may gain its salt. If in this dissolution the sulphur and mercury be kept apart, and restored to its salt, you may once more obtain that form which was destroyed by the process of combustion. This assertion the wise of this world denounce as the greatest folly, and count as a rebellion, saying that such a Transformation would amount to a new creation, and that God has denied such creative power to sinful man. But the folly is all on their side. For they do not Understand that our Artist does not claim to create anything, but only to evolve new things from the seed made ready to his hand by the Creator. If you do not possess the ashes, you will be unable to obtain our salt; and without our salt you will not be able to impart to our substance a bodily form; for the coagulation of all things is produced by salt alone. As salt is the great preserving principle that protects all things from decay, so the Salt of our Magistery preserves metal from decomposition and utter annihilation. If their Balm were to perish, and the Spirit to leave the body, the body would be quite dead, and no longer available for any good purpose. The metallic spirit would have departed, and would have left its habitation empty, bare, and lifeless. Observe also, thou who art a lover of this Art, that the salt that is gained from ashes has great potency, and possesses many concealed virtues. Nevertheless, the salt is unprofitable, until its inward substance has been extracted. For the spirit alone gives strength and life. The body by itself profits nothing. If you know how to find this spirit, you have the Salt of the Sages, and the incombustible oil, concerning which many things have been written before my time. Although many philosophers Have sought for me with eagerness, Yet very few succeed at length In finding out my secret virtue.

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