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Topic section: The decline and revival of astrology and alchemy
TOPIC SECTION:
The decline and revival of astrology and alchemy
Astrology and alchemy practically di
Image: Astronomer Johannes Kepler
The famous astronomer Johannes Kepler was convinced the heavenly bodies influenced events on earth
Credit: Copyright Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
ed out during the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, astrology just survived in England as a lower-middle-class activity, kept alive by the continuing publication of various almanacs, the most famous of which was Old Moore’s Almanac. It was revived in the first half of the nineteenth century by popular journalists who produced annual publications such as The P
its revival, was closely linked to the occult movements
rophetic Messenger and The Herald of Astrology (which became Zadkiel’s Almanac). On the continent, however, astrology had died out altogether. Its revival there was closely linked to the occult movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These movements were also responsible for the revival of alchemy, notably the Theosophical movement founded by the Russian writer Helena Blavatsky.

The original alchemists tried to turn base metals (mainly lead) into gold and to discover the secret of eternal life. The common link between these two strands was the philosopher’s stone which would ensure success. Medieval alchemists kept the practical and mystical aspects of their craft in balance, one assisting the other (in much the same way as theory now underpins chemical practice). The r
Image:An alchemist heating a sample in his laboratory
An alchemist heating a sample in his laboratory. Note the pelican-like alembic and the alchemical furnace on the left.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
evival of alchemy in the late nineteenth century, however, emphasised the spiritual metaphor of the human body as an al chemical vessel. This led to the mysticism of Madame Blavatsky and the psychological theories of Carl Jung. Alchemy and astrology were linked in the Rosicrucian mysteries, a revival of esoteric medieval teachings. At the same time, chemists were searching for the origins of their science and the study of alchemy was stimulated by the artificial transmutation of the elements, which was hailed as the ‘new alchemy’. In 1937 the Society for the History of Alchemy and Early Chemistry was formed by an enthusiastic but uneasy alliance of historically minded chemists and alchemical enthusiasts.

 
 
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Topic section: Astrology and alchemy in modern society
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Astrology and alchemy exist in modern life as a part of our folklore and fun, and also as more serious explanations and metaphors  > more

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Topic section: Astrology, alchemy and popular culture
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Proof that alchemy and astrology are true, seem to be continually tested in our popular culture. Although there is no certainty to the claims of either, many people still enjoy the romance of both  > more
 
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