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Guess what I found today? You can read here two pages from this book. Here is all the text directly from the book, excluding those weird table thingies:
Different Methods of Potion Preparation
Indeed, from antiquity until well into the Modern Ages, a physics devoid of metaphysical insight would have been as unsatisfying as a metaphysical devoid of physical manifestation. The best known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into Gold or Silver (less well known is plant alchemy, or “Spagryic”), and the creation of a “panacea,” a remedy that supposedly would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely, and the discovery of a universal solvent.
The Right Use of the Ingredients
Alchemists enjoyed prestige and support through the centuries, though not for their pursuit of those goals, nor the mystic and philosophical speculation that dominates their literature. Rather it was for their mundane contributions to the chemical industries of the day the invention of gunpowder, ore testing and refining, metal working, production of ink, dyes, paints, and cosmetics, leather tanning, ceramics and glass manufacture, preparation of extracts & liquors, and so on It seems that the preparation of aqua vitae, the “water of life”, was a fairly popular “experiment” among Europeans. Potions, from antiquity until well into the Modern Age, a physics devoid of metaphysical insight would have been as unsatisfying as a metaphysics devoid of physical manifestation. For one thing, the lack of common words for chemical concepts and processes, as well as the need for secrecy, led alchemists to borrow the terms and symbols of biblical and pagan mythology, astrology, kabbalah and other mystic and esoteric fields; so that even the plainest chemical recipe ended up reading like an abstruse magic incantation.