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The Royal Art: Alchemy and Science

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Hello, Dear Readers, below is a series of articles on the Royal Art.

The Royal Art, known technically as symbolic or speculative alchemy, is the art of eternal transformation. According to tradition it is called royal because it is the supreme profession, encompassing the philosophy of nature, the art of life, and the science of government. In illumined circles it is the art of doing nothing.

By definition alchemy is the transmutation of the base metals lead and iron into the noble metals silver and gold. The alchemist’s quest is for the pill, powder or elixir that turns every metal it touches into gold – the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone. This quest is a fitting metaphor for the science of transmuting base matter, the dross of mundane existence, into health, empowerment and enlightenment. The stone of the philosophers is the alchemical Holy Grail.

In both Chinese Daoist alchemy and the Western Royal Art, two distinct interpretations of alchemy have developed over time: ‘external alchemy’ (Mandarin waidan) and ‘internal alchemy’ (neidan). ‘External alchemy’ is the literal interpretation, producing and consuming herbal recipes, pills, powders and elixirs with the intention of cultivating life and longevity or achieving physical immortality.

By contrast, ‘internal alchemy’  is a path of meditative cultivation based on visualizations of alchemical processes as symbols for contemplation. Please enjoy the following articles as we explore alchemy as it relates both to science and meditation.

– D. B. Smith


Articles in the Royal Art Series


The Royal Art (An Introduction to Alchemy)

Ancient Indian Alchemy

Chinese Alchemy

The Mysteries and Science: Origins of Western Alchemy Part I

Magic and Science: Origins of Western Alchemy Part II

The Western Mystery Tradition: Neoplatonism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah

The Early Alchemists of the West

The Muslim Alchemists

The Origins of Freemasonry in Architecture, Science and the Liberal Arts

Medieval European Alchemy

The Medieval Hermetic-Kabbalistic Tradition and Rosicrucianism

Alchemy in Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism

Alchemy in Three Hermetic Orders: G.’,D.’., O.T.O. and A.’.A.’.

Alchemy and the Birth of Modern Science – Page Under Construction

The Science of Psychology and Symbolic Alchemy as Therapeutic Meditation – Page Under Construction



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