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November 11 2012

Body, soul and gold: quests for perfection in English alchemy

“We are often told that ‘balance’ is the key to life – work/family balance, a balanced diet, and so on. But in early modern England, the quest for the perfect balance was thought to lead to prolonged life, more gold than could be dreamed of, and even the possibility of surviving the apocalypse.

Alchemy was the science that made these goals seem possible. We think of alchemists as fixated on precious metals, but alchemy overlapped with a field with which we are all familiar – medicine, and the fight to stay alive.

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