The Elixir and the Stone is an alternative history of the intellectual world, and more specifically of the Hermetic undercurrent in the development of European culture. Hermeticism is the belief in the unity of all things: the concept that there is a macrocosm (usually described as the universe or a deity) and a microcosm (man) which are interconnected and representative of one another. ‘As above, so below’. Hermetic thought encompasses astrology, alchemy and theurgy and as such is the foundation of most of what we call ‘occult’ today.
The journey begins in Alexandria in the first century AD, describing a bustling cosmopolitan culture in pursuit of knowledge, and proceeds to describe the rise of Christianity and Islam from the perspective of those not conforming to either. We are then given a chronological overview of the way philosophy has shaped society throughout Europe and Mesopotamia ever since, with surprising insights into moments when opposing religions lived alongside one another harmoniously. Famous fictional magicians such as Merlin and Faust are used to link the sections together, showing how their stories emerged from real characters. Continue reading “The Elixir and the Stone – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh”