17th century

Heavenly bodies are essential in alchemy, particularly the sun, moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Symbols of these planets are common in alchemical art along with their Greek god counterparts, and the success of operations were sometimes tied to zodiacal time. Beyond times of the month, day and hour, these heavenly bodies also corresponded to metals, parts of the body, cardinal sins, and cardinal virtues. Images: Clavis artis, Zoroaster, 17th century and De naturae…historia, Robert Fludd, 1680

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In the 16th and 17th century, women accused of witchcraft were often subjected to a trial by water. Their hands were bound and they were thrown into water. If they floated—a witch. If they sunk—innocent. While they often had rope tied around their waists to bring them back, there were many accidental drownings. From: Bericht von Erforschung, Herman Neuwaldt, 1611. Source: University of Glasgow Library

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The title plate from Michael Maier’s Arcana Arcanissima, 1614. Above are three figures from the Egyptian myth of the dismemberment of Osiris by his brother Typhon, and reassembling by his sister Isis. The Greek gods Hercules and Dionysus flank the sides and below are the Egyptian mythological creatures of Ibis, Apis, and Cynocephalus.

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Calendarium Naturale Magicum Perpetuum, 1620. Created by the alchemist and esoteric author Johann Baptist Grossschedel von Aicha, this chart acts as a grimoire and reference. The three sheets together measure to four feet long and two feet wide.

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Diagram of an alchemist’s furnace, 17th Century. From Manly P. Hall’s collection of alchemical manuscripts, Box 18, MS 102, v. 6. Source: Getty Research Institute

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Based on the work of Paracelsus, Robert Fludd devised an alchemical theory of creation wherein god separated the materials of the universe out of a chaotic prima materia, in the same way that an alchemist in a laboratory would do. These engravings from the History of the Two Worlds, 1617, illustrated his wild theories. Source: archive.org


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Title Plate and Charts from Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata, 1698. Also known as Kabbalah Unveiled, the Latin portion of the text was translated by S. L. Macgregor Mathers, but the Hebrew portion was left out, bringing the 2,600+ page manuscript to less than 300 pages. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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Tables showing occult correspondences of “seven rulers of the earth,” celestial spirits of the planets. The second chart shows how to recognize them in geomantic divination, and the correspondences to help with interpretation of the reading. From Theomagia, or, The Temple of Wisdome, John Heydon, 1663. Source: The Getty Alchemy Collection


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Emblems from Manly P. Hall’s collection of alchemical manuscripts, 1600, Box 4, MS 19. From: archive.org


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Alchemical emblem 2, Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier, 1618. Depicted on bottom: Romulus nursed by a wolf and Jupiter nursed by a goat. The “Child of the Philosophers”, referring to either the Philosopher’s Stone or alchemist themself, nurses from the Earth Mother. Colorized by Eve Harms, CC0. Source: archive.org


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Here’s one yokai you don’t want to help with your spring cleaning: the Akaname is goblin-sized creature, with slimy black hair, from Japanese folklore whose tongue is twice as long as its height—that it uses to lick toilets. Image: Edo shokoku hyaku monogatari, 17th Century

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