The Alchemist's Kitchen: Extraordinary Potions & Curious Notions
Walker, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Martina Bexte
n his introduction, Ogilvy says that '
the Royal Art of alchemy remains one of the most enduring and baffling human enterprises. It is called the Royal Art because it was practiced by, or on behalf of, kings and princes as far back as the legendary 'Yellow Emperor' Huang-Di (ca. 27th C. B.C.) and as late as the 17th century, when the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II devoted much of his time to its study.
' He goes on to pose the question, '
But what exactly is alchemy?
' and explains that '
the origin and definition of the word are obscure. In China it represents the quest for immortality, in India it is the art of making medicines, while in the West it is associated with the quest for the 'Philosopher's Stone', which transmutes base metals into gold.
gilvy is himself a practicing alchemist and in this slim 64-page volume he provides a brief overview of alchemy, one that will help either the curious or the serious
explore the sacred secrets of a craft that has been practiced since the dawn of time, and by the likes of Hermes Trismegistus and Paracelsus. Ogilvy discusses, and provides recipes for such things as Angel Water (dew). Careful interpretation is required as these recipes are presented in their original formats, making their reading and analysis challenging. There are additional recipes for herbal elixirs, soothing balms, potent scents and rich pigments, as well as an extensive Appendix that covers subjects including
Ceramics and Glass
Incense and Perfume
, and even
Plant and Planet Correspondences
or such a tiny book,
The Alchemist's Kitchen
is a veritable font of information. Adding to the book's charm and authentic feel are illustrations, old engravings, and original black and white art. For those who may want to try your hand at a few of the recipes, do take note of this warning presented in very fine print at the beginning of the text: '
Caveat: Alchemy can be extremely dangerous. Explosions and poisonings are commonplace. Some of the processes described in this book may be unlawful in some jurisdictions; they are performed at your own risk
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