PhD defence: Mike Zuber
Mike Zuber, ASH PhD candidate, will defend his dissertation entitled 'Spiritual Alchemy from the age of Jacob Boehme to Marry Anne Atwood, 1600-1900.' supervised by prof. dr. Wouter Hanegraaff and dr. Peter Forshaw.
‘Spiritual alchemy’ is a contested term that is often accompanied by far-reaching claims about the presumed essence of alchemy.
Despite the troubled past of this term, this study reclaims ‘spiritual alchemy’ as a precisely definable category for historical research. The term stands for the practical pursuit of inward but physically real transmutation, its goal being the reversal of the Fall as a preparation for the resurrection of the dead at the Last Judgment.
Spiritual alchemy in this sense first developed around the turn of the seventeenth century, due to the confluence of two important currents: German mysticism and alchemical Paracelsianism. In underground networks of religious dissenters, mystical and spiritualist as well as alchemical and Paracelsian writings circulated side by side. In this context, spiritual alchemy eventually reached Jacob Boehme. According to his understanding, laboratory alchemy was but a lesser, grossly material reflection of spiritual alchemy.
Drawing extensively on the manuscript record, this study traces how Boehme’s spiritual alchemy ultimately came to shape Mary Anne Atwood’s enduringly popular Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery. It appears that a formerly minor strand of early-modern alchemy exerted crucial influence on this first major presentation of modern alchemy.
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