I am researching a lot of old alchemists for my next little book and the stunning parallel in all of their lives was their sheer brilliance. University at 13 or 16 already full of alchemical knowledge, books published or completed at around 20 including Agrippa’s three huge volumes on magic. Traveling around Europe and the Middle East, writing a ton of books and manuscripts. The question is how?
Just exactly how can a boy of 16 in the 14th Century possibly have accumulated so much knowledge? How can they have learned to write, read, speak multiple different languages, know the philosophers and so on? It’s just utterly amazing. I realize that there was no TV or internet and so time could be spent on contemplation and so on but back then you had to seek out knowledge. It wasn’t available at the fingertips as it is now. I also realize that there was less knowledge – probably orders of magnitude less knowledge but – Agrippa, Paracelsus and their ilk were not just seeking knowledge but creating it!
Finally, think of the environment in which they did this. A mean, horrid subsistence of a life in a dirty hole surrounded by ignorance and stupidity. Everything required significant effort from making a meal to making a tool. Furthermore, think of the superstitions, the ignorance and intolerance of the Church, the sheeplike nature of the Church’s flock and it must have been living hell to be enlightened in the 14th Century. It’s no wonder these people’s lives read like a life on the run….
I have come to realize that whatever the truth behind some of the hearsay and legend around these mediaeval alchemists and adepts, despite the mystery, despite the Church’s attempts to darkened and blacken their activities and lives, these were some truly special people. Amazing people.
Light, it seems, cannot ever be extinguished. No matter how dark things become or get, a small flame will flicker and burn brightly keeping the wisdom alive. These men’s spirits shone brightly in an age of ignorance and darkness and our lives seem so easy, even lazy in comparison.
Coming soon – Wizards, Warlocks And Magicians: Incredible True Stories of Magic and Sorcery by G. Michael Vasey