Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 9, Vol. 1, Autumnal Equinox 2005

Becoming an Alchemist

Sorcerer’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy, Dennis William Hauck. Citadel Press; Kensington Publishing Corp., 850 Third Ave., New York, NY, 2002. p. 276. $12.95 USD.

review by Samuel Scarborough

Ever wanted to be an alchemist? Just how does someone understand those old alchemical drawings that describe the processes that are used to create fabulous elixirs and powders? The very word “alchemy” conjures up images of bearded old men in dark laboratories turning lead into gold, or creating some elixir for extended life. Can this apply to the modern magickal person ; can we create that hidden gold or extend our lives?

Dennis William Hauck’s interest in alchemy began while he was in graduate school at the University of Vienna. Now he is the editor of the Alchemy Journal, an instructor in the Alchemy Home Study Program and with Flamel College. Mister Hauck serves on the Board of Governors of the International Alchemy Guild and regularly gives lectures worldwide on alchemy.

Dennis William Hauck, a practicing alchemist and one of the leading experts in the world on this ancient art and science, offers a basic introduction to alchemy in this book that is not full of the hidden meanings of some of those ancient texts on the subject, but has clear explanations. As a matter of course he explains just what those odd alchemical drawings from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries mean and how to decipher their codes so that you as a modern alchemist can follow their instructions. He also provides practical experiments, and moving meditations.

Mister Hauck has written a book with fifteen chapters and two appendices which follow a pattern of general history and overview, to the explanation of the planetary archetypes used in alchemy, and finally to the operations of alchemy where you can personally perform your own purification and alchemical operations. In this latter part, Mister Hauck looks at both Spiritual Alchemy, the method of meditation and study used to create within yourself the Great Work on a mystical level, and he looks at Practical Alchemy, the creation of elixirs and powders physically, as well as how to blend these two versions of alchemy together. The book is richly illustrated with many old alchemical drawings with explanations that are clear throughout. The two appendices are very helpful. The first one is a glossary of alchemical terms with clear definitions, and the second one is a list of resources for the practioner from online sites, to books that are recommended for reading. The chapters of the book are:

  • What is Alchemy?
  • The Golden Thread That Runs Through Time
  • The Principals of Alchemy
  • The Kitchen Alchemist: Making Tinctures and Elixirs
  • Climbing the Ladder of the Planets
  • Saturn’s Child: The Base Metal Lead
  • Jupiter’s Rule: The Courtly Metal Tin
  • Mar’s Challenge: The Angry Metal Iron
  • Venus’s Embrace: The Loving Metal Copper
  • Mercury’s Magic: The Living Metal Quicksilver
  • The Moon’s Reflection: The Lunar Metal Silver
  • The Sun’s Brilliance: The Solar Metal Gold
  • The Operations of Alchemy
  • Personal Purification
  • Becoming an Alchemist
  • Appendix A: Glossary of Alchemy
  • Appendix B: Resources

Finally here is a book that helps break down some of the mystery of alchemy so that anyone can better understand this ancient art and science, which has been called the Royal Art of the Hermetic Tradition. Dennis William Hauck has made a great contribution to the oft-neglected art of alchemy with this book, and it should be included in any person’s library that is interested in the Hermetic Arts, the Western Mystery Traditions, and especially in Alchemy.