Welcome to J. Erik LaPort’s alchemy research website. Erik’s interest in alchemy is centered upon reproducibility of alchemical processes for confecting the substance known as the Philosophers’ Stone, and other products of early alchemical traditions. The recipe was preserved in the Greco-Egyptian alchemical tradition encoded in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes and a Judeo-Egyptian counterpart preserved in writings attributed to Maria Hebrea. In addition, a third Persian-Babylonian gilding tradition evidenced in the work of Pseudo-Democritus existed alongside the first two during the early centuries of the Current Era (CE). These three traditions were active in early Alexandria and imparted to successive generations of philosophers in Byzantium until the founding of the Islamic Empire. Erik’s focus is on the archetypal work of Maria Hebrea and its ensuing influence.
Alchemical records from the Alexandrian traditions suggest that two types of Philosophers’ Stone were created throughout the Alexandrian-Byzantine period that would come to be known in Europe as the Great or Universal Stone and the Lesser or Specific Stone, the latter also known as the Tincture. The Great Stone appears to derive from the Hermetic tradition, contains no precious metal in its purest form and was known in Alexandria as the White Stone or Comprehensive Magnesia. It was universal due its unique potential to create a Philosophers’ Stone containing gold, silver, copper, iron, tin or zinc by fusion as a finishing stage. The Great Stone relied on a chemical reaction to create a unique divine-water also known as Sophic Mercury, which was then converted to a pristine brilliant white powder known later in Europe as Living Doubled Mercury of the Philosophers - Mercury being the Roman name for Greek Hermes.
The Lesser Stone or Tincture of the Philosophers derives from Maria Hebrea’s chrysopœia, a powerful guild responsible for creating the finest artisanal bronzes in the region during the early Alexandrian period. The Tincture of the Philosophers included gold or silver as an integral component of the Philosophers' Stone from the outset and could be manufactured via metallurgical technique or by a chemical reaction. During the 6th century, Stephanos referred to the Hermetic White Stone in its liquid stage as the Pharmakon (Medicine) and the Tincture of the Philosophers as Chrysocorallos (Coral-Gold). In Europe, the distinction between these two became blurred, but they were clearly understood by Paracelsus who termed the Hermetic Stone the Stone of the Philosophers and the Judeo-Egyptian variant the Tincture of the Philosophers. Royal physician and court-sponsored alchemist Heinrich Khunrath referred to them as the Great or Universal Stone and the Lesser or Specific Stone respectively.
The Philosophers’ Stone, regardless of which archetypal variant is being discussed, was originally valued for its ability to transform copper into lustrous, non-corrosive bronzes that displayed the appearance of gold or silver, or a liver-purple patina. Artisans capable of manufacturing these types of bronzes were known as Chrysopœians; literally meaning gold-makers. Their products were highly valued in antiquity to the degree that Roman Emperor Diocletian banned the practice in Alexandria in order to curb the power and influence of Chrysopœian guilds opposed to his tax-reforms. During the 5th century, there is evidence that the Hermetic White Stone was valued as a cosmological model serving to demonstrate philosophical principles of heaven and earth, above and below and principles of purification in a visually captivating manner. During the 6th century, Stephanos referred to the two variations of the Philosophers’ Stone addressed above in his lectures on gold making. The primary value of the Philosophers’ Stone during the late-Alexandrian period was as a rite of passage, an initiation into the mysteries and as a physical memorial to that initiation. At the time of Islamic conquest during the 7th century, a Christian monk of Stephanos’ tradition named Morienus imparted his alchemical technology to Prince Khālid ibn Yazīd, an original Arabic record of which still exists in an archive in Istanbul preserving the transmission in great detail.
Alexandrian alchemy can be seen as the roots and trunk from which Islamic and European branches emerged. This website serves to examine and explore reproducibility of these ancient technologies by focusing on the archetypal substances and processes integral to the earliest forms of alchemy, and to map the cultural intercourse and spread of alchemical expression that followed. J. Erik LaPort is a philosopher, mystic and adventurer whose profession as a gold-nanotech researcher and writer allows him to devote energy to his passions. The origins, evolution and chemistry of the Philosophers’ Stone are exhaustively detailed in Erik’s new book – Cracking the Philosophers’ Stone. Erik’s latest book project, Gold Elixirs – A cross-cultural history of therapeutic gold – is currently underway. The term “3rd-Order” is alchemical jargon that refers to the Philosophers’ Stone at its highest state of refinement. It is Erik’s sincerest wish that visitors to this site will find answers to lingering alchemical questions and be further inspired to explore the history, ideology and technology of alchemy in all its fascinating forms. Project collaboration, speaking engagements or historical alchemical reproductions are available by special request.