Alchemy was originally a type of chemistry (al-chemist) or science, but it has been heavily associated with magic, especially in fiction.
History of AlchemyEdit
Alchemists are most well-known for their search for the Philosopher’s Stone, which would give them the ability to turn ordinary metals into gold or silver and create an elixir of life. Much of alchemy was focused on this search for precious metals and eternal life, but alchemists created more mundane and useful concoctions. Gunpowder was, ironically, created by Chinese alchemists in the search for eternal life, and such things as paints, inks, and glass were dealt with by medieval alchemists.
Alchemy was a dangerous pursuit during the Middle Ages. It ran contrary to the Church, and alchemists could be tried by the Inquisition if they were caught. However, alchemy was a spiritual philosophy in itself, with its search for changing the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Alchemy as a magicEdit
Due to their search for ways to change the world and their condemnation in medieval times, alchemists has been characterized as a type of magic. A magical alchemist could create potions with great power, even if they do not find the ultimate powers of the Philosopher’s Stone. Alchemists in stories are usually shadowy and secretive figures. Alchemy can be merged with other magical powers, as it is in the Harry Potter series, with Potions being one of the many classes required at Hogwarts. (American readers should also note that the first book in the series is titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Britain.)
- Original Writerium Article