Burckhardt’s Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul is the defining work on Esoteric Alchemy. Written originally in German, this volume takes us from the modern misconception that Alchemy has something to do with turning real lead into actual gold, moves us through the quirks and nooks within the hall of Alchemy fame, and lands us somewhere in the middle of a meditation-based approach to alchemy centered on astrology.
Burckhardt pulls not only from Christians like Dante, Shakespeare, and Nicholaus Flamel, but also from Arabic Muslims, Buddhists, Taoism, and Hinduism. His work reopened discussion on alchemy, reforming it not in terms of metallurgy, but in terms of medieval monasticism and cosmology. This volume allowed writers like C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling to use imagery and myth embedded deep inside our culture for the sake of the Gospel.
I loved the read-through for the illumination but found myself disoriented often. Be sure to have your hard-chair, academic hat on before reading this one, and let it serve more for literary interpretation purposes than for actual mysticism. Otherwise, you might end up a bit Gnostic.