The Elixir and the Stone

Front Cover
Since the seventeenth century, science has been contending with philosophy, organized religion and the arts for domination over Western civilization and society. By the middle of the twentieth century, the battle appeared to be won; scientific rationalism and skepticism were triumphant. Yet in the last few decades a strong and potent counter-current has emerged. One manifestation of this has been the so-called occult revival.
In The Elixir and the Stone, Baigent and Leigh argue that this occult revival -- and indeed the entire revolution in attitudes which has taken place recently -- owes a profound debt to Hermeticism, a body of esoteric teaching which flourished in Alexandria two thousand years ago and which then went underground. The authors trace the history of this intriguing and all-encompassing philosophy -- which has much in common with contemporary holistic thought -- charting it's origin in the Egyptian mysteries, and demonstrating how it continued to exercise enormous influence through the magicians and magi of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Many remarkable characters feature in the narrative, including the Franciscan friar Roger Bacon and the Elizabethan magus John Dee; prototype of Shakespeare's Prospero in "The Tempest, but the central figure that emerges is that of Faust himself -- one of the defining myths of Western civilization.
The Elixir and the Stone" is a remarkably rich and ambitious book that adds up to a little short of an alternative history of the intellectual world. Perhaps for the first time it puts into their true context those shadowy alchemists and magicians who have haunted the imaginations of people for centuries. Moreover it offers away of looking at the world that is in one sense 'alternative', but in another, deeply historical.

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User Review  - MiaCulpa -

I read "Elixir and the Stone" as part of a deep dive into the writing of Baigent and Leigh, following my discovery of "Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". In retrospect, many of Baigent and Leigh's (and ... Read full review

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User Review  - catfantastic - LibraryThing

The Elixir and the Stone charts the tradition of magic that has pervaded human history, either entangled with or in opposition to, established religion. The specific magical tradition they chronicle ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Michael Baigent was born in New Zealand in 1948 and obtained a degree in psychology from Canterbury University. At one point he gave up a successful career in photojournalism to devote his time to researching the Templars for a film project. Since 1976 he has lived in England.
Richard Leigh is a novelist and short-story writer with postgraduate degrees in comparative literature and a thorough knowledge of history, philosophy, psychology, and esoterica. He has been working for some years as a university lecturer in the United States, Canada, and Britain.
Henry Lincoln is an author and filmmaker and has written for television.

"From the Hardcover edition.

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