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As a practising Christian priest, Hermann Beckh was profoundly aware that the mystery of substance – its transmutation in the cosmos and the human being – was a mystical fact to be approached with the greatest reverence, requiring at once ever-deepening scholarship and meditation. He viewed chemistry as a worthy but materialistic science devoid of spirit, while the fullness of spiritual-physical nature could be approached by what he preferred to call ‘chymistry’ or ‘alchymy’, thereby taking in millennia of spiritual tradition.
In consequence, Beckh’s Alchymy, The Mystery of the Material World is not limited to the conventional workings of Western alchemy, nor to what can be found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation – although he does unveil hidden riches there. Neither should Beckh be considered only as a learned Professor with impeccable academic qualifications and European-wide recognition. Beckh writes about such topics as ‘Isis’, ‘the Golden Fleece’, traditional fairy-stories and Wagner’s Parsifal in a way that enables the reader to catch glimpses of the Mystery of Substance; to share the writer’s authentic experience of the divine substantia – the living reality – of Christ in the world.
Beckh’s Alchymy set an entirely new standard, and went on to become his most popular publication. This is the first time that it has been translated into English, along with updated footnotes, making his ideas and insights accessible to a wide readership. In addition, this edition features translations of Beckh’s ‘The New Jerusalem’, where theology could best be expressed in verse; his exemplary essay on ‘Snow-white’; observations on ‘Allerleirauh’, and a substantial excerpt from Gundhild Kačer-Bock’s biography of Beckh.
HERMANN BECKH (1875-1937) studied Law and later Sanskrit, becoming Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin. A master of ancient and modern languages, he wrote extensively on religious and philosophical subjects, including Buddhism, Indology, Christianity, Alchemy and Music. In 1911, he heard a lecture by Rudolf Steiner and was inspired to join the Anthroposophical Society, where he was a valued co-worker. In 1922, he helped found The Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal. His many books are gradually being translated from the original German and published in English
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