What is Alchemy?
Alchemy is a complex and mysterious field of study that exists within the World of Shinseina, and is often depicted as a form of magical science, or chemistry. At its foundation, Alchemy is the study and practice of mixing, and concocting, magical materials together in order to create a new finished product that one can consume or use, often in the form of potions, pills, or so on.
Alchemists are what people that practice the arts of alchemy actively are often called, often spending their entire lives dedicated to learning the complex art of alchemy, with an ever-expanding index for them to learn from.
What is the practice of Alchemy?
First and foremost, alchemy is the practice of mixing materials together in order to create a desired outcome. Alchemists believe that everything in the world is made up of a few fundamental elements, such as earth, air, fire, and water, along with more precise functions such as the capabilities of the material used.
By combining and manipulating these elements in various ways, an alchemist can transform one substance into another. For example, they might be able to turn lead into gold, or even create a potion that grants immense power. A skilled alchemist can even create potions and other substances that can have a wide range of effects, from healing wounds to granting superhuman abilities.
Alchemy is often seen as a kind of parallel to magic in Shinseina. While magic is typically portrayed as a more innate and instinctive power, alchemy is a more deliberate and controlled form of manipulation that one can learn if they have the intelligence and willpower to do so. Alchemy is also the process of trial and error, with a lot of practice needed to even learn the basics of it, some ingredients may not even combine in their original forms or may just be incompatible with one another entirely.
While the practice of alchemy is not always successful in achieving its goals, it plays an important role in the development of modern chemistry.
What are the stages of Alchemy?
There are several important stages to alchemy, namely the following;
Calcination: This stage involves heating the raw material to a high temperature until it turns into a liquid, powder, or ash. This process was seen as a metaphor for the destruction of impurities and the release of the essence or spirit of the substance. Some substances actually do not need to go through this stage, but it depends on the material used.
Dissolution: The next step is to dissolve the calcined substance in a liquid, such as water or acid. This process symbolizes the breaking down of the material into its constituent parts and the beginning of a transformation.
Separation: After the dissolution, the alchemist would attempt to separate the pure essence from the impurities. This step was often represented by a symbolic image of a phoenix rising from the ashes, representing the emergence of something new and purified from the old and corrupted. Often it is very difficult to fully remove all the impurities from something, as such they have a varying degree of success depending on the remaining amount.
Conjunction: This stage involves combining the purified substances to create a new material. This step represents the union of opposites and the creation of something greater than the sum of its parts.
Fermentation: The next stage involves the application of a catalyst or "ferment" to the newly formed compound, which triggers a process of transformation and growth, which causes the material to fully settle into its desired outcome. This step symbolizes the activation of the life force or spirit within the substance.
Distillation: The final stage involves heating the fermented compound and collecting the vapors that are released, which condense into a purified liquid or solid. This process symbolizes the separation of the subtle from the gross, the spiritual from the material, and the attainment of the ultimate goal of alchemy: the philosopher's stone or the elixir of life.
How does one do Alchemy?
To practice alchemy, an individual must first acquire knowledge of the principles and techniques involved. This usually involves studying at a school and/or learning from experienced practitioners, as it will require them to have a vast knowledge of not just fauna, flora, minerals, and the like, but also different means of mixing, matching, and so on.
Once an alchemist has acquired the necessary knowledge, they can begin to experiment with different combinations of elements and substances. This can be a dangerous process, as some mixtures can be explosive, toxic, or corruptive. Because of this, there are some strict rules and regulations governing the practice of alchemy. Certain substances and potions are outlawed or restricted and alchemists may be required to register with the authorities to ensure that they are not using their skills for nefarious purposes.
Although there are more standard and common recipes, alchemy is the art of experimenting, and as such it encourages people to mix ingredients together in many ways in order to create an outcome.
Overall, alchemy is a complex and fascinating field of study in Shinseina. It offers a unique blend of science and magic, and can be used to achieve a variety of effects both physical and magical. While the specifics of alchemy can vary widely depending on what the end goal is, its essential principles remain the same: the manipulation and transformation of the fundamental elements of the world.