From Wiki's The Philosophers Stone, page. :
"The philosopher's stone (Latin: lapis philosophorum) is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals (lead, for example) into gold (chrysopoeia) or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal in Western alchemy. The philosopher's stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. Efforts to discover the philosopher's stone were known as the Magnum Opus."
"According to alchemical texts, the philosopher's stone came in two varieties, prepared by an almost identical method: white (for the purpose of making silver), and red (for the purpose of making gold), the white stone being a less matured version of the red stone. Some ancient and medieval alchemical texts leave clues to the supposed physical appearance of the philosopher's stone, specifically the red stone. It is often said to be orange (saffron colored) or red when ground to powder. Or in a solid form, an intermediate between red and purple, transparent and glass-like"
In the Documentary "The Philosopher's Stone The True Story". It was said the it was a stone and/or powder that was most often described as Red, or Yellow. And that the Ancient Alchemy texts almost allways listed Mercury as one of the secret ingredients.
"The philosopher's stone has been attributed with many mystical and magical properties. The most commonly mentioned properties are the ability to transmute base metals into gold or silver, and the ability to heal all forms of illness and prolong the life of any person who consumes a small part of the philosopher's stone"
I believe the 'Life Prolonging', and 'Curative', properties of the stone resulted from the same properties being attributed to Mercury.
From Wiki's Mercury, page. :
"In China and Tibet, mercury use was thought to prolong life, heal fractures, and maintain generally good health."
Now,I dont, know, that Mercury cant be used to aid health in some form or manor, Nor how the 'Life Prolonging' properties were ever attributed to it, in the first place. Maby you rub a Philosophers Stone, on an infected wound and it kills the infection, and prolongs your life more than however much Mercury poisoning you got in the process, shortens it.
But I do Know,, it is a pretty DEADLY POISON, that even handling it can cause significant harm, and ingesting can be fatal.
"One of China's emperors, Qín Shi Huáng Dì — allegedly buried in a tomb that contained rivers of flowing mercury on a model of the land he ruled, representative of the rivers of China — was killed by drinking a mercury and powdered jade mixture"
But it was thought to have those properties. And I think that is where The Philosopher's Stone, got its reputaion. From that of Mercury. And has the same effects.
While watching the documentory, I had 'intuitions', and remembered some red powder that I have seen in some chemistery demonstration. So I researched Mercury.
And found,,. "Mercury Oxide" (Wiki Page)
"The red form of HgO can be made by heating Hg on oxygen at roughly 350 °C, or by pyrolysis of Hg(NO3)2. The yellow form can be obtained by precipitation of aqueous Hg2+ with alkali. The difference in colour is due to particle size, both forms have the same structure"
This stuff, 'decomposes'. It will release the oxygen and leave you with. Mercury. It exibits all the colors attributed to the Philosophers Stone,(I imagine its darker and perhaps transparant, when crystalised into a large 'stone') but "white". Which may be hoow they described the yellow form, or maby it was another Mercury compound which was white, such as Mercury Cloride.
Or it could be. Cinnabar on Dolomite (Cinnabar Wiki Page)
"Mercury Sulfide". Which produces Mercury vapour, whan heated, which can them be condensed, to Mercury metal
Or some other Merciry compound(s) that match the descriptions. Most likely the varying descriptions, result from a few different Mercury Coumpounds, that all were able to produce the desired effects.
Mercury,, Can react with other metals, to form "Amalgams". "Almost all metals can form amalgams with mercury, notable exceptions being iron and platinum."
Which have all sorts of strange and usefull propertties.
For instance, the Copper Amalgam. (Copper and Mercury) From Henley's at chestofbooks.com
"Copper amalgam, or so-called Viennese metal cement, crystallizes with the greatest readiness and acquires such hardness on solidifying that it can be polished like gold. The amalgam may also be worked under the hammer or between rollers; it can also be stamped, and retains its metallic luster for a long time in the air. In air containing hydrogen sulphide, however, it quickly tarnishes and turns black. A very special property of copper amalgam consists in that it becomes very soft when laid in water, and attains such pliancy that it can be employed for modeling the most delicate objects. After a few hours the amalgam congeals again into a very fine-grained, rather malleable mass." Pretty Cool :)
Sounds like that would look like some pretty darn Powerfull Alchemy to people back in the middle ages, and not surprising at all if they labeled this proccess, "Transmutation"
The Beliefs they had of Mercury explains the 'life prolonging' effects they thought this stone had. And the way the Mercury released from it will form Amalgams with base metals explains the 'Transmuting' effects it was thought to have on base metals.
I think an ancient mystery has now been solved. I think we have found "The Philosophers Stone". Not the very magical thing it was thought to be. But the actual substance of which that legend was formed.
Mercury and most of its compounds, including those mentioned here, Are Extreamly Toxic! POISON. Even handling the stuff is dangerous.
I am Not suggesting anyone aquire and experiment with this stuff. On the contrary I suggest you dont.
Tho Mercury does have some strange, perhaps 'wonderfull' uses in industry. I am only posting this to solve the mystery of what the Stone, was. And part of that seems to be,, 'not so wonderfull' as most people thought back then.
Dont go chasing the myth and get yourself dead, like that unfortunat emperor.
It is though worthy of some 'respect'. It is a 'Noble Metal'. And it does have some cool properties that you could call, 'mysterious', or even 'Magical'.
Looks like it was Cinnabar (Mercury Sulfide). That was at least most often a/o earlyest the, 'Stone of the Philosopher'.
lapis philosophorum @ www.symbols.com
" A sign for the alchemists' lapis philosophorum, the Stone of Wisdom, the prerequisite for the wished end result of the alchemical process. In this sign are combined the signs for the three most important substances used by the alchemist: sulphur, , salt, , and mercury, . Above the signs for these three substances the symbol , the structure of an alchemistic sign for year, , is holding its protective wings, and a vertical line connects it all. "
~ The salt of Murcury and Sulfer ~
" For the alchemists the Stone of Wisdom partook in the nature of the quinta essentia or quintessence, that is the fifth element after those of earth, water, air and fire. Therefore signs for the quintessence are somewhat synonymous with signs for the lapis philosophorum. The sign above in this group is one of the signs for quinta essentia. Lapis philosophorum could also be drawn . "
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