THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE
A QUEST FOR THE SECRETS OF ALCHEMY
(London: Macmillan, 2001), pp.545; hdbk. ISBN 0-333-76367-X ; (London: Pan Books, 2002) pp.545; pbk. ISBN 0-330-48910-0
‘Certainly the best and most absorbing account of alchemy that I have ever read.’
Colin Wilson, Literary Review
‘An intriguing read by an accomplished storyteller … inspirational’
John Emsley, Sunday Times
‘Marshall is no desk top researcher, but to write the book embarked on a journey in the footsteps of some of the key practitioners, a quest which takes him to Beijing, Egypt, France, Spain and beyond and leads to encounters with many contemporary philosophers, alchemists and scientists, all searching not so much for fame or fortune but for the ultimate prize of enlightenment. This appealing combination of travelogue and inner journey is well served by the author’s friendly, conversational tone and his ability to make sometimes complex ideas thoroughly accessible without short changing the reader. Myth, magic, religion and intrigue come together here to offer an intriguing alternative view of the history of civilisation’s development.’
‘A mystical tale that taps into the wisdom of the ancient – and, make no mistake, the result is a tour-de-force in alternative literature. Not only a wonderful travel book … even those with only a passing interest in eastern philosophy will warm to this journal of impossible impossibilities, such are the skills of this seasoned storyteller.’
John Phillpott, Worcester Evening News
‘In an easy, accessible manner he traces the history, explains the symbols, clarifies the text and highlights the cruical characters…Fascinating’
Janet Gleeson, Daily Mail
‘A literary travel book that visits many spiritual locations in search of alchemy’s “Holy Grail”. This is a historical and philosophical adventure; and an enriching, fascinating read.’
The Philosopher’s Stone is the Holy Grail of alchemy, the ancient art and science of transmuting base metal into gold. Its elemental power is said to hold the key to decipher the riddle of universe and to unlock the secrets of eternal life.
Alchemy has not only played a key role in the history of science but as a sacred science combines philosophy and religion, experiment and vision. It offers a bubbling crucible of ancient wisdom highly relevant to our times.
After years of study and research, Marshall set off on a worldwide quest to discover the Philosopher’s Stone and to uncover the secrets of alchemy in the lands where it was traditionally practised. During his long journey, he stayed in the White Cloud Taoist Temple in Beijing, rowed up the Ganges at dawn, meditated under the bodhi tree where Buddha found enlightenment, climbed the Great Pyramid, visited the Moorish palace of Alhambra, explored the crypt under Chartres cathedral and entered Prague castle. On the way, he met many scientists, sages and mystics, including Chinese Taoists, Tibetan Buddhist monks, Hindu yogis, Hermetic philosophers and practising alchemists. He pored over the works of alchemists as disparate as Zosimus, St. Thomas Aquinas, Nicolas Flamel, Newton, Jung and Fulcanelli. He explored the beliefs and practices, the myth and symbols of the alchemists, both ancient and modern. He investigated the alchemy of the mind as well of nature.
In his enthralling quest, Marshall demonstrates that alchemy, occasionally seen and invariably misunderstood, forms a powerful underground stream in cultures East and West. Alchemy has not only made an enormous contribution to science and medicine throughout the world, but has had a profound effect on religion, philosophy, psychology, literature, architecture and art.
And does Marshall find the Philosopher’s Stone in his arduous journey in space and time? There is only one way to find out…