Book: Minerals And Gems In Indian Alchemy by Mira RayThe Indian alchemical literature in Sanskrit and Tamil refers to the multi-dimensionaluse of a wide variety of minerals. The most important are: (A) mica, calamine, copper-pyrite, tourmaline, iron-pyrite, copper-sulphate, bitumen and lapis lazuli, called superior minerals and orpiment, alum. sulphur, realgar, tinstone or cassiterite, red-ochre. antimony and iron-sulphate. caIled subsidiary minerals. An interesting aspect relates to the purifications of these minerals with a view to importing to them the necessary qualities for alchemical operations leading to the preparation of
"elixir"and such other medicinal compositions.
Yet another aspect is concerned with the extraction of what is in alchemical literature as their "essence". the chemical details of which are not exactly clear.
The other types of minerals are classed under the headinggems.They are: ruby, pearl. coral. emerald. topaz. diamond. sapphire. zircon and eat's eye. nine in number.
Even these gems are subjected to various processes in order to obtain theiressences.
Several apparatuses and contrivances were being designed and used for conducting necessary operations.
Refreshingly. some of the alchemical text also mention the distribution and characteristics of various minerals including gems. thus revealing the technical knowledge of those involving the preparation of several mineral-based medicinal compositions.
The paper attempts to discuss these and aIliedaspects pertaining inthe minerals and gems as embodied in the various texts in Sanskrit. called the"Rasasastra".
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