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The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structure of Alchemy

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4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Primitive man's discovery of the ability to change matter from one state to another brought about a profound change in spiritual behavior. In The Forge and the Crucible, Mircea Eliade follows the ritualistic adventures of these ancient societies, adventures rooted in the people's awareness of an awesome new power.

The new edition of The Forge and the Crucible contains an up
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Paperback, 238 pages
Published March 15th 1979 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1956)
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Barnaby Thieme
Is it too much to ask for a book to be properly named? Gah.

Sure, this book treats alchemy, for around 40% of its length, but in its totality it's concerned with the religious consciousness of what Eliade precociously calls "Homo faber," or man qua tool user.

So, for the first hundred pages of this 170-page book, we take a survey of various mythological traditions from around the world associated with metals, metallurgy, mining, and forging, and unearth (no pun intended) a variety of interesting
...more
David Dinaburg
May 31, 2016 David Dinaburg rated it it was ok
The age of this text is startling—text, not book, feels correct for The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy; its most common format is likely assigned-reading photocopies—as it presupposes concepts over which I felt a sense of individual proprietariness. Those ideas took their time in uncovering themselves to my mind: the false equivalence of progress to the inevitable, of civilizing advancement as a linear and undiluted positive. These were clearly common assumptions, ...more
Mert
Sep 06, 2014 Mert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
İnsanlığın geçmişten bugüne kadar doğaya karşı galebe çalma, onun yerine geçme tutkusunu, düşünü anlatıyor Eliade kitabında. Ancak dil ve içerdiği detaylar olarak ağır bir kitap. Okurken notlar almak, üzerine düşünmek, hazmetmek gerekiyor. Aslında içeriği ve konuyu ele alış biçimi açısından çok önemli bir eser. Akademik çalışmalar için daha uygun. Notlar, kaynaklar, önerilen eserler muazzam. İnsanlığın doğanın ve zamanın yerine geçmesi için ilk yöntemlerden biri olan madencilik, demircilikten ...more
aya
Jun 25, 2012 aya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-best
A thoughtful and insightful study of alchemy and metallurgy. Eliade breaks the book into two sections: 1. the structure of various myths and rituals of metallurgy and 2. the foundational structure of alchemy in the Western, Chinese, and Indian traditions. What at first seems merely like a hodgepodge collection of myths and short essays comes together when Eliade finally gets to the meaning behind alchemical structures/tenets.
Well-written and deeply thought, Eliade does away with the popular bel
...more
Public_enemy
The best Eliade so far. It shows how many realistic aspects one can find researching old metaphysics, ideology and mysticism, namely alchemical and metallurgic teachings. Power is in secret of steel. Conan, anyone?
Ayse Sen
Simyacılık ile ilgili bilgisi olmayanlar için biraz ağır bir kaynak.Ancak Eliade yararlandığı kaynaklardan da bahsederek okuyucuları araştırmaya sevkediyor. Yazarın dinler tarihine giriş kitabını da okumak istiyorum.
Mary Overton
“Alchemy cannot be reduced to a protochemistry,” states Eliade. He writes as a historian of religion, which means he writes about the human quest to influence and control and shape the physical world of matter. People are also matter. The quest embraces the renewal and the reshaping of the physical person. The great mystery and power generated by this process becomes that which is spiritual.

“The ‘conquest of matter’ began very early, perhaps in the palaeolithic age, that is, as soon as man had s
...more
Alexis
Sep 09, 2016 Alexis rated it really liked it
This a very anthropological account of alchemy as discourse and its evolution from tribal manifestations to present yoga traditions of all paths and cultures. Eliade is a beautiful yet factual writer. The book can get repetitive with certain motifs, but such is alchemy. I enjoyed the read like I enjoy a good PBS special.
Paul
Apr 02, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing
Admittedly, Eliade is kind of strange to read because the book reads like a mosaic of random facts. Each chapter often seems like a series of vaguely related ideas, but after some thought, the book coheres decently well. The knowledge available on alchemy is worth its weight in gold (forgive the joke), and it seems to provide good possible answers to "little kid" questions that I had about the mechanics of religions, particularly to do with sacrificial rites/themes and so forth.

The book is good
...more
Mary45111
Dec 30, 2015 Mary45111 rated it really liked it
The author Eliade is a recognized authority on myth. He explains the primitive pre-scientific beliefs about metals, such as that metals like babies matured in the womb of Mother Earth until they reached maturity--gold. Such ridiculous ideas as the ancients held are truly frightening when one realizes that infant sacrifice was used in early smithying worldwide. The mind of the pagan is not one of clarity and goodness, but one of muddled facts and muddled worldview. Thank goodness for the ...more
Nick Mather
Eliade was one of the pioneering scholars in the study of religion. This book looks at the development of alchemy from the point of view of the history of religions. It is quite a good little book that makes clear a defunct but still influential esoteric tradition. This also contains a brief discussion of Carl Jung's psychological understanding of alchemy and this book is probably a good place to start before moving on to Jung's more dense work.
Arthur
Dec 29, 2013 Arthur rated it it was amazing
Though Eliade can't claim any primary fieldwork, The Forge and the Crucible offers an impressive laundry list of ethnographic profiles on practices of mining and metallurgy, contrasting established alchemical traditions and European folk beliefs, uncovering striking parallels and profound undercurrents as to the sacred nature of work, the task of healing the world and perfecting the self, and the archetypal human striving to intercede in and improve on time itself.
Slap Happy
Mar 15, 2013 Slap Happy rated it really liked it
I like the idea of mysticism tied to things I can do with my hands like smithing or alchemy. (Moreso with smithing and metal work than alchemy.) Perhaps this is why I never could get into mass, haha.
Katja
Nov 06, 2012 Katja rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I couldn't finish this. Maybe because I'm not that interested in alchemy. I am a bit interested, but I think I need a basics book. I read all through the "forge" part though. A couple of interesting ideas there, some connections I never would have made myself.
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Romanian-born historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, professor at the University of Chicago, and one of the pre-eminent interpreters of world religion in this century. Eliade was an intensely prolific author of fiction and non-fiction alike, publishing over 1,300 pieces over 60 years. He earned international fame with LE MYTHE DE L'ÉTERNAL RETOUR (1949, The Myth of the Eternal ...more
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“Ancak simyacılar çalışırlarken Tanrı'nın yardımını aldıklarına inanıyorlardı ve bu yüzden onlara göre yaptıkları iş Tanrı'nın teşvik ettiği değil ama izin verdiği bir doğayı kusursuzlaştırma etkinliğiydi. Sy.187” 0 likes
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