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Re: Alchemy

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  • booknerd9
    ... Aw, Solveig-hime, don t be so tough on him. Anyway, I m no expert on alchemy but if you want to learn about Japanese alchemy, I suggest you do some
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 25, 2005
      --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, Solveig Throndardottir <nostrand@a...> wrote:
      > Noble Cousin!
      >
      > Greetings from Solveig! I hope that this request is not motivated by
      > the anime program which features "alchemists".

      Aw, Solveig-hime, don't be so tough on him.

      Anyway, I'm no expert on alchemy but if you want to learn about Japanese alchemy, I
      suggest you do some reasearch regaring Chinese alchemy. There are probably quite a
      few books on this, though they probably focus on Daoist alchemy, and I don't know if
      that tradition made it overseas. Most scholarly pursuits (during the Heian period,
      anyway, that's the one I reenact) would be Chinese in nature and strictly limited to the
      upper escelons of sociey- or that's at least what Morris' "World of the Shining Prince"
      had to say about accupuncture and herbalism.
      Alchemy, like accupuncture and so forth, was basically seen as an art of trying to
      extend ones life, not of trying to turn lead into gold. But I think the "art of trying to
      extend ones life" in the form of alchemy, didn't really make it to Japan, or at least, in
      anything I could read. I think this goal was attempted with certain lovemaking
      techniques, which I recall, was mentioned in "Tale of Murasaki" by L. Dalby (fiction but
      well researched, I believe).

      Anyway, I don't really know much about the topic, but basically, start doing some
      research on pre-Song China and it's alchemy, and pick up a few key words, then
      expand your search out to Japan, make use of your local library, etc. etc.
    • Ii Saburou Katsumori (Joshua B.)
      ... You d probably end up looking for references in Onmyodo --Japanese yin-yang divination, which seems to have covered much of the esoteric knowledge from
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 26, 2005
        On 7/25/05, booknerd9 <Booknerd9@...> wrote:
        > that tradition made it overseas. Most scholarly pursuits (during the Heian
        > period, anyway, that's the one I reenact) would be Chinese in nature and strictly
        > limited to the upper escelons of sociey- or that's at least what Morris' "World of
        > the Shining Prince" had to say about accupuncture and herbalism.

        You'd probably end up looking for references in 'Onmyodo'--Japanese
        yin-yang divination, which seems to have covered much of the esoteric
        knowledge from China. Still, I'm not sure that there was much alchemy
        going on. It seems that things were more of a spiritual than physical
        nature.

        There is evidence of some possibly alchemical ideas in the esoteric
        'mikkyo' of certain Buddhist sects, as well. That might be another
        source to investigate.

        -Ii
      • Solveig Throndardottir
        Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! First I hope that I didn t discourage people by remaking about the Japanese Alchemy animated series. However, I have
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 28, 2005
          Noble Cousins!

          Greetings from Solveig!

          First I hope that I didn't discourage people by remaking about the
          Japanese "Alchemy" animated series. However, I have run in to people
          who have wanted to base stuff on similar television programs, and just
          wanted to mention that what appears in that program has little or
          nothing to do with more traditional representations of magical
          practices in Japan. Magical practices in Japan have several roots one
          of which was already mentioned. Yes, Toaism was imported into Japan by
          the court nobility. However, you should not neglect early forms of
          Buddhism which were imported into Japan chiefly for their magical
          claims. Another magical tradition in Japan is the Yamabushi cult.
          Generally, however, you will not see a lot of recognizable alchemy in
          premodern Japan. You will see a lot of herbalism, asceticism, a lot of
          use of mudra (mystical hand positions and gestures), and a lot of use
          of music, chanting, and dance. As for life extension in general. This
          is a major topic of the Ishinpo. There are complete translations of the
          Ishinpo into modern Japanese and partial translations into English. The
          virtues of a specific approach to "love making" for extending life is
          the subject of one book of the Ishinpo. I have two different English
          translations of the "love making" manual with all of its talk about the
          "jade stock" and the "jade gate". We will be discussing this work in a
          class at Pennsic this year.

          > Anyway, I don't really know much about the topic, but basically, start
          > doing some
          > research on pre-Song China and it's alchemy, and pick up a few key
          > words, then
          > expand your search out to Japan, make use of your local library, etc.
          > etc.

          I think that Springer Verlag may have a book on Chinese Alchemy or was
          it a book on Chinese Astrology? I forget. I think I got a copy a few
          years back. Harvard University Press has a book on Japanese Astronomy.
          These are not the sort of book that most local libraries are going to
          have. You really need to make the acquaintance of your reference
          librarian and try to find a way to get onto Worldcat and so you look
          for things to request through interlibrary loan. However, even with the
          resources of academic interlibrary loan, I have been known to make
          several library trips each year where I travel to research libraries
          such as Harvard Yen Ching Library.

          Your Humble Servant
          Solveig Throndardottir
          Amateur Scholar

          +----------------------------------------------------------------------+
          | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
          | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
          | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:Solveig@... |
          +----------------------------------------------------------------------+
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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Solveig Throndardottir
          ii dono! Greetings from Solveig! ... There is a theory of something like five elements in Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine. However, I really don t know of
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 28, 2005
            ii dono!

            Greetings from Solveig!
            > There is evidence of some possibly alchemical ideas in the esoteric
            > 'mikkyo' of certain Buddhist sects, as well. That might be another
            > source to investigate.
            There is a theory of something like five elements in Chinese and
            Japanese herbal medicine. However, I really don't know of anyone in
            Japan getting involved in what would look like typical alchemical
            operations until the importation of Dutch medicine during the Edo
            period.

            Your Humble Servant
            Solveig Throndardottir
            Amateur Scholar

            +----------------------------------------------------------------------+
            | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM, CoS, Fleur |
            | deMoivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
            | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:Solveig@... |
            +----------------------------------------------------------------------+
            | Note. Many popular "free" email services are automatically routed to |
            | the trash by my email filters. |
            +----------------------------------------------------------------------+


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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