June 16, 2011

Did You Forget How Awesome Wikipedia Is?

Take for example...

Homunculi in alchemy

In Carl Jung's studies of alchemy, he believed the first record of a homunculus in alchemical literature appeared in the Visions of Zosimos, written in the third century AD, although the actual word "homunculus" was never used. In the visions, Zosimos mentions encountering a man who impales himself with a sword, and then undergoes "unendurable torment", his eyes become blood, he spews forth his flesh, and changes into "the opposite of himself, into a mutilated anthroparion (a Greek alchemical concept of a being somewhat similar to a golem but possessing a sense of will and intelligence), and he tore his flesh with his own teeth, and sank into himself", which is a rather grotesque personification of the ouroboros, the dragon that bites its own tail, which represents the dyophysite nature in alchemy: the balance of two principles. Zosimos later encounters several other homunculi, named as the Brazen Man, the Leaden Man, and so forth. Commonly, the homunculi "submit themselves to unendurable torment" and undergo alchemical transformation. Zosimos made no mention of actually creating an artificial human, but rather used the concept of personifying inanimate metals to further explore alchemy.[1]

In Islamic alchemy, Takwin (Arabic: تكوين‎) was a goal of certain Muslim alchemists, notably Jabir ibn Hayyan (later known as Geber in Europe). In the alchemical context, Takwin refers to the artificial creation of life in the laboratory, up to and including human life.

There are also variants cited by other alchemists. One such variant involved the use of the mandrake. Popular belief held that this plant grew where semen ejaculated by hanged men (during the last convulsive spasms before death) fell to the ground, and its roots vaguely resemble a human form to varying degrees. The root was to be picked before dawn on a Friday morning by a black dog, then washed and "fed" with milk and honey and, in some prescriptions, blood, whereupon it would fully develop into a miniature human which would guard and protect its owner. Yet a third method, cited by Dr. David Christianus at the University of Giessen during the 18th century, was to take an egg laid by a black hen, poke a tiny hole through the shell, replace a bean-sized portion of the white with human semen, seal the opening with virgin parchment, and bury the egg in dung on the first day of the March lunar cycle. A miniature humanoid would emerge from the egg after thirty days, which would help and protect its creator in return for a steady diet of lavender seeds and earthworms.
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