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Basic Information

Spagyric means alchemy, but the word is often used to mean herbal medicine produced by alchemical procedures. Processes such as fermentation, distillation, and extraction of mineral components from the ash of the plant. These processes were in use in medieval alchemy generally for the separation and purification of metals from ores (see Calcination), and salts from brines and other aqueous solutions.

The word spagyric was probably first coined by Paracelsus, who stated that the true purpose of alchemy was not for the vulgar purpose of gold making, but rather for the production of medicine1.

In alternative medicine and holistic medicine, a spagyric is usually a plant-based tincture. While this is similar to an essential oil, spyragic generally refers to a more complex multi-step procedure where the plant extracts drawn out of the ash from a plant that has been alchemically broken down, and then those extracts are re-introduced to the tincture to augment it. The final spagyric should be a re-blending of all such extracts into one 'essence'.

The concept of the spagyric remedy in turn relies upon the three cardinal principles of alchemy, termed as salt, sulfur, and mercury. "The basis of matter was the alchemical trinity of principles – salt, sulfur, and mercury. Salt was the principle of fixity (non-action) and in-combustibility; mercury was the principle of fusibility (ability to melt and flow) and volatility; and sulfur was the principle of inflammability."

The three primal alchemical properties and their correspondence in spagyric remedy are:

  • Mercury = water elements, representing the life essence of the plant, the very alcohol extract of the plant is the carrier of the life essence.
  • Salt = earth element, representing the vegetable salts extracted from calcined ashes of plant body.
  • Sulfur = fire element, virtue of plant, representing the volatile oil essence of the plant.


Game and Story Use

  • Spagyric processes could be used to create potions, especially healing potions, in your setting.
  • This may give you ideas on "props" and "set dressings" for the alchemist, potion brewer, or alternative healer in your game or story. Their home or lab could have an attached garden, a kiln for ashing the plants, stills and alembics or other glassware for the distillation process, and quantities of hazardous mercury and sulfur. That might be a good place for a fight scene or a disaster to strike.
  • The observer will noted that the Aristotelean elements of Air and Quintessence are missing - fantasy versions of spagyric may include processes to represent them.
  • The cRPG Darklands uses "bases" for each of the humors as part of it's system of alchemy - for want of any better origin, spagyric may be as good a source of energy for these … sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic base may be standard reagents … maybe even off the shelf purchases where the infrastructure exists.
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