Secrets and Lies
Voarchadumia contra alchimiam. Dr John Dee, magician at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, studied this work intensively. (Image from Pantheo, 1530)
Magicians were necessarily secretive because if their work were disapproved of by church or state authorities then they were likely to get more than just their fingers burnt. In 1518, Venetian priest and alchemist Giovanni Pantheo published a treatise extolling the virtues of alchemy. Twelve years later he published Voarchadumia contra alchimiam, in which he condemned ‘spurious’ alchemy. Pantheo’s u-turn may in part be explained by his need to distance himself from the earlier work. The intervening years had seen the Vatican and Venice issue decrees against alchemy and it is likely that Pantheo was beginning to feel the heat.
The Alchemist’s Laboratory. (Image from Khunrath, 1609)