Well, some believe the word alchemy comes from the Greek "cheo" meaning "I pour" or "I cast", especially since alchemy has alot to do with working with metals. Others believe it comes from the Egyptian "Khem", which means "the black land" and believe that this is where alchemy originated. Later the Arabic "al" was added to it to make the word "alkhemy". Of course as the science progressed (which is also called pseudoscience) , the Arabic article "al" was dropped and the word became "chemistry". So in essence, Alchemy is the early history of chemistry. There was also an Egyptian alchemist by the name of "Chemes" and so some believe the word "alchemy" came from his name. He had written a book about his experiments of how he tried to change base metals into gold. Irregardless of the word's origin, it is certain that the practice of alchemy had its beginnings in the Hellenistic cultures of Alexandria, Egypt. In fact, Alexandria at that time was known to be the "learning center of the world". Alchemy is a *blending* of Egyptian technology, Greek philosophy and Middle Eastern mysticism. Some of the first alchemists were metal workers who prepared precious metals for the Nobles. But, they also learned how to *substitute* some of these precious metals into cheaper items for the less fortunate and/or the less affluent. Of course, just like today, the cheaper substitutes are made to *look like* the more precious ones. (i.e. ; cubic zirconia vs. diamonds). And, it didn't take long for the idea that it might be possible to actually produce the precious metals themselves. This idea was backed by Aristotle's theory that there is a "prime matter" that is the base for all substances. Astrology then added the concept that the greater outer world of planets and stars reflected the inner world of human beings.(i.e.; macrocosm/microcosm). It was believed that under the appropriate astrological influence, it would be possible to change one metal into another, for instance ; lead into gold. Just like in the same way human beings perfected the cycles of death and rebirth , so should the metals be able to be perfect and grow from one form to another higher form. The "Philosopher's Stone" as it was called , was a term given to a particular stone that could be a catalyst to "transform metals and other raw materials into gold". Even though it was referred to as a stone, it was not actually a stone because it could be as simple as a combination of fire and water or *other* unlikely mixtures. So, alchemy became known as the passing of substances through a series of chemical processes. When these "workings" were done, they recorded the processes with symbols to protect the recipes from "dabblers and un-initiated" and to protect the alchemists from the Church accusing them of heresy. The metals were symbolized by astrological signs and these were for controlling the body and sometimes the components were combined with Greek and Roman myths or the Deities. It seemed the more the alchemists tried to hide and protect the results of their experiments, the more obtruse and confusing it became of what they actually did and said. When they would write out their actions with words, the would use language like "when we marry the crowned king with the red daughter , she will conceive a son in the gentle fire ... the dragon shuns the light of the sun and our dead son shall live. The king comes forth from the fire and rejoices in the marriage." Now how in the world .. could someone *decipher* what is being said here? Difficult, eh? lol.
Nonetheless, The Thrice Great Hermes has been described as an earthly incarnation of the Egyptian God Thoth and as an Egyptian Priest or Pharaoh , who taught all of the Egpytians their magic. He is credited for having written several thousand books, including THE EMERALD TABLET, which contained all of the Hermetic teachings , the Thirteen Precepts , including the fundamental principles for the GRAND ARCANUM , or "THE GREAT SECRET". There are many references to the Emerald Tablet in alchemical writings.
Alchemy is a practice that takes great research and study as well as patience. An alchemist can use different instruments, using weights and measurements, using the Seasons, symbols and animals to combine all sorts of materials such as gold, silver , aluminum to arsenic and eggshells to manure and wood, put it through a process for a result and/or an outcome. Many magicians use alchemy and is something one must be very careful with and know what it is they are after, what result it is they are wanting .. before every doing it!
Have a wonderful day and a great "rest of the week" !