As a practicing Christian priest, Hermann Beckh was profoundly aware that the mystery of substance—its transmutation in the cosmos and the human being—is a mystical fact to be approached with the greatest reverence, requiring ever-deepening scholarship and meditation. He viewed chemistry as a worthy but materialistic science, devoid of spirit, whereas the fullness of spiritual–physical nature can be approached by what he preferred to call “chymistry” or “alchymy,” thereby taking in a millennia of spiritual tradition.
In consequence, Beckh’s Alchymy, The Mystery of the Material World is not limited to the conventional working of Western alchemy, nor is it bound by what can be found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation—although he does unveil hidden riches there, as well. Neither should Beckh be considered only a learned Professor with impeccable academic qualifications and Europe-wide recognition. Beckh writes on such topics as Isis, the Golden Fleece, traditional fairytales, and Wagner’s Parsifal in a way that enables the reader to glimpse the Mystery of Substance and to share the writer’s authentic experience of the divine substantia—the living reality—of Christ in the world.
Beckh’s Alchymy set an entirely new standard and has become his most popular publication. This is the the book's first translation into English, with updated footnotes, making his ideas and insights accessible to a wider readership. Moreover, this edition features translations of Beckh’s “New Jerusalem,” where theology is best expressed in verse; his exemplary essay on Snow-white; his observations on Allerleirauh; and a substantial excerpt from Gundhild Kačer-Bock’s biography of Beckh.
Hermann Beckh (1875–1937) studied Law and later Sanskrit, becoming Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin. A master of ancient and modern languages, he wrote extensively on religious and philosophical subjects, including Buddhism, Indology, Christianity, alchemy, and music. In 1911, he heard a lecture by Rudolf Steiner and was inspired to join the Anthroposophical Society, where he became a valued coworker. In 1922, he helped found The Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal. His many books are gradually being translated from the original German and published in English.