What is the philosopher's stone

As the Philosopher's Stone (lat .: Lapis philosophorum; arab .: El Iksir, from this in German "elixir") - or also the azoth - the alchemists have been describing a substance since late antiquity with which base metals such as mercury can be transformed into gold or silver. Many alchemists also considered the philosopher's stone to be a universal medicine.

The transformation of base metals should be possible by adding a small amount of this substance. If the stone had the power to convert all base metals into gold in any proportion, it should Universal be called; if his power was limited to transforming a particular metal, he should Particular be called.

There were various names for the philosopher's stone: Red lion, Great elixir, Magisterium, Red tincture, Panacea of ​​Life, Astral stone. From the philosopher's stone it should also be possible to obtain a universal medicine - especially in the ideas of the Arabs - which should have a healing, strengthening and rejuvenating effect on the human body. Whoever found this remedy should Adept to be named. A less perfect means of turning base metals into silver should White Lion, White tincture, the little elixir or Magisterium be called.

As Aurum Potabile ("Drinkable gold") is the name given to the connection between the Philosopher's Stone and red wine. This should be effective as a remedy against every disease and the only one against aging. The connection of the stone with distilled water, on the other hand, was called universal medicine, which, apart from the rejuvenating, could bring about all the effects of the Aurum Potabiles.

An alchemical society existed in Germany until 1819, the Hermetic society. Looking for that Philosopher's Stone In December 1707, the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger and the natural scientist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus invented the European equivalent of Chinese porcelain. Phosphorus was discovered in 1669 by Hennig Brand, a German pharmacist and alchemist, when this urine evaporated, heated on sand and the residue glowed due to the phosphorescence.

The Philosopher's Stone is also the title of a fairy tale from the Dschinnistan collection by Christoph Martin Wieland, in which the efforts of alchemists to gain wealth are satirized. It is also the title of the first book in the Harry Potter series Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. In the first story of the comic book series The Smurfs tries the magician Gargamelto make the Philosopher's Stone with the ingredient "Smurf". In the manga and anime series Fullmetal Alchemist, the two protagonists Ed (ward) and Al (phonse) Elric try to find the philosopher's stone, because they hope to be able to circumvent the alchemical law of the "principle of equivalent exchange" with its help.

State of the art in elemental transformations

Over time, with increasing knowledge of chemical reactions and the nature of chemical elements, it became increasingly clear that the conversion of metals into gold, or, more generally, the conversion of one element into another in the ways sought by the alchemists - and that is all chemical processes - is impossible because the energies involved are many times too small for this. Such conversions only work with the nuclear physical procedures and methods that work with energies that are millions of times higher, such as those used in e.g. B. for the production of plutonium in large quantities in nuclear reactors are used every day. The American physicist and Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg was the first person to transmute several thousand lead atoms to gold using nuclear physics methods in 1980 (see gold synthesis).


  • Surya, G.W .: Hermetic Medicine · Philosopher's Stone · Elixirs of Life, 1st edition Berlin 1923, Linser-Verlag.
  • Paracelsus: Complete Works (Vol. I – IV), translation of the ten-volume Huser complete edition (1589-1591) by Bernhard Aschner, 1st edition Leipzig 1984, Verlag für Medizin und Naturwissenschaften Gesellschaft mbH Munich.
  • Matthias Bärmann (Ed.): The book from the stone - texts from 5 millennia. Jung & Jung, Salzburg and Vienna 2005 (especially Chapter IV, p. 47-58)

Category: Alchemy