The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy

More than chemistry... more than magic...

This amazing book is a straightforward guide to the ancient craft of alchemy written for the modern reader. Authored by practicing alchemist Dennis William Hauck, the author of The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation and The Sorcerer’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy, this work is a complete reference and concise guidebook to the Great Work. Hauck is the publisher of the Alchemy Journal and has translated a number of important alchemy manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. He is on the board of governors of the International Alchemy Guild. Read a Review of this book in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition.

Penguin (Alpha) 2008. Oversize; illustrated. Glossary, Index, Resources. 338 pages. ISBN 1592577350


Introduction (from the book)

My initiation into alchemy came while I was attending the University of Vienna. I had gone there to study mathematics in the tradition of the Viennese logician Kurt Goedel. However, within three months of my arrival, I was sidetracked into studying a much older tradition.

Four hundred years earlier, Vienna and nearby Prague were at the heart of European alchemy, and hundreds of alchemists flocked to the area to study. I was unaware of Vienna’s rich alchemical tradition until one day when I stumbled into a basement room in the university library that was full of old alchemy books.

The German and Latin manuscripts were in antique typesetting that was very difficult to read, but the drawings in those books were strangely profound and resonated deeply with me in ways I could not put into words. All I knew was that whatever was going on in those drawings was more real than anything that was going on in my life at the time, and I wanted to be part of it.

I resolved to learn as much as I could about alchemy and began translating the old manuscripts I found in Vienna and Prague. My research led me to even larger collections of alchemy books in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Finally, an Italian friend directed me to Merus Favilla, a practicing alchemist living in Prague who occasionally took on new students.

After some painstaking negotiations, Merus agreed to take me as a student. Every Wednesday for over a year, I took the train from Vienna to Prague to be initiated into the mysteries of the ancient craft. The cost of my weekly tuition was a carton of Camel cigarettes for my master and a box of Mozart Balls (chocolates) for his wife.

I learned much during my strange apprenticeship in Prague mostly about the hidden signatures and correspondences of things. But the most important thing I learned was that the real trick to grasping alchemy was making it come alive within me. As the German alchemist Gerhardt Dorn once put it: "You must transmute yourselves from dead stones into living Philosophical Stones."

Unlike academic disciplines, alchemy can actually take root in you and grow into something that is more than the sum of its parts. This is when the true secret teachings of alchemy begin and when the magic happens. There is some sort of energetic connection to the principles of alchemy that is very empowering. True alchemists know exactly what I am talking about, and I hope you will, too, by the time you are done with this book.

The objective of this book is to teach you the alchemists’ coded language so you can appreciate and work with the ancient wisdom they have passed down to us. For my part, I promise to be honest and direct, with no unnecessary secrecy, no pompous theorizing, and no special allegiance to any particular tradition or organization. My focus in this book is to help you understand the principles of alchemy and apply them in practical ways in the modern world.

So let your apprenticeship begin with this book. All you have to do is assume the role of a “complete idiot” and become an empty cup. Forget everything you thought you knew about alchemy and alchemists. You are now at the beginning of your journey. Remove your blindfold and begin the trek toward enlightenment. And don’t worry, you have everything you need hidden away inside you. Just come as you are.


Part 1: Introduction to Alchemy 

Chapter 1: Your Apprenticeship in Alchemy

Chapter 2: The First Alchemists

Chapter 3: The Land of Khem

Chapter 4: Medieval Alchemy and the Quest for Gold


Part 2: The Principles of Alchemy 

Chapter 5: The Alchemist’s Code

Chapter 6: The Elusive First Matter

Chapter 7: The Four Elements

Chapter 8: The Three Essentials

Chapter 9: The Philosopher’s Stone


Part 3: The Operations of Alchemy 

Chapter 10: Climbing the Ladder of the Planets

Chapter 11: The Black Phase

Chapter 12: The White Phase

Chapter 13: The Purple Phase


Part 4: Practical Alchemy 

Chapter 14: Inside an Alchemist’s Laboratory

Chapter 15: The Spagyric Process

Chapter 16: The Kitchen Alchemist

Chapter 17: Working with the Metals


Part 5: Spiritual Alchemy 

Chapter 18: Philosophers of Fire

Chapter 19: Mental Alchemy

Chapter 20: Alchemy of Relationships

Chapter 21: Alchemy of the Soul

Chapter 22: The Sacred Marriage


Part 6: Modern Alchemy 

Chapter 23: Alchemy and Medicine

Chapter 24: Social Alchemy

Chapter 25: The Science of Magic



·         Resources

·         Glossary

·         Index





This amazing book is a straightforward guide to the ancient craft of alchemy written for the modern reader. Authored by practicing alchemist Dennis William Hauck, this work is a complete reference and concise guidebook to the Great Work. Covers all aspects of alchemical apprenticeship, including the history, principles, operations of both practical (laboratory) and spiritual alchemy, with a complete section on modern alchemy. Indispensible Resources guide and Glossary; complete Index. Illustrated. Penguin Archer 2008. Item #887. Retails for $16.95. Order at 20% discount at left.