Category: Research

Alchemy, the Forbidden Magic of the Renaissance

alchemyWe are a society of science and technology. It’s been centuries since we’ve believed in magic and mysticism. At least, that’s the trend. Some people believe to this day.

What if they’re correct?

That’s one of the theories posited in my latest release, paranormal romance Bleeding Heart, Book One of the Medici Protectorate Series.

If you read paranormal fiction, you go into it knowing societal norms will be challenged. There may be ghosts, witches, werebeasts, the undead… any manner of supernatural aspects. In my novel, a main character uses alchemy to imbue handcrafted marble daggers with magical powers—powers which affect the warriors who use them in fascinating ways.

alchemy symbolsAs early as the 1300s and well into the Renaissance, alchemy was forbidden by the Church for several reasons. The uneducated considered it an occult practice, which was a danger to organized religion. The devout felt alchemists dabbled in God’s realm, which was sacrilegious. Also, many alchemists were scam artists who used deception to “prove” their abilities. By 1404 in England, those who worked in alchemy could be punished by death. Due to these facts, many alchemists hid their interest in the pursuit.

That didn’t stop people from practicing alchemy, though.

Famous practitioners include Roger Bacon, Nicholas Flamel, John Dee, Isaac Newton, Paracelsus, and even Pope John XXII.

In my novel, I’ve taken liberties with history and made Michelangelo an alchemist. He uses his skills to help the Medici secure their destinies… and in the process, he sets in motion a series of events in modern day Pennsylvania which places one Italian-American family in mortal danger.

In Bleeding Heart, the dagger wielded by the warrior is crafted from red marble. The properties of red stones strengthen the body, add vitality to life, and represents passion and lust. This warrior contends with the positive and negative aspects of these traits, and his primary element is fire.

If you like romances and love the potential alchemy brings to a story, I think you’ll enjoy Bleeding Heart, available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.

Amazing When Sweaty Teaser  Bleeding Heart Front Cover 300  Targets Teaser 2

Catherine Medici and the Occult Mirror

divination mirror

Thanks to my sister, Michele, for sending me a photo of a family heirloom… not quite as old as the Medici mirror, though.

In the time of the Renaissance, the discipline known as alchemy saw its practitioners combine philosophy, science, occultism, and theology in their pursuits to understand and improve the world[1]. Many of these men were themselves in the religious life, where others hid their studies and experiments in fear of retribution from the church.

Whether hiding or practicing in plain sight, one thing remains clear: alchemy was the stepping stone to sciences we know today.

So why did the mystical element come into play? Alchemists were searching not only to make sense of our universe, but to extend life (in some cases indefinitely) and create wealth[2]. More than science and prayer would be needed to achieve these goals, and magicians, whether well-regarded or in disfavor, had been around for centuries. Many experiments were conducted combining “magical” properties and scientific ones.

Mirrors held a special place in the worlds of occult and alchemy, because they were used for catoptromancy[3] (the use of reflective surfaces to see past, present, or future events). Some say they were first used by the witches of Thessaly, who wrote their visions on them in human blood. Others believe the Persians, specifically the Magi, first used them for divination[4].

These “mirrors” could really be any reflective surface: a bottle of water, a pool, a slab of obsidian, or an actual looking glass. Mirrors with flowers on them (or even the word “flower”) were thought to be satanic tools, as St. Cyprian said the devil sometimes appeared in the shape of a flower[5].

Medici

Catherine de Medici—By Piero d’Houin dit Inocybe [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Catherine de Medici was said to have one of these magic mirrors, and she supposedly used it extensively to help her predict her future, and the future of France itself[6].

And this is where my story comes into play.

Lagan Press will be releasing the first of my Medici Protectorate Series in May. Bleeding Heart follows Francesca (Franki) and her sisters as they learn they are actually the only living descendants of the Medici family. Warriors from the Medici Protectorate are assigned to keep them safe. Franki has inherited a mirror—likely Catherine de Medici’s mirror—and she has a vision depicting a dangerous situation. Her personal guardian, Gianni, was there. But was he there to save her, or was he the cause of the danger? (You can read more about Bleeding Heart here and about the Medici Protectorate Series here.)

I hope you’re enjoying these snippets of research I used as I wrote my novel. I found so much of this history fascinating, and there is way too much to include in the story, so I’m sharing some of it here with you.

Do you have an interest in the history of alchemy? Do you know anything about it? Do you believe people can see things when they meditate? I’d love to discuss this. Leave a comment below.


[1] https://explorable.com/renaissance-alchemy
[2] https://explorable.com/renaissance-alchemy
[3] http://www.psychic-revelation.com/reference/a_d/catoptromancy/
[4] http://www.djmcadam.com/mirrors.htm
[5] http://www.djmcadam.com/mirrors.htm
[6] http://www.occultopedia.com/m/mirror.htm

Informative and Emotional PTSD Talk by Pamela Foster

Most of the time, the content of my blog posts reflect subjects found in my fiction: family issues, romantic themes, mysterious elements, etc. Every now and then, however, I share a post regarding a conference I attended, a book I read recently, or something more writing specific. Wounded Warrior Wife

Today’s post is kind of a combination. Part “here’s info about a speech I heard” and part “I’ve read books by this author and I highly recommend her.”

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a local speaking engagement given by Pamela Foster at the Farmington Public Library. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Pamela speak on any topic, I encourage you to do so. She is a wonderful presenter. This particular talk was on PTSD in our combat veterans. Continue reading

Research

I want to discuss research a little bit today. In two different manners.

First, there is research for your writing. The Internet is a wealth of information, if you know how to use it correctly. Sure, sites like wikipedia pop up first and are easy to navigate, but tread carefully. Anyone can post to those sites and you can’t trust their accuracy. Rely instead on academic sites or sites whose expertise is solely about the topic you’re researching.

But, let’s not forget the importance of hands on research. There’s nothing that can substitute for actually being in the city you’re writing about, holding the object you mention in your hands, smelling the gardens, tasting the food… Your writing will be so much richer after having experienced the things you want to write about. People always say write what you know. If you don’t know it, go learn it, then write it.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to all genres (I’m not talking to you, George Lucas), but you get my point.

Last updated by at .

© 2017

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: