As Monday begins on Saturday, research fellows at ‘Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry’, we couldn’t leave this topic unattended. Recently when surfing the waves of the world wide web for visual inspirations we noticed the abundance of sleek, elegant and simple but slightly familiar symbols used by creatives as logos. After having a closer look at some of those we realized that they were countless variations of alchemical symbols.
Nearly everybody knows that alchemy can be called the mother of the modern chemistry, a protoscience. However, it also included various ‘esoteric’ theories and practices. Alchemical symbols were used to denote some elements and compounds, but they also had mythological hidden meanings, many were used to define elements as well as conditions of the spirit.
It is doubtful that the creatives using alchemical symbols nowadays are trying to send the viewers some cryptical messages, but let’s take a closer look at some of them and try to decipher the meanings they might have had for the alchemists of the past.
The cross with arms of equal length is an extremely old ideogram used in most cultures. The alchemists used it as one of the signs for the four elements represented by the four arms. Their point of intersection they perceived as coniunctio, quinta essentia, the fifth element, etc. However, it was much more often used as a sign for acids, vinegar and soot by the alchemists and early chemists.
A cross with four dots would mean distilled vinegar. Alchemists assumed that vinegar is the “water that kills and vivifies”. According them it transmuted the vehicle of consciousness the body, into the vehicle of consciousness the spirit.
Here are some more logos with a clear reference to this symbol:
Western alchemy used following symbols for the 4 Basic Elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire:
Here are some examples how modern graphic designers use these nowadays:
In this logo the author seems to refer to two alchemical symbols at once:
In the following logo the author used the reference to alchemy in full awareness. Here is the alchemical symbol for blood:
And here is the logo for ‘Young blood’ by Alexander Diner:
Octagon has a huge meaning for the alchemical practice. An octagonal Wheel of Alchemy has been used to depict the four principal stages in the alchemical process plus the four operations of alchemy.
Here are some the examples of an octagon logos by Anton Repponen and Michael Smith:
And last but not the least let’s look at MondaybeginsonSaturday logo:
And here is one of several alchemy symbols for copper:
Copper is a metal with a high electrical and thermal conductivity. It was associated with the goddess Aphrodite/Venus in mythology and alchemy, owing to its beauty and its ancient use in producing mirrors. The elemental alchemy symbol for copper is also the planetary symbol for Venus. For alchemists this symbol embodied such characteristics as beauty and artistic creativity.