In medieval Europe and Asia, in the world we know, many scholars and learned men pursued the art of alchemy. This forerunner of chemistry has been discredited on this Earth, but on PCEarth, that is far from the case.
While all witches are able to use physical items as a focus for their workings, those with the Earth Talent are most likely to do so. The solid nature of their element makes working with tangible objects a reasonable and easy channel for their witchery.
Before the Pact and its spread to most of the world, many witches felt the need to hide their workings from their Ortho neighbors; this required secrecy that was not easy in most cases and not possible in others. Earth witches took to working plants and creating potions with their workings embedded within the liquid. A plant known to cleanse the body would be worked by an Earth witch and become a potion that purified wounds and enhanced healing. The witchery would be used to bring out the inner properties of the plant and to enhance them, then the worked plant would be changed into a form that would make it useable by anyone, witch or Ortho.
This spread to include all manner of materials.
Before long, Earth witches had developed the science of alchemy. Careful studies of natural objects and the inherent properties of each became treatises of how to use each in a plethora of potions, powders, unguents, and material transformations. Each of the elements of earth, air, fire, and water was represented in the alchemical art, and witches of each Talent began to practice it. However, alchemy remained the especial province of Earth witches, as their Talent has the greatest strength in drawing power from and granting power to materials found in and grown from the earth itself. Other Talents, dealing as they do with elements that are less solid than Earth, are not as adept at this sort of working.
For a time, alchemy was the science for medical treatments and the improvement of people and things through witchery. As other sciences grew, however, and became more widely known, alchemy fell out of favor. While a witch skilled in the art of alchemy could produce a potion to counteract a poison, so could any pharmacist or physician – Ortho or witch – who had learned the medical sciences.
Alchemy could only be practiced by a select few, and the number of those few doing so began to dwindle rapidly. Before many generations had passed, alchemy was nothing more than a brief aberration in the practice of witchery, no longer a subject of anyone’s concern.
Now, in the 21st century, that is changing. A new generation of Earth witches is finding promise and potential in alchemy again. A new witchery practice is being developed. This new practice is known as Thaumaceuticals; it is a new attempt to embed witchery workings into medicines, allowing healing witches to expand their work beyond the few people they can personal attend.
The inspirations for this field of study come almost purely from ancient alchemical practices. Other than updated materials and equipment, most of the workings done in thaumaceutical work is identical that what was done by alchemists.
Will this new form of alchemy become a viable and respected part of witchery or will it fade away as it did once before?
Sid says: The world of the Perfect Coven grows yet again! I have to confess that alchemy has always fascinated me, from the accounts of John Dee to the mysterious St. Germain to its inclusion in the Harry Potter books. James has dropped a few hints about what’s to come next, and now to know that there will be an alchemy element makes me even more eager to get the first trilogy wrapped and move on to the next books!
Mickie says: One of the most fun things about writing is that you can invent stuff and then make it work in your world. Thaumaceuticals – such a nifty concept. I love the connection to alchemy. I enjoy the esoteric mystery of it all. And again, it gives us another opportunity to incorporate real world history into our story world, as there are some very famous (Isaac Newton) and infamous (Faust) Alchemists whose secrets may have major impact in our timeline!