This entry is an explanation of my reasons for entitling this blog "the Alchemist's path". From the end of the Roman Empire through the medieval era, alchemy was developed into a highly specialized practice. Those who studied and practiced alchemy believed that what they were doing was scientific inquiry, and that through the proper manipulation of variables, perfect states of being could be achieved, both in inanimate objects (iron into gold) and in human beings (Imitatio Christi, or immortality, via the Philosopher's Stone). The basic premise was that imperfect or blank matter could, through a series of physical transformations, achieve the highest state of physical being attainable, and then the highest state of being in a metaphysical sense through a final transformation.
Alchemy was practiced in a variety of ways, the most usual being through experimentation with various rocks, minerals, and other earthly substances and the application of fire, water, earth or air-based agents to such. In many ways, the alchemist's lab represented today's Chemistry labs.
So, it seemed fitting to name my blog "the Alchemist's path for a variety of reasons. Firstly, alchemy as we conceive of it was invented and expanded in the medieval era, which is my particular field, and some of the most fascinating alchemical texts are found within medieval manuscripts. So, as a junior medievalist on a path towards becoming a full medievalist, it seemed fitting to have something "medieval-y" as my blog title.
Secondly, alchemy - the transformation of matter from one form to another through various means, seems a fitting allegorical representation of what we, as graduate students, are in the middle of attempting to do. We have gone from elementary school, through middle and high school, and now college or university; now, we are attempting to transform ourselves into yet another type of student, and also a student at a higher level of being, academically speaking. We are (allegorically speaking, of course!) undergoing a series of "transformations" by "fire" (trying to write a decent SOP and get good recs and GRE scores!) by "water" (all that tea, coffee, and...ummm...the other beverages aiding us in our application process!) by "earth" and by "air" - the postal service and international courier systems getting our applications and, hopefully, acceptances, to and from their destination in timely fashion!
Finally, since alchemy is the "science" of attaining the highest possible state of being, and since I am constantly in the process of trying to be a better version of me, it is personally meaningful to me- because in many ways, this process truly is, for me as an individual, the Alchemist's path. I seek nothing less than the very best I am capable of being and of producing,
And so - this is the Alchemist's path. Enjoy!