The Middle Ages were more Millennial than one would think. The aim of medieval alchemy was to find the root components of matter as a means to decode the connection between the material and the metaphysical. This field was the progentior of nanotechnology, quantum physics, quantum consciousness, quantum biology, biotech, genetics, anti-ageing tech and Virtual Reality. Alchemy was the science devoted to finding the Elixir of Life and attaining immortality. Alchemy confirms that literally building a spiritual dimension was always the ultimate aim of science.
The greatest and most famous alchemy text in the world is the Splendour Solis, or, Splendour of the Sun. Twenty copies still exist. The first copy dates from the early Renaissance, 1532-1535. By 1582, the work was illustrated. That edition (British Library Harley MS 3469) is a hand-copied manuscript codex with 22 full page illuminated images. These pictures contain kabbalistic, astrological and alchemical symbols. Their mysteries are still difficult to understand. There is a repeated motif of giant glass flasks, within which birds, animals and elements are transformed into people. Test tube babies float in these glass globes with cloned, mythical beasts. Sounds very - Millennial. You can see the codex online, with its incredible illustrations which are simultaneously antique and futuristic, and its and cryptic (translated) text, here.
Folio 18r, the Moliero reproduction (2011-2012).
Among the most sinister and curious of the illustrations is folio 18r (above). A muscled figure bears the alchemical colours of black, red and white. His head is encased in, or made of, red crystal. His left arm is transluscent white, so that his bones are visible. His right arm is bright red, suggesting its chemical composition. He strides out of a dark pool of primordial muck toward a celestial lady, whose angelic wings, star and crown indicate that she will take him to heaven, to immortality - or to superhumanity. She waits to hand him a red cloak. He appears as a mighty, frightening, forceful, masculine creature incredibly born of the perfect combination of elements. The lady represents the conference of something mystical and spiritual upon this construct: a higher consciousness, perhaps an immortal soul. This is the transition point, between Antiquity and Singularity, between the atomization of matter and its hidden transcendence.