nathaxnne [hiatus]’s review published on Letterboxd:
Without alchemy, we wouldn't have what we understand to be the Modern World. The Scientific Revolution (including Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, etc) and Non-Specie Currency Theory are branches of Alchemy in the way that birds are dinosaurs. Alchemy was (and is) much more than that, though, incorporating Ceremonial Magick, Theology, Natural Philosophy and, most importantly, a DIY program of independent inquiry in which there was no central authority, no governing body, to license or approve experimentation, fund projects, etc. Lots of times alchemists would approach venture capital or monarchs/aristocracy for partnerships/assistance, and vice-versa, and certainly alchemists would rate each other on success/failure, but there was no peer-review or open-source data sharing. In fact, alchemists tended to develop idiosyncratic systems which they guarded and cloaked in code and allegory as a means of ensuring limited secrecy. The Alchemist Cookbook had an Alchemy Consultant (as well as a Chemistry Consultant) on set, so gets its Alchemy right. I am neither an expert nor a practitioner, but I spent some time studying the history of Alchemy as part of Medieval/Renaissance Studies and everything here checks out, which is thrilling. Alchemy is practiced not just as an overlapping set of practical methodologies, but as a spiritual discipline, a quest of the soul, ultimately to achieve enlightenment/oneness with deity. To abandon one's alchemickal studies in favor of making deals with demonic entities is moving from one related discipline to another. Elizabethan/Renaissance Wizards/Sorcerers had many highly developed systems for interacting with angels and demons, asking favors of them, attempting to bind them into servitude, etc. Although The Alchemist Cookbook tends to show one as a gateway drug to the other, this isn't necessarily the case, and were you to do so, it would best to be learned and prepared and take as much precaution as possible. Remember: a familiar and a location of Great Power are totally good for working magicks but they might not be sufficient! The More You Know!
That The Alchemist Cookbook uses this as a means of re-entry to Cabin In The Possibly Evil Woods Folk Horror, a genre as ancient as human storytelling, is more than alright with me. I delight and wonder in it. I really dug this movie and indeed related to it on a personal level.
All the Bonus Points in the Known And Unknown Worlds for using not one but two Esham tracks to score this film. Never was there a more deserved union!
Bonus Bonus Points for having an Alchemist in a Minor Threat shirt to symbolify the hxcx nature of independent shoestring alchemickal operations and the dangers of losing yr. edge! X X
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