Back to Alchemy
The Impossible Machine
Mercury, known as the most
changeable of metals, was an
emblem to the alchemists of
transmutation itself, and the
perceptible alterations of properties
possible with small alterations in
condition or environment.

The Roman god Mercury and
corresponding Greek god Hermes
were messengers,

whose speed might represent
symbolically the common
intelligence amongst major powers,
in the sense of diplomacy,
cleverness, and automatic

Indeed, the Norse god Loki, who is
also a messenger is known also as a
trickster, and represents wit and
A Windvane
Windvane, symbolic of
change and serendipity
Like a pun or an aphorism, the element mercury is
meant to provide a sudden change of events, and for
this reason was possessed of a certain irresistible
allure to alchemists.

Often it was thought that simply combining mercury
with lead would lead to a sudden transformation, if
only the appropriate procedure were followed.
Barring that, perhaps silver would shed some light on
the situation, and then maybe sulpher to contribute
the golden sheen...

But alas,

the symbolism of the elements did not bear out
chemically, or at any rate it proved difficult to create
gold from artificial representations of gold. Ultimately,
the yearning for gold was not equal to its object,
even if mercury remained as a kind of chimerical
proof that transformation is sometimes possible.