Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000

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Excerpts from the Beinecke’s Mellon MS 41, George Ripley and Richard Carpenter.  Emblematic Alchemy in English verse, with an English version of the Visio mystica of Arnold of Villanova. England, unsigned, about 1570.

This nineteen-foot long alchemical scroll is one of twenty-one known “Ripley scrolls,” an elaborately illustrated guide to the alchemical process, associated with the fifteenth-century English alchemist, George Ripley.   This particular copy was given to Yale in 1965 by Paul Mellon, as part of the collection of alchemical books and manuscripts begun by his first wife, Mary Mellon.   Mary Mellon became interested in alchemy through her support of the psychologist Carl Jung, whom she heard speak at a lecture in the Plaza Hotel in 1936, when Jung had just begun to propound his theory of alchemical symbolism as an example of a collective unconscious, his idea of a shared understanding of symbols across time and cultures.

The scroll has been scanned and included (as Mellon MS 41) in the Beinecke’s Digital Images and Collections.  It will be on view in the Beinecke Library’s  forthcoming exhibition, “Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000,” January 20 – April 18, 2009.

1 Response to “Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000”



  1. 1 Things noted, 9.i.09 « Mercurius Politicus Trackback on January 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm

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