Gold is the most precious metal that is the goal of Alchemy. Gold has ruled the fates of empires and nations. It is so valued and so rare that if all gold in existence from the time the Earth began were melted into a single cube, it would measure less than 19 yards square.

During the height of alchemy in the Renaissance, European nobility and royalty hoped that alchemy would provide a magical means of unlimited wealth. Alchemists were hired to transmute base metals such as lead and copper into gold or even silver—sometimes under threat of death if they failed.

Much counterfeit “alchemical gold” was circulated, but some alchemists reportedly were successful. According to Paracelsus, there are three types of gold in alchemy: astral gold, elementary gold, and vulgar gold.

Astral gold “has its center in the sun, which communicates it by its rays to all inferior beings. It is an igneous substance, which receives a continual emanation of solar corpuscles that penetrates all things sentient, vegetable, and mineral.”

Elementary gold “is the purest and fixed portions of the elements, and of all that is composed of them. All sublunary beings included in the three kingdoms contain in their inmost center a precious grain of this elementary gold.”

Vulgar gold “is the most beautiful metal of our acquaintance, the best that Nature can produce, as perfect as it is unalterable in itself.” Paracelsus said that the philosopher’s stone is elementary gold, or “living philosophical gold,” “living sulphur,” and “true fire.”

Gold is the metal of the sun, solar magic, the male principle, light, power, divine intelligence, purity, and spiritual enlightenment. In spiritual alchemy it represents the attainment of a refined and high level of consciousness. Chrysaor, the magic sword of gold, is symbolic of supreme spiritual determination.

Gold also symbolizes all that is superior. Since ancient times, it has been prized for its healing properties and power in amulet s. The ancient Chinese used gold leaf in unguents, believing it to be a restorative to the entire body.


  • Paracelsus. “Alchemical Catechism,” in Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus, A. E. Waite, trans. 1894. Available online. URL: htm. Downloaded January 10, 2005.

The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.
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