Sendivogius, Michael

Sendivogius, Michael (1566–1646) Moravian alchemist. Born in Moravia, Michael Sendivogius—whose true last name was Sensophax—was an expert in mining and manufacturing of pigments who lived in Cracow, Poland. He led a lavish lifestyle. At age 37, nearly out of money, he rescued the imprisoned Scottish alchemist ALEXANDER SETON in hopes of learning the secret of making GOLD as a reward. Seton gave him only some of his Philosopher's Stone powder. When Seton died, Sendivogius married his widow, but she did not know the secret of making the Stone. Sendivogius tried to increase his existing supply of powder, but his experiments failed, and he wasted much of his stock. To establish himself as an Adept, Sendivogius made several transmutations in public. He traveled about with a servant who wore a box that allegedly contained the secret powder on a gold chain around his neck. This was a decoy, as the real powder was hidden in the running board of Sendivogius’s carriage. Adopting Seton’s name of Cosmopolita (“the Cosmopolite”), Sendivogius traveled about Europe in style. He fared considerably better than Seton. Rudolph II, an avaricious monarch who was known to torture and execute failed alchemists, invited him to court but accepted his demurral that he did not possess the secret of making the Stone. However, he did give some of Seton’s powder to Rudolph and coached him in making a transmutation in the presence of several of the king’s nobles. Sendivogius then departed for Poland, invited to court there by King Sigismond. In Moravia, a local lord had him ambushed and imprisoned, threatening to hold him until he released the secret of the stone. Fearing that he would suffer the same fate as Seton, Sendivogius cut through an iron bar in his cell window, made a rope of his clothes, and successfully escaped nearly naked. He boldly reported the incident to the emperor, who fined the lord and confiscated one of his villages to give to Sendivogius in compensation. The lord also was forced to give the hand of his daughter in marriage to the alchemist. Sendivogius went to Varsovia and made transmutations. He performed two for the duke of Wurtemberg, who was so impressed that he gave him the territory of Nedlingen. A jealous alchemist planted the fear that the duke intended to imprison him to gain the stone, causing Sendivogius to flee. The alchemist, along with 12 armed men, arrested him, robbed him of his remaining stone, and cast him into prison. Though the rival achemist enjoyed fame for a brief while with his ill-gotten treasure, word of the deed circulated, and soon Sendivogius was freed. Sendivogius once again appealed to Rudolph, who forced a return of all of Sendivogius’s stolen possessions. The one exception was the stone, which mysteriously vanished. Sendivogius had only a small portion left, which he used to dazzle the king of Poland, Sigismund III, with a transmutation of a crown piece into a porous gold. Thereafter, his stone gone, Sendivogius descended to the level of charlatan and managed to obtain large sums of money. In his later years at his castle of Groverna, he was visited by two men who said they were from the Rosicrucian Society, which wished to initiate him. He declined. Sendivogius died in 1646 at age 84 in Parma. His sole estate consisted of an unpublished treatise, Treatise on Salt of the Philosopher’s Stone, to his only daughter. The treatise remains unpublished, though a spurious work attributed to him has a similar title.

See Also:

Further Reading:

  • Waite, Arthur Edward. Alchemists Through the Ages. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolph Steiner Publications, 1970.


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

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