The Sorcerers’ Stone

The Sorcerers’ Stone is now out! This book is my first in a series of translations from the poetry of Angelus Silesius. Future books include themes on the soul as the wife of God, the hero’s journey, and the cosmic drama that unfolds when God becomes man. For updates on forthcoming translations, subscribe to my substack at Logic, Latin, and Literature.

The sorcerers’ stone was a fixture in 17th-century alchemy. It was believed to turn lead into gold and to grant its owner long life and health (if not immortality). The stone appears in several of Angelus’s epigrams in the Cherubinic Wanderer. As a poet, Angelus spiritualizes the stone to describe the soul’s transformation from lead into gold. God acts as a divine alchemist who uses the stone to purify the human heart, while surrounded by other alchemical devices in His divine workshop.

“Rachel Lott’s sparkling translations transform Silesius’s angelic German epigrams into English gems. A treasury of Christian wisdom distilled in golden verse.” —Prof. Rachel Fulton Brown, University of Chicago


Read the Sorcerers’ Stone

Book cover for The Sorcerers' Stone by Angelus Silesius, featuring a woodcut of Roger Bacon doing alchemy

The Wisdom of Alchemy

My translation presents all of Angelus’s “alchemical” epigrams together, along with many of his poems about wisdom. In German, the sorcerers’ stone was known as the Stein der Weisen: the stone of the wise or the philosophers’ stone. The connotations in German included the wise man of the biblical Psalms and Proverbs, secular philosophers, and even the magi (magician kings) of the Christmas story. My translation includes all the alchemical and magical epigrams, as well as many wisdom poems.

The poems below are a sample of Angelus’s epigrams about the sorcerers’ stone.

The Sorcerers’ Stone Is Within

Friend, go within yourself.
The fabled Sorcerers’ Stone
is not a thing to seek
in foreign lands alone. (3:118)

The True Philosophers’ Stone

The chemist’s stone is nothing.
The real stone, in my eyes,
is here: my golden tincture,
the Stone of all the Wise. (1:280)

The Best Potion

He is a potion-master
for real, and not a fraud,
who turns his heart to gold
for very love of God. (3:120)

The Gold-Making of the Wise

The wise can alter nature.
They make gold by their art—
and most when virtue makes us
angel-like at heart. (3:208)

Love Is the Sorcerers’ Stone

The sorcerers’ stone is love.
It makes gold out of ash,
turns nothings into things,
and makes us God at last. (1:244)

A black and white engraving of Roger Bacon conducting an alchemical experiment