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Alchemy in the Arab world 

From April 24, 2019 until December 12, 2019Check schedules.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Samuel de los Santos Gener, 9). Check schedules. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.
Conferences in French and Spanish with simultaneous translation.

Casa Árabe has organized this first international Symposium on Hermetic Philosophy, the science of life, to be held across four sessions in Cordoba from April 24 to December 12, 2019.

Hermetic Philosophy has existed throughout all of humanity’s history. We can find it on every continent, and we see how it is mixed into the arts of all eras. A veritable compass for understanding true humanism, its impact is etched into a way of experiencing and understanding the world.

Ignored by the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which saw it only as a chimera, today alchemy is arousing renewed interest in the scientific world, as well as artistic and spiritual realms. Through it we are able to perform a new examination of the “traditional” arts at work, which tend to take precedence in a secularized world where the opposition of the material and the spiritual lacks a gravitational center. As a middle path joining opposites in the Western world, alchemy (Ars Magna) seems to have anticipated the knowledge which post-modernity strives to attain. Thus, in alchemy Carl Gustav Jung saw the ancestor of the “psychology of depths.”

With a presence in most great Western and Eastern cultures, alchemy is not just a word with magic resonance used to refer to heteroclitic practices, but also enjoys true theoretical unity. An “esoteric” world view related more or less closely with the dominant religion, the practice of alchemy assumes the existence of staged founding gestures (theatrum chemicus) using enigmatic symbols which, upon being deciphered, have given rise to various forms of speculation. What role was played by Arab alchemy, however?Were Arab and Muslim thinkers mere transmitters passing on knowledge between the ancient world and medieval Christendom, or did they also add innovations?

The First International Symposium on Hermetic Philosophy, within the framework of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the journal Liber Mirabilis, will be held from April 24 through December 12, at a series of sessions, and will be coupled with an exhibition titled “Alambic or Saâdah: Arab Alchemy,” which uses information panels to explain the foundations of traditional alchemy, with its roots and history. We will also be able to see illustrations and antique books displayed during the events.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019**
5:30 p.m.  Official opening of the conference series and the exhibition “Alambic ou Saâdah: Arab alchemy”
6:30 p.m.  Dialogue between Patrice Hernu and Jean-Marc Savary:
“What is Hermetic Philosophy and why is Alchemy important?”
7:30 p.m.  Françoise Bonardel: What is alchemy?: Past and present

Thursday, October 17, 2019* 
6:30 p.m.  Myriam Philibert: “Arab Alchemy”
7:30 p.m.  Jean-François Blondel: “The great alchemists of Cordoba”

Thursday, November 14, 2019*
5:30 p.m.  Marc Oliveras: The Alembic and the Phoenix’s collar
6:30 p.m.  Hashim Cabrera: The colors of the soul
7:30 p.m.  Ana Zamorano: Glass and the material marks left behind by Alchemy

Thursday, December 12, 2019*
6:30 p.m.  Bernard Chauviere: L'Alquimie Pratique
7:30 p.m.  Rheza Kouhkan: Study of Tughrai’s thought on alchemy

* These schedules may undergo changes
** Conferences in French with simultaneous translation

Academic coordinators: Casa Árabe and Jean-Marc Savary
Alchemy in the Arab world 
Jean François Blondel
With a great interest in the history of corporations and their origins, Blondel has authored such titles as Mystique des tailleurs de Pierre (The Stone Carvers’ Mystique), and Le Moyen âge des Cathédrales (The Middle Age of Cathedrals). He has contributed to the journal Liber Mirabilis and has collaborated with the Centre Européen des Mythes et Légendes.

Françoise Bonardel
A philosopher and essayist, Bonardel is a professor emeritus of the Philosophy of Religions at the Sorbonne University, Paris 1. Within the field of Hermetics, Bonardel has found gnosis and alchemy to be sources of inspiration. She has authored more than 15 works and numerous articles for French and foreign journals and for collective works. A member of the Institut d’Etudes Bouddhiques since 2001, she has taught courses there about the cultural assimilation of Buddhism in the West and its possible ties with Western philosophy and alchemy.

Hashim Cabrera
A plastic artist and writer born in 1954, for over three decades Cabrera has traveled through many different countries. In his work, he has delved into the use of most techniques in the visual arts, painting, sculpture, photography and installations, always striving to perform complementary work with texts. Since he was recognized as a Muslim in 1987, he has followed the path of Sufism. He has authored numerous essays, including  Islam y arte contemporáneo Islam and Contemporary Art, 1994) and Ishraq, los colores del alma (Ishraq, the Colors of the Soul, currently at press).

Reza Kouhkan
With a PhD in Religious Sciences, he is a writer who has taken part in many conferences on the topic. A specialist who studies thought on alchemy by Tughrai, he is currently a professor at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy.
Pierre Lory
Director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, and the professor holding the “Muslim Mysticism” chair, Lory has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Arabic Language and Literature from the National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Under the direction of Roger Arnaldez, he has specialized in Islamology and Muslim Mysticism since 1976. He is a member of the editorial committees of the Revue de l’histoire des Religions, the Journal of the History of Sufism, and the Bulletin Critique des Annales Islamologiques. His scientific work revolves mainly around mysticism and Islamic esotericism. His books have been translated into Arabic, Turkish, Farsi and Spanish.

Marc Oliveras
Marc Oliveras has a PhD in History of the Sciences and is a specialist in the astrological poem of Ali b. Abi-r-Riyal (tenth century). He teaches courses on Islamology, Language and Literature in the Department of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Barcelona. He has carried out projects at the Warburg Institute in London and has been a guest professor at international universities. Having authored several publications, his lines of research have focused on studying the traditional sciences within the Islamic world and the means through which they are transmitted, especially those which are used for mnemonic techniques.

Jean Marc Savary
Since 1985, Savary has been an editor who directs the hermetic philosophy journal Liber Mirabilis and is the president of the Centre Européen des Mythes et Légendes. Creator of the Museum of Alchemy in France, he has organized many different colloquiums on ancient alchemy in Paris, Carcassonne and Amsterdam. He also collaborates with the Ritman Foundation.

Casa Árabe

Liber Mirabilis