26th June 1780
Illustration by Igor Kubik

26th June 1780

Anniversary of the Month
Adam Węgłowski
time 5 minutes

After his failed attempt to turn lead into gold in front of his students, the disgraced alchemist Cagliostro disappeared from Warsaw. “Gone! He fled, and even his students did not try to stop him! He instructed one of them to keep watch over a lamp and the Alchemical Egg, promising that very soon, he would send a pinch of powder as proof of his reputability. Other adepts were so cruel they did not even come out to bid him farewell when he was mounting the carriage. And so he vanished into thin air,” wrote Count Moszyński, who exposed one of the most impudent swindlers of the 18th century, the age of reason. For the great Cagliostro, this was the beginning of the end.

The young wolf of Sicily

Giuseppe Balsamo, as was his original name, was born on 2nd July 1743 in Palermo, Sicily. By the age of 10, he had already lost his father. As he reminisced later, his poor mother could not afford to provide him with either an education or future. However, Giuseppe was manually gifted – he could draw beautifully and was excellent at calligraphy, so aged 15, he was sent to a Catholic order. He did not like this new arrangement, but it was in the monastery that he started to develop a fascination with medicine and chemistry.

Balsamo decided to chase his luck (and the so-called Philosophers’ Stone, supposed to be an alchemical key t


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Also read:

The Transformation
Illustration by Joanna Grochocka; source: "Not So Made-Up Stories" ("Historie nie do końca zmyślone") by Tomasz Wiśniewski
Dreams and Visions

The Transformation

Tomasz Wiśniewski

Many alchemists have tried their hand at the difficult art of transmutation, but a real breakthrough in this domain was made by Michał Sędziwój (known more commonly in English as Michael Sendivogius), an adept of the arcanum and secretary to King Sigismund III Vasa of Poland.

Michał Sędziwój (1566–??) received a good education that fell onto fertile ground – as a boy he had no need for a tutor who, with cane in hand, would have to encourage him to read. He devoured thick volumes, one after the other, spanning domains as distant from each other as astronomy and botany. But his greatest passion was alchemy. He personally met the great initiated minds of his age. We cannot, however, state that he did not have his feet on the ground – he proved to be an effective diplomat on several occasions, well-known even in the most prominent courts of 16th-century Europe.

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