Newton the Occultist

| October 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sir Isaac Newton was not only an extraordinary scientist and a mathematician, but also a unique personality. Yet perhaps the most intriguing fact from Newton’s life was that he was likely even more passionate about alchemy then his scientific studies. Among other mysteries, the ones that fascinated Newton mostly were the “hidden” scientific information in the bible and alchemy.

In general the occult studies of Newton were  focused mostly on chronology, alchemy, and Biblical interpretation (especially of the Apocalypse). And as bizarre as it sounds, back in Newton’s days, there was no clear distinction between science and some branches of occultism. The science of chemistry was at its initial stages and indistinguishable from alchemy, whereas other sciences had many features typical to occultism as well. Naturally, Newton, who was a passionately curious person, was eager to study nature and matter in all of its forms, which lead him to path of occultism and science.

From one of the manuscripts

Mystery surrounds Newton’s work on alchemy, as many of his works were destroyed on a couple of occasions, including the famous fire caused by his dog Diamond, destroying most of his works. In addition to that, Newton was working mostly in secret in fear of criticism and scrutiny from his fellow scientists. Nevertheless, there are some sources describing Newton’s research.  In 1936, a collection of Isaac Newton’s unpublished works were auctioned by Sotheby’s on behalf of Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth, who had inherited them from Newton’s great-niece. Known as the “Portsmouth Papers”, this material consisted of three hundred and twenty-nine lots of Newton’s manuscripts, over a third of which were filled with content that appeared to be alchemical in nature. Most of these were bought by John Maynard Keynes, a collector of Newton’s works. Many of these works were later passed on to Abraham Yahuda, who also had a passion for rare documents. Among the documents appeared in 1936, some were focused on alchemy, or the Philosopher’s stone in particular.

Abraham Yahuda — a passionate collector of Newton’s works

Newton was interested in both theoretical and practical aspects of alchemy. As one of his servants described, he would work until 2 or 3 o’clock daily on his alchemical experiments in the laboratory  And although not much is known today about what Newton was actually working on, many speculations appeared. Generally, it is believed that Newton was not only interested in the Philosopher’s theoretically, he was actually trying to create one.

The other great interest of Newton was biblical studies. And as bizarre as it sounds he believed there was real scientific information encoded in various parts of the bible. One particular thing that was fascinating to Newton was the Temple of Solomon — an ancient temple in Jerusalem, which is believed to have held the Arc of the Covenant. Interestingly, the great scientists was more interested in the mathematics of the architecture of the temple then anything else. He believed that the temple was built according to a sacred geometry — one could find golden sections, conic sections, spirals,orthographic projection in the architecture of the temple. Newton  noted that the temple’s measurements given in the Bible were mathematical problems, related to solutions for the value of \pi or the size on the Earth in a larger sense.

Another peculiar fact is that Newton even wrote some prophecies, the most famous of which, is the prophecy of the world in the year 2060. However, Newton’s prophecy doesn’t seem so strange when taking into account that he wrote a chronology treatise called “The Chronology of the Ancient Kingdoms” in which he explored the rise and history of various ancient kingdoms throughout antiquity.

All of these fascinating facts from the life of one of the greatest thinkers in history indicated, as it is often said, that Isaac Newton was not the first of the age of reason, but rather the last magician. Thus it is unfortunate that we do not known much about the mysterious part of Newton’s personality, which was entangled in the world of occultism and secret societies. But not all is lost my friends, as there is more than one online project that is dedicated to the restoration and publication of Newton’s alchemical works  in both original languages and English. The first one is called “Chymistry of Isaac Newton” and it holds about 50 original manuscripts in both Latin and English. The second one’s called “The Newton Project” and it holds a bigger variety of texts including mathematical and scientific works. So, by all means, check out these great projects and have fun reading.




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