Tolkien, artist


My muse seems to have gone on a temporary vacation. I feel her floating around the edges of my life, but I'm too involved in reading right now to open her door. She'll have her opportunity in another 48 hours or so - just one more book to go and then I can allow my life to return to "normal" (which is, of course, a very relative term when applied to my life). So, since my brain is on vacation, it decided to visit the strange today. Today's discussion - the creation of a homunculus.

Two marvelous oil paintings by Fred Einaudi - The Homunculus and The Specimen

One of the characters in the latest book I am reading is a homunculus - a miniature human being created artificially using the bodily humors of a host mixed with chemicals, spells and formulas. I was vaguely familiar with the term, but wanted more information on it, so looked it up this morning. I found it pretty interesting, so I'm sharing with you today. The creation of a homunculus does seem to be highly associated with alchemy, and in the book I am reading it also is the creation of an alchemist. But there were many different recipe possibilities throughout human history, as well as many different uses to which they would be put - everything from guard to basic caretaker and housekeeper.

One ingredient agreed upon by most of the recipes was sperm. At one point in history, each sperm was thought to be a fully formed individual in extreme miniature that would be deposited in the womb and be nurtured there until birth. Supposedly any characteristics of the mother were imbued during this nine-month period. There have also been speculations of homunculi inside our heads. But some of the more interesting things were the recipes presented to make a homunculus of your own. Are you interested in a little helper of your very own? Check out the Wiki on it and start planning for the next full or new moon.
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In the history of science course I did as part of my degree we studied the history of alchemy, so homunculus' were only considered from the alchemical point of view. One of the reasons considered for trying to create a homunculus was that if the alchemist could create life then he would be equal to God and would know the secrets of all creation. The same sort of aim was considered when alchemists were trying to turn base metal into gold.

Alchemy is an incredibly interesting topic and was the part of the course I enjoyed the most.

Edited at 2012-05-22 12:39 pm (UTC)
Since, as a female pagan, I would have been considered as someone who potentially might be able to make/use something like this, I have always found them of interest. But in the long run, I think I would rather have some ushebti. There is just something nice about having a small simulacrum speak up and volunteer for tasks that I would rather not perform.

Osiris - "You there! Stand up and empty out that chamber pot."

Ushebti - "I'll do it! Please? Let me (huh? huh?) please.... "

Me - "Oh...all right, little one. Knock yourself out and enjoy!"

- Erulisse (one L)