Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Jeffrey B. PettisEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_201

Elixir (Greek, xērion, “healing powder”) is a drug or substance which has life-prolonging properties. Throughout history, the elixir has been sought as an antidote to illness and the human desire for athasias, “immortality.” There are a variety of texts and symbols having to do with the elixir. In the ancient alchemical text “Isis to Horus,” the prophetess Isis procures what she calls the pharmakon tēs chēras (“drug of the widow”) (16). This is the secret revelation which she gives to her son for immortality. The secret revelation consists of the regenerative potency of nature, physis: “nature enjoys nature and nature conquers nature” (hē physis tēn physin terpetai, kai hē physis tēn physin nika) (7). In ancient mythology, Isis herself is the arcane substance and elixir, glistening with the white of the moon, her crown bounded by serpents, and her cloak “deep black and gleaming” (Apuleius 1989, The Golden Ass, XI.3). She is the “dew” and “water of life” (aqua permanens) which heals...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TheologyFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA