By this title, you might be expecting a long treatise on alchemy. No, this is just the tale of one day's magical acquisitions and the surprising significance they have for me.
Today featured a visit to an antique show. We found many lovely items and here is the tale of two. We started at the perimeter of the large room filled with many dealers' wares, traveling clockwise and proceeding gradually to its center. I'd already gotten to the center, when a small brass mortar and pestle called to me from the perimeter. With sore feet, we trudged the exterior again and found the gathering of mortars and pestles in various sizes. There were several larger than this one, there was even one much smaller.
The mortar and pestle is probably the most ancient invention one is likely to find in a modern scientific laboratory or kitchen. The definition of a mortar is "a strong vessel in which material is pounded or rubbed with a pestle", usually a "club-shaped implement for pounding or grinding substances". Grains, herbs, and other food substances can be pulverized, as well as medicines and other materials used by chemists.
When I picked up the various examples, only this one felt right. And I knew where I wanted it to be. As this is a device used by chemists, it became to me a symbol of magical alchemy, whereby the alchemist learns "a power or process of transforming something common into something special". Furthermore, in medieval times, alchemy was both a science and philosophy "aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life".
The only place I wanted this small treasure to be is on my altar: