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KISS Grammar
Lewis Thomas - Selection # 1a
From "Alchemy" in Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony,
Toronto: Bantam Books, 1983, p. 31-32.
 
     The association of alchemy with black magic has persisted 

in the public mind throughout the long history of the 

endeavor, partly because the objective the transmutation 

of one sort of substance to another seemed magical by 

definition. Partly also because of the hybrid term: al was 

simply the Arabic article, but chemy came from a word 

meaning "the black land," Khemia, the Greek name for Egypt.

Another, similar-sounding word, khumeia, meant an infusion 

or elixir, and thus was also incorporated as part of the 

meaning. The Egyptian origin is very old, extending back to 

Thoth, the god of magic (who later reappeared as Hermes

Trismegistus, master of the hermetic seal required by 

alchemists for the vacuums they believed were needed in 

their work).