This is an extraordinary collection of art - comprehensive and diverse, spanning a significant portion of human history. Brief descriptions and explanatory text are sprinkled about but the greatest pleasure, in my opinion, derives from the gorgeous reproductions of art related to alchemy and mysticism.
I actually own two copies of this book. One that I peruse regularly and another that I shall keep as a spare should my first wear out. It is an excellent gift - very uplifting and immensely inspiring.
The subject of alchemy has been somewhat cheapened in our time - reduced to a few basic - often misrepresented - ideas and thrown about by simple minds with incoherent ideas. Few people have encountered the breadth of the subject and the contributions it has made to human civilizations. The inspiration it has provided artists and scientists is immense and this book captures quite a bit of this significance.
The author neither advocates existing belief in alchemy and mysticism, nor denies it. It is a historical perspective - largely relayed through imagery - celebrating the great beauty of the subject and the complexities it once contained.
This book collects a wide variety of key images from the Western alchemical mystical tradition. True to the nature of the original artists, the book does not seek so much to explain them directly, as it seeks to instead explain by inference and implication. This book, like the art work itself, is impossible to understand WITHOUT THE KEYS. It is easy to see how so many thousands have been confused or misled. However, with the proper keys the images are startlingly clear. The keys to unlock all the hidden meanings of the true and fruitful work of inner spiritual alchemy can be found in the works of Samael Aun Weor, specifically in his books The Perfect Matrimony and The Revolution of Beelzebub.