Atalanta Fugiens: Chemical emblems regarding the secrets of nature

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Atalanta Fugiens: Chemical emblems regarding the secrets of nature

A presentation by Mignon Halford

Friday, June 6, 2014 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Quaker House, 10 Hampson St, Kelvin Grove
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15

Michael Maier was a 17th century alchemist and physician to the court of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. Between 1614 and his death in 1622, Maier published a number of alchemical works of which Atalanta Fugiens is considered by scholars the richest and most important. This amazing book contains 50 emblems with each emblem consisting of a motto, a beautiful engraving, an epigram along with an accompanying discourse. To extend the wondrous complexity of each emblem a piece of music was also composed. In this sense, Atalanta Fugiens was an early example of multi-media! Michael Maier collected images and expressions from an array of earlier authors and reassembles them into the most intricate and rich layering of meaning. This talk will attempt to explore some of the emblems, peeling back some of the layers of meanings while contemplating the world view of the cultured early 17th century target audience. A little ‘modern chemistry’ may also be included. As one scholar wrote, Maier’s work is an early 17th century book of ‘brainteasers for the learned’.

Mignon Halford is employed as a Dietitian specialising in Paediatrics and Disabilities. She has worked clinically in a number of health regions in NSW for several decades. During her undergraduate years at UNSW she studied several units of Chemistry.

Mignon has an ongoing interest in imagery, symbolic language and the inner journey. In 2005, Mignon completed a Masters in Analytical Psychology at the University of Western Sydney, a course she realised later she had wanted to do since childhood. She gave a talk to the CG Jung Society QLD in June 2006 on her dissertation titled “That Wicked Apple”. During her research, after stumbling over some golden apples, Mignon discovered the Atalanta Fugiens series, an intriguing, multifaceted opus that has an ongoing fascination.