The “Real Life” Philosopher’s Stone

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There are many myths and legends of ancient artifacts that can provide youth, health, wealth, and more – and one of the most well-known of these (perhaps popularized by the Harry Potter series) has to be the philosopher’s (or sorcerer’s) stone. But what is the philosopher’s stone, and did the real-life version of this incredible stone have any healing properties to make it so powerful?


What is the Philosopher’s Stone Legend?

The philosopher’s stone is an ancient legend in Western alchemy, and it is believed that it has many different powers relating to wealth, health, and even eternal life. Indeed, it is said that the philosopher’s stone can turn generic minerals and metals into precious ones and that it can create the elixir of life.

The legend goes that the stone was discovered in the thirteenth century, but the exact history is unknown. However, it was believed for a time that Vincenzo Cascariolo, a shoemaker by trade, had recreated the philosopher’s stone. These rumors surfaced at the turn of the 17th century in 1603.


Was This a Real Philosopher’s Stone?

Alchemists at the time believed that Cascariolo had succeeded in creating a philosopher’s stone after he heated a stone fragment found at the base of a volcano near Bologna; after this, the stone would glow whenever it was illuminated either by sunlight or firelight. However, the stone – that would go on to be known as the Bologna stone – was no magical ancient artifact. In reality, it was one of the first ever glowing stones!

Of course, the reality behind the tale is somewhat less exciting than the thought of a magical stone that can grant eternal health, wealth, and life. However, that’s not to say that the Bologna stone was disinteresting. In fact, it has been the subject of great debate for about 400 years until modern scientists eventually proved that it was just a type of “persistent luminescent material.” As such, for hundreds of years, people have been fascinated by this unique stone and its seemingly arcane properties.


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