Coming into mainstream consciousness during the renaissance, we have the homunculus. Though, the origins of these monsters go back much further in Kabbalistic Hebrew mysticism. The name homunculus roughly translates to “little human being” and is essentially an artificial person that is created through the use of Alchemy and is still considered one of the most significant accomplishments an alchemist can achieve. However, a homunculus though based on human beings is far from human, and could hardly pass for one. They’re monsters through and through, while still possessing rational thought to a degree.
There are even remnants of medieval writing that have survived till the present day that contain the ingredients to create a homunculus, and it’s pretty bizarre. In the Book of the Crow, everything one needs to do to create a homunculus is laid out: human semen sealed in a flask, a Sun Stone, animal blood, a cow, sulfur, a magnet, Green Tutia, and a large glass lead vessel.
These ingredients may seem baffling, but it’s not so bad compared to the preparation required to bring a homunculus to life. Simply mix the semen and the Sun Stone, then inseminate the cow with it and plug closed the cow’s vagina with the stone. Next, smear the creature’s genitals with the blood of another animal. Then place the cow in a dark place; one knows the sun won’t shine. The cow should only be fed on blood from other animals and left alone as much as possible for an extended amount of time. When done, smash up the Sun Stone into a powder and mix it with sulfur, a magnet, and Green Tutia into a concoction while only stirring it with the sap of a White Willow.
If done correctly, the cow should have given birth to a small, deformed humanoid referred to in the text as an “unformed substance.” The weak-minded may be mentally fractured if they view the monstrous being, so utmost secrecy is required. The infantile homunculus then has to be put in the concoction previously prepared and locked within a led or glass container for three days. The mixture allows the monster to grow skin and be more comfortable to look at from a human perspective.
As the monster is forming, it will be insanely hungry. However, only feed the homunculus its mother. Decapitate the cow used in the homunculus’ gestation and pour its blood into the container. After a week, the little monster will slowly form into something resembling a humanoid to a small degree and will be ready to serve its creator.
There are other ways to create a homunculus, but none so baffling or gross as these directions. Delving deeper into mysticism, the formation of these monsters is much more esoteric, and cryptic to the point that only the initiated can genuinely comprehend what is said.
Homunculi are very useful servitors capable not only of physical violence but many magical abilities as well. Such as influencing the Moon, or even giving its creator the ability to shape-shift. They allow one to walk on water, among many other supernatural feats. But, one of the main things a homunculus can grant is presience, letting the alchemist know things that are going on across vast distances.
Other types of homunculi grant an alchemist the power to see, talk to, and interact with spirits, or even demons if the magician is bold enough. While still, other types of these monsters grant the alchemist the ability to control the weather to a degree or create ridiculously poisonous snakes.
For the most part, homunculi are very loyal servants, even killing on command if the alchemist ordered it. But, there are many tales of alchemists treating their creation recklessly, to the point the homunculus turns on its master at the most opportune moment, killing them, or bringing great tragedy to their lives. Therefore it is essential to treat the monster respectfully.
Now, in the old ignorant times when there was an endless war on free-thinking, merely speaking about creating a homunculus was considered heresy worthy of execution by the Catholic Church. During the Dark Ages, Europe was under the tyrannical rule of dogma. The Church’s word was law, and many suspected alchemists paid with their lives pursuing their esoteric science. To the Thought Police of the church, only God could create life. So to them, if a man created life, he was either possessed by the devil or a practitioner of Witchcraft. And the Catholic Church suffered not the heretic to live. So any alchemist seeking higher knowledge had to do so in utmost secrecy. But, if they could pull it off, the creation of a homunculus granted them a loyal and powerful servant capable of many magical feats.
Stories, legends, and folklore about homunculi ran rampant throughout the renaissance in Europe while before they were secret knowledge limited to few. The monster became so famous it’s deeply ingrained within humanity’s collective unconscious and has almost taken on a life of its own beyond Alchemy. In this day and age, the homunculi can be analogous to our technology. The creation of artificial life (such as cloning, for example) is a real thing in modern times. So a homunculus can also be used in symbolism coming forth from deep within our collective subconscious minds.
However, what the majority of people both in old times and modern don’t understand is that alchemist’s writings were never meant to be taken literally. They only wrote and spoke in a way that those initiated into the mysteries could understand it. In truth, this cryptic way of communication was meant to keep the profane and unworthy at bay from higher knowledge. Not to mention the ever-watching eyes of the Church. The truth is that all literature concerning Alchemy is symbolic. The writings contained secret messages and information only someone who was trained to look for could actually read and understand. Which helped a lot in not getting burned at the stake by the Church, and allowed their secret orders to survive the millennia. The ancient alchemist’s writings were about an esoteric path of secret spiritual ascension.