chapter  17
The dyer’s grail: alchemical philosophies and folklore
Pages 25

The Micmac made his original discovery in a void. Dyers were also involved in the rediscovery of lost methods and directional discovery of a desired result. Dyers repeatedly had to reinvent their techniques because of the disruption of wars and enforced population movements which regularly affected their small numbers. The dyer was a tranquil worker and there was no need for action until such accidents occurred. The dyer had access to few texts of this truly international craft, often described in unknown languages or ciphers. The defensive secrecy of the dyers’ recipes and methods meant that, over the centuries, the hermetic art was repeatedly lost. How a non-chemist dyer could devise a 30-step process is a tantalising question. In general, discovery is stimulated by surreal leaps of thought which connect disparate ideas. Most original ideas occur at the meeting point of two different theoretical or practical disciplines which touch on the problem.