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In 1857, a full-throated defense of hermetic philosophy and medieval and renaissance alchemy came from an unexpected source: major general Ethan Allen Hitchcock, a veteran of two wars who served as chairman of the war board during the American Civil War. Writing almost a century before Jung’s psychological interpretation of alchemy, Hitchock argued that the mistake alchemy’s nineteenth-century critics made was to read the alchemists’ detailed treatises literally. In fact, legitimate alchemical literature was meant to be read as an allegory for the elevation of the soul. What did Hitchcock know of the hermetic mystery that his contemporaries failed to grasp?