The Alchemist : Book Notes

Part One

What is the boy’s name?
What did he carry and sleep on?
A book
To keep warm?
A jacket
Who is he looking forward to seeing?
The merchant’s daughter
What is one distinguishing characteristic of her?
Dark hair
How often does he see her?
Once a year
How many sheep does he shear for the merchant?
What did his father want him to become?
A priest
What “makes life interesting”? (page 12)
The possibility of a dream fulfilled.
What was his dream about?
The Pyramids
How are sheep sheared? (page 18)
From “back to front”
What is “the World’s Greatest Lie”?
That fate controls your destiny
What is the Man’s name or title that he meets?
The King of Salem, Melchizedek
What did King of Salem write in the sand?
The names of his family
What’s a Personal Legend?
What you were meant/created to do
When you want something, what helps you? (page 23)
“…the whole universe conspires to help you…”
What becomes more important than a Personal Legend? (page 24)
What other people think of you
How many sheep did he give the King?
What about the lame one?
It was the most intelligent and had the most wool
What are examples of good omens? (page 31)
Butterfly, crickets, grasshoppers, lizards, clovers
What is the color and meaning of the stones?
Black = yes (Urim), white = no (Thumim)
Explain the story of the boy and the spoon with oil. (page 33-34)
The boy wandered through the palace keeping the oil in the spoon, but observing nothing. The second time, he dropped all the oil though he saw everything. The challenge is to do both.┬áThis is similar to the “Vanity of Vanities” in Ecclesiastes. (page 35)
The “other man” spoken of is Abraham.
What could delay the boy’s travels?
Not knowing Arabic
What does the religion in the new country forbid?
Drinking wine
What should he cross to reach his treasure?
The Sahara
What caused him to get distracted and lose his money?
A beautiful sword
What was the first omen?
The stones fell out of the bag
What did the boy do to start working for the crystal seller?
He cleaned the glasses in the shop window

Part Two

What holy book is spoken of often?
The Koran
What are the 5 obligations of the Koran?
  1. Believe in the one true God
  2. Pray 5 times a day
  3. Fast during Ramadan
  4. Be charitable to the poor
  5. Visit Mecca – go on a holy pilgrimage
Why doesn’t the merchant go to Mecca?
He’s afraid he won’t have a reason to live afterward. Also, he’s already so vividly imagined it enough times to not need to go in reality
What is Tarifa?
The name of his old city (his old country = Andalusia)
Why does he not want to sell tea in crystal?
It would mean an expansion of his shop and a change of his way of life
How long did the boy work for the merchant?
One year
What does he learn?
What is the Englishman studying?
Alchemy and books on alchemy
What is the breastplate spoken of? (page 72)
This is the same breastplate in Jewish and Christian religion that the high priests wore
“Making a decision carries you into a strong current…”
What never stops in the desert?
The wind
What happened to the camel driver to cause him to become a camel driver?
The Nile flooded and destroyed his home
Why doesn’t the Englishman pay attention to the caravan?
He’s too busy reading.┬áBut soon, the Englishman will pay attention to the caravan and the boy to the books
Page 83
What is the Soul of the World?
When you want something with all your heart
What is the Emerald Tablet?
The most important artifact in alchemy. The secret of alchemy is written in one sentence on its surface
What is the Elixir of Life?
The liquid part of the Master Work – it heals everything, including eternal youth
What is the Philosopher’s Stone?
The solid part of the Master Work – a small sliver of it can turn any metal to gold
What is the Master Work?
The Soul of the World, when metal is heated and purified for many years. It enables people to understand anything on earth.
The purification of metals = the purification of our selves
What made them cautious in the desert?
Talk of war and raids
Where does the alchemist live?
At the edge of the oasis
Who was to be the alchemist’s apprentice?
What are rules of war for oases?
Hand over weapons before entering and sharing space (the Law of Hospitality)
What did they expect in the alchemist’s tent?
A continually burning oven
What status are women in black?
Who cures their illnesses?
Where did they wait to meet people?
At the well
What is the Universal Language?
What’s the girl’s name?
The name of the Prophet’s daughter
Who is the Prophet?
What are genies?
Spirits of good and evil
What is the first thing he said to her?
“What’s your name?” Then “Where’s the alchemist?” Then “I love you.”
Which side is Allah on in a battle between forces for a balance of power?
Both sides – so you never can be sure who will win
After meeting, what does Fatima say?
“I love you too, you’re my present from the desert.”
What did the girl say right before he left?
“I love you.”
Why does the Seer not try to know the future?
If good comes, it will be a pleasant surprise, but if bad comes, you will suffer greatly before it even happens
How does he guess the future?
He observes the omens of the present
What will the boy get after the army comes to the oasis?
1 piece of gold for every 10 dead OR the sword turned on him (death)
Who is the black rider on a white horse?
The alchemist
Describe the attack on the oasis.
500 men attacked 2000 in the oasis and lost
How was the attacking captain killed?
He was hanged from a dead palm tree
What was Santiago’s reward?
50 pieces of gold – and he became Counselor of the oasis
Page 120
Why does the alchemist drink wine?
“It’s not what goes into a man that makes him dirty, but what comes out.”
What animals did the boy trade?
He trades his camel for a horse
What life did they find in the desert?
A cobra
How did they find it?
The boy lets the horse run freely – life attracts life
Why do men go away?
“To return.”
What might keep him at the oasis for 3 years?
The fear of not coming back
Describe their first hug.
It was under the stars the night before he left
Why did Fatima cry?
She’s still a woman (even though she’s strong)
What’s the only one way to learn?
“Through action”
Why did other alchemists fail?
They only sought treasure, not their Personal Legends
Why did God create the world?
So men could understand spiritual teachings and gain wisdom through physical things
Why listen to your heart?
Where your heart is, there your treasure is
Why do people NOT pursue their dreams?
They feel they don’t deserve them or can’t achieve them. The heart is afraid it will have to suffer
Page 136
Explain the heart.
It’s treasonous, allows you to suffer, and pushes you toward your dream
Before a dream is realized, what is tested?
Everything you’ve learned along the way
In order to achieve the dream, you must master the lessons of life
What was the alchemist’s answer when stopped by 3 men and questioned?
He told them the truth, that he held the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher’s Stone because “when you possess a great treasure and try to tell others, you are seldom believed.”
Who do hearts help?
Those following their Personal Legends, children, drunken people, and the elderly
What do eyes show?
The strength of your soul
Is a symbol for evolution and the basis for conflict
If you interfere with another’s Personal Legend, what happens?
You’ll never discover your own
What did the desert used to be?
A sea
Who captured them?
Men in blue
What did the alchemist first offer after capture?
Santiago’s money
Their lives if he was unable to turn himself into the wind
What one thing makes a dream impossible?
The fear of failure
What about the Threat of Death?
It makes people more aware of their lives
What happened on the first day?
He thought of death – all men die, fed the falcon, and worried about the wind
Second day?
He looked out from the cliff in fear
Third day?
Santiago took the chief and priests to the cliff to wait and watch patiently
What is love?
Game feeds the falcon, falcon feeds man, man returns to the desert (the Circle of Life).The Sun knows of Love and the Soul of the World – it is mutually beneficial to all. When we love, we strive to become better than we are.
What is the wind’s name?
Strocco; or in Andalusia, levanter
How did he become the wind?
He raised its curiosity, irritated it, challenged it, and asked Heaven.
What did he do to become wind in the storm?
He prayed
What kind of prayer did he pray?
Wordless prayer
Who knows why they were created?
No one and nothing knows exactly why they were created
What is the Hand?
The Soul of the World -> The Soul of God -> The Creator
Where was the boy standing at the end?
The far side of camp
Who were smiling?
The alchemist (he had his perfect disciple) and the chief (he had seen the glory of Allah)
Page 161
From where did they leave each other?
At the Coptic Monastery, 3 hours from the Pyramids
What was the alchemist’s Personal Legend?
To turn lead into gold
Who’s the proverb about gold?
“If it’s stolen once, it never will be again. If it’s stolen twice, it will surely happen a third time.”
Describe the story of the man whose son’s words would live forever.
During the time of Emperor Tiberius, there was a man with 2 sons. One son’s poetry became famous in Rome, but after he died, his words did as well. But, his son who joined the military had his words live on forever (he was the centurion who met Jesus)
“No matter what he does, everyone plays a central role in the history of the world and he doesn’t know it.”
Where is the boy’s treasure? (Where should he look first?)
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He should look where he is first brought to tears
What is the sign to dig?
Tears and a scarab beetle below his feet in the sand
Where did he dig?
On the dune where the scarab was
What did the refugees take?
His money (gold) again (third time)
How did he finally make them leave?
He told them the truth, of his gold, his treasure, and his dream
What was the burglar’s dream?
On exactly that same spot, 2 years prior, he’d dreamed of a sycamore tree in Spain under which there was a treasure


Where is the boy going?
Back to the church (near his home) in Spain
Couldn’t the alchemist have saved him? Warned him?
No – experience teaches much better than words (consider Joseph in the Bible)
What’s his treasure?
A chest of coins, precious stones, masks with feathers, and statues with jewels
How often had he used Urim and Thumim?
Only once in the market
His life provided enough omens that he didn’t need to use them
Is life generous to those pursuing their Personal Legend?
What should he do next?
Give 1/10 of his treasure to the Gypsy
What should he do finally?
Go back to Fatima
Describe their first kiss.
He felt it on the wind after recovering his treasure

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