Warning: there are minor spoilers for Nightmare in this post.

A number of people have asked me about the three alchemical symbols that play an all-important role in my novel Nightmare. I won’t reveal what that role is here, for those who haven’t read the book, but they’re real symbols from the ancient protoscience called Alchemy. And here they are.

The first symbol, as described in the book:

The first looked like a lower-case ‘m’ with a strange little curl at the end. “This one is commonly known as the Zodiac sign for Virgo. In alchemical terms, it essentially stands for distillation or separation,” he explained.

The second symbol:

He pointed at the second one, which was a circle with a vertical line running down its center. Breaking off from that line to the right was a horizontal line, which was looped with a second circle. “This one is less common than the other two. It appears to be a representation of lodestone. Lodestone is a natural magnet, so I believe that in this context, it represents the magnet’s ability to bind one thing to another.”

The third and final symbol:

Eccleston’s finger hovered over the final symbol. It was the simplest of the three, merely an inverted triangle with a horizontal line passing through it. “This is the alchemical symbol for Earth.”

Now to answer the inevitable question: No, I don’t have a version of the combined symbol as it’s depicted in the book. I did attempt to combine the three into one while I was writing Nightmare, but I couldn’t do it justice. In my mind, the combined symbol is a very elaborate, overlapping thing, that looks like a tiny, textured, three-dimensional labyrinth, and that’s beyond my graphical abilities to produce.