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The Theory and Practice of Alchemy

Part Two

All true Philosophers of the natural or Hermetic sciences begin their labors with a prayer to the Supreme Alchemist of the Universe, beseeching His assistance in the consummation of the Magnum Opus. The prayer that follows, written in a provincial German centuries ago by an adept now unknown, is representative: "O holy and hallowed Trinity, Thou undivided and triple Unity! Cause me to sink into the abyss of Thy limitless eternal Fire, for only in that Fire can the mortal nature of man be changed into humble dust, while the new body of the salt union lies in the light. Oh, melt me and transmute me in this Thy holy Fire, so that on the day at Thy command the fiery waters of the Holy Spirit draw me out from the dark dust, giving me new birth and making me alive with His breath. May I also be exalted through the humble humility of Thy Son, rising through His assistance out of the dust and ashes and changing into a pure spiritual body of rainbow colors like unto the transparent, crystal-like, paradisiacal gold, that my own nature may be redeemed and purified like the elements before me in these glasses and bottles. Diffuse me in the waters of life as though I were in the wine cellar of the eternal Solomon. Here the fire of Thy love will receive new fuel and will blaze forth so that no streams can extinguish it. Through the aid of this divine fire, may I in the end be found worthy to be called into the illumination of the righteous. May I then be sealed up with the light of the new world that I may also attain unto the immortality and glory where there shall be no more alternation of light and darkness. Amen."

THE ORIGIN OF ALCHEMICAL FORMULÆ

Apparently but few of the mediæval alchemists discovered the Great Arcanum without aid, some authors declaring that none of them attained the desired end without the assistance of a Master or Teacher. In every instance the identity of these Masters has been carefully concealed, and even during the Middle Ages speculation ran rife concerning them. It was customary to call such illuminated sages adepts, a title which indicated that they possessed the true secrets of transmutation and multiplication. These adepts were polyonymous individuals who unexpectedly appeared and disappeared again, leaving no trace of their whereabouts. There are indications that a certain degree of organization existed among them. The most powerful of the alchemical organizations were the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, and certain Arabian and Syrian sects.

I n the documents which follow, references are made to the "Brethren "or "Brothers. " These are to signify that those who had actually accomplished the Magnum Opus were banded together and known to each other by cipher codes and secret signs or symbols. Apparently a number of these illuminated adepts dwelt in Arabia, for several of the great European alchemists were initiated in Asia Minor. When a disciple of the alchemical arts had learned the supreme secret, he guarded it jealously, revealing to no man his priceless treasure. He was not permitted to disclose it even to the members of his immediate family.

As the years passed, one who had discovered the secret--or, more properly, one to whom it had been revealed--sought for some younger man worthy to be entrusted with the formulæ. To this one, and to this one only, as a rule, the philosopher was permitted to disclose the arcanum. The younger man then became the "philosophical son" of the old sage, and to him the latter bequeathed his secrets. Occasionally, however, an adept, on finding a sincere and earnest seeker, would instruct him in the fundamental principles of the art, and if the disciple persisted, he was quietly initiated into the august fraternity of the Brethren. In such manner the alchemical processes were preserved, but the number of those who knew them did not increase rapidly.

During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries a considerable number of alchemical adepts made their way from place to place throughout Europe, appearing and disappearing apparently at will. According to popular tradition, these adepts were immortal, and kept themselves alive by means of the mysterious medicine that was one of the goals of alchemical aspiration. It is asserted that some lived hundreds of years, taking no food except this elixir, a few drops of which would preserve their youth for a long period of time. That such mysterious men did exist there can be little doubt, as their presence is attested by scores of reliable witnesses.

It is further asserted that they are still to be found by those who have qualified themselves to contact them. The philosophers taught that like attracts like, and that when the disciple has developed a virtue and integrity acceptable to the adepts they will appear to him and reveal those parts of the secret processes which cannot be discovered without such help. "Wisdom is as a flower from which the bee its honey makes and the spider poison, each according to its own nature." (By an unknown adept.)

The reader must bear in mind at all times that the formulæ and emblems of alchemy are to be taken primarily as allegorical symbols; for until their esoteric significance has been comprehended, their literal interpretation is valueless. Nearly every alchemical formula has one element purposely omitted, it being decided by the mediæval philosophers that those who could not with their own intelligence discover that missing substance or process were not qualified to be entrusted with secrets which could give them control over great masses of humanity and likewise subject to their will the elemental forces of Nature.

THE EMERALD TABLE OF HERMES

The oldest and most revered of all the alchemical formulæ is the sacred Emerald Tablet of Hermes. Authorities do not agree as to the genuineness of this Table, some declaring it to be a post-Christian fraud, but there is much evidence that, regardless of its author, the Table is of great antiquity. While the symbol of the Emerald Table is of special Masonic import--relating as it does to the personality of CHiram (Hiram)--it is first and fundamentally an alchemical formula, relating both to the alchemy of the base metals and the divine alchemy of human regeneration.

In Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom's collection of alchemical manuscripts is a section devoted to the translations and interpretations of this remarkable Tablet, which was known to the ancients as the Tabula Smaragdina. Dr. Bacstrom was initiated into the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross on the island of Mauritius by one of those unknown adepts who at that time called himself Comte de Chazal. Dr. Bacstrom's translations and notes on the Emerald Tablet are, in part, as follows, the actual text being reproduced in capital letters:

"The Emerald Table, the Most Ancient Monument of the Chaldeans concerning the Lapis Philosophorum (the stone of the philosophers).

"The Emerald Table furnishes the origin of the allegorical history of King Hiram (rather Chiram). The Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Hebrews in what concerns Chiram have taken their knowledge from one and the same fountain; Homerus, who relates this history in a different manner, followed that original, and Virgil followed


THE KEY TO ALCHEMY ACCORDING TO THE EGYPTIANS.
 

From Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus.

The priests of Egypt not only used the scarab as a symbol of regeneration but also discovered in its habits many analogies to the secret process whereby base metals could be transmuted into gold. They saw in the egg of the scarab the seed of the metals, and the above figure shows the path of this seed through the various planetary bodies until, finally reaching the center, it is perfected and then returns again to its source. The words in the mall spiral at the top read: "The spiral Progress of the mundane spirit." After the scarab has wound its way around the spiral to the center of the lower part of the figure, it returns to the upper world along the path bearing the words: "Return of the spirit to the center of unity."

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[paragraph continues] Homerus, as Hesiodus took the subject for his Theogony likewise from thence, which Ovidius took afterwards for a pattern for his Metamorphosis. The knowledge of Nature's secret operations constitutes the principal sense of all these ancient writings, but ignorance framed out of it that external or veiled mythology and the lower class of people turned it into idolatry.

"The Genuine Translation from the Original Very Ancient Chaldee is as Follows:

"THE SECRET WORKS OF CHIRAM ONE IN ESSENCE, BUT THREE IN ASPECT.

"(The two first large words mean the Secret Work.)

"(The second line in large letters, reads: Chiram Telat Machasot, i.e. Chiram the Universal Agent, One in Essence but three in aspect.)

'IT IS TRUE, NO LIE, CERTAIN, AND TO BE DEPENDED UPON, THE SUPERIOR AGREES WITH THE INFERIOR, AND THE INFERIOR WITH THE SUPERIOR, TO EFFECT THAT ONE TRULY WONDERFUL WORK. AS ALL THINGS OWE THEIR EXISTENCE TO THE WILL OF THE ONLY ONE, SO ALL THINGS OWE THEIR ORIGIN TO THE ONE ONLY THING, THE MOST HIDDEN, BY THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE ONLY GOD. THE FATHER OF THAT ONE ONLY THING IS THE SUN, ITS MOTHER IS THE MOON, THE WIND CARRIES IT IN ITS BELLY; BUT ITS NOURSE IS A SPIRITUOUS EARTH. THAT ONE ONLY THING (after God) IS THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE. ITS POWER IS PERFECT, AFTER IT HAS BEEN UNITED TO A SPIRITUOUS EARTH.

"(Process--First Distillation.) SEPARATE THAT SPIRITUOUS EARTH FROM THE DENSE OR CRUDE BY MEANS OF A GENTLE HEAT, WITH MUCH ATTENTION.

"(Last Digestion.) IN GREAT MEASURE IT ASCENDS FROM THE EARTH UP TO HEAVEN, AND DESCENDS AGAIN, NEWBORN, ON THE EARTH, AND THE SUPERIOR AND THE INFERIOR ARE INCREASED IN POWER. The Azoth ascends from the Earth, from the bottom of the Glass, and redescends in Veins and drops into the Earth and by this continual circulation the Azoth is more and more subtilized, Volatilizes Sol and carries the volatilized Solar atoms along with it and thereby becomes a Solar Azoth, i.e. our third, and genuine Sophic Mercury, and this circulation of the Solar Azoth must continue until it ceases of itself, and the Earth has sucked it all in, when it muse become the black pitchy matter, the Toad [the substances in the alchemical retort and also the lower elements in the body of man], which denotes complete putrefaction or Death of the Compound.

"BY THIS THOU WILT PARTAKE OF THE HONOURS OF THE WHOLE WORLD. Without doubt as the black, pitchy matter will and must of necessity become White and Red, and the Red having been carried to perfection, medicinally and for Metals, is then fully capable to preserve mentem sanam in corpore sano until the natural period of Life and promise us ample means, in infinitum multipliable, to be benevolent and charitable without any diminution of our inexhaustible resources, therefore well may it be called the Glory [Honours] of the Whole World, as truly the study and contemplation of the L. P. [Lapis Philosophorum], harmonising with Divine Truths, elevates the mind to God our Creator and merciful Father, and if He should permit us to possess it practically must eradicate the very principle of Avarice, Envy, and Evil Inclinations, and cause our hearts to melt in gratitude toward Him that has been so kind to us! Therefore the Philosophers say with great Truth, that the L. P. either finds a good man or makes one.

"AND DARKNESS WILL FLY FROM THEE. By invigorating the Organs the Soul makes use of for communicating with exterior objects, the Soul must acquire greater powers not only for conception but also for retention, and therefore if we wish to obtain still more knowledge, the organs and secret springs of physical life being wonderfully strengthened and invigorated, the Soul must acquire new powers for conceiving and retaining, especially if we pray to God for knowledge, and confirm our prayers by faith, all Obscurity must vanish of course. That this has not been the case with all possessors, was their own fault, as they contented themselves merely with the Transmutation of Metals.

"(Use.) THIS IS THE STRENGTH OF ALL POWERS. This is a very strong figure, to indicate that the L. P. positively does possess all the Powers concealed in Nature, not for destruction but for exaltation and regeneration of matter, in the three Departments of Nature.

"WITH THIS THOU WILT BE ABLE TO OVERCOME ALL THINGS, AND TO TRANSMUTE ALL WHAT IS FINE (☉☽) AND WHAT IS COARSE (♃♄ ♀ ♂ ☿ ). It will conquer every subtil Thing, of course, as it refixes the most subtil Oxygen into its own fiery Nature and that with more power, penetration and virtue, in a tenfold ratio, at every multiplication, and each time in a much shorter period, until its power becomes incalculable, which multiplied power also penetrates [overcomes] every Solid Thing, such as unconquerable Gold and Silver, the otherwise unalterable Mercury, Crystals and Glass Fluxes, to which it is able to give natural hardness and fixity, as Philaletha does attest, and is proved by an artificial Diamond, in my father's time, in possession of Prince Lichtenstein in Vienna, valued at Five Hundred Thousand Ducats, fixed by the Lapis [Philosopher's Stone].

"IN THIS MANNER THE WORLD WAS CREATED; THE ARRANGEMENTS TO FOLLOW THIS ROAD ARE HIDDEN. FOR THIS REASON I AM CALLED CHIRAM TELAT MECHASOT, ONE IN ESSENCE, BUT THREE IN ASPECT. IN THIS TRINITY IS HIDDEN THE WISDOM OF THE WHOLE WORLD (i.e., in Chiram and its Use). It is thought that Hermes was Moses or Zoroaster, otherwise Hermes signifies a Serpent, and the Serpent used to be an Emblem of Knowledge or Wisdom. The Serpent is met with everywhere amongst the Hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians, so is the Globe with Wings, the Sun and Moon, Dragons and Griffins, whereby the Egyptians denoted their sublime knowledge of the Lapis Philosophorum, according to Suidas, the hints in the Scriptures, and even De Non where he speaks of the sanctuaries of the ancient Egyptian Temples.

"IT IS ENDED NOW, WHAT I HAVE SAID CONCERNING THE EFFECTS OF THE SUN. FINISH OF THE TABULA SMARAGDINA. What I have said or taught of the Solar Work, is now finished. The perfect Seed, fit for multiplication.

"This I know is acknowledged to be the genuine Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis."

A LETTER FROM THE
BROTHERS OF R. C. (ROSE CROSS)

Although Eugenius Philalethes disclaimed membership in the Rosicrucian Fraternity, it is believed that for a number of years he was the head of that Order. In a little work called Lumen de Lumine, or A New Magical Light Discovered and Communicated to the World, published in London in 1651, Eugenius Philalethes gives a remarkable letter, presumably from the Rosicrucian Order. Accompanying the letter is an emblematic figure setting forth in symbolic form the processes and formulæ of the Philosopher's Stone. This epistle is an excellent example of the Rosicrucian system of combining abstract theological speculations with concrete chemical formulæ. With the aid of the material contained in various parts of this present book the student would do well to set himself the task of solving the riddle contained in this hieroglyph.

"A Letter from the Brothers of R. C. Concerning the Invisible, Magical Mountain, And the Treasure therein Contained.

"Every man naturally desires a superiority, to have treasures of Gold and Silver [intellect and soul], and to seem great in the eyes of the world. God indeed created all things for the use of man, that he might rule over them, and acknowledge therein the singular goodness and omnipotence of God, give Him thanks for His benefits, honor Him and praise Him. But there is no man looks after these things, otherwise than by spending his days idly; they would enjoy them without any previous labor and danger; neither do they look them out of that place where God hath treasured them up, Who expects also that man should seek for them there, and to those that seek will He give them. But there is not any that labors for a possession in that place, and therefore these riches are not found: For the way to this place, and the place itself hath been unknown for a long time, and it is hidden from the greatest part of the world. But notwithstanding it be difficult and laborious to find Out this way and place, yet the place should be sought after.

"But it is not the will of God to conceal anything from those that are His, and therefore in this last age, before the final judgment comes, all these things shall be manifested to those that are worthy: As He Himself (though obscurely, lest it should be manifested to, the unworthy) hath spoken in a certain place: There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hidden that shall not be known. We therefore being moved by the Spirit of God, do declare the will of God to the world, which we have also already performed and published in several languages. But most men either revile, or contemne that, our Manifesto, (the Fama and Confessio Fraternitatis) or else waiving the Spirit of God, they expect the proposals thereof from us, supposing we will straightway teach them how to make gold by Art, or furnish them with ample treasures, whereby they may live pompously in the face of the world, swagger, and make wars, turn usurers, gluttons, and drunkards, live unchastely, and defile their whole life With several other sins, all which things are contrary to the blessed will of God. These men should have learnt from those Ten Virgins (whereof five that were foolish demanded oil for their lamps, from those five that were wise) how that the case is much otherwise.

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"It is expedient that every man should labor for this treasure by the assistance of God, and his own particular search and industry. But the perverse intentions of these fellows we understand out of their own writings, by the singular grace and revelation of God. We do stop our ears, and wrap ourselves as it were in clouds, to avoid the bellowings and howlings of those men, who in vain cry out for gold. And hence indeed it comes to pass that they brand us with infinite calumnies and slanders, which notwithstanding we do not resent but God in His good time will judge them for it. But after that we had well known (though unknown to you) and perceived also by your writing how diligently you are to peruse the Holy Scripture, and seek the true knowledge of God: we have also above many thousands, thought you worthy of some answer, and we signify this much to you by the will of God and the admonition of the Holy Ghost.

"There is a mountain situated in the midst of the earth, or center of the world, which is both small and great. It is soft, also above measure hard and stony. It is far off, and near at hand, but by the providence of God, invisible. In it are hidden most ample treasures, which the world is not able to value. This mountain by envy of the devil, who always opposeth the glory of God and the happiness of man, is compassed about with very cruel beasts and other [sic] ravenous birds, which make the way thither both difficult and dangerous; and therefore hitherto, because the time is not yet come, the way thither could not be sought after nor found out. But now at last the way is to be found by those that are worthy, but notwithstanding by every man's self-labor and endeavors.

"To this mountain you shall go in a certain night (when it: comes) most long and most dark, and see that you prepare yourselves by prayer. Insist upon the way that: leads to the mountain, but ask not of any man where the way lies: only follow your Guide, who will offer himself to you, and will meet you in the way but you shall not know him. This Guide will bring you to the mountain at midnight, when all things are silent and dark. It is necessary that you arm yourselves with a resolute heroic courage, lest you fear those things that will happen, and so fall back. You need no sword, nor any other bodily weapons, only call upon God sincerely and heartily.

"When you have discovered the mountain, the first miracle that will appear is this. A most vehement and very great wind, that will shake the mountain and shatter the rocks to pieces. You shall be encountered also by lions and dragons and other terrible beasts, but fear not any of these things. Be resolute and rake heed that you return not, for your Guide who brought you thither will not suffer any evil to befall you. As for the treasure, it is not yet discovered but it is very near. After this wind will come an earthquake, that will overthrow those things which the wind hath left and make all flat. But be sure that you fall not off.

"The earthquake being past, there shall follow afire, that will consume the earthly rubbish, and discover the treasure, but as yet you cannot see it. After all these things and near the daybreak there shall be a great calm, and you shall see the Day-Star arise and the dawning will appear, and you shall perceive a great treasure. The chiefest thing in it, and the most perfect, is a certain exalted tincture, with which the world (if it served God and were worthy of such gifts) might be tinged and turned into most pure gold.

"This tincture being used, as your Guide shall reach you, will make you young when you are old, and you shall perceive no disease in any part of your bodies. By means of this tincture also you shall find pearls of that excellency which cannot be imagined. But do not you arrogate anything to yourselves because of your present power, but be contented with that which your Guide shall communicate to you. Praise God perpetually for this His gift, and have a special care that you use it not for worldly pride, but employ it in such works which are contrary to the world. Use it rightly and enjoy it so, as if you had it not. Live a temperate life, and beware of all sin, otherwise your Guide will forsake you, and you shall be deprived of this happiness. For know this of a truth, whosoever abuseth this tincture and lives not exemplarly, purely, and devoutly before men he shall lose this benefit, and scarce any hope will there be left ever to recover it afterwards."

If, as transcendentalists believe, the initiations into the Fraternity of the Rose Cross were given in the invisible worlds which surround and interpenetrate the visible universe, it is not beyond the range of possibility that this allegory is to be considered in the light of an initiatory ritual as well as an alchemical formula.

As has been noted, it is difficult to secure a complete formula for any of the alchemical operations. The one presented here is the most nearly complete of any available. The collecting of the rays and energies of the celestial bodies as precipitated in dew is a process which Paracelsus used with great success. Bear constantly in mind that these processes are only for those who have been properly instructed in the secret art.

"A TRUE REVELATION OF THE MANUAL OPERATION FOR THE UNIVERSAL MEDICINE COMMONLY CALLED 'THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE.' By the celebrated philosopher of Leyden, as attested upon his deathbed with his own Blood, Anno Domini 1662. To my Loving Cousin and Son, the True Hermetic Philosopher--

"Dear Loving Cousin and Son:

"Although I had resolved never to give in writing to any person the secret of the Ancient Sages, yet notwithstanding out of peculiar affection and love to you, I have taken it upon me, to which the nearness of our relation obliges me, and especially because this temporal life is short, and Art is very dark and you may therefore not attain the wished for end;--but my Son because so precious a jewel belongs not to swine; and also this so great a gift of God may be treated carefully and Christianlike, in consideration thereof I do so largely declare myself to thee.

"I conjure thee with hand and mouth sacredly;

"1st. That most especially thou faithfully keep the same from all wicked, lustful and criminal persons.

"2dly. That thou exalt not thyself in any way.

"3dly. That thou seek to advance the honor of thy Creator of all things and the good of thy neighbor, preserve it sacredly that thy Lord may not have cause to complain of thee at the last day. I have written here in this treatise such a part of the Kingdom of Heaven, just as I myself have worked this treasure and finished it with my fingers, therefore I have subscribed all this work with my blood, lying on my deathbed in Leyden.

"THE PROCESS--In the Name of God, take of the purest and cleanest salt, sea salt, so as it is made by the sun itself, such as is brought by shipping from Spain, (I used salt that came from St. Uber) let it be dried in a warm stove, grind it in a stone mortar, as fine as possible to a powder that it may be so much the easier dissolve and taken up by our Dew-water, which is thus to be had in the months of May or June: When the Moon is at the full, observe when the dew falls with an East or South East wind. Then you must have sticks about one and a half feet high above the ground when driven in the Earth. Upon two or three such sticks, lay some four square plates of glass, and as the dew falls it easily fastens on the glass like a vapour, then have glass Vessels in readiness, let the dew drain from the sides of the glasses into your vessels. Do this until you have enough. The full of the Moon is a good season, afterwards it will be hard."

The solar rays descending from the sun carry with them solar sulphur--the Divine Fire. These rays are crystallized by contact with


THE INVISIBLE MAGICAL MOUNTAIN.
 

From Phililethales' Lumen de Lumine.

On Page 24 of Lumen de Lumine, Eugenius Philalethes describes the magical mountain as follows:

"This is that emblematical magical type, which Thalia delivered to me in the invisible Guiana. The first and superior Part of it represents the Mountains of the Moon. The philosophers commonly call them the Mountains of India, on whose tops grows their secret and famous Lunaria. It is an Herb easy to be found, but [for the fact] that men are blind discovers itself and shines after night like pearl. The earth of these mountains is very red and soft beyond all expression. It is full of crystalline rocks, which the philosophers call their glass and their stone: birds and fish (say they) bring it to them. Of these mountains speaks Hali the Arabian, a most excellent judicious author: 'Go, my son, to the Mountains of India, and to their quarries or caverns, and take thence our precious stones which dissolve or melt in water, when they are mingled therewith. Much indeed might be spoken of these mountains, if it were lawful to publish their mysteries, but one thing I shall not forbear to tell you. They are very dangerous places after night, for they are haunted with fires and other strange apparitions, (as a I am told by the Magi) by certain spirits, which dabble lasciviously with the sperm of the world and imprint their imaginations in, producing many times fantastic and monstrous generations. The access and pilgrimage to this place, with the difficulties which attend them, are faithfully and magisterially described by the Brothers of R.C." (Set accompanying letter.)

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the lunar rays. The solar rays are also met by the emanations pouring upward from the earth's surface and are thus still further crystallized into a partly tangible substance, which is soluble in pure water. This substance is the "Magical Mountain of the Moon" referred to in the R. C. letter. The crystallization of the solar and lunar rays in water (dew) produces the virgin earth--a pure, invisible substance, uncontaminated by material matter. When the virgin earth crystals are wet, they appear green; when dry, white.

Von Welling makes a suggestion for the extraction of the solar life from stagnant water, but is reticent both as to naming the essence extracted and also as to the various processes through which it must pass to be refined and increased in power. His hint, however, is both valuable and unusual:

"Take sweet clean water and seal it in a large bottle, leaving about one-fourth empty. Place the bottle in the sun for some weeks until it rots, showing a precipitation in the bottom. This precipitation, when properly manipulated by distillation, will produce a clear, fiery, burning oil, the constituents and use of which are only known to the wise."

The philosopher of Leyden continues: "Now when you have enough of your dew close your glasses exactly, and keep it till you use it, that none of its spirits may evaporate, which may easily happen. Set it therefore in a cool place, that no warmth may come to it, or else the subtle spirit will rise and be gone; which will not so happen if after you have filled your glasses with Dew quite full, you close them very well with wax.

"Now in the Name of God, take of this Dew-water as much as thou wilt, put in a clean dissolving glass, then cast a little of your forementioned powdered salt into it to be dissolved, and continue to put it in till your Dew-water will dissolve no more or till the salt lies in it four days without being dissolved, then it has enough, and unto your Dew is given its proper powder. Of this compounded water, take as much as thou wilt, I took about a pound and a half, and put it into a round vial with a short neck, fill it with out water and lute it with a good lute, a cover and stopple that fits it well, that the subtle and living spirit of the dew may not fume away, for if they should the soul of the salt will never be stirred up, nor the work ever brought to a right end. Let the lute dry very well of itself, and set it in the furnace of B. M. to putrefy. Make a slow fire and let it digest for forty days or fifty, and that the fume of the water be continually round about it, and you will see your matter grow black, which is a token of its putrefaction.

"As soon as you have taken it out, have your dry furnace ready. Set your glass with the matter into an inner globe to coagulate, give it a slow degree of fire, continue it equally for twelve or fifteen days, and your matter will begin to coagulate and to fasten round about your glass like a gray salt, which as soon as you see and before it be two days, slacken the fire that it may cool leisurely. Then have in readiness your putrefying furnace as before. Set your glass therein and give the same degree of fire as before. Let it stand twelve days, and again you will see the matter resolve and open as before, and open itself, but you must every time see that the lute and your glass is not hurt. When you set your glass in the putrefying furnace, take care that the neck of your glass is covered with a wooden or glass stopper that fits it exactly, that the moisture of the water may not come at it.

"When you see it black set your glass as before to coagulate and when it begins to be of a grayish color and whitish, set it in a third time to putrefy, and coagulate to the fifth time, until you see that your water in its dissolution is clean, pellucid and clear, and that it appears in its Calcination of a fine white like Snow. Then it is prepared and becomes a Salt fixed which will melt on hot Silver plate like wax; but before you set this your Salt out, set it again [in] the furnace of putrefaction that it may dissolve of itself, then let it cool, open your Glass and you will find your Matter lessened a third part. But instead of your former Salt Water you will have a fine Sweet and very penetrating Water which the Philosophers have hid under very wonderful Names--It is the Mercury of all true Philosophers, the Water out of which comes Gold and Silver, for they say its Father is Gold and its Mother is Silver. Thus hast thou the strength of both these Luminaries conjoined in this Water, most true, in its right Pondus.

"Prescription. 5 Drops of this Water taken inwardly strengthens the understanding and memory, and opens to us most wonderful and sweet things, of which no man hath heard, and of which I dare not further write, because of the Oath I made God to the contrary. Time and the holy use of this blessed Water will teach us, as soon as you have taken it inwardly such influence will happen to thee as if the whole heavens and all the stars with their powers are working in thee. All Knowledge and secret Arts will be opened to thee as in a dream, but the most excellent of all is, you will perfectly learn rightly to know all creatures in their Nature, and by means thereof, the true understanding of God, the Creator of us, Heaven and Earth, like David and Moses and all the Saints of God, for the wisdom of our fountain of living Water will instruct thee as it did Solomon and the Brethren of our fraternity."

In his rare treatise on Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, von Welling discloses a secret: not generally revealed in alchemical writings, namely, that the alchemists were concerned not only with the transmutation of metals but had a complete cosmological and philosophical system based upon the Qabbalah.

According to von Welling, the universal salt (in watery form) is a positive cure for all the physical ailments of mankind; it is in every living thing, but from some things it is more easily secured than from others: especially is this true of virgin earth; it is the universal solvent, the alkahest. The same writer also states that in the first stages of its preparation this salt will cure any and all diseases of the heart. The anonymous philosopher of Leyden continues:

"Would you now proceed further with our blessed Water to the forementioned intention of preparing a Tincture for Metals, hearken my Son--

"Take in the NAME of the Lord, of thy Paradisiacal Water, of heavenly Water of Mercury, as much as thou wilt, put it into a glass to dissolve, and set it in a slow heat of Ashes, that it may just feel the warmth, then have ready well purified Gold for the Red, or Silver for the White Elixir, for in both the Processes are the same. Let your Gold or Silver be beaten as thin as leaf Gold, cast it by degrees into your dissolving Glass, that contains your blessed Water, as you did in the beginning with your Salt, and it will melt like Ice in Warm Water, and continue so to do till your Gold or Silver lie therein four days without dissolving, then it has received its due Pondus. Then put this dissolution as before into a round Glass, fill it two thirds parts full, seal it hermetically as before, let your Sigillum be well dried. Set it in the furnace of Balneum Vapori, make a fire and let it remain forty days, as before, then will the Gold or Silver be dissolved radically and will turn of the deepest black in the world, which as soon as you see, have your other drying furnace in readiness."

Continuing: "Philosophers say there is no true solution of the body without a proceeding coagulation of the spirit, for they are interchangeably mixed in a due proportion, whereby the bodily essence becomes of a spiritual penetrating nature. On the other hand, the incomprehensible spiritual essential virtue is also made corporeal by the fire, because there is made between them so near a relation or friendship, like as the heavens operate to the very Depth of Earth, and producing from thence all the treasures and riches of the whole World.

"Admirandum Naturæ Operationem in Archidoxes Cognitam.

"With this Powder--You may as follows project on metals. Take five parts of fine Gold or Silver according as you work, and melt it in a Crucible. Wrap up your Medicine in Wax, cast it therein, give a strong fire for an hour, then take the Crucible out, as it were, calcined, then cast one part on ten parts of imperfect metals, be it what it will, and the same will be immediately changed into purer Metal, than what is brought out of the Mines and produced by Melting; and when you augment it in strength and virtue by resolving and coagulating, the fifth time it will resolve itself in three days and be coagulated in twenty-four hours time, to an incredible and most highly pellucid Stone or Red Shining burning Coal. For the white work it will become like a white stream of Lightning.

"Of this last coagulation take one part, cast it upon five thousand of melted Gold or Silver as before. It changes the same into perfect Medicine, one part whereof will tinge one hundred thousand parts of melted imperfect Metals into the very finest Gold or Silver. So far I have brought and further I would not come, for as I would set in the matter [to distill] six times in twelve hours, it subtilized so highly that the most part (like somewhat most wonderful to behold) past through the Glass causing an inexpressible odoriferous Smell. Take heed that it happens not to you.

"Many more wonders of this holy Art might be added, namely how to prepare therewith all sorts of precious Stones, and other most admirable things, but it would require too great a book to express the whole as it ought to be, especially as the Art is endless and not to be apprehended with one view, and my purpose has been, Loving Cousin and Son, devoutly to lead thee into the Mysteries of Nature and this holy Science, and I have faithfully performed it."

In conclusion, the letter states: "Go thou to work as I have done before thee, fear God, Love thy neighbour from the bottom of thy Soul sincerely. So will in the Manual operation, everything to thee, and when thou art at work therein many of our brethren will reveal themselves to thee, of our holy order, privately; For I have on my part by the Eternal God wrote the truth which I found out by prayer and searching into Nature, which work I have seen with my eyes, and with my hands extracted. Therefore also I have subscribed this Testament with my own blood, the last day of my Life on my deathbed. Actum Leyden, 27 March 1662."

Next:  The Chemical Marriage

 

         

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