THE art of healing was originally one of the secret sciences of the priestcraft, and the mystery of its source is obscured by the same veil which hides the genesis of religious belief. All higher forms of knowledge were originally in the possession of the sacerdotal castes. The temple was the cradle of civilization. The priests, exercising their divine prerogative, made the laws and enforced them; appointed the rulers and controlled than; ministered to the needs of the living, and guided the destinies of the dead. All branches of learning were monopolized by the priesthood, who admitted into their ranks only those intellectually and morally qualified to perpetuate their arcanum. The following quotation from Plato’s Statesman is apropos of the subject: ” * * * in Egypt, the King himself is not allowed to reign, unless he have priestly powers; and if he should be one of another class, and have obtained the throne by violence, he must get enrolled in the priestcraft.”
Candidates aspiring to membership in the religious orders underwent severe tests to prove their worthiness. These ordeals were called initiations. Those who passed them successfully were welcomed as brothers by the priests and were instructed in the secret teachings. Among the ancients, philosophy, science, and religion were never considered as separate units: each was regarded as an integral part of the whole. Philosophy was scientific and religious; science was philosophic and religious I religion was philosophic and scientific. Perfect wisdom was considered unattainable save as the result of harmonizing all three of these expressions of mental and moral activity.
While modern physicians accredit Hippocrates with being the father of medicine, the ancient therapeutæ ascribed to the immortal Hermes the distinction of being the founder of the art of healing. Clemens Alexandrinus, in describing the books purported to be from the stylus of Hermes, divided the sacred writings into six general classifications, one of which, the Pastophorus, was devoted to the science of medicine. The Smaragdine, or Emerald Tablet found in the valley of Ebron and generally accredited to Hermes, is in reality a chemical formula of a high and secret order.
Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, during the fifth century before Christ, dissociated the healing art from the other sciences of the temple and thereby established a precedent for separateness. One of the consequences is the present widespread crass scientific materialism. The ancients realized the interdependence of the sciences. The moderns do not; and as a result, incomplete systems of learning are attempting to maintain isolated individualism. The obstacles which confront present-day scientific research are largely the result of prejudicial limitations imposed by those who are unwilling to accept that which transcends the concrete perceptions of the five primary human senses.
THE PARACELSIAN SYSTEM OF MEDICAL PHILOSOPHY
During the Middle Ages the long-ignored axioms and formulæ of Hermetic wisdom were assembled once more, and chronicled, and systematic attempts were made to test their accuracy. To Theophrastus of Hohenheim, who called himself Paracelsus (a name meaning “greater than Celsus”), the world is indebted for much of the knowledge it now possesses of the ancient systems of medicine. Paracelsus devoted his entire life to the study and exposition of Hermetic philosophy. Every notion and theory was grist to his mill, and, while members of the medical fraternity belittle his memory now as they opposed his system then, the occult world knows that he will yet be recognized as the greatest physician of all times. While the heterodox and exotic temperament of Paracelsus has been held against him by his enemies, and his wanderlust has been called vagabondage, he was one of the few minds who intelligently sought to reconcile the art of healing with the philosophic and religious systems of paganism and Christianity.
In defending his right to seek knowledge in all parts of the earth, and among all classes of society, Paracelsus wrote:
“Therefore I consider that it is for me a matter of praise, not of blame, that I have hitherto and worthily pursued my wanderings. For this will I bear witness respecting nature: he who will investigate her ways must travel her books with his feet. That which is written is investigated through its letters, but nature from land to land-as often a land so often a leaf. Thus is the Codex of Nature, thus must its leaves be turned.” (Paracelsus, by John Maxson Stillman.)
Paracelsus was a great observationalist, and those who knew him best have called him “The Second Hermes” and “The Trismegistus of Switzerland.” He traveled Europe from end to end, and may have penetrated Eastern lands while running down superstitions and ferreting out supposedly lost doctrines. From the gypsies he learned much concerning the uses of simples, and apparently from the Arabians concerning the making of talismans and the influences of the heavenly bodies. Paracelsus felt that the healing of the sick was of far greater importance than the maintaining of an orthodox medical standing, so he sacrificed what might otherwise have been a dignified medical career and at the cost of lifelong persecution bitterly attacked the therapeutic systems of his day.
Uppermost in his mind was the hypothesis that everything in the universe is good for something–which accounts for his cutting fungus from tombstones and collecting dew on glass plates at midnight. He was a true explorer of Nature’s arcanum. Many authorities have held the opinion that he was the discoverer of mesmerism, and that Mesmer evolved the art as the result of studying the writings of this great Swiss physician.
The utter contempt which Paracelsus felt for the narrow systems of medicine in vogue during his lifetime, and his conviction of their inadequacy, are best expressed in his own quaint way:
“But the number of diseases that originate from some unknown causes is far greater than those that come from mechanical causes, and for such diseases our physicians know no cure because not knowing such causes they cannot remove them. All they can prudently do is to observe the patient and make their guesses about his condition; and the patient may rest satisfied if the medicines administered to him do no serious harm, and do not prevent his recovery. The best of our popular physicians are the ones that do least harm. But, unfortunately, some poison their patients with mercury, others purge them or bleed them to death. There are some who have learned so much that their learning has driven out all their common sense, and a there are others who care a great: deal more for their own profit than for the health of their patients. A disease does not change its state to accommodate itself to the knowledge of the physician, but the physician should understand the causes of the disease. A physician should be a servant of Nature, and not her enemy; he should be able to guide and direct her in her struggle for life and not throw, by his unreasonable interference, fresh obstacles in the way of recovery.” (From the Paragranum, translated by Franz Hartmann.)
The belief that nearly all diseases have their origin in the invisible nature of man (the Astrum) is a fundamental precept of Hermetic medicine, for while Hermetists in no way disregarded the physical body, they believed that man’s material constitution was an emanation from, or an objectification of, his invisible spiritual principles. A brief, but it is believed fairly comprehensive, résumé of the Hermetic principles of Paracelsus follows.
THE TITLE PAGE OF THE BOOK OF ALZE.
From Musæum Hermeticum Reformatum et Amplificatum.
This title page is a further example of Hermetic and alchemical symbolism. The seven-pointed star of the sacred metals is arranged that one black point is downward, thus symbolizing Saturn, the Destroyer. Beginning in the space immediately to the left of the black point, reading clockwise discloses the cryptic word VITRIOL formed by the capital letters of the seven Latin words in the outer circle.
There is one vital substance in Nature upon which all things subsist. It is called archæus, or vital life force, and is synonymous with the astral light or spiritual air of the ancients. In regard to this substance, Eliphas Levi has written: “Light, that creative agent, the vibrations of which are the movement and life of all things; light, latent in the universal ether, radiating about absorbing centres, which, being saturated thereby, project movement and life in their turn, so forming creative currents; light, astralized in the stars, animalized in animals, humanized in human beings; light, which vegetates all plants, glistens in metals, produces all forms of Nature and equilibrates all by the laws of universal sympathy–this is the light which exhibits the phenomena of magnetism, divined by Paracelsus, which tinctures the blood, being released from the air as it is inhaled and discharged by the hermetic bellows of the lungs.” (The History of Magic.)
This vital energy has its origin in the spiritual body of the earth. Every created thing has two bodies, one visible and substantial, the other invisible and transcendent. The latter consists of an ethereal counterpart of the physical form; it constitutes the vehicle of archæus, and may be called a vital body. This ethericshadow sheath is not dissipated by death, but remains until the physical form is entirely disintegrated. These “etheric doubles, “seen around graveyards, have given rise to a belief in ghosts. Being much finer in its substances than the earthly body, the etheric double is far more susceptible to impulses and inharmonies. It is derangements of this astral light body that cause much disease. Paracelsus taught that a person with a morbid mental attitude could poison his own etheric nature, and this infection, diverting the natural flow of vital life force, would later appear as a physical ailment. All plants and minerals have an invisible nature composed of this “archæus,” but each manifests it in a different way.
Concerning the astral-light bodies of flowers, James Gaffarel, in 1650, wrote the following:
“I answer, that though they be chopt in pieces, brayed in a Mortar, and even burnt to Ashes; yet do they neverthelesse retaine, (by a certaine Secret, and wonderfull Power of Nature), both in the Juyce, and in the Ashes, the selfe same Forme, and Figure, that they had before: and though it be not there Visible, yet it may by Art be drawne forth, and made Visible to the Eye, by an Artist. This perhaps will seem a Ridiculous story to those, who reade only the Titles of Bookes: but, those that please, may see this truth confirmed, if they but have recourse to the Workes of M. du Chesne, S. de la Violette, one of the best Chymists that our Age hath produced; who affirmes, that himselfe saw an Excellent Polich Physician of Cracovia, who kept, in Glasses, the Ashes of almost all the Hearbs that are knowne: so that, when any one, out of Curiosity, had a desire to see any of them, as (for example) a Rose, in one of his Glasses, he tooke That where the Ashes of a Rose were preserved; and holding it over a lighted Candle, so soone as it ever began to feele the Heat, you should presently see the Ashes begin to Move; which afterwards rising up, and dispersing themselves about the Glasse, you should immediately observe a kind of little Dark Cloud; which dividing it selfe into many parts, it came at length to represent a Rose; but so Faire, so Fresh, and so Perfect a one, that you would have thought it to have been as Substancial, & as Odoriferous a Rose, as growes on the Rose-tree.” (Unheard-of Curiosities Concerning Talismanical Sculpture of the Persians.)
Paracelsus, recognizing derangements of the etheric double as the most important cause of disease, sought to reharmonize its substances by bringing into contact with it other bodies whose vital energy could supply elements needed, or were strong enough to overcome the diseased conditions existing in the aura of the sufferer. Its invisible cause having been thus removed, the ailment speedily vanished.
The vehicle for the archæus, or vital life force, Paracelsus called the mumia. A good example of a physical mumia is vaccine, which is the vehicle of a semi-astral virus. Anything which serves as a medium for the transmission of the archæus, whether it be organic or inorganic, truly physical or partly spiritualized, was termed a mumia. The most universal form of the mumia was ether, which modern science has accepted as a hypothetical substance serving as a medium between the realm of vital energy and that of organic and inorganic substance.
The control of universal energy is virtually impossible, save through one of its vehicles (the mumia). A good example of this is food. Man does not secure nourishment from dead animal or plant organisms, but when he incorporates their structures into his own body he first gains control over the mumia, or etheric double, of the animal or plant. Having obtained this control, the human organism then diverts the flow of the archæus to its own uses. Paracelsus says: “That which constitutes life is contained in the Mumia, and by imparting the Mumia we impart life.” This is the secret of the remedial properties of talismans and amulets, for the mumia of the substances of which they are composed serves as a channel to connect the person wearing them with certain manifestations of the universal vital life force.
According to Paracelsus, in the same way that plants purify the atmosphere by accepting into their constitutions the carbon dioxid exhaled by animals and humans, so may plants and animals accept disease elements transferred to them by human beings. These lower forms of life, having organisms and needs different from man, are often able to assimilate these substances without ill effect. At other times, the plant or animal dies, sacrificed in order that the more intelligent, and consequently more useful, creature may survive. Paracelsus discovered that in either case the patient was gradually relieved of his malady. When the lower life had either completely assimilated the foreign mumia from the patient, or had itself died and disintegrated as the result of its inability to do so, complete recovery resulted. Many years of investigation were necessary to determine which herb or animal most readily accepted the mumia of each of various diseases.
Paracelsus discovered that in many cases plants revealed by their shape the particular organs of the human body which they served most effectively. The medical system of Paracelsus was based on the theory that by removing the diseased etheric mumia from the organism of the patient and causing it to be accepted into the nature of some distant and disinterested thing of comparatively little value, it was possible to divert from the patient the flow of the archæus which had been continually revitalizing and nourishing the malady. Its vehicle of expression being transplanted, the archæus necessarily accompanied its mumia, and the patient recovered.
THE HERMETIC THEORY CONCERNING THE CAUSATIONS OF DISEASE
According to the Hermetic philosophers, there were seven primary causes of disease. The first was evil spirits. These were regarded as creatures born of degenerate actions, subsisting on the vital energies of those to whom they attached themselves. The second cause was a derangement of the spiritual nature and the material nature: these two, failing to coordinate, produced
JOHANNIS BAPTISTAE VON HELMONT.
From von Helmont’s Ausgang der Artznen-Kunst.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century von Helmont, the Belgian alchemist (to whom incidentally, the world is indebted for the common term gas, as distinguished from other kinds of air), while experimenting with the root of A—, touched it to the tip of his tongue, without swallowing any of the substance. He himself describes the result in the following manner:
“Immediately my head seemed tied tightly with a string, and soon after there happened to me a singular circumstance such as I had never before experienced. I observed with astonishment that I no longer felt and thought with the head, but with the region of the stomach, as if consciousness had now taken up its seat in the stomach. Terrified by this unusual phenomenon, I asked myself and inquired into myself carefully; but I only became the more convinced that my power of perception was became greater and more comprehensive. This intellectual clearness was associated with great pleasure. I did not sleep, nor did I dream; I was perfectly sober; and my health was perfect. I had occasionally had ecstasies, but these had nothing in common with this condition of the stomach, in which it thought and felt, and almost excluded all cooperation of the head. In the meantime my friends were troubled with the fear that I might go mad. But my faith to God, and my submission to His will, soon dissipated this fear. This state continued for two hours, after which I had same dizziness. I afterwards frequently tasted of the A—, but I never again could reproduce these sensations.” (Van Helmont, Demens idea. Reprinted by P. Davidson in The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy.)
Von Helmont is only one of many who have accidentally hit upon the secrets of the early priestcrafts, but none in this age give evidence of an adequate comprehension of the ancient Hermetic secrets. From the description von Helmont gives, it is probable that the herb mentioned by him paralyzed temporarily the cerebrospinal nervous system, the result being that the consciousness was forced to function through the sympathetic nervous system and its brain–the solar plexus.
mental and physical subnormality. The third was an unhealthy or abnormal mental attitude. Melancholia, morbid emotions, excess of feeling, such as passions, lusts, greeds, and hates, affected the mumia, from which they reacted into the physical body, where they resulted in ulcers, tumors, cancers, fevers, and tuberculosis. The ancients viewed the disease germ as a unit of mumia which had been impregnated with the emanations from evil influences which it had contacted. In other words, germs were minute creatures born out of man’s evil thoughts and actions.
The fourth cause of disease was what the Orientals called Karma, that is, the Law of Compensation, which demanded that the individual pay in full for the indiscretions and delinquencies of the past. A physician had to be very careful how he interfered with the workings of this law, lest he thwart the plan of Eternal justice. The fifth cause was the motion and aspects of the heavenly bodies. The stars did not compel the sickness but rather impelled it. The Hermetists taught that a strong and wise man ruled his stars, but that a negative, weak person was ruled by them. These five causes of disease are all superphysical in nature. They must be estimated by inductive and deductive reasoning and a careful consideration of the life and temperament of the patient.
The sixth cause of disease was a misuse of faculty, organ, or function, such as overstraining a member or overtaxing the nerves. The seventh cause was thepresence in the system of foreign substances, impurities, or obstructions. Under this heading must be considered diet, air, sunlight, and the presence of foreign bodies. This list does not include accidental injuries; such do not belong under the heading of disease. Frequently they are methods by which the Law of Karma expresses itself.
According to the Hermetists, disease could be prevented or successfully combated in seven ways. First, by spells and invocations, in which the physician ordered the evil spirit causing the disease to depart from the patient. This procedure was probably based on the Biblical account of the man possessed of devils whom Jesus healed by commanding the devils to leave the man and enter into a herd of swine. Sometimes the evil spirits entered a patient at the bidding of someone desiring to injure him. In these cases the physician commanded the spirits to return to the one who sent them. It is recorded that in some instances the evil spirits departed through the mouth in the form of clouds of smoke; sometimes from the nostrils as flames. It is even averred that the spirits might depart in the form of birds and insects.
The second method of healing was by vibration. The inharmonies of the bodies were neutralized by chanting spells and intoning the sacred names or by playing upon musical instruments and singing. Sometimes articles of various colors were exposed to the sight of the sick, for the ancients recognized, at least in part, the principle of color therapeutics, now in the process of rediscovery.
The third method was with the aid of talismans, charms, and amulets. The ancients believed that the planets controlled the functions of the human body and that by making charms out of different metals they could combat the malignant influences of the various stars. Thus, a person who is anæmic lacks iron. Iron was believed to be under the control of Mars. Therefore, in order to bring the influence of Mars to the sufferer, around his neck was hung a talisman made of iron and bearing upon it certain secret instructions reputed to have the power of invoking the spirit of Mars. If there was too much iron in the system, the patient was subjected to the influence of a talisman composed of the metal corresponding to some planet having an antipathy to Mars. This influence would then offset the Mars energy and thus aid in restoring normality.
The fourth method was by the aid of herbs and simples. While they used metal talismans, the majority of the ancient physicians did not approve of mineral medicine in any form for internal use. Herbs were their favorite remedies. Like the metals, each herb was assigned to one of the planets. Having diagnosed by the stars the sickness and its cause, the doctors then administered the herbal antidote.
The fifth method of healing disease was by prayer. All ancient peoples believed in the compassionate intercession of the Deity for the alleviation of human suffering. Paracelsus said that faith would cure all disease. Few persons, however, possess a sufficient degree of faith.
The sixth method–which was prevention rather than cure–was regulation of the diet and daily habits of life. The individual, by avoiding the things which caused illness, remained well. The ancients believed that health was the normal state of man; disease was the result of man’s disregard of the dictates of Nature.
The seventh method was “practical medicine,” consisting chiefly of bleeding, purging, and similar lines of treatment. These procedures, while useful in moderation, were dangerous in excess. Many a useful citizen has died twenty-five or fifty years before his time as the result of drastic purging or of having all the blood drained out of his body.
Paracelsus used all seven methods of treatment, and even his worst enemies admitted that he accomplished results almost miraculous in character. Near his old estate in Hohenheim, the dew falls very heavily at certain seasons of the year, and Paracelsus discovered that by gathering the dew under certain configurations of the planets he obtained a water possessing marvelous medicinal virtue, for it had absorbed the properties of the heavenly bodies.
HERMETIC HERBALISM AND PHARMACOLOGY
The herbs of the fields were sacred to the early pagans, who believed that the gods had made plants for the cure of human ills. When properly prepared and applied, each root and shrub could be used for the alleviation of suffering, or for the development of spiritual, mental, moral, or physical powers. In The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy, P. Davidson pays the following beautiful tribute to the plants:
“Books have been written on the language of flowers and herbs, the poet from the earliest ages has held the sweetest and most loving converse with them, kings are even glad to obtain their essences at second hand to perfume themselves; but to the true physician–Nature’s High-Priest–they speak in a far higher and more exalted strain. There is not a plant or mineral which has disclosed the last of its properties to the scientists. How can they feel confident that for every one of the discovered properties there may not be many powers concealed in the inner nature of the plant? Well have flowers been called the ‘Stars of Earth,’ and why should they not be beautiful? Have they not from the time of their birth smiled in the splendor of the sun by day, and slumbered under the brightness of the stars by night? Have they not come from another and more spiritual world to our earth, seeing that God made ‘every plant of the field BEFORE it was in the earth, and every herb of the field BEFORE IT GREW’?”
Many primitive peoples used herbal remedies, with many remarkable cures. The Chinese, Egyptians, and American Indians cured with herbs diseases for which modern science knows no remedy. Doctor Nicholas Culpeper, whose useful life ended in 1654, was probably the most famous of herbalists. Finding that the medical systems of his day were unsatisfactory in the extreme, Culpeper turned his attention to the plants of the fields, and discovered a medium of healing which gained for him national renown.
In Doctor Culpeper’s correlation of astrology and herbalism, each plant was under the jurisdiction of one of the planets or luminaries. He believed that disease was also controlled by celestial configurations. He summed up his system of treatment as follows:
“You may oppose diseases by Herbs of the planet opposite to the planet that causes them: as diseases of Jupiter by Herbs of Mercury, and the contrary; diseases of the Luminaries by the Herbs of Saturn, and the contrary; diseases of Mars by Herbs of Venus and the contrary. * * * There is a way to cure diseases sometimes by Sympathy, and so every planet cures his own disease; as the Sun and Moon by their Herbs cure the Eyes, Saturn the Spleen, Jupiter the Liver, Mars the Gall and diseases of choler, and Venus diseases in the Instruments of Generation.” (The Complete Herbal.)
Mediæval European herbalists rediscovered only in part the ancient Hermetic secrets of Egypt and Greece. These earlier nations evolved the fundamentals of nearly all modern arcs and sciences.
From Culpeper’s Semeiotica Uranica.
This famous physician, herbalist, and astrologer spent the greater part of his useful life ranging the hills and forests of England and cataloguing literally hundreds of medicinal herbs. Condemning the unnatural methods of contemporaneous medicos, Culpeper wrote: “This not being pleasing, and less profitable tome, I consulted with my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR. HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it.” (From the Introduction to the 1835 Edition of The Complete Herbal.) Doctor Johnson said of Culpeper that he merited the gratitude of posterity.
At that time the methods used in healing were among the secrets imparted to initiates of the Mysteries. Unctions, collyria, philters, and potions were concocted to the accompaniment of strange rites. The effectiveness of these medicines is a matter of historical record. Incenses and perfumes were also much used.
Barrett in his Magus describes the theory on which they worked, as follows:
“For, because our spirit is the pure, subtil, lucid, airy and unctuous vapour of the blood, nothing, therefore, is better adapted for collyriums than the like vapours which are more suitable to our spirit in substance; for then, by reason of their likeness, they do more stir up, attract and transform the spirit.”
Poisons were thoroughly studied, and in some communities extracts of deadly herbs were administered to persons sentenced to death–as in the case of Socrates. The infamous Borgias of Italy developed the art of poisoning to its highest degree. Unnumbered brilliant men and women were quietly and efficiently disposed of by the almost superhuman knowledge of chemistry which for many centuries was preserved in the Borgia family.
Egyptian priests discovered herb extracts by means of which temporary clairvoyance could be induced, and they made use of these during the initiatory rituals of their Mysteries. The drugs were sometimes mixed with the food given to candidates, and at other times were presented in the form of sacred potions, the nature of which was explained. Shortly after the drugs were administered to him, the neophyte was attacked by a spell of dizziness. He found himself floating through space, and while his physical body was absolutely insensible (being guarded by priests that no ill should befall it) the candidate passed through a number of weird experiences, which he was able to relate after regaining consciousness. In the light of present-day knowledge, it is difficult to appreciate an art so highly developed that by means of draughts, perfumes, and incenses any mental attitude desired could be induced almost instantaneously, yet such an art actually existed among the priestcraft of the early pagan world.
Concerning this subject, H. P. Blavatsky, the foremost occultist of the nineteenth century, has written:
‘Plants also have like mystical properties in a most wonderful degree, and the secrets of the herbs of dreams and enchantments are only lost to European science, and useless to say, too, are unknown to it, except in a few marked instances, such as opium and hashish. Yet, the psychical effects of even these few upon the human system are regarded as evidences of a temporary mental disorder. The women of Thessaly and Epirus, the female hierophants of the rites of Sabazius, did not carry their secrets away with the downfall of their sanctuaries. They are still preserved, and those who are aware of the nature of Soma, know the properties of other plants as well.” (Isis Unveiled.)
Herbal compounds were used to cause temporary clairvoyance in connection with the oracles, especially the one at Delphi. Words spoken while in these imposed trances were regarded as prophetic. Modem mediums, while under control as the result of partly self-imposed catalepsy, give messages somewhat similar to those of the ancient prophets, but in the majority of cases their results are far less accurate, for the soothsayers of today lack the knowledge of Nature’s hidden forces.
The Mysteries taught that during the higher degrees of initiation the gods themselves took part in the instruction of candidates or at least were present, which was in itself a benediction. As the deities dwelt in the invisible worlds and came only in their spiritual bodies, it was impossible for the neophyte to cognize them without the assistance of drugs which stimulated the clairvoyant center of his consciousness (probably the pineal gland). Many initiates in the ancient Mysteries stated emphatically that they had conversed with the immortals, and had beheld the gods.
When the standards of the pagans became corrupted, a division took place in the Mysteries. The band of truly enlightened ones separated themselves from the rest and, preserving the most important of their secrets, vanished without leaving a trace. The rest slowly drifted, like rudderless ships, on the rocks of degeneracy and disintegration. Some of the less important of the secret formulæ fell into the hands of the profane, who perverted them–as in the case of the Bacchanalia, during which drugs were mixed with wine and became the real cause of the orgies.
In certain parts of the earth it was maintained that there were natural wells, springs, or fountains, in which the water (because of the minerals through which it coursed) was tinctured with sacred properties. Temples were often built near these spots, and in some cases natural caves which chanced to be in the vicinity were sanctified to some deity.
“The aspirants to initiation, and those who came to request prophetic dreams of the Gods, were prepared by a fast, more or less prolonged, after which they partook of meals expressly prepared; and also of mysterious drinks, such as the water of Lethe, and the water of Mnemosyne in the grotto of Trophonius; or of the Ciceion in the mysteries of the Eleusinia. Different drugs were easily mixed up with the meats or introduced into the drinks, according to the state of mind or body into which it was necessary to throw the recipient, and the nature of the visions he was desirous of procuring.” (Salverte’s The Occult Sciences.)
The same author states that certain sects of early Christianity were accused of using drugs for the same general purposes as the pagans.
The sect of the Assassins, or the Yezidees as they are more generally known, demonstrated a rather interesting aspect of the drug problem. In the eleventh century this order, by capturing the fortress of Mount Alamont, established itself at Irak. Hassan Sabbah, the founder of the order, known as the “Old Man of the Mountain, ” is suspected of having controlled his followers by the use of narcotics. Hassan made his followers believe that they were in Paradise, where they would be forever if they implicitly obeyed him while they were alive. De Quincey, in his Confessions of an Opium Eater, describes the peculiar psychological effects produced by this product of the poppy, and the use of a similar drug may have given rise to the idea of Paradise which filled the minds of the Yezidees.
The philosophers of all ages have taught that the visible universe was but a fractional part of the whole, and that by analogy the physical body of man is in reality the least important part of his composite constitution. Most of the medical systems of today almost entirely ignore the superphysical man. They pay but scant attention to causes, and concentrate their efforts on ameliorating effects. Paracelsus, noting the same proclivity on the part of physicians during his day, aptly remarked:
“There is a great difference between the power that removes the invisible causes of disease, and which is Magic, and that which causes merely external effects [to] disappear, and which is Physic, Sorcery, and Quackery.” (Translated by Franz Hartmann.)
Disease is unnatural, and is evidence that there is a maladjustment within or between organs or tissues. Permanent health cannot be regained until harmony is restored. The outstanding virtue of Hermetic medicine was its recognition of spiritual and psychophysical derangements as being largely responsible for the condition which is called physical disease. Suggestive therapy was used with marked success by the priest-physicians of the ancient world. Among the-American Indians, the Shamans–or “Medicine Men”–dispelled sickness with the aid of mysterious dances, invocations, and charms. The fact that in spite of their ignorance of modern methods of medical treatment these sorcerers effected innumerable cures, is well worthy of consideration.
The magic rituals used by the Egyptian priests for the curing of disease were based upon a highly developed comprehension of the complex workings of the human mind and its reactions upon the physical constitution. The Egyptian and Brahmin worlds undoubtedly understood the fundamental principle of vibrotherapeutics. By means of chants and mantras, which emphasized certain vowel and consonant sounds, they set up vibratory reactions which dispelled congestions and assisted Nature in reconstructing broken members and depleted organisms. They also applied their knowledge of the laws governing vibration to the spiritual constitution of man; by their intonings, they stimulated latent centers of consciousness and thereby vastly increased the sensitiveness of the subjective nature.
In the Book of Coming Forth by Day, many of the Egyptian secrets have been preserved to this generation. While this ancient scroll has been well translated, only a few understand the secret: significance of its magical passages. Oriental races have a keen realization of the dynamics of sound. They know that every spoken word has tremendous power and that by certain arrangements of words they can create vortices of force in the invisible universe about them and thereby profoundly influence physical substance. The Sacred Word by which the world was established, the Lost Word which Masonry is still seeking, and the threefold Divine Name symbolized by A. U. M.–the creative tone of the Hindus–all are indicative of the veneration accorded the principle of sound.
The so-called “new discoveries” of modern science are often only rediscoveries of secrets well known to the priests and philosophers of ancient pagandom. Man’s inhumanity to man has resulted in the loss of records and formula: which, had they been preserved, would have solved many of the greatest problems of this civilization. With sword and firebrand, races obliterate the records of their predecessors, and then inevitably meet with an untimely fate for need of the very wisdom they have destroyed.
From De Monte-Snyders’ Metamorphosis Planetarum.
De Monte-Snyders declares that each of the above characters forms one syllables of a word having seven syllables, the word itself representing the materia prima, or first substance of the universe. As all substance is composed of seven powers combined according to certain cosmic laws, a great mystery is concealed within the sevenfold constitution of man, and the universe. Of the above seven characters, De Monte-Snyder writes:
Whoever wants to know the true name and character of the materia prima shall know that out of the combination of the above figures syllables are produced, and out of these the verbum significativum.”
FROM A MANUSCRIPT WRITTEN AND ILLUMINATED AT NAPLES A.D. 1606
No better way can be found of introducing to the “Royal Art” a seeker after the mysteries of symbolical philosophy than to place at his disposal an actual example of alchemical writing. The text of this manuscript is as enigmatic as are its diagrams; but to him who will meditate upon the profound significance of both, the deeper issues of mysticism in due time will be made clear. An unknown person through whose hands this manuscript passed wrote thus of it:
“Because of its drawings and illustrated expositions, the manuscript is of preeminent importance to the Rosicrucians and the contemporary order of Freemasons. The first, and larger, part of the illustrations deals with the Hermetic philosophy, explaining its teachings and doctrines. Interspersed among these are portraits of great teachers and satirical representations of bunglers and their mistaken views. The systematically arranged part shows with wonderful clearness the color development of the alchemical processes from blue-gold over black to white and rose. Throughout it treats of the change in human beings and not of the making of gold. Ever upon the Grade of Black (the return into Chaos from which new creations are possible) follows the Grade of the Neophytes, the New Birth, which is often repeated with impressive lucidity. The black stage occurs as usual through fire. This unopened and unpublished manuscript belongs to the order of the most important Precepts and Documents of the Rosicrucians, and Freemasons. A search through the museums and library collections of Germany has failed to reveal any item of even a similar character.”
In addition to the 26 leaves here reproduced there are ten bottles or retorts, each half filled with varicolored substances. These bottles can be so easily described that it is unnecessary to reproduce them. The first bottle (from the mouth of which issues a golden shrub with three blossoms) contains a bluish-gray liquid, the entire figure being called “Our Quicksilver.” Under the vessel is a verse containing the significant words:
“He will have white garments for black and then red.” The second bottle (from the neck of which rise four golden flowers) also contains the bluish-gray substance termed quicksilver. Below the bottle is the admonition to “make spirit of the body and grace of the gross, that the corporeal may become incorporeal.”
The third bottle is entirely black save for a golden tree trunk having six lopped-off branches and terminating in five branches which end in knobs and protrude from the neck of the bottle. The state of the substance is termed “Blackness showing through the Head of the Raven.” Under the bottle occurs the statement that “the tincture of the Philosophers is hidden in the air like the soul in the human body.” The fourth bottle is of the deepest blackness and is called “The Head of the Raven.” Nothing rises from the neck of the vessel, for the earth (its contents) is described as “submerged in Chaos.” The bottom of the fifth bottle contains a bluish-gray, spotted liquid, the upper part being filled with a brick-colored substance. Above are the words: “Sixth Raven’s Head”; below is added: “At the bottom of the vessel worms are born.”
The lower half of the sixth bottle is of a bluish-gray, the u per half black, the entire figure being termed “Seventh Raven’s Head.” A child is seated beside the bottle, concerning whom it is written: “This newly-born, black son is called Elixir and will be made perfectly white.” The seventh bottle is black below and black spotted with red above. The process is thus described:
“Black blacker than black, for many divers colors will appear. Those black clouds will [descend] to the body whence they came, and the junction of body, soul, and spirit has been completed and turned to ashes.”
The eighth bottle is divided horizontally by a golden band, from which rises a golden stem ending in five leaves protruding from the neck of the bottle. The contents of the vessel are transparent, and it is written that “the black clouds are past and the great whiteness has been completed.” The ninth bottle (from the neck of which rises a golden white rose) is also partly filled with a transparent liquid. The rose is made to say: “He who blanches me makes me red.” The tenth and last bottle represents the consummation of the Great Work. The lower half of the vessel is filled with the blood-red Elixir and from the neck rises a red rose with many petals and of extreme beauty. After declaring all the planets to have been present at the consummation of the Great Work, the author of the document concludes:
“I gave to the Master [spirit] so much silver and gold that be can never be poor.”
In his dedication the author and illustrator of the manuscript declares that he has set forth all the operations of the Great Work. He prays to the Holy Spirit that he may be included in the number of those who have pursued this most noble of the sciences and that he may be set always in the path of righteousness. Exclusive of his own researches, the main sources of his information are said to be the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Raymond Lully, and Arnold of Villa Nova.
To protect themselves from the persecution of despotic theology the mediæval alchemists couched their philosophy in Christian terminology, although the great secrets of the Art were derived largely from Egyptian or Arabian adepts. The Mohammedans were masters of the Hermetic secrets and even the great Paracelsus secured from them the major part of his knowledge. In their manifestoes the Rosicrucians also disclose the Arabian source of their secret doctrine. Hence it should be borne in mind that the relating of the alchemical teachings to Biblical symbolism was a gesture of expediency. In their search of the Scriptures for the arcana of Israel, the Qabbalists substantiated in great measure the alchemical interpretations of the Bible, for the soul of alchemy is one with that of Qabbalism. Both schools have a common end, being who concerned with the mystery of human regeneration, despite apparent discrepancies in their symbolism.
The publication of this manuscript places at the student’s disposal the most profound secrets of the Hermetic Art. At first the task of decipherment may seem hopeless and the superficially-minded will be tempted to scoff at the possibility of real knowledge being perpetuated in such unconventional fashion. The scoffer will not realize that one of the purposes of the document is to awaken ridicule and thus preserve more effectually its arcana from the profane. A few sheets (such as those here reproduced) represent the life work of one who has consecrated himself to the task of tearing aside the veil of the World Virgin. Years of research and experimentation, days of incessant labor, nights of prayer and meditation, and at last comes the realization of accomplishment! This is the real story told by the grotesque figures drawn so painstakingly upon the faded, worm-eaten pages. Those who have glimpsed the greater realities of being realize that the fundamental verities of life find at best only imperfect expression through physical symbols. Only those who have passed through the travail of spiritual birth can adequately comprehend and properly reverence the pathetic efforts to portray for others that knowledge necessarily locked within the heart of the one who knows.
Leaf 1. The top line reads: “Our earliest medicine was made of natural objects.” About the king and queen appears the statement that to them a son shall be born “in two trees of the vine,” resembling his father and without equal in all the world. About the vase is written: “Green and white.” “The vase flame color, the flowers green.” “Our water, our silver.” The lines below read: “The material of the Philosopher’s Stone is that thick, viscous water, which either heat or cold congeals. It is Mercury boiled down and thickened, cooked in neutral earth with sulphurous heat and is called the Prime Material of the metals. In caverns yet dark, and forbidding mountains, if a Stone be found which a thousand years ago Nature made out of her fruits, it will bring him that has it out of trouble. * * * Listen carefully to all my verses; I speak them without veil and without deception.
Leaf 2. At the top is a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas concerning the composition of the Philosopher’s Stone, which is described as of the purest transparency; in it all the forms of the elements and their contrarieties were visible. Beneath the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas is a short paragraph praising the excellence of the Philosophic Stone, declaring that from the one substance can be derived three and from the three, two. To the right of St. Thomas Aquinas is a likeness of Raymond Lully seated in the door of his hermitage. Under his feet appears a quotation from this celebrated alchemist, beginning with the question, “What is the Philosopher’s Stone?” After declaring it to be a reddish, fixed mercury, Lully swears to the Almighty that he has told the truth and that it is not permissible to say more. (The original manuscript is mutilated at this point.)
Leaf 3. The writing at the top of the page reads: “Death of Saturn; life of Mercury.” After describing the use of the saturnine substances, the key to the process is declared to be depicted below. The verse reads “This [the stone] is made of four elements. This is the truth in all Nature. Take it in hand, bright and shining, with all diligence and great care and then try to bind all securely together side by side, so the fire may cause alarm.” Above the human figure is written: “Saturn is almost dead.” To the right if the devouring serpent is a statement of Albertus Magnus that Saturn and Mercury are the first principles of the Stone. It also declares that Nature wisely provided a mixture of elements so that earth can communicate its dryness to fire, fire its heat to air, air its moisture to water, and water its coldness to earth. (Text about the vase is illegible in original.)
Leaf 4. At the top: “Let them believe that . everything is possible. The art is fleeting, bright and rare, and not believed by the foolish.” The words between the sun and crescent read “It is hidden,” and on the panel across the body “The Book of life and true Treasury of the World.” The panel to the left of the figure says “Moving almost all, and the soul of its body returns to the place from which it had fled, and ripens seven months or nine, and the King crowned with his diadem appears.” The right panel states: “There are three Mercuries: animal, vegetable, and mineral.” The text below is of such a cryptic nature that to translate it is well nigh impossible. It declares that by putting fire beneath the feet of the symbolic figure it is possible to extract therefrom the sun and the moon which the human body is shown elevating to a position of dignity above its head.
Leaf 5. In the upper panel it is declared that the sun-bird battles with the earth-serpent, who, tearing out his own entrails, gives them to the bird. The spirit is vivified and Lazarus with joy is raised from the dead. Above the bird is written: “This is the sun in the form of a bird,” and above the dragon “This is the dragon devouring the bird. The first operation.” The panel of text at the lower left reads in substance: “When our sperm (quicksilver) is mixed with the mother of elements (earth), the action is called coitus. The detention by the earth of a bit of quicksilver is called conception. The earth grows and multiplies and the operation is calledimpregnation. When earth is whitened with water and made of uniform color and appearance, it is called birth and the King is born out of fire.” The text at lower right was deliberately mutilated to conceal a too evident secret.
Leaf 6. This plate shows all the secrets of the great Stone. In the center stands the Paschal Virgin, in her hair the prime virtue which is described as an herb flourishing in wells. The hands hold the symbols of the spiritual and material elements. The statement at the upper left is to the effect that there are four spirits with two faces, which are called the elements. At the upper right it is written that fire lives on air, air on water, water on earth, and thus the Stone lives Peacefully on all the pure elements. Under the sun appears the word Summer; under the moon, Autumn. About the tree on the left with its attendant eyes are the words: “Turn away your eyes to [from?] the fire. There is space [?].” About the tree to the right. “Open your eyes to the fire. There is time.” The lower panel opens with this sentence “I am exalted above the circles of world.”
Leaf 7. The verse at the top reads:,” This Stone is so noble and worthy that Nature has hidden it in her recesses. Its soul is all fair, and pure, for it is the true sun. I inform you of this. Keep it removed, apart and separated. Whatever boon you crave, it will come to you bounteously. without sin, with pleasure and delight.” The seated figure on the left holding aloft the hammer is described as breaking hard stone, while the words beside the man with the retort read: “Breaking of stone our replenishment.” Between the standing figures below is the exclamation; “O Sages, seek and ye shall find my Stone!” Under the outstretched hand of the man with a basket appear the words: “Draw out sorerem [?] in the bottom.” Below the pool which the man on the left is stirring appears the simple statement: “Our healing water.” The faces of the four men are extremely well drawn.
Leaf 8. Under the sun, moon, and Mercury are the words Three and One, an inference that the three are one. The words under the flower stems read: “Whiteness forty days after ashes.” Under the blossoms is written: (left) “Minor time of the Stone”; (right) “The selected red.” Between the arms of the central figure appears: “Let one pound of Mercury be placed.” To the left is written: “If you who read shall have known this figure, you will possess the whole science of the Stone”; to the right: “And if you do not acknowledge it, you will be stiff-necked and dull.” Above the sun is the word Father; above the satyr, “Ferment of the work.” Beside the child is the sentence: “The son of the moon would threw the Stone into the fire–his mother.” Above the flaming basket is written: “I am the true Stone.” Under the central figure are the words: “A moderate fire is the master of the work.”
Leaf 9. In the upper left it is written that without the light of the Moon the Sun does not heat the earth and that into the Moon the Sun emits its fruits. In the upper right the true herb of the philosophers is described, and it is declared that whoever believes in and it shall be [spiritually] rich. The panel concludes thus: “Understand thoroughly what it is that the man has in either hand if you wish to be enlightened.” The text to the left above the sun reads: “Entirely without the Sun and Moon, make dye; dissolve, congeal, and like produces for itself like.” The words to the right of the man holding the Philosopher’s herb declare sublimation to be the beginning, the middle and the end of the Great Work. The last sentence reads: “Out of the Sun and Moon make a thing of equal parts, and by their union, God willing, let the Philosopher’s Stone be made.”
Leaf 10. The two short lines of text at upper left read: “Some take a recent stone.” The lines to the right of the symbol of Mars (iron) admonish the student to control his appetites and apply his mind to the accumulation of knowledge. No satisfactory translation can be found for the words under the outstretched arm of the man holding the upper part of the tree. The lower panel reads thus: “After the Stone has been well refined it will appear to penetrate thoroughly. It should be put into its vessel with its water. Close it well with a little fire, and await the wonders of Nature.” The large red oval filling the lower half of the leaf is evidently the egg or vessel of the Sages. The tree is a symbol of the growth of the sacred metals, for the alchemists affirmed that the metals are like plants and grow in the rocks, spreading their branches (veins) through the interstices.
Leaf 11. The fount is described as that from which the two Mercuries of the Philosophers are extracted. At the upper left is described the white Mercury and at the right the red Mercury. The text about the fountain declares that Saturn collects the white Mercury, which is called the Water of Earth; and the Earth collects the red Mercury, which is called the Water of Heaven. The text to the left of the frog reads: “Through Him who created the Heavens and the Earth I am the Philosopher’s Stone, and in my body I carry something the wise seek. If such a charm be extracted from me, it will be a sweet refreshment for you. I am an animal having father and mother, and father and mother were created; and in my body are contained the four elements, and I am before father and mother and I am a poisonous animal.” The lines at the right describe distilling and calcining processes.
Leaf 12. The three words at the top read: “This is Nature.” The lines above the donkey read: “This is the Philosophers’ donkey who wished to rise to the practice of the Philosopher’s Some.” The three lines below the animal are translated: “Frogs gather in multitudes but science consists of clear water made from the Sun and Moon.” The text under the symbolic bird is as follows: “This is fortune with two wings. Whosoever has it knows that fruit will in such away be produced. A great philosopher has shown that the stone is a certain white sun, to see which needs a telescope. To dissolve it in water requires the Sun and Moon, and here one must open 200 telescopes, putting body and soul in one mass. And here is lost the mass; other sages cook the frogs and add nothing, if the juice of the Wise you wish to enjoy.” To the Greeks the frog symbolized both metempsychosis and earthly humidity.
Leaf 13. This Page contains but two figures. At the left stands Morienus, the philosopher, pointing towards the salamander who “lives and grows in fire.” Morienus, who was born in the twelfth century, became the disciple of the great Arabian alchemist Adfar, from whom he learned the Hermetic arts. Morienus prepared the Philosophical Elixir for the Sultan of Egypt, inscribing upon the vase in which he placed the precious substance the words: “He who possesses all has no need of others.” He spent many years as a hermit near Jerusalem. The lines below the salamander are: “Let the fire be of a perfect red color; the earth white, the water clear. Then compound them by philosophical means and calcine them as many times with the water which the body had as to turn it white by its kindness. Having done this, you will have the greatest treasure in the world.”
Leaf 14. The three words at the top of the left page are translated: “The man that digs.” Above the birds it is declared that none but the cocks of Hermes, the two Mercuries, shall put hand to the plow, and only after irrigation will the earth bring forth her fruits. The seated man is Count Bernard of Treviso, who says: “Work the earth with Mercury.” (See chapter on Alchemy and Its Exponents.) The three sentences to the Count’s left read: “Go to the fire and with Mercury, thy brother, await me for a month. Crumble the stone I gave thee and I shall go to the fire. Thy death, my life. I shall net die but, living, tell of the works of this, my master.” Bernard of Treviso in his alchemical speculation emphasized the necessity of meditation upon the philosophical writings of the great adepts rather than chemical experimentation. He ultimately discovered the “Stone.”
Leaf 15. The first sentence reads: “The fruit of plants by virtue of the Sun, our Stone.” The boy holding the dish is made to say: “Drink here all ye that are athirst. Come unto me, run to the waters. Here drink, without price, and drink your fill. Open your eyes and see the wonders of the earth. They learn, my thirsty twenty and four.” Beneath the boy are the words: “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, and divided the waters from the waters. Bless the waters which are above the Heavens.” The circle contains this statement: “The earth without form and void. Out of the stars come the rains.” The lower left panel continues the alchemical process, ending with admonition to renounce the misery of worldly existence. Above is a prayer to the Virgin Mary which opens thus: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord be with thee. Blessed thou among women.”
Leaf 16. The first sentence reads: “The dead bodies remain; the spirits are freed by the death in the bodies. You will ride with that death with a scythe, and the light of the Sun, the Moon, and the fixed stars.” Over the scythe is written: “Subject to the Sun, the Moon and Azoth, complete the Work.” The four words in the curve of the scythe blade say: “Man’s head, head of raven.” The three lines to the right are interpreted thus: “This figure is called Laton, for it looks black in a vessel, and is the beginning of corruption.” The text below the ladder states: “This is the ladder of primitive matter which when placed in a vessel turns black, the gradually changes to white by the scale [ladder] of digestion, according to the degree of heat.” Here a ladder is used to signify the natural steps up which matter must ascend before it can attain to a truly spiritual state.
Leaf 17. The verse at the top of the page reads: “Not only must this material be fixed, but it must be allowed to enter into everything so that this material may be well completed and have infinite virtue. Then by making it thick, it becomes at once all white, sublimation from white it becomes shining.” Above the sun are the words: “God and Nature do nothing in vain.” The man on the left is a mediæval conception of Hermes, the great Egyptian philosopher; the one on the right is Christopher, the philosopher of Paris. Above the latter is written: “If the Stone is black, it is not useless.” The words over the retort are: “There is air, fire, water, and earth.” Below is added: “A dissolution of the body is the first step. ” The curious chemical apparatus must be considered purely symbolic in this work and, as its author himself says, is intended to give only a hint of the “Art.”
Leaf 18. At the left holding a book stands Aristotle, who is described as the most learned of all the Greeks. The tree surmounted by the Sun and Mon. is accompanied by the wards: “When the Stone is dead, that is changed to water, in this it will produce flowers.” Beneath Aristotle and the prostrate human figure from which rises the flowering tree are these statements: “He who makes everything descend from heaven to earth, and then ascend from earth to heaven, has information about the Stone. For in Mercury there is something the wise seek, not invoked except by white or red ferment.” The first part of this quotation is based upon the Emerald Tablet of Hermes (which see). In ordinary man, the spirit is figuratively absorbed by the body; but in the true philosopher, the spirit is so greatly increased in power that it absorbs into itself and is nourished by man’s corporeal body.
Leaf 19. At the top it reads: “He that comes to know this figure will have knowledge of the Stone.” The seated man probably represents Paracelsus. To his right are the words: “I am neither tree nor animal, nor stone nor vegetable, but the Philosopher’s Stone, trampled on by men, cast into the fire by my father, and in fire I rejoice.” The four words to the left say “In dryness is the Stone.” Below the man is the Philosophic Egg containing the words: “It is the end in which the beginning rests.” The capital T stands for “Tincture.” The text to the right states: “In Stone it is formed, as Gerber writes in his book very learnedly, and possessing so much of its nature that it changes into clear, living water; and it has the power to make folks rich, satisfied, and free from all cares, so they will be always happy if they attain by their wit to the secret.”
Leaf 20. At the top is written: “Rains are made by six stars.” Under the inverted man it reads: “Receive new spirit. Arise, for you are asleep.” The two sentences about the large figure read: “Remember Mercury, for ashes thou art and unto ashes thou shalt return. I thirst and am dead.” Above the seven globes at the left is the admonition: “If he thirst, give him a drink and he shall live.” Over the small man is written: “Hermes, the father of philosophers.” The curved line of writing to which Hermes points says: “The measure of the drink.” Under the central pedestal appears: “The light of my eyes is a lantern to my feet.” Below is added: “If the beginning is unknown, the rest is unknown.” Above the figure rising from the flames on the right is the statement: “He was resurrected after new Moon,” and under the eagle: “Thou shalt not fly further with me.”
Leaf 21. The upper line reads: “Two things and double, but finally one is dissolved into the first and they make sperm.” The four capitals. I A A T, are the initial letters of the names of the elements: Ignis, Aer, Aqua, and Terra. The writing under them reads: “Our fire is water; if you can give fire to fire, fire and Mercury will suffice.” Along the arm appear the words: “The Art of the Stone is,” and on the ribbon: “Swift, brief, bright, and rare.” The two lines under the ribbon read: “Every hand is a key, because it was called the herb celandine”; under the Sun: “I am the gift of God ” The verse reads: “So that you remain contented in all matters, I must listen attentively. My body [is] naked, clean, and shining, and I run like oil ready to drop, resplendent like bright gold, and then succumb to the plague in its bright and cheerful little chamber [retort].”
Leaf 22. The verse in the upper left is as follows: “This group is composed of three stones: lunar, solar, and mercurial. In the lunar is white sulphur; in the solar, red sulphur, in the mercurial, both; i.e. white and red, and this is the strength of all instruction.” In the bottle at the left are the words: “Dissolving, calcination, sublimation complete the instruction”; and at the base: “Wash, congeal, and coagulate. ” Under the central tower is written: “Metallic salts, however, are hidden by one letter”; around the bottom of the red circle: “Dryness, coldness, humidity, heat, and dryness.” On the points below are the names of the four elements. The initial, I A A T appear four times with the same meaning as that already given. The three powers of the Philosopher’s Stone are symbolized by the heads of the cherubs in the circle in the upper left corner.
Leaf 23. The writing at the upper left is, in substance, the Lord’s Prayer, with the addition of the words Jesus and Mary at the end. The inverted words in the banner read: “Ye can do nothing without me, for God has so promised, saying ‘So be it.'” The text under the angel reads: “By this plague he will be damned who knows he is dead, all cold in a black body. And let this be thy first comfort: then he will burn unto calcination. When I have reduced him within this door, know for certain that I shall be blessed if I shall know how to cultivate the garden.” The main part of the leaf is devoted to an elaborate symbolic drawing of alchemical equipment, under which are the words: “The furnace of distillation, congealing, rectification, perfection, fixation: quintessence of the Philosophers.” By “quintessence” should be understood the “fifth essence” of the most wise.
Leaf 24. The words at the top read: “I, the bird [the adept], speak into thine ears from the Sun, Moon and Azoth. The work is perfected with little labor.” The panel to the left describes the nature of primordial matter and the drink of the Philosophers. The text to the right reads: “This is my beloved Son whom I saw and loved. If he be resurrected, He will remain at home, and in that house the spirit will be the soul and the body; for Mercury may be called the son of the Sun and the Moon.” Under the child’s figure is added: “If he were not dead, I should not have been his mother. I bore him after death before he was born in the world; under my feet I have what was his, and out of me and my Son and the foundation of my feet the Philosopher’s Stone is made.” At the lower left the three constituents of the Stone are shown elevated upon a pedestal to signify their dignity.
Leaf 25. Above the figure of the Queen are three lines stating, in substance, that in the beginning of the book it was written of her that from her maternal breasts she nourished the Sun, and that he who was capable of converting her into Primal matter possessed rare skill. Opposite the Queen’s head are the words: “In the highest mountains this water” and “I am the light of the Philosophers.” To the left of the Queen is an admonition to strike the sons whom she bears. She calls herself “The mother of the Sun, the sister of the Moon, and the servant and spouse of Mercury.” On the right she is made to exclaim: “I cannot be crowned unless these sons of mine become ashes. ” The sons are shown directly below. The verse under the Queen continues the alchemical processes, describing the method in which the exudations from the substance should be preserved.
Leaf 26. This page, which concludes that part of the Hermetic manuscript bearing the symbols of the Secret Work, contains a number of emblems not directly correlated. At the top is the head of the King–the most common of alchemical figures. To the right of the King is an alchemical vessel designated the Hermetic Seal. Below is the head of a ferocious bird, here designated a griffon. To the left of the King is a headless figure elevating a Sun, or spiritual face. This figure is the world, which must be headless, since its spiritual and rational part is not material and consequently, is invisible. Below is a circle unaccompanied by descriptive matter. Directly under the King’s head is a vase of flowers, in which rises the golden plant of the Philosophers. At the bottom of the page is additional alchemical equipment, this also being termed a Hermetic Seal.
The Chemical Marriage
THE self-admitted author of The Chemical Marriage, Johann Valentin Andreæ, born in Württemberg in 1586, was twenty-eight years of age when that work was first published. It was presumably written about twelve years prior to its publication–or when the author was fifteen or sixteen years old. The fact is almost incredible that one so young could produce a volume containing the wealth of symbolic thought and philosophy hidden between the lines of The Chemical Marriage. This book makes the earliest known reference to Christian Rosencreutz, and is generally regarded as the third of the series of original Rosicrucian manifestoes. As a symbolic work, the book itself is hopelessly irreconcilable with the statements made by Andreæ concerning it. The story of The Chemical Marriage relates in detail a series of incidents occurring to an aged man, presumably the Father C.R.C. of the Fama and Confessio. If Father C.R.C. was born in 1378, as stated in theConfessio, and is identical with the Christian Rosencreutz of The Chemical Marriage, he was elevated to the dignity of a Knight of the Golden Stone in the eighty-first year of his life (1459). In the light of his own statements, it is inconceivable that Andreæ could have been Father Rosy Cross.
Many figures found in the various books on symbolism published in the early part of the seventeenth century bear a striking resemblance to the characters and episodes in The Chemical Marriage. The alchemical wedding may prove to be the key to the riddle of Baconian Rosicrucianism. The presence in the German text ofThe Chemical Marriage of some words in English indicates its author to have been conversant also with that language. The following summary of the main episodes of the seven days of The Chemical Marriage will give the reader a fairly comprehensive idea of the profundity of its symbolism.
THE FIRST DAY
Christian Rosencreutz, having prepared in his heart the Paschal Lamb together with a small unleavened loaf, was disturbed while at prayer one evening before Easter by a violent storm which threatened to demolish not only his little house but the very hill on which it stood. In the midst of the tempest he was touched on the back and, turning, he beheld a glorious woman with wings filled with eyes, and robed in sky-colored garments spangled with stars. In one hand she held a trumpet and in the other a bundle of letters in every language. Handing a letter to C.R.C., she immediately ascended into the air, at the same time blowing upon her trumpet a blast which shook the house. Upon the seal of the letter was a curious cross and the words In hoc signo vinces. Within, traced in letters of gold on an azure field, was an invitation to a royal wedding.
C.R.C. was deeply moved by the invitation because it was the fulfillment of a prophecy which he had received seven years before, but so unworthy did he feel that he was paralyzed with fear. At length, after resorting to prayer, he sought sleep. In his dreams he found himself in a loathsome dungeon with a multitude of other men, all bound and fettered with great chains. The grievousness of their sufferings was increased as they stumbled over each other in the darkness. Suddenly from above came the sound of trumpets; the cover of the dungeon was lifted, and a ray of light pierced the gloom. Framed in the light stood a hoary-headed man who announced that a rope would be lowered seven times and whoever could cling to the rope would be drawn up to freedom.
Great confusion ensued. All sought to grasp the rope and many were pulled away from it by others. C.R.C. despaired of being saved, but suddenly the rope swung towards him and, grasping it, he was raised from the dungeon. An aged woman called the “Ancient Matron” wrote in a golden yellow book the names of those drawn forth, and each of the redeemed was given for remembrance a piece of gold bearing the symbol of the sun and the letters D L S. C.R.C., who had been injured while clinging to the rope, found it difficult to walk. The aged woman bade him not to worry, but to thank God who had permitted him to come into so high a light. Thereupon trumpets sounded and C.R.C. awoke, but so vivid was the dream that he was still sensible of the wounds received while asleep.
With renewed faith C. R. C. arose and prepared himself for the Hermetic Marriage. He donned a white linen coat and bound a red ribbon crosswise over his shoulders. In his hat he stuck four roses and for food he carried bread, water, and salt. Before leaving his cottage, he knelt and vowed that whatever knowledge was revealed to him he would devote to the service of his neighbor. He then departed from his house with joy.
THE SECOND DAY
As he entered the forest surrounding his little house, it seemed to C.R.C. that all Nature had joyously prepared for the wedding. As he proceeded singing merrily, he came to a green heath in which stood three great cedars, one bearing a tablet with an inscription describing the four paths that led to the palace of the King: the first short and dangerous, the second circuitous, the third a pleasant and royal road, and the fourth suitable only for incorruptible bodies. Weary and perplexed, C.R.C. decided to rest and, cutting a slice of bread, was about to partake thereof when a white dove begged it from him. The dove was at once attacked by a raven, and in his efforts to separate the birds C.R.C. unknowingly ran a considerable distance along one of the four paths–that leading southward. A terrific wind preventing him from retracing his steps, the wedding guest resigned himself to the loss of his bread and continued along the road until he espied in the distance a great gate. The sun being low, he hastened towards the portal, upon which, among other figures, was a tablet bearing the words Procul hinc procul ite profani.
A gatekeeper in sky-colored habit immediately asked C.R.C. for his letter of invitation and, on receiving it, bade him enter and requested that he purchase a token. After describing himself as a Brother of the Red Rosie Cross, C.R.C. received in exchange for his water bottle a golden disk bearing the letters S C. Night drawing near, the wanderer hastened on to a second gate, guarded by a lion, and to which was affixed a tablet with the words Date et dabitur volis, where he presented a letter given him by the first gatekeeper. Being urged to purchase a token bearing the letters S M, he gave his little package of salt and then hastened on to reach the palace gates before they were locked for the night.
A beautiful virgin called Virgo Lucifera was extinguishing the castle lights as C.R.C. approached, and he was barely able to squeeze through the closing gates. As they closed they caught part of his coat, which he was forced to leave behind. Here his name was written in the Lord Bridegroom’s little vellum book and he was presented with a new pair of shoes and also a token bearing the letters S P N. He was then conducted by pages to a small chamber where the “ice-grey locks” were cut from the crown of his head by invisible barbers, after which he was ushered into a spacious hall where a goodly number of kings, princes, and commoners were assembled. At the sound of trumpets each seated himself at the table, taking a position corresponding to his dignity, so that C.R.C. received a very humble seat. Most of the pseudo-philosophers present being vain pretenders, the banquet became an orgy, which, however, suddenly ceased at the sound of
TITLE PAGE OF 1616 EDITION OF CHYMISCHE HOCHZEIT: CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ.
From Rosencreutz’ Chemical Marriage.
The most remarkable of all the publications involved in the Rosicrucian controversy is that of The Chemical Marriage, published in Strasbourg. This work, which is very rare, should be reproduced in exact facsimile to provide students with the opportunity of examining the actual text for the various forms of cipher employed. Probably no other volume in the history or literature created such a profound disturbance as this unpretentious little book. Immediately following its publication the purpose for which the volume was intended became the subject of popular speculation. It was both attacked and defended by theologians and philosophers alike, but when the various contending elements are simmered down the mysteries surrounding the book remain unsolved. That its author was a man of exceptional learning was admitted, and it is noteworthy that those minds which possessed the deepest understanding of Nature’s mysteries were among those profoundly impressed by the contents of The Chemical Marriage.
stately and inspired music. For nearly half an hour no one spoke. Then amidst a great sound the door of the dining hall swung open and thousands of lighted tapers held by invisible hands entered. These were followed by the two pages lighting the beautiful Virgo Lucifera seated on a self-moving throne. The white-and-gold-robed Virgin then rose and announced that to prevent the admission of unworthy persons to the mystical wedding a set of scales would be erected the following day upon which each guest would be weighed to determine his integrity. Those unwilling to undergo this ordeal she stated should remain in the dining hall. She then withdrew, but many of the tapers stayed to accompany the guests to their quarters for the night.
Most of those present were presumptuous enough to believe that they could be safety weighed, but nine–including C.R.C.–felt their shortcomings so deeply that they feared the outcome and remained in the hall while the others were led away to their sleeping chambers. These nine were bound with ropes and left alone in darkness. C.R.C. then dreamed that he saw many men suspended over the earth by threads, and among them flew an aged man who, cutting here and there a thread, caused many to fall to earth. Those who in arrogance had soared to lofty heights accordingly fell a greater distance and sustained more serious injury than the more humble ones who, falling but a short distance, often landed without mishap. Considering this dream to be a good omen, C.R.C. related it to a companion, continuing in discourse with him until dawn.
THE THIRD DAY
Soon after dawn the trumpets sounded and the Virgo Lucifera, arrayed in red velvet, girded with a white sash, and crowned with a laurel wreath, entered accompanied by two hundred men in red-and-white livery. She intimated to C.R.C. and his eight companions that they might fare better than the other, self-satisfied guests. Golden scales were then hung in the midst of the hall and near them were placed seven weights, one good-sized, four small, and two very large. The men in livery, each carrying a naked sword and a strong rope, were divided into seven groups and from each group was chosen a captain, who was given charge of one of the weights. Having remounted her high throne, Virgo Lucifera ordered the ceremony to begin. The first to step on the scales was an emperor so virtuous that the balances did not tip until six weights had been placed upon the opposite end. He was therefore turned over to the sixth group. The rich and poor alike stood upon the scales, but only a few passed the test successfully. To these were given velvet robes and wreaths of laurel, after which they were seated upon the steps ofVirgo Lucifera’s throne. Those who failed were ridiculed and scourged.
The “inquisition” being finished, one of the captains begged Virgo Lucifera to permit the nine men who had declared themselves unworthy also to be weighed, and this caused C.R.C. anguish and fear. Of the first seven one succeeded and was greeted with joy. C.R.C. was the eighth and he not only withstood all the weights but even when three men hung on the opposite end of the beam he could not be moved. A page cried out: “THAT IS HE!” C.R.C. was quickly set at liberty and permitted to release one of the captives. He chose the first emperor. Virgo Lucifera then requested the red roses that C.R.C. carried, which he immediately gave her. The ceremony of the scales ended about ten o’clock in the forenoon.
After agreeing upon the penalties to be imposed upon those whose shortcomings had been thus exposed, a dinner was served to all. The few successful “artists,” including C.R.C., were given the chief seats, after which the Golden Fleece and a Flying Lion were bestowed upon them in the name of the Bridegroom. Virgo Lucifera then presented a magnificent goblet to the guests, stating that the King had requested all to share its contents, Following this, C.R.C. and his companions were taken out upon a scaffolding where they beheld the various penalties suffered by those who failed. Before leaving the palace, each of the rejected guests was given a draught of forgetfulness. The elect then returned to the castle, where to each was assigned a learned page, who conducted them through the various parts of the edifice. C.R.C. saw many things his companions were not privileged to behold, including the Royal Sepulcher, where he learned “more than is extant in all books.” He also visited a magnificent library and an observatory containing a great globe thirty feet in diameter and with all the countries of the world marked upon it.
At supper the various guests propounded enigmas and C.R.C. solved the riddle which Virgo Lucifera asked concerning her own identity. Then entered the dining hall two youths and six virgins beautifully robed, followed by a seventh virgin wearing a coronet. The latter was called the Duchess, and was mistaken for the Hermetic Bride. The Duchess told C.R.C. that he had received more than the others, therefore should make a greater return. The Duchess then asked each of the virgins to pick up one of the seven weights which still remained in the great room. To Virgo Lucifera was given the heaviest weight, which was hung in the Queen’s chamber during the singing of a hymn. In the second chamber the first virgin hung her weight during a similar ceremony; thus they proceeded from room to room until the weights had been disposed of. The Duchess then presented her hand to C. R. C. and his companions and, followed by her virgins, withdrew. Pages then conducted the guests to their sleeping chambers. The one assigned to C.R.C. was hung with rare tapestries and with beautiful paintings.
THE FOURTH DAY
After washing and drinking in the garden from a fountain which bore several inscriptions–among them one reading, “Drink, brothers, and live”–the guests, led byVirgo Lucifera, ascended the 365 steps of the royal winding stairs. The guests were given wreaths of laurel and, a curtain being raised, found themselves in the presence of the King and Queen. C.R.C. was awestruck by the glory of the throne room and especially by the magnificence of the Queen’s robes, which were so dazzling that he could not gaze upon them. Each guest was presented to the King by one of the virgins and after this ceremony the Virgo Lucifera made a short speech in which she recited the achievements of the honest “artists” and begged that each be questioned as to whether she had properly fulfilled her duty. Old Atlas then stepped forward and in the name of their Royal Majesties greeted the intrepid band of philosophers and assured Virgo Lucifera that she should receive a royal reward.
The length of the throne room was five times its width. To the west was a great porch in which stood three thrones, the central one elevated. On each throne sat two persons: on the first an ancient king with a young consort; on the third a black king with a veiled matron beside him; and on the central throne two young persons over whose heads hung a large and costly crown, about which hovered a little Cupid who shot his arrows first at the two lovers and then about the hall. Before the Queen a book bound in black velvet lay on a small altar, on which were golden decorations. Beside this were a burning candle, a celestial globe, a small striking-watch, a little crystal pipe from which ran a stream of clear blood-red liquor, and a skull with a white serpent crawling in and out of the orbits. After their presentations, the guests retired down the winding stairs to the great hall.
KEY TO THE GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL SECRET.
From Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum.
This plate, which is the key to mystic Christian alchemy, is missing from almost every copy of the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, a work compiled by Elias Ashmole and containing about a score of pieces by English poets treating of the Philosopher’s Stone and the Hermetic mysteries. In view of the consistent manner in which the plate disappeared, it is possible that the diagram was purposely removed because it revealed too plainly the Rosicrucian arcana. Worthy of notice also is the care with which owners’ names have been effaced from early books pertaining to alchemy and Hermeticism. The original names are usually rendered illegible being covered with heavy ink lines, the procedure often seriously defacing the volume, While an occasional exception is found, in practically every instance the mutilated books either deal with Rosicrucianism or contain cryptic writings of suspected Rosicrucian origin. It is presumed that this Practice of obliterating the owners names was to prevent the early Rosicrucians and Hermetists from being discovered through the volumes composing their libraries. Elias Ashmole’s plate shows the analogies between the life of Christ and the four grand divisions of the alchemical process. Herein is also revealed the teaching that the Philosopher’s Stone itself is a macrocosm and a microcosm, embodying the principles of astronomy and cosmogony, both universal and human.
Later the Virgo Lucifera announced that a comedy was to be performed for the benefit of the six royal guests in a building called the House of the Sun. C.R.C. and his companions formed part of the royal procession, which after a considerable walk arrived at the theater. The play was in seven acts, and after its happy ending all returned through the garden and up the winding stairs to the throne room. C.R.C. noticed the young King was very sad and that at the banquet following he often sent meat to the white serpent in the skull. The feast over, the young King, holding in his hand the little black book from the altar, asked the guests if they would all be true to him through prosperity and adversity, and when they tremblingly agreed he asked that each should sign his name in the little black book as proof of his fealty. The royal persons then drank from the little crystal fountain, the others afterwards doing likewise. This was called the “Draught of Silence.” The royal persons then sadly shook hands with all present. Suddenly a little bell tinkled and immediately the kings and queens took off their white garments and donned black ones, the room was hung in sable draperies, and the tables were removed. The eyes of the royal persons were bound with six black taffeta scarfs and six coffins were placed in the center of the room. An executioner, a Moor, robed in black and bearing an axe, entered, and beheaded in turn each of the six royal persons. The blood of each was caught in a golden goblet, which was placed in the coffins with the body. The executioner was also decapitated and his head placed in a small chest.
The Virgo Lucifera, after assuring C.R.C. and his companions that all should be well if they were faithful and true, ordered the pages to conduct them to their rooms for the night while she remained to watch with the dead. About midnight C.R.C. awakened suddenly and, looking from his window, beheld seven ships sailing upon a lake. Above each hovered a flame; these he believed to be the spirits of the beheaded. When the ships reached shore, the Virgo Lucifera met them and on each of six of the vessels was placed a covered coffin. As soon as the coffins had been thus disposed of, the lights were extinguished and the flames passed back over the lake so that there remained but one light for a watch in each ship. After beholding this strange ceremony, C.R.C. returned to his bed and slept till morning.
THE FIFTH DAY
Rising at daybreak and entreating his page to show him other treasures of the palace, C.R.C. was conducted down many steps to a great iron door bearing a curious inscription, which he carefully copied. Passing through, he found himself in the royal treasury, the light in which came entirely from some huge carbuncles. In the center stood the triangular sepulcher of Lady Venus. Lifting a copper door in the pavement, the page ushered C.R.C. into a crypt where stood a great bed upon which, when his guide had raised the coverlets, C.R.C. beheld the body of Venus. Led by his page, C.R.C. then rejoined his companions, saying nothing to them of his experience.
Virgo Lucifera, robed in black velvet and accompanied by her virgins, then led the guests out into the courtyard where stood six coffins, each with eight pallbearers. C.R.C. was the only one of the group of “artists” who suspected the royal bodies were no longer in these coffins. The coffins were lowered into graves and great stones rolled over them. The Virgo Lucifera then made a short oration in which she exhorted each to assist in restoring the royal persons to life, declaring that they should journey with her to the Tower of Olympus, where the medicines necessary to the resurrection of the six royal persons could alone be found. C.R.C. and his companions followed Virgo Lucifera to the seashore, where all embarked on seven ships disposed according to a certain strange order. As the ships sailed across the lake and through a narrow channel into the open sea, they were attended by sirens, nymphs, and sea goddesses, who in honor of the wedding presented a great and beautiful pearl to the royal couple. When the ships came in sight of the Tower of Olympus, Virgo Lucifera ordered the discharge of cannon to signal their approach. Immediately a white flag appeared upon the tower and a small gilded pinnace, containing an ancient man–the warden of the tower–with his white-clad guards came out to meet the ships.
The Tower of Olympus stood upon an island which was exactly square and was surrounded by a great wall. Entering the gate, the group was led to the bottom of the central tower, which contained an excellent laboratory where the guests were fain to beat and wash plants, precious stones, and all sorts of things, extract their juice and essence, and put these latter into glasses. Virgo Lucifera set the “artists” to work so arduously that they felt they were mere drudges. When the day’s work was finished, each was assigned a mattress on the stone floor. Being unable to sleep, C.R.C. wandered about contemplating the stars. Chancing upon a flight of steps leading to the top of the wall, he climbed up and looked out upon the sea. Remaining here for some time, about midnight he beheld seven flames which, passing over the sea towards him, gathered themselves on the top of the spire of the central tower. Simultaneously the winds arose, the sea became tempestuous, and the moon was covered with clouds. With some fear C.R.C. ran down the stairs and returned to the tower and, lying down on his mattress, was lulled to sleep by the sound of a gently flowing fountain in the laboratory.
THE SIXTH DAY
The next morning the aged warden of the tower, after examining the work performed by the wedding guests in the laboratory and finding it satisfactory, caused ladders, ropes, and large wings to be brought forth, and addressed the assembled “artists” thus: “My dear sons, one of these three things must each of you this day constantly bear about with him.” Lots were cast and to C.R.C., much to his chagrin, fell a heavy ladder. Those who secured wings had them fastened to their backs so cunningly that it was impossible to detect that they were artificial. The aged warden then locked the “artists” in the lower room of the tower, but in a short time a round hole was uncovered in the ceiling and Virgo Lucifera invited all to ascend. Those with wings flew at once through the opening, those with ropes had many difficulties, while C.R.C. with his ladder made reasonable speed. On the second floor the wedding guests, musicians, and Virgo Lucifera gathered about a fountain-like contrivance containing the bodies of the six royal persons.
Virgo Lucifera then placed the if Moor’s head in a kettle-like receptacle in the upper part of the fountain and poured upon it the substances prepared on the previous day in the laboratory. The virgins placed lamps beneath. These substances when they boiled passed out through holes in the sides of the kettle and, falling upon the bodies in the fountain below, dissolved them. The six royal bodies having been reduced thus to a liquid state, a tap was opened in the lower end of the fountain and the fluid drained into an immense golden globe, which, when filled, was of great weight. All but the wedding guests then retired and shortly a hole in the ceiling opened as before and the guests ascended pell-mell to the third floor. Here the globe were suspended by a strong chain. The walls of the apartment were of glass, and mirrors were so arranged that the sun’s rays were concentrated upon the central globe, thus causing it to become very hot. Later the sun’s rays were deflected and the globe permitted to cool, after which it was cut open with a diamond, revealing a beautiful white egg. Carrying this with her, Virgo Lucifera departed.
The guests, having ascended through another trap door, found
THE UNIVERSE CREATED BY THE DUAL PRINCIPLE OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS.
From Fludd’s Philosophia Mosaica.
The Supreme Deity is symbolized by the small globe at the top, which is divided into two hemispheres, the dark half representing the divine darkness with which the Deity surround Himself and which serves as His hiding place. The radiant hemisphere signifies the divine light which is in God and which, pouring forth, manifests as the objective creative power. The large dark globe to the left and beneath the dark half of the upper sphere signifies the potential darkness which was upon the face of the primordial deep and within which moved the Spirit of God. The light globe to the right is the Deity who is revealed out of the darkness. Here the shining Word has dissipated the shadows and a glorious universe has been formed. The divine power of this radiant globe is cognizable to man as the sun. The large light and a dark section represents the created universes partaking of the light and darkness which are in the nature of the Creator. The dark half represents the Deep, or Chaos, the Eternal Waters pouring forth out of the Deity; the light half-circle containing the figure of Apollo represents the diurnal hemisphere of the world, which in the ancient Mysteries was ruled over by Apollo. The dark half-circle is the nocturnal hemisphere ruled over by Dionysius (Dionysos), whose figure is faintly visible in the gloom.
themselves upon the fourth floor, where stood a square kettle filled with silver sand warmed by a gentle fire. The great white egg was placed upon the warm sand to mature. In a short time it cracked and there emerged an ugly, ill-tempered bird, which was fed with the blood of the beheaded royal persons diluted with prepared water. At each feeding its feathers changed color; from black they turned to white and at last they became varicolored, the disposition of the bird improving the while. Dinner was then served, after which Virgo Lucifera departed with the bird. The guests ascended with ropes, ladders, and wings to the fifth floor, where a bath colored with fine white powder had been prepared for the bird, which enjoyed bathing in it until the lamps placed beneath the bath caused the water to become uncomfortably warm. When the heat had removed all the bird’s feathers it was taken out, but the fire continued until nothing remained in the bath save a sediment in the form of a blue stone. This was later pounded up and made into a pigment; with this, all of the bird except the head was painted.
The guests thereupon ascended to the sixth floor, where stood a small altar resembling that in the King’s throne room. The bird drank from the little fountain and was fed with the blood of the white serpent which crawled through the openings in the skull. The sphere by the altar revolved continuously. The watch struck one, two, and then three, at which time the bird, laying its neck upon the book, suffered itself to be decapitated. Its body was burned to ashes, which were placed in a box of cypress wood. Virgo Lucifera told C.R.C. and three of his comrades that they were lazy and sluggish “labourators” and would therefore be excluded from the seventh room. Musicians were sent for, who with cornets were to “blow” the four in ridicule from the chamber. C.R.C. and his three companions were disheartened until the musicians told them to be of good cheer and led them up a winding stair to the eighth floor of the tower directly beneath the roof. Here the old warden, standing upon a little round furnace, welcomed them and congratulated them upon being chosen by Virgo Lucifera, for this greater work. Virgo Lucifera then entered, and after laughing at the perplexity of her guests, emptied the ashes of the bird into another vessel, filling the cypress box with useless matter. She thereupon returned to the seventh floor, presumably to mislead those assembled there by setting them to work upon the false ashes in the box.
C.R.C. and his three friends were set to work moistening the bird’s ashes with specially prepared water until the mixture became of doughlike consistency, after which it was heated and molded into two miniature forms. Later these were opened, disclosing two bright and almost transparent human images about four inches high (homunculi), one male and the other female. These tiny forms were laid upon satin cushions and fed drop by drop with the blood of the bird until they grew to normal size and of great beauty. Though the bodies had the consistency of flesh, they showed no signs of life, for the soul was not in them. The bodies were next surrounded with torches and their faces covered with silk. Virgo Lucifera then appeared, bearing two curious white garments. The virgins also entered, among them six bearing great trumpets. A trumpet was placed upon the mouth of one of the two figures and C.R.C. saw a tiny hole open in the dome of the tower and a ray of light descend through the tube of the trumpet and enter the body. This process was repeated three times on each body. The two newly ensouled forms were then removed upon a traveling couch. In about half an hour the young King and Queen awakened and the Virgo Lucifera presented them with the white garments. These they donned and the King in his own person most graciously returned thanks to C.R.C. and his companions, after which the royal persons departed upon a ship. C.R.C. and his three privileged friends then rejoined the other “artists,” making no mention of that which they had seen. Later the entire party were assigned handsome chambers, where they rested till morning.
THE SEVENTH DAY
In the morning Virgo Lucifera announced that each of the wedding guests had become a “Knight of the Golden Stone. ” The aged warden then presented each man with a gold medal, bearing on one side the inscription “At. Nat. Mi. ” and on the other, “Tem. Na. F.” The entire company returned in twelve ships to the King’s palace. The flags on the vessels bore the signs of the zodiac, and C.R.C. sat under that of Libra. As they entered the lake, many ships met them and the King and Queen, together with their lords, ladies, and virgins, rode forth on a golden barge to greet the returning guests. Atlas then made a short oration in the King’s behalf, also asking for the royal presents. In reply the aged warden delivered to Cupid, who hovered about the royal pair, a small, curious-shaped casket. C.R.C. and the old lord, each bearing a snow-white ensign with a red cross on it, rode in the carriage with the King. At the first gate stood the porter with blue clothes, who, upon seeing C.R.C., begged him to intercede with the King to release him from that post of servitude. The King replied that the porter was a famous astrologer who was forced to keep the gate as a punishment for the crime of having gazed upon Lady Venus reposing upon her couch. The King further declared that the porter could be released only when another was found who had committed the same crime. Upon hearing this, C.R.C.’s heart sank, for he realized himself to be the culprit, but he remained silent at that time.
The newly created Knights of the Golden Stone were obliged to subscribe to five articles drawn up by His Royal Highness:
(1) That they would ascribe their Order only to God and His handmaid, Nature.
(2) That they should abominate all uncleanness and vice.
(3) That they should always be ready to assist the worthy and needy.
(4) That they should not use their knowledge and power for the attainment of worldly dignity.
(5) That they should not desire to live longer than God had decreed. They were then duly installed as Knights, which ceremony was ratified in a little chapel where C. R. C. hung up his Golden Fleece and his hat for an eternal memorial, and here he inscribed the following: Summa Scientia nihil Scire, Fr. Christianus Rosencreutz. Eques aurei Lapidis. Anno 1459.
After the ceremony, C.R.C. admitted that he was the one who had beheld Venus and consequently must become the porter of the gate. The King embraced him fondly and he was assigned to a great room containing three beds–one for himself, one for the aged lord of the tower, and the third for old Atlas.
The Chemical Marriage here comes to an abrupt end, leaving the impression that C.R.C. was to assume his duties as porter on the following morning. The book ends in the middle of a sentence, with a note in italics presumably by the editor.
Under the symbolism of an alchemical marriage, mediæval philosophers concealed the secret system of spiritual culture whereby they hoped to coordinate thedisjecta membra of both the human and social organisms. Society, they maintained, was a threefold structure and had its analogy in the triune constitution of man, for as man consists of spirit, mind, and body, so society is made up of the church, the state, and the populace. The bigotry of the church, the tyranny of the state, and the fury of the mob are the three murderous agencies of society which seek to destroy Truth as recounted in the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff. The first six days of The Chemical Marriage set forth the processes of philosophical “creation” through which every organism must pass. The three kings are the threefold spirit of man and their consorts the corresponding vehicles of their expression in the lower world. The executioner is the mind, the higher part of which–symbolized by the head–is necessary to the achievement of the philosophical labor. Thus the parts of man–by the alchemists symbolized as planets and elements–when blended together according to a certain Divine formula result in the creation of two philosophic “babes” which, fed upon the blood of the alchemical bird, become rulers of the world.
From an ethical standpoint, the young King and Queen resurrected at the summit of the tower and ensouled by Divine Life represent the forces of Intelligence and Love which must ultimately guide society. Intelligence and Love are the two great ethical luminaries of the world and correspond to enlightened spirit and regenerated body. The bridegroom is reality and the bride the regenerated being who attains perfection by becoming one with reality through a cosmic marriage wherein the mortal part attains immortality by being united with its own immortal Source. In the Hermetic Marriage divine and human consciousness are united in holy wedlock and he in whom this sacred ceremony takes place is designated as “Knight of the Golden Stone”; he thereby becomes a divine philosophic diamondcomposed of the quintessence of his own sevenfold constitution.
Such is the true interpretation of the mystical process of becoming “a bride of the Lamb.” The Lamb of God is signified by the Golden Fleece that Jason was forced to win before he could assume his kingship. The Flying Lion is illumined will, an absolute prerequisite to the achievement of the Great Work. The episode of weighing the souls of men has its parallel in the ceremony described in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The walled city entered by C.R.C. represents the sanctuary of wisdom wherein dwell the real rulers of the world–the initiated philosophers.
Like the ancient Mysteries after which it was patterned, the Order of the Rose Cross possessed a secret ritual which was lived by the candidate for a prescribed number of years before he was eligible to the inner degrees of the society. The various floors of the Tower of Olympus represent the orbits of the planets. The ascent of the philosophers from one floor to another also parallels certain rituals of the Eleusinian Mysteries and the rites of Mithras wherein the candidate ascended the seven rungs of a ladder or climbed the seven steps of a pyramid in order to signify release from the influences of the Planetary Governors. Man becomes master of the seven spheres only when he transmutes the impulses received from them. He who masters the seven worlds and is reunited with the Divine Source of his own nature consummates the Hermetic Marriage.
IS the transmutation of base metals into gold possible? Is the idea one at which the learned of the modern world can afford to scoff? Alchemy was more than a speculative art: it was also an operative art. Since the time of the immortal Hermes, alchemists have asserted (and not without substantiating evidence) that they could manufacture gold from tin, silver, lead, and mercury. That the galaxy of brilliant philosophic and scientific minds who, over a period of two thousand years, affirmed the actuality of metallic transmutation and multiplication, could be completely sane and rational on all other problems of philosophy and science, yet hopelessly mistaken on this one point, is untenable. Nor is it reasonable that the hundreds declaring to have seen and performed transmutations of metals could all have been dupes, imbeciles, or liars.
Those assuming that all alchemists were of unsound mentality would be forced to put in this category nearly all the philosophers and scientists of the ancient and mediæval worlds. Emperors, princes, priests, and common townsfolk have witnessed the apparent miracle of metallic metamorphosis. In the face of existing testimony, anyone is privileged to remain unconvinced, but the scoffer elects to ignore evidence worthy of respectful consideration. Many great alchemists and Hermetic philosophers occupy an honored niche in the Hall of Fame, while their multitudinous critics remain obscure. To list all these sincere seekers after Nature’s great arcanum is impossible, but a few will suffice to acquaint the reader with the superior types of intellect who interested themselves in this abstruse subject.
Among the more prominent names are those of Thomas Norton, Isaac of Holland, Basil Valentine (the supposed discoverer of antimony), Jean de Meung, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Quercetanus Gerber (the Arabian who brought the knowledge of alchemy to Europe through his writings), Paracelsus, Nicholas Flarnmel, John Frederick Helvetius, Raymond Lully, Alexander Sethon, Michael Sendivogius, Count Bernard of Treviso, Sir George Ripley, Picus de Mirandola, John Dee, Henry Khunrath, Michael Maier, Thomas Vaughan, J. B. von Helmont, John Heydon, Lascaris, Thomas Charnock, Synesius (Bishop of Ptolemais), Morieu, the Comte di Cagliostro, and the Comte de St.-Germain. There are legends to the effect that King Solomon and Pythagoras were alchemists and that the former manufactured by alchemical means the gold used in his temple.
Albert Pike takes sides with the alchemical philosophers by declaring that the gold of the Hermetists was a reality. He says:
“The Hermetic science, like all the real sciences, is mathematically demonstrable. Its results, even material, are as rigorous as that of a correct equation. The Hermetic Gold is not only a true dogma, a light without Shadow, a Truth without alloy of falsehood; it is also a material gold, real, pure, the most precious that can be found in the mines of the earth.”
So much for the Masonic angle.
William and Mary jointly ascended the throne of England in 1689, at which time alchemists must have abounded in the kingdom, for during the first year of their reign they repealed an Act made by King Henry IV in which that sovereign declared the multiplying of metals to be a crime against the crown. In Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom’s Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts is a handwritten copy of the Act passed by William and Mary, copied from Chapter 30 of Statutes at Large for the first year of their reign. The Act reads as follows:
“An Act to repeal the Statute made in the 5th year of King Henry IV, late king of England, [wherein] it was enacted, among other things, in these words, or to this effect, namely: ‘that none from henceforth should use to multiply Gold or Silver or use the craft of multiplication, and if any the same do they shall incur the pain of felony.’ And whereas, since the making of the said statute, divers persons have by their study, industry and learning, arrived to great skill & perfection in the art of melting and refining of metals, and otherwise improving and multiplying them and their ores, which very much abound in this realm, and extracting gold and silver our of the same, but dare not to exercise their said skill within this realm, for fear of falling under the penalty of the said statute, but exercise the said art in foreign parts, to the great loss and detriment of this realm: Be it therefore enacted by the King’s and Queen’s most excellent Majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons in this present parliament assembled, that from henceforth the aforesaid branch, article, or sentence, contained in the said act, and every word, matter and thing contained in the said branch or sentence, shall be repealed, annulled, revoked, and for ever made void, any thing in the said act to the contrary in any wise whatsoever notwithstanding. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all the gold and silver that shall be extracted by the aforesaid art of melting or refining of metals, and otherwise improving and multiplying of them and their ores, as before set forth, be from henceforth employed for no other use or uses whatsoever but for the increase of monies; and that the place hereby appointed for the disposal thereof shall be their Majesties mint, within the Tower of London, at which place they are to receive the full and true value of their gold and silver, so procured, from time to time, according to the assay and fineness thereof, and so for any greater or less weight, and that none of that metal of gold and silver so refined and procured be permitted to be used or disposed of in any other place or places within their Majesties dominions.”
After this repealing measure had become effective, William and Mary encouraged the further study of alchemy.
Dr. Franz Hartmann has collected reliable evidence concerning four different: alchemists who transmuted base metals into gold not once but many times. One of these accounts concerns a monk of the Order of St. Augustine named Wenzel Seiler, who discovered a small amount of mysterious red powder in his convent. In the presence of Emperor Leopold I, King of Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia, he transmuted quantities of tin into gold. Among other things which he dipped into his mysterious essence was a large silver medal. That part of the medal which came in contact with the gold-producing substance was transmuted into the purest quality of the more precious metal. The rest remained silver. With regard to this medal, Dr. Hartmann writes:
“The most indisputable proof (if appearances can prove anything) of the possibility of transmuting base metals into gold, may be seen by everyone who visits Vienna; it being a medal preserved in the Imperial treasury chamber, and it is stated that this medal, consisting originally of silver, has been partly transformed into gold, by alchemical means, by the same Wenzel Seiler who was afterwards made a knight by the Emperor Leopold I. and given the title Wenzeslaus Ritter von Reinburg. “(In the Pronaos of the Temple of Wisdom.)
Space limitations preclude a lengthy discussion of the alchemists. A brief sketch of the lives of four should serve to show the general principles on which they worked, the method by which they obtained their knowledge, and the use which they made of it. These four were Grand Masters of this secret science; and the stories of
From The Complete Writings of Paracelsus, of Hohenheim.
In his Biographia Antiqua, Francis Barrett appends to the name of Paracelsus the following titles of distinction: “The Prince of Physicians and Philosophers by Fire; Grand Paradoxical Physician; The Trismegistus of Switzerland; First Reformer of Chymical Philosophy; Adept in Alchymy, Cabala, and Magic; Nature’s Faithful Secretary; Master of the Elixir of Life and The Philosopher’s Stone,” and the “Great Monarch of Chymical Secrets”
their wanderings and strivings, as recorded by their own pens and by contemporaneous disciples of the Hermetic art, are as fascinating as any romance of fiction.
PARACELSUS OF HOHENHEIM
The most famous of alchemical and Hermetic philosophers was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. This man, who called himself Paracelsus, declared that some day all the doctors of Europe would turn from the other schools and, following him, revere him above every other physician. The accepted date of the birth of Paracelsus is December 17, 1493. He was an only child. Both his father and mother were interested in medicine and chemistry. His father was a physician and his mother the superintendent of a hospital. While still a youth, Paracelsus became greatly interested in the writings of Isaac of Holland, and determined to reform the medical science of his day.
When twenty years old he began a series of travels which continued for about twelve years. He visited many European countries, including Russia. It is possible that he penetrated into Asia. It was in Constantinople that the great secret of the Hermetic arts was bestowed upon him by Arabian adepts. His knowledge of the Nature spirits and the inhabitants of the invisible worlds he probably secured from the Brahmins of India with whom he came in contact either directly or through their disciples. He became an army physician, and his understanding and skill brought him great success.
Upon his return to Germany, he began his long-dreamed-of reformation of the medical arts and sciences. He was opposed on every hand and criticized unmercifully. His violent temper and tremendously strong personality undoubtedly precipitated many storms upon his head which might have been avoided had he been of a less caustic disposition. He flayed the apothecaries, asserting that they did not use the proper ingredients in their prescriptions and did not consider the needs of their patients, desiring only to collect exorbitant fees for their concoctions.
The remarkable cures which Paracelsus effected only made his enemies hate him more bitterly, for they could not duplicate the apparent miracles which he wrought. He not only treated the more common diseases of his day but is said to have actually cured leprosy, cholera, and cancer. His friends claimed for him that he all but raised the dead. His systems of healing were so heterodox, however, that slowly but surely his enemies overwhelmed him and again and again forced him to leave the fields of his labors and seek refuge where he was not known.
There is much controversy concerning the personality of Paracelsus. That he had an irascible disposition there is no doubt. His barred for physicians and for women amounted to a mania; for them he had nothing but abuse. As far as can be learned, there was never a love affair in his life. His peculiar appearance and immoderate system of living were always held against him by his adversaries. It is believed that his physical abnormalities may have been responsible for much of the bitterness against society which he carried with him throughout all his intolerant and tempestuous life.
His reputed intemperance brought upon him still more persecution, for it was asserted that even during the time of his professorship in the University of Basel he was seldom sober. Such an accusation is difficult to understand in view of the marvelous mental clarity for which he was noted at all times. The vast amount of writing which he accomplished (the Strassburg Edition of his collected works is in three large volumes, each containing several hundred pages) is a monumental contradiction of the tales regarding his excessive use of alcoholics.
No doubt many of the vices of which he is accused were sheer inventions by his enemies, who, not satisfied with hiring assassins to murder him, sought to besmirch his memory after they had revengefully ended his life. The manner in which Paracelsus met his death is uncertain, but: the most credible account is that he died as the indirect result of a scuffle with a number of assassins who had been hired by some of his professional enemies to make away with the one who had exposed their chicanery.
Few manuscripts are extant in the handwriting of Paracelsus, for he dictated the majority of his works to his disciples, who wrote them down. Professor John Maxson Stillman, of Stanford University, pays the following tribute to his memory:
“Whatever be the final judgment as to the relative importance of Paracelsus in the upbuilding of medical science and practice, it must be recognized that he entered upon his career at Basel with the zeal and the self-assurance of one who believed himself inspired with a great truth, and destined to effect a great advance in the science and practice of medicine. By nature he was a keen and open-minded observer of whatever came under his observation, though probably also not a very critical analyst of the observed phenomena. He was evidently an unusually self-reliant and independent thinker, though the degree of originality in his thought may be a matter of legitimate differences of opinion. Certainly once having, from whatever combination of influences, made up his mind to reject the sacredness of the authority of Aristotle, Galen and Avicenna, and having found what to his mind was a satisfactory substitute for the ancient dogmas in his own modification of the neo-Platonic philosophy, he did not hesitate to burn his ships behind him.
“Having cut loose from the dominant Galenism of his time, he determined to preach and teach that the basis of the medical science of the future should be the study of nature, observation of the patient, experiment and experience, and not the infallible dogmas of authors long dead. Doubtless in the pride and self-confidence of his youthful enthusiasm he did not rightly estimate the tremendous force of conservatism against which he directed his assaults. If so, his experience in Basel surely undeceived him. From that time on he was to be a wanderer again, sometimes in great poverty, sometimes in moderate comfort, but manifestly disillusioned as to the immediate success of his campaign though never in doubt as to its ultimate success–for to his mind his new theories and practice of medicine were at one with the forces of nature, which were the expression of God’s will, and eventually they must prevail.”
This strange man, his nature a mass of contradictions, his stupendous genius shining like a star through the philosophic and scientific darkness of mediæval Europe, struggling against the jealousy of his colleagues as well as against the irascibility of his own nature, fought for the good of the many against the domination of the few. He was the first man to write scientific books in the language of the common people so that all could read them.
Even in death Paracelsus found no rest. Again and again his bones were dug up and reinterred in another place. The slab of marble over his grave bears the following inscription:
“Here lies buried Philip Theophrastus the famous Doctor of Medicine who cured Wounds, Leprosy, Gout, Dropsy and other incurable Maladies of the Body, with wonderful Knowledge and gave his Goods to be divided and distributed to the Poor. In the Year 1541 on the 24th day of September he exchanged Life for Death. To the Living Peace, to the Sepulchred Eternal Rest.”
- M. Stoddart, in her Life of Paracelsus, gives a remarkable testimonial of the love which the masses had for the great physician. Referring to his tomb, she writes:
“To this day the poor pray there. Hohenheim’s memory has ‘blossomed in the dust’ to sainthood, for the poor have canonized him. When cholera threatened Salzburg in 1830, the people made a pilgrimage to his monument and prayed him to avert it from their homes. The dreaded scourge passed away from them and raged in Germany and the rest of Austria.”
From Jovius’ Vitae Illustrium Virorum.
Albert de Groot was born about 1206 and died at the age of 74. It has been said of him that he was “magnus in magia, major in philosophia, maximus in theologia.” He was a member of the Dominican order and the mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas in alchemy and philosophy. Among other positions of dignity occupied by Albertus Magnus was that of Bishop of Regensburg. He was beatified in 1622. Albertus was an Aristotelian philosopher, an astrologer, and a profound student of medicine and physics. During his youth, he was considered of deficient mentality, but his since service and devotion were rewarded by a vision in which the Virgin Mary appeared to him and bestowed upon him great philosophical and intellectual powers. Having become master of the magical sciences, Albertus began the construction of a curious automaton, which he invested with the powers of speech and thought. The Android, as it was called, was composed of metals and unknown substances chosen according to the stars and endued with spiritual qualities by magical formulæ and invocations, and the labor upon it consumed over thirty years. St. Thomas Aquinas, thinking the device to be a diabolical mechanism, destroyed it, thus frustrating the labor of a lifetime. In spite of this act, Albertus Magnus left to St. Thomas Aquinas his alchemical formulæ, including (according to legend) the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.
On one occasion Albertus Magnus invited William II, Count of Holland and King of the Romans, to a garden party in midwinter. The ground was covered with snow, but Albertus, had prepare a sumptuous banquet in the open grounds of his monastery at Cologne. The guests were amazed at the imprudence of the philosopher, but as they sat down to eat Albertus, uttered a few words, the snow disappeared, the garden was filled with flowers and singing birds, and the air was warm with the breezes of summer. As soon as the feast was over, the snow returned, much to the amazement of the assembled nobles. (For details, see The Lives of Alchemystical Philosophers.)
It was supposed that one early teacher of Paracelsus was a mysterious alchemist who called himself Solomon Trismosin. Concerning this person nothing is known save that after some years of wandering he secured the formula of transmutation and claimed to have made vast amounts of gold. A beautifully illuminated manuscript of this author, dated 1582 and called Splendor Solis, is in the British Museum. Trismosin claimed to have lived to the age of 150 as the result of his knowledge of alchemy. One very significant statement appears in his Alchemical Wanderings, which work is supposed to narrate his search for the Philosopher’s Scone: “Study what thou art, whereof thou art a part, what thou knowest of this art, this is really what thou art. All that is without thee also is within, thus wrote Trismosin.”
This most famous of all the Spanish alchemists was born about the year 1235. His father was seneschal to James the First of Aragon, and young Raymond was brought up in the court surrounded by the temptations and profligacy abounding in such places. He was later appointed to the position which his father had occupied. A wealthy marriage ensured Raymond’s financial position, and he lived the life of a grandee.
One of the most beautiful women at: the court of Aragon was Donna Ambrosia Eleanora Di Castello, whose virtue and beauty had brought her great renown. She was at that time married and was not particularly pleased to discover that young Lully was rapidly developing a passion for her. Wherever she went Raymond followed, and at last over a trivial incident he wrote some very amorous verses to her, which produced an effect quite different from what he had expected. He received a message inviting him to visit the lady. He responded with alacrity. She told him that it was only fair that he should behold more of the beauty concerning which he wrote such appealing poems and, drawing aside part of her garments, disclosed that one side of her body was nearly eaten away by a cancer. Raymond never recovered from the shock. It turned the entire course of his life. He renounced the frivolities of the court and became a recluse.
Sometime afterwards while doing penance for his worldly sins a vision appeared to him in which Christ told him to follow in the direction in which He should lead. Later the vision was repeated. Hesitating no longer, Raymond divided his property among his family and retired to a hut on the side of a hill, where he devoted himself to the study of Arabic, that he might go forth and convert the infidels. After six years in this retreat he set out with a Mohammedan servant, who, when he learned that Raymond was about to attack the faith of his people, buried his knife in his master’s back. Raymond refused to allow his would-be assassin to be executed, but later the man strangled himself in prison.
When Raymond regained his health he became a teacher of the Arabic language to those who intended traveling in the Holy Land. It was while so engaged that he came in contact: with Arnold of Villa Nova, who taught him the principles or alchemy. As a result of this training, Raymond learned the secret of the transmutation and multiplication of metals. His life of wandering continued, and during the course of it he arrived at Tunis, where he began to debate with the Mohammedan teachers, and nearly lost his life as the result of his fanatical attacks upon their religion. He was ordered to leave the country and never to return again upon pain of death. Notwithstanding their threats he made a second visit to Tunis, but the inhabitants instead of killing him merely deported him to Italy.
An unsigned article appearing in Household Words, No. 273, a magazine conducted by Charles Dickens, throws considerable light on Lully’s alchemical ability.
“Whilst at Vienna he [Lully] received flattering letters from Edward the Second, King of England, and from Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, entreating him to visit them. He had also, in the course of his travels, met with John Cremer, Abbot of Westminster, with whom he formed a strong friendship; and it was more to please him than the king, that Raymond consented to go to England. [A tract by John Cremer appears in the Hermetic Museum, but there is no record in the annals of Westminster of anyone by that name.] Cremer had an intense desire to learn the last great secret of alchemy–to make the powder of transmutation–and Raymond, with all his friendship, had never disclosed it. Cremer, however, set to work very cunningly; he was not long in discovering the object that was nearest to Raymond’s heart–the conversion of the infidels. He told the king wonderful stories of the gold Lully had the art to make; and he worked upon Raymond by the hope that King Edward would be easily induced to raise a crusade against the Mahommedans, if he had the means.
“Raymond had appealed so often to popes and kings that he had lost all faith in them; nevertheless, as a last hope, he accompanied his friend Cremer to England. Cremer lodged him in his abbey, treating him with distinction; and there Lully at last instructed him in the powder, the secret of which Cremer had so long desired to know. When the powder was perfected, Cremer presented him to the king, who received him as a man may be supposed to receive one who could give him boundless riches. Raymond made only one condition; that the gold he made should not be expended upon the luxuries of the court or upon a war with any Christian king; and that Edward himself should go in person with an army against the infidels. Edward promised everything and anything.
“Raymond had apartments assigned him in the Tower, and there he tells us he transmuted fifty thousand pounds weight of quicksilver, lead, and tin into pure gold, which was coined at the mint into six million of nobles, each worth about three pounds sterling at the present day. Some of the pieces said to have been coined out of this gold are still to be found in antiquarian collections. [While desperate attempts have been made to disprove these statements, the evidence is still about equally divided.] To Robert Bruce he sent a little work entitled Of the Art of Transmuting Metals. Dr. Edmund Dickenson relates that when the cloister which Raymond occupied at Westminster was removed, the workmen found some of the powder, with which they enriched themselves.
“During Lully’s residence in England, he became the friend of Roger Bacon. Nothing, of course, could be further from King Edward’s thoughts than to go on a crusade. Raymond’s apartments in the Tower were only an honorable prison; and he soon perceived how matters were. He declared that Edward would meet with nothing but misfortune and misery for his breach of faith. He made his escape from England in 1315, and set off once more to preach to the infidels. He was now a very old man, and none of his friends could ever hope to see his face again.
“He went first to Egypt, then to Jerusalem, and thence to Tunis a third time. There he at last met with the martyrdom he had so often braved. The people fell upon him and stoned him. Some Genoese merchants carried away his body, in which they discerned some feeble signs of life. They carried him on board their vessel; but, though he lingered awhile, he died as they came in sight of Majorca, on the 28th of June, 1315, at the age of eighty-one. He was buried with great honour in his family chapel at St. Ulma, the viceroy and all the principal nobility attending.”
In the latter part of the fourteenth century there lived in Paris one whose business was that of illuminating manuscripts and preparing deeds and documents. To Nicholas Flammel the world is indebted for its knowledge of a most remarkable volume, which he bought for a paltry sum from some bookdealer with whom his profession of scrivener brought him in contact. The story of this curious document, called the Book of Abraham the Jew, is best narrated
TITLE PAGE OF ALCHEMICAL TRACT ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN CREMER.
From Musæum Hermeticum Reformatum et Amplificatum.
John Cremer, the mythical Abbot of Westminster, is an interesting personality in the alchemical imbroglio of the fourteenth century. As it is not reasonably certain that m abbot by such a name ever occupied the See of Westminster, the question naturally arises, “Who was the person concealing his identity under the Pseudonym of John Cremer?” Fictitious characters such as John Cremer illustrate two important practices of mediæval alchemists: (1) many persons of high political or religious rank were secretly engaged in Hermetic chemical research but, fearing persecution and ridicule, published their findings under various pseudonyms; (2) for thousands of years it was the practice of those initiates who possessed the true key to the great Hermetic arcanum to perpetuate their wisdom by creating imaginary persons, involving them in episodes of contemporaneous history and thus establishing these beings as prominent members of society–in some cases even fabricating complete genealogies to attain that end. The names by which these fictitious characters were known revealed nothing to the uniformed. To the initiated, however, they signified that the personality to which they were assigned had no existence other than a symbolic one. These initiated chroniclers carefully concealed their arcanum in the lives, thoughts, words. and acts ascribed to these imaginary persons and thus safely transmitted through the ages the deepest secrets of occultism as writings which to the unconversant were nothing more than biographies.
in his own words as preserved in his Hieroglyphical Figures: “Whilst therefore, I Nicholas Flammel, Notary, after the decease of my parents, got my living at our art of writing, by making inventories, dressing accounts, and summing up the expenses of tutors and pupils, there fell into my hands for the sum of two florins, a guilded book, very old and large. It was not of paper, nor of parchment, as other books be, but was only made of delicate rinds (as it seemed to me) of tender young trees. The cover of it was of brass, well bound, all engraven with letters, or strange figures; and for my part I think they might well be Greek characters, or some such like ancient language. Sure I am. I could not read them, and I know well they were not notes nor letters of the Latin nor of the Gaul, for of them we understand a little.
“As for that which was within it, the leaves of bark or rind, were engraven and with admirable diligence written, with a point of iron, in fair and neat Latin letters colored. It contained thrice seven leaves, for so were they counted in the top of the leaves, and always every seventh leaf there was painted a virgin and serpent swallowing her up. In the second seventh, a cross where a serpent was crucified; and the last seventh, there were painted deserts, or wildernesse, in the midst whereof ran many fair fountains, from whence there issued out a number of serpents, which ran up and down here and there. Upon the first of the leaves, was written in great capital letters of gold, Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer, and Philosopher, to the Nation of the Jews, by the Wrath of God dispersed among the Gauls, sendeth Health. After this it was filled with great execrations and curses (with this word Maranatha, which was often repeated there) against every person that should cast his eyes upon it, if he were not Sacrificer or Scribe.
“He that sold me this book knew not what it was worth nor more than I when I bought it; I believe it had been stolen or taken from the miserable Jews, or found in some part of the ancient place of their abode. Within the book, in the second leaf, he comforted his nation, counselling them to fly vices, and above all idolatry, attending with sweet patience the coming of the Messias, Who should vanquish all the kings of the earth and should reign with His people in glory eternally. Without doubt this had been some very wise and understanding man.
“In the third leaf, and in all the other writings that followed, to help his captive nation to pay their tributes unto the Roman emperors, and to do other things, which I will not speak of, he taught them in common words the transmutation of metals; he painted the vessels by the sides, and he advertised them of the colors, and of all the rest, saving of the first agent, of the which he spake not a word, but only (as he said) in the fourth and fifth leaves entire he painted it, and figured it with very great cunning and workman ship: for although it was well and intelligibly figured and painted, yet no man could ever have been able to understand it, without being well skilled in their Cabala, which goeth by tradition, and without having well studied their books.
“The fourth and fifth leaves therefore, were without any writing, all full of fair figures enlightened, or as it were enlightened, for the work was very exquisite. First he painted a young man with wings at his ancles, having in his hand a Caducean rod, writhen about with two serpents, wherewith he struck upon a helmet which covered his head. He seemed to my small judgment, to be the God Mercury of the pagans: against him there came running and flying with open wings, a great old man, who upon his head had an hour glass fastened, and in his hand a book (or syrhe) like death, with the which, in terrible and furious manner, he would have cut off the feet of Mercury. On the other side of the fourth leaf, he painted a fair flower on the top of a very high mountain which was sore shaken with the North wind; it had the foot blue, the flowers white and red, the leaves shining like fine gold: and round about it the dragons and griffons of the North made their nests and abode.
“On the fifth leaf there was a fair rose tree flowered in the midst of a sweet garden, climbing up against a hollow oak; at the foot whereof boiled a fountain of most white water, which ran headlong down into the depths, notwithstanding it first passed among the hands of infinite people, who digged in the earth seeking for it; but because they were blind, none of them knew it, except here and there one who considered the weight. On the last side of the fifth leaf there was a king with a great fauchion, who made to be killed in his presence by some soldiers a great multitude of little infants, whose mothers wept at the feet of the unpitiful soldiers: the blood of which infants was afterwards by other soldiers gathered up, and put in a great vessel, wherein the sun and the moon came to bathe themselves.
“And because that this history did represent the more part of that of the innocents slain by Herod, and that in this book I learned the greatest part of the art, this was one of the causes why I placed in their church-yard these Hieroglyphic Symbols of this secret science. And thus you see that which was in the first five leaves.
“I will not represent unto you that which was written in good and intelligible Latin in all the other written leaves, for God would punish me, because I should commit a greater wickedness, than he who (as it is said) wished that all the men of the World had but one head that he might cut it off with one blow. Having with me therefore this fair book, I did nothing else day nor night, but study upon it, understanding very well all the operations that it showed, but not knowing with what matter I should begin, which made me very heavy and solitary, and caused me to fetch many a sigh. My wife Perrenella, whom I loved as myself, and had lately married was much astonished at this, comforting me, and earnestly demanding, if she could by any means deliver me from this trouble. I could not possibly hold my tongue, but told her all, and showed this fair book, whereof at the same instant that she saw it, she became as much enamoured as myself, taking extreme pleasure to behold the fair cover, gravings, images, and portraits, whereof notwithstanding she understood as little as I: yet it was a great comfort to me to talk with her, and to entertain myself, what we should do to have the interpretation of them.”
Nicholas Flammel spent many years studying the mysterious book. He even painted the pictures from it all over the walls of his house and made numerous copies which he showed to the learned men with whom he came in contact, but none could explain their secret significance. At last he determined to go forth in quest of an adept, or wise man, and after many wanderings he met a physician–by name Master Canches–who was immediately interested in the diagrams and asked to see the original book. They started forth together for Paris, and or, the way the physician adept explained many of the principles of the hieroglyphics to Flammel, but before they reached their journey’s end Master Canches was taken ill and died. Flammel buried him at Orleans, but having meditated deeply on the information he had secured during their brief acquaintance, he was able, with the assistance of his wife, to work out the formula for transmuting base metals into gold. He performed the experiment several times with perfect success, and before his death caused a number of hieroglyphic figures to be painted upon an arch of St. Innocent’s churchyard in Paris, wherein he concealed the entire formula as it had been revealed to him from the Book of Abraham the Jew.
COUNT BERNARD OF TREVISO
Of all those who sought for the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher’s Scone, few passed through the chain of disappointments that beset Count Bernard of Treviso, who was born in Padua in 1406 and died in 1490. His search for the Philosopher’s Stone and the secret of the transmutation of metals began when he was but fourteen years of age. He spent not only a lifetime but also a fortune in his quest. Count Bernard went from one alchemist and philosopher to another, each of whom unfolded some pet theorem which he eagerly accepted and experimented with but always without the desired result. His family believed him to be mad and declared that he was disgracing his house by his experiments, which were rapidly reducing him to a state of penury. He traveled in many countries, hoping that in distant places he would find wise men capable of assisting him. At last as he was approaching his seventy-sixth year, he was rewarded with success. The great secrets of the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the transmutation of metals were revealed to him. He wrote a little book describing the results of his labors, and while he lived only a few years to enjoy the fruitage of his discovery he was thoroughly satisfied that the treasure he had found was worth the lifetime spent in search of it. An example of the industry and perseverance displayed by him is to be found in one of the processes which some foolish pretender coaxed him to attempt and which resulted in his spending twenty years calcining egg shells and nearly an equal period distilling alcohol and other substances. In the history of alchemical research there never was a more patient and persevering disciple of the Great Arcanum.
Bernard declared the process of dissolution, accomplished not with fire but with mercury, to be the supreme secret of alchemy,
THE SYMBOLS OF ABRAHAM THE JEW.
From Flammel’s Hieroglyphical Figures.
Robert H. Fryar, in a footnote to his reprint of the Hieroglyphical Figures by Nicholas Flammel, says: “One thing which seems to prove the reality of this story beyond dispute, is, that this very book of Abraham the Jew, with the annotations of ‘Flammel,’ who wrote from the instructions he received from this physician, was actually in the hands of Cardinal Richelieu, as Borel was told by the Count de Cabrines, who saw and examined it.”
The Theory and Practice of Alchemy
ALCHEMY, the secret art of the land of Khem, is one of the two oldest sciences known to the world. The other is astrology. The beginnings of both extend back into the obscurity of prehistoric times. According to the earliest records extant, alchemy and astrology were considered as divinely revealed to man so that by their aid he might regain his lost estate. According to old legends preserved by the Rabbins, the angel at the gate of Eden instructed Adam in the mysteries of Qabbalah and of alchemy, promising that when the human race had thoroughly mastered the secret wisdom concealed within these inspired arts, the curse of the forbidden fruit would be removed and man might again enter into the Garden of the Lord. As man took upon himself “coats of skins” (physical bodies) at the time of his fall, so these sacred sciences were brought by him into the lower worlds incarnated in dense vehicles, through which their spiritual transcendental natures could no longer manifest themselves. Therefore they were considered as being dead or lost.
The earthly body of alchemy is chemistry, for chemists do not realize that half of The Book of Torah is forever concealed behind the veil of Isis (see the Tarot), and that so long as they study only material elements they can at best discover but half of the mystery. Astrology has crystallized into astronomy, whose votaries ridicule the dreams of ancient seers and sages, deriding their symbols as meaningless products of superstition. Nevertheless, the intelligentsia of the modern world can never pass behind the veil which divides the seen from the unseen except in the way appointed–the Mysteries.
What is life? What is intelligence? What is force? These are the problems to the solution of which the ancients consecrated their temples of learning. Who shall say that they did not answer those questions? Who would recognize the answers if given? Is it possible that under the symbols of alchemy and astrology lies concealed a wisdom so abstruse that the mind of this race is not qualified to conceive its principles?
The Chaldeans, Phœnicians, and Babylonians were familiar with the principles of alchemy, as were many early Oriental races. It was practiced in Greece and Rome; was the master science of the Egyptians. Khem was an ancient name for the land of Egypt; and both the words alchemy and chemistry are a perpetual reminder of the priority of Egypt’s scientific knowledge. According to the fragmentary writings of those early peoples, alchemy was to them no speculative art. They implicitly believed in the multiplication of metals; and in the face of their reiterations both the scholar and the materialist should be more kindly in their consideration of alchemical theorems. Evolutionists trace the unfoldment of the arts and sciences up through the growing intelligence of the prehistoric man, while others, of a transcendental point of view, like to consider them as being direct revelations from God.
Many interesting solutions to the riddle of alchemy’s origin have been advanced. One is that alchemy was revealed to man by the mysterious Egyptian demigod Hermes Trismegistus. This sublime figure, looming through the mists of time and bearing in his hand the immortal Emerald, is credited by the Egyptians as being the author of all the arts and sciences. In honor of him all scientific knowledge was gathered under the general title of The Hermetic Arts. When the body of Hermes was interred in the Valley of Ebron (or Hebron), the divine Emerald was buried with it. Many centuries afterward the Emerald was discovered–according to one version, by an Arabian initiate; according to another, by Alexander the Great, King of Macedon. By means of the power of this Emerald, upon which were the mysterious inscriptions of the Thrice Great Hermes–thirteen sentences in all–Alexander conquered all the then known world. Not having conquered himself, however, he ultimately failed. Regardless of his glory and power, the prophecies of the talking trees were fulfilled, and Alexander was cut down in the midst of his triumph. (There are persistent rumors to the effect that Alexander was an initiate of high order who failed because of his inability to withstand the temptations of power.)
- Y. Kenealy, quoting from the Cosmodromium of Doctor Gobelin Persona, describes the incident of Alexander and the talking trees, into the presence of which the King of Macedon is said to have been brought while on his campaign in India:
“And now Alexander marched into other quarters equally dangerous; at one time over the tops of mountains, at another through dark valleys, in which his army was attacked by serpents and wild beasts, until after three hundred days he came into a most pleasant mountain, on whose sides hung chains or ropes of gold. This mountain had two thousand and fifty steps all of purest sapphire, by which one could ascend to the summit, and near this Alexander encamped. And on a day, Alexander with his Twelve Princes, ascended by the aforenamed steps to the top of the Mountain, and found there a Palace marvellously beautiful, having Twelve Gates, and seventy windows of the purest gold, and it was called the Palace of the Sun, and there was in it a Temple all of gold, before whose gates were vine trees bearing bunches of carbuncles and pearls, and Alexander and his Princes having entered the Palace, found there a Man lying on a golden bedstead; he was very stately and beautiful in appearance, and his head and beard were white as snow. Then Alexander and his princes bent the knee to the Sage who spake thus: ‘Alexander, thou shalt now see what no earthly man hath ever before seen or heard.’ To whom Alexander made answer: ‘O, Sage, most happy, how dost thou know me?’ He replied: ‘Before the wave of the Deluge covered the face of the earth I knew thy works.’ He added: ‘Wouldst thou behold the most hallowed Trees of the Sun and Moon, which announce all future things?’ Alexander made answer: ‘It is well, my lord; greatly do we long to see them.’ * * *
“Then the Sage said: ‘Put away your rings and ornaments, and take off your shoes, and follow me.’ And Alexander did so, and choosing out three from the Princes, and leaving the rest to await his return, he followed the Sage, and came to the Trees of the Sun and Moon. The Tree of the Sun has leaves of red gold, the Tree of the Moon has leaves of silver, and they are very great, and Alexander, at the suggestion of the Sage questioned the Trees, asking if he should return in triumph to Macedon? to which the Trees gave answer, No, but that he should live yet another year and eight months, after which he should die by a poisoned cup. And when he inquired, Who was he who should give him that poison? he received no reply, and the Tree of the Moon said to him, that his Mother, after a most shameful and unhappy death, should lie long unburied, but that happiness was in store for his sisters.” (See The Book of Enoch, The Second Messenger of God.)
In all probability, the so-called talking trees were merely strips of wood with tables of letters upon them, by means of which oracles were evoked. At one time books written upon wood were called “talking trees.” The difficulty in deciding the origin of alchemy is directly due to ignoring the lost continent of Atlantis. The Great Arcanum was the most prized of the secrets of the Atlantean priestcraft. When the land of Atlas sank, hierophants of the Fire Mystery brought the formula to Egypt, where it remained for centuries in the possession of the sages and philosophers. It gradually moved into Europe, where its secrets are still preserved intact.
THE LEAVES OF HERMES’ SACRED TREE.
Redrawn from an original manuscript dated 1577.
In his Key to Alchemy, Samuel Norton divides into fourteen parts the processes or states through which the alchemical substances pass from the time they are first placed in the test tube until ready as medicine for plants, minerals, or men:
- Solution, the act of passing from a gaseous or solid condition, into one of liquidity.
- Filtration, the mechanical separation of a liquid from the undissolved particles suspended in it.
- Evaporation, the changing or converting from a liquid or solid state into a vaporous state with the aid of heat.
- Distillation, an operation by which a volatile liquid may be separated from substances which it holds in solution.
- Separation, the operation of disuniting or decomposing substances.
- Rectification, the process of refining or purifying any substance by repeated distillation.
- Calcination, the conversion into a powder or calx by the action of heat; expulsion of the volatile substance from a matter.
- Commixtion, the blending of different ingredients into new compounds or mass.
- Purification (through putrefaction), disintegration by spontaneous decomposition; decay by artificial means.
- Inhibition, the process of holding back or restraining.
- Fermentation, the conversion of organic substances into new compounds in the presence of a ferment.
- Fixation, the act or process of ceasing to be a fluid and becoming firm; state of being fixed.
- Multiplication, the act or process of multiplying or increasing in number, the state of being multiplied.
- Projection, the process of turning the base Metals into gold.
Those disagreeing with the legend of Hermes and his Emerald Tablet see in the two hundred angels who descended upon the mountains, as described by the Prophet: Enoch, the first instructors in the alchemical art. Regardless of its originator, it was left to the Egyptian priests to preserve alchemy for the modern world. Egypt, because of the color of its earth, was called “the black empire” and is referred to in the Old Testament as “the land of darkness.” By reason of its possible origin there, alchemy has long been known as “the black art, ” not in the sense of evil but in the sense of that darkness which has always enshrouded its secret processes.
During the Middle Ages, alchemy was not only a philosophy and a science but also a religion. Those who rebelled against the religious limitations of their day concealed their philosophic teachings under the allegory of gold-making. In this way they preserved their personal liberty and were ridiculed rather than persecuted. Alchemy is a threefold art, its mystery well symbolized by a triangle. Its symbol is 3 times 3–three elements or processes in three worlds or spheres. The 3 times 3 is part of the mystery of the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, for 33 is 3 times 3, which is 9, the number of esoteric man and the number of emanations from the root of the Divine Tree. It is the number of worlds nourished by the four rivers that pour out of the Divine Mouth as the verbum fiat. Beneath the so-called symbolism of alchemy is concealed a magnificent concept, for this ridiculed and despised craft still preserves intact the triple key to the gates of eternal life. Realizing, therefore, that alchemy is a mystery in three worlds–the divine, the human, and the elemental–it can easily be appreciated why the sages and philosophers created and evolved an intricate allegory to conceal their wisdom.
Alchemy is the science of multiplication and is based upon the natural phenomenon of growth. “Nothing from nothing comes,” is an extremely ancient adage. Alchemy is not the process of making something from nothing; it is the process of increasing and improving that which already exists. If a philosopher were to state that a living man could be made from a stone, the unenlightened would probably exclaim, “Impossible!” Thus would they reveal their ignorance, for to the wise it is known that in every stone is the seed of man. A philosopher might declare that a universe could be made out of a man, but the foolish would regard this as an impossibility, not realizing that a man is a seed from which a universe may be brought forth.
God is the “within” and the “without” of all things. The Supreme One manifests Himself through growth, which is an urge from within outward, a struggle for expression and manifestation. There is no greater miracle in the growing and multiplication of gold by the alchemist than in a tiny mustard seed producing a bush many thousands of times the size of the seed. If a mustard seed produces a hundred thousand times its own size and weight when planted in an entirely different substance (the earth), why should not the seed of gold be multiplied a hundred thousand times by art when that seed is planted in its earth (the base metals) and nourished artificially by the secret process of alchemy?
Alchemy teaches that God is in everything; that He is One Universal Spirit, manifesting through an infinity of forms. God, therefore, is the spiritual seed planted in the dark earth (the material universe). By arc it is possible so to grow and expand this seed that the entire universe of substance is tinctured thereby and becomes like unto the seed–pure gold. In the spiritual nature of man this is termed regeneration; in the material body of the elements it is called transmutation. As it is in the spiritual and material universes, so it is in the intellectual world. Wisdom cannot be imparted to an idiot because the seed of wisdom is not within him, but wisdom may be imparted to an ignorant person, however ignorant he may be, because the seed of wisdom exists in him and can be developed by art and culture. Hence a philosopher is only an ignorant man within whose nature a projection has taken place.
Through art (the process of learning) the whole mass of base metals (the mental body of ignorance) was transmuted into pure gold (wisdom), for it was tincturedwith understanding. If, then, through faith and proximity to God the consciousness of man may be transmuted from base animal desires (represented by the masses of the planetary metals) into a pure, golden, and godly consciousness, illumined and redeemed, and the manifesting God within that one increased from a tiny spark to a great and glorious Being; if also the base metals of mental ignorance can, through proper endeavor and training, be transmuted into transcendent genius and wisdom, why is the process in two worlds or spheres of application not equally true in the third? If both the spiritual and mental elements of the universe can be multiplied in their expression, then by the law of analogy the material elements of the universe can also be multiplied, if the necessary process can be ascertained.
That which is true in the superior is true in the inferior. If alchemy be a great spiritual fact, then it is also a great material fact. If it can take place in the universe, it can take place in man; if it can take place in man, it can take place in the plants and minerals. If one thing in the universe grows, then everything in the universe grows. If one thing can be multiplied, then all things can be multiplied, “for the superior agrees with the inferior and the inferior agrees with the superior.” But as the way for the redemption of the soul is concealed by the Mysteries, so the secrets for the redemption of the metals are also concealed, that they may not fall into the hands of the profane and thereby become perverted.
If any would grow metals, he must first learn the secrets of the metals: he must realize that all metals–like all stones, plants, animals, and universes–grow from seeds, and that these seeds are already in the body of Substance (the womb of the World Virgin); for the seed of man is in the universe before he is born (or grows), and as the seed of the plant exists for all time though the plant live but a part of that time, so the seeds of spiritual gold and material gold are ever present in all things. The metals grow throughout the ages, because life is imparted to them from the sun. They grow imperceptibly, in form like tiny shrubs, for everything grows in some way. Only the methods of growth differ, according to kind and magnitude.
One of the great axioms is, “Within everything is the seed of everything,” although by the simple processes of Nature it may remain latent for many centuries, or its growth may be exceedingly slow. Therefore, every grain of sand contains not only the seed of the precious metals as well as the seed of the priceless gems, but also the seeds of sun, moon, and stars. As within the nature of man is reflected the entire universe in miniature, so in each grain of sand, each drop of water, each tiny particle of cosmic dust, are concealed all the parts and elements of cosmos in the form of tiny seed germs so minute that even the most powerful microscope cannot detect them. Trillions of times smaller than the ion or electron, these seeds–unrecognizable and incomprehensible–await the time assigned them for growth and expression. (Consider the monads of Leibnitz.)
There are two methods whereby growth may be accomplished. The first is by Nature, for Nature is an alchemist forever achieving the apparently impossible. The second is by art, and through art is produced in a comparatively short time that which requires Nature almost endless periods to duplicate. The true philosopher, desiring to accomplish the Magnum Opus, patterns his conduct according to the laws of Nature, recognizing that the art of alchemy is merely a method copied from Nature but with the aid of certain secret formulæ greatly shortened by being correspondingly intensified. Nature, in order to achieve her miracles, must work through either extensiveness; or intensiveness. The extensive processes of Nature are such as are used in the transmutation of the pitch of black carbon into diamonds, requiring millions of years of natural hardening. The intensive process is art, which is ever the faithful servant of Nature (as Dr. A. Dee says), supplementing her every step and cooperating with her in all her ways.
“So, in this philosophical work, Nature and Art ought so lovingly to embrace each other, as that Art may not require what Nature denies, nor Nature deny what may be perfected by Art. For Nature assenting, she demeans herself obediently to every artist, whilst by their industry she is helped, not hindered. ” (Dr. A. Dee in his Chemical Collections.)
By means of this art the seed which is within the soul of a stone may be made to germinate so intensively that in a few moments a diamond is grown from the seed of itself. If the seed of the diamond were not in the marble, granite, and sand, a diamond could not be grown therefrom. But as the seed is within all these things, a diamond may be grown out of any other substance in the universe. In some substances, however, it is easier to perform this miracle because in them these germs have already been long fertilized and are thus more nearly prepared for the vivifying process of the art. Likewise, to teach some men wisdom is easier than to teach others, for some already have a foundation upon which to work, while in others the thinking faculties are entirely dormant. Alchemy, therefore, should be regarded as the art of increasing and bringing into perfect flower with the greatest possible expedition. Nature may accomplish her desired end or, because of the destructiveness exercised by one element over another, she may not; but with the aid of the true art, Nature always accomplishes her end, for this art is not subject either to the wastings of time or to the vandalism of elemental reactions.
In his History of Chemistry, James Campbell Brown, late professor of chemistry in the University of Liverpool, sums up the ends which alchemists sought to achieve, in the following paragraphs:
“This, therefore, was the general aim of the alchemists–to carry out in the laboratory, as far as possible, the processes which Nature carried out in the interior of the earth. Seven leading problems occupied their attention:–
“1. The preparation of a compound named elixir, magisterium medicine, or philosopher’s stone, which possessed the property of transmuting the baser metals into gold and silver, and of performing many other marvelous operations. * * *
“2. The creation of homunculi, or living. beings, of which many wonderful but incredible tales are told.
“3. The preparation of the alcahest or universal solvent, which dissolved every substance which was immersed in it. * * *
“4. Palingenesis, or the restoration of a plant from its ashes. Had they succeeded in this, they would have hoped to be able to raise the dead. [Professor Brown takes a great deal for granted.]
“5. The preparation of spiritus mundi, a mystic substance possessing many powers, the principal of which was its capacity of dissolving gold.
“6. The extraction of the quintessence or active principle of all substances.
“7. The preparation of aurum potabile, liquid gold, a sovereign remedy, because gold being itself perfect could produce perfection in the human frame.”
In alchemy there are three symbolic substances: mercury, sulphur, and salt. To these was added a fourth mysterious life principle called Azoth. Concerning the first three, Herr von Welling has written: “There are three basic chemical substances which are called by the philosophers salt, sulphur, and mercury, but which are not to be confounded in any way with the crude salt, sulphur, and mercury taken from the earth or secured from the apothecary. Salt, sulphur, and mercury each has a triune nature, for each of these substances contains, in reality, also the other two substances, according to the secret arcanum of the wise. The body of salt is, therefore, threefold, namely salt, sulphur, and mercury; but in the body of salt one of the three (salt) predominates. Mercury is likewise composed of salt, sulphur, and mercury with the latter element predominating. Sulphur, similarly, is actually salt, sulphur, and mercury, with sulphur predominating. These nine divisions–3 times 3, plus Azoth (the mysterious universal life force), equals 10, the sacred decad of Pythagoras. Concerning the nature of Azoth there is much controversy. Some view it as the invisible, eternal fire; others as electricity; still others as magnetism. Transcendentalism refer to it as the astral light.
“The universe is surrounded by the sphere of the stars. Beyond that sphere is the sphere of Schamayim, which is the Divine fiery water, the first outflow of the Word of God, the flaming river pouring from the presence of the Eternal. Schamayim, the fiery androgynous water, divides. The fire becomes the solar fire and the water becomes the lunar water. Schamayim is the universal mercury–sometimes called Azoth–the measureless spirit of life. The spiritual fiery original water–Schamayim–comes through Eden (in Hebrew, vapor) and pours itself into four main rivers [the elements]. This is the river of living water–Azoth [the fiery mercurial essence] that flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb. In this Eden [vaporous essence or mist] is the spiritual earth [incomprehensible and intangible], or the dust Aphar, out of which God formed Adam min Haadamah, the spiritual body of man, which body must sometime become revealed.”
In another part of his writings von Welling also says that there was no material universe until Lucifer, attempting to perform the cosmic alchemy, misused theSchamayim, or the Divine Fire. In order to reestablish the Schamayim which Lucifer had perverted, this universe was formed as a means of liberating it from the dark cloud within which it was locked by the failure of Lucifer’s attempt to control it. These statements clearly emphasize the fact that the early philosophers recognized in the Bible a book of chemical and alchemical formulæ. It is essential that this point be kept in mind at all times. Woe to that seeker who accepts as literal the rambling allegories of the alchemists. Such a one can never enter the inner sanctuary of truth. Elias Ashmole in his Theatrum Chemicum Britannicumthus describes the methods employed by the alchemists to conceal their true doctrines:
“Their chiefest study was to wrap up their Secrets in Fables, and spin out their Fancies in Vailes and shadows, whose Radii seems to extend every way, yet so, that they meet in a Common Center, and point onely at One thing.”
The fact that the Scriptures reveal a hidden knowledge, if considered allegorically, is clearly demonstrated by a parable describing King Solomon, his wives, concubines, and virgins, which parable occurs in Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, published in Ultona in 1785. Dr. Hartmann, who translated part of this work into English, declared that the wives of Solomon represented the arts, the concubines the sciences, and the virgins the still unrevealed secrets of Nature. By order of the King the virgins were forced to remove their veils, thus signifying that by means of wisdom (Solomon) the mystic arts were forced to disclose their hidden parts to the philosopher, while to the uninitiated world only the outside garments were visible. (Such is the mystery of the veil of Isis.)
As the alchemist must do his work in four worlds simultaneously if he would achieve the Magnum Opus, a table showing the analogies of the three principles in the four worlds may clarify the relationship which the various parts bear to each other. The early masters of the art of alchemical symbolism did not standardize either their symbols or their terms. Thus it required great familiarity with the subject combined with considerable intuitive power to unravel some of their enigmatical statements. The third and fourth divisions of the following table are given alternative renderings, owing to the fact that some authors did not draw a clear line between spirit and soul. According to the Scriptures, spirit is indestructible, but soul is destructible. Obviously, then, they are not synonymous. It is clearly stated that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” but “the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” The table of analogies, as nearly as they can be established, is as follows:
The Triune Power in Four Worlds
|1. God||Father||Son||Holy Ghost|
The alternative renderings of 3 and 4 are:
Paracelsus made a different arrangement, somewhat Aristotelian, in which the three phases of the Triune God are omitted, combining only the elements of the second, third, and fourth worlds:
The main point, however, is proved: the alchemical philosophers used the symbols of salt, sulphur, and mercury to represent not only chemicals but the spiritual and invisible principles of God, man, and the universe. The three substances (salt, sulphur, and mercury) existing in four worlds, as shown in the table, sum up to the sacred number 12. As these 12 are the foundations of the Great Work, they are called in Revelation the twelve foundation stones of the sacred city. In line with the same idea Pythagoras asserted that the dodecahedron, or twelve-faced symmetrical geometric solid, was the foundation of the universe. May there not be a relation also between this mysterious 3 times 4 and the four parties of three which in the legend of the third degree of Freemasonry go forth to the four angles of the cherubim, the composite creature of four parts?
A TABLE OF MEDIÆVAL ALCHEMICAL SYMBOLS.
From Valentine’s The Last Will and Testament.
Hermetists used the curious symbols shown in this rare table to represent various chemical elements and alchemical processes. The full meaning of these strange characters has never been revealed, the characters concealing effectually within their own forms the occult secrets regarding the spiritual nature of the metals and elements which they represent.
In their allegories the alchemists also wed human, animal, and plant emblems; sometimes weird composite figures, such as the dragon, the winged serpent, the unicorn, and the phœnix. In almost every case they symbolized gold as a king with a crown on his head and often with a scepter in his hand. Sometimes they depicted him with the ace of the solar disc surrounded by rays. Silver was personified as a woman who they called the queen. She wore no crown but often stood upon a lunar crescent: much after the fashion of the Madonna. Mercury was typified as a youth with wings, often with two heads, carrying serpents or sometimes the caduceus. Lead they symbolized by an old man with a scythe in his hand; iron by a soldier dressed in armor. Toaqua fortis was given the curious name “the ostrich’s stomach,” and to the attainment of the “Great Work” they assigned the symbol of the phœnix sitting upon a nest of fire. The union of elements they symbolized by a marriage, the Process of putrefaction by a skull, antimony by a dragon.
The following table shows the angles to which the parties of three (salt, sulphur, and mercury) go in search of CHiram:
|The Four “Corners” of Creation||East||South||West||North|
|The Fixed Signs of the Zodiac||Aquarius||Leo||Scorpio||Taurus|
|The Parts of the Cherubim||Man||Lion||Eagle||Bull|
|The Four Seasons||Spring||Summer||Autumn||Winter|
|The Ages of Man||Childhood||Youth||Maturity||Age|
|The Stages of Existence||Birth||Growth||Maturity||Decay|
|The Parts of Man’s Constitution||Spirit||Soul||Mind||Body|
|The Four Elements||Air||Fire||Water||Earth|
One more table should prove of interest to Masonic scholars: one showing the relationship existing between the three substances, salt, sulphur, and mercury, and certain symbols with which Masons are familiar. This table also has an alternative rendering, based on the interblending of philosophic principles, which are difficult–if not impossible–to separate into chronological order.
|1. The Three Lights||Stellar Fire||Solar Fire||Lunar Fire|
|2. The Three Grand Masters||Hiram||Solomon||Hiram of Tyre|
|3. The Geometric Solids||Sphere||Pyramid||Cube|
|4. Alchemical Substances||Mercury||Sulphur||Salt|
The alternative rendering of No. 2 is:
|2. The Three Grand Masters||Solomon||Hiram||Hiram of Tyre|
In alchemy is found again the perpetuation of the Universal Mystery; for as surely as Jesus died upon the cross, Hiram (CHiram) at the west gate of the Temple, Orpheus on the banks of the river Hebros, Christna on the banks of the Ganges, and Osiris in the coffin prepared by Typhon, so in alchemy, unless the elements first die, the Great Work cannot be achieved. The stages of the alchemical processes can be traced in the lives and activities of nearly all the world Saviors and teachers, and also among the mythologies of several nations. It is said in the Bible that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In alchemy it is declared that without putrefaction the Great Work cannot be accomplished. What is it that dies on the cross, is buried in the tomb of the Mysteries, and that dies also in the retort and becomes black with putrefaction? Also, what is it that does this same thing in the nature of man, that he may rise again, phœnix-like, from his own ashes (caput mortuum)?
The solution in the alchemical retort, if digested a certain length of time, will turn into a red elixir, which is called the universal medicine. It resembles a fiery water and is luminous in the dark. During the process of digestion it passes through many colors which has given rise to its being called the peacock because of its iridescence during one of the periods of its digestion. If the augmentations of its power be carried too far, the test tube containing the substance will explode and vanish as dust. This commonly occurs and is the greatest danger involved in the preparation of the medicine for men and metals. If developed too far, it will also seep through the glass, for there is no physical container sufficiently strong to hold it, The reason for this is that it is no longer a substance but a divine essence partaking of the interpenetrative power of Divinity. When it is properly developed, this universal solvent in liquid form will dissolve into itself all other metals. In this high state the universal salt is a liquid fire. This salt dissolved with the proper amount of any metal and run through the different stages of digestion and rotations; of augmentations will eventually become a medicine for the transmuting of inferior metals.
The True Way of Nature by Hermes Trismegistus, given out by a genuine Freemason, I.C.H., describes the danger of over-augmenting the universal salt: “But this multiplication cannot be carried on ad infinitum but it attains completeness in the ninth rotation. For when this tincture has been rotated nine times it cannot be exalted any further because it will not permit any further separation. For as soon as it perceives only the smallest degree of material fire it goes instantly into a flux and passes through the glass like hot oil through paper.”
In classifying the processes through which the chemical elements must pass before the Hermetic medicine is produced, lack of uniformity in terminology is evidenced, for in The True Way of Nature seven stages are given, while in the Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique twelve are noted. These twelve are linked with the signs of the zodiac in a manner worthy of consideration.
|1. Aries, Calcination||5. Leo, Digestion||9. Sagittarius, Incineration|
|2. Taurus, Congelation||6. Virgo, Distillation||10. Capricorn, Fermentation|
|3. Gemini, Fixation||7. Libra, Sublimation||11. Aquarius, Multiplication|
|4. Cancer, Dissolution||8. Scorpio, Separation||12. Pisces, Projection|
This arrangement opens an interesting field of speculation which may be of great service if intelligently carried out. These twelve “steps” leading up to the accomplishment of the Magnum Opus are a reminder of the twelve degrees of the ancient Rosicrucian Mysteries. To a certain degree, Rosicrucianism was chemistry theologized and alchemy philosophized. According to the Mysteries, man was redeemed as the result of his passage in rotation through the twelve mansions of the heavens. The twelve processes by means of which the “secret essence” may be discovered remind the student forcibly of the twelve Fellow Craftsmen who are sent forth in search of the murdered Builder of the Universe, the Universal Mercury.
According to Solomon Trismosin, the stages through which matter passes in its journey towards perfection are divided into twenty-two parts, each of which is represented by an appropriate drawing. There is an important connection between the twenty-two emblems of Trismosin, the twenty-two major cards of the Tarot, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These mysterious Tarot cards are themselves an alchemical formula, if properly interpreted. As if to substantiate the claims of mediæval philosophers that King Solomon was a master of alchemy, Dr. Franz Hartmann has noted that the much-abused and misunderstood Song of Solomon is in reality an alchemical formula. The student of natural philosophy will immediately recognize the “dark maid of Jerusalem,” not as a person but as amaterial sacred to the sages. Dr. Hartmann writes: “The ‘Song of Solomon,’ in the Old Testament, is a description of the processes of Alchemy. In this Song theSubjectum is described in Cant. i., 5; the Lilium artis in C. ii., 1; the Preparation and Purification in C. ii., 4; the Fire in C. ii., 7, and C. iv., 16, the Putrefaction inC. iii., 1; Sublimation and Distillation in C. iii., 6, Coagulation and Change of Colors, C. v., 9 to 14; Fixation, C. ii., 12, and C. viii., 4; Multiplication, C. vi., 7;Augmentation and Projection, C. viii., 8, etc., etc.”
A tiny particle of the Philosopher’s Scone, if cast upon the surface of water, will, according to an appendix to the work on the universal salt by Herr von Welling, immediately begin a process of recapitulating in miniature the history of the universe, for instantly the tincture–like the Spirits of Elohim–moves upon the face of the waters. A miniature universe is formed which the philosophers have affirmed actually rises out of the water and floats in the air, where it passes through all the stages of cosmic unfoldment and finally disintegrates into dust again. Not only is it possible to prepare a medicine for metals; it is also possible to prepare a tincture for minerals by means of which pieces of granite and marble can be turned into precious stones; also stones of inferior quality may be improved.
As one of the great alchemists fittingly observed, man’s quest for gold is often his undoing, for he mistakes the alchemical processes, believing them to be purely material. He does not realize that the Philosopher’s Gold, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Philosopher’s Medicine exist in each of the four worlds and that the consummation of the experiment cannot be realized until it is successfully carried on in four worlds simultaneously according to one formula. Furthermore, one of the constituents of the alchemical formula exists only within the nature of man himself, without which his chemicals will not combine, and though he spend his life and fortune in chemical experimentation, he will not produce the desired end. The paramount reason why the material scientist is incapable of duplicating the achievements of the mediæval alchemists–although he follow every step carefully and accurately–is that the subtle element which comes out of the nature of the illuminated and regenerated alchemical philosopher is missing in his experimentation.
On this subject Dr. Franz Hartmann in a footnote to his translation of extracts from Paracelsus clearly expresses the conclusions of a modern investigator of alchemical lore: “I wish to warn the reader, who might be inclined to try any of the alchemical prescriptions * * *, not to do so unless he is an alchemist, because, although I know from personal experience that these prescriptions are not only allegorically but literally true, and will prove successful in the hands of an alchemist, they would only cause a waste of time and money in the hands of one who has not the necessary qualifications. A person who wants to be an alchemist must have in himself the ‘magnesia’, which means, the magnetic power to attract and ‘coagulate’ invisible astral elements.”
In considering the formulæ on the following pages, it must be recognized that the experiments cannot be successfully conducted unless the one who performs them be himself a Magus. If two persons, one an initiate and the other unilluminated in the supreme art, were to set to work, side by side, using the same vessels, the same substances, and exactly the same modus operandi, the initiate would produce his “gold” and the uninitiated would not. Unless the greater alchemy has first taken place within the soul of man, he cannot perform the lesser alchemy in the retort. This is an invariable rule, although it is cunningly hidden in the allegories and emblems of Hermetic philosophy. Unless a man be “born again” he cannot accomplish the Great Work, and if the student of alchemical formulæ will remember this, it will save him much sorrow and disappointment. To speak of that part of the mystery which is concerned with the secret life principle within the actual nature of man, is forbidden, for it is decreed by the Masters of the art that each shall discover that for himself and on this subject it is unlawful to speak at greater length.
The Theory and Practice of Alchemy
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.”
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 preservementem 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.
“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.)
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.”
“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.”