LIGHT OUT OF CHAOS
The preparation is composed of four parts; the first is the solution of the material into mercurial water; the second is the preparation of the Mercury of the Philosophers; the third is corruption; the fourth is the creation of the philosophical sulphur. The first is made by the mineral seed of the earth; the second volatilises and spermatises the body; the third makes the separation of the substances and their rectification; the fourth unites and fixes, which is the creation of the stone.
Philosophers have compared the preparation to the creation of the world, which was first a mass, a chaos, an empty earth without form and dark, which had nothing in particular but everything in general; so that by the first digestion the body is dissolved, the conjunction of the male and female and the mixture of their seeds is made; this is followed by putrefaction and the elements are resolved into one homogeneous water. The sun and the moon are eclipsed in the head of the Dragon, and the whole world at last turns and re-enters into its ancient chaos and dark abyss. The first digestion is made as in the stomach, by a low heat more appropriate to corruption than to generation.
In the second digestion the spirit of God is carried upon the waters, light begins to appear, waters are separated from waters; the moon and the sun re-appear, the elements come out of chaos and constitute a new world, a new heaven, and a new earth; the young crows change their feathers and become doves; the eagle and the lion are re-united in an indissoluble bond.
This regeneration is made by the fiery spirit, which descends in the form of water to wash the matter from its original sin and to carry the golden seed into it; for the philosopher’s water is a fire; but direct your attention so that the separation of the waters is made by weights and measures for fear that those that are under the heavens do not drown the earth or that in lifting too great a quantity, the earth is not left too dry and too arid.
The third digestion furnishes a warm milk to the new born earth and infuses into it all those spiritual virtues of a quintessence which binds the soul and body through the medium of the spirit. The earth now hides a great treasure within its bosom, and begins to resemble the moon and afterwards the sun; take note here that in the Hermetic philosophy, the moon signifies silver, and the sun gold; the first is named earth of the moon, and the second earth of the sun; they are born to be united in an indissoluble marriage, because neither of them fears the greatest heat of the fire.
The fourth digestion attains all the mysteries of the world; by it, the earth becomes a precious ferment, which changes all into perfect bodies, just as yeast changes all dough into its own nature; it has acquired this property in becoming a celestial quintessence; its virtue, which emanated from the universal spirit of the world, is a panacea or a universal medicine for all the maladies of creatures which can be healed. This secret fountain of the Philosophers, in which you make your matter ferment, will give you this miracle of art and nature simply by a repetition of the first work.
The whole philosophical process consists of the solution of the body and the congelation of the spirit, and all is done by the same operation. The fixed and the volatile are perfectly mixed, but this cannot be done if the fixed is not first made volatile; finally they are united and by reduction become absolutely fixed.
By these means, the superfluities of the stone are converted into a veritable essence; but he who should. separate anything from our subject, knows nothing of the philosophy, because all that is superfluous, unclean, feculent, in fact, the whole substance of the composition is perfected by the action of our secret fire.
This information should open the eyes of those who, in making an exact purification of the elements and the principles, are persuaded the one should take the subtle and reject the gross; they do not know that the fire and the sulphur are hidden in the center of the earth and that it is necessary to wash it perfectly with its spirit in order to extract its balm, the fixed salt which is the blood of our stone; here you see the central mystery of this operation which will not be accomplished until you have made a suitable digestion and a slow distillation.
The operative principles which are also called the keys of the work or the regimen, are four in number, the first is the solution or liquefaction; the second, the ablution; the third, the reduction; and the fourth, the fixation. By solution the bodies are reduced to the first matter and become raw again by coction; then the marriage is made between the male and female, and the crow is born. The stone is resolved into the four elements blended together; heaven and earth unite to bring Saturn into the world. Ablution is made to whiten the crow and to bring Jupiter to birth out of Saturn; this is done by changing the body into spirit. The work of reduction is to return the spirit to its body of which it was deprived by volatilization and to nourish it with a spiritual milk in the form of dew, until the infant Jupiter shall have developed the force of Hercules.
During these last two operations, the dragon, now descended from heaven, becomes furious with himself. He devours his tail and swallows it little by little until at last he is changed into stone.
Such was the dragon of which Homer speaks. He is the true image and the veritable symbol of these two operations.
Whilst we were meeting under a beautiful Pine tree, said Ulysses to the Greeks, and we were there to make the Hecatombs, near to a fountain which came out of the tree, there appeared a prodigious marvel; a horrible dragon with stains on his back, sent by Jupiter himself came out from the base of the Altar and ran to the Pine tree. In the branches of this tree were eight small sparrows with their mother who flew round about them. The dragon seized these with fury and also the mother who was bemoaning the loss of her little ones. After this, the same God who had sent him, made him beautiful and brilliant our astonished eyes. I leave it to apply the moral.
SIGNS OR DEMONSTRATIVE PRINCIPLES
The colours which come upon the philosophical matter during the course of the processes of the work are black, white, and red. They follow one another immediately and in that order. The beginning of the black shows that the fire of nature begins to work and that the matter is on the way to solution. When this black colour attains perfection the solution is complete, the elements are blended, the grain rots and becomes ready for generation. That which will not blacken will not become white, says Artephius, because the blackness is the beginning of whiteness and is the indication of alteration as well as of putrefaction.
The action of fire upon humidity performs everything in the work, as it does in all nature in the generation of mixed bodies.
During this putrefaction, the philosophical male, or the sulphur, is blended with the female in such a manner that they become one and the same body, which the philosophers have named hermaphrodite; this says Flamel, is the androgyne of the ancients, the head of the crow; the elements converted in this way reconcile two natures which can make our embryo in the belly of the glass and bring to birth a very powerful King who will be invincible and incorruptible. Our substance in this condition is the serpent Python, who having arisen from the corruption of the mud of the earth, must now be killed and vanquished by the arrows of Apollo through the golden sun, that is to say by our fire equal to that of the Sun.
The second principle colour is the white. Hermes says: Son of the Science, know that the vulture cries from the top of the mountain; I am the white from the black because whiteness follows blackness. Morien calls this whiteness the white fume. Aphidius informs us that this substance or white fume, is the root of the art and the argent vive of the sages. Philelethes assures us that this argent vive is the true mercury of the philosophers; this argent vive, says he, extracted from this very subtile black, is the philosophical tinging mercury with its red and white sulphur naturally mixed together in their minera; the philosophers have given it an infinity of names.
Artephius says that this whiteness comes about because the soul of the body swims upon the surface of the water, like a white cream and that the spirits are united together so strongly that it is impossible for them to depart because they have now lost their volatility. The great secret of the art is therefore to whiten the matter; so the wise artist need occupy himself solely with the dissolution of the bocly with its spirit, cut off the head of the crow, whiten the black and redden the white; it is this resplendent white colour which contains in its veins the blood of the pelican; let the artist abandon all those books which only embarrass the reader and engender false ideas of the work which are useless and expensive.
The process of the work should not cost more than the price of the vessel.
The whiteness is the stone perfect at the white stage; it is a precious body which, when it is fermented will become white and full of an exuberant tincture which has the property of communicating itself to all metals; the volatile spirits having already been fixed. The new body resuscitates, white, beautiful, immortal, victorious; for this reason it is called resurrection; light of day; and by all the names which indicate whiteness, fixity and incorruptibility.
Flamel has represented this colour in his hieroglyphical figures, by a woman having a white border to her dress, in order to show, says he, that Rebis commences to become white in this same matter; whitening first at the extremities all round in a white circle; the best philosophers say this sign is the first indication of whiteness.
As the black and the white are the two extremes, and the two extremes cannot unite except in some middle colour, the substance when passing out of the black does not become suddenly white; the grey colour is found to be the intermediary because that participates of both.
The philosophers have given this the name of Jupiter because it follows the black which they call Saturn. It is this fact which makes d’Espagnet say that air follows water after it has had seven revolutions which Flamel names imbibition. The matter, adds d’Espagnet, being fixed on the bottom of the flask, Jupiter after having overcome Saturn, siezes the realm and holds the government; at his coming the philosophical child is formed and nourished in the matrix, and, at last, being born with a beautiful face, brilliant and white, thence becomes a universal remedy for all the ills of the human body.
Lastly the third principal colour is red, which is the completion and the perfection of the stone; we obtain this redness merely by continuing to cook the matter. After the first work is completed the substance is called masculine sperm; philosophical sperm; fire of the stone; royal crown; son of the sun; minera of celestial fire.
Most philosophers commence their tracts with the stone at the red stage, so that those who read these books should not pay too much attention to them, because they are the source of many errors, until one learns how to detect the matter of which philosophers speak the reason for their operations and the proportions of the substances which in the second work, or the practice of the Elixir, are very different from those of the first. Although the second operation is simply a repetition of the first, it is very necessary to note that what they call fire, air, earth and water in the one, are not the same as those used in the other; their Mercury is called Mercury whether it is in liquid form or whether it is dry. Those, for example, who read Aphidius imagine, when he calls the substance of the work “red minera” it is necessary first to find a red matter before beginning the work; some therefore work on cinnabar, others with minium, others on orpiment, others with the rust of iron, because they do not know that the red minera is the perfect philosophical stone.
D’Espagnet describes the method of making the philosophical sulphur; choose a red dragon, courageous, who has lost none of his natural force, and then seven or nine virgin eagles, fearless, whose eyes will not become dull in the rays of the sun; put them with the dragon into a clear, transparent prison, well closed up, and underneath place a warm bath, so that they may be incited to fight; they will not delay in coming to gripe; the combat will be long and very arduous, until the forty-fifth or fiftieth day when the eagles begin to devour the dragon; in dying the prison will become infected with the corruption of his blood and very black poison, the violence of which overcomes the resistance of the eagles and they die also; from the putrefaction of these bodies, a crow will be born, who little by little will raise his head, he will stretch out his wings and begin to fly; the wind and the clouds will carry him hither and thither; fatigued by being thus tormented, he will look for a point to escaper be careful that he does not find any chinks; at last, washed and whitened by a constant rain of long duration and a celestial dew, you will see him metamorphosed into a swan; the birth of the crow indicates to you the death of the dragon”
If you wish to proceed further to the red, add the element of fire, which was lacking in the white, without touching or removing the flask, but by fortifying your fire by degrees; apply its action to the matter until the occult become manifest, the indication of which will be a citrine colour; then govern the fire of the fourth degree gradually by its degrees, until by the aid of vulcan you see blossoms of red roses, which will change into amaranth, the colour of blood; but do not stop the work until you see all is reduced to very red and impalpable cinders. This philosophical sulphur is an earth of extreme tenuity, fieriness and dryness; it contains the fire of nature in great abundance and for this reason they have called it the fire of the stone; it has the property of opening and penetrating the bodies of metals and of changing them into its own nature; they call it, in consequence, Father of the male seed.
The three colours, bIack, white and red must necessarily foIlow one another in the order I have described; but they are not the only ones that become visible; they indicate the essential changes which take place in the substance, whereas the other colours, almost infinite and resembling those in the rainbow, are but temporary arld of very short duration. They are a kind of vapour which affects the air more than the earth, which follow one another and are dissipated to make way for the three principal ones of which I have spoken.
Some strange colours which may appear are signs that the regimen is faulty and of a badly conducted work; the return of the black is a certain indication, because the crow’s chickens, says d’Espagnet, must never return to the nest after they have left it; premature redness is also a bad sign, and must not appear until the end as a proof of the maturity of the grain and of the time of the harvest.
OF THE ELIXIR
It is not sufficient to have produced the philosophical sulphur which I have now described; for the most part, people are misled, and cease the work at this stage, believing they have brought it to perfection; ignorance of the processes of nature and art are the causes of this error; in vain they will try to make projection with this sulphur or red stone. The philosophical stone cannot become perfect until the end of the second work, which is called elixir.
Out of the first sulphur there is made a second, from which, thereafter, one can multiply to infinity, one must therefore preserve very carefully this first minera of fire, for use when required..
The elixir, following d’Espagnet, is compounded of a triple matter; that is, of a metallic water or mercury philosophically sublimed, of the white ferment should you wish to make a white elixir, or red ferment for a red elixir, and lastly of the second sulphur, all according to the weights and proportions prescribed philosophically. The elixir must possess five qualities; it must be fusible, permanent, penetrating, tinging, and multiplying; it draws its tincture and fixation from the ferment; its fusibility from argent vive, which serves as a medium for reuniting the tinctures of the ferment and of the sulphur, and its multiplication in quality comes from the spirit of the quintessence which it possesses naturally.
The two perfect metals give a perfect tincture because they contain within them the pure sulphur of nature; do not expect to find their ferment elsewhere than in these two bodies; tinge therefore your white elixir with the moon, and the red with the sun.
Mercury takes up the tincture at once and can thereafter transfer it; be careful not to make a mistake in mixing the ferments, not to take one for the other or you will lose all. The second work is done in the same flask or in one similar to the first; in the same furnace and with the same degrees of heat, but it is very much shorter.
The perfection of the elixir consists in the marriage and the perfect union of the dry and the humid, so that they become inseparable and the humid gives the dry the property of being fusible in a slight heat; you can make this tryal by placing a small amount on a thin plate of copper or iron and heating it, if it melts immediately without fuming, you have what you desire.