THE GOLDEN AGE RESTORED
Whilst I was meditating upon the wonders of the Most High and the secrets of hidden Nature and the fiery and fervent love of the neighbour, I recalled the white harvest which Reuben, the son of Leah, had found in the fields and had given the mandrakes Rachel had gotten from Leah for sleeping with the patriarch Jacob. But my thought went much deeper and led me further to Moses, how he had made a potable of the solar-calf cast by Aaron, and how he had it burned with fire, ground to powder, strewed it upon the waters, and gave it to the Children of Israel to drink. And I marvelled most about this prompt and ingenious destruction which the hand of God had wrought.But after pondering over it for some time my eyes were opened, just as happened with the two disciples at Emmaus who knew the Lord in the Breaking of Bread, and my heart burned within me. But I laid down and began to sleep. And, lo, in my dream King Solomon appeared to me, in all his might, wealth, and glory, leading beside him all the women of his harem: there were threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number, but one was his gentle dove, most beautiful and dearest to his heart, and according to Catholic custom she held a magnificent procession wherein the Centrum was highly honoured and cherished, and its name was like an out-ointment, the fragrance of which surpassed all spices. And its fiery spirit was a key to open the temple, to enter the Holy Place, and to grasp the horns of the altar.
When the procession was ended, Solomon showed unto me the unified Centrum in trigoni centri and opened my understanding to me, and I became aware that behind me stood a nude woman with a bloody wound in her breast, out of which came forth blood and water, but the joints of her thighs were like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman, her navel was like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor, her belly was like a heap of wheat set about with roses, her two breasts were like two young roses that are twins, her neck was as a tower of ivory, her eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon by the gate of Bathrabbim; her nose was as the tower of Lebanon which looketh towards Damascus. Her head was like Carmel, and the hair of her head was tied in many folds, like king’s purple. But her garments, which she threw off, lay at her feet, and were all unsightly, stinking, and poisonous.
And she began to speak: “I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me, and took away my veil from me. Then was I stricken with fear and not conscious and fell upon the ground; but Solomon bade me stand up again and said: be not afraid when thou dost see Nature bare, and the most hidden which is beneath heaven and upon the earth. She is beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners, but nevertheless she is the pure chaste virgin out of whom Adam was made and created. Sealed and hidden is the entrance to her house, for she dwelleth in the garden and sleepeth in the twofold caves of Abraham on the field Ephron, and her palace is the depths of the Red Sea, and in the deep transparent chasms, the air hath given her birth and the fire hath brought her up, wherefore she is a queen of the country, milk and honey hath she in her breasts. Yea, her lips are like a dripping honey-comb, honey and milk are under her tongue and the smell of her garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon to the Wise, but an abomination to the ignorant. And Solomon said further: Rouse thee, look upon all my women and see if you can find her equal. And forthwith the woman had to cast off her garments and I looked at her, but my mind had lost the power of judgement, and mine eyes were holden, so that I did not recognise her.
But as Solomon observed my weakness, he separated his women from this nude woman and said: “Thy thoughts are vain and the sun hath burned out thy mind and thy memory is as black as the fog, so thou canst not judge aright, so if thou wouldst not forfeit thy concern and take advantage of the present opportunity, then can the bloody sweat and snow-white tears of this nude virgin again refresh thee, cleanse thine understanding and memory and restore it fully, so that thine eyes may perceive the wonders of the Most High, the height of the uppermost, and thou shalt really fathom the foundations of all Nature, the power and operation of all the Elements, and thine understanding will be as fine silver, and thy memory as gold, the colours of all precious stones will appear before thine eyes and thou wilt know their production, and thou wilt know how to separate good from evil, the goats from the sheep. Thy life will be very peaceful, but the cymbals of Aaron will awaken thee from sleep and the harp of David, my father, from thy slumber.”
After Solomon thus spake, I was very much more afraid, and was exceedingly terrified, partly because of his heartbreaking works, also partly because of the great glamour and splendour of the present queenly woman, and Solomon took me by the hand and led me through a wine cellar into a secret but very stately hall, where he refreshed me with flowers and apples, but its windows were made out of transparent crystals and I looked through them. And he said: “What dost thou see?”
I replied: “I can only see from this hall into the hall I just left, and on the left standeth thy queenly woman, and on the right the nude virgin, and her eyes are redder than wine, her teeth whiter than milk, but her garments at her feet are more unsightly, blacker, and more filthy than the brook of Kidron.”
“From all of them choose one”, said Solomon, “to be thy beloved. I esteem her and my queen alike and highly, pleased as I am with the loveliness of my wives, so little do I care about the abomination of her garments.”
And as soon as the king had thus spoken, he turned around and conversed in a very friendly way with one of his queens. Amongst these was an hundred-year-old stewardess, with a grey cloak, a black cap upon her head, bedecked with numberless snow-white pearls and lined with red velvet, and embroidered and sewn in an artful manner with blue and yellow silk, and her cloak was adorned with divers Turkish colours and Indian figures.
This old woman beckoned to me secretly and swore unto me a holy oath that she was the mother of the nude virgin, that she had been born from her body, and that she was a chaste, pure and secluded virgin, that until now she had not suffered any man to look upon her, and although she had let herself be used everywhere among the many people on the streets, no one had ever seen her naked before now, and no one had touched her, for she was the virgin of whom the Prophet said: Behold, we have a son born unto us in secret, who is transformed beside others; behold, the virgin had brought forth, such a virgin as is called Apdorossa, meaning: secretly, she who cannot suffer others. But while this her daughter was as yet unwed, she had her marriage-portion lying under her feet, because of the present danger of the war, so that she would not be robbed of it by some roving soldiery and denuded of her stately treasure.
However, I should not be frightened because of her disgusting garments, but choose her daughter before all others for the delight of my love and life. Then she would give and reveal to me a lye to clean her garments, and then I would obtain a liquid salt and non-combustible oil for my house-keeping, and an immeasurable treasure, and her right hand would always caress me and her left hand would be under my head.
And as I then wanted to declare myself categorically upon this matter, Solomon turned around again, looked upon me, and said: “I am the wisest man on earth, beautiful and pleasing are my wives and the glamour of my queens surpasseth the gold of Ophir; the adornments of my concubines overshadow the rays of the sun, and the beauty of my virgins surpasseth the rays of the moon, and as heavenly as are my women, my wisdom is unfathomable and my knowledge is inexplicable.”
Whereupon I answered and, half afraid, I bowed: “Lo, I have found grace in thine eyes, and since I am poor, give me this nude virgin. I choose her amongst all others for the duration of my life, and though her garments are filthy and torn, I will clean them and love her with all my heart, and she shall be my sister, my bride, because she hath ravished mine heart with one of her eyes, with one chain of her neck.”
When I had thus spoken, Solomon gave her unto me, and there was a great commotion in the hall of his women, so that I was awakened by it, and I knew not what had happened to me, nevertheless I believed it to be but a dream and I thought many subtle thoughts about my dream until the morning.
But after I had arisen and said my prayers, Lo! I saw the garments of the nude virgin upon my bed, but no trace of her. And I began to be greatly afraid and all my hair stood upright upon my head and my whole body was bathed in a cold sweat; but I took heart, recalling my dream, and thought about it again in the fear of the Lord. But my thoughts did not explain it, and for this reason I dared not to scrutinise the garments, much less to recognise anything in them. I then changed my sleeping-chamber and I left the garments in it for some length of time ex mera tamen ignorantia, in the belief that if I were to touch them or turn them over, something peculiar would happen to me, but in my sleep the smell of the garments had poisoned and inflamed me violently, so that my eyes could not see the time of mercy, and never could my heart recognise the great wisdom of Solomon.
After the above-mentioned garments had lain for five years in my sleeping-chamber and I knew not what they were good for, I finally thought to burn them, in order to clean up the place. And then I spent the whole day going around with such thoughts.
But the next night there appeared to me in my dream the hundred-year-old woman and she spake harshly to me thus: “Thou ungrateful man: for five years I have entrusted to thee my daughter’s garments; among them are her most precious jewels, and during all that time thou hast neither cleaned them nor thrown out of them the moths and worms, and now, finally, thou dost want to burn these clothes, and is it not enough that thou art the reason for the death and perishing of my daughter?”
Whereupon I became hot-headed and answered her: “How shall I understand thee, that thou wouldst make a murderer of me? For five years mine eyes have not beheld thy daughter, and not the least did I hear of her, how then can I be the cause of her death?”
But she would not let me finish, and said: “It is all true, but thou hast sinned against God, therefore thou couldst not obtain my daughter, nor the philosophical lixivium I promised thee for washing and cleaning her garments: for in the beginning, when Solomon willingly gave thee my daughter, and when thou didst abhor her garments, that made furious the Planet Saturn, who is her grandfather, and so full of wrath was he that he transformed her again into what she had been before her birth; and since you infuriated Saturn through thine abhorring, thou didst cause her death, putrefaction, and her final destruction, for she is the one of whom Senior saith: Ah, woe! to bring a nude woman unto me, when my first body was not good to look upon, and I had never been mother until I was born again, then I brought forth the power of all roots of herbs, and in mine innermost being I was victorious.”
Such and similar heart-breaking words were very strange to me, but nevertheless I withheld my indignation as much as was humanly possible for me, at the same time protesting solemniter against her sayings: that I knew nothing at all about her daughter, much less about her death and putrefaction, and although I kept her garments for five years in my sleeping-chamber, I did not know them for my great blindness nor ever discovered their use, and therefore I was innocent before God and all others.
This, my righteous and well-founded excuse, must have pleased the old woman not a little, for she looked at me and said: “I feel and observe from thy righteous mind, that thou art innocent, and thine innocence shall be rewarded well and plentifully, therefore I will reveal to thee secretly and out of my good heart, namely that my daughter, out of special love and affection towards thee, hath left thee a grey marbled casket as an inheritance amongst her garments, which is covered with a rough, black, dirty case (and meanwhile she gave me a glass filled with lye, and continued speaking), this same little casket thou shalt clean from its stench and dirt which it hath received from the garments. Thou hast no need of a key, but it will open itself, and thou wilt find two things therein: a white silver box, filled with magnificent ground-lead and polished diamonds, and another work of art, adorned with costly solar rubies: and this is the treasure and entire legacy of my deceased daughter which she left for thee to inherit before her transformation. If thou wilt only transfer this treasure and purify it most highly and silently and lock it up with great patience in a warm, hidden, steamy transparent and moist cellar, and protect it from freezing, hail, quick lightning, hot thunder, and other outward destruction till the wheat harvest, then thou wilt first perceive the entire glory of thine inheritance and take part of it.”
Meanwhile I awoke for a second time and called upon God, full of fear, praying that He would open mine understanding that I might seek for the casket which was promised me in my dream. And after my prayer was ended I sought with greatest diligence in the garments and found the casket, but the casing was tight around it and seemed grown onto it by nature, so that I was not able to take it off; then I could not clean it with any lye nor split it with iron, steel, or any other metal. I left it alone once more and did not know what to do with it, and held it to be witchcraft, thinking of the prophet’s saying: For though thou wash thee with lye, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God.
And after a year had passed again and I did not know, after speculating and industriously deliberating, how to remove the casing, I finally went to walk in the garden to rid myself of the melancholy thoughts, and after long promenading, I sat down on a flinty stone and fell into a deep sleep. I slept, but my heart was awake: there appeared unto me the hundred-year-old stewardess and said: “Hast thou received my daughter’s inheritance?”
In a sad voice I answered, “No, though I found the casket, but alone it is still impossible for me to separate the casing therefrom, and the lye thou hast given me will not work on the casing.”
After this simple speech the old woman smiled and said: “Dost thou want to eat shells and shellfish with the shells? Do they not have to be brought forth and prepared by the very old planet and cook Vulcan? I told thee to clean the grey casket thoroughly with the lye given thee, and which proceeded wholly from it, and was not refined from the outer rough casing. This thou hast especially to burn in the fire of the philosophers, then everything will turn out for the best.”
And thereupon she gave me several glowing coals wrapped up in light white taffeta and instructed me further and pointed out that I should make therefrom a philosophical and quite artful fire and burn the casing, then I would soon find the grey casket. And presently every hour a north and south wind rose, both sweeping at the same time through the garden, whereupon I awoke, rubbed the sleep out of mine eyes, and noticed that the glowing coals wrapped in white taffeta lay at my feet; with haste and joy I grasped them, prayed diligently, called upon God, studied and laboured day and night, and thought meanwhile of the great and excellent sayings of the Philosophers, who say: ‘Ignis et azoth tibi sufficiunt’.
About this Esdras saith in his fourth book: ‘And he gave unto me a full cup which was full of fire, and his form was as of fire, and when I had drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast, for my spirit retained its memory: and my mouth was opened, and shut no more. The Most High gave understanding unto the five men, and they wrote by course the things that were told them, in characters which they knew not. So in forty days were written 204 books, 70 for the wisest alone, who were truly worthy of it, and all were written on boxwood.’
And then I proceeded in silentio et spe, as the old woman had revealed to me in my dream until, according to Solomon’s prediction, after a long time my knowledge became silver and my memory became golden. But according to the instructions and teaching of the old stewardess, I enclosed and locked up in a proper and quite artistic manner the treasure of her daughter, namely: the splendid and brilliant lunar diamonds and the solar rubies, both of which came forth and were found from the casket and the landscape.
I heard the voice of Solomon who said: “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips are like roses, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. Therefore shalt thou hold him, and not let him go, until thou bringest him into his mother’s house, and into his mother’s chamber.”
And when Solomon had spoken these words I knew not how to answer him, and I became silent, but I wanted nevertheless to open again the locked-up treasure, with which I might remain unmolested. Then I heard another voice: “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till she please, for she is a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, the vineyard at Baal-hamon, the vineyard at Engeddi, the garden of fruits and spices, the mountain of myrrh, the hill of frankincense, the bed, the litter, the crown, the palm-tree and apple-tree, the flower of Sharon, the sapphire, the turquoise, the wall, tower, and rampart, the garden of joy, the well in the garden, the spring of living water, the king’s daughter, and the love of Solomon in his concupiscence: she is the dearest to her mother, and the chosen of her mother, but her head is filled with dew, and her locks with the drops of the night.”
Through this discourse and revelation I was so far informed that I knew the purpose of the Wise and did not touch the locked treasure until through God’s mercy, the working of noble Nature, and the work of mine own hands, the work was happily completed.
Shortly after this time, just on the day of the month when the moon was new, there occurred an eclipse of the sun, showing itself in all its terrifying power, in the beginning dark green and some mixed colours, until it finally became coal-black, darkened heaven and earth, and many people were much afraid, but I rejoiced, thinking of God’s great mercy, and the new birth, as Christ Himself pointed out to us, that a grain of wheat must be cast into the ground, that it may not rot therein, else it bringeth forth no fruit. And then it happened that the darkness was covered with clouds, and the sun began to shine through, yet at the same time three parts of it were still heavily darkened; and lo, an arm broke through the clouds, and my body trembled because of it, and it held in its hand a letter with four seals hanging down from it, on which stood written: ‘I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon: Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me, etc. But as soon as the fixum acted in the humidum, a rainbow spanned itself and I thought of the covenant of the Most High, and of the fidelity of my Ductoris, and of what I had learned, and lo, with the help of the planet and the fixed stars, the sun overcame the darkness, and over every mountain and valley there came a lovely and bright day; then all fear and terror had an end, and everything beheld this day and rejoiced, praised the Lord, and said: The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Therefore let us make haste to take the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, that we may gather the grapes in time and with them make and drink wine, and be fed at the right time with milk and honey-comb, that we may eat and be filled. And after the day was done and the evening fell, the whole heaven grew pale, and the seven stars rose with yellow rays and pursued their natural courses through the night, until in the morning they were overshadowed by the breaking of the sun’s red dawn.
And behold, the Wise who dwelt in the land arose from their slumber, looked heavenward, and said: Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and there is no spot in her, for her ardour is fiery and not unlike a flame of the Lord: so that no water may extinguish the love, nor any river drown it; therefore we will not leave her, for she is our sister, and though she is yet little, and hath no breasts, we will bring her again into her mother’s house, into a shining hall, where she hath been before, to suck her mother’s breasts. Then she will come forth like a tower of David, built with ramparts whereon hang a thousand shields, and many arms of the mighty men; and as she went forth the daughter praised her openly, and the queens and the concubines spake well of her: but I fell upon my face, thanked God, and praised His Holy Name.’
And thus is brought to a close, ye beloved and true Sapientiae et doctrinae filii, in all its power and its glory, the great secret of the Wise, and the revelation of the Spirit, about which the Prince and Monarch Theoph. in Apocalpsi Hermetis saith: ‘It is a single Numen, a divine, wondrous, and holy office, while it encloseth the whole world within it, and will become true with all else, and truly overcometh the elements and the five substances. Eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, neither have entered the heart of any man, how the heaven hath naturally embodied to truth of this Spirit, in it the truth doth stand alone, therefore it is called: the voice of truth. To this power Adam and the other patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, owed their bodily health, their long life, and finally prospered in great wealth thereby.
With the aid of this Spirit, the Philosophi founded the seven free arts, and acquired their wealth therewith. With it Noah built the Ark, Moses the Tabernacle, and Solomon the Temple and through this provided the golden vessels from pure gold in the Temple, and for the glory of God, Solomon also wrought with it many fine works and did other great deeds.
With it Esdras again established the Commandment; and with it Miriam, the sister of Moses, was hospitable. And this Spirit was much used and very common amongst the prophets of the Old Testament. Likewise it is a medicine and a cure for all things, and the final revelation, the final and highest secret of Nature.
It is the Spirit of the Lord which hath filled the sphere of the earthly kingdom, and moved upon the face of the waters in the beginning. The world could neither understand nor grasp it without the secret gracious inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or without secret teaching. For the whole world longeth for it because of its great powers, which cannot be appreciated enough by men, and for which the saints have sought from the creation of the world, and have fervently desired to see.
For this Spirit goeth into the seven planets, raiseth the clouds, and dispelleth the mists, giveth light to all things, transformeth everything into gold and silver, giveth health and abundance, treasures, cleanseth leprosy, cureth dropsy and gout, cleareth the face, prolongeth life, strengtheneth the sorrowful, healeth the sick and all the afflicted, yea, it is a secret of all secrets, one secret thing of all secret things, and healing and medicine for all things.
Likewise it is and remaineth unfathomable in nature, and endless power and an invincible might and glory, that is a passionate craving for knowledge, and a lovely thing of all things which are beneath the circle of the moon, with which Nature is made strong, and the heart with all members is renewed, and kept in blossoming youth, age is driven away, weakness destroyed, and the entire world refreshed.
Likewise this Spirit is a spirit chosen above all other heavenly things or spirits, which giveth health, luck, joy, peace, love, expelling altogether all evil, destroying poverty and misery, and also causing that one can neither talk nor think evil; it giveth to men what they desire from the depths of their hearts, worldly honour and long life to the godly, but eternal punishment to the evil-doers, who put it to improper use.
To the Most High, Almighty God who hath created this art and who hath also been pleased to reveal this knowledge unto me, a miserable, sinful man, through a promise and true vow, to Him be given praise, honour, glory and thanks, with an entirely humble and fervent prayer that He will direct my heart, mind, and senses through His Holy Ghost, so governing that I talk to no one about this secret, much less communicate it to some one who doth not fear God, nor reveal it to any other creature, lest I break my vow and oath, and break the heavenly seals, and thus become a perjured Brother Aurae Crucis, and utterly offend the Divine Majesty, and thereby commit and perpetrate knowingly an unpardonable mighty sin against the Holy Ghost. Wherefore may God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the Most Blessed Trinity, mercifully preserve and protect me constantly. Amen. Amen. Amen.