THE PSALTER OF HERMOPHILE
All philosophers agree that the work of the wise, which is the composition of the stone, can be compared to the creation of the universe. Indeed, this work of the spirit and human wisdom, represents very well the work of the spirit and the divine wisdom which created the world. But there is this difference – that God created all things without needing any subject to serve as matter or instruments for his operation, while the philosopher needs a material upon which to work and fire as the instrument and the driver of his work.
The art which is the ape of nature, as nature is the ape of the creator, works on a certain chaos or dark body and first separates the light from darkness, and as [art] cannot create this matter, it receives it from the hands of nature and from its Author; and from this matter, one composes his great work. From the beginning, the wise artist has no other care than to prepare with industry, to separate the subtle from the gross and the fire from the earth, and out of this chaos a certain mercurial moisture, brilliant and luminous which contains everything he is searching for.
The elements of the stone, which are water and fire, are contained in this chaos. The fire and this water are the Sulphur and Mercury which are the two agents of the Stone and are the materials needed to compose the physical stone. These two materials are all things, are everywhere and at all times, but we should not search for them indiscriminately everywhere, in just any kind of subject, because nature has marvellously wrapped them up, which has forced all the philosophers to say and teach that we must leave all types of foreign nature behind and take the metallic, mineral nature, and this of male and female.
This male and this female are the sulphur and the mercury, the agent and the patient, the sun and the moon, the fixed and the volatile, the earth and the water or the heaven and the earth contained in the chaos of the sages, which is their primitive subject in which they are partners together naturally, before the artist has put his hands there. But if he wants to do something, it is necessary that he separates them, that he purifies them and then he brings them together in a bond stronger than that which nature had given them. And so, from one he makes two and from two, one, and by this means, he has composed an artificial chaos from which come forth the miracles of the world or of art.
From the first Chaos or original subject, created from the hands of nature, art separates and purifies the matter and removes by this means all the impurities that are the dark obstacles opposed to the luminous operations of nature. So it generates and makes out of that chaos, Diana and Apollo, or the sun and moon, who are born on Delos, that is to say, by the manifestation of hidden things. This is the first operation where the artist composes living gold, or the sulphur of the wise and their mercury and their living-silver; and having united both of them, it makes the mercury of the sages whose father and mother are the sun and the moon.
The mercury of the philosophers is the child of sulphur and living-silver according to the doctrine of the Cosmopolitan and all the sages. This is the mercury or living-silver of the philosophers which is sufficient for the artist with the fire; and this mercury alone, you can make a true and bonafide gold and completely foolproof. This gold, all of fire and full of life, being made to re-enter by a new solution in its chaos and being made to leave once again, we compose an agent that overcomes all metallic impurities and we can multiply it to infinity, say the sages.
Philosophers often talk about their chaos which they give various names, depending on their purpose which is to hide their great mysteries from those who are unworthy. We call this chaos, says Philalethes, our arsenic, our air, our moon, our magnet, our steel under different considerations. He also said that it is a volatile spirit and an admirable body formed of fiery dragon’s blood and of the juice of the Saturnia vegetable, and this chaos is like the mother of metals and a fruitful principle from which we are able to draw all that the sages seek and even the sun and moon, their elixir.
The chaos is the compound of the sages. Philalethes calls it water, air and fire and mineral earth because it contains in itself all the elements that must come out, all in their place, though we see only two, namely the earth and the water, says Cosmopolitan. All must at last terminate in the earth, said Hermes. It is this admirable compound of which Arnaud de Villeneuve speaks in his “Letter to the King of Naples,” and which he calls ‘the fire and air of the philosophers’, or rather ‘of the stone’ which is the next matter, or ‘this air’ and ‘this fire’ and which contains a moisture which runs in the fire and which is stone and not stone.
This compound, according Artephius, and in the “Truth”, is corporeal and spiritual, because it participates in both the body and the spirit, that is to say, of the softer portion of the body and the spirit or water, says the author. And Flamel after him, called this compound Cambar, Duenech, but Artephius adds that its own name is ‘permanent water’ because it does not leak at all in the fire and does not evaporate at all from the bodies, it embraces and remains inseparable with them. These bodies, he said, are the sun and the moon which are changed into a spiritual quintessence.
The philosophers speak in various ways of this compound. Some say it is made of two things, as Basil Valentine, others want it to be done in three, as Philalethes who teaches that it is a combination of three different natures, but of the same origin. Others write that the chaos we are talking about is similar to the former chaos which is composed of four elements which begin, Flamel said, to put aside the enmity of the former chaos in order to make their peace and their reconciliation. This is the thinking of Artephius and all have said the truth about it.
The term chaos is very clear, nevertheless it may be taken in various senses, because there is a general chaos, created by God and from which he has drawn all creatures, that is to say, the three kingdoms of nature, animal, vegetable, mineral, and each kingdom has its particular and natural chaos which is the seed of each thing. So we have a mineral chaos produced by the hands of nature which contains the two seeds, male and female, sulphur and mercury, which are united in the same subject, and are the first matter on which the artist has to work.
The sages have another chaos which they derive from the beginning and that they compose from a subject that nature presents to them, say all the philosophers after Morien. We are unable to do anything beyond that, from the beginning of the magistery says Basil Valentine . They called this sensitive substance, mercury, sulphur and salt, made of the union of the three principles, which are set proportionally by dissolving and coagulating, according to the various operations of nature that art must imitate and according to the disposition of the seed ordained of God.
Paracelsus is consistent with all the philosophers on this subject, which is the matter of the art and their famous chaos, when he said that the matter of the physical tincture is a certain thing which is composed of three substances by the ministry of Vulcan; and he adds to this, quite rightly, that this compound can be transmuted into white eagle with the help of nature, and by the aid of art. Raymond Lull speaks of this chaos when he says that the white herb brought together two smokes and grew in the middle of the two.
Father Synesius, the Cosmopolitan, and Philalethes agree with all the others about this matter, when they place it in the middle of the metal and mercury because it is in fact neither one nor the other and participates in both. It is a chaos or a compound fixed and volatile all together. This is what philosophers call ‘hyle’ or ‘the first water’ and ‘the first radical moisture’ which they derive and compose from the first natural and mineral hyle that nature had composed from the elements.
An anonymous author, following this idea, which is that of all the philosophers, aptly said that this admirable compound is made by the destruction of the body. This is what Artephius had said long ago, and the worker in the doctrine of this ancient philosophy noted that as this compound is made by the destruction of the body, by the same water which is the soul, the spirit, the essence of the compound can only be achieved by the destruction of the compound in which the souls of the body are linked, Artephius said.
We only need, Artephius said, this soul or medium substance of the dissolved bodies, which is subtle and delicate and which is the beginning, middle and end of the work, of which our gold and his wife are produced . It is a subtle and penetrating spirit, a sensitive soul, clear and pure, a salt and balsam of stars, Basil Valentine said. This is, said the same, a metallic and mineral substance coming from salt and sulphur, and twice born of mercury. This is the top and bottom that are all the same thing, as Hermes taught. This is all in all things, said Basil Valentine, it is finally the air of the air, said Aristaeus.
The Cosmopolitan, after Artephius, again calls magnesia, our chaos which is composed, philosophers say, of body, soul and spirit. Its body is a subtle earth, its soul is the tincture of the sun and the moon and the spirit is the mineral virtue of the two bodies. This mercurial spirit is the place of the solar soul and the solar body is what gives the fixity which with the moon retains the soul and spirit. Of these three closely united, that is to say, the sun, the moon and Mercury is our stone made; but first a compound must be purified in our water.
The purification of this chaos is very necessary, Artephius said. It must be done in our damp fire, by means of which we open the doors of justice and from where we derive the mercury of the philosophers from its vitriolic caverns, as Artephius speaks; or else, we extract this mercurial vapor, very subtle and spiritual, which clothes itself in the form of water, in order to penetrate the terrestrial bodies and prevent them from combustion. This is the Solvent of nature which awakens a dormant inner fire, a very acidic menstruum, very suitable to dissolve the body from which it itself had been derived, with the doctrine of all the sages.
All philosophers say their mercury is enclosed and trapped in the chaos of the first mineral chaos that nature presents to them, and it is extracted and released by the aid of art which comes to the help of nature and begins where she finished. She herself gives her hand and accompanies her everywhere, to the degree that the spirits pull themselves from the bondage of the body and separate themselves from the grosser spirits of the matter, which remains at the bottom of the vessel, as said Artephius, and which are incapable of solution and completely useless, said the same philosopher.
This mercury, thus released from the bonds of its first coagulation, contains in itself a dual nature, namely, igneous and fixed, and volatile and wet. The first which is internal to it is the fixed heart of all things, permanent to the fire, and very pure son of the Sun, itself essential fire, fire of nature, true vehicle of the light, and the true sulphur of the philosophers. The second nature which is internal to it, the purest and most subtle of all the spirits, the quintessence of all the elements, the first matter of all metallic things, is the true mercury of the sages.
We can distinguish four different mercuries contained in our chaos. The first can be called mercury of the bodies, it is the noblest and most active of all, it is the precious seed of which is made the tincture of the philosophers, and without this mercury that God has created our science and all philosophy, according to the Cosmopolitan, are vain. The second is the bath and the mercury of nature, the Vessel of the philosophers, philosophical water, the sperm of metals in which resides the seminal point. The third is the mercury of the philosophers which is made of the previous two. This is Diane and the salt of metals. The fourth is common mercury, not vulgar, the air of Aristeas, the secret fire, a middle substance of water common to all minerals.
In our chaos, derived from nature and composed of natural things, the philosopher notices a fixed point from which, by expansion, all things take place, and then, through concentration, all things find their rest and a permanent fixity. This is what happened in the first chaos of the world where the word [Logos] of God was the basis and the fixed and indivisible point from which all creatures have emerged and where they must return as their center. There is also a fixed point in the mineral chaos created by nature and in this is that which makes up the Art.
It is from this fixed point whence came all the metals their luster, and an emanation or visible flow of that light which remains hidden under the bark of their earthly bodies which is shade to nature, says the Cosmopolitan. But it is invisible because it is a pure spirit engaged in the dark prison of metals, and that in a frozen metallic body, the spirits do not appear and do not operate at all, due to the body not being opened.
The seeds of all things were contained in the ancient chaos that God has created, but they were in confusion, at rest and without movement, and, though opposites came together, they were not at all making war. Metal seeds which are in our chaos are confused there, in truth, but they are in peace and await the orders of a skilled artist who says, ‘Fiat Lux’ and who, separating light from darkness makes the hidden depths appear, and, developing the seminal fixed point, he reduces the metallic seeds power of action and makes the invisible visible, says Basil Valentine.
The ancient chaos was all things and was nothing in particular. The metallic chaos produced by hands of nature contains within itself all the metals and is not metal at all. It contains gold, silver and mercury. Nature began her operations in it. The purpose was to make from it a metal but she was prevented by its body, as sometimes she stops on the way when trying to make a perfect metal, she makes some of them imperfect, and often she doesn’t make them at all and is content to give us chaos.
In this natural, metallic chaos are contained the heavens and the earth of the philosophers, but they are not distinguished or separated there – the top there is like the bottom and the bottom like the top – so that the artist makes the miracles from only one thing, says Hermes; the elements are located together and confused without distinction, without action and without order. Everything there is in a certain silence and in a certain darkness which reigns in the Limbo of the wise and which forms a real image of death, without any sign of life and fertility; this does not preclude that this catholic earth may be animated and that it may have a hidden life, says Basil Valentine.
The general chaos of nature was a wet body, dark and gloomy. The mineral chaos that contains the metallic seeds is an opaque body, earthly and dark, full of fire from which the philosopher, by a difficult separation and purification, extracts the materials of which he composes an artificial chaos from which he extracts all things and even the light and the metallic lights, and of the same, dissolved by their own menstruum, he makes another compound, always separating the light from darkness by the dissolved spirit of heaven, says Basil Valentine, he accomplishes the philosophical creation of mercury and of the stone of the wise, says Philalethes.
The mineral chaos being opened, the philosopher having separated elements, having purified and combined them then in the form of a viscous water which is the philosophical chaos or compound, he has the joy of seeing the rising of the sun out of the bosom of Thetis, to touch it, to wash it, feed it, lead it to an age of maturity. The wise man sees the darkness before the light, he sees some after the light, he discovers some again that are with the light. He marries in this operation, says Philalethes, heaven and earth, and unites the waters above to those below.
From this chaos, which is our first matter, the sage knows well to draw out a visible spirit that is nevertheless incomprehensible, says Basil Valentine. This spirit is the root of life of our bodies, and the mercury of the philosophers from which we industriously prepare the liqueur through our art, which we must render once more material, lead it by certain means from a very low degree to a degree of sovereignty and perfect medicine. Because, says the author, from a well-connected and robust body at the beginning we made a fleeing spirit, and from this fleeing spirit, in the end, a fixed medicine.
The body we’re talking about and from which we draw this spirit, that Basil Valentine called a golden water without corrosion, is, if formless, looking like a real chaos, like that which is aborted, and a work of chance. In it is grafted and engraved the essence of the spirit in question, although the traits are despicable, so that this catholic matter is despised and cheaply accounted by those who do not know the value. But if the ignorant look down on it, sages and scholars consider it solely and they think of it like the cradle and the tomb of their king, says Philalethes.
The spirit or mercury of the philosophers which is extracted from the body in question is found in the vulgar mercury and all other metals. But it is a delusion to seek it there because it is closer and easier in our subject where mercury and sulphur are found, with the fire and their weight, and in which two snakes embrace, though weakly. But we cannot do anything without an agent capable of dissolving and vivifying the body, manifesting the hidden depth, and unraveling the first chaos, in order to make the light depart.
This light comes out of chaos with the fire with which it is clothed. This extremely subtle fire attaches itself to the air on which it feeds. This air embraces the water, the water unites with the earth and all of this gives a new compound, which, being corrupted again in the second operation, the water comes out of the earth, the air out of the water, and the fire wherein is the sulphur of the philosophers comes out of the air. And this fire, which appears in the form of earth, being purified seven times becomes a being that has more power than nature has. This spirit is the air of the air of Aristeas, this is the water, the fire and the earth of the chaos of the true philosophers.
The four elementary natures are only one same thing drawn from the first compound where they were in confusion. They are, only after this extraction, a being drawn from the subtle rays of the sun and the moon; and this is the second compound whose fertility depends on two active principles, namely heat and humidity. This compound is called air because it is quite volatile and it is the true Mercury of the Wise. It is a consuming fire and the most active of all the agents. It is a thickened air, from which not only all the metals but all the mercuries of metals are generated.
This one being, composed of four substances from three, or two whose third is hidden, says Basil Valentine, is the true seal of Hermes, of the Cosmopolitan, the doves of Diana of Philalethes. It is the air that we must fish, as Aristeas, which we must then cook, said the Cosmopolitan. This is a single essence that accomplishes by itself the great work by the help of a graduated fire which is food and a compound which stands midway between the metal and the mercury, says Philalethes. This is the philosophical child, born of the mating of the male and the living female, which must be fed a milk (which is) clean/proper to it.
This child of the philosophers is at the beginning full of phlegm which must be purified, as Flamel said, after the grave. It must be reduced seven different times to its mother which is the white moon, said Hermes. It must be washed, fed and nursed with milk from her breasts and receive its growth and its strength by imbibitions, Flamel said, and perfected by the flying eagles of Philalethes. These eagles, as he says himself, take place by sublimation and by the addition of true Sulphur which hones this child by a degree of virtue for each sublimation.
This philosophical sublimation contains all the operations of the wise, and this sublimation, according to the sentiment of Geber, of Artephius, of Flamel and of Philalethes, is nothing else than the exaltation or the dignifying of one substance, which takes place when from an agitated and abject state, it was raised to the state of a higher perfection. This does not preclude that we recognize in our mercury, a movement of ascension in the first work, which is the preparation of the mercury, in which lies the whole difficulty, the rest is a child’s game and women’s work.
Sublimation is, according to Geber, the elevation of a dry thing with adhesion to the vessel, by means of fire. Few people have understood this definition because you have to know the dry thing, the vessel, and the fire. The author of the Italian commentary of the Franciscan Marc Antonio Chinoi, seems confused on this subject. Here is the true sentiment of every true philosopher: the dry thing is our magnet, which naturally attracts its vessel which is wet. For the dry draws the wet and the wet tempers the dry and is united to it by means of fire which partakes of the nature of the one and of the other.
The vessel and the dry thing embrace with adhesion because nature embraces nature, as stated in the “Tourbe” and in Artephius, and because the vessel takes the place of the female and the dry thing takes the place of the male. One is the sun and the other is the moon. One is the living gold of the wise and [the other] the quicksilver of the sages, which are united by their proper fire, which is of their nature and also which is derived from our matter. That fire, vessel, and this dry thing are three and are only one. All three are mercury, sulphur and salt and all three are in the same metallic subject.
This salt, this sulphur, this mercury which are the body, the soul and the spirit, come out all three from the chaos where they were in confusion, or rather from the sea of the philosophers. This is the trident of Neptune, which would not yet come out at all from its deep abyss, if Eole did not by its winds, excite storms on the sea. It is by means of these mercurial, sulphurous and saline winds that we moved the sea of the philosophers as far as the center, and that finally, after the parties agree, we marry Eole to the beautiful Cyane.
Neptune being not quite gone out from the center of the sea, that he calms the winds and makes a general calm with his trident, and then returns to those wet chasms [depths]. This is what Flamel meant in his sixth figure, when he says that our stone is so triumphant in dryness that at first when the mercury touches it, nature rejoices in its nature, joins her and draws out its wetness in order to attach it to itself by the application of virginal milk, of which he speaks in the fourth figure.
This Neptunian trident, can never emerge from the sea philosophical, if a windy and vaporous trident hadn’t entered the sea to draw out the triple-crowned king, swimming in the water; it is on this occasion that the philosopher whets and stimulates the passive by the active; that by living principles, he raises the dead, as says Philalethes, and one principle gives a hand to the other, as stated by the Cosmopolitan, after which the principles, married and elevated, are fed with their own flesh and blood, says the Cosmopolitan and Basil Valentine.
The dry, embracing the vessel that contains it, being ascended up to heaven by the philosophical sublimation, and the terrestrial salt having become heavenly, it descends to earth in order to go suck the milk of its mother, which is the earth that takes care of feeding the philosophical child, who, having taken his food and being fattened by this succulent milk, he re-ascends to heaven and by one means ascending repeatedly and descending by the same, it takes on the virtue of things superior and inferior.
This is the Terrestrial Sky of Lavinius which perfects itself through its ascents and descents. It is the marriage of heaven and earth on the bed friendship, according to Philalethes. This is that royal palace which we build and which is enriched by the ebb and flow of the sea of glass in order to house the king, as speaks Basil Valentine, and they are the imbibitions of Flamel and the seal of the child in the womb of his mother and of the mother in the womb of its child, according Démoragoras, Senior and Haly. The mother feeds her child and the child feeds its mother. Thus, they help each other, increasing and multiplying themselves, as Parmenides said.
The mother is the moon. The child is the Mercury of the Wise known as sputum of the moon in “The Tourbe.” It is that moon which [must make to descend from heaven to earth?], as Paracelsus said.
This moon being full resembles the sun and bears the sun in her womb. This mercury is responsible for carrying the tincture of his father and his mother and then, having lost all his feathers, he falls into the sea, and then the waters recede, says Basil Valentine. It changes into land where his strength is whole says Hermes, which includes three turns of the wheel, said Riplée and the advice of Basil Valentine in the first and second book of the entire Magistery.
This philosophical mercury is nothing other than the teeth of the serpent which the valiant Theseus, Flamel said, sowed in the same earth from which soldiers arose who finally destroyed themselves, destroying by opposition, being resolved in the same earth and were allowed to carry away deserved conquests. This apposition contains all the operations that the philosophers covered with so many veils and we see on this occasion the truth of what Flamel taught, that our stone dissolves itself, congeals on its own, decays by itself, self-whitens, kills itself, and vivifies itself. It is the blood of the lion and the birdlime of the eagle of Paracelsus.
This lion’s blood is found with the birdlime of the eagle deeply hidden in our subject, which is the elect of Colchis. They are there naturally, like in their own salt, which serves them as a matrix and as a mine, as says the Cosmopolitan. They are the real Golden Fleece guarded by bulls throwing fire and flames through the nostrils, on which the beautiful Medea must shed the precious liqueur that quenches them and puts them to sleep, and by this precious liqueur the bulls are asleep, the fleece is removed by Jason, or rather, by this philosophical menstruum, the body is dissolved and the soul freed from the bonds of the body and it is changed to fifth essence.
This Fleece is the metallic seed that God created and that man should not presume to make, but he has to take the matter where it is. Basil Valentine describes it in these terms: first he says, the celestial influence, by the will and command of God, descends from above and mingles with the virtues and properties of the stars. Of these, mingled together, it forms itself as a third between the earthly and the heavenly. So is made the principle of our seed, of these three is the air, the water, the earth, which by means of a properly applied fire generates an essence of a middle nature, an incomprehensible spirit and a visible body.
This metallic seed is the grain that we need and that we must search for in one subject which nature has made very close to us. This subject, in the sentiment of all philosophers, is our brass, our gold, our stone of which Sendivogius, Philalethes, and Pythagoras are speaking. And we will obtain this precious seed, says Basil Valentine, if we rectify the mercury, the sulphur and the salt so that the spirit and the body may be inseparably united. All this is nothing other than the key of the true philosophy, and the dry water conjoined with a terrestrial substance, made up of three, of two and of one.
This seed or that grain does not draw out any subject other than that which we have just named our gold, without hyperbole and of the same subject, we can only kill it by dissolution and this dissolution is made of itself or by the subject which is similar or closest to it. Nature has also provided it an aide which is of its flesh and of its blood. As we teach, the male sperm placed in the womb there finds a solvent of its nature in the manner of a magnet that attracts the seed of the sperm, which is of its nature and of its essence.
The dissolution which is necessary for us in order to have this good grain or seed is very difficult to effect, because it can only be done by means of a precious liqueur which is a water of gold or a philosophical menstruum that is of the nature of grain, which we want to take from our subject by this solvent; and of the very nature of the solvent which we ask for and which we want to acquire in order to draw out this pure grain; where we can see how our art can follow and imitate nature.
It may be noted that in our work there comes in nothing foreign, because the grain or metallic seed is of the nature of the solvent, which one anonymous writer called Essenciel [play on words in French: essence of heaven/essential], and this Essenciel solvent is of the nature of this metallic magnet, that one anonymous writer called mineral menstruum, united to vegetable, and drawn out by it as Ganymede was by Jupiter. And these two being united, which he calls Essenciel, serve to radically dissolve a body that is gold, without ambiguity, and this latter being dissolved, it appears that we draw out a pure spirit by a raw spirit.
This subject where we seek the seed is a philosophical gold and not vulgar gold and this for two reasons. The first is that vulgar gold has no need of filth needing to be removed in order to find this grain or the metallic seed since it is completely pure and without any mixture of impurities. The second reason is that gold vulgar is just seed, and if one used it, one would only have to re-incrude [réincruder] it, to volatilize it and to spiritualize it in order that it might penetrate the bodies and join itself to them by its smallest parts. If the gold was this, it would be the Stone.
Those who said they had to find the metallic seed or fixed grain in vulgar gold are, however, not far from the truth, provided that one hears them with a grain of salt, since it is there actually and that one can find it there by means of a philosophical water in which it melts, like ice in hot water, and in which it loses its natural form in order to take a new one, more noble and excellent. It is then that the hidden treasure is discovered, this is the center revealed.
The metallic seed that we seek in the gold of the wise is a subtle and penetrating spirit, it is a pure soul, clear and delicate, reduced in water and a salt, and this is balm of the stars, which being united is merely that mercurial water. However, this water must be brought to the god Mercury who is her father in order to be examined. Then the father marries his daughter, and by this marriage they are no longer two but one thing, that we call vital or incombustible oil and in the end Mercury casts off its eagle wings and declares war on the god Mars.
The Mercury, who is the father of the water which is brought to him to be his wife, embraces her in this capacity for the reason that this water is still a mercury and in this way, it seems that mercury one brings mercury to mercury with the difference that the mercury which is brought as a bride is the mercury of the Wise who is the mother of all, Thelema. And he to whom it is brought is the mercury of the bodies, the father of all, Thelema, father, child, brother, wife of the mercury of the wise. Thus, the natures are ongoing and the parents marry themselves together.
In this philosophical marriage, one espouses mercury to mercury and thus brings fire to fire, as well as mercury to mercury. One marries fire with fire, because the mercury of the wise bears the fire or the sulphur in her womb. And the mercury of the bodies is still full of the sulphurous fire that burns in the water, and in this meeting, one nature teaches the other not to fear the fire and to familiarize itself with it. Thus the water which feared the fire learns to remain with it and the mercury which fled it becomes its friend.
The water which we are talking about here is the Azotus which is used to wash the brass [Laiton] and the brass [Laiton] that we need to wash is our Subject or our bronze or red gold, that it is necessary to whiten by ‘breaking the books’. This celestial water is drawn from the mountains of Mercury and Venus, by adhesion of the dry to the moist by means of heat, and the heat, united to the wet, makes to pour forth a stream of warm water, dry and wet. This water is the great worker in our art, it dissolves hard bodies, subtilizes the gross and purifies the impure, such as the earth.
I said laton or brass [laiton] because philosophers have their laton as well as their brass [laiton]. One says that we must whiten the laton which is unclean, the other says that we must wash the earth that is dark/obscure and those that have mistaken these two things contained in this rebis have not wandered less than those who believed that they were two things of a different nature. Because, although they are found in the Subject that is the Chaos of the art, and that they are there as male and female, and that from their seed should come out the Son of the Sun and of the Moon by their perfect union, they are only one in essence.
This rebis or chaos of milk or terrified sky, cannot serve anything without the help of the fire and the Azotus. But these two that make up the liqueur of our art, and which make the vital oil, to it is sufficient for both to wash it and to purify it that in order to render it fruitful by the separation of the two sexes and by their complete reunion, because there comes out a very fine child, after removing the rubbish, and the child should be fed with the blood of his father and his mother’s milk and then this blood and this milk mixed together, will take the color of a golden quintessence.
We have in this laton says a philosopher, two natures married to each other of which the one has conceived the other and by this conception, she is converted into the body of the male and the other into the body of the female, such that we cannot distinguish one from the other by their outer clothing, though we must separate them in order to recognize them, and bring them together, thus being even more inseparable, after having stripped them of all their clothes and having reduced them to their natural nudity. It was formerly two bodies in one, or the androgynous one of the wise, and after this is Diane fully naked.
When Diana is naked, even Apollo, they are distinguished easily and nothing prevents their legitimate conjunction for the procreation of the Sun which is their child. But to awaken their fertility and render them clean for generation, it was necessary to animate them, cleansing them with the oil vital that is the water of the stone, says a philosopher. It was necessary to divide the coagulated body into two parts in order to draw out this vital oil, or this milk intended for the nourishment of the newborn child, which contains in itself the two sexes and assembles them in unity of nature and essence.
Our laton is red in its beginning. But it is useless to us if the redness does not change to make room for whiteness. If one has it one time, it whitens and becomes of most lofty value, teaches Astin. But as this philosopher says with all the others, the first color that appears in our subject is blackness, after which comes the whiteness and then is seen the redness, clear and bright, and then, says the learned Marie, its darkness being removed, this laton changes into pure gold, and that which gives it this whiteness and this splendor is our azot.
The Azotus, which has been formed of loam, remained after the retreat of flood waters, like the serpent Python, is defeated by the arrows of Apollo which are the rays of our the sun, or by the strength of our brass, which finally becomes the master, and doing justice, renders the dry of the first orangey red color. It removes even the white dress of the Azotus which becomes so changed that it takes on the color and the nature of our brass and everything is red, said the learned Parmenides and it is the sign that the Lord has made its time, and that after the time, the eternity is made fixed and incorruptible.
Let us learn here from Morienus that it is quite necessary to wash this unclean body, which is the laton, which must be dried and whitened perfectly; and we must infuse it with a soul and take away all its filth so that after the mondification, the white tincture enters into it. Because a body being well purified, the soul enters first into this body, and it never joins to a foreign body, not even its own, unless it is pure and clean, because the superfluities which are found in our bodies, though they are not in large quantities, prevent their perfect union.
We only wash the laton in order to render it clean to embrace its Latona and unite with it in an indissoluble Union. But as the one carries the fire and the other contains the water, we must well purify both from their natural filth. It is true that they are all in our androgynous, but as it is a chaos in which the elements are rather confused, they are not united, we cannot unite them strongly without purifying, nor cleanse them without separating them, nor separate them without destroying the compound. It is necessary to divide them in part and thus separate the elements.
As our stone must be born of chaos and mass confusion in which all the elements are confused, it is necessary to separate the earth from the fire and the subtle from the gross, as says our father Hermes, the subtle rising up with the air and the gross remains at the bottom with the salt. But the earth contains the fire with the salt of glory and the air is with the water. One only sees, however, earth and water. So remove the phlegm of the water and the heaviness of the earth, and the elements will be pure and well united.
This union or conjunction of purified elements is the second operation of the stone that is after the mondification, and the stone is perfect if the soul is fixed in the body. But as this is only the end of the first work, the matter is perfect and will be lively gold and incombustible sulphur. But it is not tingeant and must spin the wheel for the second and third time with the same sulphur which serves as a ferment, but the first work being finished, the second begins where the philosophical sublimation is necessary so that the fixed be made volatile and the body spirit.
In the first work, which includes multiple operations, work only to volatilize the fixed and fix the volatile, raise the dead and kill the living, and its end is when everything is reduced as in a fixed powder which is pure gold, better than that of the mine. Without it, we merely can have the stone – though it is not the stone. The stone is, however, in it as in its cradle. It is not common gold, because it is purer and is only a pure fire in mercury. We can, nevertheless, melt it and charge it for common gold, because it is fully proven gold.
In the second work, which is the multiplication of this gold, the gold is increased in quantity by the addition of new matter and the gold serves as a leaven in its own multiplication by a simple digestion of the leaven with the flour and the metallic water. One makes gold and the leaven serves always as a mine. The philosophers proceed yet otherwise. They raise their gold or leaven in degrees and increase it so well in quality that it surpasses gold and becomes tincturing agent and flux. This is what we call stone that multiplies itself to infinity.
The metallic water which revives the fixed gold at the end of the first work, is this vital oil of which an anonymous writer speaks and which is united to the Essenciel [heavenly essence], to mineral and vegetable water in order to be as it is, the radical solvent of the gold. It is this oil, which the philosophers make in good supply, so that they are not left lacking, as it was with the foolish virgins. This oil is the water of the stone, taken from it in the first operation, said the sage gardener. Without this water, nothing happens in the second work and the first work is not done without it. This water is a fire because she carries it, and on her is carried the spirit of the Lord.
In this water consists the greatest secret of the wise. We said that it was the water of the stone, although it is true that she is not in one sense the water the stone. This is a mercurial water, but this is not the mercury of the philosophers. Rather it is the mercury of the mercury of nature, the water bath of the wise, the moist and secret fire of Artephius, the vessel of the philosophers to which the dry thing adheres during the sublimation. This is the sperm of metals, the radical moisture, the water philosophical of Hermès which is sufficient with just one thing. This water washes the laton and dissolves the gold perfectly.
The unique thing which is sufficient to our hermetic water is the virgin earth that contains the four elements. This is our first matter, namely a solid body and the beginning of the work, as Basil Valentine said. It is this thing, so hidden and so precious, and of this thing only, all our work is done, and which perfects itself in itself needing only digestion, without adding anything foreign. This thing is our stone that only needs the help of the artist. This is the brass that God has created, which we can assist, destroying its crude body and drawing out the good kernel.
If the dissolution of our body, which is the aforementioned brass, is necessary, then the ‘freezing’ of the mercurial water, which tightens the bonds of the Saturnian stone, is not less so; and for all the different operations, putrefaction is absolutely necessary. This putrefaction is done by means of a little heat in order that the stone self-putrefy in itself and resolve itself in its first moisture, that its invisible and tingeing spirit, where the spirit of gold is enclosed in the depths of a ‘frozen’ salt, be placed outside and that its gross body being subtilized be thus indivisibly united with its spirit.
There is no other water under the heaven that is able to dissolve our brass, except a water which is very pure and clear, which dissolves without corrosion. This water warms itself at the meeting of the fire which is homogeneous to it. It is dissolutive and permanent water and the fountain of the rock, of which the philosophers have spoken differently. Do not be surprised if this water dissolves the brass, because it is of its nature. Because the brass is gold without ambiguity and this water is a water of gold which transmutes the body in itself. Ensure that everything becomes water, and then, transmuted into the body, is the body.
It leaves a water of our brass that Aristaeus called permanent water. It is she who rules the body and yet is governed by him. Because she ruptures him, she breaks him, and the body kills her, and makes her die. She reduced him into water and he reduced her into earth, but they must be mixed together by the fire of friendship. We must continue this process until everything is made red. This is the burnt brass and the flower or leaven of gold, and by a wonderful prodigy, this brass is burned by the water and washed by the fire, and we see in all this the agreement of the elements and the concurrence of all philosophers.
Philosophers have called the water we just discussed, a serpent biting its tail. But the envious, said Parmenides, have spoken of several sorts of manners of water; of broths and stones and metals, and who hears this teaching hears what is finest in our art and most difficult in our work and in our materials. But leave all this and take the living water then freeze it in his body and its sulphur that does not burn and everything will be white.
Parmenides says everything will be white and you will make our nature white. Know, says Aristeus that the whole secret is the art of whitening. But this whitening is a very difficult step, Flamel said. It cannot be done without water, said Artephius. Because it is she who washes the laton, it is this water that was shown to Sictus and that philosopher assures to be pure very sour vinegar, which has the power to give the color white and red to the black body and take it from all the colors you can imagine, which converts the body into spirit. This is the vinegar of the mountains which defends the body from burning, because on the fire it burns without this vinegar.
This very sour vinegar is our first water and the vinegar of the mountains, from the sun and of the Moon, or rather of Mercury and Venus. This is a permanent water because it remains constantly united to our body or to our bodies from the Sun and the Moon when it has dissolved them completely. Our bodies received from this water a tincture of whiteness so special and so bright that it throws those who contemplate it into admiration. This very white water is of mercury and sulfur. It is sun and moon inside, as the body is outside. It whitens our brass and dissolves the body amicably.
The water which dissolves our body so amicably is a water which we can call ‘the first’ though there are several kinds that have preceded it, but they are heterogenes and are not counted in our work. They are not of the number of our menstrual homogenes as is our first white water, dissolutive, which is metallic, mercurial, saturnine, antimonial, and so speaks Artephius. This water whitens the gold, that is to say, our brass [laiton] and reduces it into its first matter which is the sulphur and the mercury, which shine like a mirror.
This sulphur and mercury that remain after the dissolution of the crude body, and which shine like a mirror of well-polished crystal, are drawn from this crude body by means of a water or white smoke, internally but which is in the beginning covered in the darkness of the abyss; and this darkness is driven out by the spirit of the Lord which moved upon the waters that were created before the arrangement of the parts of the chaos, when the heaven and the earth were made. This first water, dissolutive of the body, is a water clear and dry, it is a mercury of nature which, by dissolving, draws the mercury from the body.
This mercury, drawn from the crude body, is gross. Mixed with this mercury or dissolvent water, it comprises and makes the double mercury of Trevisan, the composed gold of Philalethes, or the rebis of the philosophers, or the chicken of Hermogenes, or the mercury of the bodies, which disposes itself by degrees to become the mercury of the philosophers by means of fire or of mercury common to all the minerals. Gold, this double white mercury, of a sparkling whiteness, drawn out by the first water, turns red if it is simply with the second water, which is very white outside and red inside.
This second water was heretofore in the first but it was not impregnated with a heavenly fire as it is in the sequel. Thus these two waters differ only so far as the first dissolves the crude body, washes the laton and volatilizes a heavy mass of its nature, and, that mixed with first water or damp fire, it becomes volatile. And the first water, mixed with a dry water is reduced to smoke, by clear water and by quicklime; which quicklime is full of a fire and a philosophical sulphur, and so it is that this second water is drawn out from the first by means of fire.
This fire is that of the philosophical sublimation, where the dry rises and is perfected by its adhesion to the vessel. This adhesion makes the dry inseparable from the wet and the fire inseparable from the water. Thus, our second water is formed of the upper and lower virtues and it is this water which is the Mercury of the Wise, the animated mercury that the artist can raise by degrees and push it to the highest perfection, and for this result one has only to nourish it from the breasts of the earth, which is its mother and to breastfeed the son of Hermogenes frequently, bringing him to his mother.
We will also return the mother to the child when the body, composed of the sun and the moon, of the father and mother, of the rooster and hen, of the sulphur and mercury, by our first water, is brought to the Mercury of the philosophers, which is the egg of this rooster and of this hen, the son of this sun and of this moon, and the mercury of this sulphur and of this mercury. Because in their intimate communication, the father and the mother are elevated and sublimated in glory by the virtue of their child, the laton is whitened, fixed and rendered meltable (fusible). So that the child generates his father and his mother and he is older than they are.
The mercury of the philosophers has engendered its father and its mother and itself, is engendered and drawn out of things where it exists by means of another mercury elevated by degrees, and from a water which is pure vinegar, which communicates its acetous quality to its child and its child, re-entering into the womb of his mother, tears her entrails like a [vipéreau] and finally, after having sucked from her virginal milk, it softens it, as we see that common distilled vinegar dissolves steel and lead, and by this mixture of vinegar it becomes so soft that it is called virginal milk.
The whole secret of this vinegar which Artéphius called ‘antimonial’ and that we can call ‘Saturn’ because of its origin, or mercury because of its frozen spirit, more precious than all the gold in the world, says the Cosmopolitan, consists in knowing how to draw out by its means the soft and incomburant quicksilver of the body of the magnesia, that is to say, by this first water, a second water, a living and noncombustible water and to know how to freeze it with the perfect body of the sun which is subsequently dissolved in this water, lying in the manner of a white substance, thick and frozen, like cream of milk.
The philosophical mercury or second water, white and frozen as cream from milk, is drawn out by means of a first water or acrid vinegar and by means of a fresh water or mild vinegar. The first is male and holds the fire that dominates the water, the second is female and passive and holds the water oppressed of the strange fire. This male is active, the female is passive, they join and embrace each other in order to produce the second water which dissolves the compounded gold that has been produced by the union of the two, that is to say by our double first water, in the sense of Artephius.
This body which has been produced or composed by our first water must be solved or dissolved in second water, composed of these two as well as the aforesaid body, which would never dissolve anything at all if it wasn’t of the nature of a solvent. But if instead of the compound, we only put in our second dissolutive water the body of mere gold, she [2nd water] reduces it well into a condition to enhance the metals in some way, as said Sendivogius after the author of “duel chemical”. But if we join male and female and that be our water, God helping, we find the whole secret of the wise.
The whole secret of the wise consists in this work that Artephius called whitening the laton or the gold of the philosophers and reduce it into its first matter, that is to say, into white and incombustible sulphur and into fixed quicksilver. This is how the wet ends, that is to say, our body which is gold, changes in this first, dissolvent water, or sulphur and fixed quicksilver, such that this gold which is a perfect body, changes by repeating this liquefaction and is reduced into sulphur and fixed quicksilver, it receives life and multiplies in its kind, as it happens in other things.
This gold multiplies by means of our water, because the body, which is composed of two bodies, being the sun and the moon or Apollo and Diana, bulges in this water, swells, rises, grows and receives from this first water its tincture of a surprising whiteness, and he who knows our hermetic water and the source from whence it emerges, knows the fountain of Trevisan and the stone from which Moses drew the water that followed the people. He knows to change the body into medicinal silver which can perfect the other imperfect metals because our water carries a great tincture.
The tincture which is hidden in our water is white and red, although she [‘water’] initially gives only a tincture of whiteness. But as water which dissolves and breaks the body, the first which appears in this dissolution is the dark sign of putrefaction. In fact, it is necessary that the body rots in our water, that having gone through all the colours that mark its infirmity, she [‘water’] takes the fixed color white and then the red of purple which are the essential characteristics of a true resurrection in which the virtue and the seed of our leaven triumphs.
Our leaven has a fiery spirit like quicklime, from whence it comes that it penetrates the body by its subtlety, that it warms by its heat, and that it causes the seed to rise which was only in the body with potentiality and would never have been brought into action without the addition of our leaven, whose virtue can be multiplied to infinity, placing in it a new matter that takes the virtue of the leaven and becomes as sharp [sour] as it and more. And in the end, it makes a powerful medicine that falls on the imperfect things which are of its nature and delivers them from all their impurities.
The purity of our leaven prevents it from mingling with anything that is not pure and that is not of its mercurial nature, and its subtlety gives it the key to enter into the dark prison of metals and the strength to remove his brothers from darkness and slavery. For this purpose, it transforms itself previously in several different ways as a Proteus. He ascends to heaven, as if he wanted to climb, as a further escalation. He descends into the earth, as if he wanted to penetrate the abyss and remove Proserpine on his chariot of fire and enhance the wealth of Pluto.
One could say that this leaven, like Vulcan, who had married Venus, was aflame with the fire of his lover and only breathed her embraces. But Jupiter finding him too imperfect, gave him a kick and threw him from heaven to earth. Falling, he broke his leg and he remained crippled since that fall. It was he who composed this admirable ‘est’ [fr: rêt] by which Mars and Venus were caught and surprised on the bed of friendship This is the Vulcan that Philalethes called burning, without which the fiery dragon and our magnet can never be well united together.
The fire by which our Vulcan is enflamed was once stolen by Prometheus and focused on the land, that being the reason for punishment for this theft, Prometheus was chained by Vulcan even on Mount Caucasu, and Jupiter directed that a vulture to gnaw at his liver and heart which are always reborn and proliferate by virtue of the same vulture, which leaves them the facility to germinate and be reborn after their death, in order to live a new life, so that the vulture that feeds off the liver and heart of Prometheus only devours him in order to multiply incessantly.
This rebirth or revification is represented to us as that of the Phoenix who finds life in his death, quickens to life by itself, and comes out from its ashes more glorious. The agent he is talking about and which is of a wonderful origin in the metallic kingdom, following the thought of Philalethes, carries and lights the fire at the stake, similar to the one from which it left above. The stake and the phoenix blaze together, are reduced to ashes out of which comes a bird, like the first and of the same nature, but nobler than himself and which grows from day to day in virtue, until it has become immortal.
The phoenix which rises from its own ashes is the salt of the wise, and by this means, their mercury, Philalethes said. This is the salt of glory of Basil Valentinethe, the salt ‘albrot’ of Artephius, the double mercury of Trevisan, which is the philosophical embryo and the bird born of Hermogenes. This is the dry water, the igneous water and the universal menstruum, or the spirit of the universe. The stone of the wise is satiated with this water that does not wet at all. It is formed in order to produce the milk of the Virgin which comes out of her breast. It is itself the sap of the moon, it is the spirit and soul of the sun, the water bath where the king and queen must bathe.
This salt is the agent of nature that reverses the compound, destroys it, mortifies it and re-engenders it many a time. It contains in itself a fire against nature, the moist fire, the secret fire, occult and invisible. It is the principle of motion and cause of putrefaction. It is by this dissolvent that we reduce the gold to its first matter and all philosophers agree that the menstruum that radically dissolves the sun and the moon must retain their species and stay with them after the dissolution and therefore be of their nature and coagulate itself with the bodies that have been dissolved and by their virtue.
In this dissolution of the body by the spirit, is effected the congelation of the spirit by the body, and the spirit and the body help one another, Lucas said, in that “Tourbe”[peatmoss]. The spirit he says, first breaks down the body in order to help it afterward; when the body is dead, soak it with its milk, and you will see that the body congeals the spirit and it will be made one from two, from three and from four. This is when the dead is quickened and the living dies – in this solution and congelation. Thus the philosophers control the killing of the living and the quickening of the dead, and before that the body and the spirit decay and corrupt together.
There is no perfect leaven, where the spirit and the body are not fermenting, are not turning sour and not warming up together by means of an internal and corrupting fire, and of a warm water that helps and animates the warmth of the leaven. This is what happens with respect to our leaven, our water, our body and our spirit. The water in question is the first and even the second. Artephius said that the leaven is drawn out from gold, which is the body and the corrupting leaven carries the spirit; thus the water, the spirit and the body make up or provide the matter of the leaven.
As we have several leavens according to the degrees of perfection in which they are raised by our art, because nature does not gives us this of itself, so we have several waters several bodies and several mercuries. There is however one perfect leaven, only one body, and just one true water that is the mercury of the wise philosophers, which is a real fire. According Artephius, this fire is a sulphur and the mercury is the sulphur, the water, and the fire. This mercury is therefore the water drawn from the rays of the sun and of the moon, said Sendivogius.
CII. [too difficult to translate]
Ce mercure ne saurait être tiré des rayons du soleil et de la lune qu’il ne soit double. Il ne saurait être tiré de ses cavernes vitrioliques sans tenir lieu de levain. Il ne saurait tenir du feu et de l’eau, du soleil et de la lune, du corps et de l’esprit sans être l’âme qui joint le corps et l’esprit, le médiateur du feu et de l’eau, et ce serait à tort que les philosophes lui donneraient tant de louanges si ce mercure n’était l’agent dans notre art et le dissolvant universel des corps.
We need this leaven or mercury for three necessary dissolutions for the work of the philosophers. The first looks at the crude body in order to draw out the spirit separated from its body, which is necessary for us in order to give life to the dead and to cure diseases. The second is the solution of the gold and of the silver which make up, by their union, the mineral earth. The third dissolution is that which we call employment for the multiplication. The first, which is spiritual, serves for the fermentation of the impure body; the second, radical of the pure; and the third, multiplicative of the very pure.
We dissolve the impure body in order to obtain the hidden spirit within it, and the Mercury which dissolves it is the first key that opens the door to the Stone. This is that Mercury which is prepared by our art and is composed of vile matter and of little value. It is sulphurous and mercurial, hot and cold, wet and dry. It contains the astringent and styptic virtue of metals spoken of by Basil Valentine, twice born of the mercury. This mercury contains a great treasure, namely the Spirit of the mercury and of the sulphur: the flower and the Spirit of gold; it opens the door to the house of its father and its mother and opens the entrance to the palace of the king.
Out of the matter of this first key, Art forms a second by adaptation. The first is of all the colors, but the second is white like wool and specifies itself much more than the first. It is this which opens the second door and which dissolves the mineral earth in which is hidden the gold of the philosophers, the true sun. She [the second key] makes it [the true sun] appear ‘au jour’ [to light, day] in several different forms, sometimes in earth, sometimes in water and opens all the locks of this royal palace so well that after having opened and closed it several times, it encounters the stone and the elixir of the philosophers.
The third key is formed from the matter of the first and second. It is this which is the key which not only opens the cabinet where the stone is found but also the ‘cassette’ of the stone and the stone itself, so that it may grow and multiply in quality and quantity. But each time that the stone is opened by this red key, there is a new dissolution and the earth becomes water, or fatty and porous broth, and the water becomes earth. It makes corruption and each time a new generation, and the stone multiplies by ten degrees of quality each time even up to seven times.
This multiplication is the last word of the wise, just as the dissolution is the first, Flamel said. The dissolution is the first foundation, or first step, of the philosophy and the multiplication is the end, if we except the projection in which it makes a new radical dissolution by the separation and exclusion of the unclean and by the congelation of the pure seed. Thus the dissolution is necessary at the beginning of the work, in the middle and at the end, and after the completion of the work by the first, the hard bodies become ‘mols’ like cream or as heavy gum, Morien said.
Others say that by the dissolution, the dry bodies are reduced into a dry water that does not wet the hands, that is to say, into a mercury, then into a seed, later into a fixed spirit, and finally into the earth, which is often reduced into a water, but through dissolution, and returns into earth by congelation, ascends and descends and from clarity into clarity, is elevated at the last period of fixity and fusibility, and as it should be for all the operations to have a dry water and dissolvent as the necessary key presented and prepared at the hands of nature for the artist, many have believed that this dissolvent or this key was the vulgar mercury.
All the authors agree on this point, that the vulgar mercury is not our dissolving water, nor our true mercury. The reason is taken from the side [This is because] of her impurity, which does not allow it to mingle intimately, and by the smallest parts, with the pure bodies which must be dissolved, nor consequently to remain inseparably with them after their dissolution. This same impurity which is natural to it does not give it the power to purify the impurities that we must purify in their dissolution, because that which must purify others must be pure Philalethes said.
Besides the purity that is missing from the mercury, it is missing a natural warmth that it does not have in order to be the Mercury of the philosophers, which radically dissolves the gold, which turns itself to gold after having changed the gold into itself by dissolution. This lack of heat arises because it is a fruit which fell from its tree before its time, to which nature has not added its own agent, but since it remained impure, cold and indigestible, it is in need of a washed and incomburant sulphur, that Art added to it in order to mature it, warm it, and purge it, and without this sulphur, Art can not improve the mercury.
This pure and fixed sulphur, which perfects the vulgar mercury in the projection where it is transmuted into gold, must be derived from things that are of the nature of mercury, otherwise it would not have the power to penetrate it and to be united to it intimately. Because, nature is only united to nature and it rejects everything that is foreign to it. However, the mercury of the philosophers contains this washed and ‘incomburant’ sulphur by which it is gradually digested and turned into gold and then by a new regeneration, is changed and elevated into fixed melting stone, which changes the vulgar mercury into gold in a moment.
One can see what we have just said, that Philalethes told the truth, when he assures us in his metamorphosis that the vulgar mercury and the one of the wise are not materially or fundamentally different from one another, for the one and the other are one dry and mineral water. So the children of science know, therefore, says this philosopher, that the matter or vulgar mercury can and must enter in part into the matter of the mercury of the philosophers, so that their matter is homogeneous and that they differ together only according more or less to the degrees of heat.
It is therefore certain, in order to talk in good faith and according to the doctrine of this great philosopher, that if we could remove with vulgar mercury that which it has of sulphurous ‘adustibles’ superfluities, of ‘aquosités’, of ‘terrestréités corrompantes’, and if could provide it the warmth of sulphur ‘incomburant’, that is to say a spiritual and fiery virtue, the shadows of Saturn being dissipated, we would see this mercury, all shiny with light, depart, and this mercury would no longer be vulgar. This would be one as the philosophers who are say, all that being determined as it is, it cannot be our mercury without losing its form.
The common mercury is a body, that of philosophers is a spirit, at least the vulgar mercury is corporeal, dead, and that of the wise is spiritual and living. The vulgar is male and ours is female or at least hermaphrodite. It is a water, the vulgar mercury contains it but it is too enclosed within its body. The mercury of the philosophers is our blessed seed, the vulgar is only the sperm that contains it, but we can draw it out only by the dissolution which is done by our mercury and in which it loses its first form in order to ressume a form more noble and more excellent.
I know well that the vulgar mercury retaining its form, which is specified, is not the immediate matter of the stone, and even if it would be stripped of its form, it cannot be turned into stone, without being made mercury of the wise, nor can it be mercury of the wise without having been mortified and revivified or generated. Also, it is not the dissolvent for gold and other metals, without having been stripped of all non-metallic, foreign, and corporeal that it has, but we can say in truth that it is easiest and the nearest matter, or the subject the most proper, to the philosophical projection.
One can also say in favor of common mercury that it is the soft mountain mentioned by Sendivogius and in which one can dig easily with the agent of the philosophers and find there the living and igneous water or damp fire that we seek, and having found it, do wonders. It can be said further in its favor that it can be useful to the work if we can take away from it what it has of impurities and add to this what it lacks of igneous virtue. It says of itself in a dialogue that it is mercury but that there is another that opens the gates of justice, which is the precursor, admirable symbol of a great mystery.
This is one great advantage of vulgar mercury of being the road to its master and the precursor of the mercury of the sages who, according to the great Philalethes, comes to deliver his brethren (the minerals, metals, plants, animals and all the natural bodies) from all their original filth. We always speak in parables and comparisons, because nature and its science are the source of all the mysteries and is the symbol of the highest truths. Through them, we find the explanation, the prediction and the manifestations of all that is hidden. Such is the effect of learned wisdom, artist of all things and which teaches perfectly the secret root of the wonderful operations, according to the expression of King Solomon, as he himself says, and describes the threefold wisdom because she receives three meanings mutually and equally representative of each other, and we write as this sage wrote.
The philosophers have undoubtedly been in this mindset when they have said that we must draw out an air by another air, a spirit by a spirit, to take or catch a bird by a bird, as Aristeas speaks. Others have said that by a crude spirit, we must extract therefrom one which was digestible and cooked. Others have said that a vegetable menstruum, united to mineral and to a third essential menstruum were necessary in order to have the universal solvent or mercury of the philosophers, that is to say that this third mercury needs a precursor like an Elijah.
This famous mercury, which philosophers have given so much praise deserves to have symbolically a precious fire which is called the spirit of Elijah and which prepares the way of the Lord. The precursor is similar in nature to the Lord, but the latter is infinitely more noble because he was born of a virgin earth and conceived of a heavenly spirit whereas the precursor was conceived in iniquity like the other metallic bodies, though he was subsequently purified and washed in the center of his mother in order to be made worthy to prepare the way of the philosophical king.
This allegorical discourse is derived from the doctrine of the scientist Philalethes, our contemporary, and of the famous Sendivogius, who teach that all the metallic bodies are all conceived in iniquity and malediction in the bosom of a corrupt earth and that gold itself, totally pure as it is, as well as that precursor of which we speak, needs the mercury of the philosophers, which is conceived of a virgin earth and formed of its very pure blood by a celestial spirit, source of beauty, of purity and of light, and also, although it may be of corporeal nature, of the nature of others, it purifies them by its virtue.
The mercury of the wise is in truth composed of body, soul and spirit. But its body, after having passed through all the operations of the Art, as by torture and suffering, its body, I say, matter is quite spiritualized and having been raised in glory, it is of a great virtue, sublimity, light and fixity that it can be fully fixed and illuminated completely and triumphs over all that is in the kingdom metallic. It separates the light from the darkness which obscures its brothers, slaves of the impurity, and finally, it is a pure spirit which draws to itself all that is pure.
A certain nobility that we find in our mercury, the seed from which it is made and composed by our Art, is no different from that which all metals are composed, and the metallic bodies, differ only from each other by the degree of decoction and purity, because the seed is the same, and these superfluities introduced or remained in their congelation, are not natural to metals and have not corrupted their seed, which is a portion of heavenly and incorruptible light, which shines in the darkness and which is pure within the refuse.
The Magistery of the wise starts with the fire and ends with the fire. This fire is sometimes wet and the bath of the bath, or warm manure, sometimes it’s a warm fire, damp and cold, and that is the fire of the lamp, and finally, it is dry, warm, and humid, and this is the fire of the white ashes or of red sand. Our fire warms the Fountain of the wise. In conclusion, this fire is warm, cold, wet and dry, or rather, it is a spirit or a quintessence, which is neither warm nor dry, neither cold nor wet in itself. God gives it to the wise that he may be praised forever.