Allegory from Grasshof, 'The Open Ark or Casket of the Small Peasant'.
Arche ouverte ou Cassette du petit Paysan in the compilation by Jean Maugin de Richenbourg, Bibliothèque des Philosophes Chymiques , volume IV, p. 186.
Translation by Adam McLean, 2018.
This treatise, in Latin, will also be found in Bibliotheca Chemica curiosa , vol. I, p. 585 and in Theatrum Chemicum , vol. VI, p. 294.
It is likely that the text was compiled by Johann Grasshoff, who used the following pseudonyms - Grasseus, Crasseux, Grosseus, C Hortalasseus, Hermann Condesyanus.
As I went on my journey, I found myself between two mountains, where I came upon a countryman, whom I saluted. He was grave and modest in his bearing, dressed in a grey cloak, on his hat was a black cord, around him a white scarf girded with a yellow strap, and he was wearing red boots.
When I approached, I perceived that he held in his hands two very bright and star-like flowers with seven rays. One of these flowers was white, and the other red. I considered them very closely, because they were very beautiful, brilliant, and exceedingly delightiful in colour, very fragrant and pleasant to the taste. Moreover, one was feminine and the other masculine, nevertheless both were growing from the same root and had the influence of all the planets.
I asked this man what his plan was for these two flowers, because I knew them well enough, but I did not ask that there was in them a definite purpose, nor why they were male and female, that is, of two different natures.
After I had described to him the course of my life, my adventures and my employment, he smiled at me, not taking much notice of it. He treated me very civilly, however, and began to speak
"You will know that no one comes to the knowledge of these two flowers, unless he is called by God, guided by faith and by invocation. Still, in his pursuits, he finds great pains, trouble, and affliction, so that when he possesses this high science he would venerate it like he would an expensive purchased treasure."
"But since you have reached these places, you will see that God authorises me to tell you, that from these two flowers comes (after their conjunction, and not before) the first matter of all the metals, which is confirmed by Trevisan at the end of his second book, where he names these two flowers, the red man and the white woman. The Philosophers, for many reasons, have said several things on the subject of this first matter, to obscure it and its root under a veil. They have been equally careful not to uncover the second matter. But first of all you have to deal with this second matter, which is raw and indigestible, and which is, however, the subject of the Stone. You must extract it in the form of a man and a woman, which after the conjunction becomes the prima materia, that I here sincerely declare to you. "
I was astonished at this speech, which, however, gave me joy for the satisfaction I felt in being with him. I could not restrain myself from speaking to him about these things: "My friend, your simplicity would have prevented me from seeking in you things of such high intelligence."
He began to smile and said to me: "It is really this simplicity which misleads everyone, and which causes me to be neglected by everyone. For my external form deceives them all, seeing my baseness, and what seems mean in me, but when they courteously beg me to put off my gray jacket and my fur coat, I hear them, and show them my gem-like clothing and ruby-like fur, or, if you want, a very precious shirt. But the Almighty has almost blinded them all, so that they do not see from what these metals have taken their origin."
I replied to him, "Dear friend, these flowers living in the fields, have a very high lustre and brightness, but nevertheless they also have medicinal properties."
He answered, "They are very medicinal, but their greatest property is hidden in them, because when they are on their own root, they are poisonous: that is why it is necessary that their root is gently and delicately sublimated with care, as I want to believe that you know.
"What I judge from your operations, although they have not been successful so far, I don't doubt that you understand what this sublimation means, which is done without ever having anything aggressive or corrosive, which would destroy the goodness of its nature. Their two beautiful flowers spring from there, without the addition of other things, foreign and different, drawn from this contagious mountain."
If I had not known under which planets the countrymen are constellated, I would never have arrived, nor could I have come to such a remarkable place.
I said to him, "dear Friend, what you have said causes me to again beg you to tell me, whether these two flowers spring up and grow both at the same time, and what is their production. Because I propose that in this enlightenment, great help from science is revealed, I wish to be honoured and greatly benefit from this being clarified, because the Philosophers have spoken very little of it."
At this, instead of smiling, he shook his head and remained silent for a long time. Then he told me, "You ask me about the stumbling block, where many stumble. For many know the first subject, but they are wandering about this mastery. Yet, be here tomorrow at the same hour (twenty-four hours afterwards), you will find me disposed to give you intelligence of these things, as much as I am allowed."
I thanked him, left joyously and remained all this time in great anxiety of the hour to come, which I observed punctually.
I saw him arrive, holding the two flowers in his hand, and summoned him to keep his favorable promise, begging him to believe that I was absolutely sure of him, although I admitted to being of very little use to him.
At which he said these words to me: "Provided you are well with God, I will be good to you, and you to me. Otherwise if you are far from God, I will always be far from you; but as long as I believe that you are God's, I will reveal here the whole process, and repeat to you my first words, on each of which you must pay a special attention, with continual prayers to God.
"This Science is a special gift of supreme goodness. Therefore take note of all my words, and examine them very precisely. Sit with me on this greenery, because I am old and of a cold nature, I do not have good legs, nor am I very strong, that is why I cannot stand a long time, and what's more I like to rest on the greenery.
"You have no doubt read that our Magi, Philosophers and Kings, write and say to all, 'follow Nature, follow Nature'. It is from there that you must infer that all those who want to produce something advantageous and great in this science, must above all have full knowledge of the origin and foundation of all the metals, of their birth, production and differences, of their sympathy and antipathy, that is, their loves and hates.
"Know, moreover, that all the metals have come from the same root, the matter from which they originate being one only, and they acquire their difference only by cooking, that is, to say, according as they are more or less cooked or digested. The best authors confirm this truth to you. But do not disgust yourself with their different ways. Flee only from the donors of particular recipes and processes, be indefatigable in reading the best authors, and the delay will reward your patience and your pain.
"In a few words, know that whoever understands the origin of our metals, will know that our material must be metallic, and also is born of metal mined without metal. For there is no metal without a metal light, nor metal lights without metal. Thus, consequently, one relates to the other, for their natural being and their genus is one, which is called an immature mineral-miner element, or magnesia, or otherwise lunar. That is why the Philosophers always speak in the plural when they say, for example, our metals.
"But I must speak to you more clearly, since you have the true knowledge of the true matter, of which this metallic root must be gently separated from what is contrary to it, or against Nature. I mean that it accidentally acquired poisonous vapours.
"Then we must extract this white and mercurial liquor, which is so delicate and fluid, which must be sought in its upper part. Its name is Azoth, or the gluten of the eagle, but it is a sulphurous, red and incombustible liquor, to be found hidden in the lowest part, and it is called the brass, or the red lion. These words are sufficient.
"But if you lack some light, invoke the name of the Lord of lights, and the author of all good gifts, and observe, with especial admiration, that these two flowers never dry or wither, that one can be converted into another in all shapes and forms, and that it has a slope and an inclination to all seven planets, to which if once it joins, it does not separate any more. The natural virtue and the property of these flowers, cannot be learned enough by any philosopher whatsoever.
"You see now that these two flowers come from the same stem, which is sevenfold and susceptible to all colours. But these flowers are quite distant from each other, which comes from their different natures, and therefore it is necessary to find the means of joining and uniting them, of vegetating and growing them. It is necessary that from these two, procreates an excellent, indissoluble and perpetual fruit, which does not happen without the express permission of the Sovereign.
"Besides, know that the account, where the amount of the seed or germs of the white lily is different from that of the red lily, and that these two flowers do not operate at the same time, which the ancient Sages held very closed and secret, and this is what they call their weight without weight. These two lilies do not unite and mingle in small parts.
"The ancients among the Arabs speaking of these things in these terms, say that the weight of the male is singular, and that of the female is always plural. The Comte de Trevisan expounds it in this way: 'The earthly power over its resistance according to the delayed resistance, is the action of the agent in this matter.' Do you hear that?"
I replied that these terms are obscure. To which he replied that I need not trouble myself.
"For", he said, "if you come to the growth of these two fleur-de-lis, when you will know what you will have to do by their own essence, property and nature, and not otherwise. I advise you to take great care that the heat of your fire is slow and benign. For otherwise the seed of the white lily would evaporate in smoke, and all your work would be reduced to nought.
Then I said to him, "You have mentioned two lilies, and yet the philosophers say sometimes that in one thing, or only one Mercury and Azoth, is all that the Philosophers seek, or the Sages sometimes speak of three things Suphur, Mercury, and Salt, and most often soul, spirit, and body, however, you make no mention of that."
"It is necessary," he said, "that I laugh at you, because you do not yet understand the Philosophers' terms, and that they are so little known to you, or maybe you want to test me. I must therefore unburden you of this. Know, therefore, that the Philosophers intend by the one thing, the salt of Metals or Philosopher's Stone, and by two, the body and the soul, the third of which is the assembled out of these two, namely, the mind, which cannot be seen, especially since it is hidden in these two. So it can be said that this spirit floats on the waters which you can read in Moses. That should suffice you."
"But as for me, I gladly stick to these two. That is why you take these two lilies, very clearly polished, and enclosing them in a well-stoppered crystal vessel, without fire, put them in a gentle and mild heat in an athanor. When the white lily spreads out, it embraces and contains in itself the red lily, especially as the red lily is of an igneous nature, and receives help from external heat, it communicates and gives its smell and warm balm to the coldness of the white lily. From this is born a discord, the one not wanting to yield to the other, which proceeds from the contrary qualities which are in them, as you know. Then they both rise to Heaven, or, to put it better, they both grow in Heaven, but they are afterwards repulsed by the wind, and this by several and so many times that they have become weary and tired of the work of going up and down that they are compelled to rest in the earth.
"Know that, if the bath is so ruled and governed, that their natures rise both at once, but each one apart, or one after the other, you will never enjoy their odour. Therefore take good care of this very remarkable operation.
"But all the more because of these two hostile natures or contrary qualities enemy, one of these two lilies cannot make themselves predominant over the other, and they rally and unite with such friendship together, that they do not want to separate anymore. Then after, in this union or rallying, the whole firmament is equally moved, and the Sun and the Moon become dark and obscure, as much as it pleases the Most High. After which, by the love of the Almighty, the rainbow of all colours is seen in the air. Mark that, then you can no longer doubt that God is propitious to you, and that the flood of these two fleur-de-lis will not happen again, of which you must rejoice.
"You will also see in a short time, that the Moon will gradually be less dark than before, and finally adorned with a glow, a whiteness and clarity of a beautiful lustre, but the Sun is still hidden behind the Moon which, because of the interposition of the earth, cannot yet be seen. But if you have the eyes of understanding open, you will see four planets in the moon, which by the brightness of its light you will convert and transform into its permanent nature.
"But when the Lunar or Crayfish approaches the Sun, and the heat multiplies and grows more and more, the Moon is offended by the rays and the luminous glow of the Sun, until she be forced to hide behind him and in his rays.
"On the contrary, this brilliant Sun comes by the conspiracy of the other planets clothed in a beautiful and agreeable colour, and finding itself all irritated by their ways, it begins to grow pale, then to cover itself, becoming red as blood, especially as these planets humble themselves before him, as before their Lord, and good Master. God having thus ordained it, he finally receives them to his grace, and makes them equal, by associating them with his reign through a close union and friendship. Being thus united and ennobled, they praise God with such a great and marvelous ornament, and with their excellent refinement they consecrate everything to his praise and glory.
"See now that I have brought you out of your doubt and your uncertainty, and you entirely believe that you have acquired the complete intelligence of the whole affair, you must keep silence, praying to God that he will give you the grace to use it with great discretion, for if you do otherwise you will never see me again."
I remained so astonished and forbidden, that I had no words sufficient to render him as a thanksgiving, although I was carried away and inclined to show him all sorts of gratitude, but I did not leave without making submission to him, requesting to know, if there was anything more to add to Science, and if it had there its end and fulfillment.
To which he replied graciously to me: "You will know that the virtue and efficacy of these two fleur-de-lis are increasing and renewing themselves for three days, that they multiply and sow themselves to thousands in three days; which happens when the seed is thrown into the first and previous earth.
"So on the first day the darkness appears; on the second, a clear light from the Moon is visible; and on the third the sun drives out the darkness from its setting sun, and this affair is as much empowered as the Almighty wills it or allows it.
"From the nature of this stone are formed other precious stones of all kinds; but its great effect tends to the knowledge and worship of the Almighty, as well as to the lengthening and prolongation of life; and even if someone comes to the possession of the least leaf of these fleur-de-lis, he will have antidotes against all infirmities and diseases, as also whoever arrives at the possession of the smallest fleur-de-lis, will have enough to make himself happy.
"But I will come back to see you in nine months, and then I will expose you further to the properties of these flowers, for I must now go. I perceive, however, that you are in some trouble because of my exterior form, especially since you see me covered with this envelope or gray jacket, which I have put on, in order to veil myself to the powers who want to rob me and to torment me in their Gehenna. I have not told you that in my interior I am clothed and adorned with gold, diamonds, emeralds and rubies."
To which I replied in great submission, gratitude, and very humble prayers, that I may be permitted for a greater enlightenment, to make this request again. I then told him, that all the great authors represent to us that there are great observations to be made in the regime of fire, and that great things depend upon it, since it must often be more or less hot in its degrees. Besides, I would very much like to know distinctly what is the matter closest to the Stone, from which we must extract the specific form, or these two beautiful flowers. For although I know the general subject, I am still in doubt in this first point about the next, and especially as the Clangor Buccinae tells us, that hardly can one pound of material produce the weight of a drachma, which one can usefully operate in the Work, and I proposed to myself that of a pound one could prepare several ounces, as much for red as for white.
"You press me too closely," he answered, "and all that you will still draw from me today is that you take care that under this jacket or gray jacket, I wear a green and red shirt, that if you make it polished and perfected with stones or pebbles and philosophical fire, adding the filth or rust of Mars, and the red Eagle fixed in the Work, then this shirt will be greatly perfected. Then, when you have plunged it into a shining fountain of a very clear moon, this moon will enrich it with six other suns, good and valid, which you will remove at each operation for your use, and you will be able to obtain this profit every week, which you will live with honour and convenience, even to a very good yearly income, while awaiting the perfection of your Work.
"This is what a friend can openly say and declare to his friend, always keeping silent about what makes the whole operation of the great Work, which God distributes of himself; he reserved for himself alone the dispensation."
At these words my teacher vanished and entered the vast and deep mountain, and the two fleur-de-lis remained in the same spot, to which the Agricola, that is to say, the man of the fields, had crept. I went forward to gather these flowers, but having arrived at the place where I had seen them, I saw in their place a large pile, or mass of raw material and the real Stone whose weight was several pounds, and nearby was a sign bearing these words; 'God sells these goods through work'. This was the end of my conversation.