The Alchemy Academic Forum 1-50From January 25th 1996, the Alchemy forum was restructured and the messages were sequentially numbered prefixed with the letter A. This is an unedited extract of messages 1-50.
Go to next 50 messages . Back to alchemy academic forum archive.
Date: Tue Aug 13 11:42:50 1996
Subject: A0001 Esoteric E-mail groups
I wonder if people can send me details of related occult, hermetic and esoteric e-mail discussion groups - subject matter and means of subscribing. I can then draw up a list of such groups and place it onto the Web site so that people, wishing to explore these subjects through a more speculative approach than will now be allowed on the Alchemy Academic Forum, can find an outlet for their need to communicate with like-minded souls.
Send the information to me
Date: Tue Aug 13 20:25:06 1996
Subject: A0002 Text by Sendivogius
From: Rafal Prinke
I have put an early text by Sendivogius - a kind of laboratory
diary - on my Web page. It is in three interlinked versions: transcript
of the original Polish-Latin, modern Polish translation and my translation
into English (probably imperfect). Apparently, it does not work as I wanted
to (too slow) so I will have to chop it into smaller pieces.
Rafal T. Prinke The Kornik Library
firstname.lastname@example.org Polish Academy of Sciences
Poznan, POLAND http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp
P.S. I have been a "lurker" from the very beginning of this list but the
sheer volume of messages made it difficult not only to participate
in the discussions but even to follow various threads. From my personal
experience on the Net the most productive lists are those with narrowed
topics so that communication is roughly at the same level -
otherwise communication is blocked and flames arise (often
Date: Wed Aug 14 09:39:01 1996
Subject: A0003 The Golden and Rosy Cross
From: Adam McLean
Has anyone on the forum made a study of the "Golden and Rosy Cross" and in particular its alchemical work? This is a gap in my knowledge and I would like to build up some information on this important 18th century organisation, which I could eventually post onto the Web site.
Date: Wed Aug 14 15:15:35 1996
Subject: A0004 The Golden and Rosy Cross
There is the book of Jean-Pierre Bayard 'La spiritualité de la Rose-Croix:
histoire, tradition et valeur initiatique. -St.-Jean-de-Braye :Dangles,
1990. (Horizons ésotériques, ISSN 0182-063X).
This book spends about 20 pages on the subject of the Golden R.C. of the old
and the new system...
There are too many valuable links/sides to the order to be able to tie all
of the information together in a short and rounded off kind of way, and
apart from what is said in this book I don't know much about it.
Sapientae apex, desperatio de rebus mundi.
Date: Thu Aug 15 08:18:03 1996
Subject: A0005 Gerhard Dorn
From: Gionni Di Gravio
In Alexandria 2 (Phanes Press) there is a translation of Gerhard Dorn's
"Monarchy of the Ternary in Union Versus the Monomachia of the Dyad in
Confusion." pp.215-236, translated by Daniel Williams.
Gionni Di Gravio
Archives and Special Collections, Auchmuty Library
University of Newcastle, Australia
Date: Thu Aug 15 23:50:55 1996
Subject: A0006 Fludd School vs. Causabon School
From: george leake
I've been reading Brian Copenhaver's translation of the Corpus Hermeticum.
Re-reading the intro I just caught something interesting. He demonstrates a
sort of rivalry between two schools of thought on the origins of the CH and
the figure of Hermes Trismegistus. The tradition held to be true during the
time of the Renaissance was that Hermes Trismegistus was Egyptian and a
teacher of teachers of Moses and Plato (to grossly summarize). A
"theological geneaology" Copenhaver calls it.
This is the position held by a line of scholars from Marsilio Ficino to
Robert Fludd. The Fludd school (including among others Michael Maier) was
opposed by Isaac Causabon(whose school of thought was headed by Marin
Mersenne and included Rene Descartes) who proved the prime Corpus
Hermeticum texts were Greek in origin (of course I suppose one could say
these Greek texts might be adaptations of older ones penned in other
languages), and much more modern than taken for granted by Cosimo
D'Medici's chief scholar and his contemporaries.
I'm wondering if the Fludd and Causabon camps these days are not epitomized
by occult schools (Theosophical Society, Golden Dawn, OTO, etc.)
representing the Fludd/Ficino school while academes like Mead and Frances
Yates and now Copenhaver representing the Causabon side? Clearly there's a
connection with Fludd and the Golden Dawn/OTO--the latter two fascinated
with freemasonry which of course one can link back to Fludd--egyptophiles
among all these. On the other hand, one can say that many modern occult
groups, with their fascination with the Kabbalah have caught the synergy
bug--the Talmudic tendency to connect everything to everything else.
-G.Leake, 512-471-9117 email@example.com
Date: Fri Aug 16 15:12:33 1996
Subject: A0007 Fludd School vs. Causabon School
From: Adam McLean
There is an interesting section entitled 'Alchemy, mechanism and reform1 in Betty Teeter Dobbs book The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1975. This sketches the struggles between Marin Mersenne and his followers with the re-enlivened hermetic movement in the early 17th century, in people like Fludd, and the Rosicrucian writers. This provides good background reading , though perhaps Dobbs here, in places, follows Frances Yates too blindly.
Date: Fri Aug 16 15:11:57 1996
Subject: A0008 Frances Yates' ideas
From: Adam McLean
Late last year I gave a lecture to a conference in the Czech Republic, which was to commemorate the work of Dame Frances Yates. My lecture was a gentle though critical assessment of her 'Rosicrucian Enlightenment' thesis. I had fully expected that most of the audience would have realised that there were many gaps and problems in the thesis that Frances Yates outlined in her book, and that there had been a number of new discoveries which conflict with aspects of her historical picture. A large part of the audience, however, did not really understand that a re-assessment has been made of Frances Yates' ideas over the past decade, and they were not at all happy with my approach, and failed to understand my critical remarks.
I wonder if people on the forum have any views on the Frances Yates book 'The Rosicrucian Enlhihtenment'.
Date: Sun Aug 18 12:28:32 1996
Subject: A0009 Dom Pernety & the Illuminati of Avignon
From: Barrington Vincent Sherman
trjorda (TRJ) wrote:
>Could anybody send me information of this Operative Group and their teachings?
>I am a beginner, interested in Alchemy and its spiritual aspect.
>I have got a book called Secret Alchemical Ritual of the True Maçon
>Academic, from this author and I found it very interesting. The Ritual
>mentions Metraton, the Intelligence Ruler of the Metals. So it suggests that
>there is a being in Nature responsible for metal transmutation in Nature and
>in the man.
>I would like to understand better this subject.
Unfortunately no but an "Illuminati of Avignon" so named group are rumoured
to have a shared & undefined past with The Rite of Strict Observance & esp.
its Children; Clerks of the Strict Observance, [Ancient] Rectified Scottish
Rite/Regime genre of Masonic Orders. Your book may betray family
resemblance. This genre was very much into the hermetic arts of its day.
A strong area of interest for me is the Pseudo Egyptian Fantasticles of 18th
Cen. Freemasonry, its wild imagination & its capacity to carry profound
insight through the lens of what may accurately be fables under the guise of
historical esoteric fact. Also interested in an Alchemical & Masonic
catechism compiled - written by Baron Tchoudy, does anyone know any thing
Cya when I do
Date: Mon Aug 19 08:23:21 1996
Subject: A0010 Frances Yates' ideas
Like many others, I found "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment" (TRE) a
tremendously stimulating and imaginative work, and there's no question that
it's been widely influential. Like the early "Ambix" generation of scholars
(Josten, Read, Debus, Sheppard, Dubs, etc.), Yates viewed alchemical and
hermetic themes in the context of "ordinary," accepted science and history.
She was both scholarly and sympathetic. She went out on a limb to claim real
philosophical and political relevance for esoteric traditions in Europe
during the scientific revolution.
Yates has been criticized for "gradually transforming a conjecture into a
hypothesis, and a hypothesis into an assurance." Fair enough. But she
generally flags her conjectures as conjectures and her facts as facts, at
least at first introduction, so that the reader may keep a dispassionate
detachment, if this is desired.
(Scholars of the esoteric have to maintain a very difficult balance. One the
one side, there's the danger of "hack mysticism," in which the writer is so
personally absorbed in the material that he presents ideas and connections
uncritically, as revealed truths, rather than as ideas to be explored and
tested. I think even Levi and Waite strayed over to that side of the
spectrum. On the other side, there's the danger of "fossil collecting,"
where the writer treats alchemy as some amusing and curious superstition
which had no relation to the real world which we moderns have brilliantly
So, Adam, can you give us some summary of your lecture? How has TRE suffered
from subsequent discoveries?
Date: Mon Aug 19 09:54:29 1996
Subject: A0011 Frances Yates' ideas
From: Adam McLean
In response to Josh Senyek and Jon Marshall here is the text of the talk I gave in Ceski Krumlov to the Frances Yates Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited conference.
* * *
Although at first sight Rosicrucianism may appear to have sprung unannounced into the world of early 17th century Europe (like Pallas Athene born in her full wisdom and maturity from the head of Zeus) creating a furore of speculation and fascinated interest among the learned, it becomes obvious on deeper investigation that the people who shaped Rosicrucian ideas drew heavily for their inspiration from the stream of the hermetic tradition.
Frances Yates attempted to understand Rosicrucianism as arising out of the political, social, philosophical and religious currents of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Some elements of the Yates thesis, as it became known, now look decidedly shaky - she really did not give enough attention to the German origins of Rosicrucianism - and perhaps she rather expanded the term 'Rosicrucian' in her book, beyond its more narrow focus on the group of texts and writers that we can recognise as forming the early Rosicrucians, to encompass the wider pan-European hermetic current in the early 17th century, so that it became impossible for her to give a solid Rosicrucian history. Much of what she said would not be questioned if we substituted the word 'hermetic' in her book the Rosicrucian Enlightenment, for the word 'rosicrucian'.
My colleague in the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Dr Carlos Gilly, has been researching the background to the Rosicrucians for the past ten years and has been given the opportunity to visit many European libraries in a quest for source documents and writings relevant to Rosicrucianism. Carlos Gilly has taken an entirely different approach, focussing upon the exclusively Rosicrucian material and he has now exhaustively documented the 'Rosicrucian phenomenon', showing the various personalities and the key texts that constitute the core of historical Rosicrucianism. Little of this material was available to Frances Yates in the late 60's and early 70's when she wrote 'The Rosicrucian Enlightenment'. Carlos Gilly's work will provide a sure foundation on which future explorations of Rosicrucianism can proceed. A multi-volume work documenting all this source material will soon be issued by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. I might just mention that the Bibliotheca has this year (1995) organised two major exhibitions of Rosicrucian source material. Earlier this year at the Herzog-August Bibliothek Wolfenbuttel, and presently at the University Library in Amsterdam. A catalogue of the Amsterdam exhibition, written by Carlos Gilly with the title Cimelia Rhodostaurotica (the Treasures of the Rosy Cross) has been issued in the past fortnight.
The earliest document of the Rosicrucians the 'Fama fraternitatis' was published in 1614, though copies were circulating in manuscript as early as 1610. In this key work the image of the secret order of the Rosicrucians is carefully sculpted and revealed in the exciting story of its foundation.
The Fama implies that the Rosicrucians had been around as a secret order hidden for over a century and whose work was immediately to be revealed. The Fama uses two allegories to illustrate its foundation in the hermetic tradition. The first is the story of how the founder C.R. got his wisdom on a journey to the East to North Africa and the middle East, which he takes back to Europe. There is thus here the now commonplace idea of the transmission of ancient hermetic wisdom through the Arabic philosophers and scientists into medieval Europe.
The other image of the transmission of Rosicrucian knowledge is through that of the vault of C.R. discovered by his later followers, full of secret knowledge, which having been recently uncovered must be revealed to Europe through the formation of a more public order.
We all know that the promises to reply to letters from potential members of the new order were ignored and that after the clamour of the manifestos proclaiming the existence of the order and promising much to all of good will who replied, there was complete silence.
The focussing of the learned of Europe on the question of the Rosicrucians during the second decade of the 17th Century led many creative minds to explore the potentials of the hermetic philosophy and produced an explosion of hermetic/Rosicrucian publication, revitalising and expanding the domain of hermetic ideas. Thus alchemy grew into an extended philosophical system and a hermetic mysticism came to maturity in the writings of Jacob Boehme.
We can view the appearance of the Rosicrucian manifestos acting as a kind of lens focussing the hermetic ideas of the 16th and early 17th centuries into a new synthesis which seemed to the learned of the times to address the problems of their age. It is a tribute to the power of the archetype that was there unfolded that we can, four centuries later, still see Rosicrucianism in a similar way as holding potential for a rebirth of ancient hermetic ideas in our present age.
The Fama mentions texts found in the vault which one supposes to contain or encapsulate the Rosicrucian wisdom. Thus the authors of the Fama clearly intended that their renewal or revitalising of the arts and sciences should be seen to based upon an earlier hermetic tradition preserved in writing. The story in the Fama even emphasises that the third row of successors, supposedly writing the Fama, had little knowledge of the original Rosicrucian wisdom except through writings "otherwise we must confess, that after the death of the said A. none of us had in any manner known anything of Brother R.C. and of his first fellow-brethren, than that which was extant of them in our Philosophical Bibliotheca". They even gave especial prominence to Paracelsus, whose writings are positively identified as being in harmony with the Rosicrucian ideals, though simultaneously they strove to distance themselves from his methods and mannerisms.
So the Rosicrucians did not want to be seen as mere iconoclasts and revolutionaries, but intended rather to be perceived as preservers of a tradition of wisdom from past centuries. A parallel can be made with the early 17th century publication of the alchemical works of Basil Valentine. During the first two decades of the 17th century an important group of alchemical writings were published under the editorship of Johan Tholde. Although these innovative pieces of alchemical literature could easily stand on their own, they were given a mystical charge by the claim that they were written two centuries earlier by a Benedictine Monk called Basil Valentine and hidden under a marble tablet behind the high altar of the Cathedral of Erfurt, and recently uncovered. This idea clearly parallels the discovery of the vault of Christian Rosenkreutz. At this time other writers were using the same device. Dee and Kelly tell of their discovery of a red transmuting tincture at the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, and it was this very tincture which they used to produce transmutations at Prague and Trebona.
At this time, the late 16th and first decades of the 17th century, the idea of something from the past being sealed and buried and newly uncovered, somehow resonated with the spirit of the times and proved a heady recipe for capturing and focussing people's attention.
Thus Rosicrucianism in its foundation pays homage to and draws upon the hermetic tradition of previous centuries. Many of the works that were later to be published during the explosion of hermetic publication in the wake of the appearance of the Rosicrucian manifestos, were inspired by the symbolism and texts of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Let us now look at some of these texts.
There are to my knowledge only a handful of incunables directly relevant to hermeticism (Ficino's translation of parts of the Corpus Hermeticum of course, some works of Geber, Lull and Lactantius, and the allegorical mentions of alchemy in the Roman de la Rose and the Hypnerotomachia), so before 1500 alchemical ideas were transmitted only by means of manuscripts.
There are a few works in manuscript which appear to go back to Arabic source material which was translated into Latin from about the twelfth century onwards. There are a number of manuscripts surviving from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries which have definite Arabic precursors. Here we meet the names of Morienus, Avicenna, Calid, Alphidius, Geber, Rhases and works like the Turba philosophorum. This layer of hermetic material, however, remained rather small, associated with works on astrology, magic and medicine.
During the 15th century a new creative phase of European hermeticism results in the appearance of a number of original works in manuscript dealing with symbolism in a new way.
One of the most important of these is surely the Buch der heiligen Driefaltigkeit (the book of the Holy Trinity) written in German in about 1415. It contained a series of emblematic coloured drawings which among other things drew parallels between Christ and the philosophers' stone. I know of 15 copies of this work in manuscript (not all from this early period). The images were later printed as a series of woodcuts in Reusner's Pandora of 1582.
Another early work of alchemical symbolism is the Pretiosissimum Donum Dei (the most precious gift of God). This has a series of 12 or 13 flasks in which the evolution of the white and red stones is described. This is pictured by the appearance of a white queen with a white rose and a red king with a red rose in the final two flasks. This work appears in the 15th Century and is sometimes ascribed to George Aurach and dated 1475. The series of flasks were also printed in the Pandora of 1582. I have been able to find over 60 manuscripts of this work.
The Aurora consurgens is another early manuscript, possibly late 14th century (though certainly not later that the early 15th century). This has a series of 38 or so magnificent allegorical coloured drawings and some 16 manuscripts have survived that I know of. The text consists of a series of parables and links together alchemical and Christian ideas. The text was later printed (without the illustrations) in two compendia the Artis auriferae (the art of making gold) of 1572 and 1613, and the 'Harmoniae inperscrutabilis chymico-philosophicae' (the inscrutable chemical philosophical harmony: or the concordance of the ancient philosopher's, hitherto indeed most desired, but not yet sent out into the public light) published by Lucas Jennis in 1625.
The final work we shall have time to consider, is the Splendor Solis. This German manuscript appears in about 1532 and consists of a series of 22 illustrations. (The copy in the British Library, though perhaps the best known, is a later copy dated to 1582.) 20 manuscripts of this work are known to me (not all of an early date). This work was ascribed to Salomon Trismosin, supposed to be the teacher of Paracelsus, but most likely, like Basil Valentine, an invented adept. (The Splendor solis is sometimes credited to Ulrich Poysel.) It was later printed with woodcuts of the illustrations in the Aureum Vellus (the Golden Fleece) of 1598 (which was reprinted and reissued in a series of different editions till about 1610).
Thus we can see that, in the last two decades of the 16th century and the first decade of the 17th century, many key works of hermetic symbolism from the manuscript tradition of a century or more earlier were made public in printed versions. In a sense this parallels the allegorical tale in the Fama of the uncovering of spiritual wisdom of the past. The appearance of this material in the closing decades of the 16th century must have been like the opening of a time capsule. Perhaps it was this that led the authors of the Fama to frame their allegory. At any rate this idea resonated with the learned of Europe and with the announcement that there was a society of philosophers who appeared to hold the key to unlocking this mass of symbolism, many seriously tried to make contact with the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.
Of course there was silence. How could any group have satisfied this clamour for enlightenment. Perhaps the authors of the Fama actually planned to form such a society and changed their minds when they were overwhelmed with the response, or it may be that they only ever intended this as an allegorical statement of the principle of the renewal of knowledge.
With the publication of the Fama in 1614 whose conclusion requested people to join with the Brotherhood and in the first instance to write to them, there appeared many pamphlets and books fuelling the Rosicrucian frenzy. Carlos Gilly has documented many hundreds of responses to the Rosicrucian manifestos in the form of answers, missives, replies, epistolae, reports, evidences, examinations, elucidations, defences, apologia, discourses, warnings, judgments, deliberations, justifications, considerations, contemplations, prognostications, prophecies, echoes, instructions, advertisements, etc. - for the most part in German or Latin - some under the name of a real author, others pseudonymous, and others entirely anonymous.
However this was not all, for the decade following the appearance of the Rosicrucian manifestos saw a massive increase in hermetic publication, no doubt stimulated by the increased public appetite for this material. Many writers who had experienced difficulties in getting their works published now found sympathetic printers. Take the case of Robert Fludd. Shortly after he had his Apologia Compendiaria (a brief apology for the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross) published in 1615, he found it easy to get published his vast tomes on the Macrocosm and Microcosm which he had written some years earlier, but had not been published due to no printer being willing to cover the cost of engraving the numerous illustrations necessary for this work. At the same time we see that another Rosicrucian apologist Michael Maier had no difficulty in getting his stream of 17 titles published between 1614 and 1625.
With the benefit of this perspective that I have sketched, of the making public in print the hermetic material from a century or more earlier, we can look at some of the books which appeared in the wake of the Rosicrucian manifestos.
First let us try to place the Chymical Wedding into this picture. Although we can recognise that the Fama had a definite allegorical structure, it appears that many people at the time took it quite literally. This may have dismayed the writers of the Fama. The appearance of the Confessio a year later in 1615, only seemed to muddy things further, as it appeared rather to be a policy statement of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, a more 'secular' work as opposed to the spiritual allegory and high inspiration of the Fama. Indeed the Confessio is rarely analysed or quoted from in present day writings on this subject - it is the Fama which still holds our attention and fascination. The issuing of the Chymical Wedding, which is a profound extended alchemical allegory, wrapped up in an amusing and in places gripping story, was perhaps intended to re-focus attention back to the allegorical nature of the Rosicrucians. It even uses the device of appearing to have some pages missing at the end (though in fact the author had already made sure the story is entirely told). This echoes the Fama's incompleteness through its failure to keep its promise made in its closing paragraph, "nor any body shal fail, who so gives but his name to speak with some of us, either by word of mouth, or else if there be some lett in writing". Andreae, supposed to be the author of the Chymical Wedding, later dismissed it as a "ludibrium", a playful work of fancy (which could even be translated as 'allegory').
Many people have tried to deconstruct the events and motivations of those caught up in the Rosicrucian furore and endeavoured to find a historical interpretation of the Rosicrucian phenomenon. My own impulses are to stand aside from this and instead I have tried to comprehend and appreciate the works which were issued during this period for their own content, rather than the context in which they are seen. Some of these are extremely well constructed and many we have to recognise as allegorical and symbolic masterpieces.
One early piece, we must mention is Theophilus Schweighardt's Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum (the Mirror of the Wisdom of the Rose Cross) issued in 1618. (Schweighardt is apparently a pseudonym for Daniel Mogling). Some years ago I described this as the fourth Rosicrucian manifesto, really just to emphasise its importance in the sequence of Rosicrucian publications. The text clearly portrays the search for the Rosicrucian brotherhood as being an inner quest, and it contains three large engravings, one of which, the wheeled Castle of the Rosicrucians, which is everywhere and yet situated nowhere, has become especially well known. Even in its time this image was rather evocative and occasioned the playwright Ben Jonson, (who had earlier written a satirical play, the Alchemist, in 1611) to poke fun at the Rosicrucians in one of his court masques, the Fortunate Isles, of 1624,
"Know you not Outis? Then you know nobody:
The good old hermit that was said to dwell
Here in the forest without trees, that built
The castle in the air where all the brethren
Rhodostaurotic live. It flies with wings
And runs on wheels, where Julian de Campis
Holds out the brandished blade".
The fact that Jonson referred to this image clearly shows that he was confident that many of the courtly audience, had knowledge enough of this illustration to get the joke. Like him I have sufficient confidence in this audience's knowledge of the symbolism of the engraving to dispense with the showing of a slide at this point.
Michael Maier wrote a number of books during this period exploring hermetic allegory and images from classical mythology. In 1618 he issued his Themis Aurea (the Laws of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross) - a work which does not really throw any new light upon the Brotherhood at all, but seems to be an extended commentary on elements from the Fama. In many peoples minds he is not just a Rosicrucian apologist but someone close to the heart of Rosicrucianism.
Some years ago I uncovered in Edinburgh a Christmas card, a large sheet of parchment, written from Michael Maier to King James I, late in 1611. At the center of this card is the symbol of a Rose set on a pedestal of three steps. There are eight petals to this rose, and it has Latin text set out so as to form eight concentric petals inside it. Robert Fludd used a similar image in his Summum Bonum of 1629. This famous seven-fold Rose, was in fact copied from an emblem book (illustrated by Mathieu Merian) of 1615. When I discovered this Maier manuscript and its rose symbol, I wrote to Frances Yates and sent her a photocopy of my drawing. She told me that while she was researching the Rosicrucian Enlightenment a colleague had told her of the existence of this document and given her an idea of its contents, but she had not been able to locate it and consequently decided reluctantly not to mention it in her book. This has been dismissed as of no relevance to Rosicrucian history, but no one to my knowledge has made a detailed study of it. I am still perplexed by this manuscript.
Maier, of course, is perhaps best known for his Atalanta fugiens, which may be seen as the first multi-media publication, uniting sound, text and image, extending the concept of an emblem book through the introduction of music paralleling the emblems. Despite the resonance with the use of music and imagery in the castle of the Chymical Wedding, the Atalanta fugiens has, I believe, no internal connections with Rosicrucianism, even though it is often held up as a key Rosicrucian work.
A similar thing can be said for Robert Fludd's vast encyclopaedic survey of the knowledge of the Macrocosm and Microcosm. Someone on first reading the Fama, might be excused for jumping to the conclusion that Fludd's work came out of the very vault itself, so to speak. But we now know that much of it was written by 1610 before the Rosicrucian manifestos apparently were even conceived.
A work often dragged into the Rosicrucian camp is the Amphitheatrum (the Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom) of Heinrich Khunrath. This was written before 1604 and a version containing the four circular diagram without the extensive text was issued in 1595, though only a few copies seem to have been printed. Only three copies of this edition appear to have survived (one in Basle, one in Wisconsin and a version with only two plates in the British Library.) The full work was published in 1609, with some additional large rectangular plates bearing symbolism which some writers have perceived as echoing that of the Fama - the heptangular fortress, the college of the mysteries, the gate of the Amphitheatre with a structure echoing the seven-sided vault.
There are many works of great significance published during the Rosicrucian period - The great alchemical compilation the Theatrum Chemicum of 1602 - Siebmacher's Waterstone of the Wise, a very influential work first printed in 1619 - Steffan Michelspacher's Cabala, Spiegel der Kunst und Natur, another much reprinted work first issued in 1615 - and the writings of Daniel Mylius. Mylius' works attempt a reformation of philosophy, and he particularly focussed upon emblematic symbolism. His works contain many important series of symbolic figures, both original emblems and reworked material from earlier manuscripts and printed sources (the Rosarium philosophorum, the Donum Dei and the Azoth series of Basil Valentine.
So one can see that many of the key works of this period cannot be directly associated with Rosicrucianism, but emerge out of the revitalising of hermetic publishing during the decade or so following the announcement of the Rosicrucians in the Fama.
I think we can see that in pursuing the Rosicrucian phenomenon we can take one of two interpretations. A "strong" view of Rosicrucian history where we seek exact documentation to establish links between a writer or his work with the Rosicrucian stream of material - and a "weak" interpretation in which we allow our concept of Rosicrucianism to defocus and apply the term more loosely to the renewal of hermeticism in the early 17th century. It may even be, as I suggested earlier in this talk, that the authors of the Rosicrucian manifestos actually held this "weak" view of their own activity. I find myself often shifting from one viewpoint to the other, I haven't really resolved the different perspectives within myself, and I suspect this applies to others who have tried to investigate historical Rosicrucianism. Indeed, this talk itself embodies both of these viewpoints. Knowing this we should realise that, although Frances Yates' thesis proclaims itself as a strong interpretation, in fact it takes a weaker line, expanding the term Rosicrucian too loosely to capture sufficient history to make it tenable to scholars of the present generation.
So although we can criticise Frances Yates' Rosicrucian Enlightenment, her thesis interpreted weakly still remains a powerful and persuasive tool to investigate this period. I suspect we really have to be able to work with these different interpretations simultaneously. Perhaps Rosicrucian history can be seen through a quantum metaphor - the more one focusses on the exact history the more one loses the general view of the spiritual cohesion of the hermetic revival of that time, and the more one relies on conspiracy theoretical speculation and undocumented associations between individuals, the more one feels ones feet slipping away from a foundation in real historical events. Depending on your temperament the problem of balancing and resolving these polarities has either been the bane of the study of Rosicrucianism or its main delight.
Date: Mon Aug 19 10:07:34 1996
Subject: A0012 Weidenfeld's "Book of Secrets"
From: Luigi Vernacchia
I'm looking for some commentaries to Weidenfeld's "Book of Secrets", "De
Secretis Adeptorum". Can anyone tell me something about this subject?
I'd greatly appreciate any information.
Date: Mon Aug 19 21:07:07 1996
Subject: A0013 Processes
Being fairly new to alchemy, I'd like to ask about the symbolism and
significance of the black, white, yellow and red stages of the transmutation
Where does the idea of the 4 colours originate? Perhaps there are other
stages that I am not familiar with?
Do the colours somehow relate to the various processes used in alchemy (and
chemistry) e.g. carbonation, solvation, distillation etc?
I look forward to hearing from anyone!
Date: Mon Aug 19 23:36:18 1996
Subject: A0014 Weidenfeld's "Book of Secrets"
>From: Luigi Vernacchia
>I'm looking for some commentaries to Weidenfeld's "Book of Secrets", "De
>Secretis Adeptorum". Can anyone tell me something about this subject?
>I'd greatly appreciate any information.
I purchased a copy of Weidenfeld's book a few months ago and recommend it
highly! He culls from countles sources and presents a very coherent argument
for Alchemy's wholeness. He exposes the links between recipes and processes
that seemed unconnected to me till this book's reading.
It is rather dense, long, and sometimes hard to decipher the writing, but
well worth the effort! In the midst of commenting about specific recipes, he
will speak about processes and juxtapose concepts in very illuminating ways.
He generally speaks without enigma, but presumes a certain level of
knowledge on the part of the reader.
I've managed to read it once through, from cover to cover, and imagine I've
absorbed but a very, very small fraction of what the book contains. It's
definately a tome I'll be studying for years to come. I just wish the
Kessinger re-print was of a quality that would endure that much manhandling!
At best, it looks as if it'll survive only a dozen or two careful readings
before falling apart. ;-)
Best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
19 Aug 96
Date: Tue Aug 20 08:22:47 1996
Subject: A0015 Henry Madathanas
From: David Roberts
I recently stumbled upon these words attributed to Henry Madathanas:
"No substance can be rendered perfect without a long suffering.
Great is the error of those who imagine that the philosophers' stone can
be hardened without first having been dissolved; their time and their
work are lost."
Can someone on the list tell me something of Henry Madathanas, or refer
me to sources where I might conduct more research on his work and writings?
I would be most grateful,
Cheers to all,
Date: Tue Aug 20 08:25:36 1996
Subject: A0016 Kessinger's reprints
My comments about the quality of the Kessinger re-print of the Weidenfeld
book were made tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately I seem to have stuck my foot
in there as well. ;)
The quality of the binding is certainly sufficient. Especially considering
the low, and thankfully affordable cost compared to buying microfilm of the
manuscript from a library! My point was that the contents of the book make
it one which merits many readings. It's the kind of book I'd like to lay
flat and have stay open, instead of treating carefully. Maybe Kessinger's
will re-issue the book with industrial strength binding and stain-proof
pages, till then the present edition is worth every penny!
:) Rawn Clark
19 Aug 96
Date: Tue Aug 20 09:26:55 1996
Subject: A0017 Alchemical writings of the 19th Century
From: Adam McLean
As we all recognise alchemical writing and publications died out at the end of the 18th century and the small number of books produced in the 19th century on alchemy mostly show the emergence of a modern scholarly approach, historical documentation etc., Schmieder, Kopp, Figuier, etc. or the translation and reprinting of classic alchemical texts, Westcott, Waite, etc. I have extracted a provisional list I have drawn up of sixty-six 19th century publications.
I would like to make this more comprehensive. If there are any glaring omissions, please send me details so I can update this list., which I will place onto the web site.
Also I would welcome any discussion on this hiatus in alchemical publication. There are some key works of this period, Hitchcock, Ashwood come immediately to mind as standing apart from the work of the French and German scholars.
Also there is a definite increase in publications in the closing decades of the 19th century due to the French occult revival and the appearance of the Theosophical socity and its offshoots.
Does anyone have any ideas on how we should approach alchemy in the 19th century?
1. Eckartshausen, Karl von. Chimische Versuche über die Radicalaufloesung der Koerper. Regensburg, 1801.
2. Eckartshausen, Karl von. Neue Erfahrungen über künstliche Salpeter-Production. Regensburg, 1802.
3. Birkholz, Adam Michael. Universal Kathechismus für Kenner und Bekenner des allgemeinen Dreiecks und Vierecks. Leipzig, 1803.
4. Murr, Christoph Gottlieb von. Litterarische Nachrichten zu der Geschichte des sogenannten Goldmachens. Leipzig, 1805.
5. Gruner, Christianus Gottfrid. Isidus christiani et pappi philosophi iusiurandum chemicum. Jena, 1807.
6. The lives of alchemystical philosophers. London, 1815.
7. Schmieder, Karl Christoph. Geschichte der Alchemie. Halle, 1832.
8. Hoefer, Ferdinand. Histoire de la chimie. Paris, 1842.
9. Cambriel, L.P. Francois. Cours de philosophie hermetique ou d'alchimie. Paris, 1843.
10. Kopp, Hermann. Geschichte der Chemie. Braunschweig, 1843.
11. Scheible, J. Christoph Wagner, Faust's Famulus. Don Juan Tenorio von Sevilla. Die Schwarz-kunstler verschiedener Nationen. Stuttgart, 1846.
12. South, Thomas. Early magnetism in its higher relations to humanity. London, 1846.
Marchand, R.F. Über die Alchemie. Halle, 1847.
13. Atwood, Mary Anne. A suggestive inquiry into the hermetic mystery. London, 1850.
14. Figuier, Louis. l'Alchimie et les alchimistes. Paris, 1854.
15. Hitchcock, Ethan Allen. Remarks upon alchymists. Carlisle, 1855.
16. Figuier, Louis. L'Alchimie et les alchimistes. Paris, 1856.
17. Hitchcock, Ethan Allen. Remarks upon alchemy and the alchemists. Boston, 1857.
18. Sighart, Joachim. Albertus Magnus. Sein Leben und seine Wissenschaft. Regensburg, 1857.
19. Buchner, Karl. Johann Konrad Dippel. Leipzig, 1858.
20. Bacon, Roger. Opera quaedam Lactenus inedita. Ed. J.S. Brewer. London, 1859.
21. Figuier, Louis. L'Alchimie et les alchimistes. Paris, 1860.
22. La Fontaine, Jean de. La fontaine des amoureux de science. Poeme hermetique de XV siecle. Paris, 1861.
23. Elias Artista. Das Geheimnis vom Salz. Stuttgart, 1862.
24. Hoefer, Ferdinand. Histoire de la chimie. Paris, 1866.
25. Kopp, Hermann. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Chemie. Braunschweig, 1867.
26. Latz, Gottlieb. Die Alchemie. Bonn, 1869.
27. Ramon de Luanco, J. Ramon Lull considerado como alquimista. Barcelona, 1870.
28. Bauer, U. Chemie und Alchymie in Oesterreich. Vienna, 1883.
29. Berthelot, Marcellin. Les origines de l'alchimie. Paris, 1885.
30. Schäfer, Th. Über die Bedeutung der Alchemie. Bremen, 1885.
31. Schäfer, Heinrich Wilhelm. Die Alchemie. n.p., 1886.
32. Kopp, Herman. Die Alchemie in älterer und neürer Zeit. Heidelberg, 1886.
33. Hermes Trismegistus. Aureus. The golden tractate. Bath, 1886.
34. Berthelot, Marcellin. Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs. Paris, 1887.
35. Ross, Percy. A professor of Alchemy (Denis Zachaire). London, 1887.
36. Redway, George. A catalogue of remarkable books. London, 1887.
37. Lives of alchemystical philosophers. London, 1888.
38. Flamel, Nicolas. His exposition of the hieroglyphical figures [...] concerning the Philosophers Stone. Bath, 1889.
39. Berthelot, Marcellin. Introduction a l'etude de la chimie des anciens et du moyen age. Paris, 1889.
40. Ramon de Luanco, J. La alquimia en Espana. (2 vols.) Barcelona, 1889-97.
41. Cinq traites d'alchimie des plus gands philosophes. [Edited by Albert Poisson.] Paris, 1890.
42. Poisson, Albert. Theories et symboles des alchimistes. Paris, 1891.
43. Pernety, Antoine-Joseph. Lettre a l'abbe Villain [sur une histoire critique de Nicolas Flamel.] n.p., 1893.
44. Collectanea chemica: being certain select treatises on alchemy and hermetic medicine. London, 1893.
45. Berthelot, Marcellin. La chimie au Moyen Age. Paris, 1893.
46. Poisson, Albert. Histoire de l'alchimie (...) Nicolas Flamel. Sa vie (...) [N.Flamel]. Livre. Pernety. La lettre. Paris, 1893.
47. Basilius Valentinus. The triumphal chariot of antimony. London, 1893.
48. Waite, Arthur Edward. Azoth; or the star in the east. London, 1893.
49. The hermetic museum, restored and enlarged. London, 1893.
50. Figulus, Benedictus. A golden and blessed casket of nature's marvels. London, 1893.
51. Flamel, Nicolas. Le livre des figures hieroglyhiques. n.p., 1893.
52. Bauer, Alexander. Die Adelsdocumente oesterreichischer Alchemisten. Wenen, 1893.
53. Bonus Petrus. The new pearl of great price. [Edited by A.E. Waite]. London, 1894.
54. Spurrel, F. C. J. On remedies in the Sloane collections, and on alchemical symbols. n.p., 1894.
55. Meyer, Ernst von. Geschichte der Chemie. Leipzig, 1895.
56. Haven, Marc [Emmanuel-Henri Lalande]. La vie et les oeuvres de maitre Arnaud de Villeneuve Paris, 1896.
57. Jollivet-Castelot, Francois. Comment on devient alchimiste. Paris, 1897.
58. Brown, J. Wood. An enquiry into the life and legend of Michael Scot. Edinburgh, 1897.
59. Bacon, Roger. Opus Maius. Edited J.H. Bridges. (3 vols). Oxford, 1897.
60. Bolton, H.C. The revival of alchemy. Washington, 1898.
61. Pernety, Antoine-Joseph. Treatise on the great art. [Edited by Edouard Blitz.] Boston, 1898.
62. Khunrath, Heinrich. Amphitheatre de l'eternelle sapience. (...) douze planches. Paris, 1898.
63. Thomas van Aquino. Traite de la pierre philosophale. Paris, 1898.
64. Gessman, G.W. Die Geheimsymbole der Chemie und Medicin des Mittelalters. Graz, 1899.
65. Maack, Ferdinand. Das Wesen der Alchemie. Pfullingen, 1900.
66. Khunrath, Heinrich. Amphitheatre de l'eternelle sapience. Paris, 1900.
Date: Tue Aug 20 11:37:51 1996
Subject: A0018 What Is Alchemy?
From: Matthew Phillips
Can somebody please give me a definition of alchemy? It need not be
home-brewed of course. I wouldn't mind an authoritative definition from
one of our good old stanbys such as Dee or whomever. A lot of the
alchemical writings I am running (on the levity site and elsewhere) into
seem very arcane and morassed in abstraction, metaphor, and mysticism
such that alchemy seems often to be either a vague feeling or even
worse, a set of gibberish words which sound rather impressive but really
do not point to anything concrete. I don't mean to be insulting here,
I'm just having trouble getting some intellectual traction. I don't want
to be argumentative, that's the last thing I intend. I have better
things to do than to argue on the internet about things I know nothing
about in the first place.
But somebody please sympathise with me here. If I were to approach a
computer science newsgroup and asked them something I'm sure that if I
were lucky they could give me some basic definitions to begin with which
everyone can pretty much agree on. This alchemy academic forum is
fascinating, and I'm sympathetic with mysticism generally if it's
tempered with a little bit of reality, so I'm not planning on attacking
the first definition I see or the person who gives it to me. Are the
Enochian WatchTowers alchemical at all? Are angels alchemical? Are the
Secret Chiefs alchemical? Are Platonic solids alchemical? Is numerology
and/or sacred geometry alchemical? What's the difference between alchemy
and magick (for instance, Dee was both an alchemist and a magician
right?)? Are extra-terrestrials alchemical? What is alchemy?
Yours in the Great Work,
P.S. I know that alchemy is turning something base into something
I understand that fairly well on a spiritual sort of level. Should this
core point be my guide generally in this matter? Does anyone have
anything to say to this?
Date: Tue Aug 20 12:33:02 1996
Subject: A0019 What is alchemy?
From: Adam McLean
I would suggest there are two ways of defining alchemy.
1. By giving an abstract definition which attempts to identify the main features of alchemy.
2. By demonstrating and documenting the extent of its domain.
I suspect Matthew Phillips wishes the first kind of definition. I instead ask us to accept the second kind of definition.
The first type of definition will reduce the term 'alchemy' to a series of abstract concepts. The choice of these abstract concepts must be value judgments, and serve to restrict the term 'alchemy'. For example if we define alchemy as "the art and science of transmuting metals or enlivening substances" then we effectively throw out of alchemy many recognised practitioners and writers who approached alchemy as a spiritual activity. It is my view that abstract definitions really give us little insight into the nature of alchemy itself, and are only needed to satisfy the mind of someone who wishes to sum up alchemy in a neat abstract box. The truth is, that alchemy cannot easily be wrapped up in this way, and we must question our need for such definitions. Why do we need an abstract definition of alchemy? Alchemy has survived for half a millenium at least without the need for an abstract definition.
The second type of definition, is perhaps rather unsettling to those who need to tie things up in abstractions, but I believe is the only possible way of defining alchemy that remains inclusive of all the different elements that constitute this subject. We should, in my opinion, rather than abstractly defining alchemy, instead see it as the body of material, the ideas, practices, etc. contained in the vast body of alchemical writings. The problem of definition is thus replaced by a problem of documentation, and documentation does not require us making these value judgements. Thus in constructing an understanding of alchemy we continually add documents to the body of what we previously understood as being alchemy. In this sense our definition of alchemy grows as we discover more about it. This ramifying of alchemy does not really proceed to infinity, or to necessarily include Rupert Bear, as we find that alchemy appears like a quantum cloud, such as we find describing the position of the electron in an 'orbit' in a atom. It has diffuse edges which reach out to infinity, but there is a definite core where the probability of finding the electron is high. So it is with the documentation of alchemy. We can add various writers and ideas to the cloud, and some once placed into the context of the other material will seem peripheral, and others more central. Thus the 'aurora consurgens' once placed into our documentation will no doubt be seen as more central, while the poetry of John Donne as more peripheral. When we add a new document to our documentation of alchemy it finds its own place through its relation to and interaction with the existing body of material.
I suspect that practical alchemists who work with flasks and substances, don't really need definitions, as their understanding of alchemy grows through their documentation of the idea and practice in their experiments. Why need to define 'spagyry' when one just does it, or demonstrates it to others. Through experimentation their understanding of alchemy grows. And so it is with scholars of alchemy gathering documents into their understanding of alchemy.
Date: Tue Aug 20 13:28:41 1996
Subject: A0020 Lilac
From: Marcella Gillick
This is a very strange request - I am trying to find some significant meaning
to Lilac (the plant Syringae, Olive family), its oil, flowers, roots, colour, uses,
benefits, adverse effects, superstitions, mentions in mythology/literature/
history - any miscellaneous snippets, however rediculous. I would be
especially interested in any healing properties or occulted uses, but I've
been unable to find anything at all, so far.
Very many thanks in advance, for any responses.
Date: Tue Aug 20 16:40:47 1996
Subject: A0021 Lilac
From: Kate Ryan
I have searched through my Bach recipes, Culpepper, Pliny
Aztec, Hippocrates, Yellow Emperor, Papyrus etc.
To my surprise I cannot find anything about Lilac either.
Try The American Herbalist Guild, PO Box 1683, Soquel, California 95073,
The works of Dr. John Raymond Christopher, Michael Moore, Lesley and
Michael Tierra, Susan Weed or Rosemary Gladstar. The Tierras are at
there East/West Herbal correspondence School, Box 712, Santa Cruz,
Call the Herbal Library, Lloyds's Library and Museum 917 Plum
Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513.721.3707.
Please let me know what you find out.
Date: Tue Aug 20 17:01:36 1996
Subject: A0022 Lilac
From: Adam McLean
Lilac is Syringa vulgaris. It is a native of Persia and some mountaneous regions of Eastern Europe. It was introduced into Britain in the 16th century.
According to Grieve's, Modern Herbal, it was used in medicine as a vermifuge (to dispel parasitic worms) a febrifuge (to reduce fever), and was used in the treatment of malaria. It was used as a substitute for aloe vera. The leaves and fruit were the parts used in medicinal preparations.
I have no particular references at hand to its use in alchemy, but it is not mentioned in either Frater Albertus' or Manfred Junius' list of plants with their planetary correspondences, that are important in alchemy.
Date: Tue Aug 20 18:51:40 1996
Subject: A0023 Lilac
Dear Marcella and Alchemy Folks:
Here is a "quick & dirty" search for the plant in question - I found
a few refs. which may be of interest, with abs. attached when available.
in gassho rob
Yang, M-S; Ha, Y-L; Nam, S-H; Choi, S-U; Jang, D-S.
Screening of domestic plants with antibacterial activity.
Agricultural Chemistry and Biotechnology, v.38, n.6, (1995): 584-589.
To select new useful plants with antibacterial activity, ninety five
sample of eighty different species of wild plants were collected, and
extracted with methanol. Antibacterial activity of the methanol extracts
was tested against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia
coli and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The methanol extracts from Artemisia
capillaris, Hemistepta lyrata, Youngia japonica, Prunella vulgaris,
Lamium amplexicaule and Juniperus chinensis was effective against all
bacterial strains tested, and eight methanol extracts including Ixeris
dentata, Gnaphalium affine, Chelidonium majus and Spiraea prunifolia
exhibited the antibacterial activity against at least 3 bacterial
strains. Methanol extracts from leaf of Syringa vulgaris, Drava nemorosa,
and clove of Erythronium japonicum showed a selective antibacterial
activity against two gram negative bacteria, V. parahaemolyticus, and B.
subtilis, respectively. With investigations on antibacterial activity
against a certain bacterial strains tested, methanol extracts from clove
of Erythronium japonicum, Spiraea prunifolia leaf and twig of Camelia
japonica, and Drava nemorosa showed strongest activities against B.
subtilis, S. aureus, E. coli, and V. parahaemolyticus, respectively. Nine
methanol extracts based on the results were successively fractionated
with n-hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and water portions, which were
examined antibacterial activity against B. subtilis and V.
parahaemolyticus. Among the all fractions tested, chloroform fractions of
Hemistepta lyrata showed strongest antibacterial activity against both B.
subtilis (17 mm) and V. parahaemolyticus (29 mm). Chloroform fractions of
Youngia japonica, n-hexane fractions of Artemisia capillaris, Iexeris
dentata and Prunella vulgaris, and ethyl acetate fraction of leaf and
twig of Camelia japonica showed relatively a strong antibacterial
activity. On the other hand, Juniperus chinensis and Equisetum arvense
was distributed to all fractions except for water fraction.
Zapesochnaya, G G; Kurkin, V A; Boiko, V P; Kolkhir, V K.
Phenylpropanoids: Promising bioactive substances from medicinal plants.
Khimiko-Farmatsevticheskii Zhurnal, v.29, n.4, (1995): 47-50.
Siddique, M A A; Jhon, A Q; Paul, T M.
Status of some important medicinal and aromatic plants of Kashmir
Advances in Plant Sciences, v.8, n.1, (1995): 134-139.
Data based on a three-year field survey in the Kashmir Himalayan mountain
systems has brought to light many essential utilities of several plant
species. These species are either utilized to cure various human ailments
or else can serve as raw materials for the perfumery industry. Though
some of these species exhibit a luxuriant growth in their natural
habitats, others like Dioscorea deltoidea, Podophyllum hexandrum, Rheum
emadi and Saussurea lappa have become threatened due to ruthless
extraction for feeding the pharmaceutical industries and thus warrant
immediate conservation. Several hitherto unknown or little known but
highly potential aromatic wild species include Chrysanthemum tibeticum,
Dictamnus albus, Eisholtzia eriostachya, Mentha longifolia, Nepeta
govaniana, N. glutinosa, Perowskia atriplicifolia, and Waldhemia glabra
etc. Besides, many introduced fragrant ornamentals which can be
cultivated for their essential oil content are: Laurus nobilis, Lippa
citriodora, Majoraua hortensis, Myrtus communis, Pelargonium graveolens,
Santolena chamaecyparissus, Syringa persica and Syringa vulgaris. All
these species require immediate attention of the breeder, the organic
chemist and the pharmacologist in order to develop improved varieties,
subject them to a thorough phytochemical screening vis-a-vis the
qualitative and quantitative estimation of their essential oil content
and also authenticate the medicinal claims attributed to such plants.
Despite an enormous potential for cultivating these species on a
commercial scale to meet the ever-increasing demands of the plant based
industries; the farmer seems less interested in their cultivation. The
cause of such a neglect and suggestions for increasing the cultivation
prospects for such crops in order to boost the states economy have been
Inagaki, N; Nishimura, H; Okada, M; Mitsuhashi, H.
Verbascoside production by plant cell cultures.
Plant Cell Reports, v.9, n.9, (1991): 484-487.
Verbascoside was found to be produced in all calli derived from eleven
species that contained the compound in their leaves. Cell suspension
cultures were also established in three species, i.e., Leucosceptrum
japonicum f. barbinerve, Syringa josikaea, and Sy. vulgaris, all of which
were found to produce verbascoside at more than 1 g/l. Of the three
species, suspension culures of L. japonicum f. barbinerve showed rapid
growth and the highest yield of verbascoside (1.89 g/l). In these
cultures, the effects of major salt concentration in B5 medium on cell
growth and verbascoside production were examined. Maximum cell growth and
maximum verbascoside production were both achieved by reducing the major
salt concentration to half that of the original medium.
Sokolov S Ya; Boiko, V P; Kurkin, V A; Zapesochnaya, G G; Rvantsova, N V;
Grinenko, N A.
Comparative examination of the stimulant properties of some
Khimiko-Farmatsevticheskii Zhurnal, v.24, n.10, (1990): 66-68.
Stimulant properties (spontaneous motor activity and antihypnotic ones)
were comparatively examined in 5-phenyl-propanoid agents derived from the
rhizomes of Rhodiola rosea (rosavidin, cinnamic alcohol), the bark of
Syringa vulgaris (syringin) and Salix viminalis (triandrin and n-coumaric
alcohol). The most pronounced stimulant action was exhibited by
glycosides of cinnamic alcohol (rosavidin) and n-coumaric alcohol
Kikuchi, M; Yamauchi, Y; Takahashi, Y; Sugiyama, M.
Studies on the constituents of Syringa spp.: VIII. Isolation and
structures of phenylpropanoid glycosides from the leaves of Syringa
reticulata (Blume) Hara.
Yakugaku Zasshi, v.109, n.6, (1989): 366-371.
Two new phenylpropanoid glycosides, named oleoaceteoside and
oleoechinacoside, have been isolated from the fresh leaves of Syringa
reticulata (Blume) Hara. These compounds were also detected in the
methanolic extract of the leaves of Syringa vulgaris Linn. Their
structures were elucidated on the basis of nuclear magnetic resonance,
circular dichroism spectra and some other physicochemical evidence.
Gafitanu, E; Marinescu, M; Dumistracel, I.
Syringa-Vulgaris Possible Applications in Phytotherapy.
Revista Medico-Chirurgicala Societatii di Medici si Naturalisti din Iasi,
v.93, n.1, (1989): 173-174.
Date: Tue Aug 20 22:32:34 1996
Subject: A0024 Henry Madathanas
> From: David Roberts
> I recently stumbled upon these words attributed to Henry Madathanas:
> "No substance can be rendered perfect without a long suffering.
> Great is the error of those who imagine that the philosophers' stone can
> be hardened without first having been dissolved; their time and their
> work are lost."
> Can someone on the list tell me something of Henry Madathanas, or refer
> me to sources where I might conduct more research on his work and writings?
> I would be most grateful,
We have 2 pictures for the book :Hadrian MYNSICHT [Henricus Madathanus].
Thesaurus et armamentarium medico-chymicum Cui in fine adiunctum
est Testamentum Hadrianeum . at :http://myweb.worldnet.fr/~jed/mad.html
J.Dauge : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed Aug 21 09:33:11 1996
Subject: A0025 Lavender & Colors
From: Mackie Blanton
The Berbers of North Africa signal tribal differentiation by the
subtle and subtler distinctions and gradations of the color tones of their
clothing, especially among the women. The men are known for the distinctive
solid-colored headscarves. Each color represents a virtue, some of which
red = strength
yellow = intelligence
blue = charisma
green = serenity
orange = dexterity
lavender = WISDOM
There are at least six others; but I am doing at the moment from
the top of my head [memory] and can't precisely recall the other colors
([white = elderhood]) ad their symbolism. These scarves are also worn as
neck scarves during the winter months.
Date: Wed Aug 21 09:33:24 1996
Subject: A0026 How to learn the basics
From: Jacqueline Lacroix/World Economic Forum
I am new to the list and fairly new to the subject. Besides airplanes (mainly
because I wanted to understand how flying works, from a technical point of
view), I have been interested in new discoveries, technology, biotechnology,
science, medicine, alternative healing and cures, alchemy and the like for many
years. I would not like to spend all my time and concentrate on only one
subject as I feel so many issues are important to me and my life, well-being,
happiness, etc. Therefore I never took the opportunity to attend a long series
of specialised classes. I get my way through reading a lot.
Regarding alchemy, I have never found something really USEFUL to teach me the
basics, i.e. anything which can be understood by "regular" person living in a
"normal" house, i.e. with little access to exotic plants and sophisticated
materials and with no access to a well-equipped lab to do experiments.
Could anyone recommend some GOOD and RELIABLE reading stuff (I have a full list
of books from the local bookstore, have tried out a few, and am not very
satisfied with what I can get there). French, German, English or Italian would
Date: Wed Aug 21 09:36:08 1996
Subject: A0027 Booklist for beginners
From: Adam McLean
On the forum we get at least one enquiry each month asking for a reading list, which would serve as an introduction to alchemy. It seems best if we can do this for once and for all, and I will place this onto the web site. As such a list does require us making value judgements on the suitability of such books for the beginner, I would welcome some suggestions. These could be sent to me directly and need not take up space on the forum. The criterion for inclusion on such a list is that these books serve to give the reader an introductory survey of alchemy in its many facets. They should not be too academic, but should not be so simplistic as to lose the richness of alchemy. I have listed below a few titles that come immediately to mind.
Burland, Cottie. The arts of the Alchemists.
Read, John. Prelude to Chemistry.
Burckhard, Titus. Alchemy.
Albertus, Frater. An alchemist's handbook.
Junius, Manfred. Practical Handbook of Plant alchemy.
In other languages:-
Hutin, Serge. l''Alchemie.
Date: Wed Aug 21 13:06:46 1996
Subject: A0027 The Golden and Rosy Cross
From: Libor Koudela
A good source for learning about the history of secret societies including
the "Golden and Rosy Cross" in the Czech lands (in Moravia) is the book
"Alchymie stesti" (Alchemy of the Luck) by Jiri Kroupa from Masaryk's
University in Brno, Moravia. Kroupa describes the Moravian society in
the age of the late enlightenment in XVIII century, growing, enterprising,
industry, art and also the interest of Moravian aristocracy in esoteric
sciences, hermeticism and alchemy. There is a lot of alchemical
literature in the castle libraries in Moravia. Many Moravian aristocrats
were also free masons or members of other esoteric societies (Golden
and Rosy Cross, Asiatic Brethren etc.).
Count Karel of Salm-Reifferscheidt founded the Moravian centre of the
"Golden and Rosy Cross" in 1784. Salm was widely educated man. He
was interested in art, architecture, natural sciences and metallurgy as well
as alchemy. The Salm family founded the iron company in Blansko close
to their castle in Rajec nad Svitavou. The rosicrucian centre
ceased in 1793 after the death of Leopold II, who probably supported
"Alchymie stesti" was published in Brno in 1987. There are French and
German resumes in the book, but unfortunately not English.
Date: Wed Aug 21 12:54:42 1996
Subject: A0028 Colors and symbols
From: Jacqueline Lacroix/World Economic Forum
Mackie Blanton writes:
yellow = intelligence
For the sake of an argument:
in France, mansions painted pink or yellow would be a symbol for nobleness.
On the other hand, psychiatrists consider yellow to be a sign of foolishness or
stupidity, in the case of patients using dominantly yellow colors in a painting
for example. Obviously, though, if a patient visits a psychiatrist, he does so
because he already has a mental problem.
Date: Wed Aug 21 13:07:17 1996
Subject: A0029 Colors and symbols
From: Adam McLean
>yellow = intelligence
>For the sake of an argument:
>in France, mansions painted pink or yellow would be a symbol for nobleness.
There is little point in arguing about the significance of colours cross-culturally, as the significance of colour is very much determined by the culture in which one is brought up.
The point of the original enquiry was about the way in which the colour sequence appears in alchemical processes, texts and illustrations.
Date: Wed Aug 21 13:07:58 1996
Subject: A0030 Processes
From: Adam McLean
>I'd like to ask about the symbolism and
>significance of the black, white, yellow and red stages of the transmutation
>Where does the idea of the 4 colours originate? Perhaps there are other
>stages that I am not familiar with?
>Do the colours somehow relate to the various processes used in alchemy
>(and chemistry) e.g. carbonation, solvation, distillation etc?
There is a classic colour sequence in alchemy which seems to date from the earliest manuscripts. For example, one of the earliest and most influential of alchemical manuscripts, the 'Pretiossissimum Donum Dei', contains this colour sequence. [I would be interested in information about any other earlier source for this sequence. It possibly dates back to the Arabic texts.]
In later texts other colour-keyed stages are sometimes interpolated - the peacock's tail, for example.
There are hundreds of alchemical processes, see, for example, the 'Crowning of Nature' text on the Web site. A few years ago I tried to draw up an exhaustive list of alchemical processes. I will try to dig out my notes and eventually post a list of these onto the Web site.
Date: Wed Aug 21 23:18:38 1996
Subject: A0031 Weidenfeld
From: Beat Krummenacher
I can fully confirm the statements of Rawn (A14) to Weidenfeld's book. This book
might be one of the best and most important treatises, which ever has appeared
in the alchemical literature. Who theoretically and practically works with it,
will achieve essential progress in alchemy.
An additional knowledge is however advantageous, which can not directly be
pulled from the book. Weidenfeld exclusively describes processes of the wet way.
He maintains at many places, that without the application of the spirit of
philosophical wine nothing is to be reached in alchemy. This other excluding
statement is right from his view, however is not correct in fact. If it goes
about the wet, difficult and long way, there is hardly a better source as the
study of his book. Evidently Weidenfeld knew no further variants both of the dry
as well as the wet way, and so he represented the sole opinion the spirit of
philosophical wine be the only basis for a successful work in alchemy.
With the above-mentioned remark I would not like to lessen the value of the book
of Weidenfeld in any way. I would like only to point to the fact, that there are
other ways, which can likewise be successful in the end.
Date: Wed Aug 21 23:18:48 1996
Subject: A0032 Weidenfeld
From: Adam McLean
Here is a summary description of the contents of the Weidenfeld book.
Weidenfeld, Johannes Segerus.
Four books of Johannes Segerus Weidenfeld, Concerning the Secrets of the Adepts; or, Of the Use of Lully's Spirit of Wine: A practical work. With a very great Study Collected out of the Ancient as well as Modern Fathers of Adept Philosophy, Reconciled together, by Comparing them one with another, otherwise disagreeing, and in the newest Method so aptly digested, that even young Practitioners may be able to discern the Counterfeit or Sophistical Preparations of Animals, Vegetables and Minerals, whether for Medicines or Metals, from True; and so avoid Vagabond Impostors and Imaginary Processes, together with the Ruine of Estates...
London, printed by Will. Bonny, for Tho. Howkins in George-Yard in Lombard Street, MDCLXXXV. 
 + 380 pages [pages 265-292 dropped.]
p [License from Charles II.]
p [Title page.]
p- Authori Sacrum. [Verse to the author by Albertus Otho Faber.]
p- [Dedicatory epistle.] To the Right Honourable Robert Boyle, A Chief Member of the Royal Society. [At end "J.S.W."]
p- To the Students of the more Secret Chymy.
p-378 [New title page.] The First Book of Menstruums. Ripley, Cap. 2. Medulae Philos. Chym. We will here demonstrate the clear Practice, how such Menstruums as be Unctuous and Moist, Sulphureous, and Mercureal, well agreeing with the Nature of Metals, wherewith our Bodies are to be artificially dissolved, may be obtained. London, Printed for Tho. Howkins in George-Yard in Lombard-Street, 1685.
p The Translator to the Reader. [At end "G. C."]
p- A Catalogue of the Menstruums. [Table of contents.]
p- The Preface.
p1-368 Of Vegetable Menstruums. [In 24 sections each describing a particular kind of menstruum, and each containing a number of recipes (150 in all) extracted from various alchemical writings.]
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of Philosophical Wine only.
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and the hottest Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, Roots, etc. being Oyly.
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and Oyly, Salts, or (such as can neither be called fixed nor volatile) hitherto called Essential Salts, such as are Sugar, Honey, Tartar of Common Wine, and other Vegetables.
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and Volatile Salts, such as common Sal Armoniack, Salt of Blood, Urine, Soot, &c.
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and the fixed Salts of Vegetables and Minerals not tinging.
Simple Vegetable Menstruums made of the Spirit and Tartar of Philosophical Wine.
Vegetable Menstruums compounded of the aforesaid Simple Menstruums.
Vegetable Menstruums compounded of Simple Vegetable Menstruums, and of common Argent Vive, or other Metals.
Vegetable Compounded Menstruums made of Simple Vegetable Menstruums, and Things tinging, being first fixed.
Vegetable Menstruums compounded made of Vegetable Menstruums compounded, and Metallick Bodies.
Vegetable compounded Mentruums graduated, made of the compounded Vegetable Menstruums, impregnated with the influences of Heaven and Earth.
Compounded Vegetable Menstruums most highly exalted, made of compounded Vegetable Menstruums graduated.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of the Matter of Philosophical Wine only.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of the acid or saline Essences of Salts.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and Acid Spirits, as Aqua fortis, Spirit of Nitre, Spirit of Sulphur, Salt, &c. distilled Vinegar, &c.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of Philosophical Vinegar, and Volatile Salts, as Common Sal Armoniack, Urine, &c.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of Philosophical Vinegar, and fixed Salts not tinging, as well Vegetable as Mineral.
Simple Mineral Menstruums made of Vegetable Sal Harmoniack, and Acids not tinging.
Mineral Menstuums compounded of the Philosophers Spirit of Wine, and Acid Spirits tinging, Spirit of Vitriol, Butter of Antimony, &c.
Mineral Menstruums Compounded of the Spirit of Philosophical Wine, and other tinging things; Vitriol, Cinnabar, Antimony, Lapis Haematites, &c.
Compounded Mineral Menstruums of Simple Mineral Menstruums and Mercury, the rest of the Metals, and other Tinging Things.
Mineral Menstruums compounded of the Phil[o]sophers Vinegar, and other Simple Mineral Menstruums and Things tinging being first fixed.
Mineral Menstruums made of Mineral Menstruums compounded, and Metallick Bodies and other Tinging Things.
Mineral Menstruums compounded of Vegetable and Mineral Menstruums mix'd together.
p380 Books Printed for, and Sold by Tho Howkins in George-Yard near Lombard-Street.
Date: Thu Aug 22 08:38:09 1996
Subject: A0033 Weidenfeld
From: David Roberts
Dear Mr. McLean,
Thank you so very much for the beginner's booklist and synopsis of the
Weidenfeld work. I am so glad to have found this list. Where is the
latter to be found? In the British Museum? Are copies or reprints available?
Sorry if I am asking stupid questions. Actually, as a journalist, I've
often found that no question is truly stupid, and that if one puts ego
aside, one may inherit the greatest of treasures by asking the simplest
Much the best,
Date: Thu Aug 22 08:38:17 1996
Subject: A0034 Weidenfeld
The Weidenfeld book is in definitely in the British Library, University of Wisconsin, Glasgow University library, and as it is not a rare book it will probably be found in many collections. It is available on microfilm in the Early English Printed Books Series, which can be found in many research libraries.
Kessinger publishing have reprinted this in a cheap photocopied edition. Their address from which you can get a catalogue is
Kessinger Publishing Co.
P.O. Box 160.
The full descriptive catalogue is also now available on the Internet, World Wide Web
With best wishes,
Date: Thu Aug 22 19:26:18 1996
Subject: A0035 Processes
From: Adam McLean
I have now placed a provisional listing of over 100 alchemical processes each with a short description onto the web site under the section on physical alchemy.
I would welcome any suggestions for additions to this list, or amendments to the descriptions.
Date: Fri Aug 23 08:35:20 1996
Subject: A0036 Lilac
From: Beat Krummenacher
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a typical venusian plant. Thus the alchemical
processing should result on a Friday. Important is the consideration of good
aspects of Venus. The best harvest is the point in time of the rise of Venus on
a Friday at beautiful weather. The plant should be picked then, if it is in full
Date: Fri Aug 23 08:35:33 1996
Subject: A0037 Weidenfeld
From: David Roberts
> Kessinger publishing have reprinted this in a cheap photocopied edition.
> Their address from which you can get a catalogue is
> Kessinger Publishing Co.
> P.O. Box 160.
> MT 59920
Mr. McLean, Thanks eversomuch again. I telephoned Mr. Kessinger
this a.m. (Montana's only a spit away) and the book was on its way to me
by First Class US Mail within 30 minutes of our chat, along with
aforementioned cataloque. So I await with anticipation.
By the way, what do you think of the comments about wet versus dry way?
And what distinguishes one from the other? Is it Philosophical Wine? ie:
alcohol?//vs//no alcohol or abstinence? Further, in your view, in alchemy,
are there more ways to effect the transmutation than wet or dry? In other
words, can it be that there are at least two ways, possibly many, but that
the goal is the same in any event? Or is the result different in each and
every case, depending upon the type of science and, shall we say, the
composition of the inner life of the scientist? I am thinking here of
Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle, where he has shown that the very
presence of the observer has a subtle but measureable effect on the
observed, and, if I am not mistaken, vice-versa. (Reminds me a bit of
Whitehead's notion of "prehensile beings" or interdependent co-creators.)
All for now and thank you again,
Date: Mon Aug 26 11:20:57 1996
Subject: A0038 Emerald tablet
From: Adam McLean
A few days ago I was looking through Ruland's Alchemical Lexicon and found an entry with an interesting interpretation of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. This made me consider just how important this text was in forming the ideas of alchemists over the whole span of alchemical writings. Jon Marshall has earlier documented many the uses of the Emerald Tablet in alchemical texts, and his research notes are available on the Web site. I wonder if anyone else has considered the question of the importance of the Emerald Tablet to the alchemical tradition or can add any other appearances of the Emerald Tablet to the list so far accumulated by Jon Marshall.
Pater et Mater Regis. The Father and Mother of the King. The old philosophers have had such wonder and admiration for the Stone, and so greatly rejoiced therein, that they have not known how to describe it sufficiently, or how to glory in it or praise it. They have called it the Microcosm) the Element, Heaven, Earth, Stars. Unto all things have they compared it. Also they have called it the State of Marriage and the Birth of Children, as the old proverb runs.
The Sun is its Father - Noha, Coelum.
The Moon is its Mother - Aretia, Noha, Woman, Vesta.
The Wind carries him in its Bosom - Air, Spirit.
The Earth nourishes him, etc.
Then the Sun is, with its warmth and power, the Father of all Vegetation; the Moon, with its moisture, is the Mother; the Air must embrace and carry all things; and the Earth must nourish.
But there is something peculiar in this operation, for the Metallic Sun is a true Father, and gives the masculine seed. The Moon is a true Mother, and gives the feminine seed. The Wind and Air must raise it and conduct it, as Hermes says. Our Mercury rises in the glass; the Earth lies beneath and comprehends in itself soul and spirit, so that a perfect child and king may be born.
The father is our sulphur, the mother is our Mercury, which carries the sulphur within it. For the woman shall have a ruddy-coloured child. When it is born, the red again becomes visible, and the woman becomes changed into a red man. She becomes an androgyne. The man, says Senior, is without wings, is taken up and down. When it is coagulated, the moon is dark; therefore he is called a shade. The wife is bright, is called a ray, and shining of the sun; she draws the shadow out of the brilliance, which is coagulated.
The husband is called Lead, Mars. The wife is called Venus and Arsenic. The husband is also the wife, and the wife is also the husband, like Eve. The sleeping man lost his ribs. However, he is not glorified, because he does not die. After death, in the resurrection is he glorified. So also is it the case with our Adam. Even in his first sleep Eve is given him. Afterwards, in the second solution he dies, and he arises gloriously. Then Eve can never more he torn from him (S. Ternesius). The father is the calcination ; the mother is the solution; the fountain is its mother. And he is yet older than the fountain, because he is born perfect. For that which is perfect is before that which is imperfect. But there is in Mercury that which is desired by Philosophers.
Date: Mon Aug 26 11:20:33 1996
Subject: A0039 Plants and the planets
From: Adam McLean
The recent discussion on Lilac led me to reflect on the alchemical tradition of associating plants with a particular planetary characteristic. In replying to a letter I consulted Frater Albertus' and Manfred Junius' list of plants with their planetary correspondences, as they were the only sources that I had easily at hand. I wonder if anyone knows of where Albertus got his list, or of a source text which would have been authoritative for the assignment of these planetary correspondences. I suspect, however, these plant to planet correspondences are not consistent between different sources, and are a bit like the doctrine of signatures.
A recent occultist Rudolf Steiner, as I recall, had a more systematised method of assigning planetary attribution based on the colour of the flowers. Did this, play a part in alchemical writings on correspondences?
Date: Mon Aug 26 22:38:19 1996
Subject: A0040 Plants and the planets
Adam McLean wrote:
> I suspect, however, these plant
> to planet correspondences are not consistent between different
> sources, and are a bit like the doctrine of signatures. A recent
> occultist Rudolf Steiner, as I recall, had a more systematised
> method of assigning planetary attribution based on the colour of the
> flowers. Did this, play a part in alchemical writings on
From a study of Rudolph Steiner, and Anthroposophical works in
general, there is much to be found concerning the correspondences
between minerals, plants, man, and the cosmos. Although certain
physical characteristics of form and colour are described as
corresponding to a specific cosmic influences, the correspondences
were not derived in this way. In Anthroposophical science, the
correspondences are derived by spiritual perception. A mineral or
plant is seen to be the visible expression of the activity of
supersensible forces. Only by spiritual perception may the true
cosmic correspondences be accurately determined. When known, the
mineral or plant may be seen to bear the "imprint" or "signature" of
the cosmic forces, that are active in it.
Rudolph Steiner considered that a time would come when mankind would
evolve a new form perception, that would enable him to perceive a
realm of super-physical forces, which he called etheric. Anthroposophy
was conceived as laying the foundations for an understanding of this
within physical science.
The writings of Anthroposophy are extensive, and freely available.
Rudolph Steiner wrote four books, and gave about six thousand
lectures during his lifetime; many of these lectures are now in book
form. As the lectures were given to an audience already familiar with
the concepts of Anthroposophy, they are in a form which is hard to
understand for those unfamiliar with these concepts. The concepts are
introduced in the four original books by Steiner. In the lectures
that were later given, it is assumed that the audience were entirely
familiar with the new definitions that had been given to many of the
words used. The works of Steiner are very condensed, and require
intensive thought on the part of the reader. For those who would like
a good introduction to the alchemical aspects of Anthroposophical
science, there are many excellent books that have been written in
recent years. In these the authors are able to expand on particular
subjects; integrating present scientific knowledge with the results
of their own clairvoyant investigation. These are to be thought of as
profound scientific works, containing advanced insight into natural
processes of all kinds. Here is a list of a few of these wonderful
1.) "The Secrets Of Metals" by Wilhelm Pelican.
2.) "The Nature Of Substance" by Rudolph Hauschka.
3.) "Nutrition" by Rudolph Hauschka.
4.) "Anthroposophical Medicine" by Victor Bott.
5.) "The Dynamics Of Nuitrition" by Gerhard Schmidt.
6.) "Man Or Matter" by Ernst Lehrs.
7.) "The Basis Of Potentization Research" by Theodor Schwenk.
All of these books contain detailed descriptions of natural
phenomena, and their underlying spiritual processes. In
Anthroposophical medicine for eg. natural substances are used
extensively for their healings powers. The processes occuring within
the organs of a human being are outwardly perceived as coming to
expression in various minerals and plants. These minerals and plants
are selected according to these spiritual correspondences and
prepared in very special ways, before being administered by medical
doctors. There is little doubt of the tremendous value such knowledge
represents for aspiring and practical alchemists. Although only a few
may undertake the great work of producing the "philosophers stone",
there is surely much to be discovered in the field of spagyrical alchemy.
If it is understood which particular substance corresponds to which
process in each of the bodily organs, then the opportunity to affect
these organs individually, would seem to exist. There exist certain
plants that have a harmonizing action upon the specific processes
occuring within a particular organ. A spagyrically prepared substance
may create a more profound healing effect than the same substance
that has not been brought to the same state of perfection.
In the process of nutrition as seen from an Anthroposophical
perspective, it is in the overcoming of substances that the nutritive
effect lies. Before a substance has been "overcome", and divested of
everything that is "alien" to the human organism, it not considered
ready to be individualized for use within the organism. The digestive
process is seen as a process of "overcoming". The more vitality a
plant substance possesses, the more effort is required by the human
organism to overcome it, and correspondingly less of the substance is
required to provide a nutritive or medicinal effect. In this light, it would
appear that a substance that has become more perfected or "fixed"
would be far greater to overcome, and a correspondingly minute amount
may be sufficient to provide a nutritive or medicinal effect. If too much
were ingested then an organism may lack the inner strength to overcome it
and so it would become active within the body according to its own
will, and not that of the organism itself, as in the process of
I am new to the subject of spagyrical alchemy, but I am familiar with
the Anthroposophical approach to chemistry, nutrition, and medicine,
and I have often wondered whether the two may be fruitfully combined.
This article is my attempt to present the idea. I hope it may prove
helpful for someone.
Simon R Knight.
Date: Tue Aug 27 08:37:33 1996
Subject: A0041 Plants and the planets
From: Norm Ryder
> From: Adam McLean
> The recent discussion on Lilac led me to reflect on the alchemical tradition
> of associating plants with a particular planetary characteristic. In
> replying to a letter I consulted Frater Albertus' and Manfred Junius' list
> of plants with their planetary correspondences,
General speaking it appears that Frater Albertus used the same
correspondence's as Culpeper, I assume that he considered Culpeper to be
his many reference. I have noticed that Manfred Junius seems to hvary
somewhat and it would be interesting to find out his source. My own
feeling is that Culpeper based his work on the knowledge of those that
had been before and the source of the information may have had it's
start in Greece or earlier.
My prime reason many years ago for getting involved with computers was
to set up a database of herbs their particular planetary characteristic,
and reported healing qualities both from a regular herbal use and a
homeopathic approach. The intent was to be able to set up a system to
classify the many herbs not classified.
Life has gotten in the way of this project and it is a project that I
can still look forward to starting.
Date: Tue Aug 27 08:40:28 1996
Subject: A0042 Plants and the planets
From: Russ House
In response to a recent posting by Adam McLean, quoted below, I have posted
a recent article that I wrote for The Philosophers of Nature newsletter:
>The recent discussion on Lilac led me to reflect on the alchemical tradition
>of associating plants with a particular planetary characteristic. In
>replying to a letter I consulted Frater Albertus' and Manfred Junius' list
>of plants with their planetary correspondences, as they were the only
>sources that I had easily at hand. I wonder if anyone knows of where
>Albertus got his list, or of a source text which would have been
>authoritative for the assignment of these planetary correspondences.
The article below will show that the source of Albertus' table of
correspondences is Culpepper's Complete Herbal, a source that was used in
the 1940's AMORC alchemy classes that were attended by Dr. Riedel.
>I suspect, however, these plant to planet correspondences are not consistent
>between different sources, and are a bit like the doctrine of signatures.
>A recent occultist Rudolf Steiner, as I recall, had a more systematised
>method of assigning planetary attribution based on the colour of the
>flowers. Did this, play a part in alchemical writings on correspondences?
There are different methods of assigning correspondences. Attributes of
color, speed of growth, leaf shapes, and similar characteristics have been
used in some various systems, often combined in some way. Also, I suspect
that the physical effects of the plant when related to the planetary rulers
of the organs were used to determine other associations.
The methods of capillary dynamolysis developed by the Kolisko's under the
guidance of Steiner show some promise as a means of determining
attributions. These methods were detailed in Adam McLean's Hermetic
Journal, and have been discussed in earlier postings to the forum.
Based on some suggestions of the French researchers of the P.O.N., there are
two additional possibilities for determining rulerships. (1) In theory, a
solid plant stone made of a solar plant (e.g. chamomile) would cause the
extraction of plants macerating in distilled water, when the plants are
lower on the tree (venus, mercury, moon), but would not cause an extraction
on plants higher than the sun on the tree (mars, jupiter, saturn). (2) In
theory, the absorption of essential oils of plants by a solid salt
(including powdered table salt as well as the purified salt of the plant
itself) is either possible, or made much more rapid, when done during the
first planetary hour of the ruler of the plant. For example, the oil of a
saturnine plant such as cypress will penetrate the salt during the first
hour on Saturday, but not at all, or with less facility at an hour not ruled
The article follows:
The Philosophers of Nature Spagyrics Lesson 8 - Revised
by Russ House
When lesson 8 of the Spagyrics Course was being rendered from French into
English, the translator, Brigitte Donvez, encountered a difficulty. The
lesson was primarily a chart of plants and their planetary rulers. Some of
the scientific names used in the French lesson did not correspond to those
used in the reference books available to the translator.
At present, we are looking over the lessons, and making improvements that
make them more legible, complete and correct. Since some of the references
were in question, the lesson was published with the unresolved entries
identified. In the effort to resolve these issues, the entire section was
proofread and several texts were used to resolve the problems.
Culpepper's Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpepper, W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd.,
England. This was the primary text, since it was apparently the source for
the creation of the table in the original lessons. Even this classic text
is not without error. For example, All-Heal, is identified as Prunella
vulgaris. It is a plant 5 to 6 feet tall according to the description of
Culpepper, and is under the dominion of Mars. In the same text, Self-Heal,
a low-creeping herb, typically not more than a foot high is under the
rulership of Venus. It is also identified as Prunella vulgaris. This error
leads me to believe that the Latin names for the plants are a later addition
to the text. Such errors are not numerous but must be considered.
Culpepper's Color Herbal, edited by David Potterton, Sterling Publishing,
NY, 1983. This book draws heavily on The Complete Herbal, with the addition
of modern medical references and color illustrations of the plants. It
proved helpful since the Latin names of plants are indexed, whereas they are
not in The Complete Herbal. Devil's Bit, described as 'venereal' by
Culpepper under "Government and Virtues" was listed as 'not ascribed to a
planet or astrological sign'. Venereal herbs are under Venus, just as
jovial herbs are under Jupiter, and martial herbs under Mars.
Also of value was The Alchemist's Handbook by Frater Albertus, Samuel
Weiser, 1981. This text gives charts which are intended as a list of
attributions assigned by Culpepper in his Complete Herbal. It is a good
check list, and yet it has a few flaws. In several instances, two plants
are printed on the same line, such as "vine viper's bugloss" and "sage
samphire". In other cases, a two-part name is printed on two lines, such as
"benedictus cardines". Further, Albertus lists Buck's Horn Plantain under
Saturn. While Culpepper was not explicit about this species of plantain
being under Venus along with the common plantain, it would be
uncharacteristic for him to neglect mentioning a ruler changing within a
plant species. There is no indication, at any rate, that it should be under
J. M. Nickell's Botanical Ready Reference, Trinity Center Press, CA, 1976,
is an extensive cross reference by scientific name and common name. This
proved very useful, as did A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve, Dorset Press,
NY, 1992. In addition to having indices by scientific and common names, it
offers complete descriptions of the plants, and cites Culpepper. This
combination of features proved helpful in making some decisions.
The original French Spagyrics lesson was also an important resource. This
edition has a French to English table of plant names which sorted out some
problems. It is not included in the English-language lessons, since it is
not common for English readers to use French-language references for
identifying plant names. There were a few instances when plants were
assigned to planets in error. These were generally because of naming
problems: the Latin names of plants have changed from time to time with
reclassifications by botanists, and often the species name used by the
editor of Culpepper's Complete Herbal, is not a common species in France. I
think that there were less than 5 or six such instances.
The list of plants in the lesson was corrected to agree with Culpepper, and
to use the most widely accepted Latin name according to the references I
have cited. That Culpepper was the original source is apparent because
there were not more than two plants in the original lesson that were not
classified by Culpepper. Further, the choice of plants is unusually like
those catalogued by Culpepper, including many plants rarely available and
therefore not in common use today.
It is worth noting that the Spagyrics lesson does not include all of the
plants catalogued by Culpepper. The omissions are most notable under
Saturn, the ruler of many highly toxic plants. For example, hemlock,
henbane, black hellebore, and nightshade are not listed. NOTE: These
plants are dangerous. This was done, presumably, for reasons of safety,
since the lessons are received by people beginning practical work in
spagyrics, and there is no reason for them to consider chosing any of these
plants for their work. I mention this here, only to be somewhat complete in
discussing how this lesson was re-edited.
NOTE: In the article above, I have cited several texts that present
correspondences between plants and the planetary energies. In addition to
these another book has additional information: The Practical Handbook of
Plant Alchemy, by Manfred Junius, Healing Arts Press, VT, 1993. It often
gives information not available in Culpepper's text, and often does not
agree with his attributions of rulership.
Article is copyright 1996, The Philosophers of Nature. All rights reserved.
Published in The Alchemy Forum with permission of copyright holder.
The Philosophers of Nature _/_/_/ _/_/_/ _/ _/
email@example.com _/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/ _/
http://www.mcs.net/~alchemy _/_/_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/
tel: 708.682.3938 _/ _/ _/ _/ _/_/
fax: 708.665.2364 _/ _/_/_/ _/ _/
Date: Tue Aug 27 08:39:56 1996
Subject: A0043 Plants and the planets
From: Don Foster
From my memory, Frater Albertus' list of herbal planetary
correspondences came largely from Nicholas Culpeper's well
known Complete Herball which gives 'Government and Virtues'
for all described herbs...
Date: Tue Aug 27 20:36:05 1996
Subject: A0044 Les Demeures Philosophales
From: James Bryant
Do you know where I can get a copy of Les Demeures Philosophales by
Fulcanelli I believe these two volumes are only printed in French. Do you
know of any copies that have been translated? Please advise.
Date: Tue Aug 27 21:29:39 1996
Subject: A0045 Plants and the planets
From: Rawn Clark
There exists a level of the astral realm wherein one understands with
absolute personal certainty the correspondences between any two things (such
as a plant and a planet). In said realm, this sort of information is
received as a component of "visual" perception...I call it the astral
*speak/feel*, in which extra-visual meaning is directly communicated by the
object observed. The observer's understanding comes directly from, and in
the language of, the object observed and is not a product of the observer's
So, when the astral form of a plant is viewed, the observer receives visual
impressions as well as emotional and mental impressions which express the
object's essential *meaning*. It is at this level of *meaning* that
correspondences, such as between plant and planet, exist and have power.
When we rely upon a list produced by another person, we remove our selves
from personal involvement in the process of perception, and are left purely
with a process of rational deduction. We remove our selves from the
possibility of personal certainty and are left treading knee-deep in
uncertainty and an inevitable questioning of our source's methods, rationale,
etc. We trade certainty for trust, expending our energy on "proving the
respectability of our source", instead of upon gaining our own direct
Since it is at the level of *meaning* that correspondences have their
existence, the learning of an established set of correspondences often works
about as well as discovering and employing one's own. ;-) In this instance
however, the *meaning* (the essential energy) of the correspondences are
supplied by the mental and astral energy of the student her/him self.
Whereas, in the case of direct perception, the *meaning* is supplied by the
object itself and is not drawn from the perceiver.
So, if one uses, for example, Culpepper's list of correspondences, at each
instance one will have to mentally draw the lines of relationship for
oneself, effectively energizing them from one's own storehouse of energy. By
rational deduction alone, the *meaning* is empowered and then employed.
One's success in an operation based upon this method of establishing
correspondences is then also dependant upon these two factors: 1) The
accuracy of the list one is employing; and, 2) The quantity and quality of
*meaning* energy one has personally invested in the correspondences. The
more accurate one's list, the less personal energy one will be required to
However, the only ways to truly evaluate a list's accuracy are by repeated
experiment or by direct perception. Both are processes which personalize
information: experiment -- through a process of prolonged personal
experience; and direct perception -- through its inherantly personal nature.
While we can universalize knowledge to a certain extent, Understanding is a
completely individual and intimately personal thing. When a thing's
*meaning* is directly percieved with the astral *speak/feel*, Understanding
comes hand-in-hand with knowledge, but such an Understanding is of so
personal a nature as to be effectively incommunicable to another individual.
The knowledge however, is communicable and this is what is conveyed in a
list of correspondences -- knowledge (the universal) sans Understanding (the
Human bodies, while in many aspects sharing a universality (commonality in
physical processes), are to the greater extent individual and unique. What
holds true for one body, may not for another, since human bodies encompass so
much more than just physical processes. Essentially, human bodies are
"personal" and it is dangerous, in my opinion, to treat them with strictly
"universal" therapies. For instance a particular herb may have a Saturnine
action in one instance for one body, and simultaneously have a Martial action
upon another body in another instance. Without the personal ingredient of
this kind of Understanding, a therapy based upon a universal knowledge can
easily have unexpected consequences.
I highly recommend investing the time and energy required to refine one's
subtle senses. The benefits of attaining personal certainty at the initial
perceiving end of the process, as opposed to proving another's certainty
through personal experimentation, is well worth the effort, in my opinion.
Best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
27 Aug 96
Date: Wed Aug 28 09:29:48 1996
Subject: A0046 Frances Yates' ideas
From: Jon Marshall
Thank you for posting the article on Yates. I must confess a slight surprise
that it caused such consternation. It seems eminently sensible to me.
(I hope that Dr. Gilly's work is issued in a language I can read with ease).
There is as far as I can see little evidence that (whatever her intentions)
Yates really does do more than give what you called the "Weak interpretation",
namely that of arguing that a somewhat disconnected alchemical and hermetic
collection of ideas was important throughout most of the 17th century in areas
in which more recent scholars had denied their influence.
That she is not referring to members of an organization, but to what we might
call an "intellectual tendency" is fairly clear in the preface when she calls
John Dee a Rosicrucian. This preface also makes it reasonably clear that she
sees "Rosicrucianism" as emerging from the hermetic ideas or mileu that she had
discussed in her earlier books.
This somewhat cavalier use of the term Rosicrucian might have a 17th century
precedence in that Anthony a Wood seems to call anyone who has esoteric or
alchemical interests a "Rosicrucian" and it is obvious that he would have had no
access to the 'secret records' of an order.
I would also find it strange if anyone were to argue against you that the
Rosicrucian "movement" was completely new and had no relation to anything that
had gone before. If it was *that* new the chances are that it would not have
excited the stir it did so quickly. It undoubtedly excited interest because it
promised solutions to problems that people were already engaged with.
There is of course the 'horrendous' possibility that the manifestoes were
intended to be satirical or a hoax. The issuing of the Fama bound together with
a work that essentially saterizes "general reformations" and the ability of the
mob to be satisfied with trifles might support this hypothesis.
The fact that the manifestoes inspired some great works, or demonstrated a
market which allowed these other works to be published, sadly does not remove
this as a possibility.
I haven't really seen a persuasive arguement that there is much that is
*uniquely* profound in the two manifestoes.
The *Chymical Wedding* is another matter, but there is no evidence that Andreae
was involved with the manifestoes themselves. If we take the protestations of
Andreae's autobiography (which was not written for public consumption) seriously
then it, together with his other public writings, suggests that he was initially
curious about Rosicrucians but very quickly (by 1617 at the latest) became
convinced that they were possibly heretical and that people should turn away
from them. Whether his book was written while he was still curious or whether
it was written to win people away from what he percieved to be Rosicrucianism is
(If anyone is seriously interested in the problem of Andreae then they should
read John Montgomery's surprising and challenging *Cross and crucible*. he
argues strongly in favour of Andreae's orthodox Lutheranism)
The card written by Maier in 1612 and discovered by Adam is indeed suggestive
but sadly cannot, in my opinion, be declared to be a *specifically* Rosicrucian
document with certainty. The Cross is not a clear 4 point Cross, as is the
usual case with this emblem, but is an 8 point Cross which functions to
delineate the petals of the rose. This Cross (which is made of letters
separating the petals) might simply be an artifact of the arrangement of text
within the flower.
The parts of the text presented in the Hermetic Journal No.5 do not seem to be
uniquely Rosicrucian either.
Neither does it seem to me that the card necessarily demonstrates that Maier was
in Britain in 1611, (thus making 2 trips to that country) as it was possible for
the card to have been sent from overseas, and indeed it is *perhaps* more likely
that Maier in person would have made a more significant gift to the king.
However the card would seem to have obvious significance in a diplomatic role of
attempting to open a relationship between Maier (perhaps as ambassador) and the
British monarch. Thus preparing the way for the discussions which established a
strategic royal marriage between Britain and the Palatinate. It would certainly
be of interest to look at what other correspondence occured between the king and
the Palatinate at this time.
This card does have a suggestive place in support of Yate's hypothesis of the
relationship of the original Rosicrucian movement to a kind of ideology of
protestant independence which was destroyed by the Battle of White Mountain and
the 30 years war.
However it is also conceivable that her protestant alliance theory is completely
accurate, but that the writers of Rosicrucian tracts were being oportunistic,
and expressing their own fears of Catholic domination largely independently of
Date: Wed Aug 28 09:29:56 1996
Subject: A0047 Les Demeures Philosophales
From: Russ House
The books are readily available in the French esoteric bookstores, and I am
sure that some forum members can help in suggesting a store that can ship
books overseas and which will accept credit cards.
A group of Americans has an ongoing translation project, which has stalled
temporarily for lack of funds, I think. It is probably 75% complete. If
someone is interested in contacting those in charge of the project, they can
send me email with their address or phone number and I can forward this to them.
Date: Wed Aug 28 09:39:55 1996
Subject: A0048 Plants and the planets
From: Michael Prescott
>From: Adam McLean
>I wonder if anyone knows of where
>Albertus got his list, or of a source text which would have been
>authoritative for the assignment of these planetary correspondences.
Like many others, the list was shamelessly stolen from others
who may or may have not known the reason why.
The reason that a planet is assigned a particular zodiacal/planetary
correspondence is determined by the month/day/time when the plant buds
and goes to bloom (dying into the next becoming). An early reference
to this is Paracelsus' Doctrine of Signatures.
Date: Wed Aug 28 15:41:53 1996
Subject: A0049 How to make the crucible?
From: shinmei suzuki
I am a Japanese visual artist. I learned chemistry and art in a
university. And I make researches into alchemy and the influence
on art with an iconographer.
Now we plan to make the crucible which can dissolve the metal
( Cu, Zn, Pb, [Fe], etc). So, we will request a ceramic artist
to make the crucible.
Please give me some advice of the crucible form, size, material, etc.
We will examine Newton's and Goethe's alchemical way.
Date: Thu Aug 29 00:12:03 1996
Subject: A0050 Encyclopedia Mythica
Dear List Members:
Thought you might be interested in a site I found. It's called
"Encyclopedia Mythica" at
It's quite basic in some respects, but a nice starting point, with links to
other sites, including the Alchemy Web Site.