Chymical Wedding - Fifth DayGo to the Sixth Day . Back to Rosicrucian page.
The night was over, and the dear wished-for day broken, when hastily I got out of bed, more desirous to learn what might yet ensue, than that I had slept enough. Now after I had put on my clothes, and according to my custom had gone down the stairs, it was still too early, and I found nobody else in the hall; so I entreated my page to lead me about a little in the castle, and show me something rare. He was now (as always) willing, and led me down certain steps under ground, to a great iron door, on which the following words in great copper letters were fixed:
(Here lies buried Venus, that beauty which has undone many a great man both in fortune, honour, blessing and prosperity.)
This I thus copied, and set down in my table-book. Now after this door was opened, the page led me by the hand through a very dark passage, till we came again to a very little door, that was only now put to; for (as my page informed me) it was first opened yesterday when the coffins were taken out, and had not since been shut. Now as soon as we stepped in, I saw the most precious thing that Nature ever created, for this vault had no light other than that from certain huge great carbuncles, and this (as I was informed) was the King's Treasury. But the main and most glorious thing that I saw here was a sepulchre (which stood in the middle) so rich that I wondered that it was not better guarded. To which the page answered me, that I had good reason to be thankful to my planet, by whose influence it was that I had now seen certain pieces which no other human eye (except the King's family) had ever had a view of.
This sepulchre was triangular, and had in the middle of it a vessel of polished copper; the rest was of pure gold and precious stones. In the vessel stood an angel, who held in his arms an unknown tree, which continually dropped fruit into the vessel; and as often as the fruit fell into the vessel, it turned into water, and ran out from there into three small golden vessels standing by. This little altar was supported by these three animals, an eagle, an ox and a lion, which stood on an exceedingly costly base.
I asked my page what this might signify.
"Here," he said, "lies buried Lady Venus, that beauty which has undone many a great man, both in fortune, honour, blessing and prosperity." After which he showed me a copper door on the pavement.
"Here," he said, "if you please, we may go further down."
"I still follow you," I replied.
So I went down the steps, where it was exceedingly dark, but the page immediately opened a little chest, in which stood a small ever-burning taper, at which he kindled one of the torches which lay by. I was greatly terrified, and seriously asked how he dared do this?
He said by way of answer "As long as the Royal Persons are still at rest, we have nothing to fear."
Then I saw a rich bed ready made, hung about with curious curtains, one of which he drew aside, where I saw the Lady Venus stark naked (for he heaved up the coverlets too) lying there in such beauty, and in such a surprising fashion, that I was almost beside myself; neither do I yet know whether it was a piece thus carved, or a human corpse that lay dead there. For she was altogether immovable, and yet I dared not touch her. So she was again covered, and the curtain drawn before her, yet she was still (as it were) in my eye. But I soon saw behind the bed a tablet on which it was written as follows:
(When the fruit of my tree shall be quite melted down then I shall awake and be the mother of a King.)
I asked my page about this writing, but he laughed, with the promise that I should know it too. So, he putting out the torch, we ascended again. Then I had a better look at all the little doors, and first found that on every corner there burned a small taper of pyrites, of which I had before taken no notice, for the fire was so clear that it looked much more like a stone than a taper. From this heat the tree was forced continually to melt, yet it still produced new fruit. Now behold (said the page) what I heard revealed to the King by Atlas. When the tree (he said) shall be quite melted down, then shall Lady Venus awake, and be the mother of a King.
Whilst he was thus speaking, in flew the little Cupid, who at first was somewhat abashed at our presence, but seeing us both look more like the dead than the living, he could not in the end refrain from laughing, demanding what spirit had brought us there. I with trembling answered him, that I had lost my way in the castle, and had come here by chance, and that the page likewise had been looking up and down for me, and at last came upon me here, and I hoped he would not take it amiss.
"Well then, that's well enough yet, my old busy grandsire," said Cupid, "but you might easily have served me a scurvy trick, had you been aware of this door. Now I must look better to it," and so he put a strong lock on the copper door where we had before descended.
I thanked God that he had not come upon us sooner. My page too was happier, because I had helped him so well at this pinch.
"Yet," said Cupid, "I cannot let it pass unrevenged that you were so near stumbling upon my dear mother."
With that he put the point of his dart into one of the little tapers, and heating it a little, pricked me with it on the hand, which at that time I paid little attention to, but was glad that it had gone so well for us, and that we came off without further danger.
Meantime my companions had got out of bed too, and had returned into the hall again. To them I also joined myself, making as if I had just risen. After Cupid had carefully made all fast again, he came to us too, and would have me show him my hand, where he still found a little drop of blood; at which he heartily laughed, and bade the rest have a care of me, as I would shortly end my days. We all wondered how Cupid could be so merry, and have no sense at all of yesterday's sad occurrences. But he was in no way troubled.
Now our president had in the meantime made herself ready for the journey, coming in all in black velvet, yet she still carried her branch of laurel. Her virgins too had their branches. Now all things being ready, the Virgin asked us first to drink something, and then presently to prepare for the procession, so we did not tarry long but followed her out of the hall into the court. In the court stood six coffins, and my companions thought nothing other than that the six Royal Persons lay in them, but I well observed the device. Yet I did not know what was to be done with these others. By each coffin were eight muffled men. Now as soon as the music began (it was so mournful and dolesome a tune, that I was astonished at it) they took up the coffins, and we (as we were ordered) had to go after them into the aforementioned garden, in the middle of which was erected a wooden edifice, having round about the roof a glorious crown, and standing upon seven columns. Within it were formed six sepulchres, and by each of them was a stone; but in the middle was a round hollow rising stone. In these graves the coffins were quietly and with many ceremonies laid. The stones were shoveled over them, and they shut fast. But the little chest was to lie in the middle.
Herewith my companions were deceived, for they imagined nothing other but that the dead corpses were there. Upon the top of all there was a great flag, having a phoenix painted on it, perhaps the more to delude us. Here I had great occasion to thank God that I had seen more than the rest.
Now after the funerals were done, the Virgin, having placed herself upon the middlemost stone, made a short oration, that we should be constant to our engagements, and not repine at the pains we were hereafter to undergo, but be helpful in restoring the present buried Royal Persons to life again; and therefore without delay to rise up with her, to journey to the tower of Olympus, to fetch from there medicines useful and necessary for this purpose.
This we soon agreed to, and followed her through another little door right to the shore. There the seven aforementioned ships stood all empty, on which the virgins stuck up their laurel branches, and after they had distributed us in the six ships, they caused us thus to begin our voyage in God's name, and looked upon us as long as they could have us in sight, after which they, with all the watchmen, returned into the castle. Our ships each had a peculiar device. Five of them indeed had the five regular bodies, each their own, but mine, in which the Virgin sat too, carried a globe. Thus we sailed on in a particular order, and each ship the Moor lay. In this were twelve musicians, who played excellently well, and its device was a pyramid. Next followed three abreast, B, C, and D, in which we were. I sat in C.
In the middle behind these came the two fairest and stateliest ships, E and F, stuck about with many branches of laurel, having no passengers in them; their flags were the sun and moon. But in the rear was only one ship, G; in this were forty virgins.
Now having passed over this lake in this way, we first went through a narrow arm, into the right seas, where all the sirens, nymphs, and sea-goddesses were waiting for us; wherefore they immediately dispatched a sea-nymph to us to deliver their present and offering of honour to the Wedding. It was a costly, great, set, round and oriental pearl, the like of which has never been seen, neither in our world nor yet in the new world. Now the Virgin having friendlily received it, the nymph further entreated that audience might be given to their entertainments, and to make a little stand, which the Virgin was content to do, and commanded the two great ships to stand in the middle, and the rest to encompass them in a pentagon. After which the nymphs fell into a ring about, and with a most delicate sweet voice began to sing as follows:
Naught better is on earth
Than lovely noble love
Whereby we be as God
And no one vexeth his neighbour.
So let unto the king be sung
That all the sea shall sound.
We ask, and answer ye.
What hath to us life brought ?
Who hath brought grace again ?
Whence are we born ?
How were we all forlorn ?
Who hath us then begotten ?
Wherefore were we suckled ?
What owe we to our elders ?
And why are they so patient ?
What doth all things o'ercome ?
Can we find Love as well ?
Where letteth a man good work appear ?
Who can unite a twain ?
So let us all sing
That it resound
To honour Love
Which will increase
With our lord king and queen,
Their bodies are here, their souls are fled.
And as we live
So shall God give
Where love and grace
Did sunder them
That we with flame of Love
May haply join them up again.
So shall this song
In greatest joy
Though thousand generations come
Return into eternity.
When they, with most admirable concert and melody, had finished this song, I no more wondered at Ulysses for stopping the ears of his companions, for I seemed to myself the most unhappy man alive, because nature had not made me, too, so trim a creature. But the Virgin soon dispatched them, and commanded us to set sail from there; so the nymphs went off too, after they had been presented with a long red scarf for a gratuity, and dispersed themselves in the sea.
I was at this time aware that Cupid began to work with me too, which yet tended by a very little towards my credit, and forasmuch as my giddiness is not likely to be beneficial to the reader, I am resolved to let it rest as it is. But this was the very wound that in the first book I received on the head in a dream. And let everyone take warning by me of loitering about Venus' bed, for Cupid can by no means brook it.
After some hours, having gone a good way in friendly discourses, we came within sight of the Tower of Olympus, so the Virgin commanded to give the signal of our approach by the discharge of some pieces, which was also done. And immediately we saw a great white flag thrust out, and a small gilded pinnace sent forth to meet us. Now as soon as this had come to us, we perceived in it a very ancient man, the Warder of the Tower, with certain guards clothed in white, by whom we were friendlily received, and so conducted to the Tower.
This Tower was situated upon an island which was exactly square, and which was environed with a wall that was so firm and thick that I myself counted three hundred and sixty passes over. On the other side of the wall was a fine meadow with certain little gardens, in which grew strange, and to me unknown, fruits; and then again there was an inner wall about the Tower. The Tower itself was just as if seven round towers had been built one by another, yet the middlemost was somewhat the higher, and within they all entered one into another, and had seven storeys one above another. Being come in this way to the gates of the Tower, we were led a little aside by the wall, so that, as I well observed, the coffins might be brought into the Tower without our taking notice; of this the rest knew nothing.
This being done, we were conducted into the Tower at the very bottom, which although it was excellently painted, yet we had little recreation there; for this was nothing but a laboratory, where we had to beat and wash plants, and precious stones, and all sorts of things, and extract their juice and essence, and put the same in glasses, and hand them over to be put aside. And truly our Virgin was so busy with us, and so full of her directions, that she knew how to give each of us enough employment, so that in this island we had to be mere drudges, till we had achieved all that was necessary for the restoring of the beheaded bodies.
Meantime (as I afterwards understood) three virgins were in the first apartment washing the bodies with all diligence. Now when we had at last almost finished this preparation of ours, nothing more was brought us but some broth with a little draught of wine, by which I well observed that we were not here for our pleasure. For when we had finished our day's work, too, everyone had only a mattress laid on the ground for him, with which we were to content ourselves.
For my part I was not very much bothered about sleeping, and therefore walked out into the garden, and at length came as far as the wall; and because the heaven was at that time very clear, I could well drive away the time in contemplating the stars. By chance I came to a great pair of stone stairs, which led up to the top of the wall. And because the moon shone very bright, I was so much the more confident, and went up, and looked a little upon the sea too, which was now exceedingly calm.
And thus having good opportunity to consider more about astronomy, I found that this present night there would occur a conjunction of the planets, the like of which was not otherwise usually to be observed. Now having looked a good while at the sea, and it being just about midnight, as soon as it had struck twelve I saw from afar the seven flames passing over the sea towards here, and taking themselves towards the top of the spire of the Tower. This made me somewhat afraid, for as soon as the flames had settled themselves, the winds arose, and began to make the sea very tempestuous. The moon also was covered with clouds, and my joy ended with such fear that I scarcely had enough time to find the stairs ended with such fear that I scarcely had enough time to find the stairs again, and take myself to the Tower again. Now whether the flames tarried any longer, or passed away again, I cannot say, for in this obscurity I did not dare venture abroad more.
So I lay down on my mattress, and there being in the laboratory a pleasant and gently murmuring fountain, I fell asleep so much the sooner. And thus the fifth day too was concluded with wonders.
If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.