Flammel's Hieroglyphics Chapter II

From His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to bee painted upon an Arch in St. Innocents Church-yard, in Paris. London, 1624.
Back to Hieroglyphic Figures


CHAPTER II

The interpretations Philosophical, according to the Maistery of Hermes.

I desire with all my heart that he who searcheth the secrets of the Sages, having in his Spirit passed over these Ideas of the life and resurrection to come, should first make his profit of them : And in the second place, that he be more advised than before, that he sound and search the depth of my Figures, colours, and rowles; principally of my rowles, because that in this Art they speak not vulgarly. Afterward let him ask of himself why the Figure of Saint Paul is on the right hand, in the place where the custom is to paint S. Peter? And on the other side that of Saint Peter, in the place of the figure of Saint Paul? Why the Figure of Saint Paul is clothed in colours white and yellow, and that of S. Peter in yellow and red?

Why also the man and the woman which are at the feet of these two Saints praying to God, as if it were at the Day of Judgement, are apparelled in divers colours and not naked, or else nothing but bones, like them that are rising again? Why in this Day of Judgement they have painted this man and this woman at the feet of the Saints? For they ought to have been more low on earth, and not in heaven.

Why also the two Angels in Orange colour, which say in their rowles, SVRGITE MORTVI, VENITE AD IVDICIVM DOMINI MEI, that is Arise you dead, come unto the Judgement of my Lord, are clad in this colour, and out of their place, for they ought to be on high in heaven, with the two other which play upon the Instruments? Why they have a field Violet and blue? But principally why their roule, which speaks to the dead, ends in the open throat of the red and flying Lion?

I would then that after these, and many other questions which may justly be made, opening wide the eyes of his spirit, he come to conclude, that all this, not having been done without cause, there must be represented under this bark, some great secrets, which he ought to pray God to discover unto him. Having then brought his belief by degrees to this pass wish also that he would further believe, that these figures and explications are not made for them that have never seen the Books of the Philosophers, and who not knowing the Metallic principles, cannot be named Children of this Science; for if they think to understand perfectly these figures, being ignorant of the first Agent, they will undoubtedly deceive themselves, and never be able to know any thing at all.

Let no man therefore blame me, if he do not easily understand me, for he will be more blame-worthy than I, inasmuch as not being initiated into these sacred and secret interpretations of the first Agent, (which is the key opening the gates of all Sciences) he would notwithstanding, comprehend the most subtile conceptions of the envious Philosophers, which are not written but for them who already know these principles, which are never found in any book, because they leave them unto God, who revealeth them to whom he please, or else causeth them to be taught by the living voice of a Maister, by Cabalistical tradition, which happeneth very seldom.

Now then, my Son, let me so call thee, both because I am now come to a great age, and also for that, it may be, thou art otherwise a child of this knowledge, (God enable thee to learn, and after to work to his glory). Hearken unto me then attentively, but pass no further if thou be ignorant of the foresaid Principles.

This Vessel of earth, in this form, is called by the Philosophers, their triple Vessel, for within it there is in the middest a Stage, or a floor, and upon that a dish or a platter full of lukewarm ashes, within which is set the Philosophical Egg, that is, a vial of glass full of confections of Art (as of the feumme of the red sea, and the fat of the mercurial wind) which thou see painted in form of a Penner and Inkehorn. Now this Vessel of earth is open above to put in the dish and the vial, under which by the open gate, is put in the Philosophical fire, as thou knowest. So thou hast three vessels; and the threefold vessel: The envious have called an Athanor, a fiue, dung, Balneum Marie, a Furnace, a Sphere, the greene Lion, a prison, a grave, a urinal, a phioll, and a Bolts-head : I myself in my Summary or Abridgement of Philosophy, which I composed four years and two months past, in the end thereof named it the house and habitation of the Poulet, and the ashes of the Platter, the chaffe of the Poulet;

The common name is an Oven, which I should never have found, if Abraham the Jew had not painted it, together with the fire proportionable, wherein consists a great part of the secret. For it is as it were the belly, or the womb, containing the true natural heat to animate our young King : If this fire be not measured Clibanically, saith Calid the Persian, son of Iasichus; If it be kindled with a sword, saith Pithagoras; If thou fire thy Vessel, saith Morien, and maketh it feel the heat of the fire, it will give thee a box on the care, and burn his flowers before they be risen from the depth of his Marrow, making them come out red, rather than white, and then thy work is spoiled ; as also if thou make too little fire, for then thou shalt never see the end, because of the coldness of the natures, which shall not have had motion sufficient to digest them together.

The heat then of thy fire in this vessel, shall be (as saith Hermes and Rofinus) according to the Winter; or rather, as saith Diomedes, according to the heat of a Bird, which begins to fly so softly from the sign of Aries to that of Cancer : for know that the Infant at the beginning is full of cold phlegm and of milk, and that too vehement heat is an enemy of the cold and moisture of our Embrion, and that the two enemies, that is to say, our two elements of cold and heat will never perfectly embrace one another, but by little and little, having first long dwelt together, in the middest of the temperate heat of their bath, and being changed by long decoction, into Sulphur incombustible.

Govern therefore sweetly with equality and proportion, thy proud and haughty natures, for fear lest if thou favour one more than another, they which naturally are enemies, do grow angry against thee through jealousy, and dry Choller, and make thee sigh for it a long time after. Besides this, thou must entertain them in this temperate heat perpetually, that is to say, night and day until the time that Winter, the time of the moisture of the matters, be passed; because they make their peace, and join hands in being heated together, whereas should these natures find themselves but one only half hour without fire, they would become for ever irreconcilable.

See therefore the reason why it is said in the Book of the seventy precepts: Look that their heat continue indefatigably without ceasing, and that none of their days be forgotten. And Rafis, the haste, saith he, that brings with it too much fire, is always followed by the Diuell, and Error. When the golden Bird, saith Diomedes, shall become just to Cancer, and that from thence it shall run toward Libra, then thou mayst augment the fire a little. And in like manner, when this faire Bird, shall fly from Libra towards Capricorn, which is the desired Autumn, the time of harvest, and of the fruits that are now ripe.


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.