Thomas Vaughan's allegory of the Mountain

A second short allegory from Thomas Vaughan Lumen de Lumine, or a New Magical Light, London, 1651.

Back to allegories.



Every man naturally desires a superiority, to have treasures of gold and silver, and to seem great in the eyes of the world. God indeed created all things for the use of man, that he might rule over them and acknowledge therein the singular goodness and omnipotence of God, give Him thanks for His benefits, honor Him and praise Him. But there is no man looks after these things otherwise than by spending his days idly. They would enjoy them without any previous labor and danger; neither do they look for them in that place where God has treasured them up, Who expects also that man should seek for them there, and to those that seek will He give them. But there is not any that labors for a possession in that place, and therefore these riches are not found. For the way to this place - and the place itself - have been unknown for a long time, and it is hidden from the greatest part of the world. But notwithstanding that it be difficult and laborious to discover this way and place, yet the place should be sought after. But it is not the will of God to conceal anything from those that are His; and therefore in this last age - before the final judgement comes - all these things shall be manifested to those that are worthy. As He Himself - though obscurely, lest it should be manifested to the unworthy - has spoken in a certain place, "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed and hidden that shall not be known." We therefore, being moved by the Spirit of God, do declare the will of God to the world, which we have also already performed and published in several languages. But most men either revile or condemn our Manifesto, or else - waiving the Spirit of God - they expect the proposals thereof from us, supposing that we will straightway teach them how to make gold by art, or furnish them with ample treasures, whereby they may live pompously in the face of the world, swagger and make wars, turn usurers, gluttons and drunkards, live unchastely and defile their whole life with several other sins - all of which are contrary to the blessed will of God. These men should have learned from those ten Virgins - whereof five that were foolish demanded oil for their lamps from those five that were wise - how that the case is much otherwise. It is expedient that every man should labor for this treasure by the assistance of God and his own particular search and industry. But the perverse intentions of these fellows we understand out of their own writings, by the singular grace and revelation of God. We do stop our ears and wrap ourselves, as it were, in clouds to avoid the bellowings and howlings of those men who cry out in vain for gold.

And thus indeed it comes about that they brand us with infinite calumnies and slanders, which nevertheless we do not resent; but God in His good time will judge them for it. But after we had known well - though unknown to you - and perceived by your writing how diligent you are to pursue the Holy Scripture and seek the true knowledge of God, we have out of many thousands thought you worthy of some answer; and we signify this much to you by the will of God and the admonition of the Holy Spirit.

There is a Mountain situated in the midst of the earth or center of the world, which is both small and great. It is soft, also above measure hard and stony. It is far off and near at hand, but by the providence of God invisible. In it are hidden the most ample treasures, which the world is not able to value. This mountain - by envy of the devil, who always opposes the glory of God and the happiness of man - is compassed about with very cruel beasts and ravening birds - which make the way thither both difficult and dangerous. And therefore until now - because the time is not yet come - the way thither could not be sought after nor found out. But now at last the way is to be found by those that are worthy - but nonetheless by every man's self-labor and endeavors.

To this Mountain you shall go in a certain night - when it comes - most long and most dark, and see that you prepare yourselves by prayer. Insist upon the way that leads to the Mountain, but ask not of any man where the way lies. Only follow your Guide, who will offer himself to you and will meet you in the way. But you are not to know him. This Guide will bring you to the Mountain at midnight, when all things are silent and dark. It is necessary that you arm yourselves with a resolute, heroic courage, lest you fear those things that will happen, and so fall back. You need no sword nor any other bodily weapons; only call upon God sincerely and heartily.

When you have discovered the Mountain the first miracle that will appear is this: A most vehement and very great wind that will shake the Mountain and shatter the rocks to pieces. You will be encountered also by lions and dragons and other terrible beasts; but fear not any of these things. Be resolute and take heed that you turn not back, for your Guide - who brought you thither - will not suffer any evil to befall you. As for the treasure, it is not yet found, but it is very near.

After this wind will come an earthquake that will overthrow those things which the wind has left, and will make all flat. But be sure that you do not fall off. The earthquake being past, there will follow a fire that will consume the earthly rubbish and disclose the treasure. But as yet you cannot see it.

After these things and near the daybreak there will be a great calm, and you will see the Day-star arise, the dawn will appear, and you will perceive a great treasure. The most important thing in it and the most perfect is a certain exalted Tincture, with which the world - if it served God and were worthy of such gifts - might be touched and turned into most pure gold.

This Tincture being used as your Guide shall teach you will make you young when you are old, and you will perceive no disease in any part of your bodies. By means of this Tincture also you will find pearls of an excellence which cannot be imagined. But do not you arrogate anything to yourselves because of your present power, but be contented with what your Guide shall communicate to you. Praise God perpetually for this His gift, and have a special care that you do not use it for worldly pride, but employ it in such works as are contrary to the world. Use it rightly and enjoy it as if you had it not. Live a temperate life and beware of all sin. Otherwise your Guide will forsake you and you will be deprived of this happiness. For know of a truth: whosoever abuses this Tincture and does not live exemplarly, purely and devoutly before men, will lose this benefit and scarcely any hope will be left of recovering it afterward.


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.