Rosarium Philosophorum (part 2)

Back to Rosarium page.


The Disposition of the Vessel fit for our work
According to the tradition of one Ferrarius by name.

Make a round glass vessel and let the bottom be of a small quantity in the manner of a little dish, and in the middle thereof, let there be a brim with an earthen girdle or ring encompassing it about, and let a round wall be built upon that girdle equally distant from the wall of the shell, of the thickness of the cover of that shell, so that in this distance the wall of the cover may fall largely without any thrusting down, but let the height of this wall be according to the height of the wall of the shell, or somewhat more or less. Let there be two covers made according to the measure of this hollowness and let the length be equal and the breadth of two great hands, and the shape of one of them like a pyramid. And in the heads of them let there be two equal holes, that the one may be in the one and the other in the other into both which a hen's feather may fall, but the whole intention of the vessel is that the cover thereof may be removed according to the will of the workman. The special intention concerning this is that the lower hollow place with its brims, enter into its cover even to the middle.

Hermes: The Dragon dieth not unless he be killed with his Brother and Sister, not by one only, but by both together, that is by Sol and Luna.

The Philosopher: Mercury never dieth unless he be killed by his Brother and Sister, that is, we must congeal it with Sol and Luna.

Note that, the Dragon is Argent vive, extracted out of bodies, having a body in himself, a soul and a spirit. Whereupon he saith, "The Dragon dieth not but with his Brother and Sister", that is with Sol and Luna, which is extracted Sulphur, having in itself the nature of moisture and coldness by reason of Luna. The Dragon dies with them - that is, Argent vive extracted from those bodies in the beginning, which is the Permanent Water of the Philosophers, which is made after the putrefaction and separation of the elements, and the water otherwise is called Stinking Water.

Bonellus: The Copper which before I spoke of is neither copper nor common tin, but it is our true work, because it must be mingled with the body of Magnesia that it may be decocted and grinded with aqua vitae, until it be destroyed. But you Sons of Learning, you must have much water, and that continually, until you have put it by parts and that the greatest part of the earth be dissolved.

Avicenna: That which is spiritual, ascendeth upwards in the vessel, but that which is thick and gross, remaineth downwards in the vessel, and unless you deal with the body in this sort, until the water will not be mingled with it, or be received of the earth, you shall but lose your labour. Therefore, unless you turn all into spiritual powder, you have not yet contrived it, i.e. grinded it, and that which you do in the white body do likewise in the red, because this medicine is

Of the Salt of the Philosophers
There are three Stones and three Salts, of which the whole magistery consists, that is to say Mineral, Plant and Animal, and there are three waters, that is of Sol, of Luna, and of Mercury. Mercury is an Mineral, Luna a plant, because it receiveth in itself two Colours, Whiteness and Redness, and Sol is an Animal because it receiveth three things, that is, Constriction, Whiteness, and Redness. And Sol is called the Great Animal, and Salt Armoniac is made of it; and Luna is called a Plant and Salt Alkali is made of it, but Mercury is called the mineral Stone and common Salt is made of it. Likewise when the Philosophers saw the substance of this Art dissolved, they called it Salt Armoniac, and when it was putrefied they said our Stone was base, and is found on a dunghill, and many have dug and laboured in the dunghill and have found nothing. And when it is converted into water, then both poor and rich have it, and it is found in every place, at any time, and in every thing, although the searching aggravates the searcher. And when it was white, they called it Arsenic, and by the name of every white thing, and also Virgin's MiIk, and when it was red they called it Sulphur, Jacinth and Blood, and by the name of every red thing.

Gratianus: Ashes may be made of every thing, and of those Ashes, Salt may be made, and of that Salt may water be made, and of that water is Mercury made, and of that Mercury by divers operations is Sol made.

Arnoldus: Truly this ash wants to melt, which moreover it enters favourably in order that it may tinct, melting or liquefaction is added to it, or else sweat by some means is delivered of the Philosophers. Therefore, what means is that? Is it in dissolving the waters? Surely not, because the Philosophers respect not the waters and other moistures sticking to that which is touched.

The Philosopher: Whosoever will alter and change bodies and spirits from their nature, must first reduce them to the natures of Salts and Alums, otherwise it will not be done and then it dissolveth them.

The Philosopher: Salts and Alums are those which are made in our work.

Arnold: He that hath fusible salt and incombustible oil, let him praise God.

Avicenna: If thou wilt be rich, prepare Salts until they be pure water, because Salts are converted into Spirit by fire. Salts are the root of our work.

Hermes: All Salts of what kind so ever, are contrary to our Art, except the Salt of our Lunaria.

The Philosopher: The Salt of metal dissolves Mercury in pure water, under dung and that mixture being coagulated will be a perfect medicine.

Note that, all Salts well prepared return to the nature of Salt Armoniac, and the whole secret is in common salt well prepared. Note that the Roman Vitriol hath the nature of the Stone of Metals, and it is hot and dry. Likewise, Alum seems to be coagulated Mercury, but it goeth from his accomplishment, hot and moist and it is called the like of one that is Mercury. Therefore, he that knoweth Salt and the Solution thereof, knoweth likewise the hidden secret of the Ancient wise men. Therefore, set thy mind on Salt and cogitate on nothing else, for in that only the science and greatest secret of all the Ancient Philosophers is hidden.


Conjunction or Coupling



O Luna, by means of my embracing and sweet kisses,
Thou art made beautiful, strong and mighty like as I am.

O Sol, thou art to be preferred before all light,
But yet thou needest me, as the cock does the hen.

Arisleus in a Vision
Join therefore thy son Gabrick, best beloved of thee among all thy sons, with his sister Beya, who is a fair, sweet and tender damsel. Gabrick is the man and Beya the woman, who gives him all that is hers.

0 blessed Nature, and blessed is thy operation, because out of an imperfect thing thou makest a perfect thing. Therefore, thou must not take that nature unless pure, clean, raw, pleasant, earthy and right and if thou do otherwise it will not bring forth anything, so that no contrary thing enter in with our Stone and put nothing but that only. Join therefore our ferment with his sweet sister and they will beget a son between them, who shall not be like his parents. And although Gabrick is made more dear to Beya, yet there is no generation made without Gabrick, for the coupling of Gabrick with Beya is presently dead. For Beya ascendeth above Gabrick and includes him in her womb because nothing at all can be seen of him. And she embraceth Gabrick with so great a love that she hath conceived him wholly in his nature and divided him into inseperable parts.

Masculinus:

Conception changeth the blood, which before was as it were milk.
The pale things wax black, the red diffused things shine.
The white woman, if she be married to the red man,
presently they embrace, and embracing are coupled.
By themselves they are dissolved and by themselves they are brought together,
that they which were two, may be made as it were one body.

Mary the sister of Moses: Join Gum with Gum in true matrimony and make them like running water.

Astanus: Spirits are not joined unto bodies until they be perfectly purified, and great miracles appear in the hour of conjunction, for then the imperfect body is coloured with a firm colour with the help of the ferment. This ferment is the soul of the imperfect body, and the spirit by the help of the soul, is conjoined and knit to the body and is turned together with it into the colour of ferment, and is made one with them.

Basius: In a perfect magistery, stones do not receive themselves by course, unless either of them be first purified. For the body does not receive the spirit, nor the spirit the body, so that spiritual may be made corporeal, or corporeal spiritual, unless they be first perfectly purged from all filthiness.

0 Sol, thou hast need of me, as the hen hath need of the cock, and I have need of thy work.

Alexander in the Secrets of Nature: Know that no son is born but of man and woman.

Hermes in his Second Treatise: Know this, my Son, that unless a man know how to marry and to make pregnant and to engender forms, there can be nothing done. But if he shall do this, he shall be of great dignity.

Rosinus: The secret of the art of gold consists of the man and woman, because the woman receiving the strength of the man rejoiceth because the woman is strengthened by the man.

Alphidius: Son, by the faith of the glorious God, complexion is of Complexion, between two lights, male and female, and then they embrace themselves and couple together, and a perfect light is begotten between them, which there is no light like through the whole world.

Senior: Of two waters make one water, if you understand these two words, all the Regimen will be under your feet.

Rosarius: It behoveth thee to have two waters, the one is white but the other is red. This is that water in which the powers of the whiteness and redness are gathered together.

Hali: Take a whelp dog, and a whelp bitch of Armenia, join them both together, and both these will bring forth to thee a dog whelp of an heavenly colour, and that son will preserve thee in thy house from the beginning in this world, and in another world.

Senior: The red ferment hath married a white wife, and in their conjunction the wife being great with child, hath brought forth a son which in all things hath preserved his Parents, and is more bright and glorious.

Rosinus: This Stone is a Key, for without it nothing is done. Our Stone is a most strong spirit to which bodies are not mingled, until it be dissolved, and if I should call it by its true name, the ignorant would not believe it were so.

Arnoldus: Thou that desireth to search out the secret of this Art, must of necessity know the first matter of metals, for otherwise thou shalt but spend thy labour in vain.

Rosinus: We use true nature because nature does not amend nature, unless it be into his own nature. There are three principal Stones of Philosophers. That is mineral, animal, and vegetable. A mineral Stone, a vegetable Stone, and an animal Stone, three in name but one in essence.

The Spirit is double, that is tincturing and preparing.

Albertus: The spirit preparing, dissolveth copper and extracteth it out of the body of Magnesia, and reduceth it again to its body.

Senior: It is the preparer and extractor of the Soul from its body, and bringeth it again to its body. The tincting spirit is called the Fifth Essence, which is strength and a soul standing and penetrating.

Liber Trium Verborum: It behoveth thee to extract the fifth essence, otherwise thou labourest in vain, and this without doubt cannot be done without water.

But the second Spirit is without the body and it is of a watery nature and it is a tincturing body in Elixir.

Turba: But this man is the body and this woman is the spirit.

Arnoldus: The spirit is not altered of the body so that it may lose its spiritual virtue, but every body is altered and tinctured of the spirits.

Aristotle: Note therefore the words and mark the mysteries, because the spirit which dissolves the white foliated earth, doth not hold any of them fixed, unless you possess it with that body of which it was prepared in the beginning. Permanent or Perpetual Water, or the spirit of Wine, is called the water of the body, that is when the body is reduced into Mercury. Likewise without permanent water nothing is done. It is also called Water of Life.

The Philosopher: I protest by the God of Heaven, that the Art is nothing else than to dissolve a Stone, and always to coagulate it, and again with the spirit of wine only, you may make perfect Elixir.

The Water of the Philosophers is called the Vessel of Hermes of which the Philosophers have written, "All means are made in our water - that is; Sublimation, Distillation, Solution, Calcination, Fixation, are done in this foresaid water, as it were in an artificial vessel, which is the greatest Secret". And water is the weight of wisemen, therefore, water and fire suffice thee for the whole work. Our water is stronger than fire because it makes a mere spirit of a body of gold, which fire cannot do, and fire is in respect to it as it were water in respect to our common fire. Therefore, the Philosopher says, ' Burn our copper in a most strong fire.'

Aristotle in the Regimen of Princes says unto Alexander concerning the four elements: When you have water, that is Mercury of the Air, that is of the Stone and Air of Fire, that is Spirit of Mercury and fire that is Mercury of the Earth, that is of Luna, then you shall have the Art fully.

The Philosopher: Our Stone passeth into the earth, the earth into the water, the water into the air, the air into the fire, and there is its standing. The white work is compiled of three elements, in which fire is not, that is three weights of earth, two of water and one of air. But for Elixir of Sol - put two parts of earth, three of water, and one and a half of air and of fire, and that is red ferment.

Rasis in his Great Book of Precepts: Whosoever is ignorant in the weight let him not labour in our books, because the Philosophers have concealed nothing but these things.

The Turba: Our contrition or grinding is not done with the hands, but with most strong decoction.

Calidus: A lesser fire grindeth all things.

Note, there is a difference between the element and that which is Elementated, and the Fifth Essence. The Element is the first thing of compoundable matters, from whence neither earth, nor water, nor air, nor fire is a pure element and simple with us, because they are mingled between themselves by course and especially - in that part where they conjoin. But the Fifth Essence is a body standing by itself and differing from all Elements and from things Elementated, as well in matter as in form, and as well in nature as in virtue, not having the cause of corruption in itself. And it is called the Fifth Essence, therefore, because it is extracted out of all Elementated things, wherefore there is no elemental motion in it as in other Elemental Bodies. The Stone therefore is called everything because it hath in itself and of itself every necessary thing of its own perfection. It is found in every place by reason of the participation of the Elements. It is called by all names because of the worthy and miraculous variety of colours of its nature. Most base and cheap by putrefaction, and most dear by virtue. This is the hidden and Secret Magistery of the Philosophers. Our Stone is called one thing when the substances of the body and water are prepared inseparably, so that one of them cannot be separated from another. Our Stone is said to be of a combustible matter and Mercury is only a Spirit incombustible and coppery, and therefore it is meet that it be in the magistery. Likewise, the Stone which the Philosophers seek, in which the first elements of minerals are, tincture and calx, soul and spirit with the body fixed and volatile. And it is not every Mercury, but it is that above which nature hath determined her first operations into a metallic nature, and hath left it imperfect. But if you extract this Stone from that thing in which it is found, and shall begin to work about it to perfection, by beginning in that place where nature hath left it imperfect, you shall find perfection in it and shall rejoice.

Argent vive of itself is of no force, but when it is mortified with its hidden body, then it is of force and liveth with an incorruptible life. This body is of the nature of Sol, therefore of necessity it must convert all Argent vive into the nature of Sol, as leaven converts the whole lump of dough into the nature of leaven, but not on the contrary, because always that which is ruled is transported to that which is ruling.

Our Stone is named of all the Philosophers - Mercury, which is not born as many think but extracted out of a body. The Stone of Philosophers is of three things, that is of Sol, Luna and Mercury, that is make Mercury of Sol and Luna in his essence without common Mercury, but by the philosophical way.

This Stone is but one stone in the whole world, and he that in the beginning of his work shall err from this one, doth altogether lose his labour. In the whole world there is not any other thing necessary in our work but only this Stone.

Arnoldus says Sol and Luna are in our Stone in virtue and power and in all nature, if this were not so neither Sol nor Luna would be made thereof, because the Sol and Luna in our Stone are better than the common in the nature of them, and because Sol and Luna are alone in Our Stone, and the vulgar are dead in respect of Sol and Luna. Therefore the Philosophers have named that Stone, Sol and Luna by course, because they are in it potentially and not visibly, but in virtue and essence. Wherefore Hermes says, "Our Stone crieth saying, 'Son, help me and I will help thee.'"


Conception or Putrefaction



Here lie the King and Queen dead.
The Soul is separated with great grief.

Aristotle the King and Philosopher: I never saw any thing that had life to grow and increase without putrefaction, and vain would be the work of Alchemy be, unless it were putrefied.

Morienus: This earth is purified and cleansed with his water, which when it shall be cleansed, by the help of God the whole work shall be effected.

Parmenides the Philosopher: Unless the body be spoiled and putrefied and be converted into a substantial substance, then cannot that hidden virtue be extracted nor mingled with the body.

Bacchus the Philosopher: When natures are corrupted and putrefied then they engender.

Plato the Philosopher: We have an example in an egg, which first putrefies and then a chicken is engendered, which after it is wholly corrupted, it becomes a living creature.

Note, that without corruption there can no generation be made. Study therefore in putrefaction, for the corruption of the one is the generation of the other.

Hermes: The second degree is to putrefy and grind, therefore the disposition thereof is first to make it black and to putrefy it.

Plato: The first regimen of Saturn is to putrefy and to put it to Sol, but the composition is of four nights.

Democritus: Be neither too quick or too slow in putrefying the gravel and the bodies plated and joined together, attend in your work and you shall profit in it.

Rosinus to Euthiaca: Take a living creature of the Sea, dry it and putrefy it.

Morienus: No enervating nor engendering is done but after putrefaction, but if putrefaction be not, it cannot be dissolved, and if it be not dissolved it will be brought to nothing.

Morienus: Our Stone is a confection of the magistery itself and is likened in order to the creation of man, for the first thing is Coupling, the second Conception, the third Pregnation, the fourth Rising, and the fifth Nourishment.

Dear brother, understand these words of Morienus and thou shalt not err in the truth. Therefore open thy eyes and behold the sperm of the Philosophers is quick water, but the earth is the imperfect body. This earth is worthily called mother because it is the mother of all the elements, therefore when the sperm is conjoined with the earth of the imperfect body, then it is called Coupling. For then the earth of the body is dissolved into the water of sperm, and it is made one water without division.

Hali: Solution and Coagulation of the body are two things but they have one operation, because the spirit is not coagulated, but with the solution of the body; neither is the body dissolved, but with the coagulation of the spirit; and the body and soul, when they are conjoined, each of them goes unto his like. An example - when water is joined to earth, the water with his moisture and virtue endeavoureth to dissolve the earth, for it makes it more subtle than it was before, and likewise makes it like unto itself, because water is more subtle than earth. So the soul doeth the like in the body, and in the same way the water is thickened with the earth, and becometh like thickened earth, because the earth is thicker than the water, therefore there is no difference between the solution of the body and the coagulation of the spirit nor any contrary work in either if them; so that the one may be done without the other, as there is no contrary part of time between the water and the earth in their conjunction, that the one may be known or separated from the other in their conjunctions and operations. As the sperm of the man is not separated from the sperm of the woman in the hour of their coupling, and so there is one form of them, one deed, one and the self same operation at once of them both.

Merculinus:

He calleth the mixture of things
Coupling and engendering.
The seeds are mingled
As it were milk which seems to be mixed.

The second is Conception, when the earth is dissolved into black powder and begins a little to retain Mercury with him, for there the male works in the female, that is Azoth in Earth.

Aristeus: Males engender not by course, neither do females conceive, for the generation is of males and females and especially of the compound.

For nature rejoices and true generation is made by the males marrying the females, but nature being joined to a foreign foolish nature, does engender no truth of sperm.

Merculinus:

Conception, changes the blood
Which was as it were milk
The pale things wax black
And the red diffuse things shine.

Arnoldus: Every colour will appear after blackness, and where thou see thy matter to wax black, then rejoice because it is the beginning of the work.

Arnoldus: Burn our Copper in a soft fire like the hatching of eggs, until the body be made and the tincture extracted, but you must not extract it out altogether, but let it come forth all the day by little and little, until in a long time it be filled.

I am black of white, and red of white, and yellow of red, and certainly I speak the truth, and lie not. And know this, that a Crow is head of this Art, which in the darkness of the night, and in the brightness of the day flies without wings. For the colouration is taken of a bitterness which is in her throat, and redness is taken of her body, and pure water is taken of her back. Understand therefore, the gift of God and receive it and conceal it from the simple and ignorant, for it hath been concealed.

Concerning the dens and caverns of the metals, the Stone whereof is miraculous and animal, a bright colour on high mountain and and open sea. And we must confess that in the philosophical Stone after true mundification the greatest part is Argent vive and for this cause it is not burnt but by accident. But all this is done by nature, and it is not to be believed that this is possible to be done by workmanship, as diverse ignorant persons have taught. And do think for the philosophical stone is found created by Nature, and through the highest God it wants nothing more, than that may be removed which is superfluous in it. Therefore let that matter be prepared and let that which is pure be chosen out of it, and let that which is earthly be removed from it.

Tudianus: Know that our coppery and volatile stone is in his manifest cold and moist, and in his secret warm and dry. And that coldness and moistness which is in manifest, is a watery fume corrupting and making black, destroying itself and all things, and flying from the fire. And the heat and dryness, which is in secret, is warm and dry gold, and it is a most pure oil penetrative in bodies and not fugitive, because the heat and dryness of Alchemy tingeth and nothing else. Cause therefore the coldness and watery moisture, which is in manifest, to be like unto the heat and dryness, which is in secret, that they may agree together and be conjoined, and be made all in one penetrating and tincting, but it is meet those moistures be destroyed by the fire, and by the degrees of the fire, with gentle temperament and moderate digestion.

The philosophical putrefaction is nothing else but a corruption and destruction of bodies. For one form being destroyed, nature presently brings into it another form, more better and subtle. Putrefaction is the same thing that fraction of filthiness is. For by putrefaction every thing is digested, and fraction is made between that which is filthy, that which stinks, and that which is pure and clean. For a pure and clean body being putrefied doth immediately grow and increase, as is manifest in a grain of corn, which after it has stood many days under the heat of the earth, then it beginneth to swell, and that which is pure grows out of it and multiplies, but that which is filthy and naught, vanishes away. Therefore putrefaction is also necessary in our work, by reason of the aforesaid causes.

Conception and desponsation are done in rottenness in the bottom of the vessel, and the generation of things begotten shall be done in the air, that is in the head of the vessel, that is of an alembic. The body does nothing but putrefy, and cannot be putrefied but by Mercury. Putrefaction may be made with a most soft fire of dung, warm and moist, and with no other, so that nothing may ascend. Because if anything should ascend, a separation of parts would be made, which should not be done until the man and woman be perfectly joined, and one receives another. The sign is in the sight of the perfect solution, and although Azoth appears white in the first mixtion and conjunction, by reason the woman overcometh with her colour, nevertheless in putrefaction, by the benefit of the fire, they are both made black by the fire increasing in moist, it putrefies the colour black, which is tincture, and therefore to be kept a great secret.

The nature of Gold being putrefied in strong water excels all natures therefore in the making of the Stone, it is to be noted that no stone excelleth the mineral stone in virtue.

The Philosopher: Make a round circle of the Man and Woman, and draw out of it a quadrangle, and out of the quadrangle a triangle, make a round circle, and thou shalt have the Stone of the Philosophers.

Geber proves in his book of Trials that if Sol and Luna are incorporated together by Art, they will not easily be separated, and so the one converteth the other, because the one is dry and the other is moist, and after the one hath taken the other, they embrace themselves with such strong knitting and hold themselves so fast, that the one can hardly be plucked from the other. This would be much more stronger if one of them were spiritual, that is medicinal, and so tangible by reason of his spiritualness. Gold is Gold in act and in matter, but if it were spiritualised, then is made of act - power, and of matter - form and of a thing done - a thing doing, of a woman - a man, and of a thing born - a thing bearing. Therefore, since there is no matter of Gold, no Gold which was not first Silver as the Philosopher says, if therefore such a form be joined to this matter, that is to Luna, surely they will most desirously embrace themselves and make that which is the less perfect more perfect, and this is done naturally and amicably, because every nature desires to be perfect and naturally abhors to be destroyed.

Avicenna: The intention of labourers in this Art, yea rather the intention of the Art itself, according to the possibility of the nature of things, is that the matter of one thing may put on the form and nature of another thing.

Verbi Gratia: Copper is to put on the nature and form of Silver, or Lead is to put on the nature and form of Gold, and so likewise of all other metals. For since form is the nature of everything, then any thing being despoiled of his form, and another form brought to it, I doubt whether the nature of it be changed from its form. We say therefore, that the name of Alchemy in Greek signifies Transmutation and thereupon we say that Alchemy is the knowledge and science of transmuting things from their forms and shapes according to how the forms of things are divided.


The Extraction or Impregnation of the Soul



Here the Four Elements are separated,
And the Soul is most subtly severed from the Body.

Of Blackness

Hermes (in his second treatise): Know my Son, that this our Stone of many names and diverse colours is ordained and compounded of four Elements, which we must divide and cut into members and more straightly sequestrate them and mortify the parts and turn them into that nature which is in them. We must keep the water and fire dwelling in them, which is of four Elements, and we must contain those waters with his water, even if it were not water but a fiery form of true water ascending in the vessel, which contains the spirits in the bodies and makes them tingeing and permanent.

Sorin: Take of it little and little, divide the whole, grind it earnestly, until it be possessed with death of the intensity of blackness like dust. This therefore is great design, in searching out of which many men have perished, and afterwards thou shalt discern every thing separately and grind them diligently.

Hermes: We must mortify two Argent vives at once. Take the brain thereof, and grind it in most sharp vinegar or in children's urine until it be obscured. This being done it liveth in putrefaction, and the thick clouds which were upon it and in his body before he was mortified, are returned, and this being begun again as I have written it, may again be mortified as before. But we must sequestrate it from two sulphurs and decoct it continuously, till the water be made black. He therefore that maketh earth black shall come to his purpose and it shall go well with him.

Arnoldus: When the first is black we say it is the Key of the Work, because it is not done without blackness.

Speculum: Therefore my dear Son, when thou art in thy work see that in the beginning thou have black colour, and then assure thyself that thou putrefieth and proceedeth in the right way.

0 blessed is nature, and blessed is thy operation, because of imperfection thou makest perfect with true putrefaction, which is black and obscure. Afterwards thou makest diverse new things to spring up, and with thy greenness thou cause divers colours to appear. That blackness is called earth, which is reiterated so often with light decoction, until the blackness remains alone, and so you have two elements. The first water by itself, and then earth of water.

Avicenna in his book of Moistures: The agent heat in a moist body doth first engender blackness, as we may see in Calx, which is made by the common sort.

Menabdes: I will that posterity makes bodies no bodies by dissolution, and to make no bodies bodies by pleasant decoction. Wherein we must take great heed that the spirit be not converted into fume and vanish away by overmuch fire.

Maria: Keep it and be careful that none of it fly into fume, and let the nature of the fire be according to the heat of the Sun in July, until the water be thickened and the earth made black, by the long decoction thereof. So therefore thou hast another element which is earth, and let it suffice thee for blackness.

Stephianus: Open thy eyes and thy heart, hearken and understand I will show and speak unto thee words that are to be understood, if thou be one of them which should understand. Know this, that from man nothing cometh forth but man, and so of every animal the like engendered, but we see some things engendered of their roots to be unlike one to another, because we see some things that have wings to be engendered of things that have no wings. We see and know also some things that we know not of what nature cometh forth, although we know it sufficeth us, but cannot give any reason for it, because they are dark and profound and perhaps hidden underneath the earth. And know that of that mineral nature the Art is made and of nothing else.

Avicenna: Know therefore the mineral root, making your work of them.

Aristotle in his second Book of the Soul: It is a most natural and perfect work to engender like to like, as a plant to engender a plant, and a goat to engender a goat.

Aristotle: The work of the Art of Alchemy would not profit in itself, unless we know the apparent natures without error.

Hermes: 0, Water remaining in form, the creatress of the Royal Elements. 0, Nature the chief creatress of natures, which contains Nature and meanly overcometh by Nature, which cometh with light, and is begotten with light.

Out of the Lucidary of Arnoldus
Some men have said that all the colours which may be devised in the world do appear in the work of the Stone, but that is the deceit of the Philosophers. For there appear but four principal colours, and because all the other colours draw their original out of them, therefore they called them all colours, and although all colours do not appear to thee yet care not so long as thou mayest segregate the elements. For yellowness signifies burnt choler and fire. Redness signifies blood and air. Whiteness, phlegm and water. Blackness melancholy and earth. Whereupon Hortulanus says there are four Elements, having four colours and know that the aforesaid colours appear in our dissolution.

I demand in what time this blessed Stone may be made, to which it is answered as a certain author Lelius the Philosopher witnesses, that his magistery was finished in eight days, and that another did it in seven days, and another in three months, and some in four months, and some in half a year, and some in the space of a whole year, and Maria says she did it in three days. To this I say that the cause of diversity, that is of shortness and length of time, might be defect in the virtue of the water of Mercury or because it worketh of Sol and Luna. And some of the Philosophers added more and some less. But Sol is fixed and not flying, and with that only did they work. Whereupon, for his impotency of fixion and impatiency of fire when it was mingled with Sol by melting, it caused it to ascend for a great part. And when it did ascend, so they called it water and a soul and a spirit, saying that their water was not common water nor water of Mercury. And then the earth remained in the bottom, then they reduced that water above the body and made it again to ascend by virtue of the fire, and they mingled it again with earth, until they carried out the earth with them in their belly. "The wind carried him in his belly." Therefore of necessity they must have a great quantity of the aforesaid water. And then the spirit was fixed in the body, therefore they began that subliming again until all the whole remained fixed and that which was weak ascended. Then was the spirit fixed in the body, and Luna was incorporated to Sol and commixed by the least, and so the operation was finished. Whereupon the aforesaid diversity in working might be in adding too much of the fixed body and too little of the body not fixed, and because there was not more of the unfixed body, therefore it ascended the sooner, and when there was more of the fixed then it ascended more slowly.

But what say you of this? The Philosophers say plainly, "Our Gold is not the common Gold, and our Silver not common Silver". I say that they call water Gold because it ascendeth to higher things by the virtue of the fire, and in truth that Gold is not common Gold, for the common people would not believe that it could ascend to higher matters by reason of its fixedness. Know moreover that such a manner hath been accustomed of the Philosophers, as to halt and dissemble in a most plain way, and to hide the matter that is spoken of, by figures and parables and sometimes by metaphorical words and sometimes by false and strange practise in way of similitudes.

Geber: Wheresoever we have spoken plainly, there we have spoken nothing, but where we have used riddles and figures, there we have hidden the truth.

Metrista: Salts and Alums are not the Stone but helpers of the Stone. He that hath not tasted of the Savour of the Salt shall never come to the wished ferment of ferments, for it fermenteth finitely by excellency, such is the superior as is the inferior.

Burn in water, wash in fire.
Decoct, recoct and decoct again.
Often times make moist and always coagulate.
Kill the quick and revive again and raise from the dead.
And thou shalt have truly which thou seekest,
If thou know the Regimen of the fire,
Mercury and fire are sufficient for thee.

If thou Our Copper well do know
All the other things thou mayest let go.

Out of an Ancient little book - Hortulanus upon the Epistle of Hermes: He only that knows how to make the Philosophers Stone understandeth their words concerning the Philosophers Stone. For the Philosophers have manifestly endeavoured to make this Art known to the worthy and to conceal it from the unworthy. And so they always speak truth of the virtue of intention but not of the virtue of speech. And so they say the Philosophers Stone to be made of an egg, because there are three things in an egg, which are like to three things which make perfect the Stone. Hermes says, "Sol is its father and Luna is its mother", and thus he granteth that two things enter into the composition of the Stone, and that Hortulanus proves because the water of Sol is volatile and his body fixed, and in the contrary way with Luna. And then these words spoken by Geber and other philosophers are declared "make fixed volatile, and volatile fixed, and fixed volatile". For they persuade that there is manifest solution, because the whole work consists in Solution. Likewise when he says that it is superior and inferior, hereby superior is understood the worthier and inferior the unworthier, that one may be made of those three or that one thing may be made of Sol and Luna whose parts are equal. And this conjunction is called the Sublimation of the Philosophers, and Sublimation is called Exaltation, or Dignification, because Luna and Mercury are dignified. For when Union is made in so great dignity, then Luna is as Sol and Mercury. Likewise when fixation is made which is called the dead body, then Sol is as base as Mercury.

Likewise, the Stone is said to have four Elements, which Arnoldus expoundeth. Because when solution is made then water is called one element, and when the body is impure, the earth is called the second element, and when the earth is calcined, it is called fire, and when the Stone is again dissolved it is called air.

Likewise the Stone is said to have body, soul and spirit. By the body we understand the impure body as was said before, by the soul is understood the ferment, and by the spirit which hath its being in projection which is called by another name, Fifth Essence, which this compostion having gotten, it has the true virtue of converting.

Likewise the aforesaid Stone is called Rebis, that is one thing which is made of two things, that is of body and spirit, or of Sol and Luna of a body purified and fermented.

Likewise it is called a Stone found in every place, because of the true composition, when Sol, Luna and Mercury are conjoined together, the virtue of the Stone is wholly through the world, in mountains and plains, that is in bodies and Mercury, and in the Sea, that is in dissolved water, and flying things take help and nourishment of it. Things flying are quick Mercury and imperfect bodies which are converted into Sol and Luna, and it is called Scorpio, that is poison, because it mortifies itself and reviveth itself again, for that threefold thing being cast upon Mercury doth revive it, because it maketh a true body and yet it is called mineral Argent vive of the Philosophers. But the matter of the Philosophers Stone is water, and it is understood of the water of these three, as Hortulanus proves, neither ought there to be more or fewer. And he says that Sol is the man and Luna the woman, and Mercury the sperm. But that there may be generation and conception, it is meet that the man be joined to the woman, and so conception and Impregnation ought to be made before fermentation, and when the matter is multiplied and fermented, then it is said that an infant increaseth in the womb of the mother. Hortulanus and Arnoldus say that the soul is poured into the body and a crowned king is born.

In the book of The Turba of the Philosophers these words are recited, "dissolve bodies and imbibe the spirit". They say bodies in the plural because there must be two, and they say spirit in the singular because it is meet there should be one. And there is no sperm without the matter of bodies unless Mercury. And when it is said, imbibe the spirit then that operation is understood which fixes Mercury and the Stone is multiplied. Multiplied, that is reiterated.

Likewise,when Mercury mortifies the matter of Sol and Luna, the matter remains like ashes, and it is called of the Philosophers searing or grinding of them. Of these ashes it is said in the book of the Turba and in the book of Arnoldus, make no small account of these ashes.

Likewise the aforesaid ashes,which is of these three things, is called by the Philosophers an impure body, because it must be decocted and calcined unto whiteness. Therefore Morienus says in the book of the Turba, "unless you purify the unclean body and make it white and send a soul into it, you have directed nothing well in this magistery". And in this sort there are two had, that is Calcination of the Stone itself and Fermentation. Calcination, that is in manner of white Ash or earth, or of white calx by the spirits, which reduction of operation is done and made with our fire, that is with water of our Mercury.

Likewise, when it is called tincture it tincteth. It is understood that if this medicine be calcined, dissolved and coagulated, it is fermented, for white is made Luna, with Sol it is made Sol.

Likewise, Geber proves and says, of the medicine of the third order, because both white and red are one and the same way with Sol and Luna, yet they differ in fermentation, of which third order this medicine is double, that is Solary and Lunary, and yet it is in one essence, and the manner of doing is one. But there is an addition of yellowness, or of yellow colour of which medicine is perfected of the substance of fixed Sulphur. That is, either medicine is begun with Sol or Luna, for red ferment is made with Sol and white with Luna. Sol is taken two ways, one way for water of Sol, another way for the body of Sol as has been said before.

Likewise, when it is said that all colours appear, it is true, because before fermentation, in calcinations, dissolutions and fixations, all colours appear.

Light of Lights: And know that they are the same things which make both white and red, inwardly and outwardly, that is Sol, Luna, and Mercury. Which three being dissolved and fermented, he calleth them Argent vive, saying Argent vive hath in itself, Body, Soul and Spirit.

Likewise decoct the man and the woman together, till they be coagulated and made a Stone.

Likewise, you must note that Our Elixir is not made but of minerals, and note moreover, the Dragon dies not unless he be killed by his brother and sister, and not by one only but by two at once. Sol is the brother and Luna is the sister.

Lastly, Arnoldus says, because the Philosophers speak true of the Stone whatsoever they speak, because they speak of the virtue of speech to conceal it from the unworthy, but of the virtue of intention they speak to the worthy and speak a truth. And the Philosophers know that such matters ought to be declared mystically, as poetry in the manner of a fable and parable, and when the Philosophers speak of great matters, they do not mingle parables and fables, as Macrobius says.


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.