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John Reid's Course on Practical Alchemy - II. Chapter 5.

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Chapter 5
Alkahest of the Vegetable Kingdom.

In spagyrics there is a special menstruum called an alkahest. This product is able to extract the spagyric sulfur from plants and minerals in a very short time, thereby saving the alchemist much time and labor. This menstruum is really very easy to prepare. It requires only patience and diligence in the work.

Take one gallon of red wine and rectify it seven times as was described earlier. When completed save the alcohol in a mason jar labeled as such. Be sure to also save the phlegm left from the rectifications. The dark-colored tincture that remains after the rectification is to be boiled off gently. In the bottom of the container, you will see a honey-like pitch. Dry this by evaporation until it forms a gum or hardened tar-like substance.

Take three one gallon plastic containers of red wine vinegar and place them into the freezer without their caps. Allow the vinegar to freeze overnight. Take the containers from the freezer and invert them allow the vinegar to drip out of the containers into another one. After a few hours you will find a strong-smelling colored water has filled the second container. In the first is left a plug of frozen water. Repeat this procedure at least seven times and your water will be sharp and very penetrating. Be sure to save the water from the ice plugs. Take the sharp concentrated vinegar after its seven rectifications and place it into a distillation flask. Assemble a distillation train and apply heat. Distill slowly and you will get a fraction that comes over at 100 degrees C (water) and another that comes over at 103 degrees C and peaks at 105 degrees C (concentrated vinegar). You must switch receivers between the time when all of the water has distilled over and the corrosive spirit starts to come over. Be sure though not to burn the colored tincture by urging the fire to rashly. Pour the tincture in the receiver into a mason jar marked "tincture of vinegar." This procedure should be repeated three more times. But only distill off the water and do not make the spirit fly.

Pour the water that was left from the ice plugs into the colored tincture left after the distillation. Dry this liquid into a gum or hardened tar as you did the body of its sibling.

Grind both gums to a powder. Place them spoonful by spoonful into a crucible and calcine them to whiteness. In the beginning you will see the impurities burn away from their bodies and rise as a smoke (use a hood or do it outside). When they have become purified to a snowy whiteness they are ready. Use the clear phlegm saved from the rectification of the alcohol to extract the true body of our spirits from the calcined matter. The body of the spirits is the base of our operation. They must be exceedingly pure. To test their spirituality take them outside on a clear spring day. If truly pure they will turn to liquid and leave no trace of solid behind. When gently heated to remove the moisture of the atmosphere they will turn solid again.

Take the rectified alcohol and cohobate it with its dual body. Exhale it off gently (i.e., vapor distillation). Let the apparatus cool and then cohobate the spirit onto the body once more. Distill again and cohobate seven or more times, the more oftene the better.

Add just enough of the phlegm from the alcohol rectification to dissolve the bodies. Add just enough of the vinegar so nature will find her balance. Evaporate off all liquids. Assemble the distillation train. In the receiver have some of the rectified alcohol. The end of the take-off tube must be under the level of the alcohol or else you will lose your spirit when it comes over. Into the retort place the body. Heat the distillation flask in a hot sand bath and you will see in the space of an hour or so the body rise and come to unite with the spirit of wine. Let the apparatus cool. Remove the spirits in the receiver and place them into a well-closed flask. Be sure to put back in enough alcohol to submerge the end of the take-off tube.

Calcine the matter left in the retort. Add enough phlegm or distilled water to dissolve what is in the retort. Add the rectified vinegar as you did before and distill as you did before. Keep this operation up until all or most of the body has united with spirit of wine.

Take the flask containing the spirit and the body and circulate in rhythm with the sun and moon for fourteen days. After the circulation is completed, let the flask cool. The body now spiritualized will always come over with the united spirit. Keep this menstruum, this magistery, in a bottle closed very tightly. It will separate the spagyric sulfur from an herb in very little time. It will also work on crystals, when they are prepared according to our art.