HTML Scrolling Menu

Ripley's Ninth Gate

Back to Twelve Gates.


True Fermentation few workers understand,
That secret therefore I will expound to you.
I travelled truly through many a land,
Ere ever I might find any that would tell it me :
Yet as God would, evermore blessed be he,
At at last I came to the perfected knowledge thereof,
Take heed therefore what I thereof do write.

Fermentations in divers manners be done,
By which our medicine must be perpetuated,
Into clear water - some looseth Sun and Moon,
And with their medicines make them to be congealed;
Which in the fire when they be examined,
May not abide, nor alter with complement:
For such fermenting is not to our intent.

But yet more kindly some other men do,
Fermenting their medicines in this way -
In Mercury dissolving both Sun and Moon,
Till time with the spirit they will arise,
Subliming them together twice or thrice;
Then Fermentation therewith they make;
That is a way, but yet we it forsake.

Some others there be which have more sense,
To touch the truth in part of fermenting -
They amalgam their bodies with Mercury like pap,
Then thereupon their medicines relenting;
These of our secrets have some hint,
But not the truth with perfect complement
Because they neither putrefy, nor alter their Ferment.

That point therefore I will disclose to you,
Look how you did with your imperfect body -
Do so with thy perfect bodies in each degree,
That is to say, first you putrefy them,
Destroying their former qualities utterly,
For this is wholly to our intent,
That first you alter before you ferment.

To your compound make ferment the fourth part,
Which ferments be only of Sun and Moon,
If you therefore be master of this art,
Your fermentation let thus be done,
Fix water and earth together soon,
And when your medicine as wax do flow,
Then upon amalgams look you it throw.

And when all that together is mixed,
Above the glass well closed make your fire,
And so continue it till all be fixed,
And well fermented to your desire,
Then make Projection after thy pleasure
For that is medicine each deal perfected,
Thus must you ferment both red and white.

For like as flour of wheat made into a paste,
Requires ferment, which we call leaven of bread,
That it may have the kindly taste,
And become cordial food to man and woman,
So you shall ferment your medicine,
That it may taste of the Ferment pure,
At all assays for ever to endure.

And understand that there be Ferments three,
Two be of bodies in nature clean,
Which must be altered as I have told you;
The third most secret of which I mean,
Is the first earth of his water green:
And therefore when the Lion does thirst,
Make him to drink till his belly burst.

Of this a question if I should move,
And ask of workers, what is this thing ?
Anon thereby I should them prove,
If they had knowledge of our fermenting:
For many a man speaks with wondering,
Of Robin Hood and of his bow,
Which never shot therein I trow.

For true Fermentation as I tell you,
Is the incorporation of the soul with the bodies,
Restoring to it the kindly smell,
With taste and colour by natural compacting together,
Of things dissevered, a due re-integration,
Whereby the body of the spirit takes impression.
That either the other may help to have ingression.

For like as bodies in their compaction corporeal,
May not show out their qualities effectually,
Until the time that they become spiritual,
No more may spirits abide with bodies steadfastly,
Till they be fixed together with them proportionally,
For then the body teaches the spirit to suffer fire,
And the spirit the body to enter to your desire.

Therefore you must ferment your gold with gold,
Your earth cleansed with his own water, I mean,
Nought else to say but element with element,
The spirit of life only going between,
For like as an adamant as you have seen
Draws iron to him, so does our earth by kind,
Draw down to him his soul borne up with wind.

With wind therefore the soul lead out and in,
Mingle gold with gold, that is to say,
Make Element with Element together run,
Till time all fire they may suffer,
For earth is Ferment without nay to water,
And water the earth unto,
Our Fermentation in this way must be done.

Earth is gold, and so is the soul also,
Not common, but ours thus elementary,
And yet thereto the Sun must go,
That by our wheel it may be altered:
For so to ferment it must be prepared,
That it profoundly may be joined,
With other natures as I said to you.

And whatsoever I have here said of gold,
The same of silver I will you understand,
That you putrefy them and alter (as I have told)
Ere you take in hand to ferment your medicine.
Forsooth I could never find anyone in England
Who could teach me to ferment in this way ,
Without error, by practice or by speech.

Now of this chapter needs to treat no more,
Such I intend prolixity to eschew;
Remember well my words therefore,
Which you shall prove by practice true,
And Sun and Moon look you renew,
That they may hold of the fifth nature,
Then shall their tincture evermore endure.

And yet a way there is most excellent,
Belonging unto another working,
A water we make most redolent,
All bodies to oil wherewith we bring,
With which our medicine we make flowing,
A quintessence this water we call,
Which heals all diseases in man.

But with my base, after my doctrine prepared,
Which is our calx this must be done,
For when our bodies be so calcined,
That water will to oil dissolve them soon
Make you therefore oil both of the Sun and Moon,
Which is ferment most fragrant for to smell,
And so the ninth gate of this Castle is conquered.

The end of the Ninth Gate.

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.