Alchemy Index
Table of Contents

Adept Alchemy

Part I

Ars Magna

Chapter 2

The Short Dry Path

P. Allen ~ A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology

Anonymous ~ The Allegory of Merlin
Anon. ~ On the Philosophers' Stone
Anon. ~ Rosarium Philosophorum
Anon. ~ Untitled
S. Bacstrom ~ The Work of Pontanus, According to Mr. F.
D. Beuther ~ The Transmutation of Base Metals...
P. Bonus ~ The New Pearl of Great Price
Cyliani ~ Hermes Unveiled
A. Eleazar ~ The Book of Abraham the Jew
B. Figulus ~ A Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels
Fulcanelli ~ The Mystery of the Cathedrals
Fulcanelli ~ The Dwelling of the Philosophers
J. Grashof ~ The Greater & Lesser Edifyer
C. Grummet ~ Sanguis Naturae
J. Helvetius ~ The Golden Calf
J. I. Hollandus ~ De Lapide Philosophorum
J. I. Hollandus ~ Vegetable Work
K. Jnana ~ Dictionary of Alchemical Philosophy
N. LeFebre ~ Secret of Secrets
R. Lully ~ Letter or Epitome to King Rupert
J. Muller ~ Hyle and Coahyl
Myriam ~ Her Conversation with Aros, King of  Egypt
Paracelsus ~ The Philosophical Canons
Eir. Philalethes ~ An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King
Eir. Philalethes ~ Ripley Revived
Eug. Philalethes ~ A Short Enquiry Concerning the Hermetic Art
G. Ripley ~ Medulla Alchemiae
M. Rulandus ~ A Lexicon of Alchemy
S. Salztal ~ Fountain of Philosophical Salts
Theophrastus ~ The Sacred Art
Arnold de Villanova ~ Rosarium Philosophorum

    The Philosophers' Stone can be prepared in two general ways: "wet" (solutions) and "dry" (fusions). Much has been written about the wet way; it is long, dangerous, tedious and expensive. The Short, Dry, or Royal Path, the Ars Brevis, is little known, having been mentioned only a few times in the literature of Alchemy. It can be quick, simple and easy, but it is also very dangerous and difficult to control. Here are most of the explicit  references to the subject:

Paul M. Allen ~ A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology

And thereupon followeth the mixture, observe!
And so it cometh to a wondrous strength,
The finished figures with the unfinished.
And if the fire be likewise rightly controlled,
It will be entirely perfect
In much less time than a year.
Now thou hast the entire way in its length
On which there are not more than two paths.
From these one soon wandereth and goest astray,
Else it all standeth clear and plain.
The one is the water of the Wise Men,
Which is the Mercurius alone.
The other is called a vinegar,
And it is known only to a very few.
And this vinegar doth circle
Away from the philosophical lion.
It is Lord Aes whom it makes glad.
Therefore they have combined to so closely
Many hundred forms and names are given
After each has chosen it.
One way springeth from a true source,
A few have worked on it for a whole year
But many through their art and craft
Have shortened so long a space of time.
And quickly is the preparation set free
As Alchemy doth point out.

Anonymous ~ The Allegory of Merlin

    Brother, keep secret this treatise for it is of an importance amongst the fools, and no importance amongst wise men, and this is the Royal way of three days, for they will have but little labour and great lucre.

Anonymous ~ On the Philosophers' Stone

    But some, who were adepts in the art, have by painful processes taken gold for their male, and the mercury, which they knew how to extract from the less compacted metals, for a female: not as an easier process, but to find out the possibility of making the stone this way; and have succeeded, giving this method more openly to conceal the true confection, which is most easy and simple.

Anon. ~ Rosarium Philosophorum

    Aristotle in the Second Book of his Politics --- There is a double way in this art according to the Philosophers, that is --- universal and particular. The universal way is easy and rare, and it is that which is brought forth from true and natural beginnings, by which a speedy and reformative virtue doth presently and in a moment hardens Mercury, and it tinctureth any metal that is duly prepared, into true Gold or Silver.

    But the second way is called particular and it is hard and laboursome. Note this, although Alchemy in the universal way be partly natural and partly artificial, yet it is more natural than otherwise, because by nature no strange or foreign thing is brought in the way of true Alchemy, for nature hath whereon to work because actives are joined to passives by a competent union and application, but the rest nature worketh by herself.

    Out of the Lucidary of Arnoldus --- 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.

    Raymund Lully in his Epistle to Rupert, King of France --- Wherefore I speak things which are miraculous, which seemed to be incredible to all the ancient Philosophers, that is, that thou shalt know well to separate this oil from the wateriness and thou shalt labour in the manner of the mixtion of them, and thou shalt be able to make the Stone in 30 days, but this is not necessary by itself because the solutions and coagulations of it (as hath been said) are quickly made and done.

Anonymous ~ Untitled Ms

    Accordingly there is now, besides the work of three years, a work of three months, three weeks, three days, and, surpassing all of these, three hours. Mary the Prophetess was trained in this last work; a philosopher of keen intellect, or a well-trained artisan, will be able to investigate what she has learned from her discussions with the Philosopher Aros. In addition, there are other works, called the work of one natural day, one month, one year, and nine months. Anyone who does not know the distinctions among these and other such things lays claim to this saying: "He should take his hand off the reins." And though all these aforesaid works are to be understood only by the time of operation from first to last, nevertheless it can happen that other works are mixed in with them, and then both operations, antecedent and consequent, are included in the timespan listed above. But since the purpose here has been merely to give you a casual warning about these matters, there is no need to dwell on them further...

    What follows is how the Philosophers multiplied their work in the moist path, and perhaps also by the same token in the dry path. Multiplication takes place in quantity as well as in quality, always with ten parts of its water or of philosophical mercury duplex and so on to infinity. The first time it does not tinct, but if it is put in fire the second time it is perfected in two months time, and one part tincts only ten parts. If you put it in fire a third time, it is finished in three weeks and one part tincts a hundred parts. If you put it in fire a fourth time, it is perfected in three days, and one part tincts a thousand parts. After that a work of multiplication is completed in three days at a time, and this is the work of three days.

Sigismund Bacstrom ~ The Work of Pontanus According to Mr. F.

    Pontanus had his knowledge from Artephius, therefore followed him, having read and understood him, except that Artephius worked by the long humid way, but Pontanus by the dry short way, and Mr. F. believes that it can be done in a very Short Time, probably sooner than we are aware of.

David Beuther ~ The Transmutation of Base Metals into Silver and Gold

    If we now wish to proceed further, we must now go on to Paracelsus’ School of Work and to the brief passages which follow, as are readily to be noted and learned from his Scriptis. Then we desired to learn from the Subjectum Materiae vel Tincturae, which is reported clearly enough and shown with the fingers, so he also set up thereby the welcome preparations and said that from one (of the materials noted) two would result, namely, sulfur and mercury, since one of them (mercury) gives the body, on earth, wherein we plant the seeds, i.e., the Sulfur of the Sun, which sulfur is called the Blood of the Red Lion, while the mercury is called the Gluten of the White Eagle. He further stated that when the two coagulated together, then the tincture thus prepared was ready to be used. This is, indeed, a shorter way of preparation, though it gives poorer and inferior results...

    One also sees how the work is brought to completion from a material in an oven, glass container, or other type of receptacle, in one experiment after another, by using increased amounts to heat. And, even though the work and the art by you yourself is completely inferior in quality, the philosophers have also pointed out that, “It is wife’s work and children’s play”. Even so, it still requires a well-qualified artisan to be the fire-master. Moreover, the work may be completed easily enough without danger in 16 weeks...

Petrus Bonus ~ The New Pearl of Great Price

    This Art is noble, brief, and easy. It requires one thing, which everybody knows. It is in many things, yet it is one thing. It is found everywhere, yet it is most precious. You must fix it and tame it in the fire; you must make it rise, and again descend. When conjunction has taken place, straightway it is fixed. Then it gives riches to the poor and rest to the weary. The operation is good, if it become first dry and then liquid, and what Rebis (Twothing) is, you will find in the practical part of this work.

Cyliani ~ Hermes Unveiled

    At this point, I must warn you that only two matters of the same origin are needed: One volatile, the other fixed. That there are two ways, the dry and the humid. I personally follow the latter by preference and by duty, though the former is known to me. It is done with only one matter.

    The azoth unites easily with sulfur, fire with fire, and the double mercury or rebis in powder or oil forms the true potable gold or the Universal medicine in white or red. Finally the seed of gold lies within the gold itself.

    Few combustibles are necessary; even less receptacles. The work costs very little to undertake and can be performed in any place, but it is convenient to begin it with that of nature in order to finish it well...

Rabbi Abraham Eleazar ~ The Book of Abraham the Jew

    That however you know and become acquainted with the Materiam; so is such our old Albaon Abacschozdii, is a Minera, so there in the mountains is found, and such is of three different sorts... The third is grey and white and a very poisonous kind, a right Saturn, which has the power, with its poisonous breath to kill. Therefore one must be very careful when working with this, when in a dry form, to get it sweat... and also such a materia is found in the pits, because they often throw such away, because it gives from itself a strong smell, and also often kills the men...

    Formerly I have pointed out and shown to you the wet way, and how you can find and prepare in such a way the Mysterium, and such a way is without danger.

    This dry way, that I will describe to you and teach you, is somewhat dangerous, yet if you follow my teaching, then it will not fall heavy on you, for as I have described to you in all my Figures throughout, two ways, so to the intelligent it is not difficult to understand, and have also wished to show that in this Figure [3]; for here you see flowing from a desert a white Lunar Water, which is the old progenitor of all things, prepared in two ways:

    Firstly however, you must understand, what of the two ways is taken; namely the first proceeds from the Fatness of the Earth, out of the Primordial Chaos. The other from our black heavy lump; that however the serpents crawl in the grass, and is of divers colors, the Phyton in the dry way, for this promptus is very poisonous, yet some times it ascends in the hills, and so becomes a flower, nearly medicinal, whilst then it is not so poisonous...

    ...This is that, which the Ancients said, how they finished their stone in four hours. They have taken of such one part and added to four parts of Ophiris Sol in flux, so it will become pure tincture; of which they have incorporated half of this with one part of Columba Dianae, as has been taught till the seventh time, and in such a manner increased their work in infinitum, whereby they supported themselves in their need and came to the help of their poor imprisoned brethren...

    ...But there is prepared from the green Lion a crawling Dragon, and you have it before your eyes, and can compare with the Old one the wet way, and the Dragons the dry way. In the preparatory work you go on, in the Dry way, there is another Modus than in the Wet...

Benedictus Figulus ~ A Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels

The Natural Philosopher’s Tincture --- Theophrastus also means that, when you have obtained the two things by the short method, viz., the rosy blood and the Eagle’s white gluten, you shall thereto add nothing foreign…

The Natural Philosopher's Tincture [ Alexander von Suchten ] --- This is the first process of our Philosophical Birth, the Returning into the Mother’s Womb, whereby the Rule of God is followed, and the first precepts of chemists are fulfilled, viz., the Reduction into Pimary Matter, into the Three Natural Principles, i.e., Animated Spirit, Mercury, and Sulphureous Vapour of Earth... which is nothing less than... The Process with Double Smoke of Paracelsus. But the above method entailed heavy expenses and much time and labour, all of which the Ancient Sages could have avoided, and obtained the Lion’s treasure by a shorter cut, had they enquired into the matter as diligently as Theophrastus.

Now, I wot there is no one who would not wish to know this shorter method; and that you may not have to complain of Theophrastus, he shews you another short way, admonishing you also to let the above tedious process be, and to take from the Lion nought but his rosy blood, and from the Eagle the white gluten. These two bodies you must coagulate together and bring into one body, as it were male and female seed.

Now, someone might object thus. Dear Theophrastus, that is the old story which I have heard long ago. The Ancients took nothing more than the Lion’s blood and water, and coagulated them. Yet you tell me the same is a brief way to obtain the aforesaid two Mercurial Substances, with little labour and in a short time.

Well, that is true so far. Theophrastus is not so clear here as he might be. But you may easily imagine what the mode of preparation must be if you have diligently studied Theophrastus’s other books and preparations, and are otherwise experienced in Chemical labours. You will then find that Chemistry, in the preparation of all arcana (secrets), has two methods, viz., Distillation and Extraction. Whatsoever is to be prepared by Chemistry and brought into its Arcanum, its Tincture, or Quintessence (in which is he power and virtue of all creatures), or is to be cleansed from impeding impurities, that must be done by Distillation or Extraction (which is the same as Solution). There is no other means. As Bernhardus says: “The King never goes forth except the Fountain attract him”.

Now, having already heard that he rejects the tedious process of much distillation and purification by reason of its expense, etc., you perceive that he must have used the only other means, viz., Extraction by Solution.

According to Calid, son of Jazichus: “Solution is the Extraction of the Interior of Things to their Superficies, so that the hidden become manifest”. Hence his (Theo.’s) meaning is this: When you of one thing have made two --- or have taken two things differently constituted by Nature --- let the old process alone; take from the Lion his blood only --- i.e., cut out his heart with his own sharp spear --- or as Bernhardus says: “Slay the King with his own sharp, poisonous Mercurial Water”. In plain words: Extract but from the earth its Tincture or Arcanum, and the blood, the sunshine, the dry spirit immediately all distills over. By such extraction or solution more will be done in a few hours than the Ancient Sages could effect in six months. By the above process the whole work may be completed in ten or twelve months, in which time the Ancients could barely achieve the first step --- i.e., Reduction into Primary Matter --- as all those know whom God has enlightened, and thought worthy you know this Solution and Extraction.

But misunderstand me not! I speak here, not of the second solution of the earth, but of the first solution of the crude body...

This is also the aforesaid short process of Paracelsus, whereby you, in a short time, and with little trouble and expense, may find the two said things (of which one is the Father, or Sun, or Red Water, and the other the Mother, or Moon, or White Water) which are necessary for the perpetration of the miracle of the One Thing, and for which good counsel you owe Theophrastus many thanks...

Fulcanelli ~ La Mystere Des Cathedrales

    Let us retrace our steps and pause at the south portal, still called the Porch of St. Anne. It offers us only a single motif, but the interest of this is considerable, because it describes the shortest practice of our Science and among lessons in stone it therefore deserves pride of place.

    "See," says Grillot de Givry, "sculptured on the right portal of Notre Dame of Paris, the bishop perched above an athanor, where the philosophical mercury, chained in limbo, is being sublimated. It teaches the origin of the sacred fire; and the Chapter of the cathedral, by leaving this door closed all the year in accordance with a secular tradition, shows that this is not the vulgar way, but one unknown to the crowd and reserved for the small number of the elite of wisdom."

    Few alchemists will admit the possibility of two ways, one short and easy, called the dry way, the other longer and less rewarding, called the moist way. This may be due to the fact that many authors deal exclusively with the longer process, either because they do not know of the other, or because they prefer to remain silent about it, rather than to teach its principles. Pernety refuses to believe in those alternative methods, while Huginus a Barma, on the contrary, asserts that the ancient masters, such as Geber, Lully and Paracelsus, each had his own particular process.

    Chemically speaking, there is no objection to a method, employing the moist way, being replaced by another, which makes use of dry reactions, in order to arrive at the same result. Hermetically the emblem we are studying is a proof of this. We shall find a second one in the 18th century Encyclopedia, where the assurance is given that the Great Work may be accomplished in two ways; one, called the moist way, being longer but held more in honour and the other, or dry way, being much less esteemed. In the latter "the celestial Salt, which is the Philosophers' mercury, must be boiled for four days in a crucible over a naked fire, together with a terrestrial metallic body."

    In the second part of the work, attributed to Basil Valentine, but which seems rather to be by Senior Zadith, the author appears to have the dry way in mind when he writes that "in order to arrive at this art, neither great labor nor trouble is required and the expenses are small, the instruments of little worth. For this Art may be learnt in less than 12 hours and brought to perfection within the space of 8 days, if it has its own principle within itself."

    Philalethes, in Chapter XIX of the Introitus, after having spoken of the long way, which he describes as tiresome and good only for rich people, says: "But by our way no more than a week is necessary; God has reserved this rare and easy way for the despised poor and for abject saints."

    Furthermore, Langlet-Dufresnoy, in his Remarques on this chapter, thinks that "this way is achieved by the double philosophical mercury" and adds: "The work is thereby accomplished in 8 days, instead of taking nearly 18 months by the first way."

    This shortened way, which is, however, covered by a thick veil, has been called by the Wise the Regime of Saturn. The boiling of the Work, instead of necessitating the use of a glass vase, requires only the help of a simple crucible. "I will stir up your body in an earthenware vase, in which I will inter it", writes a famous author, who says again further on: "Make a fire in your glass, that is to say in the earth which holds it enclosed. This seems to me to be the shorter way and the true philosophical sublimation, in order to arrive at the perfection of this difficult task." This could be the explanation of the basic maxim of our Science: "One single vessel, one single matter, one single furnace."

    In the preface to his book, Cyliani refers to the two process in these terms: "I would like to warn you here never to forget that only two matters of the same origin are needed, the one volatile, the other fixed; that there are two ways, the dry way and the moist way. I follow the latter for preference as my duty although the former is very familiar to me; it is done with a single matter."

    Henri de Lintaut also gives a favorable testimonial to the dry way when he writes: "This secret surpasses all the secrets in the world, for by it you can in a short time, without great trouble or labour, arrive at the great transmutation. For information about this, see Isaac Hollandois, who speaks of it more fully." Unfortunately our author is no more forthcoming than his colleagues. "When I consider," writes Henckel, "that the artist Elias, quoted by Helvetius, claims that the preparation of the Philosophic stone is begun and finished in the space of four days, and that he has actually shown this stone, still adhering to the fragments of the crucible, it seems to me that it would not be so absurd to ask whether what the alchemists call great months may not be as many days, which would mean a very limited space of time. And to ask further whether there may not be a method, which consists only in keeping the matters in the greatest degree of fluidity for a long time, which could be achieved by a violent fire, maintained by the action of the bellows. However, this method cannot be carried out in all laboratories and perhaps not everyone would find it practicable."

Fulcanelli ~ The Dwellings of the Philosophers

    The Man of the Woods --- Our mercury, we believe it has been mentioned, is this pilgrim, this voyager to whom Michael Maier has consecrated one of his best treatises! [Viatorium: Hoc est de Montibus Planetorium septem seu metallorum. Rouen, Jean Berthelin, 1651]. By using the dry path, represented by the earthly road followed at first by our traveler, one can successfully but progressively exalt the diffuse and latent virtue, transforming into activity that which was only potential. The operation is completed when, on the surface, appears a shining star, formed of rays emanating from a single center, prototype of the great roses of our gothic cathedrals. A sure sign that the pilgrim has successfully reached the end of his first trip. He has received the mystical blessing of St James, confirmed by the luminous imprint which radiated, it is said, above the tomb of the apostle. The humble and common shell which he bore on his hat turned into a shining star, a halo of light. Pure matter whose hermetic star consecrates the perfection: it is now our compost, the holy water of Compostella (Latin compos, who has received, possesses ---- and stella, star) and the alabaster of the sages (albastrum contraction of alabastrum, white star). It is also the vase of perfumes, the vase of alabaster (Greek alabastron, Latin alabastrus) and the newly blooming bud of the flower of wisdom, rosa hermetica, the hermetic rose.

    From Compostella the return can be made either by the same path, following a different itinerary or by the wet or maritime path, the only way the authors indicate in their writings...

    The Castle of Dampierre V (Panel 1) --- The two paths of the Work require two different manners of undertaking the animation of the initial mercury. The first belongs to the brief way and requires only one technique by which the fixed is gradually dampened --- because any dry matter avidly drinks its own humidity --- until the repeated affusion of the volatile on the body causes the compound to swell and turn into a pasty or syrupy mass, as the case may be. The second method consists in digesting the totality of the sulphur in three or four times its weight in water, decanting the resulting solution, then drying up the residue and reiterating the operation with a proportional quantity of fresh mercury. When the dissolution is complete, the faeces, if any, are separated and the collected liquors are subjected to a slow distillation in a bath. Thus the superfluous humidity is released, leaving  the mercury at the required consistency without any loss of its qualities, and ready to undergo hermetic coction.

    The Castle of Dampierre V (Panel 8) --- Two vases, one in the form of an embossed and engraved flagon, the other a common earthen pot, are represented in the same frame occupied by this saying of Saint Paul: ALIVD VAS IN HONOREM ALIVD IN CONTUMELIAM. One vessel for honorable uses, another for base uses. But in a great house", says the Apostle [II Timothy 2: 20], "There are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour."

    Our two vases appear well defined, clearly marked and in absolute agreement with the precepts of hermetic theory. One is the vase of nature made with the same red clay God used to form the body of Adam with. The other is the vase of the art, whose entire material is composed of pure, red, incombustible, fixed, and diaphanous gold, of an incomparable brightness. And these are our two vessels which truly represent only two distinct bodies containing the metallic spirits, the only agents we need.

    If the reader is acquainted with the traditional manner of writing of the philosophers --- which manner we try to imitate correctly so that the Ancients can be explained through us and so we can be controlled by them, it will be easier for him to understand what the hermeticists meant by vessels. For these vessels represent not only two matters, or rather one matter in two states of evolution, but they also symbolize our two ways based on the use of these different bodies.

    The first of these ways which uses the vase of the art is time-consuming, painstaking, thankless, accessible to wealthy people, but it is in a place of great honor in spite of the expenditures it entails, because it is the one which authors preferably describe. It is used as a support for their reasoning as well as for the theoretical development of the Work, requires an uninterrupted labor of twelve to eighteen months, and starts with natural gold prepared and dissolved in the philosophical mercury which is then cooked in a glass matrass. This is the honorable vase reserved for noble use of these precious metals which are the exalted gold and mercury of the sages.

    The second way demands, from beginning to end, only the help of a coarse clay abundantly available, of such a low cost that in our time ten francs are sufficient to acquire a quantity more than enough for our needs. It is the clay and the way of the poor, of the simple and the modest, of those whom nature fills with wonder even by her most humble manifestations. Extremely easy, it only requires the presence of the artist, for the mysterious labor perfects itself by itself and is achieved in seven to nine days at the most. This way, unknown to the majority of practicing alchemists, is elaborated from start to finish in one crucible made of fireproof clay. It is the way that the great masters called woman's work and child's play; it is to it that they apply the old hermetic axiom: una re, una via, una dispositione. A single matter, a single vessel, a single furnace. Such is our earthen vase, a despised, plain vase of common use, which everyone has before his eyes, which costs nothing, which can be found at everyone's house, yet which no one can recognize without a revelation.

    The Castle of Dampierre VI (Panel 3) --- Lying on the altar of sacrifice, a forearm is consumed by fire. The sign of this fiery emblem holds in two words: .FELIX.INFORTUNIUM. Happy unhappiness! Although the topic seems a priori quite obscure and without equivalent in the hermetic literature and iconography, yet it yields to analysis and perfectly agrees with the Great Work's technique.

    The human forearm, which the Greeks simply called the arm (brachion), is the hieroglyph for the short, abridged way (ars brevis). As a matter of fact, our Adept, toying with words as the learned cabalist he is, hides under the substantive brachion, arm, a comparative of brachus, written in the same fashion. The latter means short, brief, of short duration, and forms several compounds, including brachutes, brevity. Thus the comparative brachion, meaning brief, the homonym of brachion, arm, takes on the specific meaning of brief technique, ars brevis.

    But the Greeks used yet another expression to qualify the arm. When they evoked the hand (cheir), they applied by extension the idea to the entire upper limb and gave it the figurative value of a skilled artistic production of a special process, of a personal style of work, in short, of a tour de main, a flick of the wrist, whether acquired or revealed. All these acceptions of the word exactly characterize the fine points of the Great Work in its swift, simple and direct realization, for it requires the application of a very energetic fire to which the flick of the wrist boils down [pouring a crucible properly]. Now this fire on our bas-relief is represented not only by the flames, it is also represented by the limb itself which the hand indicates as being the right arm; and it is well known from the proverbial expression that "to be the right arm" always applies to the agent responsible for the executing of the will of a superior -- the fire in the present case.

    Apart from these reasons --- which are necessarily abstract because they are veiled in the form of a stone with a concise image --- there is another one, practical, which comes to uphold and confirm in the practical domain the esoteric affiliation of the first ones. We shall state it by saying that whosoever being ignorant of the flick of the wrist of the operation yet takes the risk to undertake it, must fear everything from the fire; that person is in real danger and can hardly escape the consequences of a thoughtless and reckless action. Why then, one could say to us, not to provide this means? We will answer this by saying that to reveal an experiment of this sort would be to give the secret of the short way and that we have not received from God nor from our brothers the authorization to uncover such a mystery. It is already much that, prompted by our solicitude and charity, we warned the beginner whose lucky star leads to the threshold of the cave, that he should be on his guard and redouble his prudence. A similar warning is rarely encountered in the books, and quite succint as to what concerns the Ars brevis, but which the Adept of Dampierre knew as perfectly as Ripley, Basil Valentine, Philalethes, Albertus Magnus, Huginus a Barma, Cyliani or Naxagoras.

    Nevertheless, and because we deem it useful to warn the neophyte, it would be wrong to conclude that we are trying to dishearten him. If he wants to risk the adventure, let it be for him the trial by fire to which the future initiates of Thebes and Hermopolis had to be put through before receiving the sublime teachings. Isn’t the inflamed arm on the altar the expressive symbol of the sacrifice, of the renunciation the science demands? Everything is paid for down here, not with gold, but with work, with suffering, often by leaving a part of oneself; and one could not pay too much for the possession of the least secret, of the tiniest truth. Therefore should the candidate feel endowed with faith and armed with the necessary courage, we fraternally wish him to come forth safe and sound from this difficult experience, which most often ends with the explosion of the crucible and the projection of the furnace. And then he could cry out, like our philosopher: Happy unhappiness! For the accident, forcing him to ponder the mistake he has committed, will undoubtedly lead him to discover the means to avoid it and the flick of the wrist for the proper operation.

    The Castle of Dampierre VI (Panel 7) --- The geometric figure which we encounter here frequently ornamented the frontispieces of medieval alchemical manuscripts. It was commonly called Solomon's Labyrinth, and we mentioned elsewhere that it was reproduced on the stone floors of our great gothic cathedrals. This figure bears as a motto: .FATA.VIAM.INVENIENT. The fates will well find their way. Our bas-relief, specifically characterizing the long way, reveals the formal intention, expressed by the plurality of Dampierre's motifs to primarily teach the Work of the rich. For this labyrinth offers only one entrance, while other drawings of the same subject usually show three, which entrances, by the way, correspond to the three porches of the gothic cathedrals placed under the invocation of the Virgin mother. One entrance, absolutely straight, leads directly to the median chamber --- where Theseus slayed the Minotaur --- without encountering the least obstacle; it conveys the short, simple, easy way of the Work of the poor. The second, which likewise leads to the center, only opens onto it after a series of detours, twists and turns, and convolutions; it is the hieroglyph for the long way and we have said that it refers to the preferred esotericism of our Adept. Finally, a third gallery of which the opening is parallel to that of the preceding ones, ends abruptly as a dead end a short distance from the threshold, and leads nowhere. It cause the despair and ruin of those who have gone astray, of the presumptuous ones, and of those who, without serious study and solid principles, nevertheless set out on the way and chanced the adventure.

    The Castle of Dampierre IX (Panel 4) --- Closed by its narrow lid, with a fat albeit split belly, a common clay pot fills with its plebeian and cracked majesty the surface of this panel. Its inscription states that the vase of which we see the image, must open by itself and manifest by its destruction the completion of that which it holds: INTVS.SOLA.FIENT.MANIFESTA. RUINA. (Only the inside makes the ruin manifest).

    Among so many diverse figures, so many emblems with which it fraternizes, our subject seems to be all the more original because its symbolism relates to the dry path, also called the Work of Saturn, as rarely translated into iconography as it is described in texts. Based on the use of solid and crystallized materials, the brief way (ars brevis) only requires the help of a crucible and the application of high temperatures. This truth, Henckel had glimpsed, when he remarks that the "artist Elias, quoted by Helvetius, claims that the preparation of the philosopher’s stone is accomplished, from start to finish, in four days time; and that he has indeed shown the shown still adhering to the sides of the crucible; it seems to me, the author continues, that it would not be so absurd to question whether that which the alchemists called long months, would not really only be days --- that is to say a very short period of time --- and whether there did not exist a method whereby the entire operation would consist in holding, for a very long time, the matters in a great degree of fluidity which could be obtained by a violent fire maintained by the action of bellows; but this method cannot be undertaken in all laboratories and perhaps not everyone would find it practical." [J.F. Henckel, Traite de l’Appropriation (Treatise on Appropriation) in Pyritologie ou Histoire naturelle de la pyrite (Pyritology or Natural History of Pyrites). Paris, J-T. Herissant, 1760, p. 370, para. 416.]

    Nevertheless, contrary to the humid way, whose glass utensils allow for easy control and accurate observation, the dry way cannot enlighten the operator at any time in the process of the Work. So, although the time factor reduced to a minimum constitutes a serious advantage in the practice of the ars brevis, the necessity of high temperatures, on the other hand, presents the serious inconvenience of an absolute uncertainty as to the progress of the operation. Everything happens in the deepest mystery inside the crucible which is carefully sealed, buried at the core of the incandescent coals. It is therefore important to be very experienced and to know the fire's behavior and power well as one could not find in it, from the beginning to the end the least of indications. All the characteristic reactions of the humid way having been indicated among the classical authors, it is possible for the studious artist to acquire indications precise enough to allow him to undertake his long and difficult work. Here, on the contrary, it is without any guide that the traveler, brave to the point of rashness, enters this arid and burnt desert. No road laid out, no clue, no landmark; nothing save the apparent inertia of the earth, of the rock, of the sand. The shiny kaleidoscope of the colored stages does not brighten up his uncertain walk; it is as a blind man that he continues his path, without any other certainty save that of his faith, without any other hope but his confidence in divine mercy...

    Yet at the end of his path, the investigator will notice a sign, the only one whose appearance indicates success and confirms the perfection of the sulphur by the total fixation of mercury; this sign consists in the spontaneous bursting of the vessel. Once the time has elapsed, by laterally uncovering a part of its side, we notice, when the experiment has succeeded, one or more lines of dazzling clarity, clearly visible on the less brilliant background of the envelope. These are the cracks revealing the happy birth of the young king. Just like at the end of incubation the hen's egg breaks under the effort of the chick, similarly the shell of our egg breaks as soon as the sulphur is produced. There is, among these results, an evident analogy in spite of the different causes, for in the mineral Work, the breaking of the crucible can logically be attributed to a chemical action, unfortunately impossible to conceive or to explain. Let us note however that the rather well known fact often occurs under the influence of certain combinations of lesser interest. Thus, for example, while leaving aside, after having cleansed them well, new crucibles which have only been used once, for the fusion of metallic glass, the production of hepar sulphuris, or diaphoretic antimony, they are found cracked after a few days without one being able to explain the obscure reason of this late phenomenon. The considerable spacing of their bulges shows that the fracture seems to occur by the push of an expansive force acting from the center towards the periphery at room temperature and long after the use of these vessels.

    Finally, let us point out the remarkable match which exists between the motif of Dampierre and that of Bourges (Hotel Lallemant, in the ceiling of the chapel). Among the hermetic panels of the latter, one can also see an earthen pot tilted, whose opening, bell-mouthed and rather wide, is enclosed with a parchment’s membrane tied on the edges. Its belly with holes in it lets beautiful macles of different sizes escape from it. The indication of the crystalline form of the sulphur obtained by the dry way is thus very clear and confirms by its added details, the esoteric quality of our bas-relief.

    The Castle of Dampierre (XII) --- But before we leave this masterful ensemble, we will allow ourselves to connect its teachings to that of a curious stone picture that can be seen in Jacques Couer’s palace in Bourges and which apparently can serve as a conclusion to, and summary of, our collection. This sculpted panel forms the tympanum of a door opening on the main courtyard, and represents three exotic trees --- a palm tree, a fig tree, and a date tree --- growing in the midst of herbaceous plants; a frame of flowers, leaves, and twigs surround the bas-relief (Plate XXXIII).

    The palm and date trees, of the same family, were known to the Greeks under the name of phoenix, and Phoenix in Latin, which is our hermetic phoenix; they represent the two Magisteries and their results, the two white and red stones, which partake of one and the same nature included in the cabalistic denomination of Phoenix. As for the fig tree occupying the center of the composition, it indicates the mineral substance out of which the philosophers draw the elements of the miraculous rebirth of the Phoenix, and it is this work of rebirth as a whole which constitutes what is commonly referred to as the Great Work.

    According to the apocryphal Gospels it was a fig or sycamore fig tree (a.k.a. the fig tree of the Pharoah) which had the honor of sheltering the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt of nourishing them with its fruit and of quenching their thirst, thanks to the clear and fresh water that the child Jesus had drawn out from between its roots. Fig tree in Greek is suke, from sukon, fig, a word frequently used for kusthos, with the root kuo, to carry in the womb, to contain; it is the Virgin Mother who bears the child, and the alchemical emblem of the passive, chaotic, and cold substance, the matrix and vehicle of the spirit incarnate. Sozomene, a 4th century author, asserts that the tree of Hermopolis which bowed before the infant Jesus was called Persea (Hist. Eccl., Lib. V, ch. 21). It is the name of the balanus (Balanites Aegyptica), a shrub from Egypt and Arabia, a kind of oak, called by the Greeks balanis, acorn, a word by which they also called the myrobalan, fruit of the myrobalan tree. These diverse elements are perfectly related to the subject of the sages and the technique of the ars brevis that Jacques Couer seems to have practiced.

Christopher Grummet ~ Sanguis Naturae

    This is a Short and Secret way which few also have known. The other way is longer...

    This way is long, and lasteth almost two years, and is very tedious, which also the Ancient Philosophers taught...

Johan Grashof ~ The Greater and Lesser Edifyer

    Lastly, I will also gladly perform certain processes which comprehend the true foundation, so that you may see that if you had understood the philosophy properly at first, then you could have attained the end in a much more rapid time. Such a failure with the Materia comes especially through misunderstanding of the first Resolution or dissolving and also of the correct composition, as you shall hear. For several philosophers have finished the Work and brought it to a happy conclusion in 378 days and others in 30 days.

Johan F. Helvetius ~ The Golden Calf

    He would not tell me anything about the cost and the time; "As to its substance," he continued, "it is prepared from two metals or minerals; the minerals are better because they contain a larger quantity of mature Sulfur. The solvent is a certain celestial salt, by means of which the Sages dissolve the earthy metallic body, and this process elicits the precious Elixir of the Sages. The work is performed from beginning to end in a crucible over an open fire; it is consummated in four days, and its cost is only about three florins. Neither the Mineral from the Egg nor the Solvent Salt are very expensive." I replied that his statement was contradicted by the saying of the Sages, who assign seven or nine months as the duration of the Work. His only answer was that the sayings of the Sages were to be understood in a philosophical sense and no ignorant person could apprehend their true meaning.

J. Isaac Hollandus ~ De Lapide Philosophorum

    You must know that the old alchemists made the Stone in many different ways, and at the end it was always good. Know that the old masters worked as I have told you. But their descendants discovered many other forms of the works by which they could shorten the Art, such as using aquafort... They also sought to shorten the time and to try doing it according to Nature. The work involves great worry, much labor and much expense and uncertainty...

J. I. Hollandus ~ Vegetable Work

    Know, my son, that the stone of the philosophers must be made by means of Saturn, and that once it is obtained in its perfect state, it performs the projection both in the human body, internally as well as externally, and in the metals. Know also that in all vegetable works, there is no greater secret than in Saturn, for we find the putrefaction of gold only in Saturn where it is hidden. Saturn contains within it the honest gold, on which all philosophers agree, provided all its superfluities, i.e., its faeces are removed from it, only then has it been purged. The outer is brought inside; the inner manifests outer, and that is its redness and then that is the honest Gold.

    Besides, Saturn easily enters into solution and coagulates similarly. It lends itself readily to the extraction of its Mercury. It can be easily sublimated, to such an extent that it becomes the mercury of the sun. For Saturn contains within itself the gold which the Mercury needs, and its mercury is as pure as that of gold. For these reasons, I say that Saturn is, for our Work, by far preferable to gold; for if you want to extract mercury from gold, you will need more than a year to extract this body out of the sun, while you can extract mercury from Saturn in 27 days. Both metals are good, but you can assert with more certainty yet, that Saturn is the stone that the philosophers do not want to name and whose name until today has been hidden. For were its name known, many would have found it, who are eagerly looking for it, and this art would have become common and vulgar. This work would then become brief and without much expense. Thus to avoid these drawbacks, the philosophers have hidden its name with great care. Some have enveloped it in marvelous parables, saying that Saturn is the vase to which nothing foreign must be added, except that which comes from it; in such a way that there is no man, however poor, who cannot be occupied with this Work, since it does not require great expense and since little work and few days are needed to obtain the Moon from it, and a little bit later the Sun. We therefore find in Saturn everything necessary for the Work. In it is the perfect mercury, in it are all the colors of the world which can be manifested, in it is the true blackness, the whiteness, the redness and in it also is the weight.

    I therefore confide in you that it is easy after that to understand that Saturn is our philosophical stone, and that Bronze from which mercury and our stone can be extracted, in little time and without a lot of disbursements, using our brief art. And the stone we obtain from it is our Bronze, and the acute water, which is within it, is our stone. Here are the Stone and the Water about which the philosophers have written mountains of books.

Kamala Jnana ~ Dictionary of Alchemical Philosophy

    Wet Way: This is the most commonly followed path. It is also far more described than others are. It lasts for 28 philosophical months. This dictionary will be mostly about this way. It is relatively easier, because comments on it can be easily found. It is also the less toxic and less dangerous.

    Dry Way: This is a less known path, although quicker, lasting four philosophical months. The main difference resides on the first Solve operations. The wise men then use their Agent in the form of earth. This remaining unaltered by humidity in the air is more active and cooks the matter more strongly. It is nevertheless very harmful if breathed and given the heat required it may easily happen that the vessel explodes.

Nicolas LeFevre ~ Secret of Secrets

    Table VII: The Time~ By the long first humid but finally dry way, seven months are sufficient for the Artist, but for the quick dry way, five hours are enough.

    The humid and dry way is but One Way, which by diligence or negligence of the operator, may be abbreviated or prolonged.

Raymond Lully ~ Letter or Epitome to King Rupert

    You ask which of the three Stones is more useful, readily obtained, and efficacious: Well, the mineral method is long and full of risks. It consists in two waters, one of which makes the Stone volatile without labour or danger; the other fixes it, and is fixed with it, and this operation is attended with risk. This latter water is extracted from a certain fetid menstruum; it is stronger than any other water, and the danger consists in the ease with which, in ablution, its spirit may escape.

    The Animal Stone is far more difficult of composition, so that far greater knowledge is required for it; yet it enables you not only to transmute metals into gold, but to change anything into any other thing, whence the potency of this Stone is infinite. The Vegetable Stone takes still longer to prepare, and has still more wonderful virtues than the Animal Stone. It should follow the Animal Stone as far as the rectification of elements, and, if thus prepared, its effect passes into the animal. Everything transmuted by means of the Vegetable Stone, far transcends Nature in excellence and size, because it is impregnated with the quintessence which performs so many wonderful things in the world. All alchemical gold is composed from corrosives, and from the incorruptible quintessence which is fixed with the ferment by the skill of the artist. Such quintessence is a certain mortified and empoisoned spirit in the Mineral Stone. The Animal Stone may be the most miraculous medicine for the human body, just as if it were an extract of human blood. The quintessence which is in the Vegetable Stone restores youth, and preserves the human body from all accidental corruption. The spirit of the quintessence, as you know, is that which tinges and transmutes, if it be mixed with its proper ferment. The Vegetable Stone is more noble, and useful, and efficacious, than all the rest.

    You ask me whether the work can be shortened; I tell you that all abbreviation diminishes perfection, so that the medicine which is composed by accurtation has less transmutatory power. There is, however, a multiplex accurtation of the Mineral Stone. In order to curtail its effect as little as possible, you should after the first calcination and putrefaction, which is performed with the most limpid and clear first water during a space of 20 days, and not less, separate from the substance a red powder, and distill it with the second water so as to prevent the escape of the spirit. Take only the last part of this water, after rubefaction in the alembic. Dissolve therein the powders, by placing both in hot water in a sealed vessel; then set over it an alembic, and distill as much as will ascend. This water pour away; that which remains with the body coagulate in a well-closed vessel among hot ashes; make other water and pour over it, then distill and coagulate ten times. Thus the Stone will be made perfect. If you wish to increase its efficiency, you may go on distilling and coagulating it as often as you like, or until it is impossible to congeal the body further. This Medicine will change metals into gold, and may be completed in 80 days at the most.

    In the case of the Animal Stone, there is no possibility of abridgment, except, indeed, that the earth may be ruled with fire, and the water with air, when its efficacy will be the same; this is called the accurtation of middle time. As to the Vegetable Stone, the same may be said. The following directions will be found useful in the preparation of this Stone…

    Wherefore I speak things which are miraculous, which seemed to be incredible to all the ancient Philosophers, that is, that thou shalt know well to separate this oil from the wateriness and thou shalt labour in the manner of the mixtion of them, and thou shalt be able to make the Stone in 30 days, but this is not necessary by itself because the solutions and coagulations of it (as hath been said) are quickly made and done...

    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.

Dr. Johan Muller ~ Hyle and Coahyl

    You see, I have taught you the complete work from its beginning to the end, but many don't like this way because of the long time that it takes; but the other way, the second way, I will teach you herewith, and in not too long a time you will attain to the secret of the Work Adamists.

Myriam Prophetessa ~ Her Conversation with Aros, King of Egypt

    Myriam: My dear Aros! I can accomplish the work of our Stone not only in one day, but even in part of a day.

    Doest thee not know, Aros! That there is a Water or a Thing, which Whiteneth hendrages?

    Hermes has mentioned that the philosophers are accustomed to whiten the stone in one hour.

    If I did not find a steady mind in thee, O Aros! I would say no more!

    Take Alum from Spain, the White Gum, and the Red Gum, the Kibru of the Philosophers, their Gold, and the Great Tincture.

    Make a marriage of the Gum with the Gum, by a true union;

    Proceed therewith, that they may flow like water; this well prepared water Thou must vitrify, that is, thou must make a glass thereof.

    This glass is composed of Two Subjects and a fixed body. Render this matter fusible by the secret operation of nature in the Philosophical Vessel.

    Take care of the Fume, and beware, that nothing of the fume may escape! Attend the work, with a gentle fire, such as the Sun gives in July.

    Be not absent from the Vessel, that thou mayst observe, how the matter becomes Black, White and Red, in less than 3 hours of a day, and the fume will penetrate the body, the Spirits will keep together and will become like Milk, which softens, and renders fusible and penetrating.

    And this is the Secret, O Aros!

    My dear Aros! I could tell Thee another Secret, which the Philosophers before me, did not know or make use of! And that was not anything Medicinal. It is this: Take that White, Clear and much-honoured herb, which is found in the low Hills, pound it fresh and sift the powder very finely.

    This is the true fixt body, which does not flee from the fire, but rather melts into glass.

    Aros: Is this the truth?

    Myriam: Yes, truly. But very few know this regimen and the quickness in the fire.

    Vitrify or make a glass over the matter; over the Kibrick and Zubreck, over the two Fumes which contain two Lights, and when it is perfect, throw or project therein the fulfilling or ferment of the Tincture and of the Spirits, according to the true Weight.

    Then pulverize it, it is very brittle, and make use of it in a strong fire, and thou wilt see strange things performed thereby.

    The whole Regimen depends on the moderation of the Fire. It will pass from one Colour to another, in one hour's time, before it becomes White and Red. When thou hast obtained perfect Redness, let the fire go out and let the matter grow cold, open the Vessel.

    And thou wilt find the body appears now like a fine pearl, with a tint of the wild Poppy intermixed with white, and this is the substance, which inceriates, giveth ingress, mollifies and penetrates.

    And this Stone can be projected on 1200 parts of Lead or Tin.

    Myriam said further to King Aros: I will teach thee, how to proceed by the shortest way: with the Clear Fixt Body, found on small hills: this body cannot be conquered by putrefaction. Take that body finely powdered and sifted; rub it up gently with Gum Elsaron, rub it very finely and unite the two powders.

    If you project this or unite this with her spouse, it will flow like water, and when it cools, it will be coagulated and They will become one Body; project some part of this body, and thou will see wonderful things.

    The before mentioned Two Fumes are the White Kibrick: but the fixt body is from the heart of Saturn, which preserves the Tincture.

    The Philosophers have given various names to this fixt body, which is taken from small hills, and it is a Clear White Body.

    These are the principles of this art, which can partly be bought, partly it is found on small hills.

    In our work enter Four Stones, and the Regimen is as I have said; the first are: Seoyare, Ade and Zilket.

    The Philosophers have always indicated a long Regimen, and have concealed the Work, that no man should easily undertake it, and they pretend to be a whole year in doing the magistery; But all this is done with no other view, than to hide the work from the ignorant, until they can comprehend it, because it is only accomplished with fine Gold, which is a great and Divine Secret.

    Myriam said further to King Aros: The Vessel of Hermes does consist in the Degree of the Fire. The Root of our Art is a Brittle Leprous Body and venomous matter which destroys all mineral and metallic bodies and reduces them into a powder. It coagulates Mercury by its fumes.

    Myriam added, by saying: I swear unto thee by the living God, that if the before-mentioned venomous matter be dissolved and opened, it coagulates Mercury into Luna, by its strength, and tinges Jupiter into Luna and the Art is in all the Metals, but especially in the Fixt metals, wherein lie the Tingeing Elements.

Paracelsus ~ The Philosophical Canons

    [ 44 ] The Philosophers’ work can be carried on without much labour or expense at all ties, in every place, and by all, if only the true and sufficient matter be forthcoming.

    [ 87 ] The long method is the open secret of philosophy, but it is a veil and an evasion.

    [ 88 ] There is a certain short method by which the Sulfur is removed from gold and silver, whereby every Mercury is permanently changed into gold or silver.

    [ 119 ] The Wise reduce years to months, months to weeks, weeks to days

Eirenaeus Philalethes ~ Ripley Revived

    An Exposition Upon Sir G. Ripley’s Epistle --- I know many pitiful Sophisters do dote on many Stones, Vegetable, Animal, and Mineral; and some to those add the fiery Angelical, Paradaical Stone, which they call a Wonder-working Essence; and because the mark they aim at is so great, the ways also by which they would attain their scope, they make also agreeable, that is a double way; One way they call Via Humida, the other they call Via Sicca, (to use their languages:) the latter way is the Labyrinthian path, which is fit only for the great ones of the earth to tread in; the other the Daedalean Path, an easie way of small cost for the poor of the world to enterprise.

    But this I know, and can testifie, that there is but one way, and bit only one Regimen, no more colours than ours; and what we say or write otherwise, is but to deceive the unwary: For if every thing in the world ought to have its proper causes, there cannot be any one end which is produced from two wayes of working on distinct Principles.

    Therefore we protest, and must again admonish the Reader, that in our former writings) we have concealed much, by reason of the two ways we have insinuated, which we will briefly touch; There is one Work of ours, which is the Play of Children, and the Work of Women, and that is Decoction by the Fire; and we protest that the lowest degree of this our work, is, that the matter be stirred up, and may hourly circulate without fear o breaking the Vessel, which for this reason ought to be very strong; but our lineal Decoction is an Internal Work, which advances every day and hour, and is distinct from that of outward heat, and therefore is both invisible and insensible…

    But trust me this is not for a Tyro, nor for every one of us, unless he have the Secret from his own Studies, and not by Tradition from a Master or Guide. Know then that this fore-recited way is true, but involved with a thousand broileries.

    But our way which is an easie way, and in which no man may erre, our broad way, our Linear way, we have vowed never to reveal it but in Metaphors; I being moved with pity, will hint it to you. Take that which is not yet perfect, nor yet wholly imperfect, but in a way to perfection and out of it make what is most noble and most perfect: This you may conceive to be an easier Receipt, then to take that which is already perfect, and extract out of it what is imperfect, and then make it perfect, and after out of that perfection to draw a plusquam perfection: and yet this is true, and we have wrought it, And because it is an immense Labour for any to undertake, we describe that way; but this last discovery which I hinted in few words, is it which no man ever did so plainly lay open, nor may any man make it more plain, upon pain of an Anathema…

    Pray then to God, that he would be propitious unto your studies and labours, in giving thee the true knowledge of this secret Mystery; it is the gift of God, I have holpen thee what I can, but venture not to practice barely upon my words, for know that what I have only hinted, is far more then what I have discovered; and what I have declared to thy first apprehension most openly, hath yet its lurking Serpent under the green Grass, I mean some hidden thing which thou oughtest to understand, which thou being Cock-sure at first blush wilt neglect; but yet it will bite thee by the heel when thou approachest to practice, and make thee begin again, and it may be at last throw away all as a man desperate: for know that this is an Art very Cabalistical, and we do study expression such as we know will suit almost with any mans fancy, in one place or other; but be sure to take this Maxim from one who knows best the sence of what he hath written: Where we speak most plainly, there be most circumspect, for we do not go about to betray the Secrets of Nature; especially then in those places which seem to give Receipts so plain as you would desire, suspect either a Metaphor, or else be sure that something or other is supprest, which thou wilt hardly without Inspiration ever find of thy self, which in tryal will make all thy confident knowledge vanish; yet to a Son of Art, we have written that which never heretofore was by any revealed…

For ‘tis a Labour hardly to be borne,
So many tricks and turnings in it be,
And he that tryeth it is surely forlorne,
Unless a crafty Master, credit me;
For I have tried both, yet could not see
How any in this way can be secure:
I therefore who have vowed secrecy
Have writ this way, which we can scarce endure
For knowledge-sake to try, its ease will none allure.

Our Kingly road I also hinted have,
Our way in which a Fool can hardly erre,
Our secret way, which much mad toyl will save,
Which is so easie, that I may aver,
If thou shouldst see it, thou wouldst it prefer
To any earthly pleasure; yet beware
That you mistake not, for I do aver,
A mingled Doctrine these lines do declare,
I or both ways in this Book of mine do claim a share.

Learn to distinguish every sentence well,
And know to what Work it doth appertain;
This is great skill, which few as I can tell
By all their reading yet could ere attain,
And yet of Theory this is the main:
Also to know accordingly to give
Due heat, which in one way thou must be fain
T’ increase ten-fold, thou mayst me well believe,
For what we decoct, t’other away will drive.

Also their Operations different
Appear, the one thou must sublime and boyl,
O tedious way! In which much time is spent,
And many errours, which the Work will spoyl:
The other silently doth make no toyl,
Like the still voice which to Eliah came,
About which Work thou needest not to broyl,
Nor wantst thou fiery Vulcan’s parching flame,
A far more gentle heat begins and ends this Game.

But if thou canst each Work perform apart,
And knowst them afterward to reconcile,
Then art thou Master of a Princely Art,
The very success will thy hopes beguile;
Thou hast all Natures Works ranks in a File,
And all her Treasures at command dost keep,
On thee the Fate shall never dare but smile,
No Mystery is now for thee too deep,
Th’ art Natures Darling, whether thou dost wake or sleep.

Pardon my plainness, if the Art thou knowst,
‘Twas the fruit of my untamed desire
To profit many; and without a boast,
No man above my Candour shall aspire:
My zeal was kindled with Minerva’s Fire,
And thou who to this Art wilt now apply,
My Book in Natures way shall lead thee higher,
Then ever thou alone mayst hope to fly,
If only thou shalt favour’d be by Destiny.

Peruse these lines, and being read, review
And read again, and on them meditate,
Each reading shall fresh Mysteries and new
Discover, which are scatter’d in each Gate;
For they so linked are, that all relate
To each, and we our words have woven so,
That thou mayst soon erre by misleading Fate,
Unless for to distinguish thou do know;
Remember that ‘mongst Briars thick, sweet Roses grow.

Eir. Philalethes ~ An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King

    Chapter XIX --- This method has been followed by many Sages, but it is exceedingly slow and tedious, and is only for the rich of the earth. Moreover, when you have got this Sulfur do not think that you possess the Stone, but only its true matter, which you may seek in an imperfect thing, and find it within a week, by our easy yet rare way, reserved of God for his poor, contemned, and abject saints...

    This is the Great Labyrinth in which most beginners go astray, because the Sages in writing of these ways as two ways, purposely obscure the fact that they are only one way (though of course the one is more direct than the other)... I know both ways, and prefer the shorter one; but I have described the longer one as well in order that I may not draw down upon myself the wrath of the "Sages". The great difficulty which discourages all beginners is not of nature's making: the Sages have created it by speaking of the longer operation when they mean the shorter one, and vice versa.

Eugenius Philalethes ~ A Short Enquiry Concerning the Hermetic Art

    "There is a pure Matter" (saith another) "which is the Matter of Gold, containing in itself the heat that giveth increase" (Fire of Generation). This is locked under thick Folds in common Gold; nor is it to be extracted, but by a strong and tedious Decoction, which is a Work liable to many Errors, and hath always occasioned those that wrought in it to complain of the length and trouble of it. But in the other Work, the Body is soon dissolved, by a sweet and kindly bath, or moist Fire.

    As the former path requires much Pain and Patience to effect the Work, so this requires great Skill and Application to find it out, being deeply concealed. The Masters of these Secrets do also affirm, that these Works (which are all one in the Beginning) may be conjoined, and made their Grand Medicine. And I have been informed, that the way of making them one is but slenderly hid...

    And that he will find himself in the High Road of Nature which is that Secret Way of the Philosophers, viz., most easie, delightful and speedy; in which are no Storms, no Heterogeneities, nor any Fire, but the gentle one of Generation.

    Norton asserts, That there are but few clerks that comprehend this Work, it being truly Philosophical. And he saith, That in this Work you must not begin with Quicksilver and Metals, as if in another Work you might; which other Work, he adds, if it be done in three years, would be a blessed Chance, and which belongs to great Men; advising poor Men not to meddle with it, for that Errors in it may be committed above a hundred ways; that it is a work of Pain and labour, as well as full of Perils.

George Ripley ~ Medulla Alchymiae

    The first Matter of this unclean Alchymical Body is a Viscous Water, which is thickened in the Bowels of the Earth. And therefore of this Impure Body (as Vincent saith) is made the great Elixir of the Red and White, whose name is Adrop, or Adrup, viz., the Philosophers' lead. From the which Raymundus commands an Oyl to be drawn: from the Lead of the Philosophers (saith he) let there be an Oyl drawn of a Golden Colour; if you can separate this Oyl (wherein is Our second Tincture and Fire of nature) from its Phlegm, which is its waterishness, and wisely search out the Secret thereof, you may in the space of 30 days perform the Work of the Philosophers' Stone.

Martin Rulandus ~ A Lexicon of Alchemy

    Water --- Dry Water which does not wet the hands. It must be remembered in this connection that those Adepts who give this name to their Mercury are followers of the Dry Way in the operation of the Magisterium; those who, like Paracelsus, Basil Valentin, etc., are operators of the Humid Way, apply to the same substance the appellation of Virgin's Milk, because it is a white liquor which does wet the hands, while the other is a fluid Mercury of the nature of Vulgar Quicksilver.

    Gold: Its Artificial Production --- ...This chemical secret is contained in the Hermetic Cabinet, and the facility with which the experiment can be performed has led many persons to undertake it. The authority cited in support of it is no less than that of the most learned Basil Valentine, who also affirms that the operation of the Grand Work of the Philosophers can be performed in less than three or four days, that the cost should not exceed three or four florins, and a few earthen vessels are sufficient for the whole experiment.

Solinus Salztal ~ Fountain of Philosophic Salts

    At this point the old man said: "Behold, now I have doubled mercury in my possession. Now I own it --- white lily, powder of adamantine, chief central poison of the dragon, spirit of arsenic, green lion, incombustible spirit of the moon, life and death of all metals, moist radical, universal dissolving nutriment, true menstruum of the philosophers, which without doing any damage or harm reduces metal to first matter. This is the true water for sprinkling, in which the living seeds of metals inhere, and from which other metals can be produced. Through this water their potency remains in solution in this water. In all kinds of aqua fortis and other such unknown philosophic waters, they lose and relinquish this potency. In this exalted water is the true vitriol of the wise, of which Rupicessa said: "Vitriol or salt is the proper seed to generate all metals, including both the remote and the proximate seed." I will show you its power as clearly as in a mirror: for this water from the fountain radically, silently, and wondrously dissolves all metals, white and black, by its own innate power and magnetic force. In an instant it liquifies metals by its own internal fire. It opens their pores and enters them like feminine seed, attracting the soul of the metal. It leaves the lifeless body behind like refuse that cannot endure the fire. Certainly it is a very marvelous thing that this water strips metals of their dignity. It is the dry path of the philosophers, by which metals are reduced to their first matter. It is considered very swift, but compendious. Since we want to proceed on the humid path, in which common water is added to this water to make it liquid, we must first make the metals very bright. This operation takes a great deal of time and effort, but it is beautiful to look at...

Theophrastus ~ The Sacred Art

The white augmented thrice within a fire
In three days time is altogether changed
To lasting yellow and this yellow then
Will give its hue to every whitened form.
This power to tinge and shape produces gold
And thus a wondrous marvel is revealed.

Arnold de Villanova ~ Rosarium Philosophorum

    Aristotle in the Second Book of his Politics --- There is a double way in this art according to the Philosophers, that is --- universal and particular. The universal way is easy and rare, and it is that which is brought forth from true and natural beginnings, by which a speedy and reformative virtue doth presently and in a moment hardens Mercury, and it tinctureth any metal that is duly prepared, into true Gold or Silver.

    But the second way is called particular and it is hard and laboursome. Note this, although Alchemy in the universal way be partly natural and partly artificial, yet it is more natural than otherwise, because by nature no strange or foreign thing is brought in the way of true Alchemy, for nature hath whereon to work because actives are joined to passives by a competent union and application, but the rest nature worketh by herself.

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