Mary Anne ATWOOD
Hermetic Philosophy & Alchemy:
A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery
An Exoteric View of the Progress and Theory of Alchemy
Chapter I ~ A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more Salient Points of its Public History
Chapter II ~ Of the Theory of Transmutation in General, and of the First Matter
Chapter III ~ The Golden Treatise of Hermes Trismegistus Concerning the Physical Secret of the Philosophers’ Stone, in Seven Sections
A More Esoteric Consideration of the Hermetic Art and its Mysteries
Chapter I ~ Of the True Subject of the Hermetic Art and its Concealed Root.
Chapter II ~ Of the Mysteries
Chapter III ~ The Mysteries Continued
Chapter IV ~ The Mysteries Concluded
Concerning the Laws and Vital Conditions of the Hermetic Experiment
Chapter I ~ Of the Experimental Method and Fermentations of the Philosophic Subject According to the Paracelsian Alchemists and Some Others
Chapter II ~ A Further Analysis of the Initial Principle and Its Education into Light
Chapter III ~ Of the Manifestations of the Philosophic Matter
Chapter IV ~ Of the Mental Requisites and Impediments Incidental to Individuals, Either as Masters or Students, in the Hermetic Art
The Hermetic Practice
Chapter I ~ Of the Vital Purification, Commonly Called the Gross Work
Chapter II ~ Of the Philosophic or Subtle Work
Chapter III ~ The Six Keys of Eudoxus
Chapter IV ~ The Conclusion
Concerning the Laws and Vital Conditions of the Hermetic Experiment
Of the Experimental Method and Fermentation of the Philosophic Subject, According to the Paracelsian Alchemists and Some Others
Naturam in primisimitabere in arte, magister.
Hanc massam exterio tentum calor excitat ignis;
Aethereo interior sed perfecit omnia fot.
Tractatus Aureus --- Scholium, cap. 1
It is not less the tendency of the Greek philosophy to substantialize life, than to free the conscious being from corporal dependency; in considering mind apart from its material organs, they by no means make it appear therefore as an abstract conception, or inferential only, as with modern metaphysics is the case; but as an absolute substratal matter also of existence.
In just such a foundation do the Alchemists establish their Free masonry; claiming like extreme attributes and miraculous origin for their first matter, as do the Greeks, for that ethereal hypostasis we were before discussing. A few also profess, with the same admirable earnestness, to have observed in the experimental development of their own internal being, the whole procedure of the occult nature into evidence, with her universal efficient by the Light of Wisdom thenceforth revealed. In ignorance of the means by which such a spectacle was obtained, they may continue unaccredited, for their assertion is at variance with the judgment of common sense, neither does it belong to the natural order of mental experience; nevertheless, since the whole of the Hermetic philosophy, and every tradition of occult science, depend immediately therefrom, for our understanding’s sake, it will be requisite to consider this, their Initial Principle, more particularly, and how possibly it became known in its first arcane descent and emanation.
We have already endeavored to prepare a way in part, showing the imperfection of the natural Spirit in his world, the occultation of its Light, and the vital alteration that was deemed necessary and operated in the Mysteries upon those who were desirous of wisdom and immortality in the awakening conscience of a divine life within. Let us examine yet further into the Method of this Vital Experiment, that, before proceeding to infold the Art in actual practice, we may understand the Principles; and be enabled, from out the many clouds of sophistry in which it is enveloped, to distinguish that Light and virtue of true Chemistry, by which the ancients were assisted: --- that deformed and limping Oedipus for example; so that he was able to vanquish the Metaphysical Monster, and enter I with her to the Temple of Truth.
And here, preliminarily, we may remark with how much propriety the Egyptians placed the Sphinx in the vestibule of Isis, who is the same with Minerva and that Wisdom we are investigating; for what the natural intelligent Spirit is in man, that Ether is in the universe; and this intelligence, phantasic as it is and drawn without, may be called the vestibule of Reason, which is, as it were, the temple of that Intellectual Ilumination which proceeds, when the conditions are duly offered, from the Divinity within. In our vestibule, therefore, the Phantastic Spirit, which is the natural vehicle of our life, is situated; and in a similar manner the commonly diffused Ether is as a vestibule or vehicle in respect of the universal soul of the world, which is occultly suspended in Nature, and may be called her temple; as an outward shadow, guarding the Light within if both world, so is that Ether then the Sphinx of the Universe.
And she is all things passively which the internal light is impassively. By her animal form, combined with the human face and summit, is indicated the twofold capability and diffusion of such a life; for she is the summit of the irrational mind relying on instinct, and the basis whereon o build the rational and transcend opinion in indivisible science. Her winds are images of the elevating power which the imagination possesses, by which likewise she is rendered capable of divine assimilation and of returning within and upward to a region of vivid intellection everywhere resplendent with light (1).
Such was the Door-keeper of the Egyptian Mysteries; agreeable also do we find the art of Alchemy directed upon the same enigmatical source.
A nature to search out which is invisible,
Material of our Magistry a substance insensible.
This Material, whilst yet immanifest, they worked, and worked with by itself alone; joining self to self, as the advice runs --- vita vitam concipit, natura naturam vincit ac superat, patefacit, gignit et renovat; item natura natura laetatur et emendetur (2); as men also now prove, mesmerizing one another but without the important knowledge how to alter and amend the Thing. This Mesmerism, in respect of our Mystery then, may be regarded as a first key which, opening into the vestibule, affords a view within the sense’s prison, but of the labyrinth of life only. Facts vary at the circumference, and appear often so contradictory that reason is at a loss, even if otherwise admitted capable, for stable materials whereon to base judgment; and each succeeding theory yields to some unforeseen diversity of the Spirit’s manifestation. If the ancients had known the inner life only as it is now known, if they had mistaken dreams for revelations, instinct for intellectual vision, and insensibility for the highest good, and so left Nature to dream on and take her rest without exerting a thought to probe or prosper her ability, then they would have been just such inconsiderable heathens as the world has taken them for; the Sphinx had never owned her mastery or yielded to theirs her wary wit; then they would have been, as we, servants, not masters; plodding interpreters of effects, without power or prescience. But it was all otherwise, as will one day be perceived; their philosophy as far exceeded ours in substance and objective certainty, as it does avowedly is scope, beauty and intellectual promise.
It may be considered that the discovery of Vital Magnetism is young, and has had no time to grow up into a science; that it is the business of a philosopher to observe and gather facts from without patiently and compare experiences; and we do not object but admit that it is a way; but whether it is the best way, or surest, to find the truth eventually we doubt: a long way we all know it to be --- laborious and not very cheering, if we regard the point to which has hitherto attained in the most intelligent and experienced hands. Or how should they attempt to theorize about a revelation that is above their own? ; as well might we presume to estimate the worth of a treasure that is unseen, as to judge of spiritual causes from remote effects. Is not experience the basis of true knowledge, and rational experiment the proper road to attain it? How then can we hope for an understanding of spiritual causes without entering in upon the proper ground of their experience? Verily, says the adept, as long as men continue to lick the shell after their fashion, presuming to judge of hidden celestial things which are shut up in the closet of the matter, and all the while perusing the outside, they can do no otherwise than they have done; they cannot know things substantially, but only describe them by their outward effects and motions, which are subject and obvious to every common eye (3).
But be the modern method of experimenting as it may, right or wrong, according to opinion, the ancients did not choose it; but adopted a different one in their philosophy; which we, observing the imperfect fruits of the inductive sciences generally, and that facts accumulated about them for ages, having failed in every instance to yield the satisfaction which reason requires, are more particularly desirous to examine at the present time, if peradventure philosophy might hope with advantage to return with her instruments to work as formerly on the a priori ground. It has lain a long while uncultivated, and indigenous weeds and briars have sprung up over, so that it is difficult, on first view, to believe that it ever yielded foreign fruits; but patience, and the possibility granted, we will endeavor to clear a path, by the help of evidences that yet remain, many and curious, about the riches of Wisdom and those living waters that abound in Paradise, compassing about too that land of Havilah where good gold is (4); the Tree of Life also, and Knowledge, and other precious things wonderfully adumbrated about the penetralia of True Being. --- Surely there is a vein for the silver, says Job, and a place for gold where they fine it. Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. And the stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the flood from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall Wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it to be found in the land of the living. Whence then cometh wisdom? And where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. God understandeth the way thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning and thunder: then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding (5).
Let us then, investigate a means for the discovery of Wisdom, as the ancients declare to be right and profitable, and believe that he spoke well and summarily who said, that "the first step of philosophy is to set the mind a-going".
As we are informed that the conduct of the Mysteries was uniform and entirely scientific; so likewise philosophers insist that, in the Hermetic art, theory ought to precede practice; and that, before the Spirit can be expected to yield any rational or pure effects, she must be made to conceive them: the right way and object of investigation being well understood. --- Dwell not altogether in the practice, says the adept, for that is not the way to improve it: be sure to add reason to thy experience, and to employ thy mind as well as thy hands (6). So wrote Vaughan in 1650; and to the same effect, artists of every age: and, in the sequel of this inquiry, we may understand Why; and why we have no such miracles as those which are related of the saints and apostles in former times who received the gift of healing from their Lord. Is it not obvious to common sense, that he would heal others, or hope to impart any superior efficacy, should first of all heal or be healed himself? Take first the beam from out thine own eye, and then thou mayest see clearly to take out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye: and again, is it not written, --- Physician, heal thyself; Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in thy field; and afterwards build thy house (7). If, ten, we go out at once to throw our common lives to common lives, what wonder we have only common results? That much depends on the quality of life imparted, general observation teaches; and with what sure corresponding consequences the moral heaven is attended may be understood, in a degree, by the recipient in the mesmeric trance. But the spontaneous fermentation which the Vital Spirit undergoes, and the change that is thereby effected in the Passive Subject, is not taken advantage of in modern practice, or pushed to the uttermost; much less is understood, that exact art of grafting and transplanting which the ancients practiced, and by means of which a growth and sublimation of the Spirit was effected, even to a third, fourth, and fifth degree of concentrated essentiality in as many representative vessels or forms.
The true medicine, according to the Paracelsians, is bound in man, shut up as it may be milk, within the hard and solid nut: and as fire which lies hidden in fuel, unless it be ignited, is good for nothing, so our fire of life (called Antimony by adepts, can effect nothing comparatively excellent whilst it is immured. When, however, by a due purgation, the pure life is separated, as metal from the dark and sordid ore, it will flow forth, as is declared, "a pure panacea from the god of Light".
As all things are proved by fire, so also, are we told, the trial of the knowledge of physic is to be made by fire; physic and pyrotechny, says Crollius, cannot be separated; for the natural inbred chemist teaches to segregate every mystery into its own reservacle, and to free the medicine from those scurvy envelopes wherein naturally it is wrapped, by a due separation from the impurities and filthy mixtures of superficial external elements; that the pure crystalline matter may be administered to our bodies; and therefore a physician should be born of the light of grace and spirit of the invisible divinity (8). Wherewith a man no longer asks, What is it? How can this be? Or whence come such salutary effects? For it feels itself move in conscious virtue from its own source being allied, as an efflux of that living light which can move mountains to its faith.
To find this Light, and to free it from captivity, was the practice of physicians on the middle periods, for curing bodily ills, and administering to the defects of age. But the Theurgic Art professed a power of purifying and informing the Mind much more beneficial and lasting than this pertaining to the mortal body, and far advanced beyond that object; approaching more nearly, as it would seem, towards a fulfillment of the perfect doctrine of regeneration preached by Jesus Christ and his apostles, than any other known; for, by an effectual baptismal purification, they also prepared the way, and by a gradual subjugation of the passions and adaptation of the subordinate powers to reason, the whole hypostasis was converted finally through faith into the identity of substant light within.
And it appears that, in order to discover this Reason, men had in former times the faith to put the question to Nature rationally: not rudely indeed, or, as is with modern chemistry the fashion, to demolish her edifices and burn her out of life and home; and they knocked as was bid them, and the doors being opened from within, they enjoyed and took advantage of their entrance as lawful guests: and, when all was ready, and they were admitted to the inner chamber, we observe them still, not much engaged in noting phenomena, or looking about for facts to furnish private judgment; but more becoming inquisitive, addressing themselves to nature, and admitting there where they found her happily exalted above them, sphered in the magian circle of her own light: not stupidly gazing either, but speculative now they might approach nearer and become worthy of the knowledge and familiarity of that light. For they were not content with first phenomena, nor did Theurgists disturb the divine intellect about trifling concerns; but they consulted it about things which pertain to purification, liberation, as Iamblicus tells us, and the salvation of life. Neither did they studiously employ themselves in questions which are indeed difficulty, yet useless, to mankind; but on the contrary, they directed their attention to things which are beneficial to life, and such as tend towards the discovery of truth (9).
No man enters the magian’s school, it seems, but he wanders awhile in the region of chimeras; and the inquiries which he makes before attaining to experimental knowledge are many, and often erroneous (10). But investigation, once begum in a right rectifying spirit, enters; as adepts who having set the chain of vital causes in action, succeeded in tracing them to their last efficient link in Deity; whence surveying, they were enabled, under the divine will, to work such perfection in things below as are supernatural to this life, and greater than the natural intellect is able to conceive. For the Central Light and Wisdom was all their aim, and the way to it was all the revelation they valued or asked for, until the hidden Divinity was moved into experience and made manifest in effect and power.
But what say our Oedipus distillers of this Ether, the instructive Alchemists? Lay the line to thy thoughts and examine all patiently, and infer from experience, and thou art in the way to become infallible. Take hold of that Rule which God hath given thee for direction, by which thou mayest discern the right from the wrong. Seek not for that in nature which is an effect beyond her strength; you must help her, that she may exceed her common course, or all is to no purpose; for the Mercury of the Wise comes not but by help of ingenuity and industry (11). But he that devoteth himself to philosophy, says Crollius, and shall sincerely and as he ought come to the inner rooms of nature by a holy assiduity of preparations, joining thereto diligent contemplation of natural causes, and withal shall refuse no pains or difficulties to get experience by the industry of his handy work, he shall, if the grace of the most high be infused into him, bring forth far greater things out of this open bosom of nature than they seem to promise at first sight (12). To the same effect Van Helmont writes, that the attainment of the Tree of Life is laborious, and the fruit of intellectual research (13). Excellent, also, is this advice of Basil Valentine, and instructive to the point: Learn and look for the first foundation, says the monk, which nature holds concealed; search for it even with thine own eyes and hand, in order that thou mayest be able to philosophize with judgment and build upon the impregnable rock; but without this discovery, thou wilt continue a vain and phantastic trifler, whose discoursings, without experience, are built upon sand. Let not any one imagine either that we can be satisfied with mere words, who rather exact documents proved by experience, in which we are bounden to have faith (14).
Such are a few of the preliminary lessons of adepts, in which they all agree that the way to Wisdom is by patience and rational inquiry. Some scattered specimens of the kind we have remarked in the writings of Lully, and Michael Maier and others, to which in the Practice we shall have occasion to allude. That they did not investigate trifling matters is indeed obvious, but diligently, from the first, concerning the intimate causes of things; and how they might themselves enter into the fundamental experience, their anxiety is manifest and the truly philosophic inclination of their mind.
But the contemplation which absolves the Second part of our admonition is celestial, continues the monk Basil, and to be understood with spiritual reason; for the circumstances of everything cannot be perceived any other way than by the spiritual cognitation of man, considering how nature may be helped and perfected by resolution of itself, and how the destruction and compaction are to be handled, whereby under a just title, without sophistical deceits, the pure may be separated from the impure (15). For it is no graft from this life that enters into the divine foundation, nor any arbitrary instinct; natural reason, even the most acute, is dull here comparatively, and inoperative, and stands in the Philosophic Work, albeit necessary, as a mere circumstantial aid on the threshold of the divine inquiry, as it were an iron key, intended to unlock the golden treasury of light within. And no sooner, we are informed, has it done this, and, further extricating itself, helped to introduce the spiritual intellect into self-knowledge, than this latter, returning with power upon the life without, proceeds to analyze and revolutionize, proving all, as may be said, chemically by the fiery essence of its newly conceived Law. It is this vital perscrutinator, the internal fire of the sulfur of thy water, as Eirenaeus calls it, that, investigating scientifically, operates the whole change. And it is happily provided against intruders, lest the casket should be rifled of its rich offering, that they only who have obtained this passport can attain to the Magistery of life; since they only, literally speaking, can enter in through the narrow gate, as in the Mysteries we have already described. And the discovery is difficult, and reputed tedious by many who have spared no labor either of body or mind in the research --- reclusa resedet longius, as the poet says; it is far off, gotten in the penetralia, as it were, the flower of human intellect, triply imprisoned in the dark body’s hold. This it is the business of the philosopher to open and set free; and this is the security, that he must be a lover of Wisdom who can set her free.
Our fire is the true sulfur of Gold, says Eirenaeus, which in the hard and dry body is imprisoned but by the mediation of our water it is set loose, by rotting the moles of the body (i.e., of the ethereal body) under which it is detained; and after separation of the elements (of the same body) it appears visibly in our Third Menstrual. But the means to discover this is not a light work, it requires a profound meditation: for this is the seed of gold, involved in many links, and held prisoner, as it were, in a deep dungeon; he that knows not our two first menstruals is altogether shut out from attaining to the sight of this Third and last: yet he who knows how to prepare the first water, and to join it to the body in a just pondus, to shut it up in its vessel philosophically, until the infant be formed, and, what is greater than all, to govern his fire dexterously, so as to cherish internal heat with external, and can wait with patience till he sees signs: he shall perceive the first water will work on the body till it hath opened the pores and extracted partly the tincture of Sol. Take counsel; be not so careful of the fire of the Athanor as of your internal Fire. Seek it in the house of Aries, and draw it from the depths of Saturn; let Mercury be the internal, and your signal the Doves of Diana (16).
On some such errand, we may remember, the Sybil sends Aeneas, that, from out many entanglements and obscurity, he may discover and bring to her the Golden Bough, well directing him how to look from beneath upwards, and take it in hand.
Alte vestiga oculis: et rite repertum,
Carpe manu; namque Ipse volens facilisaque sequetur,
Si te fate vocant; aliter, non viribus ullis
Vincere, nec duro poteris convellere ferro (17).
So Orpheus, in his Argonautics, leading to the Cave of Mercury, exhorts mankind how they ought to act and study there.
At quaecunque virum ducit prudnetia cordis
Mercurii ingedier spuluncam plurima ubi ille
Deponit bona, stat quorum praegrandis acervus
Ambabus valet hic minibus sibi sumere, et ista
Ferre domum, valet hic vistare incommoda cuncta.
He, therefore, who wishes to partake of many goods, let him approach to the Cave of Mercury, which, according to the Hermetic interpretation, is Taenerus, the most hidden vapor of life: let him enter with a prudent motive, well understanding and allied to what he seeks; and that which he shall bear away from thence, Centaur-like, in both his Hands, will be the mineral radix and true mater of the Hermetic Art. But if he have not a right mind, and unless the predestined conditions and the order of operation be observed, all will be in vain; for the power will remain hidden, despite of every effort, in a pusillanimous uncongenial soul. Nescit Sol comitis non memor esse sui; Ignire ignis amat, non aurificare sed, aurum. Fire loves fire, say they, not to make gold, but to assimilate it. Take, therefore, that body which is gold (not a brazen ferment), and throw it into Mercury --- such a Mercury as is bottomless, or whose center it can never find, but by discovering its own (18).
This is the art of Oedipus which, well conducted with the Sphinx, ends in her subjugation; in other words, the Ethereal Spirit abandons her phantasy, and yields the clear light of understanding to him who, having been duly educated and singled out, knows how and wherewith to investigate her peculiar essence. Thus, Synesius says --- Intellect above all things separates whatever is contrary to the true purity of phantastic Spirit; for it attenuates this spirit in an occult and ineffable manner, and extends it to Divinity (19). But the natural Intellect cannot do this, neither comprehending properly, or being conceived of the Spirit; neither is its essence so acutely penetrative as to operate the change required. Salt is good, but if the Salt have lost its savor wherewith shall it be seasoned?
And here the common difficulty ensues, as language becomes less and less adequate to convey to the natural understanding the truth alleged. To conceive at once the free perspicacity which experience and long study bestowed on those men, their assertion of the magic action of mind in her own spheres, the efficient force of an individual freed will upon the vehicle of its motive cause, separating, refining, and transmuting it from an impure, dull consistency to the clear light of universal intelligence, is arduous to the unaccustomed mind; and in this age, which is without a witness, without experimental knowledge, we should say, of true causality, most especially adverse; yet it will be necessary, having so far ventured, to discuss the point; and, as well as we may be enabled, to substantialize without deforming this Intellectual Science.
It may be remembered, in a former citation from his book to the Athenians, Paracelsus saying, that Separation is the greatest miracle in philosophy, and that magic the most singular by which it is effected; very excellent for quickness of penetration and swiftness of operation, the like whereof Nature knows not. Now this Separation, of which he speaks, and of which all the Hermetic Masters speak appears to be identical with that which is described as taking place in the Mysteries, when the great ordeals are passed through during the decomposition and death of the natural life. The analogy bears throughout from the beginning in suffering, succedent dread, dissolution, and corruption, to the final resurrection of the pure Ether into Light. This Separation is indeed the primary object of the Art which, continues our doctor, if it were divinely done by God alone, it would be to no purpose to study after it; but there is a free power in the creature to its mutual affection and destruction; and again --- The free will flourisheth and is conversant in virtue, and is either friend or foe in our works; but that is the sequestatrix, which gives to every thing its form and essence (20); which is the part especial of Intellect, that same perscrutinating Intellect which Hermes speaks of (21), and where in the Smagardine Tablet it is written --- Separabis, Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently, with much sagacity; it will ascend from earth to heaven, and again descend from heaven to earth, and will receive the strength of the Inferiors and of the Superiors: this is the strong fortitude of all fortitudes, overcoming every strong and penetrating every solid thing: therefore let all obscurity flee before thee; so the world was created, and hence are all wonderful adaptations of which this is the manner (22). So passing wonderful is it said by the same reputed author, in the Asclepius, that man should be able not only to find the Causal Nature but to effect it (23).
Nor ought we, therefore, taking into consideration the human agency, to understand this decomponency of life in a mechanical sense, or in any ordinary way of dissolution, but according to the literal wording of the Table, we observe Mind to be the true Separator, the efficient as well as the regimen of the work, into which, as before shown, no foreign admixture is allowed to enter. And thus we are given to understand that the knowledge of the elements of the ancient philosophers was not corporally or imprudently sought after, but is through patience and Wisdom to be discovered according to their causes and their occult operation; for their operation truly is occult, since nothing is discovered except the matte be decomposed, and because it is not perfected unless the whole introversion is passed through. --- Auditor, understand, reiterates the great Master; let us use our Reason --- consider all with the most accurate investigation, the whole matter I know to be One only Thing (24).
And as folly, and phantasy, and passion are modes of being of the One Thing, and Reason is another; and as the phantasy, if suffered to prevail, will convert all to her own folly in the internal life; so may we judge contrariwise, that this Reason gaining the ascendancy, would gather all up, as a ferment, into the superior essence and traction of her own Light. This Lully intimates; and Arnold, and Bacon, and Geber, with the rest, abundantly celebrating the virtues of their Head Stone (25).
But if anyone should be further disposed to question their doctrine or demur about the physical efficacy of this Reason, let him for a plea only regard the image of it in this life. What else is it but reason, that enables us to analyze and judge opinion, to govern our passions, and separate facts from falsehood in the understanding? And with the logical faculty, is there not a universal evidence which subsists by faith, an independent standard by which all things are measured and proven in life? Considering this standard of our common faith, abstractedly a prior necessity of being also, will be understood, an infinite sufficience, magnitude and eternity of duration; and thus obtaining a glance only of the antecedent, we find less difficulty in imagining the superior virtue of that which is the Reason of our Rule; well remembering that it is of this the ancients speak, calling it Wisdom, Intellect, Gold, Sol, Sulfur, Tincture, Intellectus naturam habens subtilem ad intelligendum res intelligibles, participat, cum entibus intensis et cum entibus extensis, viz., cum intenso calore corporis, cum quo conjunctus est et cum intense bonitate sustentata in suis intensis concretis (26). For it is Light indeed, and an occult splendor of existence transcendentally pure; and as the luminary of the sensible world purifies and subtilizes the gross parts of matter, and by a natural chemistry sublimes and converts the varied elements of earth, so are we taught to conceive of the Intellectual sun; for these things which the natural reason as an image enacts theoretically, this supernatural reason is said to do as an archetype essentially; separating and rejecting the false forms and elementary qualities which supervene through generation, assimilating the whole inferior life by continual trituration of its foreign tincture, perfection to such faculties as are indigent by pure infusion of Itself to the passified Spirit throughout, even as light through the open atmosphere is everywhere seen diffusing itself invigorating and manifesting all. The following remarkable extract from the lost works of Anaxagoras, one of the earliest of the Greek hermetic School, further exemplifying the nature of such an Intellect, confirms what has been said above of its efficient operation. The passage, as preserved by Simplicius, is given in a note to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, by Taylor, and runs thus: ---
Intellect is infinite and possesses absolute power, and is not mingled with any thing; but is alone by itself. For if it were not by itself, but were mingled with something else, it would participate of all things, for in every thing there is a portion of every thing; and things mingled together would prevent it from having a similar dominion over things, as when alone by itself. For it is the most attenuated and pure of all things. It likewise possesses an universal knowledge of every thing, and is in the highest sense powerful. Whatever soul possesses greater or lesser, over all these Intellect has dominion. Every thing, too, that comprehends or contains is subject to its power; so that it even comprehends the Principle itself. And first of all indeed, it began from that which is small to exercise its comprehending power, but afterwards it comprehended more and more abundantly; Intellect also knew all that was mingled together, and separated and divided, together with what they would in future be, what they had been, and what they now are. All these Intellect adorned in an orderly manner, together with this circular enclosure which is now comprehended by the stars, the sun, and the moon, the air and the ether, which are separate from each other. But this comprehending Intellect made things to be separated; and separated the dense from the rare, the hot from the cold, the lucid from the dark, and the dry from the moist. There are many parts indeed of many things; but in short no one thing is singular by itself except Intellect. Every Intellect too is similar, both the greater and the lesser; but no other thing is similar to another (27).
That is to say, no other faculty is universal, or of itself alone consciously distinguishable except this root of reason which is truly catholic; and so by the microcosmic experiment into It, the knowledge if the macrocosmic Cause also was derived. For in the hermetic process they are seen to cooperate; and all that Anaxagoras here speaks of as relatively past, has been described as present by philosophers on the internal ground. Else, how should men have asserted about Intellect and the rational faculty such things as by no means belong to the natural revelation of it, if they had not known another and proved the work divine? No one could assert them now. Some believe, indeed, that mind is nothing really but an elaboration of the brain, a resulting phenomenon of organization. Sensible evidence favors such an opinion, for life is nowhere seen apart by itself, but follows constantly as a result of material generation in order of effect of cause; and human reason, as a ray of light, reflected apart from its originating focus, is halting and impotent in respect of nature, and unconscious of its First Source.
There is a piece of Egyptian mythology, related by Eudoxus in Plutarch, concerning Jupiter, that his feet had grown together and that he was forced to live in solitude, and ashamed of himself as it were; until at length Isis, pitying his forlorn condition, succeeded in cutting them asunder, and so restored him to himself and society. And this, continues the scholar, is designed to represent to us that the mind and reason of the Supreme God, which in nature is invisible and dwelling in obscurity, by being put in motion becomes known, and proceeds to the production of other beings (28). And this, too, is an allegory of the Art, in which the purified spirit or intelligence, that is Isis, by dissolving the vital medium, opens the occult source, and draws the Voluntary Efficient upward into intellectual reminescence. And this one thing is to be consummated, that man may know himself; whence, what for, and whereto, he is allied. --- All is one soul, says the Magian, but reason, unless it be illuminated, is not free from error, and Light is not given to reason except God impart it; for the first Light is in God, far exceeding all understanding (29). And Aristotle says, That Intellect must be assumed which is most perfectly purified; the knowledge of which must be sought for in spirit or spirits, by him who aspires to obtain it. For this indeed is pure, and possesses an ineffable beauty, because it is nothing but Intellect. For the beauty of Spirit is the highest beauty when it energizes intellectually, without error, and purely; and it knows things as they are unfolded by the Divine will (30). The Alexandrian Plotinus also speaking of such Intellect, describes the material of it as beautiful, and as far surpassing ordinary intelligence, as paradigms are wont to do the images which represent them; and the sol receives with it, he says, a sudden Light, and this Light is from Intellect, and is also It (31).
It would be mere perplexity, and evince a want of rational perception, to regard this Reason therefore as inessential; or as arbitrary, either in operation or event; since, in our mere individual consciousness it is the foundation of all law --- the only unerring necessity of faith in this life; the luminous revelation of which in a purified human intelligence, is that perfect beginning of Wisdom, which is half of the perfect whole.
Dimidium facti qui bene coepit habet, says the philosopher; for a small grain of the metaphysical ferment leavens the whole lump. And as the grain of wheat is putrefied in the earth, and afterwards by the vital force becomes growing wheat, terminating and multiplying in the fermental form inbred, so the metaphysical graft, already purified and passed the fire, re-enters to redeem its congenital life, and finally by assimilation transmutes all into the substance of its own Aurific Light.
During the process of working this leaven, many phenomena arise, and those wonders which, having been variously observed, are described and poetized; for this acute discriminative sulfuric Spirit occasions a putrefaction of the philosopher’s Mercury, i.e., of the impure vapor of life, into which it enters, so that all the elements are in commotion, raging, swelling, and rolling like a tempestuous sea; darkness, made visible by the appearing light, shrinks more and more condensing; and falsehood, as it were, trembling for her kingdom, puts on every sinister guise, to combat and eclipse the living truth, as, increasing in power and armed with bright effulgence, it arises, threatening to dissipate the total fabric, and dissolve its very foundation.
So did the armor of Achilles, while yet far off he only showed himself, dismay the assembled hosts of Troy; that shield so ominous in its device, breastplate, and helmet’s crest of gold, forged by Vulcan, at Thetis’s prayer for her hero in Olympus; wherewith he single-handed overcame them all --- gods, men, and rivers --- triumphant in the divine fury which roused him to the fight (32). And here the poetic allegory likewise is apparent; Achilles does not appear at all in arms, nor has he these, until after Patroclus, his bosom friend, is slain; just as Misenus’ funeral rites must be celebrated before Aeneas is allowed to journey to the infernal shades (33). Peculiar too the rites are, which the Sybil enjoins, and the sacrifices to be made to those remains, as at the pile of Patroclus, set on the seashore. Let it not be believed that Virgil on this or on any other occasion was so servile an imitator, or that either poet is relating events of human history, or magnifying the heroes of a common fight; but Virgil and Homer agree in this, that they adopted the same theme, had witnessed the same heroic conflict, the same summary action of Divine vengeance and mysterious metamorphosis of life; their warriors, therefore, are demigods divinely tutored and sustained --- free from the dilemma of earthly difficulties, and in their strength and use of it sublime. If tradition was useful to supply their imagery, the incidents are nevertheless woven into a mystical accord, and natural probability and the relations of time are unscrupulously sacrificed to the report of Truth. And they who have partaken of the same mystic knowledge from the Greeks --- Plato, Proclus, Porphyry, to Faber, Tollius, and Michael Maier, the golden chain of Hermetic philosophers --- unanimously tracing even through minutest incidents their allusion --- have claimed those poets for their own. Skillfully, doubt not, they have delineated the most poetical of Arts; and the admiring world has listened, but without understanding; and may long continue to do so: --- Yet we will proceed: ---
For the friends of those heroes must die indeed, as they are said to do --- those bosom friends --- and he lamented; for the celestial medial life which, in the order of divine rites, precedes the heroic work, is by necessity cut off, even in its prime; when perfected at all points, is shut up and buried; all but the hallowed memory burning to retrieve. Thus the excellent poet Manzoli, whose assumed name of Palingenius denotes one regenerated, divulges the artificial method in the few following lines, which have been rendered thus:
Take this Arcadian slippery lad that’s apt to fly.
And in the glittering Stygian lake, drowned let him die,
Then set on Hyales’s lap, let Lemnos’ God
Take him to feed, and crucify the lad.
Then in a warm womb placed, his taint dissolve,
Whose dropping limbs a spirit shall devolve,
To him and penetrate; and strangely so,
Dead by degrees, shall bring to life anew
All clad in robes of gold and silver hue.
Cast him again on hot coals, Proteus like
He’ll be renewed, and all he touches make
Most perfect; nature’s laws and promises excel,
Species he’ll change and poverty repel.
Nothing is done radically to meliorate the Vital Spirit previous to this dissolution of the first medial life; so Hyanthe died, so Hylas at the fountain, Adonis, Misenus, Elpenor, Patroclus, too, before the heroic virtue was brought into act. It needs a motive and excitation; and this is given by artifice of the Divine Law depriving it when in full vigor of its Understanding Light. So Eurydice was lost to Orpheus and Proserpine by Pluto’s stratagem, whom the goddess Ceres too bewails; for the identical dilemma is common to these all, who personate the wanderings and anguish of Intellect so artificially isolated on the plain of Truth.
'Tis not in fate th’ alternate then to give,
Patroclus dead, Achilles hates to live.
Let me revenge it on proud Hector’s heart,
Lest his last spirit smoke upon my dart;
On these conditions will I breathe, till then
I blush to walk among the race of men (35).
Nor all in vain was that vindicative will conceived or those heroic tears, though Pope has rendered them unavailing. Not so the master. Nor is anything, we believe, in that so lengthened Iliad of woes unpurposed, or with all its inconsistencies, untrue: but in those particulars above all suggestive, which are to common sense least bent; such weeping warriors, so much brave reserve, such radiant armor, such a magic strength of hand, and eye, and voice, to kill and terrify whole armies and convulse the elements, belongs but to one race, one cause, one conflict; Divinity mingles but in one, the war of life. And for this cause the Heroic Will enters in, self-sacrificing, and stirs the bitter waters, to redeem and reinstate the kingdom lost. But Achilles, too, must die and suffer, as was predestinated, before the fatal gates, as Aeneas leaves the dedicated bough in Tartarus. For how otherwise should that which is sown be quickened unless it die? Does not the grain putrefy in the moist earth before it springs? So each succeeding life must die, as transplanted in the next, it dissolves, corrupts, and rises into a better form. For when thou sowest, as the great Apostle says, thou sowest not that body that shall be (36); but it is the Law especial of spiritual generation that the parent is bettered in the offspring, even to the fourth generation, or fifth, if this happily should be attained. --- There is an earthly body and there is a spiritual body --- the terrestrial is bettered in the celestial, and the celestial, descending and overcoming, is conceived into the divine. No man ascends up into heaven but he who came down from heaven, even the son of man which is in heaven. This is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, which is in the Savior was perfected; one ray of which is able to cleanse this leprous life of ours, and convert it to the purest spiritual extreme.
Cujus de lumine lumen
Omne micat; sine quo tenebrescunt lucida, de quo
Lucescunt tenebrae atque inamoenae noctis imago.
Speaking of the Intellectual Essence, Plotinus writes to the effect that we should not at first hope to obtain the universal subject, but through the medium of an image, and be satisfied --- such is his expression --- with a certain portion of gold, as a representative of universal gold (37), and therefore Anaxagoras says, it begins from that which is small to exercise its comprehending power. Ramus, non arbor --- The bough, not the whole tree, is to be taken. For, in however small a proportion, if the reason be but pure, it will penetrate according to its purity, and gather growth; but if it be not pure, in other words, if the motive be not universal, it must be returned, to work, and resolve, and meditate, and prove, until it finds experience at length in the supreme Unity of its Law. To find the true Separator is described, in fact, as the greatest difficulty (38); as we may remember also in Virgil, the tree is hid.
Hunc tegit omnis
Lucus et obscures claudunt convallibus umbrae
The tree of life covered over, indeed, with the dark oblivion of this natural outbirth, is latent and difficult to find, even for him who has already passed the turbulent waters of the senses’ medium and sees within. For it lies not in art merely, or in natural cunning, but with the celestial instinct only to reveal; that subtle Maternal; intelligence which originally conceived it, and can alone lead into the yet more central, antecedent Paternal, light of life.
Materna agnoscit aves laetusque precatur
Este duces, O si qua via est, cursumque per auras
Dirigite in lucos, ubi pinquem dives opacat
Ramus humum (39).
Thus has the premeditation of the Divine Art been poetized; and the discovery of that heroic, separable, triply refined intellectual purpose, which has been so often and under so many names personified --- Hercules, Jason, Lyncaeus, Perseus, Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysius, Achilles, Bacchus, Amphiaraus, our Son, as Hermes calls him, born a king who, taking his tincture from the fire, passes through darkness, and death and Stygian waters. This is that prolific Mustard-seed, and Light of divine Faith, which being the proper substance of the thing hoped for, penetrates into the yet unseen reality of life; it is this, which, visiting the interior rectifying, discovers the occult Stone --- the hidden Medicine. Such was the Caduceus of Hermes --- the Golden Bough, the ferrying Cup of Hercules, and all the golden passports admitting to those realms, so dangerous to folly, and delightful; to Wisdom recovering her lost Efficient in the Light of life
This vertical separated Light then we take henceforth to be the true alternative principle in the Divine Art, --- The Alchemists are excessively wary in speaking of it, as they are indeed concerning the human circumstances of the mystery throughout. For as we may be by this time perceive, it is no common light that enters into Divinity, but a congenial ray; a Power which glancing forth from the capable will of such only as are divinized, is essentially Divine. The persevering Trevisan worked for upwards of half a century in vain, until he found this; and Pontanus in his Epistle confesses how he erred two hundred times, experimenting even after he had attained a general knowledge of the matter and method of its use, never correctly diving the Identity of the singular Identity of the singular thing itself. Seek therefore, he says, writing to his friend, seek to know this Fire with all thy soul, that so thou mayest attain to thy desire; for it is the key of all the philosophers which they have never openly revealed. But profound meditation alone can give it to thee so thou mayest discern, and not otherwise (40). Other examples we have in Zachary, and in Flamel; who, after he was conversant in the matte, and had both fire and furnace indicated to him by Abraham the Jew, wandered in the wilderness of uncertainty for three several years. Madathan, another celebrated adept, practiced for five years together unsuccessfully, until at last, he says, after the sixth year, I was entrusted with the Key of Power, by a secret revelation from Almighty God (41). Contemplate therefore and observe, says basil Valentine, these things diligently, for in the preparation of Antimony consists the Key of Alchemy, and this principal key is of great concern. Be it known, moreover, that our stone of Fire (which is Antimony) ought to be boiled and maturated with the corporeal fire of the microcosm, for at the farewell, or ne plus ultra, of the operative fire of the macrocosm, the fire of the microcosm doth begin the production of a new species of generation; and, therefore, let no man wonder at this coction (42). And believe not only Basil, says Kirchringius, but me; with the same faith and sincerity, affirming to you that this key is the principal part of the whole Art; this opens the first gate, this will also unlock the last, which leads into the palace of the king. Believe not only, but consider and observe. Here you stand in the entrance; if you miss the door, all your course will be in error; all your haste ruin; and all your wisdom foolishness. He who obtains this key and knows the method, which is called Manual Operation, by which to use it, and hath strength to turn the same, will acquire riches, and an open passage into the mysteries of chemistry.
Sophistry, it will be observed therefore is no leader in this Art, or avarice, or ignorance,; but he who presumes without the revelation of the Divine Light to introduce his own blind purpose, instead of conditionating and inquiring patiently, will be in danger of falling into infinite snares. The Law of Nature, being simple and harmoniously framed, will baffle him and rise up in judgment against his generation, and condemn him to wander in the labyrinth alone. Hence, all the care that is taken to train the true Inquisitor, that he may obtain the passport clear, as we have shown it; that he may know what, and where, and how he ought to obey, and inquire, and will, and hope.
And it therefore declared to all lovers of Art, says Jacob Boehme, whose Separator is an artist of great subtlety in them, that they first seek God’s love and grace, and resign up themselves to become wholly one with that: else all their seeking is but a delusion, or a courting of a shadow, and nothing is found in any fundamental worth, unless one doth entrust another with somewhat. The which is forbidden to the children of God in whom the grace is revealed, that they cast not pearls before swine, upon the pain of eternal punishment; only it is freely granted to them to declare the light, and to show the way of attaining the pearl; but to give the divine Separator into the bestial hand is prohibited, unless a man knoweth the way and will of him tat desires it (43).
We do not see either that it is exactly possible to give into such possession that which is divine; except, indeed, the Theosophist alludes to a mediate occupation. And this brings us to consider more particularly the representative understanding, measure, and guardian of the Light; for, as we may remark in the fables, the heroic adventurer with all his divine equipment, though he loses his first companion, never goes through the labors alone; but is aided by stratagem and wise counsel in the way. Without Ariadne’s conduct, Theseus could not have tamed the Minotaur; or Jason, but for the ready counsel and assistance of Medea, have obtained the fleece; Eurystheus set Hercules to the performance of each separate labor; his mother aids Achilles; Minerva, Ulysses; and the Sybil accompanies Aeneas through the infernal shades. In Alchemy too, the Moon is singularly honored, for it is the Passive Intelligence which, freed by art and set in conjunction, responds to the Will of her seeking Reason; discovers the way of progress, unraveling the context of each involuted thought, and setting aside obstacles with utmost discretion, passes with him through the abyss, as it were the very kingdom of confusion, triumphant over all and unconfounded. It is from within that the knowledge springs together with the true efficient (which are indeed one in principle, but in their practical operation and for the sake of offspring are distinguished and separately represented in the Art), revealing at the same time their origin, essence, and destination. The mode of analysis however is directed, and the means for the most part provided by the Passive Understanding gotten in transcendental contemplation of herself. Istud est vas Hermetis, quod Stoici occultaverunt, et non est vas nigromaniticum sed est Mesnura Ignis tui (44).
Both therefore have to be prepared --- the spiritual agent and the spiritual patient --- according to those words of the Smagardine Table; That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, for performing the miracles of the One Thing whence all the rest proceed by adaptation. It is not lawful therefore, in this work, to conjoin unlike natures; but, in order to bettering in the offspring equal Spirits are allied; as Hermes says, both need the help of the other, for the precepts demand a medium (45); that as the crude natural life was in the first place bettered in the natural, so the supernatural may be so much further advanced within themselves, even to the order of bodies permanent, being changed from a corporeal to a spiritual extreme:
Ouvrier, sur tout aye cure
Que l’art imite la nature
L’externe feu de charbon
Rend la matiere alteree,
Mais l’interne et l’artheree
Faira ton ouvrage bon (46).
The fire of the natural life stirs up and, being manumitted, alters; but the internal alone is able, being purified, to perfect the work begun; according to that other saying of the sage --- Si pariat ventum valet auri pondera centum --- if wind be made of gold it is worth a hundredfold. Let us be careful therefore to distinguish, in our conception, the pure from the impure, the rectified spirit of universal reason and its intelligence from the gross ether and perplexed understanding from the gross ether and perplexed understanding of this mundane sphere. For there cannot come of any thing that virtue which it has not; though that which it has indeed may be improved and magnified. And therefore it behooves us to mortify two Argent vives together, says Hermes; both to venerate and to be venerated, viz., the Argent vive of Auripigment and the Oriental Argent vive of magnesia (47).
Sol meus et radii sunt in me intime, Luna vero propria meum lumen est, omne lumen superans; et bona mea omnibus bonis meliora sunt. Protégé me et protegam te, largiri, vis, mihi meum ut adjuvem te (48).
These are they which sound the depths together; the Sun and Moon, philosophical. And as the influence of the Moon, says Plutarch, seems to reflect the works of reason, and to proceed from Wisdom, so the operations of the Sun are seen to resemble those strokes which by mere dint of strength and force bear down all before them. You also have been initiated in those Mysteries in which there are two pairs of eyes, and it is requisite that the pair which are beneath should be closed when the pair which are above them perceive, and when the pair above are closed those which are beneath should be opened. Think therefore, says Synesius, explaining the same Egyptian Mythology of Isis and Osiris, that this is an enigma indicative of contemplation and action; the intermediate nature alternately energizing according to each of these (49). Proclus, also dividing the Apollonical Intellect, remarks that the prophetic power unfolds the simplicity of truth and takes away the variety of that which is false; but the arrow-darting power exterminates everything, furious and wild, and prepares that which is orderly and gentle to exercise dominion, vindicating to itself Unity (50).
Power alone, indeed, if destitute of the ruling aid of Wisdom, would be borne along with violence, mingling and destroying all things; yet nature will not move by mere theory either, and Intellect is therefore useless for the purposes of action when deprived of the subserviency of the Hands. But these two concurring, Wisdom with Power in subtle and firm texture of divine splendor and prophetic companionship, the Will may descend in safety to the abodes of Power. A wise man is strong, says the wise king, and knowledge increaseth strength. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; as in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man (510.
By mutual confidence and mutual aid
Great deeds are done and great discoveries made,
The wise new prudence from the wise acquire,
And one brave hero fans another’s fire (52).
And as the Rational Efficient, armed with a bright intelligence, discovers the evil of its first conception, now appearing manifold within the veil, it proceeds even to a dissolution of the Vital Bond, continually imaging its revelation in act.
Beloved brother, advises the experienced and earnest Boehme, if you would seek the Mystery, seek it not in the outward spirit; you will there be deceived, and attain nothing but a glance of the mystery; enter in even to the Cross, then seek gold and you will not be deceived. You must seek in another world for the pure child that is without spot; in this world you will find only the drossy child, that is altogether imperfect; but go about it in the right manner; enter I even to the cross in the Fourth Form, there you have Sol and Luna together; bring them through an anguish into death, and bruise that composed magical body so long until it becomes again that which it was before in the center of the will; and then it becometh magical and hungry after nature. It is a longing in the eternal desire, and would fain have a body; give it Sol, viz., the soul, that conjoining they may conceive a body according to that soul. So the Will springs up in Paradise with fair golden fruits. We speak not here of a glass or image, but of gold, whereof men vaunt themselves, their idol god (53).
In such few words does the Theosophist comprehend the end and beginning of the Sacred Art, the sum of the divine Intention and its vital fruits; for by death and contrition of the agent in the patient, and vice versa, the old life is finally crucified; and out of that crucifixion, by reunion of the principles under another law, the new life is elicited; which life is a very real and pure Quintessence, the Mercury so much sought after, even the Elixir of Life; which needs only the corroborative virtue of the Divine light which it draws, in order to become the living gold of the philosophers, transmuting and multiplicative --- the concrete form of that which in the dead metal we esteem. O Nature, the most magnanimous creatrix of natures! Cries the Master, which containest and separatest all things in a middle principle! Our stone comes with Light, and with Light it is generated; and then it brings forth the clouds, or darkness, which is the mother of all things (54).
Let us pause here, then, to consider what it was the philosophers really searched for and discovered in this Stone; that we may be prepared to learn some more definite particulars of their practice, and in what condition the vital elements are placed during their experiment and recreation. We have seen that, next to the first preliminaries, the object was to produce an alteration in the Vital Spirit and that this was operated by a true Rational Analysis, which, repeatedly passed through, leads on to a dissolution of the whole natural born hypostasis, and is the condition proper to induce a new life and growth into consciousness. That which they sought after, and profess accordingly to have discovered, therefore, is this miraculous principle of regeneration; by which the relationships of the vital elements are exchanged; the sensible medium, which in this present birth is dominant, being made occult; and the occult supernatural reason of life, which is catholic, becoming manifest in self-evidence and power.
And this is the true way and means by which the metaphysical body of gold will be made profitable, and in no other way, as the adepts teach; but by taking that body, when it is found, and joining it with a spirit that is consanquineous and proper to it, and circulating these two natures one upon the other, until one have conceived by the other. --- Pinge duos Angues, cries Cornelius Agrippa; or, to proceed in the more suggestive language of his ingenious disciple --- Take our two serpents, which are to be found everywhere on the face of the earth; they are a living male and a living female (understand in relation to the spirit always without all corporeal allusion); tie them in a love knot and shut them up in the Arabian Caraha. This is the first labor; but the next is more difficult. Thou must incamp against them with the fire of nature, and be sure thou dost bring thy line round about. Circle them in, and stop all avenues, that they find no relief. Continue this siege patiently, and they turn into an ugly venomous black toad; which will be transformed to a horrible devouring dragon, creeping and weltering in the bottom of her cave, without wings. Touch her not by any means, continues the adept, not so much as with thy hands, for there is not upon the earth such a vehement transcendent poison. As thou hast begun so proceed, and this dragon will turn into a swan, but more white than the hovering virgin snow when it has not yet sullied with the earth. Henceforth I will allow thee to fortify thy fire, till the Phoenix appears. It is a red bird of a most deep color with a shining fiery hue. Feed this bird with the fire of his father and the ether of his mother; for the first is meat, the second is drink, and without this last he attains not to his full glory. Be sure to understand this secret; for fire feeds not well unless it be first fed. It is of itself dry and choleric, but a proper moisture tempers it, gives it a heavenly complexion and brings it to the desired exaltation. Feed thy bird then as I have told thee, and he will move in his nest, and rise like a star of the firmament. Do this, and thou hast placed nature in the horizon of Eternity. Thou hast performed that command of the Kabalist, Unite the end to the beginning as the flame is united to the coal; for the Lord is superlatively one and admits of no second (55). Consider that it is you seek: you seek an insoluble, miraculous, transmuting, uniting union; but such a tie cannot be without the first unity. For to create and to transmute essentially and naturally without violence is the proper office of the first power, the first wisdom and the first love. Without this love the elements will never be married; they will never inward and essentially unite; which is the end and perfection of magic (56).
Thus Vaughan: the italics, copied from the original, serve well to denote where a latent meaning is implied and those analogies which are aptly referable throughout the process. The following verses translated from the Aquarium Sapientum of about the same period, may help to elucidate the subject further and lead on the discerning mind.
The Spirit is given to the body for a time,
And that refreshing spirit washes the soul by art;
If the spirit suddenly attracts the soul by art;
Then nothing can separate it from itself;
Then they consist in Three and yet abide in one seat,
Until the noble body is dissolved, and putrefy and separate from them;
Then after some time the spirit and soul come together
In the extreme or last heat, and each maintains its proper seat in constancy.
Then, nothing wanting, an entire sound estate and perfection is at hand,
And the work is glorified with great joy (57).
This is the constant doctrine and rule of the regeneration of light out of darkness, of life from death; the solution of the sense-born spirit and its subsequent sublimation, by a preponderant affinity artificially endowed, into the transparent glory of its prototypic form. And thus we learn from adepts, though particulars vary, that nature was not proved by them at random; for neither does she move by theory only or mere mechanic art, but by rational experiment and the light of faith, which, entering, stirs up in the inward oppressed fore of the chaotic natural-born life, and endeavors to convert, as it were, by a pure conscience, moving at length penetrating to meet the self-willed Identity within, is arrested, and the contest of good and evil commences in the soul, each striving for the ascendant, until the later prevailing for a period (such being the necessitous decree) an eclipsation of the light takes place, and a dissolution of its body, as was before shown. And, as we read in the fable, Typhon killed Osiris, his uterine brother, and scattered his members to the four winds, and usurped his rightful throne; but Isis, recollecting, hides them in a chest: just so the ethereal hypostasis is divided against itself and brought to a separation even as these three; the soul, the spirit, and the body principle; the paternal, maternal, and proceeding substance of life; sulfur, mercury, salt. The sulfur, which is the soul and golden ferment, being dislocated in its purpose by the oppressive will, is carried aloft to float upon the ethereal waters, whilst these continue to tear, decoct, and soften the sensual dominant and make it more fit for the returning reason and understanding to work upon; for it is brought to an extremity indeed, and made to feel the want of the light it had rejected. The light moreover ascending caries with it a fermental odor of the body, which by the divine Art also is so contrived in order that the soul may not depart altogether into the region of nonentity. Thus Hermes --- Take, my son, the flying bird and drown it flying, then divide and cleanse it from its filth which keep its in death; expel this and put away all pollution, that it may live and answer thee, not by flying away indeed but truly by forbearing to fly (58). And all the while, during this period of the severation, a wonderful coction is described as going on, the earth is overflown with waters, the two great lights are eclipsed, the air is darkened, and all things are in confusion and disorderly relation, by reason of the successive passion and prevalence of the vital principles one over another; for the balance is so maintained that they can neither be said properly to die or live according to that descriptive Prosopopoeia of the Stone.
I am not dead although my spirit’s gone,
For it returns, and is both off and on,
Now I have life, now I have none;
I suffered more than one could justly do,
Three souls I had, and all my own; but two
Are fled; the third had almost left me too (59).
Unremitting care and attention are enjoined at this critical juncture, lest either of the dissolute elements should escape from its legitimate attraction, and the property of the Spirit, which is at yet indifferent to life or death, should by force of too strong a fire, as Lully explains, be dissevered from the body, and the soul thenceforth depart into the region of her own sphere. And therefore he says, --- Let the heavenly power or agent be such in the place of generation, or mutation, that it may alter the humidity from its earthly complexion to a fine transparent form or species (60).
But we are not yet proposing to exhibit the Practice, but only to understand it. Previous, therefore, to the birth and fruits of spiritual increase, it may be expedient briefly only to consider the intermediate stages of the abyssal regeneration and contest of the metaphysical Embryo before it is born into the perception by the eye of sense. Entering it for the dissolution, adepts describe it indeed as the greatest poison --- the contrary will of the whole dissolving life is loosened by it, which actuates it exceedingly, the one being natural and the other a fire against Nature; conjoining together, they make a conflagration more fiercely consuming than any elemental flame; and being of equal origin, they prey upon each other incombustibly, and by so much the more increasing as they draw together in might. And as the fable further relates of the Egyptian monarch, that his hair was suffered to grow whilst yet he tarried in Ethiopia; so this fire is suffered to grow profusely, shooting forth all his Satanic radiance in personality and act, until the time for his mortification is ripe and ready at hand. Adepts call him the Green Lion, Typhon, Firedrake; or during the mortification, he is their venomous Black Toad; for the newly roused Efficient is exceeding wrathful, as we before hinted, reducing the foreign body of Light, which is Osiris, to a mere vapor, called by the philosophers, on account of its origin, the Four Winds, which, condensing together at the top of the vessel in the form of drops, runs down continually, day and night, without ceasing (61). So Sendivogius, in witty discourse of his, relates that Sal and Sulfur meeting together at a certain fountain began to fight, and Sal gave Sulfur a mortal wound, out of which, instead of blood, came forth, as it were, most white milk, and it became to be a great river (62).
For first the sun in hys uprising obscurate
Shall be, and passé the waters of Noa’s flude,
On erth which were a hundred days continueate
And fifty, away or all thys waters yode,
Ryght so on our waters, as wise men understode,
Shall pass: that thou, with David, may say
Abierunt in sicco flumina, etc (63).
This is commonly called the Gate of Putrefaction, and its entrance is described as dark, with Cimmerian windings, and continual terrification of the Spirit; but the cause of the dissolution appears to proceed from the action of the vital heat stirred up artificially within the blood, and which being so continuously triturated, ignites and opens for itself a passage, endeavoring forthwith to absorb the circulating light by the efflux of its own abundant chloric spirit being transfixed. And all this while it is that the powers of the Philosophic Heaven are so wonderfully shaken and defiled; for, as the French adept phrase it, the two dragons do bite one another very cruelly, and never leave off from the time they have seized one another, till by their slavering venom and mortal hurts they are turned into a gory blood, and then, being decocted totally in their own venom, are turned into a Fifth Essence.
To Saturn, Mars with bond of love is tied,
Who is by him devoured of mighty force,
Whose spirit Saturn’s body doth divide,
And both combining yield a Secret Source
From whence doth flow a Water wondrous bright
In which the Sun doth set and lose his light (64).
There is a profound mystery couched in these light word; for as there was darkness upon the Abyss when the Divine Spirit moved upon the Water’s face, so in the hyperphysical work is it seen to be, when the swifter current of the Infernal motive wheel surmounts and eclipses the Divine Light in the circulation. And, moreover, there is the tempter Evil of the Son of Man made manifest, and in all its reality the original Sin with a more appalling possibility, to be met only by voluntary sacrifice and humiliation of the Selfhood under the exemplary cross of Christ. For is it not written, He shall overflow the channels, and go over all the banks: and he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Emanuel (65)?
There is, say the Alchemists, nothing of an unclean nature that enters into the composition of the Stone, except One thing, which is the Instrument moving the gold to putrefy; and in this respect (for it is the very grave of the rational light) it is called by them Typhon, Satan, Aquafoetida, Ignis Gehanna, Mortis Immundities, etc. And because the philosophers are obscure concerning this principle, lest the rational inquirer should be led into troublesome error by their sophistication, we are induced to dwell rather and explain at length that, though impure in the beginning, and manifestly evil, it is nevertheless a necessary ingredient, and when finally brought through the natural Alembic, and returned, it constitutes the natural Alembic, and returned, it constitutes the force and integral perfection of the Divine Superstructure. And although Sulfur and Mercury, says the Adept, should be already described and known, yet without Salt no man can attain to this Sacred Science (66). Hermes, alluding to the same, says --- The Dragon dwells in all the threefold nature, and his houses are the darkness and blackness that is in them; and while this fume remains they are not immortal. But take away the cloud from the water, the blackness from the sulfur, and by dissolution thou shalt obtain a triumphant gift, even that in and by which the possessors live (67). And although Hermes does not speak of it openly, because the root of this Science is a deadly poison, yet I protest to you, says Maria laconically, that when this poison is resolved into a subtle water, it coagulates our Mercury into most pure silver o all tests (68). But whilst it remains in the natural state, in the evil of its original conception, no good can come until it is overtaken and resolved.
Then lyke as sowles after paynes of purgatory
Be brought into Paradyce, where ys joyful lyfe,
Soshall our stone after hys farknes in purgatory
Be purged, and joined in elements without stryfe
Rejoicing in the beauty and whytenes of his wife,
And pass fro’ the darknes of purgatory to lyght
Of Paradyce, in whytenes Elixir of great might.
And like as yse to water doth relent,
Whereof congealed it was by violence of greate cold,
When Phoebus yt smyteth hys beams influent,
Ryght so to water minerall reduced ys our gold,
As wryteth plainly Albert, Raymond and Arnolde
Wyth heat and moisture by Crafte occasionate
Wyth congelation of the Spyrite (69).
By crafte occasionate, he says, because, it is by the attractive grace of the connate spirit that the self-willed agent is finally seen to be subdued and betrayed to self-mortification, as it were, by a conscience moving contrite in the Law of her Light; here, therefore, Sol being eclipsed, the Lunar Vulcan acts a principal part, as Isis in the Mysteries, where she is also called Athena, to express that self-motion and intelligence with which this Spirit is endowed. In like manner they gave to Typhon, in this predicament, the name of Seth, Bebo, and like words, as Plutarch explains, importing a certain violent, forcible restraint, contrariety, and subversion, all which Osiris, i.e., the Divine Light, suffers in passing through the voluntary axle in the regeneration; but tempered by the benign offices of Isis, he, Typhon, is likewise gradually enthralled, and the opposive principles are, through her artful intercession, finally reconciled, and remain together, circulating with her in equilibriate accord.
Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? Or bore his jaws through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? Shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed hooks, and his head with fish spears? Lay thy hand upon him, remember the battle and do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain. Yet shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is made under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? Or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, his teeth are terrible all about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined to one another, they sick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or cauldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out from his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. When he rouseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of the breakings they purify themselves (70). The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee, sling stones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble. Darts are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of Pride (71).
Much might be added, and innumerable similitudes belonging both to this rebellious Principle and to that identical representative of him which the Divine Art requires, in order that his stolen forces may be drawn forth and spent in the sanquinary conflict which he provokes in life. Just as in the Egyptian relics he is so frequently seen depicted with all the emblems of grace and power in human semblance, fiercely seated between his circumventing foes. For the Orient Animal must be stripped of his skin, not with arrows or clubs, but with the Hand, as Adepts say; the whole garment of Light must be dissected, shorn, and the signal of victory be heroically transferred. Animal de Oriente pelle sua leonine spoliari debet ejusque aloe evanescere atque tum simul ingredi magnum oceani salum cumque pulchritidine iterum egrdi, etc (72). But we must proceed; giving only, by way of recreation, this Philalethean Lion Hunt from Malden in part, and the Cosmopolite Eirenaeus.
The Hunting of the Greene Lyon. [*unabridged]
All haile to the noble Companie
Of true Students in holy Alkimie,
Whose noble practice doth them teach
To veil their art with misty speech;
Mought yt please your worshipfulnes
To heare my idle soothfastnes,
Of that stronge practise I have seene,
In hunting of the Lyon Greene’
And because you may be apaid,
That ys truth, that I have said;
And that you may for surety weene,
That I know well this Lyon Greene:
I pray your patience to attend
Till you see my short writt end,
Wherein Ile keepe my noble Masters rede,
Who while he lived stoode me in steede;
At his death he made me sweare hym to,
That all the secrets I schould never undoe
To no one Man, but even Spread a Cloude
Over my words and writes, and so it shroude,
That they which do this Art desire,
Should first know well to rule their Fyre:
For with good reason yt doth stand,
Swords to keep fro mad Mens hand:
Least th’one shoul, kill th’other burne,
Or either doe some fore shroud turne:
As some have done that I have seene,
As they did hunt thys Lyon Greene.
Whose collour doubtles ys not soe,
And that your wisdomes well doe know;
For no man lives that each hath seens
Upon foure feete a Lyon colloured Greene:
But our Lyon wanting maturity,
Is called greene for unripenes trust me,
And yet full quickly he can run,
And soone can overtake the Sun:
And suddainely can hym devoure,
If they be both shut in one towre:
And hym Eclipse that was so bryght,
And make thys redde to turne to whyte:
By vertue of hys crudytie,
And unripe humors whych in hym be,
And yet wything he hath such heate,
That whan he hath the Sun up eate,
He bringeth hym to more perfection,
Than ever he had by Natures direccion.
This Lyon maketh the Sun sith [fith] soone
To be joined to hys Sister the Moone:
By way of wedding a wonderous thing,
Thys Lyon should cause hem to begett a King:
And tis as strange that thys Kings food,
Can be nothing but thys Lyons Blood;
And tis as true that thys ys none other,
Than ys it the Kings Father and Mother.
A wonder a Lyon, and Sun and Moone,
All these three one deede have done:
The Lyon ys the Preist, and the Sun and Moone the wedd,
Yet they were both borene in the Lyons Bedd;
And yet thys King was begott by none other,
But by Sun and Moone hys owne Sister and Brother.
O noble Master of pardon I you pray,
Because I did well-neere bewray
The secret which to me ys so deare,
For I thought none but Brothers were here:
Than schould I make no doubt,
To have written plainley out,
But for my fealty I must keepe aye,
Ile turn my pen another way,
To speake under Benedicite
Of thys noble Company:
Wych now perceives by thys,
That I know what our Lyon ys.
Although in Science I am noe Clerke,
Yet I have labour’d in thys warke:
And truly wythouten any nay,
If you will listen to my lay:
Some thing thereby yow may finde,
That well may content your minde,
I will not sweare to make yow give credence,
For a Philosopher will find here in evidence,
Of the truth, and to men that be Lay,
I skill not greatly what they say.
For they weene that our Lyon ys
Common Quicksilver, but truly they miss:
And of thys purpose evermore shall fayle,
And spent hys Thrift to ltle availe,
That weeneth to warke hys wyll thereby,
Because he doth soe readely flie;
Therefore leave off ere thou begin,
Till thow know better what we meane;
Whych whan thow doest than wilt thou say
That I have tought thee a good lay,
In that whych I have said of thee before,
Wherefore lysten and marke well my lore.
Whan thow hast they Lyon with Sol and Luna well fedd,
And layd them clenly in their Bedd;
An easie heate they may not misse,
Till each the other well can kisse;
And that they shroude them in a skin,
Such as an Egg yelke lyeth in:
Than mus thow draw from thence away,
A right good secret withouten any nay:
Wych must serve to doe thee good’
For yt ys the Lyons Blood:
And therewith must be the King fedd,
When he ys risen from the dead:
But longe tyme it wilbe,
Or ere his death appear to thee;
And many a sleepe thow must lack,
Or thow hym see of Collour black.
Take heede yow move hym not with yre,
But keepe hym in an easy fyre;
Untill you see hym separate,
From hys vile Erth vituperate;
Wych wilbe black and light withall,
Much like the substance of a fusball:
Your magnet in the midst wilbe,
Of Collour faire and white trust me;
Then whan you you see all thys thing,
Your fire one degree increasing;
Untill yow well may se thereby,
Your matter to grow very dry:
The yt ys fit wythout delay,
The excrements be tane away;
Prepare a Bed most bryght and shine
For to lodge this young Chylde in:
And therein let hym alone lye,
Till he be thoughly dry;
Than ys tyme as I doe thinke,
After such drouth to give him drinke:
But thereof the truth to shew,
Is greate secret wekk I know;
For Philosophers of tyme old,
The secret of Imbibition never out tould;
To create Magnesia they made no care,
In their Bookes largely to declare;
But how to order it after hys creacion,
The left poore men without consolacion;
Soe many men thought they had had perfeccion,
But they found nothing in their Projeccion:
Therefore they mard what they had made before,
And of Alchimy they would have no more.
Thus do olde Fathers hide it from a Clearke,
Because in it consisteth the whole subtill warke;
Wych if ye lift of me to know,
I shall not faile the truth to shew.
Whan your pure matter in the glasse is fitt,
Before that you your vessell shitt;
A portion of your Lyons sweate
Must be given it for to eate:
And they must be grounded so well together,
That each fro other will flee now whither;
Then must you seale up your Glasse,
And in hys Furnace where he was,
You must set them there to dry.
Which being done then truly,
You must prepare like a good Phisitian,
For another Imbibition:
But evermore looke that you dry
Up all hys drinke, that none lye by,
For if yow make hym drink too free,
The longer will your workeing be,
And yf you let hym be too dry,
Than for thirst your Child may dye;
Wherefore the meane to hold is best,
Twixt overmoyst and too much rost [roft];
Six tymes thy Imbibtions make,
The seaventh that Saboath’s rest betake:
Eight dayes twixt ilke day of the six,
To dry up moist and make it fix;
Then at the nynth tyme thy Glasse up seale,
And let him stand six weeks each deale:
With his heate tempered so right,
That Blackness passed he may grow white;
And so the seaventh weeke rest him still,
Till thow Ferment after thy will;
Which if thow wilt Ferment for Whyte,
Thereby thow gainst noe greate prifitt;
For I assure thee thow needest not dred,
To proceede with fire till all be Redd;
Than must thow proceede as did Philosophers old
To prepaire thy Ferment of peure Gold,
Which how to doe though secret that it be,
Yet will I truly teach it thee.
In the next Chapter as erst I did say,
That soe the truth finde yow may,
Therefore of Charity and for our Lords sake,
Let noe man from my writings take
One word, nor add thereto,
For certainly if that he doe,
He shall shew malice fro the which I am free,
Meaning truth and not subtilty;
Which I refer to the Judgement
Of those which ken the Philosophers intent:
Now listen me with all your might,
How to prepare your Ferment right.
O noble Worke of workes that God has wrought,
Whereby each thing of things are forth aye broght;
And fitted to their generacion,
By a noble Fermentacion;
Which Ferment must be of such a thing,
As was the workes begyning;
And if thow doe progresse aright
Whan thow hast brought the worke to whight;
And than to stay is thy intent,
Doe after my Comandement;
Worke Luna by her selfe alone,
With the blood of the Greene Lyon:
As earst thow didst in the begining,
And of three didst make one thing,
Orderly yeilding forth right,
Till thy Magnet schew full whyte;
Soe must thow warke all thy Ferment,
Both White and Red, else were yt shent.
Red by yt selfe and soe the White,
With the Lyons Blood must be deight;
And if thow wilt follow my lore,
Set in thy Ferment the same houre,
Of Sol for Redd, of Luna for White,
Each by himself let worke tight;
Soe shall thy Ferment be ready edress,
To feed the King with a good mess
Of meates that fitt for his digestion,
And well agreeing to his Complexion;
If he be of Collour White,
Feed hym than with Luna bright;
If his flesh be perfect Red,
Than with the Sun he must be fedd,
Your Ferment one fourth parte must be,
Into your Magnet made evenly,
And joyne hem warme and not cold,
For raw to ripe you may be bold
Have disagreement soe have heate and cold:
Therefore put hem warme into thy Glasse,
Then seale it up even as it was:
And Circle all till yt be wonne,
By passing degrees every each one:
Both black and whyte, and also redd,
Than of the Fire heere have noe dread;
For he will never dreade the fyre,
But ever abide thy desire.
And heere a secret to thee I must shew,
How to Multeplie that thow must know,
Or else it wilbe over micle paine
For thee to begin thy worke againe:
I say to thee that in noe fashion,
It’s so well Multeplied as with continuall Firmentation:
And sure far it will be exalted at the last,
And in Projeccion ren full fast:
Therefor in the fyre keepe Firment alway,
That thy Medicine augment mayst aye;
For yf the maid doe not her leaven save, (crave;
Then of her Neighbours sche must needs goe
Or sche must stay till sche can make more,
Remember the Proverbe that store is no sore:
Thus have I tought thee a lesson, full of truth,
If thow be wicked therefore my heart is reuth:
Remember God hys blessing he can take,
Whan he hath given it, if abuse any you make,
For surely if thow be a Clerke,
Thow wilt finde trewth in thys werke:
But if so be that thow be lay,
And understond not what I say,
Keepe Councell then and leve thy Toy,
For it befitts no Lymmer loy,
To medle with such grete secresie:
As ys thys hygh Phylosophy.
My Councell take, for thow schalt finde it true,
Leave of seeking thys Lyon to pursue,
For hym to hunt that ys a prety wyle,
Yet by hys Craft he doth most Folke beguile,
And hem devour and leave hem full of care,
Wherefore I bidd thee to beware.
And Councell give thee as my frend,
And so my Hunting here I end.
Praying God that made us we may not myss
To dwell with hym in hys Hevenly blyss.
The evil of the Original Sin being overcome by so many subtle stratagems, the New Life thence arises whose quintessential virtue, imperishable and perpetually victorious, is the Corner Stone or first Material foundation of the Hermetic Art: known, as the Adept says, only to the Wise, because they alone can know it who have it in themselves. The irrational and frivolous-minded cannot Receive this truth, because it depends exactly upon the knowledge of That which is most abstruse in them. The example given of Cadmus, from the Greek fable, identified him with Jason, Orpheus, Aeneas, and the rest, who represent the Rational Ferment; the associates are taken to signify the other faculties of the mind originally attendant on this, but which are drawn away afterwards into the vortex of the Opposive Principle, rapidly attracting them when it is freed, and reveling with which, it becomes satiated and more easily ensnared. As it is told of Saturn, likewise, that he was inebriated when he was bound in fetters by his son; and by the advice of the goddess, too, according to Orpheus, the subtle stratagem was contrived.
When stretched beneath the lofty oaks you view
Saturn, with honey of the bees produced,
Sunk in ebriety; fast bind the god.
For the Saturnian Will, being allowed to revel without limitation or rational restraint, throughout te subordinate faculties, becomes intoxicated; his desires are more than satisfied, and, as the image runs, from the effect he sleeps. It is then the watchful eye of Intellect, well advised and able, prepares to cut him off, and drawing forth all his brazen strength, plants it in the newly-furrowed soil, whence springs another armament, which, still rebellious, contending with each other for the self-same Stone, are by it once more annihilated and again raised up. So the Bath of Diana is prepared out of the blood of many battles, where the innocents suffer for the guilty, and many barbarous images befall, until the Identical Spirit arises, pure, bright, and contrite, from its primaeval eleemtn, and free in legal subordination only to its own perfect Law.
The matter first of metals Mercury
A moisture is which wetteth no the hand
Yet flows, and therefore is named water dry,
The vulgar is at every one’s command,
But this is not the water we desire,
For in our water is our secret fire.
This Matter while its life it did retain,
Was apt all metals e’en to procreate,
The life when gone, then dead it doth remain
Till a new soul shall it reanimate.
This Matter is to metals all of kin
All which do hide a Mercury within.
He then who knows the parts of Mercury
And can it superfluities decrease
And with true sulfur it can vivify;
For dead it is, though, fluent, he with east
May gold unlock and after recongeal
Both to an Essence which all griefs canheal.
Lo! Here a spring of wealth, a Tree of Life,
No wealth so great, no sickness here is rife,
Here in a map, thou seest the creatures all
Abridged, and reduced to their perfection.
Here thou beholdest in a Subject Small,
From this world’s isery a full protection.
O Mercury, tou wonder of the world!
How strange thy nature is and how compact!
A body dost possess which doth enfold
A Spirit inexpressible to act,
Our mysteries; this only we desire,
This is our water, this our secret fire.
For Argent Vive is gold essential
Only unripe, which, if thou canst prepare
By art, it gives the secret menstrual:
The mother of our Stone which is so rare.
Our oil, our unguent, and our marchasite;
Which we do name also our fountain bright.
O crystal fountain! Which with fourfold spring
Rubs down the valleys with its pearly drops
Distilling, with which our noble king
Is wshed ad carried to the mountain tops,
Where he the virtue of the Heavens receives,
Which never after him, when fixed, leaves.
This our May-dew which our earth doth move
To bring forth fruit, which fruit is perfect gold:
This is our Eve, whom Adam doth so love,
That in her arms his soul, stange to be told,
He doth receive, who erst as dead was seen,
And quickened first appears in colours green.
How this? Even thus, in Saturn there is hid
A soul immortal which in prison lies,
Untie its fetters, which do it forbid
To sight for to appear, then shall arise
A Vapour shining, like pearl orient,
Which is our Moon and sparkling Firmament (73).
By such a vital and mysterious process is the First Matter of the adepts said to be generated and produced by an emancipation of the Fontal Source; and this is Diana, and that refulgent Light which eclipses every other light but that of its proper Reason, and strikes the irrational intruder blind. For she is the wholeness of the Fundamental Nature at once personified, the knot and link of all the elements o being, inferior as well as superior, which she contains within herself. --- A light more splendid than the Sun and gold, and more beautiful than the Moon or silver, and more diaphanous than the purest crystal; inasmuch transcendant, says the acute Helvetius (74), that that most recreant Beauty can never be blotted out from my mind, though it should be rejected by all, and disbelieved by fools and the illiterate. For though our Art is unknown, we do assert, according to experience, that this mystery is to be found; but only with the great Jehovah saturninely placed in the center of the world. There, within most intimately, the Abyss of the Spoagyric artifice is disclosed; there, as in a crystalline diaphaneity, the Miracle of the whole world. There, in that region, no longer fabulous but by art made natural, is seen the Salamander casting out the ethereal waters, and washing himself in the flames; there the river Numitius, in which Aeneas, bathing, was absolved from his mortality, and by command of Venus was transformed into an immortal god. There, also, is Eridanus, and that Lydian river Pactolus transmuted into gold as soon as Mygdonian Midas had washed himself in the same. Also, as in a beautifully pictured series, there is displayed every mythological antique device; Apollo and the Muses, and Parnassus and the Fountain struck from Pegasus, and the fountain of Narcissus, even Scylla washing in the flood, beneath the fervent rays of the meridian sunbeams; there, too, the blood of Pyramis and Thisbe, which turned the white mulberries to a deeper die. The blood of Adonis transformed by Venus into an anemone rose; that blood too, of mighty Ajax, out of which sprung the fairest hyacinth flower. There are also the drops of water decocted by Medea, out of which such a verdure sprang up suddenly to cover the bleached earth; and that potion which the enchantress boiled out of so many herbs gathered three days before the full moon, for the healing of Jason, when that hero had grown infirm. The gardens of the Hesperides, also, are in Elysium; and here Hippomanes runs the race with Atalanta, and vanquishes by stratagem of the golden fruit. Here, too, magnanimous Hercules, having burnt all his maternal body upon a pile of wood, revives entire and incombustible, as the Phoenix on her pyre, and is changed into the likeness of an immortal god.
Such are a very few of the games and choice spectacles which tradition commemorates as instituted by Wisdom, for the benefit of souls emerging from Lethe and Egyptian darkness to the glorious liberty of the Freed Will in life, And it is that kindling of Divine Ecstasy, in connection with its Source, that attracts the whole phenomenon of nature to its desire, and works the total miracle of the Hermetic Art in life, exalts Mind by the understanding of Causes, and confirms it. But in the summary language of the Greek saint (since here it becomes us not to assert): Know, says Synesius, that the Quintessence and hidden thing of our Stone is nothing else than our viscous celestial and glorious soul, drawn by our magistery out of its mine, which engenders itself and brings itself forth, and that Water is the most sharp vinegar, which makes gold to be a pure spirit --- nay, it is that Blessed Nature which engenders all things; but by usurpation, in each particular universally and without return.
These plain words, supporting the evidence which has gone before, will leave less doubt, if we yield them credence, with respect to the method and true basis of the Hermetic experiment; reason, aided by a perspicacious imagination, will attain readily to the idea, and research may further assist the faithful to confirm it. We cannot, however, quit a subject, the preliminaries of which are so important to establish, without adverting to certain Kabalistic and other Greek concordances, in the hope that their separate witness may tell favorably toward the development of this Material of Mind.
1. See Taylor’s notes to his Pausanius; an admirable extract from Laus Hermonaeus concerning the Sphinx, vol. 3
2. Arnboldi Rosarium, Democritus, et al., in Turba Philosophorum; De Lapide Physici Condit., cap. 3
3. Vaughan’s Anima Magia Abscondita
4. Genesis 2: 10
5. Job 28
6. Vaughan’s Lumen de Lumine
7. Wisdom of Solomon, and Proverbs 24
8. See Crollius’ Philosophy, The True Physic, chap.1; also B. Valentine’s Chariot of Antimony.
9. See Iamblicus de Mysteriis, sect. 7, cap. 8.
10. See Vaughan’s Lumen de Lumine; B.. Valentine’s Triumphal Chariot of Antomony; Norton’s Ordinal, c. 4, etc.
11. Lumen de lumine; Lullii Theoria et Practica, cap. 68 and 88.
12. See the Admonitory Prefaceof Oswald Crollius.
13. Oreatrike, p. 631, 710, etc.
14. Disce igitur, etc.
15. B. Valentine: Chariot of Antimony
16. Ripley Revived, pp. 263, 266.
17. Aenid, lib. 6:145
18.Ripley Revived, p. 206; Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, Emblem 18; Lumen de Lumine, p. 97
19. See the extract from Synesius de Somniis, in Taylor’s Proculus on Euclid.
20. First Book of the Athenians, text 9, 10.
21. Tract. Aureus, cap. 2
22. Tabula Smaragdina hermetis
23. Aclepius, cap. 13
24. Tract. Aur., cap. 4
25. See Lullii Theoria et Practica, et Arbor Scientiae, Brancha Human; Arnoldi Speculum, Geber Invest. Perf; Manget, Sumantur Lapis in capitulis notus, etc.
26. Lullii Arbor 10, Scientiae, p. 99; See also in Plotinus’ Select Works, a very beautiful treatise on the Gnostic Hypostasis
27. Aristotle’s Metaphysics
28. See the Treatise De Iside et Osiride
29. Agrippa’s Third Book of Occult Phil., chap. 43.
30. This passage is taken from one of those singularly instructive treatises attributed to Aristole by his Arabian compilers, as rendered by Taylor, from the Latin of A. Magnus in his Dissertation, book 3
31. Plotinus, Select Works, On the Gnostic Hypostasis, etc.
32. See Iliad, Book 10, Apollon; Rhodius Argonaut., Lib. 2: So the gloomy god/Stood mute with fearto see the golden rode, etc.
33. Aeneid, Lib. 6:149
34. Capricornus 214
35. Pope’s Homer’s Iliad, book 18; See also Fawkes’ Apollonius Rhodius Argonautics, Book. 1
36. St Paul to the Corinthians, Epist. 1, 15:37
37. Select Works; Ennead 5, Lib. 8
38. L. Comitibus Metallar. Nat. Oper., lib. 4, cap. 7; Chrysopaea, lib. 2
39. Aeneid, lib.6:138, 193
40. See Pontanus Epistle in Theat. Chem.
41. Post sextum annum clavis, etc; See Mus. Hermeticum, Lumen de Lumine, p. 67.
42. Chariot of Antimony; Stone of Fire; also Zachary Opusculum, part 2; Lucerna Salis,etc.
43. See Boehme’s Epistles; and to the same effect on The Turned Eye.
44. Maria Practica, in fine.
45. Tract. Aureus, cap. 2
46. Tract. Aur., Scholium, cap. 1
47. Tract. Aur., cap. 3
48. Idem, cap. 4
49. See Extracts from his treatise on Providence, at the end of Plotinus’ Selct Workd, by Taylor, p. 531; and Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, circa mediam.
50. Proclus on the Theology of Plato --- Scholia on the Cratylus
51. Proverbsm chap. 24, 27; Eccles. 4
52. Iliad, book 10: 265
53. Forty, Quest. 17, etc.
54. Tractatus Aureaus, cap. 3
55. Liber Jezirah, cap. 1
56. Vaughan, Lumen de Lumine, p. 62
57. Aquarium Sapientum, in Mus. Herm., The Enigma
58. Tract. Aur., cap. 2
59. Theatr. Chem., Tome 3, p. 764; Processus Chiica, Carmen Elegans; Vaughan’s magia Adamica.
60. See his Theoria et Practica, and in the Testament; Sal Lumen; Nuysement, p. 133, etc.
61. See Ripley, Second Gate, of Solution, and in Ripley Revived.
62. New Light of Alch.,; Discourse of Sulfur.
63. Ripley’s Fifth Gate, Of the Putrefaction, v. 12
64. Eirenaeus, Marrow of Alchemy, Book 3, v. 35.
65. Isaiah, Chap. 8, verse. 8; See the book of Jehior of the Fire and its Mystery, chap. 11.
66. Sendivogius, New Light; Discourse of the Three Principles
67. Tract. Aur., cap. 2
68. Maria, Practica, circa finem
69. Ripley’s Fifth Gate, Of the Putrefaction
70. See Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, Emblem 11
71. Job 41
72. Maier: Hierog. Egypt. Graec., p. 222
73. Eirenaeus, Marrow of Alchemy
74. Vitulus Aureus