Mary A. 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
The Hermetic Practice
The Six Keys of Eudoxus, Opening Into the Most Secret Philosophy
THE FIRST KEY ~
The First Key is that which opens the dark prisons in which the Sulphur is shut up: this is it which knows how to extract the seed out of the body, and which forms the Stone of the philosophers by the conjunction of the spirit with the body -- of sulphur with mercury. Hermes has manifestly demonstrated the operation of this First Key by these words: In the caverns of the metals there is hidden the Stone, which is venerable, bright in colour, a mind sublime, and an open sea. This Stone has a bright glittering: it contains a Spirit of a sublime original; it is the Sea of the Wise, in which they angle for their mysterious Fish. But the operations of the three works have a great deal of analogy one to another, and the philosophers do designedly speak in equivocal terms, to the end that those who have not the Lynx's eyes may pursue wrong, and be lost in this labyrinth, from whence it is very hard to get out. In effect, when one imagines that they speak of one work, they often treat of another. Take heed, therefore, not to be deceived here; for it is a truth, that in each work the Wise Artist ought to dissolve the body with the spirit; he must cut off the Raven's head, whiten the Black, and vivify the White; yet it is properly in the First operation that the Wise Artist cuts off the head of the Black Dragon and of the Raven. Hence, Hermes says, What is born of the Crow is the beginning of this Art. Consider that it is by separation of the black, foul, and stinking fume of the Blackest Black that our astral, white, and resplendent Stone is formed, which contains in its veins the blood of the Pelican. It is at this First Purification of the Stone, and at this shining whiteness, that the work of the First Key is ended.
THE SECOND KEY ~
The Second Key dissolves the compound of the Stone, and begins the separation of the Elements in a philosophical manner: this separation of the elements is not made but by raising up the subtle and pure parts above the thick and terrestrial parts. He who knows how to sublime the Stone philosophically, justly deserves the name of a philosopher, since he knows the Fire of the Wise, which is the only instrument which can work this sublimation. No philosopher has ever openly revealed this Secret Fire, and this powerful agent, which works all the wonders of the Art: he who shall not understand it, and not know how to distinguish it by the characters whereby it is described, ought to make a stand here, and pray to God to make it clear to him; for the knowledge of this great Secret is rather a gift of Heaven, than a Light acquired by the natural force of reasoning; let him, nevertheless, read the writings of the philosophers; let him meditate; and, above all, let him pray: there is no difficulty which may not in the end be made clear by Work, Meditation, and Prayer. Without the sublimation of the Stone, the conversion of the Elements and the extraction of the Principles is impossible; and this conversion, which makes Water of Earth, Air of Water, and Fire of Air, is the only way whereby our Mercury can be prepared. Apply yourself then to know this Secret Fire, which dissolves the Stone naturally and without violence, and makes it dissolve into Water in the great sea of the Wise, by the distillation which is made by the rays of the Sun and Moon. It is in this manner that the Stone, which, according to Hermes, is the vine of the Wise, becomes their Wine, which, by the operations of Art, produces their rectified Water of Life, and their most sharp Vinegar. The Elements of the Stone cannot be dissolved but by this Nature wholly Divine; nor can a perfect dissolution be made of it, but after a proportioned digestion and putrefaction, at which the operation of the Second Key of the First Work is ended.
THE THIRD KEY ~
The Third Key comprehends of itself alone a longer train of operations than all the rest together. The philosophers have spoken very little of it, seeing the Perfection of our Mercury depends thereon; the sincerest even, as Artefius, Trevisan, Flammel, have passed in silence the Preparation of our Mercury, and there is hardly one found who has not feigned, instead of showing the longest and the most important of the operations of our Practice. With a design to lend you a hand in this part of the way, which you have to go, and where for want of Light it is impossible to know the true road, I will enlarge myself more than others have done on this Third Key; or at least I will follow in an order, that which they have treated so confusedly, that without the inspiration of Heaven, or without the help of a faithful friend, one remains undoubtedly in this labyrinth, without being able to find a happy deliverance from thence. I am sure, that you who are the true Sons of Science will receive a very great satisfaction in the explaining of these hidden Mysteries, which regard the separation and the purification of the Principles of our Mercury, which is made by a perfect dissolution and glorification of the body, whence it had its nativity, and by the intimate union of the soul with its body, of whom the Spirit is the only tie which works this conjunction. This is the Intention, and the essential point of the Operations of this Key, which terminate at the generation of a new substance infinitely nobler than the First. After the Wise Artist has made a spring of living water come out of the stone, and has pressed out the vine of the philosophers, and has made their wine, he ought to take notice that in this homogeneous substance, which appears under the form of Water, there are three different substances, and three natural principles of bodies --- Salt, Sulphur and Mercury --- which are the spirit, the soul, and the body; and though they appear pure and perfectly united together, there still wants much of their being so; for when by distillation we draw the Water, which is the soul and the spirit, the Body remains in the bottom of the vessel, like a dead, black, and dredgy earth, which, nevertheless, is not to be despised; for in our subject there is nothing which is not good. The philosopher, John Pontanus, protests that the very superfluities of the Stone are converted into a true essence, and that he who pretends to separate anything from our subject knows nothing of philosophy; for that all which is therein superfluous, unclean, dredgy --- in fine, the whole compound, is made perfect by the action of our Fire. This advice opens the eyes of those, who, to make an exact purification of the Elements and of the Principles, persuade themselves that they must only take the subtile and cast away the heavy. But Hermes says that power of it is not integral until it be turned into earth; neither ought the sons of science to be ignorant that the Fire and the Sulphur are hidden in the centre of the Earth, and that they must wash it exactly with its spirit, to extract out of it the Fixed Salt, which is the Blood of our Stone. This is the essential Mystery of the operation, which is not accomplished till after a convenient digestion and a slow distillation. You know that nothing is more contrary than fire and water; but yet the Wise Artist must make peace between the enemies, who radically love each other vehemently. Cosmopolite told the manner thereof in a few words: All things must therefore being purged make Fire and Water to be Friends, which they will easily do in their earth, which had ascended with them. Be then attentive on this point; moisten oftentimes the earth with its water, and you will obtain what you seek. Must not the body be dissolved by the water, and the Earth be penetrated with its Humidity, to be made proper for generation? According to philosophers, the Spirit is Eve, the Body is Adam; they ought to be joined together for the propagation of their species. Hermes says the same in other terms: "For Water is the strongest Nature which surmounts and excites the fixed Nature in the Body, that is, rejoices in it". In effect, these two substances, which are of the same nature but of different genders, ascend insensibly together, leaving but a little faeces in the bottom of their vessel; so that the soul, spirit, and body, after an exact purification, appear at last inseparably united under a more noble and more perfect Form than it was before, and as different from its first liquid Form as the alcohol of Wine exactly rectified and actuated with its salt is different from the substance of the wine from whence it has been drawn; this comparison is not only very fitting, but it furthermore gives the sons of science a precise knowledge of the operations of the Third Key.
Our Water is a living Spring which comes out of the Stone by a natural miracle of our philosophy. The first of all is the water which issueth out of this Stone. It is Hermes who has pronounced this great Truth. He acknowledges, further, that this water is the foundation of our Art. The philosophers give it many names; for sometimes they call it wine, sometimes water of life, sometimes vinegar, sometimes oil, according to the different degrees of Preparation, or according to the diverse effects which it is capable of producing. Yet I let you know that it is properly called the Vinegar of the Wise, and that in the distillation of this Divine Liquor there happens the same thing as in that of common vinegar; you may hence draw instruction: the water and the phlegm ascend first; the oily substance, in which the efficacy of the water consists, comes the last, etc. It is therefore necessary to dissolve the body entirely to extract all its humidity which contains the precious ferment, the sulphur, that balm of Nature, and wonderful unguent, without which you ought not to hope ever to see in your vessel this blackness so desired by all the philosophers. Reduce then the whole compound into water, and make a perfect union of the volatile with the fixed; it is a precept of Senior's, which deserves attention, that the highest fume should be reduced to the lowest; for the divine water is the thing descending from heaven, the reducer of the soul to its body, which it at length revives. The Balm of Life is hid in these unclean faeces; you ought to wash them with this celestial water until you have removed away the blackness from them, and then your Water shall be animated with this Fiery Essence, which works all the wonders of our Art.
But, further, that you may not be deceived with the terms of the Compound, I will tell you that the philosophers have two sorts of compounds. The first is the compound of Nature, whereof I have spoken in the First Key; for it is Nature which makes it in a manner incomprehensible to the Artist, who does nothing but lend a hand to Nature by the adhibition of external things, by the means of which she brings forth and produces this admirable compound. The second is the compound of Art; it is the Wise man who makes it by the secret union of the fixed with the volatile, perfectly conjoined with all prudence, which cannot be acquired but by the lights of a profound philosophy. The compound of Art is not altogether the same in the Second as in the Third Work; yet it is always the Artist who makes it. Geber defines it, a mixture of Argent vive and Sulphur, that is to say, of the volatile and the fixed; which, acting on one another, are volatilized and fixed reciprocally into a perfect Fixity. Consider the example of Nature; you see that the earth will never produce fruit if it be not penetrated with its humidity, and that the humidity would always remain barren if it were not retained and fixed by the dryness of the earth. So, in the Art, you can have no success if you do not in the first work purify the Serpent, born of the Slime of the earth; it you do not whiten these foul and black faeces, to separate from thence the white sulphur, which is the Sal Amoniac of the Wise, and their Chaste Diana, who washes herself in the bath; and all this mystery is but the extraction of the fixed salt of our compound, in which the whole energy of our Mercury consists. The water which ascends by distillation carries up with it a part of this fiery salt, so that the affusion of the water on the body, reiterated many times, impregnates, fattens, and fertilizes our Mercury, and makes it fit to be fixed, which is the end of the second Work. One cannot better explain this Truth than by Hermes, in these words: When I saw that the water by degrees did become thicker and harder I did rejoice, for I certainly knew that I should find what I sought for. It is not without reason that the philosophers give this viscous Liquor the name of Pontick Water. Its exuberant ponticity is indeed the true character of its virtue, and the more you shall rectify it, and the more you shall work upon it, the more virtue will it acquire. It has been called the Water of Life, because it gives life to the metals; but it is properly called the great Lunaria, because of its brightness wherewith it shines....
Since I speak only to you, ye true scholars of Hermes, I will reveal to you one secret which you will not find entirely in the books of the philosophers. Some of them say, that of the liquor they make two Mercuries --- the one White and the other Red; Flammel has said more particularly, that one must make use of the citrine Mercury to make the Imbibition of the Red; giving notice to the Sons of Art not to be deceived on this point, as he himself had been, unless the Jew had informed him of the truth. Others have taught that the White Mercury is the bath of the Moon, and that the Red Mercury is the bath of the Sun. But there are none who have been willing to show distinctly to the Sons of Science by what means they may get these two mercuries. If you apprehend me well, you have the point already cleared up to you. The Lunaria is the White Mercury, the most sharp Vinegar is the Red Mercury; but the better to determine these two mercuries, feed them with flesh of their own species -- the blood of innocents whose throats are cut; that is to say, the spirits of the bodies are the Bath where the Sun and Moon go to wash themselves. I have unfolded to you a great mystery, if you reflect well on it; the philosophers who have spoken thereof have passed over this important point very slightly. Cosmopolite has very wittily mentioned it by an ingenious allegory, speaking of the purification of the Mercury: This will be done, says he, if you shall give our old man gold and silver to swallow, that he may consume them, and at length he also dying may be burnt. He makes an end of describing the whole magistery in these terms: Let his ashes be strewed in the water; boil it until it is enough, and you have a medicine to cure the leprosy. You must not be ignorant that Our Old Man is our Mercury; this name indeed agrees with him because He is the first matter of all metals. He is their water, as the same author goes on to say, and to which he gives also the name of steel and of the lodestone; adding for a greater confirmation of what I am about to discover to you, that if gold couples with it eleven times it sends forth its seed, and is debilitated almost unto death; but the Chalybes conceives and begets a son more glorious than the Father. Behold a great Mystery which I reveal to you without an enigma; this is the secret of the two mercuries which contain the two tinctures. Keep them separately, and do not confound their species, for fear they should beget a monstrous Lineage.
I not only speak to you more intelligibly than any philosopher before has done, but I also reveal to you the most essential point in the Practice; if you meditate thereon, and apply yourself to understand it well; but above all, if you work according to those lights which I give you, you may obtain what you seek for. And if you come not to these knowledges by the way which I have pointed out to you, I am very well assured that you will hardly arrive at your design by only reading the philosophers. Therefore despair of nothing --- search the source of the Liquor of the Sages, which contains all that is necessary for the work; it is hidden under the Stone --- strike upon it with the Red of Magic Fire, and a clear fountain will issue out; then do as I have shown you, prepare the bath of the King with the blood of the Innocents, and you will have the animated Mercury of the wise, which never loses its virtue, if you keep it in a vessel well closed, Hermes says, that there is so much sympathy between the purified bodies and the spirits, that they never quit one another when they are united together: because this union resembles that of the soul with the glorified body; after which Faith tells us, there shall be no more separation or death; because the spirits desire to be in the cleansed bodies, and having them, they enliven and dwell in them. By this you may observe the merit of this precious liquor, to which the philosophers have given more than a thousand different names, which is in sum the great
Alcahest, which radically dissolves the metals -- a true permanent water which, after having radically dissolved them, is inseparably united to them, increasing their weight and tincture.
THE FOURTH KEY ~
The Fourth Key of the Art is the entrance to the Second Work (and a reiteration in part and development of the foregoing): it is this which reduces our Water into Earth; there is but this only Water in the world, which by a bare boiling can be converted into Earth, because the Mercury of the Wise carries in its centre its own Sulphur, which coagulates it. The terrification of the Spirit is the only operation of this work. Boil them with patience; if you have proceeded well, you will not be a long time without perceiving the marks of this coagulation; and if they appear not in their time, they will never appear; because it is an undoubted sign that you have failed in some essential thing in the former operations; for to corporify the Spirit, which is our Mercury, you must have well dissolved the body in which the Sulphur which coagulates the Mercury is enclosed. But Hermes assumes that our mercurial water shall obtain all the virtues which the philosophers attribute to it if it be turned into earth. An earth admirable is it for fertility -- the Land of Promise of the Wise, who, knowing how to make the dew of Heaven fall upon it, cause it to produce fruits of an inestimable price. Cultivate then diligently this precious earth, moisten it often with its own humidity, dry it as often, and you will no less augment its virtue than its weight and its fertility.
THE FIFTH KEY ~
The Fifth Key includes the Fermentation of the Stone with the perfect body, to make thereof the medicine of the Third order. I will say nothing in particular of the operation of the Third work; except that the Perfect Body is a necessary leaven of Our Paste. And that the Spirit ought to make the union of the paste with the leaven in the same manner as water moistens meal, and dissolves the leaven to compose a fermented paste fit to make bread. This comparison is very proper; Hermes first made it, saying, that as a paste cannot be fermented without a ferment; so when you shall have sublimed, cleansed and separated the foulness from the Faeces, and would make the conjunction, put a ferment to them and make the water earth, that the paste may be made a ferment; which repeats the instruction of the whole work, and shows, that just so as the whole lump of the paste becomes leaven, by the action of the ferment which has been added, so all the philosophic confection becomes, by this operation, a leaven proper to ferment a new matter, and to multiply it to infinity. If you observe well how bread is made, you will find the proportions also, which you ought to keep among the matters which compose our philosophical paste. Do not the bakers put more meal than leaven, and more water than the leaven and the meal? The laws of Nature are the rules you ought to follow in the practice of our magistery. I have given you, upon the principal point, all the instructions which are necessary for you, so that it would be superfluous to tell you more of it; particularly concerning the last operations, about which the Adepts have been less reserved than at the First, which are the foundations of the Art.
THE SIXTH KEY ~
The Sixth Key teaches the Multiplication of the Stone, by the reiteration of the same operation, which consists but in opening and shutting, dissolving and coagulating, imbibing and drying; whereby the virtues of the Stone are infinitely augmentable. As my design has been not to describe entirely the application of the three medicines, but only to instruct you in the more important operations concerning the preparation of Mercury, which the philosophers commonly pass over in silence, to hide the mysteries from the profane which are only intended for the wise, I will tarry no longer on this point, and will tell you nothing more of what relates to the Projection of the Medicine, because the success you expect depends not thereon. I have not given you very full instructions except on the Third Key, because it contains a long train of operations which, though simple and natural, require a great understanding of the Laws of Nature, and of the qualities of Our Matter, as well as a perfect knowledge of chemistry and of the different degrees of heat which are fitting for these operations. I have conducted you by the straight way without any winding; and if you have well minded the road which I have pointed out to you, I am sure that you will go straight to the end without straying. Take this in good part from me, in the design which I had of sparing you a thousand labours and a thousand troubles, which I myself have undergone in this painful journey for want of an assistance such as this is, which I give you from a sincere heart and a tender affection for all the true sons of science. I should much bewail, if, like me, after having known the true matter, you should spend fifteen years entirely in the work, in study and in meditation, without being able to extract out of the Stone the precious juice which it encloses in its bosom, for want of knowing the secret fire of the wise, which makes to run out of this plant (dry and withered in appearance) a water which wets not the hands, and which by a magical union of the dry water of the sea of the wise, is dissolved into a viscous water -- into a mercurial liquor, which is the beginning, the foundation, and the Key of our Art: Convert, separate, and purify the elements, as I have taught you, and you will possess the true Mercury of the philosophers, which will give you the fixed Sulphur and the Universal Medicine. But I give you notice, moreover, that even after you shall be arrived at the knowledge of the Secret Fire of the Wise, yet still you shall not attain your point at your first career. I have erred many years in the way which remains to be gone, to arrive at the mysterious fountain where the King bathes himself, is made young again, and retakes a new life exempt from all sorts of infirmities. Besides this you must know how to purify, to heal, and to animate the royal bath; it is to lend you a hand in this secret way that I have expatiated under the Third Key, where all those operations are described. I wish with all my heart that the instructions which I have given you may enable you to go directly to the End. But remember, ye sons of philosophy, that the knowledge of our Magistery comes rather by the Inspiration of Heaven than from the Lights which we can get by ourselves. This truth is acknowledged by all artists; it is for good reason that it is not enough to work; pray daily, read good books, and meditate night and day on the operations of Nature, and on what she may be able to do when she is assisted by the help of our Art; and by these means you will succeed without doubt in your undertaking. This is all I have now to say to you. I was not willing to make you such a long discourse as the matter seemed to demand; neither have I told you anything but what is essential to our Art; so that if you know the Stone which is the only matter of Our Stone, and if you have the Understanding of Our Fire, which is both secret and natural, you have the Keys of the Art, and you can calcine Our Stone; not by the common calcination which is made by the violence of fire, but by a philosophic calcination which is purely natural. Yet observe this, with the most enlightened philosophers, that there is this difference between the common calcination which is made by the force of Fire and the natural calcination; that the first destroys the body and consumes the greatest part of its radical humidity; but the second does not only preserve the humidity of the body in calcining it, but still considerably augments it. Experience will give you knowledge in the Practice of this great truth, for you will in effect find that this philosophical calcination, which sublimes and distills the Stone in calcining it, much augments its humidity; the reason is that the igneous spirit of the natural fire is corporified in the substances which are analogous to it. Our stone is an Astral Fire which sympathizes with the Natural Fire, and which, as a true Salamander receives it nativity, is nourished and grows in the Elementary Fire, which is geometrically proportioned to it.
The Keys of Eudoxus open no more; and as these last ones, entering to the Multiplication and Projection, are avowedly defective, and the information may be interesting to the studious, we propose to supply it briefly from another and not less credible source.
It remains only for the work of Multiplication, says the Author of the Open Entrance, to take one part of the Perfect Matter and to join it with three or four parts at most of the Mercury of the First Work, and to place both in a vessel well luted and sealed; and, by the help of a gentle and well-regulated fire, you will see with satisfaction all the operations before named pass through rapidly in seven days, and the virtue is augmented a thousand times in this revelation above what it was before. Then repeat thereupon the same operation, and all will be run through before your eyes in three days, and the matter will have again attained by this a redoubled virtue. After this, if you desire to repeat the same work, one natural day will complete the whole, and every regiment of the colors will in that brief space be passed through; which, if the same process be again repeated, an hour will suffice, increasing likewise in multiplicable proportion, thousands by thousands; so that at length, if you multiply it a fifth time, you will no longer be able to calculate the strength of the medicine. Render thanks to God, then, who hath put into thy possession the universal treasury of nature. ---
And for the final Projection, as the metalline perfectibility of the matter is sometimes called, we have this concluding advice: ---
Take one part of your Perfect Stone, whether white or red; then cause to be melted in a crucible four parts of one of the fixed metals, i.e., silver of it be for the white, or gold if it be for the red; join to this one part of the Stone, according to the kind that you desire to produce; throw the whole into a horn, and there will result to you a pulverizable mass. Take then ten parts of mercury purged and purified, place it on the fire, and when it begins to crackle and to smoke throw in one part of your powder, which will, in the twinkling of an eye as it were, penetrate the mercury; melt this with an augmented fire; and you will have the medicine, though of an inferior order. Take one part of this last matter and project it on any metal so that it be only purified and set in fusion; project only as much of the Stone as you desire to tinge of the metal, and you will have gold or silver more pure than that which nature ever yields. However it is always best to make projection by degrees until the Stone yields no more tincture; because in projecting a small quantity of powder on a large quantity of imperfect (except indeed out Mercury alone), the Stone sustains great loss on account of the impurities with which they abound. Therefore, the more the metal is purified before projection, the more successful will be transmutation (1).
But, be it remembered, there is a twofold fermentation --- a spiritual and a bodily. The spiritual fermentation is performed by multiplying the tinctures, which is not done with common gold to silver; for they are not tinctures, but gross compacted bodies. --- Be thou well advised, says Sendivogius in his Praxis, that thou takest not common gold or silver, for these are dead; take Ours which are living; then put them into Our Fire and let there be made of them a dry liquor: first of all the earth will be resolved into Water which is called the Mercury of philosophers, and that water shall resolve those bodies of gold and silver, and shall consume them so that there shall remain but the tenth part with one part; and this shall be the radical moisture of the metals. Then take water and salt-nitre, which comes from Our Earth in which there is a river of living water, if thou digest the pit knee deep, therefore take the water out of that; but take that which is clear; upon this put that radical moisture; and set it over the fire of putrefaction and generation, not on such a one as thou didst in the first operation: govern all things with a great deal of discretion, until colors appear like a peacock’s tail; govern it by digesting it, and be not weary, until these colors be ended, and there appear throughout the whole one green color, and so of the rest; and when thou shalt see in the bottom ashes of a fiery color and the water almost red, open the vessel, dip in a pen, and smear some Iron with it; if it tinge, have in readiness that water which has been spoken of, and put in so much of that water as the cold air was which went in, boil it again with the former fire, until it tinge again. So far reached my experience: --- I can do no more, says the wary Artist, I found out no more. --- Now that water must be the menstruum of the world, out of the sphere of the Moon so often rectified until it can calcine gold (2).
And when thou hast made the Stone and magic medicine, says Vaughan, and it is become a liquid fiery spiritual substance, shining like the sun, in this complexion, if you would project it, you would hardly find the just proportion: the virtue of the medicine is so intensive and powerful. The philosophers therefore take one part of their Stone and cast it upon ten parts of pure molten gold --- this single grain brings all the gold to a bloody powder; and, on the contrary, the gross body of the gold abates the spiritual strength of the projected grain. This descent or incorporation, some wise authors have called a bodily fermentation; but the philosophers did not use common gold to make their Stone (though so many deceptively write about it), they used it only to qualify the utensive power of it when it was made, that they might the more easily find what quantity of base metal they should project upon. By this means they reduced their medicine to a dust, and this dust is the Arabian Elixir. This Elixir the philosophers could carry about them; but the medicine itself not so, for it is such a subtle moist fire that there is nothing bit (its proper) glass that will hold it (3).
And it sufficeth in one glasse to put
So much of composition as may cost
The price of half an ounce of fold, which shut
With Hermes’ seal, no fear it should be lost;
Except some error be committed, which
How to avoid I faithfully shall teach. (4).
And because our intention is to the changing of metals into gold, says the Author of Lucerna Salis, it is requisite that they should first be fermented with very good and most pure gold; for otherwise the imperfect metals would not be able to support its too great and supreme subtlety; but there would rather ensue loss and damage in the projection. The imperfect and impure metals (let not the allusion here be misapprehended) must also be purified, if one will draw any profit therefrom; one drachm of gold is sufficient for the fermentation in the red, and one drachm of silver for the fermentation in the white. And the artist need not be at the trouble of buying gold or silver for this fermentation, because, with one single very small part, the tincture may afterwards be augmented more and more in such a manner that whole ships might be loaded with the precious metal that would accrue from this confection. For if this medicine be multiplied, and be again dissolved and coagulated by the virtue of its mercury, white or red, of which it was prepared, then the tinging virtue will be augmented each time by ten degrees in perfection, which may be reiterated as often as one pleases (5).
Like the sun’s atoms ‘tis a powder fine,
White for the white, and red for red projection.
The metals, by it teined, exceed the mine
In purity; and such is its perfection
That he who hath it in an hour’s space
And less than, may command in any place.
At first it is of virtue very small,
Compared with the might it doth attain
By oft reiteration; who so shall
It oft dissolve, and then congeal again,
Shall find a medicine that will translate
Innumerable parts to Sol’s estate.
‘Tis ponderous and yet in grains divided,
That powder all appears as soft as silk,
On metal it, like wax, in flux is guided
To enter to the centre, just like milk
Is penetrated by the Rennet sour,
And curdled in the minute of an hour.
This medicine is best thus to project:
First on a portion of the metal pure,
Which of the powder is to be effect
As red on gold, on silver eke be sure,
The white to throw, one part of this, your Stone
On four of metal, or else five to one.
Then brittle like to glasse that masse will be,
Of colour bright and shining very clear,
Yet not transparent, also thou shalt see
Its virtue lessened, which will appear
To view most glittering, like a ruby fair,
Then upon Argent vive cast this with care.
On ten parts one so long project until
The tincture to decrease thou shalt perceive
Which being done, also thou shalt see
Most perfect Sol and Lune from fire receive;
Thus guide thy operation and be sure,
The effect will prove both gold and silver pure.
And if thou list thy essence to augment
In goodness or in weight, thou so maist work,
That never shall thy stock with use be spent,
So great a power in this Stone doth lurk,
That it, like fire, is apt to multiply
Itself in weight as eke in dignity.
A portion once I saw, and found by proof,
That which a man’s belief might far exceed
Of the Red medicine, which for behoof
Of such how to this science may proceed,
I shall declare, by which may well appear
That useless it is not, as many fear;
I saw then, as I said, a powder so
Increast in virtue, scarce to be believed
That so small quantity, as scarce would show
In bulk a grain, nor weighed much more indeed,
Which yet to gold so great a quantity
Could well transmute as may be deemed a lye.
No man by art its number could attain,
So great it was, yet it was the tincture sound,
For on an ounce projected was that grain,
In which perfection did so abound,
That all was essence made, of which one grain
Was cast upon ten times as much again.
That is one ounce in ten, and these likewise
On ten times more, which yet was medicine made,
Ten more to one of these would not suffice
To metal it to bring; nor was’t allay’d,
So with these oft projection made before,
But one at last ting’d ninety thousand more (6).
And the Author of the Rosary declares that he who shall have accomplished this Art, even though he were to live thousands of year, and every say maintain thousands of men, of curing all yet he would never know scarcity; having attained this blessed abundance, also, not by the oppression of others or by unlawful means, but by industry, patience, and the labor of his own hand. And not only, continues Eirenaeus, could he transmute baser metals into gold and silver, but make precious stones also more beautiful and perfect than those of nature; and would possess a universal medicine, moreover, capable of curing all diseases; even one Adept, were he permitted, might impart health to the whole world (7).
But lest this kind of testimony should grow egregious, and our book, by ill hazard falling into the hand of some credulous dunce or adventurous gold-seeker, should detain either for a moment to deliberate about looking at home for that which their instinct and proper destiny would otherwise direct them to find abroad, we desist, and implore these, should there be any, as they value their own lives and peace of mind and fortune, to regard nothing of all that has been written. For would it not, even supposing the whole of the assertions to be true (and which literally taken they are not) would it not, we ask, be a delirious speculation for any one to undertake to make the precious metal which is to be had in plentiful abundance, all ready elaborated by nature, ripe, and easy to his hand; to be had for the mere gathering, and if not without some natural, yet without laborious study or other mystical alloy? --- Let not one then be allured by the ultimate promises of Alchemy; which are the rewards only of a long-suffering and laborious life; of unwearying thought, patience under afflictions, conquest over unruly passions, hunger, thirst, stripes merited and unmerited, persecutions, indigence, self-denial --- all which philosophers have undergone, even encountering the terrors of death and hell itself in pursuit of their object; which was not gold however, or silver, but the substance of these things, which, after all, when it was gotten by them, was despised and swallowed up in the vision of a yet more alluring prospect of the Light.
To sum up then, lest we should never come to an end of this fugitive pursuit --- In the last operation the union of the Philosophic Stone is said to be finally cemented, in its component parts agreeing and having relation to the external world; which union or consummation of its transmutative virtue is called Fermentation. Mark the harmonious mystery --- that which in the Kabalah is denominated the union of man, reduced to the simplicity of the Monad, with God, that in metaphysico-chemistry is called Fermentation. The most pious and experienced amongst the Adepts do not demur either to compare the phenomena of their work to the Gospel tradition of the Life of Christ and our human redemption; Khunrath, Boehme, Freher, Grasseus, and various others amongst the more modern, agree with the early Adepts; pointing out too how, in every minute respect, their magistery not only corresponds, but is in every deed a type, and promise, and foundation of our Christian Creed. Not, be it understood, that they identify or in the least confound the metalline perfection, which belongs to the primary evolution of life only, with the ultimate Divine association; but they show that their Stone exhibits, alike in its origin, development and artificial preparation throughout, the Universal Law of Light in Nature. And as man, united with God, becomes divinely empowered, and therefore can do what he wills, since he wills what God Himself does in consonance with reason; so does the Philosopher’s Stone in the greater world. Fermented in its parts by reason of the fermentation, transform itself into what it wills, and works for the diverse natures of all things, coequals itself to all, to every and each, and to universals.
It is the universal medium of restoration and preservation, says Khunrath, which by its own equilibriate virtue expels suffering and every disease whether of mind or body; in either Kingdom of nature rectifying, according to the capability of each. Metals it is said to benefit by transference of their radical moisture, depriving its terrestreity and foreign oxides; vegetables, by an increase of their efflorescent spirit; and animals, according to the natural exigence of their being. Azoth of our Stone, continues he, reduces bodies to their First Matter and reanimates them with the Universal Form, crystals it advances to gems, and many pearls artificially it concretes into one. Metals, also, as I myself have seen, crystals, gems, as well as gold, it makes fluid and potable; it frees animals from disease, and preserves them in the strength of its virtue; I refreshes vegetables; tough nearly dead it will revive them; fermented with the specific essence of simples, and methodically applied in a fitting lamp, its enduring water, lighted by art, burns perpetually, for ever. It expels and drives away evil spirits from the possessed --- wherefore not? There are particular potencies in nature which malignant powers give way to --- why not to the universal? The author of confusion could not endure symmetry. --- It exalts and ennobles natural ability in the healing art, and it draws down sublime memory and prudence. It wonderfully excites perpetual joy, and an honest boldness and fortitude of mind exhilarating all life. And, that I may include many things in a few words, it is miraculously efficient in all the production of nature, also the sublunary spirits, for every and all of these, by an inherent necessity, obey this Stone (8).
For this powerful vivific Ens is of the same origin as that which it assimilates --- viz., the Universal Spirit, which has been so often fermented, rectified, and recalcined, until the central force, wholly drawn out, acts forcibly at the circumference, and is able to draw, by a supernatural magnetism, the Homogeneal Nature everywhere into itself, according to the Rational Form inbred. And hence we may conceive why the Hermetic philosophers have given it the name of azoth, which adheres to bodies; which if thou dost rightly conceive, says Khunrath, thou art he of whom it may be truly said, He who has begun aright, has done half of the whole. The Stone is fermented with its metal existing in the highest purity, with pure silver for the White, and with Red for fine Gold. And this is the work of three days (9).
The Stone is here said accurately to be fermented with its own metal: for is not Light the true Aurific Seed; not common Light, but that which in the first rotary wheel of life becomes efficient, which is potentially included everywhere in either kingdom of nature, though laid asleep? Or what else should possibly transmute or multiply by its own assimilative virtue? What else but Light can multiply, or does multiply, anyhow or anywhere; and if everywhere else, why not in the mineral kingdom, when set free to attract its proper fuel indeficiently, without heterogeneous hindrance or alloy?
And if in the mineral kingdom it can overcome no great inertness, and renews the vegetable spirit, imparting health and increase to decaying nature, how much greater benefits will it not bestow on man who nourished it? Nor in the outward ministration of the medicament only, but above all, and most permanently, in the vital rectification. Thus Julian, in his Oration to the Extra-Mundane Mother, for example, tells us that when the soul gives herself to Divinity, and wholly delivers herself to the guidance of a better nature, divine institutions, through purification, taking the lead, the Divine Light will immediately shine on her; and, in consequence of being thus deified, she transfuses a certain vigorous strength into her connate spirit, which when included, and as it were possessing dominion, becomes, through this spirit the cause of safety to the whole body. For, continues the Emperor, diseases, or at least the greater part, happen from the mutative and erroneous motion of the spirit --- which physicians likewise allow; or, at all events, that those most difficult to be cured originate from thence. For health is a certain symmetry or equilibrium of nature, which it is the pre-eminent power of the Telestic art to impart, ordering all things by the unity within. And, indeed, the oracles testify the truth of these assertions, when they declare that through purifying ceremonies bodies become worthy of receiving divine assistance and health, and that the mortal vestment of bitter matter will be by these means be preserved.
Harmonia resonat namque, sub qua est corpus mortale.
Extendens, igneam mentem, as opus pietatis, et fluxile corpus servabit (10).
And that which a man has received, will he not be able to impart again, and bestow of this exuberant felicity for the benefaction of others? Or at it is so related of Hippocrates, that he cured extraordinary maladies because he was endowed with a divine nature, and had carried up medicine from a low estate unto great achievements. For he was the descent of many generations, and a divine man, as the tradition says, by direct descent from Aesculapius on the father’s side, and by his mother Praxithea of the race of the Heraclides. Wherefore from both seeds he had his origin from the gods. For he was initiated as a young beginner in medicinal affairs by his great-grandfather, so far as he knew. But himself did also teach himself --- having made use of a divine nature --- the whole art. And, in the industry of his mind, he as far excelled his progenitors as he also exceeded them in the excellency of Art. For he takes away (continues the narrator) not only the kind of bestial, but also of brutishly fierce and wild diseases, through a great part of the land and sea; dispersing the succours of Aesculapius, even as Triptolemus the seed of Ceres; balmy health and healing virtues,
Such as sage Chiron, sire of pharmacy,
First taught Achilles, and Achilles thee (11).
Therefore he hath most justly obtained divine honors in many places of the earth; and is made worthy by the Athenians of the same gifts with Hercules and Aesculapius. And this man is the father and preserver of health, the curer of all griefs. In sum, this man is the prince of divine knowledge, concludes the Persian, Petris, in his epistle addressing Artaxerxes --- send thou for Him (12).
Honor the physician with the honor due unto him, says Solomon; for the Lord created him --- as if he specially were above all men created by God, who is able to heal the sick and restore life to the distressed, which all physicians, however, are notable --- But a physician chosen by God, continues Helmont, His own signs shall follow, and wonders for the schools; for he shall prepare to the honor of God his free gifts, to the comfort of his neighbor; compassion shall be his leader. For he shall possess truth in his heart, and knowledge in his understanding; charity and the mercy of the Lord shall enlighten his way; and he shall bestow favor of the Lord, and the hope of gain shall not be in his thoughts. For the Lord is rich and liberal, and will give him one hundred fold in an heaped-up measure: He will fructify his work, and anoint his Hands with Blessing. He will fill his mouth with consolation and with the trumpet of His Word, from which diseases shall flee. He will fill his life with length of days, his house with riches, and hnis children with the fear of the Lord. His footsteps shall bring felicity, and diseases shall be in his sight as snow in the noon-day of summer in an open valley. Curse and punishment shall flee away, and health shall follow him. These are the promises of the Lord unto physicians whom He hath chosen. These are the blessings of those who walk in the path of mercy. Because the Lord loveth those that work mercy; and therefore he will enlighten them with his Spirit, the Comforter. For who is liberal as the Lord, who giveth many things freely, and, for some small matter, bestoweth al things? Blessed is the Lord who saves the merciful, and who saves him that is to be saved freely. And consolation shall meet the merciful man in the way of hope, because he has chosen a faithful master. --- Bt, continues the same estimable narrator, arrogance and sloth, which long since extinguished Charity, but a few ages ago sequestered a chirurgeon also from a physician; wherefore afterwards servants handled the manual instruments and operations; as if the unbeseemed a Christian to help his neighbor with his hands. In the mean time some noble matrons healed defects with their own hands that were despaired of by physicians. And truly after that the study of ambition and gain were practiced, charity grew cold, mercy was extinguished, art perished, and the Giver of Lights withdrew his Gifts; the number of our calamities increased, and physicians were made the fable of the vulgar. Ruth remained buried in the grave of science; and instead thereof a confused kind of brawling arose, being discursive, which was accounted for doctrine. And those false doctors described and drew of themselves a whole army of diseases, almost grieving, too, that the catalogue of them was yet so small. For they, being allured with the facility of the art of Galen, promised to measure all diseases by the geometrical demonstrations of degrees of heat and cold, and to heal them all thereby. Chirurgeons also, as well the modern as the ancient, from an imitation and emulation of these, largely and widely treated promiscuously all diseases, snatching the cures of them all under themselves, in the sight and despite of their former masters. Because at first, and from the root of medicinal ordination, all things belonged to be cured only and alone by physicians; but unto chirurgeons afterwards only by permission and from favor. Both of them have failed, however, under a confused strife and become inefficient (13).
So the origin, decline, and fall of the Healing Art has been pictured by one of its brightest ornaments; and truly is it not deplorable to think that knowledge once so perfectly attained and demonstrated in its efficacy, should, by a degenerate usage, have been lost to mankind? The accounts given by Van Helmont of the cures which he himself alone effected of some 10,000 individuals yearly, without any diminution of his medicine, would now be unaccredited, except by those few, perhaps, who, with a fragment of the same virtue, have, by a benevolent application, learnt to conceive something of the illimitable powers and artificial increase of vitalization. These will vindicate the Light, if any, who observing its first dawn, shall suffer it again to fall into disuse through negligence, or by obloquy be tempted to an uncharitable ambuscade.
And then have we no other defects than those of body to distress us? Are not our minds, too, ailing, and is there no balm ready? Is there no physician there? In Greece there were many temples to many gods --- to Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, Bacchus, and the rest, all ministering to the defects of mind, educating and disciplining the understanding for the conception of Wisdom and a better life within. Aesculapius was a demigod only amongst them, who is of modern Mesmerism the only just pride. --- Honor the physician with the honor due unto him for the use you may have of him, for the Lord created him. There is a time when in his hands there is a good success; then let him not go from thee, for hast need of him (14). --- But to whom hath the root of Wisdom been revealed; or who hath known her wise councils? Unto whom hath the knowledge of Wisdom been made manifest? Or who hath understood her great Experience? She is with every man, replies the prophet, according to his gift; but Her secret is with the Faithful (15).
Now such a faith as the Scriptures inculcate as bestowing Wisdom on the possessor is unknown at this day; nor does man any longer seek after the Truth that is in himself, rarely imagines it even, so far do we live without the true knowledge of ourselves. We pray the liberal reader to reflect, therefore, and link his imagination to the probabilities of reason, and ponder on the testimony of experience, and believe that Mesmerism, as it is mechanically practiced in the present day, is a first step indeed, and this only before the entrance of that glorious temple of Divine Wisdom which a more scientific Handicraft enabled the ancients experimentally to enter, and from its foundation build up, as it were, a crystalline edifice of Light and Truth. The materials are yet present with us; the foundations easily laid; the will only is wanting to discover the way, and faith to resuscitate the Corner Stone, which ignorance has rejected from immemorial time.
For if man does not enter in to understand himself, and the evil under which he lies enchanted in this life, he cannot understand the ancient doctrine concerning the fall or regeneration, or presume to deliver matter from the original curse, or be instrumental in the restoration. --- While Adam stood in Paradisiacal innocency, explains the theosophist, The Eternal Word was his leader, and had dominion in him: his life, which was a clear flame, burned in and was nourished by that pure spirit of the divine substantiality, which, together with the water of eternal life, generated in the angelical world, gave forth a glorious and bright shining Light. Immediately after the fall of man, God said to the Serpent, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; her seed shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Herein the Philosophers’ Stone or tincture lyeth. For though this concerneth man, in the first place, yet secondly it concerneth the whole creation. The bruising of the serpent’s head is done spiritually and corporally, both in nature and in the soul, and though in different degrees, yet by a parallel process in each. The serpent’s sting is the wrath fire, and the woman’s seed the light and love fire: these two are in every thing; the former predominated in outward nature, by the fall, and therefore the latter must be raised up, and by its shining through the wrath, must subdue and keep it under; taking away from it its predominant power, so that it may exercise its true natural office as a servant to the light; that these two may no more stand in opposition to each other, but be one thing reharmonized by light and love, and re-introduced into Paradise; when the dark poisoning Mercury is thus tinctured, his anguishing death is turned into triumphing life, and his former dark desire into the desire of light, which is able to make a pure love and light substantially, viz., a heavenly body out of an earthly. The whole work therefore consists summarily herein --- That Two Natures be reduced to One, as they were at the beginning. A heavenly and an earthly matter are to be mutually united and brought to a heavenly consistency. Earth must be turned in, and Heaven out. The Mercury which is therein doth all this itself: the Artist is not to attempt it --- he cannot do it --- he is to prepare the way, the matter as is requisite, and leave the work to be done by the workman which is in it already; nevertheless, understanding and faith are required of him. His design being no less than to redeem matter from the curse, and to raise it from the dead, which never can be done by one who is dead himself in his understanding and internal life (16).
Who then is competent, who qualified to minister in so great a matter? Who but he that the Spirit has already prepared, and endowed with prudence for the undertaking; he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the Key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth (17). Or what man is he, asks Solomon, that can know the counsel of God? Or who can think what the Will of the Lord is? For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down that mind that museth upon many things. And hardly do we guess outright at things which are upon earth, and with labor do we find the things that are before us; but the things that are in heaven who hath searched out? And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give Wisdom and send thy Holy Spirit from above? For so the ways of them which lived on the arth were reformed, and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto thee, and were saved through Wisdom. She preserved the first formed Father of the World that was created alone, and brought him out of his fall, and gave him power to rule all things. But when the righteous went away from her in his anger, he perished also in the fury wherewith he murdered his brother. For whose cause, the earth being drowned with the Flood, Wisdom again preserved it, and directed the course of the righteous in a piece of wood of small value. Moreover, the nations in their wicked conspiring being confounded, she found out the righteous and preserved him blameless unto God, and kept him strong against his tender compassion toward his Son. When the ungodly perished, she delivered the righteous man who fled from Fire, which fell upon five cities, of whose wickedness, even to this day, the waste land that smoketh is a testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness, and a standing pillar of Salt is a monument to an unbelieving soul. But Wisdom delivered from pain those that attended upon her. When the righteous fled from his brother’s wrath, she guarded him in right paths, showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of holy things; made him rich in his travels, and multiplied the fruit of his labors. In the covetousness of such as oppressed him, she stood by him and made him rich; she defended him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those that lay in wait, and, in a sore conflict, she gave him the victory: that he might know that godliness is stronger than all. She entered into the soul of the servant of the Lord, and withstood dreadful kings in wonders and signs. She rendered to the righteous a reward of their labors, guided them in a marvelous way, and was unto them for a cover by day and a light of Stars in the night season; brought them through the RED SEA, and led them through much water. But she drowned their enemies, and cast them up out of the bottom of the Deep. Therefore the righteous spoiled the ungodly, and praised thy Holy Name, O Lord, and magnified, with one accord, thy Hand that fought for them. For Wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of them that cannot speak eloquent. She prospered their works in the Hand of the Holy Prophet (18).
When once the Divine Light is loosened in life, everything is prospered as long as her Rule is observed; for the understanding then bears its motive energy into effect. --- And the Word of the Lord is unto them Line upon line, Precept upon precept, (purifying and perfecting) here a little and there a little (19). The whole individual is occupied; every look and action is by rule and with power; as it is not likewise written, The Hands of the Wise are very heavy/ The right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass. --- And His brightness was as the light, says Habbakuk, and he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power (20). Is it not promised, moreover, that the horn of the righteous shall be exalted, and his seed made triumphant over many nations? Be thou faithful into death, and I will give thee a crown of life (21). And again of Wisdom, --- Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left riches and honor. Exalt her and she shall promote thee, she shall bring thee honor when thou dost embrace her, she shall give to thy head an Ornament of Grace, a Crown of Glory shall she deliver unto thee (22).
Nor are these the only passages in Scripture where with Wisdom a promise is given of more material fruits: ---
He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches:
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken in shivers as I received from my Father. And I will give him the Morning Star.
He that overcometh the same shall be clothed in White Raiment. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life. Behold I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast that no man take thy Crown.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall no more go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God --- the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my New Name.
Behold I stand at the door and knock, and if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in with him, and sup with him, and he with me.
And to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father in his throne (23).
But as Agrippa says, Clausum est Armarium --- the Scripture is obscure and mystical throughout; even in the simplest details most profound, but significant in the promises even of material blessings and gifts. For when we begin to love the Spirit, adds the disciple, then he sends us these things as tokens and pledges of his love, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; whose prolific virtue is the source of all things, and in the conscious alliance becoming known, potentializes the whole in each individual universally without reserve.
That was the ground of ancient doctrine, the foundation of those creeds in the shadowy tradition of which mankind now live. They are all plain to him that hath understanding, as Solomon says, and right to them that find knowledge. Behold instruction is better than silver, and knowledge than choice gold. Wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to Her. I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. Counsel is mine and sound Wisdom; I am Understanding; I have strength. Riches and honor are with me, yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me (24).
They, the, who have been fortunate enough to perfect this work, having received s much grace from the Father of Lights as to obtain this inestimable gift of Divine Wisdom, what more one earth should they desire, but that it may be always applied aright in obedience to the Divine Will, for the benefaction of mankind and vindication of true virtue? For not only were they exempt from human ills, having the means of abundant wealth, power, and health at their command, but, moreover, they had a manifest token of divine favor, and sure promise of immortality in a life to come. Nor is to to be wondered, therefore, why philosophers, when they have obtained this medicine, have not cared to lengthen their days, or make a vain parade of their riches to the world which they despised, with every temporal power and advantage, in comparison of that which, in the acquirement of these things, was by their art foreshown. Or who now having human perfectibility, and a prospect of a happy immortality set before them in plain physical type and experience, would rest in a mere metalline good, like Midas, who, preferring an earth-born harmony to the music of the spheres, was dishonored by the god, and bore evidence of his misfortune in sight of the whole world?
Many prophecies there are of times to come, and those days are even said to be at hand, when the Fourth Monarchy, which is the Intellectual reign of Truth and Peace, shall predominate, when the Mother of sciences will come forth, and greater things be discovered than have been hitherto in the past monarchies of the world. But we do not tarry about these matters; the revelation of all things is always at hand for him who knows how to investigate, and the rest will always be far behind. If truly there be minds prepared, or if the great eraapproaches more rapidly than is given us yet even in faith to foresee (for notwithstanding so many signs that are appearing, and signal rumors of a coming change, yet they are fewer and far between and more rare yearly which indicate the progression of Truth); but if, we say, a better age is approaching, which at some period of time must come, when abundance of all things by an equitable distribution of all, shall help break down the competitive barrier of society, and introduce a cooperative alliance amongst mankind, then this incentive to enquiry may not be inopportunely offered, to advance the foremost intellect, and fix its dominion in the self-discovery of truth.
At the present time, when all are more or less eagerly engaged in the pursuance of eternal advantages, and under penalty of being cast into the fiery furnace of the world’s scorn, do fall down and worship that earth-born goddess of temporal Utility, which opinion has set up, it would be vain enthusiasm to attempt to divert attention, but for a moment, from so favored an idol, were it not that in the minds of all, even its most degraded votaries, there exists a most real and bitter sense of its insufficiency and latent deformity; everywhere without, the evil is apparent, and presses closer as time speeds on, fatally accelerating as if it neared some attracting focus. Yet hope still lingers in expectation; and, with that abiding patience which is the test of faith in a good cause, may we continue to seek on, not vaguely around us for passing excitements, but with steady perseverance looking within, until Conscience reveal to us those higher objects of pursuit, and truer attractions, which will not suffer the mind aspiring to them to fall into dishonor; but purifying and corroborating as they draw, will, when at length they are worthily won, untie with and transmute their worshipper into that Harmony and Beauty, which, in the dim beholding, he venerated and loved.
:Begin today, nor end till evil sink
In its due grave; and if at once we may not
Declare the greatness of the work we plan,
Be sure at least that ever in our mind
It stand complete before us, as a dome
Of light beyond this gloom, a house of stars
Encompassing these dusky tents; a thing
Absolute, close to all, though seldom seen,
Near as our Hearts and perfect as the Heavens.
Be this our aim and model, and our Hands
Shall not wax faint until the work is done.
The Idea of the Good, the Pure, and the True is the alluring object which we all innerly worship --- the progeny of Divine Intellect, immortal and strong --- even Moral beauty which, though obscurely now, as through the mists of sense and selfishness, ever shines attractively --- our Polar Star.
When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall kike a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries,
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man, in the sunshine of the World’s new Spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing.
Having discussed thus much of the Hermetic Mystery, and suggested certain particulars concerning the Practice at this latter end, which may be unfamiliar to the reader, we would repeat our warning to beware of hasty interpretation and trials of skill, without a proper foundation laid by study of the Hermetic records and scientific Laws of Art. Many things have no doubt escaped us inadvertently; others we have designedly reserved, lest falling into incapable hands, the highest trust of Nature should be betrayed, and the way of truth become perplexed by duplicity in the pursuit. In vain the ignorant, in vain the avaricious, the selfish, faithless, or frivolous, will in vain seek to percolate this Mystery. The right-minded and studious alone benevolently, conscientiously, and rationally persisting to the end, will unravel it: and in this case each must labor singularly for himself. The success of the experiment, as we have repeatedly shown, depends on the discovery of the true Intention. And this being more or less involved in every mind, is not clearly distinguishable in all; nor are they many, therefore, but few only, who have been found to enter in by the narrow way of life. The talent is granted only to a few, and for them conditions are needful to draw it forth to increase; for them we have written, and to persuade those only who may be able amidst so many heterogeneous elements of Nature, to discern the rational possibility by the infallible touchstone of her Original Light.
Tunc mentis divinae oracular caeca,
Volventes animo ancipiti vix tempore longo,
Experti multa, et non parvis sumtibus illam
Invenere artem, qua non ars dignior ulla est,
Fingendi Lepidem Aetherium, quem scire profanes
Haud quaquam licet, et frustra plebs improba quaerit.
Quem qui habet, ille potest, ubi vult habitare decenter:
Nec fortunae iram metuit, nec brachia furum,
Sed tanto paucos dignantur munere divi (25).
Injunctions likewise are frequent respecting the sacred nature of the ministration, and of the responsibility incurred by those even who are favored in the undertaking, lest desiring too little or presuming too far in self-sufficient pride, it should fall, and Satan establish a monarchy upon the most holy of works. Does any smile at the surmise? It is of small account, so he be ignorant; those warnings do not apply, nor were ever meant to scare his complacency, who, without the Light of Reason, would be least of all able to precipitate its downfall. But lest the desire of such a one should lead him to practice, which by good fortune it may not, we advise him of our knowledge, and of the vindicative Spirit of Wisdom for the justification of her Rule --- Ne tu augeas fatum --- Enlarge not thy destiny --- 0! Neither break a superficies, as the Pythagoric precept runs --- lest the sin of the agent be multiplied in the patient, it should survive in the unhappy offspring unto the third or fourth generation. The Spirit of Wisdom runs lovingly by her own Rule to fulfill it; but leaves him to hopeless confusion who abandons the Divine purpose for the accomplishment of private ends.
So the Israelites, that so wonderfully stiff-necked race, suffered for their rebellion and selfish lusts; falling into a multitude of snares and misfortunes --- by fire, famine, and sword, and no less miserable captivity, by the Divine command. And that those errors might be guarded against, and that no presumption might thereafter arise, the Lawgiver, in his book of Deuteronomy, instructs them to be grateful, and mindful, throughout the passage, of past benefits received, nor ever to murmur at the decrees of God. --- But thou shalt consider in thy heart, he says, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a Good land; a land of brooks of water, of fountains, and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; and of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil-olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. And when thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and judgments, and statutes: lest, when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built godly houses and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied: then thy heart be lifted, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the Land of Egypt, from the house of bondage: who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint. Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not; that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end: and lest thou say in thine heart my power the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God and walk after other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish (26).
For immortality is only to be consummated in union, and in the abandonment of the dual selfhood and its volition to the Divine Will. Wherefore I abhor myself, cries Jacob (when all else being deprived, he renounced himself), and repent in dust and ashes. --- Look on every one that is proud and abase him, and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together, and bind their faces in secret. --- THEN WILL I ALSO CONFESS UNTO THEE THAT THINE OWN RIGHT HAND CAN SAVE THEE (27).
That was the path and promise to blameless souls which the wise men and prophets constantly pursued, passing through every ordained discipline, ordeal rite, and humiliation, in order that they might become conformable to the Divine Perfection they desired to approach. Once delivered from the exterior bondages of sense and heterogeneous desire, from the passions and false affections of this transitory life, the final step is declared comparatively easy; as transcending by the energy of faith, from the separable selfhood, the Identity passes into universal accord. --- To go forth and to return; therefore was the agreement cut off --- so says the Kabalah --- Close thy eyes and meditate: and if thy heart fail thee, return again; since therefore it is written,
Egredere et regredere, et propterea pactum praecisum est (28).
This is the work --- this is the Hermetic method and its end: The line returns to form a circle into its’ beginning, and they join not in time, for their union is Eternity. This, reader, is the true Christian Philosopher’s Stone, which, if it be a chimera, than is the universe itself not stable, of which it has been proven to be the most exact epitome, having passed the test of experimental reason not only, but, analyzed to the last extremity of contrite consciousness, is confirmed in operation, visibility, and luminous increase, when rising in rational supremacy over sense and finite reflection, the Ethereal Hypostasis revolves in its First Cause.
1. From the Introitus Apertus of E. Philalethes, cap. 34.
2. Sendivogius’ New Light of Alchemy, treatise 11.
3.Vaughan’s Lumen de Lumine; Norton’sOPrdinal, chap. 2
4. Marrow of Alchemy, Book 3.
5. See Digby’s Lucerna Salis, cap. 8.
6. Eirenaeus’ Marrow of Alchemy, Book 3, v. 45, etc.
7. Introitus Apertus, cap. 35. De Multiplici hujus Artis.
8. Khunrath, Amph. cap. 9, etc., in fine.
9. Amph. Sap. Etern., cap. 8.
10. Oracula Chadaica; Anima, Corpus, Homo; Julian’s Orations II, in fine.
11. Iliad, bk. 11.
12. Helmont, Tumulus Pestis.
13. Idem, Chap. 1
14. Eccles. 8
15. Idem., 1
16. See D.A. Freher, Of the Analogy in the Process of the Phil. Work with the Redemption of Man through Jesus Christ.
17. Revel., Chap. 3, v. 7.
18. Wisdom of Solomon, 21
19. Isaiah 38:13
20. Revel. 2:10
21. Proverbs 8
22. Revel. 2, 3.
24. Proverbs 8
25. Palingenius, Zodiacus Vitae, Theat.Chem. 2
26. Deuteronomy 8:10
27. Job 40:14
28. Sephir Jezirah, cap. 1