Mary A. ATWOOD
Hermetic Philosophy and 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 Manifestation of the First Matter, and its Information by Light.
Wisdom is poured forth like water, and glory faileth not before Him for ever. --- Book of Enoch, c. xl., v. 1.
Let us now conceive the Vital Spirit theurgically purified and freed through sacrifice of all foreign attractions, revolving about its center and having power active and passive in hypostatic union always about to generate the infinite fullness which it contains and draws; as even now we approach, carrying along with us the body of our Sphinx, subdued and contrite, to the gate of the first Adytum; where we would contemplate awhile, in the vestibule, admiring at the Tears of Isis, even that blessed Water which nature sheds divinely for the world. For not all was vaporous vision, as we have shown, or mere ideality on the internal ground; but experience there was present with power and effect in substance to bear it witness.
It was scarce day when, all alone,
I saw Hyanthe and her throne;
In fresh green damasks she was drest,
And o’er a saphir globe did rest.
This slippery sphere when I did see,
Fortune, I thought it had been thee;
But when I saw she did present
A majesty more permanent,
I thought my cares not lost, if I,
Should finish my discoverie.
Sleepy she looked to my first sight,
As if she had watched all the night.
And underneath her hand was spread
The white supporter of her head:
But at my second studied view,
I could perceive a silent dew
Steal down her cheeks; least it should stayne
Those cheeks, where only smiles should reign,
The tears streamed down for haste, and all
In chains of liquid pearl did fall.
Fair sorrows; and more dear than joys,
Which are but emptie ayres and noise"(1)
When divine Causes and human Conditions which are assimilated to them are coordinate to one and the same end, the perfection of such works overflowing returns a pure and most bright reward.
Ite profani! Fanum estfanum
Nihil ingreditur profanum.
For thought does not move, passing its own essence into feeling in vain; but mercy imparts the benefits and gifts of the most exquisite sacrifice.
Nor less instructive than elegant is the followng Prosopoiae of the Stone.
In nominee Dei viventis et vivificantis.
Terra mihi corpus, vires mihi praestitit ignis:
Alta domus quareo, sedes est semper in imo:
Et me perfundit dqui me cito deserit humor...(2)
His marvelous subsistence of the Vital Principles in their extreme separation by Art has been already noticed, and will be in the Practice more particularly hereafter. It may be sufficient for the present to observe, that great care and diligence is needed at this juncture to apply the threefold secret of the Art; so that the hypostatic principles of attraction and repulsion and circulation may be brought into a perfect equilibriate accord, the one no more acting than the other is resisting in the ethereal bond. --- Seek Three in One, and again seek One in Three, dissolve, congeal: and remember, says Khunrath, most carefully to observe the animated spirit cannot be conjoined to the body, nor, in the other hand, will the body be reunited to the spirit. Which process, however, being rightly gone through from the beginning --- the new Chaos of the Universal Nature of the of the new world will then appear to be unfolded and separated. Apply nomanual labor, but when you shall have enacted the separation, --- (motum in te, experis internum et pro gaudio, lachrymabis!) --- thou wilt surely understand that the original sin has been removed --- separated by the Fire of Divine love in the regeneration of the three principles --- body, soul and spirit. I write not fables: With thy hands thou shalt touch, and with thy eyes thou shalt see Azoth! The Universal! Which alone, with the internal and external fire in harmonious sympathy with the Olympic Fire, is sufficient for thee: by inevitable necessity, physico-chemically united for the consummation of the Philosopher’s Stone (3)
When in the last extreme of tribulation and departing life, the returning faith and desire of the Passive Spirit attracts the Soul again into herself, the first link in the chain of the magnetic series moves: then the Divine Fiat comes mercifully to bless the union, and a new hypostasis is created out of the darkness to abide: the fiery soul suffers itself again to be imprisoned, as by a lawful magic in the liquid crystal of the understanding ether; and the light which is in her then streams forth brightly rejoicing in her Paradise Regained. Then it is Lux manifeste et visibilis ad oculum, as the adept says, in which state it is first made subject to the artist.
Mars et Venus, ou plutot mars par Venus, en fait une fort noble medicine et precieuse, qui a le grain fixe solaire; et ces deux font ensemble le marriage si celebre aupres des amaters de la sagesse:pendant leur Conjonction, il s’eleve une vapeur tres spirituesuse et necessaire a un grand ouvrage: ilffaut prendre cette vapeur avec des filets bien subtils: dans le reste on trouve un vitriol bien beau, don’t on tire par des operations fort subtiles et de difficulte decouverte, un souphre solaire ou or philosophique vivant (4). --- Which subtle device of Vulcan most profoundly hidden unless the artist shall have rightly conceived either by spiritual aid or himself experimenting in a triune furnace spherically round, his labours are declared to be vain, even though working in the right material, if he cannot cause it to appear. If the horse’s strength be yet denied, in vain he will strike upon the mountain, the flinty conscience yields no chalybeate, feels no contrition, but by the fiery well-tempered steel.
Haud licet laitces haurire salubres
Cui scelerum viru mens moribunda tumet... (5)
All is sown under the cross and completed in its number --- Darkness will draw over the face of the Abyss, Night, Saturn and the Antimony of the Wise will be present, Obscurity and the Head of the Crow in the various hours of conjunction; and all the colours of the world will be apparent; also Iris, God’s messenger, and the tail of the peacock; as the rainbow through the falling drops, reflects the sunbeam in the apparent ether after the storms are overpast and the dark clouds are dispersed, the same beautiful token of reconciliation is made apparent in the Microcosmic Heaven; the fire and water are commingled, and, falling together under the cross, germinate, and the beautiful Ideal of Harmony is born of the Spirit.
In cruce sub sphera venit Sapientia vera.
This is the union supersentient, the nuptials sublime, Mentis et Universi; the Thought solitary unites itself to the non-being, or simple Understanding of its ether, and proceeds into simultaneous subsistence with exuberance of power This is the marriage, by the ancients so many times prefigured, of Peleus and Thetis, of Earth and Heaven, when the gods, attended with all their attributes, come together in divine hilarity; of Bacchus and Ariadne; of Jason with Medea, when after many trials and risk of life, he gained with her the golden fleece from Colchos. Lo! Behold I will open to thee a mystery, cries the Adept, the bridegroom crowneth the bride in the North! --- In the darkness of the North, out of the crucifixion of the cerebral life, when the sensual dominant is occultated in the Divine Fiat and subdued, there arises a Light wonderfully about the summit, which, wisely returned and multiplied according to the Divine blessing, is made substantive in life.
In Arsenic sublimed there is a way straight,
Wyth Mercury calcined, nyne tymes hys weight,
And grownd together with the Water of Myght,
Which beareth ingression of Lyfe and Light.
And anon, as thye together byne,
Alle runnyth to Water bright and schene;
Upon this fire they grow together
Till they be fast and flee no whyther:
Then feed them forth with thine own Hand,
With meat and bread, tyll they be strong,
And thou shalt have a good Stone (6)
Our golden water, says the adept, is not found in wells, nor in profundities, but in higher places, and as the inhabitants of the Canary Islands draw sweet water from the tree tops, so is ours taken from the higher parts of the world; for Mercury, being ripe, arises to her superior habitation (7). Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her; she shall give to thy head an Ornament of Grace; a Crown of Glory shall she deliver unto thee (8). Return then, O my son, reiterates the Hermetic Master, the coal being extinct in life, as I shall note to thee; and henceforth thou art a Crowned King, resting over the Fountain and drawing from thence the Auripigment, dry without moisture: now I have made the heart of the hearers hoping in thee to rejoice, even in their eyes beholding thee in anticipation of that which thou possessest. Rejoice now, therefore, O son of Art! who hast the Sun for thy Diadem and the Moon Crescent for thy Garland (9).
Ce qi a ete attire doit etre cuit si long temps d’une certaine mainere de repetition, jusqu’a ce qu’il montre les couleurs de l’arc en ciel; signe de grace et de reconciliation; et que les goutes pesantes tombent dans le fond du vase recipient; quasi comme un mercure commun distille: ce qui vous donnera un Ophtalmique et Antiepileptique merveilleux; et meme quelque chose de plus si le Seigneur vous ouvre les yeux. Cet ouvrage s’appelle Aimantique (10).
Lastly, says Khunrath, after the ashy colour, and the white, and the yellow, thou shalt behold the Stone oft eh Philosophers; our King and Lord of hosts go forth from the chamber of his glassy sepulcher, into this mundane sphere, in his glorified body, regenerate and in perfection perfected; as a shining carbuncle, most temperate in splendour; and whose parts, most subtle and most pure, are inseparably blent together in the harmonious rest of union into one (11).
It is an adopted maxim with the Adepts that they who sow in tears shall reap in joy. For he that re-enters liberated and with the prepared Light of intellectual faith, mourning, and, like another Achilles, conscious of self-sacrifice, to besiege the fortress of Self-Will in life, prevailing at length through death and every obstacle, the Divine Will favouring, is not only promoted through the whole identity, and converted to the proper virtue and perfection of its root; but there, likewise, to increase, triumph, and multiply, according to the hermaphroditic virtue of its conceived Law. So life is perfected in Wisdom, and the Will springs up in Paradise with fair golden fruits.
Corpus solutum est aqua perennis congelans Mercurium perpetua congelatione.
Never grudge, then, that thou hast destroyed thye gold, says Eirenaeus, for he that thus destroys loseth it not, but soweth good seed in good earth, from whence he shall receive it again with one hundred fold increase (12). Whereas he that saves his gold, that is to say, remains satisfied in the first fruits of his reason, loses his labour, and is deceived, like Midas, and dismayed for want of understanding and faith in the destination of Causes.
But if any one here demand, how that which is destroyed should be capable of increase, and how the newly implanted motive takes root in life?, the Apostle has best answered it; as concerning the mystery of the resurrection, he shows, by the common analogy of nature, the Law to be such. Behold, says he, that which is sown is not the body that shall be, but mere grain, as it may be of wheat or any other grain. --- The germ of all Being is indeed corrupted before it is brought forth, and seeds spring up not as seeds merely, but into a perfect semblance of their developed stock; yet it is not anything the more bettered in its kind, but the process of vital melioration is further exemplified in the fermentive art, where, by a contrition and fretting of their elementary particles, natures are transformed, and their bodies spiritualized and preserved by the assimilating must or leaven. So in man, --- there is a natural body and a spiritual body. Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. --- The Rational Light, once discovered and set in motion, actuates the Spirit, and the Spirit, in its turn penetrating, overcomes the corporeal, which is the sensual dominant, in the regeneration; and so swallows up the same, that it is glorified and transfigured, occultating the body in more luminous manifestation. --- Know ye not how a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened (13).
Solve et Coagula, reiterates the Benedictine Monk, Dissolve and Coagulate; after putrefaction succeeds generation, and that because of the incombustible sulphur that heats or thickens the coldness and crudities of the quicksilver, which suffers so much thereby, that at last it is united to the sulphur and made one body therewith. And these, viz., the fire, air and water, are contained in one vessel in their earthly vessel, i.e., in their gross body or composition; and I take them and then I leave them in one alembic, where I decoct and sublime them, without the help of hammer, tongs, or file; without coals, smoke, or fire, or bath; or the alembics of the sophisters. For I have my heavenly fire, which excites and stirs up the elemental one, according as the matter desires a more becoming agreeable Form (14). And the Light is made manifest in great darkness, viz., in the contrition or distress of the sensible nature in the conscience, where a peculiar motion is present; even then, as Jacob Boehme says, cometh the Power of Christ in the midst of such a motion. And, further, of the noble tincture arising in the light, he says --- It cometh forth from anguish into the meekness of the light and springeth forth afresh through the mortifying anguish (15), as a life having another property, where the property of the fire is a desiring, and thereby it attracteth the virtue of the Light unto itself, and maketh it an essence, viz., Water. --- Common chemistry is not without an analogy of this kind, by the condensation of light producing it into a fluid form, But herein are the two forms: one according to the source of the fire, which is red, and therein the virtue, viz., sulphur is: and the other is like a thin meekness, yet having co-essentiality, is water, which is the desiring tincture; and both of which contracting together into one, are converted into Blood. Now the original in the blood, viz., fire, which is its warmth, is life; and in the virtue of the warmth, the Thin Water of Life proceedeth; one virtue proceedeth forth from another, and the virtue doth always re-assume that which goeth forth. And this is the true Spirit which is born of the Soul, wherein is the Image of God, and the Divine Virgin of God’s wisdom consisteth. For all understanding and knowledge lieth in this Spirit; it hath the senses and the noble life, which uniteth it with God: for this Spirit is so subtle that it can enter into God, if it resigneth itself up to Him; and, casting away the cunning fire of its own soul, putteth its will into God; then it dwelleth with Him in power, and is clothed with the Divine Essentiality (16).
And this Essentiality it is which qualifies the true Adept; which sanctifies even as it qualifies, infusing true goodness into every life it has once adorned. It is this material of the Corner-Stone which links reason to Divinity, Theology to the subtle philosophy of the middle ages, and made the vulgarly contemned Art of Alchemy to be honoured and holy. --- It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; t is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven (17).
And this is that great and miraculous mystery of our Image, which it behooves us to reflect into, rather than profanely to discuss; that we may know our true selves, and what Adam, even our Father is; and what the Son; and, without error or presumption, that Holy Spirit which fabricates all things, and sustains all by the Word of his power. ---
Non poterit illa dare qui non habet: habet autem nemo, nsis qui jam cohibitis elementis…
For the soul, being in such a condition, associates with her Efficient, and he who perceives himself so to associate will have a similitude of It with himself. And if he further passes from himself as an image to the Archetype, he will then attain the end of his progression. And when falling off from the vision of God, if he again excites the virtue which is in himself and perceives himself to be perfectly adorned, he will again, says the Platonic Successor, be elevated, through virtue proceeding to Intellect and Wisdom, and afterwards to the Principle of things.
Vaughan, in his Anima Magia, has well described the Hypostatic Metamorphoses; and how the Light, striking in a rapid coruscation from the center to the circumference, depends from the solitary unit through the surrounding vapor, in a vital magnetical series; where the celestial nature, he says, differs not in substance from the aerial spirit but only in degree and complexion; and the aerial differs from the aura or material efflux of the soul in constitution only and not in nature; so that These three, being but One substantially, admit of a perfect hypostatic union, and may be carried by a certain hypostatic union, and may be carried by a certain intellectual Light into the supreme horizon, and so swallowed up of immortality. --- Behold I show you a mystery, says the Aristotle, we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (for the trumpet shall sound) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (18).
And know, says Roger Bacon, that it is impossible for you to attain this immortal essentiality, unless you become sanctified in mind and purified in soul, so as to be united to God, and to become one spirit with Him. But if you revolve these my instructions in your mind, you may obtain the knowledge of the beginning, the middle, and the end of the whole work. And you will perceive such a subtlety of Wisdom, and such a purity of matter, as shall amply replete your soul, and fill you with satisfaction. And when you shall appear thus before the Lord, He will open to you the gates of His treasure, the like of which is not to be found on earth. Behold, I show you the fear of the Lord, and the love of Him, with unfeigned obedience; nothing shall be wanting to them that fear the Lord, who are clothed with the excellency of His holiness: To whom be all praise (19).
For as in the Beginning there was said to be one only matter of all things, so in this imitative process all diversities of things are seen to proceed from and return to this only One; which is called a conversion of the elements, and a conversion of the elements in this respect is just to make active passive and passive active; the occult becoming manifest and the manifest occult in inverse order of conception. And he, says Sendivogius enigmatically, who knows how to congeal water with heat, and to join a spirit thereto, shall certainly find out a thing more precious than gold, and everything else. Let him therefore cause that the spirit be separated from the water, that it may putrefy and be like a grain. Afterwards, the faeces being cast away, let him reduce and bring back the spirit again from the deep into the water and make them be joined again, for that Conjunction will generate a branch of unlike shape to its parents (20).
In such a process it was that the Quadrature of the Circle was supernaturally demonstrated; which naturally it cannot be; and in no other way but by a transmutation of the hypostatic relations, as in a circulating medium making passive active and active passive. In the first conjunction the Spirit predominates; in the second the Soul, i.e., its Light; which two are, by adepts, called Mercury and Gold, and the activity of mercury over gold in the first place is because the formal virtue of Sol is sealed; his sulphur is imprisoned, so that he is not aware of it, does not feel or know himself, as we may say, until penetrated by the mercurial Spirit, then he sends forth his Light; to which the Mercury, in turn becoming passive, conceives and bears an offspring more perfect than either parent. And when that light is again taken and given to a proper recipient, it is made a thousand times more fit and apt to bring forth excellent and abundant fruits.
Fac ex mare et foemina circulum; inde quadrangulum; hinc triamgulum, fac circulum, et habebis lapidem philosophorum (21).
For beyond all the four precedent degrees of perfection there is made a Fifth Essence, which neuter from all, yet partaking of all in perpetuity of union, the Ethereal Quadrangle becomes a Circle of golden light in eternity; being advanced into the order of spirits permanent, which, though they have bodies, yet are not subject to those laws of gross corporeity which fetter bodies unregenerate. And therefore the philosopher’s Mercury is a system of wonders ponderous, fixed, and, as a petrification from water is, exquisitely compact; yet penetrative withal and communicative of tincture; for it can pass, as it were, in the twinkling of an eye to the very center, and, projected on the imperfect metal of any life, dissolves, drawing away the foundation into itself. Thus the author of Lucerna Salis describes the gold of the Wise to be by no means vulgar gold; but it is a certain water clear and pure, on which is borne the lightning of the Lord; and it is from thence that all things receive their life. And this is the reason, continues he, why our gold is become spiritual; by means of the spirit it passes through the Alembic, its earth remaining black, which however did not appear before, but now dissolves itself and becomes a thick water. The which desires a more noble life, to the end it may be able to rejoin itself. By reason of the thirst it has, it dissolves and is dissevered, which benefits it very much; because if it did not become water and oil, its spirit and soul could not unite and mingle with it, as it then does; and in such a manner that of them One Thing is made which rises to a consummate perfection; the parts thereof being so firmly joined together that they can never after be separated.
This then is the Conjunction in which all the mysteries of the Microcosm have their consummation --- the true circulated Form of Gold; the Conjunction, by Ripley called tetraptive, that so highly commended fountain of Pythagoras, and Divine Tetractys.
Whence all our Wisdom springs, and which contains
Perennial nature’s fountain, cause, and root (23).
Tetractys, fourfold, drawn from three heads by the obstetric hand of the physico-chemical Art and without possibility of dissolution any more; for those principles so joined together of God, man cannot any more put asunder.
There is no light but what lives in the Sun,
There is no sun but which is twice begot;
Nature and Arte the parents first begonne:
By Nature ‘twas but Nature perfects not.
Art then, what Nature left, in hand doth take,
And out of one a twofold worke doth make.
A twofold work doth make, but such a work
As doth admit Division none at all,
(See here wherein the secret, most doth lurke,)
Unless it be a mathematical.
It must be two yet make it one and one,
And you do take the way to make it none.
Lo here, the primary secret of this Arte,
Contemne it not but understand it right,
Who faileth to attain the foremost part,
Shall never know Arte’s force or Nature’s might.
Nor yet have power of one and one, so mixt,
To make by one fixt, one unfixed fixt (24).
Here again the geometric method of procedure with the Metaphysical Embryo, through its complex parts, is epigrammatically symbolized by Michael Maier.
Feomina masque unus fiant tibi circulus, ex quo
Surgat habens aequum forma quadrata latus.
Hinc Trigonum ducas, omni qui parte rotundam
In sphaeram redeat: Tum Lapis ortus erit.
Si res tanta tuae non mox venit obvia menti.
Dogma Geometrae si capis, Omne Scies (25).
He therefore who discovers the Quadrature, and on this ground is able to demonstrate it, will have a reward sufficient without the University patronage or a more laborious proof. For having resolved all sorts and ideas of things, all thoughts, passions, and actions to one and the same Principe, he will not alone have that Principle, and be able to compose and renumerate every former particular out of the same; but, according to the philosophic report, he will be percipient of the most beautiful and Universal Mystery of Nature; having before himself, as in a glass, the great Archetypal Law of Light, in which are all things causally ranged in the order in which they were originally distributed and set apart. As, in the Poemander and Book of Wisdom, we read, --- The whole world is before thee, O God! As a little grain of the balance, as a moment of the little tongue in the weights and scales, and as a drop of the dew that falleth in the morning upon the earth (26). --- Perfect in the Microcosmic Unit as in the total Deity of the Great World. For no sooner, it is said, does the Divine Light pierce to the bosom of the matter, but the pattern of the whole universe appears in those Subject Waters, as an image in a glass, conceived and divided forth in all the vastness of ideal distinction and effulgence upon that glorious metaphysical height where the Archetype shadows the intellectual spheres.
Tu cuncta superno
Ducis ab exemplo pulchrum pulcherrimus ipse
Mundum mente gerens, similique in imagine formas (27).
Tell me, ye celestial powers! How first the gods and world were made? The rivers and boundless sea with its raging surge? How the bright shining stars and the wide stretched heaven above, and all the gods that spring from them, givers of good things? First of all existed Chaos; next in order of the broad bosomed Matter; and then Love appeared, the most beautiful of the Immortals. Of Chaos sprung Erebus and dusky night, and of Night came Ether and smiling Day (28).
The theogony of Hesiod, though long esteemed a mere poetical fiction, was accepted by the ancient philosophers, who quote his language; and the Epic Cycle is said, by the Platonists, to include the true philosophic secret of the creation. And when set in comparison with the Alchemical descriptions, the above passage appears indeed to be very regular and correct; as also the continued imagery of the poet, indicative of the several estates of the Ethereal Quintessences arising one above another, called forth by the light and heat of the superincumbent mind, as posterity from a common parent. Indeed, the more closely we compare the cosmogonies of the ancients, the more consistent do they appear one with another, and less so with the commonplace imagination of things: insomuch that the learned have judged them to be copied from some one original, or that the Mosaic was the only revealed truth of all. We are not disposed to rest anything on our own assertion, but neither should we be less inclined to reverence the received Scripture, if it should prove, at any time, that those agreeing with it, were not borrowed; but all originated from the same divine source.
In the Beginning --- in that inane Identity --- from that silent dead obscurity --- when as yet nothing is fashioned in the dissolute chasm of life --- the Divine Will, then alone operating, says the Kabalistic Interpreter, produces itself into a material form and recreation. --- Behold, I deliver thee of an awful birth and progeny of the ever living god, revealed only to the favourites of Heaven and ministers of His Mysterious Will (29).
And these were a part of the lesson taught by the Memphian prophet to the young Aspirant to the priesthood, even the most hidden mysteries of God’s creation. And how did he teach? By words merely, or signs, or traditional authority? Or, if none of these can truly reach the understanding; shall we say, more probably, by passing it inwards to the evolution of its proper mystery, thence to emanate and recreate? When the initiated poet Ovid sat down to write his Fasti, he was inspired, as he declares, by that same universal deity of the two-faced Janus.
Me Chaos antiqui, nam res sum prisca, vocabant.
Adspice, quam longi temporis acta canam… (30).
When the primeval parent of Chaos, hoary, as the Egyptian figure runs, with unnumbered ages, was first moved by the breath of Erebus, she brought forth her enormous first-born Hyle, and, at the same portentuous birth, the amiable Eros, chief of the Immortals. They were no sooner come to Light than they produced an infinite offspring, various and undefined at first, but afterwards fountains of Being. And know, consecrated Youth, adds the metropolitan of Memphis, that ere this fair universe which thou beholdest appeared; ere the sun mounted on high, or the moon gave her paler light; ere the vales were stretched out below, or the mountains reared their towering heads; ere the winds began to blow, or plants had sprung forth out of the earth; while the heavens yet lay hid in the mighty mass, or ere a star had darted to its orb; the various parts of which this wondrous frame consists lay mingled and inform, brooding overwhelmed in the Abyss of Being. There it had lain for ever, if the breath of the tremendous spirit that dwells in the Darkness had not gone forth and put the lifeless mass in agitation.
Sine hunc divino semine fecit
Ille opifex rerum, mundi melioris origo:
Sive recens tellus seductaque nuper ab alto
Aethere, cognati retinebat semina coeli;
Quam satus Iapeto mistam fluvialibus undis
Finxit in effigiem moderantum cuncta deorum (31).
It was then the congenial parts began to dissever from their heterogeneous associates, and to seek a mutual embrace: Matter appeared: and inseparable from it attraction instantly began to operate. O! who can unfold or sufficiently declare the strife ineffable, the unutterable war, that attended their operation (32). --- To whom hath the root of Wisdom been revealed, or who hath known her wise counsels? Unto whom hath the knowledge of Wisdom been made manifest? And who hath understood her great Experience? There is One Wise and greatly to be feared, the Lord sitting upon his throne. He created her and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his works. She is with all flesh according to his gift, and he hath given her to them that love him (33).
And Solomon, with matchless eloquence and beauty that remains unrivalled, celebrates the revelation of that Living Light which became known to him, with the mysteries of universal creation, not by outward teaching or rational inference from effects, but by the Conscious Intuition, as he relates it, of one only might. God hath given to me, says the Wise King, a certain knowledge of the things that are, namely, to know how the world was made, and the operations of the elements. The beginning, ending, and midst of the times; the alterations and turning of the sun; and the changes of the seasons. The circuits of years and position of the stars. The natures of living creatures and the furies of wild beasts, the violence of winds and the reasonings of men; the diversities of plants and the virtues of roots. And all such things as are either secret or manifest, them I know. For Wisdom, which is the Worker of all things, taught me. In her is an understanding spirit --- holy, only begotten, manifold, subtle, lively, clear, undefiled, plain, not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good: quiet, which cannot be letted, ready to do good, kind to man, steadfast, free from care, having all power, overseeing all things, and going through all understanding, pure and most subtle spirits (34).
And such a Wisdom (shall we not believe it?) was the worthy object of all Hermetic Philosophy, and the miraculous substance of its transmutative Stone. Or what, do we ask, is the Philosopher’s Stone? The philosopher’s stone, says the mysterious adeptest, is Ruach Elohim, which moved upon the face of the waters, the firmament being in the midst, conceived and made body, truly and sensibly, in the virgin womb of the greater world, viz., that Earth which is without form and water. The Son, born into the light of the macrocosm, mean and of no account in the eyes of the vulgar, consubstantial nevertheless, and like his father the lesser world, setting aside all idea of anything individually human: universal, triune, hermaphrodite; visible, sensible to hearing, to smell, local and finite; made manifest by itself regeneratively by the obstetric hand of the Physico-Chemical Art: glorified in his once assumed body, for benefits and uses almost infinite; wonderfully salutary to the microcosm in universal triunity. The Salt of Saturn, the Universal son of Nature, has reigned, does reign, and will reign naturally and universally in all things; always and everywhere universal through its own fusibility, self-existent in nature. Hear and attend! Salt, that most ancient principle of the Stone; whose nucleus in the Decad guard in holy silence. Let him who hath understanding understand; I have spoken it --- not without weighty cause has Salt been dignified with the name of Wisdom; than which, together with the Sun, nothing is found more useful (35).
But what explanation is this?, it will be objected; a baffling about of terms, ignotum per ingotius. Truly, and thus it has been the custom of philosophers to ring the changes from Wisdom to their Stone, and from the Stone to Wisdom, through every imaginable note and echoing cadence in variation, round to the same again: but the world has become no wiser for their song. For how hardly should words avail, even the most significant, to convey a tangible idea of that which is beyond and inverse to all sensible experience; which is neither hard nor soft, not tangible nor visible, nor comprehensible by common sense, until thought, by understanding (as light by the focus of the familiar lens, producing combustion), has brought it forth into effect and flame?
Thus considering the inverse problem, analogically however, we arrive at a more familiar conception as reason assists the imagination to a solution to its own intimate mystery in life.
The centre of every Being is a spirit from the original of the world; and the separation of this is constantly enacted in generation, whence every creature is brought through experience into life and operation. And so far we stand even now in the great mystery, in the Mother of all beings; but by the corporeal, i.e., the sensual principle which is predominant in the mundane conception, the divine original is obscured and separated off from the consciousness; and the individual subsists, as a distinct self-spiration, severation, or outbirth, as it were, from that Fontal Reason whence it springs. But in the regeneration this Reason is said to be discovered, as, upon the dissolution of the natural life, it arises through the self-perceivance, with creative attributes and powers. Let us hear the testimony of Hermes concerning his own intimate experience in the divine Poemander, set forth as follows: ---
My thoughts, being once seriously busied about the things that be, and my understanding lifted up, --- all my bodily senses being entirely holden back; methought I saw once of an exceeding great stature, and infinite greatness, call me by name, and say to me, What wouldst thou hear and see? And what youldst thou understand to learn and know? Then said I, Who art thou? I am, quoth he, Poemander, the Mind of the Great Lord, the most mighty and absolute Emperor. I know what thou wouldst have, and I am always present with thee. Then, said I, I would learn the things that are, and understand the nature of them, and know God. How? Said he. I answered, that I would gladly hear. Then, said he: Have me again in thy mind, and whatsoever thou wouldst learn, I will teach thee.
When he thus said, he was changed in his Idea or Form, and straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, all things were opened to me; and I saw an infinite Light, all things were become Light, both sweet and exceeding pleasant. And I was wonderfully delighted in the beholding it. But after a little while, there was a darkness made in part, coming down obliquely, fearful and hideous, which seemed tome unto me to be changed into a certain moist nature unspeakably troubled, which yielded a smoke, as from fire; and there proceeded a voice unutterable, and very mournful, but articulate: insomuch, that it seemed to have come from the Light. Then from that Light a certain holy Word joined itself unto Nature, and out flew the pure and unmixed fire from the moist nature upward on high. It was exceedingly light, sharp, and operative withal, and the air, which was also light, followed the spirit, and mounted up with the Fire (from the earth and water created below) insomuch as it seemed to hang and depend on it; and the earth and water stayed by themselves, so mingled together, that the earth could not be seen for the water; but they were moved because of the Spiritual Word that was carried upon them.
Then said Pymander unto me, Dost thou understand this, and what it meaneth? I shall know, said I. Then said he, I am that Light, the Mind, they God, who am before that moist nature, that appeareth out of the darkness, and that bright and lightful Word from the Mind is the Son of God. How is that? quoth I. Thus, replied he, understand it. That which, in thee, seeth and heareth the Word of the Lord, and the Mind, the Father, God, differ not one from another, and the union of these is life. I thank thee: But first, said Poemander, Conceive well the Light in thy Mind, and Know It.
And when he had thus said, for a long time, we looked steadfastly one upon the other, insomuch that I trembled at his Idea or Form: But when he nodded to me, I beheld in my mind the Light that is innumerable, and the truly indefinite ornament or world, and that the fire is comprehended or contained in and by a most great Power, and constrained to keep its station.
These things I understood, seeing the Word of Poemander, and when I was mightily amazed, he said again unto me; hast thou seen that Archetypal Form, which was before the interminated and infinite beginning? But whence, quoth I, or whereof are the elements of nature made? Of the Will and Counsel of God, he answered, which taking the Word and beholding the beautiful world in the Archetype thereof, imitated it, and so made this world by the same principles and vital seeds, or soul-like production of itself. And straightway, God said to the Holy Word, increase increasingly, and multiply in multitude, all ye my creatures, and workmanships. And let him that is endued with Mind know himself to be immortal; and that the cause of death is the love of body, and let him learn all things that are of which he is made. If therefore thou learn in this way, and believe thyself to be of the Life and Light, thou shalt pass back into Life.
But tell me more, O my mind! How shall I go into Life? God saith, let the man endued with mind, mark, consider, and know himself well. Have not all men a mind? Have a heed what thou sayest, for I, the Mind, mark, consider, and know himself well. Have not all men a mind? Have a heed what thou sayest, for I, the Mind, come into men that are holy and good, and pure and merciful, and that live piously and religiously, and my presence is a help unto them; and forthwith they know all things, and lovingly, they supplicate and propitiate the Father, and blessing Him; being ordered and directed by filial affection and natural love; and before they give up their bodies to the death of them, they hate their senses, knowing their works and operations; or, rather, I, that am the Mind itself, will not suffer the works or operations which belong to the body to be finished in them; but being the Porter and Door-keeper, I shut up the entrance of evil, and cut off the thoughtful desires of filthy works. But to the foolish, and evil, and wicked, and envious, and covetous, and murderers, and profane, I am far off, giving place to the revenging Demon, which, applying unto him the sharpness of fire, tormenteth such a man sensibly, and armeth him the more to all wickedness, that he may obtain the greater punishment, that he may obtain the greater punishment; and such a one never ceaseth unfulfillable desires, and insatiable concupiscences, and always fighting in darkness; for the Demon afflicts and torments him, continually increasing the Fire upon him, continually increasing the Fire upon him more and more.
Thou hast, O Mind, said I, most excellently taught me all things, as I desired; but tell me moreover, after the return is made, what then? First of all, in the resolution of the material body of sense, this body itself is given up to alteration, and the form which it hath becometh invisible; and the idle manners are permitted and left to the Demon, and the senses of the body return into their fountains (in the circulation); being parts, and are again made up into operations; and anger and concupiscence remain lowest in the irrational life, and the rest strive upward by harmony; until, being naked of all operations, it cometh to the eighth sphere, which is Intellect, having its proper power and singing raises to the Father, with the things that are. And all they that are present rejoice and congratulate the coming of It, begin made like to Him with whim it converseth; it heareth also the powers that are above the eighth nature, singing praises to God in a certain voice that is peculiar to them, and them in order they return to the Father and to themselves.
When Poemander had thus said to me, he was mingled among the Powers, but I, giving thanks, and blessing the Father of all, rose up and being enabled by Him, and taught the nature of the Whole, and having seen the greatest Spectacle, I began to preach unto men the beauty, and fairness of piety and knowledge; and becoming a guide unto many, I sowed in them the words of Wisdom. And in myself I wrote the bounty and beneficence of Poemander, and being filled with what I most desired, I was exceedingly glad. --- For the sleep of the body was the sober watchfulness of the mind; and the shutting of my eyes the true Sight; and my silence great with child and full of good; and the pronouncing of my words the blossoms and fruits of good things. --- And thus it came to pass, and happened unto me by Poemander, the Lord of the Word, whereby I became inspired by God with the Truth. For which cause with my soul and whole strength, I give praise and blessing unto God the Father. --- Holy is God the Father of all things! Holy is God whose will is performed and accomplished by His own Powers; Holy is God that determineth to be known; and is known of his own, and those that are His! Holy art thou, that by thy Word hast established all things! Holy art thou, whom nature hath not formed! Holy art thou, that art stronger than all strength! Holy art thou, that art grater than all excellency! Holy art thou, that art better than all praise! O thou unspeakable! Unutterable! To be praised in silence. I beseech thee that I may never err from the knowledge of thee; look mercifully upon me and enable me, and enlighten with thy grace all that are in ignorance, the brothers of my kind, but thy sons. Therefore I beseech thee, and bear witness, and go into the Light and Life. Blessed art thou, I Father! Thy man would be sanctified with thee, as thou hast given him all Power (36).
To such testimony we are unable to add anything that would render the operative revelation of Intellect more obvious, or its experimental knowledge more credible to the uninitiated. They who cannot imagine will disbelieve without experience; but others there may be, at this day even, in whom the flame of thought burns broad and clear, who having within them a substantial evidence of the thing hoped for, will believe and know too, long before sensible observation shall have forced the many to a faith which, in the Intuition alone, is blessed. But if any one wish to discover the First Principle, according to the doctrine of the ancients, he must be theurgically prepared, and pass through many preliminary ordeals, corrosive tests, and fiery solutions and dissolutions refining, in order to raise himself to That which is the most united in nature, and to its Flower, and That through which it is Deity; by which it is suspended from its proper fountain, and connects and causes the Universe to have a sympathetic consent with Itself. ---And if he called them gods unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God (37). Does not all our unbelief, as the common faith, arise in ignorance? For at present there is no profound understanding of the Scriptures; nor does any look, as Agrippa says, under the Bark of the Law. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, says the Apostle, the veil shall be taken away. For the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (38). Unhappy, truly therefore he is said to be, who regards the law as a mere simple recital, or in the light of an ordinary discourse, for, if in truth it were nothing more than this, one could even be composed a this day more worthy of admiration. In order to find such mere words, observes the Kabalist, we have only to turn to the legislators of this world, who have frequently expressed themselves with more grandeur and grace. It would suffice to imitate them, and make expedient laws after their fashion. But it is not thus; each word of the Law has a meaning and cloaks a mystery entirely sublime. The story of the Law is the vestment of the Law; unhappy he, who mistakes the vestment for the Law itself. The wise attend not to the outer clothing of things, but to the body which it covers; the sages and servants of the Supreme King, those who dwell on the heights of Sinai, are occupied only about the Soul, which is the basis of all rest; which is the Law itself; so that they may be prepared at length to contemplate and know that Soul which breathes in the Law (39). Without which nothing is truly known; whose Experience is All. Moreover, says St. Paul, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our Fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ (40).
And I advise thee, my son, says the Saint Synesius, to make no account of other things; labour only for that Water which burns to blackness, dissolves and congeals. It is that which putrefies and causes germination, and therefore I advise thee that thou wholly employ thyself in the coction of this water, and demur not at the expense of time; otherwise thou shalt gain no advantage. Decoct it gently by little and little, until it have changed its false tincture into a perfect form of light; and have great care at the beginning, that thou burn not its flowers and its vivacity, and make not too much haste to come to an end of thy work (41). Shut thy vessel well that it may not breathe out, so that thou mayest bring it to some effect (42); and not that to dissolve, to calcine, to tinge, to whiten, to renew, to bathe, to wash, to coagulate, to imbibe, to decoct, to fix, to grind, to dry and to distill are all one, and signify no more than to decoct nature until such time as she be perfected. Note further, that to extract the soul, or the spirit, or the body, is nothing else than the aforesaid calcinations in regard they signify the operation of Venus. It is through the fire of the extraction of the soul that the spirit comes forth gently; understand me, the same also may be said of the extraction of the soul out of the body, and the reduction of it afterwards upon the same body; until the whole be drawn to a commixion of the four elements, and so that which is below, being like that which is above, there are made manifest two luminaries, the one fixed, the other not; whereof the fixed which is the male remains below, and the volatile remains above, moving itself perpetually, until that which is below rises upon that which is above, and all being substantiated, there then issues forth an incomparable Luminary (43).
That was the Experiment that led our Fathers into Experience, and illumination in the Divine Antecedent of all life. And if experience be truly, as it is said to be, the proper test of philosophy, then was not theirs the right and true philosophy with Christian regeneration for its most worthy end? That was the Art of Democritus commemorated by Lord Bacon in a passage before quoted, but which, for its value’s sake, we take leave to recite --- That if any skillful minister of nature shall apply force to matter, and by design torture and vex it in order to its annihilation, it, on the contrary, being brought under this necessity, changes and transforms itself into a strange variety of shapes and appearances; so that at length, running through the whole circle of transformations and completing its period, it restores itself, if the force be continued. And that method of binding, torturing, and detaining will prove the most effectual and expeditious which makes use of manacles and fetters; that is to say, lays hold of and works upon matter in the extremest degrees (44). That is, in the last exigence of life; when it is about to be born again from out the oblivion of this worked and its defilements, by attraction of the recreative Light within.
Then she is Isis, the Divine I Am, by the Greeks called Myrionymous, or the goddess with a thousand names; hereby to denote the capacity with which such a Matter is endowed of understanding, and of being converted to all or any of the Forms or degrees of specific Law, which it may please the Supreme Reason to impress upon her. As respects herself, she is Nothing; --- no one apostate particular, --- neither animal nor vegetable nor mineral apart; but, --- pre-existent to them all, --- she is the mother of all; and her birth, according to the Adepts, is singular and not without a miracle. Her very complexion is miraculous and different from every other whatsoever, and that which she brings forth by the Fire of nature lawfully conceived, is is miraculous and different from every other whatsoever, and that which she brings forth by the Fire of nature lawfully conceived, is Orus, the Philosophic Sun. And hence, and from the whole above, we may have gathered some approximating idea of the multinominal goddess appearing as she was described by the initiated, who celebrated her Mysteries in the Eleusian fane, and further, as follows, by one of the no less intimately experienced fraternity of the Rosy Cross.
I am a Goddess for beauty and extraction, famous, born out of our own proper sea, which compasseth the whole earth, and is ever restless. Out of my breast I pour forth milk and blood; boil these two till they are turned into silver and gold. O, most excellent subject! Out of which all things in the world are generated. Though at the first sight thou art poison adorned with the name of the flying eagle; thou are the First Matter: the Seed of Divine benediction, in whose body there is heat and rain; which notwithstanding are hidden from the wicked, because of thy habit and virgin vestures, which are scattered over the whole world. Thy parents are the Sun and Moon (philosophical); in thee there is water and wine, and gold also, and silver upon the earth, that mortal man may rejoice. After this manner God sends us his blessing and wisdom with rain, and the beams of the sun, to the eternal glory of his name. But consider, O man, what things God bestows upon thee by these means. Torture the Eagle till she weeps; and the Lion being weakened, bleeds to death. The blood of this Lion incorporated with the tears of the Eagle is the treasure of the whole earth. These creatures used (in their circulatory course) to devour and kill one another; but notwithstanding this their love is mutual, and they put on the property and nature of a Salamander; which, if it remains in the fire without any detriment, cures all the diseases of men and metals. After that the ancient philosophers had perfectly understood this subject they diligently sought in this mystery, for the center of the middlemost tree in the Terrestrial Paradise, entering in by five litigious gates. The first gate was the knowledge of the true matter, and here arose the first, and that a most bitter conflict. The second was the preparation by which the matter was to be qualified, that they might obtain the embers of the eagle and the blood of the lion. At this gate there is a most sharp fight, for it produceth water and blood, and the blood of the lion. At this gate there is a most sharp fight, for it produceth water and blood, and a spiritual bright body. The third gate is the fire which conduceth to the maturity of the medicine. The fourth gate is that of multiplication and augmentation in which proportions and weights are necessary. The fifth and last gate is projection. But most glorious, full, rich, and highly elevated is he who attains but to the fourth gate; for his has got an universal medicine for all diseases. This is the great character of the book of Nature, out of which her whole alphabet doth arise. The fifth gate serves only for metals. This mystery, existing from the foundation of the world and the creation of Adam, is of all others the most ancient; a knowledge which God Almighty, by his Word, breathed into nature; a miraculous power, the blessed Fire of Life; the transparent carbuncle and red gold of the Wise men, and the divine benediction of this life. But this mystery, because of the malice and wickedness of men, is given only to few; notwithstanding it lives and moves every day in the sight of the whole world, as it appears also by the following parable:
I am a poisonous dragon, present everywhere, and to be had for nothing. My water and my fire dissolve and compound; out of my body thou shall draw the green and red lion; but if thou dost not exactly know me, thou wilt with my fire destroy thy five senses. A most pernicious quick-poison comes out of my nostrils, which hath been the destruction of many. Separate, therefore, the thick from the thin artificially, unless thou dost delight in extreme poverty. I give thee faculties both male and female, and the powers both of heaven and earth. The mysteries of my art are to be performed magnanimously and with great courage, if thou wouldst have me overcome the violence of the fire, in which attempt many have lost their labour and their substance. I am the Egg of nature, known only to the Wise, such as are pious and modest, who make of me a little world. Ordained was I, by the Almighty God, for men; but though many desire me, I am given only to a few, that they may relieve the poor with my treasures, and not set their mind on gold that perisheth. I am called of the philosophers Mercury: my husband is Gold philosophical. I am the Old Dragon that is present everywhere on the face of the earth. I am father and mother, youthful and antique, weak yet powerful, life and death, visible and invisible, hard and soft, descending to the earth and ascending to the heavens, most high and most low, light and heavy. In me the order of nature is oftentimes inverted in colour, number, weight and measure. I am, within, the Light of nature; I am dark and bright: I spring from the earth and I come out of heaven; I am well known and yet a mere nothing; all colours shine in me and all metals, by the beams of the Sun; I am the carbuncle of the Sun, a most noble clarified Earth, by which thou mayest turn copper, iron, tin, and lead into most pure gold (45).
Involve we then our thoughts, if we would intrinsically conceive the wonderful Nature that is set before us; and in however small a proportion the grain of faith be naturally allotted, if it be but real, let us believe in it, and nourish and educate, that it may increase with knowledge, and finally prove its own reward in practical experience: without faith, without the ideal conception, nothing is or can be proven; for is not this, in fact, the leader of all experimental inquiry? The faith we invite is no blind credulity, but such a liberty of thought, as, bearing its own evidence independently of common observation, can glance beyond this boundary into the integral probability of Life. Such a faith, however small or insufficient of itself, will lead on, by a proper pursuit, unto the thing hoped for, and bring to evidence the occult Causality of Nature: and be it for gold, then, or science, or health, or higher purity and wisdom, that he is inquiring on this basis --- we repeat it --- the percipient right-believer will not be deceived.
The Matter of all things is One and proved simple in the experience; throughout all her various manifestations --- as agent, patient, hot, cold, dry, moist; by whatever colour, quality or species designated --- whether singular or plural in manifestation, Nature remains one and the same Unknown Identity through all; neither water, air, earth, nor gold is absolutely compact, every tyro in chemistry concludes they are no elements; but Her, the true element, they have never found; for she eludes their tests and closest vessels; all except those of her own ethereally wise construction, in which she bears her Universal Offspring, hermetically sealed through the flood and wreck of this dissolute existence to a resurrection always glorious, and immortal at last.
Aelia Laelia Crispis.
No male, nor female, nor hermaphrodite,
Nor virgin, woman, young or old,
Nor chaste, nor harlot, modest hight,
But all of them you’re told ---
Not killed by poison, famine, sword,
But each one had its share,
Not in heaven, earth, or water broad
It lies, but everywhere!
Lucius Agatho Priscus.
No husband, lover, kinsman, friend,
Rejoicing, sorrowing at life’s end.
Knows or knows not, for whom is placed
This --- what? This pyramid, so raised and graced
This grave, this sepulcher? ‘Tis neither,
‘Tis neither --- but ‘tis all and each together.
Without a body I aver,
This is in truth a sepulcher;
But notwithstanding, I proclaim
Both corpse and sepulcher the same!
All is identical --- need we repeat it? --- in the Universal Identity, and every possible assertion of it will be true, and the reverse in annihilation. All life, body, soul, and spirit --- the three hypostatic relations --- are born in it, one out of another: conjoin, die, and are mortified, one within the other; are fortified and increased, the one by the other; differing only, in respect one from the other, as agent, patient, and that universal offspring which is the All in all, without foreign admixture: as it is written, --- Thou hast disposed all things, in number, weight, and measure. --- For these are the length, and breadth, and profundity of Nature, which the Spirit in her emanative Law displays; from the point proceeding into the line, from the root into the square superficies, and from the square by multiplication into that cubic form which is the supernatural foundation of the New physical Whole.
The battle’s fought, the conquest won,
The Lyon dead revived;
The Eagle’s dead which did him slay,
And both of sense deprived.
The showers cease, the dews, which fell
For six weeks, do not rise;
The ugly toad, that did so swell,
With swelling, bursts and dies.
The Argent field with Or is stained,
With violet intermixed;
The sable blacke is not disdained
Which shows the spirit’s fixed;
The compound into atoms turned,
The seeds together blended,
The flying soul to th’ earth returned,
The soaring bird descended.
The king and queen contumulate,
And joined as one together,
That which before was two by fate
Is tyed, which none can sever.
The king is brother to his wife,
And she to him is mother;
One father is to both, whose life
Depends upon each other.
The one when dead, the other dies,
And both are laid in grave;
The coffins one in which both lies,
Each doth the other save:
Yet each the other doth destroy,
And yet both are amended;
One without th’ other hath no joy,
Both one, of one descended.
Twice forty days do come and go,
To which twice five are added;
These do produce a perfect crow,
Whose blackness cheers hearts sadded;
Twice fifteen more produce a dove,
Whose wings are bright and tender;
Twice ten more make the soul above
To need no fire defender;
For soul and body so combine,
The spirit interceding,
Tincture to give of silver fine,
The soul, the body, inleading.
Also such fixity to add
Against the flames prevailing,
Which may the chymist make full glad,
The sophister still failing,
Who seeks in fancies for to find
Our Art so much concealed,
Not duly weighing in his mind
That ‘t is a fountain sealed,
Which one thing only can unlocke;
This one things learn to know,
Lest you the same event should mock,
That these same lines do show (46).
The same tradition of the manifold powers and preservation of the One Thing runs in symbol throughout the Gentile Mythology, and the Arkite Mysteries have reference to the physical secret of the regeneration throughout the Gentile Mythology, and the Arkite Mysteries have reference to the physical secret of the regeneration throughout. The god, dead and revived, is a principal character in all their ceremonial rites --- Cadmillus amongst the Cabiri, Atys in Phrygia, Adonis in Lydia, Osiris amongst the Egyptians.
Once to by Thee, as sacred poets sing,
The heart of Bacchus, swiftly slaughtered king,
Was saved in Aether when, by fury fired,
The Titans fell against his life conspired;
And with relentless rage and thirst for gore
Their hands his members into fragments tore.
But ever watchful on thy Father’s will,
Thy power preserved him from succeeding ill,
Till from the secret counsels of his Sire,
And from the secret counsels of his Sire,
And born from Semele thro’ heavenly fire,
Great Dionysius to the world at length
Again appeared with renovated strength
Once too thy warlike axe with matchless sway
Lopped from their savage necks the heads away
Of furious beasts, and thus the pests destroyed
Which long all-seeing Hecate annoyed,
By thee benevolent, great Juno’s might
Was roused to furnish mortals with delight;
And thro’ life’s wide and various range ‘tis thine,
Each part to beautify with arts divine.
Invigorated hence, by thee we find
A demiurgic impulse in the mind;
Towers proudly raised and for protection strong,
To thee dread guardian Deity belong,
As proper symbols of th’ exalted height,
Thy series claims amidst the courts of Light (47).
All the heroes are reported to have passed though an ordeal of the same kind; --- Cadmus, Deucalion, Osiris, Bacchus, Hercules, Orpheus, etc., --- and to have gained wonderful powers and advantages thereby. All their adventures, indeed, are so many records of the difficulties and dangers that the soul must endure overcoming her household enemies within the stronghold of life. Nor are they few, but many and fearful ones that have to be encountered; for those passions, desires, vices, which t or deadened conscience are trifling and palliable, when viewed within the senses’ prison, by the revealed light of equilibriate justice, are monstrous; and, without metaphor, in their imaged atmosphere appear terrific; and in the divine language of Poemander, do force the inwardly placed man to suffer sensibly. For they do not suddenly depart, or easily, even from him in whom the exemplary virtue is revealed; but, as we may remember in the early tradition of Mysteries, the material inflictors are roused to vengeance by the decrees of fate against the rebels of her laws; nor is it any trifling exertion which the will has to make to overcome the compact which it has made to sense; but herein consists the meritorious struggle of the powers, until, by artificial force of heat and exhalation, the Light, so long hidden and enshrined in the Archaeus, comes forth as a dry splendour, surviving through all. And this is that Tincture of the Sapphiric Mine before alluded to, and that Subtendent which is found seminally equal to the whole of the parts whence it is derived. In hac aqua rosa latet hieme; in this water, when destruction has done its worst with the elements of life, the principle of all is artificially preserved, as Noah in the Ark, who, surviving, was able to renew all things out of the remnant of creation that was saved therein; that elect remnant, worthy the sacrifice that was made even of the whole corruptible humanity, that has power to reproduce all and each with tenfold perfection and increase out of itself.
Thus Wisdom is the perpetual theme of early poetry, and though unknown to modern philosophy the ground of ancient science; of theology, the true End and proper subject of Divinity. For this Wisdom is the vehicle of the Catholic Reason in Identity, the bearer and measure of the Demiurgic Fire --- that Fire which the sensual conception occultates, and so forcibly restricts, that man does not suspect it even; but in his willing thralldom, fancies himself at liberty, not knowing in truth what it is to e free as when, the integral efficience of this Identity set in motion, effects follows the voluntary Axle in a necessitous full accord. --- That was free Will, not the motiveless chimera which human fancy has been prone to coin, but the operative Almighty Magnet freed from Tartarean bondage and obscurity, and drawn upward to the glorious consciousness of the revolving Light above.
And the whole secret of this discovery, it would seem, consists in the sanquinary circulation of the Vital Spirit; in which there is a threefold Law, as before explained, which has to be revolutionized also in three period; called by the Alchemists, for certain accurate reason, Altitude, Latitude and Profundity; Altitude and Profundity, being united at their extreme poles, make Latitude; and so the wheel of Life is turned about: the Profundity is the subjective life, the water that is below; the Altitude is the objective Light, the ether that is above; and the conflux of these two is in a Calx, out of which, as from a rocky fountain, the physical Tetractys springs through the contrite experience into life, with attributes prolific and enduring fruits.
That was the Water so much magnified by the wise Adepts, the miraculous product of the spiritual poles of mind in sublime conjunction at their source; this was their Stilla roris, Lac Virginis, Elixir, Aqua Vitae, Azoth, Prima Materia Lapis et Rebis, regenerate in its once assumed body, visible, tangible, and sensible to every sense, local and finite, made manifest of itself regeneratively, by the obstetric hand of the physico-chemical art for benefits and uses almost infinite.
Fresher liquor there is none to taste,
And it will never consume nor waste;
Tho’ it will never be less in store;
Which Democrit named to his intent,
Lux umbra caresn, Water most orient;
And Hermes said, no liquor so necessary,
As was water of crude Mercury:
And this shall stand, said that noble clerke,
For the Water within our werke (48).
Another Tablet is here which Philosophy once erected to the memory of her early firend.
Blessed be thou, Experience!
Full mighty is thy Influence,
Thy wondrous works record full well,
In world of worlds where thou dost dwell;
In earth, in heave, and in hell,
That thou art the very same,
That didst from nothing all things frame;
Wherefore, now blessed be thy name!
By whose pure and simple Light,
All creaton sprung forth Bright,
Flames and floods began to roar,
And to present their hidden store
Of spirits, that sing evermore,
All glory and magnificence,
All humble thanks and reverence,
Be given to Experience!
To that most Sapient,
The High Omnipotent!
That said, Be IT, and it was done,
Our earth, our heaven, were begun;
I am, quoth she, the most in might,
In word, in life, and eke in light,
In mercy and in judgment right.
He depth is mine, and so is the Height,
The Cold, the Hot, the Moist, the Dry,
Where all in all is, there Am I.
What thing can tell when I began, or where I make an end,
Wherewith I wrought, and what I might, or what I did intend
To do, when I had done
The work I had begun?
For when my Being was alone,
One Thing I made when there was none;
A mass confused and darkly clad,
That in itself, all Nature had
To form and shape the good and bad;
And then, as time began to fall,
It pleased me the same to call,
The first Material Mother of all.
And from that lump divided I foure sundry elements,
When I commanded for toreigne in divers regiments;
In kind they did agree,
But not in qualitye.
Whose simple substance I did take,
My seat invisible to make;
And of the qualities compound,
Imade the starry sky so round,
With living bodies on the ground,
And blessed them infinitely,
And bade them grow and multiply!
One tings was employed,
Which shall not be destroyed;
It compasseth the world so round,
A matter easy to be found,
And yet most hard to come by:
A secret of secrets pardye,
That is most vile and least set by,
But it’s my love and darling,
Conceived with all living ting,
And travels to the world’s ending
A childe begetting his own Father, and bearing hys Mother,
Killing himself to give life and light to all other,
Is that I meane,
Most milde and most extreme.
Did not the world that dwelt in me
Take form and walk forth visibly;
And did not I then dwell in It,
That dwelt in me for to unite,
Three Powers in one seat to sit (49).
And these are the Three continually noted in Alchemy, the Sulphur and Mercury and Slat, the active and the passive, and the resulting experience of life. The first, I the regeneration, is the Word of God independent without all human will, miraculously conceived and confessed Divine in the new birth: the second is of the Humanity, i.e., of the selfhood, prepared and sanctified; and the result of these two in unison is the Bodily Substance of things thenceforth created. By a severance from real being, non-being, that is to say matte, s produced; and the sacrifice that is gratefully provided of the material nature in their reunion, as supplying body to the Divine, excites the Powers to participation, conceives them when they accede, and consciously unfolds them into visibility and act. And hence we may be enabled to conceive perhaps, in a measure at least, how the microcosmical tradition arose, how the human hypostatis becomes, through a self-perceivance, into universal intelligence, and of its own voluntary resignation, from the nothingness of self oblivion, to be the All, precedent to that wherein is all. For with the desire of rest and contact, there is a power of accessions, and with accession a sufficience, operative and universal.
Come and see, says the Rabbi in Zohar, Thought is the Principle of all that is; but it is as first Unknown and shut up in itself. When the Thought begins to develop itself forth, it arrives at that degree when it becomes Spirit. Arrived at this estate, it takes the name of Intelligence, and is no longer as before it was shut up in itself. The Spirit, in its turn, develops itself in the bosom of the mystery with which it was shut up in itself. He Spirit, in its turn, develops itself in the bosom of the mystery with which it is surrounded; and there proceeds a voice which is the reunion of the celestial choirs, a voice which rolls forth in distinct utterance articulate, for It comes from the Mind (50).
Thought is the Principle of all that is. Magnificent, yet impervious assertion, shall we say? Or what conceptive height may struggle to confirm it? What imagination strong or hardy enough to glance into the full faith? To Be the Understanding of that Light, of which all Nature is the Efflux, to move One with the First Mover, and Be His Will, who is at once the Antecedent and Final Cause of all? We cannot, profanely as we live without the knowledge of ourselves, attain to the Divine Idea; either to entertain or think It self-actively is impossible. For the Thought which is of God creative is the inversion of our thought; and to know Him in It is self-annihilation in the life which is eternal.
Yet if thou wilt even break the Whole, instructs Poemander, and see those things that are without the world, thou mayest. Behold how great power and swiftness thou hast! Consider that which contains all things, andunderstand that nothing is more capricious than that which is incorporeal, nothing more swift, nothing more powerful; but it is most capacious, most swift, and most strong. And judge of this by thyself, assimilating, for the like is intelligible by the like. Increase thyself into an immeasurable greatness, leaping beyond every body, and transcending time, become Eternity, and thou shalt understand God. If thou art able to believe in thyself, that nothing is impossible, but perceivest thyself to be immortal, and that thou canst understand all things, every art, every science, and the manner and custom of every living thing; become higher than all height, lower than all depth, comprehend in thyself the qualities of all the creatures; of the fire, the water, the dry, and the moist, and conceive likewise that thou canst at once be everywhere, in the sea and in the earth; Thou shalt at once understand thyself, not yet begotten, in the womb, young, old, to be dead, the things after death and all these together, as also times, places, deeds, qualities, or else thou canst not yet understand God. But if thou has shut up thy soul in the body, to abuse it; and say, I understand nothing, I can do nothing, I am afraid of the sea, I cannot climb up into heaven, I know not who I am, I cannot tell what I shall be; what hast thou to do with God? For thou canst understand none of those fair and good things, and It is the greatest evil not to know God. But to be able to know, and to will, and to hope, is the straight way and the divine way proper to the Good; and it will meet thee everywhere thereafter and everywhere be seen of thee, plain and easy, even when thou dost no longer expect or look for it. It will meet the waking, sleeping, sailing, traveling by night and by day, when thou speakest and when thou keepest silence. For there is nothing which is not the Image of God (51).
But the exemplary Logos is hidden, --- slain from the foundation in the exterminating fiat of our Identity; and the occultation of this does not take place therefore, but in two poles or principles diametrically reverse. We must pass the eternal wheel of the vicissitudes of things, from the manifest created individuality, back into the Initial germ; through all ages, all revolutions and the infinitude of soul experience, until life, as an ocean tide flowing to its extreme boundary, returns to refund its treasury again its First Source. Most mighty and surpassing magic of Reflection. --- And thou august Mother of all things, Divine Experience. --- Thought emanating Light, as by Intelligence excruciated, Life springs forth with motion, feeling itself to Be. --- In the which affirmation, in the Divine I Am, is by the Kabalah signified the Substant Unity of all that is; the fountain of Universal nature and her Exemplary Law, the source of so many miracles and magical accordances, as of every natural and supernatural increase --- where Experience is present with Power, and Effect in substance to bear them witness --- where Wisdom is poured forth like Water and Glory faileth not before Him for ever.
For visibles here are said verily to spring out of that which is invisible, as from the precedent nothingness Something is produced; and thus the recreation was seen to be a stupendous metaphysical birth out of the Infinite into Light, according to that notable saying of the Sybil in Boissard,
Verbum invisible fiet palpabile et germinabit ut Radix.
Ought we not therefore to take That which is impalpable and imperfectly conceived at first, and work faithfully, as the philosopher tells us, until it be the Divine pleasure to make it appear; to dissolve, coagulate, resolve, refine, and regulate, until reason BECOMING A BRIGHT Light in the periphery of her fiery essence remains immortal, and is the Mistress of Life?
Hic est Mercurius noster nobillissimus, et Deus nunquam creavit rem nobiliorem sub coelo praeter animam rationalem.
And here the External and Internal Worlds were seen to blend together in confluent harmony, proving and establishing each other, and leaving reason nothing more to doubt of, or the senses to desire, but a fulfillment under the Universal Law.
(1) Vaughan’s Coelum Terrae, p. 93, etc.
(2) Theatrum Chemicum, vol. 3, p. 763
(3) Khunrath, Amph. Sap. Etern., Isag. in fig. Cap. 8.
(4) Mystere de la Croix, chap. 13.
(5) Orpheus Eucharisticus Emblema LVI. --- Apodosis.
(6) Pierce, the Black Monk, on the Elixir.
(7) Mercury’s Caducean Rod, sub init.
(8) Proverbs of Solomon, iv, 8, 9.
(9) Tract. Aur., cap. 2, and Ripley Revived.
(10) Mystere de la Crois, chap. 13.
(11) Khunrath, Amph. Sap. Etern., chap. 8.
(12) Ripley Revived, pp. 108, 198.
(13) 1 Corinthians, 15: 6,7.
(14) Mehung in Vaughan’s Coelum Terrae, p. 122.
(15) And, therefore, Hermes says, that the sure quality of the golden m,atter and the nature thereof is not sweetness, etc., cap. 7.
(16) Boehme’s Turned Eye, Quest. 37.
(17) 1 Corinthians 15: 42, etc.
(18) ibid., 15: 51, etc.
(19) Rogeri Bachonis Radix Mundi, lib. 3
(20) Sendivogius, New Light, Treatise v; Khunrath, Amph. Sap., cap. 8
(21) Maieri Atalanta Fugiens, Emblema 21.
(22) Lucerna Salis,p. 39; from the Latin verse, Aurum Sapientum, etc.
(23) Iamblichus’ Life of Pythagoras, chap. 28
(24) Enigma Philosophicum, Ashmole’s Theatrum, p. 423
(25) Maier Atalanta Fugiens, Epigramma 21
(26) Chap. 11, ver. 22
(27) And this appearance of the Universal Idea in the mind is singularly corroborated in that spiritual analysis of ordinary bodies which Paracelsus and Van Helmont allude to, saying, that by separation of their parts the specific impress is to be perceived in the vessel containing the decomposed spirit, and that the whole creature may be also resuscitated from thence --- these are the words of Marcus, in his Defensio Idearum Operaticium. Quid quaesco dicerunt hi tanti philosophi, si plantam quasi momento nasci in vitreo case viderent, cum suis ad vivum coloribus, et rursum interire, et renasci, idque quoties, et quando luberet? Credo daemonum arte magica inclusum dicerent illudere sensibus humanis. Such an impress, however, whether real or fictitiously represented, would be but as a secondary vestiment or witness of that which is in the Archetypal mind creatively efficient.
(28) Hesiod, Epic Cycle, The Weeks and the Days.
(29) Blackwell’s Mythology, letter 7
(30) Ovidii Fastorum, lib. 1:104
(31) Ovid, Metam., lib. 1
(32) Blackwell’s Mythology, letter 7
(33) Ecclesiasticus 1:6-8
(34) Wisdom of Solomon 8: 9
(35) Khunrath, Amphiteatr. Sap. Etern., Isag. in fig.
(36) The Divine Poemander of Hermes Trismegistus, book 2
(37) St John’s Gospel, 10
(38) 1 Corinth. 3:15, etc.
(39) Zohar, part 3, fol. 152, verso; Frank, p. 165; Origen Homil. 7, in Levit.
(40) 1 Cor. 10:1-4
(41) Se Lumen de Lumine, p. 66. Norton’s Ordinal, cap.3
(42) Eirenaeus’s Experiments, at the end of his Ripley Revived, p. 6, etc.. Norton, etc.
(43) From Synesius’ True Book concerning the Philosopher’s Stopne, in fine.
(44) Bacon’s Wisdom of the Ancient, Fable of Proteus.
(45) As given in the Coelum Terrae of Vaughan, from the Latin original of the Fraternity.
(46) Eirenaeus’s Ripley Revived, p. 188, etc.
(47) Proclus’ Hymn to Minerva, by Taylor, in his Sallust.
(48) See Norton’s Ordinal, chap. 4.
(49) See Ashmole’s Theat., p. 336; Experience and Philosophy
(50) Part 1:246 verso; Frank. Part 2, p. 101
(51) Hermes’ Divine Peomander, book 10