Mary Anne ATWOOD
Hermetic Philosophy & Alchemy:
A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery
An Exoteric View of the Progress and Theory of Alchemy
Chapter I ~ A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more Salient Points of its Public History
Chapter II ~ Of the Theory of Transmutation in General, and of the First Matter
Chapter III ~ The Golden Treatise of Hermes Trismegistus Concerning the Physical Secret of the Philosophersí 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
Of the Philosophic or Subtle Work
Omnia in omnibus primum, omni Tertio traditit (ex omni primo secundo) omnia in omnibus primum secundum, ut inde omnia in omnibus, et omnia, catholice, agnosceret, cognosceret ac possideret. --- Enigma Khunrath, Amph. Sap.
As there are three reigns or grand distinctive distributions of the kingdoms of Nature, so we are informed that in the Philosophic Work, preceding her, there is a threefold order of legitimate operation and a relation of Causal sequences which merits especial note. For these three operations, which are in fact so many degrees through which the Spirit passes from conception to manifestation, are perplexed by the Adepts in their records, and reserved strictly under the Master Key of their Dilemma, in order that the mysteries of this most venerable science might not be discovered to the profane. And shall we, who have hitherto presumed so far on their indifference as to break the preliminary signets and unloose so may covertures of occult learning, more audacious still, approach those final cerements unannealed, and with a full discovering hand expose before all indiscriminately the Art of simple Nature, which the ancients kept so holily, and which the Wisest in modern times have deemed it unprofitable to reveal? The unworthy alone would have it so; the intelligent lovers of truth would bewail nothing more than a desecration of it in incapable hands; nor will they be offended or grudge the additional pains which a conscientious reserve may occasion them to discover, by a theoretic conduct, the ultimate Art of Life.
The tradition of the preliminary practice, as it has been delivered by each one following his own guide independently, may be regarded as it were a track in the sands easily changeable, and where we ought to conduct ourselves rather by the polar star-light than by any footsteps which are seen implanted there. Besides the confusion of the tracks which the many wayfarers have left is so great, and one finds so many different paths and willful deviations, that it is almost impossible not to be led astray from the right road, which the Star alone points out for all and each one by his proper sight beholding it. The willful confusion of the Hermetic doctrine has doubtless checked many aspirants; some in the beginning, others in the middle of their philosophic career, have been disappointed; many even with a perfect knowledge of the preliminary work, and having the true Matter in Hand also and means of purification, are said to have faltered in defect of the ultimate theory whereon to proceed; some, even when they understood this, having already approached through much labour and contemplation towards the end of their journey, having the Final Purpose also in mind, which their predecessors had dug in the midway between them and the fulfillment of their destined course. I vow sincerely to you, says Eudoxus, in that introduction of his to the Six Keys, that the practice of our Art is the most difficult thing in the world, not in regard to its operation, but in respect of the difficulties which are in it, to learn it distinctly fro the books of the philosophers. For if, on the one side, it is called with reason a recreation and play of children; on the other hand, it requires in those who search for the Truth a profound knowledge of the principles and of the operations of Nature in the Three Kinds: Thus Norton says ---
Greate neede hath he to be a clerke
That would discerne this Subtill Werke:
He must know hys first filosophie,
If he trust to come by Lakimie.
It is a great point to find out the True Matter and proper Subject of this work; even for this we must pierce through a thousand obscure veils wherewith it has been overspread: we must distinguish it by its proper idea and name, among a million of pseudonyms and abstruse appellations, whereby the Adepts have chosen to express it: we must learn to understand the properties of it, in order to judge of the possibility of the miracles alleged; and before we can into the abstruse Original of Nature, we must reflect profoundly and patiently, in order to discriminate the secret Fire of the Wise, which is the only agent granted by Art to purify and dispose Nature to a sacrifice of her last life. This, we must know, and the Divine Law that succeeds to animate her by a revolutionary course. We must learn further how to convert and congeal the new-born Quintessence or mercurial water into an incombustible fixed unguent, and, by the entire revolution of its body, to awaken the occult Light to Life.
And to effect this, moreover, adds our author of The Triumph, you must make the conversion of the Elements, the separation and the reunion of the Three Principles; you must learn how to make thereof a white Mercury and a citrine Mercury, and you must fix this Mercury and nourish it with its own blood, to the end that it may be converted into the fixed Sulphur, which is the Stone of Philosophers.
These are the fixed principles of the hermetic Art, in which there is no variableness but in their discovery, which, having already discussed, we proceed to redeem our promise of a more subtle application to practice; and this, without incurring too great a responsibility on ourselves, may we trust be intelligibly conceived from such succeeding evidence as it is expedient only to afford.
We read, in the Egyptian Fable of Isis and Osiris, that they were sister and brother, and being conjoined in marriage likewise, that their kingdom was cruelly divulsed and usurped by their brother Typhon, who in a malignant and envious spirit killed Osiris, cut his body into pieces and scattered his members to the four winds. Isis however, recollecting these, preserved them in a chest which floated on the Nilotic waters in safety until the period arrived for a restitution; when the king was thenceforth resuscitated, and came forth invulnerable from his ashes, and far more powerful than he was before, to the enjoyment of his dominions and rightful throne.
Now in this fable, already explained in part, Plutarch, with the Adepts also being witnesses, is profoundly couched not only the principiating action of Intellect but the methodical art of the same subtle Antecedent to bring itself, by begetting a supernatural offspring, into natural effect. And since it is requisite, according to the ancient Metaphysics, to consider the doctrine of Causes from its Principle, and causes are said to subsist in a fourfold respect, one of which they assert to be essence, the subsisting as a certain particular thing, and cause and principle form the First Why; but the second cause is matter and that which subsists as a subject; A Third is that whence the beginning of motion is derived; and The Fourth is a cause opposite to this, viz., That for the sake of which the inquiry subsists, and the Good which is the end of regeneration (1).
Hence, referring this Peripathetic scheme of investigation to the art of Wisdom for realization, we may conceive the whole intellectual relationship; and how the speculative Motive of the first Cause is finally produced in reversionary order from the Third, in whom it becomes efficient, by the Second into the Fourth; as it were a triplicate Being of Thought, Will, and Understanding, which, resting in the sole vision of its only begotten perfection, desires not to surpass itself; but, perceiving itself indeed to be the Final Object of its own First Cause, is good, according to the words of the Stagyrite, and the end of spiritual generation.
These, then, are the universal principles which it has sometimes been deemed expedient in practice to represent, and these are their several relations:
Primus dicatur in quo sensus dominatur.
Sensibus awquato gaudet natura Secundo.
Tertius excedit, cujus tolerantia laedit.
Destructor sensus nescit procedere Quarto.
And, as respects the operation of the these, viz., of the natural, unnatural, and the supernatural Fires, they should be quickly lighted, says the Adept (2), lest one should put out the other, or that this should stifle that: over all which the Fourth, partaking of the aerial fiery element, supervenes for the accomplishment o the work. And, as respects the Vessels, the First indeed may be considered to be opaque, the Second less so, and the Third still less so. This last containing truly Him who is to be born; and as the embryo in the mother is protected with a triple covering and sustained within until mature, even so is the metaphysical offspring said to be involved: which, by the birth of Horus in the Egyptian fable, is accurately represented, when, Typhon being vanquished, the lawful empire is resumed. --- Triuna universalis essentia, quae Jehovah appellatur et ex Uno, divina essentia, dein ex Dubus, Deo et homine. Ex Tribus, personis et una Divina Essentia, quem-admonum etiam ex Quinque tribus personis, et duabus Essentiis nimirum, divinus et simul humanus est (3).
Hence the Divine Monarchy consists, and is established; the primary principles whereof, as here announced, are in their representation familiar; but of the form of the Fourth in that Burning Fiery Furnace, we may conceive only from what is written. ---- Behold I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the Great and terrible Day of the Lord, and he shall turn the hearts of the Fathers unto the Children, and the hearts of the Children to their Fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse (4). But, say the Adepts, Natus est jam Elias Artista (5); Elias, the artist, is born already; and this is he that was appointed a forerunner, baptizing with the water unto repentance3, who has foreshown all things in his apparition to the wise, whose birth is miraculous in the hypostatic transfiguration, and prior to the Divine Light.
Whom to seeke it availeth right nought,
Till the white medicine be fully wrought.
Alsoe both medicines in their beginninge
Have one manner of vessel and workinge,
As well for the White as for the Red,
Till all quick things be made dead;
When vessels and forme of operation
Shall chaunge in matter, figure, and graduation.
But my herte quaketh, my hand in tremblinge,
When I write of this most selcouth thinge.
Hermes brought forth a true sentence and blounte,
When he said, Ignis et Azoth tibi sufficient (6).
It will be unnecessary now to remind the attentive reader of what has been before explained. Nature, indeed, provides us with the foundations of Wisdom, and materials wherewith to construct her immortal Edifice of Light; but it is the work only of a Master mason, of Grand Architects, as the Brethren have it, to erect structures in the air. The task is too onerous for inferior craftsmen. It is the part of Mind alone to represent herself in this way by her own reflective energy, to embody the ethereal Image, and chisel it out in Light. --- O blessed watery Form! That dissolveth the Elements! Now it behooves us with this watery soul to possess ourselves of a sulphurous Form, and to mingle the same with our Acetum. For when by the power of the Water the composition is dissolved, it is the Key of the Restoration. And when thou shalt pour forth thy Fire upon the Foliated Sulphur, continues the Master, the boundary of hearts (i.e., the Final Cause) does enter in above it, and is washed in the same, and the mortal matter thereof is extracted. Then is he transformed in his Tincture. Our Son the King takes his Tincture from the fire and death even, and darkness and the waters flee away. The Dragon shuns the sunbeams which dart through the crevices, our dead Son lives. The King comes forth from the Fire, and rejoices with his spouse, and the occult treasury is laid open. The Son, already vivified, is become a warrior in the Fire, of tincture super-excellent. For this Son is the treasury, bearing even (in his hand) the Philosophic Matter (7). --- Now then bring ye the gifts of salutation to the Rain; that, not being withholden, it may descend upon you; and to the dew, if it has received from you gold and silver. Open your eyes, and lift up your horns, ye that are capable to comprehend the Elect One; before whose feet all his antecedents fall away, and are consumed. Those mountains which thou hast seen, the mountain of copper, the mountain of silver, the mountain of gold, the mountain of fluid metal, and the mountain of lead, all these in the presence of the Elect One shall be like a honeycomb before the Fore; and like water descending from above upon the mountains, and shall become debilitated before his feet. All these things shall be rejected when the Elect One shall appear in the presence of the Lord of Spirits (8). ---- Behold, I will send my Messenger and he shall prepare the way before me: And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his Temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold who shall abide the day of his coming? And who shall abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a Refinerís Fire, and like fullerís soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness (9).
This was He whom the Patriarchs and Hebrew prophets looked for, and the Ethnic philosophers, in anticipation, adored; who in the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ was at last made manifest; whom of Jesus Christ was at last made manifest; whom the Apostles and early Christian Fathers, Saints, and martyrs testify of, and with understanding worshipped; even --- That which was from the Beginning, which they had heard, and seen with their eyes, which they had heard, and seen with their eyes, which they had looked upon, and their hands had handled, of the Word of Life; for the Life was made manifest, and they had seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto us that Eternal Life was made manifest, and they had seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto us that Eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them (10). And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with Water unto repentance: But He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with Fire: Whose fan is in his Hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire (11).
O mysteries truly sacred! Exclaims the Bishop of Alexandria in holy transport, O pure Light; at the Light of Torches, the veil that covers God and Heaven falls off. I am holy now that I am initiated. It is the Lord himself who is the Hierophanta. He sets his seal upon the Adepts, whom he illuminates with his beams: and whom he illuminates with his beams: and whom, as a recompense for faith, he will recommend to the eternal love of the Father. These are the orgies of my mysteries, come ye and be received (2).
Thus the Mysteries of Antiquity changed their form only to appear more resplendent when Christianity came to be the prevailing religion; when baptismal regeneration was an effectual rite, and the Eucharist a true consummation; when Faith, by humiliation under the exemplar cross of Christ, brought Him forth anew in each regenerate life, identically perfect in all things, immortal, and transcending every precedent revelation of the Light; as St Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrew, also bears witness: --- God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the Fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto whose Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who bring the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the Word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down in the right hand of the Majesty on High (13).
Meditate, therefore, says the Theosophist, and study theosophically to reduce the Ternary by the Quaternary, through the rejection of the Binary, to the simplicity of the Monad; that thy body, soul, and spirit be gathered to rest in the name of Jesus (14). Learn to unite the Principles of our Chaos to a new Life, and they will be regenerated by Water and the Spirit. These two are in all things, and each has in himself, as Trismegistus says, the seed of his own regeneration (15). Proceed then patiently but not manually. The work is performed by an invisible Artist; for there is a secret incubation of the Spirit of God upon nature; you must only see that the outward heat fails not, but with the subject itself you have no more to do than the mother with child that is in her womb. The two former principles perform all. The Spirit makes use of the water to purge and wash his body, and he will bring it at last to a celestial immortal constitution. Does any one think this impossible? Further inquires the Adept. --- Remember, that in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Quaternarius, or four elements, as some call them, were united to their eternal Unity and Ternarius. Three and Four make seven. This Sepentary is the true Sabaoth, the rest of God, into which the creature shall enter. This is the best and plainest manuduction that I can give you; in a word, Salvation is nothing else but a Transmutation (16) --- of the component principles of life in the circulation. And this is the true metempsychosis which has been the source of many errors in the common acceptancy; but which, in the Ancient Schools of Divinity, signified neither more nor less than a transmigrating of the human Identity out of this animal terrene existence through the ethereal elements of its original fundamentals of nature; but in the form alone are found to attain to that supremacy of Reason which re-enters to its First Cause; when, by a Triplicate growth of Light in the Understanding, becoming consciously allied, It emanates a Fourth Form, truthful, godlike, being the express image of its motive magically portrayed.
The True Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (17), in the Saviour was perfected; one ray of which, intrinsically permeating, is able to cleanse this leprous life of ours, and convert it to the virtue and perfect potency of its Whole.
And whosoever in any other Light or Form of Light should look for the First Cause, or for any other Final Cause in this, except the First, would seek contrary to reason, against the divine ordinance, and against himself; for nothing else is worth seeking, or can terminate in good, but will be the fruit of the Fall only, which Adam took upon himself; the mortal consequences of which are hourly expiated by our race, and which no one, unless he were insane, haply would labour to increase. The rule of Wisdom, in the verification of her Light, is absolute, and though intermediates apply themselves naturally for the generation, they are rejected in the accomplishment; as it is explained --- Non fit ad monadis simplicitatem reductio, nisi rejiciatur prius a teipso devitatio et tui abnegatio. --- For as the absolute Identification in theory is not conceived but by self-ablation and avoidance, so, practically, neither is Nature reduced to the Monadic simplicity of her Element but by rejection of her Binary conception. For if in the Duad the divine Idea were suffered immediately to bring forth, an imperfect offspring would result, and discordant by predominance of either generating extreme, as in this life is manifest; but by carrying the circulation upward through a Third principle for reprobation, it is rectified, overcome in its proper volition, and dying (if the divine rule be thenceforth followed), is raised again by reversion, and through a diligent analysis passing, as it were, from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven, it receives the strength of superiors and of inferiors, to make manifest the Flower of Intellect retrospectively to its Archetypal Source, according to the Hermetic Riddle:
The First all things in all gave the First Second all things in all, from the all in the First Second to the Third all; that he might discover, know, and possess all things universally.
And this, it would seem, is the Catholic Art of Reason investigating her First Source, which the Chaldaic oracle no less orderly pursues.
Where the Paternal Monad is?
The Monad is enlarged which generates Two,
For the Duad sits beside him and glitters with intellectual sections,
And to govern all things and to order everything not ordered.
For in the whole world shineth the Triad over which the Monad rules.
This order is the beginning of all sections:
For the mind of the Father said that all things be cut into Three --- Whose will assented; and then all things were divided.
And there appeared in it (the triad) Virtue, Wisdom, and multscient Verity;
This way floweth the form of the Triad, being pre-existent, not the First (Essence) but where they are measured.
For thou must conceive that all things serve these three Principles.
Their First Course is sacred, but in the middle another, and the third Aerial which cherisheth the Earth in Fire;
And Fountain of all Fountains,
The Matrix containing all things, hence abundantly springs forth
The generation of multi-various matter;
Whence is extracted a Prester the Flower of glowing Fire,
Flashing into the cavities of the world, for all things from thence begin to extend downwards their admirable beams (18).
Such is the recreant progress of mind, ascending and descending throughout life, for the investigation of its manifold resources and powers; where there is an exact machinery to be observed, a method which, though simple, is difficult for common sense to conceive aright --- a mainspring exquisitely tempered, an enduring pivot, wheel within wheel revolving vitally, Mercury, Sulphur, and an immortal Salt. And as steel draws the loadstone and the loadstone in like manner turns toward steel, so is it with the separated principles of Will and Understanding in their freed state. It is true, moreover, that our loadstone contains in its inmost center an abundance of that marvelous Salt, which is that menstruum in the sphere of Saturn mentioned by Eirenaeus, which can calcine gold. This center turns naturally towards the Pole where the virtue of the steel is gradually strengthened. In this Pole is the heart of the mercury, which is a true Fire, in which its Lord rests; and passing through this great sea, guided by the Light of that Polar Star which our Magnet exhibits, it arrives at its original destination. --- The Wise will rejoice, adds the Adept, but fools and the ignorant will hold it for a small things, nor yet learn Wisdom, though they should see the Central Pole extravasated and bearing the notable Sign of Omnipotence. But let the Son of Philosophy hearken to the Words of the Wise, who unanimously declare that their work may be likened to the creation of the world. --- In the Beginning God made Heaven and Earth. And the Earth was without Form and void; and Darkness was upon the Face of the Deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the Face of the Waters. And God said, Let there be Light: and there was Light. --- and these words may suffice, continues the philosopher; for the Heaven and Earth philosophical, even as agent and patient, must be united upon the throne of friendship and love, where they will thereafter reign together in everlasting honour (10).
Maria sonat breviter quod tralia tonat,
Gummis cum binis fugitivum figit in imis,
Horis in trinis vinclat fortia finis.
Maria lux roris ligam ligat in tribus horis,
Filia Plutonis consortia jungit amoris
Gaudet in assata per Tria sociata (20).
Thus exalted by a rotary circulation, as it were, from the lowest to the most perfect form of vitality --- from its beginning in voluntary indigence, through each succeeding sphere of resolute conception, the Spirit goes on to increase and multiply its hidden light outwardly, until its substance, being replenished, it is brought forth to sight. The First has it and refuses it; the Second fives it and regards it not --- And the Fourth, as the artist, applies it to the work in the furtherance, thus proving himself from first to last to be essential, and the greatest Handicraft of all; --- when the Stone, so singularly raised up by the builders each in turn rejecting each it, becomes the Head Stone of the Corner. --- This is the Lordís doing, and it is marvelous in our Eyes.
And as the Stone of the Wise is completed in three successive circulations, so likewise was the Temple of mighty Solomon built up by the joint assistance of Hiram and Queen Sheba, and wonderfully adorned with gold, and silver, and constellated beams; as in the book of Jezirah we also read --- that, with the Fiery Letters of the Law, also read --- that, with the Fiery Letters of the Law, He engraved the empty, and the void, and the obscure mind, and made, as it were, a heap of grain and a straight statue, and intersected it with joined beams (21). Which brings to mind those lines in the nineteenth book of the Odyssey, when Ulysses and Telemachus, removing the weapons out of the armory, Minerva preceded them, having a golden Lamp, with which she produced a very beautiful Light, on perceiving which, Telemachus thus immediately addresses his Father: O Father! This is certainly a most admirable thing which presents itself to my eyes. For the walls of the House, the beautiful spaces between the rafters, the fir beams, and the columns appear to rise in radiance as if on fire. Certainly some one of the gods is present who inhabit the extended heaven. But the wise Ulysses thus answered him: Be silent, repress your intellect, and do not speak. For this is the custom of the gods in Olympus (22). Homer, therefore, in common with the philosophers of his age, indicates that for the proper reception of divinity, quietude and a cessation of mental energy are becoming and necessary to the consummating knowledge of the First Cause. --- And the knowledge of it, says Trismegistus, is a most Divine Silence, and a rest of all the senses; for neither can he that understands That understand anything else, nor he that sees That see anything else, in sum move the body. For, shining steadfastly up and around the whole mind, it enlighteneth all the soul, and loosing it from the bodily senses and motions, it draweth it from the body, and changeth it wholly into the Essence of God.
We awaken from the Intellectual Intuition, says Schelling, as from a state of death --- and we awaken, by reflection, into that created personality wherein it is impossible any longer to know Him. --- The vision graven in hallowed memory is all that remains to us; for the object of human reason is the limit of its power, and the pure zero of all relative conception waits before the throne of God. --- But to our work.
The last concord is well known to Clerkes
Between the sphere of Heaven and our Subtil Werkes
Nothing in erth hath more simplicitie,
Than thí elements of our Stone woll be,
Wherefore their, being in worke if generation,
Have most obedience to constellation:
Whereof concord most kindly convenient
Is a direct and Fiery ascendant,
Being sign common for this operation,
For the multitude of their iteration:
Fortune your ascendant with his Lord alsoe,
Keeping thí aspect of shrews them froí;
And of they must let, or needly infect,
Cause them look with a triune aspect,
For the white Worke make fortunate the Moone,
For the Lord of the Fourth House likewise be it done;
For that is Thesaurum absconditum of old clerkes;
Soe of the sixth house for servants of the Werkes;
Save all them well from great impediments,
As it is in picture, or like the same intents,
Unless that your nativity pretend infection,
In contrariety of this Election,
The virtue of the over of the orbe is formall,
The virtue of the eight sphere is here intrumentall,
With her signs and figures and parts aspectual,
The planetís virtue is proper and speciall,
The virtue of the elements is here materiall,
The virtue infused resulteth of them all;
The First is like to a workmanís mind,
The Second like to his hand ye shall finde;
The Third is like a good instrument,
The remnant like a thing wrought to your Intent
Make all the premises with other well accord,
Then shall your merits make you a greate Lord.
In this wise Elixir, of whom ye make mencion,
Is engendered a thing of Second Intention (23).
I could tell thee, says Vaughan, of a first and second sublimation, of a double nativity, visible and invisible, without which the Matter is not alterable as to our final purpose. I could tell thee alsoof sulphurs simple and compounded, of three Argent vives and as many Salts, and all this would be bad news (as the schoolmen phrase it), even to the best learned in England. But I hope not by this discourse to demolish any manís castles; for why should they despair when I contribute to their building (24)?
Our magistery is Three, Two, and One ---
The Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Stone.
First, I say, in the name of the Holy Trinity,
Look that thou join in one persons Three ---
The Fixt, the Variable, and the Fugitive ---
Till they together taste death and live.
The first one is the Dragon fell,
That shall the other twaine both slay and quell;
The Sun and Moon shall lose their light,
And in mourning sable, they shall seem dight,
Three score days long, or neere thereabouts;
Then shall Phoebus appear first out,
With strange colours in all the Firmament,
Then our joy is coming and at Hand present,
Then Orient Phoebus in his hemisphere
To us full gloriously shall appear:
Thus he who can work wisely,
Shall attain unto our Maistery (25).
Which magistery is a fiery form of Light inspisate, made manifest by a triple introversion and multiplication of the hypostatic unit by the circulatory medium throughout life.
Already see the laurel branches wave!
Hark! Sounds tumultuous shake the trembling cave.
Far, ye profane, far off with beauteous feet,
Bright Phoebus comes and thunders at the gate.
See! The glad sign the Delian Palm hath given,
Sudden it bends; and hovering in the heaven,
Soft sings the Swan with melody divine.
Burst ope ye bars! Ye Gates, your Heads expand.
He comes! The God of Light, the Godís at hand.
Begin the song, and tread the sacred ground
In mystic dance symphonious to the sound.
Begin, young men! Apolloís eyes endure
None but the good, the perfect, and the pure.
Who view the god are great, but abject they
For whom he turns his favouring eyes away.
All-seeing God! In every place confessed,
We will prepare, behold thee, and be blessed.
He comes, young men! Nor silent should ye stand,
With harp or feet, when Phoebus is at hand (26).
Fit thy roof to thy God in all thou canst, continues the philosopher, and in what thou canst not he will help thee; thou must prepare thyself till thou art conformable to Him whom thou wouldest entertain, and that in every way of similitude. Thou hast three that are to receive, and there be here accordingly that give. And when thou hast set thy house in order, think not that thy guest will come without invitation.
Perpetual knockings at his doore,
Teares sullying his transparent rooms,
Sighs upon sighs, weepmore and more,
This is the way that thoumust walk, in which, if thou dost, thou shalt perceive a sudden illumination --- Eritque in te cum Lumine, Ignis; cum Igne, Ventus; cum Vento, Potestas; cum Potestas, Scientia; cum Scientia, sanae mentis integritas (27). --- And then it is requisite to believe that we have seen Him, says Plotinus, when the Soul receives a sudden Light. For the Light is with Power, and is God. --- And then it is proper to think that He is present, when, like another Divinity entering the house of some one who invokes him, he fills it with splendour. For, unless he entered, he would not illuminate it, and then the soul would be without Light, and without the possession of God (28). But when illuminated, it has That which is sought for; and the Thought and understanding are in the experience One.
Nec Sentire Deum nisi qui pars ipse Dei sit.
That was the sum of the Hermetic Mystery, and the ultimate object of the Alchemical Art to accomplish; and by such a subtle analysis and pure synthesis of vital agencies and effects, the Word of Life would seem to have been sought after by our ancestors, and experimentally found: which their neglected Scriptures everywhere testify of, and the Smaragdine Tablet yet lives summarily instructing us to reprove.
True without error, certain and most true; That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, for performing the miracles of the One Thing. And as all things were from One, by the mediation of One, so all things proceeded from this One Thing by adaptation. The Father of it is the Sun, the Mother of it is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly; the nurse thereof is the Earth. This is the father of all perfection and consummation of the whole world. The power of it is integral, if it be turned into Earth. Thou shalt separate the Earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently, with much sagacity. It ascends from earth to heaven, and again descends to earth; and receives the strength of the Superiors and of the Inferiors. So thou hast the glory of the whole world: therefore let all obscurity flee before thee. This is the strong fortitude of all fortitudes, overcoming every subtle and penetrating every solid thing. So the world was created. Hence were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the manner. Therefore am I called Thrice Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That which I have spoken is consummated concerning the operation of the Sun.
The six following Keys, delivered into the safe hand of the intelligent inquirer (since they will be useful to none else), may be acceptable; that, without involving more responsibility on ourselves, he may apply their explanatory words as he thinks fit. But we would deter all from hasty trial and avow our willful reservation of an important link in the application of these principles to practice, lest any attempting to realize without a full investigation of the methods, should fail utterly in the pursuit.
(1) See Aristotle'smetaphysics, book 1
(2) Maieri Symbola Aureae Mensae, p. 256
(3) Aquarium Sepientum in Mus. Herm., p. 112
(4) Malachi 4: 5,6
(5) Introit. Apertus, cap. 13
(6) Norton's Ordinal, cap. 5
(7) Tractatus Aureus, cap. 2
(8) Book of Enoch, 109.
(9) Malachi 3: 1-4
(10) First Epistle Gen. St. John, St Paul to the Hebrews
(11) St Matthew 3:10, etc
(12) Clemens Alexandrinus, See De Septchenes, Relig. of the Greeks, chap. 2
(13) St Paul to the Hebrews, 1:1, etc
(14) Khunrath Amp. Sap. Etern. in medio
(15) See the Divine Poemander, Sermon on the Mont of Regeneration
(16) Lumen de Lumine, p. 92
(17) St John's Gospel 1:9
(18) Chaldaic Oracles, 1
(19) See Introitus Apertus, chap. 4; Genesis, chap. 1
(20) Maria Practica, etc.; Ars Aurifera, vol. 2, p. 208
(21) Chap. 1
(22) Odyssey, book 19
(23) Norton's Ordinal, chap.6
(24) See Vaughan's Lumen de Lumine
(25) Theatrum Chemicum Brit; Conclusion of Bloomfield's Camp of Philosophy
(26) Callimachus' Hymn to Apollo, by Dodd
(27) Anima Magia Abscond., p. 27, etc.
(28) Plotinus' Select Works, Taylor, p. 453.