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Page

Réfer. : AL2401U
Auteur : Philalethes.
Titre : The Fount of chemical Truth.
S/titre : .

Editeur : J. Elliot and Co., London.
Date éd. : 1893 .


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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 261
T H E F O U N T
OF
C H E M I C A L T R U T H .
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O UR Magistery consists of three parts: the first deals with the essential and substantial composition of our Stone; the second describes their manner of combination; the third the mode of chemical procedure. Our substances are "red ore," or matured Sulphur, and water, undigested
Mercury, or " white ore." To these a vessel is added, a
furnace, and a triple fire. In discussing their manner of combination,
we have to consider their weight and the regimen.
The weight is twofold, and so is the regimen: between them
they produce the following processes -- Calcination, Dissolution,
Separation, Conjunction, Putrefaction, Distillation, Coagulation,
Sublimation, Fixation, and Exaltation. The first two produce
the black, viscous powder, by means of the " unnatural fire," a
temperate, incomburent, and altering ignition. There is then a
further change into a mineral water. The three operations
which follow are the result of the first and third fires, namely,
natural and contra-natural, and "circulate" the substance, until
the gross is separated from the subtle, and the whole is evenly
tempered, the separated elements being then recombined,
impregnated, and putrefied.
The five last operations are the result of natural fire which increases and gets stronger from day to day, purifying the putrefied
substance of its dross, by continual ascensions and descents.
This process is therefore called distillation, volatilization,
ablution, imbibition, humectation of the earth, and is continued
until the dryness gradually thickens the substances, and, finally,
under the influence of coction or continued sublimation, induces

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262 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
fixation, the terminal point of which is exaltation, an exaltation
which is not local, from the bottom to .he surface, but qualitative,
from vileness to the highest excellence.
These operations are sometimes called regimens; but there. are only two kinds of fire, the natural and the non-natural, the
latter being employed to call out the activity of the former. Putrefaction
precedes regeneration, and is caused by the strife of the
two fires. That part of the work which is subsequent to putrefaction
and conjunction, when the Sulphur and the water have
become one, and also receive congelation, is effected by the
natural fire alone.
The substances are our body (commonly styled Lemnian earth) and our water (our true rain water). Our water is the life
of all things, and if you can by much toil obtain it, you will have
both silver and gold. It is the water of Saltpetre, and outwardly
resembles Mercury, while inwardly at its heart there burns purest
infernal fire. Do not be deceived with common quicksilver, but
gather that Mercury which the returning Sun, in the month of
March, diffuses everywhere, till the month of October, when it is
ripe.
Know that our Mercury is before the eyes of all men, though it is known to few. When it is prepared, its splendour
is most admirable; but the sight is vouchsafed to none, save the
sons of knowledge. Do not despise it, therefore, when you see
it in sordid guise; for if you do, you will never accomplish our
Magistery -- and if you can change its countenance, the transformation
will be glorious. For our water is a most pure virgin,
and is loved of many, but meets all her wooers in foul garments,
in order that she may be able to distinguish the worthy from the
unworthy. Our beautiful maiden abounds in inward hidden
graces, unlike the immodest woman who meets her lovers in
splendid garments. To those who do not despise her foul
exterior, she then appears in all her beauty, and brings them an
infinite dower of riches and health. Our Queen is pure above
measure, and her splendour like that of a celestial being -- and so
indeed she is called by the Sages, who also style her their
quintessence. Her brilliancy is such as baffles imagination, and,
if you would have any idea of it, you must see it with your own
eyes. Our water is serene, crystalline, pure, and beautiful--

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 263
though it can assume its true form only through the aid of our
Art. In that form it is our sea, our hidden fountain, from which
gold derives its birth by natural descent; yet it is also stronger
than gold, and overcomes it, wherefore gold is united to it, and
is washed in it, and the two together grow up into a strong hero,
whom neither Pope nor Emperor can buy for a price. Hence
you should, above all things, seek this water, by means of which
(with the solitary addition of a clean and perfect body) the
Stone may be prepared.
But it requires profound study to become acquainted with all the secrets of our sea, and with its ebb and flow. It took me
18 months, after I had discovered the spring of our water, to
find the method of making it well forth, because I did not know
the meaning of the fiery furnace of the Sages. When I discovered
it, indeed, the sight which I beheld richly rewarded me
for all my pains. I was then suddenly, as by a flash of
inspiration, enabled to understand all the secret words and
enigmas of the Sages. Our water is the fire which causes both
death, and, through death, a more glorious life. Whoever
discovers it has reached the autumn of his Magistery, as Nature
will then (when the pure body has been put into it) perform all
the other processes, and carry the substance onward to
perfection through all the different regimens. This water,
though one, is not simple, but compounded of two things: the
vessel and the fire of the Sages. and the bond which holds the
two together. So when we speak of our vessel, and our fire, we
mean by both expressions, our water; nor is our furnace
anything diverse or distinct from our water. There is then one
vessel, one furnace, one fire, and all these make up one water.
The fire digests, the vessel whitens and penetrates, the furnace is
the bond which comprises and encloses all, and all these three
are our Mercury. There are many kinds of fire (and of water)
in our Magistery, but all these only represent different aspects of
our Mercury.
There is only one thing in the whole world from which our Mercury can be obtained. It is like gold in essence, but different
in substance, and if you change its elements you will have what
you seek. Join heaven to earth in the fire of love, and you will
see in the middle of the firmament the bird of Hermes. Do not

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264 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
confound the natures, but separate and re-combine them, and
you will reign in honour all your life.
In the South-west there is a high mountain (very near the Sun), one of seven, and the second in height. This mountain is
of a very hot temperature (because it is not far from the Sun),
and in this mountain is enclosed a vapour or spirit, whose services
are indispensable for our work. But it does not ascend, unless
it is quickened, nor is it quickened unless you dig knee-deep on
the summit of the mountain. If you do this, a subtle exhalation
(or spirit) ascends, and is congealed by the air into drops of
beautifully limpid water -- which is our water, our fire, our vessel,
and our furnace; not common Mercury, but the hot and moist
liquid of most pure Salt, which we call Mercury, because in
comparison with the Sun, it is immature and cold. If the
Almighty had not created this Mercury, the transmutation of
metals would be impossible, because gold does not tinge unless
it be first tinged itself. Our Mercury is the beloved spouse of
gold, and changes its body into a purely spiritual substance;
gold loves it so, that for very love he dies, and is revived by his
spouse, and she is impregnated by him, and conceives, and
bears a most beautiful royal son. The whole knowledge
of our Art consists in the discovery of this our sea; any
Alchemist who is ignorant of it, is simply wasting his
money. Our sea is derived from the mountain of which I told
you above. The exhalation or white smoke which ascends
there, will accomplish our whole Magistery. There is another
secret which you should know if you wish to see your hope
fulfilled, viz., how you are to dig a hole in the mountain, as its
surface is impenetrable to ordinary tools, its dryness being such
that it has become harder than a flint. But in the places of
Saturn a small herb is found, called Saturnia, whose twigs
appear dry, but in whose roots there is abundance of juice. This
herb you should carefully take up with the roots, and carry with
you to the foot of the mountain, and, with the help of fire, bury
it beneath the mountain; its virtue will at once penetrate the
whole mountain, and soften its earth. Then you may ascend to
the summit, easily dig a hole knee deep, and pour in so much
dry and viscous water, that it penetrates to where the herb lies
buried, and makes it ascend as a fume, which carries upward

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 265
with it the spirit of the mountain. This spirit is the strength of
fire mingling with water, and dwelling in it. The spirit of
Saturnia is the whitening fume, the vapour of the mountain is
fire, and all these things are fire. Thus you obtain Saturnia, the
royal plant and mineral herb, which together with fat flesh makes
such a soup as to eclipse the richest banquets in the world.
Here is an enigmatic description of our water, which should in course of time and study, become plain to the diligent enquirer.
There is the King (gold), and the water which is the King's
Bath; our water is the vessel, inasmuch as our King is enclosed
in it, and the furnace, inasmuch as our fire is enclosed in it, and
our fire, inasmuch as the virtue or spirit of the mountain dwells
in it, and the woman, inasmuch as it receives the vapour of the
plant Saturnia; and as the dear friend of the Sun penetrates,
whitens, and softens it, and causes it to emit its sperm. Then
the fiery virtue which is in the water, begins to act on our body
wasting and mortifying it, until at length the innate heat of the
Sun is roused into activity. Our Stone is called a little world,
because it contains within itself the active and the passive, the
motor and the thing moved, the fixed and the volatile, the mature
and the crude -- which, being homogeneous, help and perfect each
other. We have already shewn that our object in adding
matured Sulphur to crude Mercury (the same thing in different
stages of development), is to shorten and accelerate the natural
process. Gold is a hot and dry body, silver a frigid and humid
one, Mercury the means of conveying tinctures. The body of
the Sun is most highly digested, that of the Moon imperfect and
immature, while Mercury is the bond by which these two contraries
are united. Join the Moon to Mercury by means of
proper heat, so that the two become one Mercury which retains
its inward fire; then the Mercury will be freed from all dross
and superfluities, and it will become transparent like the tears
we shed, though not exactly perspicuous. If you then unite this
purified Mercury to gold, in which is the Moon and fire, the hot
and dry will love the cold and humid, and they will unite on the
bed of the fire of friendship; the man will dissolve over the
woman, and the woman be coagulated over the man, till the
spirit and the body become one by commixtion. Continue the
same operation (let the heaven descend to the earth) till the

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266 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
spirit puts on the body, and both are fixed together. Then our
Stone will have obtained its royal virtue. For Mercury is the
water of all metals, and they are digested in it. When vegetables
are boiled in ordinary water, which is naturally frigid and humid,
it partakes of their qualities, and is yet separable from them, so
the pure Mercury, which is in all metals and minerals, is
perfectly separable from the dross and foreign matter which
has become mixed up with them; yet the different minerals
and metals qualify the Mercury in the same way as the
water is qualified by the vegetables cooked in it. There are
these two differences between the Mercury and the water, that
the water is not coagulated and fixed with the vegetables as our
water is with the metals; and that, while the colour of common
water is changed by anything boiled in it, Mercury retains its
own colour and fluxibility, though its essence is qualified.
Therefore the Mercury is effectual in the dissolution of the
metal, and the metal in the coagulation of the Mercury; and as,
in the dissolution, the form and colour of the metal is latent in
the form and colour of the Mercury, so, in coagulation, the form
and colour of the Mercury is hidden in the form and colour of
the metal, neither do the qualities of the metal in dissolution
prevent the fluxibility of the Mercury, nor the qualities of
Mercury in coagulation the fixity of the metal. Do you not
here observe a wonderful harmony between Mercury and the
metals? For their love is like that of mother and son, sister and
brother, male and female. Hence they are calculated mutually
to perfect each other, the water imparting to the body a spiritual
and volatile nature, while the body gives to the water a corporeal
substance The reason that the colour of Mercury is not
changed in coction by the dissolved body, is this: the earth
and water in the Mercury are homogeneous, and so well tempered
that neither can be separated from the other, and they are so
well mixed that the whole substance exhibits (together with
great fluxibility) so great a consistency as entirely to conceal the
colours -- and only if a part of the Mercury is destroyed or
marred by some deleterious chemical corrosive, are the colours
seen. The relations of Mercury in respect of earth and water
are these: in respect of water it is fluxible and liquid, in respect
of earth it moistens nothing but what is of the same essence

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 267
with it. These hints will enable you to detect any errors in your
treatment of Mercury. Some obstruct or divide its homogeneity
by unduly drying up its water; others corrupt the earth and
render it diaphanous by disproportionate mixing. Mercury is
the sperm of the metals; it contains in itself the Sulphur by
which alone it is digested (through which Nature would in course
of time have matured it into gold); nor would it be possible to
convert Mercury into gold without it. This mature Sulphur,
then, is radically mixed with the Mercury, and rapidly digests it,
while itself is putrefied by the Mercury, and is revived again, not
as common, but as spiritual, penetrative, and tinging gold, which
has power to purify imperfect metals of all their dross, and to
change them into its own nature. Thus you see that none of
the Mercury should be destroyed, or violently dealt with; all
you have to do is to add to it a mature body sprung from the
same root, and mix the two in their smallest parts, by means of
our cunning conjunction (which is performed, not by a manual,
but by a purely natural process, of which the Artist does not
even understand the cause). We must distinguish, however,
between our transmutative conjunction, and a sort of conjunction
practised by sophists which is merely a fusing together of the
two substances, and leaves each exactly `\that it was before. In
our operation the spirit of gold infuses itself into the spirit of
Mercury, and their union becomes as inseparable as that of
water mixed with water. The conjunction can take place only
by means of the Moon or an imperfect body and fire; and this
Moon is the sap of the water of life, which is hidden in Mercury,
and is stirred up by fire; it is a spirit which enters the body, and
compels it to retain its soul. We speak not of common Mercury
(which lacks the spirit and fire),but of our Mercurial water -- though
common Mercury may be made like it by the addition of that
which it lacks. Our conjunction is the grand secret of our Art;
for earth is not inseparably united to water, but the union of
water with water is indissoluble; hence our conjunction can
take place only after dissolution, which dissolution takes place
through the Moon and fire that are in the Mercury. For the
Moon penetrates and whitens, and the fire mortifies and frets,
while water combines both these properties, according to the
philosophical dictum: " The fire which I skew you, is water,"

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268 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
and, " Unless the bodies are subtilized by fire and water,
nothing can be done in our Magistery." Thus everything, from
beginning to end, is accomplished, not by sophistical operations,
but by our Mercury, which, unless it be violently impeded, is kept
to the right road by the necessity of arriving at a certain goal.
Some Alchemists fail because they put (common) gold with Mercury in a phial over the fire, and thus sow good seed in
barren earth. But gold is not the substance of our Stone in its
whole essence, nor yet Mercury. What we want for our
work of generation is the seed of gold which is profoundly
hidden in our metal. This seed must be received into its own
proper womb, and there mingle with the female seed, in order
that, being kindly fostered with heat, and fed with its proper
aliment, it may become that part of gold which is of abundant
use in our work. It is not the whole of a man that generates the
infant, but only his seed, which is rightly disposed in the proper
womb; and so only the seed of gold (and not the whole metal)
is useful for our metallic generation. Gold is the Father of our
Stone, the substance of our Stone is in gold, but gold is not the
substance of our Stone; yet there is that in gold (the sperm)
which, by right manipulation, may become our Stone. We
extract from gold, by a cunning process, that which is its most
highly matured virtue, and this is called, not common, dead, but
our living gold. The difference between common gold and our
gold, is that which exists between a Father and his seed;
common gold is dead and useless, as far as our work is
concerned, until it emits its living seed. Take the body of gold,
then, and gently extract from it its seed, and you will have the
living male seed of our Stone, which we now no longer call gold,
but ore, magnesia, lead, etc. -- because it is no longer a body, like
gold, but a chaos, or spirit, which cannot revert to its corporeal
form. Aristotle says: " The first thing you should do is to
sublime the Mercury, then you should put a pure body into the
pure Mercury." The sublimation of the Mercury which is here
referred to, is not an artificial, but a true and natural one. It is
the " first preparation of the thin substance," by which the
eclipse caused by the interposition of Earth is removed from the
Moon, enabling her to receive the light of the Sun -- which
happens when the murky sphere of Saturn (that overshadowed

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 269
the whole horizon) is removed, and Jupiter ascends the throne;
then there rises upward a mist of dazzling whiteness, whence
there is distilled upon the earth a pure, sweet, and fragrant dew,
that softens it and stirs up great winds at its centre; these winds
bear our Stone upward, where it is endowed with heavenly
virtue, and thence descending once more to its nurse, the earth,
is clothed upon with a corporeal nature, and thus receives the
strength both of things above and of things below. This living
gold is " that which is, but does not appear till it pleases the
Artist, and in the knowledge of which is the secret of all
perfection." Mercury is our field, in which the Sun rises and
sets; let the two be inseparably united on the bed of love, till
from this (regenerate) Mercury there comes forth a quickening
virtue, which is able to raise the dead. Then there will appear
the royal child, whose father is the Sun, whose mother is the
Moon. . . Besides these things, we need, of course, a furnace
of clay, a vessel of glass, and a triple fire; but we do not call
these three our vessel, our fire, or our furnace, because ordinary
sophists employ these things as well as the Sages; when we
speak of our vessel, our furnace, and our fire, the terms are to be
interpreted in accordance with the explanation which we gave
above. Of this fire a Sage might well say: " Behold, the fire,
which I will shew you, is water "; and again, " The vessel of the
Sages is their water." Another Sage says, that all our operations
take place in our humid fire, in our secret furnace, and our
hidden vessel, and thereby clearly shews that there must be a
fire, vessel, and furnace, other than those which ignorant
Alchemists possess in greater perfection and abundance than we.
Our appliances are part of our substance, and are described by
Sendivogius, for instance, as the "vessel of Nature," and the
" fire of Nature." This practice is followed by Flamellus
Artephius, Lullius, and all other Sages; and I tell you that these
three appliances are, after all, only one; for the nature of our
substance is one. Our fire is that which dissolves and heats
bodies more effectually than ordinary fire; hence it is called
ardent wine and a most strong fire, and the Sages bid us burn
our ore with our most strong fire -- words which are falsely
interpreted of an ordinary coal fire. Of this fire John Mehungus
writes: " No artificial fire can infuse so high a degree of heat as
that which comes from heaven."


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