Réfer. : AL2401L
Auteur : Basile Valentin.
Titre : The Practica, with twelve keys, and an appendix thereto,
S/titre : concerning The Great Stone of the Ancient Sages.
Editeur : J. Elliot and Co., London.
Date éd. : 1893 .
T H E G O L D E N T R I P O D,
THREE CHOICE CHEMICAL TRACTS,
(i) That of BASILIUS VALENTINUS, a Monk of the
Benedictine Order; called PRACTICA, with twelve
Keys and an Appendix.
(ii) The C R E D E M I H I, or Ordinal, of THOMAS
NORTON, an English Sage.
(iii) The TESTAMENT of a certain CREMER, Abbot of
M I C H A E L M A I E R,
DOCTOR OF MEDICINE.
I N S C R I B E D
THE MOST LEARNED AND HUMANE OF PHYSICIANS, THE
TRUEST, SINCEREST, NOBLEST, AND MOST
ACCOMPLISHED OF HIS KIND,
J O H N H A R T M A N N B E Y E R,
A RENOWNED PHYSICIAN AND COUNCILLOR OF THE IMPERIAL
FREE CITY, FRANCFORT-ON-THE-MAIN,
M I C H A E L M A Y E R .
M.D., PH.D., COUNT PALATINE, KNIGHT, AND FORMERLY
COURT PHYSICIAN TO HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY.
Being placed in the thick of the struggle between the followers
of Dogmatic and Hermetic Medicine, I thought it would
throw great and unexpected light on the subject of this controversy,
if I published in the Latin tongue the three great classical
Tracts bearing upon the matter, viz., that of the Benedictine Monk
BASILIUS VALENTINUS, and those of the two great
English Sages NORTON and CREMER. This Triad of Tracts
310 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
I have ventured to call the GOLDEN TRIPOD, and the name
suggests to me, as appropriate to our controversy, the answer
returned to the enquiring Ionians by the priestess of Delphi:
" The feud between the Meropes and the Ionians "
"will not cease until the Golden Tripod, which"
"Vulcan cast into the sea, be brought into the"
"house of the man who knows the things that"
" are, that were, and that are to come."
Thus I believe our controversy, too, may be determined, if I
golden Tripod to the most learned of modern
physicians. For, as Homer says, " A physician is worth many ordinary
men," and if I searched through the whole of Germany, nay,
Europe, I could not find a fitter person than him who is set upon
the lofty tower of world-wide celebrity, and whose skill is admired
and courted far and wide by princes and nobles. Accept, then,
this GOLDEN TRIPOD, forged by the hands of the Hermetic
Vulcan. Value it as a token of affection and esteem, as well as
because of its inward worth. I firmly trust that it will assuage
the feud between the adherents of Dogmatic and of Hermetic
Medicine, as its namesake of old did that between the Meropes
and Ionians; and that it will establish amity and concord among
physicians of both schools. In order that its beneficial influence
might be as widely spread as possible, I have set it forth in the
common language of European scholars. In conclusion, let me
pray you to love me, even as I love you -- as I also know that
Written at Francfort-on-the-Main in the month of
" P R A C T I C A,"
WITH TWELVE KEYS, AND AN APPENDIX THERETO,
T H E G R E A T S T O N E O F T H E
A N C I E N T S A G E S.
A MONK OF THE BENEDICTINE ORDER.
A N E P I G R A M
THE PRACTICA OF BASILIUS,
" Pactolus contains not such great treasures;"
" nor does gold-bearing Hebrus roll down such"
" precious things in its golden sand, as Valentine
" scatters abroad in this one book. Here is"
" greater wealth than all the riches of the Inds."
" For he bore away the golden fruit from the"
" Hesperian garden, and blessed with them fair"
" Germany's fields. He bore away the golden"
" fleece from Colchis, and gave it to us by mighty"
" toil. And when at length he sank into the"
" tomb, he left us his royal Treasure to enjoy."
" Here is something for you to admire and "
" imitate. Only seek it at the bottom of the"
" vessel, or you will wander astray. All things"
" are one, though they be described under various "
" names. Let this suffice thee; seek not many"
" utensils for thy labour. If thou knowest the"
" substance and the method, it is enough, and "
" thou knowest all."
T H E P R E F A C E
BASILIUS VALENTINUS, THE BENEDICTINE,
THE GREAT STONE OF THE
W HEN I had emptied to the dregs the cup of human
suffering, I was led to consider the wretchedness
of this world, and the fearful consequences of our
first parents' disobedience. Then I saw that there
was no hope of repentance for mankind, that they were getting
worse day by day, and that for their impenitence God's everlasting
punishment was hanging over them, and I made haste
to withdraw myself from the evil world, to bid farewell to it,
and to devote myself to the service of God.
When I had spent some years at the monastery, I found
that after I had performed my work and my daily devotions
I still had some time on my hands. This I did not wish to pass
in idleness, lest my evil thoughts should lead me into new sins;
and so I determined to use it for the study and investigation of
those natural secrets by which God has shadowed out eternal
things. So I read a great many books in our monastery written
in olden times by philosophers who had pursued the same study,
and was thereby stimulated to a more ardent desire of knowing
that which they also knew. Though I did not make much
progress at first, yet at last God granted my earnest prayer, and
opened my eyes that I might see hat others had seen
314 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
In the convent there was a brother, who was afflicted with
a severe disease of the kidneys, and to whom none of the many
physicians he had consulted had been able to give even momentary
relief. So he had committed himself to the hand of
God' and despaired of all human aid.
As I loved him, I gathered all manner of herbs, extracted
their salts, and distilled various medicines. But none of them
seemed to do him the slightest good, and after six years I found
that I had tried every possible vegetable substance, without any
It last I determined to devote myself to the study of the
powers and virtues which God has laid into metals and minerals
and the more I searched the more I found. One discovery led
to another, and, after God had permitted unto me many experiments,
I understood clearly the nature and properties, and the
secret potency, imparted by God to minerals and metals.
Among the mineral substances I found one which exhibited
many colours, and proved to be of the greatest efficacy in art.
The spiritual essence of this substance I extracted, and therewith
restored our sick brother, in a few days, to perfect health. For
the strength of this spirit was so great as to quicken the prostrate
spirit of my discased brother, who, from that day to the day of
his death, remembered me in his hourly prayers. And his prayers,
together with my own diligence, so prevailed with God, that
there was revealed to me that great secret which God ever conceals
from those who are wise in their own conceits.
Thus have I been wishing to reveal to you in this treatise, as
far as may be lawful to me, the Stone of the Ancients, that you,
too, might possess the knowledge of this highest of earthly treasures
for your health and comfort in this valley of sorrow. I write
about it, not for my own good, but for that of posterity, and
though my words be few and simple, that which they import is
of immeasurable magnitude. Ponder them well, that you also
may find the Rock which is the foundation Stone of truth, the
temporal blessing, and the eternal reward.
T H E T R A C T
BASILIUS VALENTINUS, THE BENEDICTINE,
THE GREAT STONE OF THE
I N the preface, gentle Reader, and zealous Student of this
Art, I promised to communicate to you a knowledge of
our Corner Stone, or Rock, of the process by which it is
prepared, and of the substance from which it was already
derived by those ancient Sages, to whom the secret of our Art
was first revealed by God for the health and happiness of earthly
life. Let me assure you that I fully intend to fulfil my promise,
and to be as plain with you as the rules of our Art permit, not misleading
you by sophistical deceptions, but opening up to you the
spring of all blessings even unto the fountain head. I propose
to set forth what I have to say in a few simple, straightforward
words, for I am no adept in the art of multiplying words; nor
do I think that exuberance of language tends to clearness; on
the contrary, I am convinced that it is many words that darken
Let me tell you, then, that although many are engaged in
the search after this Stone, it is nevertheless found but by very
few. For God never intended that it should become generally
known. It is rather to be regarded as a gift which He reserves
for those favoured few, who love the truth, and hate falsehood, who
study our Art earnestly by day and by night, and whose hearts
are set upon God with an unfeigned affection.
316 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Hence, if you would prepare our great and ancient Stone,
I testify unto you in all truth that you must give diligent heed to
my teaching, and before all things implore the gracious blessing
of the Creator of all things. You must also truly repent you of
all your sins, confessing the same, and firmly resolve to lead
a good and holy life. It is also necessary that you should
determine to shew your gratitude to God for His unspeakable
Gift, by succouring the poor and the distressed, and by opening your
hand and your heart to the needy. Then God will bless your
labour, and reward your search with success, and yourself with
a seat in Heaven as the fruit of your faith.
Do not despise the truthful writings of those who
possessed the Stone before us. For, after the enlightening grace
of God, it is from them that I received my knowledge. Let
your study of them be increased and repeated often, lest you
lose the thread of insight, and the lamp of understanding be
Give yourself wholly to study, and be not flighty or double-
minded. Let your mind be like a firm Rock, in which all the
various sayings of the Sages are reduced to the unity of their
common meaning. For a man who is easily influenced in
different directions is not likely to find the right path.
As our most ancient Stone is not derived from combustible
things, you should cease to seek it in substances which cannot
stand the test of fire. For this reason it is absurd to suppose
that we can make any use of vegetable substances, though the
Stone, too, is endowed with a principle of growth.
If our Stone were a vegetable substance, it would, like
other vegetables, be consumed by fire, leaving only a certain
salt. Ancient writers have, indeed, described our Stone as the
Stone. But that name was suggested to them by the
fact that it grows and increases in size, like a plant.
Know also that animals only multiply after their kind, and
within their own species. Hence our Stone can only be prepared
out of its own seed, from which it was taken in the
beginning; and hence also you will perceive that the soul of an
animal must not be the subject of this investigation. Animals
are a class by themselves; nor can anything ever be obtained
from them that is not animal in its nature. But our Stone, as it
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 317
has been bequeathed to me by the Ancients, is derived from
two things, and one thing, in which is concealed a third thing.
This is the purest truth, and a most faithful saying. For
male and female have from of old been regarded as one body,
not from any external or visible consideration, but on account
of the ardour of that mutual love which naturally draws them
together into one; and as the male and female seed jointly
represent the principle of propagation, so also the sperm of the
matter out of which our Stone is made can be sown and
increased. There are in our substance two supplementary kinds
of seed, from which our Stone may be prepared and multiplied.
If you are a true lover of our Art, you will carefully
weigh and ponder these words, lest, with other sophisticators,
you fall into the dangerous pit prepared by the common enemy
But whence are you to obtain this seed ? This question
you may most easily ans\ver by asking yourself another question.
What do you want to develop from this seed, and what use do
you wish to make of it ? There can be no doubt, then, that
it must be the root, or first substance, of metals, from which all
metals derive their origin. It is, therefore, necessary that we
should now proceed to speak of the generation of the metals.
In the beginning, when the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of the waters, and as yet all was involved in darkness,
Almighty and Eternal God, Whose beginning and wisdom are
from everlasting, by His inscrutable counsel created heaven and
earth, and all that in them is, both visible and invisible, out
of nothing. How the act of creation was accomplished I will not
attempt to explain. This is a matter which is set forth to us
in Holy Scripture, and must be apprehended by faith.
To each creature God gave its own seed, wherewith to
propagate its kind, that in this way there might always be an
increase of men and animals, plants and metals. Man was not
to be able to produce new seed
: he was only permitted to educe
new forms of life out of that which already existed. The creating
of seed God reserved to Himself. For if man could create
seed he would be equal to the Creator.
Know that our seed is produced in the following way. A
celestial influence descends from above, by the decree and
318 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
ordinance of God, and mingles with the astral properties.
When this union has taken place, the two bring forth a third,
namely, an earth-like substance, which is the principle of our
seed, of its first source, so that it can shew an ancestry, and from
which three the elements, such as water, air, and earth, take their
origin. These elements work underground in the form of fire,
and there produce what Hermes, and all who have preceded me,
call the three first principles, viz., the internal soul, the impalpable
spirit, and visible bodies, beyond which we can find no earlier
beginning of our Magistery.
In the course of time these three unite, and are changed
through the action of fire into a palpable substance, viz., quicksilver,
sulphur, and salt. If these three substances be mixed,
they are hardened and coagulated into a perfect body, which
represents the seed chosen and appointed by the Creator. This
is a most important and certain truth. If the metallic soul, the
metallic spirit, and the metallic form
of body be present, there
will also be metallic quicksilver, metallic sulphur, and metallic
salt, which together make up the perfect metallic body.
If you cannot perceive what you ought to understand
herein, you should not devote yourself to the study of philosophy.
Moreover, I tell you in few words, that you cannot obtain a
metallic body except by perfectly joining these three principles
into one. Know, also, that all animals are, like man, composed
of flesh and blood, and also possess a vitalizing spirit, but are
destitute of the rational soul which the Creator gave to man alone.
Therefore, when animals die, they perish for ever. But when
man yields up his mortal life into the hands of his Creator, his
soul does not die. It returns, and is united to the glorified body,
in which, after the Resurrection, soul and spirit dwell together
once more in eternal glory, never to be separated again throughout
Hence the rational soul of man makes him an abiding
creature, and, though his body may seem to die, yet we know
that he will live for ever. For to him death is only a process of
purification, by means of which he is freed from his sins, and
translated to another and better place. But there is no resurrection
for the brute beasts, because they have no rational soul, for which
alone our Lord and Saviour shed His blood.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 319
For though a body may be vitalized by a spirit, y et it need
not, therefore, be fixed, unless, indeed, it possess a rational soul,
that strong bond between body and spirit, which represents their
union, and resists all efforts to separate them. Where there is
no soul, there is no hope of redemption. Nothing can be perfect
or lasting without a soul. This is a profound and most important
truth, which I feel in conscience bound to make known to my
readers. Now, the spirits of metals have this property of fixedness
in a greater or less degree; they are more or less volatile m
proportion to the mutual fitness of their bodies and souls. A
metal that has the three conditions of fixedness is not affected
by fire or overcome by any other outward agent. But there is
only one metal that fulfils these conditions, namely, gold. Silver
also contains fixed mercury, and is not so quickly volatilised as
the imperfect metals, but stands the trial of fire, and yields no
food to voracious Saturn.
Amatory Venus is clothed with abundant colour, and her
whole body is one pure tincture, not unlike the red colour which
is found in the most precious of metals. But though her spirit
is of good quality, her body is leprous, and affords no permanent
substratum to the fixed tincture. Hence the soul has to share
the fate of the imperfect body, and when the body dies the soul
has to leave it. For its dwelling has been destroyed by fire, and
it is without a house wherein to abide.
Fixed salt has imparted to warlike Mars a hard, firm, and
durable body, which is evidence of the generosity of his soul; nor
can fire be said to have much power over it. And if its strength
be united to the beauty of Venus, I do not say but that a precious
and harmonious result may be obtained. For the phlegmatic or
humid quality of the Moon may be heated with the ardent blood
of Venus, and the blackness of Venus removed with the strong
salt of Mars.
You need not look for our metallic seed among the elements.
It need not be sought so far back. If you can only rectify the
Mercury, Sulphur, and Salt (understand, those of the Sages) until
the metallic spirit and body are inseparably joined together by
means of the metallic soul, you thereby firmly rivet the chain of
love, and prepare the palace for the coronation.
These things represent a liquid key, comparable to the
320 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
celestial influence, and a dry water joined to the terrestrial substance:
all which are one
thing, derived from three, and two, and
one. If you understand this, you have already attained our
Magistery. Then you must join the husband and wife together,
that each may feed upon the other's flesh and blood, and that so
they may propagate their species a thousandfold.
Though I would fain reveal this matter to you more
plainly and openly, I am prohibited from doing so by the law of
God, and by the fear of His wrath, and of eternal punishment,
lest the gift of the Most High should be abused.
If, however, you do not understand the theoretical part of
my work, perhaps the practical part will serve to enlighten you
more fully. I will therefore proceed to shew how, by the help of
God, I was enabled to prepare the Stone of the Ancients, and
for your further instruction, I will add twelve keys, in which I
give a figurative account of our Art.
Take a quantity of the best and finest gold, and separate it
into its component parts by those media which Nature vouchsafes
to those who are lovers of Art, as an anatomist dissects the
human body. Thus change your gold back into what it
was before it became gold; and thou shalt find the seed, the
beginning, the middle, and the end -- that from which our gold
and its female principle are derived, viz., the pure and subtle
spirit, the spotless soul, and the astral salt and balsam. When
these three are united, we may call them the mercurial liquid: a
water which was examined by Mercury, found by him to be
pure and spotless, and therefore espoused by him as his wife.
Of the two was born an incombustible oil, for Mercury became
so proud that he hardly knew himself. He put forth eagle
feathers, and devoured the slippery tail of the Dragon, and
challenged Mars to battle.
Then Mars summoned his horsemen, and bade them enclose
Mercury in prison under the ward of Vulcan, until he should be
liberated by one of the female sex.
When this became known, the other Planets assembled
and held a deliberation on the question, what would be the
best and wisest course to adopt. When they were met
together, Saturn first came forward, and delivered himself as
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 321
" I, Saturn, the greatest of the planets in the firmament,
declare here before you all, that I am the meanest and most
unprofitable of all that are here present, that my body is weak,
corruptible, and of a swarthy hue, but that, nevertheless, it is I
that try you all. For having nothing that is fixed about me,
I carry away with me all that is of a kindred nature. My
wretchedness is entirely caused by that fickle and inconstant
Mercury, by his careless and neglectful conduct. Therefore, I
pray you, let us be avenged on him, shut him up in prison, and
keep him there till he dies and is decomposed, nay, until not a
drop of his blood is to be seen."
Then yellow Jupiter stepped forward, bent his knees, inclined
his sceptre, and with great authority bade them carry out
the demand of Saturn. He added that he would punish every-
one who did not aid the execution of this sentence.
Then Mars presented himself, with sword drawn -- a sword
that shone with many colours, and gave out a beautiful and
unwonted splendour. This sword he gave to the warder Vulcan,
and bade him slay Mercury, and burn him, together with his
bones, to ashes. This Vulcan consented to do.
While he was executing his office, there appeared a beautiful
lady in a long, silver robe, intertissued with many waters, who
was immediately recognised as the Moon, the wife of the Sun.
She fell on her knees, and with outspread hands, and flowing
tears, besought them to liberate her husband -- the Sun -- from
the prison in which, through the crafty wiles of Mercury, he was
being detained by the Planets. But Vulcan refused to listen to
her request; nor was he softened by the moving prayers of Lady
Venus, who appeared in a crimson robe, intertissued with threads
of green, and charmed all by the beauty of her countenance and
the fragrance of the flowers which she bore in her hand. She
interceded with Vulcan, the Judge, in the Chaldee tongue, and
reminded him that a woman was to effect the deliverance of the
prisoner. But even to her pleading he turned a deaf ear.
While they were still speaking the heaven was opened, and
there came forth a mighty animal, with many thousands of young
ones, which drove the warder before it, and opening its mouth
wide, swallowed Venus, its fair helper, at the same time exclaiming
with a loud voice: " I am born of woman, woman has
322 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
propagated my seed, and therewith filled the earth. Her soul is
devoted to mine, and therefore I must be nourished with her
blood." When the animal had said these words with a loud
voice, it hastened into a certain chamber, and shut the door
behind it; whither its voracious brood followed, drinking of the
aforesaid incombustible oil, which they digested with the greatest
ease, and thereby became even more numerous than they had
been before. This they continued to do until they filled the
Then the learned men of that country were gathered
together, and strove to discover the true interpretation of all they
had seen. But they were unable to agree until there came forward
a man of venerable age, with snowy locks and silvery
beard, and arrayed in a flowing purple robe. On his head he
wore a crown set with brilliant carbuncles. His loins were
girded with the girdle of life. His feet were bare, and his words
penetrated to the depth of the human soul. He mounted the
tribune, and bade the assembly listen to him in silence, since he
was sent from above to explain to them the significance of what
they had seen.
When perfect silence prevailed, he delivered himself as follows
"Awake, O man, and behold the light, lest the darkness
deceive thee ! The Gods revealed to me this matter in a profound
sleep. Happy is the man who knows the great works of the
Divine power. Blessed is he whose eyes are opened to behold
light where before they saw darkness.
" Two Stars are given by the Gods to man to lead him to
great wisdom. Gaze steadily upon them, follow their lights, and
you will find in them the secret of knowledge.
" The bird Phoenix, from the south, plucks out the heart of
the mighty beast from the east. Give the animal from the east
wings, that it may be on an equality with the bird from the
south For the animal from the east must be deprived of its
lion's skin, and lose its wings. Then it must plunge in the salt
water of the vast ocean, and emerge thence in renovated
beauty. Plunge thy volatile spirits in a deep spring whose
waters never fail, that they may become like their mother, who
is hidden therein, and born of three.
" Hungary is my native land, the sky and the stars are my
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 325
habitation, the earth is my spouse. Though T must die and be
buried, yet Vulcan causes me to be born anew. Therefore, Hungary
is my native land, and my mother encloses the whole world."
When all that were present had received these his sayings,
he thus continued:
" Cause that which is above to be below; that which is
visible, to be invisible; and that which is palpable, to become
impalpable. Again, let that which is below become that which is
above, let the invisible become visible, and the impalpable,
palpable. Here you see the perfection of our Art, without any
defect, or diminution. But that in which death and life,
destruction and resurrection dwell, is a round sphere, with
which the goddess of fortune drives her chariot, and imparts
the gift of wisdom to men of God. Its proper name here upon
earth, and for the human understanding, is 'All-in-All.'
" Let him who would know what this 'All-in-All' is, give the
earth great wings, and make it fly upward through the air to the
heavenly regions. Then singe its wings with fierce heat, and
make it fall into the Red Sea, and there be drowned. Then dry
up the water with fire and air till the earth reappears, and you
will have 'All-in-All.'
" If you cannot find it in this way, look around upon the
things that are in the world. Then you will find the ' All-in-All,'
which is the attracting force of all metals and minerals derived
from salt and sulphur, and twice born of Mercury. More I may
not say about 'All-in-All,' since all is comprehended in all.
" My friends, blessed are ye if, by listening to the words of
the wise, ye can find this great Stone, which has power to cure
leprous and imperfect metallic bodies and to regenerate them;
to preserve men in health, and procure for them a long life --
as it has hitherto kept the vital fire burning within me so long
that I am weary of life, and yearn to die.
" For His wisdom and mercy, and for the gracious Gift which
He has bestowed upon me so long ago, I am bound to render
God thanks, now and evermore. Amen."
When the old man had thus spoken, he vanished from
But all who had heard him went each man to his house,
and meditated on his words by day and by night.
324 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
T H E T W E L V E K E Y S
BASILIUS VALENTINUS, THE BENEDICTINE,
with which we may open
THE DOORS OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE
MOST ANCIENT STONE,
THE MOST SECRET FOUNTAIN OF HEALTH.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 325
Let my friend know that no impure or spotted things are
useful for our purpose. For there is nothing in their leprous
nature capable of advancing the interests of our Art. There is
much more likelihood of that which is in itself good being spoiled
by that which is impure. Everything that is obtained from the
mines has its value, unless, indeed, it is adulterated. Adulteration,
however, spoils its goodness and its efficacy.
As the physician purges and cleanses the inward parts of
the body, and removes all unhealthy matter by means of his
medicines, so our metallic substances must be purified and refined
of all foreign matter, in order to ensure the success of our task.
Therefore, our Masters require a pure, immaculate body, that is
untainted with any foreign admixture, which admixture is the
leprosy of our metals.
Let the diadem of the King be of pure gold, and let the
Queen that is united to him in wedlock be chaste and immaculate.
If you would operate by means of our bodies, take a fierce grey
wolf, which, though on account of its name it be subject to the sway
of warlike Mars, is by birth the offspring of ancient Saturn, and
is found in the valleys and mountains of the world, where he roams
about savage with hunger. Cast to him the body of the King,
and when he has devoured it, burn him entirely to ashes in a
great fire. By this process the King will be liberated; and when
it has been performed thrice the Lion has overcome the wolf, and
will find nothing more to devour in him. Thus our Body has
been rendered fit for the first stage of our work.
Know that this is the only right and legitimate way of purifying
our substance: for the Lion purifies himself with the blood
of the wolf, and the tincture of its blood agrees most wonderfully
with the tincture of the Lion, seeing that the two liquids are
closely akin to each other. When the Lion's hunger is appeased,
his spirit becomes more powerful than before, and his eyes glitter
like the Sun. His internal essence is now of inestimable value
for the removing of all defects, and the healing of all diseases.
He is pursued by the ten lepers, who desire to drink his blood;
and all that are tormented with any kind of sickness are refreshed
with this blood.
For whoever drinks of this golden fountain, experiences a
renovation of his whole nature, a vanishing of all unhealthy
326 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
matter, a fresh supply of blood, a strengthening of the heart and
of all the vitals, and a permanent bracing of every limb. For it
opens all the pores, and through them bears away all that prevents
the perfect health of the body, but allows all that is beneficial
to remain therein unmolested.
But let my friend be scrupulously careful to preserve the
fountain of life limpid and clear. If any strange water be mixed
with it, it is spoiled, and becomes positively injurious. If it still
retain any of the solvent which has been used for its dissolution,
you must carefully purge it off. For no corrosive can be of the
least use for the prevention of internal diseases.
When a tree is found to bear sour and unwholesome fruit
its branches must be cut off, and scions of better trees grafted
upon it. The new branches thereupon become organically united
to the trunk; but though nourished with its sap, they thenceforward
produce good and pleasant fruit.
The King travels through six regions in the heavenly firmament,
and in the seventh he fixes his abode. There the royal
palace is adorned with golden tapestry. If you understand my
meaning, this Key will open the first lock, and push back the
first bolt; but if you do not' no spectacles or natural eyesight
will enable you to understand what follows. But Lucius Papirius
has instructed me not to say any more about this Key.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 327
In the houses of the great are found various kinds of drink,
of which scarcely two are exactly like each other in odour,
colour, or taste. For they are prepared in a great variety of
different ways. Nevertheless they are all drunk, and each is
designed for its own special use.
When the Sun gives out his rays, and sheds them abroad
upon the clouds, it is commonly said that he is attracting water,
and if he do it frequently, and thereby cause rain, it is called a
If it be intended to build a palace, the services of many
different craftsmen must be employed, and a great variety of
materials is required. Otherwise the palace would not be worthy
the name. It is useless to use wood where stone is necessary.
The daily ebb and flow of the sea, which are caused by the
sympathetic influence of heavenly bodies, impart great wealth
and blessing to the earth. For whenever the water comes
rolling back, it brings a blessing with it.
328 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
A bride, when she is to be brought forth to be married, is
gloriously adorned in a great variety of precious garments,
which, by enhancing her beauty, render her pleasant in the eyes
of the bridegroom. But the rites of the bridal night she
performs without any clothing but that which she was arrayed
withal at the moment of her birth.
In the same way our bridal pair, Apollo and Diana, are
arrayed in splendid attire, and their heads and bodies are
washed with various kinds of water, some strong, some weak,
but not one of them exactly like another, and each designed for
its own special purpose. Know that when the moisture of the
earth ascends in the form of a vapour, it is condensed in the
upper regions, and precipitated to the earth by its own weight.
Thus the earth regains the moisture of which it had been
deprived, and receives strength to put forth buds and herbs.
In the same way you must repeatedly distil the water which you
have extracted from the earth, and then again restore it to your
earth, as the water in the Strait of Euripus frequently leaves the
shore, and then covers it again until it arrives at a certain
When thus the palace has been constructed by the hands of
many craftsmen, and the sea of glass has absolved its course, and
filled the palace with good things, it is ready for the King to
enter, and take his seat upon the throne.
But you should notice that the King and his spouse must be
quite naked when they are joined together. They must be
stripped of all their glorious apparel, and must lie down together
in the same state of nakedness in which they were born, that
their seed may not be spoiled by being mixed with any foreign
Let me tell you, in conclusion, that the bath in which the
bridegroom is placed, must consist of two hostile kinds of
matter, that purge and rectify each other by means of a continued
struggle. For it is not good for the Eagle to build her
nest on the summit of the Alps, because her young ones are
thus in great danger of being frozen to death by the intense cold
that prevails there.
But if you add to the Eagle the icy Dragon that has long
had its habitation upon the rocks, and has crawled forth from
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 329
the caverns of the earth, and place both over the fire, it will elicit
from the icy Dragon a fiery spirit, which, by means of its great
heat, will consume the wings of the Eagle, and prepare a perspiring
bath of so extraordinary a degree of heat that the snow
will melt upon the summit of the mountains, and become a water,
with which the invigorating mineral bath may be prepared, and
fortune, health, life, and strength restored to the King.
By means of water fire may be extinguished, and utterly
quenched. If much water be poured upon a little fire, the fire
is overcome, and compelled to yield up the victory to the water.
In the same way our fiery sulphur must be overcome by means
of our prepared water. But, after the water has vanished, the
fiery life of our sulphurous vapour must triumph, and again
obtain the victory. But no such triumph can take place unless
the King imparts great strength and potency to his water, and
tinges it with his own colour, that thereby he may be consumed
330 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
and become invisible, and then again recover his visible form,
with a diminution of his simple essence, and a development of
A painter can set yellow upon white, and red or crimson
upon yellow; for, though all these colours are present, yet the
latter prevails on account of its greater intensity. When you
have accomplished the same thing in our Art, you have before
your eyes the light of wisdom, which shines in the darkness,
although it does not burn. For our sulphur does not burn, but
nevertheless its brilliancy is seen far and near. Nor does it
colour anything until it has been prepared, and dyed with its
own colour, which it then imparts to all weak and imperfect
metals. This sulphur, however, cannot impart this colour until
it have first by persevering labour been prevailed upon to abjure
its original colour. For the weaker does not overcome the
stronger, but has to yield the victory to it. The gist of the
whole matter lies in the fact that the small and weak cannot aid
that which is itself small and weak, and a combustible substance
cannot shield another substance from combustion. That which
is to protect another substance against combustion must itself
be safe from danger. The latter must be stronger than the
former, that is to say, it must itself be essentially incombustible.
He, then, who would prepare the incombustible sulphur of the
Sages, must look for our sulphur in a substance in which it is
incombustible -- which can only be after its body has been
absorbed by the salt sea, and again rejected by it. Then it
must be so exalted as to shine more brightly than all the stars
of heaven, and in its essence it must have an abundance of blood,
like the Pelican, which wounds its own breast, and, without any
diminution of its strength, nourishes and rears up many young
ones with its blood. This Tincture is the Rose of our Masters,
of purple hue, called also the red blood of the Dragon, or the
purple cloak many times folded with which the Queen of Salvation
is covered, and by which all metals are regenerated in colour.
Carefully preserve this splendid mantle, together with the
astral salt which is joined to this sulphur, and screens it from
harm. Add to it a sufficient quantity of the volatility of the
bird; then the Cock will swallow the Fox, and, having been
drowned in the water, and quickened by the fire, will in its turn
be swallowed by the Fox.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 331
All flesh that is derived from the earth, must be decomposed
and again reduced to earth; then the earthy salt produces a new
generation by celestial resuscitation. For where there was not
first earth, there can be no resurrection in our Magistery. For
in earth is the balm of Nature, and the salt of the Sages.
At the end of the world, the world shall be judged by fire,
and all those things that God has made of nothing shall by
fire be reduced to ashes, from which ashes the Phoenix is to
produce her young. For in the ashes slumbers a true and
genuine tartaric substance, which, being dissolved, will enable us
to open the strongest bolt of the royal chamber.
After the conflagration, there shall be formed a new heaven
and a new earth, and the new man will be more noble in his
glorified state than he was before.
When the sand and ashes have been well matured and
ripened with fire, the glass-blower makes out of it glass, which
remains hard and firm in the fire, and in colour resembles a
crystal stone. To the uninitiated this is a great mystery, but
not to the master whom long experience has familiarized with
332 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Out of stones the master also prepares lime by burning,
which is very useful for our work. But before they are prepared
with fire, they are mere stones. The stone must be matured
and rendered fervent with fire, and then it becomes so potent
that few things are to be compared to the fiery spirit of lime.
By burning anything to ashes you may gain its salt. If in this
dissolution the sulphur and mercury be kept apart, and restored
to its salt, you may once more obtain that form which was
destroyed by the process of combustion. This assertion the
wise of this world denounce as the greatest folly, and count as a
rebellion, saying that such a transformation would amount to a
new creation, and that God has denied such creative power to
sinful man. But the folly is all on their side. For they do not
understand that our Artist does not claim to create anything,
but only to evolve new things from the seed made ready to his
hand by the Creator.
If you do not possess the ashes, you will be unable to obtain
our salt; and without our salt you will not be able to impart to
our substance a bodily form; for the coagulation of all things is
produced by salt alone.
As salt is the great preserving principle that protects all
things from decay, so the Salt of our Magistery preserves metal
from decomposition and utter annihilation. If their Balm were
to perish, and the Spirit to leave the body, the body would be
quite dead, and no longer available for any good purpose. The
metallic spirit would have departed, and would have left its habitation
empty, bare, and lifeless.
Observe also, thou who art a lover of this Art, that the salt
that is gained from ashes has great potency, and possesses many
concealed virtues. Nevertheless, the salt is unprofitable, until its
inward substance has been extracted. For the spirit alone gives
strength and life. The body by itself profits nothing. If you
know how to find this spirit, you have the Salt of the Sages, and
the incombustible oil, concerning which many things have been
written before my time.
Although many philosophers
Have sought for me with eagerness,
Yet very few succeed at length
In finding out my secret virtue.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 333
The quickening power of the earth produces all things that
grow forth from it, and he who says that the earth has no life
makes a statement which is flatly contradicted by the most
ordinary facts. For what is dead cannot produce life and growth,
seeing that it is devoid of the quickening spirit. This spirit is
the life and soul that dwell in the earth, and are nourished by
heavenly and sidereal influences. For all herbs, trees, and roots,
and all metals and minerals, receive their growth and nutriment
from the spirit of the earth, which is the spirit of life. This spirit
is itself fed by the stars, and is thereby rendered capable of imparting
nutriment to all things that grow, and of nursing them as
a mother does her child while it is yet in the womb. The minerals
are hidden in the womb of the earth, and nourished by her with
the spirit which she receives from above.
Thus the power of growth that I speak of is imparted not
hy the earth, but by the life-giving spirit that is in it. If the
earth were deserted by this spirit, it would be dead, and no
334 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
longer able to afford nourishment to anything. For its sulphur
or richness would lack the quickening spirit without which there
can be neither life nor growth.
Two contrary spirits can scarcely dwell together, nor do
they easily combine. For when a thunderbolt blazes amidst a
tempest of rain, the two spirits, out of which it is formed, fly from
one another with a great shock and noise, and circle in the air,
so that no one can know or say whither they go, unless the same
has been ascertained by experience as to the mode in which
these spirits manifest
Know then, gentle Reader, that life is the only true spirit,
and that that which the ignorant herd look upon as dead may
be brought back to permanent, visible, and spiritual life, if but
the spirit be restored to the body -- the spirit which is supported
by heavenly nutriment, and derived from heavenly, elementary,
and earthly substances, which are also called formless matter.
Moreover, as iron has its magnet which draws it with the
invisible bonds of love, so our gold has its magnet, viz., the first
Matter of the great Stone. If you understand these my words,
you are richer and more blessed than the whole world.
Let me conclude this chapter with one more remark. When
a man looks into a mirror, he sees therein reflected an image of
himself. If, however, he try to touch it, he will find that it is not
palpable, and that he has laid his hand upon the mirror only.
In the same way, the spirit which must be evolved from this
Matter is visible, but not palpable. This spirit is the root of the
life of our bodies, and the Mercury of the Philosophers, from
which is prepared the liquid water of our Art -- the water which
must once more receive a material form, and be rectified by means
of certain purifying agents into the most perfect Medicine. For
we begin with a firm and palpable body, which subsequently
becomes a volatile spirit, and a golden water, without any conversion,
from which our Sages derive their principle of life.
Ultimately we obtain the indestructible medicine of human and
metallic bodies, which is fitter to be known to angels than to
men, except such as seek it at God's hands in heartfelt prayer,
and give genuine proofs of their gratitude by service rendered to
Him, and to their needy neighbour.
Hereunto I may add, in conclusion, that one work is developed
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 335
from another. First, our Matter should be carefully purified,
then dissolved, destroyed, decomposed, and reduced to
dust and ashes. Thereupon prepare from it a volatile spirit, which
is white as snow, and another volatile spirit, which is red as blood.
These two spirits contain a third, and are yet but one spirit.
Now these are the three spirits which preserve and multiply life.
Therefore unite them, give them the meat and drink that Nature
requires. and keep them in a warm chamber until the perfect birth
takes place. Then you will see and experience the virtue of the
gift bestowed upon you by God and Nature. Know, also, that
hitherto my lips have not revealed this secret to any one, and
that God has endowed natural substances with greater powers
than most men are ready to believe. Upon my mouth God has
set a seal, that there might be scope for others after mc to write
about the wonderful things of Nature, which by the foolish are
looked upon as unnatural. For they do not understand that all
things are ultimately traceable to supernatural causes, but nevertheless
are, in this present state of the world, subject to natural
336 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
The male without the female is looked upon as only half a
body, nor can the female without the male be regarded as
more complete For neither can bring forth fruit so long as it
remains alone. But if the two be conjugally united, there is a
perfect body, and their seed is placed in a condition in which it
can yield increase.
If too much seed be cast into the field, the plants impede
each other's growth, and there can be no ripe fruit. But if, on
the other hand, too little be sown, weeds spring up and choke it.
If a merchant would keep a clear conscience, let him give
just measure to his neighbour. If his measure and weight be
not short, he will receive praise from the poor.
In too much water you may easily be drowned; too little
water, on the other hand, soon evaporates in the heat of the
If, then, you would attain the longed for goal. observe just
measure in mixing the liquid substance of the Sages, lest that
which is too much overpower that which is too little, and the
generation be hindered. For too much rain spoils the fruit, and
too much drought stunts its growth. Therefore, when Neptune
has prepared his bath, measure out carefully the exact quantity
of permanent water needed, and let there be neither too little
nor too much.
The twofold fiery male must be fed with a snowy swan,
and then they must mutually slay each other and restore each
other to life; and the air of the imprisoned fiery male will occupy
three of the four quarters of the world, and make up three parts
of the imprisoned fiery male, that the death-song of the swans
may be distinctly heard; then the swan roasted will become
food for the King, and the fiery King will be seized with great
love towards the Queen, and will take his fill of delight in
embracing her, until they both vanish and coalesce into one
It is commonly said that two can overpower one, especially
if they have sufficient room for putting forth their strength.
Know also that there must come a twofold wind, and a single
wind, and that they must furiously blow from the east and from
the south. If, when they cease to rage, the air has become water,
you may be confident that the spiritual will also be transmuted
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 337
into a bodily form, and that our number shall prevail through
the four seasons in the fourth part of the sky (after the seven
planets have exercised power), and that its course will be perfected
by the test of fire in the lowest chamber of our palace,
when the two shall overpower and consume the third.
For this part of our Magistery skill is needed, in order to
divide and compound the substances aright, so that the an
may result in riches, and the balance may not be falsified by
unequal weights. The sky we speak of is the sky of our Art,
and there must be justly proportioned parts of our air and earth
our true water and our palpable fire.
Natural heat preserves the life of man. If his body lose its
natural heat his life has come to an end.
A moderate degree of natural heat protects against the
cold; an excess of it destroys life. It is not necessary that the
substance of the Sun should touch the earth. The Sun can
heat the earth by shedding thereon its rays, which are intensified
338 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
by reflection. This intermediate agency is quite sufficient to do
the work of the Sun, and to mature everything by coction. The
rays of the Sun are tempered with the air by passing through it
so as to operate by the medium of the air, as the air operates
through the medium of the fire.
Earth without water can produce nothing, nor can water
quicken anything into growth without earth; and as earth and
water are mutually indispensable in the production of fruit, so
fire cannot operate without air, or air without fire. For fire has
no life without air; and without fire air possesses neither heat
When its fruit is about to be matured, the vine stands in
greater need of the Sun's warmth than in the spring; and if the
Sun shine brightly in the autumn, the grapes will be better than
if they had not felt his autumnal warmth.
In the winter the multitude suppose everything to be dead,
because the earth is bound in the chains of frost, so that nothing
is allowed to sprout forth. But as soon as the spring comes, and
the cold is vanquished by the power of the Sun, everything is
restored to life, the trees and herbs put forth buds, leaves, and
blossoms, the hibernating animals creep forth from their hiding
places, the plants give out a sweet fragrance, and are adorned
with a great variety of many coloured flowers; and the summer
carries on the work of the spring, by changing its flowers into fruit.
Thus, year by year, the operations of the universe are performed,
until at length it shall be destroyed by its Creator, and
all the dwellers upon earth shall be restored by resurrection to a
glorified life. Then the operations of earthly nature shall cease,
and the heavenly and eternal dispensation shall take its place.
When the Sun in the winter pursues his course far away
from us, he cannot melt the deep snow. But in the summer he
approaches nearer to us, the quality of the air becomes more
fiery, and the snow melts and is transmuted by warmth into
water. For that which is weak is always compelled to yield to
that which is strong.
The same moderate course must be adopted in the fiery
regimen of our Magistery. For it is all important that the liquid
should not be dried up too quickly, and that the earth of the Sages
should not be melted and dissolved too soon, otherwise your
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 339
fishes would be changed into scorpions. If you would perform
our task rightly, take the spiritual water, in which the spirit was
from the beginning, and preserve it in a closely shut chamber.
For the heavenly city is about to be besieged by earthly foes.
You must, therefore, strongly fortify it with three impassable
and well-guarded walls, and let the one entrance be well protected.
Then light the lamp of wisdom and seek with it the gross thing
that was lost, shewing only such light as is needed. For you
must know that the worms and reptiles dwell in the cold and
humid earth, while man has his proper habitation upon the face
of the earth; the bodies of angels, on the other hand, not being
alloyed with sin or impurity, are injured by no extreme either of
heat or cold. When man shall have been glorified, his body will
become like the angelic body in this respect. If we carefully
cultivate the life of our souls, we shall be sons and heirs of God,
and shall be able to do that which now seems impossible. But
this can be effected only by the drying up of all water, and the
purging of heaven and earth and all men with fire.
340 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Neither human nor animal bodies can be multiplied or propagated
without decomposition; the grain and all vegetable
seed, when cast into the ground, must decay before it can spring
up again; moreover, putrefaction imparts life to many worms
and other animalculae. The process of augmentation and quickening
is mostly performed in [the] earth, while it is caused by
spiritual seed through the other elements.
The farmer's wife knows that she cannot hope to obtain
chickens except through the decomposition of the egg.
If bread is placed in honey, and suffered to decay, ants are
generated; worms are bred in the putrefying bodies of men,
horses, and other animals; maggots are also developed by the
decay of nuts, apples, and pears.
The same thing may be observed in regard to vegetable life.
Nettles and other weeds spring up where no such seed has ever
been sown. This occurs only by putrefaction The reason is that
the soil in such places is so disposed. and, as it were, impregnated
that it produces these fruits, which is a result of the properties of
sidereal influence; consequently the seed is spiritually produced
in the earth, and putrefies in the earth, and by the operation of the
elements generates corporeal matter according to the species of
Nature. Thus the stars and the elements may generate new
spiritual, and, ultimately, new vegetable seed, by means of putrefaction.
But man cannot create new seed; for it is not in his
power to order the operation of the elements and the essential
influences of the stars. By natural conditions, however, new
plants are generated simply through putrefaction. This fact is
not noticed by the farmer, simply because it is a thing that he
has always been used to, and for which he is unable to find an
explanation. But you who should know more than the vulgar
herd, must search into the causes of things, and endeavour to
understand how the process of generation and resuscitation is
accomplished by means of decomposition, and how all life is
produced out of decay.
Each element is in its turn decomposed and regenerated
by that which is contained in it. For you should know that
every element contains the three others. In air, for instance,
there is fire, water, and earth. This assertion may appear
incredible, but it is nevertheless true. In like manner, fire
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 341
includes air, water, and earth, since otherwise it could generate
nothing. Water contains fire, air, and earth; for if it did not,
there could be no growth At the same time, each element is
distinct, though each contains the others. All this is found by
distillation in the separation of the elements.
In order to rationally prove this to you, who are investigating
the separation of Nature, and purpose to understand the
division of the elements, lest you should think my words inventions,
and not true, I tell you that if you distil earth, you will find
that, first of all, there is an escape of air, which, in its turn, always
contains fire, as they are both of a spiritual essence, and exercise
an irresistible mutual attraction. In the next place, there issues
water from the earth, and the earth, in which is the precious salt,
remains by itself at the bottom of the vessel.
When water is distilled, air and fire issue from it, and the
water and material earth remain at the bottom. Again, when
the invisible part of elementary fire is extracted, you get water
and earth by themselves. Nor can any of the three other
elements exist without air. It is air that gives to earth its power
of production, to fire its power of burning, to water its power of
generating fruit. Again, air can consume nothing, nor dry up
any moisture, without that natural heat which must be imparted
to it by fire. For everything that is hot and dry contains fire.
From these considerations we conclude that no element can
exist without the others, and that in the generation of all things
there is a mingling of the four elements. He who states the
contrary in no wise understands the secrets of Nature, nor has
he investigated the properties of the elements. For if anything
is to be generated by putrefaction, the process must be as
follows: The earth is first decomposed by the moisture which
it contains; for without moisture, or water, there can be no true
decay, thereupon the decomposed substance is kindled and
quickened by the natural heat of fire: for without natural heat
no generation can take place. Again, if that which has received
the spark of life, is to be stirred up to motion and growth, it
must be acted upon by air. For without air, the quickened
substance would be choked and stifled in the germ. Hence it
manifestly appears that no one element can work effectually
without the aid of the others, and that all must contribute
342 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
towards the generation of anything. Thus their quickening co
operation takes the form of putrefaction, without which there
can be neither generation, life, nor growth. That there can be
no perfect generation or resuscitation without the co-operation of
the four elements, you may see from the fact that when Adam
had been formed by the Creator out of earth, there was no life
in him, until God breathed into him a living spirit. Then the
earth was quickened into motion. In the earth was the salt,
that is, the Body; the air that was breathed into it was mercury,
or the Spirit, and this air imparted to him a genuine and
temperate h at, which was sulphur, or fire. Then Adam moved,
and by his power of motion, shewed that there had been infused
into him a life-giving spirit. For as there is no fire without air,
so neither is there any air without fire. Water was incorporated
with the earth. Thus living man is an harmonious mixture of
the four elements; and Adam was generated out of earth, water,
air, and fire, out of soul, spirit, and body, out of mercury, sulphur,
In the same way, Eve, our common mother, was created;
for her body was built up and formed out of Adam's body -- a
fact which I wish you particularly to notice.
To return again to putrefaction, O seeker of the Magistery
and devotee of philosophy, know that, in like manner, no metallic
seed can develop, or multiply, unless the said seed, by itself alone,
and without the introduction of any foreign substance, be
reduced to a perfect putrefaction.
The putrefaction of metallic seed must, like that of animal
and vegetable seed, take place through the co-operation of the
four elements. I have already explained that the elements themselves
are not the seed. But it ought by this time to be
clear to you that the metallic seed which was produced by
the combined operation of heavenly, sidereal, and elementary
essences, and reduced into bodily form, must, in due course, be
corrupted and putrefied by means of the elements.
Observe that this seed contains a living volatile spirit. For
when it is distilled, there issues from it first a spirit, and then
that which is less volatile. But when by continued gentle heat,
it is reduced to an acid, the spirit is not so volatile as it was
before. For in the distillation of the acid the water issues first,
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 343
and then the spirit. And though the substance remains the
same, its properties have become very different. It is no longer
wine, but has been transmuted by the putrefaction of gentle heat
into an acid. That which is extracted with wine or its spirit,
has widely different properties and powers from that which is
extracted with an acid. For if the crystal of antimony be
extracted with wine or the spirit of wine, it causes vomiting and
diarrhoea, because it is a poison, and its poisonous quality is not
destroyed by the wine. But if it be extracted with a good distilled
acid, it furnishes a beautiful extract of a rich colour. If
the acid be removed by means of the St. Mary's Bath, and the
residuum of yellow powder washed away, you obtain a sweet
powder which causes no diarrhoea, but is justly regarded as a
marvellously beneficial medicine.
This excellent powder is dissolved in a moist place into a
liquid which is profitably employed as a painless agent in surgery.
Let me sum up in few words what I have to say. The substance
is of heavenly birth, its life is preserved by the stars, and
nourished by the four elements; then it must perish, and be
putrefied; again, by the influence of the stars, which works
through the elements, it is restored to life, and becomes once
more a heavenly thing that has its habitation in the highest
region of the firmament. Then you will find that the heavenly
has assumed an earthly body, and that the earthly body has been
reduced to a heavenly substance.
344 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Saturn, who is called the greatest of the planets, is the least
useful in our Magistery. Nevertheless, it is the chief Key of the
whole Art, howbeit set in the lowest and meanest place.
Although by its swift flight it has risen to the loftiest height, far
above all other luminaries, its feathers must be clipped, and
itself brought down to the lowest place, from whence it may once
more be raised by putrefaction, and the quickening caused by
putrefaction, by which the black is changed to white, and the
white to red, until the glorious colour of the triumphant King
has been attained. Therefore, I say that though Saturn may
seem the vilest thing in the world, yet it has such po\ver and
efficacy that if its precious essence, which is excessively cold, be
reduced to a metallic body by being deprived of its volatility, it
becomes as corporeal as, but far more fixed than, Saturn itself.
This transmutation is begun, continued, and completed with
Mercury, sulphur, and salt. This will seem unintelligible to many,
and it certainly does make an extraordinary demand upon the
mental faculties; but that must be so because the substance is
within the reach of everyone, and there is no other way of
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 345
keeping up the divinely ordained difference between rich
In the preparation of Saturn there appears a great variety of
different colours; and you must expect to observe successively
black, grey, white, yellow, red, and all the different intermediate
shades. In the same way, the Matter of all the Sages passes
through the several varieties of colour, and may be said to
change its appearance as often as a new gate of entrance is
opened to the fire.
The King shares his royal dignity with noble Venus, and
appears in splendid state, surrounded by all the dignitaries of his
court. Before him is borne a beautiful crimson banner, in which
there is an embroidered representation of Charity in green
garments. Saturn is the prefect of the royal household, and in
front of him Astronomy bears a black standard, with a representation
of Faith in yellow and red garments.
Jupiter is the Grand Marshal, and is preceded by a banner
of grey colour, borne by Rhetoric, and adorned with a variegated
representation of Hope.
Mars is at the head of military affairs, and executes his
office with a certain fiery ardour. Geometry carries before
him a crimson banner, on which you may behold Courage in a
crimson cloak. Mercury holds the office of Chancellor; Arithmetic
is his standard bearer, and his standard is of many colours;
on it may be observed the figure of Temperance in a many
The Sun is Vice-Regent, and is preceded by Grammar,
bearing a yellow banner, on which Justice is represented in a
golden robe Though Venus seems to cast him into the shade
by the gorgeous magnificence of her appearance, he really possesses
more power in the kingdom than she.
Before the Moon, Dialectic bears a shining silver banner,
with the figure of Prudence wrought into it in sky-blue, and
because the husband of the Moon is dead, he has transferred to
her his task of resisting the domination of Queen Venus. For
among all these there is enmity, and they are all striving to
supplant each other. Indeed, the tendency of events is to give
the highest place to the most excellent and the most deserving.
For the present state of things is passing away, and a new
346 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
world is about to be created, and one Planet is devouring another
spiritually, until only the strongest survive.
Let me tell you allegorically that you must put into the
heavenly Balance the Ram, Bull, Cancer, Scorpion, and Goat.
ln the other scale of the Balance you must place the Twins, the
Archer, the Water-bearer, and the Virgin. Then let the Lion
jump into the Virgin's lap, which will cause the other scale to
kick the beam. Thereupon, let the signs of the Zodiac enter into
opposition to the Pleiads, and when all the colours of the world
have shewn themselves, let there be a conjunction and union
between the greatest and the smallest, and the smallest and the
If the whole world's nature
Were seen in one figure,
And nothing could be evolved by Art,
Nothing wonderful would be found in the Universe,
And Nature would have nothing to tell us
For which let us laud and praise God.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 347
In our Stone, as composed by me and by those who have
long preceded me, are contained all elements, all mineral and
metallic forms, and all the qualities and properties of the whole
world. In it we find most powerful natural heat, by which the
icy body of Saturn is gently transmuted into the best gold. lt
contains also a high degree of cold, which tempers the fervent
heat of Venus, and coagulates the mercury, which is thereby also
changed into the finest gold. All these properties slumber in the
substance of our Stone, and are developed, perfected, and matured
by the gentle coction of natural fire, until they have attained
their highest perfection.
If the fruit of a tree be plucked before it is ripe, it is unfit
for use; and if the potter fail to harden his vessels in the fire, they
cannot be employed for any good purpose.
In the same way you must exercise considerable patience in
preparing our Elixir, if it is to become all that you wish it to
become. No fruit can grow from a flower that has been plucked
before the time. He who is in too great a hurry, can bring nothing
to perfection, but is almost sure to spoil that which he has in hand.
Remember, then, that if our Stone be not sufficiently matured, it
will not be able to bring anything to maturity.
The substance is dissolved in a bath, and its parts reunited
by putrefaction. In ashes it blossoms. In the form of sand all
its excessive moisture is dried up. Maturity and fixity are obtained
by living fire. The work does not actually take place in
the Bath of St. Mary, in horse-dung, in ashes, or in sand, but the
grades and regimen of the fire proceed after the degrees which arc
represented by these. The Stone is prepared in an empty furnace,
with a threefold line of circumvallation, in a tightly closed chamber.
It is subjected to continued coction, till all moisture and
clouds are driven off, and the King attains to indestructible
fixedness, and is no longer liable to any danger or injury, because
he has become unconquerable. Let me express my meaning in
a somewhat different manner. When you have dissolved your
earth with your water, dry up the water with its own inward fire.
Then the air will breathe new life into the body, and you will
have that which can only be regarded as that Great Stone which
in a spiritual manner pervades human and metallic bodies, and
is the universal and immaculate Medicine, since it drives out that
348 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
which is bad, and preserves that which is good, and is the unfailing
corrective of all imperfect or diseased substances. This
Tincture is of a colour intermediate between red and purple, with
something of a granite hue, and its specific weight is very
Whoever gains possession of this Stone, should let his whole
life he an expression of his gratitude towards God in practical
kindness towards his suffering brethren, that after obtaining God's
greatest earthly gift, he may hereafter inherit eternal life.
Praise be unto God everlastingly for this His inestimable
The eleventh Key to the Knowledge of the augmentation
of our Stone, I will put before you in the form of a parable.
There lived in the East a gilded knight, named Orpheus,
who was possessed of immense wealth, and had everything that
heart can wish. He had taken to wife his own sister, Euridice,
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 349
who did not, however, bear him any children. This he regarded
as the punishment of his sin in having wedded his own
sister, and was instant in prayer to God both by day and by
night, that the curse might be taken from him.
One night, when he was buried in a deep sleep, there carne
to him a certain winged messenger, named Phoebus, who touched
his feet, which were very hot, and said: " Thou noble knight,
since thou hast wandered through many cities and kingdoms,
and suffered many things at sea, in battle, and in the lists, the
heavenly Father has bidden me make known to thee the following
means of obtaining thy prayer: Take blood from thy right side,
and from the left side of thy spouse. For this blood is the
heart's blood of your parents, and though it may seem to be of
two kinds, yet, in reality, it is only one. Mix the two kinds
of blood, and keep the mixture tightly enclosed in the globe of
the seven wise Masters There that which is generated will
be nourished with its own flesh and blood, and will complete its
course of development when the Moon has changed for the
eighth time If thou repeat this process again and again, thou
shalt see children's children, and the offspring of thy body shall
fill the world."
When Phoebus had thus spoken, he winged his flight
heavenward. In the morning the knight arose and did the
bidding of the celestial messenger, and God gave to him and to
his wife many children, who inherited their father's glory wealth,
and knightly honours from generation to generation.
If you are wise, my son, you will find the interpretation of
my parable. If you do not understand it, ascribe the blame
not to me, but to your own ignorance. I may not express myself
more explicitly; indeed, I have revealed the matter in a
more plain and straightforward manner than any of my predecessors.
I have concealed nothing; and if you will but
remove the veil of ignorance from your eyes, you will behold
that which many have sought and few found.
350 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
If an athlete know not the use of his sword, he might as
well be without it; and if another warrior that is skilled in the
use of that weapon come against him, the first is like to fare
badly. For he that has knowledge and experience on his side
must carry off the victory.
In the same way, he that possesses this tincture, by the
grace of Almighty God, and is unacquainted with its uses, might
as well not have it at all. Therefore this twelfth and last Key
must serve to open up to you the uses of this Stone. In dealing
with this part of the subject I will drop my parabolic and
figurative style, and plainly set forth all that is to be known.
When the Medicine and Stone of all the Sages has been
perfectly prepared out of the true virgin's milk, take one part of
it to three parts of the best gold purged and refined with
antimony, the gold being previously beaten into plates of the
greatest possible thinness. Put the whole into a smelting pot,
and subject it to the action of a gentle fire for twelve hours;
then let it be melted for three days and three nights more.
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 351
For without the ferment of gold no one can compose the
Stone or develop the tinging virtue. For the same is very subtle
and penetrating if it be fermented and joined with a ferment
like unto itself; then the prepared tincture has the power of
entering into other bodies, and operating therein. Take then
one part of the prepared ferment for the tinging of a thousand
parts of molten metal, and then you will learn in all faith and
truth that it .shall be changed into the only good and fixed gold.
For one body takes possession of the other; even if it be unlike
to it, nevertheless, through the strength and potency added to
it, it is compelled to be assimilated to the same, since like
derives origin from like.
Whoever uses this as a medium shall find whither the
vestibules of the palace lead, and there is nothing comparable
to the subtlety thereof. He shall possess all in all, performing
all things whatsoever which are possible under the sun.
O principle of the prime principle, consider the end! O
end of the final end, consider the beginning! And be this
medium commended unto your faithful care, wherein also God
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall give unto you whatsoever
you need both in soul and body.
Concerning the First Matter of the Philosophical Stone.
Seek for that Stone which has no fleshly nature, but out of
which a volatile fire is extracted, whence also this stone is
made, being composed of white and red. It is a stone, and no
stone; therein Nature alone operates. A fountain flows from it.
The fixed part submerges its father, absorbing it, body and life,
until the soul is returned to it. And the volatile mother like to
him, is produced in her own kingdom; and he by his virtue and
power receives greater strength. The volatile mother when
prepared surpasses the sun in summer. Thus the father by
means of Vulcan was produced from the spirit. Body, soul, and
spirit exist in both, whence the whole matter proceeds. It
proceeds from one, and is one matter. Bind together the fixed
and the volatile; they are two, and three, and yet one only.
If you do not understand you will attain nothing. Adam was
in a bath -- wherein Venus found her like, which bath the aged
Dragon had prepared when his strength was deserting him.
352 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
There is nothing, says the Philosopher, save a double mercury;
I say that no other matter has been named; blessed is he who
understands it. Seek therein, and be not weary; the result
justifies the labour.
A short appendix and clear Resumption of the foregoing
Tract concerning the Great Stone of the
I, Basil Valentine, brother of the Benedictine Order, do
testify that I have written this little book, wherein, after the
manner of the Ancients, I have philosophically indicated how this
most rare treasure may be acquired, whereby the true Sages did
prolong life unto its furthest limit.
But, not with standing that my conscience doth bear me witness
in the sight of the Most High, before whom all concealed
matters are laid bare, that I have written no falsehood, but have
so exposed the truth that understanding men can require no
further light (that which is laid down in the theoretical part
being borne out and confirmed by the practice of the Twelve
Keys), yet have I been impelled by various considerations to
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 353
demonstrate by a shorter way what I have written in the said
treatise, and thus cast further light thereon, whereby also the
lover of the desired wisdom may obtain an increased illumination
for the fulfilment of his desire. There are many who will consider
that I am speaking too openly, and will hold me answerable
for the wickedness that they think will follow, but let them rest
assured that it will be sufficiently difficult, notwithstanding, for
any thick-headed persons to find what they seek herein. At the
same time the matter shall be made clear to the elect. Hearken
then, thou follower of truth, to these my words, and so shalt thou
find the true way!
Behold, I write nothing more than I am willing to hold by
after my death and resurrection ! Do thou faithfully and simply
lay to heart this shorter way, as hereinafter exhibited, for my
words are grounded in simplicity, and my teaching is not confused
by a labyrinth of language.
I have already indicated that all things are constituted of
three essences -- namely, mercury, sulphur, and salt -- and herein
I have taught what is true. But know that the Stone is composed
out of one, two, three, four, and five. Out of five -- that is,
the quintessence of its own substance. Out of four, by which we
must understand the four elements. Out of three, and these are
the three principles of all things. Out of two, for the mercurial
substance is twofold. Out of one, and this is the first essence of
everything which emanated from the primal fiat of creation.
But many may by all these discourses be rendered doubtful
in mind as to what they must start with, and as to the consequent
theory. So I will, in the first place, speak very briefly
concerning Mercury, secondly concerning Sulphur, thirdly concerning
Salt; for these are the essence of the Matter of our
In the first place, you must know that no ordinary quicksilver
is useful, but our quicksilver is produced from the best
metal by the spagyric art, pure, subtle, clear, and glistening, like
a spring, pellucid even as crystal, free from all dross. Hence
make water or combustible oil. For Mercury was in the
beginning water, and herein all the Sages agree with my dictum
and teaching In this oil of Mercury dissolve its own Mercury,
from which the water in question was made, and precipitate the
354 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Mercury with its own oil. Then we have a twofold mercurial
substance; but you must know that gold must first be dissolved
in a certain water, as explained in my second Key, after the
purification described in the first Key, and must be reduced into
a subtle calx, as is mentioned in the fourth Key. Next, this calx
must be sublimated by the spirit of salt, again precipitated, and
by reverberation reduced into a subtle powder. Then its own
sulphur can more easily enter into its substance, and have great
friendship with the same, for they have a wondrous love towards
each other. Thus you have two substances in one, and it is
called Mercury of the Sages, but is yet a single substance, which
is the first ferment.
Now follows concerning Sulphur.
Seek your Mercury in a similar metal. Then when you
know how to extract the metal from its body by purification, the
destruction of the first Mars, and reverberation, without the use of
any corrosive (the method of doing which I have indicated in my
third Key) -- you must dissolve that Mercury in its own blood
out of which it was made before it became fixed (as indicated ir;
the sixth Key); and you have then nourished and dissolved the
true lion with the blood of the green lion. For the fixed blood
of the Red Lion has been made out of the volatile blood of the
Green Lion; hence, they are of one nature, and the unfixed
blood again renders that which is volatile fixed, and the fixed
blood in its turn fixes that which is volatile, as it was before its
solution. Then foster it in gentle heat, until the whole of the
mercury is dissolved, and you obtain the second ferment
nourishing the fixed sulphur with that which is not fixed), as all
Sages unite with me in testifying. Afterwards this becomes, by
sublimation with spirit of wine, of a blood-red colour, and is
called potable gold.
Now I will also give my Opinion respecting the
Salt of the Sages.
The effect of " salt " is to fix or volatilize, according as it
is prepared and used. For the spirit of the salt of tartar, if
extracted by itself without any addition, has power to render all
metals volatile by dissolution and putrefaction, and to dissolve
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 355
quick or liquid silver into the true mercury, as my practical
Salt of tartar by itself is a powerful fixative, particularly if
the heat of quicklime be incorporated with it. For these two
substances are singularly efficacious in producing fixation.
In the same way, the vegetable salt of wine fixes and
volatilizes according to the manner of its preparation. Its use is
one of the arcana of Nature, and a miracle of the philosopher's
When a man drinks wine, there may be gained from his
urine a clear salt, which is volatile, and renders other fixed
substances volatile, causing them to rise with it in the alembic.
But the same does not fix. If a man drank nothing but wine,
yet for all that the salt obtained from his urine would have a
different property from that gained out of the lees of wine. For
it has undergone a chemical change in the human body, having
become transmuted from a vegetable into an animal salt -- just
as horses that feed on oats, straw, etc., change those vegetable
substances into flesh and fat, while the bee prepares honey out
of the precious juices of flowers and herbs.
The great change which takes place in these and other
substances is due to putrefaction
, which separates and transmutes
the constituent elements.
The common spirit of salt, which is extracted according to
the direction given in my last declaration, if there be added to
it a small quantity of the " spirit of the dragon," dissolves,
volatilizes, and raises together with itself in the alembic, gold and
silver; just as the " eagle," together with the spirit oi the dragon
(which is found in stony places), before the spirit is separated
from its body, is much more powerful in producing fixation
This I also say, that if the spirit of common salt be joined
to the spirit of wine, and distilled together with it, it becomes
sweet, and loses its acidity. This prepared spirit does not dissolve
gold bodily, but if it be poured on prepared calx of gold,
it extracts the essence of its colour and redness. If this be
rightly done, it reduces the white and pure moon to the colour
of that body from which it was itself extracted. The old body
may also receive back its former colour through the love of
356 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
alluring, Venus, from whose blood it, in the first instance, derived
But observe, likewise, that the spirit of salt also destroys
the moon, and reduces it to a spiritual essence, according to my
teaching, out of which the " potable moon " may be prepared
This spirit of the moon belongs to the spirit of the sun, as the
female answers to the male, by the copulation or conjunction of
the spirit of mercury or its oil
The spirit lies hid in mercury, the colour you must seek in
sulphur, and their coagulation in salt; then you have three
things which together are capable of once more generating a
perfect thing. The spirit is fermented in the gold with its own
proper oil; the sulphur is found in abundance in the property of
precious Venus. This kindles the fixed blood which is sprung
from it, the spirit of the salt of the Sages imparts strength and
firmness, though the spirit of tartar and the spirit of urine,
together with true vinegar, have great virtue. For the spirit of
vinegar is cold, and the spirit of lime is intensely hot, and thus
the two spirits are found to be of opposite natures. I do not
here speak according to the customary manner of the Sages.
But I must not say too openly how the inner gates are to be
In bidding farewell, let me impart to you a faithful word.
Seek your material in a metallic substance. Thence prepare
mercury. This ferment with the mercury of its own proper
sulphur, and coagulate them with salt. Distil them together;
mix all according to weight. Then you will obtain one thing
consisting of elements sprung from one thing
. Coagulate and fix
it by means of continuous warmth. Thereupon augment and
ferment it a third time,. according to the teaching of my two last
Keys, and you will find the object and goal of your desire. The
uses of the Tincture are set forth plainly in my twelfth Key.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
As a parting kindness to you, I am constrained to add that
the spirit may also be extracted from black Saturn and benevolent
Jupiter. When it has been reduced to a sweet oil, we
have a means of robbing the common liquid quicksilver of its
vivacity, or rendering it firm and solid, as is also sct forth in my
THE GOLDEN TRIPOD. 357
When you have thus obtained the material, the regimen of
the fire is the only thing on which you need bestow much attention.
This is the sum and the goal of our search. For our fire
is a common fire, and our furnace a common furnace. And
though some of my predecessors have left it in writing that our
fire is not common fire, I may tell you that it was only one of
their devices for hiding the mysteries of our Art. For the
material is common, and its treatment consists chiefly in the
proper adjustment of the heat to which it is exposed.
The fire of a spirit lamp is useless for our purpose. Nor is
there any profit in " horse-dung," nor in the other kinds of heat
in the providing of which so much expense is incurred.
Neither do we want many kinds of furnaces. Only our
threefold furnace affords facilities for properly regulating the heat
of the fire. Therefore do not let any babbling sophist induce
you to set up a great variety of expensive furnaces. Our furnace
is cheap, our fire is cheap, and our material is cheap -- and
he who has the material will also find a furnace in which to
prepare it, just as he who has flour will not be at a loss
for an oven in which it may be baked. It is unnecessary to write
a special book concerning this part of the subject. You cannot
go wrong, so long as you observe the proper degree of heat,
which holds a middle place between hot and cold. If you
discover this, you are in possession of the secret, and can practise
the Art, for which the CREATOR of all nature be praised world
without end. A M E N.
E N D O F V O L U M E I.