Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hermes Trismegistus and the Emerald Tablet


The legendary Emerald Tablet of Hermes, the mercifully-short central text of alchemical study. Unfortunately, this is not the real Emerald Tablet, but I'm sure the real thing (if it ever existed) looked a lot like this.
Emerald Tablet
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Emerald Tablet, also known as Smaragdine Table, Tabula Smaragdina, or The Secret of Hermes, is a text purporting to reveal the secret of the primordial substance and its transmutations. It claims to be the work of Hermes Trismegistus ("Hermes the Thrice-Greatest"), a legendaryHellenistic[1] combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.[2]
Below are shown several translations including the Arabic, the Latin, and one from Isaac Newton.
 The compact and cryptic text was highly regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their art,
in particular of its Hermetic tradition. Interpreting the layers of meanings of the Emerald Tablet, from individual
words to the overall meaning, is fraught with possibilities, but certainly Alchemy's Magnum opus and the ancient,
classical, element system are the basis of any sound explanation, as they provide a key to the ideas of earth, fire, sun, moon, etc., common to all the translations.







History of the Tablet

History of the Tablet (largely summarised from Needham 1980, & Holmyard 1957)
The Tablet probably first appeared in the West in editions of the psuedo-Aristotlean Secretum Secretorum which was actually a translation of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar, a book of advice to kings which was translated into latin by Johannes Hispalensis c. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c.1243. Other translations of the Tablet may have been made during the same period by Plato of Tivoli and Hugh of Santalla, perhaps from different sources.
The date of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar is uncertain, though c.800 has been suggested and it is not clear when the tablet became part of this work.
Holmyard was the first to find another early arabic version (Ruska found a 12th centruy recension claiming to have been dictated by Sergius of Nablus) in the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir. Shortly after Ruska found another version appended to the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), which is also known as the Kitab Balaniyus al-Hakim fi'l-`Ilal (book of Balinas the wise on the Causes). It has been proposed that this book was written may have been written as early as 650, and was definitely finished by the Caliphate of al-Ma'mun (813-33).
Scholars have seen similarities between this book and the Syriac Book of Treasures written by Job of Odessa (9th century) and more interestingly the Greek writings of the bishop Nemesius of Emesa in Syria from the mid fourth century. However though this suggests a possible Syriac source, non of these writings contain the tablet.
Balinas is usually identified with Apollonius of Tyna, but there is little evidence to connect him with the Kitab Balabiyus, and even if there was,the story implies that Balinas found the tablet rather than wrote it, and the recent discoveries of the dead sea scrolls and the nag hamamdi texts suggest that hiding texts in caves is not impossible, even if we did not have the pyramids before us.
Ruska has suggested an origin further east, and Needham has proposed an origin in China.
Holmyard, Davis and Anon all consider that this Tablet may be one of the earliest of all alchemical works we have that survives.
It should be remarked that apparantly the Greeks and Egyptians used the termtranslated as `emerald' for emeralds, green granites, "and perhaps green jasper". In medieval times the emerald table of the Gothic kings of Spain, and the Sacro catino- a dish said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, to have been used at the last supper, and to be made of emerald, were made of green glass [Steele and Singer: 488].

The oldest documentable source for the text is the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar, a compendium of advice for rulers in

Textual history

 Arabic which purports to be a letter from Aristotle to Alexander the Great. This work was translated into Latin as Secretum Secretorum (The Secret of Secrets) by Johannes "Hispalensis" or Hispaniensis (John of Seville) ca. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c. 1243.
In the 14th century, the alchemist Ortolanus wrote a substantial exegesis on "The Secret of Hermes,"
which was influential on the subsequent development of alchemy. Many manuscripts of this copy of the
 Emerald Tablet and the commentary of Ortolanus survive, dating at least as far back as the 15th century.
The Tablet has also been found appended to manuscripts of the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of
the Elements of Foundation) attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan, and the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a ("Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature"), dated between 650 and 830 AD.
[edit]The tablet text


[edit]Arabic translation
A new translation bypassing the Latin has just been published[when?] by Nineveh Shadrach from the original Arabic of Book on the Secret of Creation (also named Book of the Causes) attributed to Apollonius of Tyana.[3]
It contains an accurate commentary that can't be doubted.
It states: What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from One.
And all things sprang from this essence through a single projection. How marvelous is its work! It is the principle [sic] part of the world and its custodian.
Its father is the sun and its mother is the moon. Thus the wind bore it within it and the earth nourished it.
Father of talismans and keeper of wonders.
Perfect in power that reveals the lights.
It is a fire that became our earth. Separate the earth from the fire and you shall adhere more to that which is subtle than that which is coarse, through care and wisdom.
It ascends from the earth to the heaven. It extracts the lights from the heights and descends to the earth containing the power of the above and the below for it is with the light of the lights. Therefore the darkness flees from it.
The greatest power overcomes everything that is subtle and it penetrates all that is coarse.
The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.
The scholars made this their path.
This is why Thrice Hermes was exalted with wisdom.
This is his last book that he hid in the catacomb.

[edit]Newton's translation
One translation, by Isaac Newton, found among his alchemical papers as reported by B. J. Dobbs[4] in modern spelling:
This true without lying, certain most true.
That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing.
And as all things have been arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nurse.
The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
It ascends from the earth to the heaven again it descends to the earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior.
By this means ye shall have the glory of the whole world thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
Its force is above all force. for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.
So was the world created.
From this are and do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (Or process) is here in this.
Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.
[edit]Beato's translation
Another translation from Aureliae Occultae Philosophorum by Giorgio Beato:
This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood.
Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
Also, as all things are made from one, by the consideration of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon.
The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
Its power is perfected.
If it is turned into earth,
Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and coarse, prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world, and so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
By this means the world was founded
And hence the marvelous cojunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and Philosophy of the whole universe.
My speech is finished which I have spoken concerning the solar work.
[edit]Latin text
Original edition of the Latin text. (Chrysogonus Polydorus, Nuremberg 1541):
Verum, sine mendatio, certum et verissimum:
Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione.
Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius est Luna, portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo, nutrix eius terra est.
Pater omnis telesmi[5] totius mundi est hic.
Virtus eius integra est si versa fuerit in terram.
Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.
Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.
Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi.
Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.
Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.
Sic mundus creatus est.
Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est hic. Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
Completum est quod dixi de operatione Solis.

[edit]Contemporary rendering of Latin text
[It is] true, without a lie, certain and most true,
That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.
And as all things were from the one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were born from the one, by means of adaptation.
Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the earth.
The father of the whole world [or "of all of the initiates"?] is here.
Its power is whole if it has been turned into earth.
You will separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dense, sweetly, with great skill.
It ascends from earth into heaven and again it descends to the earth, and receives the power of higher and of lower things.
Thus you will have the Glory of the whole world.
Therefore will all obscurity flee from you.
Of all strength this is true strength, because it will conquer all that is subtle, and penetrate all that is solid.
Thus was the world created.
From this were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the means. Therefore am I named Thrice-Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
It is finished, what I have said about the working[s] of the Sun.
[edit]Influence

In its several Western recensions, the Tablet became a mainstay of medieval and Renaissance alchemy. Commentaries and/or translations were published by, among others, Trithemius, Roger Bacon, Michael Maier, Aleister Crowley, Albertus Magnus, and Isaac Newton.
C.G. Jung identified "The Emerald Tablet" with a table made of green stone which he encountered in the first of a set of his dreams and visions beginning at the end of 1912, and climaxing in his writing Seven Sermons to the Dead in 1916.[citation needed]
Because of its longstanding popularity, the Emerald Tablet is the only piece of non-Greek Hermetica to attract widespread attention in the West. The reason that the Emerald Tablet was so valuable is because it contained the instructions for the goals of alchemists. It hinted at the recipe for alchemical gold,[citation needed] as well as how to set one's level of consciousness to a new degree.
[edit]See also

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Translations


From Jabir ibn Hayyan.

0) Balinas mentions the engraving on the table in the hand of Hermes, which says:
1) Truth! Certainty! That in which there is no doubt!
2) That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above, working the miracles of one.
3) As all things were from one.
4) Its father is the Sun and its mother the Moon.
5) The Earth carried it in her belly, and the Wind nourished it in her belly,
7) as Earth which shall become Fire.
7a) Feed the Earth from that which is subtle, with the greatest power.
8) It ascends from the earth to the heaven and becomes ruler over that which is above and that which is below.
14) And I have already explained the meaning of the whole of this in two of these books of mine.
[Holmyard 1923: 562.]


Another Arabic Version (from the German of Ruska, translated by ‘Anonymous').


0) Here is that which the priest Sagijus of Nabulus has dictated concerning the entrance of Balinas into the hidden chamber... After my entrance into the chamber, where the talisman was set up, I came up to an old man sitting on a golden throne, who was holding an emerald table in one hand. And behold the following - in Syriac, the primordial language- was written thereon:
1) Here (is) a true explanation, concerning which there can be no doubt.
2) It attests: The above from the below, and the below from the above -the work of the miracle of the One.
3) And things have been from this primal substance through a single act. How wonderful is this work! It is the main (principle) of the world and is its maintainer.
4) Its father is the sun and its mother the moon; the
5) wind has borne it in its body, and the earth has nourished it.
6) the father of talismen and the protector of miracles
6a) whose powers are perfect, and whose lights are confirmed (?),
7) a fire that becomes earth.
7a) Separate the earth from the fire, so you will attain the subtle as more inherent than the gross, with care and sagacity.
8) It rises from earth to heaven, so as to draw the lights of the heights to itself, and descends to the earth; thus within it are the forces of the above and the below;
9) because the light of lights within it, thus does the darkness flee before it.
10) The force of forces, which overcomes every subtle thing and penetrates into everything gross.
11) The structure of the microcosm is in accordance with the structure of the macrocosm.
12) And accordingly proceed the knowledgeable.
13) And to this aspired Hermes, who was threefold graced with wisdom.
14) And this is his last book, which he concealed in the chamber.
[Anon 1985: 24-5]


Twelfth Century Latin


0) When I entered into the cave, I received the tablet zaradi, which was inscribed, from between the hands of Hermes, in which I discovered these words:
1) True, without falsehood, certain, most certain.
2) What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like that which is above. To make the miracle of the one thing.
3) And as all things were made from contemplation of one, so all things were born from one adaptation.
4) Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon.
5) The wind carried it in its womb, the earth breast fed it.
6) It is the father of all ‘works of wonder' (Telesmi) in the world.
6a) Its power is complete (integra).
7) If cast to (turned towards- versa fuerit) earth,
7a) it will separate earth from fire, the subtile from the gross.
8) With great capacity it ascends from earth to heaven. Again it descends to earth, and takes back the power of the above and the below.
9) Thus you will receive the glory of the distinctiveness of the world. All obscurity will flee from you.
10) This is the whole most strong strength of all strength, for it overcomes all subtle things, and penetrates all solid things.
11a) Thus was the world created.
12) From this comes marvelous adaptions of which this is the proceedure.
13) Therefore I am called Hermes, because I have three parts of the wisdom of the whole world.
14) And complete is what I had to say about the work of the Sun, from the book of Galieni Alfachimi.
[From Latin in Steele and Singer 1928: 492.]


Translation from Aurelium Occultae Philosophorum..Georgio Beato


1) This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood
2) Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
3) Also, as all things are made from one, by the condsideration of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
4) The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon.
5) The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
6a)Its power is perfected.
7) If it is turned into earth,
7a) separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and course, prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
8) This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
9) By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world, and so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
10) For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
11a) By this means the world was founded
12) and hence the marvelous cojunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
13) And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and Philsosphy of the whole universe.
14) My speech is finished which i have spoken concerning the solar work
[Davis 1926: 874.]



Translation of Issac Newton c. 1680.


1) Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2) That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3) And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4) The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5) the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
6) The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
7) Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7a) Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8) It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9) By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10) Its force is above all force. ffor it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
11a) So was ye world created.
12) From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
13) Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
14) That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.
[Dobbs 1988: 183-4.]


Translation from Kriegsmann (?) alledgedly from the Phoenician


1) I speak truly, not falsely, certainly and most truly
2) These things below with those above and those with these join forces again so that they produce a single thing the most wonderful of all.
3)And as the whole universe was brought forth from one by the word of one GOD, so also all things are regenerated perpetually from this one according to the disposition of Nature.
4) It has the Sun for father and the Moon for mother:
5) it is carried by the air as if in a womb, it is nursed by the earth.
6) It is the cause, this, of all perfection of all things throughout the universe.
6a) This will attain the highest perfection of powers
7) if it shall be reduced into earth
7a) Distribute here the earth and there the fire, thin out the density of this the suavest (suavissima) thing of all.
8)Ascend with the greatest sagacity of genius from the earth into the sky, and thence descend again to the earth, and recognise that the forces of things above and of things below are one,
9) so as to posses the glory of the whole world- and beyond this man of abject fate may have nothing further.
10)This thing itself presently comes forth stronger by reasons of this fortitude: it subdues all bodies surely, whether tenuous or solid, by penetrating them.
11a) And so everything whatsoever that the world contains was created.
12) Hence admirable works are accomplished which are instituted (carried out- instituuntur) according to the same mode.
13) To me therefor the name of Hermes Trismegistus has been awarded because I am discovered as the Teacher of the three parts of the wisdom of the world.
14) These then are the considerations which I have concluded ought to be written down concerning the readiest operations of the Chymic art.
[Davis 1926: 875 slightly modified.]



From Sigismund Bacstrom (allegedly translated from Chaldean).


0) The Secret Works of CHIRAM ONE in essence, but three in aspect.
1) It is true, no lie, certain and to be depended upon,
2) the superior agrees with the inferior, and the inferior agrees with the superior, to effect that one truly wonderful work.
3) As all things owe their existence to the will of the only one, so all things owe their origin to the one only thing, the most hidden by the arrangement of the only God.
4) The father of that one only thing is the sun its mother is the moon,
5) the wind carries it in its belly; but its nourse is a spirituous earth.
6) That one only thing is the father of all things in the Universe.
6a) Its power is perfect,
7) after it has been united with a spirituous earth.
7a) Separate that spirituous earth from the dense or crude by means of a gentle heat, with much attention.
8) In great measure it ascends from the earth up to heaven, and descends again, newborn, on the earth, and the superior and the inferior are increased in power.
9) By this wilt thou partake of the honours of the whole world. And Darkness will fly from thee.
10) This is the strength of all powers. With this thou wilt be able to overcome all things and transmute all what is fine and what is coarse.
11a) In this manner the world was created;
12) the arrangements to follow this road are hidden.
13) For this reason I am called Chiram Telat Mechasot, one in essence, but three in aspect. In this trinity is hidden the wisdom of the whole world.
14) It is ended now, what I have said concerning the effects of the sun. Finish of the Tabula Smaragdina.
[See Hall 1977: CLVIII,]


From Madame Blavatsky


2) What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is similar to that which is below to accomplish the wonders of the one thing.
3) As all things were produced by the mediation of one being, so all things were produced from this one by adaption.
4) Its father is the sun, its mother the moon.
6a) It is the cause of all perfection throughout the whole earth.
7) Its power is perfect if it is changed into earth.
7a) Separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross, acting prudently and with judgement.
8 ) Ascend with the greatest sagacity from earth to heaven, and unite together the power of things inferior and superior;
9) thus you will possess the light of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly away from you.
10) This thing has more fortitude than fortitude itself, because it will overcome every subtile thing and penetrate every solid thing.
11a) By it the world was formed.
[Blavatsky 1972: 507.]


From Fulcanelli (translated from the French by Sieveking)


1) This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:-
2) As below, so above; and as above so below. With this knowledge alone you may work miracles.
3) And since all things exist in and eminate from the ONE Who is the ultimate Cause, so all things are born after their kind from this ONE.
4) The Sun is the father, the Moon the mother;
5) the wind carried it in his belly. Earth is its nurse and its guardian.
6) It is the Father of all things,
6a) the eternal Will is contained in it.
7) Here, on earth, its strength, its power remain one and undivded.
7a) Earth must be separated from fire, the subtle from the dense, gently with unremitting care.
8) It arises from the earth and descends from heaven; it gathers to itself the strength of things above and things below.
9) By means of this one thing all the glory of the world shall be yours and all obscurity flee from you.
10) It is power, strong with the strength of all power, for it will penetrate all mysteries and dispel all ignorance.
11a) By it the world was created.
12) From it are born manifold wonders, the means to achieving which are here given
13) It is for this reason that I am called Hermes Trismegistus; for I possess the three essentials of the philosophy of the universe.
14) This is is the sum total of the work of the Sun.
[Sadoul 1972: 25-6.]


From Fulcanelli, new translation


1) It is true without untruth, certain and most true:
2) that which is below is like that which is on high, and that which is on high is like that which is below; by these things are made the miracles of one thing.
3) And as all things are, and come from One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by adaption.
4) The Sun is the father and the Moon the mother.
5) The wind carries it in its stomach. The earth is its nourisher and its receptacle.
6 The Father of all the Theleme of the universal world is here.
6a) Its force, or power, remains entire,
7) if it is converted into earth.
7a) You separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently with great industry.
8) It climbs from the earth and descends from the sky, and receives the force of things superior and things inferior.
9) You will have by this way, the glory of the world and all obscurity will flee from you.
10) It is the power strong with all power, for it will defeat every subtle thing and penetrate every solid thing
11a) In this way the world was created.
12) From it are born wonderful adaptations, of which the way here is given.
13) That is why I have been called Hermes Tristmegistus, having the three parts of the universal philosophy.
14) This, that I have called the solar Work, is complete.
[Translated from Fulcanelli 1964: 312.]


From Idres Shah


1) The truth, certainty, truest, without untruth.
2 )What is above is like what is below. What is below is like what is above. The miracle of unity is to be attained.
3) Everything is formed from the contemplation of unity, and all things come about from unity, by means of adaptation.
4) Its parents are the Sun and Moon.
5) It was borne by the wind and nurtured by the Earth.
6) Every wonder is from it
6a) and its power is complete.
7) Throw it upon earth,
7a) and earth will separate from fire. The impalbable separated from the palpable.
8) Through wisdom it rises slowly from the world to heaven. Then it descends to the world combining the power of the upper and the lower.
9 )Thus you will have the illumination of all the world, and darkness will disappear.
10) This is the power of all strength- it overcomes that which is delicate and penetrates through solids.
11a) This was the means of the creation of the world.
12) And in the future wonderful developements will be made, and this is the way.
13) I am Hermes the Threefold Sage, so named because I hold the three elements of all wisdom.
14) And thus ends the revelation of the work of the Sun.
(Shah 1964: 198).


Hypothetical Chinese Original


1) True, true, with no room for doubt, certain, worthy of all trust.
2) See, the highest comes from the lowest, and the lowest from the highest; indeed a marvelous work of the tao.
3) See how all things originated from It by a single process.
4) The father of it (the elixir) is the sun (Yang), its mother the moon (Yin).
5) The wind bore it in its belly, and the earth nourished it.
6 )This is the father of wondrous works (changes and transformations), the guardian of mysteries,
6a) perfect in its powers, the animator of lights.
7) This fire will be poured upon the earth...
7a) So separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, acting prudently and with art.
8) It ascends from the earth to the heavens (and orders the lights above), then descends again to the earth; and in it is the power of the highest and the lowest.
9) Thus when you have the light of lights darkness will flee away from you.
10) With this power of powers (the elixir) you shall be able to get the mastery of every subtle thing, and be able to penetrate everything that is gross.
11a) In this way was the great world itself formed.
12) Hence thus and thus marvellous operations will be acheived.
[Slightly altered from Needham 1980: 371.]


TEXTUAL REMARKS


On #3 Some Latin texts have meditatione (contemplation), others mediatione (mediation). Some texts have adaptatione (by adaptation), some have adoptionis (by adoption).

On #6 ‘Telesmi' is a greek word, some texts have ‘thelesmi'.

On #6, 7 In some texts ‘Its Power is Complete' is a separate line. In the generally accepted reading, this runs into #7 producing ‘Its Power is complete if versa fuerit to earth'. Where possible this has been indicated by diving these lines in 6, 6a, 7, & 7a

On #7, 8 In some texts the ‘Wisdom, capacity' (magno ingenio) is read as referring to #7, and hence the operation of Separation is to be carried out ‘carefully', in other readings the ‘wisdom' is held to refer to #8 and the product of the Separation which thus ascends with ‘wisdom'.

Needham quotes Ruska to the effect that sections 3, 12 and 14 are probably late additions (op. cit)

COMMENTARIES


On #1
Hortulanus: "... the most true Sun is procreated by art. And he says most true in the superlative degree because the Sun generated by this art exceeds all natural Sun in all of its properties, medicinal and otherwise" (Davis modified by `Linden')

On #2
Albertus Magnus: Hermes says "the powers of all things below originate in the stars and constellations of the heavens: and that all these powers are poured down into all things below by the circle called Alaur, which is, they said, the first circle of the constellations". This descent is "noble when the materials receiving these powers are more like things above in their brightness and transparency; ignoble when the materials are confused and foul, so that the heavenly power is, as it were oppressed. Therefore they say that this is the reason why precious stones more than anything else have wonderful powers" (60 -61). While the "seven kinds of metals have their forms from the seven planets of the lower spheres" (168).

Hortulanus: "the stone is divided into two principle parts by the magistry, into a superior part which ascends above and into an inferior part which remains below fixed and clear. And these two parts moreover are concordant in their virtue since the inferior part is earth which is called nurse and ferment, and the superior part is the spirit which quickens the whole stone and raises it up. Wherfore separation made, and conjunction celebrated, many miracles are effected."

Burckhardt: "This refers to the reciprocal dependence of the active and the passive... essential form cannot be manifested without passive materia.. the efficacy of the spiritual power depends on the preparedness of the human ‘container' and vice versa.... ‘Above' and ‘below' are thus related to this one thing and complement one another in its regard".

Schumaker: "There are corresponding planes in various levels of creation, hence it is safe to draw analogies between macrocosm and microcosm, the mineral kingdom and the human, animal and vegetable kingdoms etc".

Needham: "the whole affirmation looks remarkably like the doctrine that extreme of Yang generates Yin, and vice versa".

On #3 
Hortulanus: "our stone, which was created by God, was born and came forth from a confused mass, containing in itself all the elements- and hence our stone was born by this single miracle".

Trithemius: "Is it not true that all things flow from one thing, from the goodness of the One, and that whatever is joined to Unity cannot be diverse, but rather fructifies by means of the simplicity and adaptability of the One" "What is born from Unity? Is it not the ternary? Take note: Unity is unmixed, the binary is compounded, and the ternary is reduced to the simplicity of Unity. I, Trithemius, am not of three minds, but persist in a single integrated mind taking pleasure in the ternary, which gives birth to a marvelous offspring" (Bran)

Burckhardt: "the undivided, invisible Light of the unconditioned One is refracted into multiplicity by the prism of the Spirit". As the Spirit contemplates the Unity without full comprehension "it manifests the ‘many-sided' All, just as a lens transmits the light it receives as a bundle of rays".

Schumaker: As God is one, all created objects come from one thing, an undifferentiated primal matter.

On #4
Hortulanus: " As one animal naturally generates more animals similar to itself, so the Sun artificially generates Sun by the power of multiplication of...the stone.... in this artificial generation it is necessary that the Sun have a suitable receptacle, consonant with itself, for its sperm and its tincture, and this is the Luna of the philosophers"

Redgrove: Sun and Moon "probably stand for Spirit and Matter respectively, not gold and silver".

Burckhardt: Sun "is the spirit (nous), while the moon is the soul (psyche)".

Schumaker: "If the moon is associated with water, as because of its ‘moisture' [as] was usual, and the sun with fire, the prima materia is understood to have been generated by fire, born of water, brought down from the sky by wind, and nourished by earth".

On #5
Albertus Magnus: by this Hermes "means the levigatio [making light weight] of the material, raising it to the properties of Air. And why he says the wind carries the material [of the stone] in its belly is that, when the material is placed in an alembic- which is a vessel made like those in which rosewater is prepared- then by evapouration it is rendered subtle and is raised towards the properties of Air... And there distills and issues from the mouth of the alembic a watery or oily liquor with all the powers of the elements" (17). In metals the moisture is not separated from the dryness, but is dissolved in it; and being so dissolved, it moves about there as if it had been swallowed by the Earth and were moving about in its bowels. And on this account Hermes said ‘The mother of metal is Earth that carries it in her belly'".

Hortulanus: "It is plain that wind is air, and air is life, and life is spirit... And thus it is necessary that the wind should bear the whole stone.... [However] our stone without the ferment of the earth will never come to the effect, which ferment is called food"

Trithemius: "the wind carries its seed in her belly".

Maier: By "the wind carried him in its belly" Hermes means " ‘He, whose father is the Sun, and whose mother is the Moon, will be carried before he is born, by wind and vapour, just as a flying bird is carried by air'. From the vapours of winds, which are nothing else but wind in motion, water proceeds, when condensed, and from that water, mixed with earth, all minerals and metals arise". The substance carried by the wind is "in chemical respect.. the sulphur, which is carried in mercury". Lull says "‘The stone is the fire, carried in the belly of the air'. In physical respect it is the unborn child that will soon be born". To be clearer, "‘All mercury is composed of vapours, that is to say of water, which the earth raises along with it into the thin air, and of earth, which the air compels to return into watery earth or earthy water" As the elements contained within are each reduced to a watery condition, they either follow the volatile elements upward as in common mercury, or they stay below with the solid elements as in philosophical Mercury "and in the solid metals". So "Mercury is the wind which receives the sulphur... as the unripe fruit from the mothers womb, or from the ashes of the burnt mother's body and takes it to a place where it may ripen". Ripley says "our child shall be born in the air, that is the belly of the wind" [de Jong 1969: 55- 7.]

Maier (2nd Comment) on "The earth is its nurse": Food changes into the substance of the eater and is then assimilated. "This harmony dominates the whole of nature, for the like enjoys the like". The same happens in the Work and Nature "just as is the growth of the child in the mother's womb. So also a father, a mother and a nurse have been attributed to the philosophical child... it comes into being from the twofold seed and then grows as an embryo does". As a woman must moderate her diet to avoid miscarriage, "in the same way one must set about philosophical work with moderation". The Seeds also have to be united. "Philosophers say that the one comes from the East and the other from the West and become one; what does this mean but combining in a retort, a moderate temperature and nourishment?". "One may wonder why the earth is referred to as the nurse of the philosophic child, since barreness and dryness are the main properties of the element earth". The answer is that not the element, but the whole Earth is meant. "It is the nurse of Heaven not because it resolves, washes and moistens the foetus, but because it coagulates, fastens and colours the latter and changes it into sap and blood... The Earth contains a wonderful juice which changes the nature of the one who feeds on it, as Romulus is believed to have been changed by the wolf's milk into a bellicose individual" [de Jong 1969: 63 -5.]

Burckhardt: "The wind which carries the spiritual germ in its body, is the vital breath". Vital breath is the substance of the realm between heaven and earth, it "is also Quicksilver which contains the germ of gold in a liquid state". The earth is "the body, as an inward reality".

On #6
Burckhardt: the word talisman is derived from Telesma. Talismans work by corresponding to their prototype, and by making a "‘condensation', on the subtle plane, of a spiritual state. This explains the similarity between the talisman, as the bearer of an invisible influence, and the alchemical elixir, as the ‘ferment' of metallic transformation".

On #7
Hortulanus: The stone is perfect and complete if it is turned into earth "that is if the soul of the stone itself.... is turned into earth, namely of the stone and is fixed so that the whole substance of the stone becomes one with its nurse, namely the earth, and the whole stone is converted to ferment"

Trithemius: it is the seed from #5 that must be cast upon the earth.

Bacstrom: "Process- First Distillation".

Burckhardt: "when the Spirit is ‘embodied', the volatile becomes fixed".

Schumaker: if the prime matter is to be used it must be fixed into a substance "capable of being handled".

On #7a 
Hortulanus: "You will separate, that is, you will dissolve, because solution is separation of parts.."

Burkhardt: The separation "means the ‘extraction' of the soul from the body".

Schumaker "Since the volatile principle is fire -or sometimes, air- stability is produced by its removal. Or, alternatively but less probably, the earth is impurity (‘the gross') and a purified fire (‘the subtle') is
what is wanted.

On #8
Albertus Magnus: In intending to teach the operations of alchemy Hermes says the stone "‘ascends to heaven' when by roasting and calcination it takes on the properties of Fire; for alchemists mean by calcinatio the reduction of material to to powder by burning and roasting. And the material ‘again descends from heaven to earth' when it takes on the properties of Earth by inhumatio, for inhumation revives and nourishes what was previously killed by calcination".

Hortulanus: "And now he deals with multiplication [of the stone]." "Although our stone is divided in the first operation into four parts... there are really two principle parts". The ascending, non fixed, and the earth or ferment. "It is necessary to have a large quantity of this non fixed part and to give it to the stone which has been made thoroughly clean from dirt.... until the entire stone is borne above by the virtue of the spirit"
"Afterwards it is necessary to incerate the same stone,..with the oil that was extracted in the first operation, which oil is called the water of the stone" Roast or boil by sublimation until the "entire stone descends... and remains fixed and fluent". "That which is coporeal is made spiritual by sublimation, and that which is spiritual is made corporeal by descension".

Trithemius: "When the ternary has at last returned to itself it may, by an inner disposition and great delight, ascend from the earth to heaven, thereby receiving both superior and inferior power; thus will it be made powerful and glorious in the clarity of Unity, demonstrate its ability to bring forth every number, and put to flight all obscurity".

Bacstrom: "Last Digestion". "The Azoth ascends from the Earth, from the bottom of the Glass, and redescends in Veins and drops into the Earth and by this continual circulation the Azoth is more and more subtilised, Volatilizes Sol and carries the volatilized Solar atoms along with it and thereby becomes a Solar Azoth, i.e. our third and genuine Sophic Mercury". The circulation must continue until "it ceases of itself, and the Earth has sucked it all in, when it becomes the black pitchy matter, the Toad [the substances in the alchemical retort and also the lower elements in the body of man -Hall], which denotes complete putrifaction or Death of the compound".

Read, suggests this section describes the use of a kerotakis, in which metals are suspended and subject to the action of gasses released from substances heated in the base, and from their condensation and circulation.

Burckhardt: "dissolution of consciousness from all formal ‘coagulations' is
followed by the ‘crystalisation' of the Spirit, so that active and passive are perfectly united."

Schumaker: "Separate the volatile part of the substance by vaporization but continue heating until the vapour reunites with the parent body, whereupon you will have obtained the Stone".

On #9 
Trithemius: When the ternary has returned to Unity cleansed of all impurities "the mind understands without contradiction all the mysteries of the excellently arranged arcanum".

Bacstrom: the black matter becomes White and Red. The Red "having been carried to perfection, medicinaly and for Metals" is capable of supporting complete mental and physical health, and provides "ample means, in finitum multiplicable to be benevolent and charitable, without any dimunation of our inexhaustable resources, therefore well may it be called the Glory of the whole World". Contemplation and study of the Philosopher's Stone ("L. P.") elevates the mind to God. "The Philosophers say with great Truth, that the L.P. either finds a good man or makes one". "By invigorating the Organs the Soul makes use of for communicating with exterior objects, the Soul must aquire greater powers, not only for conception but also for retention". If we pray and have faith "all Obscurity must vanish of course".

Burckhardt: "Thus the light of the Spirit becomes constant..[and] ignorance, deception, uncertainty, doubt and foolishness will be removed from consciousness".

On #10 
Trithemius: The Philosopher's Stone is another name for the ‘one thing', and is able to "conquer every subtile thing and to penetrate every solid". "This very noble virtue... consists of maximal fortitude, touching everything with its desirable excellence".

Bacstrom: "The L.P. does possess all the Powers concealed in Nature, not for destruction but for exhaltation and regeneration of matter, in the three Departments of Nature". "It refixes the most subtil Oxygen into its own firey Nature". The power increases "in a tenfold ratio, at every multiplication". So it can penetrate Gold and Silver, and fix mercury, Crystals and Glass Fluxes.

Burckhardt: "Alchemical fixation is nevertheless more inward... Through its union with the spirit bodily consciousness itself becomes a fine and penetrating power". He quotes Jabir "The body becomes a spirit, and takes on... fineness, lightness, extensibility, coloration... The spirit... becomes a body and aquires the latter's resistance to fire, immobility and duration. From both bodies a light substance is born , which.. precisely takes up a middle position between the two extremes".

Schumaker: The product of the distillation and reunion will "dominate less solid substances, but because of its own subtlety it will ‘penetrate' and hence dominate, other solid things less pure and quasi-spiritual than itself".

On #11 
Burckhardt: "the little world is created according to the prototype of the great world", when the human realises their original nature is the image of God.

Schumaker: "The alchemical operation is a paradigm of the creative process. We may note the sexual overtones of what has preceeded"

On #12
Burckhardt: "In the Arabic text this is: “This way is traversed by the sages".

On #13 
Hortulanus: "He here teaches in an occult manner the things from which the stone is made." "the stone is called perfect because it has in itself the nature of minerals, ofvegetables and of animals. For the stone is three and one, tripple and single, having four natures.... and three colours, namely black, white and red. It is also called the grain of corn because unless it shall have died, it remains itself alone. And if it shall have died... it bears much fruit when it is in conjunction..."

Newton: "on account of this art Mercurius is called thrice greatest, having three parts of the philosophy of the whole world, since he signifies the Mercury of the philosophers.... and has dominion in the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the animal kingdom".

Bacstrom: the wisdom of the world (?) is hidden in "Chiram and its Use". Hermes "signifies a Serpent, and the Serpent used to be an Emblem of Knowledge or Wisdom."

Burckhardt: "The three parts of wisdom correspond to the three great divisions of the universe, namely, the spiritual, psychic and corporeal realms, whose symbols are heaven, air and earth".

Schumaker: "The usual explanation of Tristmegistus.. is that Hermes was the greatest philosopher, the greatest priest, and the greatest king".


General



Trithemius: "our philosophy is celestial, not worldly, in order that we may faithfuly behold, by means of a direct intuition of the mind through faith and knowledge, that principle which we call God...."

Trithemius: "Study generates knowledge; knowledge prepares love; love, similarity; similarity, communion; communion, virtue; virtue, dignity; dignity, power; and power performs the miracle".

Newton "Inferior and superior, fixed and volatile, sulphur and quicksilver have a similar nature and are one thing, like man and wife. For they differ from one another only by degree of digestion and maturity. Sulphur is mature quicksilver, and quicksilver is immature sulphur: and on account of this affinity they unite like male and female, and they act on each other, and through that action they are mutually transmuted into each other and procreate a more noble offspring to accomplish the miracles of this one thing". "And just as all things were created from one Chaos by the design of one God, so in our art all things... are born from this one thing which is our Chaos, by the design of the Artificer and the skilful adaptation of things. And the generation of this is similar to the human, truly from a father and mother".

Blavatsky: the mysterious thing "is the universal, magical agent, the astral light, which in the correlations of its forces furnishes the alkahest, the philosopher's stone, and the elixir of life. Hermetic philosophy names it Azoth, the soul of the world, the celestial virgin, the great Magnes, etc" It appears to be that which gives organisation ("the maze of force-correlations"), and form i.e. the perfect geometry of snowflakes.

Sherwood Taylor: "the operation of the Sun.. was carried out by a ‘spirit', universal, the source of all things, having the power of perfecting them. Its virtue is integral [# 6a] (ie having the power to convert the diverse into a single substance), if it be turned into earth (ie. solidified). This conveyed that the Stone was to be a solidified pneuma. Pneuma was the link between earth and heaven, having the virtue of the celestial and subterranean regions- the power of the whole cosmos from the fixed stars to the centre of the earth. It overcomes every nature and penetrates every solid. It is the source of the whole world and so it can be the means of changing things in a wonderful way. The three parts of the philosophy of the whole world are presumably of the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean regions".

Shah: The table is "the same as the Sufi dictum... ‘Man is the microcosm, creation the macrocosm - the unity. All comes from One. By the joining of the power of contemplation all can be attained. This essence must be separated from the body first, then combined with the body. This is the Work. Start with yourself, end with all. Before man, beyond man, transformation'".


A COMMENTARY OF IBN UMAIL


HERMUS said the secret of everything and the life of everything is Water.... This water becomes in wheat, ferment; in the vine, wine; in the olive, olive oil.... The begining of the child is from water.... Regarding this spiritual water and the sanctified and thirsty earth, HERMUS the great, crowned with the glorious wisdom and the sublime sciences, said [#1] Truth it is, indubtible, certain and correct, [#2] that the High is from the Low and the Low is from the High. They bring about wonders through the one, just as things are produced from that one essence by a single preparation. Later by his statement [#4] Its father is the Sun and its mother the Moon he meant their male and their female. They are the two birds which are linked together in the pictures given regarding the beginning of the operation, and from them the spiritual tinctures are produced. And similarly they are at the end of the operation. Later in his statement [#7 ?] the subtle is more honourable than the gross, he means by the subtle the divine spiritual water; and by the gross the earthly body. As for his later statement [#8] with gentleness and wisdom it will ascend from the earth to the sky, and will take fire from the higher lights, he means by this the distillation and the raising of the water into the air. As for his later statement [#8a] It will descend to the earth, containing the strength of the high and the low, he means by this the breathing in (istinshaq) of the air, and the taking of the spirit from it, and its subsequent elevation to the highest degree of heat, and it is the Fire, and the low is the body, and its content of the controlling earthly power which imparts the colours. For there lie in it those higher powers, as well as the earthly powers which were submerged in it.

The natural operation and decay causes it to be manifest, and hence the strength of the earth, and of the air, and of the higher fire passed in to it. Later he said [#9] it will overcome the high and the low because it in it is found the light of lights: and consequently the darkness will flee
from it. [See Stapleton et al. p 74, 81.]


APPENDIX


Translation from Roger Bacon's edition of Secretum Secretorum made c 1445

1)Trouth hath hym so, and it is no doubt,
2) that the lover is to the heigher, and the heigher to the lower aunsweren.
The worcher forsoth of all myracles is the one and sool God, of and fro Whom Cometh all meruelous operacions.
3) So all thynges were created of o soole substance, and of o soole disposicion,
4 ) the fader wherof is the sone, and the moone moder,
5) that brought hym forth by blast or aier in the wombe, the erthe taken fro it,
6) to whom is seid the increat fader, tresour of myracles, and yever of vertues.
7) Of fire is made erthe.
7a) Depart the erthe fro the fire, for the sotiller is worthier than the more grosse, and the thynne thynge than the thik. This most be do wisely and discretly.
8) It ascendith fro the erth into the heven, and falleth fro heven to the erthe, and therof sleith the higher and the lower vertue.
9)And yf it lordship in the lower and in the heigher, and thow shalt lordship aboue and beneth, which forsoth is the light of lightes, and therfor fro the wolle fle all derknesse.
10) The higher vertue ouer-cometh all, for sothe all thynne thyng doth in dense thynges.
11a) After the disposicion of the more world rynneth this worchyng.
13) And for this prophetisyng of the trynyte of God Hermogenes it called Triplex, trebil in philosophie, as Aristotle seith.

[See Manzalaoui 1977: 65 -6.]


Translation of same source, made c. 1485.

1) The trwthe is so, and that it is no dowght,
2) that lower thyngis to hyer thyng, and hyer to lower be correspondent. But the Werker of myraclis is on Godde alone, fro Home descendyth euiry meruulus werk.
3)And so alle thyngis be creat of one only substauns, be an only dysposicion,
4) of home the fadyr is the sonne, and the mone the modyr,
5 ) qwyche bar her be the wedyr in the wombe. The erthe is priuyd fro her-to.
6 )This is clepyd or seyd the fadyr of enchauntmentis, tresur of myracclys, the
yessuer of vertuys.
7) Be a lytil it is made erthe.
7a) Depart that qwyche is erthly fro that qwyche is fi Fry, for that qwyche is sotel is mor wurthy han that qwyche is grose, and that rar, porous, or lyght, is mor bettyr than qwiche is thyk of substauns. This is done wyseli or dyscretly.
8) It ascendyth fro the erth in-to heuyn and fallyth fro heuyn in-to erth, and ther-of it sleth the ouyr vertu and the nedyr vertu, so it hath lorchyp in the lowe thyngis and hye thingis,
9) and thu lordschyppist vppeward and downward, and with the is the lyght of lyghtys. And for that alle derkness schal fle fro the.
10) The ovyr vetu ouircomyth alle, for euiry rar rhyng werkyth in to euiry thyk thyng.
11a) And aftyr the dysposicion of the mor world rennyth thys werking.
13) And for that Hermogines is clepyd threfold in filosophye, and of the meruellys of he world.
[See Manzalaoui 1977: 174-5]

The Golden Tractate of Hermes Trismegistus


Aureus or the Golden Tractate of Hermes


Section I

Even thus saith Hermes: Through long years I have not ceased to experiment, neither have I have spared any labour of mind And this science and art I have obtained by the sole inspiration of the living God, who judged fit to open them to me His servant, who has given to rational creatures the power of thinking and judging aright, forsaking none, or giving to any occasion to despair. For myself, I had never discovered this matter to anyone had it not been from fear of the day of judgment, and the perdition of my soul if I concealed it. It is a debt which I am desirous to discharge to the Faithful, as the Father of the faithful did liberally bestow it upon me.
Understand ye, then, 0 Sons Of Wisdom, that the knowledge of the four elements Or the ancient philosophers was not corporally or imprudently sought after, which are through patience to be discovered, according to their causes and their occult operation. But, their operation is occult, since nothing is done except the matter be decompounded, and because it is not perfected unless the colours be thoroughly passed and accomplished. Know then, that the division that was made upon the water by the ancient philosophers separates it into four substances; one into two, and three into one; the third part of which is colour, as it were-a coagulated moisture; but the second and third waters are the Weights of the Wise.
Take of the humidity, or moisture, an ounce and a half, and or the Southern redness, which is the soul of gold, a fourth part, that is to say, half-an-ounce of the citrine Seyre, in like manner, half-an-ounce of the Auripigment, half-an-ounce, which are eight; that is three ounces. And know ye that the vine of the wise is drawn forth in three, but the wine thereof is not perfected, until at length thirty be accomplished
Understand the operation, therefore. Decoction lessens the matter, but the tincture augments it; because Luna in fifteen days is diminished; and in the third she is augmented. This is the beginning and the end. Behold, I have declared that which was hidden, since the work is both with thee and about thee - that which was within is taken out and fixed, and thou canst have it either in earth or sea.
Keep, therefore, thy Argent vive, which is prepared in the innermost chamber in which it is coagulated; for that is the Mercury which is separated from the residual earth.
He, therefore, who now hears my words, let him search into them; which are to justify no evil-doer, but to benefit the good; therefore, I have discovered all things that were before hidden concerning this knowledge, and disclosed the greatest of all secrets, even the Intellectual Science.
Know ye, therefore, Children of Wisdom, who enquire concerning the report thereof, that the vulture standing upon the mountain crieth out with a loud voice, I am the White of the Black, and the Red of the White, and the Citrine of the Red, and behold I speak the very truth.
And know that the chief principle of the art is the Crow, which is the blackness of the night and clearness of the day, and flies without wings. From the bitterness existing in the throat the tincture is taken, the red goes forth from his body, and from his back is taken a thin water.
Understand, therefore, and accept this gift of God which is hidden from the thoughtless world. In the caverns of the metals there is hidden the stone that is venerable, splendid in colour, a mind sublime, and an open sea. Behold, I have declared it unto thee; give thanks to God, who teacheth thee this knowledge, for He in return recompenses the grateful.
Put the matter into a moist fire, therefore, and cause it to boil in order that its heat may be augmented, which destroys the siccity of the incombustible nature, until the radix shall appear; then extract the redness and the light parts, till only about a third remains
Sons of Science ! For this reason are philosophers said to be envious, not that they grudged the truth to religious or just men, or to the wise; but to fools, ignorant and vicious, who are without self-control and benevolence, least they should be made powerful and able to perpetrate sinful things. For of such the philosophers are made accountable to God, and evil men are not admitted worthy of this wisdom.
Know that this matter I call the stone; but it is also named the feminine of magnesia or the hen, or the white spittle, or the volatile milk, the incombustible oil in order that it may be hidden from the inept and ignorant who are deficient in goodness and self-control; which I have nevertheless signified to the wise by oneonly epithet, viz., the Philosopher's Stone.
Include, therefore, and conserve in this sea, the fire and the heavenly bird, to the latest moment of his exit. But I deprecate ye all, Sons of Philosophy, on whom the great gift of this knowledge being bestowed, if any should undervalue or divulge the power thereof to the ignorant, or such as are unfit for the knowledge of this secret. Behold, I have received nothing from any to whom I have not returned that which had been given me, nor have I failed to honour him; even in this I have reposed the highest confidence.
This, O Son, is the concealed stone of many colours, which is born and brought forth in one colour; know this and conceal it. By this, the Almighty favouring, the greatest diseases are escaped, and every sorrow, distress, and evil and hurtful thing is made to depart; for it leads from darkness into light, from this desert wilderness to a secure habitation, and from poverty and straits to a free and ample fortune.

SECTION II.

MY SON, before all things I admonish thee to fear God, in whom is the strength of thy undertaking, and the bond of whatsoever thou meditatest to unloose; whatsoever thou hearest, consider it rationally. For I hold thee not to be a fool. Lay hold, therefore, of my instructions and meditate upon them, and so let thy heart be fitted also to conceive, as if thou wast thyself the author of that which I now teach. If thou appliest cold to any nature that is hot, it will not hurt it; in like manner, he who is rational shuts himself within from the threshold of ignorance; lest supinely he should be deceived.
Take the flying bird and drown it flying and divide and separate it from its pollutions, which yet hold it in death; draw it forth, and repel it from itself, that it may live and answer thee; not by flying away into the regions above but by truly forbearing to fly. For if thou shalt deliver it out of its prison, after this thou shalt govern it according to Reason. and according to the days that I shall teach thee; then will it become a companion up to thee, and by it thou wilt become to be an honoured lord.
Extract from the racy its shadow, and from the light its obscurity, by which the clouds hang over it and keep away the light; by means of its construction, also, and fiery redness, it is burned
Take, my Son, this redness, corrupted with the water, which is as a live coal holding the fire, which if thou shalt withdraw so often until the redness is made pure, then it will associate with thee, by whom it was cherished, and in whom it rests.
Return, then, O my Son, the coal being extinct in life, upon the water for thirty days, as I shall note to thee - and henceforth thou art a crowned king, resting over the fountain and drawing from thence the Auripigment dry without moisture. And now I have made the heart of the hearers, hoping in thee, to rejoice even in their eyes, beholding thee in anticipation of that which thou possessest.
Observe, then, that the water was first in the air, then in the earth; restore thou it also to the superiors by its proper windings, and not foolishly altering it; then to the former spirit, fathered in its redness, let it be carefully conjoined.
Know, my Son, that the fatness of our earth is sulphur, the auripigment sirety, and colcothar, which are also sulphur, of which auripigments, sulphur, and such like, some are more vile than others, in which there is a diversity, of which kind also) is the fat of gluey matters, such as are hair, nails, hoofs, and sulphur itself, and of the brain, which too is auripigment; of the like kind also are the lions' and cats' claws, which is sirety; the fat of white bodies, and the fat of the two oriental quicksilvers, which sulphurs are hunted and retained by the bodies.
I say, moreover, that this sulphur doth tinge and fix, and is held by the conjunction of the tinctures; oils also tinge, but fly away, which in the body are contained, which is a conjunction of fugitives only with sulphurs and albumninous bodies, which hold also and detain the fugitive ens.
The disposition sought after by the philosophers, O Son, is but one in our egg; but this, in the hen's egg, is much less to be found. But lest so much of the Divine Wisdom as is in a hen's egg should not be distinguished, our composition is, as that is, from the four elements Adapted and composed. Know, therefore, that in the hen's egg is the greatest help with respect to the proximity and relationship of the matter in nature, for in it there is a spirituality and conjunction of elements, and an earth which is golden in its tincture. But the Son, enquiring or Hermes, saith, The sulphurs which are fit for our work, whether are they celestial or terrestrial ? To whom the Father answers, Certain of them are heavenly, and some are of the earth.
Then the Son saith, Father, I imagine the heart in the superiors to be heaven, and in the inferiors earth. But saith Hermes, It is not so; the masculine truly is the Heaven of the feminine, and the feminine is the earth of the masculine.
The Son then asks, Father, which of these is more worthy than the other; whether is it the heaven or the earth? Hermes replies, Both need the help one of the other; for the precepts demand a medium. But, saith the Son, if thou shalt say that a wise man governs all mankind? But ordinary men, replies Hermes, are better for them, because every nature delights in society of its own kind, and so we find it to be in the life of Wisdom where equals are conjoined. But what, rejoins the Son, is the mean betwixt them ? To whom Hermes replies, In everything In nature there are three from two: the beginning, the middle, and the end. First the needful water, then the oily tincture, and lastly, the faeces, or earth, which remains below But the Dragon inhabits in all these, and his houses are the darkness and blackness that is in them and by them he ascends into the air, from his rising, which is their heaven. But whilst the fume remains in them, they are not immortal. Take away, therefore, the vapour from the water, and the blackness from the oily tincture, and death from the faeces; and by dissolution thou shalt possess a triumphant reward, even that in and by which the possessors live.
Know then, my Son, that the temperate unguent, which is fire, is the medium between the faeces and the water and is the Perscrutinator of the water. For the unguents are called sulphurs, because between fire and oil and this sulphur there is such a chose proximity, that even as fire burns so does the sulphur also.
All the sciences of the world, O Son are comprehended in this my hidden Wisdom; and this, and the learning of the Art, consists in these wonderful hidden elements which it doth discover and complete. It behoves him, therefore, who would be introduced to this hidden Wisdom, to free himself from the hidden usurpations of vice; and to be just, and good, and of a sound reason, ready at hand to help mankind, of a serene countenance, diligent to save, and be himself a patient guardian of the arcane secrets of philosophy.
And this know that except thou understandest how to mortify and induce generation, to vivify the Spirit, and introduce Light, until they fight with each other and grow white and freed from their defilements, rising as it were from blackness and darkness, thou knowest nothing nor canst perform anything; but if thou knowest this, thou wilt be of a great dignity so that even kings themselves shall reverence thee. These secrets, Son, it behoves thee to conceal from the vulgar and profane world.
Understand, also, that our Stone is from many things, and of various colours, and composed from four elements which we ought to divide and dissever in pieces, and segregate, in the veins, and partly mortifying the same by its proper nature, which is also in it, to preserve the water and fire dwelling therein, which is from the four elements and their waters, which contain its water; this, however, is not water in its true form, but fire, containing in a pure vessel the ascending waters, lest the espirits should fly away from the bodies; for by this means they are made tinging and fixed.
O, blessed watery form, that dissolvest the elements: Now it behoves us, with this watery soul, to possess ourselves of a sulphurous form, and to mingle the same with our Acetum. For when, by the power of the water, the composition is dissolved, it is the key of the restoration; then darkness and death fly away from them, and Wisdom proceeds onwards to the fulfillment of her Law.

SECTION III.

Know my Son, that the philosophers bind up their matter with a strong chain, that it may contend with the Fire; because the spirits in the washed bodies desire to dwell therein and to rejoice. In these habitations they verify themselves and inhabit there, and the bodies hold them, nor can they be thereafter separated any more.
The dead elements are revived, the composed bodies tinge and are altered, and by a wonderful process they are made permanent, as saith the philosopher.
O, permanent watery Form, creatrix of the royal elements; who, having with thy brethren and a just government obtained the tincture, findest rest. Our most precious stone is cast forth upon the dunghill, and that which is most worthy is made vilest of the vile. Therefore, it behoves us to mortify two Argent vives together, both to venerate and be venerated, viz., the Argent vive of Auripigment, and the oriental Argent vive of Magnesia
O, Nature, the most potent creatrix of Nature, which containest and separatest natures in a middle principle. The Stone comes with light, and with light it is generated, and then it generates and brings forth the black clouds or darkness, which is the mother of all things.
But when we marry the crowned King to our red daughter, and in a gentle fire, not hurtful, she doth conceive an excellent and supernatural son, which permanent life she doth also feed with a subtle heat, so that he lives at length in our fire.
But when thou shalt send forth thy fire upon the foliated sulphur, the boundary of hearts doth enter in above, it is washed in the same, and the purified matter thereof is extracted.
Then is he transformed, and his tincture by help of the fire remains red, as it were flesh. But our Son, the king begotten, takes his tincture from the fire, and death even, and darkness, and the waters flee away.
The Dragon shuns the sunbeams which dart through the crevices, and our dead son lives; king comes forth from the fire and rejoins with his spouse, the occult treasures are laid open, and the virgin's milk is whitened. The Son, already vivified is become a warrior in the fire and of tincture super-excellent. For this Son is himself the treasury, even himself bearing the Philosophic Matter.
Approach, ye Sons of Wisdom, and rejoice; let us now rejoice together, for the reign of death is finished, and the Son doth rule. And now he is invested with the red garment, and the scarlet colour is put on.

SECTION IV.

Understand, then, O Son of Wisdom, what the Stone declares; Protect me, and I will protect thee; increase my strength that I may help thee ! My Sol and my beams are most inward and secretly in me my own Luna, also, my light, exceeding every light, and my good things are better than all other good things. I give freely, and reward the intelligent with joy and gladness, glory, riches, and delights; and them that seek after me I make to know and understand, and to possess divine things. Behold, that which the philosophers has concealed is written with seven letters; for Alpha and Yda follow two; and Sol, in like manner, follows the book; nevertheless, if thou art willing that he should have Dominion, observe the Art, and join the son to the daughter of the water, which, Jupiter and a hidden secret.
Auditor, understand, let us use our Reason; consider all with the most accurate investigation, which in the contemplative part I have demonstrated to thee, the whole matter I know to be the one only thing. But who is he that understands the true investigation and enquires rationally into this matter? It is not from man, nor from anything like him or akin to him, nor from the ox or bullock, and if any creature conjoins with one of another species, that which is brought forth is neutral from either.
Thus saith Venus: I beget light, nor is the darkness of my nature, and if my metal be not dried all bodies desire me, for I liquefy them and wipe away their rust, even I extract their substance. Nothing therefore is better or more venerable than I, my brother also being conjoined.
But the King, the ruler, to his brethren, testifying of him, saith: I am crowned, and I am adorned with a royal diadem: I am clothed with the royal garment, and I bring Joy and gladness of heart; for being chained, I caused my substance to lay hold of, and to rest within the arms and breast of my mother, and to fasten upon her substance; making that which was invisible to become visible, and the occult matter to appear. And everything which the philosophers have hidden is generated by us. Hear, then, these words, and understand them; keep them, and meditate thereon, and seek for nothing more. Man in the beginning is generated of nature, whose inward substance is fleshy, and not from anything else. Meditate on these plain things, and reject what is superfluous.
Thus saith the philosopher: Botri is made from the citrine which is extracted out of the Red Root, and from nothing else; and if it be citrine and nothing else, Wisdom was with thee: it was not gotten by the care, nor, if it be freed from redness, by thy study. Behold, I have circumscribed nothing; if thou hast understanding, there be but few things unopened. Ye Sons of Wisdom ! turn then the Breym Body with an exceeding great fire; and it will yield gratefully what you desire. And see that you make that which is volatile, so that it cannot fly, and by means of that which flies not. And that which yet rests upon the fire, as it were itself a fiery flame, and that which in the heat of a boiling fire is corrupted, is cambar.
And know ye that the Art of this permanent water is our brass, and the colourings of its tincture and blackness is then changed into the true red.
I declare that, by the help of God I have spoken nothing but the truth. That which is destroyed is renovated, and hence the corruption is made manifest in the matter to be renewed, and hence the melioration will appear, and on either side it is a signal of Art.

SECTION V.

MY SON, that which is born of the crow is the beginning of Art. Behold, how I have obscured matter treated of, by circumlocution, depriving thee of the light. Yet this dissolved, this joined, this nearest and furtherest off I have named to thee. Roast those things, therefore, and boil them in that which comes from the horse's belly for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days. Then will the Dragon eat his own wings and destroy himself; this being done, let it be put into a fiery furnace, which lute diligently, and observe that none of the spirit may escape.
And know that the periods of the earth are in the water, which let it be as long as until thou puttest the same upon it. The matter being thus melted and burned take the brain thereof and triturate it in most sharp vinegar, till it becomes obscured. This done, it lives in the putrefaction, let the dark clouds which were in it before it was killed be converted into its own body. Let this process be repeated, as I have described, let it again die, as I before said, and then it lives.
In the life and death thereof we work with the spirits, for as it dies by the taking away of the spirit, so it lives in the return and is revived and rejoices therein. Being arrived then at this knowledge, that which thou hast been searching for is made in the Affirmation, I have even related to thee the joyful signs, even that which doth fix the body. But these things, and how they attained to the knowledge of this secret, are given by our ancestors in figures and types; behold, they are dead; I have opened the riddle, and the book of knowledge is revealed, the hidden things I have uncovered, and have brought together the scattered truths within their boundary, and have conjoined many various forms -even I have associated the spirit. Take it as the gift of God.

SECTION VI.

It behoves thee to give thanks to God who has bestowed liberally of his bounty to the wise, who delivers us from misery and poverty. I am tempted and proven with the fullness of his substance and his probable wonders, and humbly pray God that whilst we live we may come to him. Remove thence, O Sons of Science, the unguents which we extract from fats, hair, verdigrease, tragacanth, and bones, which are written in the books of our fathers. But concerning the ointments which contain the tincture coagulate the fugitive, and adorn the sulphurs it behooves us to explain their disposition more at large ! and to unveil the Form, which is buried and hidden from other unguents; which is seen in disposition, but dwells in his own body, as fire in trees and stones, which by the most subtle art and ingenuity it behoves to extract without burning. And know that the Heaven is to be joined mediately with the Earth - but the Form is in a middle nature between tie heaven and earth, which is our water. But the water holds of all the first place which goes forth from this stone; but the second is gold; and the third is gold, only in a mean which is more noble than the water and the faeces. But in these are the smoke, the blackness and the death. It behoves us, therefore, to dry away the vapour from the water, to expel the blackness from the unguent, and death from the feces, and this by dissolution. By Which means we attain to the highest philosophy and secret of all hidden things.

SECTION VII.

Know ye then, O Sons of Science, there are seven bodies, of which gold is the first, the most perfect, the king of them, and their head, which neither the earth can corrupt nor fire devastate, nor the water change, for its complexion is equalised, and its nature regulated with respect to heat, cold, and moisture; nor is there anything in it which is superfluous, therefore the philosophers do buoy up and magnify themselves init saying that this gold, in relation of other bodies. is, as the sun amongst the stars, more splendid in Light; and as, by the power of God, every vegetable and all the fruits of the earth are perfected, so gold by the same power sustainneth all.
For as dough without a ferment cannot be fermented so when thou sublimest the body and purifiest it, separating the uncleanness from it, thou wilt then conjoin and mix them together, and put in the ferment confecting the earth and water. Then will the Ixir ferment even as dough doth ferment. Think of this, and see how the ferment in this case doth change the former natures to another thing. Observe, also, that there is no ferment otherwise than from the dough itself.
Observe, moreover, that the ferment whitens the confection and hinders it from turning, and holds the tincture lest it should fly, and rejoice the bodies, and makes them intimately to join and to enter one into another, and this is the key of the philosophers and the end of their work: and by this science, bodies are meliorated, and the operation of them, God assisting, is consummate.
But, through negligence and a false opinion of the matter, the operation may be perverted, as a mass of leaven growing corrupt, or milk turned with rennet for cheese, and musk among aromatics.
The sure colour of the golden matter for the red, and the nature thereof, is not sweetness; therefore we make of them sericum - ie Ixir; and of them we make the enamel of which we have already without and with the king's seal we have tinged the clay, and in that have set the colour of heaven, which augments the sight of them that see.
The Stone, therefore is the most precious gold without spots, evenly tempered, which neither fire nor air, nor water, nor earth is able to corrupt for it is the Universal Ferment rectifying all things in a medium composition, whose complexion is yellow and a true citrine colour.
The gold of the wise, boiled and well digested with a fiery water, makes Ixir; for the gold of the wise is more heavy than lead, which in a temperate composition is a ferment Ixir, and contrariwise, in our intemperate composition, is the confusion of the whole. For the work begins from the vegetable, next from the animal, as in a hen's egg, in which is the greatest help, and our earth is gold, of all which we make sericum, which is the ferment Ixir.
finis

[ The Translation here used and followed is from that notable work, "A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery," (London, 1850.) ] 

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See also:
McLean, A & Tahil, P. Ampitheatre Engavings of Heinrich Kunrath. pp. 28, 73-6,
Anon, Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians (i.e. Paul Allen A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology, Steinerbooks, third edition pp228-30)
AMORC Supplementary Monograph: Hermetic Teachings RAD-13, Lecture Number 2, Inner hermetic teachings.



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