"Nicolas Flamel (French: [nikɔla flamɛl]; prob. Pontoise, ca 1330 – Paris, March 22, 1418) was a successful French scribe and manuscript-seller. After his death, Flamel developed a reputation as an alchemist believed to have discovered the Philosopher's Stone and achieved immortality. These legendary accounts only appeared in the seventeenth century.
Legendary accounts of Flamel's life are based on seventeenth century works, primarily Livre des figures hiéroglyphiques. The essence of his reputation are claims that he succeeded at the two goals of alchemy: that he made the Philosopher's Stone, which turns base metals into gold, and that he and his wife Perenelle achieved immortality through the "Elixir of Life".
An alchemical book, published in Paris in 1612 as Livre des figures hiéroglyphiques and in London in 1624 as Exposition of the Hieroglyphical Figures was attributed to Flamel. It is a collection of designs purportedly commissioned by Flamel for a tympanum at the Cimetière des Innocents in Paris, long disappeared at the time the work was published. In the publisher's introduction Flamel's search for the Philosopher's Stone was described. According to that introduction, Flamel had made it his life's work to understand the text of a mysterious 21-page book he had purchased. The introduction claims that, around 1378, he travelled to Spain for assistance with translation. On the way back, he reported that he met a sage, who identified Flamel's book as being a copy of the original Book of Abramelin the Mage. With this knowledge, over the next few years, Flamel and his wife allegedly decoded enough of the book to successfully replicate its recipe for the Philosopher's Stone, producing first silver in 1382, and then gold. In addition, Flamel is said to have studied some texts in Hebrew." -Wikipedia
Thanks again, to Gregory John Papadopoulos @ (soundzgreg.blogspot.gr) for providing the colour images at the beginning of the text. The book mentioned above is thought to be "The Book of Abraham the Jew" by Rabbi Abraham Eleazar.
- Won Brain
The Explication of the Hieroglyphic Figures.
Placed by me, Nicholas Flammel, Scrivener,
in the Church-yard of the Innocents, in the fourth Arch,
entering by the great gate of St. Dennis Street,
and taking the way on the right hand.
I have not wanted the understanding of the Books of the Philosophers, and in them learned their so hidden secrets. And for this cause, there shall never be any moment of my life when I remember this high good, wherein upon my knees (if the place will give me leave), or otherwise, in my heart with all my affection, I shall not render thanks to this most benign God, which never suffers the child of the just to beg from door to door, and deceives not them which wholly trust in his blessing.
Whilst, therefore, I Nicholas Flamel, Notary, after the decease of my Parents, got my living in our Art of Writing, by making Inventories, dressing accounts, and summing up the expenses of Tutors and Pupils, there fell into my hands for the sum of two florins, a guilded Book, very old and large. It was not of Paper, nor of Parchment, as other Books be, but was only made of delicate rinds (as it seemed unto me) of tender young trees. The cover of it was of brass, well bound, all engraven with letters, or strange figures; and for my part I think they might well be Greek Characters, or some-such-like ancient language. Sure I am, I could not read them, and I know well they were not notes nor letters of the Latin nor of the Gaul for of them we understand a little. As for that which was within it, the leaves of bark or rind, were engraven, and with admirable diligence written, with a point of Iron, in fair and neat Latin letters, coloured. It contained thrice-seven leaves, for so were they counted in the top of the leaves, and always every seventh leaf was without any writing; but, instead thereof, upon the first seventh leaf, there was painted a Rod and Serpents swallowing it up.
He that sold me this Book knew not what it was worth, no more than I when I bought it; I believe it had been stolen or taken from the miserable Jews; or found hid in some part of the ancient place of their abode. Within the Book, in the second leaf, he comforted his Nation, counselling them to fly vices, and above all, Idolatry, attending with sweet patience the coming of the Messiah, who should vanquish all the Kings of the Earth, and should reign with his people in glory eternally. Without doubt this had been some very wise and understanding man. In the third leaf, and in all the other writings that followed, to help his Captive nation to pay their tributes unto the Roman Emperors, and to do other things, which I will not speak of, he taught them in common words the transmutation of Metals; he painted the Vessels by the sides, and he advertised them of the colours, and of all the rest, saving of the first agent, of the which he spoke not a word; but only (as he said) in the fourth and fifth leaves entire he painted it, and figured it with very great cunning and workmanship: for although it was well and intelligibly figured and painted, yet no man could ever have been able to understand it without being well skilled in their Cabala, which goes by tradition, and without having well studied their books.
The fourth and fifth leaves therefore, were without any writing, all full of fair figures enlightened, or as it were enlightened, for the work was very exquisite. First, he painted a young men with wings at his ankles, having in his hand a Caducean rod, writhen about with two Serpents, wherewith he struck upon a helmet which covered his head.
My wife Perrenella, whom I loved as myself, and had lately married, was much astonished at this, comforting me, and earnestly demanding if she could by any means deliver me from this trouble. I could not possibly hold my tongue, but told her all, and showed this fair book, whereof at the same instant that she saw it, she became as much enamoured as myself, taking extreme pleasure to behold the fan cover, gravings, images, and portraits, whereof, notwithstanding she understood as little as I; yet it was a great comfort to me to talk with her, and to entertain myself, what we should do to have the interpretation of them. In the end I caused to be painted within my Lodging, as naturally as I could, all the figures and portraits of the fourth and fifth leaf, which I showed to the greatest Clerks in Paris, who understood thereof no more than myself: I told them they were found in a Book that taught the Philosophers' Stone, but the greatest part of them made a mock both of me and that blessed Stone, excepting one called Master Anselme, who was a Licentiate in Physic, and studied hard in this Science. He had a great desire to have seen my Book, and there was nothing in the world he would not have done for a sight of it: but I always told him I had it not; only I made him a large description of the Method.
He told me that the first portrait represented Time, which devoured all; and that according to the number of the six written leaves, there was required the space of six years, to perfect the Stone; and then, he said, we must turn the glass, and seethe it no more. And when I told him that this was not painted, but only to show and teach the first agent, (as was said in the Book) he answered me that this decoction for six years space was, as it were, a second Agent; and that certainly the first Agent was there painted, which was the white and heavy water, which without doubt was Argent Vive, which they could not fix, nor cut off his feet, that is to say, take away his volatility, save by that long decoction in the purest blood of young Infants; for in that, this Argent Vive being joined with gold and Silver, was first turned with them into an herb like that which was there painted, and afterwards, by corruption, into Serpents; which Serpents being then wholly dried, and decocted by fire, were reduced into powder of gold, which should be the Stone. This was the cause that during the space of one and twenty years, I tried a thousand broulleryes, yet never with blood, for that was wicked and villaneous: for I found in my Book that the Philosophers called Blood the mineral spirit which is in the Metals, principally in the Sun, Moon, and Mercury, to the assembling whereof, I always tended; yet these interpretations for the most part were more subtle than true.
Not seeing, therefore, in my works the signs at the time written in my Book, I was always to begin again. In the end, having lost all hope of ever understanding those figures, for my last refuge I made a vow to God and St. James of Gallicia, to demand the interpretation of them at some Jewish Priest in some Synagogue of Spain. whereupon, with the consent of Perrenella, carrying with me the Extract of the Pictures, having taken the Pilgrims' habit and staff, in the same fashion as you may see me without this same Arch, in the Church-yard in the which I put these Hieroglyphical Figures, where I have also set against the wall, on the one and the other side, a Procession, in which are represented by order all the colours of the Stone, so as they come and go, with this writing in French: Much pleases God procession, If it be done in devotion.
Which is as it were the beginning of King Hercules his Book, which entreats of the colours of the Stone, entitled Iris, or the Rainbow, in these terms, The procession of the work: is very pleasant unto Nature: the which I have put there expressly for the great Clerks who shall understand the Allusion. In this same fashion, I say, I put myself upon my way; and so much I did that I arrived at Montjoy, and afterwards at St. James, where with great devotion I accomplished my vow. This done, in Leon, at my return, I met with a Merchant of Bologna, who made me known to a Physician, a Jew by Nation, and as then a Christian, dwelling in Leon aforesaid, who was very skilful in sublime Sciences, called Master Canches. As soon as I had shown him the figures of my Extract, he being ravished with great astonishment and joy, demanded of me incontinently if I could tell him any news of the Book from whence they were drawn! I answered him in Latin, (wherein he asked me the question) that I hoped to have some good news of the Book, if anybody could decipher unto me the Enigmas. All at that instant transported with great Ardor and joy, he began to decipher unto me the beginning. But to be short, he well content to learn news where this Book should be, and I to hear him speak; and certainly he had heard much discourse of the Book, but, (as he said) as of a thing which was believed to be utterly lost, we resolved of our voyage, and from Leon we passed to Oviedo, and from thence to Sansom, where we put ourselves to Sea to come into France.
Our voyage had been fortunate enough, and all-ready since we were entered into this Kingdom he had most truly interpreted unto me the greatest part of my figures, where even unto the very points and pricks he found great mysteries, which seemed unto me wonderful; when arriving at Orleans, this learned man fell extremely sick, being afflicted with excessive vomittings, which remained still with him of those he had suffered at Sea, and he was in such a continual fear of my forsaking him that he could imagine nothing like unto it. And although I was always by his side, yet would he incessantly call for me; but, in sum, he died at the end of the seventh day of his sickness, by reason whereof I was much grieved; yet, as well as I could, I caused him to be buried in the Church of the Holy Cross at Orleans, where he yet rests: God have his soul, for he died a good Christian. And surely, if I be not hindered by death, I will give unto that Church some revenue, to cause some Masses to be said for his soul every day. He that would see the manner of my arrival and the joy of Perrenella, let him look upon us two, in this City of Paris, upon the door of the Chapel of St. James of the Bouchery, close by the one side of my house, where we are both painted, myself giving thanks at the feet of St. James of Gallicia, and Perrenella at the feet of St. John, whom she had so often called upon.
So it was that by the grace of God, and the intercession of the happy and holy Virgin, and the blessed Saints James and John, I knew all that I desired, that is to say, The first Principles, yet not their first preparation, which is a thing most difficult above all the things in the world. But in the end I had that also, after long errors of three years, or thereabouts; during which time I did nothing but study and labour, so as you may see me without this Arch, where I have placed my Processions against the two Pillars of it, under the feet of St. James and St. John, praying always to God, with my Beads in my hand, reading attentively within a Book, and posing the words of the Philosophers: and afterwards trying and proving the divers operations, which I imagined to myself by their only words. finally, I found that which I desired, which I also soon knew by the strong scent and odour thereof. Having this, I easily accomplished the Mastery, for, knowing the preparation of the first Agents, and after following my Book according to the letter, I could not have missed it, though I would. Then, the first time that I made projection was upon Mercury, whereof I turned half-a-pound, or thereabouts, into pure Silver, better than that of the Mine, as I myself assayed, and made others assay many times.
This was upon a Monday, the 17th of January, about noon, in my house, Perrenella only being present, in the year of the restoring of mankind, 1382. And afterwards, following always my Book, from word to word, I made projection of the Red Stone upon the like quantity of Mercury, in the presence likewise of Perrenella only, in the same house, the five and twentieth day of April following, the same year, about five o'clock in the evening; which I transmuted truly into almost as much pure Cold, better assuredly than common Gold, more soft and more pliable. I may speak it with truth, I have made it three times, with the help of Perrenella, who understood it as well as I, because she helped in my operations, and without doubt, if she would have enterprised to have done it alone, she had attained to the end and perfection thereof. I had indeed enough when I had once done it, but I found exceeding great pleasure and delight in seeing and contemplating the Admirable works of Nature within the Vessels.
To signify unto thee, then, how I have done it three times, thou shall see in this Arch, if thou have any skill to know them, three furnaces, like unto them which serve for our operations, I was afraid a long time, that Perrenella could not hide the extreme joy of her felicity, which I measured by mine own, and lest she should let fall some word amongst her kindred of the great treasures which we possessed: for extreme joy takes away the understanding, as well as great heaviness; but the goodness of the most great God had not only filled me with this blessing, to give me a wife chaste and sage, for she was moreover, not only capable of reason, but also to do all that was reasonable, and more discrete and secret than ordinarily other women are. Above all, she was exceeding devout, and therefore, seeing herself without hope of children, and now well stricken in years, she began as I did, to think of God, and to give ourselves to the works of Mercy.
At that time when I wrote this Commentary, in the year 1413, in the end of the year, after the decease of my faithful companion, which I shall lament all the days of my life; she and I had already founded, and endued with revenues, 14 Hospitals in this City of Paris, we had now built from the ground three Chapels, we had enriched with great gifts and good rents, seven Churches, with many reparations in their Churchyards, besides that which we have done at Bologne, which is not much less than that which we have done here. I will not speak of the good which both of us have done to particular poor folks, principally to widows and poor orphans, whose names if I should tell, and how I did it, besides that my reward should be given me in this World,
I should likewise do displeasure to those good persons, whom I pray God bless, which I would not do for anything in the World. Building, therefore, these Churches, Church-yards and Hospitals, in this City, I resolved myself, to cause to be painted in the fourth Arch of the Church-yard of the Innocents, as you enter in by the great gate in St. Dennis-street, and taking the way on the right hand, the most true and essential marks of the Art, yet under veils, and Hieroglyphical covertures, in imitation of those which are in the guilded Book of Abraham the Jew, which may represent two things, according to the capacity and understanding of them that behold them:
First, the mysteries of our future and undoubted Resurrection, at the day of Judgement, and coming of good Jesus (whom may it please to have mercy upon us), a History which is well agreeing to a Church-yard.
And, secondly, they may signify to them, who are skilled in Natural Philosophy, all the principal and necessary operations of the Mastery.
These Hieroglyphic figures shall serve as two ways to lead unto the heavenly life: the first and most open sense teaching the sacred Mysteries of our salvation; (as I will show hereafter) the other teaching every man that has any small understanding in the Stone the linear way of the work; which being perfected by any one, the change of evil into good takes away from him the root of all sin, (which is covetousness) making him liberal, gentle, pious, religious, and fearing God, how evil soever he was before, for from thenceforward he is continually ravished with the great grace and mercy which he has obtained from God, and with the profoundness of his Divine and admirable works.
These are the reasons which have moved me to set these forms in this fashion, and in this place, which is a Church-yard, to the end that if any man obtain this inestimable good, to conquer this rich golden Fleece, he may think with himself (as I did) not to keep the talent of God digged in the Earth, buying Lands and possessions, which are the vanities of this world: but rather to work charitably towards his brethren, remembering himself that he learned this secret amongst the bones of the dead, in whose number he shall shortly be found; and that after this life he must render an account before a just and redoubtable Judge, who will censure even to an idle and vain word.
Let him, therefore, who having well weighed my words, and well known and understood my figures, hath first gotten elsewhere the knowledge of the first beginnings and Agents, (for certainly in these Figures and Commentaries he shall not find any step or information thereof), perfect, to the glory of God, the Mastery of Hermes, remembering himself of the Church Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman; and of all other Churches, Church-yards, and Hospitals; and above all of the Church of the Innocents in this City, (in the Church-yard whereof he shall have contemplated these true demonstrations); opening bounteously his purse to them that are secretly poor honest people, desolate, weak women, widows, and forlorn orphans. So be it.
Why also the man and the woman which are at the feet of these two Saints praying to God, as if it were at the Day of Judgement, are apparelled in divers colours and not naked, or else nothing but bones, like them that are rising again? Why in this Day of Judgement they have painted this man and this woman at the feet of the Saints? For they ought to have been more low on earth, and not in heaven.
Why also the two Angels in Orange colour, which say in their rolls, SVRGITE MORTVI, VENITE AD IVDICIVM DOMINI MEI, that is Arise you dead, come unto the Judgement of my Lord, are clad in this colour, and out of their place, for they ought to be on high in heaven, with the two other which play upon the Instruments? Why they have a field Violet and blue? But principally why their roll, which speaks to the dead, ends in the open throat of the red and flying Lion?
I would then that after these, and many other questions which may justly be made, opening wide the eyes of his spirit, he come to conclude, that all this, not having been done without cause, there must be represented under this bark, some great secrets, which he ought to pray God to discover unto him. Having then brought his belief by degrees to this pass wish also that he would further believe, that these figures and explications are not made for them that have never seen the Books of the Philosophers, and who not knowing the Metallic principles, cannot be named Children of this Science; for if they think to understand perfectly these figures, being ignorant of the first Agent, they will undoubtedly deceive themselves, and never be able to know any thing at all.
Let no man therefore blame me, if he do not easily understand me, for he will be more blame-worthy than I, inasmuch as not being initiated into these sacred and secret interpretations of the first Agent, (which is the key opening the gates of all Sciences) he would notwithstanding, comprehend the most subtle conceptions of the envious Philosophers, which are not written but for them who already know these principles, which are never found in any book, because they leave them unto God, who reveals them to whom he please, or else causes them to be taught by the living voice of a Master, by Cabalistical tradition, which happens very seldom.
Now then, my Son, let me so call thee, both because I am now come to a great age, and also for that, it may be, thou art otherwise a child of this knowledge, (God enable thee to learn, and after to work to his glory). Hearken unto me then attentively, but pass no further if thou be ignorant of the aforesaid Principles.
The common name is an Oven, which I should never have found, if Abraham the Jew had not painted it, together with the fire proportionable, wherein consists a great part of the secret. For it is as it were the belly, or the womb, containing the true natural heat to animate our young King : If this fire be not measured Clibanically, saith Calid the Persian, son of Iasichus; If it be kindled with a sword, says Pythagoras; If thou fire thy Vessel, says Morien, and makes it feel the heat of the fire, it will give thee a box on the care, and burn his flowers before they be risen from the depth of his Marrow, making them come out red, rather than white, and then thy work is spoiled ; as also if thou make too little fire, for then thou shalls never see the end, because of the coldness of the natures, which shall not have had motion sufficient to digest them together.
The heat then of thy fire in this vessel, shall be (as says Hermes and Rofinus) according to the Winter; or rather, as says Diomedes, according to the heat of a Bird, which begins to fly so softly from the sign of Aries to that of Cancer : for know that the Infant at the beginning is full of cold phlegm and of milk, and that too vehement heat is an enemy of the cold and moisture of our Embrion, and that the two enemies, that is to say, our two elements of cold and heat will never perfectly embrace one another, but by little and little, having first long dwelt together, in the middest of the temperate heat of their bath, and being changed by long decoction, into Sulphur incombustible.
Govern therefore sweetly with equality and proportion, thy proud and haughty natures, for fear lest if thou favour one more than another, they which naturally are enemies, do grow angry against thee through jealousy, and dry Choller, and make thee sigh for it a long time after. Besides this, thou must entertain them in this temperate heat perpetually, that is to say, night and day until the time that Winter, the time of the moisture of the matters, be passed; because they make their peace, and join hands in being heated together, whereas should these natures find themselves but one only half hour without fire, they would become for ever irreconcilable.
See therefore the reason why it is said in the Book of the seventy precepts: Look that their heat continue indefatigably without ceasing, and that none of their days be forgotten. And Rafis, the haste, says he, that brings with it too much fire, is always followed by the Diuell, and Error. When the golden Bird, says Diomedes, shall become just to Cancer, and that from thence it shall run toward Libra, then thou mayst augment the fire a little. And in like manner, when this faire Bird, shall fly from Libra towards Capricorn, which is the desired Autumn, the time of harvest, and of the fruits that are now ripe.
The two Dragons of colour yellowish, blue, and black like the field.
The two Dragons of colour yellowish, blue, and black like the field.
Look well upon these two Dragons, for they are the true principles or beginnings of this Philosophy, which the Sages have not dared to show to their own Children. He which is undermost, without wings, he is the fixed, or the male; that which is uppermost, is the volatile, or the female, black and obscure, which goes about to get the domination for many months. The first is called Sulphur, or heat and dryness, and the latter Argent vive, or cold and moisture. These are the Sun and Moon of the Mercurial source, and sulphurous original, which by continual fire are adorned with royal habiliments, that being united, and afterwards changed into a quintessence, they may overcome every thing Metallic, how solid hard and strong, soever it be.
These are the Serpents and Dragons which the ancient AEgyptians have painted in a Circle, the head biting the tail, to signify that they proceeded from one and the same thing, and that it alone was sufficient, and that in the turning and circulation thereof, it made it self perfect : These are the Dragons which the ancient Poets have feigned did without sleeping keep & watch the golden Apples of the Gardens of the Virgins Hesperides. These are they upon whom Jason in his adventure for the Golden Fleece, powered the broth or liquor prepared by the fair Medea, of the discourse of whom the Books of the Philosophers are so full, that there is no philosopher that ever was, but he has written of it, from the time of the truth-telling Hermes Trismegistus, Orpheus, Morienus, and the other following, even unto myself.
These are the two Serpents, given and sent by Juno, (that is, the nature Metallic) the which the strong Hercules, that is to say, the sage and wise man must strangle in his cradle, that is, overcome and kill them, to make them putrify, corrupt, and engender, at the beginning of his work. These are the two Serpents, wrapped and twisted round about the Caduceus or rod of Mercury, with the which he exerciseth his great power, and transforms himself as he lifts. He, says Haly, that shall kill the one, shall also kill the other, because the one cannot die, but with his brother.
These two then, (which Auicen calleth the Corassene bitch and the Armenian dog) these two I say, being put together in the vessel of the Sepulcher, do bite one another cruelly, and by their great poison, and furious rage, they never leave one another, from the moment that they have seized on one another (if the cold hinder them not) till both of them by their slavering venom, and mortal hurts, all of a gore blood, over all the parts of their bodies; and finally, killing one another, be stewed in their proper venom, which after their death, changes them into living and permanent water; before which time, they loose in their corruption and putrifaction, their first natural forms, to take afterwards one only new, more noble, and better form. These are the two Sperms, masculine and feminine, described at the beginning of my Abridgment of Philosophy, which are engendred (say Rafis, Auicen, and Abraham the Jew) within the Reynes, and entrails, and of the operations of the four Elements.
These are the radical moisture of metals, Sulphur and Argent Vive not vulgar, and such as are sold by the Merchants and Apothecaries, but those which give us those two fair and dear bodies which we love so much. These two sperms, saith Democritus, are not found upon the earth of the living: The same, says Auicen, but he adds, that they gather them from the dung, ordure, and rotteness of the Sun and Moon. O happy are they that know how to gather them; for of them they afterwards make a triacle, which has power over all griefs, maladies, sorrows, infirmities, and weaknesses, and which fights puissantly against death, lengthening the life, according to the permission of God, even to the time determined, triumphing over the miseries of this world, and filling a man with the riches thereof.
Of these two Dragons or Principles Metallic, I have said in my fore-alledged Summary, that the Enemy would by his heat inflame his enemy, and that then if they take not heed, they should see in the air a venomous fume and a stinking, work in flame, and in poison, than the envenomed head of a Serpent, and Babylonian Dragon. The cause why I have painted these two sperms in the form of Dragons, is because their stench is exceeding great, and like the stench of them, and the exhalations which arise within the glass, are dark, black, blue, and yellowish (like as these two Dragons are painted) the force of which, and of the bodies dissolved, is so venomous, that truly there is not in the world a ranker poison; for it is able by the force and stench thereof, to mortify and kill everything living. The Philosopher never feels this stench, if he break not his vessels, but only he judges it to be such, by the sight, and the changing of colours, proceeding from the rottenness of his confections.
These colours then signify the putrifaction and generation which is given us, by the biting and dissolution of our perfect bodies, which dissolution proceedeth from external heat adding, and from the Pontique fierieness, and admirable sharp vertue of the poison of our Mercury, which maketh and resolveth into a pure cloud, that is, into impalpable powder, all that which it finds to resist it. So the heat working upon and against the radical, metallic, viscous, or oily moisture, ingendereth upon the subject, blackness. For at the same time the Matter is dissolved, is corrupted, grows black, and conceives to engender; for all corruption is generation, and therefore ought blackness to be much desired; for that is the black sail with the which the Ship of Theseus came back victorious from Crete, which was the cause of the death of his Father; so must this father die, to the intent, that from the ashes of this Phoenix another may spring, and that the son may be King.
Assuredly he that sees not this blackness at the beginning of his operations, during the days of the Stone; what other colour soever he see, he shall altogether fail in the Mastery, and can do no more with that Chaos: for he works not well, if he putrify not; because if he do not putrify, he does not corrupt, nor engender, and by consequence, the Stone cannot take vegetative life to increase and multiply.
And in all truth, I tell thee again, that though thou work upon the true matter, if at the beginning, after thou hast put they Confections in the Philosophers Egg, that is to say, sometime after the fire have stirred them up, if then, I say, thou sees not this head of the Crow, the black of the blackest black, thou must begin again, for this fault is irreparable, and not to be amended; especially the Orange colour, or half red, is to be feared, for if at the beginning thou see that in thine Egg, without doubt, thou burns, or hast burnt the verdure and jueliness of thy Stone.
The colour which thou must have, ought to be entirely perfected in Blackness, like to that of these Dragons in the space of forty days: Let them therefore which shall not have these essential marks, retire themselves betimes from their operations, that they may redeem themselves from assured loss. Know also, and note it well, that in this Art it is but nothing to have this blackness, there is nothing more easy to come by: for from almost all things in the world, mixed with moisture, thou may have a blackness by the fire: but thou must have a blackness which comes from the perfect Metallic bodies, which lasts a long space of time, and is not destroyed in less than five months, after the which follows immediately the desired whiteness. If thou hast this, thou hast enough, but not all. As for the colour blueish and yellowish, that signifies that Solution and Putrefaction is not yet finished, and that the colours of our Mercury are not as yet well mingled, and rotten with the rest. Then this blackness, and these colours, teach plainly, that in this beginning the matter, and compound begins to rot and dissolve into powder, less than the Atoms of the Sun, the which afterwards are changed into coator permanent.
And this dissolution is by the envious Philosophers called Death, Destruction, and Perdition, because that the natures change their form, and from hence are proceeded so many Allegories of dead men, tombs and sepulchres. Others have called it Calcinatin, Denudation, Separation, Erituration, and Assation, because the Confections are changed and reduced into most small pieces and parts. Others have called it Reduction into the first matter, Mollification, Extraction, Commixtion, Liquefaction, Conversion of Elements, Subtiliation, Division, Humation, Impastation, and Distiliation, because that the Confections are melted, brought back into seed, softened, and circulated within the glass.
Others have called it Xir, or Iris, Putrefaction , Corruption, Cymmerian darkness, a gulf, Hell, Dragons, Generation, Ingression, Submersion, Completion, Conjunction, and Impregnation, because that the matter is black and waterish, and that the natures are prefectly mingled, and hold one of another. For when the heat of the Sun works upon them, they are changed, first into powder, or fat and glutinous water, which feeling the heat, flys on high to the chicken's head, with the smoke, that is to say, with the wind and air; for thence this water melted, and drawn out of the confections, goes down again, and in descending reduces, and resolves, as much as it can, the rest of the Aromatical confections, always doing so, until the whole be like a black broth somewhat fat. Now you see why they call this sublimation and volatization, because it flys on high, and Ascension and Descension, because it mounts and descends within the glass.
A while after, the water begins to thicken and coagulate somewhat more, growing very black, like unto pitch, and finally comes the body and earth, which the envious have called Terra Foetida, that is, stinking earth: for then because of the perfect putrefaction, which is as natural as any other can be, this earth stinks, and gives a smell like the odour of graves filled with rottenness, and with bodies as yet charged with their natural moisture. This earth was by Hermes called Terra foliata, or the Earth of leaves, yet his true and proper name is Leton, which must afterwards be whitened. The Ancient Sages that were Cabalists, have described it in their Metamorphoses, under the History of the Serpent of Mars, which had devoured the companions of Cadmus, who slew him, piercing him with his lance against a hollow Oak. Note this Oak.
Thou knowest well enough who these Mediators and Peace-makers are, between the hot and the cold there is moisture, for he is kinsman and allied to them both; to hot by his heat, and to cold by his moisture: And this is the reason, why to begin to make this peace, thou hast already in the precedent operation, converted all the confections into water by dissolution. And afterwards thou hast made to coagulate the water, which is turned into this Earth, black of the black most black, wholly to accomplish this peace; for the Earth, which is cold and dry, finding himself of kindred and alliance with the dry and moist, which are enemies, will wholly appease and accord them.
Doest thou not then consider a most perfect mixture of all the four Elements, having first turned them to water, and now into Earth? I will also teach thee hereafter the other conversions, into air when it shall be all white, and into fire, when it shall be of a most perfect purple. Then thou hast here two natures married together, whereof the one has conceived by the other, and by this conception it is turned into the body of the Male, and the Male into that of the Female; that is to say, they are made one only body, which is the Androgyne or hermaphrodite of the Ancients, which they have also called otherwise the head of the Crow, or natures converted.
In this fashion I paint them here, because thou hast two natures reconciled, which (if they be guided and governed wisely) can form an Embrion in the womb of the Vessel, and afterwards bring forth a most puissant King, invincible and incorruptible, because it will be an admirable quintessence. Thus thou sees the principal and most necessary reason of this representation: The second cause, which is also well to be noted, was because I must of necessity paint two bodies, because in this operation it behoves that thou divide that which hath been coagulated, to give afterwards nourishment, which is milk of life, to the little Infant when it is born, which is endued, by the living God, with a vegetable soul.
This is a secret most admirable and secret, which for want of understanding, it has made fools of all those that have sought it without finding it, and has made every man wise that beholds it with the eyes of his body, or of his spirit.
Thou must then make two parts and portions of this Coagulated body, the one of which shall serve for Azoth, to wash and cleanse the other, which is called Letch, which must be whitened: He which is washed is the Serpent Python, which, having taken his being from the corruption of the slime of the Earth gathered together by the waters of the deluge, when all the confections were water, must be killed and overcome by the arrows of the God Apollo, by the yellow Sun, that is to say, by our fire, equal to that of the Sun.
He which washes, or rather the washings which must be continued with the other moity; these are the teeth of that Serpent, which the sage workman, the valiant Theseus, will sow in the same Earth, from whence there shall spring up armed Soldiers, which shall in the end discomfit themselves, suffering themselves by opposition to resolve into the same nature of the Earth, and the workman to bear away his deserved conquests.
It is of this that the Philosophers have written so often, and so often repeated it. It dissolves itself, it congeals itself, it makes itself black, it makes itself white, it kills itself, and it quickens itself. I have made their field be painted azure and blue, to show that I do but now begin to get out from the most black blackness, for the azure and blue is one of the first colours, that the dark woman lets us see, that is to say, moisture giving place a little to heat and dryness: The man and woman are almost all orange-coloured, to show that our Bodies, or our body which the wise men here call Rebis, has not as yet digestion enough and that the moisture from whence comes the black blue and azure, is but half vanquished by the dryness.
For when dryness bears rule, all will be white, and when it fights with, or is equal to the moisture, all will be in part according to these present colours. The envious have also called these confections in this operation, Nummus, Ethelia, Arena, Boritis, Corfufle, Cambar, Albar aris, Duenech, Randeric, Kukul, Thabricis, Ebisemech, Ixir, &c which they have commanded to make white.
The woman has a white circle in form of a roll round about her body, to show thee that Rebis will begin to become white in that very fashion, beginning first at the extremities, round about this white circle. Scala Phylosophoru, that is the Book entitled The Philosophers Ladder, says thus: The figure of the first perfect whiteness is the manifestation of a certain little circle of hair, that is passing over the head, which will appear on the sides of the vessels round about the matter, in a kind of a cierine or yellowish colour.
There is written in their Rowles, Home veniet ad judicium Dei, that is, Man shall come to the judgement of God : Vere (says the woman) illa dies terribilis erit, that is, Truly that will be a terrible day. These are not passages of holy Scripture, but only sayings which speak according to the Theological sense, of the judgement to come. I have put them there to serve myself of them towards him, that beholds only the gross outward and most natural Artifice, taking the interpretation thereof to concern only the Resurrection, and also it may serve for them that gathering together the Parables of the Science, take to them the eyes of Lynceus, to pierce deeper then the visible objects. There is then, Man shall come to the judgement of God: Certainly that day shall be terrible. That is as if I should have said; It behoves that this come to the colour of perfection, to be judged and cleansed from all his blackness and filth, and to be spiritualized and whitened. Surely that day will be terrible, yet certainly, as you shall find in the Allegory of Aristeau, Horror holds us in prison by the space of four-score days, in the darkness of the waters, in the extreme heat of the Summer, and in the troubles of the Sea. All which things ought first to pass before our King can become white, coming from death to life, to overcome afterwards all his enemies.
To make thee understand yet somewhat better this Albification, which is harder and more difficult than all the rest, for till that time thou may err at every step, but afterwards thou canst not, except thou break thy vessels, I have also made for thee this Table following.
I have taken this portrait and figure out of Hermes Trismagistus, in his Book of the Secret Art, where he says, Take away the head of this black man, cut off the head of the Crow, that is to say, Whiten our black. Lambspring, that noble German, has also used it in the Commentary of his Hieroglyphics, saying, In this wood there is a Beast all covered with black, if any man cut off his head, he will loose his blackness and put on a most white colour. Will you understand what that is? The blackness is called the head of the Crow, the which being taken away, at the instant comes the white colour: Then that is to say, when the Cloud appears no more, this body is said to be without a head.
These are his proper words. In the same sense the Sages have also said in other places, Take the Viper which is called De rexa, cut off his head, &c. that is to say, take away from him his blackness. They have also used this Periphrasis when to signify the multiplication of the Stone, they have fained a Serpent Hydra, whereof, if one cut off one head, there will spring in the place thereof ten; for the stone augments tenfold, every time that they cut off this head of the Crow, that they make it black, and afterwards white, that is to say, that they dissolve it anew, and afterward coagulate it again.
Mark how this naked Sword is wreathed about with a black girdle, and that the ends thereof are not so wreathed at all. This naked shining Sword is the stone for the white, or the white stone, so often by the Philosophers described under this form. To come then to this perfect and sparkling whiteness, thou must understand the wreathings of this black girdle, and follow that which they teach, which is the quantity of the imbibitions. The two ends which are not wreathed about at all, represent the beginning and the ending: for the beginning it teaches that you must inbibe it at the first time gently and scarcely, giving it then a little milk, as to a little Child newborn, to the intent that Ifir, as the Authors say, be not drowned: The like must we do at the end, when we see that our King is full, and will have no more. The middle of these operations is painted by the five whole wreathes, or rounds, of the black girdle, at what time, (because our Salamander lives of the fire, and in the middest of the fire, and indeed is a fire, and an Argent vive, or quicksilver, that runs in the middest of the fire fearing nothing), thou must give him abundantly, in such sort that the Virgins Milk compass all the matter round about.
I have made to be painted black all these wreaths or rounds of the girdle, because these are the imbibitions, and by consequence, blacknesses: for the fire with the moisture (as it hath been often said) causeth blackness. And as these five whole wreathes or rounds show that you must do this five times wholly, so likewise they let you know that you must do this in five whole months, a month to every imbibition: See here the reason why Haly Abenragel said, the Coction or boiling of the things is done in three times fifty days: It is true that if thou count these little imbibitions at the beginning and at the end, there are seven. Whereupon one of the most envious has said, Our head of the Crow is leprous, and therefore he that would cleanse it, he must make it go down seven times into the River of regeneration of Jordan, as the Prophet commanded the leprous Naaman the Syrian.
Comprehending herein the beginning, which is but of a few days, the middle, and the end, which is also very short. I have then given thee this table, to tell thee that thou must whiten my body, which is upon the knees, and demands no other thing: for Nature always tends to perfection, which thou shall accomplish by the apposition of Virgins milk, and by the decoction of the matters which thou shall make with this milk, which being dried upon this body, will colour it into this same white yellow, which he who takes the Sword, is clothed withall, in which colour thou must make they Corfufle to come. The vestments of the figure of Saint Paul are bordered largely with a golden and red citrine colour.
Oh my Son, praise God, if ever thou sees this, for now hast thou obtained mercy from Heaven; Imbibe it then, and teine it till such time as the little Infant be hardy ans strong, to combat against the water and the fire: In accomplishing the which, thou shall do that which Demagoras, Senior, and Haly have called, The putting of the Mother into the Infants belly, which Infant the Mother had but lately brought forth; for they call the Mother the Mercury of Philosophers, wherewith they make their imbibitions and fermentations, and the Infant they call the Body, to teine or colour the which this Mercury is gone out. Therefore I have given thee these two figures, to signify the Albifications, for in this place it is that thou hast need of great help, for here all the World is deceived.
This operation is indeed a Labyrinth, for here there present themselves a thousand ways at the same instant, besides that, thou must go to the end of it, directly contrary to the beginning, in coagulating that which before thou dissolved, and in making earth that which before thou made water. When thou hast made it white, then hast thou overcome the enchanted Bulls that cast fire and smoke out of their nostrils. Hercules has cleansed the stable full of ordure, of rottenness, and of blackness. Jason has powred the decoction or broth upon the Dragons of Colchos, and thou hast in thy power the horn of Amalthea which (although it be white) may fill thee all the rest of thy life with glory, honour, and riches. To have the which, it has behoved thee to fight valiantly, and in manner of an Hercules, for this Achelous, this moist river, is indewed with a most mighty force, besides that he often transfigures himself from one form to another. Thus hast thou done all, because the rest is without difficulty.
These transfigurations are particularly described in the Book of the Seven Egyptian Seals, where it is said (as also by all Authors) that the Stone, before it will wholly forsake his blackness, and become white in the fashion of a most shining marble, and of a naked flaming sword, will put on all the colours that thou canst possibly imagine, often will it melt, and often coagulate itself, and amidst these divers and contrary operations (which the vegetable soul which is in it makes it perform at one and the same time) it will grow Citrine, green, red (but not of a true red) it will become yellow, blue, and orange colour, until that being wholly overcome by dryness and heat, all these infinite colours will end in this admirable Citrine whiteness, of the colour of Saint Pauls garments, which in a short time will become like the colour of the naked sword; afterwards by the means of a more strong and long decoction it will take in the end a red Citrine colour, and afterward the perfect red of the vermillion, where it will repose itself forever.
I will not forget, by the way, to advertise thee, that the milk of the Moon, is not as the Virgins milk of the Sun; think then that the inbibitions of whiteness, require a more white milk than those of a golden redness; for in this passage I had thought I should have missed, and so I had done indeed had it not been for Abraham the Jew; for this reason I have made to be painted for thee the Figure which takes the naked sword, in the colour which is necessary for thee, for it is the Figure of that which whitens.
The philosophers do ordinarily use these terms of Art to hide the secret from evil men. They call the Body that black earth, obscure and dark, which we make white: They call the Soul the other half divided from the Body, which by the will of God, and power of nature, gives to the body by his inbibitions and fermentations a vegetable soul, that is to say, power and virtue to bud, increase, multiply, and to become white, as a naked shining sword: They call the Spirit, the tincture & dryness, which as a Spirit has power to pierce all Metallic things. I should be too tedious, if I should show thee how good reason they had to say always and in all places, Our Stone has semblably to a man, a Body, Soul, and Spirit. I would only that thou note well, that as a man indued with a Body, Soul and Spirit, is notwithstanding but one, so likewise thou hast now but one only white confection, in the which nevertheless there are a Body, a Soul, and a Spirit, which are inseparably united.
I could easily give very clear comparisons and expositions of this Body, Soul, and Spirit; but to explicate them, I must of necessity speak things which God reserves to reveal unto them that fear and love him, and consequently ought not to be written. I have then made to be painted here, a Body, a Soul, and a Spirit, all white, as if they were rising again, to show thee, that the Sun and Moon and Mercury are raised again in this operation, that is to say, are made Elements of air, and whitened: for we have heretofore called the blackness, Death; and so continuing the Metaphor, we may call Whiteness, Life; which comes not, but with, and by a Resurrection. The Body, to show this more plainly, I have made to be painted lifting up the stone of his tomb, wherein it was enclosed: The Soul, because it cannot be put into the earth, it comes not out of a tomb, but only I have made it be painted amongst the tombs, seeking its body, in form of a woman, having her hair dishevelled; The Spirit which likewise cannot be put in a grave, I have made to be painted in fashion of a man coming out of the earth, not from a Tomb. They are all white; so the blackness, that is death, is vanquished, and they being whitened, are from henceforward incorruptible.
Now lift up thine eyes on high, and see our King coming, crowned and raised again, which has overcome Death, the darknesses, and moistures; behold him in the form wherein our Saviour shall come, who shall eternally unite unto him all pure and clean souls, and will drive away all impurity and uncleanness, as being unworthy to be united to his divine Bidy. So by comparison (but first asking leave of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, to speak in this manner, and praying every debonair soul to permit me to use this similitude) see here our white Exilir, which from henceforward will inseparably unite unto himself every pure metallic nature, changing it into his own most fine silvery nature, rejecting all that is impure, strange, and Heterogeneal, or of another kind.
Blessed be God, which of his goodness gives us grace to be able to consider this sparkling white, more perfect and shining than any compound nature, and more noble next after the immortal soul, than any substance having life, or not having life; for it is a quintessence, a most pure silver, that has passed the Coppell, and is seven times refined, says the royal Prophet David.
It is not needful to interpret what the two Angels signify, that play on Instruments over the heads of them which are raised again: These are rather divine spirits, singing the marvelss of God in this miraculous operation, than Angels that call to judgement. To make an express difference between these and them, I have given the one of them a Lute, the other a haultboy, but none of them trumpets, which yet are wont to be given to them that are to call us to Judgement. The like may be said of the three Angels, which are over the head of our Saviour, whereof the one crowns him, and the other two assisting, say in their Rolls, O PATER OMNIPOTENS, O JESU BONE, that is, O Almighty Father, O good Jesu, in rendering unto him eternal thanks.
I have also made to be painted for thee, these two Angels with wings, to represent unto thee, that the two substances of thy confections, the Mercurial and the Sulphurous substance, the fixed as well as the volatile, being perfectly fixed together, do also fly together within thy vessel: for in this operation, the fixed body will gently mount to heaven, being all spiritual, and from thence it will descend unto the earth, and whethersoever thou wilt, following everywhere the Spirit, which is always moved upon the fire: Inasmuch as they are made one selfsame nature, and the compound is all spiritual, and the spiritual all corporall, so much has it been subtilized upon our Marble, by the precedent operations. The natures then are here transmuted into Angels, that is to say, are made spiritual and most subtle, so are they now the true tinctures.
Now remember thee to begin the rubifying, by the apposition of Mercury Citrine red, but thou must not pour on much, and only once or twice, according as thou shall see occasion; for this operation ought to be done by a dry fire, and by a dry sublimation and calcination. And truly I tell thee here a secret which thou shall very seldom find written, so far am I from being envious, that would to God every man knew how to make gold to his own will, that they might live, and lead forth to pasture their fair flocks, without Usury or going to Law, in imitation of the holy Patriarchs using only (as our first Fathers did) to exchange one thing for another; and yet to have that, they must labour as well as now.
Howbeit for fear to offend God, and to be the instrument of such a change which prove evil, I must take heed to represent or write where it is that we hide the keys, which can open all the doors of the secrets of nature, or to open or cast up the earth in that place, contenting myself to show the things which will teach everyone to whom God shall give permission to know what property the sign of the Balance or Libra has, when it is enlightened by the Sun and Mercury in the month of October.
These Angels are painted of an orange colour, to let thee know that thy white confections have been a little more digested, or boiled, and that the black of the violet and blue has been already chafed away by the fire: for this orange colour is compounded of the fair golden Citrine red (which thou hast so long waited for) and of the remainder of this violet and blue, which thou hast already in part banished and undone. Furthermore this orange colour shows that the natures are digested, and by little and little perfected by the grace of God.
As for their Roll, which says, SVRGITE MORTVI, VENITE AD IVDICIVM DOMINI MEI, that is, Arise you dead, and come unto the judgement of God my Lord; I have made it be put there, only for the Theological sense, rather than any other: It ends in the throat of a Lion which is all red, to teach that this operation must not be discontinued until they see the true red purple, wholly like unto the Poppy of the Hermitage, and the vermillion of the painted Lion saving for multiplying.
To show further unto thee that she demands Multiplication, I have made paint the man, unto whom she addresses her prayers in the form of Saint Peter, holding a key, having power to open and to shut, to bind and to loose, because the envious Philosophers have never spoken of Multiplication, but under the common terms of Art, APERI, CLAVDE, SOLVE, LIGA, that is, Open, shut, bind, loose, opening and loosing, they have called the making of the Body (which is always hard and fixed) soft fluid, and running like water: To shut and to bind, is with them afterwards by a more strong decoction to coagulate it, and to bring it back again into the form of a body.
It behoved me then, in this place to represent a man with a key, to teach thee that thou must now open and shut, that is to say, Multiply the budding and increasing natures: for look how often thou shall dissolve and fix, so often will these natures multiply, in quantity, quality, and virtue, according to the multiplication of ten; coming from this number to an hundred, from an hundred to a thousand, from a thousand to ten thousand, from ten thousand to an hundred thousand, from an hundred thousand to a million, and from thence by the same operation to Infinity, as I have done three times, praised be God. And when thy Elixir is so brought unto Infinity, one grain thereof falling upon a quantity of molten metal as deep and vast as the Ocean, it will tinge it, and convert it into most perfect metal, that is to say, into silver or gold, according as it shall have been imbibed and fermented, expelling and drying out far from himself all the impure and strange matter, which was joined with the metal in the first coagulation: for this reason therefore have I made to be painted a Key in the hand of the man, which is in the form of Saint Peter, to signify that the stone desires to be opened and shut for multiplication, and likewise to show thee with what Mercury thou ought to do this, & when; I have given the man a garment Citrine red, and the woman one of orange colour.
Let this suffice, lest I transgress the silence of Pythagoras, to teach thee that the woman, that is, our stone, asks to have the rich Accoustrements and colour of Saint Peter. She has written in her Roll, CHRISTE PRECOR ESTO PIVS, that is, Jesu Christ be pitiful unto me, as if she said, Lord be good unto me, and suffer not that he that shall become thus far, should spoil all with too much fire: It is true, that from henceforward I shall no more fear mine enemies, and that all fire shall be alike unto me, yet the vessel that contains me, is always brittle and easy to be broken: for if they exalt the fire overmuch, it will crack and flying a pieces, will carry me and sow me unfortunately amongst the ashes.
Take heed therefore to thy fire in this place, and govern sweetly with patience, this admirable quintescence, for the fire must be augmented unto it, but not too much. And pray the sovereign Goodness, that it will not suffer the evil spirits which keep the Mines and Treasures, to destroy thy work, or to bewitch thy sight, when thou considers these incomprehensible motions of this quintescence within thy vessel.
Also she now carries this man out of this vale of miseries, that is to say, out of the discommodities of poverty and infirmity, and with her wings gloriously lifts him up, out of the dead and standing waters of Egypt, (which are the ordinary thoughts of mortal men) making him despise this life and the riches thereof, and causing him night and day to meditate on God, and his Saints, to swell in the Imperial heaven, and to drink the sweet springs of the Fountains of everlasting hope.
Praised be God eternally, which has given us grace to see this most fair and all-perfect purple colour; this pleasant colour of the wild poppy of the Rock, this Tyrian, sparkling and flaming colour, which is incapable of Alternation or change, over which the heaven itself, nor his Zodiac can have no more domination nor power, whose bright shining rays, that dazzle the eyes, seem as though they did communicate unto a man some supercelestial thing, making him (when he beholds and knows it) to be astonished, to tremble, and to be afraid at the same time.
Oh Lord, give us grace to use it well, to the augmentation of the Faith, to the profit of our Souls, and to the increase of the glory of this noble Realm.