(The Rosary of the Philosophers)
"The Rosary of the Philosophers (Rosarium philosophorum sive pretiosissimum donum Dei) is a 16th century alchemical treatise. It was published in 1550 as part II of De Alchimia Opuscula complura veterum philosophorum (Frankfurt). The term rosary in the title is unrelated to the Catholic prayer beads; it refers to a "rose garden", metaphoric of an anthology or collection of wise sayings.
The 1550 print includes a series of 20 woodcuts with German language captions, plus a title page showing a group of philosophers disputing about the production of the lapis philosophorum. Some of the woodcut images have precedents in earlier (15th century) German alchemical literature." - wikipedia
The english text I have used is from a transcription of an 18th century manuscript (Ms Ferguson 210, University of Glasgow [not yet digitized]). The color title page is from copy of "De Alchimia Opuscula" in the Collection of Carl Jung. The other woodcuts I have taken from two different versions of "Artis Auriferae" (1572 and 1593). I'm still not happy with them, and will probably end up re-doing them.
The author has structured the text as stages, and quoted a variety of sources on each stage, providing commentary as he goes.
This text forms the basis of the work of Michael Maier. You'll find the captions of Maier's Atalanta Fugiens emblems. Also, Maier's list of alchemical teachers in "Symbola Aurea Mensae Duodecim Nationum" comes directly from here:
Hermes of Egypt
Mary the Hebrew
Democritus of Greece
Morienus of Rome
Avicenna [Ibn Sina] of Arabia
Albertus Magnus of Germany
Arnaud de Villeneuve of France
Thomas Aquinas of Italy
Raymond Lully of Spain
Roger Bacon of England
Melchior Cibiensis of Hungary
Michael Sendivogius of Poland
There are two I can't remember being mentioned by name, Roger Bacon and Sendivogius. Out of these, I am guessing Bacon is "The Philospher" never explicitly named.
I've done some further mark-up to highlight certain things.
Here beginneth the Book of the
Rosary of the Philosophers
most diligently compiled
and brought into one volume.
Whosoever would come to the knowledge of this Art and is not a Philosopher will prove a fool, because this Science is only of the Secrets of Philosophers.
This Art is reserved in the power of God and is an enemy to the lay people.
Therefore this Art is not necessary for poor and needy men but is rather an enemy to them.
It is impossible for a poor man to be a Philosopher.
Our stone is a thing which hath not touched the fire, nor the fire touched it, from which our mercury riseth.
Take this and this and do thus and thus, and you shall have this, and this is a common thing among all Philosophers.
Fools understanding the sayings of the Philosophers according to the letter do find out no truth, and they say it is a false science because they have tried it and found nothing, and then they become as men desperate, condemning this science and dispraising the books thereof, and therefore the science maketh small account of them, because our science of the secrets of nature hath no enemy but the ignorant, according to these verses following:
This stone is had in small regard With men of slender wit But yet the wise and learned sort Make great account of it.
Know this, that God hath not ordained this stone of which this great secret entreateth to be bought for a great price, for it is found out being cast in the way, and may as well be had of a poor man as of a rich man, that every man may come unto it by reason and knowledge. Argent vive is not the stone, whereupon Constantinus saith "Because it is fusible, therefore it is not the stone".
Let the Artificers of Alchemy know this, that the forms of metals cannot be transmuted unless they be reduced into their first matter, and then they are transmuted into another form than that which they had before. And that is because the corruption of one thing is the generation of another thing, as well in artificial things as in natural things. For Art imitates nature and in certain things it correcteth it and excelleth it as nature is helped by the industry of the Physician.
Therefore, use nature well because nature cannot be amended but in its own nature, to which bring in no foreign thing, neither powder, nor any other thing, because diverse natures do not make perfect the stone, neither does that enter into it which is not sprung from it. For if any foreign or strange thing be put into it, it is straight corrupted and that which is sought shall not be obtained.
For it is a fire which burneth and grindeth all things, Argent vive is vinegar.
"The first force is vinegar, that is Argent vive.
If you set the body on the fire without vinegar, it will be burnt, that is without Argent vive ... It is most sharp vinegar which maketh the mere body without which no colour cometh.
Note this that no silver can be made unless first they be all dissolved.
Secondly, that no solution ought to be made but in the proper and appropriated blood, that is, in water of Mercury which is called Dragon's Water.
Thirdly, that no Dragon Water ought to be made by an alembic, without any other thing added, and in the making of it there is a great stink.
Fourthly, that with that body of water an Amalgam may be dissolved, as also a body, a spirit and briefly all things in general, which are of its nature.
Fifthly, that that water ought to be pure and clean, and therefore should not be made but of a purged Dragon. And let the Dragon be purged by elevating it three times and then by reviving it.
Sixthly, that the dissolved must be purified in warm and moist, that is in horse dung. Of this one blackness riseth.
Seventhly, that it be coagulated in the dry Sun, in moisture that is in Balneo Maria.
Eighthly, that the time of the perfection of Elixir is less than one year, yet we must see that it be the time of the increase of man in the womb of the mother.
Ninthly, that Mercury is by no means killed, but with the smell of the body, perfected red to red and of white to white. And that the body can give weight, his own weight remaining, there are four things with which our work is effected, that is Weight, Fire, Body and Spirit.
Tenthly, that all revived things are not to be refused in the Art.
Eleventhly, that the thing being prepared and put in the vessel, it will then be women's work and children's play, because the magistery may be done in one vessel. Likewise, whosoever hath true Mercury, hath Elixir also, because Elixir is mortified Mercury, or fixed with the smell of the body, because the Dragon dieth not but with his brother and sister. Note likewise, that Mercury must altogether be made of the body, that is, that fixed be made volatile with volatile, that is with pure Mercury. And it is needful that there be more of the volatile than of the fixed, from double to fivefold to sixfold unto tenfold, and no further, and the more volatile parts there are, so much the more slowly are they fixed, and the fixed is made volatile in the space of one month. And note that, Elixir cannot be unless the body and spirit pass through all the Elements. That is, through all natures of Elements, that first they may be made earth, afterwards air, that is vapour, thirdly water, and fourthly fire, for everything is called fire which doth not fly the fire, nor diminish nor consume in the fire.
To decoct that in fire which I shall show unto thee, is to bury it in moist horse dung, because the fire of wise men is moist and obscure, and it is warm in the second degree and moist in the first degree. The property of this fire is not to destroy oil that is the substance, but it augmenteth by reason of this temperate moisture for that heat only is equal and temperate, and such is very necessary in the generation of that thing.
Because the fumes are most subtle and have need of temperate decoction, that they may be thickened in themselves, according to the equality for temperate heat only, is the thickening of moistness and perfection of mixture, and not exceeding too far, for the generations and procreations of natural things have been accustomed to be done by most temperate and equal heat, as horse dung only is moist and warm.
It behoveth him who would enter into this art and secret wisdom to repel the vice of arrogancy from him, and to become virtuous and honest and profound in reason, courteous unto men, merry and pleasant of countenance, patient and a concealer of secrets. My Son, before all things I counsel thee to fear God, in whom the sight of thy disposition remains, and the help of every thing sequestered from thee.
Sol and Luna are in our Stone in virtue and power and in all nature, if this were not so neither Sol nor Luna would be made thereof, because the Sol and Luna in our Stone are better than the common in the nature of them, and because Sol and Luna are alone in Our Stone, and the vulgar are dead in respect of Sol and Luna. Therefore the Philosophers have named that Stone, Sol and Luna by course, because they are in it potentially and not visibly, but in virtue and essence. Wherefore Hermes says, "Our Stone crieth saying, 'Son, help me and I will help thee.'"
Violence oppresses me being a naked woman For before my body was as it were outcast Neither was I yet a mother, until I was again born Then I got strength of all herbs and roots I have obtained victory in all diseases I was the name of my Son And being joined with him, I came forth with him And being great of child by him I have brought forth an unripe fruit I am made a mother and yet I am a virgin And in my essence am so constituted That my son should become my father According as God hath ordained it essentially
My mother which brought me forth Is again brought into the world by me There is one thing to be considered, that is natural copulation Which lieth hid artificially in the mountains Where of four things are made one thing In our artificial stone And six things are considered threefold And are brought into one substance He which understandeth those things well It is granted unto him by God to expel all diseases Whatsoever both in metals and also in the bodies of men But no man can do it without the help of the Deity From my earth there springs a fountain From which two rivers come forth The one holds his course towards the East The other towards the West From whence two Eagles flying burn their feathers And being bare and naked fall again to the earth These Eagles are presently renewed with fair feathers And both Sol and Luna are subject to them
0 Lord Jesus Christ From whom all goodness proceeds By the grace of thy Holy Spirit Which protecteth all things, We are made to understand the sayings of the wise men That we may consider and provide for the life to come When our bodies and souls shall be conjoined again.
O Sons, there are seven bodies of Philosophers of which their gold is the chief, the king and head, which neither the earth corrupts, nor any burning thing burns, nor water alters, because his complexion is temperate and his nature direct in heat, cold, moisture and dryness. Neither is there anything in it that is superfluous, nor any thing too little. Wherefore, the Philosophers have brought it forth and magnified it, and they have said that Gold is in the same sort in bodies, as Sol in the stars with his glorious light and shining, for by it vegetables spring in the earth and all fruit is brought forth by the will of God. In like sort, gold in bodies contains every body with itself and receives them, because it is the ferment of the Elixir, without which nothing is done. For as dough without a leaven cannot be leavened nor seasoned, so when you will make white, sublime, mundify and extract the faeces and filthiness from them, and [you] will make them fit, conjoin and mingle them together, then put ferment to them, and look in what sort the ferment of dough is, so in the same sort is this ferment. Meditate therefore, and contemplate whether the ferment be of the thing or else of its nature. This is the key of all the Philosophers, and we must note that ferment whitens confection, forbids combustion, and holds tincture that it flies not away, it softens bodies and makes them enter by course and conjoins them.
As much as the Stone is cleansed by sublimation and by its burning taken away by the extraction of the oil from it, and his flight is destroyed by the fixing of it, yet nevertheless it is neither melted, entered into, nor mingled, but it is vitrified, as it is in the seventh chapter of Geber. Yea, rather it ought to be dissolved in the sharpness of waters and be calcined many times as it is had in the sixty seventh chapter of Geber.
Here is born the king of all glory There cannot be any created Greater in the world than he Neither by Art nor Nature Of what living creature soever The Philosophers call him their son He effecteth all things which they do And whatsoever men expect of him He giveth continual health Gold, Silver and precious stones He giveth fortitude, long life, beauty And Purity. He expelleth Anger, Sorrow, Poverty and diseases Blessed is he on whom God bestows this gift.
Here is born a noble and a rich Queen Whom the Philosophers liken unto their Daughter She multiplies and brings forth infinite Children Free from all hurt impurity and spot She expells death and hates poverty She gives wealth, health, honour And all good things She excells Gold, Silver and precious stones And all medicines both precious and simple There is nothing on the whole face of the Earth That may be compared unto her For which give endless thanks to the great God of Heaven.
It is an hidden stone and buried in a deep fountain And cast in the ways and covered with dirt or dung This one Stone hath all names Whereupon Morienus, that godly man,says: This Stone is a Stone and no Stone It is a bird and no bird It is Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, And Luna Now silver, now gold and now an element Now water, now wine, now blood Now virgin's milk,now spume of the sea or vinegar Now Sal Gemme, now common salt Now auripigmentum Now the purged sea purified with Sulphur And thus they figure it because they would not reveal it to the Ignorant Nor conceal it from those that be wise And that the Copper which is handled be not distributed to fools This only Luna is called by all names