Monday, 16 May 2016

Stephan Michelspacher - Cabala: The Mirror of Art and Nature (1663) [English text]

Cabala: The Mirror of Art and Nature
by Stephan Michelspacher

{Latin: Cabala Speculum Artis et Naturae in Alchymia}
{German: Cabala: Spiegel Der Kunst und Natur}


English Translation by Gisela Kirberg 

"CABALA: SPIEGEL DER KUNST VND NATUR was first published precisely four hundred years ago in the Free Imperial City of Augsburg, located in the Holy Roman Empire. The first edition was printed by Johann Schultes Sr., and published by the enigmatic Tyrolean, Stephan Michelspacher. CABALA remains one of the most fascinating, beautiful and problematic alchemical texts of the early seventeenth century. Its short text, partly in verse-form, describes three steel mirrors forged by the heat of the sun and revealed by the grace of God, which are at least partly metaphorical. When combined together, these mirrors – which reflect the Paracelsian triumvirate of mercury, salt and sulphur – reveal the great Arcanum, or secret of alchemical transmutation. The text is accompanied by four large plates, beautifully engraved by Raphael Custos (1590-1664), which similarly  encode the steps of progression to the work of transmutation, and which map onto the four mirrors of the text. The 1616 Latin edition introduces a further layer of complexity, by associating the tract with the Rosicrucian fraternity." - Ouroborus Press
"Stephan Michelspacher alluded in the third of his stunning engravings to the ascending aspect of steps, as a common theme in emblems and allegories throughout the Middle Ages. There is also an implied reference to Jacob’s ladder connecting the terrestrial and celestial world, as captured in the Tabula Smaragdina’s famous phrase ‘that which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above’."
"Following the dedication is a treatise of nine pages subdivided in five sections: 1) ‘Eingang an den Leser dieser Kunst’, 2) ‘Vorred’, 3) ‘Kunst’, 4) ‘Erklärung der Kunst’, and 5) ‘Zum Beschluß ein Erklärung des uhralten Steins’. Michelspacher’s ‘Cabala’ should be interpreted as ‘Cabala chymica’ or ‘Chemia cabalistica’, i.e. in Paracelsian terms. Thus in Paracelsus’ Philosophia sagax, the ‘Ars Cabalistica’ is a potent adjunct to natural magic. In his Cabala, Michelspacher gives an explanation of the alchemical operations that are illustrated in the engravings. He explains that by following these steps of the process in the right order, the hidden secrets of nature will become clear and the Great Work can be completed"
 - "Divine Wisdom - Divine Nature", Published by The Ritman Library
AGLA(אגלא) is a notariqon (kabbalistic acronym) for Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai,"You, O Lord, are mighty forever." It is said daily in the second blessing of the Amidah, the central Jewish prayer. Also seen as Athah gabor leolah, adonai, (אתה גבור לעולם אדני - Thou art powerful and eternal, Lord) Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers has suggested an arbitrary interpretation of AGLA (אגלא) as "A the one first, A the one last, G, the trinity in unity, L, the completion of the Great Work."[1] According to The Triangular Book of the Count of St Germain God by the name of AGLA was responsible for the preservation of Lot and his family from the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah.
A monograph for AGLA appeared in Stephan Michelspacher's book Spiegel der Kunst und Natur (The Mirror of Art and Nature), which was published in Augsburg, 1615. This was an Alchemical work strongly influenced by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's view of the Kabbalah and magic. Adam McLean describes the centre panel as "two circular diagrams with the German GOTT (the name of God) around the outside, and also the Alpha and Omega and the monograph which may be the name of God, Agla.[2] This represents the beginning - alpha - within the end - omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This relates to claim related in the Book of Revelation that Jesus was "the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (22.13).



What kind of a thing the Ancient Stone of the Philosophers is,
which, though threefold, is but a Stone.
This is shown here, with God's help and as clearly as a mirror,
to all the arduous and toiling lovers of the Art,
for much has hitherto been written about it but only few know it.
The whole truth explained and revealed quite openly and briefly
by means of the accompanying plates.
By someone who is unknown but named,
as the signet in the first plate testifies.


To the reader of this Art

He who reads without understanding
Is like a shadow on the wall.
He who sees a l o t with his eyes,
Yet understands none of it,
Is poorer than the blind man
Who does not see yet understands.
Thus: turn round the mirror,
And you see the whole
Of what there is to be seen in it.
This path will not lead you astray,
For it is as straight as a ruler
And runs through the whole circle.
So you will find the Three standing in the Four
And through the One going into the centre.
And out of the centre will emerge the Three
By virtue of the Four in the circle.
Now you have got a complete mirror,
Through which even a blind, entrenched man
Can see black, white and also red -
All that lies hidden in the muck,
From which it must be brought to daylight
And have its coarseness taken away,
And must be again sublimated,
So that it yields one hundred thousand times as much.
There is then no end to this.
Blessed is he who completes it thus.
This is my New Year's wish,
Surely and truly,
That this may be the final goal of the Art


Beloved and good-hearted reader, as all things - skills and talents - are in
the hands of God the Almighty, to be given by His grace to whomsoever He
chooses, He has looked upon me, His humble creature, with mercy and has
bestowed on me a splendid gift in that He has selected me, an unworthy man, to reveal His great secrets, although He, the Almighty God, could have given it to many another who is of greater rank, learning and worldly dignity.

And because through God the light has been revealed to me, to His praise
and to man's benefit, it seems fitting that I should not hide it under a bench or a bushel but put i t openly onto the table so that anyone who comes may see and understand what he is to do or to leave alone.

I have thus taken it upon myself, in a humble spirit, to show this same light to all men, as my equals and as lovers of the Art and Nature who are experienced in spagyric skills, through a mirror, in images, through the Cabala and the Art Alchymia. From these images, so I hope, they will gain perfect understanding of this mirror, which they can put to much fruitful and beneficial effect, firstly for the health of their earthly bodies and secondly for the sustenance of their souls, so that they may enter the eternal life.

And alacrity and by means of the pure spagyric art, and in it I can see God and everything perfectly - also the wretchednedness of the poor - as often as I want. It can be called a treasure above all other treasures. Such a one I am keeping with me safely, so that it cannot be stolen or used to harm others. 

I hope that my simple explanation has given sufficient indication to those who understand these matters, aa to the beneficial effect these plates can be used to by the lovers of the spagyric art. I f they are in union with God and Nature, they will find in this mirror more than I or anyone else can describe: the ability to see everything that has ever been written and shown through these images.

However, this only comes to those who are well experienced with all the skills of the just and true Alchymia, the spagyric art. To them nothing in Nature is so small as to remain hidden. The degrees or stages must be carried out in their correct order in the work. Firstly, as plate 1 shows, comes the stage of Calcination, by which is understood the Reverberation and the Cementation.

The next stage expresses the stage of Exaltation, by which is understood Sublimation and Elevation, together with Distillation. The third plate concerns the stage of Conjunction, which also covers the stages of Putrefaction, Solution, Desolution and Resolution, also Digestion and Circulation. The fourth plate contains the concept of Multiplication, which includes the Ascension, the Washing, Imbibition, Cohobition, also Coagulation, Fixation, Augmentation and Tincturation.

These stages must be worked through by him who desires to walk this path of bringing the three mirrors into one, by means of his reason and the instruction of the four main pillars: Philosophy, Astronomy, Alchemy and the Virtues. In plate 2, opposite the alphabet around the circle, the true Materia is spelt out letter by letter as it is to be used in our Art, explained clearly and explicitly. If you understand the alphabet correctly and all the letters beside it, then you will see what there is to be seen in it for you. The same applies to the four properties in plate 1 and plate 3, namely the qualities of the elements: hot, dry, cold and moist. These make you understand the right primam & ultimam Materiam by which everything can be achieved, as I have already explained briefly. For the sake of brevity I have refrained from going into greater detail, as highly enlightened and learned and noble men of God's German nation have written at length about these matters long before me, and brought them to daylight for you students, and have said as much as is possible.

From these you may get further elucidation to serve you in your task. For I can see very well that writing a lot about these things does not bear much fruit, whereas everything has been brought to the light of day clearly in these plates, or so I hope.

However, if I were to learn that the lovers of this Art are not satisfied and desire more instruction, my pen will not be unwilling to reveal all that I have learned through my own experience. In brief shall then follow a booklet, God and time permitting, which will give in four parts, point by point, the contents of the two main pillars as are seen in the first plate: Nature and the Art.

Meanwhile may you be satisfied with this simple exposition of my mirror - to begin with. He who is humble can see more elevated things than he who is elevated, for elevated eyes do not wed humility. Thus this has been written only for those who are experienced in the Art of spagyric skills.


With this I conclude freely:
That is the basis of the highest medicine
In Alchemy, in Art, it is the composed flower
Highly honoured and treated with decorum,
Created and composed by God
Aqua viscosa being the first substance
As the wise men have said.
Through Art from Nature
Is born the highest Tincture.
Three principles reside therein
Therefore our stone is threefold:
mineral, animal
and also vegetable
That is truly body, soul and spirit
As Nature offers i t to us
Honeysweet and a soft salt,
Lunar, liquid, fatty like lard
Solar Leo viridis green
Occultum sulphur is the gain of the wise men.
Anima of the body, exalted and precious,
Quinta Essentia our fire
The flower effects Regeneration
No other fire can achieve this.
The fire of the wise men is the Art,
Without it all work is in vain.
Truly, I tell you: if you worked
for a hundred or a thousand years
It would all be in vain
You would achieve no perfection
But instead waste your time and money.
Therefore you must study hard
And mark well these words:
A fire without light and without coal
Needs Spiritus vivificans with a clap
That enlivens all dead metals.
This fire is supernatural
And can be found in live compost and horsedung,
It is called the Fire of the Wise.
Now mark this well
For it can help you in times of need:
But don't start looking for it in horsedung
It would be a great pity
If you occupied yourself with such nonsense
You would make a laughing-stock of yourself in the whole land.
Strive to achieve knowledge and understanding of the ancient stone
And you will have your heart's desire
Blessed is he to whom God grants it.

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