Friday, 23 October 2015

The Alchemical Garden by Daniel Stolcius [1624] (English)

To The Reader
I write my poems for the learned and the unlearned; both read them with modesty. He who understands this well looks into a true mirror; he who does not know it may learn much if he is industrious. To those who mock us, saying that our beard is covered with hellebore, we bid: Depart! For if you read aright you will find nothing of the hellebore flavour.


Daniel Stoclius (Daniel Stoltz von Stoltzenberg/Stoclius de Stolcenberg) was born in Bohemia on August 11th, 1600. He was a Poet Laureate (before 1624), (Paracelsisan) physician, astrologer, and alchemist.

He attained his M.A. in Prague in 1619, where he became the pupil of Rosicrucian alchemist Michael Maier. In 1623 he was in England, were he met Rosicrucian philosopher Robert Fludd and the alchemist and inventor Cornelius Drebbel. Among his other contacts (later in life) was Johann Amos Comenius.

In 1624, he met the publisher Lucas Jennis in Frankfurt. Jennis' copperplate engravings were used in the production of Hermetic emblems, used to convey the symbolic ideas in alchemy pictorially, and he published the alchemical works of Michael Maier, Johann Daniel Mylius, Thomas Norton and many others. Other names associated with Jennis include Basil Valentine and John Dee.

Of his meeting with Jennis, Stolclius writes in Viridarium chymicum: 

"When I saw the office of Lucas Jennis in Frankfort on the Main these copper engraved drawings, they pleased me so much that I asked Jennis for them. Praising me for my desire, he gratified it immediately with the proviso that describe each figure with a short poem and publish my labours."

This was to be the genesis of his Viridarium chymicum, this alchemical emblem book consisting of 107 images. As Stolclius states in the Preface: