Alchemy: The Philosopher's Stone
by Edward Kelley
Though I have already twice suffered chains and
imprisonment in Bohemia, an indignity which has been offered to me in no other
part of the world, yet my mind, remaining unbound, has all this time exercised
itself in the study of that philosophy which is despised only by the wicked and
foolish, but is praised and admired by the wise. Nay, the saying that none but
fools and lawyers hate and despise Alchemy has passed into a proverb.
Furthermore, as during the preceding three years I have used great labor,
expense, and care in order to discover for your Majesty that which might afford
you much profit and pleasure, so during my imprisonment - a calamity which has
befallen me through the action of your Majesty - I am utterly incapable of
remaining idle. Hence I have written a treatise, by means of which your imperial
mind may be guided into all the truth of the more ancient philosophy, whence, as
from a lofty eminence, it may contemplate and distinguish the fertile tracts
from the barren and stony wilderness. But if my teaching displease you, know
that you are still altogether wandering astray from the true scope and aim of
this matter, and are utterly wasting your money, time, labor, and hope. A
familiar acquaintance with the different branches of knowledge has taught me
this one thing, that nothing is more ancient, excellent, or more desirable than
truth, and whoever neglects it must pass his whole life in the shade.
Nevertheless, it always was, and always will be, the way of mankind to release
Barabbas and to crucify Christ. This I have - for my good, no doubt -
experienced in my own case. I venture to hope, however, that my life and
character will so become known to posterity that I may be counted among those
who have suffered much for the sake of truth. The full certainty of the present
treatise time is powerless to abrogate. If your Majesty will deign to peruse it
at your leisure, you will easily perceive that my mind is profoundly versed in
(1) All genuine and judicious philosophers have traced back things to their
first principles, that is to say, those comprehended in the threefold division
of Nature. The generation of animals they have attributed to a mingling of the
male and female in sexual union; that of vegetables to their own proper seed;
while as the principle of minerals they have assigned earth and viscous water.
(2) All specific and individual things which fall under a certain class, obey
the general laws and are referable to the first principles of the class to which
(3) Thus, every animal is the product of sexual union; every plant, of its
proper seed; every mineral, of the mixture of its generic earth and water.
(4) Hence, an unchangeable law of Nature regulates the generation of everything
within the limits of its own particular genus.
(5) It follows that, with reference to their origin, animals are generically
distinct from vegetables and minerals; the same difference exists respectively
between vegetables and minerals and the two other natural kingdoms.
(6) The common and universal matter of these three principles is called Chaos.
(7) Chaos contains within itself the four elements of all that is, viz., fire,
air, water, and earth, by the mixture and motion of which the forms of all
earthly things are impressed upon their subjects.
(8) These elements have four qualities: heat, coldness, humidity, dryness. The
first inheres in fire, the second in water, the third in air, the fourth in
(9) By means of these qualities, the elements act upon each other, and motion
(10) Elements either act upon each other, or are acted on, and are called either
active or passive.
(11) Active elements are those which, in a compound, impress upon the passive a
certain specific character, according to the strength and extent of their
motion. These are water and fire.
(12) The passive elements - earth and air - are those which by their inactive
qualities readily receive the impressions of the aforesaid active elements.
(13) The four elements are distinguished, not only by their activity and
passivity, but also by the priority and posteriority of their motions.
(14) Priority and posteriority are here predicated either with references to the
position of the whole sphere, or the importance of the result or aim of the
(15) In space, heavy objects tend downwards, and light objects upwards; those
which are neither light nor heavy hold an intermediate position.
(16) In this way, even among the passive elements, earth holds a higher place
than air, because it delights more in rest; for the less motion, the more
(17) The excellence of result has reference to perfection and imperfection, the
mature being more perfect than the immature. Now, maturity is altogether due to
the heat of fire. Hence fire holds the highest place among active elements.
(18) Among the passive elements, the first place belongs to that which is most
passive, i.e., which is most quickly and easily influenced. In a compound, earth
is first passively affected, then air.
(19) Similarly, in every compound, the perfecting element acts last; for
perfection is a transition from immaturity to maturity.
(20) Maturity being caused by heat, cold is the cause of immaturity.
(21) It is clear, then, that the elements, or remote first principles of
animals, vegetables, and minerals, in Chaos, are susceptible of active movements
in fire and water, and of passive movements in earth and air. Water acts on
earth, and transmutes it into its own nature; fire heats air, and also changes
it into its own likeness.
(22) The active elements may be called male, while the passive elements
represent the female principle.
(23) Any compound belonging to any of these three kingdoms - animal, vegetable,
mineral - is female in so far as it is earth and air, and male in so far as it
is fire and water.
(24) Only that which has consistency is sensuously perceptible. Elementary fire
and air, being naturally subtle, cannot be seen.
(25) Only two elements, water and earth, are visible, and earth is called the
hiding-place of fire, water the abode of air.
(26) In these two elements we have the broad law of limitation which divides the
male from the female.
(27) The first matter of vegetables is the water and earth hidden in its seed,
these being more water than earth.
(28) The first matter of animals is the mixture of the male and female sperm,
which embodies more moisture than dryness.
(29) The first matter of minerals is a kind of viscous water, mingled with pure
and impure earth.
(30) Impure earth is combustible sulfur, which hinders all fusion, and
superficially matures the water joined to it, as we see in the minor minerals,
marcasite, magnesia, antimony, etc.
(31) Pure earth is that which so unites the smallest parts of its aforesaid
water that they cannot be separated by the fiercest fire, so that either both
remain fixed or are volatilized.
(32) Of this viscous water and fusible earth, or sulphur, is composed that which
is called quicksilver, the first matter of the metals.
(33) Metals are nothing but Mercury digested by different degrees of heat.
(34) Different modifications of heat cause, in the metallic compound, either
maturity or immaturity.
(35) The mature is that which has exactly attained all the activities and
properties of fire. Such is gold.
(36) The immature is that which is dominated by the element of water, and is
never acted on by fire. Such are lead, tin, copper, iron, and silver.
(37) Only one metal, viz., gold, is absolutely perfect and mature. Hence it is
called the perfect male body.
(38) The rest are immature and, therefore, imperfect.
(39) The limit of immaturity is the beginning of maturity; for the end of the
first is the beginning of the last.
(40) Silver is less bounded but aqueous immaturity than the rest of the metals,
though it may indeed be regarded as to a certain extent impure, still its water
is already covered with the congealing vesture of its earth, and it thus tends
(41) This condition is the reason why silver is everywhere called by the Sages
the perfect female body.
(42) All other metals differ only in the degree of their imperfection, according
as they are more or less bounded by the said immaturity; nevertheless, all have
a certain tendency towards perfection, though they lack the aforesaid congealing
vesture of their earth.
(43) This congealing force is the effect of earthy coldness, balancing its own
proper humidity, and causing fixation in the fluid matter.
(44) The lesser metals are fusible in a fierce fire, and therefore lack this
perfect congealing force. If they become solid when cool, this is due to the
arrangement of their aforesaid earthy particles.
(45) According to the different ways in which this viscous water and pure earth
are joined together, so as to produce quicksilver by coagulation, with the
mediation of natural heat, we have different metals, some of which are called
perfect, like gold and silver, while the rest are regarded as imperfect.
(46) Whoever would imitate Nature in any particular operation must first be sure
that he has the same matter, and, secondly, that this substance is acted on in a
way similar to that of Nature. For Nature rejoices in natural method, and like
(47) Hence they are mistaken who strive to elicit the medicine for the tingeing of metals from animals or vegetables. The tincture and the metal tinged must
belong to the same root or genus; and as it is the imperfect metals upon which
the Philosopher's Stone is to be projected, it follows that the powder of the
Stone must be essentially Mercury. The Stone is the metallic matter which
changes the forms of imperfect metals into gold, as we may learn from the first
chapter of "The Code of Truth": "The Philosophical Stone is the
metallic matter converting the substances and forms of imperfect metals";
and all Sages agree that it can have this effect only by being like them.
(48) That Mercury is the first matter of metals, I will attempt to prove by the
saying of some Sages:
In the Turba Philosophorum, chapter 1., we find the following words: "In
the estimation of all Sages, Mercury is the first principle of all metals."
If it were worth while, I might adduce hundreds of other
passages from the writings of the Sages, but as they would serve no good
purpose, I will let these suffice.
And a little further on: "As flesh is generated from coagulated blood, so
gold is generated out of coagulated Mercury."
Again, towards the end of the chapter: "All pure and impure metallic bodies
are Mercury, because they are generated from the same."
Arnold writes thus to the King of Aragon: "Know that the matter and sperm
of all metals are Mercury, digested and thickened in the womb of the earth; they
are digested by sulphureous heat, and according to the quality and quantity of
the sulphur different metals are generated. Their matter is essentially the
same, though there may be some accidental differences, such as a greater or less
degree of digestion, etc. All things are made of that into which they may be
resolved, e.g., ice or snow, which may be resolved into water; and so all metals
may be resolved into quicksilver; hence they are made out of quicksilver."
The same view is set forth by Bernard of Trevisa, in his book on the
"Transmutation of Metals": "Similarly, quicksilver is the
substance of all metals; it is as a water by reason of the homogeneity which it
possesses with vegetables and animals, and it receives the virtues of those
things which adhere to it in decoction." A little further on the same
Trevisan affirms that "Gold is nothing but quicksilver congealed by its
And, in another place, he writes as follows: "The solvent differs from the
soluble only in proportion and degree of digestion, but not in matter, since
Nature has formed the one out of the other without any addition, even as by a
process equally simple and wonderful she evolves gold out of quicksilver."
Again: "The Sages have it that gold is nothing but quicksilver perfectly
digested in the bowels of the earth, and they have signified that this is
brought about by sulphur, which coagulates the Mercury, and digests it by its
own heat. Hence the Sages have said that gold is nothing but mature
Such also is the consensus of other authorities. "The Sounding of the
Trumpet" gives forth no uncertain note: "Extract quicksilver from the
bodies, and you have above the ground quicksilver and sulphur of the same
substance of which gold and silver are made in the earth."
The "Way of Ways" leads to the same conclusion: "Reverend Father,
incline they venerable ears, and understand that quicksilver is the sperm of all
metals, perfect and imperfect, digested in the bowels of the earth by the heat
of sulphur, the variety of metals being due to the diversity of their sulphur."
We find in the same tract a similar canon: "All metals in the earth are
generated in Mercury, and thus Mercury is the first matter of metals."
To these words Avicenna signifies his assent in chapter iii.: "As ice,
which by heat is dissolved into water, is clearly generated out of water, so all
metals may be resolved into Mercury, whence it is clear that they are generated
out of it."
This reasoning is confirmed by "The Sounding of the Trumpet":
"Every passive body is reduced to its first matter by operations contrary
to its nature; the first matter is quicksilver, being itself the oil of all
liquid and ductile things."
So also the third chapter of the "Correction of Fools": "The
nature of all fusible things is that of Mercury coagulated out of a vapor, or
the heat of red or white incombustible sulphur."
In chapter i. of the "Art of Alchemy" we read: "All Sages agree
that the metals are generated from the vapor of sulphur and quicksilver."
Again, a passage in the Turba Philosophorum runs thus: "It is certain that
every subject derives from that into which it can be resolved. All metals may be
resolved into quicksilver, hence they were once quicksilver."
Those persons make a great mistake who suppose that the thick water of Antimony,
or that viscous substance which is extracted from sublimed Mercury, or from
Mercury and Jupiter dissolved together in a damp spot, can in any case be the
first substance of metals.
Antimony can never assume metallic qualities, because its water and moisture are
not tempered with dry, subtle, earth, and want, moreover, that unctuosity which
is characteristic of malleable metals. But, as Chambar well says in the
"Code of Truth": "It is only through jealousy that Sages have
called the Stone Antimony."
In the same way, those who destroy the natural composition of Mercury, in order
to resolve it into a thick or limpid water, which they call the first matter of
metals, fight against Nature in the dark, like blinded gladiators.
As soon as Mercury loses its specific form, it becomes something else, which
cannot thenceforth mingle with metals in their smallest parts, and is made void
for the work of the Philosophers. Whoever is taken up with such childish
experiments, should listen to the Sage of Trevisa in his "Transmutation of
"Who can find truth that destroys the humid nature of Mercury? Some foolish
persons change its specific metallic arrangement, corrupt its natural humidity
by dissolution, and disproportionate quicksilver from its original mineral
quality, which wanted nothing but purification and simple digestion. By means of
salts, vitriol, and alum, they destroy the seed which Nature has been at pains
to develop. For seed in human and sensitive things is formed by Nature and not
by art, but by art it is united and mixed. Seed needs no addition, and brooks no
diminution. If it is to produce a new thing of the same genus, it must remain
the very same thing that was formed by Nature. All teaching that changes Mercury
is false and vain, for this is the original sperm of metals, and its moisture
must not be dried up, for otherwise it will not dissolve. Too much fire will
cause a morbid heat, like that of a fever, and change the passive into active
elements, thus the balance of forces is destroyed, and the whole work marred.
Yet these fools extract from the lesser minerals corrosive waters, into which
they project the different species of metals, and thus corrode them.
"The only natural solution is that by which out of the solvent and the
soluble, or male and female, there results a new species. No water can naturally
dissolve metals except that which abides with them in substance and form, which
also the dissolved metals can again congeal; this is not the case with aqua
fortis, seeing that it only destroys the specific arrangement. Only that water
can rightly dissolve metals which is inseparable from them in fixation, and such
a water is Mercury, but not aqua fortis, or any thing else which those fools are
pleased to call Mercurial Water." Thus far Trevisan.
Persons who have fallen into this fatal error may also derive benefit from the
teaching of Avicenna on this point: "Quicksilver is cold and humid, and of
it, or with it, God had created all metals. It is aerial, and becomes volatile
by the action of fire, but when it has withstood the fire a little time, it
accomplishes great marvels, and is itself only a living spirit of unexampled
potency. It enters and penetrates all bodies, passes through them, and is their
ferment. It is then the White and the Red Elixir and is an everlasting water,
the water of life, the Virgin's milk, the spring, and that Alum of which
whosoever drinks cannot die, etc. It is the wanton serpent that conceives of its
own seed, and brings forth on the same day. With its poison it destroys all
things. It is volatile, but the wise make it to abide the fire, and then it
transmutes as it has been transmuted, and tinges as it has been tinged, and
coagulates as it has been coagulated. Therefore is the generation of quicksilver
to be preferred before all minerals; it is found in all ores, and has its sign
with all. Quicksilver is that which saves metals from combustion, and renders
them fusible. It is the Red Tincture which enters into the most intimate union
with metals, because it is of their own nature, mingles with them indissolubly
in all their smallest parts, and, being homogeneous, naturally adheres to them.
Mercury receives all homogeneous substances, but rejects all that is
heterogeneous, because it delights in its own nature, but recoils from
whatsoever is strange. How foolish, then, to spoil and destroy that which Nature
made the seed of all metallic virtue by elaborate chemical operations!"
The "Rosary" bids us be particularly careful, lest in purifying the
quicksilver we dissipate its virtue, and impair its active force. A grain of
wheat, or any other seed, will not grow if its generative virtue be destroyed by
excessive external heat. Therefore, purify your quicksilver by distillation over
a gentle fire.
Says the Sage of Trevisa: "If the quicksilver be robbed of its due metallic
proportion, how can other substances of the same metallic genus be generated
from it? It is a mistake to suppose that you can work miracles with a clear
limpid water extracted from quicksilver. Even if we could get such a water, it
would not be of use, either as to form or proportion, nor could it restore or
build up a perfect metallic species. For as soon as the quicksilver is changed
from its first nature, it is rendered unfit for our operation, since it loses
its spermatic and metallic quality. I do, indeed, approve of impure and gross
Mercury being sublimed and purified once or twice with simple salt, according to
the proper method of the Sages, so long as the fluxibility or radical humor of
such Mercury remains unimpaired, that is to say, so long as its specific
mercurial nature is not destroyed, and so long as its outward appearance does
not become that of a dry powder."
In the "Ladder of the Sages" we are told to beware of vitrification in
the solution of bodies, with the odor and taste of imperfect substances, and
also of the generative virtue of their form being in any way scorched and
destroyed by corrosive waters.
If you have been trying to do any of these things, you may see how grievous your
mistake has been. For the water of the Sages adheres to nothing except
homogeneous substances. It does not wet your hands if you touch it, but scorches
your skin, and frets and corrodes every substance with which it comes in
contact, except gold and silver (it would not affect these until they have been
dissipated and dissolved by spirits and strong waters), and with these it
combines most intimately. But the other mixture is most childish, it is
condemned by the concert of the Sages, and by my own experience.
I now propose to show that quicksilver is the water with which, and in which,
the solution of the Sages takes place, by putting before the reader the opinions
of many Philosophers living in different countries and ages.
Says Menalates in the Turba: "Whoever joins quicksilver to the body of
magnesia, and the woman to the man, extracts the hidden nature by which bodies
are colored. Know that quicksilver is a consuming fire which mortifies bodies
by its contact."
Another Sage, in the Turba, says: "Divide the elements by fire, unite them
through the mediation of Mercury, which is the greatest arcanum, and so the
magistery is complete, the whole difficulty consisting in the solution and
conjunction. The solution, or separation, takes places through the mediation of
Mercury, which first dissolves the bodies, and these are again united by ferment
Rosinus makes Gold address Mercury as follows: "Dost thou dispute with me,
Mercury? I am the Lord, the Stone which abides the fire." Says Mercury:
"Thou sayest true; but I have begotten thee, and one part of me quickens
many of thee, since thou art grudging in comparison with me. Whoever will join
me to my brother or sister shall live and rejoice, and make me sufficient for
In the 5th chapter of the "Book of Three Words," we read: "I tell
thee that in Mercury are the works of the planets, and all their imaginations in
Aristotle says that the first mode of preparation is that the Stone shall become
Mercury; he calls Mercury the first body, which acts on gross substances and
changes them into its own likeness. "If Mercury did nothing else than
render bodies subtle and like itself, it would suffice us."
Senior: "Our Stone, then, is congealed water, that is to say, Mercury
congealed in gold and silver, and, when fixed, resistant to the fire."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "Mercury contains all that the
Sages seek, and destroys all flaky gold. It dissolves, softens, and extracts the
soul from the body."
"The Book on the Art of Alchemy": "The Sages were first put upon
attempting to clothe inferior bodies in the glory and splendor of the perfect
body when they discovered that metals differ only according to the greater or
smaller degree of their digestion, and are all generated from Mercury, with
which they extracted gold and reduced it to its first nature."
The "Correction of Fools": "Observe that crude Mercury dissolves
bodies and reduces them to their first matter or nature. Being made of clear
water, it always strives to corrode the crude, and especially that which is
nearest to its own nature, viz., gold and silver." The same book observes:
"You can make use of crude Mercury as follows - to seal up and open
natures, since similar things are helpful one to another." Once more:
"Quicksilver is the root in the Art of Alchemy, for the Sages say that all
metals are of it, and through it, and in it - it follows that the metals must
first be reduced to Mercury, the matter and sperm of all metals."
Again: "The reason why all metals must be reduced to the nature of vapor is because we see that all are generated of quicksilver, though the mediation of
which they came into being."
Gratianus: "Purify Laton, i.e., copper (ore), with Mercury, for Laton is of
gold and silver, a compound, yellow, imperfect body."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "Common Mercury is called a
spirit. If you do not resolve the body into Mercury, with Mercury, you cannot
obtain its hidden virtue."
"Art of Alchemy," chapter vi.: "The second part of the Stone we
call living Mercury, which, being living and crude, is said to dissolve bodies,
because it adheres to them in their innermost being. This is the Stone without
which Nature does nothing."
"Rosary": "Mercury never dies, except with its brother and
sister. When Mercury mortifies the matter of the Sun and Moon, there remains a
matter like ashes."
The Sage of Trevisa: "Add nothing above ground for digesting and thickening
Mercury into the nature of gold or of metals." Again: "This solution
is possible and natural, that is to say, by Art as handmaid to Nature, and is
unique and necessary in the work; but it is brought about only by quicksilver,
in such proportions as commend themselves to a good workman who knows the inmost
properties of Nature."
"Art of Alchemy": "Who can sufficiently extol Mercury, for
Mercury alone has power to reduce gold to its first nature?"
From these quotations it is clear what the Sages meant by their water, and what
they thought of this wonderful liquid, viz., Mercury, to which they ascribed all
power in the Magistery, for nothing can be perfected outside its own genus. Men
digest vegetables, not in the blood of animals, but in water which is their
first principle, nor are minerals affected by the vegetable liquid. In the words
of the "Sounding of the Trumpet": "The whole Magistery consists
in dividing the elements from the metals, and purifying them, and in separating
the sulphur of Nature from the metals."
Furthermore, as Hermes says, only homogeneous substances cohere, and only they
can produce offspring after their own kind, i.e., if you want a medicine which
is to generate metals, its origin must be metallic, since "species are
tinged by their genus," as the philosopher testifies.
In short, our Magistery consists in the union of the male and female, or active
and passive, elements through the mediation of our metallic water and a proper
degree of heat. Now, the male and female are two metallic bodies, and this I
will again prove by irrefragable quotations from the Sages:
Dantius bids us prepare the bodies and dissolve them.
Rhasis: "Change the bodies into water, and the water into earth: then all
Galienus: "Prepare the bodies, and purify them of the blackness in which is
corruption, till the white becomes white and red, then dissolve both, etc."
Calid (chapter i.): "If you do not make the bodies subtle, so that they may
be impalpable to touch, you will not gain your end. If they have not been
ground, repeat your operation, and see that they are ground and subtilized. If
you do this, you will be directed to your desired goal."
Aristotle: "Bodies cannot be changes except by reduction into their first
Calid (chapter v.): "Similarly, the Sages have commanded us to dissolve the
bodies so that heat adheres to their inmost parts; then we proceed to
coagulation after a second dissolution with a substance which most nearly
Menabadus: "Make bodies not bodies, and incorporeal things bodies, for this
is the whole process by which the hidden virtue of Nature is extracted."
Ascanius: "The conjunction of the two is like the union of husband and
wife, from whose embrace results golden water."
"Anthology of Secrets": "Wed the red man to the white woman, and
you have the whole Magistery."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "There is another quicksilver and
permanent tincture which is extracted from perfect bodies by dissolution,
distillation, sublimation, and subtilization."
Hermes: "Join the male to the female in their own proper humidity, because
there is no birth without union of male and female."
Plato: "Nature follows a kindred nature, contains it, and teaches it to
resist the fire. Wed the man to the woman, and you have the whole Magistery."
Avicenna: "Purify husband and wife separately, in order that they may unite
more intimately; for if you do not purify them, they cannot love each other. By
conjunction of the two natures you get a clear and lucid nature, which, when it
ascends, becomes bright and serviceable."
"Art of Alchemy": "Two bodies provide us with everything in our
Trevisanus: "Only that water which is of the same species, and can be
thickened by bodies, can dissolve bodies."
Hermes: "Let the stones of mixture be taken in the beginning of the first
work, and let them be equally mixed into earth."
"Mirror": "Our Stone must be extracted from the nature of two
bodies, before it can become a perfect Elixir."
Democritus: "You should first dissolve the bodies over white hot ashes, and
not grind them except only with water."
"Rosary" of Arnold: "Extract the Medicine from the most
homogeneous bodies in Nature."
I have thus proved the number of the bodies from which the Elixir is obtained. I
will now show by quotations what these bodies are.
"Exposition of the Letter of King Alexander": "In this art you
must wed the Sun and the Moon."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "The Sun only heats the earth and
imparts to it his virtue through the mediation of the Moon, which, of all stars,
most readily receives his light and heat."
"The Correction of Fools": "Sow gold and silver, and they will
yield to your labor a thousandfold, through the mediation of that thing which
alone has what you seek. The Tincture of gold and silver exhibits the same
metallic proportions as the imperfect metals, because they have a common first
matter in Mercury."
Again: "Tinge with gold and silver, because gold gives the golden and
silver the silver color and nature. Reject all things that have not naturally
or virtually the power of tingeing, as in them is no fruit, but only waste of
money and gnashing of teeth."
Senior: "I, the Sun, am hot and dry, and thou, the Moon, art cold and
moist; when we are wedded together in a closed chamber, I will gently steal away
Rosinus to Saratant: "From the living water we obtain earth, a homogeneous
dead body, composed of two natures, that of the Sun and that of the Moon."
Again: "When the Sun, my brother, for the love of me (silver) pours his
sperm (i.e. his solar fatness) into the chamber (i.e. my Lunar body), namely,
when we become one in a strong and complete complexion and union, the child of
our wedded love will be born."
Hermes: "Its humidity is of the empire of the Moon, and its fatness of the
empire of the Sun, and these two are its coagulum and pure seed."
Astratus says: "Whoever would attain the truth, let him take the humor of
the Sun and the Spirit of the Moon."
Turba Philosophorum: "Both bodies in their perfection should be taken for
the composition of the Elixir, whether orange or white, for neither becomes
liquid without the other."
Again, Gold says: "No one kills me but my sister."
Aristotle: "If I did not see gold and silver, I should certainly say that
Alchemy was not true."
The Sage: "The foundation of our Art is gold and its shadow."
"Art of Alchemy": "We have already said that gold and silver must
"Rosary": "There is an addition of orange color by which the
Medicine is perfected from the substance of fixed sulphur, i.e., both medicines
are obtained from gold and silver."
The Sage: "Whoever knows how to tinge sulphur and quicksilver has reached
the great arcanum. Gold and silver must be in the Tincture, and also the ferment
of the spirit."
"Rosary": "The ferment of the Sun is the sperm of the man, the
ferment of the Moon, the sperm of the woman. Of both we get a chaste union and a
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "You want silver to subtilize your
gold, and make it volatile by removing its impurity, since the silver has a
greater need of the light of gold. Therefore Hermes, as also Aristotle in his
treatise on Plants, says that gold is its father, and silver its mother; nothing
else is needed for our Stone. Silver is the field in which the seed of gold is
sown." And a little further on: "In my sister, the Moon, grows your
wisdom, and not in any other of my servants, saith the Lord Sun. I am like seed
sown in good and pure soil, which sprouts and grows and multiplies and yields
great gain to the sower. I, the Sun, give to thee, the Moon, my beauty, the
light of the Sun, when we are united in our smallest parts." And the Moon
says to the Sun: "Thou hast need of me, as the cock has need of the hen,
and I need thy operation, who art perfect in morals, the father of lights, a
great and mighty lord, hot and dry, and I am the waxing Moon, cold and moist,
but I receive thy nature by our union."
Avicenna: "In order to obtain the red and the white Elixir, the two bodies
must be united. For though gold is the most fixed and perfect of the metals, yet
if it be dissolved into its smallest parts, it becomes spiritual and volatile,
like quicksilver, and that because of its heat. This tincture, which is without
number, is called the hot male seed. But if silver be dissolved in warm water,
it remains fixed as before, and has little or no tincture, yet it readily
receives the tincture in a temperament of hot and cold, and is called the cold,
dry, female seed. Gold or silver by themselves are not easily fusible, but a
mixture of the two melts readily, as is well known to goldsmiths. Hence if our
Stone did not contain both gold and silver, it would not be liquid, and would
yield no medicine through any magistery, nor tincture, for if it yielded
tincture it would still have no tingeing power."
And a little further on: "Take heed, then, and operate only on gold,
silver, and quicksilver, since all the profit of our Art is derived from these
I may add that crude Mercury is the water which the Sages have used for the
purpose of solution. I have proved that two bodies must be dissolved, and that
they are no other than gold and silver. Now I will describe the conjunction of
these two bodies by means of the crude Mercury of the Sages.
"The Light of Lights": "Know that it is gold, silver, and Mercury
that whiten and redden within and without. The Dragon does not die, unless he be
killed with his brother and sister, and it must be not by one, but by both
"The Ladder of the Sages": "Others say that a true body must be
added to these two, to strengthen and shorten the operation."
"Treasury of the Sages": "Our Stone has body, soul, and spirit,
the imperfect body is the body, the ferment the soul, and the water the
"The Way of Ways": "The water is called the spirit, because it
gives life to the imperfect and mortified body, and imparts to it a better form;
the ferment is the soul, because it gives life to the body, and changes it into
its own nature."
Again: "The whole Magistery is accomplished with our water, and of it. For
it dissolves the bodies, calcines and reduces them to earth, transforms them
into ashes, whitens and purifies them, as Morienus says: "Azoth and fire
purify Laton, that is to say, wash it and thoroughly remove its obscurity; Laton
is the impure body, Azoth is quicksilver."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "As without the ferment there is
no perfect tincture, as the Sages say, so without leaven there is no good bread.
In our Stone the ferment is like the soul, which gives life to the dead body
through the mediation of the spirit, or Mercury."
"The Rosary" and Peter of Zalentum say: "If the ferment, which is
the medium of conjunction, be placed in the beginning, or in the middle, the
work is more quickly perfected."
"The Sounding of the Trumpet": "The Elixir of the Sages is
composed of three things, viz., the Lunar, the Solar, and the Mercurial Stone.
In the Lunar Stone is white sulphur, in the Solar Stone red sulphur, and the
Mercurial Stone embraces both, which is the strength of the whole Magistery."
Eximenus: "The water, with its adjuncts, being placed in the vessel,
preserves them from combustion. The substances being ground with water, there
follows the ascension of the Ethelia and the imbibition of water is sufficient
by itself to complete the work."
Plato: "Take fixed bodies, join them together, wash the body in the bodily
substance, and let it be strengthened with the incorporeal body, till you change
it into a real body."
Pandulphus: "The fixed water is pure water of life, and no tingeing poison
is generated without gold and its shadow. Whoever tinges the poison of the Sages
with the Sun and its shadow, has attained the highest wisdom."
Again: "Separate the elements with fire, unite them by means of Mercury,
and the Magistery is complete."
Exercit, 14: "The spirit guards the body and preserves it from fire, the
clarified body keeps the spirit from evaporating over the fire, the body being
fixed and the spirit incombustible. Hence the body cannot be burnt, because the
body and spirit are one through the soul. The soul prevents them from being
separated by the fire. Hence the three together can defy the fire and anything
else in the world."
Rhasis("Book of Lights"): "Our Stone is named after the creation
of the world, being three and yet one. Nowhere is our Mercury found purer than
in gold, silver and common Mercury."
When bodies and spirits are dissolved, they are resolved into the four elements,
which become a firm and fixed substance. But when they are not both dissolved,
there is a particular mixture which the fire can still separate."
Rosinus: "In our Magistery are a spirit and bodies, whence it is said: It
rejoices being sown in the three associated substances."
Calid: "Prepare the strone bodies with the dissolves humidity, till either
shall be reduced to its subtle form. If you do not subtilize and grind the
bodies till they become impalpable, you will not find what you seek."
Rosinus: "The Stone consists of body, soul, and spirit, or water, as the
Philosophers say, and is digested in one vessel. Our whole Magistery is of, and
by, our water, which dissolves the bodies, not into water, but by a true
philosophical solution into the water whence metals are extracted, and is
calcined and reduced to earth. It makes yellow as wax those bodies into whose
nature it is transformed; it substantialises, whitens, and purifies the Laton,
according to the word of Morienus."
Aristotle: "Take your beloved son, and wed him to his sister, his white
sister, in equal marriage, and give them the cup of love, for it is a food which
prompts them to union. All pure things must be united to pure things, or they
will have sons unlike themselves. Therefore, first of all, even as Avicenna
advises, sublime the Mercury, and purify in it impure bodies. Then pound and
dissolve. Repeat this operation again and again."
Ascanius: "Stir up war between copper and Mercury till they destroy each
other and devour each other. Then the copper coagulates the quicksilver, the
quicksilver congeals the copper, and both bodies become a powder by means of
diligent imbibition and digestion. Join together the red man and the white woman
till they become Ethelia, that is, quicksilver. Whoever changes them into a
spirit by means of quicksilver, and then makes them red, can tinge every
As to the nature of this copper, Gratianus instructs us in the following words:
"Make Laton white, i.e., whiten copper with Mercury, because Laton is an
orange imperfect body, composed of gold and silver."
I advise all and sundry to follow my teaching, as to the correctness of which my
quotations from the ancients can leave no doubt, which also has received further
confirmation from my own experiments. Any deviation from this course leads to
deception, except only the work of Saturn, which must be performed by the
subtilization of principles. The Sages say that homogeneous things only combine
with each other, make each other white and red, and permit of common generation.
The important point is that Mercury should act upon our earth. This is the union
of male and female, of which the Sages say so much. After the water, or
quicksilver, has once appeared, it grows and increases, because the earth
becomes white, and this is called the impregnation. Then the ferment is
coagulated, i.e., joined to the imperfect prepared body, till they become one in
color and appearance: this is termed the birth of our Stone, which the Sages
call the King. Of this substance it is said in the "Art of Alchemy"
that if any one scorches this flower, and separates the elements, the generative
germ is destroyed.
I conclude with the words of Avicenna: "The true principle of our work is
the dissolution of the Stone, because solved bodies have assumed the nature of
spirits, i.e., because their quality is drier. For the solution of the body is
attended with the coagulation of the spirit. Be patient, therefore, digest,
pound, make yellow as wax, and never be weary of repeating these processes till
they are quite perfect. For things saturated with water are thereby softened.
The more you pound the substance, the more you soften it, and subtilize its
gross parts, till they are thoroughly penetrated with the spirit and thus
dissolved. For by pounding, roasting, and fire, the tough and viscous parts of
bodies are separated."
Finally, I do you to wit, sons of knowledge, that in the work of the Sages there
are three solutions.
The first is that of the crude body.
The second is that of the earth of the Sages.
The third is that which takes place during the augmentation of the substance. If
you diligently consider all that I have said, this Magistery will become known
to you. As for me, how much I have endured on account of this Art, history will
reveal to future ages.