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February 2002

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Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2002
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Hereward Tilton wrote:

> True, there are many stories of transmutation
> floating around in the 16th and 17th centuries... for example, the
> Testament of Abbot John Cremer of Westminster speaks of
> Ramon Lull's production of gold for King Edward of England,
> who used the wealth to wage war on France. But there never
> was an Abbot John Cremer of Westminster, nor did Ramon
> Lull visit England, and nor did Lull believe in the transmutation
> of metals.

The fact that there are such naive apocryphal stories does
not prove that all the others are also literary inventions.
There are at least some which are most certainly descriptions
of actual events by their participants, and those credible
eye-witnesses were convinced they saw genuine transmutations.

> Were there some remarkable means of producing
> gold from base metals (as some of the correspondents in this
> thread seem to be suggesting), that metal would long since have
> lost its value as a standard in international exchange, and we
> would have started using a substance slightly more immune to
> human artifice (cowrie shells?).

What interests me in those transmutation stories is not
whether they actually produced gold (and what the Rx for that is)
but rather what happened there and how it could happen.

> I think it's more likely that the numerous stories of transmutation
> are a testament to human gullibility on the one hand, and human
> willingness to exploit that gullibility on the other. Maier seems to
> have had a healthy share of both of these traits, although one
> should probably keep in mind the unconscious psychological
> attraction of the symbol of transmutation itself.

That's right - their mentality must have been a very important
factor in convincing them that what they had seen was real
transmutation. But I feel that gullibility is not enough to
explain away the testimonies of Dienheim and Zwinger about
the Seton's transmutation. They were both very intelligent,
exceptionally well educated, and - most importantly - unlike
us today, they were used to handle and recognize gold in
their everyday life (which depended on this ability to
a large extend). Nevertheless, they asked a goldsmith
to confirm the quality of the gold produced by Seton.

In popular literature on alchemy there are various explanations
proposed how alchemists cheated using double bottoms in
forges or hollow rods for stirring melted lead, so that
hidden gold was released when temperature rose. But are
these theories founded on any source accounts?

Another interesting aspect of the "learned mentality" of
the period is that the witnesses do not seem to be interested
in financial gain (unlike the Cremer/Lull/Edward story)
- they do not even mention this possibility. All they seem
to admire is the very *fact* of transmutation.

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Stanislas Klossowski de Rola
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2002

Dear Hereward,

Everything you suggest is quite inaccurate. Gold stemming from
transmutations has extraordinary characteristics and most of
the accounts are true. I am writing this in haste while travelling
in Europe and do not have the time to go into greater detail
right now. However you may find it worthwhile to examine
different samples held at various museums and the medals
stamped with this...

The problem of these discussions always is that one loses
sight that such transmutations are a by-product of the Great
Work and as such were used to convince some of the
possibilities imparted by this step toward the infinitely greater
achievements rendered possible by the acquisition of the
Philosopher's Stone.

Please do not make the mistake of underestimating Michael
Maier and the people around him.

Cheers,

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Leigh Penman
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002

> "Please do not make the mistake of underestimating Michael
> Maier and the people around him."


Maier himself has this to say in his 'Themis Aurea': (Forgive me the
indulgence of the long 'esses.' )

'...so likewife the fpirit of Vitriol may be taken without danger mixed with
another liquor, and the water of Salt-Peter may be received into the body;
but if thefe two be diftilled together, they make a water that will eat any
mettle except Gold, and certain death to any one that fhall take it; but if
you adde to the former Amoniacks, its ftrength is increafed, and it will
reduce Gold into a watry and fluid fubftance, yet its nature is pure and
perfect.'

Michael Maier _Laws of the Fraternity of the Rosie Crosse (Themis Aurea)_
Facsimile reprint of the original English translation of 1656. Los Angeles:
Philosophical Research Society 1976. ISBN: 0-89314-400-9. p.50.

While I have admittedly butchered this comment in quite an artless fashion
from its original context, Maier's words seem to demonstrate an easiness
with, and confidence in this particular method for detecting the quality of
Gold.

However, we should perhaps balance such confidence with another
of Maier's learned statements, (Themis, p.49): 'It is fufficiently known
to wife men...[that]common falt alone is harmless, as alfo your
vulgar Mercury.'

Suddenly I'm thinking that perhaps there may be another explanation
for all of these 'transmutations'...:)

regards to all,

Leigh.

Subject: ACADEMY : Spying on Dee
From: Susanna Åkerman
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002

After having talked to Ron Heisler this morning I can go forward with
his finding in State papers Venice on the Luneburg meeting in the
beginning of August 1586 (when a militia crucifera evangelica was
founded according to Simon Studion in his Naometria that Hess
and Andreae read in Tübingen.)

However I found another text of interest in these State papers
Venetian, the following report on Dee by the same diplomat Mattheo
Zane in Prague to the Doge and Senate of Venice on 10 of June
1586: letter no. 363, p. 169


"There has been living in Prague for some two years now, an English
doctor, a man of great learning; he has a following. He does not
profess a Christian life, but declares he has revelations on angels.
Partly on this account and partly because he affirms he possesses
a secret of riches in Alchemy, he draws many after him. When the
Pope was informed he rightly feared the appearance of a new sect.
He requestered the Emperor, who consented, to expel the
Englishman from the empire and its dependencies and though he
has many friends he was forced to leave for Saxony three days
after the publication of the imperial decree. It is thought that he will
not find an asylum there for long, as all the powers have been put
on guard agaisnt his religious innovation." Prague 10 June 1586

On Luneburg it is said that the Princes of Germany are gathering on
5th of August in Luneburg. And next it is said in letter no 399 p. 197-198.
19 August 1586 also by Matheo Zane.

"The meeting of the Protestant Princes in Luneburg is broken up.
Neither has his Majesty been able as yet to discover the nature of
their deliberations. Only this is stated that they were not in sitting
more than three or four hours, all the rest of the time they were in
good cheer and company. They say that the princes who were not
present at the conference will hold a meeting in some city on the
Rhine, in order to conform to the deliberations taken at Luneburg"
Prague 19 August 1586.

The English Queen was represented by an agent. (Perhaps
Thomas Bodley who the prophet Paul Grebner says attended
negotiations in Hamburg with the French diplomat Segur Pardaillon
also in August 1586. See further my Rose Cross over the Baltic p. 105-106.)

What was Dee up to in Saxony in 1586, do we know?

Gilly p. 21 in Cimelia rhodostaurotica 1995 says that the Militia
Crucifera Evangelica or cruce signati was only a union of Lutherans
and Zwinglians, and not something proto-Rosicrucian.


Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Adam McLean
Date: 11 Feb 2002

>'...so likewife the fpirit of Vitriol may be taken without danger mixed with
>another liquor, and the water of Salt-Peter may be received into the body;
>but if thefe two be diftilled together, they make a water that will eat any
>mettle except Gold, and certain death to any one that fhall take it; but if
>you adde to the former Amoniacks, its ftrength is increafed, and it will
>reduce Gold into a watry and fluid fubftance, yet its nature is pure and
>perfect.'

>While I have admittedly butchered this comment in quite an artless fashion
>from its original context, Maier's words seem to demonstrate an easiness
>with, and confidence in this particular method for detecting the quality of
>Gold.

Leigh,

Surely this is just an conventional description of the use of Aqua regia
as a solvent for gold. I don't see the relevance to testing the quality
of a particular sample of gold.

Aqua fortis is made from vitriol and saltpeter. This will not dissolve
gold though it will other metals. Silver dissolves readily in this
nitric acid. The addition of the chlorine ion in the form of sal ammoniac ,
ammonium chloride, converts nitric acid, aqua fortis, into aqua regia.
This acid will dissolve gold .This was well known to alchemists
and proto-chemists long before the time of Michael Maier.

It is unclear from what you quote how this could be used as a method
for estimating the purity of gold. Can you explain this more in detail ?
How was the dissolving of gold in aqua regia applied to estimating
the purity of a sample of gold ?

The question being asked in this thread is how to estimate the purity
of a given sample of gold, in an age when quantitative inorganic
chemistry was totally in its infancy, as people then lacked accurate
weighing and volumetric devices. People in that time, as we note from
contemporary accounts, were quite happy to pronounce a given
sample of gold especially pure. How did they do this? Was it just a
matter of opinion, touch and feel, or was it based on some way of
estimating or even measuring purity ? That is what this thread of
discussion is trying to get at.

Of course, a learned person like Maier, who must have met with
and discussed alchemical matters with many alchemists, knew
that aqua regia dissolved gold. The question remains how did
people of that time estimate the relative purity of samples of gold,
and even the individual purity of a given sample.

For example was it just a matter of seeing how soft it was when it
was scraped on a stone, or the feel of working it with a metal tool,
or was there some chemical procedure for gauging purity ? A
experienced goldsmith would sense from the feel of
working it how ductile and malleable it was, and could estimate
purity from this. But how did others make an estimation of purity ?
People seemed happy to pronounce on the purity of gold, but
on what basis? That is what we are trying to answer here.

Surely Maier, in this text, is noting a amazing fact. That vitriol,
saltpetre and sal ammoniac can be taken into the body with no
harmful effects, (indeed they could and were used as remedies), but
when one distills them together one obtains a new substance
that is so powerful that it is capable of dissolving gold. Such things
were a great mystery - how some common, simple, seemingly benign
substances could become so devasting an acid as to corrode the
king of metals ! Surely that is what Maier is saying in this passage,
not something about testing the purity of gold.

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: 11 Feb 2002

Dear Stanislas and Rafal,

Although I recognise your views on the matter are quite separate,
for the sake of the clarity of my position I'd prefer to make a
unified reply to your recent missives. Stanislas wrote:

>Everything you suggest is quite inaccurate.

Hmmm... this is a difficult allegation to refute. You really will have to
supply me with some specifics when you finish your travels.

>Gold stemming from transmutations has extraordinary characteristics
>and most of the accounts are true.

Whilst I do not doubt that your opinion is founded upon years of
research rather than blind faith, I can only state that belief in metallic
transmutation through the ages seems often to have possessed an
irrational psychological source, and rational arguments against this
belief have been of no avail as long as that source remains
unconscious to the believer. Please note that I am not interested in
the type of scoffing intellectualism offered by writers such as Principe
and Newman on the matter of esoteric knowledge - in my experience
there are indeed remarkable mysteries lying hidden within the
symbolic language of alchemy. But short of subjecting the valuable
medals you work with to a rather destructive assaying by cupellation,
Stanislas, I would venture to suggest that their substance is no
more or less extraordinary than the metal/s known to us in the
periodic table.

On the matter of the truth of accounts of transmutation, Rafal is of
course correct to point out that not all such accounts are apocryphal
like the tale of Lull, or Ripley's reported production of £100 000
worth of gold annually for the Knights of the Order of Saint John to
aid their struggle against the Muslim Turks. Nor are 'true' accounts
of transmutations such as those of Kelley, Seton, Helvetius etc.
likely to be _solely_ the outcome of charlatanism using hollow
stirring rods or hidden chambers in the vessel (although if you
want 'source accounts' for these types of methods, Rafal, I can
recommend Maier's Examen Fucorum Pseudo-Chymicorum or
Khunrath's Treuhertzige Warnungs-Vermahnung). But Kelley's was
a less than impeccable character by most accounts; the Seton tale
hardly fulfills the criteria of a controlled experiment (who was that
goldsmith? what was the composition of the input materials? were
those stirring rods pure iron? are we dealing here with rather
different definitions of the word 'gold'?); and Helvetius claimed
that it was Elias Artista himself who mysteriously delivered the
Philosophers' Stone to him in The Hague in 1666, thus fulfilling
Paracelsus' prophecy - i.e. more fables which call for a symbolic
interpretation. I would also add that even Michael Maier considered
the type of projection method described in the Seton account to be
a sign of charlatanism and one of the tricks of unscrupulous mountebanks.

Rafal wrote:

>Another interesting aspect of the "learned mentality" of the period is
>that the witnesses do not seem to be interested in financial gain
>(unlike the Cremer/Lull/Edward story) - they do not even mention
>this possibility. All they seem to admire is the very *fact* of transmutation.

Stanislas wrote:

>The problem of these discussions always is that one loses sight that
>such transmutations are a by-product of the Great Work and as such
>were used to convince some of the possibilities imparted by this
>step toward the infinitely greater achievements rendered
>possible by the acquisition of the Philosopher's Stone.

Claims that gold-making was a mere 'parergon' were designed to
assure the reader/potential patron of the pious motivations of the
alchemist; and after all, most learned alchemists such as Maier were
indeed dedicated to the procurement of effective chemical medicines,
the discrepancy between their aim and the final results on their patients
notwithstanding. But most of us have to work hard to make a crust,
and the ever-wandering and often hard-up Maier repeatedly used
the promise of imminent final success (the elusive 'eighteenth step'
of his alchemical ladder) to secure further finances from his wealthy
patrons.

Stanislas wrote:

>Please do not make the mistake of underestimating Michael Maier
>and the people around him.

If gold-making was a mere parergon, then the ergon or central work
was ultimately fruitless for Maier (from a purely material perspective)
and probably contributed more to his physical decline than any
regeneration. Judging from the testimony of his letters and his
posthumously published work Ulysses, it seems quite likely that Maier
- like Glauber and many other alchemists - finally succumbed to the
poisonous substances he worked with and administered. This is
certainly a more likely scenario than Stanislas' suggestion that he
"felt the time was ripe to disappear for political and philosophical
reasons". Please don't misunderstand me here, Stanislas - your
book on 17th century emblems is gorgeous, and I wish I had a copy
to grace my own half-empty bookshelves; besides, the propagation
of further legends merely enriches the textual record and provides
future scholars with yet more grist for the de-mystifying mill. And there
are spiritual truths as well as historical ones...

I am, as ever, ready to admit I'm wrong on any point, so please let
me know your thoughts.

Hereward


Subject: ACADEMY : Spying on Dee
From: Deborah E. Harkness
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002

Susanna:

I've also wondered what he was doing in Saxony. It is possible,
however, that he simply retreated to the country with one or
more of his protectors and it was reported or assumed that he
was in Saxony.

Mattheo Zane is a font of information on English people in Prague
- not thefirst source we might think of, but then it does make a kind
of sense.

Best,

Deb Harkness

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Hereward Tilton wrote:

> Nor are 'true' accounts
> of transmutations such as those of Kelley, Seton, Helvetius etc.
> likely to be _solely_ the outcome of charlatanism using hollow
> stirring rods or hidden chambers in the vessel

This is exactly what I meant. If it was not cheating, then
perhaps they could produce an alloy with features close
enough to gold - so that they could not tell the difference?
But if so, then why wouldn't they produce large amounts
of such gold - or even just enough for themselves to live
in luxury?

> But Kelley's was
> a less than impeccable character by most accounts;

He is an very interesting case. It is easy to just say that
he was "a rogue and a scoundrel" or "a rogue of persuasive charm"
(the latter is lovely!) - but this is not enough to explain
away the facts of his intimate relationship with one of
the greatest minds of Europe lasting for many years, and
his continued career in Bohemia after Dee had left.
He also performed transmutations - and apprently was not
caught cheating.

> the Seton tale
> hardly fulfills the criteria of a controlled experiment (who was that
> goldsmith? what was the composition of the input materials? were
> those stirring rods pure iron? are we dealing here with rather
> different definitions of the word 'gold'?);

Of course - but such is the nature of historical sources and
we cannot expect to find out. All we can do is try to interpret
the accounts which have been passed down to us. So we shall
probably never know who the goldsmith was - but may speculate
about the definitions of gold in the 16th/17th c.

> I would also add that even Michael Maier considered
> the type of projection method described in the Seton account
> to be a sign of charlatanism and one of the tricks of
> unscrupulous mountebanks.

But he also witnessed transmutations performed by Sendivogius.
How should we treat his testimony, then? Wasn't he a reliable
and trustworthy witness? If he had known all the tricks
of the charlatans and was a chemist/alchemist himself
(certainly qualified to recognize gold), then what did
he *actually* see?

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Spying on Dee
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Susanna Åkerman wrote:

> he [Dee] was forced to leave for Saxony three days
> after the publication of the imperial decree. It is thought that he will
> not find an asylum there for long, as all the powers have been put
> on guard agaisnt his religious innovation." Prague 10 June 1586
>
> On Luneburg it is said that the Princes of Germany are gathering on
> 5th of August in Luneburg. And next it is said in letter no 399 p. 197-198.
> 19 August 1586 also by Matheo Zane.

> What was Dee up to in Saxony in 1586, do we know?

According to his diaries and ATAFR, he went to Leipzig in May
(left Prague on 6-05-1586, arrived in Leipzig on 11-05-1586,
stayed in the house of Peter Hans Swartz, left probably
on 16-05 and arrived back in Prague on 21-05-1586 or even
earlier).

The imperial decree was published shortly after 29-05-1586
and the whole company (Dee and Kelley with families) arrived
in Erfurt, Thuringia, on 18-06-1586 but they were not allowed to
hire a house there. Nearly a month later (during which time
they must have stayed at an inn, I suppose) Dee rode to
Saalfield(?) to see a house they might hire and returned to
Erfurt two days later.

Then they rode toward Kassel but the horses were ill so they
stayed in Gotha on 17-07-1586. Then the whole company
(apparently the families stayed in Erfurt and started from there)
reached Kassel by coach, where an emissary of Vilem
Rozmberk found them, informed that Rozmberk had obtained
a revocation of the decree against them on 8-08-1586, and
took them back to Bohemia and toTrebon.

Thus the known chronology is tight and hardly possible
for Dee to take part in the Lueneburg meeting. In fact,
this period seems to have been one of the worst times
for Dee in his continental journey.

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Ergon and Parergon
From: Michal Pober
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002

Dear Hereward,

In your missive of yesterday you used the terms 'ergon'
and 'parergon'.

I was recently searching for these on Adam's website in
connection with a document that I was working on and found
only one text in which they appeared:

Speculum sophicum rhodostauroticum

The 'Mirror of Wisdom' of Theophilus Schweighardt

Translated by Donald Maclean ©
Introduced by Adam McLean ©

which is on the site under Rosicrucian texts [sorry I didn't
keep the url]

Adam describes it thus:

Foremost among these neglected secondary texts is "The
Mirror of the Wisdom of the Rosicrucians" written in 1617 by
Daniel Mogling under the pseudonym of Theophilus
Schweighardt and first published in 1616.

[probably the dates should be reversed!]

I wonder if you or someone else could illuminate where these
terms in fact originate, the extent of their usage, and in what
way, if any, they define something different than 'ora' and 'labora'.

Thank you!

Michal Pober

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Joaquín Perez-Pariente
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002

Dear colleagues,

I just incorporate into the discussion group, so the first message I
got is from 9 of February. So I have probably missed some of them,
but what I have now is enough to have an idea of the key points.

In my opinion, the different arguments used by the several
contributors have been used many times before, without reaching,
as it happenned in this forum, any clear conclusion about the
actual production of real gold as a result of alleged alchemical
transmutations.

However, something can be settled right now: the assaying of gold
was very well established in the XVI and XVII centuries, although
there are archeological references to its use dating back to the 6th
century B.C. If anyone is really interested in this particular aspect.
there is a very good and readable reference: "Assaying in
antiquity", by Andrew Oddy, from the British Museum, published in
the journal Gold Bulletin, 1983, vol. 16, p 52 to 59, containing 65
references. I quote part of its concluding remarks:

"In view of the rapid advances made in the techniques of chemical
analysis in the past thirty years it is very surprising that the three
techniques known to the Greeks (fire assay, touchstone and
specific gravity measurements) of 2500 years ago are still in use."

In addition, further aspects of gold assay can be learned from the
book: Hallmark: A History of the London Assay Office, by J S
Forbes, Unicorn Press, 1999. I quote again from the review of this
book appeared in Gold Bulletin, 1999, vol. 32, p. 136-137:

"Forbes points out that modern assays of a series of surviving silver
and gold standards dating back to 1560, which were prepared by
the Assay Office for the Royal Mint, are remarkable accurate
considering the crude tools, furnaces and weighing balances that
were then available."

So, in conclusion, the gold assaying by cupellation described in
many transmutation accounts identifies the metal as true gold.

In my opinion, in the absence of new data (new documents, new
chemical analysis of coins and other metal pieces hold by several
european museums) it is very difficult to say something new about
the true nature of alchemical transmutations.

Instead of trying to discuss the individual transmutation accounts, I
have followed a different aproach. Is this: IF (I emphasise the capital
letters) the transmutation accounts are describing real chemical
processes ( I know some colleagues will crucify me just to think
the alchemists are not just cheating) , whatever their nature might
be, then they would probably follow, as many other events in
Nature, a certain pattern.

Then I took the old transmutation accounts to search for physical
parameters, i.e., the weight of metals and Philosophers' Stone
(PS) involved in the experiences, and their duration, and
remembering that the action of the PS on the base metals was
compared by the alchemists to a "ripenning" process, to a sort of
catalytic process, I check this hypothesis. Well, I have found a
nice correlation between the transmuting power of the PS and the
duration of the transmutation: very active samples of PS seem to
produce the transmutation in a very short time, while those less
efficient require more time. I have published these results (in
spanish, unfortunately) in a scholar electronic journal called
"Panacea", edited by the Department of the History of Pharmacy,
of the University Complutense, Madrid, Spain.

In this publication the correlation I just mentionned is given in a
grafic manner, so anyone can understand the meaning of this.
Therefore, the way of action of the PS, whatever its nature might
be, do follows a nice catalytic pattern.

The web address of the publication is :

www.ucm.es/info/folchia/panacea.htm

Hereward mention in passing Dr. Principe and Dr. Newman. I have
to tell you that the book by Principe "The Aspiring Adept", is not
only the best study on the Boylean alchemy, but also one of the
best on XVII alchemy. If you read this book, you will see that Boyle
himself was not only practicing alchemy his entire life, but you will
learn that he witnessed an alchemical transmutation, and used to
carry with him the resulting gold.

Apologizes for this long message, but I have many things to say.

Joaquín Perez-Pariente


Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: 13 Feb 2002

Dear Rafal,

>If it was not cheating, then
>perhaps they could produce an alloy with features close
>enough to gold - so that they could not tell the difference?
>But if so, then why wouldn't they produce large amounts
>of such gold - or even just enough for themselves to live
>in luxury?

Perhaps this is what happened in Hessen-Kassel prior to the
outbreak of the Thirty Years War, i.e. the production of alloys
which were good enough to pass as gold for _most_ people...

>But he also witnessed transmutations performed by Sendivogius.
>How should we treat his testimony, then? Wasn't he a reliable
>and trustworthy witness? If he had known all the tricks
>of the charlatans and was a chemist/alchemist himself
>(certainly qualified to recognize gold), then what did
>he *actually* see?

I wouldn't say that Maier was a reliable and trustworthy witness,
despite his polemics against unlearned 'Betrueger'... but I'd be very
interested to know where you read that he witnessed transmutations
by Sendivogius, that's a fact I wasn't aware of. There certainly aren't
easy answers to the question of what people 'actually' saw, or even
what they believed they saw, as you suggest; in her study of
Atalanta Fugiens, de Jong argued that Maier followed Avicenna
in denying the possibility of an artificial conversion of species, be
that amongst plants, animals or metals. I looked at the passage
of the Atalanta Fugiens in question and it is rather unclear, but the
main aim of his comments is to refute the possibility of artificially
converting one metallic species into another "in the short time
needed for eating an egg". It seems that his own goal was to
produce a vitalistic agent possessing the power of unlimited
increase through a long process of 'fermentation' (be that in metals
or the human heart), rather than a projection and more or less
instantaneous transmutation as in the Seton account. Thus he
speaks of procuring his medicines through alchemical processes
lasting many months (and typically ending at Easter).

Cheers

Hereward

Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
From: Giuseppe de Nicolellis
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002


Regarding metallic transmutation there is a fact that has
always left me quite perplexed: the "fixed moon".

In serveral old texts it is said that the transmutated silver is
a "true fixed moon", that is a "heavier silver" that, respect to
the ordinary silver, resists to aqua fortis and has a higher
fusion temperature.

This "fixed silver" seems to me Platinum, but the reports about
it go back to an age when Platinum was not recognized as a
precious metal, or not known at all (by example, Crosset de la
Humerie, Les secrets le plus caches de la philosohie des anciens,
1762? I think there are older examples, but I couldn't find them from
memory).

I would find quite surprising that some charlatan could invent
by chance a metal not known at that age.

There is another fact that I find baffling: Platinum and Gold are
adjacent in the periodic table (atomic weight 78 and 79), and
are adjacent to Hg (80) and Pb (82), the main metals used for
transmutation (if we exclude thallium , Tl - atomic weight 81 -
surely not known at the time). If we should believe in atomic
transmutation, it seems plausible that metals transmute
gaining or losing protons/electrons, so "moving" to adjacent
metals in the periodic table.

If transmutation did not exist, why the 'charlatans' who made up
the legend of transmutation choose only adjacent metals in the
periodic table, when the periodic table had not yet been
discovered?

By the way, I fully understand that these facts are by no means
a "proof" of the reality of transmutation; but I find them highly
suggestive.

Best regards,
Giuseppe de Nicolellis

---------------------------

"L'argent qui provenait de la fixation du mercure etait plus
pondereux que l'argent ordinaire, et que l'eau forte n'y faisait
aucune impression, ou tout du moins fort peu, mais elle n'y faisait
rien du tout quand il y avait un peu plus de poudre qu'il n'en
etait besoin."

Le livre tres cache de la Philosophie des Anciens. Crosset
de la Haumerie.


Subject: ACADEMY : Ergon and Parergon
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002

Dear Michal,

The first usage of the terms Ergon and Parergon with regard
to the subject of alchemy in early Rosicrucian texts comes in
the Fama Fraternitatis itself, I believe... From memory, mention
is also made of the terms in B.M.I.'s relatively early Assertio
Fraternitatis (1614), following the reference of the Fama. Ergon
is simply the Greek equivalent of opus, work... Parergon
('para-ergon') means a secondary, subordinate or incidental
work, a by-work, often used to denote something trifling. The
'parergon' references in the early Rosicrucian texts are often to
gold-making as a by-work of alchemy, a mere trifle picked up
on the way to attaining the true prize, which is (as I understand it)
the healing of humanity for the greater glory of God.

As I'm sure you know, 'ora et labora' is a Latin motto meaning
'prayer and work', c.f. Khunrath's famous emblem of 'oratory
and laboratory' from his Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae,
expressing the unity of the two complementary aspects of the
Great Work... it's also the motto of the Benedictine monks. It
seems to me that parallels could be made between 'ergon et
parergon' and 'ora et labora', in the sense that the higher work
of the alchemist involves a pious communing with the Divine
through prayer and inner work, whilst the subordinate (although
inter-related) work involves the labours of the laboratory and its
material fruits. The difference being that 'parergon' is sometimes
slightly derogatory, as in the Fama's reference to 'ungodly and
accursed gold-making', although Schweighardt seems to use
the terms in a more general theosophical manner to distinguish
between the life of the eternal soul (ergon) and the life of the
mortal body (parergon)... does that sound about right?

Cheers

Hereward

Subject: ACADEMY : George Ripley's writings
From: Adam McLean
Date: 15 Feb 2002

I am currently working on the Ripley scroll and am interested
in exploring the writings of George Ripley.

I wonder if anyone knows whether the works published under his
name were definitely written by him, or could some of these
have been ascribed to him by later printers or copyists of
manuscripts ?

I am thinking of works such as

Liber de mercurio et lapide philosophorum.
Philorcium Alchymistarum.
The Pupilla Alchimae.
The Terra Terrae philosophiae.
Concordantia Raymundi Lullii et Guidonis philosophi Graeci.
Viaticum seu varia practica.
Accurtations et practicae Raymundinae.

which were issued in Latin at Cassel in 1649, some 150 years
after his death.

The Liber de Mercurio et Lapide, was printed in Latin earlier in 1599,
and the Compound of alchymy was printed in English in 1591.

It appears that there was little of Ripley in print and that knowledge
of his work must have been sustained by the manuscript tradition.
There are of course numerous manuscript copies of his works.

Has any scholar looked at Ripley's writings and tried to establish
the links of the printed or manuscript works to Ripley himself ?

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Recognising gold
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Hereward,

> I wouldn't say that Maier was a reliable and trustworthy witness,
> despite his polemics against unlearned 'Betrueger'... but I'd be very
> interested to know where you read that he witnessed transmutations
> by Sendivogius, that's a fact I wasn't aware of.

I apologize for not replying earlier - but I had to check the source
before arguing my point. And indeed I was wrong. The fragment
in question is from _Symbola aureae mensae_ p. 555. I followed
the interpretation in Roman Bugaj's monograph on Sendivogius
(in Polish) - but now struggled with the Latin and it appears that
Maier only quotes the testimony of Oswald Croll. So Croll is
the witness - as he himself implies in _Basilica chimica_ - but
we have no details about this transmutation.

Thank you for making me check this - I will not repeat the same
misinformation in future!

Best regards,

Rafal