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March 2003

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Subject: ACADEMY : Sophia figure in alchemy
From: Arlene Kahn
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2003

Dear David,

In the Aurora Consurgens : A Document Attributed to Thomas
Aquinas on the Problem of Opposites in Alchemy, there is a
commentary by Marie-Louise Von Franz that speaks to the
fall of Sophia and in chapter II What Wisdom Is, where she
speaks re: Sapientia Dei.

Best, Arlene

Subject: ACADEMY : Sophia figure in alchemy
From: Michael Martin
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003

David,

I imagine you've already followed this trail, but I'm sending it just in case.

Vladimir Solovieff is probably a good place to look, especially concerning
his time in Egypt and in London, where he spent a lot of time at the British
Museum researching Sophia in relationship to all of the esoteric sciences. I
only know of one bio in English, Paul Allen's Vladimir Solovieff: Russian
Mystic, which is too puffed with Anthroposophical marginalia, but gives a
decent sketch of Solovieff's life. Since I don't read Russian, I'm stuck with
this one.

Good luck,

Michael Martin

Subject: ACADEMY : Question on Postel
From: Claude Gagnon
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003

Here are the latest works on Postel by Secret and his continuators:

1. François Secret, Postel revisité. Nouvelle recherche sur
Guillaume Postel et son milieu, Paris, Chrysopoeia, 1998, 260 p.
Diffusion:
Edidit
76 rue Quincampoix,
75003 Paris
France

2. S. Matton éd., Documents oubliés sur l'alchimie, la kabbale et Guillaume
Postel offertsà François Secret, Genève, Droz, 2001, 468 pages.

Claude Gagnon

Subject: ACADEMY : The Green Lion in Arabic Alchemy
From: Ahmad Y Hassan
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003

I give below part of the text of a message that I have received from
Brian Cotnoir about the green lion in Arabic alchemy, and my answer
to it. This is not a thorough research into this question but it can be
helpful. Brian raises other questions but these are left out.

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

The question about the green lion

Dear Ahmad Y. Hassan,

I read with great interest your article on potassium nitrate posted on
your web site as well as your book "Islamic Technology." I am currently
doing some research investigating the origins of the term and the substance
of the "green lion." The first mention in the west is the dialogue between
Morienus and Khalid, "Leo viridis est vitrum" that is, "the green lion is glass."
I am wanting to trace this back to the original Arabic. In Adam McLean's
introduction to his edition of "The Book of the Composition of Alchemy,"
he mentions on page three that an Arabic original was found by Fuat Sezgin
and mentioned by Ullman. When I went to the sources Adam cited,
it seems to say (my German is not all that great) that an Arabic version was
listed amongst the titles given in a will from the 9th century but not the actual
text itself. So I am stuck at 1144 with "the green lion is glass." With glass
seeming to be vitriol. With the green indicating perhaps an iron copper sulphate,
I would like to try to confirm this or show otherwise through any Arabic or
Islamic sources.
In your research into the nitrates did you come across any references to the
green lion?
When vitriol was mentioned by the Arabic or Islamic alchemists what were
they, in your opinion, generally referring to?

Brian Cotnoir

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

The answer


Dear Mr. Brian Cotnoir

Thank you for your message. I can give here the information that is possible for
me to give in a short time.
There are two translations of the dialogue between Morienus and Khalid that
are known to me:

1. The one that was published by Adam McLean, in modern English, which is
handy to use, and the one published by Holmyard in 1925 in a series of
articles that appeared in "Chemistry and Industry". Holmyard's series give
the text in seventeenth century English. Both McLean's and Holmyard's are
based on a 17th century English translation.
2. A translation undertaken by Lee Stavenhagen and published in 1974 under
the title "A Testament of Alchemy" (The University Press of New England)

In this second translation, a footnote (No.58 p. 43) explains the green lion as:
"any dilute acid that would devour metals, typically forming green copper salts".
In explaining the text that says "the green lion is glass" , footnote 62 on
page 45 explains glass as ("green vitriol, crystalline sulphate formed by
treating alloys with acid, the devouring "green lion").

As to the Arabic origin of the Latin text of the dialogue between Morienus and
Khalid, Sezgin says on page 111 of vol. IV of his " Geschichte des Arabischen
Schrifttums" that the "Letter of Maryanus the Hermit the Philosopher to Prince
Khalid ibn Yazid" (Risalat Mariyanus ar-Rahib al-hakim li-l-amir Khalid b. Yazid)
occurs in MS Fatih No 3227 (8b-18b). Sezgin mentions also another possible
MS reported by Stapleton.

As for Ullmann, he says in "Die Natur und Geheimwissenscatften im Islam" on
pages 192-193, that the dialogue between Khalid and Maryanus is found in
MS Fatih 3227 and also in MS Ali Pasha 1749 (fol. 61-74). He says also that parts
of the dialogue (some large and some small) are quoted in several other
Arabic manuscripts.

The green lion is mentioned in several other Arabic manuscripts. Ruska and
Wiedemann mention that the green lion (al-asad al-akhdar) is one of the "decknamen"
for copper as is mentioned in Arabic Manuscript No.210 at Dresden. (See Sitzungberichte
der Physikalisch-medizinischen Sozietät zu Erlangen, 56 und 57 Band, 1926, p. 25).

Alfred Siggel in his "Decknamen in der Arabischen Alchemistischen Literatur"
mentions that the green lion means copper in Gotha MS No.1261 (Siggel p.17).
and in MS Berlin 4191 the green lion has two meanings: a-vitriol, and b- nafs
(spirit or soul) which means zibaq sharqi (eastern mercury), (Siggel. p. 24). In
Dresden MS. 210 green lion denotes copper (Siggil table1, and p. 34) .
( Siggel's monogram was published by Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1951)

Manfred Ullmann in his "Katalog der arabischen alchemistischen Handschriften
der Chester Beatty Library" (Harrassowitz, 1974) mentiones that MS Chester
Beatty No. 5579 lists the green lion as one of the decknamen for copper, (Ullmann, p. 218).

I did not see in the Arabic manuscripts available to me that the green lion denoted
glass.

I have been for some time suspecting that medieval copyists corrupted with
time some words. One example is nitrum which, I suspect, was corrupted into
vitrum (i.e. glass) in some texts. Another scholar, in his edition of an alchemical
treatise of the 13th century, noticed this also. Could it be that the word vitrum was
a corrupted word in this case also? Similarly, Arabic copyists corrupted words
when they did not understand or could not read them them. Vitriol is zaj in Arabic.
Glass is zjaj (the short vowel is not written in Arabic). A copyist can easily convert
zaj (vitriol) into zjaj (glass).

Ahmad Y Hassan

Subject: ACADEMY : Question on Postel
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Claude,

Thank you for your reply.

> Here are the latest works on Postel by Secret and his continuators:
>
> 1. François Secret, Postel revisité. Nouvelle recherche sur
> Guillaume Postel et son milieu, Paris, Chrysopoeia, 1998, 260 p.

> 2. S. Matton éd., Documents oubliés sur l'alchimie, la kabbale et Guillaume
> Postel offertsà François Secret, Genève, Droz, 2001, 468 pages.

Yes, I know these titles - but not the books themselves. The reason
I asked is that I have access problems to those books (both
physical and intellectual - my French hardly exists) and am not
paticularly interested in Postel as such. What interests me
is his use of the name "Cosmopolita" - and I wonder if
Francois Secret or others have ever suggested there was something
more behind it than just the obvious allusion to his extensive
travels and interest in other nations and languages.

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Goethe's Magic Flute fragment
From: Adam McLean
Date: 4 Mar 2003

Goethe wrote a fragmentary libretto, extending the
ideas presented in Mozart's opera.

Die Zauberflöte, Zweiter Teil -- The Magic Flute, Part II.

Does anyone know if Goethe's ideas on the Magic
Flute story had any alchemical resonances ?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Ashmole's shorthand
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003
From: Adam McLean

I received this request recently from a colleague.
Has anyone any information on Ashmole's shorthand.

Adam McLean


----------

Last week I was down in Oxford at the Bodleian and came across
a manuscript written by Elias Ashmole. The part of the MS
containing 'my' text is very interesting, since it includes
marginal notes, probably also in Ashmole's hand, referring
to the text but written in some kind of shorthand I cannot
identify; neither I nor the Bodleian staff had ever come
across it before. The individual signs seem to originate
from different sources, but do not seem to make up one
whole conventional system of shorthand.


Subject: ACADEMY : Ashmole's shorthand
Date: 7 Mar 2003
From: Adam McLean

I attach two images of Ashmole's shorthand in the hope
that someone has already worked on this.





Has anyone seen this before or know some writer who
has commented on this shorthand ?

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Shiva Iconography
From: Debra L. Page
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003

Greetings,

I am researching the iconography of Shiva in relation to Indian
Alchemy. There is an oral tradition in India regarding the
symbolism of Shiva iconography and the principles of Alchemy.

I have read the papers posted on Adam site regarding Indian
Alchemy. Can anyone direct me to other sources of info?
I would be very grateful.

Debra L. Page

Subject: ACADEMY : Shiva Iconography
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003

Have a look at Mike McGee's Hindu Tantra pages if they still exist,
Deborah. The URL is:

http://www.shivashakti.com/

All the best,
md

Subject: ACADEMY : Shivas Iconography
Date: Sat, 8 Mar
From: Steven Feite

Different elements in Shiva's traditional iconography contain veiled
reference to the practice of Alchemy (Skt.: "Rasashastra", lit. "essence
lore").

The most obvious might be the scenery that Shiva is seated within--a moon
on one side and the sun on the other side. This is reference to the
dimension Shiva resides in: a twilight, transcendental realm, above and
beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping. He has attained this state by the
"swooning" of the two side channels which are attributed to Sun and the
Moon, these "swoon" into a central unified state. Consequently he attains
total stillness of mind (Skt.: "Samadhi"). The "fixation" of mercury is
very similar to fixation of mind. This bio-physical process has a direct
parallel to the preparation of mercury for ingestion: the physical
element of mercury is combined with sulphur (in excess) and they merge
into one. This mercury is "swooned" or incinerated to make the final
product. Thus a poison is transmuted into something digestable. One of
the spontaneous qualities that arise due to samadhi is the transmutation
of negative emotions into virtuous qualities. Shiva is often shown with a
blue throat, showing that he has swallowed poison, but he has also
transmuted it into Amrita, the elixir of life (lit.: "the undying"). This
also explains the stream of liquid emerging from the crown of this head
(sometimes shown beside an eclipsing moon). Some believe that this amrita
(or "ojas") is the light counterpart to "dark" melatonin.

Again this has benefits on different levels. On one level he goes beyond
time by achieving a meditative state beyond where subject and object (and
time) exist. On another level there is a benefit to the body as the
breathing becomes very refined. Thus yogis can live much longer. One of
my grand-teachers who practiced these methods, she lived to 118.

Another element in Shiva's symbolism is he often is shown in a cold,
freezing mountainous terrain (Mt. Kailas). Heat, according to traditional
Indian medicine dilates the sensory channels, cold restricts the senses
outwardness. The senses are naturally withdrawn for someone in
meditation. And of course if someone can simply lower their internal body
temperature, they can live considerably longer.

There are other symbols as well, the eclipsing moon and the presence of
snakes is interesting. The points in the sky where eclipses occurs (the
north and south nodes of the moon) are called Rahu and Ketu--both the
head and tail of a serpent caught stealing Amrita from the gods. This
serpent was cut in half and placed at opposite ends of the sky (the nodes
are always 180 degrees apart). This same serpent who tried to steal
Amrita thus guards the non-dual meditative state of Union. This is the
kundalini serpent. Mercury containing medications thus are used to arouse
kundalini. The Sanskrit word for snake, naga, also has another meaning.
It is that which blocks light (or radiation) very effectively. Naga is
also the word for lead.

Sincerely,

Steven Feite

Subject: ACADEMY : Dickinson "Epistola Aimonis"
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003
From: Frank Burton

I'm looking for a digital format work (scan and/or pdf) of Dickinson:
"Epistola Aimonis".

Anyone can share with me?

Regards,

Frank Burton

Subject: ACADEMY : Dickinson "Epistola Aimonis"
Date: 11 Mar 2003
From: Adam McLean

Is this the

Epistola Haimonis de quatuor Lapidibus philosophicis, materiam
suam ex minore mundo desumentibus.

This is in the Theatrum Chemicum and in the 1624 Erfurt
edition of Sendivogius 'Lumen chymicum novum'.

Edmund Dickinson (Deckingston, Dickenston) [1624-1707],
the author of a number of alchemical books, also made some
translations of alchemical texts. Some of these manuscripts
are now in the British Library and the Bodleian among others.
I am not sure if these include the "Epistola Aimonis".

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Dickinson "Epistola Aimonis"
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Adam McLean wrote:

> Epistola Haimonis de quatuor Lapidibus philosophicis, materiam
> suam ex minore mundo desumentibus.
>
> This is in the Theatrum Chemicum and in the 1624 Erfurt
> edition of Sendivogius 'Lumen chymicum novum'.
>
> Edmund Dickinson (Deckingston, Dickenston) [1624-1707],

Thus this Dickinson cannot be the author (born in the year
of publication) - maybe a translator? The author is probably
(as the title states) Haimo, according to Ferguson a 9th c.
Anglo-Saxon, related to Bede and Alcuin.

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Dickinson "Epistola Aimonis"
From: Adam McLean
Date: 13 March 2003

There is a late 17th/early 18th century English translation
in the British Library department of manuscripts

British Library
MS. Sloane 3637.
3. 'The Epistle of Haimo, concerning the four Philosophicall
stones taking their matter out of the lesser world'. ff.57-64.

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Shiva Iconography
From: Brian Cotnoir
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Hi Debra,

You might find these two books useful.
The Alchemical Body - David Gordon White
In Search of the Medicine Buddha - David Crow

Good luck,

Brian Cotnoir

Subject: ACADEMY : Illustrations from Figuier
From: Adam McLean
Date: 21 Mar 2003

I am interested in the engravings included with some editions
of

Louis Figuier
L'alchimie et les alchimistes: essai historique et critique
sur la philosophie hermétique.

I only have access to the 2nd edition, Paris, 1856.

Does anyone have access to an edition of Figuier
with these engravings ?

I attach one example which I understand comes from Figuier.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Hermes Trismegistus Liber artis alkymie

From: Adam McLean
Date: 21 Mar 2003

I have been contacted by someone who wishes to work on
the 'liber artis alkymie' attributed to Hermes Trismegistus.
He has found mss. in Great Britain, Leiden and in
the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

Has anyone studied this work or have any bibliographical
information on this?

There is a copy in Leiden

MS. Vossianus Chym. F. 1. (16th Century)
10. f104v-108 [Hermes Trismegistus], Liber artis alkymie.

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Illustrations from Figuier
From: Adam McLean
Date: 21 Mar 2003

Dear Adam,

I have checked our Figuier editions, 1854, 1856, 1860, but none
seem to have the engravings. Greetings,

Theodor Harmsen,
Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica

Subject: ACADEMY : Illustrations from Figuier
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003
From: Joël Tetard

Dear Adam,

You can download this book from the virtual library Gallica
but I did not check if the engraving could be
found in this edition

This is the complete information concerning this book :

Auteur Figuier, Louis
Titre [L']alchimie et les alchimistes : essai historique et critique sur
la philosophie hermétique / par Louis Figuier
Publication Num. BNF de l'éd. de Paris : L. Hachette, 1860
Description 420 p.
Sujet(s) Alchimie
Alchimistes
Domaine Philosophie
Cote
Identifiant N096146


The direct link to the page is

http://gallica.bnf.fr/scripts/ConsultationTout.exe?E=0&O=N096146

Then click on "téléchargement de l'ouvrage" and be patient !

Best regards

Joël Tetard

S Subject: ACADEMY : Hermes Trismegistus Liber artis alkymie
From: José Rodríguez Guerrero
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003


The treatise "Liber artis alkimie" is a succinct defense of alchemy.
It contains a sort definition enclosed to various arguments for and
against alchemy. The earliest copy that I know appears as an
anonymous work:

- Cambridge, Trinity College MS. O.8.25. (13th Century), ff. 131r-132v.

Incipit: "Quid sit Alkimia. Alkimia est ars ministralis essentiam
septem metallorum continens qualiter forme eorum a diminucione
ad complementum naturale reducantur".

Explicit: "...et apparebit aurum purissimum".

It seems to be an original latin work based on arabic sources.
Then, it had been cited or transcribed under the name of Hermes
or Morenius. For example:

- Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Bodley 679, (14th Century), ff. 20r-21r.
- Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale MS. 6514, (14th Century), ff. 135r-135v.
- British Library, MS. Sloane 1754, (14th Century), ff. 60r-62r.

Incipit: "Incipit liber Hermetis artis alkymie et primo quid sit alkymia.
Alkymia est ars ministralis (ministrans) essentiam septem metallorum
continens qualiter forme eorum a diminucione ad complementum
naturale reducantur".

Explicit: "Quod si duo commiscentur illius erit color quod subtilibus
est. Explicit liber Hermetis".

You can find some references in:

- WILLIAM R. NEWMAN, (1986), "The Summa perfectionis and
Late Medieval Alchemy. A Study of Chemical Traditions, Tecniques,
and Theories in the Thirteenth-Century Italy", 4 vols., Ph. D. Thesis,
Harvard University, Department of the History of Science,
cf. t. I, pp. 9-18 [historical analysis and commentary] and
pp. 63-67 [partial transcription].

Concerning manuscripts:

- WILLIAM R. NEWMAN, (1986), "The Summa perfectionis and
Late Medieval Alchemy", (op. cit.), p. 51 n. 19.

- D. W. SINGER, (1928-31),"Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular
Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland, dating from before the
XVIth Century", Union Academique Internationale, Bruxelles, pp. 44-45.

- L. THORNDIKE & P. KIBRE, (1963), "A Catalogue of Incipits of
Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin", Cambridge (Mass.), 76 § 12.


José Rodríguez Guerrero

Subject: ACADEMY : Sophia figure in alchemy
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003
From: M. E. Warlick

Dear David,

In response to your question about Sophia and alchemy, you
may have seen already

Barbara Newman, "God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry,
and Belief in the Middle Ages." Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2003, pp. 234-244.

She recognizes the importance of allegorical female figures in
several of the earliest illustrated alchemical manuscripts, including
the "Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit" and the "Aurora consurgens."
She compares these figures to standard representations of Sophia
and the Virgin Mary, although she doesn't comment at length on
their alchemical meanings.

For more of an alchemical interpretation of these figures you
should look at Barbara Obrist, "Debuts de l'imagerie alchimique"
or Jacques van Lennep's "Alchimie." Newman discusses another
figure from Zurich (Cod. Rh 172 f29v) as a "Black Bride" and compares
her tentatively to the tradition of the Black Madonna, as well as to
the Woman of Revelations (Apoc. 12.1). This figure's "blackness" is
due to the patination of silver paint, a reference to Luna, the moon,
and the alchemical feminine. Newman also discusses the Crowning
of Mary images from the "Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit"
(Newman, pp. 256 ff) and points out how they differ from typical
representations of Sapietia or Ecclesia, and in fact, are unusual
and early in picturing Mary with the entire Trinity.

Hope this helps!

M.E. Warlick

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemists in Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

On Adam's site there is a list of links to the biographies
of alchemists compiled by the late Richard S. Westfall:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/biograph.html

It covers those born between 1470 and 1680 (ie. the Scientific
Revolution period as defined by Westfall) and included in
'Dictionary of Scientific Biography' (which was the exclusive
basis for Westfall's catalogue). In his own comments at:

http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/Catalog/Development/Docs/thoughts.html

he indicates that he eliminated from his list all non-Western
scientists (mostly Arabs) and some individuals which he
did not consider to be scientists, even though meeting his
other criteria. That list of 19 eliminated Europeans includes
also the following, who might be of interest in alchemical
context (and in a wide sense of the term):

Johann Heinrich Alsted
Jacob Boehme
John Amos Comenius
Georg Englehardt von Lohneyss
Michael Nostradamus
Francois Rabelais
Girolamo Ruscelli
Thomas Sprat
Valentin Weigel

As by 1470 Islamic alchemy declined, I don't think there would
be any representatives of it in that period included in DSB.

So I would like to ask if anyone has compiled a list
of alchemists or individuals related to alchemy in one
way or another (including attribution of later tracts to
them, perhaps) before 1470 who have their entries in DSB
(I doubt there is any 18th alchemist there - but I may be wrong).

I have not got easy access to it (300 km) but have copied the index
"List of scientists by field" which is in the Supplement volume.
It seems, however, that it does not include all people/entries, as
I cannot find for example Boehme or Comenius there.

I can compile such list from that index - if nobody has
done that yet - but it may not be exhaustive.

Best regards,

Rafal

S Subject: ACADEMY : Hermes Trismegistus Liber artis alkymie
From: B. Krummenacher
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003

I don't know this book but would be interested in getting a copy of the
manuscript. Does it possibly exist in a digitized version (pdf or so)?

Regards,

B. Krummenacher

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemists in Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

I wrote:

> It seems, however, that it does not include all people/entries, as
> I cannot find for example Boehme or Comenius there.

I have overlooked them - they are in fact listed, so it seems
everyone is included in the index. One problem is that the surnames
are without initials unless there are more people of that name in DSB.

I have now compiled a list I had in mind from two areas of
the index: "Chemistry" and "History, Philosophy, Dissemination
of Knowledge". It can be seen at:

http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp/HERM/dsb-alch.html

Pointing out any obvious omissions or incorrect inclusions
would be appreciated.

It is certainly very difficult to decide what names should
be selected - and I am not sure about Adam's or my own criteria.
I have excluded Nostradamus and Swedenborg, for example,
but included Rabelais and Comenius...

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Illustrations from Figuier
From: Giuseppe de Nicolellis
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003

I have an Italian translation, "L'Alchimia e gli Alchimisti", by
Regina Editore - Napoli. There are 12 engravings at the end
of the book, but they are famous plates from Mutus Liber,
Kunrauth, B. Valentinus, the play of Art and Nature, etc.
No engravings like yours.

Giuseppe de Nicolellis

Subject: ACADEMY : Illustrations from Figuier
From: Adam McLean
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003

It seems that I must have been following an incorrect
reference in the Andrea Aromatico book 'Alchemy
the Great Secret'.

Adam McLean