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Of the Investigation or Search of Perfection
Geber
Transcribed by Robert Nelson.

Of the Investigation or Search of Perfection

Geber,
The most Experienced Arabian Prince and Philosopher

The Preface of the Author, Shewing the Reasons why he writ this Book.

We with continued and frequent diligence of Labour, and great Study equivalent, not without most profound and serious thoughts, etc., expose publickly to your vie3w, the Investigation of this most noble Science, that the subsequent Volumns may the better and more clearly be understood by you; and that being understood, searched into, and found, they may the more easily and readily be brought to effect. And because, to find out the reason of Art, is another thing, than to attempt and prove the subtilties and intrigues of these things; until by operating, searching, and experiencing, the intended compleatment be attined: therefore, whatsoever we found out by things declared (I mean, of things perfecting Art), we have here written according to the intention of our Mind. Yet, let no man think that we composed this Investigation before our Book, which is Intituled, The Sum of the Perfection of the Magistery; in which, whatsoever we saw and handled, we have completely described, according to the Order of Science, with Experience and certain Knowledge, which we acquired by our Scrutiny, exercised about the Effects of Natural and Mineral Things, and the diverse Transmutations apparent in the Work. And we have explained our Science before composed, with this Comment of Investigation, which we purposely writ for that end: therefore, by right, this must precede that, seeing by this Book I am to make Enquiry about the Thing Perfecting.
 

Chapter I.
Of Things Perfecting and Corrupting Metallick Bodies.

Therefore, seeing this Science treats of the Imperfect Bodies of Minerals, and teacheth how to perfect them; we in the first place consider two Things, viz., Imperfection and Perfection. About these two our Intention is occupied, and of them we purpose to treat. We compose this Book of Things perfecting and corrupting (according as we have found by experience) because Contraries set near each other, are the more manifest.

The Thing which perfects in Minerals, is the substance of Argentivive and Sulphur proportionably commixt, by long and temperate decoction in the Bowels of clean, inspissate, and fixed Earth (with conservation of its Radical Humidity not corrupting) and brought to a solid fusible Substance, with due Ignition, and rendered Malleable. By the Definition of this nature perfecting, we may more easily come to the Knowledge of the Thing corrupting. And this is that which is to be understood in a contrary Sense, viz., the pure substance of Sulphur and Argentivive, without due Proportion commixed, or not sufficiently decocted in the Bowels of unclean, not rightly inspissate nor fixed Earth, having a Combustible and Corrupting Humidity, and being of a rare and porous Substance; or having Fusion without due Ignition, or no Fusion, and not sufficiently Malleable.

The first Definition I find intruded in these two Bodies, viz., in Sol and Luna, viz. Tin, Lead, Copper and Iron, according to the Imperfection of each. And because these Imperfect Bodies are not reducible to Sanity and Perfection, unless the contrary be operated in them; that is, the Manifest be made Occult, and the Occult be made Manifest: which Operation, or Contrariation, is made by Preparation, therefore they must be prepared, Superfluities in them removed, and what is wanting supplied; and so the known Perfection is inserted in them. But Perfect Bodies need not this preparation; yet they need such Preparation, as that, by which their Parts may be more Subtiliated, and they reduced from their Corporality to a fixed Spirituality. The intention of which is, of them to make a Spiritual fixed Body, that is, much more attenuated and subtiliated than it was before. Of all these Preparations (according to our Investigation) we shall sufficiently treat in their proper Place in this Book. What shall be (as is hereafter mentioned) sufficiently prepared, will be fit to make the White or great Red Elixir with.
 

Chapter II.
Of the Stone of Philosophers, that it is one only, for the White, and for the Red, and from what Things it is extracted. And of the Possibility and Way of Perfection.

We find Modern Artists to describe to us one only Stone, both for the White and for the Red; which we grant to be true: for in every Elixir, that is prepared, White or Red, there is no other Thing than Argentivive and Sulphur, of which, one cannot act, not be, without the other: Therefore it is called, by Philosophers, one Stone, although it is extracted from many Bodies or Things. For it would be a foolish and vain thing to think to extract the same from a Thing, in which it is not, as some infatuated Men have conceited; for it never was the Intention of Philosophers: yet they speak many things by similitude. And because all Metallick Bodies are compounded of Argentivive and Sulphur, pure and impure, by accident, and not innate in their first Nature; therefore, by convenient Preparation, ‘tis possible to take away such Impurity. For the Exaltation of Accidents is not impossible: therefore, the end of Preparation is, to take away Superfluity, and supply the Deficiency in Perfect Bodies. But Preparation is diversified according to the Diversity of things indigent. For experience hath taught us diverse ways of acting, viz. Calcination, Sublimation, Descencion, Solution, Distillation, Coagulation, Fixation and Inceration: All which we sufficiently declare in the Sum of the Perfection of the Magistery. For these are Works helpful in Preparation.
 

Chapter III.
Of Things helping the Preparation, and of their Cleaning.

Things helping Preparation, are these, viz. all kinds of Salt, Alloms, Atraments; also Glass, Borax, and what are of this Nature, and most sharp Vinegar and Fire.

Cleansing of Common Salt.

Common Salt is cleansed thus: First burn it, and cast it combust into hot Water to be dissolved;filter the Solution, which congeal by gentle Fire. Calcine the Congelate for a Day and Night in Moderate Fire, and keep it for use.

Cleansing of Salt-Alkali.

Salt-Alkali is so cleansed as Common-Salt, and it is Sagimen Vitri. First it is ground, and then the whole dissolved in Common Water hot: afterward Filtered, Congealed, and Calcined with moderate Fire.

Cleansing of Salt-Gem.

First it is ground, and then proceeded with as with Common-Salt.

Cleansing of Salarmoniac.

Grind it first with the Preparation of Common-Salt cleansed; then let it be sublimed in an high Body and Head, until it all ascend pure. Afterward dissolve it upon a Porphiry in the open Air, if you would of it make Water;orkeep the Sublimate sufficiently pure.

Cleansing of other Salts.

There are divers other kinds of Salt found, re which Prepared and Cleansed, as above is said.

Cleansing of Alloms.

First of Roch-Allom: Many Things may be Prepared by it, without its Cleansing; yet it maybe Cleansed thus: Put it in an Alembeck, and extract its whole Humidity, which is of great avail in this Art. The Feces remaining in the Bottom, may be dissolved upon a Porphiry-Stone, in some Humid Place, or in Water, which may be thence extracted, and so reserved clean.

Cleansing of Famenous Allom.

Famenous Allom is Prepared as the former: but in this Art it is of greater vertue. There are found yet many other Alloms, all which are Prepared and Cleansed as above is said.

Cleansing of Atraments.

First of Black Atrament, which is thus Cleansed: First, It must be dissolved in clean Vinegar, afterward Distilled and Coagulated. Or let it be first Distilled by Alembeck, and all its Humidity extracted. The Feces Calcined in this Distillation, must be resolved upon a Porphiry, or dissolved in their own Water, and then Coagulated. Or that Water (if the Artist so wills) reserved.

Cleansing of Copperas.

Copperas or Vitriol, is cleansed as Black Atrament; yet Black Atrament hath greater Earthiness than the Green. There are divers Atraments, and they are found of divers Colour, which are all Cleansed as the aforesaid.

Of Glass and Boraces.

Glass and Boraces, if made in a due manner, need not Preparation.

The Cleansing of most sharp Vinegars.

Vinegars, of what kind soever, acute and harsh, acute and harsh, are Cleansed by Subtiliation; and their Virtue, or Effect, is Meliorated by Distillation. Of the Cleansing and Purifying of all the aforesaid, we have now sufficiently spoken: with which the Imperfect Bodies may be Prepared, Purified, Meliorated, and Subtiliated, by Fire always duly Mediating.
 

Chapter IV.
Of Preparation and Melioration of Bodies in General.

They are Prepared and Depurated by the aforesaid, according to the Intention of Fire in this manner: These imperfect Bodes have superfluous Humidities, and a combustible Sulphureity, with Blackness generated in them, and corrupting them: also they have in them an Unclean, Feculent, Combustible, and very Gross Earthiness, impeding Ingress and Fusion. These, and such as these, are superfluous in the aforesaid Bodies, which are found to be in them, by our experience, and certain and ingenious Investigation. And because these Superfluities have access to these Bodies accidentally, and not radically; and the Spoliation of Accidentals is possible; therefore it behooves us, with Artificial  Fire, by the aforesaid cleansed Things, to remove all Superfluous Accidents, the only Radical Substance of Argentvive and Sulphur remaining. This is the entire Preparation, and perfect Depuration of Imperfect Bodies. The Melioration, Purification and Subtiliation of these (the pure Substance remaining, are effected many ways, according as the Elixir requires.

Therefore, the way of Preparing and Purifying in General, is this: First, With Fire proportional, the whole Superfluous and Corrupt Humidity in their Essence must be elevated; also their subtil and burning Superfluity removed: and this by Calcination. Afterward, the whole Corrupt Substance of their Superfluous burning Humidity and Blackness remaining in their Calx, must be corroded with those aforesaid Cleansed, Corrosive, Acute, or Harsh Things, until the Calx be White or Red (or coloured according to the Nature and Property of the Body) and clean and pure from all Superfluity or Corruption. These Calxes must be Cleansed with these Corrosives, by Grinding, Imbibing, and Washing. Afterward, the whole unclean Feculency must be taken away, and deposited with the aforesaid Cleansed or Pure Things, not having Metallick Fusion; they being commixed, and well ground together with the aforesaid Calx, depurated in the aforesaid manner. For these, in the Sufion,or Reduction of the Calx, will retain with themselves the aforesaid Gross and Unclean Earthiness, the Body remaining pure, Cleansed from all Corrupting Superfluity; and this by Descending.

The way of Meliorating and Subtiliating the pure Substance of these, is in General this: First, this Purged and Reduced Body is again Calcined with Fire; and this by the Mundative helps aforesaid: and then, with such of these as are Solutive to must be dissolved. For this Water is our Stone, and Argentvive or Argentvive, and Sulphur of Sulphur, abstracted from the Spiritual Body, and Subtiliated or Attenuated; which may be Meliorated by comforting the Elemental Virtues in it, with other prepared Things, that are of the kind of its own Kind; and by augmenting the Colour, Fixion, Weight, Purity, Fusion, and all other Things which appertain to a perfect Elixir. And this is the way (by us only found out) of the Preparation, Depuration, Subtiliation and Melioration of Mineral Bodies in General. Now we pass to the Special or Particular Preparation of every Imperfect Body, with all its Methods, as also of the perfect Mineral Bodies. And first of Jupiter.
 

Chapter V.
Of the Preparation of Tin in Special

Jupiter is manifoldly prepared, yet best in this manner; Put it in an apt Vessel in a Furnace of Calcination, and under it make Fire sufficient for good Fusion of the Body; stirring the Liquefied Body with an Iron Spatula full of holes, and drawing off the Scum that riseth, and again stirring the Body, in that heat of Fire equally induring, until on the Superficies be gathered together a good quantity of that Scum or Powder; which take off, and again continue stirring until the whole Body be reduced to Powder. This Powder sift, and replace it again in the Furnace, adding Fire, not exceeding the Fire of its Fusion, and stir it often. Keep it in this Fire of Calcination for a day natural, or thereabouts, until its whole Accidental or Superfluous Humidity be abolished, with its Combustible and Corrupting Sulphur. For the Fire elevates and consumes every Fugitive and inflammable Substance: then often well wash it with the aforesaid, viz. with Common-Salt Cleansed, and Allom, and with Purified and Harsh vinegar, and dry it at the Sun, or in the Air; and then again Grind, and Wash, and Dry: and do this time after time, until by the acuity of the Salts, Alloms, and Vinegar, its whole Humidity, Blackness, and Uncleanness, shall be consumed, corroded and done away. This being done, add Glass beaten to Powder, to these aforesaid, and when you have impasted the whole together, then with sufficient Fire make it flow in a Crucible with an hole in its bottom, set within another, and the pure and clean Body will descend, the whole earthly and feculent Substance remaining above with the Glass, and Salts, or Alloms; for in that Body descended and reduced, is an equal and perfect Proportion of clean Argentvive and white Sulphur not burning; because Fire and the Corrosives have divided the whole Humidity, and fugitive, and inflammable, and corrupting Substance and Blackness; and through that Discensory, by the pasting with Salts, Alloms, and Glass, the whole feculent earthy Substance is separated, the pure Substance with its Proportion remaining.

Afterward calcine this pure reduced Body again, with pure and clean Salarmoniac, until it be in weight equal, or thereabout. When it shall be well and perfectly calcined, then grind the whole well and long upon a Porphiry-stone, and place it in the open Air, in a cold and humid place; or in Glass Vessels, in a Furnace of Solution, or in Horse-Dung, until the whole be dissolved; augmenting the Salt if need be. This Water we ought to honour, for it is what we seek for the White. These may suffice to be spoken of the Preparation of Tin.
 

Chapter VI.
Of the Preparation of Saturn.

Lead is thus prepared; Set it in a like Furnace of Clacination, stirring it, while in flux, as you did the Tin, until it be converted to a most fine Powder: Sift this, and again set it in the Fire of its Calcination, as aforesaid, until its Fugitive and Inflamable Substance be abolished. Afterwards take out your red Calx, which imbibe and grind often, with Common Salt cleansed, and Atrament purified, and very harsh Vinegar: Also as of Tin is said, your Matter must be often imbibed, dryed, and ground, until by benefit of the aforesaid, this said uncleanness be totally removed: then mix Glass with these aforesaid, and as you did with the Tin cause the pure Body to descend, that descending it may be reduced. Again, Calcine it with pure Salarmoniac (as of Jupiter is said) and most subtily grind and dissolve it by the way aforesaid. For that is the Water of Argentvive and Sulphur proportionally made, which we use in Composition of the Red Elixir. These of the Preparation of Saturn, may suffice.
 

Chapter VII.
Of the Preparation of Venus.

Venus or Copper, is this way prepared: Make a Lay of Common Slat well cleansed in a Crucible, and upon that put a piece of Copper Plate, and over that a Lay of Salt, and then more of the Plate; and so continually, until the Vessel be full: which being covered and firmly luted, place in a Furnace of Calcination, for one day Natural; then take it out and separate and scrape off what shall be Calcined; and again Calcine the Plates with new Salt, as before, repeating the Calcination so often, as until all the Plates shall be consumed, and corroded by the benefit of the Slat and Fire: for the Salt corrodes the superfluous Humidity and Combustible Sulphureity, and the Fire elevates the Fugitive and Inflamable Substance with due Proportion. Grind this calcined matter to a most subtile Powder, and wash it with Vinegar; until the Water come from it free from Blackness. Another time imbibe it with new Salt and Vinegar, and Grind, and after Contrition (or Grinding) put it in a Calcining Furnace, in an open Vessel, and let it stand there three days Natural; then take it out and Grind it very well and subtily, and well and long wash it with Vinegar, until it shall be cleansed and purged from all Uncleanness, This being done, dry it well in the Sun, then add to it half its weight of Salarmoniac, well and long Grinding, until whatsoever is there subtile shall be dissolved; anew adding clean Salarmoniac, if need shall be, until the whole be made Water. Honour this Water, which we name the Water of fixed Sulphur, with which the Elixir is tinged to Infinity. These of the Preparation of Venus.
 

Chapter VIII.
Of the Preparation of Mars.

Mars or Iron, is best prepared thus: Let it be Calcined as Venus, with Common Slat cleansed, and let it be washed with pure Vinegar; being washed , dry it in the Sun, and when dryed, grind and imbibe it with new Salt and Vinegar, and then put it in the same Furnace, as of Venus is said, for three days. Honour this Solution, viz. The Water of fixed Sulphur, wonderfully augmenting the Colour of the Elixir. These may suffice to be spoken of the Preparation of Imperfect Bodies.
 

Chapter IX.
Of the Preparation of Sol.

Perfect Bodies need not Preparation, in relation to their further Perfection, being perfect; but that they may be more subtiliated, and attenuated, we adhibit this Preparation to them:

Rx Sol or Gold beaten into thin Plates, and with them and Common Salt very well prepared, make Lay in a Vessel of Calcination, which set into a Furnace and Calcine well for three days, until the whole be subtiley Calcined; then take it out, grind it well, wash it with Vinegar, and dry it in the Sun, afterward grind it well with half its weight of cleansed Salarmoniac; then set it to be dissolved, until the whole (by the benefit of Common Salt and Armoniac) be dissolved into a most clear Water. This is the precious Ferment for the Red Elixir, and the true Body made Spiritual.
 

Chapter X.
Of the Preparation of Luna.

Luna or Silver, is subtiliated and attenuated and reduced to Spirituality, in manner as above is said of Sol. Therefore in all and every part of the Work, do the same in its Subtiliation, as you did with the Gold. And this Water of Luna dissolved, is the Ferment for the White Elixir, made Spiritual.
 

Chapter XI.
Of the Properties of the Greater Elixir.

We have now sufficiently determinated the Preparation and Subtiliation of perfect Bodies, that every Discreet Operator may be enabled to attain his Intention. Therefore let him attend to the Properties and Ways of Action of the Composition of the Greater Elixir: For we endeavor to make one Substance, yet compounded and composed of many; so permanently fixed, that being put upon the Fire, the Fire cannot injure; and that it may be mixed with Metals in Flux, and flow with them, and enter with that which in them is of an ingressible Substance, and be premixed with that, which in them is of a permixable Substance; and be consolidated with that, which in them is of a consolidate Substance; and be fixed wit that, which in them is of a fixable Substance; and not be burned by those Things which burn not Gold and Silver; and take away Consolidations and Weights with due Ignition.

Yet you must not think all this can be effected by Preparation at once, in a very short Time, as a few Days and Hours; but in respect of other Modern Physicians, and also in respect of the Operation of Nature, the Verity of the Work is sooner terminated this way. Whence the Philosopher saith, It is a Medicine requiring a long space of time. Wherefore I tell you, you must patiently sustain Labour, because the work will be long; and indeed Festination is from the Devils part: Therefore let him that hath not Patience desist from the Work, for credulity will hinder him making overmuch haste. And every Natural Action hath its determinate Measure and Time, in which it is terminated, viz. in a greater or lesser space. For this Work Three Things are necessary, namely, Patience, Length of Time, and Aptness of Instruments; of which we speak to the Artificer, in the Sum of the perfection of our Magistery, in divers Chapters, wherein he may find them, if he be sufficiently skilled in our Works. In which, by manifest and open Proof we conclude that our Stone is no other than a Foetant (or fruitful) Spirit and Living Water, which we have named Dry Water, by Natural Proportion cleansed, and united with such Union, that they can never be absent each from other. To which two must also be added a third, for abbreviating the Work; that is a perfect Body attenuated.
 

The Epilogue and Conclusion of the Work.

Therefore from the above premised, the Things are manifest in which the Verity of the Work is nigh; and we have considered Things perfecting this Work, by our true Investigation, with certain Experience, whereby we are assured, That all the Words are true, which are now (by us only) written in our Volumes, according as we found by Experiment and Reason, related in the same: But those Things which by our Experience we have operated, seen with our Eyes, and handled with our Hands, We have writ in the Sum of the Perfection of Our Magistery. Therefore, let the Sapient Artificer studiously peruse Our Books, collecting Our dispersed Intention, which We have described in divers places, that We might not expose it to malignant and Ignorant Men; and let him prove his Collection even unto Knowledge, Studying and Experimenting with the Instance of Ingenious Labour, till he come to an intire Understanding of the whole. Let the Artificer exercise himself, and find out this now (in great Love) proposed Way of Investigation, by Our Consideration; and also acquire a plenary Knowledge of the Verity of the perfecting and corrupting Matter and Form. For We in Our Investigation, have considered the Matter and Form of Perfect Bodies (from the Radix of the Commixtion, unto their Compleatment) to be pure without any supervenient Corruption. We have also, in a contrary Sense, considered the Substance of Bodies imperfect and perfect, to be one everywhere, Viz. Argentvive and Sulphur; which are pure and clean before their Commixtion: And by this Consideration, through Our own Exercise, We found the Corruption of imperfect Bodies, accidentally to have access; and that this gave a new and corrupted Form: For when We have seen imperfect Bodies by Our Experience and Ingenuity, prepared and cleansed from all superfluous Corruption and Fugitive Uncleanness, deliberate and terrestrial, We found them of greater Clearness and Brightness, or Purity, than Bodies naturally perfect, not prepared. By which Consideration We came to the perfect and compleat end of this Science, which We have perfectly described in Our Books. Therefore be Studious in them, and you will find Our whole Science, which We have abbreviated out of the Books of the Ancients.

The end of this Investigation.