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The Globe allegory
This interesting alchemical allegory found in MS. Sloane 3639 in the British Library has echoes of the Kabbalistic cosmology of Isaac Luria. It is a translation of a section from Johann Grasshof, Aperta Arca arcani artificiosissimi..., first printed in German at Frankfurt in 1617.
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The Natural round Physick
or Philosophy of the Chymical Cabalistical Vision
The Sun and Moon with all the firmament appeared first. They stood still, a colour indeed they had, but gave no light. Beneath them also there appeared the Globe of the Earth having a colour. In whose centre there was a little globe of most white and shining colour like snow. While I beheld all these, there was made a most horrible thunder with a great noise and fiery flash, which much affrightened me. A great cloud came also, which going away a start was seen above the Sun, Moon and firmament, whose shining was so bright, that I could not fix my eye upon it, with its redness it exceeded the redness of the Sun. As soon as ever this Star appeared the whole firmament with the Sun and Moon began to run their race and dance. In the meantime the said Star darted fiery rays from above, through the exterior firmament. Of which sometimes more, sometimes fewer, some also by halves were carried upon the Globe, but the little globe received the smallest part of these rays. Those rays whose halves only entered the Globe, moved the waters, that they might flow, and fish might be seen in them. The other rays made the great Globe begin to live, and bring forth all sorts of trees and fruits, and which also animals and men did walk. But the part of the rays which entered into the small globe, so moved it, that it began to boil like water in a pot, and dispersed out of itself a white clear and pure vapour in the form of a Star even unto the root of the trees and herbs. Then out of this globe or white shining star there began, but yet slowly enough to grow all sorts of trees and herbs, and tended towards the circumference of the globe, and when they almost attained to it; behold, two white stoney Mountains arose and were opened out of each end of the globe. In the meantime I saw the herbs and trees continually go forward in their growth that the Mountain at length bore flowers of all sorts and colours which again were shut and changed into red, yellow, green and white knots. The knots of the Mountain on the right hand were small and transparent, but those on the left greater, but not transparent. In the meantime the superior and greater Star sent continually out more Rays, by the benefit of which more herbs and trees always grew. At last a voice was heard crying out this clearly and aloud, "Blessed be God, who created this Star. This shall be called always the star of Wisdom and the eternal light".
[ End of first part - then follow a number of folios of questions and answers in interpreting this vision]
While I was running all this over in my mind, and have harkened to a chiding long enough, I seemed to stand on sharp thorns and stones, and while I contemplated this vision in a deep valley, I took notice of some noise behind me such a one as one clothed in a silken garment used to make by the rustling of his clothes, when I therefore looked about me, Behold, there appeared a certain grey-haired man, who had let his beard grow down as low as his girdle, arrayed in a long black garment, carrying in one hand a pair of compasses, and in the other a square or a rule, who passed silently by, and hastened to the Globe, whose tallness more and more increased, so that he by half the height of his body exceeded the Globe higher than a high house, and with his head reached even to the Sun.
This old man having set his compasses on the centre measured the globe about, that it might be made equally round, then having set his compass on the square, he said "Multiplication has been three times made in it". Afterwards he again placed the compasses on the height of the Globe, and took the measure of it even up to the firmanent, and from the firmament up to the highest Starr, and crying out with a great fearful outcry, he broke forth in these words "This is one of the four cut off by three". He afterwards drew two lines from the highest Star to the Globe, which another drawn a new Globe, white, transparent and resembling the greeness of an Emerald, with a Sun transparent and more clear than ordinary, and the whole firmament, but no burning about as yet being observed. Hence the old man crying out said "Praised be God, that at length malice is oppressed, and truth made manifest. Rejoice ye Sons of Light that an end of Darkness is made. The Sun shall set no more, but shine to you forever, nor shall it ever be obscured from you", who having so said disappeared.
To this revelation my principal adding a conclusion said "You must take great care of this figure, because in it the signification of your work is contained. In this figure I say there lies hid the secret of all secrets, as well concerning natural as supernatural things, which surpass mans understanding. Yet if you shall be honest and godly and place your confidence in God you shall get all these".
If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.
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