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Adept Alchemy by Robert A. Nelson.
Part I. Chapter 3. Via Sicca Brevis.
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Chapter 3


Via Sicca Brevis

(1)  Fulcanelli ~ (2)  P. Allen ~ (3)  B. Figulus ~ (4)  A. LeFebre ~ (5)  Anonymous ~ (6)  C. Grummet ~ (7)  J. Muller ~ (8)  Paracelsus ~ (9)  S. Bacstrom ~ (10)  I. Hollandus ~ (11)  J. Helvetius ~ (12)  J. Grashof ~ (13)  Myriam Prophetessa ~ (14)  A. Eleazar ~ (15)  G. Ripley ~ (16)  E. Philalethes ~ (17)  A Lover of Philalethes ~ (18)  Cyliani ~ (19)  Theophrastus


The Philosophers' Stone can be prepared in two general ways: the so-called wet and the dry. Much has been written about the wet method and its variations; it is long, dangerous, tedious and expensive. The dry path is little known. It can be quick, simple and easy, but it is also very dangerous and difficult to control.

(1) Fulcanelli: La Mystere Des Cathedrales

Let us retrace our steps and pause at the south portal, still called the Porch of St. Anne. It offers us only a single motif, but the interest of this is considerable, because it describes the shortest practice of our Science and among lessons in stone it therefore deserves pride of place.

"See," says Grillot de Givry, "sculptured on the right portal of Notre Dame of Paris, the bishop perched above an athanor, where the philosophical mercury, chained in limbo, is being sublimated. It teaches the origin of the sacred fire; and the Chapter of the cathedral, by leaving this door closed all the year in accordance with a secular tradition, shows that this is not the vulgar way, but one unknown to the crowd and reserved for the small number of the elite of wisdom." (43) 

Few alchemists will admit the possibility of two ways, one short and easy, called the dry way, the other longer and less rewarding, called the moist way. This may be due to the fact that many authors deal exclusively with the longer process, either because they do not know of the other, or because they prefer to remain silent about it, rather than to teach its principles. Pernety refuses to believe in those alternative methods, while Huginus a Barma, on the contrary, asserts that the ancient masters, such as Geber, Lully and Paracelsus, each had his own particular process.

Chemically speaking, there is no objection to a method, employing the moist way, being replaced by another, which makes use of dry reactions, in order to arrive at the same result. Hermetically the emblem we are studying is a proof of this. We shall find a second one in the 18th century Encyclopedia, where the assurance is given that the Great Work may be accomplished in two ways; one, called the moist way, being longer but held more in honour and the other, or dry way, being much less esteemed. In the latter "the celestial Salt, which is the Philosophers' mercury, must be boiled for four days in a crucible over a naked fire, together with a terrestrial metallic body."

In the second part of the work, attributed to Basil Valentine (44) , but which seems rather to be by Senior Zadith, the author appears to have the dry way in mind when he writes that "in order to arrive at this art, neither great labor nor trouble is required and the expenses are small, the instruments of little worth. For this Art may be learnt in less than 12 hours and brought to perfection within the space of 8 days, if it has its own principle within itself."

Philalethes, in Chapter XIX of the Introitus, after having spoken of the long way, which he describes as tiresome and good only for rich people, says: "But by our way no more than a week is necessary; God has reserved this rare and easy way for the despised poor and for abject saints."

Furthermore, Langlet-Dufresnoy, in his Remarques on this chapter, thinks that "this way is achieved by the double philosophical mercury" and adds: "The work is thereby accomplished in 8 days, instead of taking nearly 18 months by the first way."

This shortened way, which is, however, covered by a thick veil, has been called by the Wise the Regime of Saturn. The boiling of the Work, instead of necessitating the use of a glass vase, requires only the help of a simple crucible. "I will stir up your body in an earthenware vase, in which I will inter it", writes a famous author (45) , who says again further on: "Make a fire in your glass, that is to say in the earth which holds it enclosed. This seems to me to be the shorter way and the true philosophical sublimation, in order to arrive at the perfection of this difficult task." This could be the explanation of the basic maxim of our Science: "One single vessel, one single matter, one single furnace."

In the preface to his book (46) , Cyliani refers to the two process in these terms: "I would like to warn you here never to forget that only two matters of the same origin are needed, the one volatile, the other fixed; that there are two ways, the dry way and the moist way. I follow the latter for preference as my duty although the former is very familiar to me; it is done with a single matter."

Henri de Lintaut also gives a favorable testimonial to the dry way when he writes (47) : "This secret surpasses all the secrets in the world, for by it you can in a short time, without great trouble or labour, arrive at the great transmutation. For information about this, see Isaac Hollandois, who speaks of it more fully." Unfortunately our author is no more forthcoming than his colleagues. "When I consider," writes Henckel (48) , "that the artist Elias, quoted by Helvetius, claims that the preparation of the Philosophic stone is begun and finished in the space of four days, and that he has actually shown this stone, still adhering to the fragments of the crucible, it seems to me that it would not be so absurd to ask whether what the alchemists call great months may not be as many days, which would mean a very limited space of time. And to ask further whether there may not be a method, which consists only in keeping the matters in the greatest degree of fluidity for a long time, which could be achieved by a violent fire, maintained by the action of the bellows. However, this method cannot be carried out in all laboratories and perhaps not everyone would find it practicable."

42. Grillot de Givry: Le Grande Oevre; Paris, Chacornac, 1907, p. 27.
43. At St. Peter's, the same door, called the Holy Door or Jubilee Door, is gilded and walled up. Once every 25 years, or four times in a century, the Pope opens it with a hammer.
44. Azoth ou Moyen de faire l'Or cache des Philosophes; Paris, P. Moet, 1659, p. 140.
45. Solomon Trismosin: La Toyson d'Or.
46. Cyliani: Hermes Devoile; Paris, F. Locquin, 1832.
47. H. De Lintaut; L'Aurore; Mss. Biblioth. De l'Arsenal. S.A.F. 169, #3020

(2) Paul M. Allen: A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology

And thereupon followeth the mixture, observe!
And so it cometh to a wondrous strength,
The finished figures with the unfinished.
And if the fire be likewise rightly controlled,
It will be entirely perfect
In much less time than a year.
Now thou hast the entire way in its length
On which there are not more than two paths.
From these one soon wandereth and goest astray,
Else it all standeth clear and plain.
The one is the water of the Wise Men,
Which is the Mercurius alone.
The other is called a vinegar,
And it is known only to a very few.
And this vinegar doth circle
Away from the philosophical lion.
It is Lord Aes whom it makes glad.
Therefore they have combined to so closely
Many hundred forms and names are given
After each has chosen it.
One way springeth from a true source,
A few have worked on it for a whole year
But many through their art and craft
Have shortened so long a space of time.
And quickly is the preparation set free
As Alchemy doth point out.

(3) Benedictus Figulus: A Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvel

[Para. 87] The long method is the open secret of philosophy, but it is a veil and an evasion.

[Para 88] There is a certain short method by which the Sulfur is removed from gold and silver, whereby every Mercury is permanently changed into gold or silver.

(4) LeFebre: Secret of Secrets

Table VII: The Time ¾ By the long first humid but finally dry way, seven months are sufficient for the Artist, but for the quick dry way, five hours are enough.

The humid and dry way is but One Way, which by diligence or negligence of the operator, may be abbreviated or prolonged.

(5) Anonymous: An Old Alchemical Manuscript

Accordingly there is now, besides the work of three years, a work of three months, three weeks, three days, and, surpassing all of these, three hours. Mary the Prophetess was trained in this last work; a philosopher of keen intellect, or a well-trained artisan, will be able to investigate what she has learned from her discussions with the Philosopher Aros. In addition, there are other works, called the work of one natural day, one month, one year, and nine months. Anyone who does not know the distinctions among these and other such things lays claim to this saying: "He should take his hand off the reins." And though all these aforesaid works are to be understood only by the time of operation from first to last, nevertheless it can happen that other works are mixed in with them, and then both operations, antecedent and consequent, are included in the timespan listed above. But since the purpose here has been merely to give you a casual warning about these matters, there is no need to dwell on them further...

What follows is how the Philosophers multiplied their work in the moist path, and perhaps also by the same token in the dry path. Multiplication takes place in quantity as well as in quality, always with ten parts of its water or of philosophical mercury duplex and so on to infinity. The first time it does not tinct, but if it is put in fire the second time it is perfected in two months time, and one part tincts only ten parts. If you put it in fire a third time, it is finished in three weeks and one part tincts a hundred parts. If you put it in fire a fourth time, it is perfected in three days, and one part tincts a thousand parts. After that a work of multiplication is completed in three days at a time, and this is the work of three days.

(6) Christopher Grummet: Sanguis Naturae

...This is a Short and Secret way which few also have known. The other way is longer...

This way is long, and lasteth almost two years, and is very tedious, which also the Ancient Philosophers taught...

(7) Dr. Johan Muller: Hyle and Coahyl

You see, I have taught you the complete work from its beginning to the end, but many don't like this way because of the long time that it takes; but the other way, the second way, I will teach you herewith, and in not too long a time you will attain to the secret of the Work Adamists.

(8) Paracelsus: The Philosophical Canons

120. The Wise men bring years into months and months into weeks and weeks into days.

(9) Sig. Bacstrom: The Work of Pontanus According to Mr. F.

Pontanus had his knowledge from Artephius, therefore followed him, having read and understood him, except that Artephius worked by the long humid way, but Pontanus by the dry short way, and Mr. F. believes that it can be done in a very Short Time, probably sooner than we are aware of.

(10) Isaac Hollandus: De Lapide Philosophorum

You must know that the old alchemists made the Stone in many different ways, and at the end it was always good. Know that the old masters worked as I have told you. But their descendants discovered many other forms of the works by which they could shorten the Art, such as using aquafort... They also sought to shorten the time and to try doing it according to Nature. The work involves great worry, much labor and much expense and uncertainty...

(11) John F. Helvetius: The Golden Calf

He would not tell me anything about the cost and the time; "As to its substance," he continued, "it is prepared from two metals or minerals; the minerals are better because they contain a larger quantity of mature Sulfur. The solvent is a certain celestial salt, by means of which the Sages dissolve the earthy metallic body, and this process elicits the precious Elixir of the Sages. The work is performed from beginning to end in a crucible over an open fire; it is consummated in four days, and its cost is only about three florins. Neither the Mineral from the Egg nor the Solvent Salt are very expensive." I replied that his statement was contradicted by the saying of the Sages, who assign seven or nine months as the duration of the Work. His only answer was that the sayings of the Sages were to be understood in a philosophical sense and no ignorant person could apprehend their true meaning.

(12) Johan Grashof: The Greater and Lesser Edifyer

Lastly, I will also gladly perform certain processes which comprehend the true foundation, so that you may see that if you had understood the philosophy properly at first, then you could have attained the end in a much more rapid time. Such a failure with the Materia comes especially through misunderstanding of the first Resolution or dissolving and also of the correct composition, as you shall hear. For several philosophers have finished the Work and brought it to a happy conclusion in 378 days and others in 30 days.

(13) Myriam Prophetessa: Myriam the Prophetess, Sister of Moses, Her Conversation with Aros King of Egypt, Concerning Her Work

Myriam: My dear Aros! I can accomplish the work of our Stone not only in one day, but even in part of a day.

Doest thee not know, Aros! That there is a Water or a Thing, which Whiteneth hendrages?

Hermes has mentioned that the philosophers are accustomed to whiten the stone in one hour.

If I did not find a steady mind in thee, O Aros! I would say no more!

Take Alum from Spain, the White Gum, and the Red Gum, the Kibru of the Philosophers, their Gold, and the Great Tincture.

Make a marriage of the Gum with the Gum, by a true union;

Proceed therewith, that they may flow like water; this well prepared water Thou must vitrify, that is, thou must make a glass thereof.

This glass is composed of Two Subjects and a fixed body. Render this matter fusible by the secret operation of nature in the Philosophical Vessel.

Take care of the Fume, and beware, that nothing of the fume may escape! Attend the work, with a gentle fire, such as the Sun gives in July.

Be not absent from the Vessel, that thou mayst observe, how the matter becomes Black, White and Red, in less than 3 hours of a day, and the fume will penetrate the body, the Spirits will keep together and will become like Milk, which softens, and renders fusible and penetrating.

And this is the Secret, O Aros!

My dear Aros! I could tell Thee another Secret, which the Philosophers before me, did not know or make use of! And that was not anything Medicinal. It is this: Take that White, Clear and much-honoured herb, which is found in the low Hills, pound it fresh and sift the powder very finely. [Probably sodium carbonate "flowers" found on hills after floods of the Nile]

This is the true fixt body, which does not flee from the fire, but rather melts into glass.

Aros: Is this the truth?

Myriam: Yes, truly. But very few know this regimen and the quickness in the fire.

Vitrify or make a glass over the matter; over the Kibrick and Zubreck, over the two Fumes which contain two Lights, and when it is perfect, throw or project therein the fulfilling or ferment of the Tincture and of the Spirits, according to the true Weight.

Then pulverize it, it is very brittle, and make use of it in a strong fire, and thou wilt see strange things performed thereby.

The whole Regimen depends on the moderation of the Fire. It will pass from one Colour to another, in one hour's time, before it becomes White and Red.

When thou hast obtained perfect Redness, let the fire go out and let the matter grow cold, open the Vessel.

And thou wilt find the body appears now like a fine pearl, with a tint of the wild Poppy intermixed with white, and this is the substance, which inceriates, giveth ingress, mollifies and penetrates.

And this Stone can be projected on 1200 parts of Lead or Tin.

Myriam said further to King Aros: I will teach thee, how to proceed by the shortest way: with the Clear Fixt Body, found on small hills: this body cannot be conquered by putrefaction. Take that body finely powdered and sifted; rub it up gently with Gum Elsaron, rub it very finely and unite the two powders.

If you project this or unite this with her spouse, it will flow like water, and when it cools, it will be coagulated and They will become one Body; project some part of this body, and thou will see wonderful things.

The before mentioned Two Fumes are the White Kibrick: but the fixt body is from the heart of Saturn, which preserves the Tincture.

The Philosophers have given various names to this fixt body, which is taken from small hills, and it is a Clear White Body.

These are the principles of this art, which can partly be bought, partly it is found on small hills.

In our work enter Four Stones, and the Regimen is as I have said; the first are: Seoyare, Ade and Zilket.

The Philosophers have always indicated a long Regimen, and have concealed the Work, that no man should easily undertake it, and they pretend to be a whole year in doing the magistery; But all this is done with no other view, than to hide the work from the ignorant, until they can comprehend it, because it is only accomplished with fine Gold, which is a great and Divine Secret.

Myriam said further to King Aros: The Vessel of Hermes does consist in the Degree of the Fire. The Root of our Art is a Brittle Leprous Body and venomous matter [Orpiment] which destroys all mineral and metallic bodies and reduces them into a powder. It coagulates Mercury by its fumes. Myriam added, by saying:

I swear unto thee by the living God, that if the before-mentioned venomous matter be dissolved and opened, it coagulates Mercury into Luna, by its strength, and tinges Jupiter into Luna and the Art is in all the Metals, but especially in the Fixt metals, wherein lie the Tingeing Elements.

(14) Rabbi Abraham Eleazar: The Book of Abraham the Jew

Formerly I have pointed out and shown to you the wet way, and how you can find and prepare in such a way the Mysterium, and such a way is without danger.

This dry way, that I will describe to you and teach you, is somewhat dangerous, yet if you follow my teaching, then it will not fall heavy on you, for as I have described to you in all my Figures throughout, two ways, so to the intelligent it is not difficult to understand, and have also wished to show that in this Figure [3]; for here you see flowing from a desert a white Lunar Water, which is the old progenitor of all things, prepared in two ways:

Firstly however, you must understand, what of the two ways is taken; namely the first proceeds from the Fatness of the Earth, out of the Primordial Chaos. The other from our black heavy lump; that however the serpents crawl in the grass, and is of divers colors, the Phyton in the dry way, for this promptus is very poisonous, yet some times it ascends in the hills, and so becomes a flower, nearly medicinal, whilst then it is not so poisonous...

...This is that, which the Ancients said, how they finished their stone in four hours. They have taken of such one part and added to four parts of Ophiris Sol in flux, so it will become pure tincture; of which they have incorporated half of this with one part of Columba Dianae, as has been taught till the seventh time, and in such a manner increased their work in infinitum, whereby they supported themselves in their need and came to the help of their poor imprisoned brethren...

...But there is prepared from the green Lion a crawling Dragon, and you have it before your eyes, and can compare with the Old one the wet way, and the Dragons the dry way. In the preparatory work you go on, in the Dry way, there is another Modus than in the Wet...


(15) George Ripley: Medulla Alchymiae

The first Matter of this unclean Alchymical Body is a Viscous Water, which is thickened in the Bowels of the Earth. And therefore of this Impure Body (as Vincent saith)  is made the great Elixir of the Red and White, whose name is Adrop, or Adrup, viz., the Philosophers' lead. From the which Raymundus commands an Oyl to be drawn: from the Lead of the Philosophers (saith he)  let there be an Oyl drawn of a Golden Colour; if you can separate this Oyl (wherein is Our second Tincture and Fire of nature)  from its Phlegm, which is its waterishness, and wisely search out the Secret thereof, you may in the space of 30 days perform the Work of the Philosophers' Stone.

(16) Eirenaeus Philalethes: An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King

Chapter XIX ¾ This method has been followed by many Sages, but it is exceedingly slow and tedious, and is only for the rich of the earth. Moreover, when you have got this Sulfur do not think that you possess the Stone, but only its true matter, which you may seek in an imperfect thing, and find it within a week, by our easy yet rare way, reserved of God for his poor, contemned, and abject saints...

This is the Great Labyrinth in which most beginners go astray, because the Sages in writing of these ways as two ways, purposely obscure the fact that they are only one way (though of course the one is more direct than the other) ... I know both ways, and prefer the shorter one; but I have described the longer one as well in order that I may not draw down upon myself the wrath of the "Sages". The great difficulty which discourages all beginners is not of nature's making: the Sages have created it by speaking of the longer operation when they mean the shorter one, and vice versa.

(17) A Lover of Philalethes: A Short Enquiry Concerning the Hermetic Art

"There is a pure Matter" (saith another)  "which is the Matter of Gold, containing in itself the heat that giveth increase." (Fire of Generation) . This is locked under thick Folds in common Gold; nor is it to be extracted, but by a strong and tedious Decoction, which is a Work liable to many Errors, and hath always occasioned those that wrought in it to complain of the length and trouble of it. But in the other Work, the Body is soon dissolved, by a sweet and kindly bath, or moist Fire.

As the former path requires much Pain and Patience to effect the Work, so this requires great Skill and Application to find it out, being deeply concealed. The Masters of these Secrets do also affirm, that these Works (which are all one in the Beginning)  may be conjoined, and made their Grand Medicine. And I have been informed, that the way of making them one is but slenderly hid...

And that he will find himself in the High Road of Nature which is that Secret Way of the Philosophers, viz., most easie, delightful and speedy; in which are no Storms, no Heterogeneities, nor any Fire, but the gentle one of Generation.

Norton asserts, That there are but few clerks that comprehend this Work, it being truly Philosophical. And he saith, That in this Work you must not begin with Quicksilver and Metals, as if in another Work you might; which other Work, he adds, if it be done in three years, would be a blessed Chance, and which belongs to great Men; advising poor Men not to meddle with it, for that Errors in it may be committed above a hundred ways; that it is a work of Pain and labour, as well as full of Perils.

(18) Cyliani: Hermes Unveiled

At this point, I must warn you that only two matters of the same origin are needed: One volatile, the other fixed. That there are two ways, the dry and the humid. I personally follow the latter by preference and by duty, though the former is known to me. It is done with only one matter.

The azoth unites easily with sulfur, fire with fire, and the double mercury or rebis in powder or oil forms the true potable gold or the Universal medicine in white or red. Finally the seed of gold lies within the gold itself.

Few combustibles are necessary; even less receptacles. The work costs very little to undertake and can be performed in any place, but it is convenient to begin it with that of nature in order to finish it well...

(19) Theophrastus: The Sacred Art

The white augmented thrice within a fire
In three days time is altogether changed
To lasting yellow and this yellow then
Will give its hue to every whitened form.
This power to tinge and shape produces gold
And thus a wondrous marvel is revealed.