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Adept Alchemy by Robert A. Nelson.
Part I. Chapter 4. Oroborus.
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Chapter 4

 

Oroborus

 

(1)  A. Coudert ~ (2)  H. Nollius ~ (3)  W. v. Schroeder ~ (4)  D. Beuther ~ (5)  P. D. Mirandola ~ (6)  Turba Philosophorum ~ (7)  A. Eleazar ~ (8)  A. Magnus ~ (9)  Anonymous ~ (10)  R. Ingalese ~ (11)  Anonymous ~ (12)  Anonymous ~ 13)  B. Figulus ~ (14)  M. Rulandus ~ (15)  B. De Trevisan ~ (16)  Pearce the Black Monk ~ (17)  G. Ripley ~ (18)  S. Saltzal ~ (19)  Libavius ~ (20-22)  T. Paracelsus ~ (23)  A. J. Pernety ~ (24, 25)  E. Philalethes ~ (26)  P. Bonus ~ (27)  R. Lully ~ (28)  E. Nowell ~ (29)  G. Ripley ~ (30)  E. Hitchcock ~ (31)  A. Kirchweger ~ (32)  J. Espagnet ~ (33)  Urbigensis ~ (34)  Zosimos ~ (35)  R. Patai~ (36)  Anonymous ~ (37)  C.v. Rosenroth ~ (38)  F. Jollivet-Castelot ~ (39)  J. Duchesnes ~ (40)  B. Mookerjee ~ (41)  P. Ray ~ (42)  J. Mellor ~ (43)  As vs Cancer

 

The short dry path to the Philosophers' Stone as revealed by Myriam and others is very promising. Yet, many aspirants have died in vain for their carelessness and haste in this operation. There is no margin for error: arsenic is very toxic; a single bubble of arsine can kill. You must acquire comprehensive chemical and medical knowledge of the matter before proceeding to the experiment..

(1) A. Coudert: Alchemy: The Philosophers Stone

It is also an unfortunate fact that in the initial stages certain poisons do produce beneficial effects. Arsenic, for example, improves the appetite, increases growth and stimulates the production of bone marrow. Up to the very end the victim of arsenic poisoning consumes his food with a fair appetite. Because arsenic produces a mild dilation of the blood vessels, it was prescribed as an aphrodisiac regularly in India and Europe well into the 19th century and even appeared in an aphrodisiac preparation listed in the 1957 edition of the British Encyclopedia of Medical Practice....

In some cases, errors in translation or copying led to dangerous results. The Byzantine Greek Nicolaus Myrepsus compiled a book of remedies, using Arabic sources. He mistranslated the Arabic "darsini" (cinnamon)  for arsenic. The mistaken belief that large doses of arsenic had beneficial medicinal properties threatened alchemists and their patients until the 17th century...

Most of the negative evidence was accumulated by alchemists who continued to believe in the possibility of transmutation. One convinced adept, for example, left an anonymous record of 104 alchemical recipes he had methodically tested... In the midst of all these failures he does record one success: a silver recipe using arsenic. Somehow this worked, for beside it the adept wrote, "gewinnt man vil silber darpei."

(2) Henry Nolius: The Chemist's Key

He that knows not how to fix Arsenic, to take away the corrosive nature of sublimate, to coagulate sulphureous spirits, and by a convenient specifical Medicine to break and analyze stones in the greater world, will never in the body of Man allay and tame the Arsenical spirits of the Microcosmic Salt, nor quite take away the venomous indisposition of the Sulphur, nor dissolve the Stone in the bladder, and drive it out being dissolved. It is a noble, safe and pious course we examine and try the force and virtues of Medicines upon Microcosmical substances, before we apply them to our fellow creatures, and the rare fabric of Man.

(3) William von Schroeder: Instructions Respecting the Art of Transmutation...

Plinius in his 33 Book of Natural History, says: that there exists a process whereby Gold is made by means of orpiment, a process which invited the Emperor Caligula, a prince very covetous of Riches, to cause some men to work a great quantity of orpiment; by which operation perfect Gold was procured, but so small a quantity that the Emperor had reason to repent of his avarice...

It is yet fresh in memory, that not long ago a Hollander, a goldsmith, of the name of Sommer resided in Vienna, who fixed out of a Tincture of mercury into pure Silver.

I have made the Experiment with my own hands; I have seen his Medicine under two forms... I have once seen the operation of preparing the Medicine, which was performed in 16 hours, in a strong fire, in the open air, on account of the poisonous fumes.

The Basis of the Medicine was a fixed Arsenic, which fixation, I found, had been made with Borax in a crucible...

Whosoever doubts, let him go to Dresden in Saxony, and examine the so-called Gold-House, and let him enquire what has been translated in that laboratory, in the times of Elector Augustus, Electoress Anne and their Son Christianus I, and let him ask from where proceeded those superb buildings seen in Dresden? If he, the unbeliever, wants still stronger proofs, let him go to the Electoral Libraries and enquire for the Chemical Acts and Journals of the Middle and later End of the 15th Century. And if he goes to the Secret Chancery, he will see such an immense quantity of manuscripts and large volumes, some written by the Elector Augustus himself, wherein he may read how from time to time the tingeing powders were elaborated and what immense quantities of Gold was procured thereby weekly, that he may well be astonished, as we have been ourselves.

On the other hand in the Chamber of Public Accounts, where all the immense Expenses were set down, for erecting such magnificent buildings, he will not find a single groschen set down as received for defraying such enormous expenses.

Such buildings were the Palaces, Stables, Gardens, Augustusburgh, etc., for erecting them, the Expenses flowed from the Secret Chancery, as they received it from the Gold-House...

In regard to the Most Universal Subject out of which Raymundus Lully, Bernhardus Trevisanus and Basilius Valentinus have made the most Universal Tincture, it is called Electrum Immaturatum...

Note further that Sulphur and Mercury or Sulphur and Arsenic are the first seminal principles of all the metals. These two principles are certainly the most heterogeneous and most natural Keys to dissolve the metals radically, in order that death and Regeneration may follow.

When such a Regulus [Arsenic] is melted, it imbibes all the Metals, which you put into it, and those metals, when afterwards treated and distilled... form a metallic oil in the same manner as if you had used Regulus Antimony-Mars. The Regulus of Realgar or Orpiment absorbs metals quicker than the Regulus of Antimony, and renders the metals more volatile...

[ Sigismund Bacstrom's notes (1797) :] Baron Schroeder called his subject an unripe Electrum, so does Paracelsus who names it Electrum Minerale Immaturatum. Auripigmentum as well as Cinnabar ore and Antimony is an Immature Electrum, where the first metallic principles are found...

(4) David Beuther: Universal and Detailed Account... &c.

... Moreover, the principle preparation of one or another of the ingredients from the universal material had already been carried out, as had become clearly evident from the above-mentioned work of Kunkel, page 580, which reads, "The white arsenic powder is no longer prepared for the Elector of Saxony and unfortunately, the whole Art rests upon it...

While it must be a general rule in this work, as stated by Arnold de Villa, and again on page 66, that only a few minerals, along with white arsenic and burning sulphur, which were to be made at the same time, are needed, as Geber had said: "There is only one mineral, one medicine, one digestion; and in this our entire work consists, to which we add nothing unfamiliar, or take anything away, without removing excess impurities therefrom in the process.

(5) Fr. Pico Della Mirandola: Upon Gold

I have experienced the truth of this matter often in various ways...

Nor shall I omit to mention what a certain poor man told me occurred to him during sleep, which he soon proved by experiment. When he was anxious and did not know where to turn to bear his hunger, for he was oppressed by very high taxes, by a foreign treasury and by a large number of children, he went to sleep and saw a certain heavenly being whose name is in the catalogue of the saints, who taught him the art of making gold in riddles and then hinted at the water he should use for making gold; he used it, at first by himself, to make gold, not a great weight, however, but enough to feed his family, and he also made gold twice from iron, from orpiment three or four times, and by experiment he therefore proved to me that the art of making gold is not an empty one, but truthful...

 

 

(6) Turba Philosophorum

16th Dictum ¾ Know, also, that the arcanum of the work of gold proceeds out of the male and female, but I have shown you the male in lead, while in like manner, I have discovered for you the female in orpiment... Now, therefore, I have notified to you the power of orpiment, which is a woman by whom is accomplished the most great arcanum...

50th Dictum ¾ Pandolphus: The philosophers have ordered that quicksilver should be taken out of cambar, and albeit they have spoken truly, yet in these words there is a little ambiguity, the obscurity of which I will remove. See then that the quicksilver is sublimed in tabernacles, and extract the same from Cambar, but there is another Cambar in sulphur which Belus hath demonstrated to you, for out of sulphur mixed with sulphur, many works proceed. When the same has been sublimed, there proceeds from the Cambar that quicksilver which is called Ethelia, Orpiment, Zendrio, or Sanderich, Ebsemich, Magnesia, Kuhul or Chuhul, and many other names...

52nd Dictum ¾ This is the quicksilver which is indeed extracted from all things, out of which all things are produced, which also is pure water that destroys the shade of copper. And know ye that this quicksilver, when it is whitened, becomes a sulphur which contains sulphur, and is a venom that has a brilliance like marble; this the envious call Ethelia, orpiment and sandarac, out of which a tincture and a pure spirit ascends with a mild fire, and the whole flower is sublimated, which flower becomes wholly quicksilver...

The Book of El-Habib says that the virtue of eternal water is that of a spiritual blood. It is identified with aeriform water, azure water, and water of sulphur. It is also primal sulphur. When boiled, it transforms the male (arsenic)  into silver, and afterwards into gold. It is also said that copper is water of silver, which, after preparation, becomes eternal water... [10th Dictum, footnote by Arthur E. Waite]

Moses: The quicksilver out of cinnabar (argentum vivum cambar) ... is the Magnesia, while the quicksilver of the auripigmentum or orpiment... is the Sulphur which ascends from this mixed compound material. You must, therefore mix that thick thing with the Fiery Venom, and let it putrefy, and diligently pound it until a spirit is produced which is hidden in that other spirit; then it will become a tincture for everything that you wish. [Julian Ruska: Turba Philosophorum (Berlin 1931) ]

(7) Rabbi Abraham Eleazar: Aesch Mezareph

By the Fornicators are understood the (Masculine)  Arsenical Sulphur, and the (feminine)  dry water unduly mixed, together in the Mineral.

By the Spear of Phineas is meant the Force of iron acting upon the matter to cleanse it of Dross: By which Iron, not only is the Arsenical Sulphur killed, but also the Woman herself is at length mortified; so that the Miracle of Phineas may be fitly applied here...

...Then on top of the Glass, thou shalt have a White Matter, which is the Prima Materia or tingeing Arsenic, being the living Water of metals, which all Philosophers call Dry Water, or their Vinegar. Let it be purified thus: Take of the Crystalline Matter sublimed; Let it be ground upon a marble, with an equal part of Calx of Luna, and let it be put into a Vial sealed, and set in a Sand bath again, the first two hours with a gentle Fire, the second with a stronger, and the third with one yet more violent, and increased till the Sand will hiss, and our Arsenic will be sublimed again, the starry Beams being sent forth...

(8) Albertus Magnus: Compound of Compounds

"The Arsenick", says Geber, "contains much of the mercury; it can also be prepared like it". Know that the Spirit hidden in the Sulphur, the Arsenick and the animal oil, is named by the philosophers, The White Elixir...

(9) Anonymous: Tractatus Aureus (Golden Treatise of Hermes) 

Section I ¾ Take of the humidity, or moisture, an ounce and a half, and of the Southern Redness, which is the soul of gold, a fourth part, that is to say, half an ounce, of the citrine Seyre, in like manner, half an ounce; of the Auripigment, half an ounce, which are eight; that is three ounces. And know ye that the vine of the wise is drawn forth in three, but the wine thereof is not perfected, until at length thirty be accomplished...

Section II ¾ Return then, O my Son, the coal being extinct in life, upon the water for thirty days, as I shall note to thee, and henceforth thou art a crowned king, resting over the fountain, and drawing from thence Auripigmentum dry without moisure...

Know, my Son, that the fatness of our earth is sulphur, the auripigmentum sirety...

Section III ¾ O permanent watery Form, creatrix of the royal elements! who, having with thy brethren and a just government obtained the tincture, findest rest. Our precious stone is cast forth upon the dung-hill, and that which is most worthy is made vilest of the vile. Therefore, it behooves us to mortify two Argent vives together, both to venerate and be venerated, viz., the Argent vive of Auripigment, and the oriental argent vive of magnesia...

In this way our prepared material is also called male and female, active and passive. So Zimon says, in The Crowd: "Know that the secret of the work consists in male and female, i.e.,, an active and a passive principle. In lead is found the male, in orpiment the female...

(10) Richard Ingalese: They Made the Philosophers' Stone

This element is not called mercury always. It had different names in different languages. In the time of the Arabians it was frequently called arsenic, which is not the arsenic of medicine, but another name applied to mercury.

(11) Anonymous: A Magnificent & Select Tract on Philosophical Water

...The philosophers have called this maid (Beja)  and blessed water by many thousands of different names in their books. They call it heaven, a heavenly water, a heavenly rain... milk and virgin's milk, water of arsenic, silver, Luna water, woman, a female seed, a sulphuric steam and smoke, a fiery, burning spirit, a deathly all-penetrating poison, a Basilicum, which kills all things, a poisonous snake, a poisoned worm, a dragon...

 

(12) Anonymous: Hydropyrographum Hermeticum

This Virgin and blessed Water the Philosophers named in their Books with many thousand names; they call it Heaven, Celestial Water, Celestial Rain, the dew of Heaven, May-dew, Water of Paradise, parting Water, Aqua Regis, a corrosive Aquafort, sharp Vinegar, Brandy, Quintessence of Wine, growthful green juice, a growing Mercury, a viridescent Water, and Leo Viridis, Quick Silver, Menstruum, Blood, Urine, Horse-piss, Milk, and Virgins Milk, white Arsenick, Silver, Lune, and juice of Lune... [&c.]

(13) Benedictus Figulus: A Golden & Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels

This Virgin and Blessed Water have philosophers in their books called by a thousand names, as a Heaven, Celestial Water, Heavenly Rain, Heavenly or May Dew, Water of Paradise, Aqua Regia... White Arsenic, Silver... [&c.]

(14) Martinus Rulandus: A Lexicon of Alchemy

Arsenicum is the Greek Nitre, Effulgence of Metals; Salt of Metals, and of Saturn. Called also Artanek, or Artanech... It is also Luna, and our Venus. According to Geber, it is Sulphur's companion. It is the soul, the hermaphrodite, the means whereby Sulphur and Mercury are united. It has community with both natures, and is, therefore, called Sun and Moon.

Auripigmentum is Orpiment... and is found in combination with Sandarac... The Arabs, however, confound Sandarac with Arsenic, and, in fact, give the name of Arsenic indiscriminately both to Sandarac and Orpiment... Orpiment is also the Blood of the Stone. The Turba calls it the female which we use to color the Sun and to cook with Mercury. It is, however, genuine Sulphur. Quicksilver Orpiment is Sulphur which rises from the composition...

Fumus Rubeus is Orpiment. It is also called Gold because it is bright.

Realgar ¾ Red Orpiment. Realgar is properly a Mineral Smoke, which has something of the nature of Orpiment, or Arsenic. Metaphorically, it is that poison of the body which generally is the cause of Ulcers. It is of four kinds, corresponding to the four elements, so there is the Realgar on the Surface of water, the Arsenical Realgar of the Earth, the Terebinthine Realgar of Air, and that Saturnine Conjunction which is the Realgar of Fire.

Sandaraca, otherwise Erythace ¾ A Food for Bees. As to its production, see Pliny (1. II, c.7) . But in this place we are dealing with a native metallic substance, which the Germans call Orpiment, Realgar, Arsenical Orpiment, Red Sulphur, Fire Sulphur, Red Orpiment. It is hot and dry in the second grade...

Sandaracha ¾ Orpiment, Crystalline Arsenic, Yellow Orpiment. There are four species: (1)  native Sandarach, Yellow Orpiment; (2)  The artificial named Vitruvius, the Sandix of the Greeks, Minium, Red Lead...

Sanderich ¾ Lunar Spittle, White Ore, White Magnet which attracts iron, Yellow Orpiment ¾ the thing we seek ¾ Realgar, Minium, Spirit which makes Red, also a White Sandarach.

Sandix ¾ A Wild Herb, Red Earth, Philosophical Paul, Red Orpiment.

Sanguis ¾ Blood is Orpiment, that is, the Stone which is not yet perfect, the Philosophical Water which gives life and unites, according to Morien...

(15) Bernhard De Trevisan: Verbum Dismissum

This Sulphur so sublimed, no whiteness in the world exceeds it, for it is divested of all corruptible things, and is a new nature, a Quintessence arising from the pure parts of the four Elements. T'is the Sulphur of Nature, Arsenic, not burning, the incomparable treasure, the Joy of Philosophers, and the Delight so much desired by them, the White, Clear and Foliate earth, the Bird of Hermes, the Daughter of the Great Secret, and the new White Black Bird whose Feathers exceed Crystalline Brightness, White as Snow, of clean subtility and agility...

All this business then is nothing else but to create Sulphur of Nature and reduce the composition to its First Matter of the metallick kind... It is further to be observed that according to the divers alterations or change of one and the same Matter in digestion, divers names are imposed upon it by the Philosophers according to its divers complexions, some have called it a coagulating pressure, some Azoc, Arsenic... [&c.]

(16) Pearce the Black Monk: Upon the Elixir

In Arsenick sublimed there is a way straight...
Realgar and Arsenick I defende...

(17) George Ripley: The Epistle Unto King Edward IV

For then both Body and Spirit also both Oil and Water,
Soul and Tincture one thing both White and Red,
After Colours variable it containeth what so men clatter;
Which also is called when he hath once been Dead:
And is revived our Marcasite, our Magnet, and our Lead,
Our Sulphur, our Arsenick, and our true Calx vive...

(18) Solinus Saltzal: Fountain of Philosophical Salts

Behold, now I have doubled mercury in my possession: Now I own it ¾ white lily, powder of adamantine, chief central poison of the dragon, spirit of arsenic, green lion, incombustible spirit of the moon, life and death of all metals, moist radical, universal dissolving nutriment, true menstruum of the philosophers, which without doing any harm reduces metal to first matter. This is the true water for sprinkling, in which the living seeds of metal inhere, and from which other metals can be produced...

(19) Libavius: Commentariosum Alchymiaem

(T)  Here paint a swan swimming on the sea and spewing out of its mouth a white fluid. This swan is the white elixir, the white chalk, the arsenic of the philosophers, common to both ferments...

(20) Theophrastus Paracelsus: The Aurora of the Philosophers

Being therefore moved with compassion towards the well-meaning operators of this art, I have determined to lay open the whole foundation of philosophy in three separate arcana, namely, in one explained by arsenic, in a second by vitriol, and in a third by antimony; by means of which I will teach the true projection upon Mercury and upon imperfect metals.

Chapter XI: Concerning the True & Perfect Special Arcanum of Arsenic for the White Tincture ¾ Some persons have written that arsenic is compounded of mercury and Sulphur, others of earth and water; but most writers say it is of the nature of Sulphur. But, however that may be, its nature is such that it transmutes red copper into white. It may also be brought to such a degree of perfection as to be able to tinge. But this is not the way pointed out by such evil sophists as Geber in The Sum of Perfection, Albertus Magnus, Rhasis and Polydorus; for these writers, however many they be, are either themselves in error, or else they write falsely out of sheer envy, and put forth receipts whilst not ignorant of the truth. Arsenic contains within itself three natural spirits. The first is volatile, combustible, corrosive, and penetrating all metals. This spirit is crystalline and sweet. The third is a tingeing spirit separated from the others before mentioned. True philosophers seek for these three natural properties in arsenic with a view to the perfect projection of the wise men. But those barbers who practice surgery seek after that use in the cure of wounds, buboes, carbuncles, anthrax, and other similar ulcers, which are not curable save by gentle means. As for that tingeing spirit, however, unless the pure be separated from the impure in it, the fixed from the volatile, and the secret tincture from the combustible, it will not in any way succeed according to your wish for projection on Mercury, Venus, or any other imperfect metal. All philosophers have hidden this arcanum as a most excellent mystery. This tingeing spirit, separated from the other two as above, you must join to the spirit of Luna, and digest them together for the space of thirty-two days, or until they have assumed a new body. After it has, on the fortieth natural day, been kindled into flame by the heat of the sun, the spirit appears in a white brightness, and is endowed with a perfect tingeing arcanum. Then it is at length fit for projection, namely, one part of it upon sixteen parts of an imperfect body, according to the sharpness of the preparation. From thence appears shining and most excellent Luna, as though it had been dug from the bowels of the earth.

(21) Theo. Paracelsus: The Revelation of Hermes

This spirit in its fiery form is called a Sandarac, in the aerial a kybrick, in the watery an Azoth, in the earthly Alcohoph and Aliocosoph.

(22) Theo. Paracelsus: The Economy of Minerals

Chapter XVIII. Concerning Arsenic used for Alchemy ¾ It seems right to connect Arsenic generically with Sulphurs rather than with Mercuries, and to treat it immediately after Sulphurs. Some old chemists, or rather sophists, labouring at chemistry, swelling with jaundice, that is, with desire for gold, a sort of yellow dropsy, when they saw in Arsenic the white Tincture of Venus, and the red tincture in the calamine stone, believing, too, that the true arcanum of the stone was contained in these, thought the white and red electrum were silver and gold until they found out the contrary by tests, and learnt that they had been engaged in a vain work. And not content with that they went on perversely in order to arrive at a fixation, and persevered until they had neither house nor possession left. They had wrought a transmutation in themselves rather than in the metal! And what wonder? They approached this work without judgment, and possessing no knowledge of minerals and metals, as so many of those who embark in the Art at the present day do. Since the time when the name of electrum given by the ancients passed into oblivion, there has forthwith followed the ruin of those who changed that name into fictitious gold and silver. That has been the destruction of modern chemists. To define Electrum: it is a metal made from some other by Art, and no longer resembling that Form from which it was made. For example: arsenical metal, prepared according to the form of metallic preparation, cemented with Venus in the accustomed manner, converts the whole copper into white electrum more worthless than its own copper. What need is there to deprave metals at great expense? Would it not be better to leave the copper in its own natural essence, to keep one's money, and devote time and labor to a more useful work? The ancients called Electrum by its proper name, the moderns falsely call it silver. The ancients were not losers, because they knew the Electrum itself; the moderns, because they have no knowledge of Electrum, throw away their faculties, labour, and time. Now, since in Alchemy all mistakes are constantly propped up with some new hope, it was tried to fix Arsenic by means of reverbarations for some weeks, and by other devices. Thence it ensued that the Arsenic became red and brittle like coral, but of no use in Alchemy except for Electrum, as was just now said. Then by descent and precipitation they effected nothing more than by their calcinations. Thus it happens in Alchemy obdurate men are deceived because they do not learn thoroughly from the foundation all the terms of the Art. It is true that Arsenic does, in its own natural condition, contain gold, and that this gold, by the industry of the artist, can sometimes be separated in a cement, or a projection, or otherwise, into silver, copper or lead by attraction, but it does not therefore follow that this is produced by his operations and his tinctures. It means only that the gold which was there before has been derived by a process of separation, as it generally is, from its ore. It is nearly always found golden, and very seldom lacks gold, as is the case with many other substances. So far, then, have I given concerning Arsenic what I know, or what it is advisable to write. Let everybody first of all diligently examine its name, so that he may understand. Otherwise error is apt to arise easily in both faculties, which is only at length discovered by the result.

(23) Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety: Treatise on the Great Ar3

When the Mercury of the Sages is mixed with silver and gold, it is called the Electra of the Philosophers, their brass, their latten, their copper, their steel: and in operations, their venom, their arsenic, their orpiment, their lead, their latten which it is necessary to whiten: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the Moon and the Sun...

Alphidius teaches us that this matter, or this White Smoke, is the root of the Art, and the Quicksilver of the Sages... The Philosophers have given it, among other names, those which follow: White Copper, Lamb, Spotless Lamb, Albathest, Whiteness, Alborach, Holy Water, Heavy Water, Talc, Argent-Vive, Coagulated Mercury, Purified mercury, Silver, Zoticon, Arsenic, Orpiment, Gold, White Gold, Azoch... [&c.]

(24) Eirenaeus Philalethes: Preparations of the Sophic Mercury

1. The Secret of the Philosophic Arsenic: I took one part of the Fiery Dragon, and of the magnetical Body two parts; I prepared them together by a strong fire, and in the first fusion there was made about eight ounces of the true arsenic.

 

(25) E. Philalethes: An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King

Chapter II ¾ Of the Component Principles of the Mercury of the Sages... It is called our Arsenic, our Air, our Moon, our Magnet, and our Chalybs: these names representing the different stages of its development, even unto the manifestation of the kingly diadem, which is cast out of the diadem of our harlot. Learn, then, who are the friends of Cadmus; who is the serpent that devoured them; what the hollow oak to which Cadmus spitted the serpent. Learn who are the doves of Diana, that overcome the green lion by gentleness: even the Babylonian dragon, which kills everything with its venom. Learn, also what are the winged shoes of Mercury, and who are those nymphs whom he charms by means of his incantations.

(26) Petrus Bonus: The New Pearl of Great Price

Of The Spirits: There are three mineral spirits: quicksilver, sulphur and arsenic. Arsenic is hot and dry, of great virtue and potency, yet lightly esteemed. It burns up all other bodies. There are two kinds of arsenic, one is of a pale white, the other red. The red is combustive, the white is solvent, and useful for the Tincture; with quicksilver it makes silver. It has a fiery nature, and sublimes quickly. This spirit we strive to render corporeal and fixed, in order that it may permanently colour our substance. It has great affinity for vinegar...

...Though in his book on The Coagulation of Mercury by Precipitation he [Geber] says that this medicine is elicited from metallic bodies with their sulphur and arsenic, he really means the same thing, but he expresses himself somewhat obscurely...

Arsenic, says Geber, has the two metallic first principles, sulphur and quicksilver, combined, and by their means may itself be designated as the first principle of nature. There can be no transition from the softness of quicksilver to the hardness of metals, except in some intermediate substance. Hence quicksilver by itself, nor sulphur by itself, is the first principle of Nature, but some intermediate matter which contains both. The quicksilver extracted from sulphur and arsenic is, however, more proximately the substance of our Medicine than the same sulphur and arsenic while they remain as they are.

The arsenic to which Geber refers as the third principle of Nature in the generation of metals is a compound of quicksilver and sulphur, and possesses the virtue and power of both. It cannot be properly called sulphur, nor yet quicksilver, and thus it is true that there are only two principles of Nature. Nor is this arsenic, which has quicksilver for its matter and sulphur for its active potency, in any sense a thing superfluous, but is a sufficing principle of nature in the generation of metals...

...If you digest this arsenic with milk or oil of bitter almonds, and afterwards with water of alum, it will be very brilliant and beautiful in the sublimation; and then it dissolves very easily. If arsenic be cooked with olive oil, and then with water of atrament, it will be found in the sublimation brilliantly red and easily soluble. Red arsenic, when its ferment is added, makes glad the heart of the Alchemist...

(27) Raymond Lully

Two are more pure than the rest, namely gold and silver, without which the work cannot be begun or finished; because in them is the purest substance of sulphur, perfectly purified by the ingenuity of Nature. Out of these two bodies, prepared with sulphur and arsenic, our medicine may be extracted.

(28) Edward Nowell: Certain Chemical Works With True Practice

...Likewise do learn our mineral spirits three

From whence they rise, Arsenick of which being one,
The other Sulphur, ye last Mercury.
The Fuming Spirits chiefest of our Stone
One of those poisonous with his piercing breath
Congeals Quicksilver to a solid Earth.

Our Arsenick doth of these participate
Wherefore Hermaphrodite we do it call
But of itself no Metal may beget
Our Tin and Lead are Salts etherial
Mars and Venus two fumes from Sulphur rise
This Water coagulates into a Species.

This Lead dissolves like butter somewhat soft,
Dissolve in balneo what will thence arise.
Then fire of Sand will rise two fumes aloft
A White, and Red, called Arsenick of the Wise.
The Faeces black, calcine in fire you may
Till they be White or else look somewhat Grey.

This White leaved Earth, divide it in two
And in one part the soul again must grow.
This Soul is Arsenick which likewise divide
From its greater part sever, the White from Red.
Into fixed Oils with fire let them be fried,
Which are the Lights, true Leavens for our Bread.

Earth White and red our Chaos doth infold
Which we concoct and bring to seed of Gold
Which seed we Mercury and Sulphur call
From whence all metals spring both great and small
Not common brimstone or Quicksilver crude
But foliate Earth and Arsenick to conclude
Of which by long decoction we do frame
A Powder Red which Elixir name
Aurum Potabile we do it call
When into oil it is dissolved all...

 

 

(29) George Ripley: Medulla Alchimia

Another way, by which the Body of gold is Elixirated by the power of the Fire against Nature, which is thus. Dissolve the Body of pure Gold in the Fire against Nature, the same fire being well rectified Arsenick as the manner is; from which Gold being to dissolved into a Citrine, clear and shining Water, without any Heterogenity or Sand remaining, let the water be abstracted, till the Body does remain in the bottom of the Glass, like a fixt Oyl...

(30) Ethan Allen Hitchcock: Alchemy and the Alchemists

"The work," says one, "while yet crude, is called our water permanent, our lead, our Saturn, our Jupiter; when better decocted, then it is argent, then Magnesia, and white sulphur; when it is red, it is called auripigment, coral, gold, ferment, or stone, a lucid water of celestial color."

I am not defending this mode of writing, but I affirm that the whole subject of Alchemy is man. But each writer, for the most part, designates him by a word of his own choosing; hence one writes of Antimony, another of Lead, another of Zinc, another of Arsenic; &c...

(31) Anton Kirchweger: The Golden Chain of Homer

Note here that Arsenic is a subtil dry mercury for the formation of the red metals chiefly. Modestin Fachs and Tugel believe Arsenic to be unripe Luna, and Luna to be fixed Arsenic. Tugel confirms it by experiment: Lead from Mercury, Tin from Arsenic, Silver from Arsenic, Iron from Mercury, Copper from Mercury, and Mercury from Arsenic...

My teachings will repel many and they will be astonished when they learn that I prepare the gold with arsenic...

Sulphur removes all the poison from arsenic and antimonium...

The first constituent of all marcasites and metals is arsenic. In what mineral or metal can we find common quicksilver except very rarely and accidentally? Instead, you will find Arsenicum and sulphur in each of the aforementioned, be it little or much, but usually in quantity.

See Jo. Agricola in Popp. Nuremburg 1681, 4, P. II, Tr. de Arsenico, P. 997, where it is written: "Without a reason, one should not be surprised that this mineral is so closely related to Sulphur, that they are almost sprung from one spring, but in their effects they are almost opposites... It is a King of Medicine when it is corrected, one grain or less of it has the most salutory effect in countless diseases.. It is penetrating and tinges the blood and vital spirit so intensely that it becomes capable of dispersing even the most pernicious enemy from the body; which other medicines, lacking this power, can never accomplish. Therefore, you must search in every way to find out how its poisonous nature can be allayed..."

(32) Jean Espagnet: Arcanum, or The Grand Secret of Hermetic

Perfect Metals containe in them two things, which they are able to communicate to the imperfect, Tincture and Fixation (for those, because they are dyed and fixed with pure Sulphur, to wit, both white and red, they doe therefore perfectly tinct and fix)  if they be fitly prepared with their proper Sulphur and Arsenick, otherwise they have not strength of multiplying their tincture.

(33) Urbigensis: Aphorisma Urbigensis

The imperfect metals contain two factors which they can impart to the imperfect: tincture or fixation. For some, because they are tinged with a pure Sulphur, that is, with a white and red one, and are fixed, can therefore also tinge perfectly if they are prepared with their own Sulphur and Arsenic. Otherwise, they do not have the power to augment their tincture.

(34) Zosimos: On the Evaporation of the Divine Water

Theodosebeia, Finding myself once in your residence, O woman, in order to hear you, I admired the whole operation of that which is called by you the Structure. I became greatly amazed at the sight of these effects, and I started to venerate the poxamos as something divine... What surprised me was that the cooking of the bird, subjected to filtration; it was to see how it undergoes cooking by means of the sublimated vapor, of the heat and of an appropriate liquid, when it partakes of the tincture... This is how the matter is presented:

"Taking the orpiment, whiten it in the following manner. Make a fatty paste, of the size of a small very thin mirror, pierce it with small holes, in the manner of a sieve, and place above it a small receptacle, well adjusted, containing some sulphur. Put into the sieve some arsenic, as much as you wish. After having covered it with another receptacle, and having sealed the points of junction, after two days and two nights you will find ceruse [usually white lead; here, As2O3]... This is the construction of the apparatus."

(35) Raphael Patai: The Jewish Alchemists

The green suspita mentioned in connection with gold had given rise to various interpretations. The Zohar commentary Nosose Orot explains: "It is called in Arabic zarnikh [arsenic], and in La'az orpimento, and it causes men's hair to fall out." Later commentators explained it as "green copper which is called allatun". Robert Eisler, in a 1925 article on the terminology of Jewish alchemy, emended the reading of the word to susepta, and suggested that it stood for the Greek sussepte, meaning decayed or putrefied gold...

(36) Anonymous: The Book of the Science of Bkrtntb

Appendix (Vocabulary) :

'alam ¾ zarnikh [A. arsenic]...
alumin ¾ [I. alumina, alumina] ¾ zarnikh; orpimento...
lutemetalium, limasinas, orpimento ¾ zarnikh...
qatami'a ¾ tusi'ah [I., tutty, white arsenic]...
sadaraqah [I., sandaracca, realgar] ¾ sandarus [A. sandarac, red arsenic]...
sandariai ¾ burnt orpiment or burnt arsenic...
isawres ¾ arseniqo saruf [I., arsenico, H. saruf, burnt]...
itutiyah [A.] ¾ tutty, white arsenic...
zarnikh [A., arsenic]...

(37) Christian Knorr von Rosenroth: Kabala Denudata

Chapter 3: Kesef, silver, is under G'dula on account of whiteness, which denotes mercy...

About metallic things R. Mordecai wrote: Let the red mineral of silver be taken, let it be ground most finely, then add to six ounces of it an ounce and a half of the calx of Luna. Let it be placed on a sand bath in a sealed vial. Let it be given weak fire for the first eight days lest its radical humidity be burnt up. In the second week, one degree stronger, and in the third, yet stronger; and in the fourth so that the sand should not be red hot, but that when water is dripped upon it it should hiss. Then on top of the glass, you will have a white matter, which is the materia prima, the dyeing arsenic, the living water of the metals, which all philosophers call dry water, and its vinegar. This is how it is purified: Take some of this sublimated crystalline pure matter. Let it be ground on marble with calx of Luna in equal parts. Let it be put in a sealed vial, again in sand, in the first two hours with gentle fire, in the second with stronger, in the third yet more violent, and increased until the sand will hiss: and our arsenic will again be sublimated, with starry rays being sent forth. And since a large quantity is required of this, augment it thus: Take some of this six ounces, and of the purest filings of Luna one ounce and a half, and let it be an amalgam, and let it be digested in a sealed vial in hot ashes, until all the Luna is dissolved, and converted into arsenical water. Take of this prepared spirit one ounce and a half, put it in a closed vial of hot ashes, and it will ascend and descend; which heat should be continued until it no longer sweats, but lies at the bottom, having the color of ashes. Thus the matter is dissolved and putrefied. Take of this ashy matter one part, and of the aforementioned water half a part, mix them and let them sweat in a glass as before, which will happen in about eight days. When, thereafter, the ashy earth begins to whiten, take it out, and let it be imbibed with five washings of its lunar water, and be digested as before. Let it be imbibed the third time with five ounces of the same water, and coagulated as before, for eight days. The fourth imbibition requires seven ounces of the lunar water, and once the sweating is ended this preparation is finished.

Now for the white work. Take of this white earth twenty-one drachmas. Of lunar water, fourteen drachmas. Of the calx of purest Luna, ten drahmas. Let them be mixed on marble, and committed to coagulation until they harden. Imbibe it with three parts of its own water, until it had drunk up this potion, and repeat this until it flows without smoke on a glowing copper plate. Then you will have a tincture for the white, which you can increase in the aforementioned manner. For the red, calx of sol, a stronger fire must be applied. And this is a work of more or less four months. Thus says he. This should be compared with the writings of the Arab philosopher, in which he describes the arsenical material in more detail...

By the Spear of Phineas is meant the Force of Iron acting upon the Matter to cleanse it of Dross: By which Iron, not only is the Arsenical Sulphur killed, but also the Woman herself is at length mortified; so that the Miracle of Phineas may be fitly applied here...

 

 

(38) Francois Jollivet-Castelot: The Chemical Manufacture of Gold

By means of catalytic action I have succeeded in manufacturing gold chemically by acting on silver with arsenic and antimony sulfides, tellurium, and tin.

The process gives a very high yield which has already been confirmed by several chemists...

I made a mixture composed of chemically pure silver and 1 gram of chemically pure orpiment and placed it in 36o nitric acid for several months cold and then brought it to ebullition. The liquid was kept at the boiling point for several days. A small quantity of the material became detached at this point and formed a pulvurent black deposit. When no further action took place, I decanted off the solution and collected the insoluble residue. This residue was attacked by aqua regia at the boiling point until it was almost completely dissolved; the liquor when decanted and filtered was analyzed and gave all the characteristic reactions for gold. (December 1925) 

I acted on 22 grams of pure silver... and on 3.5 grams of pure orpiment... The mixture was heated to about 1600o C. In a metal smelting furnace for about three quarters of an hour. The residue obtained was again melted with the addition of orpiment. After having hammered for half an hour and remelted with the addition of small quantities of orpiment every ten minutes, it was withdrawn.

After cooling and the addition of chemically pure antimony sulfide, it was again put back into the furnace, small quantities of orpiment being thrown in every five minutes. The residue obtained had a dark metallic tint. After hammering it became slightly golden.

The residue dissolved in pure 36o nitric acid first cold and then hot, gave an abundant pulvurent deposit. This deposit after being washed and treated with ammonia to dissolve the arsenic and antimony salts was completely dissolved in aqua regia. The liquor then being chlorinated and filtered was subjected to the usual reagents of platinum and gold...

I submit the hypothesis that the arsenic acts as a catalyst and the sulfur as a ferment in this transmutation...

(39) Joseph Quercetanus Duchesnes: Treatise on Metallic Medicine

Chapter XII: Preparation of the Arsenic ¾ Arsenic resembles Mercury, both in its peculiar quality of whitening and in the occult virtues of its nature. That is why Paracelsus repeats in his Librum de Aurore what he said about Mercury and all its preparations, and takes in its place well prepared arsenic, purified of all its impurities. To purify and prepare it as the Philosophers do, take equal parts of crystalline arsenic and good vulgar sandarac, powder them and put them in a retort with some common water. Give distillation fire till the water has gone over and tken with it all the blackness and impurities of the arsenic, and everything that can sublimate has risen. Then, when you open your retort, you will find that the sublimate is nothing but fake white flour, which has all the impurity of the arsenic. At the bottom you will find all the good substance in the form of a beautiful crystalline Regulus. Having been prepared in this way, it can sublimate with antimony and vitriol instead of sublimated Mercury, and thus make the Triad of Paracelsus.

Sublimation of Arsenic ¾ Take very good arsenic and fix it by calcining it with saltpeter according to the Art. Take 6 oz of this calcined arsenic with as much good sublimate, and 4 oz of common salt, prepared or decrepitated. Put everything in a sublimation furnace or in a proper flask in an ash-fire, and when the moisture has completely vanished, stopper it with cotton, continuing and increasing the sublimation fire till the sublimate has completely risen into the neck of the vessel. It will happen in 12 hours if you manage the fire correctly. Finally, expose the phial or the flask to the air, so that it breaks of its own and you can separate your materia all the better. Take this sublimate and resublimate it another 3 or 4 times with fresh materia. This is to give it a coagulative impression and the white tincture of arsenic, which is a great secret. When this sublimate has been prepared in this way, mix it with half the powdered tartar, adding some vinegar and always proceeding as is done in the reunification of cinnabar. Thus you will prepare a Mercury with this sublimate which, when clean and purified, is preferable to the vulgar in all kinds of chemical operations.

(40) Bhudeb Mookerjee: Rasa-Jala-Nidhi

Haritalam (Orpiment) : ¾ Haritalam, properly purified, cures phlegm, vataraktam, poison, excess of air, and fear from ghosts. It stops menstrual discharge, is soothing, pungent, and produces a warm effect on the system. It increases the appetite and cures leprosy...

Evils of Using Haritalam, not properly purified: ¾ Haritalam, not properly purified, shortens life and gives rise to an abnormal excess of phlegm, air, spermatorrhea, gonorrhea, inflammation, boils, and contraction of the limbs. It should therefore be purified very carefully...

Test of incinerated haritalam: ¾ Haritalam is considered to be properly incinerated, if it does not emit any smoke when put upon the fire; otherwise it is to be considered un-incinerated.

Merits of incinerated haritalam: ¾ (1)  Incinerated haritalam cures 80 different kinds of disease due to an abnormal excess of vayu (viz., paralysis, etc.) ...

(2)  Haritalam may be used in asthma, bronchitis, leprosy, ringworm, itches, carbuncle, and diseases due to an excess of vayu.

Transformation of base metals into gold by haritalam: ¾ Haritalam is to be rubbed with the juice of rudanti. Copper leaf, smeared with this haritalam, turns into fine gold.

The leaf of a metal consisting of 16 parts of silver and 12 parts of copper is to be smeared with an amalgam made of haritalam, mashikam, hingula, manas-shila, and mercury, all rubbed together for three days with the juice of kakamachi, the weight of these metals being 3/2 part of the leaf, which is to be heated after it is so smeared. The product is gold...

(41) P. Ray: History of Chemistry in Ancient & Medieval India

Chapter II (Chemistry in Rasaratnasamuchchaya¾ Talaka (orpiment)  is of two kinds: the one is of a leady structure, the other is found in balls or cakes and is of golden color... and bright.

It is purified by being digested in the juice of cucumber and the alkaline water of the ashes of sesamum, or in lime water.

Talaka is to be rubbed with buffalo's urine and thrice macerated in the decoction of Butea monosperma of the consistency of honey, and then to be roasted in a covered crucible and powdered. This operation is to be repeated twelve times. Then it is fit to be used in medicines. [Most likely a sulpharsenite of potash is formed in the process]

Manassila (realgar)  is mixed with one-eighth part of its weight of iron-rust, molasses, bdellium and clarified butter, and then enclosed in the koshthi apparatus and strongly heated, when it yields its essence...

All the gems with the exception of diamond are killed when roasted eight times with a mixture of realgar, sulphur and orpiment, rubbed in the juice of Artocarpus lakoocha...

(42) J. W. Mellor: Inorganic & Theoretical Chemistry (IX) 

T. Bergman in his De Arsenico (Upsala, 1777) , said that it is probable that arsenic was first discovered by those who wrought in the roasting and fusing of ores, for it would betray itself by its white smoke, its garlic smell, and its pernicious effects in depraving metals, and destroying life. In the 4th century BC, arsenic sulphide was designated sandarach by Aristotle... arhenicum by Theophratos... and in the 1st century of our era, Dioscorides... called the mineral sulphide arsenicon... In the 1st century of our era, Pliny, in his Historia Naturalis... said:

"Sandarach is found in gold and silver mines. The redder it is, the more powerful its odour, the better its quality... Arsenicum is composed of the same matter as sandarach; the best in quality has the same color as that of the best gold, and that which is pale in color resembling sandarach is of inferior quality."

Pliny also confused white arsenic with ceruse; and the context of the Olympiodorus references to the preparation of alum shows that white arsenic was meant. Pliny also seems to have confused red lead with realgar... The term arsenic is derived from from the Greek arsenickos = arrevikos, meaning valiant or bold, in allusion, said R.J. Hauy, to the great energy with which it acts onother metals. F. von Kobell said the Greek term was derived from the Arabian word arsa naki; S. Frankel, however, said that this term does not occur in the Arabian language; rather was the Greek term derived from the Persian word for arsenic, zarnach, zirnuk, or zirne.

It is rather surprising that these early writers ¾ Diocorides, Pliny, Celus and Galen ¾ should mention several medicinal qualities of arsenical preparations, but did not mention the toxic properties of white arsenic ¾ i.e., arsenic trioxide. They must have had an impure form of this oxide since Pliny said that in order to increase the energy of arsenicum, it was heated in a new earthern vessel until it changed its color; and Dioscorides said that sandarach was mixed with carbon and calcined until it changed its color.

The 13th century Latin translation of Geber's Summa Perfectionis Magisterii shows that arsenicum album or white arsenic was obtained as a sublimate from arsenicum. He said that the product which has been sublimed cannot be inflamed like the impure raw arsenicum, because, when heated, it merely sublimes without inflammation. According to T. Bergman's De Arsenico (Upsala, 1777) , the 11th century Arabian writer Avicenna said that there are three forms of arsenicum white, yellow, and red ¾ and that the white is obtained from the other by sublimation... In the Breve breviorum de dono Dei attributed to Roger Bacon, of the 13th century, it is stated that white arsenic is prepared by calcining orpiment with iron scales. The iron would have taken the sulphur, and the arsenic vapor set free would be oxidized to white arsenic. Both Geber, and Avicenna, recognized that arsenicum has many of the properties of sulphur; and A. Libavius, in his Commentationum metallicarum (Francofurti, 1597) , said:

"Arsenicum is a rich, inflammable mineral which is akin to sulphur, yet more virulent because of the salt combined with it; it is composed of a sulphurous richness with a little mercury and spirit of salt... According to Berthelot, metallic arsenic is first mentioned in a fragmental writing attributed to Zosimos of the 3rd or 4th century; and the preparation of white arsenic is described by Olympiodorus, a writer of the 5th century... Albertus Magnus, in his 13th century work De Alchymia, said that arsenicum becomes metallic when heated with twice its weight of soap. Basil Valentine called arsenicum metallicum a bastard metal; and in the 17th century, N. Lemery obtained reguline arsenic ¾ metallic arsenic ¾ by heating white arsenic with potash and soap... In the Middle Ages, arsenic recieved various names ¾ Scherbenkobold, Napchenkobold, Goblet-fiend, Bowl-sprite, Cobaltu, etc...

F.B. Fittica stated that arsenic is not an element, but rather a compound of phosphorus, nitrogen and oxygen, PN2O; but C. Winkler, et al., showed that F.B. Fittica erred grievously in his speculation...

The main sources of arsenic are as a side-product in the treatment of ores from tin mines, tin-copper mines, and tin-copper-tungsten mines; the waste heaps of exhausted copper mines; the arsenical pyrites mined solely for the arsenic. The common method of preparing arsenic is to heat mispickel, native arsenic, or leucopyrite in the absence of air when the arsenic sublimes... the residues can be roasted in a reverberatory furnace so as to recover more of the arsenic in the form of arsenic trioxide... With mispickel ores, arsenic sulphide collects in the receiver at the beginning of the operation. This can be prevented by mixing the ore with alkali or lime...

Arsenic can be purified by mixing it with charcoal powder and subliming; the arsenic sulphide is most volatile and comes off before the arsenic. Any undecomposed pyrites, or earthy matrix remains as a residue.

In 1725, J.F. Henkel first prepared the so-called metallic arsenic by sublimation; and in 1843, J.J. Berzelius, in his memoir Om Allotropi, showed that arsenic can exist in two allotropic forms. One of these, metallic or crystalline arsenic, or a -arsenic, is produced when arsenic vapor mixed with another gas is deposited on a part of the vessel which is not strongly heated.. It is a dark gray, crystalline mass which oxidizes in air, especially at 40o, forming what he called "black, pulvurent suboxide". The other modification, amorphous or vitreous arsenic, or b -arsenic, is produced when arsenic is very strongly heated, or when the vapor is condensed on a part of the vessel which is near the temperature at which the arsenic volatilizes, so that the element is deposited in an atmosphere of its own vapor. This modification of arsenic forms a light grey vitreous mass which, acccording to J.J. Berzelius, is denser than the a -form, and remains unaltered in air even when finely powdered, and heated to 70o or 80o...

As A. Deschamps showed, most of the metals unite with arsenic, forming alloys or definite arsenides... Sodium arsenide is one of the primary products of the action of sodium hydroxide on arsenic, and the hydrolysis of this may be the source of arsine [arsenic trihydride, AsH3]... H. Davy, [et al.] obtained arsine by the action of water or dilute acids on the alkali arsenides... Metal salts, like antimony trichoride... may stimulate the formation of arsine... G.S. Serullas used an alloy of arsenic, antomony, and potassium obtained by igniting a mixture of antimony sulphide, arsenic trioxide, and cream of tartar, and P. Lebeau [et al.] obtained arsine free from hydrogen by the action of water or dilute acids on calcium arsenide, Ca3As2.... C. Himmelmann [showed] that arsenical liquids also furnish arsine when heated with aq. ammonia or ammonium chloride and zinc or iron... C.W. Scheele said that zinc, tin, and iron dissolve in aq. arsenic acid liberating this gas particularly when the dissolution if the metal is assisted by the presence of hydrochloric or sulphuric acid...

Arsine has a repulsive nauseating odor. It is extremely poisonous, and when diluted with much air produces nausea, eructation, giddiness, and oppression... Arsine is a powerful blood poison which disintegrates the red blood corpuscles and sets free the haemoglobin...

H. Reckleben and co-workers found that concentrated aq. ammonia decomposes arsine incompletely with the separation of arsenic... R. Meissner... found that with arsine dry mercurous chloride or mercuric chloride forms hydrogen chloride and solid hydrogen arsenide; and H. Rose represented the reaction with a solution with a solution of mercuric chloride: 3HgCl2 + AsH3 = 3HCl + As(HgCl) 3...

A. Deschamps reported crystalline antimony hemiarsenide, Sb2As, to be formed by heating a mixture of the constituent elements under molten boric oxide. The specific gravity is 6.46...

The white arsenic is regularly eaten by some of the peasants. The doses taken are at first small, and they are progressively increased so that the arsenic-eaters can swallow with impunity 4 or 5 grains of arsenious oxide at a time. It is said that the object of the arsenic-eater is to be able to endure greater fatigue in mountain climbing by increasing the respiratory power. This recalls the medicinal use of arsenic in cases of asthma and other chest diseases. It is also said that the arsenic-eater becomes plump and fat, and the skin greatly improved...

It is also said that in some parts of India, particularly in Punjab, arsenic-eating is practiced as an aphrodisiac. According to to C. Heisch's report, since the practice of arsenic-eating has begun, it can only be left off very gradually diminishing the daily dose, as a sudden cessation causes sickness, burning pains in the stomach, and other symptoms of poisoning, very speedily followed by death. J.F.W. Johnston said that, as a rule, arsenic eaters are long-lived, and are peculiarly exempt from infectious diseases, fevers, etc, but unless they gradually give up the practice invariably die suddenly. It is further stated:

In this part of the world, when a graveyard is full, it is shut up for about 12 years, when all the graves which are not private property by purchase are dug up, the bones are collected in the charnel-house, the ground is plowed over, and burying begins again. On these occasions the bodies of arsenic-eaters are found almost unchanged, and recognizable by their friends. Many people suppose that the finding of their bodies is the origin of the story of the vampire...

In chronic poisoning with small doses, arsenic is not classed as a cumulative poison. There is a loss of appetite, nausea, perhaps vomiting, slight abdominal pain, and mild diarrhea. With the slow poisoning by repeated small doses, the illness may resemble in miniature that produced by large doses... There may be a slight yellowness or a brown pigmentation of the skin best marked about the neck. There is a general increase of the epiderm scales, called keratosis... The exanthema sometimes produced is called exzema arsenicale. The nervous system is nearly always disturbed... There may be fainting, and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs... ataxic gait, and severe darting pains in the limbs, and rapid muscular atrophy...

(43) Arsenic vs. Cancer

In 1996, Chinese physicians at Harbin and Shanghai announced their successful treatment of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)  with arsenic trioxide, which induced complete remission of the cancer. Test-tube studies have indicated that the therapy may be effective against other leukemias and some tumors including prostate and breast cancer. The results were replicated in 1998 by physicians at Memorial Sloan-kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University Medical College, and reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (5 November 1998) :

Treatment was supplied by an aqueous solution in 10-ml vials containing 1 mg of drug per milliliter. the drug was further diluted in 500 ml of 5% dextrose solution and infused intravenously over a period of 2 to 4 hours once per day. The initial cohort of patients received either 10 or 15 mg of arsenic trioxide per day as a fixed dose, but the referral of two children to the study prompted conversion to a weight-adjusted regimen (0.15 mg per kilogram of body weight per day) . The drug was given daily until visible leukemia blasts and promyelocytes were eliminated from the bone marrow and the residual blast count was no more than 5% of marrow mononuclear cells. Patients who had complete remission were eligible for treatment with additional courses of therapy 3 to 6 weeks after the preceding course. Subsequent courses were generally given at a dose of 0.15 mg per kilogram per day for a cumulative total of 25 days; the drug was administered either daily or on a weekends-only schedule, for a maximum total of 6 curses over a period of approximately 10 months...

Common adverse reactions included light-headedness during the infusion, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and mild hyperglycemia...

In summary, arsenic trioxide can induce a complete remission in patients with APL who have relapsed after extensive prior therapy. This drug causes partial but incomplete cytodifferentiation of leukemic cells, followed by caspase activation and induction of apoptosis. The striking degree of activity in this disease, plus their lack of specificity of APL-specific proteins, suggests that they may warrant further study as therapy for other neoplastic diseases.

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