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Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 19:17:33 -0500
From: Raymond P. Cullen


About a year ago, I discussed with Beat K. and two others at the
Philosophers of Nature conference the merits of performing a steam
distillation of a plant material before or after a fermentation process.
The steam distillation yields an oil, the fermentation yields ethyl
alcohol and other products.

Beat supported the fermentation first viewpoint, arguing that a
putrefaction must come first. The others argued that it might be
difficult to separate the oil from the fermentation broth or distillate.

Since I was the neophyte, I tried both methods.

First, I fermented about a pound of ground caraway seed(a significant
oil producer). (sugar was added also along with a wine yeast.) I was
able to produce about 150 ml of 95% ethanol, but no oil was produced,
either by steam distilling the feces or during the rectification of the
alcohol. I did produce about 5 ml of stinking oil by performing a
destructive distillation of the feces.

Second, I performed a steam distillation using the same equipment on
about a pound of ground fennel seed(almost as much oil as caraway.)
Twenty ml of oil was generated. The fermentation continues.

Now for the question. Since caraway and fennel both contain a large
percentage of oil, how can I possible ferment first plants that have
only a small amount of oil and expect to be successful in separating the
oil by a subsequent steam distillation?

Ray


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 12:15:53 -0500
From: JOHN H. REID III


Ray,

This is possible using very complicated and lengthy distillation
techniques, but it is virtually impossible to completely break the
marriage between the oil and alcohol once combined. The alcohol will
always contain some smell of the volatile oil, which means that some of
the oil is present. You see this phenomena present in distilled alcohol.
The alcohol obtained from wine smells better and taste better than that
obtained from grain spirits. Even 190 proof alcohol from wine
spirits(95% - 99% pure ethanol) will bear signature of the alchemical
sulphur. This is one of the reasons Albertus stressed the separation of
the oil first. Though even he wrote that it was not as mission critical
in the plant work as it is in the mineral work.

There are many ways to prepare spagyric products and everyone feels that
there way is the best. You can make spagyric product by using the
classic methodology, i.e. separate oil by steam and purify, ferment and
then purify alcohol, and then calcine depleted body extract salts from
ash and purify them. All of these can then be recombined to form a
spagyric product.

You could also just cause a fermentation there by releasing the soul and
spirit simultaneously. The body is then calcined and purified salts
added back to the mixture.

Both of the above procedures are spagyric IMHO. In the end you will have
to find your own path and methodology. because in the end spagyria is a
manual operation, what will make it alchemical is your ability to
nurture, sustain, and grow, the spark of vitality, present in your
subject.

Regards
JR3

> Now for the question. Since caraway and fennel both contain a large
> percentage of oil, how can I possible ferment first plants that have
> only a small amount of oil and expect to be successful in separating the
> oil by a subsequent steam distillation?
>



Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 17:27:23 -0500
From: Raymond P. Cullen

John Reid wrote:
... it is virtually impossible to completely break the marriage between
the oil and alcohol once combined...

and Erman Tas wrote:

...there are "two basic ways: first you might try extracting the Spirit
of Sulphur from one metal, the Spirit of Mercury from another, and the
Spirit of Salt from a third ...

So, how about this: Divide the herb into two equal parts, steam distill
the first, ferment the second, and then combine the oil from the first
with the oil-enriched alcohol of the second. Use the salt from the
fermented portion and throw away the feces from the steam distilled
activity.

Ray


Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 15:36:17 -0500
From: John H. Reid III


> John Reid wrote:
> ... it is virtually impossible to completely break the marriage between
> the oil and alcohol once combined...
>
> and Erman Tas wrote:
>
> ...there are "two basic ways: first you might try extracting the Spirit
> of Sulphur from one metal, the Spirit of Mercury from another, and the
> Spirit of Salt from a third ...
>
> So, how about this: Divide the herb into two equal parts, steam distill
> the first, ferment the second, and then combine the oil from the first
> with the oil-enriched alcohol of the second. Use the salt from the
> fermented portion and throw away the feces from the steam distilled
> activity.

You could do the above if you like. There is nothing wrong with it.
Remember though, that the herb that has been steam distilled can still
produce and alcohol. It's salts are still very useful also.

Regards
JR3

Date: 28 Feb 97 16:52:19 EST
From: Beat Krummenacher


The most important point to this theme was not brought up up to now. Thus I
would like to attach the following considerations:

It is right that the alcohol and the ethereal oil can no more simply be
separated of each other, if we ferment before the distillation. Even a
fractional distillation with a good Vigreux column causes no more complete
separation. For the highly volatile parts of the ethereal oil distill together
with the alcohol. Only heavily volatile oil parts can be separated. If one would
like to separately receive the ethereal oil and the alcohol, so first a steam
distillation must be accomplished, whereupon the remainder is fermented. However
is it better to detach first the ethereal oil and then to ferment?

We must ask a different question: Which action is right from an alchemical point
of view? Is one of the both processes to be preferred to the other? The previous
discussion of the theme considered only practical aspects. The approach was
chemically directed at the separation of the ethereal oil and the alcohol. One
forgot that we want to prepare a spagyric essence. It's not a question of
finding out the best process to separate the ethereal oil and the alcohol as
completely as possible of each other. But it's a question of processing the
plant so, that we completely free the three alchemical principles from their
linking to the plant substance.

The putrefaction or the fermentation is of central importance with reference to
the spagyric processing of plants. In the not fermented plant substance the
three alchemical principles still are intimately interrelated with the plant
substance. Chemical methods do not allow to separate the principles on one hand
from the plant substance itself and on the other hand of each other. First the
fermentation frees the alchemical principles from their material fetters. If
against it we first detach the ethereal oil by means of steam distillation, so
we do not receive the true alchemical sulfur! Why?

It is directly obvious, that the mercurial part of the plant emerges and is
released during the fermentation. We find no alcohol before the fermentation.
Important now is: The same is valid for the sulphuric part of the plant! For
during the fermentation not only alcohol emerges, but there also important
further fermentation processes run down. Esters are split, complex organic
compounds are broken open etc.. After the fermentation matters are available in
the fermentation mass, which did not be present in this form previously. Also
components of the ethereal oil are changed by the fermentation. If we previously
detach the ethereal oil, so we remove a part of the soul of the plant and
ferment a dead nature. For the ethereal oil can no more participate in the
disintegration process, the fermentation. Against it if we have cofermented the
oil, so we putrefy an alive nature. Thereby it doesn't matter, that the plant is
already dead from a physiological point of view. The alchemical approach is
important, according to which the life of the plant is contained in its not
fermented plant substance. For as already mentioned: Without putrefaction the
alchemical principles remain bound and hidden in the material matrix of the
plant.

Therefore we must first ferment the entire plant inclusively its ethereal oil.
The fermentation process releases the mercurial part (alcohol), however forms
and changes also other components of the plant, which we receive as the
sulphuric principle after that. If we distill, so the soul and the spirit of the
plant jointly go over the helmet of course. A separation in both components is
no more possible. However this also is no more necessary. For the distillation
is the chemical-technical process, which serves for the purification of the
mercury AND the sulphur. Therefore both principles may be detached and purified
with each other in one step. What happens with the physical principle - the salt
of the plant - should not further interest here.

Furthermore nobody has pointed to two further essential differences between both
processes up to now, which confirm my assertion. At the distillation of the
ethereal oil before the fermentation, one receives the customary known ethereal
oil. Its smell is characteristic. If one first ferments and distills after that,
so a characteristic smell is to be ascertained likewise. However this smell
differs from the smell of the ordinary ethereal oil, because it contains
additional fine aroma components, which we can only then receive, if the
ethereal oil is cofermented! Thus both processes do not have the same meaning on
a pure chemical examination. For matters are available in the one product, which
fully are missing in the other one. Also the emanation of the products of both
processes is strongly different. Ethereal oil separated before and alcohol
distilled after the fermentation - poured together - own a much weaker radiation
than the distillation product of the whole plant substance after the
fermentation.

Why have Frater Albertus and other alchemists propagated then the preceding oil
removal, though that is incorrect from an alchemical and a chemical point of
view? I am convinced, that the reason was purely didactic. One receives three
clearly distinguishable products: the ethereal oil, the alcohol and the salt
(after calcination of the vegetable residue). One directly recognizes with the
own eyes the sense of the alchemical assertion, that plants consist of three
essential alchemical principles. If one first ferments, so one
phenomenologically receives usually only two products against it. That the
distillate contains the sulphuric and mercurial principle is not directly
recognizable. For didactic reasons therefore one better shows a method the
beginner, which leads to three products. Only afterwards the neophyte will
recognize with his inner eye, that the right process ferments the entire plant
before it is distilled.

Lapis


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 19:34:35 -0500
From: Raymond P. Cullen


Beat Krummenacher wrote:

"...Why have Frater Albertus and other alchemists propagated then the
preceding oil removal, though that is incorrect from an alchemical and a
chemical point of view? I am convinced, that the reason was purely
didactic. ... For didactic reasons therefore one better shows a method
the beginner, which leads to three products. Only afterwards the
neophyte will recognize with his inner eye, that the right process
ferments the entire plant before it is distilled."

My goal in the three-fold separation is/was a plant stone. My literature
from Albertus, Dubuis and others utilize a 50% mix of oil and alcohol to
imbibe the salt. If the goal is a spagyric essence, then I agree 100%
with Beat's point of view. But, since I am that neophyte that Beat
mentions, I must use, at least at first, the advice of others before my
inner eye and sugar spoon are trained.

I don't know of a way to arrive at a quantitative mix of alcohol/oil
without separation. One could possibly perform a couple of steam
distillations and fermentations with a large sample of dried herb to
arrive at the optimum sugar to add to obtain the desired alcohol/oil mix
in a "fermented first" procedure.

Yeah, I should be using fresh herbs and not adding sugar or yeast, but
to quote Dubuis, "Nature corrects the alchemist's mistakes."

Ray


Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 21:41:19 -0500
From: JOHN H. REID III


> Why have Frater Albertus and other alchemists propagated then the preceding oil
> removal, though that is incorrect from an alchemical and a chemical point of
> view?

Beat, I must disagree with you on this point. The separation of the soul
before releasing the spirit is correct from an alchemical point of view.
The literature of the philosophers is replete with these instructions,
and not just to help form a plastic picture in the mind of the student.
They are there because it is absolutely necessary to separate the three
when making the Opus Minor or Major.

A soul that is not purified is unable to understand the desires that act
as the impetus for its actions. It will therefore try to use (tinge) the
power of spirit to the benefit of what it perceives as its separate and
distinct personality. It has not developed the faith for conscious total
surrender to the One-Life. In this surrender, the soul knows it is
totally dependent on, and supported by, the One-Life. The faith needed
for this action can only be obtained by accumulated evidence of the
continued presence and support of the One-Life, in all phases of our
existence. Such an accumulation of evidence strongly implies that the
possessor of this faithful intelligence, has attentively examined
themselves and their environment. This analytical dissection of ones
desires, is akin to distillation or sublimation both of which are
analogous to purification. One can not hope to express the will if they
have not properly prepared themselves to hear it. This holds true for
the alchemist soul, as well as that of his matter.



>I am convinced, that the reason was purely didactic. One receives three
> clearly distinguishable products: the ethereal oil, the alcohol and the salt
> (after calcination of the vegetable residue). One directly recognizes with the
> own eyes the sense of the alchemical assertion, that plants consist of three
> essential alchemical principles. If one first ferments, so one
> phenomenologically receives usually only two products against it. That the
> distillate contains the sulphuric and mercurial principle is not directly
> recognizable. For didactic reasons therefore one better shows a method the
> beginner, which leads to three products. Only afterwards the neophyte will
> recognize with his inner eye, that the right process ferments the entire plant
> before it is distilled.

IMHO Albertus was trying to get the student to realize this; what was
being done to the crude body of the plant, namely the separation,
purification, and recombination, of the three essentials, could also be
carried out on its true body, the plants mineral salts. That is to say,
from the plant salts themselves a mineral soul and mineral spirit could
be made to manifest. Mastery of this work, using the salts of the plant
as the matter, allowed the student to learn through practical
experience, the procedures and manipulations that they would one day
use on metal salts as they went about the Magnum Opus.

IMHO when working with plants in the production of spagyric tinctures
and extracts, there is an extreme amount of latitude that can be given
to the spagyric processes. There are literally thousands of procedures
one could develop each with its own little idiosyncrasies, each properly
called spagyric. This is why Albertus wrote that the separation of the
oil before releasing the spirit was not as mission critical in this type
of work. But when moving on to make stones, irrespective of it being
spagyric or alchemic, the first step is separation of the three
essentials. Then follows purification of the three so that they may
utilize the highest and most subtle spiritual energies. Only then can
the three be placed into the sealed vase so that they may unite to form
a new regenerated and glorified being. This processes is only possible
because each essential has been isolated and purified, independent of
the other two. A processes that first causes the matter to be fermented
will not allow for this separation and purification so crucial to the
alchemic work. While it can properly be labeled spagyric, it is
inherently bared from being usable in higher alchemic works. It
therefore should not be used as an example of what is correct or
incorrect from an alchemical point of view.

Regards
JR3

Date: Wed, 05 Mar 1997 10:05:32 -0500
From: JOHN H. REID III

> From: Raymond P. Cullen
> My goal in the three-fold separation is/was a plant stone. My literature
> from Albertus, Dubuis and others utilize a 50% mix of oil and alcohol to
> imbibe the salt.

Before imbibing your salts you should place them in the incubator
overnight in a sealed container. Do this also for your oil. In doing the
spagyric stone method, I have found that it is best to imbibe the salts
first with the oil, and allow them over time (weeks or months) to drink
in the oil until it will accept no more, then do the same with the
alcohol. When it has absorbed all that it will hold of both you are
done. You can increase its strength by gently calcining it and repeating
the processes.

NB: When you are first learning to judge how much mercury or sulfur to
use in imbibing the salts, you are bound to use to much. Which means
there will be excess oil or alcohol floating over the salts. This early
work is very forgiving in these cases. Simply unseal your container -but
keep it in the incubator- and place a piece of cheese cloth over it. In
a few days the excess sulphur or mercury will have evaporated off. That
which was absorb by the salts will remain in them. Once you have these
three combined you can then subject them to a prolonged digestion in a
sealed vase which will manufacture the stone. It is of critical
importance in this work that all three of your essentials be absolutely
pure. The salts are an area that many have a problem with. it is not
just enough to calcine these baby's to whiteness. You must separate out
the most water soluble salts, and use only those that readily
deliquesces when taken out of doors. To develop salts as these you do
many solve and coagulas. When I made spagyric stones a schedule of 50 or
more solve and coagulas was not uncommon.

Regards
JR3


Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 10:16:08 -0500
From: Beat Krummenacher

Dear John,

you wrote (4.3.97):
>Beat, I must disagree with you on this point. The separation of the soul
>before releasing the spirit is correct from an alchemical point of view.
>The literature of the philosophers is replete with these instructions, and
>not just to help form a plastic picture in the mind of the student. They
>are there because it is absolutely necessary to separate the three when
>making the Opus Minor or Major... This is why Albertus wrote that the
>separation of the oil before releasing the spirit was not as mission
>critical in this type of work. But when moving on to make stones,
>irrespective of it being spagyric or alchemic, the first step is separation
>of the three essentials. Then follows purification of the three so that
>they may utilize the highest and most subtle spiritual energies. Only then
>can the three be placed into the sealed vase so that they may unite to form
>a new regenerated and glorified being.

And:
>A processes that first causes the matter to be fermented will not
>allow for this separation and purification so crucial to the alchemic work.
>While it can properly be labeled spagyric, it is inherently bared from
>being usable in higher alchemic works. It therefore should not be used as
>an example of what is correct or incorrect from an alchemical point of
>view.

Your remarks only are correct in part. It is right, that a separation of
all three alchemical principles is necessary at the attempt to manufacture
the opus minor or major. For the preparation of a spagyric essence this is
not absolutely necessary. Unfortunately you do not respond to the important
argument, that also the sulphuric component of a plant should be
cofermented. As always I am convinced, that the fermentation must include
the whole plant, before the three alchemical principles can be detached.

You write:
>That is to say, from the plant salts themselves a mineral soul and mineral
>spirit could be made to manifest. Mastery of this work, using the salts of
>the plant as the matter, allowed the student to learn through practical
>experience, the procedures and manipulations that they would one day
>use on metal salts as they went about the Magnum Opus.

Consider the process, which you hint with these lines. After the
preparation of the salts both the mercury as well as the sulfur are
received together in one process step. First after that the both substance
groups are detached of each other and are purified isolated. The same is
possible with a plant fermented as a whole. The distillation leads to a
mixture of alcohol and ethereal oil beside the present phlegm in the
distillate. The correct treatment of the distillate after separation of the
superfluous water forms a dark red fluid, as you have described it in your
book to the opus minor also. After that the mercury and the sulphur are
separated and purified of each other. The reunification together with the
salt leads to the plant stone.

If you consider the analogous process in the mineral kingdom, so likewise
sulphur and mercury are gained jointly. First after that the sulfur is
brought to the blush and detached from the mercury. The purified three
principles ultimately are boiled to the stone.

Therefore there are two processes, which play an important role. On one
hand it is the release of the alchemical principles from the prepared salt,
on the other hand it is the separation and purification of the three
released principles as a process, which follows on the first. The product
of the first process is treated by means of digestion in a suitable medium
so, that it forms the philosophical sulphur. Before this treatment the
philosophical sulphur can not be isolated from the mercury.

If I demand now the fermentation of the whole plant and refuse the
separation of the ethereal oil before the fermentation, so I do not
contradict your emphasis of the necessity of the dissociation and
purification of all three alchemical principles. If I prepare a complete
spagyric essence, so the distillation of the fermented plant suffices,
followed by the isolation and purification of the salt. Mercury and sulphur
must not be separated, but form the complete spagyric essence together with
the salt. But if I would like to bring a plant on a higher level, so I
treat mercury and sulphur so, that a philosophical sulphur emerges. After
the separation of the mercury and the sulphur both are boiled together with
the salt to an alchemical essence. At this process a previous separation
and purification of each of all three principles is necessary.

I hope to something have cleared up the affair with it.

Kind regards
Lapis