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Paracelsus - Concerning the Spirits of the Planets.

transcribed by Dusan Djordjevic Mileusnic from the English translation in A. E. Waite The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus, Vol. I, Hermetic Chemistry, London, 1894.



Having first of all invoked the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, we will enter upon this work; in which we shall not only teach how to change any inferior metal into better, as iron into copper, copper into silver, and silver into gold, but also to heal all infirmities which to the pretentious and presumptuous physicians seems impossible; and – what is more still – to preserve men to a long, healthy, and perfect age. This Art was bestowed by the Lord our God, the supreme Creator, graven, as if in a book, in the body of the metals from the beginning of Creation to this end, that we might diligently learn from them. When, therefore, any man desires thoroughly and perfectly to become acquainted with this Art from its veritable foundation, it will be necessary that he should learn the same from the Master thereof, that is, from God, who created all things; who also alone knows what nature and properties He has placed in every creature. He, therefore, is able to teach every one certainly and perfectly; and from Him we can be taught absolutely what he means when he says, "Of Me ye shall learn all things". For nothing in Heaven or on earth is found so occult that He who created all things does not see through its properties, and know and perceive all. We will therefore take Him to be our Master, Operator, and Leader into this most veritable Art. Him alone will we imitate, and through Him learn and attain to the knowledge of that Nature which He Himself has, with His own finger, engendered and written on the bodies of these metals. Hence it will come to pass that the Most High Lord God will bless all His creatures in us, and will sanctify all our ways, so that in this work we may be able to bring our beginning to its desired end, and to attain the deepest joy and charity in our hearts.

But if any one shall follow his own mere private opinion, he will not only greatly deceive himself, but also all others who shall cast in their lot with him, and will bring them to great trouble. For man is assuredly born in ignorance, so that he cannot know or understand anything of himself, but only that which he receives from God, and understands from Nature. He who learns nothing from these is like the heathen teachers and philosophers, who follow the subtleties and crafts of their own inventions and opinions. Such teachers are Aristotle, Hippocrates, Avicenna, Galen, and the rest, who based all their arts simply upon their own opinions. Even if, at any time, they learnt anything from Nature, they destroyed it again with their own fantasies, dreams, and inventions, before they came to the final issue. By means of these, then, and their followers, nothing perfect can be discovered.

This it is which has moved and incited us to write a special book concerning Alchemy, basing it not on men, but on Nature herself, and upon those virtues and powers which God, with His own finger, has impressed upon metals. The initiator of this impression was Mercurius Trismegistus. He is not without due cause called the father of all wise men, and of all who followed this Art with love and earnest desire. He teaches and proves that God is the only author, cause, and origin of all creatures in this Art.2 But he does not attribute the power and virtue of God to creatures or to visible things, as did the heathen mentioned above, and others like them.

Seeing, then, that all art must be learned from the Trinity, that is, from God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, but one God, we will also divide this our alchemical work into three short treatises. In the first of these we will lay down what it is which the Art itself embraces, and what is the property and nature of every metal. Secondly, by what method a man may work and bring similar powers and forces of metals to a successful issue; and, thirdly, what tinctures are to be produced from the Sun and from the Moon.





In the first place, it is necessary to state clearly what this Art comprises, what is its subject, and what its peculiarities.

First and chiefly, the principal subject of this Art is fire, which always exists in one and the same property and mode of operation, nor can it receive its life from anything. else.3 It possesses, therefore, a state and power, common to all fires which lie hid in secret, of vivifying, just as the sun is appointed by God, and heats all things in the world, both occult, apparent, and manifest, as the spheres of Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and the Moon, which can shine only as they borrow their light from the Sun, and are in themselves dead. When, however, they are lighted up, as said above, they live and work according to their special properties. But the sun receives light from no other source than God Himself, Who rules it, so that in the sun God Himself is burning and shining. Just so is it with this Art.4 The fire in the furnace may be compared to the sun. It heats the furnace and the vessels, just as the sun heats the vast universe. For as nothing can be produced in the world without the sun, so also in this Art nothing can be produced without this simple fire. No operation can be completed without it. It is the Great Arcanum of Art,5 embracing all things which are comprised therein, neither can it be comprehended in anything else. It abides by itself, and needs nothing; but all others which stand in need of this can get fruition of it and have life from it, wherefore, first of all, we have undertaken that this shall be made clear.




Having first written concerning the simple fire which lives and subsists per se, it now remains to speak of a manifold spirit or fire which is the cause of variety or diversity of creatures, so that not one can be found exactly like another and identical in every part. This may be seen in the case of metals where no one has another exactly like itself. The Sun produces gold; the Moon another and widely different metal, namely, silver; Mars, another, namely, iron; Jupiter, tin; Venus, copper; and Saturn yet another, namely, lead; so that all these are unlike. In the same way does it hold good with men and other creatures, and the cause of this diversity is the manifoldness of fire. For example, the Venter Equinus produces one kind of creature through the moderate heat generated by its corruption; the Balneum Maris produces another; ashes another; sand, in like manner, another; the flame of fire another; coals another, and so on. This variety of creatures is not produced by the first simple fire, but from the regimen of the elements, which is various, not from the sun, but from the courses of the seven planets. And this is the reason why the universe contains no likeness amongst its individuals. For as the heat is changed every hour and minute, so all other things vary. For this transmutation takes place in the elements, on the bodies whereof it is impressed by this fire. Where there is no great mixture of the elements, Sol is produced; where it is a little more dense, Luna; where still more so, Venus; and thus according to the diversity of mixtures are produced different metals, so that no metal appears in its mineral exactly like another. It should be known, therefore, that this variety of metal is occasioned by the mixture of the elements, because that the spirits of these elements are found to be diverse and without likeness: whereas, if they were born of simple fire they would be so much alike that one could not be distinguished from another. But the manifold fire intervening, variety of form is introduced among creatures. Hence it may be easily gathered why so many and such varied forms of metals are found, and why no one is like another.6



Let us now come to the spirits of the planets, or of the metals. The spirit or tincture of Sol took its beginning from a pure, subtle, and perfect fire, for which reason it far surpasses all the other spirits and tinctures of the metals. It remains constantly and fixed in the fire, nor does it fly therefrom, nor is consumed by it, but rather by its agency it becomes clearer, purer, and more beautiful. Nothing either hot or cold can injure it, or any other accident, as they can injure the other spirits or tinctures of metals, and for this reason: that the body which it once assumes it defends from all accidents and diseases, and enables it to sustain the fire without injury. This body has not such power and virtue in itself; but derives it from the spirit alone which is shut up within it. For we know with regard to the body of Mercury that it cannot sustain or endure the fire, but flies from it; but when in Sol it does not fly off but remains fixed and constant, this affords a most certain proof that it receives such a constancy from the spirit or tincture of Sol.7 If, therefore, this spirit can be in Mercury, any one can infer that it would have some similar effect in the bodies of men when it is received therein. In our Chirurgia Magna we have said concerning the tincture of Sol that it will not only restore and preserve from weaknesses one who uses it, but also conserve him for a long and healthy life.8 In like manner, the strength and virtue of other metals may be known from true experience, not from the wisdom of men and of the world, which is foolishness with God, and with His truth; and all who build and rest their hope on that wisdom are miserably deceived.




After having spoken with sufficient clearness concerning the tincture of Sol, it remains to put forward something about the tincture of Luna, and of the White Tincture which, in like manner, is produced from the perfect spirit, though it be less perfect than the spirit of Sol; but, nevertheless, it excels in purity and subtlety all the other tinctures of the metals which follow it in order. This, indeed, is well known to all who handle Luna, even rustics. It does not acquire rust, nor is it consumed in the fire like the other metals, all of which Saturn draws with himself when flying from the fire, but not this one.9 Hence it may be gathered that this tincture is far more excellent than those set down below, for it preserves in the fire the body it has assumed without any accident or loss. Hence it is quite clear that if this in its own corruptible body by itself produces Mercury, what it will be able to effect when extracted from it into another body. Will not that in the same way protect and defend from accidents and infirmities? Surely if it produces this Mercury in its own body, it will do the same in the bodies of men.10 And it not only preserves health, but causes long life, and cures diseases and infirmities, even those which are beyond its own special grade. For the higher, more subtle, and more perfect a medicine is, so much the better and more perfectly it cures. Wherefore those are mere ignorant physicians who waste their skill only on vegetables, as herbs and the like, which are easily corrupted. With these they endeavour to accomplish results which are firm and fixed, but they do this vainly as those who beat the air. But why speak at length about these? They have not learnt better in their universities. If they were compelled to go back to the beginning, learn and study, they would think it a great disgrace. Therefore they remain in their former ignorance.




We have before made mention of a White Spirit, or colourless Tincture. Now we proceed to speak of a red spirit, which is produced from a thick elemental mixture of the former, to which also it is subject, though, nevertheless, it is more perfect than the spirits and tinctures of the succeeding metals. On this account it remains in the fire more constantly than the rest, so that it is not so soon burnt, nor does it so soon pass away as the other spirits which follow. The air also and the moisture of water are not so injurious to it as to Mars, just as it remains more fixedly and for a longer time in the fire. Venus has this force and property, that is to say, its body has, on account of the spirit which has been infused into it. Since, then, it produces this effect in its own body, that is, in Venus, it accomplishes as much also in man as is by Nature conceded to it. It preserves wounds in such a way that no accident can affect them, nor can the air or the water injure them. It also drives away all such diseases as are under its degree. This spirit further breaks up the bodies of metals so that they lose their malleability.11 In the bodies of men, too, when it is taken for a disease to which it is not suitable, it produces inconvenient results.12 It is necessary, therefore, that the physician who desires to use these should be experienced, and have a good knowledge of metals. It is far better, then, to use the more perfect spirits, which may be taken without any such fear of danger. Still, since the spirits of Sol and Luna are costly, so that it is not every one who can use them for curative purposes, every one must take according to his means whatever he can get and pay for.13 Every one is not of such wealth that he can prepare these medicines, so each is compelled to do what he can. Every one will easily be able to gather from what has been said that metallic medicines far exceed vegetable and animal products in their strength and power of healing. So far we have said enough, and more than enough, concerning the spirit of Venus.14




Speaking of the Spirit of Mars, this comes from a more dense and combustible mixture of the elements than was the case with the others which precede. But Mars is furnished with greater hardness than the other metals, so that it is not melted in the fire as they are. True, it is hurt by the water and the air more than they are, insomuch that it is altogether destroyed by these influences, and it is also burnt in the fire, as experience proves. So, then, its spirit is less perfect than that of any of the above. But in hardness and dryness it exceeds all the metals above or below. For not only does it render the perfect metals, Sol and Luna, proof against the hammer, but even those which rank below itself, as Jupiter, Saturn, and the like.15 Since, then, it produces this effect on metals, this is a sign that it has the same effect on the bodies of men, that is, it produces a struggling; especially when it is taken for a disease to which it is not adapted, it contorts the limbs with great pain. But when it is used and applied for wounds which do not exceed its degree, it is of powerful cleansing qualities. So, then, this spirit is endowed with no less power and potency than are of those above, so far as regards those things for which it was appointed by God and by Nature.




Concerning the spirit of Jupiter this should be known, that it is derived from the white and pale substance of fire, together with a nature of peculiar crepitation and fragility, not malleable like Mars. It, therefore, heats other metals, and renders them capable of being broken with hammers. An example of this may be seen when it is joined with Luna, for it can scarcely be brought to its former malleability, except with the greatest labour.16 The same effect it produces in all other metals, with the single exception of Saturn. If it produces this effect in the bodies of metals, it will do the same in human bodies. In these it corrodes the limbs with severe burnings and decay; so that they are completely cut off from their perfect workings, and lose them, so that they are unable to fulfil the necessary requirements of Nature. Nevertheless this spirit has in it the virtue of removing cancer, fistulas, and other similar ulcers, especially those which are of its own nature, and which do not exceed the degree which God and Nature have given to it.




The spirit of Saturn is concrete and formed from a dry, dark, cold admixture of elements. Hence it results that, amongst all others, it has the least power of remaining and living in the fire. When, however, Sol and Luna have to be proved and purified, Saturn is added to them, and this has the effect of thoroughly purging them. Nevertheless, it is of that nature that it takes away their malleability.17 It has the same effect on men, with great pains, as Jupiter and Mars. Being mixed with cold, it cannot act mildly.18 It has the very greatest powers and virtues, whereby it cures fistulas, cancer, and similar ulcers, which come under its own degree and nature. It drives the same kind of diseases from man as it expels impurities from Luna. But if it does not go out altogether at the same time, it brings more harm than it does good. Consequently, whoever would use it must know what diseases it cures, against what it should be taken, and what effects Nature has assigned to it. If this be well considered it can do no harm.




The spirit of Mercury, which is only subjected to the spirits above, has no determinate or certain form in itself. Hence it happens that it admits every metal, just as wax receives all seals, of whatever form. So this dense elementary spirit may be compared to the other spirits of the metals. For if it receive into itself the spirit of Sol, Sol will be produced from it; if Luna, Luna; and in like manner it does with the other metals. It agrees with them and takes their properties to itself. For this reason, so far as relates to its body, it is appropriated to the spirits spoken of above, just as a woman to a man. For Sol is the body of Mercury, save only that Sol fixes Mercury and becomes fixed. The common Mercury is inconstant and volatile; nevertheless it is subject to all the abovementioned; and generates again not only the aforesaid metallic spirits and tinctures, but the metal itself by which the beforenamed tinctures arrive at their working. But if moderation be not observed it is impossible to perfect a tincture of this kind. If the fire which ought to vivify this tincture be too fierce, the operation will be fruitless; and so if it be too weak. Therefore it is necessary at this point to know what is the mean in this Art, and what powers and properties it has; also by what means it is to be ruled, and how to tinge the tinctures, or bring them to their perfect operation, so that they may germinate and become apparent. With these few words we would conclude this first tract.19









In the first treatise we have written concerning the spirits of the metals, their tinctures, etc., making clear their properties and natures, and what each separate metal generates. In this second we will treat of the medium of tinctures, that is, the Philosophers’ Mercury, whereby are made tinctures and fermentations of the metals; in seven chapters, as follows: –




Whoever wishes to have a tincture of the metals, must take Philosophers’ Mercury, and project it to its own end; that is, into the quick mercury from whence it proceeded.20 Hence will ensue that the Philosophers’ Mercury will be dissolved in the quick mercury, and shall receive its strength, so that the Philosophers’ Mercury shall kill the quick mercury and render it fixed in the fire like itself. For there is between these two mercuries as much agreement as between a man and his wife. They are both produced from the gross spirits of metals, except that the body of Sol remains fixed in the fire, but the quick mercury is not fixed. The one, however, is appropriated to the other as grain or seed to the earth, which we will illustrate by an example, thus: If anyone has sown barley he will gather barley; if corn, corn, etc. None otherwise is it in this Art. If anyone sows Sol he will gather gold, while from Luna he will collect silver, and so with regard to the other metals. In this way we say here tinctures are produced from the metals, that is, from the Philosophers’ Mercury and not from quick mercury. But this produces the seed which it had before conceived.21




In order that the Philosophers’ Mercury and the quick mercury may be joined, and this latter united with the fixed, it must of necessity be known how much of it must be taken, since more or less than the proper quantity may hinder or altogether destroy the whole business. For by superfluity the seed is suffocated, so that it cannot live until it is fixed by the Philosophers’ Mercury. But by defect, since the body cannot be altogether dissolved, it is also destroyed so that it is able to produce no fruit. Wherefore it should be clearly ascertained how much of the one and the other ought to be taken, if, indeed, the artificer would bring this work to its legitimate end. Let the receipt be as follows, namely: Take one part to two, or three to four, and you will not err, but will arrive at the desired end.




When the matter has been rightly joined, it is necessary that you should have properly-proportioned glass vessels, neither larger nor smaller than is right. If they are too large, the woman, that is, the phlegm, is dispersed, whence it ensues that the seed cannot be born; where they are too small the germ is suffocated so that it cannot come to fruit, just as when seed is sown under a tree, or among thorns, it cannot germinate, but perishes without fruit. No slight error, therefore, may arise through the vessels; and when once this has occurred it cannot again be remedied in the same operation, nor can it arrive at a satisfactory issue. Wherefore note what follows, namely, that you take three ounces and a half and four pounds; thus, having proceeded rightly, you will save the matter from being dispersed, and prevent the phlegm, or the germination, from being impeded.




After you have placed the matter in the proper vessels, you will cherish it with natural heat, so that the outside shall not exceed the inside. For if the heat be excessive, no conjunction will take place, because by the intense heat the matter is dispersed and burnt, so that no advantage arises from it.

On this account the mid region of the air has been arranged by Nature between heaven and earth; otherwise the sun and the stars would burn up all the creatures on the earth, so that nothing could be produced from it. Take care, therefore, that between the matter and the fire you interpose an airy part of this kind, or a certain distance. In this way the heat will not easily be able in any way to do injury, nor to disperse, and still less to burn. For if the heat be insufficient neither will the spirit rest acting in no way upon its own humidity; so it will be dried or fixed. For the spirits of metals are of themselves dead, and rest, and can effect nothing unless they are vitalised. None otherwise in the great world the seed cast into the earth is dead, and cannot grow of itself unless it be vitalised by the heat of the sun. In the very first place, therefore, is it necessary to build the fire for this work in just proportion, neither too large nor too small; otherwise this work will never be carried on to its desired and perfect end.




When the regimen of the fire is moderated, the matter is by degrees moved to blackness. Afterwards, when the dryness begins to act upon the humidity, various flowers of different colours simultaneously rise in the glass, just as they appear in the tail of the peacock, and such as no one has ever seen before. Sometimes, too, the glass looks as though it were entirely covered with gold. When this is perceived, it is a certain indication that the seed of the man is operating upon the seed of the woman, is ruling it and fixing it. That is, the fixed Mercury acts on the quick, and begins to embrace it. Afterwards, when the humidity has died out before the process of drying, those colours disappear, and the matter at length begins to grow white, and continues to do so until it attains the supreme grade of whiteness. In the very first place, care should be taken not to hasten the matter unduly, according to the opinion of those who think that such a process is in all respects like what is perceived in the growth of corn, or in the production of a human being, the latter process occupying nine months, the former ten or twelve. Sol and Luna do not ripen so soon, or are born so soon, as the child from its mother’s womb, or the grain from the womb of the earth. The higher and more perfect anything is and should be in its nature, the longer time is necessary for its production. For it should be known that everything which is born quickly perishes quickly. Both herbs and men afford a proof of this. In proportion as they are quickly produced or born is their life short. It is not so with Sol and Luna; but they have a more perfect nature than men; whence it ensues that they exhibit a long life for men and preserve them from many accidental diseases.




In the preceding chapter we have said how the matter itself is graduated. In this we will make clear by what means it may be recognised when it is perfect. Do this: When the White Stone of Luna stands forth in its whiteness, separate a morsel from it with the forceps, and place it glowing over the fire on a plate of copper. If the Stone emits smoke it is not yet perfect, wherefore it must be left longer in decoction, until it comes to the grade of a perfect Stone. But if it emits no smoke, you may believe it to be perfect. In the same way proceed with the Red Stone of Sol in its due gradation.




When you wish to augment or to multiply the tincture which you have found, join it again with the common mercury. Proceed in all respects as before, and it will tinge a hundredfold more than it did previously. You can repeat this as often as you wish, so as to have as much of the matter as you desire. The longer it remains in the fire, the more highly graduated it becomes, so that one part of it will transmute an infinite number of parts of quick mercury into the best Luna and the most perfect Sol. Thus you have the whole process from the beginning to the end. With these few words we will conclude this second treatise, and will now begin the third.






In the second treatise we have described the method by which the tinctures or fermentations should be produced. In this third we will say how the tinctures of Sol and Luna are made. This we shall make clear at sufficient length, and in what manner Sol, with the other planets, should be produced, namely, with the furnace and fire.




Mercurius Hermes Trismegistus says that he who perfects this Art creates a new world. For in the same way as God created the heaven and the earth, the furnace with its fire must be constructed and regulated, that is to say, in the following manner: First, let a furnace be built at a height of six palms, with the fingers and thumb extended, but in breadth only one palm; round within and plain, so that the coals may not adhere to it. At the bottom let a little mound be raised, sloping on all sides to the border. Let holes be left open underneath, four fingers in breadth, and to each hole let its own furnace be applied with a copper cauldron, which contains water. Then take the best and most lasting coals, and break them into lumps the size of a walnut. With these fill the long furnace, which must then be closed, so as not to burn out. Afterwards, add coals below, right up to the holes. If the fire is too great, put a stove before it: if too little, let the coals be stirred with an iron rod, that they may meet the air and the heat may be increased. In this way you will be able to regulate the fire, according to the true requirements of its nature, so that it shall not be excessive or defective, but adapted to the movement of the matter. This is compared to the firmament. And there is another firmament in this place, namely, the matter contained in the glass. After these things follows the form of the world. The furnace then is to be placed as the sun in the great world, which affords light, life, and heat to the whole furnace itself, and to all the instruments and other things which it encloses.




Since we have treated of the furnace in which the tinctures are to be prepared, and of the fire, we now propose to describe more at length how the man and the woman meet and are joined together. This is the manner. Take Philosophers’ Mercury, prepared and purified to its supreme degree. Dissolve this with its wife, that is to say, with quick mercury, so that the woman may dissolve the man, and the man may fix the woman. Then, just as the husband loves his wife and she her husband, the Philosophers’ Mercury pursues the quick mercury with the most supreme love, and their nature is moved with the greatest affection towards us. So then each Mercury is blended with the other, as the woman with the man, and he with her, so far as the body is concerned, to such an extent that they have no difference, save as regards their powers and properties, seeing the man is fixed, but the woman volatile in the fire. For this reason, the woman is united to the man in such a way that she dissolves the man, and he fixes her and renders her constant in every consideration as a consequence. Conceal both in a glass vessel, thoroughly fastened, so that the woman may not escape or evaporate; otherwise the whole work will be reduced to nothing.




When you have placed the husband and the wife in the matrimonial bed, in order that he may operate upon her and impregnate her, and that the seed of the woman may be coagulated into a mass by the seed of the man, without which she can bring forth no fruit, it is necessary that the man should perform his operation on the woman.




As soon as you see the woman take a black colour, know for a certainty that she has conceived and become pregnant: and when the seed of the man embraces the seed of the woman, this is the first sign and the key of this whole work and Art. Therefore preserve a continuous natural heat, and this blackness will appear and disappear through being consumed, as one worm eats another, and goes on consuming until not one is still left.





As soon as the blackness appears and is manifest, it may be known that the woman has become impregnated. But when the peacock’s tail begins to appear, that is, when many and various colours shall be seen in the glass, it is a sign that the Philosophers’ Mercury is acting on the common mercury, and extending its wings until it shall have conquered. When, therefore, the dry acts on the moist these colours appear.





When you have seen the different colours, it is necessary that you persevere in the work, by constantly continuing the fire, until the peacock’s tail is quite consumed, while the matter of Luna becomes white and glittering as snow, and the vessel attains its degree of perfection. Then at length you may break off a morsel of the regulus, and place it on a heated copper plate. If it remains firm and fixed there, and tinges it, then it is a fermentation brought to the highest perfection of Luna. That King has strength and power, not only for transmuting metals, but also for healing all infirmities. He is a King worthy to be praised, and adorned with many virtues, and so great power, that he transmutes Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury into Luna, which will stand all tests. He also frees the bodies of men from an infinite number of diseases, as fevers, the falling sickness, leprosy, the gallic disease, and many mineral ailments which no herbs or roots, or anything of that kind, can remove. Whoever uses constantly this medicament, prepares for himself a fixed, long, and healthy life.




After the King has assumed his perfect whiteness, the fire must be continued perseveringly, until the whiteness takes a yellow tint, this being the colour which succeeds the white; for so long as any heat acts on the white and dry matter, the longer such action lasts, the more is it tinted with yellow and saffron colour, until it arrives at redness, like the colour of a ruby. Then at last the fermentation is prepared for gold, and the oriental King is born, sitting in his seat, and powerful above all the princes of this world.




The multiplying of this fermentation should be noted, which is performed in the following manner. Let it be dissolved in its own moisture, and afterwards subjected to the regimen of fire as before. It will act on its own humidity more quickly than it previously did, and will transmute into its own

substance, just as a little leaven seems to transmute into leaven the whole of a large quantity of flour. Wherefore it is an unspeakable treasure on the earth, of which the universe has not the equal, as Augurellus witnesses.



This secret was accounted by the old Fathers who possessed it as among the most occult; lest it should get into the hands of wicked men, who by its aid would be able more abundantly to fulfil their own wickedness and crimes. We, therefore, ask you, whoever have attained to this gift of God, that, imitating these Fathers, you will treat and preserve this divine mystery in the most secret manner possible, for if you tread it under foot, or scatter your pearls before swine, be sure that you will hear pronounced against you the severe sentence of God, the supreme avenger.

But to those who, by the special grace of God, abstain most from all vices, this Art will be more constantly and more fully revealed than to any others. For with a man of this kind more wisdom is found than with a thousand sons of the world, by whom this Art is in no way discovered.

Whoever shall have found this secret and gift of God, let him praise the most high God, the Father and Son, with the Holy Spirit. And from this God alone let him implore grace, by which he may be able to use that gift to God’s glory and to the good of his fellow-man. The merciful God grant that this may be so for the sake of Jesus Christ His Son, and our Saviour!







1 This treatise is not included in the Geneva folio, and, both in style and in the method of treatment, it corresponds closely to the Aurora. The edition made use of for this translation is the Basle 8vo. of 1570. A considerable portion of the work enters into the Paracelsican congeries, entitled De Transrnutationibus Metallorum, Frankfort, 1681.

2 All arts which flourish on this earth are divine, all are from God; from no other principle do they originate. The Holy Spirit is the enlarger of the light of Nature ... Man of himself can discover nothing ... What things soever are found by the enlargement of this light of Nature within us, the same does the devil seek to corrupt, adulterate, and convert into falsehood. Thus are all arts and operations corrupted at this day. Even so is Alchemy debased and given over to lying tongues and depraved professors. – Paragranum, Tract IV.

3 Fire is not to be regarded as an element, and so there is a distinction between fire and the firmament, which latter is an element. Fire is a matter which cooks and disintegrates, reducing into the ultimate matter, and, in this sense, fire and death are alike. For fire, like death, consumes and devours everything. Therefore, fire cannot be an element, but it can be, and is, a visible and sensible death. The other death is invisible, and is seen by no man. – Lib. Meteorum, c. 1.

4 The congeries De Transmutationibus Metallorum, to which reference has already been made, gives the following variation in the reading at this point: Just so in the Spagyric art is this fire of athanor and the secret fire of the philosophers which heats the furnace, the sphere of the vessel, and the fire of the matter, just as the sun is seen to operate in the whole world.

5 All arcana derive from the firmament. – Fragmenta Modus Pharmacandi, Lib. II., Tract 1. But that fire which is an element is the firmament, and the stars are the fruits thereof. – Lib. Meteorum, c. 1.

6 That fire, then, is manifold which is varied according to the diversity of the subject whereinto it flows, and by means whereof it is afterwards kindled in other subjects, as the fire of ashes, sand, the bath, filings, etc., has a mediated heat flowing from an immediate source into the subject-matter of the instrument, and from hence into the matter underlying the Art. In that manifold fire there is a difference of position. This is for the reason that nothing in the nature of things can be seen which is in all respects like to any other thing, though both come under the same species, nay, though both may be members in the same individual. One metal produces gold from that which generates silver; another brings forth the metal of Saturn, of Venus, or of Mars. Each one of these is varied according to the difference of the place whence it proceeded and was created. No two men, no two members of the same body, no two leaves of the same tree, are found exactly alike: and so of the rest. Dissimilarity proceeds not from the first fire of created things, but from the differing rule over the elements by means of the planets, and not by the sun. Every moment, by this disposition of things, the heat in the elements varies, and at the same time the form of decomposed things from their compounds, though not from the simples. Where the mixture of the elements is not so great, there is generated Sol; where it is a little greater, and less pure, is generated Luna; from that which is still more imperfect, Venus; and so of the rest, according to the mixture of the elements, the mineral of each metal is not like another, nor do the spirits of them in all respects agree one with the other. If they were generated from the simple fire alone, without the intervention of the manifold, no distinction of forms could occur either in metals or in any other created things. Why there are in use no more than seven metals, of which six are solid and the seventh fluid and thin, is explained in adept philosophy but not in Alchemy. – De Transmutationibus Metallorum, c. 3. But this statement concerning the seventh fluidic metal seems to be at variance with other teaching of Paracelsus, to which a congeries that has been subject to editing must naturally defer.

7 It is well understood that the body of Sol is Mercury, which cannot at all stand the fire, but flees from it. – De Transmutationibus Metallorum, c. 10.

8 In the collection of treatises to which reference is here made, there is the following process for the manufacture of a tincture of gold: – Let the body be first deprived of its metallic and malleable nature; that is to say, let it be corrupted; then let the residue be cleansed with sweet water, and the colour extracted by means of spirit of wine, when the desired tincture will remain at the bottom. To compose the Water of Salt: Take very white salt, but not that which has been whitened artificially; melt it several times; reduce it to an exceedingly subtle powder; mix it with the sap of raphanum. Shake it. Distil, after resolution, with an equal portion of the sap of blood. Then again distil five times. Thin plates of gold which have been purged by antimony are easily reduced to powder in this water. The powder thus prepared must be washed with sweet distilled water until it no longer savours of salt. As the salt does not penetrate into its substance it is easily removed by ablution. To compose the Spirit of Wine: Take one sextarius (about a pint) of generous wine; let it be poured into a circulatory vessel of appropriate size, that is, of such capacity that the wine can be shaken therein. Place it in a Balneum Maris to the depth which the wine occupies, and decoct for ten days. Seal all apertures of the vessels, so that nothing can escape. Then place in a cucurbite, and abstract the spirit by a slow fire. As soon as it has passed away (which you will know by the usual signs), cease to urge the fire, for the residue is a simple sublimate. Pour the spirit of wine upon the above-mentioned powder (which should be like alcohol) to the height of a palm, enclose it in a glass, keep it for a month in a warm bath to digest, when the colour will be separated and commingled with the spirit. A white powder will remain at the bottom. Having separated all these things, melt the powder, and it will be separated into a metallic water. Evaporate the spirits according to art, and the desired spirit will remain at the bottom. Perform its gradation in a retort of the proper size. This is done most conveniently by elevation, which is highly attenuating. – Chirurgia Magna, Part II., Tract III., c. 2.


9 Molten lead destroys all the metals, including itself, by means of the fire, except Sol and Luna. – Congeries Paracelsica, c. 10

10 Since, then, the spirit of Luna is able to protect from all injury by fire or other accidents the body into which it enters, that is to say, Mercury, and to render it consistent, it is easy to gather from this, if it produces such an effect in the case of an instable and volatile body like Mercury, how much more powerfully it will act when disengaged from its own body and projected into the human body. – Ibid.

11 On the other hand, if it be mixed with certain metals, even among those which are perfect, it tears asunder their bodies, so that they are no longer malleable, or capable of being treated in any way until they are set free from it. – Ibid.

12 In these cases it produces contraction of the limbs. – Ibid.

13 It would, however, be safer to use only the spirits of the perfect metals, unless gold and silver are too expensive for a patient’s resources, or too difficult in their preparation for the talent and skill of any particular physician. In that case he may be compelled to do what he has learnt to do, that is, to treat such cases with vegetable and animal preparations. – Ibid.

14 Under favourable astrological circumstances, many tinctures can be extracted from Venus. – De Causis et Origine Luis Galticae, Lib. I., c. 11.

15 Nevertheless, it surpasses any other metals in hardness and dryness, destroying and decomposing them by admixture with them, and this in the case of the perfect no less than of the imperfect metals. – Congeries Paracelsica, c. 10.

16 By mixture with other metals it corrupts and decomposes them, especially Luna, and only with great labour can it be separated therefrom. – Ibid.

17 It leaves them broken and decomposed after washing. – Ibid.

18 It distorts the limbs... with more severe pains than even tin and iron; but seeing that this spirit is coagulated with a much more intense cold than others, it does not act so violently. – Ibid.

19 It is prepared, then so far as the body is concerned, from the aforesaid spirits, just as his wife is prepared for a husband, not by corporeal admixture, but when the spirit has been reduced from its own metal and projected, after preparation, into Mercury, then at length it exhibits its transmutation. – Ibid.

20 Notwithstanding, the tincture of mercury is a supreme secret. – De Ulcerum Curatione, c. 10.

21 The dead wife of the metal, like an uncultivated field or soil, if it be macerated or revivified by the philosophic plough (the wife remaining fixed and incorrupt during the process), it is united to the aforesaid corporal spirit by the grades of fire, into its own nature and substance, and this with the dead body of the metal. Now, this cannot be done with the crass spirit of mercury. And although the mercury or quicksilver of Sol exists and is fixed, nevertheless the common mercury, not as yet fixed, never attains to resurrection. For the resurrection of the metals is an immortal regeneration, and the medium whereby tinctures of this kind are advanced to their generation. On this account, therefore, it cannot be united to dead bodies so as to bring about their fixation, but only to extracted spirits, as to those corporeal ones above-mentioned, which are subject to the metals just as common mercury is to all metallic spirits. The crass spirit of mercury can no more generate this tincture in its substance than a concubine can bring forth legitimate offspring. In the same way must it be judged concerning the crass spirit of mercury, until the metallic and corporal spirit is produced by means of the natural matter. Without this medium it will be impossible for anything good or perfect to be accomplished in tinctures of this kind. Moreover, if the fire be too intense it cannot generate; if too slack, the same result ensues. – De Transmutationibus Metallorum, c. 10.

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