Let’s analyze some double meaning terms:
- Reconditorium derives from the substantive Reconditor meaning “who stores, keeps, gets hold”. Conditor ” author, teller”. Reconditorium means “repository”, but it was often used, as well as Conditorium, as ” coffin, sarcophagus, tomb, urn for ashes”. For instances Svetonius used “conditorium” recalling Alexander the Great’s sarcophagus worshipped by Augustus: ….conditorium et corpus Alexandri Magni “, while the more recent french author Mabillion: the saint’s altar ” ……Santii reconditorium……;
- Reclusorium derives from the verb recludo ” to open, dig up, unveil, discover, to close, close, store”. Reclusorium was used during middle age to mean monastery, ” reclusorium intravit” for “she enters monastery”. Also, sometimes it has been confused with “Exclusorium, means hidden treasury;
- Mundus might not be easily translated as “world”, as a neo-latin could rush to do. In fact the first translation from latin is “equipment”, or “set of tools”, the second is “world” as globe;
- Latin Numen: will, command, numen, divine power, divine majesty;
- Vannus is one of the rare latin feminine substantive looking like masculine (-us) and so requiring a feminine adjective. Chymica means ” chemical”. The world “Vannus” meaning will be a major object of the second part of this article.
- Adeptis is the perpect participle of the verb ădĭpiscor, to accomplish-successfully achieved. In latin adeptis doesn’t mean neither expert, experienced, skilled, as in english, nor follower as in italian, but victorious, winning;
- The form “author” is a neologism, the ancient latin being auctor;
- Mysteriarcham seems a derivation from Mystērĭarchēs, which means “the one who presides over the mysteries”;
- Literally “Roads Inspectors”. Of course, being an Alchemy book, these roads cannot but referring to alchemical paths, or ways;
- Sed is a latin conjunction with conflicting meanings, clearer for an english mother tongue, less for a neo-latin: It can stand for so, also, but, neverthless, and except;
- Medicurius: from “Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne; ou, Histoire, partie mythologique …“, Paris 1833, Volume 55 page 42. By Joseph Fr. Michaud, Louis Gabriel Michaud: “Medicurius, mercure. Ce fut, dit-on, son premier nom. La paronomasie des deux mots (medicuria, mercurius) a seule pu engager à èmettre cette opinion”. Or, Medicurius, Mercury. It was said to be its first name. The paronomasia of the two words (medicuria, Mercurius) was able to issue this opinion.
Let’s try to analyze the entire header now:
The phrase ” cui deditur in titulum”, or which is dropped in the title, could make us to undervalue all the remaining parts as baroque decorations. In fact the many tend to abandon the reading just after the visual achievement of that ” Chymica Vannus”, which may seem so clearly a ” passing through the sieve of chemistry”, or separating coarser from finer. In fact sieves were indispensable devices in ancient chemistry. But in this case, the term “cribrum” should have been used instead.
A vannus is not a cribrum. A vannus – winnowing fan is not a filtering device, but a separating one through the action of air currents. A van is a broad basket, o oar, into which the corn, or rice, after being trashed, is thrown in the direction of the wind, to let deposit corn and chaff in different places. In archaic times it was also called bird’s wing. In this case a sense of ”discernment of the good from the evil, the real from the false” may be applied.
Johannes Jansson and Elizeus Weyerstraet published in 1737 ( perhaps their sons) another book with a “vannus” in the title. Precisely “Critica Vannus”, by Jacques Philippe d’ Orville, in which ancient philosophical excerpts were explained, condensed and syndicated. The book is a classic philosophical dispute in which one refutes or answers refutations. So, at first sight, in this case a clear concept of vannus as a scrutiny device may be applied. The detail is : by ancient romans did the idea of “Vannus” suggest a separating concept? Or an air current concept, instead?
This is not a pointless issue, since winnowing fans, besides agriculture, took an important role also in the ancient symbolism on mysteries. Virgilius, in his Georgics, describes many agricultural tools used in mythological symbolism. Among them is the Vannus winnowing-fan. In fact, as we will see in a coming article on a Pompeii series of frescoes, the winnowing basket sacred to Dionysus is painted in the central part of a mysteries initiation scene (1). The liturgical name of the object was ” Mystica Vannus”, or the mystical winnowing fan. To be more precise the full title was ” Mystica Vannus Iacchi”, or the mystical winnowing fan belonging to Iacchus, a hieratic form of Bacchus. That’s to say the greek god Dionysus (2), the divinity entrusted ( with Demeter and Persephone) with mortal-immortal secret rites. So, should we give to “Vannus” a “passing through scrutiny” meaning? Or might this just be a modern, and unlearned, conjecture?
Those who have hurried over the Chymica Vannus long title, may not have pointed on ” Obtenta quidem et erecta Auspice Mortale Coepto; Sed Inventa Proauthoribus Immortalibus Adeptis……”, or “In the beginning still obtained and constructed under mortal auspice; but discovered under patronage of the victorious immortal authors. Through whom is concluded, ordained and proclaimed, may their firm predictions are developed according to the order”.
Doubts could be strengthened when bumping into the phrase word ” Mysteriarcham Mercurium”. As said in the previous page, Mystērĭarchēs means “the one who presides over the mysteries”, in ancient roman times not intended as something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain, but the one presiding the secret rites, about life and death, to which only initiates were admitted.
Very interesting is the combination of Medicine and Mercurius in the paronomasia “Medicurius” ( see point 11). Mercurius is both the roman divinity for Hermes, or our Secret Fire/Spirit of life. Alchemically speaking, there is no difference between these two. Of course this humanized god was just an allegory. Chymica Vannus author, by a very small margin intended just the allegory, and not the hidden signification. In fact is expected a particular time of the year ( and not all years) in which, through this presiding Spirit, the rite will be accomplished.
Might this particular date be the mentioned one, that’s to say ides of may of a certain year? If not, why to repeat the year just a line above the book publishing date? Ides was a fluctuating middle of May (3). Concerning the year don’t be scared by this 1-666. There are no evil numbers here. In Alchemy there are no plans for it. But for something which can be accomplished after the sixth of the sixth of the sixth. In fact the alchemical ” Week of the Week”, which incidentally may occur in the middle of May, should last six days and the seventh a feast will take place (4).
I forgot to mention that our Mercurius is also a roads, or paths, expert. Chymica Vannus author is keen to further tells us we are nor before our healing Mercurius. Probably the path chosen this time is not that of our common works to achieve our alchemical medicine, or the work’s on minerals final result ( see an Opus Magnum scheme), but something really more dangerous and forbidden.
The reasons why the ” StatVta oraCVla sVa eXorDInè InoLesCerent….” line presents strange capitals are out of my comprehension. Anyway a similar construction was not unusual in epigraphic Latin.
P.S. : Today september 17th I have bought the translation by Virginelli. One remark I have to made to the translators is the clear specification of 15th May as ides of May. As I said in my article in footnote 2 ides fall just roughly in the middle of each month: “ in their origin roman people, as most of ancient people, used a lunar calendar in which a month corresponded to a lunation. They did not count the days from the beginning of the month: 1 2 3 4 etc.., but counted the days until the calendae, idus or nonae, depending on which of them were closer, as when counting the days until an important event, in short countdown. The first day of the month was the “calendae” or first day of the new moon, the ” nonae” were an intermediate between the new moon and the “Idus”, or the full moon, that’s to say nine days to a full moon.”
In fact this ides of May might represent a date much more interesting than the mere publication of the book. As we will see in the following of the work.
To be Continued.
- Pompeii Mysteries Villa: a Gentle Flowing with Mystica Vannus ;
- See also Dionysus, Universal Dissolvent and Kykeon , Demeter, Anima Mundi & House of Bread ;
- See also Trisulti Carthusian Monastery and the Yearbook Wheel ;
- See also San Miniato Sun Path or the Sky as Seen from Earth and Canseliet, the Art of Music & Weight ;