How comes “On the need of Sophic Mercurius ” in Introitus Apertus, become “On the need of Sulphur ” in Waite’s Open Entrance?
We continue from the “Introitus Apertus versus Open Entrance” introduction or comparison between the latin Introitus Apertus 1667 and the English version of Open Entrance 1669 translated by Arthur Edward Waite in 1893. Below original latin, followed by my verbatim translation. In bold, words and phrases in Open Entrance that do not match with Introitus. And comments on the shortfalls and omissions.
Waites’s Open Entrance: Of the need of Sulphur for producing the Elixir.
Latin Introitus: De Mercurii Sophici necessitate ad opus Elixir.
Translation verbatim: On the need of Sophic Mercurius for producing the Elixir.
Open Entrance: Whoever wishes to possess this secret Golden Fleece, which has virtue to transmute metals into gold, should know that our Stone is but gold digested to the highest degree of purity and subtle fixation to which can be brought by Nature and the highest effort of Art;
Latin Introitus Apertus: Quisquis auro hoc vellere potiri cupt, sciat aurificum nostrum pulverem, quem lapidem nostrum nominamus, est aurum solum modo digestum in supremum gradum puritatis & subtilis, ad que subtilis fixitatis, ad quem per natura sagaxque artificium potet deduci;
Translation verbatim: Anyone wishing to have this Golden Fleece has to know that our turning into gold powder, which we call our stone, is only gold raised to the highest degree of purity and subtle fixity, that it can be both caused by nature and the art of a skillful operator.
Open Entrance: this gold thus perfected is called “our gold,” no longer vulgar, and is the ultimate goal of Nature. These words, though they may be surprising to some of my readers, are true, as I, an adept, bear witness; and though overwise persons entertain chimerical dreams, Nature herself is most wonderfully simple. Gold, then, is the one true principle of purification. But our gold is twofold; one kind is mature and fixed, the yellow Laton, and its heart or center is pure fire.
Latin Introitus Apertus: Aurum igitur aurificandi, unum, solum principium esto. Est autem aurum nostrum duplex, quod ad opus nostrum expetimus, maturum puta, fixum, Latonem flavum, cuius cor sive centrum est ignis purus.
My Translation verbatim: Gold is the only one, the only true principle which has the power of transmuting into gold. Our gold is of double nature, twofold. The one necessary for our work, brought to maturity, fixed, is the reddish yellow, gold-ish Laton, whose heart or center is pure fire.
Open Entrance: whereby it is kept from destruction, and only purged in the fire. This gold is our male, and it is sexually joined to a more crude white gold – the female seed: the two together being indissolubly united, constitute our fruitful Hermaphrodite.
Latin Introitus Apertus: Quare corpus suum in igne defendit, in quo depurationem recipit, ut nihil eius tyrannidi cedat, aut ab eo patiatur. Hoc in opere nostro vices mari gerit, quare auro nostro albo crudiori, spermati foemineo, conjungitur, in quo sperma suum emittit, tandemque vinculo indissolubili utrumque coit, sic fit noster Hermaphroditus utroque sexu pollens.
My Translation verbatim: This is why his body defends itself in the fire where it receives its purification, without yielding to the violence of it or suffering. The gold, in our work, plays the male role. It unites with our white gold less cooked than the preceding or female seed, depositing his sperm, and they unite one with another by an indissoluble bond, which is our Hermaphrodite, which has the power of both sexes.
Open Entrance: We are told by the Sages that corporal gold is dead until it is conjoined with its bride, with whom the coagulating sulfur, which in gold is outwards, must be turned inwards. Hence it follows that the substance which we require is Mercury.
Latin Introitus Apertus: Mortuum est itaque aurum corporale, priusquam cum sua sponsa conjugatur, cum qua sulphur coagulans, quod in auro est extraversum invertitur. Sic absconditur altitudo & manifestatur profunditas: Sic fixum ad tempus fit volatile, ut nobiliorem postea statum haereditario possideat, in quo fixitatem praepollentem obtinet. Patet itaque quod totum secretum in Mercurio consistat, de quo Philosophus: In Mercurio est, inquit, quicquid quaerum sapientes.
My Translation verbatim: Gold is the dead body before being united to his wife, together the sulfur is coagulating with, in gold, what is extrovert, introvert becomes. While the height is hidden, and the depth showed. Then the fix becomes volatile for a while, so to get nobler by this legacy, through which he will obtain a very powerful fixed state. Thus we see that the whole secret is in Mercury, of which the philosopher said: “ Mercury is all a Wise seeks for”
Waite’s Open Entrance final sentences run along Introitus Apertus lines: Concerning this substance, Geber uses the following words: “Blessed be the Highest God who created Mercury, and made it an all-prevailing substance.” And it is true that unless we had Mercury, Alchemists might still boast themselves, but all their boasting would be vain. Hence it is clear that our Mercury is not common mercury; for all common mercury is a male that is corporal, specific, and dead, while our Mercury is spiritual, female, living, and life-giving. Attend closely to what I say about our Mercury, which is the salt of the wise men. The Alchemist who works without it is like a man who draws a bow without a string. Yet it is found nowhere in a pure state above ground but has to be extracted by a cunning process out of the substance in which it exists.
Let’s start our examination from the chapter title: How comes “Of the need of Sulphur for producing the Elixir” may be a translation of “On the need of Sophic Mercurius for producing the Elixir”. As you can indisputably see latin original is “De Mercurii Sophic…” French translation, the one used by Fulcanelli, is “De la nécessité du Mercure des Sages pour l’Oeuvre de l’Élixir” that’s to say “On the need of Mercurius of Wises” … I asked myself how on earth an adept could mislead Sulfur for Mercurius. I’m really amazed about that. I have no words. Of course, hermetic symbolism sometimes presents women turning into men. But it should be a too fine trick to use in a title. Unquestionably this kind of title may bring a researcher to a cul sac. Anyway, mind that the real adept of Introitus Apertus overtly mentions Mercurius of Wises, Sophic Mercurius, Mercurius Philosophorum and that’s it. But let’s go on.
Waite’s Open Entrance states that this powder has the virtue to transmute metals into gold, while Introitus Apertus means that our powder transmutes into gold. And here the concept may be quite different. Mercurius Philosophorum or Hermaphrodite. in addition to being the real seed of metallic gold is gold itself, in the sense that inside metallic gold we found Secret Fire or Alchemical Fire in huge quantity. Hermaphrodite, during an astonishing Solve et Coagula process in the Main Work, can actually solve a raw, crude body of Materia Tertia and turns it into Prima Materia and then into Materia Prima. So bringing down Mercurius Philosophorum to just a making gold-making money practice is something that can not honor our art at all, and Philalethes, real great adept, perfectly knew that transmutations were only performed to test our Stone, never to cash on it. Philalethes insists on this concept of turning crude matter into philosophical gold a few sentences below, using “Aurum igitur aurificandi”, which the Open Entrance author omits again. Introitus’s author starts directly from Mercurius Philosophorum. Which is not the simple female Mercurius, not yet the rare male Sulphur. But their product. “utroque sexu pollens”, which has the power of both sexes. Sentence omitted by A. E. Waite.
But let’s proceed in order. As you might have seen above, in the same sentence where the Introitus Apertus author retakes the gold-ish property of our Gold, we are able to find the color description of our Hermaphrodite with “Latonem flavum”. Flavus in latin means reddish yellow like gold, but our English translator put it simply yellow. Could the real Philalethes be so careless about such an important feature? The Introitus french translation is not more accurate: “ L’une, portée à maturité, fixe, est le Laiton rouge” one kind brought to maturity, fixed, is the red Latten. In both cases, English and french, translations are diverting enough. Problem is that the yellow color can misleadingly lead to planet Mars Citrinus and the red color to the achievement of Sulphur ( one of the many alchemical sulfurs caused by the rule of three) during Main Work (see an Opus Magnum scheme).
Nevertheless, Waite does not seem to like very much Solve et Coagula processes, for he actually tends to omit them: “Sic fixum ad tempus fit volatile, ut nobiliorem postea statum haereditario possideat, in quo fixitatem praepollentem obtinet”, then the fix becomes volatile for a while, so to get nobler by this legacy, through which he will obtain a fixed state very powerful.
A necessary instruction, when reading renaissance period latin, is the strange standard form of the letters “s”. If “s” is in the beginning and in the middle of a word it was written in the strange “f” like the shape you can see here on the left bottom. To differentiate ”f” from “s”, the little horizontal element is outward with the letter s. Classical latin form, as we still use it nowadays, is reserved for the word ending “s”.