In Introitus Apertus the latin verb Inficio means to teach, charm and tint. A.E. Waite, in his Open Entrance, translated as:” who are those nymphs whom he charms by means of his incantations”.
Which means nonsense. In chapter II Open Entrance is not that much diverting from Introitus Apertus. Apart from some misinterpretations, you can find them at the bottom. But I decided to continue my translation from latin and comment on these paragraphs that Philalethes has entirely dedicated to Mercurius Philosophorum and its composing principles. That’s to say its metamorphoseon.
This Open Entrance version is the translation by Arthur Edward Waite in 1893, the most common on the internet.
We have already encountered it in disguised symbolism. Aqua Pontica, Hermaphrodite, Green Lion, Azoth, Salt. Nevertheless, it simply is our Universal Solvent in a more fixed texture. But let’s hear from Philalethes, every word he takes, to an alchemist, is a measure. My translation from latin is verbatim, as usual. ( Introitus Chapter I)
Chapter II or 2: “Of the Component Principles of the Mercurius Philosophorum.
Most of those applying to this art aspire to purge Mercurius in different ways: some try to sublime it by adding salts and some clean it from its various impurities, others only give life to it, and they argue have, by repetition of these operations, made Mercurius Philosophorum, but they are wrong because they do not work in nature, which alone is made better in its nature.”
Here Philalethes is very brilliant in giving to Labors of Hercules a different appearance to conceal the way to achieve the ancestor, or mother, or Secret Fire extracted from Materia Tertia or raw matter. What he describes above, apparently sneering at, are Preparatory Works ( see an Opus Magnum scheme). Philalethes is describing a phase antecedent Kamala Jnana pictures. Of course useless once Mercurius Philosophorum has been reached. Now matter can mostly work by itself, on itself. As a matter of fact, from Mercurius/Solvent’s achievement on, alchemists can quite stand by and watch nature ( see Ostanes).
“Let them know that our water, composed of many elements, is nevertheless a single thing made of various substances coagulated from a single species.”
Water, because Mercurius Philosophorum is still able to dissolve. Many elements here mean a substance not more volatile but already pretty fixed, that’s to say handling. In poor words, you can now safely open the vessel to put something to dissolve and putrefy into (and stopper again the vessel).
“First we need a fire in our Water, which is the fire that is in all things and our fiery igneous dragon. Secondly, the liquor of Saturn vegetable, thirdly, the bond of Mercurius.”
Indeed Mercurius Philosophorum has been “composed” or reached after volatile, or vegetable Saturn being congealed in a more calcinated form, to become our fiery igneous dragon. They both will come to be Salt or the third component.
“Fire is the mineral Sulphur. However it is not properly mineral, nor metallic, but it is midway between mineral and metal not being these two substances, but having the qualities of both. It is chaos or spirit.”
Philalethes describes Sulphur in its core essence: a congealed form of Mercurius. And the last one is an undefined, or chaotic, and volatile form of Sulphur. We don’t need a metal, or a mineral to arrive at Mercurius philosophorum. For we are alchemically interested in Secret Fire camouflaged in chemical appearance. Philalethes is a seventeenth-century chemist and has probably observed dissolving metals losing their rigidity. Chaos/Spirit is our Solvent.
“Indeed, our fiery igneous Dragon, which triumphs over all, it is however penetrated by Saturnia Vegetabilis smell; Dragon’s blood together with Saturnia sap grow together in one beautiful body, and yet there is neither body, since it is totally volatile, nor spirit, because it looks like a melted metal.”
Follow Opus Magnus’s scheme. You can sow gold or Redness inside Mercurius Philosophorum in Main Work. Very poetic the description of Red Sulphur or metallic gold penetrated by an extremely volatile white substance, quite a smell ( Mercurius is extremely smelling, for the good and for the worst).
“So, indeed, it is a Chaos, if compared to all metals it looks like their Mother, for by means of it I can extract all things, even operate a Sun and Moon transmutation without the aid of Elixir, which can be also evidenced by who they saw me.”
A substance looking like a melted metal can dissolve metals. Probably here Philalethes shares his contemporaries’ belief of dissolved acids and minerals give birth to crystallized ores. Nevertheless, Mercurius Philosophorum, Materia Prima, is known as the mother of all metals by alchemists, not in a physical way but by means of their reduction to Chaos/Secret Fire. Philalethes still emphasizes our Matter, which is no more than Secret Fire becoming projection powder. To operate a metallic transmutation we can stop the work before the final goal of the Elixir.
“We call it our Chaos, Arsenic, air, Luna (Moon), Magnet, Chalybs, but still in many respects, because our material goes through different states and undergoes varied changes before the Royal Diadem be extracted out of the menstruum of our prostitute.”
In fact, not only every phase has got its peculiar name but can be described by countless names. Till the manifestation of a too much obvious Stone of the King, which is finally coming out of this incredible series of transformations performed by a substance very inclined to copulate and give multiple births.
“So learn who are the companions of Cadmus and what is the snake eating them up, and what is this hollow oak where Cadmus nailed the snake.”
This final patchwork may be worth a post on its own. Philalethes is here repeating all the previous concepts recalling mythological excerpts. Roughly and briefly: learn what rotations of solvent watering ( imbibitions) are for and what is the vessel where Secret Fire ultimately fixes Mercurius to become perfect Sulphur (with little help from the alchemist).
“Know who are the doves of Diana, which mildly conquer the lion, a lion really green, which is the real Babylonian Dragon destroying everything in its venom. Finally understand what Mercurius caduceus is, with whom he (dragon) works wonders, and who those Nymphs are that were tinted by his incantations. Learn all this, if you want to achieve the object of your desires.”
Know about the universal solvent out of the Labors of Hercules. That dissolves metallic gold even if in a more fixed version or Mercurius Philosophorum. Understand what Caduceus is (essentially solve et coagula and/or Mercurius Philosophorum). All white phases are then tinted to red.
To end, I found some A.E. Waite misinterpretations: the Latin verb “Inficio” means to teach, charm and tint. Waite translated:” who are those nymphs whom he charms by means of his incantations”. Which means nonsense. Further, he omits “ Caduceus” using instead “ Learn, also, what are the winged shoes of Mercury”. Which underlines just the volatile aspect of Mercurius. While Mercurius Philosophorum is a step forward, being volatile and fixed.
Introitus Apertus vs Waite’s Open Entrance chapter 1.