Christoph Kriegsmann commentary on the most enigmatic Tabula Smaragdina’s sentence, made of Suns-fathers, Moons-mothers, Winds-bellies, and Earth-nurses.
Wilhelm Christoph Kriegsmann (1633-1679) was a little known german author who wrote in 1667 “Hermetis Trismegisti Phoenicum Aegyptiorum sed et aliarum Gentium Monarchae Conditoris sive Tabula Smaragdina”, or the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus founder of Egyptian, Phoenician and other people monarchies.
Under the evocative engraving in the frontispiece, we also find a quote from Deuter. 33, verse 13.14.16: “Blessed are the precious fruits by God coming from sun, moon, and earth” (we will see how Kriegsmann embeds this statement). In addition, an excerpt from Arnaldus Villanovensis Testamentum will follow.
Ferguson in his Bibliotheca Chemica says: ” Kriegsmann has got but little esteem for all his learning and writings“. And it was a pity since in my opinion the commentary on the Emerald Table we are going to examine is not only worth to be read but preferred to other best-known authors. Of the same opinion was the french physician Manget, who published Kriegsmann’s exegesis in his Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, first tome (page 400), along with Gerard Dorn’s work.
Kriegsmann’s Tabula Smaragdina explanation goes along with accurate philologic research, which, in my opinion, does not add precious information to a modern researcher. Be aware that Kriegsmann is mainly known for having presented an alleged Phoenician translation of the Hermes work. A Hebraic version is also provided. So in the end he can put forward four Tabula versions: from Phoenician, a latin paraphrases, latin from Phoenician, and german from Phoenician. All unverified, of course, as was the custom of the age. Anyway, I produced Phoenician and Hebraic versions of images of the entire tabula taken from the book. I can only attest he wrote very poorly in latin, but … this too was the custom of the age.
I have not published the whole translation, only the charming and enigmatic verse number four. I thought, before getting caught up in the Tabula Smaragdina poetic charisma, it was extremely important to give technical names to the lyrical figures of the Sun, Moon, Wind, and Earth because they might be applied to any religion or esoteric doctrine. So:
a) Pater eius est Sol, mater eius Luna, portavit illud ventus in ventre suo, nutrix eius terra est, or Sun is its father, Moon its mother, Wind carries it in its belly, Earth is its nurse;
b) Paraphrases: Pater eius est Sol, mater Luna, ventus in utero gestavit, nutrix eius est terra, or its father is Sun, mother Moon, Wind carries it its womb, its nurse is earth;
c) Pater ea habet Solem, matrem Lunam; ab aere in utero quasi gestatur, nutritur à terra, or as a father it has the Sun, as a mother the Moon, by means of Wind is in a sense gestated, and nourished by the Earth;
d) Translation into german from Phoenician: instead of copying the original from Gothic, I preferred to embed an image. Even so, there was a gap in a word. Perhaps a german reader can do better than me. The following is my try: its father is the Sun, and its mother the Moon, the air behaves as if it were their nurse, and its ….. is the Earth.
We have already said in this site that hermetic symbolism is described by the rule of three, by which every symbol may stand for at least three different meanings. In fact, this truth fits very well with the above-mentioned verse. Because of that, we shouldn’t give a univocal sense to these words. We don’t have to choose among these meanings, but we have to do like our brain which can reassemble a single tridimensional object from various inputs. But let’s Kriegsmann explains now:
When Hermes in his Tabula says: “Quod est superius, est sicut quod est inferius“, translated into the famous ” as above so below”, he doesn’t mean a difference between a macrocosm and a microcosm. In fact: “Agere tabulam Smaragdinam Universali Philosophorum Mercurio, qui & tenuia & solida corpora penetrando enudat ( enubat, I presume), mercedem laboru id si ferens…”, or tabula Smaragdina is an issue on universal Mercurius Philosophorum, which gets married by making subtle and solid bodies being penetrated by each other. But, consequently, many of us might think it be just before our Mercurius Philosophorum stunning performance inside a vessel (1), they forget that Mercurius Philosophorum does exist outside our vessel as well. So, in a sense, a whole free macrocosm cannot be denied outdoors. In fact, we call the latter, Secret Fire from stars and suns, or Mercurius Universalis, or Aurum Astrale astral gold (2). Thus, what in Tabula Smaragdina’s final verse Hermes calls “Operatione Solis”, or the Sun Operation, we have to understand this enigmatic verse as the performance of our Mercurius/Secret Fire both inside the vessel microcosm and outside in the macrocosm. Both practical and spiritual. In fact “Sun” is also a synonym of Secret Fire, since in our world it comes from our asters. But do not presume an alchemist makes divisions between a material and a spiritual world: it is just an issue of densities. As a matter of fact, there is not a great difference between these two fires, since our Secret Fire is always, as far as impalpable and subtle, of a material texture. Either we are talking of a metal’s Soul or ours, or those from the Universe.
- Now, let’s try to grasp why the Sun is called a father and why he needs a mother and nurse for its embryo.
- Sole, Ignis, fonte semen, or Sun, Fire, source of seed;
- Luna, Aquae domina, Sperma, or Moon, master of water, sperm;
- Vento, Aeris hospite, Menstruum, or Wind, host/guest of Air (latin, as Italian, doesn’t differentiate hosts and guests), Menstruum;
- Humo, Terrae principe, Lac, or Soil, the most important among earth, Milk;
Kriegsmann here doesn’t lose time and gets abruptly to the point, with the following diagram:
And just above he has said: “… Naturae imperio manus jungunt socias inferiora ac superiora conferentibus… “, or, very interpretative: Nature ruling is imposed by mixing above and below things… and even higher: ” De Quinta scilicet illa quator elementorum essentia catholica… “, or they (above ad below) are of course about the four elements making the fifth one, namely the universal essence ( catholicus is latin for universal).
Thus we are before our four elements, so indispensable to extract and fix our Mercurius/Secret Fire, as well as to reunify what is above to what is below. In a density stair (3). The four elements, which can roughly be defined as changes of state, are about the density of our Secret Fire inside the matter, and even outside it. The upper parts designate Souls and Spirits, while the lower the bodies. And that’s also inside a vessel since, according to ancient chemists, vapors, smokes, and fumes designate Spirits and Souls (4) which tend to fly away if not fixed in a new body (5). And only by means of Spirits, we can extract other Spirits from the earth.
So, either inside a vessel or outside, there will be that “fight” to mix all elements together in a final solid new body (6). The same happens outdoors, in an environment called Macrocosm. But our matter, or Sun, is always the same Mercurius/Secret Fire. The product is more and more refined, till our perfect sulfur, or resurrected metal. Or our human resurrection (7).
We can imagine a kind of chain, or family, in which, and by which, father, mother, womb, and nurse carry Secret Fire to become Mercurius Philosophorum. But that will be too poetic. In fact, we should give technical names to these four to put them in a hermetic environment. Thus Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, instead of the Sun, Moon, Wind, and Earth create the alchemical embryo. Ostanes called the four elements the sources of the Stone. Or better they are the stages of the Stone. Since the Stone is made up by itself, and on itself. In the Emerald Table, Hermes calls the whole operation the work of a single thing. This symbology might be seen as slightly different from others we have found on this site, and really it is, In fact, the Sun-Moon symbology may be as huge and deep as an ocean.
Now we can understand what Hermes means as a father, or the most ineffable element: Fire. Then it gets denser in the Air element, to Water and finally Earth. As strange as it may appear, the Moon-Mother doesn’t represent here water but air. Because Water represents everything that can flow, even wind or a fume, while air is just a denser fire. We can imagine them as the celestial circles of the ancient Ptolemaic system (8).
Kriegsmann tells us that, in Hebraic and in Phoenician, the father is seen as the cause, while the mother is the soil. Nevertheless, the mother is not Earth, in Tabula Smaragdina, but air. Let’s get back at Kriegsmann’s diagram: The father is compared to seed, the mother as sperm, the wind as menstruum, that’s to say a denser density, and the Earth as milk, that’s to say the child’s food. Where does this symbology come from?
Sun, Moon, Wind, and Earth are surely our Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, or four elements. As we have seen above these four produce the fifth, or Quinta Essentia/Mercurius, since Quinta is the latin for fifth. But we should look outside the vessel, or in the macrocosm, for an explication. And here the engraving on the frontispiece may be really evocative. In fact, we will see the picture as a summary of the entire sky mechanism to make Secret Fire descend from the Sun to Earth.
In the Macrocosm the astronomical Sun is the father of our Secret Fire, but being the element Fire too subtle, has to ask for rescue from the astronomical Moon, or Mother, or element Air, since it is denser than Sun, to gather and send it to lower atmospheric layers. In order to reach the astronomical Earth, the Moon has to ask for help from wind-rain-snow-dew (9), which represents everything able to flow standing for the element Water, to transport Secret Fire towards the earth, which being the densest will succeed in restraining a certain amount. The four elements chain brings the Secret Fire to astronomical Earth from the astronomical Sun (10).
It is clear that a similar process then creates Mercurius Philosophorum, inside an alchemist’s vessel or microcosm. We have seen that the chain takes the structure of a child-caring family. With the father seed, the mother-sperm gathering the seed, the womb-menstruum, and finally the earth-breastfeeding milk. Inside the vessel, the operation will perform a continued circulation. But these are the operation of a single matter, our Sun, not astronomical this time (11).
Finally, we will find that this Sun-Moon symbology is so different from the others found on this site because it is very ancient. In fact, it was carved in Tabula Smaragdina, a document owing to the night of times. This use of Sun-Moon symbols is to be added to those you have already found (12).
The Arnoldus Villanovensis testament in the appendix simply states a necessary further step above and beyond our Tabula Smaragdina. In fact, Hermes or who took his name ends his poetry at the achievement of Mercurius Philosophorum. That’s to say at the end of the first preparatory work ( see an Opus Magnum scheme in footnotes) but doesn’t mention the following steps and works with colors transmutation ( 13).
- See also Archarion & the Opus Magnum Scheme ;
- See also Introitus Apertus vs Open Entrance. Chap 4 , Fulcanelli & External Influences , Andrea da Murano: a Painter and the Art of Fire , The Pythagorean Thigh in the Northern Sky ;
- See also Codex Marcianus Ouroboros ;
- See also Symbola Aureae Mensae and the Supreme Purpose and Hortulus Hermeticus and Love Between Fumes ;
- See also Eros, Psyche & the New Alchemical Body ;
- See also Stoll, the Lacinius Translator on Male and Female Elements ;
- See also Michelangelo & the Mumia Skin in Last Judgement , Holbein Dead Christ Builds his Grave ;
- See also Two Stars in a Venetian Geocentric Sky ;
- See also Pietro Perugino and the Lady of the Wind ;
- See also Thesaurus Hermeticum & Dry Pythagorean River , Nuisement and the Sun Resisting Capture ;
- See also Baro Urbigerus & the Circulatum Tree ;
- See also Sun & Moon at the Turn of the First Millennium , Philosophia Reformata, Father Sun & Mother Moon ;
- See also Kamala Jnana, Introduction to a Live Secret , Artephius, Secret Book and Secret Fire ;