Lastly, the nomenclature “salt alkali” can also signify “foundation of all the bodies”, so a substance is not strictly of alkaline origin, but the future foundation of our Stone (as we will need at least a small amount of “alkaline” texture for a certain hardening final phase), in fact Orthelius defines them “body and part of Mercurius. As well as terrestrial liquored water“.
Let’s resume my translation now: “Although the greatly remarkable Sendivogius was certainly very skilled in this extraordinary science, in his Epilogue he himself makes an admission. He said everything clearly, but the extraction of our salt armeniac, that’s to say he didn’t reveal how to extract our Mercurius Philosophicus from our Aqua Pontica, since no master of the science of nature was allowed to reveal more, only God can do it. In fact in his Novum Lumen Chymicum the preparation of the real points, as well as principal parts of the Mercurius Philosophicus are omitted, in this way, according to a German saying, he is not to be judged.”
I fail to understand whether Orthelius here, with the term Mercurius Philosophicus, means to indicate the volatile Mercurius or the Mercurius Philosophorum (that’s to say the next phase: the volatile fixed) since Aqua pontica was generally used to indicate Mercurius Philosophorum. Our author seems to have a very personal lexicon. But that’s not crucial, so far.
“Clean the film on the surface or garment (lava pellicium seu vestem), but mind not to wet it (sed cave ne humectes). I will tell according to what I saw with my own eyes, since very little about this sprinkling thing is in his (Sendivogius) book, so I want to add something here. What our author (Sendivogius) keeps evidently shrouded in the enigma will be allowed, and as far as I know we should go into it, from him (Sendivogius) we have heard of marvellous and fruitful islands, and learned of an earth globe surrounded by the element water, in and from it all things grow up, and from it mankind gets sustenance (on that in chapter 2). He suggests to dig a gallery and then, crawling on our knees, pick up our earth in which there is living source and wave.
Side-note: an ancient manuscript.
From the previous text and the attached image the Earth’s subject is disclosed with clear words, from that a part involved in Mercurius Philosophicus Duplicatus, or composition of the matter of the Stone, with sufficient instructions on what must be observed, is given.”
For Earth’s subject very likely Orthelius finally means the necessary raw matter to start the preparatory works to get the Mercurius (which he called Philosophicus). …..ex quo….that’s to say from that, from the same, we can also extract a part involved in Mercurius Duplicatus. The latter is made out of two merged, or joined, or married Mercurii. In poor words, once we have achieved the Universal Dissolvent/Mercurius we need another salt to be joined, and from Orthelius words we can figure out that the starting raw matter for both mates can be the same.
“To make things clearer we must say something more. And it will also be useful to look up in an ancient manuscript for confirmation. Surely a man created from earth cannot generate a man from earth, but from seed. Nevertheless humankind can be fed on earth to grow and so to generate. Similarly gold and silver can generate gold and silver. So there is a need for nourishment with a primordial substance, analogously pure. In fact according to Hermes its nourisher is an appropriate earth, its real name seems to be Sulob Sunembra Suebur, with letters inversion Bolus Armenus Rubeus, whose similar name embraces all Ochres and Lemniae Earths from which the sealed (?) earths are usually prepared, and those that aren’t familiar with fire yet.”
…..ex quibus terrae sigillatae confici solent….. I translated the sentence as “from which the sealed earths are usually prepared”. As difficult to understand as it may seem “ex quibus” didn’t let me a different alternative, we know that “ex” might present other possibilities (from, since, as low as, immediately after, of….matter, due to, for, after, between, according, based on, correspond to) but the presence of the pronoun quibus narrowed my choice. The real problem here is represented by the past participle “sigillatae” which Orthelius perhaps used as neologism from italian “sigillate”, or sealed closed. In classic latin sigillatus meant “adorned with figurines, chiselled”, since “sigillum” was a statuette to be given during Saturnalia celebrations, hence a sigillum was a kind of an emblem. The right verb to express to seal was “signare”, hence the past participle “signatae”, even if a much later interpretation suggested for “sigillum” to mean sealed. Eventually, the following sentence “those that aren’t familiar with fire yet” made me lean to the term sealed.
“Thus even if it is known, the subject of the Earth was twice taken into consideration by philosophers, evidently as raw and prepared earth.”
The result of the first work is a volatile fixed earth, from salts volatilizations. It is always element earth, or “vessel”. As the element earth does contain all the other elements.
“Side-note: Raw Earth.
The text does mention here the crude and simple red earth, and Sendivogius is understood through the essence of any red earth and the way it gets extracted. In some metal galleries, without any work on our part, such red earth comes out running as wet mud from the mountain ducts because of the mines internal water source. This can be seen in the German forest in Anhalt princedom in the surrounding of the town of Hertzgerod close to St David duct, or the gallery not so far from the first one, from where sulphur comes out, in the nearby of St Catherine duct.
Nevertheless there is something better than the bolus or mud, which so far has lived hidden in the mines without seeing the daylight. Hence, letting aside the bolus, another one that is much in esteem draws our attention in the proximity of the mineral veins, in which it is differently spotted and taken, so analogously the veins acquire a different and more special mineral character. Otherwise similar to bolus, these matters soon show their peculiar nature ( i.e. you can perceive it from their vitriolic taste) and through the following preparation even their sludges can soon be restored to the initial composition.
The same is done with the vitriol earth too, of course the vitriol is reduced to earth by the art repeatedly, which in no other water can be better dissolved (that is usually done by cohobation with simple and rainy water)……..”
If you pay attention to the last sentence, you may get why it is good practice not to wet the raw mineral while extracting it from the mine.
And this leads us to Alchemy, which is evidently the art Orthelius has mentioned above, not chemistry. Cohobation is the reiterated distillation of the same thing by pouring again the distilled liquor on the matter that remains in the bottom of a distillation vessel, and this a good practice to volatilize almost all Caput Mortuum or salts which tend to form a residue in the bottom. In ancient chemistry this practice lead instead to the production of very absorbable pills. Analogue processes can be found in this site’s section on ancient chemistry (4).
Anyway in iatro-chemistry the cohobations were very hardly carried out until the number of repetitions needed in the alchemical processes. They stopped before, while we know that the excessive repetitions head to Mercurius (philosophicus, as Orthelius used to say), i.e. our Universal Dissolvent. And rainy water can play a role in the quest for our Mercurius. You may have noted that I preferred to translate the term “terram” (in the side-note: Vitrioli in Terram Reductio ) as Earth and not as clay.
“……and letting aside vitriol even a yellowish-reddish (flava) earth in a vitriol decoction sticks fast to bronze and lead, from that a red color substance is prepared by fire, from two this matter becomes one, a very easy work, they can reduce every sedimented form to a condition of greater simplicity, which then all the other following earths either raw or prepared, with the same outstanding excellence come in.”
This is nothing else but a between the lines exemplification of what Mercurius can do.
“Side-note: the Prepared Earth.
Now on the prepared earth, which exceeds by far the raw and vulgar clay, and also on the greasy nature of dung will be said, as the latter increases [matter] and brings to ripeness with its sulfurous property, which nevertheless is not faster, unless such a manure will be melted-opened along with the earth (i.e. they were stratified together) in the belly of the earth to putrefy and decomposed-transformed totally into earth.
Although this thing may seem insignificant, foolish and cloudy, fragile and useless, nonetheless it embodies a foundation of the true Philosophy, as well as being proclaimed of common use in the destruction and generation of natural things, which thing farmers can confirm better than captious searchers. In fact its feature of giving birth isn’t a capability reserved only for human and animal bellies, with the materializing advantage of warmth, with the separation of the nourishment from the excrement it is allowed to loose and melt, it also really persists in the excrement remaining, in the earth’s belly it gets completely destroyed, the nature is fully revealed by this line of knowledge, and is reduced to extreme simplicity.”
……particulari specialique forma sua……beneficio caloris naturalis……I translated this cumbersome expression with “by the materializing advantage of warmth”. Mind that without the practice of warmth in Alchemy nothing can be destroyed and subsequently take shape.
…….verum etiam id quod in excrementis reliquum mansit……or it also really persists in the excrement remaining. The remaining is actually more a relic though, a poetic expression to hint at our Caput Mortuum salt, not the whole frame of raw matter.
“Paracelsus teaches us this practice in his treatise “On the Modo Pharmacandi”. A wonderful thing which should also reasonably be perceived as very simple. Starting his studies from many physicians and masters from the times of Aesculapius and Hippocrates, faeces from coins were not yet known. Thus he should have had no knowledge of the ultimate matter, how he got to know about the first matter, which before he didn’t know, nor he certainly could have been conscious of the ultimate matter. To them (Aesculapius and Hippocrates) unquestionably sky and earth were unknown, and this was unknown to them, he (Paracelsus) must have had no trust in them.”