The very short chapter 3 of Orthelius commentary on Sendivogius about rectifications on the same liquor “finally floating on its water”. And the two obtained matters.

orthelius commentary on sendivogius chap 3 imageThe rectification was a typically baroque operation performed both in ancient chemistry and in Alchemy, in which the spirits, once obtained, were again distilled to make them more subtle and “extolling their virtues”, as stated by  some grandiloquent  artists of the time.

Previous chapter at Orthelius Commentary on Sendivogius. Chapter 2.

According to Dom Pernety, the rectification is an over-depuration of a body, or chemical spirit, by a reiterated distillation, or by another operation used to produce the same effect. Alchemically speaking, it is a synonymous of  sublimation, or exaltation of the matter of the Opus to a more perfect degree.  Another french author, but this time unknown, in Dictionaire Hermetique contenant L’explication des Termes, Fables, Enigmes, Emblemes & manieres de parler de vrais Philosophes….Par un amateur de la science, or hermetic dictionary containing the explication of words, fairy tells, enigmas, emblems and idioms of the true philosophers…..by a science lover, Paris 1695, says: Rectify, means to distill the spirits, so they can lift with them the heterogenous parts too. And under Rectification: the repeated depuration of the liquor distilled from its very matter.

In modern chemistry the term rectification doesn’t exist anymore, we can only look up at “sublimation”, which indicates a “direct change  into vapor when the matter is heated, typically forming a solid deposit again when cooling”. In Alchemy this made a great sense, as only a matter which has undergone the above mentioned process, could be defined  “pure”. And it made a great sense for baroque iatro-chemistry as well, in fact the medicines of the time must be “spiritualized”, i.e. reduced to “spirits”, or easily sublimed substances, to guarantee an optimum absorption.

In poor words, the rectification is a distillation, or sublimation, on the same matter, so to have all passed in “Spiritual” form. And, of course, once sublimed and solidified, the element Earth is no more a raw earth, but an earth passed through Water, Air and Fire, ready in any moment to transform again in all the elements. A spiritual earth, that’s to say the three previous elements in a cold and still state.

But let’s get back to Andreas Orthelius now. Below is my translation from Theatrum Chemicum Zetzneri Argentorati, Orthelius Commentator in Novum Lumen Chymicum Michaelis Sendivogii. Caput III, Tome 6, page 410:

“On the double rectification of the distilled liquor, which of course from a half way spiritual substance, by means of its two ends, watery phlegm and terrestrial sludges, is being separated.”

Following in the text: “From this liquor in balneum they took out a phlegm, and separately kept. On the other hand they often distilled the spirit remaining from the earth, and also separately kept.

orthelius commentary on sendivogius chap 3 theatrum chemicumIt follows the third engraving. As the text is very explicative, I don’t see the reason to further explain or add something.”

Of course the double rectification is not performed by dividing the matter into two parts, but the rectifications are supposedly performed one after the other. And consequently the obtained matters are always two, but different. In fact the two distilling apparatuses we see in the picture do show up the number two. Orthelius, in the previous chapters, made no mystery of three salts, of which at least two could be extracted from the same raw matter. He also doesn’t say whether the obtained matters are exposed to different atmospheric conditions, so one could be impregnated by lunar condition and the other by solar, for instance. We will see in the following chapters. As for now we cannot even be sure of the “texture” of the two substances.

Note the arrow-shaped neck of the two distillation flasks: because of tension forces binding the liquid molecules (supposedly rain water) the merely watery parts are meant to never reach the final part, but to fall back.

Next chapter at Orthelius Commentary on Sendivogius. Chapter 4 .

Previous chapter at Orthelius Commentary on Sendivogius. Chapter 2.