In de Secretis Adeptorum sive de usu Spiritus Vini Lulliani Johannes Segerus Weidenfeld points at the difference between a simple Menstruum and a Mineral Menstruum.
Weidenfeld’s Secretis Adeptorum hystory made hermetic world supposing a secret net being in existence. In fact, one day, this book suddenly disappeared: someone is said to have bought all existing volumes and taking hostile actions not to get it published again. But, strangely enough, all this took place only decades after first issue.
As a matter of fact Weidenfeld’s Secretis Adeptorum went quite neglected till its banning from hermetic market. And as for the time after banning, we all know how things go during prohibitions. Secretis Adeptorum affair wasn’t an exception, in fact Weidenfeld’s book became the first choice.
Of course some volumes had been spared and survived in private libraries to arrive to us. Now both latin and english versions are available to download. Since english one was the first to be published, in 1684, we don’t have the usual problems with translations from latin. All the same allow me to use latin version to introduce incipit. Basilius Valentinus recipe is worth latin language elegance:
“Vitriolum ungaricum; aqua destillata solvitur, coagulatur, cristallisatur, repetitur quinquies & sic purgatur à salibus alumine & nitro; hoc vitriolum sic purgatum destilla cum spiritu vini ( philos.) ad oleum rubrum, quod fermenta cum auro spirituali, add illi partem suam mercurii vivi stibii & habes Tincturam pro homine, & reducentem lunam in solem. Visitando Interiora Terrae, Rectificandoque, Invenies Occultum Lapidem, Veram Medicinam.
Take Hungarian Vitriol, dissolve it in distilled Water, coagulate, cristallize, repeat five times, and so purge it from the Salts, Alume and Niter: This Vitriol thus purged, distil with the Spirit of (philosophical) Wine to red Oyl, which ferment with Spiritual Gold; add to it its part of the Mercury of Stibium, and you have a Tincture for Man, and reducing Luna into Sol. Visitando etc……..”
Basilius starts from Labors of Hercules, since the beginning is mere chemistry (see an Opus Magnum scheme). Very probably Hungarian Vitriol stands here for iron sulphate (1). So we have to get rid of all deliquescent crystals (watery) to get a serious Materia Tertia or raw matter or iron salts to be then dissolved or at least calcinated. Then Basilius distils with Spirit of Philosophical Wine. Or Spiritus Vini Lulliani. Of course this substance is a Mercurius Philosophorum, a Mercurius fixed, very probably made out from a chemical Spiritus of Wine. Or at least ethanol is quite certainly involved in this Spiritus Vini Lulliani/Mercurius Philosophorum preparation: ethanol takes a part in salts volatilization, in fact some alchemists use it to lift salts. And we know that Mercurius is an offspring of salts volatilization.
According to Weidenfeld ( and I agree with him), a mineral menstruum may be composed by a Spirit of Philosophical Wine and “tinging things”, namely metallic things. Spirit of Philosophical Wine plus metallic things gives a mineral menstruum. We know that menstruum is everything able to dissolve a metal in wet ways. Anyway it is not a synonym for Universal Dissolvent. Thus there is a difference between a menstruum and a mineral one (2).
Secret Fire is always the main component of every menstruum, and Secret Fire/Mercurius/Universal Dissolvent can be extracted from everything in the earth since it is indeterminate and indistinct Spirit of Life. Of course that is a statement valid only for hugely skilled and learned alchemists ( or for lucky ones), that’s to say for those people able to achieve such a powerful (extremely rich in Secret Fire) Mercurius Philosophorum to then afford the Main Work without any common fire. To put it simply: ultimate and supreme Universal Dissolvent/Alcahest is pure Secret Fire deprived of any molecular part. Impossible to reach? Yes! Unless you are astronomical sun in the flesh.
But is a menstruum a good Universal Dissolvent? Sadly it may be not good enough for our philosophical purpose. We have to enhance it. To link with my above paragraph, the major amount of Secret Fire is thought to be contained in metals electronic clouds. Thus we can employ a good Spirit of Philosophical Wine to extract further Secret Fire from iron, for example, which is a wonderful “tinging” thing. Since tinging (3) is a synonym for rich in Secret Fire. This Mineral Menstruum can be used to performed a resolutive dissolution to go ahead with our works or be enhanced again. That’s visiting earth interior and, rectifying, achieving the hidden Stone or V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
As a matter of fact Weidenfeld is here presenting a kind of Mineral Menstruum: that one composed by Spiritus Vini Lulliani and metals like Vitriol ( iron and copper) Cinnabar, Antimony, Lapis Haematites. I do not want to burden too much with other concepts. Basilius Valentinus is enough. But if Weidenfel had not added some new concepts, it would be difficult to give a sense to the excerpt.
Lapis Haematites or Iaspis (according to Dorneus), is a particularly ambigous mineral. Rulandus, in his Lexicon Alchemiae, dedicated a whole page to it: est alius viridis coloris or it is which is green in color. “Smaragdo similis”, or emerald-like. Not easy to identify. In latin Iaspis means Jasper. Unless Basilius Valentinus does not intend here pointing at an ore, but a precious alchemical substance obtained after much work. As a matter of fact, in Alchemy, the ultimate substance does retain all dissolving capacity (4).
Now you can directly go on reading Weidenfeld annotations, which I produced below in images. Be aware that he was a physician and not an alchemist, so more interested in getting easy and safely medicine to absorb, than the quickest way to get a Philosophers Stone. Weidenfeld’s Secretis Adeptorum is an Opus Practicum or practical work.
- Weidenfeld will deal with copper in his annotations, but, as far as I know, copper sulphate was Cypriot Vitriol. Anyway the concept still remain the same;
- See also Lancillotti & the Extraction without Distillation ;
- See also Montanor & the Latin Verb Tingo-Tinxi ;
- See also Baro Urbigerus & the Circulatum Tree ;