What does Fulcanelli mean by Antimony? At times the very ore. But recurrently, he doesn’t need to be cryptic by saying: “ All ores, through the hermetic voice, rendered homage to it with their name.”
“In its subtle state is a universal Spirit, and we call our Mercurius, but when it descends and penetrates the world, it thickens and coagulates to become…”. But Fulcanelli’s dry way makes it difficult to perceive Mercurius’s features. At least the didactic wet way Mercurius we are used to.
Fulcanelli from The Dwellings of the Philosophers, 1929:
“This substance, at once positive and negative, passive containing its own active agent, is the foundation of the Great Work. Of these two natures, taken separately, the one who plays the role of the feminine matter is the only one indicated and alchemically named on the corbel bearing the overhang of a second-story beam at the Maison Lisieux. The figure of a winged dragon can be seen; its tail curled into a ringlet. The dragon is an image and symbol of the primitive and volatile body, an authentic and unique subject upon which one must first work.
… The philosophers have given it many diverse names besides the one under which it is commonly known. This has caused and still causes so much difficulty and so much confusion…
Its traditional name, the stone of the philosophers, is descriptive enough of the body to serve as a valuable basis for its identification. It is genuinely a stone, for, out of the mine, it shows the external characteristics common to all ores. It is the chaos of the sages, in which the four elements are contained, but in a confused, disorganized manner. Our old man and the father of metals owe their origin to it, as it represents the first earthly metallic manifestation. It is our
Through the hermetic voice, all ores rendered homage to it with their name. It is still called
Black Dragon Covered with Scales,
Daughter of Saturn,
Venomous Serpent and “the most beloved of its children”.
This primal substance has seen its evolution interrupted by the interposition and penetration of filthy combustible sulfur, which coats its pure mercury, holds it back, and coagulates it. And, though it is entirely volatile, this primitive mercurius, materialized by the drying action of the arsenical sulfur, takes the shape of a solid, black, dense, fibrous, brittle, crushable mass rendered by its lack of utility, vile, abject, and despicable in the eyes of man. Yet, in this subject ~ a poor relative of the metal family ~ the enlightened artist finds everything that he needs to begin and perfect his Great Work since it is present, say the authors, in the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Work… our subject contains a frightful poison whose very odor would suffice to cause death. Yet it is from this toxic mineral that the universal medicine is made, which no human illness can resist, no matter how incurable it is thought to be. But that which gives it all its value and makes it infinitely precious in the eyes of the sage is the admirable virtue it possesses, of revivifying metals that have been reduced and molten and of losing their poisonous properties by granting them their activity. And so it does appear to be the instrument of resurrection, and of redemption of the metallic bodies, dead by the violence of a reducing fire, the reason for which it bears in its coat of arms, the sign of the Redeemer, the cross.”
The problem with Fulcanelli is his speaking about the dry way, which, of course, can not be educational unless you are before its processes. That’s to say, unless you are before the oven. Indeed, in Fulcanelli, concepts can not become assumptions or systems of ideas intended to explain general principles. Some more charitable authors, like Philalethes or Canseliet, used to operate dryly but brought into play a wet way for didactic purposes. Sadly, this is not the case with Fulcanelli, and a theory conclusion can be very challenging for him. By the way, the concept here is to get something volatile, so female, out of a black substance and get her to become a hermaphrodite and still be able to embrace and kill metallic-fixed males to a rebirth. So antimony ores can not be used as raw matter or Materia Tertia but destroyed by this dragon-girl-old man. Nothing is more likely than the girl has been previously extracted from the same antimony, or she has to annihilate. The sex of the girl is bound to complicate things: to destroy ores must she remain volatile, or must she get coagulated, that’s to say, becoming a he-girl? The same concept is also covered in the treatise below about the wet way by Anonymous, “ A Magnificent and Select Tract on Philosophical Water” (1). Here we come up with water of arsenic, but let’s have a reading:
“… Whoever succeeds, with God’s help, in attaining this blessed water should thank God, for he has the key which will open the closed locks of all metal chests and take gold, silver, precious stones, honor, power, and good health.
The philosophers call this blessed water the daughter of Pluto; it has strength and power over all reassures. It is also called the white, pure, tender, and unspoiled maid of Beja; without it, no birth or blending can occur. For this reason, the philosophers married this tender and pure maid to Gabricus so that they bear fruit, and when she was joined with Gabricus, he died. Beja swallowed and consumed him in her great love, as Arisleus tells in his ‘Practica’: The spring or Fontina is like a mother to the king, for she draws him to her and kills him. But through her, the king is resurrected again, and he joins himself fast to her so that no man can harm him. This is why the philosopher says that Gabricus is more precious and worthy and dear to the world than Beja, but he can bear no fruit alone. The philosophers have called this maid and blessed water thousands of names in their books. They call it:
Arsenic, the water of
dung, hellish fire of horse,
Leonem Viridis, green lion,
Menstruum or blood. They also call it
Milk, and virgin milk,
Oven, melting and calcinating,
Poison, deathly all-penetrating,
Quintam Essentiam Vini,
scorpion which eats its young,
the stomach of an ostrich which eats and digests all things,
sulphuric steam and smoke,
the water of Paradise,
waxy green juice,
and other names of animals, birds, plants, waters, juices, kinds of milk and blood, etc. They have used all these names and written them figuratively in their books. They have suggested that such water is made of these things, with the result that all ignorant people who have searched for it in these things have not found the desired water.”
Arsenic, antimony, water, daughter of Saturn and Pluto, old man, woman, green lion, dragon, poison, salt, luna, father of metals. All these different names have very little in common and sometimes are mutually opposed. The ubiquitous rule of three ( In Alchemy, a name can stand for at least three concepts) in this case could be renamed the rule of three thousand, for at least so many are the known ways to call the Subjectum Artis. More than a definition, they seem to be a fast metamorphosis into each other. Note that Fulcanelli, in the excerpt above, is not interested in giving a precise and single notion; that’s to say, he does not shoot a single frame but a whole process of becoming or Tree. Secret Fire becoming Blackness becoming Mercurius Philosophorum becoming Materia Prima becoming Sulfur, finally becoming pure… Time. Pointing to female-male nature, Fulcanelli suggests Passive-Active processes. In a wet way, watery substances are to be dried in the end, while in a dry way, “ waters” are already in an ore state, even if sublimated. Fulcanelli talks about ore-like substances, similar to the mineral antimony and arsenic, the anonymous in a wet way about white and fluid substances coming out of the dark. Yet they both are winged dragons. For, as Fulcanelli states above: “ the four elements are contained”. Mercurius is coming out of Primitive Mercurius. Chaos, Indeterminate. And both are women—somewhat volatile ones.
Of course, the four elements are contained in the Male too. But… here, they are very unlikely to be extracted. They have become definite. Mercifully the french Adept will repeat us along these lines throughout the whole dwellings. So we will bump into a black dragon covered with scales repeatedly. Don’t worry. Repetita Iuvant. Repetitions are good.
Fulcanelli’s Antimony is no more a raw ore but a philosophical one regenerating itself. However, it is instead a misconception thinking that the “ Way of antimony” actually does not put raw ores to use. But it is a fact that it does not need to. Metals killed in a certain way can germinate again as their forms endure over time in the materials that made their graves.
Thanks to “Restorers of Alchemical Manuscripts Society (1986). You can download the full treatise at www.rexresearch.com .