In Traité du Feu et du Sel, or Treatise on Fire and Salt, by Blaise de Vigenère, victims of Salt and sacrifices to fire and by fire are so spread all over.
Developer of powerful cryptography codes, expert in ancient languages, as well as an accomplished chemist ( his description of benzoin distillation was the first to be published), Blaise de Vigenère interest in Alchemy couldn’t but be supposed.
Traité du Feu et du Sel was published posthumous in 1618 by Abel Angelier. Very hardly we can believe this being a real denomination. Abel, strangely enough, is the name of the first biblical victim. And Angelier in french means “ of angels”. In a textual note he recapitulates: “Among all the sir de Vigenère’s accomplished outputs, that others after his death decided to offer to public, we have encountered this Treatise on Fire and Salt whose doctrine was so beautiful and uncommon…” .
It has come unknown to us who actually choose title’s book, cover and the motto on the cover frame, namely: “ Sacrum Pingue (1) Dabo Nec Macrum Sacrificabo” or I will give away this rich shrine and still I’m going to sacrifice very little. If compared to the hermetic literature of the age, the cover engraving is very uncommon indeed: a person knelt down towards an altar-like construction in which substantial flames are discharging smokes and an angel is either being delivered by fire or hovering over. As we will see further that “angel” being likely released or better set free by fire. Here Blaise de Vigenère gives us a powerful epitome of what Alchemy is and is for. Of course, in this image, all hints have been hidden among biblical allowed iconographies. As we go in the reading we will always see Blaise de Vigenère covering up alchemical axioms under Zohar, old an new Testament, greek philosophy, mythology and literature excerpts. Specially those ones too enigmatic not to go totally neglected.
Treatise on Fire and Salt beginsquoting Pythagoras: “Certainly Pythagoras has well understood Moses words when he choose these two statements: “Ne parler pas de Dieu sans lumière, et d’appliquer en tous ses sacrifices des offrandes du Sel.” Ornever speak of God without light and apply in all the sacrifices to him salt offerings.
On second page de Vigenère takes an inscrutable sentence from Saint Marcus Gospel: “ Tout homme sera sellé de feu et toute victime sera sallée de sel”. Very weird expression, indeed. Which I cannot translate from the original greek produced by de Vigenère, but just from imprecise french, so I was compelled to double check latin version by J.J. Heimann in Theatrum Chemicum Zetzneri 1661 tome sixth. Indeed : ”Omnis homo igne salietur et omnis victima sale salietur”. Translation: Every man is to be salted by fire and every victim is to be salted by salt. Blaise de Vigenère goes on examining:” now we know that there are men, victims, fire and salt. That can be reduced in two categories. Men and victims, salt and fire”. This allows one to observe that victim might be inside man as fire could be extracted from salt.
Let’s go on trying to find out more. On page four we find an excerpt from Corinth. 15:” The first earth man is terrestrial, the second sky man is celestial, the first man Adam has been made in living soul, the last Adam in giving life spirit. So man is an image of the world ”. Thus we have been introduced in a sort of Trinity. Namely a molecular support, a living soul and a spirit of life. That’s what Alchemy is, indeed. That’s to say a Soul to be extracted from its body, a spirit of life giving life to body. Has victim something to do with this trinity?”
Page six: ” Firmament is our body, which Zohar designate as Temple and the apostle (uncertain) says you were God’s Temple. While Sky is other than firmament and in fact the first one is spiritual. So man is double: animal or firmament, spiritual or sky. Te non esse mortalem, sed corpus hoc , or you are not mortal, but your body is. As Cicero said.”
Then Blaise de Vigenère describes body as water and spirit as fire. First is Cain, second one Abel. And Abel is the victim. Cain offers fruits to fire which resolve in wet vapours. While Abel sacrifices resolve again in a double spiritual substance: spiritual as well as potential. So there we got to the trinity, as above, once more. And here let me an off topic. De Vigenère here quotes a quite useless book, but for its title. And in fact the quotation seems to us of little value, but for the title: “Fasciculus Myrrha”. Pay attention, because Blaise de Vigenère is the first author to unveil benzoin distillation.
But let’s get back to the main topic. So man is nothing more nothing less than an immortal Soul. That may sound a banal religious sentence. I said banal because in religious beliefs that generally goes without practical consequences. But we are alchemists, practicus people. We do love join philosophy with chemistry. Be aware that, in Alchemy, every living being from minerals to humankind possesses a Soul. Immortality of Soul, for us, means also the conservation of a metallic Soul inside a convenient glass or liquid or powder, or wax substance. We call all that “Secret Fire” or perfect Sulphur son of Mother-Mercurius. Or Philosophers Stone. This Soul then will be made resonating with the Pythagorean River.
De Vigenère goes further. “Extendens coelum sicut pellem” or sky extension is surely skin or pelt, as you like. Pay attention: “ as sky cover all things, so skin coats man or any other living being. Yes, for a mineral is coated in its skin too.
Thus we are allowed to understand that alchemical skin may be not the proteinaceous specimen we are used to. That’s provides an evidence H.S Blavatsky doctrines have been already around since sixteenth century in Europe in hermetic milieus. But we will see in a next post on “ skins” that this enveloping concept may be aesthetically agreable but alchemically incorrect. Nevertheless Blaise de Vigenère is not incorrect when saying that fire, our Secret Fire has to take care of skins-souls-sulphurs while salts with bodies. Or, better, that bodies are to be reduced to salts (“Terra es et in terram reverteris” or you are earth and earth you have to return), from which fire, our Secret Fire, extracts victims or Souls. Yet it is not so easy ( if to anyone that might seem easy), for bodies reduced to salts also contain Spirit of Life. And that’s somewhat different from Souls. In fact (as one can see from an Opus Magnum scheme) Spirit/Mercurius is extracted from Salts, Soul is a next phase. To put it simply, Spirit of Life/Mercurius is a synonym for Secret Fire which in turn is a synonym for Fire. So, yes, the Fire performing the sacrifice is Spirit of Life.
Now de Vigenère quotes Pythagoras golden verses: “If you leave this mortal body, you pass in a ineffable and free air, and an immortal god you will be”. To be honest, most of times alchemists help metals to reach this state, not human beings. Our Philosophers Stone, reduced to it essence, is a metal soul and spirit of life together. Deuterium, 4: “ Our God is a dissolving Fire, but there are two fires and one dissolves the other”. Secret Fire, as aforementioned, is Spirit of life turning Soul into a victim. Moon and Sun, Woman and Man.
“Inside this ravaging flame there are two lights: one white and bright with a blue-black root, the other is red and attached to the piece of wood it consumes”. Blue-black is the first putrefaction out of which our white Mercurius will come out. Red is coming after, is Soul. So attached to body and yet more difficult to extract than Mercurius (see a Kamala Jnana introduction to Main Work).
“Salt and Fire are not unfamiliar to one another. Al Jabair says: “ Ex omni enim re combusta sit Sal” or Salt results from every burned, calcined thing. Salt is like a lantern, flame is fire” In fact inside salts we have Secret Fire, divided into Spirit of Life and Soul.
We get finally to page 40, where Blaise de Vigenère reports a whole passage from Rhases: “Rhases said that there are three natures, three fires and consequently three salts. The first nature is God, second is First Cause, third is our four elemental world”. So, as in the aforementioned Trinity, we have a Soul, a Spirit of Life and a body. The last one cannot be in the flesh but through its elements. Indeed, back at that age, states of matter were believed to share a sort of spiritual feature. Thus, if victims, they are to be salted with salt. To then be sacrificed by fire to fire. In this sentence the whole Secret Fire destiny from fixed to volatile and return. Alchemy cannot be kept away from continous fixed and volatile processes. That’s Solve et Coagula. In both Labors of Hercules and Main Work. Now we are ready to ask to ourselves: ” Can a victim possibly undergo more than one sacrifice? Alchemy always makes sense, but its arithmetical issues. Blaise de Vigenère here doesn’t make easily perceived if he points to an ultimate sacrifice. Generally a victim cannot but being without return.Thus sacrifice will apparently have more to do with fixation than with mere extraction.But do not worry, as in the sir de Vigenère cover motto, we will give away this rich shrine and still we are going to sacrifice very little.
To be continued.
- Very often latin terms provide more than one meaning. Pingue-is indeed stands for fatty, greasy, rich, viscous, puffy;