Guido de Montanor in his Scala Philosophorum which is a real stairs of transmutations instead of the classic seven operations stairs uses a more ancient list.
Ferguson, in his Bibliotheca Chemica, is a little source of info on this author: “Guido de Montanor, or Montano, or Guido Magnus de Monte, but not Guido de Monte was apparently a frenchmen quoted by Ripley and quoting in his turn Roger Bacon. Hence he can be attributed in a period between those ones”.
I translated verbatim from latin Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa Mangeti Tomus secundus. The excerpts I chose from Montanor Scala Philosophorum are consequent, except for some repetitions I decided to omit:
Page 135: ……. Sciendum, quod quator sunt principalia lapidis nostri regimina, scilicet, solvere, abluere, conjungere & figere. Translation: “One has to know that the main regimens (1) of our stone are four, of course dissolving, washing, unifying and fixing”. Here we have the alchemical work reduced to an essential. Instead of the usual seven quite difficult to understand operations, by the way mutuated from chemistry, Guido de Montanor gives us an alchemical rather than chemical layout. As a matter of fact the scala transmutationibus (here on the right an example by Michelspachers, in a collection known as Cabala Speculum Artis & Naturae 1616) is all inside Montanor simple list.
Solvere est corpora dividere, & materiam facere. Abluere est inhumare, distillare, ascendere & descendere. Translation: ” Dissolving means to divide bodies, and making matter. Washing is to bury, distill, raise and lay down”. In fact alchemical Dissolution is about to extremely drive particles apart, usually of a metal. It has to be clear that dissolution must be performed with our Universal Dissolvent/Mercurius (2). Washing is of course comprehensive of putrefaction, feeding or further distillations ( it is all depending on how much Secret Fire rich matter you have succeeded to obtain (3). We are in the no man’s land between the end of Labors of Hercules and Main Work ( see an Opus Magnum scheme).
Conjungere est impraegnare, dealbare & rubificare ……… Translation: “Unifying is to saturate/impregnate. Whitening and making red”. One saturates with other Mercurius Philosophorum ( since simple Mercurius is quite impossible to work with). Then matter tends to whiten and become red. We are in main work, now (4).
(ink spot) vero est fermentare & desponsare. Translation: (I kept verbatim and did not try to provide a term under the ink spot )…...“it really is to ferment and be betrothed.” The phase is that one of Conjunctio or putrefaction after marriage (5). Of course fermentation comes after engagement.
Solvere convertit lapidem in primam suam materiam. Translation: Dissolving is to convert stone in its first matter: When a body is dissolved with Mercurius, it becomes Mercurius in its turn (6).
Solvo, suam aquam, ablutio in aerem, conjunctio in ignem, fixio in terram spiritualem & tingentem. Unde Aristoteles: cum abueris aquam ex aere, & aerem ex igne, & ignem ex terra: tunc habebis plenam artem. Translation: “Hence I solve, and get its water; I wash, and get its air; I tie and get its fire; I fix and get it spiritual and dying earth. Aristoteles: when you wash you get water from air, and air from fire, and fire from earth: then you have the full art.” These are the real four elements. My only notice is that, in this density stairs, earth mantains all its previous elements features: in fact water, air and fire are kept in it (7). Consequently earth can do all the jobs the previous elements singularly do (8). Earth is a Mercurius Philosophorum first, then Duplicatus and Sulphur. That’s to say a Secret Fire extracted from raw matter and then made fixed again (9). In poor words, Salt.
Page 136……..Est enim aqua Mercurii aqua illa, qua, & non alia uti debemus in tota operatione nostra. Sed in eius regimine constat totum secretum: & ideo in principio oportet te scire naturam Mercurii & eius regimen, cum quo debite praeparato, totum opus perficitur. Quia Mercurius calefacit & infrigiditat, desiccat & humectat, & facit opera contraria secundum diversitatem, & modum regiminis eius. Ergo in eius regimine consistit totum secretum…….
Translation: “ it is because Mercurius water is that water (aqua), that one and not another we must use in the whole of our operations. In its regimen consists the whole secret. Thus it is very important to know from the very beginning Mercurius nature and its regimens, so to have the whole work perfected. Since Mercurius warms and chills, dries and soaks, and the contrary work is done according to its diversities and regimens methods. Thus in its regimen is the secret.”
Alchemists fire is Mercurius, so Mercurius regimens are Fire Regimens. For both are synonymous for Secret Fire. But chemical fire is also, of course, involved in alchemical works. Sometimes, in Preparatory work or Labors of Hercules, we need common chemical fire, and other times, in Main Work, alchemical Mercurius. But it is not so easy, for the most of alchemists are not able to reach such a powerful Mercurius to get metamorphosis from white to red without the help of common fire. And proportions (10) of alchemical fire, or Mercurius, are a conditio sine qua non, or a must knowledge, in this phase. In my opinion Fire regimens ( both chemical and alchemical) after the achieving of Mercurius are the far most difficult part of alchemical work.
Guido de Montanor now provides a whole regimen of what may appear as common chemical fire. But pay close attention. Things were not so easily unveiled back at Montanor time. Since often they were mixed up. Proportions, weights, external influences, signatures, rests.
Page 137……… Verumtamen huius lapidis operatio est una, linearum, & in uno solo vase perficitur. Ignis tamen non est uniformis in actione totali (11). Et ideo ut studentibus tractatus iste sufficiat, & proficiat: Translation: in fact stone’s operation is one, according to layout and in a single vase (or vessel) perfected. Nevertheless fire is not uniform in all its actions. And so this treatise may be sufficient and proficient for students:
Dico quod ignis huius operis intrans, est sicut calor Solis in Mundo maiori, Sol vero tempore Veris est moderatus & levis in calore: aliter vero herbae quae tenerae sunt, arefierent & fructus nullatenus perferrent. Translation: “I say the operating fire of this work should be the same as Sun heat in main world, indeed Spring Sun is light and moderate: if the contrary mild herbs would dry and discontinue their fruits.
Est autem iste calor intrans plantas, donec paulatim crescant, & quanto plus crescunt, tanto maius calor Solis gradatim quotidie crescit & augetur, quosque segetes dealbantur & finito Vere, incipit aestas, & quia tunc Sol fortior est: deinde fortissimus usque ad finem Leonis, donec omnia suam debitam recipiant formam, & perfectionem…….Dicunt enim quidam, quod calor primi regiminis debet esse sicut gallinae cubantis ova sua ad pullos procreandus. Translation: “”on the other hand the operating heat inside plants, during their growing up, and as much as they grow, so the daily Sun heat increases degree by degree and produces, and also whitened crops and that’s in the end of spring beginning of summer when sum is stronger and later strongest till the end of Lion, as long as every receiving sacred form will be perfected ……they say precisely that the first regimen heat should be as much as that of a brooding hen to have her chickens been born.”
Alii autem dicunt, quod debet esse sicut calor naturalis digerens cibum, nutriens corpus: alii, ut calor simi, eo quod calor iste est temperatus: alii, ut calor Solis in Ariete existentis, eo quod Sol habet ibi principatum & exaltationem suam: quia ibi incipit mediocriter oriri & calescere. Translation: Others instead say, that it must be the natural heat of digesting food, feeding body: others, of dung heat, for this heat is moderate: others the sun heat when rising in Aries, where sun has power and exaltation: since there starts its raising and getting hot”.
Et propter hoc dixerunt quidam, quod debemus incipere Sole existente in Ariete, & Luna in Tauro commorante: Translation: “For this reason they said, we have to start in Sun rising (12) in Aries and Moon lingering in Taurus:”
Quae quidem omnia ad designandum calorem moderatum circa primam huius operis actionem dicta sunt. Translation: “ certainly all moderate heat about the first operation of this work are explained”
Et quamvis huius lapidis actio unica sit, scilicet de coctio cum igne naturali, tamen status caloris huius tripliciter variatur: Translation: “and in spite of that there is a unique work about this stone, of course of cooking with natural fire, nevertheless the state of this heat is to be varied three times:”
quia primo erit ignis moderatus, & durat ad nigredinem & etiam donec illa in albedinem convertatur , quae nigredo durat forte 46 diebus,vel plus vel minus, secundum studium operantis & regimen fortunae & iste calor assimilatur calori Solis ex Ariete labentis in Taurum. Translation: what first was a moderate fire, lasts till blackness and as long as it will be converted in whiteness, which blackness coincidentally lasts 46 days, more or less, very according to the assiduity with which one operates and the regimen chance and this heat is alike Sun’s heat from Aries moving downward Taurus.
Albedine quadam apparente augeatur ignis gradatim, usque ad perfectam lapidis exiccationem seu incerationem, & iste calor assimilatur calori Solis in Tauro, discurrentis in Geminos. Translation: “At certain extent when whiteness is clearly visible fire is to be increased degree by degree, till perfect stone, being dried or being incinerated, and this heat is simile to that of Sun in Taurus, leaving to Gemini.”
Desiccato vero lapide & incinerato, iterum fortificatur ignis, donec lapis perfectissime rubeat, & regali veste induatur ab igne. Translation: “Stone dried and incinerated, once again fire increased, as long as the stone get perfectly red, and puts on a royal garment by means of fire.”
Et iste calor assimilatur calori Solis in Leone. Haec enim est suae dignitatis domus. Deinde continuetur donec sit venenum. Translation: “And this heat is alike to heat when Sun is in Leo. This being its magnificent house. Then it is to be continued as long as it will be Venenum.” Venenum-ii, in latin does not mean poison, as commonly believed, but juice, drink, philtre, dye, and Purple color.
Tunc enim draco noster in fixatione solari fulgens, radio coelestium & terrestrium virtute decoratur. Hinc autem Lapis Philosophicus omnia vincens, omnia digerens, qui corpori cuncta vitia corrigit & emendat. Huius nomina multiplicantur secundum multitudinem colorum apparentium. Nam in regimine primo, cum niger est, vocatur terra, & saturnus, & nominibus omnium nigrorum & terrestrium corporum. Deinde cum dealbatur, vocatur aqua viva, & nominibus omnium aquarum & salium, aluminum, & rerum habentium albedinem. Translation: “Then our dragon shining in solar fixation gets decorated by beams of superior and inferior virtues. From that moment Philosophers Stone is all winning, all digesting or setting free (13), for all the errors in a body can amend and correct. Whose names are to be multiplied according to the various apparent colors. In fact in the first regimen, when it is black, is called earth and Saturn and all the black names and terrestrial bodies. Later when it whitens, is called aqua viva (living water) and all the names of waters, salts and aluminum and white things. “
Postquam autem incitrinatur & sublimatur, & subtiliatur, tunc vocatur aer, oleum citrinum & nominibus omnium spiritualium & volatilium. Deinde vero cum rubescit, vocatur coelum, sulphur rubeum, aurum, carbunculus, & numinibus omnium sub eorum preciosum pulchritidinem habentium, tam in lapidibus quam in animalibus & plantis. Translation: “Thus after being maked orange-jellowish (14) and sublimated and made subtle, finally called air, orange-jellowish oil and every other spiritual and volatile name. When following it gets red and is called sky, red Sulphur, gold, carbuncle, and all we can possibly have of precious beauty in stones as well as in animals and plants.”
- Regimen-minis, in latin means rule, steer, behavior;
- See also Atalanta Fugiens and the Golden Apples;
- See also J.I.Hollandus de Lapide Philosophico or Weidenfeld and Basilius Oleum Vitriolis ;
- See also Kamala Jnana;
- See also Cabala Mineralis and the three salts enigma;
- For difference between First Matter and Matter First, see Morienus and Mercurius Odor;
- See also Baro Urbigerus and Circulation;
- See also Dorneus and the third level;
- See also Basilius Valentinus, Salt, Azoth or Philosophers Gold;
- Proportions. Some called them signatures. But the most learned alchemists prefer referring to them simply as “weights”, leaving the term “signatures” to external influences;
- Total is unknown in classic latin dictionaries, apparently “summa” meaning can be applied;
- Exsisto, in latin means to appear, to rise;
- Digero means digest, but also set free;
- See also Artephius;