How a volatile urine salt can extract our White and Red Dye from minerals. By a not-perfect alchemist often mistrusted because of his candor: J. I. Hollandus.
Probably Johannes Isaac Hollandus was not a “perfect alchemist”, in the sense he didn’t appear to do wonders with Mercurius Philosophorum, and indeed in this little treatise, he shows all his limits. Nevertheless, unlike the “perfect” alchemists, he speaks out and helps us make an idea, if not of perfect works, at least of a real fifteenth-century alchemical operative environment. Since when we hear of white and red colors one after other in a chemical process, we are allowed to use the word Alchemy.
Hollandus operations on urine are quite different from Glaser and the Unladylike, but Volatile, Salt of Urine and Lancillotti and the Magisterium of Urine on Caput Mortuum. The two last ones were searching for medicine, Hollandus for a Tincture. Thus Glaser and Lancillotti did content themselves with the achievement of a volatile salt to have a perfectly digestible drug. While Hollandus is an alchemist searching for a “ Dying Mercurius” or a Sulphur, hence an impalpable substance above and beyond common sublimations, then makes fixed and can change colors of itself.
My translation from latin, though not very comfortable due to syntax errors, was as verbatim as possible. So: “Tractatus Johannis Isaaci Hollandi de Urina quomodo per Spiritum ejus omnes Tincturae sint Extrahenda” or Treatise by Johannes Isaac Hollandus on Urine and how by its Spirit all Tinctures are extracted. Theatrum Chemicum, Tome sixth page 566:
“It is known that all and any tinctures (dyes) will be within White and Red… ”
Apart from Black, considered a putrefactive sign, the main and universal colors in main alchemical works are unequivocally White and Red, in order (1). When we reach red after a whiteness and then obtain white again, we achieve Tinctures or Dyes. Secret Fire here starts its stunning cooking work ( see an Opus Magnum scheme).
“… and the same operation will be.”
The same matter, the same operation will be. The only matter is provided by our Mercurius Philosophorum (2) out of preparatory works and then cooked by itself, continuously poured over itself, or ( Hollandus method) continuously sublimed. This last operation defines all Hollandus alchemical limits. A perfect and easy main work is that of Kamala Jnana (3) at very low temperatures. Hollandus proceedings are less ideal and more difficult to carry about. I do not recommend them nowadays. But they are interested in getting an idea of the Secret Fire/Mercurius mechanism. And Power.
“Thus, take a glass pot with some old and clear urine, and after having adapted an alembic with the container, distill as much as you can so some black feces will remain in the bottom, which you have to calcine for three hours to make then gradually whiten (4). Dissolve in common water (5), and after that, you will cook (6) for two hours, without any pause, then decant what is limpid, once again pour, and cook till coating, finally put in a cold place or a cellar and you will see a clear crystallized salt. Cook the water again with the extracted salt and without crystallizing as before. Dry the crystallized salt in a clay pan, and whiten it in a clay pot, but take care not to liquefy it. At that point, dissolve in distilled common water and put over the fire for a quart of time (7), remove from fire, and keep without feces, this done pour as before.”
Just notice all the repetitions of the same operations without an apparent reason. That’s the alchemical way to free our Secret Fire from matter: destroying matter with hot and cold (8).
Theatrum Chemicum, page 567: “ Always pour as soon as it got hot red and again till coating; cook, place in open air or the cellar as before, and remove the crystallized salt, really the remaining water or urine, which is not get extracted from salt yet, over again cook till coating, as long as the salt will be done. If salt dries in a clay pan or similar, keep its use again as a measure (9).
Now distill all the extracted urine, an oil that begins to float over, and remove to purity with a feather. Over and overdo, extract the urine from the earthed vitreous vessel, put an alembic on and fit a recipient, and repeat until nothing remains but feces, which further distillations are useless.
Then have a repetition of extraction by Balneum Mariae till some black feces remain. Nevertheless, it would be best to repeat the extraction as long as limpid water passes and always throw away the feces. Then take your above-mentioned dried salt and put it in your purified water in a glass pot which you will close and place over a hot cinder for three or four days, as long as the salt is solved in purified water and free from every feces.”
From that moment on, it is very probable this “purified Water” will look closer to our Mercurius than common water. I have already said Hollandus is quite ambiguous on the real “texture” of this fluid, as he did in De Lapide Philosophico. For further information see footnote number 4.
“Pay attention. When the salt is solved in the clear water and feces, it is perfectly prepared”.
The Latin word clarus-a-um means clear, limpid, bright, luminous, or pretty white. I have already said about this water in the Holladus lexicon (see footnote number 4). In the sentence above, we have encountered the concept of a salt having been prepared and dissolved with a significant part of its feces. No wonder Alchemy is about this: the great part of solid parts should rise in distillation. Unlike spagyrics, Alchemy doesn’t stop before such a difficult task as lifting feces. Since we can obtain the most amount of Secret Fire from the solid-state matter. Of course, we have to solve feces in a liquid. And this is not an easy operation.
“It is once again purified, but now is free from feces and coarse fluids and ineffably subtilized”.
To get rid of feces we cannot simply remove them but subtilize them, as I mentioned above.
“Of this urine, take six parts of distilled vinegar, four parts, and three parts of brandy (aqua vitae), a half pound of salt (10), a half pound of sal armoniac (11), a half pound of lime, mixed all, without solve feces in the redundant limpid water: and you will have an awesome matter which reduces all the bodies salts in First Matter which is our Mercurius.”Through this blessed water, the Quinta Essentia of Antimony is also extracted… ”
Here we are (12). Hollandus have reached the end of preliminary works and obtained our Mercurius/Secret Fire; through that, he will be able to dissolve every salt of every body. But it is not enough.
“… as well as of everything white or red.”
If our Mercurius utility, once fixed in Mercurius Philosophorum, was to be a Universal Dissolvent, it would not be such an impressive thing. Now Hollandus is leaving preparatory works, and he means to travel through Main Work, which is essentially a bunch of operations on Mercurius Colors ( 13). An operation which we know as Washing or Laton.
“This water so prepared, after ten or twelve of usage you will have done, you will take out, it remains unique in its virtue, and if you ever would use it, its process is rectification.”
The sentence is very poorly written and ambiguous too. We are told distillations to get the water was from ten to twelve. We know these processes help matter to release Secret Fire from within. Both in preparatory works and main ones. Of course, a perfect alchemical process does not need high temperatures in successive operations because Secret Fire does all the cooking. But often, alchemists kept on with rectifications at not-so-low temperatures, especially in the medieval age. We will see if Hollandus is in the last category. Note that, from a certain point of view, even perfect Washings at low temperatures were defined “Rectifications”, since Secret Fire, during colors, is being made purer and purer. “Method to extract every Dye with the previous water.
Take sulfur or Auripigmentum or Ochra or similar…”
Despite names that may seem to have come out of some alchemical work, here Hollandus does mean just minerals he prefers not to mention with their real name. So take them simply as “suitable minerals for our purposes”; that’s to say easy to have their “Soul” extracted.
Theatrum Chemicum, page 568: “… from which to extract Tincture/Dye which is Soul, subtly reduce to powder and to utilize distilled vinegar grind till a wash powder texture, put into a large recipient and place over a cinder or sand heat, and this limpid urine or above mentioned water has to be in a recipient half full, to make flow, close with cork and shake to have it well added, this done on cinders or sand place again, at first at low heat, because they get heated very easily, and mind that the covering is always working with extraction, because tends to bend with air and another glass breaks, always stir the matter with hands to mix up, so the vinegar can well operate… ”
Vinegar was a common dissolvent for ashes and mineral salts.
“When you see the vinegar color being very bright and saturated, pour fiery and limpid with no feces. The poured part has to be kept well closed. Fix as much urine as distilled vinegar and pour into and shake the cork with your hands to stir as before. When it gets colored, pour again by bending and keep well closed.”
Well closed as it tends to be highly volatile.
“Take care to pour every feces and new urine with a bit of vinegar and repeat the operation until the vinegar becomes saturated. This done, you have extracted all tincture/dye, thus throwing away those feces which cannot pass.
Now put your Tincture/Dye in a vessel and let vapors out until a coating-film appears, without chilling, put the matter out of the coating film in a pot with a well-luted alembic. Over cinders or sand oven get humidity extracted and a white or red tincture, according to the stage of matter remained in the bottom… ”
First does appear white and then red. But generally, colors do appear at the top.
“ … and this will be the Quinta Essentia: If you put a white matter your Quinta Essentia will be white as snow; if a red matter, it will be red, and in its virtue gold will shine.”
Johannes Isaac Hollandus is candid, but this part: from Quinta Essentia’s achievement to a transmutation in gold, is a much longer way to go. Of course, he has omitted a lot of operations in between. Quinta Essentia achievement is placed at the beginning of Main Work, as you can check in an Opus Magnum scheme.
“ From this moment, you can extract in the same way the Quinta Essentia of sublimated Mercury from red or white. The same from Mars (iron) filing, Cinnabar or burned air, as well as from calcinated Gold and Silver, from Copper, briefly from all the things in the word.
To make more potent urine, you can add a drachm one and a fruitful Tincture you will extract for any change of Salt Armoniac and common salt.
Note, from those extracted Tinctures, you can obtain stones, by which you can obtain other stones, which is a pretty secret art.
In a certain way, this red water is as much strong and shining as a Ruby. With this Water, wonderful things can be accomplished… quam non licet revelare.”
We often find this ending sentence: “which is not to be revealed”.
- See also Hortulus Hermeticus, Beware of the Red Laton ;
- See also Basilius Salt, Azoth or Philosophers Gold? ;
- Kamala Jnana, from Black to White ;
- The latin verb candesco means to whiten and become red hot. In this operation, the first meaning seems more appropriate to me.
- Hollandus wrote “common water” because he recognizes two kinds of waters: common one and the product of continuous sublimations which has much to do with our white Mercurius. See also “Hollandus, de Lapide Philosophico.First Book 1” ;
- The latin verb coquo-coxi as well as to cook also means to ferment, to ripe, to decompose, to brood;
- The latin sentence is: “per quadrantem horae”. “Hora” in latin cannot, of course, means “hour”, in fact, it signifies “time” in all its meanings. The same for “quart”: it cannot stand for “ quarter of an hour” but a quart like a “ quart of a pound”;
- See also Cesare Ripa & the Hot Frozen World Machine ;
- “dum usum eius indicem serva”;
- Probably common salt;
- See also Lemery & Aqua Regia First Step: Sal Armoniac ;
- See also Atalanta Fugiens & the Golden Apples and Cabala Mineralis & the Three Salts Enigma ;
- See also Kamala Jnana, Introduction to a Live Secret and Artephius, Secret Book and Secret Fire ;