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 make wonders with Mercurius Philosophorum, and indeed in this little treatise he shows all his limits. Nevertheless he speaks out, unlike the “perfect” alchemists, and help us to 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 each other in a chemical process, we are allow to use the word Alchemy.
Hollandus operations on urine are of course 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 a 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 make fixed and be able to 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, which is considered a putrefactive sign, the main and universal colors in alchemical main works are unequivocally White and Red, in order (1). When we reach red after a white and then we obtain a white again, we have achieved 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. In fact 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. As a matter of fact a perfect and easy main work is that of Kamala Jnana (3) at very low temperatures. Hollandus proceedings are less ideal as well as being more difficult to carry about. I do not recommend them nowadays. But they are interesting indeed to get 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 container, distill as much as you can so some black feces will remain in the bottom, which you have to calcine for three hours in order 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, then make whiten 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 in 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. Which salt dry in a clay pan or similar; keep again its use as measure (9).
Now distill all the extracted urine, which if an oil begins to float over remove to purity with a feather. Over and over do extract the urine from the earthed vitreous vessel, put an alembic on and fit a recipient and over and over repeat till nothing remain but feces, which further distillations are useless.
Then have a repetitions of extraction by Balneum Mariae till some black feces will remain. Nevertheless you have to repeat the extraction as long as a 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 well close and place over 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 probably this “purified Water” will look closer to our Mercurius than common water. I have already said Hollandus being quite ambiguous on the real “texture” of this fluid, as he did in De Lapide Philosophico. For further information see at footnote number 4.
“Pay attention. When the salt is solved in the clear water and in feces, at that time it is perfectly prepared”.
The Latin word clarus-a-um means clear, limpid, bright, luminous, pretty white. I have already said about this water in Holladus lexicon (see footnote number 4). In fact in the sentence above we have encountered the concept of a salt having being prepared and dissolved with a great part of its feces. No wonder, this is what Alchemy is about: the great part of solid parts should raise in distillation. Unlike spagyrics Alchemy doesn’t stop before a so difficult task as lifting feces. Since is from solid state matter that we can obtain the most amount of Secret Fire. Of course we have to solve feces in a liquid. And this is a not easy operation.
“ Because it is once again purified as before, but now is free from feces and coarse fluids and ineffably subtilized”.
To get rid of feces we cannot simply remove them, but to subtilize them as I mentioned above.
“Of this urine take six parts, of distilled vinegar four parts, and three parts of brandy (aqua vitae), an half pound of salt (10), an half pound of sal armoniac (11), an 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.”By means of 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, by means of that he will be able to dissolve every salt of every body. But it is not enough.
“………as well as of every thing which is white or red.”
In fact if our Mercurius utility, once fixed in Mercurius Philosophorum, was just to be a Universal Dissolvent, it would not be such an impressive thing. Now Hollandus is leaving preparatory works and he does means to travel through Main Work, which is essentially a bunch of operations on Mercurius Colors ( 13). Operation which we known 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.”
Sentence very badly written and ambiguous too. Anyway: we are told distillations to get the water were 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 makes all the cooking. But very often, specially in mediaeval age, alchemists kept on with rectifications at not so low temperatures. We will see if Hollandus is of 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.