In this first operative chapter we grab the meaning of Know Yourself motto and deep the use of parts of oneself to prepare the Mysterium Magnum.
My translation from Archarion’s La Via della Vera Alchimia, ed. Mediterranee 1994, appendix Testamentum Fraternitatis Roseae et Aureae Crucis from Cod SN 2897 in the Vienna Nationalbibliothek, with the Ms full title Testamentum Der Fraternitet Rosæ et Auræ Crucis, als gewisse Extases oder geheime Operationes, wodurch das Mysterium eröffnet an unsere Kinder der Weisheit göttlicher Magie und englischer Cabbalae. I.W.R. Anno 580.
You can find the first part with the coded biblical introductory part, as well as the constitution of the order and index at Testamentum Fraternitatis Roseae et Aureae Crucis. Part 1.
When saying man is image of God, Testamentum Fraternitatis Roseae et Aureae Crucis author does mean there is something inside man of divine nature. This is the subject of our Art, concerning the human stone. The motto “know yourself” points at that: to extract which is inside man, and make it a subject to work on. Body, mind, spirit and soul.
Nevertheless is not correct to merely state the human “subjectus” can be either chemical or spiritual, since this division is arbitrary, and typical of the dominant culture of the last two millennia. Actually, we need both. Or better, both opera need each other. To put it into poor words, the work on humans, or eternity (1), in this site tagged as “Other States of the being”, seems to necessarily employ our body, mind, spirit and soul. As well as preparing the Mysterium Magnum. And when saying “body” we cannot help to use chemical parts of ourselves, perhaps not so glamorous, but easy to be extracted. The Testamentum Fraternitatis author will call these preparations Lapis Microcosmi.
For eternity, Testamentum Fraternitatis seems to mean a state after death, explicitly mentioning the term: “….. some brothers, past the human life, enter the eternity”..
To carry out this huge and strenuous task, the apprentice should be worthy of it. Thus, the first chapter starts with a very long moral exhortation: if you want to make God operating through you, you must tend at his level. Here the document shows once again how deeply soaked it was in the baroque age, since this first part appears not dissimilar from many contemporary Christian exegeses. But we know that was extremely common and ubiquitous among alchemical authors of the time. You should not be surprised, in fact Testamentum Fraternitatis, either issued by a secret brotherhood as a handbook for new accepted brothers ( pretty unlikely, in my opinion) or not, is an operative treatise rather than philosophical. And moreover is in a written form, which, again, largely argues against its claim to give secret instructions ( which instead tended to be orally transmitted from master to pupil. In fact secret operative and philosophical knowledge had only been transmitted in oral form. This was an inescapable must. Do not misunderstand me: knowledge has been clearly revealed in written form, but scattered in thousands of manuscripts. Often not even strictly treating Alchemy).
If there is no doubt the Testamentum Fraternitatis writer has been very careful in taking all the precautions to be considered a good christian, nevertheless, may be for the first time, some operations on humans are here clearly finalized to human opera and the Alchemy ultimate purpose is overtly admitted. Not all the interpretations of Christian scriptures of the time dared to affirm that man could be not so different from God, and operate (or create) alongside Him.
In this regard we must make a due warning to readers. Due, because of the operations on blood other than artist’s. This prospect implies and involves huge and behind close walls knowledge, and moreover is not at all to operator’s advantage, but to help the person or animal whose the operator extract the blood for. Whether these works are involved in the “eternity” of the blood owner, I can honestly only suspect.
Our superficial contemporaries tend instead to give a psychological sense to all symbolism they bump into. Unfortunately for them, the “Know Yourself” aim exposed in Testamentum Fraternitatis, or the process of finding the raw matters in oneself, has little to do with the modern psychological insight, or awareness, of himself, and the achievement of a mere alchemical feeling. But is rather finalized to something the cautious author was so lucky to have an already encoded symbol for: “Love”. For instance, Fedeli d’Amore (love in italian) were just named after it. But this “love” is not the canonical sentimental and psychological deep affection or adoration we are used to hear in 21st century. This is an alchemical operative love, so strong to…….dissolve, rather. Or better, as Testamentum Fraternitatis says: “Oh inscrutable love that penetrates to the marrow of bones!………….You fill them with the fire of your love, which is penetrating and is powerful and stronger than death” (2).
Anyway, I would like to warn the reader not to take literally all he/she’s going to read, in fact as one goes into the study he will become aware of both the great interest of this document and also its unreliability.
Huge interest, because it represents a summary of the ultimate philosophical and supernatural purpose of Alchemy. And also because some proceedings on chemical Alchemy are somehow in clear.
But Testamentum Fraternitatis is also largely unreliable, because, as we will see in the coming chapters, the real philosophical and supernatural practice of Alchemy should here be read between the lines. In fact in these pages too much shoddy magic still veils the vertigo heights and abyssal depths of the real alchemical ” work on humans”. And as for the unveiled processes to Alkahest, they are definitely not completely unveiled, but just started. In fact what we are going to find here is largely referred just to the initial parts of the entire work. That’s to say the preliminary works, the works to achieve our Mercurius/Alkahest ( in fact when the author mentions the addition of gold, there should start the real main works, which will open out with washings and passage of colors). Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the preliminary works were commonly kept secret in the contemporary treatises, and rather object of chemistry essays.
Just a little observation on operative parts: note how many liquefying, crystallizing and crushing phases are there. Countless, indeed. This is the solve et coagula involved in preliminary works: in this way Secret Fire comes from power to act. This is a necessary part of “magnetization” (3). It would be also interesting to make a comparison between the processes here described and those on urine on this same site (4).
First of all, as the soul and body of men are the most excellent subjectus created by God for Mysterium, what matter can one take to prepare the stone of the ancient, and what do with it in the mysterium.
Man is the noblest creature who great Jehovah has formed and created to his image. He is the centre of all the created things. For this the Lord has put under his feet all the created things. But this image to be equal to God, the excellent spirit has penetrated into it taking a living form, but uncatchable and piercing: To give the spirit a home he has created a soul in which it is concealed into. And they are both uncatchable without the will of the Highest, who can get them uncatchable. Hence they are closed into the body and dwell in a fragile shelter. So, being the man the noblest among creatures, the highest from the upper has let flow every strength in him. Man has all which have nature and all the created things. But to make this image equal to God, the excellent spirit has penetrated into it taking a living form, but uncatchable and penetrating. To give a home to spirit he has created a soul in which it is concealed. And they are both uncatchable without the will of the Highest, who can get then catchable. So they are closed in the body and they dwell a fragile hut. Being man the most noble creature of all, the Highest has poured on him all strength. Man has all the nature and created things have, his life is an ardent spiritual life, because made alive and animated by the Eternal Spirit all the moments and is penetrated by it. In fact man doesn’t belong to himself, but the Great Spirit in which he lives. For this very reason man is created as image of the Great Spirit in Jehovah, and he is so noble to dominate the angels, better to order them according to his soul and spirit will, if he stays in it and owned not by the flesh but by spirit, although it can never happens for him to be abandoned by the Eternal and Jehovah. As, if that happened even life will abandon him; in fact all the spirits and all the supernatural things come from God, from his inexhaustible spirit. Thus, man, even if tries to rebel against, can never gets rid of. In fact the spirit is the Great Creator image. But what does man do when, disobeying, indulge in the carnal pleasures and defiles, offending the Eternal Spirit? He does nothing but deny and offending against awareness Who that has created him and loves him ardently; does nothing but transform himself in a being as equal as Devil, because he desecrates and makes a monstrous of the Highest image. And think how can the Eternal Spirit feel, so to say as humans, since man should be ardently devoted to God to operate within Him and be entitled to invoke him.
So how can such a spoiled man acknowledge what the Highest has placed in the nature which is outside him, if he doesn’t know himself, given that all the forces of nature and all the creatures are set in him? You have in yourself all the inferior and superior forces. You should be a creator with the Spirit of God and carry out wonders by means of spirit and the strength of faith. You should operate with God, and the Spirit of God with you! He, the Great Jehovah, wish for being born and demonstrate he is God through you, as He, without you, cannot be God.
Why do you hesitate? Should be Him to take you? If you make Him to get anger at you, you pronounce your sentence. Consider the privilege you have against the other creatures! You are superior to angels and nonetheless you don’t live an angelic life. So the life of your soul must also be your soul aspiration.
Hence descend into your center and look for the one who loves your soul! Search for him! And that you could find him! And you will find he who is the life of your soul, how you will embrace him! Get away from the death and seize the Divinity life, will and strength! Get purified and rid of the imprisonment by flesh and asters. Grab the divinity of your soul! Don’t give up till you will have seized it and have been seized by it. That you can say: now I know he who loves my soul; he is inside me and me in him. Brave all the hells and run away from all that belongs to the flesh! Because the flesh spoils everything and corrupts what is being produced. He who operates in God instead, with God will stay in eternity. His life comes not to an end because he is within God. For you nothing should be superior to God: and should not have any another thought but that coming out of God; could it seem to you as good as it means to have! Don’t get you confusing and diverting from the union with your creator! Go for what is eternal and get away from what is carnal! Don’t disappoint your creator loving things other than Him! Give yourself to Him with all your heart, soul and strengths! Offer yourself to Him! If you do that you will be blessed and filled with knowledge and could read in the heart of nature and creatures.