In this first operative chapter, we grab the meaning of the Know Yourself motto and keep 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 that man is an 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 what 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 operas need each other. To put it into poor words, the work on humans, or eternity (1), in this site tagged as “The 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 vast 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 operate 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 newly 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, broadly 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, maybe for the first time, some operations on humans are here clearly finalized to human opera and the Alchemy’s 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 operations on blood other than artists. This prospect implies and involves giant and behind close walls knowledge, and moreover is not at all to the operator’s advantage, but to help the person or animal from whose the operator extracts the blood. 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) was just named after it. But this “love” is not the canonical sentimental and psychological deep affection or adoration we are used to hearing in the 21st century. This is an alchemical operative love, so strong to… dissolve, instead. 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.
Colossal 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 clear.
But Testamentum Fraternitatis is also largely unreliable, because, as we will see in the coming chapters, the fundamental 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 wholly 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 contemporary treatises, and instead an 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 the 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 the great Jehovah has formed and created in his image. He is the center of all the created things. For this, the Lord has put under his feet all the created things. But for 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 into which it is concealed. And they are both uncatchable without the will of the Highest, who can get them uncatchable. Hence they are close to 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 the 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 them catchable. So they are closed in the body, and they dwell in a fragile hut. Being man the noblest 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 to the Great Spirit in which he lives. For this very reason, man is created as an 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 is owned not by the flesh but by spirit, although it can never happen for him to be abandoned by the Eternal and Jehovah. As, if that happened even life would 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 it, can never get rid of it. In fact, the spirit is the Great Creator’s image. But what does a man do when, disobeying, indulging in the carnal pleasures and defiles, offending the Eternal Spirit? He does nothing but denies and offend against awareness of Who that has created him and loves him ardently; does nothing but transform himself into a being equal as the 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 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, wishes for being born and demonstrates he is God through you, as He, without you, cannot be God.
Why do you hesitate? Should it be Him to take you? If you make Him get angry 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 death and seize the Divinity of 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. 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 diverted from the union with your creator! Go for what is eternal and get away from what is carnal! Don’t disappoint your creator by loving things other than Him! Give yourself to Him with all your heart, soul, and strength! Offer yourself to Him! If you do that you will be blessed and filled with knowledge and could read into the heart of nature and creatures. And nature and creatures will ultimately submit to you and obey you. Then you will taste the power of the inferior and superior world. The power will be within you if you are not crazy, furious, and blind. Put before the Highest throne lauding your creator for all the strengths dwelling in your soul! Lay them down at his feet and don’t keep anything for you! And – how amazing! – He will welcome you as a sacrificial offer and in turn will be poured thousand times into your soul. Therefore you shall be filled with the strength of the Highest. Mountains must step back before your passing through, and waters get divided. Almost, by virtue of that power, you will be able to know the angels and see them in the harmony of spirit before God.
Oh, ineffable benevolence of the Highest! Oh, inscrutable love that penetrates the marrow of bones! Oh, inexhaustible flowing of the spirit as you permeate your faithful! For them, you are a crown of delights, filled with lust and all the rich goods of your salvation. You fill them with the fire of your love, penetrating, powerful, and stronger than death.
Oh, Zebaoth, Lord, man has to know himself and He who is living into his soul because we live, operate and are in Him.
Oh, ineffable benevolence of the Highest! Oh, inscrutable love that penetrates the marrow of bones! Oh, inexhaustible flowing of the spirit as you permeate your faithful! For them, you are a crown of delights, you filled them with lust and all the rich goods of your salvation. You fill them with the fire of your love, penetrating, powerful, and stronger than death.
Oh, Zebaoth, Lord, man has to know himself and He who is living into his soul because we live, operate and are in Him.
Then, when you will have found yourself and have been found, you are going to have in your hand, or better inside you, all the superior and inferior strengths and you can make the Mysterium Magnum. Given the power of your soul, this will be easy. You will be able to command all the spirits subjected to you; you will be able to command nature to do what has been created for; given that power, you will be able to save and free a soul from ruin, as your spirit will take hold of this soul, so he/she must obey him. In that state, you will be invincible against the spiritual forces of darkness, who must keep out from you and even obey you.
Nevertheless, pay close attention, and remember you must not presume this power to be yours, of your property, nor do anything that doesn’t bring glory and honor to the Great Spirit. Otherwise, you will be bedeviled. Instead, offer, in your turn, all you do by his strength so that brings back to Him all the glory. In this way, he will not abandon you but guide you as he guided all the fathers who completely relied upon him. You should be tied to Him only, and He should not be hurt by you; either you adore another creature, or in addition to him, you love things worth very little. In fact, he is the life of your soul; He gave you so many blessings, who has created you so noble and poured into you the life of all things, even a life much more magnificent than the great world. You keep in you all that is under your feet; you, since must generate his creatures, do live in the Verbo Domini ( Lord’s word). The power of nature keeps thanks to you and the Great Spirit of Jehovah, in within you live, as the Spirit who has created the world is into your soul, that’s to say, in your’s soul life. So you see in you all the strength of nature; in this strength dwells the Great Spirit of Jehovah.
Thus know yourself, and fear and love God above any other thing with all your heart and soul! And keep away from all gods and those who get themselves to be called “god” and hold the treasure of your soul! Mind not to express a favorable opinion on them and not to get, in so doing, unworthy of the strength and cooperation of the Great Spirit, but make sure your greatest effort is to love God with all your heart. Don’t share your heart with them. Don’t be unfaithful, and think that in your soul, there must be the steady foundation of the Highest. The Lord recognizes only those who belong to him.
For this reason, dearest man, the Highest has created the man and put in him, in an even nobler, all that exists in nature and creatures. Thus, I teach you that what is above is the same as what is below, and you can do prodigious things with that. The man owns all these treasures and brings them inside his body!