King Khalid asked: “Morienus, tell me of the Stone odor”. There’s a difference between Secret Fire and Mercurius. Between Prima Materia, Materia Prima and Materia Secunda.
Morieni Romani, quondam Eremitae Hïerosolymitani …… Libellus, or the Booklet of roman Morienus and hermit in Jerusalem. Edited and published in Paris under supervision of Gulielmum Guillard, 1559. Since Morienus said of himself to have been Adfar, or Stephanos, apprentice in Alexandria we are allowed to date him at the second half of seventh century A.D. Probably his booklet arrived in Spain in tenth century, well before crusades and the well known translation from Arabic by Robertus Castrenis in 1182, following Turba Philosophorum route. But let’s get on with this interesting excerpt now, whereby King Khalid (of Egypt supposedly) is asking about Stone appearance and odor.
Morienus said: “This substance is sweet and mild”. This stone is of delicate touch, and there is more mildness in its touch than in its substance. As for mass it is very weighty, but of sweet taste, and its proper nature is aerial”.
Khalid asked: “Tell me of its odor, before and after its confection”. Morienus answered: “Before confectioning, its odor is very heavy and foul. But an authority has said concerning is odor after confectioning that this water, or virgin’s milk, removes from a corpse, earth, in which there is no more spirit, the odor which is foul like that of tombs.
Further, an authority said that when the white spirit or milk has been made and raised, and the residual body well prepared, so that its darkness or blackness is removed and that foul odor withdrawn from it, the extraction of the spirit from the body has been accomplished. And at the moment of conjunction of that spirit with that body, great wonders will be seen.
King Khalid said: “Explain to me the different natures. How does that which is below, or earth, rise up, and how does that which is above, or fire, descend, and how is one joined with the other so that they then are mixed in turn, and what is it that effects their mixing, and how does that blessed water or virgin’s milk come to reduce and cleanse things of that foul odor which is like the odor of tombs in which the dead are buried?” Pay attention to this paragraph, for it is going to be crucial for our topic.
Morienus answered: “On this point, Merkovisem said to Sernale: by what names may this matter be called? And he replied: fragrance and incense. After its color is refined, there remains in it nothing of darkness or foul odor”.
Fulcanelli retakes this Morienus excerpt in Mystery of Cathedrals 1926 and adds some observation on the slow and gradual decomposition of the human body: “Odor decreases gradually, eventually reaches a stage where all the soft parts are scattered on the ground forming a storage muddy, blackish and with a smell that has something aromatic. Regarding the transformation of the stench in perfume, it should be noted the striking similarity with what old Masters said about the Great Work physics. In particular, two of them, Morienus and Ramon Llull state that after the foul (Odor Teter) from the obscure dissolution, the scent is sweeter, because it is the scent of life and property of heat”.
Odors are features of preparatory work or Labors of Hercules ending ( see an Opus Magnum scheme). Having said that, is time to understand what smell is: a perceptual system that allows an organism to bind to dispersed molecules, creating a mental representation of the chemical world around us.
And now why a substance can emit a smell: the process of odor perception begins when volatile chemical species, typically small organic molecules carried by the flow of breathed air, reaching the nasal neuro epithelium where million olfactory cells reside separate. Each of these sensory cells is a bipolar neuron that projects an axon to the olfactory bulb and extends a dendritic process to the nasal lumen.
From these statements it is clear enough that only a molecular substance can possibly emit a smell which we are able to detect. Secret Fire, coming from Suns and Stars as well as that one extracted from mass, is hardly in molecular form. Since its real composition cannot be so much different from Light. It is said that Secret Fire housing may be in electronic clouds. And unlikely any atom can be contained inside its electrons. Consequently we can evince that we cannot detect Secret Fire since we cannot smell it out. These are what we call seeds. But where this fragrance can possibly come from? From a molecule, no question about it. So from a Materia Secunda. Since smelling is a bio-chemical issue. Even in Alchemy.
Secret Fire should be (and really is) Prima Materia or Spirit/Principle of Life and slightly denser Materia Prima or Soul. But we are humans and we have to “handle” substances, so we need chemical or molecular “means”. Alchemists need “handling” or fixed substances. We need molecular Mercurius. Indeed an hermetic convention defines Prima Materia and Materia Prima Mercurius and Sulphur. While they precisely are Materia Secunda or “vessels”. As a matter of fact, when speaking of Mercurius and Sulphur we are into molecular scale. Unless we intend those ones as mere Solve et Coagula movements inside vessel, as rule of three may allow (an allegory stands for at least three different meanings). In one of their meanings Mercurius and Sulphur are means or material vehicles for our ineffable Secret Fire. And only inside these material vehicles, Materia Secunda, we can find out agreeable and repulsive odors.
In some previous posts in this blog, for example the latter one on Starkey salts volatilization, I stated that Secret Fire comes out after repeated changes of state in chemical salts during preparatory work or Labors of Hercules under appearance of Mercurius. Of course Mercurius is not the mere result of repeated volatilizations, for a putrefaction and a “philosophical” digestion is then involved. Nevertheless molecules resulting from these operations are different from starting ones. Just one example: salts extracted from putrefied urine smell horribly. King Khalid appropriately asks how did that which was below, or earth, rose up, and how did that which was above, or fire, descended, and their mixing is Virgin’s Milk (white Mercurius). Rising up and descending inside a vessel cannot but being intended as a Solve et Coagula process or volatilization. Fulcanelli is more poetic but less essential than Morienus.
Back to urine salts we can argue that a strong oxidation causes their dark color in putrefaction phase. Secret Fire cooks, say Alchemists and Secret Fire in its electronic coming out might consequently be a strong oxidant. Result is Mercurius. We know that out of foul volatilized substance, like urine rotten salts, we get wonderfully smelling molecules like benzoates. But also some acetates can agreeably smell. If you remember Morienus answer: “By what names may this matter be called? Fragrance and incense. After its color is refined, there remains in it nothing of darkness or foul odor”. I don’t want to mean that all Mercurii are fragrant molecules. Not all Mercurii smell agreeably. In fact some don’t smell at all. For alchemical ways are countless. Benzoates and acetates are just few samples of Mercurius. Inside our vehicles or “vessel” or Materia Secunda, our Secret Fire or Prima-Materia Materia-Prima, little star, is acting. And doesn’t smell at all.