This picture, taken from Archarion’s Italian edition of Von Wahrer Alchemie, is the most comprehensive Great Work or Opus Magnum scheme, as far as I know.
Great Work is Alchemist as well as Secret Fire Work. It is a co-operation. This necessary scheme doesn’t need too much exegesis: it renders the main three different stages or works and is indispensable to understanding the “why” in ancient treatises.
Nevertheless, don’t worry ( or don’t be too happy): it is not comprehensive of all operations involved. We have to come through gaps, indeed. By the way, it provides a very useful tool for mind mapping to create visual representations of relationships between phases, which are otherwise treated as untied in most traditional hermetic pictures. The diagram presented here can be implemented through the frequently asked questions.
The first is Lavoro Preparatorio, preparatory work, the Labors of Hercules, or the Alchemist’s work. Subjectum Crudum is Materia Tertia or raw matter reduced to chemical salts, and it can be whatever you can think of. Provide the required amount of Mercurius Universalis/Secret Fire inside. That is to say, it is recommended a raw matter with a certain amount of Secret Fire inside or that has been previously exposed to Secret Fire. We are not interested in molecules; we are trying to gather this ineffable and ubiquitous substance. Generally speaking, some mineral ores are already naturally rich in Secret Fire. Nevertheless, there can be the case in which we have to enrich raw matter with further Secret Fire coming from the sky (3), or we have decided to take raw matter from the sky. Aurum Astrale ( Astral Gold) on the left is just the astronomical sun, and Argentum Vivum ( Quicksilver) on the right is our orbiting satellite moon. The rule of three ( every allegory or symbol may stand for at least three different concepts) provides other meanings for Sun and Moon symbolism (4). Still, in
Analisi, or analysis, stands for the process of separating something into its constituent elements. Pay attention here: do not jump to the easy conclusion of destroying the matter tout court. The analysis is magnetization. And destruction in Alchemy leads to magnetization. Indeed, Subjectum Crudum is the only substance in Alchemy that can directly receive destructive daytime influences.
Note that “Solve et Coagula” is not used by Archarion in Labors of Hercules. Mind that a universal hermetic lexicon has always been nonexistent among alchemists, and some authors don’t use these words when referring to the mere chemical separation of principles. Nevertheless, Mercurius, Sulfur, and Salt are featured above Caput Mortuum. And we know they are Solve et Coagula movements, no way (5).
Caput Mortuum is our first putrefaction, our first blackness, and our first gap. A huge gap. Here blackness and irrational repetitions make the difference between this preparatory work and spagyric. Achieving Caput mortuum has always been as difficult as achieving Colomba Dianae, first whiteness, or Mercurius. Mercurius crudus must become totally and perfectly black to aspire to Primitive Mercurius heights. We must go further than a simple Materia Tertia resolved in a chemical salt. And very few things are more difficult than getting a chemical salt to turn perfectly black through the labors of Hercules. We often come up against decomposing and disintegrating bodies in the natural world. If you go into a wood and look up where new plantings are likely to germinate from, most of the time, it will happen over a rotten dead bole. Examine and learn. We are to encounter this concept over and over along this blog.
The canonical end of the labors of Hercules is the achievement of first whiteness, Mercurius, Universal Solvent, Alkahest, Principle of Life, or Spiritus Vitae. Its achievement is hard human work. Then we have to fix it. Sometimes we don’t need to, but some others, during second work, we better need a hermaphrodite than a too fluid (and volatile) woman. Many can stop here. Mercurius and Mercurius Philosophorum are already powerful magnets (in the sense of awakener). For another Mercurius/Secret Fire from the sky to come and accord the main register. That’s what Fulcanelli called External Influences (6). The first time we encounter the Resonance/Mirror concept. And another Mercurius can be introduced: Mercurius Sideribus.
Boundaries between preparatory work and Main Work are not so clean, as seen in this Hollandus “recipe”.
But now that we have Spirit, we may try to go ahead and extract Soul. As a matter of fact, what is Alchemy for? Second Work or “Lavoro Principale” or Main work. We will need a Mercurius Duplicatus (7). Traditionally, the duplication of Mercurius is the most secret and fascinating alchemical item. The second time we encounter the Mirror concept. Where Alchemical Marriage takes its origin, in this phase, the alchemist can stand by and watch, at least like a mother watching and feeding her child. Kamala Jnana and Arthephius Secret Book (8) start their descriptions just before Caput Corvi, Crow Head, or second putrefaction. Second Blackness. Secret Fire is now free from his grave/body and can solve et coagulate. It can free itself on its own. And so the separation of principles is here Philosophical and not chemical.
This new Alchemical Child needs to be breastfed with mother’s milk, our Alkahest previously set aside for the purpose. This will be how the “Rota” or color rotations will go (9). But it isn’t enough, for we need Perfect Sulphur. Operations have to be multiplicated (10). The alchemical child or soul needs a grown-up meal: his blood (11).
Sulfur Philosophorum. Lapis Medicinalis, medical stone. Once again, we could stop here. I don’t mean to say anything about projection powder or trasmutation powder. But other authors will do that, and I will present them in the coming posts. As well as analyzing the different graphic symbols.
Third phase. Having reached perfect redness, we might now go for Lapis Medicinalis. In his scheme, Archarion has not mentioned all the repetitions we need to get to substance immobility. Every repetition is an enhancement or exaltation. To get to the point that the very substance will not be so keen to begin anew, the black-white-red rotation. Understand me. After the last blackness, Iris is a ring-shaped membrane and means “ all colors”.
Lapis Universalis or Aurum Philosophorum. As mentioned before, the hermetic lexicon has never been homogenized. Some authors intend Mercurius Philosophorum for Aurum Philosophorum or Philosophers Gold. At the same time, Lapis Universalis seems a less controversial term.
Now, all we have to do is a Vase-Egg. A vessel out of the vessel. And for the third time, we can encounter the Resonance/Mirror concept. The Egg should emit a series of eight musical notes, as whistles (12). Then a split in the Egg will put the Stone in display (13). But, before, we have to make the egg-last oven. Exclusively handcrafted operation (14).
- “ la Via della Vera Alchimia” E. Mediterranee, Roma 1994, is the Italian translation of the German original edited in Freiburg 1983.
- Kriegsmann/ Sun, Moon, Wind and Earth in Tabula Smaragdina ;
- Thesaurus Hermeticum & Dry Pythagorean River , Nuisement and the Sun Resisting Capture , Voynich Manuscript and the Unknown Part of the Rhythm , Perugino and the lady of the Wind ;
- Sun & Moon at the Turn of the First Millennium , Philosophia Reformata, Father Sun & Mother Moon ;
- Wenceslaw Lavinius and the Sky and Earth Properties , Stoll, the Lacinius Translator on Male and Female Elements , Basilius Valentinus & Solve et Coagula Tree ;
- Fulcanelli & External Influences , Introitus Apertus vs Waite’s Open Entrance. Chap 4 ;
- Atalanta Fugiens & Mercurius Duplicatus ;
- Kamala Jnana, Introduction to a Live Secret , Arthepius, Secret Book and Secret Fire ;
- Kamala Jnana, from Black to White ;
- Splendor Solis & Children Multiplication ;
- Ripley Scroll: the Soul drinks only Blood ;
- Canseliet, the Art of Music & Weight , Atorène: Fire and Weights in Canseliet’s Last Cooking , Brouaut’s Frontispiece, the Organ Pythagorean Proportions ;
- Hieronymus Bosch and the Concert in the Egg ;
- Canseliet & the Details of the Last Cooking , Piero della Francesca & the Pendent Egg;