Atalanta Fugiens emblem tenth deals with one of the most important alchemical secrets: Mercurius Duplicatus.
Alchemy is very ancient, but it always does make sense. Atalanta Fugiens emblem tenth has been engraved by a real Alchemy expert, Merian (I do not mean to misuse the term “Adept”). Who cannot be more plain and proficient in showing us this controversial concept?
But we have to start from far away to provide a background for this Atalanta Fugiens emblem X. Recalling my posts on introductions to Artephius (1) and Kamala Jnana Works (2), I said that their descriptions took up after Mercurius Philosophorum achievement. In other posts, I compared this substance with Azoth (3), Philosophers Gold, Aqua Pontica, Hermaphrodite, Aquila Philosophorum, and Sal Armoniacum. I would like to recall here a quote from Hollandus Opera Vegetabilia (4) about the difference between Dissolvents extracted from vegetal salts and mineral salts: “with sal ammoniacus ( armeniacum) extracted from herbs you can make an elixir without the addition of any other species. What you can not do with the sal armeniacum from salts”.
This statement contains a weird alchemical axiom, which ancient alchemists reduce to the essential allegory of two Sperms. They pretend that to perform their work; they need a male and a female sperm to be put together. Hermetic authors usually do not express themselves in more precise ways. Jean de Clairefontaine ( one of the persons of Kamala Jnana’ entourage) in his “Apocalipse Révélation Alchimique” 1968, commenting Roger Caro “Concordances Alchimiques ou la Grande Oeuvre Photographié” 1968, states: ”En possession de sa Minière le fils de Lumière possède les trois constituants qui lui sont nécessaires pour commencer le Grand Oeuvre”, once having acquired their Mine, the sons of Light hold all the three constituents necessary to begin Great Work. Our Mine is another allegory for Mercurius Philosophorum.
So, we are at the beginning of Main Work, already getting hold of Mercurius Philosophorum, which we have achieved at the end of Labors of Hercules (see an Opus Magnum scheme). To begin Main Work, we may sow a more powerful magnet into our Mercurius Philosophorum or Terra Alba Foliata (5) and dissolve it. During dissolution, gold will be ripped into pieces by a muscular Aquila Philosophorum or Eagle.
We need two Eagles, as displayed in the Dorneus cover (6). Because putting a single Terra Alba Foliata to putrefy, we may see nothing. Terrae Albae Foliatae must be two and sometimes three. One is female and virgin, and the other male or provided with Gold inside (7). Simply, before we sow Gold inside, we must divide Mercurius Philosophorum to make two. That’s our Mercurius Duplicatus. As we can see from Merian’s engraving, on the top, a Mercurius ( Philosophorum due to Caduceus’s presence) has been set aside and sits, waiting for the other coming. Now they are ready to merge. A man is stirring up the fire in a fireplace. Because, very often, we need a Priest to celebrate this marriage. Or a Servant to help. Of course, this presence is not fired in common sense, but our Secret Fire is already extracted from Raw Matter or Materia Tertia. The couple and priest, or servant, are not so different from each other.
Michael Maier’s discourse accompanying Atalanta Fugiens emblem tenth: “If this saying is taken literally, it only increaseth the quantity of Fire & Mercury, but introduced no new quality into the subject. For every like added to its like, makes it more like”. Yes, substances to be married are not so different.
“Hence Physicians affirm that contraries are healed & removed by contraries”. Virginal Mercurius Philosophorum acts as female, while that one with Gold inside is considered male. Above, Mylius Philosophia Reformata, second series 1622, displays a sexed couple.
“Limbs benumbed & almost dead with Frost & cold water will be restored by putting them into cold Water rather than by the application of external heat… So we say there is one internal Fire, essentially infixed in the Philosophical subject,”. Our Secret Fire celebrating Mercurii’s marriage is not a common fire but a similar substance (to Mercurius).
“… yet well are broken and reduced to a pulp in Water, the heat of the Fire rarifying the Water by ebullition & reducing to almost an aerial substance, so the heat of Fire resolves the crude parts of Fruit or Flesh into the water, & makes them Vanish into Air together with it”. This Mercurius Duplicatus is to undergo a Putrefactio, a blackness.
“… That these two may operate & mutually move by Solution, Coagulation, Alteration, Tinction & Perfection… That these two may operate & mutually move by Solution, Coagulation, Alteration, Tinction & Perfection”. The Secret Fire inside Mercurius Duplicatus will dissolve and coagulate; in other words, it is a cooker and a substance to be cooked. This Solve et Coagula is substantially different from Preparatory work; it is now performed by itself.
I will end by introducing another synonymous for Mercurius Duplicatus, that’s to say, Mirror. We are used to taking all weird alchemical proceedings for granted without asking what they are for. And here we are before another Alchemy key or axiom. Secret Fire needs another Secret Fire to be taken de Potentia ad Acto. Alchemy, as a whole, works in that way. As a Diapason, one Secret Fire/Spirit/Mercurius/Light/Nature put another diapason to “resonate”, but this is not the right word. In a sense, one diapason/Secret Fire awakes another sleeping Secret Fire. To accomplish the miracle of one thing.
Now the Latin epigram accompanying Atalanta Fugiens emblem tenth: “Da ignem igni, Mercurium Mercurio, et sufficit tibi”. Give Fire to fire, Mercurius to Mercurius, and you have enough.
And here is my verbatim translation of the following sentences: “Machina pendet ab hac mundi connexa catena Tota, suo quod par gaudeat omne pari: Mercurius sic Mercurio, sic jungitur igni Ignis & haec arti sit data meta tuae. Hermetem Vulcanus agit, sed penniger Hermes, Cynthia, te solvit, te sed, Apollo, soror”. The engine of the world depends on this entirely connected chain; simile delights in its simile: in this way, Mercurius from Mercurius, Fire lights up Fire, and this is your art pivot. Vulcanus moves Hermes, but winged Hermes, Cynthia, dissolves you. But to you, Apollo is a sister.
Chain is synonymous with Mirror. And the following “ simile delights in its simile” recalls the famed Ostanes statement (8). Apollo and Cynthia are whiteness and redness resulting from a successful alchemical marriage. Or Union or Double.
- Artephius, Secret book & Secret Fire ;
- Kamala Jnana, Introduction to a Live Secret ;
- Basilius Valentinus & Salt, Azoth or Philosophers Gold? ;
- Universal Sal Armoniacum & Hollandus Sal Armeniacum ;
- Atalanta Fugiens & Terra Alba Foliata ;
- Dorneus and the need for two Eagles ;
- Simply put, in some alchemical ways,, we do not need any metallic gold. At the same time, the need for a Mercurius Duplicatus is required. But, in Alchemy, Gold is not only Metallic Gold.
- Ostanes, One Nature etc ;