The Circulatum Tree picture, in Aphorismi by Urbigerus or Urbigerani, well represents Volatile Fixation process in Circulatorium for both Circulatum Maius and Minus.
In Urbigerus book frontispiece we can read: “Aphorismi Urbigerani Or Certain Rules Clearly demostrating the Three Infallible Ways of Preparing the Grand Elixir or Circulatum Maius …………to which are added the Three ways of Preparing the Vegetable Elixir or Circulatum Minus: All deduced from never erring EXPERIENCE” London 1690. As far as experience is concerned, I have my doubts that it is never erring.
Back to our main topic, we first of all have to understand what “Circulatum” means, for it is clear enough that Urbigerus has not chosen it without a deep reason. Christophle Glaser writes, in his “Traitè de la Chimie” Paris 1668, that Circulation can fix volatile and volatilize Sal Fixum ( plu. salia fixa) or fixed salts. Nevertheless he fails to make any allusion to this practice difficulty. Rulandus, in his “Lexicon Alchemiae” Frankfurt 1612, dedicates more than one page to circulating practice:
Circulatorium: is a Glass Vessel where the liquor there placed is rotated, as in a circle, by alternate ascending and descending. It is used chiefly in rarefactions/making subtle and circulations. There are many varieties in the conformation of this vessel, of which the two most important are the Pelican and the Diota.
Circulatio: is the Exaltation by the agency of Heat of a Pure Liquid through a circular solution and coagulation in the Pelican. It is only for those liquid substances which are to be resolved or attenuated into air, and can thence in return be brought back into a liquid state;………… liquids when they come out of it are not any weaker, but purer, more potent, and more translucid. Several operations concur in its administration, such as digestion, sublimation, vicarious distillation, etc. For example, much trouble and care are required for the proper extraction of spirit of wine, so that it may be obtained without any phlegmatic part. For as often as it is raised, it always takes some moisture with it…………The very best wine that can be obtained is taken, and it is poured in a capacious circulating vessel. When the aperture has been sealed up, it is left in the water bath for fourteen days, so that it may continually boil in water. Then it is taken out and put in a phial, and is in winter time placed still hot into cold snow water, an alembic being at hand with a receiver. But in summer it is placed in a cellar, in a refrigerating vessel, and the spirit being pure and free from all moisture, passes from the alembic and is discharged into the receiver. When no further ascension takes place the receiver is removed, and the phial is taken away with the wine, which now contains no true spirit but what Theophrastus terms vinum adustum (1). The spirit of wine is caused to revolve in the circulating vessel until no further liquefaction can take place; it is then dealt with by a humid elevation. When the material on which it is to operate is placed in the receptacle, it absorbs it readily,
and relinquishes flight.
As a matter of fact wine does contain interesting chemical molecules such as ethanol, which we know being often used to lift up substances, otherwise not so willing to raise. Rulandus says liquids coming out of circulatum are purer, more potent, and more translucid. It is clear enough that we can put wine inside a vas circulatorium, or circulating vessel, and wait for the remaining of our life for a resulting Mercurius or Dianas Tears, as Urbigerus calls it. First aphorism in his “ Aphorismi Urbigerani” says: “Our Circulatum minus is only a specificated Elixir, belonging to the Vegetable Kingdom, by which without any Fire, or farther Preparation of the Vegetables, we can in a Moment extract their true Essence…….” Thus it is not a crude matter, as common wine, but already a substance out of which we can extract its “ true Essence”. In this blog you have countless times heard of Secret Fire extraction from crude matter reduced in salts. So important because of their tendency (salts) to be rich in our First Matter. In fact Rulandus warns us that spirit of wine, may be obtained without any phlegmatic part. Of course salts give no more phlegmatic parts.
Urbigerus in second aphorism tells us: “We call it Circulatum, because, tho never so often used in any Extraction, or Chymical Experiment what ever, it loses nothing of its Quality, or Property: which is a Prerogative, pertaining to the Universal Elixir, called also the Circulatum majus……”. Our matter to be put in a circulatorium is no more to be extracted, that’s to say salts have already been taken out. We only need to take out Secret Fire. Or Quality, or Property. This prerogative pertains also to Circulatum Maius or Universal Elixir. Maius, or mineral, contains the same Secret Fire/Mercurius from Minus or vegetable, but in larger quantity, due to its mineral quality. But we know that a Minus can help a mineral to be dissolved and becoming a dissolvent too (2). People “ Quem Fata Vocant”, or those called by fate, are allowed to collect matters from vegetal mines, as we can see on the first engraving in Aphorismi Urbigerani.
Always in second “Aphorism Urbigerani” we find: “…then it is taken out and put in a phial, and is in winter time placed still hot into cold snow water…..”. We have just heard of changes of state necessity. That’s not a little value statement. Secret Fire is enhanced by sudden changes of state (3).
In fourth aphorism Urbigerus finally points at the subject matter of the frontispiece engraving, that’s to say our Mercurius Philosophorum (4): “The Determination of our Dianas Tears consists only in their perfect and indissoluble Union with the fied Vegetable Earth, philosophically prepared, purified, and spiritualized: for the love of which they are forced to leave their first universal undetermined Property, and be clothed with a determined particular one, which is required to this our Circulatum minus.”
Now, we know that a salt must be dissolved in a liquid to be than somewhat raised up in our vas circulatorium. Nothing esoteric about it, it is a common ancient chemistry practice. But, mind, no vapor must be lost and no vacuum must be operated inside vessels. A closed, but full of air, Circulation is a challenge quite impossible in modern chemistry. In fact in modern spagyria they frequently open vessels to let vapors out. Be aware that Mercurius can be never attained if we fail to restrain element air. It is not a question of elements of course, but of Secret Fire flying in air.
Anyway liquid will be an obvious environment when a circulation is involved. Or at least a fluid one. As we can notice on the right picture, “Filius Noster” or our son is the latin motto. Quite blaspheme for a seventeenth century christian, but very interesting from an alchemical point of view, in fact back at that age “Spiritus Santus” or Holy Spirit was an usual camouflage for our Mercurius or volatile Secret Fire. This image has often been taken as a representation for wet way Mercurius Philosophorum, see Caduceus symbol. But, in my opinion, we are not here before a “Mutus Liber” in which separately dealing with wet and dry ways. We can see Sun and Moon hovering the scene. So Solve et Coagula. Dissolving Moon alternated with sublimating Sun. A certain numbers of times, and we can get to Mercurius. Caduceus in Hermes hand is also an allegory for operations to achieve Dianas Tears, as Urbigerus calls first appearance of Dissolvent. We have already bumped into nasty rule of three, by which a symbol may stand for at least three different concepts. And there’s no worse symbols than Sun and Moon (5).