In  “Azoth”, by Basilius Valentinus,  we come up with the archaic term Azoth. Is a neologism   put forward  for a new third principle or Salt?

basilius valentinus azoth frontispiece detRevised and increased by mr. Lamb physician.  Paris, 1659.  A Lamb (a white fluffy material like wool), a dry ground ( no liquid involved), a sword (  a piercing bright white smelted  piece of alloy, an allegory for Mercurius ), an axe ( a piercing  red smelted  piece of alloy,  a  symbol for thunder or Secret Fire and sometimes Sulphur) they all seem  clues for dry way, that’s to say the smelting way.

 Talented Basilius Valentinus, operating in dry as well as in wet way, either a single person, or a group of monks, (but  I doubt inside a monastery one could work  in dry way),  stands out in Alchemy world for his all around impressive  laboratory activity. He was the first who dares calling some Materia Tertia materials with their common names. He was certainly aware of his ability, since he called himself Valentinus from latin Valens, that means man of great valor in the very sense of value + bravery, and Basilius from latin “king worth”. Quite certainly  he didn’t mean in royalist sense, but in metallic one.

The wording “Azoth, or the way to make the hidden Philosophers  Gold” , underlines an equivalence  between Azoth and the following of the sentence. That’s to say: Azoth is the way to make the hidden Philosophers’ Gold. Pay attention here, Basilius Valentinus did not wrote “Azoth is the Philosophers’Gold”, but the way to make it. What’s the difference? “the way to” suggests an operation not the final result. There is a a kind of motion involved here, a metamorphosis. This concepts is made stronger by the tree allegory. One is watching a tree growing, nobody can actually make a tree. A tree is being made by itself. The name for the tree is “ Azoth” or Philosophers’ Gold. Another synonym is “Metals tree“. And another is the Mercurius  Philosophorum called after its color: Flavus or reddish-yellow. The color of gold.

In Alchemy there is metallic gold, of course, and Philosophers’ gold. It’s only a question of refinement, or the process of removing impurities or unwanted elements from a substance.  In a next  posts again on  Basilius Valentinus ” Azoth” we will go deeper into these concepts.

Two triangles are here represented  and the whole working seems to be very obscure. Sol et Luna, sun and moon,  are the most important branches, the engine of the entire work. In a triangle the three principles are made prominent, they are in their home.  Red axe is under the sun, white sword is under the moon.  Being born by the same tree. Philosophers Gold and Silver are being born by the same philosophers tree. Here I’m not talking about metallic gold and silver, but philosophers ( taking advantage of  Rule of three  each Alchemical symbol can stand for at least three meanings).  What has to do Azoth with Sun and Moon? Here the revealing question might be:” is Azoth a Solve et Coagula offspring, like Sun and Moon are? Definitely Solve et Coagula is a sophisticated recipient of a lot of meanings. For an Opus Magnum scheme.

In the written part of  Basilius Valentinus book, excluding the  very interesting appendix, we strangely enough come up with the term Azoth only twice. In the chapter “Seconde Partie de l’Esprit caché Secret  de l’Or des Philosophes” or second part of the secret spirit of philosophers gold, page 37, we found:” & seulement est requis à notre œuvre l’Azoth, & le feu qui n’est autre chose que de laisser cuire, dissoudre, pourrir, coaguler et fixer”. All we need in our art are Azoth and Fire which nothing is but  cooking or metamorphosis, solving, coagulating and fixing. Or in a latin uncompleted version “Azoth et  Ignis tibi sufficiunt”. ( Pay attention, for both can represent the same axiom in other Work phases )

At page 47 we encounter:” …..du plus bas il monte au plus haut,…… les Philosophes m’ont orné du nom d’Azoth, les Latins A & Z, des Grecs Alpha & Oméga, des Hébreux Aleph & Thau, tous lesquels noms signifient & font Azoth jeté dans le feu..” From the very bottom to the very high…….Philosophers having given me the name of Azoth, latins A & Z, greeks Alpha and Omega, Jews Aleph and Thau”.  Perhaps Azoth is a word formed from the initial and final letters of the Latin, Greek and Hebrew alphabets A-Z-Omega-Thau.

Sendivogius uses the same word Azoth when saying:”this water which there’s much talk about  is comprehensive of all the qualities, thus heat, cold, dry, and wet. It is divided into body, soul and means between the two. Sendivogius further called them Hyle, Archeum and Azoth. And now get back to this post incipit, if you remember I stated that Basilius, along with Paracelsus, had introduced the term “ Salt”.

As  mentioned  above the downward triangle contains the three principles symbols of Mercurius, Sulphur and Salt. Till then Alchemical lexicon did not  provide any Salt. It is not difficult to presume that this “Salt”  may be whatsoever unnecessary or the very name at some extent unrequired. This “ Salt” is Azoth or Prima Materia or Philosophers Gold. Before Paracelsus and Basilius Salt was simply Mercurius finally became Sulphur. Put in that way, that’s to say adding a third name, this one, Salt, seems  the product of Mercurius plus Sulphur. Getting back to aforementioned Sendivogius statement:”   this water….. is divided into body, soul and means between the two…… Hyle, Archeum and Azoth.” So the body is not a flesh body for it is called “ water”, but we can  presume it acting as a body or container.  Archeum is easily identified as the soul. Azoth is Principle of Life. The servant. Alchemical lexicon has never been the same for all researchers. Some referred to perfect red when saying Philosophers Gold.

Quoting Gobineau de Montluisant : ” Salt, which ties Soul and Spirit, is the effect  of  their union and mutual love, as well as spiritual body that hides them and wraps them in its breast, doing not more than one thing out of  three, what prejudiced people  do not understand …” Indeed, for this reason, the most ancient philosophers did not raise the salt between alchemical principles, while not neglecting its importance.

Star Planets on the upper branches are Main Work steps or phases. Once we have reached Azoth or Prima Materia or Spirit we need  Materia Prima or Soul or Sulphur. And perhaps Mercurius Duplicatus is to be our next step.

To be continued examining this Basilius Valentinus “Azoth” engraving being also an extensive allegory for Solve et Coagula.

See also Kamala Jnana & Introduction to a Live Secret , Codex Marcianus Ouroboros , Cesare Ripa & the Hot Frozen World Machine , Weidenfeld and Basiulius Oleum Vitriolis , Atalanta Fugiens & Mercurius, Duplicatus :