Cabala Mineralis is a medieval neologism to fit with urine work. A comparison between this water colors sequence and Hollandus treatise on the same topic.
This British Museum manuscript n. 5235 was apparently attributable to Rabbi Simeon ben Cantara, according to note written in the frontispiece. It is very strange this use of the word “Cabala”, apparently from the Jewish qabbalah, by a rabbi. So strange that it seems to rather derive from the latin caballus or horse. To be more precise a she horse, a caballa.
As a matter of fact we are not here before the tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible, but rather before the horse tradition, as in Europe was sometimes called the hermetic cryptic language tradition.
Mineralis is another neologism: in ancient latin mineral is rather rendered with “metallum”. In fact here we are not dealing with ores, but salts.
The other actor in the picture number 1 is even more young and allows himself to urinate in a basin. The word accompanying the boy’s showing off has the appearance to be “Aenatis”, very similar to the latin plural Aenatores, or trumpeters. Apparently an informal to define the boy’s urinating organ. But not only, as we will see.
The latin sequence of phrases in the scene top right angle says: “Fodina Mercurii nostri sal petra nostrum non vulgi. Ponticitas vitriolum nostrum non vulgi Aenati. Ammoniacum (or armoniacum) nostrum non vulgi”. The phrases do contain the usual syntax errors one can expect to find in quite all hermetic seventeenth century works.
So: “ Dig and bury the stony salt of our Mercurius not vulgar. Make a bridge of our vitriol, not of a vulgar trumpeter. Our Ammoniacum (1), not vulgar”. Imprecise but clear enough, and the whole painted scene help us to decrypt.
A blossomed plant with three blue flowers, together with three crows in a row and other crows around a flask over a flame. Another accomplished flask with a radiant star inside stands at the picture border. Definitely and alchemical environment. The plant is our vegetative matter, or Secret Fire/Mercurius in all its textures and colors transmutations.
Here we have to considered the blue flowers as being black. In fact crows are allegories for our black putrefactive phases (2). No alchemical work cannot be foreign to a putrefactive phase, in fact in this stage bodies undergo a necessary “spiritualization” or dissolving action. The black phases being three. One for every work (see an Opus Magnum Scheme). The first putrefaction, that of preliminary work, is painted as a flask surrounded by many crows. In fact urine is directly poured into it.
The urinating boy does provide the raw matter for our Secret Fire: a young boy urine indeed. I have published some articles on urine salts works (3). The first two (4) by ancient chemists about preparatory works, while the last one by Johannes Isaac Hollandus, a real alchemist, on the quite complete work. And it will on that Hollandus treatise on urine I cannot but make a comparison with the proceedings represented in Cabala Mineralis.
The importance of urine in alchemical works should not make any wonder. For these salts do contain volatile components (5) to “volatilized” other metallic salts not so willing to sublimate. Alchemy being all about salts sublimations.
To have an idea of the importance of urine in ancient chemical environments see some religious thirteenth century artwoks. I have already presented the embossed child strange rendering in the San Marco Treasure Ecclesiola and be aware of an Amiens Cathedral low relief I have not written about yet (image on the left).
So from urine salts repeated sublimations we can obtain our Secret Fire/Mercurius, that’s to say the radiant star inside the flask at the corner, and as we can understand ,this product cannot be defined as vulgar urine no more. But “our”. This Mercurius will at first be volatile inside the closed flask, and consequently it has to be made “like a Bridge” or fixed. The result, or Aqua Pontica (6), is our Mercurius Philosophorum to be then more easily worked. This matter is also known as our Vitriol, or better V.I.T.R.I.O.L., a substance which has nothing to do with ancient chemical vitriols series. But that could take advantage of them (7).
This Mercurius Philosophorum will become a real fixed fertile soil to be cultivated and sown (6) with a calcinated metallic salt to be reduced as a “Tree” or another Mercurius Philosophorum (8), to be then joined in a marriage (9).
The second and third water colors are on preparatory works, the labors of Hercules to achieve the Mercurius Philosophorum or the soil to be sown. And since Glaser’s and Lancillotti’s provided essays on the same stage, I will include them in the comparison list.
Let’s see at the picture on the left: the preliminary putrefaction. A little black winged dragon biting its tail is placed in what may seem (an it actually is) the basin in which the boy’s urine has been gathered. Little black clouds hover above the basin and a little rain is hitting the dragon. A motto around the basin: “Mercurii Germen. Hermaphroditum”.
A preliminary putrefaction is not the first putrefaction, rather it is before it. We have always been told of the must to undergo a putrefactive stage, but hardly anyone has unveiled if this implyes a process of decay already before raw matter distillation (or sublimation). The answer is within the image. More precisely all depends from those little clouds and rain. Yes, because a serious putrefaction has always to be performed in closed conditions: if clouds had not encountered a wall, rain would have not fallen on the dragon, but flown away.
Glaser in his essay on urine doesn’t talk of a preliminary decay stage. He seems interested only in the extraction of volatile salts, so loosing all Secret Fire prerogatives. While Lancillotti, in his extraction system by putrefaction, says: “Take a good quantity of urine from children then put in very well closed long flasks to putrefy for 40 days than distill…….” . Hollandus conducts a putrefaction only after preliminary distillations, anyway all his distillations are in well closed conditions. Hollandus is attentive to keep Secret Fire “vapors” from flying away, but his system is rather difficult and complicated to be carried out. While in Cabala Mineralis the preliminary decay simply follows the easy Lancillotti’s raw putrefaction method.