Das Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit, or Book of Holy Trinity, puts on display a strange wheel. Iconographic theme of our Secret Fire, or Sun in the Earth.
This series of manuscripts, scattered from an original by frater Ulmannus ( Germany, early fifteenth century), describes the alchemical process in terms of Christian mythology, that’s to say the analogy of the passion, death and resurrection of the Christ with the alchemical processes of the Opus magnum, or Great Work.
As you can imagine this topic makes the Book of Holy Trinity to take on a huge importance in the alchemical environment.The image on the top belongs to the first cycle of the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit, but I’m presently not able to provide the right reference of the manuscript I took it from, the date of publication is likely to be from 1410 to 1419. The similar one we can see on the left is a part of the Munich manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, CGM. 598 (1). The similarity of the two drawings lies in the same allegory of the wheel, which we have already encountered in my article Cesare Ripa: Wheels, Spindles and Celestial Pointers. There we have seen how this allegory might have been linked to the Sun, I mean the physical one in the sky, with the assumption of a derivation of the pre-socratic Anaximander’s thought from a common Akkadian-Sumerian matrix (2) and what’s more with the assumption that a part of the ancient greek thought had affected the european alchemical symbolism.
But we already know that, because of the rule of three, every symbol and allegory may stand for at least three different meanings and the allegory of the wheel does not make an exception. Is Canseliet in his “Etudes diverses de Symbolisme hermétique et de Pratique Philosophale,” Paris 1964, to ignore the symbolism of Sun and instead suggest a sense of “rotation” to the alchemical wheel, which, in his opinion, represents the “Wheel Fire”. Let’s set aside for a while Canseliet’s point of view and get back to thoroughly examine the first mentioned ancient signification of Wheel corresponding to Sun. Here below two summaries of Anximander’s thought by other ancient authors, talking about the astronomical Sun and its supposed appearance:
AËT. II 13, 7 [Dox. 342]: ” Anaximander states that (the stars) are thick casings of air in the form of wheel, full of fire, in which a part of the openings blow flames”.
ACHILL. isag. I 19 p. 46, 20 [by Posidonius]: ” Some, among them also Anaximander, say that (the sun) sends light and is wheel-shaped. In fact, like in a wheel the hub is hollow but it keep the rays from it toward the outer circumference of the wheel, so also the sun, sending light from a cavity, produces its rays shining outside around”.
We will see that the idea of Canseliet, together with Eireneus Philalethe and Fulcanelli, even though it could seem so different and too substantial is not at all foreigner to the concept of Sun. Even better, according to them we are before the Sun in the Earth. And in this case they don’t intend metallic gold, but Philosophers Gold (3). But let’s hear from Canseliet now. This chapter is an essay written in 1934 dedicated to the ” Alchemical Tree”. In the end of the chapter we find a comparison of the Tree with the Wheel Fire: ” As in mechanics the crankshaft is the piece of iron or wood which causes the transmission to the wheel, so the alchemical tree and the tree of the world are: the first the axis around which the fire of wheel ( spiritual and material in the Great Work/Opus magnum) develops; the second the axis which causes the huge cyclic rotation”. This is Canseliet Style: have Alchemy in both too material and spiritual sides. The paragraph is not so easy to understand indeed. To support, or better explain, he quotes Philalethe’s Introitus Apertus, chapter ten: “Patet proinde, quod sulphur hoc spirituale metallicum sit revera movens primum, quod rotam vertit, axempque volvit in gyrum”, or “So it is evident that only this spiritual sulphur is really the first agent to shift the wheel and causes it pivoting on its axis, by a circular movement”. Canseliet also mentions Fulcanelli scrutinizing a low relief in the Amiens Cathedral which, being the case a bit more complicated, it will be worth a coming article fully dedicated. So let’s take only Eireneus Philalethe’s words as a guide. As a matter of fact these words focus our attention to the circular movement. So we have a Sulphur exerting a force to make the wheel spinning. There we are, let’s try to understand what kind of Sulphur and circular movement could be.
Sulphur is made from Mercurius, which in its turn is made from Secret Fire, made from salts volatilization out of Preliminary Works ( See an Opus magnum scheme). We have learned that this Mercurius has to be fixed ( if not it would be too much volatile), then doubled and, what’s more, to be fed on Mercurius with Washings (4) and successively on Imbibitions with red Sulphur (5). The effects of these processes lead to a “rotation” of colors (6) which we also call “Transmutation stairs”. We define this change of colors as a cyclic show, known as “Rota”, which is the latin for wheel. In the picture on the left from Abraham the Jew Molinier ( legend has it that this manuscript greatly helped Flamel ) we have the clearest and most generous representation of these stages (7). We see that the application of ” nourishments” of Mercurius in the Main Work and red Sulphur in the Third Work make the wheel to rotate. Consequently the pivot of this wheel is our Secret Fire/Mercurius, then Sulphur, which can be defined spiritual indeed.
Let’s content ourselves, for the moment, with the transmutation stairs performed inside a vessel and let’s notice how the two drawings in the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit may really suit the case. The wheel on the top is sulfurous red and fourteen labels are attached, which are not a chance occurrence of course. Here we are above and beyond the Main Work, imbibitions are performed with red Sulphur indeed. Fourteen is two times seven. And seven is a reasonable number not only for sublimations to be performed in the Preliminary Works, but also for subsequent imbibitions. Two times seven are two different works, one following the other. Describing the alchemical process in terms of Christian mythology the Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit red wheel labels represent stations of the Christ passion, or Transmutation stairs, or planets (8).
Fourteen labels frame also the wheel of the Munich manuscript, which puts on display alternate red and white spokes, while the hub is a green Sun, or vegetative Sun, the Alchemical Tree of Canseliet (8). Supposedly we are before the imbibitions of the Main Work, those represented by Abraham the Jew Molinier “Rota”, that’s to say where red is subsequent to a white. Not in that simple sequence though, but enough to get the concept. The symbol of the Sun in the hub seems to fit the above mentioned pre-socratic philosophical idea of the Sun as a wheel in which a part of the openings blow flames, namely the hub.
Thus, what kind of wheel have we to take to fulfill our alchemical need? The one representing the alchemical rotations of colors or the Anaximander’s solar wheel? Both, because the “agent”, as Canseliet calls it, is always our Secret Fire, or the Sun in the Earth, the Philosophers Gold, real crankshaft. No wonder, since Secret Fire is said to come from Suns and Stars and still dwelling in the bodies.
A meaning of wheel in the sense of a solar “time wheel”, can be found at Trisulti Carthusian Monastery and the Yearbook Wheel . In sense of rotational events inside a vessel at Amiens Cathedral, Fulcanelli and Two Paradoxical Wheels .
- The picture has been taken from AlchemyWebSite, where you can find the whole series at imagery_buch_der_heiligen_dreifaltigkeit ;
- See also Anaximander, Apeiron and Earthy Sea ;
- See also Basilius Valentinus, Azoth, Salt or Philosophers gold? ;
- See also Kamala Jnana from Black to White ;
- See also Cabala Mineralis & the She Horse on urine Wok, part 2 ;
- See also Kamala Jnana, Introduction to a Live Secret , Artephius, Secret Book and Secret Fire , Splendor Solis and Children Multiplication ;
- See also Pietro Perugino and the Black Horned Motherhood ;
- See also Guido Montanor & Regimens of Fire ;
- See also Ripley Scroll: the Souls Drinks only Blood ;