Thesaurus Hermeticum engraving number eleven puts on display what is also known as the Pythagorean River. A very ancient forbidden knowledge till the last century.
Was the german physician Johannes Conradus Barchusen to present, in the appendix of his treatise Elementa Chemiae 1718, the 79 Thesaurus Hermeticum engravings after having coincidentally (he said) found them in a benedictine monastery? These pictures were soon considered of exceptional importance and are also known as the Symbolical Treatise of the Stone. Number eleven was one of the clearest renditions of Mercurius Sideribus ( see an Opus Magnum scheme).
Sideribus, from sidereus, means “glinting from the stars” in latin. Enlarging the picture on the left, we can spot a Mercurius classically performed by the foot-winged roman Mercury messenger of the gods, in Alexander von Suchten’s “Chymische Schrifften” 1680. Philalethes, in his Introitus Apertus 1667, chapter sixth, “On the Air of the Sages” states there are waters above the firmament that we cannot see while the waters under the firmament are visible to us mortals. Then he mentions those which, though hidden within matter, have an actual existence.
Fires/ Waters do the job during their astonishing colors metamorphosis. They appear in “doing alchemical work”, performing like an energy-matter. Of course, letting apart those waters hidden within molecular matter for a moment. Here we are introducing above waters, or simply Above. And if you are thinking of the famed hermetic statement “ As Above, so Below,” you got it. There we are. But before going any further, why and what these waters from above are alchemically for?
Generally speaking, we try to extract Secret Fire from mineral masses because the amount of Secret Fire inside mineral masses is much greater than that we can extract from rain, water, snow, air, moon, sun, and stars. In addition, the density of Secret Fire coming from Stars and that one from within is different. So we need heavy metallic matter to perform Alchemy successfully. But only Secret Fire from above can wake sleeping Secret Fire from within. So our simple Pythagorean river from above or Mercurius Sideribus/Universalis does not contain whatever is necessary for our philosophical works. Storing Secret Fire inside the glass is a profound alchemical idea and is what our philosophers’ stone is about. But… after all our alchemical works. After Mercurius and Sulphur extraction from metallic atoms.
This above flux is held to “awake” or magnetize an alchemical resonance-diapason mirroring process. And photochemistry is not here; just a coincidence. Photonic Light is not narrowly a vehicle, like a molecular substance. On the contrary, it is also a tool.
We are ready to hear from Pythagorean Philolaus now: “There is a central condensed Fire and an outer Fire surrounding spherical universe, in turn, it is divided into three spheres: Olympos or Fixed Stars (1), Cosmos or our Solar System (2), and Ouranos or sub-lunar region in which Earth and Antichthon are contained.
Let’s separate Earth and Antichthon for this post and concentrate on the concept of Anima Mundi, or Soul of the Universe. It is not a religious concept, although, during the medieval and renaissance, attempts were made to conciliate catholicism and Alchemy. Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquin, Marsilio Ficino, the uncertain author of Pymander, Robert Fludd, Michael Maier, Georg von Welling, Jachob Boehme, and Isaac Newton have all tried to fit Waters from Above in Christian cosmogonies. Waters from above probably do not take any part in Celestial Mechanics, but in alchemical mechanics, and for us, alchemists, this dry Pythagorean river is sacred. Yet we cannot have the slightest idea of a holder of the universe. Perhaps a Japanese person might better understand this belief.
Be aware of the enormous importance alchemists grant to Cosmos. Indeed they say that Sun is between Sky-Olympos and Sub-Lunar-Ouranos.
According to harmonic laws, the string in the middle gives harmony to a chord. But when referring to Waters permeating Ouranos, do we intend our Solar roasting giant? That’s not an issue of little account because our Mercurius Universalis, Aurum Astrale, and Argentum Vivum come down from this region.
The Thesaurus Hermeticum engraving comes to the rescue. Have a closer look inside Cosmos region: Waters/Secret Fire from Olympos are gathered by Moon. Indeed our satellite is a beautiful mirror. And comparably, Waters/Secret Fire from Sun must be reflected by the moon to arrive to us in a bearing conformation. So we pick up sun waters from the moon.
Now we are ready for another concept, namely Density Stairs. But let’s hear from Fulcanelli putting it into poetic words, as usual: “ In its subtle state is a universal Spirit, and we call our Mercurius, but when it descends and penetrates the world, it thickens and coagulates to become the Soul, and we call our Sulphur. Lower it freezes in a body, and we call our Salt”. Simply put, this is what we call leveling or degrees of fire or our Secret Fire density stairs. Alchemy foundation, worker, and work matter. All the same Waters, Air, Fire, and Earth are not here chemical elements but degrees of our Secret Fire. We will encounter this idea of fire degrees all over hermetic symbolism, for it is affected by the rule of three, by which every concept stands for at least three different meanings.
Are we talking about photonic light? Alchemists cannot put a resolutive word on the topic. They often admit Secret Fire might be an ineffable strange substance enclosed in atomic electronic clouds.
So it may be traveling with photonic light. But these are suppositions, of course. At the state of the Art, experiments are proving to be impossible. Are whatsoever wavelengths involved in all that? Alchemists don’t know too. Canseliet was scared about science and technology improvements in the wavelength field. But he said this in the 1960s. We know that developments in electricity research during the second half of the eighteenth century did cause quite a stir back at that age in alchemical milieus.
But what kind of stars emit secret fire/waters? Once again, we don’t know. The only pivot on the topic is that sky conditions, or external influences called “Signatures,” have always been of huge importance in our works.
Scientists could determine what kinds of atoms stars contain when studying the combinations of wavelengths of light, called spectra, emitted by various stars. They found that stars fell into two groups. One type was nearly 100% hydrogen and helium, while the other contained 99% hydrogen and helium and 1% other elements. They interpreted these as two generations of stars.
The first generation had formed out of clouds of gas that came fresh from the big bang, and their composition reflected that of the early universe. The nuclear fusion reactions by which they shine have mainly increased the proportion of helium relative to hydrogen without making any heavier elements. However, the members of the first generation that we see today are only those that lived a long time. Small stars are more miserly with their fuel than large stars, with short lives. The large stars of the first generation have already finished their lives. Near the end of its lifetime, a star runs out of hydrogen fuel and undergoes a series of violent and spectacular reorganizations as it fuses heavier and heavier elements. Large stars finish this sequence of events by undergoing supernova explosions, in which some of their material is flung off into the void. At the same time, the rest collapses into an exotic object, such as a black hole or neutron star. The second generation of stars, our sun, is an example, condensed out of clouds of gas enriched in heavy elements due to supernova explosions. It is those heavy elements that make up our planet and our bodies.
Is Alchemy affected by all that? I repeat, we don’t know. But the Thesaurus Hermeticum engraving on the top displays a leitmotiv often used in hermetic collections. For example, the picture on the left, from Hortulus Hermeticus by Stolcius (3), shows the same concept as Thesaurus Hermeticum. On the right, I produced the same Hortulus Hermeticus accompanied with a necessary motto (4): “Qui nescit regimen veritatis, ignorat vas Hermetis” or he who disregards the truth promotion, ignores Hermes’ vessel.
All of the above is referred to as laboratory Alchemy, but we know that the same symbolism can be applied to ancient philosophy and theurgy. In these cases, we speak Cosmos as Archetype/macrocosm and microcosm as vas Hermetis. In the sense of returning and recovering the ancient memory. In the sense of returning and recovering the ancient memory. The non-negligible fact that we are talking about Hermes/Mercury immediately authorizes us to think that in all cases we are always dealing with physics.
- In the picture North Star or Polaris, see also the Pythagorean Thigh in the Northern Sky ;
- See also San Miniato Sun Path or the Sky as seen from Earth , Nuisement and Sun Resisting Capture , Voynich Manuscript and the Unknown Part of the Rhythm , Two Stars in a Venetian Geocentric Sky , Santi Pupieni and the Raising Black-New Moon , Hans Memling’s Altarpiece with Boar and January 17 ;
- Hortulus Hermeticus by Daniel von Stolcemberg, Stolcius. From Hortulus Hermeticus Flosculis Philosophorum etc 1628.
- Hortulus Hermeticus Continuus taken from Bibliotheca Chemico-Curiosa Mangeti 1702.