To deprive spirits of their body: the ultimate Jean Brouaut’s goal in Traité de l’Eau de Vie. When a subtle alcoholic medicine reaches Spiritus Vini Lulliani.
Since Ramon Lullius is scarcely comprehensible in his works, we can try to get to him through later authors, especially seventeenth-century iatrochemists like Jean Brouaut. Though the method with alcoholic dissolutions might seem universal, it was instead handled in as different ways as different alchemists. Brouaut’s book can never be taken for granted, till the last phrase.
This part is the last (Third Book) of Brouaut’s Traité de l’Eau de Vie, Paris 1646. The reading of the previous Brouaut and the Anatomy of Wine is essential.
The style of this last part is even, if possible, more convoluted ( perhaps Brouaut wrote in a rush) than the previous ones. My translation from the original french is in quotation marks. My comments in normal.
“Third Book. First Chapter. How to extract the Dyes from the spirit of WINE, and separate their Souls.”
We have already seen that Brouaut is rather ambiguous about the term Spirit (you can check the first part of his treatise at Brouaut and the Alliance of Water and Fire part 1), sometimes he means the alcoholic product of wine extraction, that’s to say, Brandy, some others our alchemical Spirit of Life/Mercurius, extracted from salts volatilization (and as we go we will see how this is possible with the very brandy). We also know that the Spirit of Life/Secret Fire/ Mercurius is the same for every being, while the Soul is different and peculiar to every being. Finally, we know that the Spirit of Life extracts the Soul. And here Brouaut means either the volatile colored molecular parts extracted by brandy, or the real Soul/Sulphur, or Tincture, extracted by the Spirit of Life/Mercurius. Which, at least we alchemists, believe (1).
“It remains to us two things: the extraction of tinctures/dyes and the art of Circulation of the rectified water to convert it in Quintessence. The ancients gave this water the name Sky, because of its subtlety and the virtue to receive influx from the stars.
So, take the substances ( here Brouaut employs the term Drogues (french for medicines) you want to take the Soul out, and grind or crush them and then soak them in this Water in a glass vessel well closed. Which takes a few days”.
It is clear enough that the Water Brouaut is talking about is the result of wine distillation as seen in Brouaut and the Anatomy of Wine. He is introducing here a process with a close resemblance to Starkey Pyrotechnie & Volatilization of Alkalis 2.
“This done, remove the water of life by carefully bending the vessel. Then pour into it new well-rectified water of life and push down the substances, repeating as soon as no dye can be extracted and the above-mentioned substances remain as dead and without Soul. Pour all the colored waters of life after having pressed for the last time and put them inside a distilling apparatus, distilling little by little on cinders. On Balneum the heat would not be enough to lift up.
When you have pulled out (original french retirez) some of your Water and you have seen some milk-like drops coming out of the alembic’s beak, replace the flask to receive what has to discharge then: because what has already distilled is the pure Water-of-Life and what escaping is the Essence, Soul, or the Tinctures Form discharged from the above-mentioned substances. If you want them to put all together again it will not be a bad thing, because all Water will take the virtue of those dyes, whose feces lie as dark dead things in the bottom, without life and property. But if you will separate the first Water as I said, this will be an almost peculiar liquor of your medicines, which it will condense all the flavors. If you like to extract the Spirit or dye from a single herb, like cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, clove, and others, you may with the following method.
Second Chapter. On the wonderful things about the extraction of Tinctures.”
In french dye and tincture are synonymous. Both mean tingeing stuff.
“How this Celestial Water” can raise these asters toward itself, that’s to say to separate spirits from all bodies and unify and put in place: I have arrived to say and show the effects after having achieved its Sky by rectification making subtle and purification its substance. These spirits deprived of their body, which will be lighted up by their beautiful dyes (tinctures in french), soon raised to sublimity”.
Just a few paragraphs above I said that our most sublime Secret Fire is achieved by reiterated salts volatilizations (2).
” Who does refuse to admire the sight of Tinctures, along with their living penetration to the body’s center attracting the spiritual virtues? When the bodies are deprived of their Souls.
Third Chapter. On the Asters of Philosophic Sky, especially of the Sun which is Gold.
Since this spiritual Water, or Quintessence, is so similar to the Sky, it is reasonable to put some stars in it. Just to give it some different virtues.”
Here Brouaut is introducing the process of dissolving some calcinated gold powder in this Mercurius/Spiritual Water (3). As we have already seen on this site, this proceeding is sometimes called to adorn the sky, indeed (4).
“You will see the dyes (tinctures in original french) coming out like bright and subtle fires, like stars in the sky, which leading place is taken by the Sun. Our Sun is the metal gold, which is the King, the most excellent and perfect of terrestrial bodies. It is invincible, immortal.”
This Brouaut’s statement is nothing new in Alchemy. Gold is the metal of transmutations. Perhaps, in a gold electronic cloud, a certain amount of Secret Fire is contained. Perhaps, in that lies its perfection. In fact, Brouaut compares it to Sun, another body hugely rich in Secret Fire, but quite impossible to be gathered directly (5).”But if gold is invulnerable even to fire attacks, how do we manage to place it in our Sky? Most have taught the way, like for instance Ramon Lullius, Philippe Ulstadius, and in more recent times Theophrastus Paracelsus, Gerard Dorneus, and some others, anyway each in different ways, but all tended to the same end: to extract the Tincture and reproduce ( Brouaut uses the term “imprint”) the virtue in the Water of Life, or Spirit of Wine.”
Here the verb to reproduce means that the metallic gold has to be reduced in Mercurius so, strangely enough, in Water of Life. See the under note 3.
“The most difficult thing is to reduce gold in such a state for the tincture to be extracted. Ramon Lullius and Ulstadius had it very subtly powdered with quicksilver (vif argent in original french) in the same way as goldsmiths, that’s to say you have to put the gold reduced in fine laminae or, which is better, in fine filing Then you have to heat the mercury inside a crucible till it starts to emit fumes, then put gold inside after having heat it in its turn, then move the crucible a little to have all well amalgamated, that’s to say mixing and dissolving. Go on with the fire till all the mercury is evaporated in fumes, and the gold powder lies dry in the bottom, which powder you have to wash with water and dissolved salt and, in the end, just with water. Then put it in the Water of Life, or spirit of wine. “
The purpose of the entire operation is to have calcined metallic gold powder. Because gold, naturally, cannot be reduced in powder. The purpose of this golden powder is to be then dissolved in our Mercurius/Secret Fire/Spirit of Life/Water of Life. See footnote 3.
“According to Lullius there is also an easier way, that’s to say to drop several times in this water some gold hot laminae, so to take not the dye ( tincture in original french), but the virtue and power, like a hot iron in common water. But in my opinion (Brouaut) the spirit of wine in this way would rapidly evaporate.”
I doubt the proceeding described by Brouaut was the same as the hot iron put in common water. Apparently, the water here mentioned is “EAU” in capital letters, or WATER. We know, in fact, that our special Water of Life, or Mercurius/Secret Fire wonderfully functions as means of metal calcination (6). Sometimes our Secret Fire seems to have the oxidizing common fire properties. Of course a mere brandy, however, purified, cannot aspire to reduce metallic gold in a dry powder, but if you put some salts inside Brandy and volatilize taking advantage of Brandy volatilizing virtue… the Brandy is no more a common alcoholic specimen.
“… While Paracelsus recommended to calcine the gold with the water of salt prepared and mixed to horseradish juice…”
In fact, this water of salt seems to have some resemblance with the proceeding described in Lemery & the Spirits of Common Salt with Wine.
“… Then he distills with juice bource Pastor : this is put in the spirit of wine which is extracted in this way. Take a jar of a very good white, or clear wine, wine and put it to circulate in a hot balneum in a suitable, and well closed, a vessel for ten days ( in some books you can find forty). Then pour it in an alembic to distill without fire, because it has to distill at cold till the spirit will is all risen and the Water of Life starts to follow. Another method is to put some glass phials filled with wine to freeze, when the wine will be frozen, break the phials and you will find in the heart of the wine a liquor which has retired to the inner, and which the cold could freeze. This is what we call the spirit of wine.”
Brouaut has taught the distillation of wine in my previous article Brouaut and the Anatomy of Wine.
” Others extract in that way: put a quantity of wine inside a big flask, then pour over a portion of perfect Water of Life and place the whole, well-closed, in hay horse ( which is called belly horse) up to the neck for fifteenth days. Past that, open and gently slope and take out the spirit floating on the surface with a little fabric filter and distill in another vessel till the Water of Life will rise. I think this perfectly rectified water to be, without any other proceeding, the real Spirit of Wine which extracts the dyes (tinctures). They give it the name Spirit to hide their secrets: I come back to the calcination of gold which ( as said Jabair, the prince of alchemists) cannot be perfectly calcined or just with great fatigue and this without a great utility yet. As for me, I find that operation so difficult to miss the burning to do it, getting to Arnaldus Villanoviensis’s opinion, that’s to say that real golden water is that of rosemary’s flowers, being called that way because of the color.”
In the fourth chapter, Brouaut presents a lot of medicinal distillation with aromatics for many diseases. But here we are interested to know about the circulation in pelican.
“Fifth Chapter. How to separate the Spirit of Tincture and the perfection of this spirit with its virtues.
The last and supreme secret in all these operations is about something you have extracted the tincture, distill your tinted water on cinders and not on balneum: because the cinders catch the spirits with the water, which the balneum cannot do. Then put what will be distilled inside a pelican for as long as, when opening the vessel, you can smell a very sweet and perfect scent. Since the circulation has this property to take the liquor to a sweetness well representing the asters which it is ornate with. If this is not accomplished yet, put it to circulate again till the achievement of your desire. Then you will have an essence by far better than any medicine and whose dosage is so tiny to surprise you.
So you have raised your Sky, or liquor of life, to perfection. This is a universal remedy, a real Catholicon (universal remedy in latin).
Sixth Chapter. On the Quintessence Circulation.
Here I will add the drawings of these special circulating vessels, inside which must be placed the above-mentioned tinctures.
B. Circulatorium’s hole.
C. Handle or beaks of the still, descending inside the circulatorium’s belly, where the water does fall again after having risen.
B. Another little put outside down on the previous one and well closed.
These vessels, or circulators, are by the philosophers called pelicans, which the one in the first drawing is by far the best, but difficult to have properly made, because of the glassmakers’ ignorance. The second can be a replacement, but the circulation is not as fast as inside the first one. Circulation means to rise ( and rise) and descend over and over, like a wheel, which the tinctures quintessence, or spirit or water do inside these vessels. In the end, they become so subtle because of the continuing ups and downs that they can conserve in the well-closed vessel till the end of the world.
If you make circulate your Water of Life without any tincture inside, that will result in a wonderful liquor the same.
Seventh Chapter. On the Quintessence Conservation.
You should keep your quintessence in a well-closed and chilled-down container. Prepare some common wax and having melted it add to it some turpentine in order to make more gluing. With this mixture prepare a little ball and put it inside a pig’s bladder, which will close the vessel. To conserve it, keep the vessel inside a larger vessel packed with sand and put it in a cellar or a cave. Be careful when handling, it because it is very volatile.”
Has Jean Brouaut forgotten something? Yes, he has forgotten to repeat what was said in the previous article on wine distillation. That’s to say that … ” the TARTAR salt is epitomized by the most acute philosophers owing more to mineral than vegetal reign… a subtle Tartar which is not extractable till the last distillations”. So wine does contain mineral salts. And with the volatilization of mineral salts, by means of other more volatile substances, we get our Secret Fire/Mercurius, our real Water of Life/Spirit of Wine, not mere Brandy. How do you say Spirit of Wine in Latin? Spiritus Vini.
A good reading of previous parts will enlighten the last ones. And don’t neglect Starkey and his volatilization of alkali, in footnote 4.
Really interesting is the footnote Brouaut has used as an ending phrase, apparently to assign a date to his book. The thing that is not unusual for the books of the age, but very unusual is the format, as you can see in the image below: ” Du 7. SEPT-embre 1646. L’impression de ce Livre a eté achevée.“, that’s to say: on 7. Sept (seven in french) – ber 1646. The printing of this book has come to perfection. Two remarked sevens, two times seven… and why to be so happy for a printing termination?
Two times seven is a frequent interval of time in Alchemy. Two operations for seven repetitions. In fact, the number fourteen is from time to time clued, moreover in images (7): often the reaching of Mercurius and the following extraction of colors ( dyes, or tinctures, indeed). A really difficult ending. But easier when a Pelican is involved.
- See also Eros, Psyche & a New Alchemical Body ;
- See also Nicolas Lefevre and the Benzoin Magisterium ;
- See also Atalanta Fugiens and the Golden Apples , Cabala Mineralis or the She Horse on Urine Work part 1 ;
- See also Starkey Pyrotechnie & Volatilization of Alkalis 2 ;
- See also Nuisement and the Sun resisting Capture ;
- See also Fioravanti & Metals Calcination ;
- See also Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit and Secret Iconography of the Wheel ;