Nicaise le Fevre and the most forbidden topic in Alchemy: the egg inside the egg. He cannot by any means reveal too much, but assonances with Nicolas Flamel.
For the moment just look and set it aside. We are in the very last cooking. If you are lucky and tenacious, maybe one day this image will turn out to be an interesting hint. To be a real clue we lack the vessel material.
Nicaise le Fevre, not to be confused with Nicolas le Fevre, is an incredibly known french seventeenth-century iatrochemist. But to neglect his Traitè de la Chymie, Paris 1660, might be a mistake. In fact, I consider this book indispensable to tying ancient chemistry to Alchemy.
As usual, my translation from the original french is in quotation marks. My comments in normal.
… Those wishing to work on real fixations will need either philosophical eggs, or a toll of my invention, which I cannot but call Egg inside Egg, or latin Ovum in Ovo. This tool has something to do with the Pelican, as for the circulation, and the tool call Hell (enfer, in original french) because all put inside is forever prevented to get out. This tool is for the fixation of “Mercure…”.
Mercure was an ambiguous term in seventeenth-century chemical and alchemical environments. The translation in English is “Mercury”, but more than often it was used to indicate our Mercurius/Secret Fire since even chemists did prefer the term Vif-Argent to define metallic mercury. Here we have to understand what does mean fixation of Mercure is. Our alchemical Mercurius is the product of reiterated salt volatilizations in preliminary works and gives off a very volatile substance that does need to be fixed, that’s to say to be made less volatile. We called the product of this operation Mercurius Philosophorum, or Sulphur (1).
There is another phase in our alchemical works during which we need a fixation: the last cooking in the last, or third, stage ( see an Opus Magnum scheme). In that stage is no more an issue of making a substance less volatile, but immortal. That’s to say in a definitive texture and molecular composition. Not only that, but in this last step, our Mercurius may increase its weight.
Even though ancient authors ( since modern ones scarcely know the topic) have never unveiled the shroud enveloping this highly forbidden topic, some have scattered hints here and there.
To be fair, Nicaise le Fevre doesn’t write Mercure in the capital. Nevertheless to be even fairer he neither uses the term Egg again in the book, and that’s not strange, even if Traité de la Chymie dares to get where others do not attempt to get.
Letting aside what Canseliet tells at the end of his L’Alchimie Expliqués sur ses Textes Classiques (2), we can recall an odd image of the Philosophical Egg by Flamel, where something is unequivocally hanging.
Even if Nicaise le Fevre does mean a generic fixation, the representation of this tool, as said above, is unique. I don’t mean to add anything, but to end my translation:
“… there is also the image of an egg which is enclosed inside another one, so accurately to shorten ( raccourcy, old form for raccourcir, in original french) and the real perfection of these three vessels which may serve to fixation.
As the naive description of all these vessels cannot be written, and the demonstration is by far more helpful than the reading, one may look at the picture before this chapter, where one can see the rendering which might be used as a model.”
We can see what Nicaise le Fevre defines and renders as Philosophic Egg, participating in the nature of the Pelican (3), on the left, numbered 8. Mind that the kind of “pendant” apparently hanging like a necklace on the flask’s neck numbered 9 at the top of the page, is rigorously inside the vessel and not around the external neck of the same vessel. Which, indeed, makes the thing rather difficult to be understood and practiced.
From Hieroglyphical Figures, traditionally attributed to Nicolas Flamel: “ This vessel of earth, in this form, is called by the philosophers, their triple vessel, for within it, there is in the middle a stage or a floor, and upon that a disk or a platter full of lukewarm ashes, within the which is the Philosophical Egg, that is a phial of glass full of confections of art…”
- See also Atalanta Fugiens & Coral from Waters and Basilius Valentinus, Salt Azoth or Philosophers Gold? ;
- Canseliet, the Art of Music & Weight ;
- To see what a Pelican is for, go to my previous article Brouaut, how to Extract the Dye and Soul ;