“… It is specified for the term Guhr a grey-whitish liquid matter, or otherwise colored, which leaks from mountains: it is composed by mineral or earth substances so subtle to remain suspended in water, before precipitating. As there isn’t such a thing as pure guhr, we are here talking of calcareous or clayey guhr. It is observed that guhr does exist of all species. There is, for instance, a metallic guhr (guhr metallicum). We have: the white guhr – guhr cretaceum vulgare, Guhr album Wallerius. Lac lunae Betlehemicum Henckel ( or lake of Moon of Betlehem). This species of calcareous guhr is as white as milk, made by friction both in the bottom of mines and outdoor places. When the gurh is leaking, or resting, some particles sink to form a kind of incrustation, or calcareous ostéo-glue. Ashy guhr ( guhr cinereun Wallerius). This species is not different from the previous, but color and texture. Properties taken by evaporation and mixing of earthy and vegetal or metallic parts, which give this grey aspect, thick as a mush. It is also believed that this guhr is a kind of powdered limestone and moistened by water.
Flower of natural limestone ( calx nativa, Woodward. calx nativa aquis supernatans vel mixta, Wallerius. Flos calcis Kundmann. Cremor thermis supernatans, Hoffmann). This earth is commonly found in warm waters, or always mixed with water, or floating on the surface. It is the same as the previous species, but the metallic parts have been naturally separated by precipitation; for this reason it is exclusively found in thermal waters. The sometimes noticed phosphorescent property, is probably due to animal parts commonly encountered in clay.
The last species is made from mixed calcareous earths ( calx nativa humo mixta, Creta pulverulenta, humacea, alba vel cinerea, Wallerius. Terra aceldema Nieremberg). This kind has more calcareous than greasy parts. It is a little dry, rarely compact, rough and colored. We have observed that the clay of the first deposit form horizontal and parallel layers in mountains. This clay is mostly formed by marine animals bones. Some waters, percolating through this clay, or calcareous earth, have frictioned and detached particles carrying them through subterranean conduits. These clayish waters have all the same detached part of these conduits. They can take all colors and masses and there will be a difference between this kind and the clay precipitated and deposited. That’s the origin of mixed clays. The different areas are due to the way the earth is suspended in the jiggling water and precipitates. From that the difference in colors, densities and purity.”
On page 345 of Mineralogie second volume a dictionary provides a definition of the term Guhr: “from the german word Guhren, meaning to spring from earth like a water source. Guhr is a whatever earth reduced in subtlety by friction of subterranean waters, and which is preferably found in subterranean cavities of mountains. That one hardened is often rich in metals, furthermore when it is reddish, often it is a metal itself.”
Some ten years before, in 1764, Valmont de Bomare published “Dictionnaire Raisonné Universel d’Histoire Naturelle”, or Universal Explicated Dictionary of Natural History, in which the term Guhr was already present, with some differences: “The Guhr is a leaking or pappy mineral matter, which drips as stalagmite in caves. The most of mineralogists take it as the first matter and mumush of minerals. Maybe it is formed by decomposed minerals. At least Guhr is a sign of some metallic veins, furthermore the hardened and reddish one. When red it designates an iron vein, if green and blue a copper one, if white and blue a silver.”
Valmont de Bomare’s reports on guhr are the more exhaustive of his age. It is a pity than the Guhr is bound to disappear from scientific publications in the space of some decades. Modern mineralogy now applies molecular examination to classify substances, not only organoleptic checks. Nevertheless what’s interesting to us is the definition of Guhr as Materia Prima, or first matter of minerals. I have already said in this site, that the idea of a general primordial substance for the formation of minerals in mines is a superstition, which greatly affected alchemists as well. I presented the opinion of Michael Maier in Symbola Aureae Mensae, and Sabine Stuart Chevalier, so to cite some. The idea was that all minerals and metals were formed by a milky Mercurius and a greasy Sulphur. In Symbola Aureae Mensae the engraving number eight (5), dedicated to Aquinas, puts on display the supposed phenomenon occurring in the deep of the earth, comparing the work of alchemist to that of nature: what nature unifies, the alchemist has to divide.
Sabine Stuart Chevalier (6) goes further and imagines that Mercurius, once divided from its natural companion Sulphur, re-acquires the virginal status, in fact she imagines the milky mercurial part as a woman deprived of a man and looking for, that’s to say looking for another greasy Sulphur. But she fails to say that Sulphur is just the same Mercurius in a further and more fixed phase. To this extent came the necessity to create a whole system to unify Alchemy and Nature. Nowadays we treat this unifying system as superstitious. Ancient chemists did not know and search molecular purity, they really limited to test matters with their eyes.
In countless treatises alchemists main task was said to be the imitation of Nature. But the theories put forward are today nonsense. The imitation of nature is to a deeper level. Deeper than the molecular one. We know that our Secret Fire is extracted from raw matters to become Mercurius and worked till Sulphur. Ancient alchemists seemed to be content of that. It is really strange because they went on saying that their ultimate goal was the making of a magnet. To tell the truth just few wrote that. For instance Philalethes in his Introitus Apertus ( 7).
And then I can get back to what said above: this Mercurial-Sulphureus matter is our unique Prima Materia, first matter. Our Antimonium-Bright Star-Universal Dissolvent, as said Fulcanelli. Our vase-bowl-heart-graal, as said Guénon. Our magnet to call the universe. When Canseliet referred to the matter by which “metals are perpetually produced in the deep of the earth” he meant our seed of metals, not an uncertain leaking matter inside a mine ( at least I hope). The real Guhr, not the improbable pulpy mineral described by Valmont de Bomare. Our letter “G”, Tree of Life, indeed. A matter defined as liquid, but that can appear in quite every state. And produced by weird tools, as said Reghini.
Valmont de Bomare has lived in an border age. An age, the second half of the eighteenth century, in which alchemical terms, together with terms derived from ancient natural philosophy, were the unique available to start to define things. When Valmont de Bomare begins to investigate on earths classification, he cannot but re-organize ancient concepts. He lacks parameters different from ancient unverified superstitions.
My opinion is that the ancient natural philosophy was a non science, in the sense that it seems to have used a parody of Alchemy keys. As magic did. In fact when science became an experimental discipline, the result was a serious setback to Alchemy credibility. As though Alchemy had been a natural phenomenon to be applied to all natural phenomena.
This thoughts could lead us to consider whether in Nature any alchemical process could occur. As far as I know, yes, but certainly not by means of the proceedings described by Valmont. If not, every piece of rock extracted from a mine is a potential Philosophers Stone. When Alchemy is rather about destroying these pieces of rock to extract our potential Philosophers Sto.
Said that, it remains us to give plausibility to the picking up of the latin letter “G” as a symbol for our, and I call it with the name I prefer, Universal Magnet. And here two paths are opened, an etymological and a morphological one:
Etymology: let’s take Fulcanelli’s suggestion for granted on our turn and search the ancient art of Grammatica for the latin letter G, and this time without quotation marks. So I have looked up in Nuovo Dizionario Scientifico e Curioso Sacro-Profano, or sacred-profane scientific and curious dictionary, by Gianfrancesco Pivati, Venezia 1747, the definition of latin-italian letter G: ” seventh letter of our alphabet and the fifth of consonants. In oriental idioms is instead the third, as by Hebrews, Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Samaritans, Arabs, and Greeks who received it from Phoenicians. This order is very ancient, as it can be seen from lamentations of Jeremiah and Psalm 118. Hebrews call it Gimel or Ghimel, that’s to say camel, because it has a hump like a camel, In Arabic is gijm, by Syrians gomal.
The letter G is a mute letter , which we cannot hear the sound without the addition of a vowel. ……latins used to change it in C, as gamelus becomes camelus, gragulus graculus, quingentum quincentum, and so on. Latins used to omit it before a N, gnatus became natus, gnosco nosco. It was taken as P , magalia mapalia. For Q, aquina angina. it was also changed in R, aquagium aquarium and even in S, spargo sparsi, fingo finxi. The reason is G has a very bad sound. It is cacophonous”.
Let’s finish with Morphology: an uncertain Masonic tradition says that the letter “G“ is a hypostasis of God, adding then that the letter “G“ looks very much like the shape of an ear. Now, perhaps this may seem incomprehensible to most people, but those who know about importance of sound in alchemy. In the book “the world of the Hittites“ by Margarete Riemschneider one of the oldest representations of the mother goddess were two big ears.
There is an old saying in alchemy: “ search for the light that can be seen with ears“.
- Arturo Reghini & Pythagorean Tetraktys 11;
- See also Artephius and Antimonium est de Partibus Saturni ;
- Fulcanelli & Antimony of Wises ;
- Symbola Aureae Mensae and the Supreme Purpose ;
- Stuart Chevalier and the Marriages of a Virgin ;
- Canseliet, the Art of Music & Weight ;