Is there any difference between ancient and modern spagyrics?
Indeed, very deep. The term “spagyric” can often be found in the ancient treatises of iatrochemistry such as Glaser and Nicolas Lefebvre, and even Paracelsus. But I can assure you there is no trace of what we are currently used to knowing as spagyric proceedings in those books, that’s to say the processes of separation and purification typical of modern spagyrics. Back in the sixteenth-seventeenth century ancient chemists, or spagyrists as they sometimes defined themselves, never separated substances to gather them again in the end but used to volatilize salts, as alchemists did. Even they had a deep understanding of the supreme principle of spiritus mundi/secret fire to be extracted from the raw matter. In conclusion, the term “spagyric” initially was just a neologism meaning “obtained with laboratory methods“, not indicating the process of separation and purification accepted in modern spagyrics.
Do alchemy and spagyrics have different goals?
Yes, the proceedings are different and the goals are different. In alchemy, they try to extract only one principle called Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire, from raw matters destroying them to open. This ineffable substance is undifferentiated and dwells in every state of the material, it doesn’t matter if solid, liquid, or gaseous. When extracted, it takes the form of Mercurius and then gives birth to sulfur and salt and tends to reduce all to the first seed, prima materia. In spagyric, they don’t believe in this matter possibility, but only in the purification of the raw matter. So, their spirit dwells only in certain states of matter, their sulfur in others, and their salt body in others. Consequently, they just work to purify every state of matter. As alchemists do extract life, they believe in a form of immortality. Spagyrists do believe in the form of purification.
Does the alchemical theory of matter dispersion meet the spagyric view of extraction?
In order to extract their first matter alchemists disperse and destroy the raw matter, till salts remain and then work hard to volatilize and open those salts, as the Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire dwells in the most in salts. Spagyric work ultimately is to obtain three states of matter, generally volatile liquid, viscous liquid, and fine salts, which they call Mercurius-Sulphur-Salt (and which do not have the same meaning as in Alchemy), and then put all three together.
What is the difference between the separation and unification concepts in alchemy and spagyrics?
Separation in alchemy means setting aside our Mercurius which should then be divided into parts. Separation in spagyrics means setting aside the matter in different states, generally volatile liquid, viscous liquid, and fine salts, which they namely call Mercurius-Sulphur-Salt (and which do have not the same meaning as in Alchemy). Unification in Alchemy roughly means pouring one part of Mercurius on another, to make sulfur and a body. Unification in spagyrics means remaking the initial material in a purified form. And that‘s although the alchemical dry metallurgic path does involve a previous metal purification.
What’s the difference between alchemical and spagyric dissolutions?
In alchemy “to dissolve” does mean bringing a raw matter back to Mercurius state, because the alchemical dissolution is done by means of Mercurius. In spagyrics, a liquid solvent dissolves a solid matter to make a spagyric tincture.
What is the difference between alchemical and spagyric solvents?
In alchemy, they basically don’t have any chemical liquid solvent, but dispersing and volatilizing liquids with which they open and volatilize salts. The alchemical universal dissolvent for antonomasia is Alkahest, which is the result of salt volatilization, then it is Mercurius and the first matter of the entire opera. And it can also be in powdery form. In spagyrics, they extract what they call Mercurius-solvent from the raw matter and set it aside to re-unify with the purified salts-body. To purify them spagyrists generally distill them in liquid solvents to purify, not to destroy and volatilize.
What is the difference between alchemical and spagyric menstruums?
In alchemy, although there can be many flowing substances in the humid way’s first-preliminary work to disperse and/or lift solid matters, the name menstruum is only given to the universal dissolvent Alkahest/Mercurius, which represents the end of the preparatory work. And its dissolutions take place in closed conditions, for no fume should be lost. In fact, the result of the alchemical dissolution is another Mercurius, or return to prima materia. In spagyrics a menstruum is like any other ancient chemistry dissolvents: it dissolves a solid raw matter to get a powder. Fumes are generally lost as waste.
Why fumes and vapors are so important in alchemy and not in spagyrics?
Because, according to alchemists, once fumes and vapors are gone away, the matter is deprived of life. According to spagyrists, it is eventually liberated from wastes/feces. Additionally, according to Alchemy, Spiritus Mundi is also said to have a nature of air, besides that of fire, and consequently, it is attracted by fumes and smoke. We will see why fluid mechanics should be also considered in Alchemy.
Why is Caput Mortuum so important in alchemy and not in spagyrics?
Because alchemists see in it the most intrinsic deposit of Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire. According to spagirists, it is only the residual part of a distillation.
What is the difference between alchemical and spagyric fixed salt?
In alchemy, it is the volatile Mercurius made fixed, or Mercurius philosophorum, not necessarily in saline form. Some alchemists call it sulfur. In spagyrics, it is the result of purifications of the salt body.
What are the three principles in alchemy and in spagyrics?
In alchemy spirit, soul, and the final body all come from the spiritus mundi/secret fire. Hence, the raw matters are reduced in Mercurius-prima materia. In case they are from more than one raw matter, they must be all in Mercurius form, or in sulfur form. In spagyrics spirit, soul and body are treated as separate entities to be purified and then re-unified in a tincture. In alchemy, the spirit is the spiritus mundi/secret fire dwelling in every body. Once extracted it takes the name of Mercurius and, as dissolvent, it is used to extract the soul and to reduce a raw matter in prima materia. In spagyrics, it is a volatile substance out of the first distillations. It gets purified and in the end, will be added to the final tincture. In alchemy sulfur has varied meanings, it can represent the fixed Mercurius, the metal that fixes the volatile Mercurius, the metal dissolved by the Mercurius, the redness, the perfect red; the soul extracted by the spirit. And it does not conform to a standard state of matter. In spagyrics the sulfur represents the soul, it is not extracted by the spirit, and at the end of the work, it will be joined to the other two principles to form the tincture. Very often it has a viscous texture. In alchemy, Salt is the union of Mercurius and sulfur in a new body. In spagyrics, salt is a synonym for body and its extraction and purification consists of a series of operations performed separately from Mercurius and sulfur.
What about colors in alchemy and spagyrics?
In alchemy, the black-white-red color rotation is the crucial condition of the Main (second) work. It is affected by the nourishments with the Mercurius previously set aside. In spagyrics, colors are just chemical reactions.
What is the difference between alchemical and spagyric tinctures?
In alchemy, a tincture is the red sulfur passing through colors during multiplications in the main work. In spagyrics, it is the re-unification of the three principles – volatile Mercurius, oily sulfur, and powdery salt – after having been separated and purified.
What is the difference between alchemical and spagyric stone?
In alchemy, the stone is the product of the union of two mercurii, fed by Mercurius, then turned into sulfur, and finally fixed in the philosophical egg which will give birth to the stone. In spagyrics, the stone is a tincture in solid form.
Does Alchemy scoff the vegetable kingdom?
Not at all. Alchemists do know well that the Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire is the same for all three kingdoms of nature. If they so often seem to point exclusively at the mineral kingdom, it is because there is a larger amount of what they are looking for. But they also know that minerals are not easy to be opened, so they often recommend extracting secret fire in the vegetable kingdom and making their universal dissolvent out of it. Then they recommend dissolving metals in it to obtain Mercurius even richer in the secret fire.
Do alchemists and spagyrists use the same laboratory tools?
They can share crucibles and pelicans, but alchemists use distillatory devices rather differently, for to successfully perform salt volatilizations they need special big heads with larger gathering pipes. Also, the oven to cook the philosophical egg is peculiar only to alchemy.