What is the goal of the first-preparatory work?
To extract the spiritus mundi/secret fire from raw matters and prepare the universal dissolvent/magnet/Mercurius/alkahest out of it.
How did ancient philosophers believe that a body had missed the Spirits of Life?
They believe that a body that allowed its fumes to fly away was a body that had missed the Spirits of Life. They observed escaping fumes when heating matters. Of course, Mercurius is much more complex than mere fume.
What is the Philosophical definition of Spirit/Water and Body/Earth?
In a few words, the ancient alchemists defined Spirit as everything which could “run away”, so even fumes and vapors. At the same time, the Body was everything prevented from running away. To the first one, they give the name Mercurius/Water, and to the second, the name Salt/Earth.
What did ancient chemists define as Salt?
The definition of Salt is somewhat later and seems to be introduced by Paracelsus to define the body in which Mercurius and Sulphur must be dwelling. The nomenclature seems to derive from the definition the ancient chemists gave Spirit as everything able to “run away”, so fumes, vapors, and even liquids. At the same time, the Body was everything prevented from running away. To the first one, they gave the name Mercurius/Water, and to the second, the name Salt/Earth.
What did ancient chemists define as Mercurius and Sulfur?
It is interesting to know that, at the beginning of the vulgar era, ancient chemists call “Mercurius” the humid vapors discharging from the earth’s heating, and “Sulfur” the dry fumes.
How is the Spirit Extracted from the Body?
Spirit is separated from the body through fermentation, volatilization, and sublimation. That’s to say through an extreme dispersion of matter, which in Alchemy is defined as “Millesimare”, or to divide in thousandths.
The practice of fermentation extracts the sky from the body or the spirit of life. Mechanical separation violently separates the spirit of life from the whole body and reduces it to the auras of its constituents. Fermentation does not separate and maintains the entire unity of the aura.
Why did the alchemical works say to be an extreme spiritualization of raw matter?
Because to extract Mercurius/Spirit, we should not be satisfied with extracting only what is already unstable and readily volatile and is only temporarily imprisoned in the matter. This is a spagyric concept, indeed. In Alchemy, we have to try lifting heavier molecules, even the less spiritual and more material. Since everything (or almost everything) has to sublime, this is called “extreme spiritualization of the raw matter”.
Why are the matters out of industrial processes considered alchemically dead?
(And consequently cannot be used). Because after going through all the processes, they have long lost their gaseous part, that’s to say, the Spirit. Which, once gone, cannot get back by any means.
Is it true that minerals should be freshly mined?
For alchemical use, forget about the specimen sitting on a shelf for years. The reason is the same as why the matters out of industrial processes are considered alchemically dead.
Are the minerals chemically defined with the same formula identical?
No, it depends on where and in what circumstances they were mined.
Why do we use animal substances like blood, urine, and bones?
To get the Lapis Medicinalis Microcosmi, which could then be unified with the Lapis Medicinalis Macrocosmi obtained in a more general way.
If it is true that we cannot collect Spiritus Mundi from the Sun, what is the magnetization for in the first work?
To help the raw matter to do the work for us.
Is magnetization just the Sun and Moon affair?
It is not only an affair of the astronomical sun and moon, by the canonical outdoor exposition, but also by the symbolical sun and moon intervention, that’s to say, getting the raw matter to undergo sudden changes of the state through thermic stress, volatilization/condensation, crystallization-grinding-deliquescence, etc.
Can Heat/Cold alternation be involved in magnetization?
Sure. This is what we call thermic stress, but it can cause matter to undergo different states of matter. To a certain extent, this is also called Solve et Coagula. And it can be synthesized with the symbol of the Sun/Moon.
Can magnetization also be defined as creating a microcosm of climatic conditions?
Sure. At the macrocosmic level, the alternation of heat and cold can cause wind, rain, hail, snow, drought, lightning, and thunder. Ultimately quite all that we know as weather and climate.
How is an alternation between Heat/Cold involved in producing a philosophical composite?
According to the theory of four Elements, the solving phase would cause the reduction of bodies like Spirits. At the same time, coagulation is the reduction of a Spirit in the nature of bodies.
What are the relations between Heat/Cold and Solve et Coagula?
As happens in physics, heat conditions may either solve or coagulate, and the same can be said of cold conditions. So heat is not necessarily synonymous with solve, and cold is not necessarily synonymous with coagula. But the process is needed for state changes.
What about Sunstroke during magnetization?
During the magnetization for the preparatory work, the Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire seems to suffer from sunstrokes. Mind, I mean the substances that have already condensed a certain amount of Spiritus Mundi in previous processes, not the raw matter, which can still be subjected to hot-cold regimes. And that is a paradox as the Sun and Stars are enormous producers of Secret Fire/Spiritus Mundi.
During magnetization, who is most destructive between the sun and the moon?
Although we have seen that Spiritus Mundi fears sunstroke and, in some cases, the matter should be protected from too invasive sun rays, moonbeams are far more destructive over raw matter and, as magnetization is a raw matter demolition action, moonbeams’ presence is compulsory in every magnetization.
Can an underground burial of matter lead to a magnetization increase?
Sure. We must remember that Spiritus Mundi is mainly present in the subsoil.
Is it true that Spiritus Mundi tends to get trapped in enclosed spaces?
It would seem so. So we can imagine how much it loves underground enclosed spaces, such as caves.
Is it true that Spiritus Mundi tends to stick to the corners of containers, even in a very fluid form?
It would seem so, for the reason that it gets trapped in it. But not for the same reason as the cohesion of water particles, of course. In a way, something would seem to make it bounce. In light of this, an alchemist should ask himself what the fluidity of the Spiritus Mundi consists of.
Can the concept of fluidity also be applied to the Via Sicca, Dry Path?
Yes. And perhaps this helps us to better understand what the fluidity of the Spiritus Mundi consists of, which is called fluid because it is a physical phenomenon in motion, produced by sudden changes of state.
How many magnetizations can the raw matters undergo in the first work?
It depends on the chosen path, and it is not mandatory to respect a rigid timetable. Of course, every salt is processed separately and about to separate magnetizations. In some (primarily humid) paths, magnetizations could be endless and countless. In other (almost metallurgic dry), they could even be neglected: not only the tremendous stress these salts are going to be exposed to would make magnetization superfluous, but in these ways, the salts must necessarily be as purer as possible.
When we opt for a single raw matter, can we go ahead with a single salt?
No, we need at least two salts, and, in some paths, one can even be a product of the first; that’s to say, another crystallization is always based on the first.
Does having two salts from the same matter but different magnetization make sense?
Yes, it makes sense. The moon can magnetize the first and the other by the sun.
What is the difference between the Mercurius from the vegetal and the mineral kingdoms?
Mercurius is an indeterminate principle, so it is the same for every raw matter. The Mercurius from the vegetal kingdom seems to contain the less secret fire. But this is not a problem, as a calcined metallic powder dissolved in it can significantly increase the secret fire.
What did van Helmont mean in his statement on salt volatilization?
“If you don’t know how to obtain alkahest, at least learn how to volatilize salts”. A caring and not-so-subtle suggestion to volatilize salts, indeed!
Can we obtain Alkahest without volatilizing salts?
“Volatilizing” is a general term embracing the whole concept of dispersing and opening raw matters. And without opening the raw matter, we go nowhere in alchemy for the simple reason that it is the only human way to extract the spiritus mundi/secret fire.
Should the salts be totally volatilized?
The matter should be subtle enough to be volatilized and coarse enough to be not totally volatilized. For instance, a totally volatilized salt cannot produce the philosophical egg, as there is no coarse matter to make the eggshell. The other more philosophical reasons are unknown to me.
How can salts be volatilized?
By previous extreme subtilization, the previous dissolution in an acid substance, in the same juice, by distillation, circulation, sublimation, mixing with powerfully lifting substances, entering fast accelerators, by gravity, the explosion, strong oxidation, dispersion through electrical potential, dissolution in strongly ionized matters, dissolution in the nostoc from the sky, and – ultimately – direct dissolution in Mercurius/Alkahest.
Why do alchemists generally follow very few methods to volatilize salts?
Mainly for three reasons: they need to prevent the gaseous part from flying away, they need to prevent the volatile Mercurius of volatilizations from flying away, and they need a reliable method to fix the volatile Mercurius.
Why is a chemical reaction not enough to volatilize a salt?
Because a chemical reaction generally brings a molecule from a stable state to another stable state. This way, the Spiritus Mundi/secret fire within is prevented from coming out.
Is there some truth in the statement that salt should help itself?
Yes, the salt should already have the origin of volatilization, also from the chemical point of view.
Why is salt volatilization better to perform overnight?
Volatilization could be performed at any hour, but during the night, your part of the earth is unreachable for the sun beams bombardment. Believe it or not, the Spiritus Mundi/ secret fire, in addition to suffering from sunstrokes, follows the same times as the apparitions of ghosts.
What Moon phase is the best to perform volatilization?
The beginning of the first crescent, when the Moon is closest to the Sun.
Is single volatilization enough?
No, we need to reiterate-repeat the volatilizations over and over again.
Can we perform salt volatilization with the modern distillation apparatus?
No, the modern distillation apparatus may fit the simple spagyric separation. In alchemy, special distillation devices with larger and stronger helms (heads-caps) and gathering pipes are needed. If you do not have it, expect clogs and ruptures.
The series of cases of the onset of problems is almost infinite. Still, the main problems arise with the preliminary works, which closely resemble the procedures of the iatrochemists of the Baroque age. It will therefore be of the most significant interest to study their suggestions. I will cite just one example to show how these masters of distillation empirically solved problems with their tools. From Brouaut’s Anatomy of Wine: if you distill inside the glass, you need to have your vessel well set so as not to fall or float when in the water balneum. Always replace the evaporated water with no cold water to prevent vessel breaking. My ovens are made with holes peculiar to the purpose.
Can the pelican tool replace the ancient distillation apparatus?
Yes, we can use a pelican with a large head and arms if it can be quickly done. This tool was invented for repeating the same operation over and over. And sometimes, two interconnected pelicans are better than a single one.
Why do heavy metals contain a lot of secret fire?
Nobody knows why, but that is an unquestionable fact. Maybe because the secret fire dwells in the electronic clouds?
Why does Caput Mortuum contain a lot of secret fire?
The residual part of a distillation, Caput Mortuum, does contain a lot of secret fire only if you can get it up with so many coobations.
Why metallic gold and silver are pretty ubiquitously recommended in alchemy?
First of all, that’s not entirely true: not everyone loves precious metals. For example, Canseliet and Fulcanelli considered them too easy to “open” – because they have little waste – and therefore released Secret Fire very little. Others, on the contrary, consider them very full of Secret Fire, thanks to the doublets of external electrons that tend to change level easily.
Can we define the first Mercurius as the Light coming out of the dark?
This is a poetic expression, anyway; in some paths, the first achieved Mercurius is a weird light shining in the vessel; in others, simply a white color appearing on the top of the black mass. The allegory is valid for both.
Why do they say to cut off the head of the crow?
Because in specific paths and at a certain point of the black putrefaction, they remove a bit of the superficial part to let the whiteness out.
How can we define the humid path in the first work?
A way in which we obtain alchemical powders using liquid solvents. Some of them can rise, and others are dissolving.
Is there a third path?
Yes, but only utilizing special tools. No pelicans, distillation apparatus, or crucibles. Probably the most ancient and secret among alchemical ways, the third way mainly involves fields of physical forces, which are unknown to the most orthodox ways. This way has much in common with the so-called Ars Brevis, or brief art, although it cannot be considered a synonym.
When does the first work finish?
Once we have achieved the Mercurius, we fix it in Mercurius Philosophorum.
What is the purpose of Alkahest?
To alchemically dissolve, that’s to say to reduce a raw matter to Mercurius. It can be a strong oxidizer too.
What is the difference between Alkahest and Mercurius Philosophorum?
It is the nomenclature difference. Mercurius of Philosophers is Alkahest, indeed: fixed Mercurius.
How can we confirm that our Alkahest is the real Alkahest?
We have obtained the real alkahest if gold foil or calcined gold dissolved in it soon becomes black. Perfect blackness is the sign of a perfect reduction to Mercurius.
Why is ancient chemistry so crucial for the first work?
Because many of the processes used to open salts are very similar, iatrochemists looked for medicines that were very easy to assimilate. The only difference in many cases was the lack of reiterations.
Can we say that the matter is just one in the first work?
No, in the first-preparatory work, there can be several raw matters.
What are the most difficult raw matters?
What is calcined metal? And what is it for?
It is a metal reduced to very fine powder by strong oxidation at a crucible or furnace to get free from any previous water and make it ready to absorb humidity again. Although modern science denies metallic gold, it can be calcined too. Don’t underestimate the oxidizing property of alkahest. It is used when we need a fine metal powder.
What is the most “Spiritual” part of the first work?
The putrefaction as it frees all the spirits within the raw matter. The putrefactive stages in the first work must be performed in well-closed containers.
How many putrefactions are there in the first work?
Two. One for the raw matter and another for the volatilized salts.
Can we add anything during the putrefactions in the first work?
Yes, you can add raw matters rich in the secret fire before closing the container.
Is it correct to speak of Mercurius and Sulfur union in the first work?
In the first preparatory work, speaking of Mercurius and Sulfur union is neither correct nor necessary. It is premature and can easily mislead you. This stage is called “preparatory” because the goal is the achievement and fixation of Mercurius. Unless, of course, one means chemical mercury and sulfur in a cinnabar way. And unless one means the use of salt to fix the volatile Mercurius. Sometimes this salt is called sulfur just because it undergoes dissolution.
What is the Secretum Artis, the secret of the Art?
The fixation of the volatile Mercurius. In the less hidden way, alchemists do use gold, or another salt, which they call sulfur, as it fixes the volatile Mercurius. But, this is not a very effective way. The best is to fix the volatile in a way other than dissolution.
In the wet path, sometimes the so-called “air systems” were used: special tools, such as pelicans, trumpets, or vases with pendants inside.
Why is the spirit said to have a close affinity with fumes, vapors, and aerosols?
Because of a law ruling fluid mechanics, known as adhesion of flows, in which the scarce and volatile spirit tends to adhere to larger and faster fluxes and currents, this physical law has many implications in alchemy. More generally, it is said that Spirit has the nature of air besides having that of fire.
What is the second Secretum Artis?
The laboratory tools. I insist they cannot be standard industry-manufactured tools we can typically see in modern chemical laboratories. For example, look at the laboratory tools of Nicaise le Febvre.
What can fluid mechanics teach us about the first work?
Fluid Mechanics can teach us how to make and use our laboratory tools.
What is the third Secretum Artis?
The matter’s weights, or better, the matter’s proportions.
What is the substantial difference between chemistry and alchemy?
The difference between chemistry and alchemy lies in the observance of nature and the calendar and in the lack of purity of the alchemical compounds. In this, it indeed resembles cooking. Which, and I say this for those who don’t know how to cook, is the art of the impossible, of the union of opposites. Indeed, the more opposites a chef combines harmoniously, the more skilled he is. Every chef’s secret is the amalgam or secret ingredient that unites opposites because it has a bit of one and a bit of the other, despite being a mediocre and negligible substance in itself. Assumed that in Alchemy, the opposites are the volatile
Can Potable Gold be sold or purchased?
First of all, Tradition banned the sale. Potable gold is called so because of its color; it can contain no metallic gold as it comes from the philosophical gold, our alkahest/Mercurius Philosophorum. Preparing the real philosophical gold for this purpose can take a lot of time, including magnetizations, etc. (since, in general, one should follow the humid way to get an acceptable product). Paradoxically, to speed things up, they should use real metallic gold since the metallic gold doesn’t need a long magnetization. If someone claims to extract their product directly from solar or moonbeams, you are authorized to laugh until you drop. The result of the equation (amount) / (labor) x (time) of this product makes the sale of real potable gold highly unprofitable. It is interesting to read Alexander von Bernus’s point of view on the topic in his “Alchemy and Medicine”. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, some people tried to sell potable gold. Von Bernus said that the lack of an acceptable gain was the main deterrent to that business, much more than the karmic curse. About the karmic curse, see the end of the third work.
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