What is the goal of the first-preparatory work?
To extract the spiritus mundi/secret fire from raw matters and then to 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. In fact, 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 was able to “run away”, so even fumes and vapors. While Body was everything prevented to run away. To the first one, they give the name of Mercurius/Water, and to the second the name of Salt/Earth.
What did ancient chemists define as Salt?
The definition of Salt is rather later and seems to be introduced by Paracelsus to define the body in which Mercurius and Sulphur must be dwelling in. The nomenclature seems to derive from the definition the very ancient chemists gave to Spirit as everything able to “run away”, so fumes, vapors, and even liquids. While Body was everything prevented to run away. To the first one, they gave the name of Mercurius/Water, and to the second the name of 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 use to 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.
Why the alchemical works are said to be an extreme spiritualization of raw matter?
Because in order to extract Mercurius/Spirit, we should not be satisfied with extracting only what in itself is already unstable and easily volatile, and is only temporarily imprisoned in the matter. This is a spagyric concept, indeed. In Alchemy we really have to try lifting the 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?
Yes, 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?
In order 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 state, through thermic stress, volatilization/condensation, crystallization-grinding-deliquescence, etc….
Can Heat/Cold alternation be involved in magnetization?
Sure. Not only 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 the creation of 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 the production of a philosophical composite?
According to the theory of four Elements, the solving phase would cause the reduction of bodies in the nature of Spirits, while coagulation is the reduction of a Spirit in the nature of bodies.
What 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.
Is anything true in what Democritus says: lux sicca, anima sapiens?
Yes, in fact not only Spiritus Mundi is being born by, and from, warm, but the end of the operations will be to make it dry. As dry summarizes all the elements while retaining all their properties.
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 huge 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, instead 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 bear in mind that Spiritus Mundi is particularly 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 if 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 the light of this, an alchemist should ask himself what the fluidity of the Spiritus Mundi really consists of.
Can the concept of fluidity also be applied to the Via Sicca, Dry Path?
Yes. And this perhaps helps us better understand what the fluidity of the Spiritus Mundi really consists of. But it is called fluid because it really is in a physical way. But it is called fluid because it really is in a physical way. Since Alchemy is more physical than chemical.
How many magnetizations can the raw matters undergo in the first work?
It depends on the chosen path, it is not mandatory to respect a rigid timetable. Of course, every salt is separately processed and is about to separate magnetizations. In some (mostly humid) paths magnetizations could be even endless and countless. In other (almost metallurgic dry) they could be even neglected: not only the terrific 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 the idea to have two salts from the same matter but different magnetization make sense?
Yes, it makes sense. The first can be magnetized by the moon, the other by the sun.
What is the difference between the Mercurius from the vegetal and the mineral kingdoms?
Mercurius is considered to be an indeterminate principle, so it is the same for every raw matter. Simply, the Mercurius from the vegetal kingdom seems to contain a lesser amount of secret fire. But this is not a problem, as a calcined metallic powder dissolved in it can greatly increase the amount of 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: because they need to prevent the gaseous part to fly away, because they need to prevent the volatile Mercurius of volatilizations to fly away, and because they then need a reliable method to fix the volatile Mercurius.
Why a chemical reaction is not enough to volatilize a salt?
Because a chemical reaction generally brings a molecule from a stable state to another stable state. In 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 within itself the origin of volatilization. Also from the chemical point of view.
Why salt volatilization is better to perform overnight?
Volatilization could be performed at any hour, strictly speaking, 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.
Is it true that pharmacists also used to volatilize salts?
The iatrochemistry of the Baroque era pursued the same aims of volatilization of salts since medicine was intended to achieve high degrees of absorbability by the human organism. But the pharmacists stopped at the first stage of volatilization. This aspect was expressed in many treatises.
Can we perform salt volatilization with the modern distillation apparatus?
No, the modern distillation apparatus may fit the simple spagyric separation. In alchemy, we need special distillation devices with larger and stronger helms (heads-caps) and gathering pipes. If you do not have it, expect clogs and ruptures.
The series of cases of onset of problems is almost infinite, but definitely, 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 greatest interest to study their suggestions. I will cite just one example, just 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 avoid the vessel breaking. My ovens are made with holes peculiar to the purpose.
Can the pelican tool replace the ancient distillation apparatus?
Yes, in the case it can be easily done, we can use a pelican with a large head and arms. This tool was invented for repeating the same operation over and over. And sometimes two interconnected pelicans are better than a single one.
Why heavy metals do 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 somehow, with so many coobations, get it up.
Why metallic gold and silver are quite ubiquitously recommended in alchemy?
Because they are heavy metals, and besides that, much easier to be alchemically worked on than others close to them in the Mendeleev table. It is then undeniable that only gold and silver can be the result of transmutations.
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 really 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 certain 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 way in the first work?
A way in which we obtain alchemical powders by means of liquid solvents. Some of them can raise, and others are dissolving.
Is there a third way?
Yes, but only by means of 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 cannot be considered a synonym.
When does the first work finish?
When once having achieved the Mercurius, we manage to 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. In fact, perfect blackness is the sign of a perfect reduction to Mercurius.
Why ancient chemistry is so important for the first work?
Because many of the processes used to open salts are very similar. In fact, iatrochemists did look for medicines very easy to be assimilated. 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 about the prohibition of electricity in the alchemical works?
Modern alchemists, when talking of electricity, mean the high voltage cooking method. But, to tell the truth, every chemical reaction involves low-voltage electricity affecting the outer electronic cloud. Even heating and chilling out cause electrical phenomena. Nature itself works on low voltage. And last but not least, the low voltage from temperature differential can dissolve some calcined metals.
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. Concerning metallic gold, although modern science denies it, 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. In fact, 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, it is neither correct nor necessary to speak of Mercurius and Sulfur union. It is premature and can easily mislead you. In fact, this stage is called “preparatory” just because the goal is the achievement and fixation of Mercurius. Unless, of course, one means chemical mercury and sulfur in the 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 try to fix the volatile in a way other than dissolution.
Why the spirit is 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 more abundant 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 normally see in modern chemical laboratories.
What Fluid Mechanics can 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.
Can Potable Gold be sold or purchased?
First of all Tradition ban the sale. Having said that, potable gold is called so for the reason of color, it can actually contain no metallic gold at all 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 acceptably good 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”. In fact, already in 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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