What is the difference between the Spiritus Mundi in the first work and Spirit in the second?
According to alchemists, the Spirit of Life/Spiritus Mundi/Secret Fire/Mercurius is a different nomenclature for different stages of the same ineffable and undistinguishable substance for every entity in every kingdom of nature. Of course, different nomenclatures refer to different “host” textures and compositions.
Why do alchemists talk of Sulfur only starting from the second work?
If the first work is about the extraction of Mercurius, the second is about the extraction of Sulphur. The goal of the second work is to have Sulfur/Soul extracted by Mercurius/Spirit.
How is the extraction of Sulfur performed?
The extraction of Sulfur/Soul is performed by the reduction of raw matters to Mercurius/Spirit. This means a dissolution in our universal dissolvent alkahest/Mercurius. Then a unification of at least two Mercurii by means of the putrefactive phase. Further, pouring/washing and feeding with the set-aside Mercurius will extract Sulfur from the first black phase of the second work.
Can we do the main work if we have forgotten to set aside enough Mercurius?
No, because all the wedding processes, pouring/washing, and embryo feeding, will be done with the Mercurius set aside at the end of the first-preparatory work.
Why is it correct to say that alchemical marriage is a union between women?
Because salt, to get ready for the alchemical wedding, must be previously reduced in Mercurius by another Mercurius. So the marriage is actually a union between at least two Mercurii, and one of the key symbols of the mercury is a woman.
Why one spouse is named Sulfur and the other Mercurius?
Because one will play the role of Sulfur and will be dissolved in a proportionally much greater part of Mercurius. And in return will shake, fix, shape, and give consistency, color, and offspring to Mercurius. But without Mercurius, Sulfur would be dead.
Is a single dissolution enough to achieve the “seed of metals” and let a male Mercurius get married?
No. Some believe that a single dissolution is enough to free the seed of matter inside. But the real “reincrudation”, or the release of the seed, needs at least another dissolution.
What’s the difference between Hermaphrodite and Double Mercurius?
When the couple is lying in blackness, it is Double Mercurius. Hermaphrodite is when the matter comes out of the blackness.
What is the theory of the third salt?
A fact of alchemical life: often Secret Fire must be added to the alchemical couple.
How do we know if the couple is fertile?
If they fall into perfect black, the most “spiritual” part is when Spirit successfully extracts the personal Soul. When Mercurius extracts Sulphur. The process must be carried out in a well-closed container.
Why is Alchemy only men can both impregnate and give birth?
Because, from the wedding on, the couple will wholly turn into Sulphur. And Mercurius will be added only in little dosage. So the alchemical child and embryo are sulfur, whose symbol is the man.
What about metallic gold? Is it always necessary? With what step should we associate its introduction?
Often the appearance of metallic gold on the scene, calcined or in foils, helped the ancient authors to introduce the main work in their treatises. In fact, when an author introduces metallic gold, he often supposes that the Alkahest/Dissolvent/Mercurius was previously obtained. Unless he knows some secret ways to disperse gold, such as with nostoc from the sky or other physical way…… The reduction of metallic gold in the seed of metals, or “Reincrudation”, through a double dissolution in Mercurius, is a good way to prepare a male Mercurius for the alchemical wedding, so it is an indication of preparation for the wedding. Metallic gold is just a raw matter very rich in Secret Fire, but it is not indispensable. An alchemist who knows what he/she is doing can add gold even during the second work after the wedding has been celebrated, and after the consequent putrefaction has been achieved. Every time gold is added putrefaction occurs. Some alchemists do that to produce the peacock tail.
Why is it said the matter is just one in the second work?
Because everything must be reduced to Mercurius in order to get married. But, after the wedding, the tiny sulfurous seed inside will turn all into Sulfur.
Why Mercurius and Sulfur are esoterically named Spirit and Soul?
Because alchemists do believe that when a body gets destroyed, it releases at first the undifferentiated Spirit of Life/Mercurius/Woman, and just after, by further dissolutions in the same Mercurius, the personal Soul/Sulfur/Man will come out. Although you may find that some authors, as well as some ancient Mediterranean myths, swap the terms. This nomenclature isn’t only symbolic, but also actual.
How should the perfect second work go?
It all depends on the quality of Mercurius. If the Mercurius is hosting a great amount of secret fire, in theory, it will be powerful enough to cook the matter it is poured on without the need for heating, in mildly warm conditions. Here I don’t mean an exothermic reaction, of course.
What about the less-perfect second work?
Commonly the quality of Mercurius hosted in the matter is rather poor, so the pouring of Mercurius needs the help of an external source of heat depending on the chosen path and raw matters – in some cases rather mild, in other cases stronger.
Do black, white, and red appear as pure and unmixed?
In the second work, the addition of Mercurius to the matter produces the typical rotation colors, which are basically three: black, white, and red. Always in that order and with their overtones, that’s to say there is grey from black to white and orange from white to red. These are the compulsory colors of the second work. Other colors may vary and appear according to the chosen way and the starting raw matters.
Is the “being cooked” matter always uniform till the end?
No, the matter is being cooked as uniformly as cooking an egg fried. Don’t expect the egg will stay of the same consistency from the start to the end.
Why the allegory of growing up a baby has been selected to describe the second work?
Because, like a newborn baby, the matter tends naturally to “grow”. Although not in size, but in weight.
Is there a thread to tie all the different nomenclatures of second work operations?
Yes, they are all performed by adding Mercurius and then red sulfur in a little dosage in the end.
Is the breastfeeding symbolism applicable to describe the cooking when the matter is fond of Mercurius?
Yes, because the alchemical child is at the stage of drinking milk from the mercurial mother’s breast.
What does the symbolism of the slaughtered innocents mean?
Every time a color rotation reaches red, the rotation can be kept going on until the final perfect red is achieved. So the less perfect alchemical children are “sacrificed”. And, because of their red color, the sacrificed alchemical children are always of the male sex.
How should we understand the term “magnet” in the second work?
The matter in the second work, being composed by Mercurius, is already a magnet, more and more powerful as the work goes on. So when we meet the term magnet, it means we expose the matter to the external influx.
So, there might be an intervention of a mysterious external agent as a companion?
Yes. But this is ever more rarefied alchemy.
Has ancient mythology given us an allegory for the mysterious external agent intervention?
Yes, the Babylonian priestess’ sacred waiting on the top of a high tower for a god to come on a moonless night.
Is the pomegranate grains symbolism applicable to describe the cooking when the matter will not take any more Mercurius?
Yes, the alchemical child will suffer from loss of appetite and will be fed with tiny doses of red matter.
When does the second work finish?
The last blackness traditionally marks a turning point between the second and third work. It simply means the matter will undergo a transformation.
Previous: First-Preparatory Works