Lully's Theory of the Philosophers Fires Explained by Ripley

images from Hermetico-Spagyrisches Lustgärtlein
text transcribed from the Manly P. Hall collection


of our Fires, without whose knowledge the Majistry is not perfected.

In this there are contrary operations, because as Fire against Nature resolves the spirit of a Fixed Body into the water of a cloud, and the body of a volatile spirit is thereby fixed into congealed earth; so, on the contrary, the Fire of Nature congeals the disolved spirit of a fixed body into a glorious Earth, and resolves the fixed body of a volatile spirit, not into the water of a cloud but into the water of Philosophers. Because that which is fixed by virtue of the Fire of Nature becomes volatile; a spiritual body into a spirit; humid into dry; heavy into light —; and on the contrary fire against nature changes volatile into fixed, and fixed into volatile; body into spirit and spirit into body: humid spirit has the form of the water of the cloud and a constrictive ponderosity.

Understand by this that fire against nature is so called because it is against all natural operations, for the [form?] which the fire of nature composes this always decomposes and destroys and carries to corruption unless the nature of fire be added.

Hence we say that such fire in the operation of Nature is not of the virtue and operation of our magistery, but that fire only which is purely natural.

There are Four Fires

I Natural which is in our Ardent water perfectly rectified.

II Unnatural, as the heat of a dunghill, a vintage &c.

III Elemental, which is common fire

IV Against Nature, a heat corroding all things, as aqua fortis, which is drawn from vitriol, salt petre & sal armoniac and other mineral things.

And you must know that the heat of the Elemental fire can never draw sulphur of nature from the veins of a body, which nevertheless the Fire of Nature by its own attractive virtue easily does.


of the aforesaid Theory of Raymund Lully

"Fire against Nature" namely corrosive Aqua fortis "disposes the spirit of a fixed body" such as [sun] or [moon] "into the water of a cloud" penetrating its parts by the power of its igneity and joining itself in the ratio of its humid substance

"And the body of a volatile spirit" namely [mercury] vulgar "is fixed into congealed earth" by sublimation of it from vitriol in which it is projected. That fire against Nature which ascends in the belly of quicksilver, when separated is called our invisible sulphur. But "the fire of Nature" that is the heat of Ardent water as aforesaid "congeals the dissolved spirit of a fixd body" (that is the subtle and spiritual made earth of the body of Gold & Silver, first separated from corrosive water and calcined for 8 days, or until it increases and is augmented like a [sponge?]) and draws it upwards by its own attractive virtue into the [sun], or Gold of Nature, which appears resplendent and crystaline like the eyes of fishes —; into a glorious earth —; which is done in a cold place.

Hence he says "it Congeals" & not that it coagulates, because coagulation takes place in heat but congelation in cold; and therefore it follows that "the body of a volatile spirit is fixed —; by fire against Nature", by whose virtue the aforesaid quicksilver is drawn back into the form of a congealed earth and becomes fitter for fixation under the Elemental Fire, until it shall be unwilling to smoke, but shall become an earth, giving no fusion, because it receives fusuion from the oil of the Stone "it is resolved" &c namely by the attractive virtue of the said Ardent water "not into the water of a cloud but into the water of philosophers" which is a dry water; because the dissolution of the one is the congellation of the other, in which congellation the said spiritual body becomes foliated earth, which is called sulphur of Nature, and thus, by virtue of the attractive water, volatile; namely that which by virtue of the fire against Nature inherent in itself had been made fixed by elemental fire, as was said before.

And for this reason he says "because that which is fixed by virtue of the Fire of Nature becomes volatile, and a spiritual body", that is [mercury] fixed, "into a spiritual nature" and volatile from fire; in which matter there are two bodies, flying silver and spiritual gold, that is the white and cloudy tincture of the mineral stone; which although at that time it has not the redness in act, nevertheless, as will afterwards appear in practice, it has the power of making red. And —; "Humid into dry", namely because ardent water is dessicated and congealed by the dissolution of the secreted gold in its belly, which also makes the stone volatile and at the same time fixes according to the will of the operator

And "ponderous, light" that is, the body of quicksilver, which in its crude and unfixed nature is heavy, becomes light, because it is elevated after the digestion of its aridity into crystalline earth —; which has not its pristine ponderosity.

"And, on the contrary, Fire against nature", (that is the aforesaid great corrosive, which is called the acute water of Philosophers, or the spirit of vitriol itself [devoted?] by mercury from its veins) "changes colatile" that is quicksilver sublimed "into fixed" "and the fixed" namely the body of gold and silver "into volatile" by disposition and separation of its parts mutually.

And the "body" namely of a fixed metal "into spirit."

"And spirit" namely of quicksilver "into body."

"The humid spirit has the form of the water of the cloud and a constrictive ponderosity" because it is our unctuous humid which is the nearest matter of our philosophical mercury, which is our menstruum and our lunary, perfectly rectified upon its own proper earth.

And it is fire against Nature which enters our minor alchemical works, but not our greater physical work or natural work, and therefore in the end he says "such fire" namely against Nature "in our operation is not of the virtue and operation of our majistry", but that which is of its virtue and operation "is fire which is purely natural" —; namely the fire of our ardent oily water which is purely natural, and therefor to human bodies is a chief medicine. And therefore Guido the philosopher [ed. Guido de Montanor] says of it "the whole benefit of the our stone is made by virtue of the Fire of Nature." But of fire against nature says Lully "all alchemic gold made from corrosives corrodes and destroys nature, wherefore it enters not human medicines."

And observe in what manner it is understood by what is said above, as it is said "Azoc and fire would suffice thee if thou knewest the manner of the fire" Azoc is mercury & Fire is that menstrual heat both which would suffice if thou knewest the manner of the fire, that is with what fire thou shouldest complete the majistry, which without the attractive virtue of the fire of Nature that is in the menstruum never will be done.

Agreeably to this the Philosophers say "Take fire and put fire in fire until fire melts in fire." That is take Mercury sublimate, which is fire against nature, and having put it first to be fixed by Elemental Fire; when fixed put it into the fire of Nature, that is in our water, until fire in fire liquifies: —; that is until that fire against Nature liquifies in the menstrual fire of Nature —; that is be resolved into the substance of a soul (anima) —; that is of water; which after its fixation, by virtue of an oiliness acquired from the menstruum will have a liquifying virtue which before, on account of its siccity, it had not. For after its first fixation it was a calxy earth, and being deprived of its extraneous humidity, by the virtue of desiccation and fixation in Elemental fire, in so much that for siccity it be melted, because, as the Philosophers say, spirits are not fixed until they become earth and hence they give no fusion.

Wherefore it behoves that for its lost radical humidity it should regain a new humidity, much better, because not aqueous, such as that was, but oleaginous that it might be melted; since the ingressive and penetrative virtue of the Elixir is chiefly made by virtue of the oil not burning, which is to be acquired partly from our menstruum, partly from the ferment, which is gold or silver.

Thus it is clear that the fire of Nature clothing itself with its own vegetative power revivifies every dead body, and rescusitates into a crystaline matter, which is called the salt of Nature and our Philosophical quicksilver sublimated; and that it matters not out of what earth that be elevated as long as it is that earth fixed, that white and subtle earth exempt from all humidity; because mercury implanted in such an earth, namely our oily mercury, makes it fusible and apt to receive any form whatsoever.

And therefore the Philosopher Guido said of the earth "It need not be mended of what unclean substance it be, provided it be fixed." And Maria the Prophetess says "The body, which is taken out of the little hills, is a white clear body, suffering neither putrefcation nor motion."

Such an earth in its calcination requires a great ignity in itself, and mercury has the power of tinging it and of rendering it fusible, whence Guido says "Earth and fire desiccate water and air." They drink them up and fix them because every metal consists only of two namely of sulphur for the earthy part and mercury for the watry part; and the antient Philosophers, inventors of this science endeavoured to do upon the earth, namely of metal in a few days, what Nature scarcely effects in the earth in a thousand years.

We are not to mind of what earth, of what substance it be, if however it be fixed, subtle and igneous, that it may be in the place of sulphur for the earthy part, if mercury be well combined with it, namely our mercury which is humid and unctuous, until it be perfected into a matter fit to be reduced, by addition of the ferment, to the nature of metal, that in all things we may seem to be the least repugnant to the intention of the Philosophers. For what is Gold and Silver but red earth and white earth oilifed as well from mercury pure and unctuous that they may be melted; from which mercury earth is tinged, and perfected by congellation into white and cloudy.

Hence Avicene says of gold and silver "take away from them quality and there will not be contention." But in this Art is weaker than Nature, because without the ferment the Stone is not reduced to the nature of metal, whereas Nature acts contrarily in its operation creating from Sulphur and quicksilver, within the earth, in a long time, without requiring a ferment, most perfect gold and silver.

If from mercury alone thou canst draw out this medicine thou wilt be the investigator of a most precious work, which is done by the separation of humid from dry and by the iterated composition of the same parts one to another, until they become fit and disagree not.


The work of Johannes Gier.

transcribed from the Manly P Hall collection

Take, in the name of God, of the purest Mercury sublimate, sublimed three or four times, and revive it with an equal weight of quicklime and half as much crude tartar, distilling your quicksilver over her retort.

If it should not prove perfectly pure, bright like the firmament, purify it further by washing it with sea salt & vinegar, and with water. then dry it and strain it through leather.

Take of this pure mercury 3 parts, and of fine, pure gold in leaves 1 part: put them together into a glass mortar and grind them well together for as long time until the whole is become a soft āāā. [n.b. symbol for Amalgam]

When you have done this (in a warm glass mortar) then add nine parts more of your purified mercury and put all into such a vessel as you have seen with me. Put the āāā at the bottom and pour the remaining mercury upon it. Place the glass in sifted ashes so that the globular part may be buried in them.

Place the whole in a moderate heat and let the old man (☉) sweat in the bath until the, at first, visible ☿ disappears, and the hidden [sulphur symbol] (of the ☉) becomes manifest in black, white & red. And all this is but one labour, one regimen, one vessel and one oven.

If your warmth is sufficiently moderate in 40 days there will appear on the top a blackness resembling pitch, which is the caput corvi and the mercury of the wise. God be praised and thanked! Amen.

Absolved by me Johannes Gier, born at Rodenbergen (in Holland),
but at present living in Cologne, in the year of our Lord







To the


In the


Wherein is discovered the Principles of HERMETICK PHILOSOPHY, with much Candor and Plainness.

Written by Eyreneus Philoctetes

And God said let the Earth bring forth grass; the herb yielding Seed, and the Fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind whose seed is in it self upon the Earth: and it was so, GEN. 1:11.
If thou dost desire to exalt a thing beyond what nature hath done, consider well in what, and by what it is bettered, and let it always be done in its own kind, Sendivo. Trea. 1.

Printed and sold by T. Sowle at the Crooked Billet in Holy-well-lane in Shoreditch. 1694.


Philoctetes and Neoptolemus at Lemnos. William Blake, 1812.

To the


In making the following Tract and Letter in which it was enclosed, that precedes it, thine, thy Obligation to me will bear some proportion with mine to my Friend that communicated them; neither art thou excusable without a degree of acknowledgement to him also: for, doubtless, next to the Authors of such Tracts, our Obligations are greatest to the Publishers and Communicators. For indeed there have not been wanting some ignoble minds, who, when such Tracts have fallen into their Hands, have presumed to Censure the world not worthy the same, contrary to the sence and intent of the Authors and by this means have confined their Love and Candour, as much as in them lay, to their own private Closets: Who notwithstanding are not wanting to accuse the Philosophers of Envy, in concealing the Matter and Means of the Art, whilst they manifest their own to the Studious in that which is less. I can't reflect on the Complaint of a Modern and Candid Author, without an Indignation to the Practice, who after he had written an Enchyridion of Experiments, together with a Diurnal of Meditations, wherein were many Philosophical Receits declaring the whole Secret, &c. It fell into such hands he conceived would never restore it. No less happened to the Comment on Sir George Ripleys Last Six Gates. This very unworthy a generous mind, and very prejudicial to the Studious, as well as Discouraging to the Authors. Let therefore such possess Ignorance with their envy; want of Ability with their Ingratitude; whilst the Generous, grateful and abhorrers of such Practices, enjoy the Benefit, and Reap the Advantage of such Candor and Help even to the attainment of their hearts desire.

For me to say any thing of the Author of Philadelphia, would be a Presumption, since he has chosen secresie: Nor of the Tract it self since (thou maist think) it surmounts my understanding; therefore I prefer itself to any thing of mine to proclaim its Authors praise as well as Ability and Candor: knowing it is too common for Publishers to presume to Comment on that they understand not; by which the Readers are abused, and their own Ignorance and ambition discovered; if not to every Reader, yet to many, and to every Master at least.

For my Part, Rather than spend time and Paper to no more purpose either to my self or Reader in such Commentations, I should think it better Spent in Humility to Address the Sages of our Time, that they themselves would be pleased to Illustrate the obscure part of Medical Practice to the young and Laborious Students in the Physical Art. No doubt but some such there are whom Nature has blessed with a cracking of the Shell, through great Labour and Study, tho Striplings, to whom a helping hand would prove acceptable, which might conduct them by the nearest way to the Center. Who would it serve, and what would it merit? If the production of their Red Lead, and Reduction into Potability were familiarly taught, tho the first water, and its Preparation were wholly concealed. Would not the sick be helped, and the happy attainer of the first water be made early servicable.

Also the Discovery of the peculiar Operation that is partly Mechanical on the universal Mercury, would make the possessor capable of spending his time and Matter to a more early advantage, and further step in Practice; Few arriving here without a sufficient share of the loss of both to Entitle them to such a degree of help: These together with the Arbor vitae, or permissible Oyle, &c. being the Joy and Reward of every Adeptist, and desire of the least attainer.

No less profitable to the attainer of Principles, would the Practice of that highly serviceable, and much desired Liquor by the Physical and Sedulous Students, which Crown'd Paracelsus, and gave Honour to Helmont in the Cure of Diseases, whose Practice is asserted, and no doubt truly, by a knowing Master, to be a hundred times more difficult then the Elixir it self.

What Reader, If I shew thee my Opinion wherein? not as one Knowing, but DESIROUS TO LEARN, and with submission to Correction, if my conception be Wrong. The Elixir is produced Naturally; and by Natural Principles; therefore the Difficulty seems to be in the attainment of Principles (rather than Practice) which are artificial to find.

But the Alkahest is produced Artificially or Mechanically from Natural Principles; and Art being more intricate than Nature (for "she is true, plain, patient, constant, &c.) and the Artist more inconstant, impatient and consequently irregular, must necessarily be more subject to err, and consequently the more difficult to Effect. Art in all Natural Productions, tho' absolutely necessary for help, must go Natures pace and way, or else more injurious then helpful, but in Artificials a greater Latitude is given to the Artists to vary many ways as seems most proper to ever ones Cogitations.

An Example we may find in this; Art in its help to Nature in the production of an Herb, Tree, or Flower, is obliged to Natures paceand way, without laying on of hands, only preventing accidents and extreams of Heat and Cold; but Art in the Manual or Mechanical separation, and union of the Natural Principles, viz. Spirit, Oyle, and Salt (which indeed are in a true sence all one, but diversified by Art, for the more Spirit the less Oyle and Salt (yea they both may be made Spirit too) so also the more Oyle the less Spirit or Oyle; for indeed they are convertable) of that Herb or Flower is certainly left to a Wide Field of Practice and seeming Probabilities whereby the Artists is abundantly more lyable to err. In short I can find many artificial ways to destroy a Natural Life, but, but one way to manifest or Maintain it: Which is according to Natures own procedure: No other.

Thus Reader accept my love, both in shewing my Opinion and soliciting helpfor the studious. And least the first should be chargeable with folly, and the last with boldness, by those I so much value, I take leave to conceal my Name, that by that means their displeasure may fall more general on the studious, for whose sake I make the attempt. Who am a real admirer of Divine and Natural Verity, a lover of God, my Neighbor, and Enemy.


Respected and Worthy


Thy early Love to Hermetick Philosophy, sincere Respects to the Matters of it, and long perseverance in the Study were sufficient motives to Communicate what might fall into my hands that was rare and valuable, tho the Obligations of Friendship were less numerous.

The Enclosed Manuscript I have had by me for some time, but for some Reasons could not communicate it so soon as my respects to thy self and it, would have prompt me. I have not seen, nor heard of many Copies, therefor its Novelty may presume, and for its worth speak what I think, That it is a compendious and plain Theory of the Principles of Nature in general, and of Hermetick Practice in particular: Not Phantastically talked of, but fundamentally evinced from the necessity thereof, and Authority of the Ancient Philosophers: Fully manifesting the impossibility of the contrary through the uniformity and Regularity of Natures Actions in the Production of the several Species of Natural and perfect Bodies.

For the Author I shall not presume to give any judgement since he is pleased to conceal his Name and Circumstances, & thereby lye obscure (the practice of Hermetick writers) But this we may learn, that his Candor and Brotherly Love to the Studious and Religious stile, Entitles him to Christianity as well as his Matter and Method doth to Knowledge and Practice in the School of Hermes and Nature; whether he be old or young, Native or Stranger. And since he has been thus solicitous and even studious to prevent Errors in all, and to direct the feet of the worthy in the way of Truth, we must reasonably believe he hath taken the best method to effect it, which is to inculcate the knowledge of true Principles and possibility of Nature. And indeed I have long conceived the Multitude of Errors in Practice, that have happened to the searchers of Art, has been most owing to the Ignorance in Principles, and the want of a Previous understanding in the Law of Nature.

Nature no doubt, has a Law she cannot transgress, let us therefore study to know that, and we shall not attempt it neither; Art or Accidents may frustrate her end and cause Abortion, but neither carry her to or beyond her usual Perfection, but in her own way.

This small Tract, worthy Friend, Concisely teaches what the Fire and Water, or Agent and Patient, that are active or living are; how they are said to be living; what their life; and how understood: and indeed the Nature and Reason of the Hermetick Art very much Ilustrated thereby.

Neither is it barren of so much Divinity, and some peculiar Hints, (that may afford pleasure and profit to one so intent thereon) as becomes so deep Philosophy; which doubtless is the shadow of Divinity, or Younger Sister.

And indeed I could wish the contemplation of Gods Works in Nature were less ommitted by the Christian professors of our Age, and the Lucre of Gain more; seing it tends to the honour of God, good of our Neighbour, and satisfaction of our selves every way, except our satisfaction be in much Riches and Honour, purchased with our most precious time, and possessed with Ignorance and Folly; which is very short of the Nobility of our Intulect and end of Creation; and for which we must surely give an Account.

Is not the Christian enabled to ascribe the Attributes of Wisdom and Power to God, in the Consideration and Contemplation of the Number and Magnitude, Order and Beauty of the Works of Creation, as he is those of his goodness and Mercy, which is over all his Works, in manifesting the same word by which they were made, to redeem and restore them; the last absolutely necessary, the first altogether becoming and adorning a virtuous and pious mind, and Christian Profession.

Doubtless the Natural and Mechanick knowledge acquired by Solomon, no way unfitted but qualified him for a Divine: Who when he had erected that glorious Edifice, and beautified it with the choicest Products of Nature and Art, as a Naturalist and Mechanick, Dedicated the same in great wisdom as a Divine. We have Reason to believe the Psalmist no less filled with the consideration of the Attributes that are Manifest in the Creation, which even compelled him to celebrate the same almost continually. And indeed nothing less is to be thought than that a mind thus possessed with admiration should continually fear so great, love so good, and adore so glorious a Being,incomprehensible Power and Majesty: Neither has indeed the Holy Apostlesand followers of Christ fallen short but rather excelled in this. And truly, respected Friend, the Characters of Nature are preferable to those of Men, since they are Gods, and such our Lord himself chose to shew forth the greatest Mysteries by. Therefore if ignorant of them how shall we understand his Sermons and Doctrine aright. Much might be said, but in as much,worthy Friend, there is no need of Arguments to covince, tho this may incourage one so fully satisfied of its Utility, innocency and profit, to prosecute the same with diligence & Judgement, and to prefer it to the Mean and unbecoming practices of our Age, that solicite nothing but Gain or Greatness, and miserably live in this world without the knowledge of Gods Greatness and Wisdom, love and Mercy, made manifest in his Creation and its Redemption.

But least I should Transgress my intended Limits, and detain too long from the Inclosed, I shall refer what might otherwise have been here offered in Relation to the Secreat Artof Hermes, to another Opportunity more convenient, and in the mean while continue to desire thy Prosperity and happiness every way, as I have hitherto done who am thy Friend in Sincerity and Affection.





To the

Studious in the Hermetick


It is real matter of Lamentation to see so many pressing after Knowledge, and so few taking the right Path; or making a true Estimation thereof. I could indeed make known my Zeal on this occasion with pleasure, did I not know by Experience, that most that are Studious in this Science pass over such lines with impatience and great neglect; for their minds be solicitous only about the practice of Alchymy, they reject almost every Line that treats not thereof.

I must indeed confess that the Arcanum of this Art is not only desirable but truly Excellent; and also that thereby Divine Truths are adumbrated, yet also do affirm it gives not the possession thereof, which is alone Entailed upon that Divine excellency that never faileth; Charity. For surely whether there be Prophesies they shall fail; or, Tongues they shall Cease; or Knowledge it shall vanish away; but the word of the Lord (which is Christ the Charity or gift of God to the World) abideth for ever. Therefore let me admonish the Studious to pursue knowledge in the Path thereof; who then will make a true Estimation, and will perceive that it is not the ultimate Attainment but only a Link of the Divine Chain: And as there are steps to knowledge, so likewise there are steps beyond it; as the Holy Man Divinely sets forth and admonisheth, that Faith and Virtue precede Knowledge; then to add to Knowledge Temperance; to Temperance Patience; to Patience Godliness; to Godliness Brotherly Kindness, and to Brotherly Kindness Charity. O happy Attainment! O Divine Chain of Perfection! Therefore we must say with the Inspired Apostle, That altho' we should understad all Mysteries and all Knowledge and had not Charity, it would availe nothing. Farr hence, therefore ye ungodly; ye prophane and Covetous, for neither these Divine nor Natural Mysteries are your Portion.

But for the Virtuous, Prudent and well Accomplished Students and Lovers of Chymical Philosophy, I have written this short Tract in Brotherly Love: not indeed by way of Invitation to the Art, (tho' its truth and excellency would warrant it) there being too many rashly Concerned therein already, but to Instruct those rightly seeking; and also if possible to prevent all from attempting to effect our Magestery by fruitless and vain Operations, by which they not only bring Disgrace to the Art, but Poverty to themselves.

And I may assure the Ingenious, that it is the very desire of those that have obtained a reward of their Labour and study, to be helpful. But I hope such are not ignorant of the Difficulty of the Task; for nothing Gratifies us more then being understood in our own Philosophical Sence, so nothing is more regretting then the thoughts of Introducing wicked and blockish Men.

Hence is required a peculiar Method in Writing that we may Instruct the one, and conceal from the other; and indeed many weighty Reasons perswades us to perform the Latter with what skill we can: Yet considering that we necessarily must, for the Instruction of Tyroes, Candidly Write the Truth, and that every Treatise when published, is lyable to be perused by all; we conclude therefore on good Grounds, that the Event is more owing to Providence then our Cunning. But indeed the Writings of the Envious, together with those of the Ignorant (which are not a few) have proved a sufficient Bulwark against the rash and confident Approachers; and they have also yielded an occasion and opportunity to the more Candid and Knowing, to Write the more plain and Familiar. And indeed the first Care of a Tyro ought to be the Distinguishing of Writers; that he may not only shun the false, but envious, and Converse with those only that are knowing and Candid.

And therefore for the Instruction of those that are not capable to make a true distinction between the true & false Writings, it being indeed difficult for Tyroes, for they have Written equal in their Promises both of their Candor and the Readers Reward, or rather the latter have excelled, I shall recommend the more Candid as well as knowing Masters in this Science, with advice to the Studious, they need not doubt their Sufficiency to Instruct them in all things necessary without consulting any others, tho' true ones, by which they may not only shun the false, but envious Writings. I dare affirm there is nothing more tends to bring the Searchers of this Art to the knowledge thereof, then only to read Candid and knowing Authors; nor nothing more confounding than the reading true and false Books with equal Credit.

I shall therefore recommend the Writings of Hermes, Artefius, Flammel, Riply, Trevesan, Sendivogius, the Author of the Hermetick Secrets, which are all Candid Authors, and to shorten the reckoning, all others that are quoted by these: But above any I must recommend on of our Moderns, who stiles himself Eirenæus Philalethes Cosmopolita, whose Writings are the best Piece of Chymical Philosophy extant, and indeed has performed that for the Lovers of Art, that Challenges the Garland of Priase from all others; for whereas he, with many more, were fain to acquire the knowledge of the Secret of the Philosophers Magnes from one; of their Magical Chalibs from another; the use of Diana's Doves from a third; the Air or rather Chamelian of the Philosophers from another; the gross Preparation of their Menstruum in another; the number of Eagles in another; all which, together with Internal Fires and Proportions; secret and Manual operation with their Circumstances; he has Philosophically and Methodically taught, with more Candor and freedom than those before him.

Let Tyroes therefore rely upon this, the Authors mentioned are abundantly sufficient; others may be read to confirm the studious, but such that cannot conceive the truth from these; would never from all others they can read, reap the Knowedge of our Secrets. And for the Instruction of the Studious I will Inform them what is requisite to be known in the reading these Authors mentioned, and what must be acquired before they conflude they are understood. For it is not sufficient if a word or two in one and another seem to harmonize, and all the rest seem superfluous, and of no value; no, have no such mean thoughts of the knowing Adepts, as tho' either their Subjects were so mean, or they so Barren: I can assure you their Writings abound with requisite Matter, and Concurring Truths; and unless they are so read and understood, as an Egg is eaten, viz. throwing away only the shell (which is a small proportion) they are not comprehended nor understood aright, notwithstanding any Conceit to the Contrary. Therefore, till they are thus understood, go not to practice any Theory with expectation of Success. In order therefore to a right understanding, I shall lay a sound Foundation for the studious Tyroes, and whosoever builds thereon according to Art, shall find it sure and the foundation of all Philosophers.

Nature therefore forbidding all Generation and Multiplication of Species out of kind, let none foolishly endeavor to effect it; for as in it self it is impossible, so also it si against that unanimous admonition of all Philosophers; apply all things to the possibility of Nature.

Know therefore the Generation and Multiplication of all things is effected no other way than by their own seeds and proper Matters, not from the Commixtion of four Elements, as some fondly Imagine. The Seed of Animals Resteth in their Reins; the Seeds of Vegitables are produced into the Air; the Seed of Metals resteth in their Profundity, but is only to be found in the Perfect: for untill any thing bearing Seed be come to a degree of Perfection, it cannot emit its Seed; as is seen in an Apple or Pear, if pluckt from the Tree before its time, it cannot yield Seed; likewise the same is known in Humane Youth; no more can imperfect or unripe Metalls tho' as in the other, the potentiality truly exist; How foolish then do many act who not only forsake the perfect, (which alone can yield seed) but even seek a Metaline seed from an Animal or Vegitable? O Gross Ignorance exceeding the Vulgar, who never expect Wheat without the Seed of Wheat, nor a Horse but by a Horse! Leave off therefore you foolish and vain Operators, seeing the meanest Capacity is able to Arraign your Philosophy, and charge it with absurdity.

So then as every thing to be Generated must have its own Seed, so must also every Seed have its proper Matter; for the first Matter of things is not their Seeds, but that by which the Seed and Species is Multiplyed. The first Matter of Vegitables is water, without a sufficient quantity of which, no Vegitable can increase; nor out of one Load of Corn sowed could ten be reaped: So also, if we had never so much Matter and not Seed, the Generation is impossible. The like also may be observed in the Generatio of Man; for altho' the Seed may be plentifully cast into its proper Matrix and that Matrix barren of matter, viz. Menstruum, no Generation follows: So on the contrary in those Matrix's where is plenty of matter and not Seed, the hopes of Generation ceases.

All this is applicable to Metals, the first matter of which is Mercury as also of all Minerals that are of Metallick imposition; for untill it be Mercury it is not the first matter of Metals, but may be otherways disposed, but when once Mercury, it tends only to Metals in a generative way, hence may be learned the folly & Ignorance of those that seek after, or brag of the first matter of Mercury, yea of all things, which admit they had the very matter of which Nature makes Mercury they could by no art effect it, and consequently avail them nothing, as being neither seed nor matter. Leave off therefore such vain attempts, and follow simple Nature, whose daily Operations would better Instruct were they Contemplated rightly; and learn to multiply a Metallick Species, with a Metallick Seed and matter; for certainly it is possible by no other means to effect it.

And that I may evince to all, for the prevention of Erroneous Attempts, that Crude Mercury is the matter of all Metals, Learn and understand. First, that all may be reduced into Mercury and according to the purity or impurity of the Metals is the quantity thereof; Gold and Silver, are wholly reduced, others abounding with the Heterogeneous Superfluities not: Hence is learned the purity and impurity of these Bodies: This should teach all they proceeded from this Mercurial Root. Also it being certain that our Crysopoetick Arcanum, is Capable of making Gold of no other matter in the World; for so much as any Metal has of Mercurial matter, so much only is transmutable into Gold; neither doth it differ in quality, when effected, though projected upon one, two, or more of them, but only quantity: hence it comes to pass that a greater quantity of Mercury is transmuted then any other imperfect Metal, it being joyned with less extraneous matter, tho' not wholly without. Also, from hence may be gathered what the matter of our Arcanum must of necessity be; for those curious in their Inspections know, that between things assimilated by Transmutation, there must intercede precedent likeness, or no industry can cause a Union.

And now if what have been said, be not sufficient to Establish a Tyro, reclaim the rash and inform the Ignorant, I know not what would. Tho' indeed it is no more then has been said by many Philosophers, whose sayings would better Instruct their Readers, and would prevent those absurdities they run into, were they better observed. How often has this truth been inculcated (tho' heeded by few) that no dissolvent ought to differ from the dissolvend in matter but Proportion and Digestion: also, that no water Dissolves Bodies in a Generative way, but that which is of the same Species, and can be Inspissated in them: what can be better spoken, or in so few words comprehends more?

But not withstanding what is said, I expect manny will persevere in vain Attempts, For when I have Discoursed the Reason and possibility of the Art to some with all the skill and plainness I was able, they could not conceive it, being prepossessed with a Conceited knowledge of true Principles: Hence the studious may learn that the Ignorance of the Ignorant is more owing to their own folly then the remoteness of truth. And truly when we see so many wise men, capable of effecting any thing that falls within the bounds of Wit and Learning, Confounded in an Art so Natural, easie and true; so fully treated of, and so desirably sought after, cannot but admire the protection thereof: which among others is one Reason the Philosophers have unanimously declared it to be the Gift of God: Therefore, seeing it is thus, with what shame ought those Sophisters to be Cloathed who pretend to dispense the knowledge thereof at their Pleasure; of such beware, and with all diligence shun, and seek it alone at the Hand of the true Giver, to whom be praise alone.

Now therefore, let me further admonish the studious, that they wittily understand the Philosophers, not carelessly pass over those things that not only would prevent Errors, but introduce knowledge: and in the first place learn the effects of our dissolving Water, by which a true estimationbe made thereof, and of the Dissolvents of the vulgar. Gold is dissolved in our Humidity, like Ice in warm Water; observe the example, and consider the Identity of matter between Ice and Water, and apply it to our Principles: Ice is Water congealed, therefore Naturally resolves into Water, and when mixed with Water becomes one inseperably with it: therefore such an humidity which dissolves Gold like the Example, must be that out of which Gold is produced by Nature, otherways the union will be impossible, and the Reduction not Natural. The author of the New Light has candidly written the same thing.

Seek (saith he) such an humidity or moisture which doth dissolve Gold without noise or Violence, yea so sweetly and naturally as Ice doth melt in warm water; if you find out this, you have that thing out of which Gold is produced by nature. Again, Our Argent Vive doth dissolve Gold or Silver so, that it cannot be separated from them, but is as water mixed with water.
And truly let me add (to shew you fully) our Humidity can by an easie art be actually made into Gold or Silver, whence may be learned its Pondus, which at once throws off all that are short of Metalick weight, yea it exceeds somewhat that of Common Argent Vive; therefore let all beware of seeking any other for our intent.

And now, if any be ignorant of the Matter, or arrogantly oppose what hath been said, their ingratitude on the one hand, and ignorance on the other will exclude them the Kings Palace, and we must leave them groping for the Door, whilst the true Artists Triumphs in their Victory, and are splendidly Entertained therein.

But to as many as conceive I will add this, that if the part of an Artist be performed, to make the water that is cold, warm; they shall perform our Solution according to the Example.

And that I may prevent a Common Error, Viz. The Counfounding our natural dissolvent with our Circulated Salt, or Alkahest some Ignorant Boasters, that neither knew the one nor the other, having taught that they are both the same, shall so far shew their Difference, that no Tyro but may effectually distinguish them in his Theory. Know therefore, and note well this short Distinction; there is no Affinity between them either in Matter or Operation; they Differ in Matter as much as one Species doth from another, the one being Metalline, the other Saline. They Differ in their Operations, as much as Love and Wrath, the one in Love preserving, the other in Wrath destroying, Life and Motion.

I cannot but admire, notwithstanding the real Care and great Labour of many knowing and candid Philosophers to prevent Errors in admonishing the Studious to beware of Subtilty, Sequestring the Art from the many Sophisms, and Calling their Principles by their proper Names, to see men studious in this Art so foolish in their Conclusions and operations; some proposing to make our Secret and great Elixir, which is a Fire-abiding Purity, and perfect Tincture from impure and Combustible Matters as Ordure, Wine, Urine, Nitre, Blood, Dew, Rain-water, Earth, Vitriol, and many others too tedious to reckon, being led thereto by their own sordid Fancy, or having read perhaps thereof in the Writings of the wise men (for they have by Analogie calle their matters almost every thing) hence no Sophister no Ignorant Worker, but pretends to Justifie his Proceedings, tho' upon these sordid Subjects, from their Writings, but their End will be Disappointment, if not Disgrace and Poverty. These indeed go on in Errors with this Comfort, that many of the Adepts do say they erred oft, and one particularly two hundred times, but tho' they should erre the same Number, yet not being supported by a true Theory, nor understanding the nature of the thing desired, are Chusing as many Matters almost as Operations, and so find the possibility of the Multiplication of Errors, ad infinitum, tho' not of Tincture truely perfect and Permanent; Oh miserable Blindness! O inextricable Laborinth! whose miserable state take from Geber (subtile witted indeed enough but of his Candor be jealous)

most miserable and unhappy is he who after the end of his Work God denies to see the Truth, for he ends his Life in Error: who being surrounded with all manner of misfortune and infelicity constituted in perpetual labour, looseth all the comfort and joy of this World, and spends his life in sorrow without any benefit or reward.
I will add my own Opinion, their reward is just, who provoke God, endeavour to force Nature, abuse the Adepts, and abound in ignorance and folly.

Therefore as many as expect better fare, let them seek rightly; first call upon God and know your hearts to be purged from Impurity, and Faith to have possession, by which you may attain to Virtue then pursue Knowledge; also be sure to attempt nothing contrary to Nature, and with great resepect acknowledge the Love and Care of the Adept Brothers that have communicated their Experience and hinted the way; then pursue our Diana with great Industry, whose Beauty is singular and qualitys excellent; she is more fair, more grave, and yet lively and more fit for Generation then any other; Marry her to the Sun, and their Off-Spring shall be your Reward.

And for your Instruction know, and note it well, that our water or Mercury is aCompound-Simple, Compound in resepect to quality, simple in respect to Matter and Homogeneity: The Matter is Watry, the Quality Fiery, which are reconciled by Air (according to the Doctrine of the Elements) but according to the Principles thus, the Matter is Mercurial, the Quality Sulphureous, Reconciled by Salt; which also may be, and sometimes are, called the Water, the Spirit, and the Blood, or Body, Soul and Spirit; take it either way, but be sure to understand them Scientificially or Practically, the necessity of which learn from this following Discovery. Salt prepares Sulphur, Salt and Sulphur prepares Mercury, Mercury preserves them: So that without Salt, Sulphur cannot be prepared or set at liberty from his Prison, it being the only Key thereto; without Salt and Sulphur Mercury cannot be qualified, and without Mercury, Salt and Sulphur can effect nothing, it being their proper Vessel or Matrix: But be sure all be homogeneal, or the Mercurial simplicity will be impossible; therefore make the latter Judge of the two former, for all Metaline things are tryed in a Mercurial Ballance. First learn these things Theoretically, and see the same confirmed by many Philosophers before you enter upon Practice, this is safe and delightful: And then, altho Errors should happen (which expect) yet being supported by a true Theory, they will Instruct, but till then confound and Distract. Believe me and take this candid Advice.

Therefore, as many as sets about this Work, let them first know what they seek, and what they would effect. It is no small thing to be capable to inform matter, and that in an instant; consider who it imitates; did not our Lord effect this at the Marriage in Canaan on the Water, which was the matter of Wine. Think not therefore it is attained without a Blessing from him, profound Meditation, Herculean Labour and Cost.

Diligently therefore attend, and note well what I say. Matter is informed by Light; of which matter and form all created Concrets consists, Light being the form in all concretes and life of all Beings, which Light is ineffable & not known abstract from matter, as we see in the most beautiful Creature either humane or other, as also in the curious Flowers of the Earth, how through the withdrawing of an invisible fire or Spirit they become dead, Opake and fit only for Corruption, that Nature may again react and communicate form; such are her viscissitudes; but she also has her Darling and last perfection, wherein she has firmly united form with pure matter, yea so firmly that without the help of Art she can hardly alter the same; and seeing the perfection of matter is Form, why should any studious in Philosophy neglect to Contemplate the perfection of Gold, which is thus perfected by Nature. And truly if its Permanancy and Beauty be not sufficient to Captivate his Thoughts and Hands from working on things impure and fading, I must tell him his offspring will not be long lived, for such as the Tree is, such is the Fruit, such as the Father is, such is the Son.

This Form is called Sulphur by the Author of the new Light, and in his Dialogue thereof thus Writes,

he is the Maker of a thousand things; he knows how to make Metals better, and Correct Minerals; and is the heart of all things, he teacheth Animals understanding, knows how to make all kinds of Flowers in Herbs and Trees, and is Chief over them, Corrupts the Air which he amends again; he is maker of all Odours, and Painter of all Colours.Again,Know that Sulphur is the Virtue of all things.

Here let the studious in Alchymy open their Eyes and behold what Reason we have to Proclaim our Principles or Subjects universal, viz. Matter and Form, and to be in all places, but understand such as seek Sulphur for our Intent, must conceive that is is nearer in somethings then in others, and without they apply themselves to those palaces where Sulphur gives Audience to the Philosophers, they may for ever seek but not find him.

Arise therefore you sons of Hermes, & contemplate on the Light, the Corporification of which is the utmost bound of Nature, yea what is it else but the Sun it self? who that goes about to seek it in things fading and impure finds it, tho' truly there? but of too swift foot for the nimblest pursuers, and seeing it is invisible in the Concretes, and known only by effect; & can in no wise be attained abstract from matter, and consequently matter must enter into the work, what man would be so foolish to expect a Fire abiding purity from impure Matters, neigher a strict union of the form therewith. Therefore seeing the matter to which the form is intimately united, must necessarily excel in purity and permanency, and also that the form in such a matter is Corporified, and doth abound, where should an Artist seek for form but in such a matter, now Gold being such is found to be the only subject capable of answering the desires of the Artistl who begins where Nature left, & through her assistance, and an Homogeneous Agent, proceeds to let loose the form in a Natural way; which form reacting on the matter enobles it, & brings it nearer its own Nature: so that every time the form is thus set at Liberty, or stirred up to action, it goes on to its end, viz. to inform matter, and when the end of its Action is come resteth; thus it is reiterated till the matter be swallowed up in the form, which then becomes corporified form, and according to its perfection informs more or less matter on which it is projected. Hence also may be learned how it becomes universal, seeing it passeth from specification thither; and the nearer the matter is brought to the form, the farther off specification, yea so far therefrom may it pass, that it will not be applicable to Metals in respect to Transmutation, but will perpetually shine and excell the Nature of tangible Bodies. This is our whole Philosophy, comprehended in this short Theory.

But in order to set the form at Liberty, that it may thus react upon the matter, the Body must be reduced into its first matter, or water homogeneal, in a natural way, whereby the Species is preserved; and seeing this can be done by no other means then by the first matter thereof, let none be either so rash or foolish to attempt it.

I have abundantly shown already the difference of first matters, and that they differ so far in each Species, that the first matter of an Animal, or Vegitable, is heterogeneous to a Metal, and so on the contrary; and consequently can neither Generate nor encrease a Metal, which is Generated or multipled by no other matter then its own, as I have Philosophically and plainly shown; which is also attested by all Philosophers. The noble Polonian speaking of the Gold found between the Teeth of a dead man, takes occasion thus to express himself, That unless Mineral Mercury (which is the matter of Gold) had been brought in thither, there could never have been Gold produced. We may say with him, many the like accidents fall out, which being not well considered by the Writer, oaccasions the Reader to err. but the honest searcher must apply all things to the Possibility of Nature, if they agree not with her, they must be let alone, who Generates and multiplys all things by their own Seeds and proper matters.

A further proof of the difference of the first matters of each Species is learned from the action of our noble Circulated Salt or Alkahest upon them, by which they are reduced into their first matters, and in their reduction give certain testimony of their diversity, as Metals into Sulphur, and Mercury, Pearls, &c. into a milky juice. So that the vanity of endeavouring to Generate or multiply one Species by the seed and matter of another, is deservedly rewarded with the loss both of money and time: but that it may be prevented for the future, I have candidly shown the studious the Law of Nature and Art, which strictly forbids, and most certainly punisheth such absurd Practices.

Also I would admonish such that presume they understand us, not to be too gross, nor to apply this our plain Writings to this or the other subtile device, that perhaps we never thought of; for I have often known the foolishness of many on this wise, who having read often that Mercury is the matter of Metals, presently conclude it to be the subject of our Work, and with great confidence and equal assurance of their success go to work, and perhaps endeavor to dissolve it into water, because the Philosophers say their matter must be dissolved, or to impregnat it with Air, because they say it must be impregnated with Air, or to Calcine it, they having so read, others to sublime, Distil, putrifie, separate the Elements, and many other foolish endeavours, not in the least agreeable, but destructive to Nature. Yet seem to justifie their proceedings by our Writings.

Being therefore moved with respect to truth and Love to the sons of Hermetick Learning; as also with indignation of Error, I will shew you wherein you erre, and where you miss the way by thus conceiving. You foolishly and Blindly apply these Natural Operations of our Work to the preparation of our matters (of which many Philosophers have Writ but little, making the first the subject of their Discourse, for their Excellency, as indeed they have been those of their admiration) and also inconsideratly apprehending the one for the other err most grosly. For if any attempt that mannually which can only be performed Naturally, no wonder if they miss of their designed end. Behold I have faithfully shewed you the Truth: and let me assure you, till this one skill be performed, that is, to distinguish between our natural and manual Operations, you will be confounded in the writings of the Adepts do what you can. It is this alone that can enable a Tyro to go on in the pursuit of Diana with courage and delight, yea it is the very shroud that covers her and hinders the eyes of the vulgar from beholding her Doves (which are so anxiously sought) and her beauty that allures the Sun. And truly we cannot but admire the Confidence of some boasting Sophisters , who know not Nature in the least of her Operations, yet presume to be conversant in the knowledge of this secret Pair; and do imagine to themselves, and confidently affirm to others they are this or the other things, and thus prepared. But remember what the Philosopher said, who speaks as fully concerning them as any,

That no eye but a true Philsophers ever saw them, but when seen and known this is the effect, according to the same Philosopher, This one skill performs the Mastery of Theory, enobles a Philosopher, and unfolds to the knower all our Secrets.

By which all may know whether they conceive aright, for all pretences or Conceits of the knowledge thereof, that has not this effect is certainly of no value. And indeed the secret Doves of our secret Dyana are truly remote from every vulgar eye, her Fountain and wood must first be known where they ascend and descend before you attempt to catch them. Seek then wisely, & when their nest is found, enclose them with a transparent Wall, so high and close that they cannot escape by flight, then stirr them up, but at first expect only the female who is more watchful then her Mate, but she will return and bring him also. But know also that as Art imitates Nature, so do Manual and preparatory work bear great Analogy with natural and perfect Operations; but that which is effected in the one Mechanically is lively Acted in the other naturally, even to the astonishment of the Artist. Therefore once more let me assure the Ingenious that Philosophers have so jountly spoken of these, which alone covers our Secrets, that a distinction cannot be made without profound Meditation and segacious Wit; which no sooner is performed but the Mastery of Theory is acquired; but till this be attained all Practice is uncertain and to be shunned; for nothing is more easie then to misinterpret and consequently misapply our sayings. And altho' we do say, and that truly & properly, Distil, Sublime, Calcine, Putrifie, Separate and Reconjoyn the Elements, &c. yet also admonish that our Operations are not vulgar, but secret and truly Natural, and performed in one only Vessel. Therefore let none persuade themselves, or be persuaded by Roguish Sophisters, (which abounds) contrary to this. And truly as our Operations are secret, so are our Agents by which they are carried on without intermisssion to their End. For as was said by a knowing Master,

Our Instrument that bringeth the matter into motion in the first, second and third work, is not the fire of a Bath, nor Dung nor ashes, &c.

And therefore, as there are in our Work three Periods or terminations, which are three Calcinations or Fixations; so likewise every one of them is effected by its proper Agent, every Termination or Fixation terminating the Action of its Agent, having performed its Work, as one to kill, another to make alive, &c. Also these works differ in their Perfections; the first producing imperfect Saturn, black and foul; the second perfect Luna, white and pure; the third Ripe Sol, red and permanent.

These things being premised presume I may speak somewhat of our Operations themselves, without yielding an occasion to any foolishly to endeavour the same by any vulgar means.

As many therefore as would attain the mastery of our universal Mercury, that doth possess the Virtues of Superiour and Inferiour, which is the one only Subject of our Secrets, let them thus proceed.

R. The Venerable matter of Philosophers, called by many Names, Adapt a fit Vessel, Furnace and Fire according to its necessity; then proceed to Calcination, which opens the Pores of the Body, being effected by a moist Fire, or Bath, and not only preserves, but increases radical or natural Moisture, by which means the calx is made unctuous, and fit for dissolution; (hence may be learned the difference between the Operations of the vulgar and ours; for which of them that vulgarly Operate makes Calcination with a moist Fire, or reduceth the Body or Calx into Attoms as it were impalable, abouding with humidty, and therefore easily flowing. We exclude from hence all Corrosive Waters, and strange Humidities, which the ignorant call moist Fires, being altogether forraigne to our intent) putrifie this Calx in a Fire of wet Ashes for fourty dayes and nights, but let the fire be such that nothing sublime; then Distil it gently, and according to Hermes separate the subtile from the gross, the Water from the Earth with great discretion, and thou shalt obtain a water of great force and value, which we call Virgins Milk and Whitening Spirit, and in the bottom will reside a black earth which is called the Earth that remains; Cohabate this water so often till Leton is washed, and also dissolved and become one inseparable with the water, then is the whole compound turned into Purity without any manual Separation, according to the Philosopher.

He that separates any thing from the subject thinking it to be necessary knows nothing in Philosophy: For that which is superfluous, unclean, filthy, and feculent, in sum the whole substance of the subject is perfected into a fixt spiritual body; and this the wise Men never revealed, therefore few cometh to the Art, thinking that to be some such superfluous & unclean thing. Another also thus Writes, Wash away the blackness from Leton, not with thy hand, but with the stone or fire, &c. for this separation of the pure from the impure is not made with hands but nature her self alone, by working it circularly to perfection brings it to pass.

This Operation is not only called Separation, but also Conversion of Elements, whereby the Quadrangle is made a Circle, and all truly conjoyned, which indeed is our so much concealed Conjunction, and subject of Wonders which now hath attained the Superiour and INferior Virtues, of which says Pontanus Hermes, speak obscurely. Hence forward the work is more easie and delightful, and the Reward bountiful, if according to Hermes it be made compleat, for, vis ejus est integra si versa fuerit in terram. But this Operation of Congealation is also Natural which is effected without any imposition of hands: Therefore let all beware of any other pretence or Endeavour Contrary to this.

Having taken sufficient care already, and provided against the understanding these things grossly, need say no more, a word to the wise being sufficient: yet for the further instruction of a Tyro, let me admonish that they seek not to gather Grapes off Thorns, nor Figgs from Thistles, but employ their whole Study to understand these things Radically. For most certain it is, every Effect has its Cause, which Cause being unknown, the consequence will be the means to bring to pass such an effect will be unknown, tho' the Effect should be actually seen. For what would any be the wiser should they see the Effect of our Arcanum upon imperfect Metals, and not apprehend the Cause, they were no more able to effect it then before. Hence the necessity of understanding the Generation of this Secret and powerful Agent in the Radix of its Nativity. Having therefore a desire to benefit the Studious (having already shewed above, that all Generation is, and indeed must be effected by an Homogeneous Agent and Patient, Seed and Matter, betwixt which a ferment is begot through a special appetite in them, and through this ferment an offspring is produced according to the nature of the Seed, &c.) shall for a conclusion descend to the prime principles of our work. Which Principles indeed are no other then those that constitute, and every way compleat a Metaline body, viz. Sulphur and Arguent Vive, in both which is a specific Appetite. For a pure Mercury greedily coveteth a pure Sulphur, and a pure Sulphur the Mercury, for the perfection of Mercury is Sulphur, and the Rest of Sulphur is in Mercury. But be not ignorant that such a Mercury is only fit for our work, which is really female (void of Sulphur) other ways the Appetite will be wanting, which (let me perswade) is the very foundation of our Art. But this appetite is wanting in Common Mercury, as having a sufficient proportion of Metaline Sulphur, tho' unactive, by reason of its being pluct from its Root, and thereby become dead, and therefore not fit for the stirring up this first Ferment, tho when the Ferment is once stirred up, it is then capable of being fermented. Also our Sulphur is a pure active Sulphur (when a pure Mercury is the subject of its action) Capable to effect what is desired by Mercury. And truly where things are thus qualified, their imbraces are effectual, and their Union easie and speedy. But beware of common Sulphur, which in no wise is fit for our intent, being an Enemy to Metaline love; capable indeed of viciating, but not really marrying a Virgin Mercury; but being ambitious and powerful enough to compel, usurpes the Throne, and truly possesseth the same in peace, till the right Heir comes, which is stronger then he, who dispossesseth and casts him out, and takes possession himself. Let thy first work therefore in practice be to assist the right Heir, who when he possesseth his Throne will recompence thee with the gift of Harmonia.

Hence with ease and advantage may be learned, not only how our subjects are said to be living, but how they become so, and also what good reason Philosophers have so to call them: not that they are matters taken from any Animal (as some grossly think much to their own, and those they perswades damage) but are become such through the Ferment their appetite have produced and Created. No other life is found in Metals, Minerals and Vegitables; Neither is it possible to communicate the Life or Ferment of one to the other, by reason, as is shewed above, of their difference in matter, all true Ferments requiring an Homogeneity between Agent and Patient. Whosoever therefore shall Meditate well on these, and see their Harmony with true mens Writings, shall certainly gain this, viz. be preserved from the absurd and chargeable Experiments daily practiced by the foolish and inconsiderate Operators; and also from being imposed on by ignorant and deceitful men; who propose to make this our so highly prized Arcanum from almost every thing, yea such things that have no unity with Metals, yet nothing less then a perfect Metaline Tincture is to be produced. O deep ignorance! O vain attempts! justly rewarded by nature with scorne, and by her sons detested with the highest Derision. Could they but remember by whom it was said, such as men Sow, such must they Reap: and as God will not be mocked, so neither will Nature. Wherefore if thy intention be to exalt a Metal in virtue beyond what nature hath done, thou must take a Metaline nature, both in male and female, or thy endeavour will be vain, and the end Fruitless. Seek therefore with all thy Industry, this secret fermental Virtue, which is begot between our secret active sulphur (which is our Fire) & our Air, yea our congealed Air, which is the covering of this secret spirit, which is better then all the Earth; this is our green Lyon and Sal Armoniack, which alone is able to warm, purge, and enliven the Water of our Balneum.

How this doth accord with the Operations of Nature may easily be learned, if we take an Observation of her procedure therein. Doth not the heavenly influences impregnate the Air with a secret Spirit of Life, which then is communicated to the Water which brings them to the Earth, by which the secret Life of Seeds, contained in the Matrix thereof through Putrifaction are set at Liberty, and by their fermental virtue Coagulates the Water into its own Nature multiplying its Species thereby, it being its proper matter. This is our whole Work, this our whole Philosophy, which furnisheth the Possessor with heatlh and Riches.

But the Wise men make not these things (though truly excellent) the bound of their search, but with Solomon say, how much better it is to get wisdom then Gold, and understanding rather then fine silver. For what would it profit in the end if a man should obtain the knowledge of the Vein for Silver, and know also the place where they fire [fine?] Gold; and that out of the Earth cometh bread, and under it is turned up, as it were fire; and that the stones of it are as Saphire, adn that it hath dust of Gold; together with all the misteries thereof, adn yet not know the place of understanding; and remain ignorant of the Wisdom of God, surely the same dumbness that possessed Job, (after he had gone thus farr) would fall upon that Tongue when God shall plead; and when the great Creator of every thing, and knower of every secret Corner shall Reason?

Therefore above all get understanding, and wisdom pursue with all thy power: But the heart is not capable to possess wisdom, nor the breast to Treasure up understanding, till the Cup of Water colloured with Fire be received from the hand of God. My heart truly is moved with these things, and my spirit beats in my Breast with which I magnifie the great Creator; Yea let all the people Praise him, and all the Host of Heaven magnifie his holy strength; yea praise ye him, Sun, Moon and Stars, Fire, Hail and Snow; for his Mercy endureth for ever,a nd is over all his works; who was, is, and is to come.

And now let me take my leave of the studious sons of Hermes, having shewed my Brotherly love in thus Candidly writing; which will be justified by the knowning, and serviceable to the honest and ingenuous, but to the foolish who will apply our plain Discourse to their own whimsies and foolish conceptions, unprofitable. If any inquire who I am, be thus Answered I am too publick to be known, too private to be inquired after and too quick footed to be pursued: Yet also so near as to behold, with pity as well as admiration, the foolish endeavours & conceited knowledge of many; for whose Instruction and Information I have written this short and candid Piece; and thus held forth my Brotherly hand of help.

As many therefore, as expect a Reward of their Labour and study in this Science, I shall Recommend to the Teachings of the great Master, and strict Law of nature; without which no approaching this Mystery.



Written in the Year 1691.


RIP Paul Laffoley

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To my worthily honour'd William Backhouse Esquire Upon his adopting of me to be his Son.

Excerpted from: "Some Spiritual Alchemies of Seventeenth-Century England"
Robert M. Schuler. Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 41, No. 2

Ashmole records in his notebook a horoscope for 12:30 p.m., April 3, 1651, "the time when Mr. Bakus [Backhouse, author of The Magistry, which Ashmole published in Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum] made me his son."

From this blest Minute I'le begin to date
My Yeares & Happines; (since you create
What wise Philosophers call Lyfe;) & vow
I ne're perceived what Being was till now.
See how the power of your Adoption can
Transmute imperfect Nature to be Man:
Nay, with one Word may yet refine it more,
Then all ye best digested Indian Oare.
Your Son! 'Tis soe! for I begin to finde,
Your Auncestors large Thoughts grow in my Minde:
I feele that noble Blood spring in my Heart,
Which does intytle me to some small parte
Of grande sire Hermes wealth; & hope to haue
Interest in all the Legacies he gave,
To his Successiue children; from whome too,
I must derive what is confer'd by you.
To prove each mie Descent, I neede not see,
A byast Herrald for my Pedigree;
That I'me true bred, question it he that dare,
If these my Aeglete Eyes on th' Sun can stare.
Or cause a ☿ in Crest I hold
Since my crude Mercury's transmute to Gold.
Ile vouch my Fate for Honor, Witt, Descent,
And all, which to th' Hermetick Tribe is lent.
Then be you blest my Starrs, who gaue to me
So blest a tyme for this Nativity.
That plac'd the golden Lyon in the East
When Sol within the Ram, the Nynth possest,
As if their Influence meant to ope the way,
To make Night Misteries shine cleere as Day.
Hast yee some good direction that shall lead
My Fathers hand with's Blessing to my Head
And leave it there. His leaves of Hermes Tree
To deck the naked Ash bequeath to me;
His legacy of Eyes to'th blinde Mole spare
And (though a younger Son) make me his Heire.

[on May 13, 1653] "My father Backhouse lying sick in Fleetstreete over against St: Dunstans Church, & not knowing whether he should live or dye, about eleven a clock, told me in Silables the true matter of the Philosophers Stone: which he bequeathed to me as a Legacy."

Schuler goes on to note: "also this riddle, in which Ashmole may have hidden the "Silables" told him by Backhouse:

Of one part of mans Frame, Six letters make ye Name,
One P: add unto them, Then change S: into M:
This done you do uncage, The Subject of ye Sage"

The original of this poem is French, from Clovis Hesteau de Nuysement's "Traittez de l’harmonie et constitution generalle du vray sel [PDF]":

Sur la figure de l’Esprit général du monde

Il est une partie dans I'homme
Dont le nom six lettres consomme.
Si tu y vas un P adjoiutant
Puis l'S en M permutant
Tu trouveras sans nuls ambages
Le vray nom du subjet des Sages.
A plausible solution in Latin is LUMBUS (loins) equaling PLUMBUM (lead)


A Charnock Parchment: "Process of the Philosopher's Stone"

This is a poor-quality, essentially illegible image of Sloane 2640, which may be nonetheless interesting for the unusual formatting and Lullian diagrams. More Charnock:

The image is too large for Blogger, see the full-resolution (but still poor-quality) image hosted at http://imgur.com/pqvyOlf


Three Principles which Originally Constitute the World

[Transcribed from Sloane 3632, image from the same MS]

There are Three Principles which Originally Constitute ye world as is Taught by
1. Moses2. Hermes &3. Antients 4. Alchemists5. To These may bee Applyed the qualitys of ye Four Elements
Princip 1 Called:Earth & water1: A Body1: First Matter as Patient1: Sulphur & Salt of nature yt is
That is: An Unctuous, Clammy, Clingy, & Glutenous Earth, & a water diffused everywhere in & about it
As out of these two as it were Hylely so called Elements, the watery moles or mass did then make up only one Body
Which is called The Lower body or body below
These Three are the first created Triune Ens and Universall Chaos
materia YAH
A Fatt and Unctuous EarthAnd a dry water not wetting hands
Those are called ye
Sol & Lune
Earth & Water
2 Called:[Heaven?] 2: A Spirit2: A medium2: Mercury2: Aer & Fire
Latex Æthereus or a vitall & Heavenly moisture Fire and water a watery fire, or fiery water & soo called [Shâmayim?] in ye hebrew LanguageThat is: the Æthereall spiritt of world, which is a spirituall body and a corporall spiritt viz the Firmament above, covering & hanging over ye lower body.Partaking of two natures, for it is, as it were not a body, but is as it were now a soul and as it were now a body ye Uniter & Joyner of two Extreams. That is: The Æthereall spirit oporating according to the anture of the sparks of yt nature to wch it is joyned: after ye likenesse of ye Planet mercury in ye firmament which hath a various nature & alltogether changeable putting on ye nature & qualitys of ye things it joyns with, Hott if with hott & Cold if with Cold &c.
3 CalledRuach Elohim 3: The soul of [ye World?]3: Form: as Agent 3: Nat[???] & [???]3: Quintessence
That is: The spirit of God which sat, or brooded upon ye waters: Genesis ye 1stWhich is yt Blessed viridity, Greeness or strength wch maketh all things to Germinate & spring forth and is ye Green Lyon and the Green Duenech [vitriol?] of [venus?] : [???] & [???]This is that which Gives life motion and beeing ot the First Matter which Actuates & Illuminates it.

If thou shalt have Regard to, and rightly Consider the Conditions & Qualities of those 3 aforesaid principles, In a different respect, Physically, Phisicomedically, & Alchemically Then thou wilt be Able to gett thy selfe happily out of ye Labirinth of Objections

1st And First If they are Considered, simple by Themselves; or mixt together

2d Secondly If they are Considered in their Abstract; Or seperate one from another; Or in their Concrete or growing together

3 Thirdly If they are considered in their pure or Impure Condition. (For those Adhere to Sulphur a fatt Fuliginous, or Sooty Excrement; To Salt a dull foul Earth; To Mercury A watery Phlegm

4 Fourthly If they are Considered in their dissolved, volatile, or flowing condition Or In their coagulated, or fixed state and Condition.


Indian Alchemy Today

[Excerpt Chapter 14 from Idries Shah's book Oriental Magic. It appears many of Shah's books are now available for free viewing on Google Books]

"Gold! Which the Sun has given wondrous hue; which those before you, with plentiful progeny, did ever seek: may this gold surround you with its brilliance! He who wears gold will live for ever!" [-Atharva-Veda, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. XLII. 1892]

ONE of the most flourishing industries of modern India is the teaching of alchemy. Whereas traditional manuscripts require concentratedstudy to absorb their teachings, mixed with a good deal of ritual, contemporary goldmakers - at least those who aim at a quick turnover - have developed their teachings along pseudo-modern scientific lines.

I recently transcribed one document issued by a Hindu alchemist and sold to an acquaintance for the staggering sum of £150! Though I may seem to be cutting the sod (or the market) under the alchemist's feet, this is in reality not the case. For I was able to trace the author of the process, and to promise him that, if and when I succeeded in making gold, I would send him half a ton, free of all charge, in exchange for the right to publish the recipes given herewith. He was, it is true, reluctant to agree to publication: but when, in front of witnesses, I argued that he was really losing nothing (since he could make all the gold he wanted at very low cost by means of the formulae) and because he himself said that he was in no need of money (for the same reason) it was only right that his discovery should be made known to the world. I am still not quite sure whether he really believed that he had made gold. (I am not responsible for the quality of his English!)



It must first be realized that gold cannot be made except by those that are pure in spirit and in body. Therefore, make sure that every time that you are trying these experiments, you are in a state of complete purity. Next, you must be sure that the moon is full, and that the Soma [Asclepias Acida or Gyanchum Viminale] plant that you gather is fresh, and plucked when the moon is riding high, and the moonlight must be shining directly upon the plant. On no account must the invocation to the soma be left out; and you will also see to it that the juice of the soma is kept in due cleanliness in sterilized test-tubes.

What must be guarded against in the making of gold is oxidation. The various processes that I shall give after this are adapted to avoid loss of metal and injury to the gold from this cause. The most common one is to cover the metals with carbon, which not only excludes air admitted to the furnace, but tends to absorb oxygen liberated from metals during fusion. Union between the components of these golds is secured by stirring the contents with a carbon rod which promotes chemical admixture without the introduction of any substance likely to contaminate the chemical compound and modify its properties.

In making experimental tests, a small furnace, such as that used in a metallurgical laboratory, a strong pair of hand rolls, and an anvil, would be very useful adjuncts to everyone contemplating to adopt this Art!"

It is interesting here to see the abrupt switch from the supernatural aspects of the ritual and the Soma plant, to the metallurgical phraseology of the alchemist. This Soma has a very wide use in Indian Vedic magic, and figures, too, in the ritualistic texts of the Iranians. It is believed to be the Asclepias Acida, or the Sacrostremma Viminale, which is identified with the moon-god. But to return to the alchemist:

"The successful preparation of these golds depends upon one more condition that the metals should be of the purest quality and entirely free from iron. If this is not the case, then the compounds would indeed show the requisite colour, but will be too hard, and so brittle that they cannot be drawn out into thin sheets or fine wires. The metals used in preparing these golds must, therefore, be tested beforehand for the presence of iron, and any which contain the slightest trace of it excluded."

Then follows Formula No. 1: (See table below.)

"Take a large smelting-pot and set it on a good red-hot furnace, in the bottom of which place A about the size of a small finger; upon this sprinkle B; cover these with a little of C; and then force the fire so that B may fuse: then throw in D and then a like quantity of E; and then the same quantity of F as that of B. Then let this mixture boil, but take the greatest care not to inhale any of the gases rising from E.Then pour it into another smelting-pot that must be perfectly clean, and by the aid of G and H the Gold will settle down at the bottom in the form of black particles which should be collected and placed in another crucible and remelted. This metal is fit for use, when cooled down."

The requisite items for this recipe are given in a concise Index:

A. Colophony (black resin) (Kala ral)*8 parts
B. Pure iron filings (Lohe ka burida* ya ret)2 "
C. Red sulphur (Lal gandak) * 2 "
D. Borax (Suhaga)* 2 "
E. Red arsenic (Realgar) (Lal Sankhiya, *Mainsil, Mendal)* 2 "
F. Silver (Chandi)* 2 "
G. Soma juice, correctly collected 1 teaspoonful

[*Indian words, Hindi and Urdu]

This is the whole process: words in italics are the original Indian words used in the formula. There may be, however, some that cannot produce gold from this recipe. For them the thoughtful alchemist has produced another type of experiment. "It is possible," he told me, "that supernatural influences may clash with the experimenter's personality. He should then try Experiment Number Two."

Here it is:

"Process of Formula No. 2: Melt A in a plumbago crucible over a gas or oil fire (these being the best fuels to use). Then A should be covered with charcoal to prevent oxidation and the absorption of gases as much as possible. After A has been melted, B should be dropped into the pot through the charcoal. As soon as B goes into the pot the first action will be a cooling one, caused by the temperature of the added B. As soon as B is heated to the melting temperature it combines with A. Now add C; and when C has been combined with the mass, concentrate upon the fact that it will be gold, add the Soma juice from five plants, remove the crucible from the fire and skim the charcoal from its surface. The contents, which are now gold, should be poured into moulds of convenient sizes. The liquid should be stirred as much as possible until poured. This metal is then fit for use. Before adding C to the mass, care must be taken first to melt C separately in another crucible.)"

Perhaps you want 22-carat gold, of a reddish hue? In that case, it will be better to try Formula No.3. Meanwhile herewith the list of ingredients for Formula No.2:

A. Copper (100% pure) tanba70 parts
B. Aluminium (100% pure) ek safed si halki dhat5 "
C. Pure gold (sona)25 "
D. Carbon (ek kism ka koila)30 "
E. Charcoal (koela) 30 "

Formula No. 3 seems upon superficial inspection to be one formaking a copper-platinum alloy:

Ingredients for Formula No.3:

A. Copper, 100% pure (Tanba)800 parts
B. Platinum, 100% pure (Ek safed sab se bhari dhat)28 "
C. Tungstic acid (Ek kism ka dawa)20 "
D. Pure gold (Sona)170 "
E. Flux (Dhat piglane vali chiz)
F. Alkaline water (Sajjikhar ki pani)
G. Juice of the Soma plant

Method of making gold from the above ingredients:

"Melt in a crucible under a flux A, B and C, and then granulate this by pouring it into alkaline water when in a molten state. Remelt, at the same time adding a cupful of the juice of the Soma, and then add D. After being cooled down, this metal is ready for use."

It is very probable that these processes originate in the gold-type alloys that are used in the West to make tarnish-resisting jewellery. As to the function of the Soma, the reader may be left to judge for himself; but there is at least one modern Japanese metallurgical patent which describes the making of acid-resistant alloys with molybdenum and tungsten.

Indian Alchemical Formula No.4:

The following metals and other ingredients are prescribed:

A. Copper, 100 % pure100 parts
B. Antimony metal8 "
C. Pure gold5 "
D. Charcoal ashes15 "
E. Magnesium metal15 "
F. Lime-spar15 "

"Process of the Formula No.4:

Melt A in a crucible during the last three days of the full moon. As soon as it has reached a certain degree of heat, add B. When B has likewise melted and fused with A, add three or four drops of fresh Soma juice. Then add some of the D, E and F. Stir constantly with a carbon rod, then cover this mass with carbon, and allow it to fuse for 35 minutes. When this compound has been completely combined with all these ingredients, add C, and when C has likewise entered into intimate union with the mass, it is finally covered with carbon, the cover is placed over the crucible, and all is kept in fusion for five minutes more. Then this metal is fit for use, as gold. Care must betaken to see that C is melted separately before adding it to the mass."

Two further processes are given. The first, which is known as Formula Number Five, is to be used in winter, during the hours of darkness. The second (Formula Number Six) is operative in the case of people who have failed to make gold: providing that they are unmarried, and dedicate their operations to the god Hanuman, and keep his statue (part-man, part-monkey) in 'a prominent place over-looking the scene of operations'.

Ingredients for Formula No. 5:

A. Copper100 parts
B. Zinc 17 "
Tin17 "
C. Pure gold25 "
D. Magnesia8 "
E. Sal-ammoniac60 "
F. Limestone20 "
G. Cream of tartar10 "
H. Jasmine flowers5 "

Method of making Gold from Formula 5:

"First A is melted with I fluid ounce of Soma juice, then D, E, F, and G are each added, separately and in powder form. They must be gradually added while stirring, while battle-songs (sic) of the Purohitas are sung."

It should, perhaps, be explained here that the Purohitas-royal priests and advisers of the ancient Hindu kings-used battle-hymns hat are today to be found in the pages of the magical Atharva Veda.

[The Atharva Veda is divided into two parts: the Holy or legitimate magic, so acknowledged by the Brahmins, and Sorcery. It is held that these two divisions are derived from two perhaps mythical authors: Bishag Atharvana and Ghora Angirasa. Followers of the Atharva Veda contend that this book should properly be called the Brahma Veda, and that the orthodox Brahmin (high caste) priesthood is required to know and practise its rites. But there has always been a dispute on this point: others claiming that all three Vedas should be known and practised by Brahmins. It is, however, certain that the Atharva Veda was an important source of the magic used by former Purohitas.]

But to return to Process Number Five:

"The whole mass is stirred for a quarter of an hour. B (Zinc and Tin) are dropped in then, piece by piece, the stirring being maintained until they melt, and the mass is covered by carbon for thirty-five minutes or so. Finally, the item C is added, and when it has likewise fused with the whole it is covered at the top, and after five minutes is fit for use. Care must be taken to see that C is melted separately before adding it to the mass."

The simplest process of all is Formula Number Six, of the samem anuscript. Nothing is said here about Soma, jasmine or rites of purification. The process is apparently simple, and fewer ingredients are employed. Upon inspection, however, the whole thing seems to belittle more than a fairly straightforward alloy, capable of deceiving only such goldsmiths as might not be expecting its existence in such a country as India.

Formula Number Six:

"Take the following ingredients: twenty parts of platinum, the same amount of silver, plus 240 parts of brass, and obtain also 120 parts of nickel.

Melt these items separately in different crucibles. They are then combined together when in the molten condition. This alloy is then poured into moulds to cool. Then use the metal."


It is interesting to see how traditional alchemy in the East has been harnessed with modern ways to produce the kind of twentieth-century alchemical teaching that I have described. Equally fascinating is the tale of one who was less anxious to sell his wares, and who operated in the old style. The following notes are transcribed from the experiences of Mme Morag Murray Abdullah (with her permission). She is a Scotswoman, married to an Afghan, and has lived in the East for over thirty years.

"Aquil Khan was an alchemist. It is strange, at first sight, that a man who is thought to be able to make all the gold he wants should live in a cave. The explanation, like the sugar cake the child saves at a party, comes last.

At first, with a Western mentality of judging by externals, one does not feel like placing too much reliance on Aquil. Tall, of that wiry Pathan race so well known in the Khyber, he was thin, bearded, turbaned, and the colour of mahogany. Clad in a pair of not-so-near-white tight-fitting trousers and an old army tunic, he is a man of few words.

Our mutual friend Ahmed explained that he had brought a very important friend from England to visit Aquil Khan, and to learn his wisdom of the making of gold. Neither of these pieces of information had the power to unfreeze the immobility of Aquil-or even, it seemed, to interest him.

He shrugged his shoulders, pursed his lips: 'please yourself'. The first requisite was to have a bath and change into clean clothes. The other requirement, if Aquil's example was any indication, was silence.

Ahmed and I stood outside the cave until Aquil appeared. In silence he handed an empty ordinary pint bottle to each of us andstrode off. We brought up the rear. It was a hot day, and we were thankful when he struck off into the shade of the jungle. We had trampedfor a couple of miles, crossed a fence and the railway lines, and plunged once more into the trees. Aquil halted after another two miles.

Here were a few plants like tall dandelions. We watched the alchemist break the stems and collect the few drops of milky juice from each into his bottle. It was a slow business, and we soon understood that he expected us to do the same. For the next two hours we wandered about collecting the thickening juice, hands sticky and mouths parched.

The two of us had collected by this time about a quarter of a pint of the juice. Aquil approached, took our bottles, and added their contents to his. Then we started back.

Nothing was said about thirst. When we washed in the spring nearhis cave, I tried to take a sip of water. Aquil shook his head violently. Clearly he was a man of the most spartan habits. This seemed, however, a part of the ritual. As we were not being told anything, it behoved us -we who were going to buy London before long- to observe, and learn this thing.

After sitting for a few minutes, apparently in contemplation, Aquil signed to us to go home. Ahmed told me that he had heard that alchemists do not speak during their work, because the spirits which guard gold must not know that there is goldmaking afoot. The next day we went at dawn to the cave. He was waiting, and led us off in the opposite direction from that which we had previously taken. Three hours of walking in the jungle brought us to a clearing. Through this ran a small stream of icy water. The ground on either side was moist and the colour of mustard. Aquil proceeded to collect mud, just below the surface - where it was a creamy yellow. We took about two pounds each, and the whole was amalgamated into one large round ball, and carried back in a knotted cloth. During all this time, there had been no word from Aquil, and no audible sign of any magical utterances on his part.

Back in the cave we watched Aquil make two deep bowls from the yellow clay, each one about six inches in diameter. These were put on a ledge to dry, and we were again dismissed.

The next day there was a long hike to collect wood, although there were quantities quite near the cave. I noticed that it was all hard, dark- brown wood, though of different types of tree.

The next day we had to visit a stone quarry, and find a number of stones. These had to be grey, almost square and the size of a cricketball.

Another day came. Aquil signed to us to build a fire outside his cave. We made a semicircular wall, scraped out a hollow and laid the fire: first paper with squares written on it, then the special wood, then charcoal: and finally the dried blood of a white goat.

The blood had to be powdered and mixed with powdered nutmeg, cinnamon and Hindu incense. For once Aquil spoke. The fire, he said, was to be kept burning for four days without cease. If it went out, the whole performance would have to be repeated. Even the fire itself could not be kindled until the first night of the new moon. Certain things must not happen. One was a jackal's cry; another an owl's hoot. We took turns to sit up all night and stoke the fire.

Our horoscopes had to be cast, to make sure that there was no inauspicious conjunction which might interfere. Aquil laboured longover these. It seemed, however, that all was well. Then the two bowls were taken and placed on a piece of linen about two yards square. This was laid on the ground. Now fifty yards of new cotton were taken and cut into strips one inch wide, and laid on the linen.

What remained of the clay was mixed with spring water (carried five miles in a new jar), to the consistency of thick cream. A piece of stone the size of a large apricot was placed in one bowl, with a piece of silver the size of a sugar-lump. Over these was spread two table-spoonfuls of the 'milk' sap we had gathered. All the time the goldmaker kept looking at the stars-restlessly, like a man consulting his watch. He now placed the other bowl on the one containing the stone, silver and juice, and formed a kind of circle of the two.

The whole thing was then carefully wound round with the long strips of cotton, dipped in clay which stuck like glue.

This was continued until all the cotton was used up, and the mass was greatly enlarged. Lastly more of the clay (ordinary clay) was moulded round the package, and the whole was put into the heart of the glowing fire. Hot charcoal was spread over this, and the vigil began.

The 'bowl' had to remain at white heat for seven days and seven nights. Fortunately it was not necessary to sit over the fire all the time: but we had to keep a constant shared watch over it. This was because "Satan cannot make gold, and if this gold in the making were left unwatched, he would come and steal it in its present form, and learn the secret." Even Ahmed and I -the uninitiated- had by this time formed the habit of looking anxiously at the stars. Excitement ran high in my mind. Aquil crushed that: every experiment of this nature must be treated as a matter of course: no talk, no laughing, no optimism, no doubt. No eating or drinking on duty!

The weary days and nights passed. Aquil removed the red ball from the fire, and laid it aside in a pile of sand to cool. It took twelve hours to cool sufficiently. Not all the cotton, we noticed, had burned, due to the presence of the clay, as Aquil unwrapped it.

At long last the bowls were prised apart, and within lay a piece of yellow metal. Aquil handed it to me: 'Take it to a jeweller and see if it is gold.'

When I hesitated, thinking that there must be some trickery, he went into the back of the cave, and brought out a large cotton bag. Out of this he turned about fifty other nuggets, just like the one which lay in my hand. 'These are some, there are many more.'

'I would have doubted, once, as you doubt. It took me thirty years to learn this. Thirty years ... of water and nuts, berries and starvation, contemplation and experiment. I had to learn to read the heavens, tame animals, know signs. All I had when I started was a formula which was garbled, and I had to put it right. As to the finding of the places where the right ingredients are ... that took years.'

I asked him what he wanted to do now. 'Now? It is five years since I perfected the system. I have been making gold ever since. I cannot do anything else. And I do not want to. But what is the use of it all? I set at naught all my old Master warned me against. It becomes an obsession. The very fact that I can do what none other can (except a few) is my joy, and I do not want anything else.

'What is the good of gold? Can it restore life? I am its slave. I cannot get away from it. There, my friend, is my story. The fascination has me in its grip. I cannot, will not, give the gold away, sell it or let anyone else have it. I do not know why this is, either.'

I took the gold to the jeweller. He offered to buy it. It was not mine. I took it back to Aquil. He threw it like a piece of coal into the back of the cave. 'Go back to London,' he said. I have no way of knowing to this day what the answer to all this is."

This is the strange story told me by Morag Murray. She got nothing out of either the gold or the story, which she gave me, free, to use as I would. So I give it here.