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.