Lacinius from the Light of Lights by Rhasis.

    Solution is the root of Alchemy. Hence we must discover the natural solvents and coagulants. We will, therefore, proceed to speak of soluble and solvent mineral substances --- of atraments and alums, of mineral spirits, of metals and precious stones --- their nature, the method of solution and coagulation, etc.

On Atramneta.

    Atraments are either black, reddish, or green; and they are all hot and dry. They are likewise secret and wonderful in their nature. The green atrament mixed with quicksilver coagulates it, and nothing else will bring about the same effect. If also very quickly sublimes quicksilver, mortifies it, and renders it liquid. Believe what I say, open your eyes, and try. The preparation of water of atrament is as follows: Take of green ultramontane atrament, shake it, place it in a jar, which you shall close up with clay; plunge the jar in coals, and expose it to gentle heat for two hours. Quicken the fire with the bellows for two hours longer; then leave it till it goes out of its own accord; allow the air to cool, open it, and you will find an atrament of an intense ruby colour. Place in a glass vessel; put over it a threefold quantity of clear boy’s urine or sweet water, cove it up, and keep it for use.

On Alums.

    There are many species of alum. The Jamen variety is feathery, very white, and acid. This is well-suited for dissolving purposes. Hence the Sages have called it the Stone of the Sages, because it is neither too hard nor too soft. It is not easily soluble, and is regarded as approaching a vegetable nature. There is another alum which is green, and in the form of a powder; one is of an orange colour, and one is whitish. There is also a rock alum, like sal gemmae. But the first is the most useful in our Art. Take of it as much as you want, pound it gently into a brazen mortar, place it in a brazen pot, pour over it six times its quantity of clear boy’s urine, expose it to a gentle heat: half the urine must evaporate; then remove it from the fire, strain it through a filter, place in a glass vessel, and keep for use.

    Alum is prepared with distilled boy’s urine, there being one part of alum to four of urine, in which it must be dissolved after pounding. Then, in order that the operation may succeed, distillation by the filter and congelation must be repeated several times.

    To prepare common salt, whence all salts originate, pour over it five times its quantity of sweet hot water; distill it, strain it through a filter, and coagulate. Repeat this operation several times till you have it in the form of snow-white crystals.

Of Salts.

    In armoniac salt are hidden all the secrets of the Sages, and because of its soaring nature, they have called it the Eagle, or the Arrow. It is very hot and very dry; yet it is nothing but condensed vapour collected from soot in baths. There is also sal gemmae, which is more precious than other salts, and very efficacious in our Art. Other salts are saltpeter and common salt. The purer salt is the greater its efficacy. One salt the Sages have essayed to hide. It is the salt alchali. If you can obtain it, you have all you want.

    Take one part of common salt, pound it, put it in a pot, cover it well, place the pot in a potter’s furnace all night, take out the salt, pound it, put it in a glass vessel, pour over it some of your water of atrament before referred to, if it be for the Red Tincture, or of the water of alum for the White Tincture. Let this water be twice or thrice the quantity of the salt. Leave it for eight days; that which is not dissolved sinks to the bottom, the rest rises to the surface, floats there like oil, and is brilliantly white. This latter they call the oil of the Sages or the water of wisdom, because none save a philosopher can apprehend it, being in appearance pure water, yet holding therein a crystalline vapour. When this water is coagulated, we obtain a brilliant Stone, which is called sal alchali. Take common salt, cook it, place it in a glass vessel, pour over it three times as much distilled vinegar or clear water, add half the quantity of alum zucharinum, and as much tartar of wine mixed with alum, pound them, put them in a glass vessel, pour over them three times as much distilled vinegar, or clear water, add two ounces of honey, leave it three days; then take what is dissolved, namely, what floats, having no faeces, over the clear and limpid slat, and place it in a small vessel, having a narrow neck. Add to it what floats on the surface of the lime and alum; place them in the same bottle, with the water of salt. See that you have no faeces, which will spoil the work. Coagulate the contents, and you have a brilliant crystalline stone. What has been said of common salt applies to saltpeter and sal gemmae. The oftener the salt is dissolved and refined, the better.

Of salt armoniac.

    Pound it, put in a pot, cover same, expose to gentle heat, pound again, place in a glass vessel, pour over it twice the quantity of distilled vinegar, or clear water; add water of atrament for gold, water of alum for silver, and leave it eight days; skim off what floats on the surface and is limpid, being careful to take up none of the sediment; put in a narrow-necked bottle, coagulate, then keep it and preserve it from dust, because it is clear and white. Afterwards pound it, pace in aludel, having burnt common salt at the bottom; close vessel with the lute of wisdom. Sublime in furnace. If this operation be begun at early dawn, the fire which at first be very gentle, should be slightly increased at the third hour, and so till noon. Remove it from the fire, and let it cool. You will find the salt armoniac of a pure and brilliant white. It should be carefully shielded from dust.

Of the Spirits.

    There are three mineral spirits: quicksilver, sulphur, and arsenic. Arsenic is hot and dry, of great virtue and potency, yet lightly esteemed. It burns up all other bodies. There are two kinds of arsenic, one is of a pale white, the other red. The red is combustive, the white is solvent, and useful for the Tincture; with quicksilver it makes silver. It has a fiery nature, and sublimes quickly. This spirit we strive to render corporeal and fixed, in order that it may permanently colour our substance. It has great affinity for vinegar.

    This spirit must be cleansed, sublimed, and exalted; then it will do what no man would think possible. Take pallid arsenic, pound well into powder, place in a glazed pot, pour over it four times as much clear strong vinegar. When most of the arsenic is dissolved, after three days, place over a gentle fire, steam off the liquid, take it out, place in a dish, wash well of all saltness with pure water, and dry in the sun. Place again in a glazed pot, pour over it four times its quantity of water of alum, and let it evaporate over the fire. Put in an aludel, add twice its quantity of common purified salt, close the vessel, and seal it up carefully. Sublime cover fire from morning till noon. Cool, open the vessel, and you will find in it a brilliant substance. Place it in a glass vessel, pour over it its own quantity of water of alum, and leave for eight days. Take up what floats on the surface, put it in a small narrow-necked bottle, coagulate, and you will find a crystalline stone; keep until necessary to use, and see that it is free from dust. If you digest this arsenic with milk or oil of bitter almonds, and afterwards with water of alum, it will be very brilliant and beautiful in the sublimation; and then it dissolves very easily. If arsenic be cooked with olive oil, and then with water of atrament, it will be found in the sublimate brilliantly red and easily soluble. Red arsenic, when its ferment is added, makes glad the heart of the Alchemist; but it is not so easily dissolved as white flaky arsenic. Hence you should use the later for dissolving and sublimation. To sublime with quicksilver, cook in the manner described one pound of arsenic with one ounce of quicksilver.

Of Sulphur.

    The decoction of sulphur is the same as that of arsenic. But as sulphur has much air, as well as much hotness and dryness, it is not easily sublimed. To effect this purpose, cook it well, and dissolve it; you will then be on the road to perfection. Without the three substances which I have mentioned, there can be no silver or gold, arsenic being best for silver, and sulphur for gold. Some say that if sulphur be mixed with living calx, it can be easily sublimed; but I do not wish you to waste your labor. Know, however, that arsenic is more valuable in the Lunar, and sulphur in the Solar work. Sulphur is partially white without, and partially red within. Of arsenic the opposite holds good.

    If you wish to change white into red sulphur, dissolve it in red water by pounding, saturation, and good decoction; coagulate into a stone, dissolve once more with red water, again coagulate, dissolve a third time, sublime over a powerful fire, and that which ascends in the shape of a white dust is white sulphur; what remains at the bottom is red sulphur, which transmutes quicksilver into gold.

Of Quicksilver.

    All sages have striven to make quicksilver remain firm in the fire; but it is impossible. Mix qucksilver with anything, and the fire will instantly separate them again, because it is a spirit, and has been called the cloud of clouds, the father that enriches the son, the eye of wisdom; the pregnant woman that conceives and brings forth in a day. It says to gold: I and sulphur have begotten you; and to silver: I and arsenic are your parents. I flee from the fire, and leave behind all that does not belong to me in the shape of a sediment. I stand firm in the fire, and make all that belongs to me brilliant and pure; I, being coagulated coagulate, being dissolved dissolve. This seeming contradiction I will now explain, and tell you of its coagulation into the white, and of its dissolution. Let it first be cleansed with vinegar and salt, ten times sublimed or coagulated, then dissolved. Take it and an equal quantity of common salt, place in a glazed pot (after pounding them well in a glass mortar), pour over it four times as much vinegar, and leave it over a gentle fire till all the vinegar has evaporated. Place in dish, having removed it from the fire, wash with pure water, rinse out salt. Take the same quantity of atrament or vitriol, pound together, place in an aludel, and make paste with pure water, or distilled vinegar. Dry over gentle fire, place in an aludel, and carefully stop up the mouth of the vessel with clay. Leave over slow fire from morning till the third hour; let the fire be stronger from the third hour till noon, or none. Cool, open the vessel, and you will find it full of a snow-white substance (like camphor in appearance). Pound, place in glass vessel, pour over it twice its quantity of water of atrament, and leave for eight days. Skim off what float on the surface into a small narrow-necked bottle, coagulate, and you will have a clear red granulated substance. Keep it free from dust till needed. Item: take 3 ounces of olive oil in a glazed pot; boil up over slow fire; when it begins to boil, throw in 1/2 ounce of clear yellow sulphur, shake till sulphur melts, remove from fire, and cool. Add 1 ounce of quicksilver, put on fire, leave till all is dry, take out of pot, and place in a vessel well stopped up with the clay of the Sages. Sublime over fire from morning till three p.m., and what is in the vessel will then be very red. Pound, place in glass vessel, pour over it twice as much water of atrament, leave for eight days, skim off what floats on the surface, place in bottle, coagulate, and you will have a clear red granulated substance. Keep this also free from dust until needed. If you wish to coagulate quicksilver into the white substance, in order to make silver, take quicksilver and as much white lead (cerusa); pound in a mortar, place in glazed pot, pour over it four times as much water of alum or of quicklime, leave over gentle fire from 6 till 9 a.m. Take out of pot, pound, place in an aludel, stop up with clay of the Sages. Put in glass furnace or baker’s oven, or over fire, leave from morning till evening, cool, open, and you will find the lower part of the vessel full of ashes. Pound, place in glass vessel, pour over it twice its quantity of water or alum, leave for eight days, skim off oil of Sages, place in small bottle, and coagulate; you will find a white crystalline substance like ice; keep it, and you will soon know its use.

Of Gold.

    The Sages call gold the product of the sun. When it is perfect, the fire cannot hurt it, but rather intensifies its colour. If you wish to make gold, you must ferment it, or all your labour will be in vain. Moreover, the ferment must be pure. Nevertheless, it does not require much purification, since it is in itself sufficiently pure, but it must be prepared so that it may be easily incorporated and fermented, and for this purpose it must be calcined as we will shew further on.

    Beat pure gold into thin leaves; then take red arsenic, pound, add a third part of common salt (i.e., one-third part of the arsenic), take seven ounces of steel filings, pound the three together; take a small, new, glazed pot, put a little of this powder at the bottom of the pot; over it place a plate of gold, cover the plate with more powder, and so fill up with alternate layers. Take another glazed pot, put in one pound olive oil, boil over a gentle fire, add four ounces of clear yellow sulphur; remove at once from the fire, stir with an iron rod till the sulphur is melted, and allow to cool. Add some of this oil to the contents of the other pot; simmer over gentle fire, till absorbed; add more, place again on the fire, and so on, little by little, till all the oil has been absorbed. Then leave it on the fire till quite dry. All this can be done in 24 hours. Stop up the pot with the clay of Sages; next morning, place the pot among the coals of a gentle fire, so that it is entirely covered, from 6 to 9 a.m. Take pot, cool, break it, pound its contents; afterwards pound the gold, place the whole in dish, add sweet and clear water, and stir it. When the powder has settled at the bottom, remove the water (for it is salt); add more water, till the powder has quite lost its saltness. Dry it in the sun, or by a fire, place in a small pot, stop up with clay, place in furnace for the space required for baking bread. Then rejoice, for you have pulverized and fermented gold. Take that powder, pound well, place in glass vessel, pour over it its own quantity of water of atrament, taking care that it is neither more nor less; leave for eight days, stirring twice or thrice daily. Skim off the brilliant substance floating on the surface, and put it in small bottle. It should be limpid and clear, and if it be so, happy are you. Take equal quantities of the water of quicksilver, as described in the chapters on quicksilver, of the water of salt armoniac, and of the water of gold; mix the three waters in a bottle; coagulate, plunge bottle up to neck in pot full of sieved ashes, place pot on tripod over fire from morning till evening, and that which is in bottle will be coagulated. Break the bottle after it has cooled, take the Stone which is inside, put half ounce of it on eighty ounces of silver, and it will be changed into the purest gold.

Of Silver.

    Silver, though composed in the same way, is not quite so pure or well digested as gold, and suffers from two kinds of humidity, sulphureous and phlegmatic, or evaporant. Yet silver may be properly purified by fire; but if being cooked with common salt and orpiment, it grows black, while there is no blackness in the salt or the orpiment, this is a sign that it is suffering from the first humidity. The sign of the second humidity is diminishment in the fire. By purification and digestion it can be transmuted into gold, for its infirmity is of a negative kind.

    The following is the best way of changing silver into gold. Between two layers of common well-pounded salt, without extracting its humidity, place a thin silver plate in a strong earthen vessel; leave a small opening at the mouth, plunge among moderately red-hot coals for twelve hours. Take out, and you will find your silver plates corroded and diminished in size and weight. If they are white, it is a sign that their first humidity has been consumed, and that they are well calcined and britle. If they are black upon the outside, some of the humidity remains. If they are not brittle, it is the second humidity which persists. The sign of elimination of the first humidity is that the silver is not blackened by lead; of the second that it does not diminish in fire. When the silver is well calcined, and freed of its sulphureous humidity, then expose it once more to fire, till it is soft and flexible like gold under the hammer, and is at the same time compact and ponderous. Take equal quantities of salt armoniac, saltpeter, and borax; pound together, dissolve in a little wine, and let it dry. This will rend the silver malleable.


    Rhasis tells us that copper and iron, being of a different and most impure substance, can no more be changed into silver or gold than an ass or a goat can become a man. But copper is of a strong substance, and easily transmutable in colour, of the same weight with silver, and readily mixed with good silver. But it easily turns black, and is very impure. Yet even Rhasis admits that it is easier to make silver out of copper than gold out of lead. If copper, he says, be calcined, cleansed, and dissolved, it will look like gold, but will never become real gold. Hence he calls all Alchemists fools who hunt for bears in the sea, and angle for fish on dry land, as they will make gold of lead, or silver of copper, when they have made a wolf of an ass. Does not Rhasis here seem to characterize our whole Art as a sophistical invention? How is the difficulty to be solved? Well, if you wish to know all, read all --- and especially what Rhasis himself says in his chapter on copper. There you will perceive that his meaning appears to be that the ferment of gold and silver cannot be obtained from lead or copper; but he does not really deny that lead and copper can be transmuted

Of Silver (continued).

    Take thin plates of [pure] silver, five pounds of arsenic, and one ounce of steel filings; pound them well together. Take some of this powder, cover with it the bottom of a pot, put over that place a silver plate, over that some more of the powder, and so fill the pot with alternate layers of plates and powder. Let there be powder over the top of all. Place on a slow fire, over the coals, pour over it strong vinegar, and leave it from 6 to 9 a.m. Let the moisture evaporate, stop up with clay of Sages, and plunge pot among red-hot coals; keep up a powerful fire or 12 hours. Then open the pot (after cooling), separate the silver from the powder, pound in mortar, wash with clean water in a dish. Dry in the sun. Add to the powdered silver equal quantities of sal armoniac, of sublimed coagulated quicksilver, and of white sublimed arsenic; pound, put in a bottle, pour over it four times as much water of alum, and leave for two days. Plunge bottle up to neck, which should be narrow, in a pot full of ashes; the bole should be unstopped till its contents are coagulated. Then stop it up, and place over fire for 24 hours. Let it cool, and then break bottle; if anything be sublimed up to the neck, combine all together; pound its contents, place in glass vessel, pour over it twice as much water of alum, and leave for 8 days, shaking it twice or thrice every day. Skim off what floats on the surface into a small narrow necked bottle; evaporate the liquid from the remaining faeces, add one-half ounce of it to 20 ounces of copper, and it will become the purest silver. Coagulate the contents of the bottle in a pot full of ashes, then add one-half ounce of it to 250 ounces of copper, 150 ounces of tin, or 50 ounces of lead, and you will witness a wonderful transformation. There is another way of carrying out this operation, but here is the most efficacious, and however the coagulated substance the preparation of which I have described may be obtained, it has the property of transmuting larger or smaller quantities of copper, tin or lead into the most irreproachable silver.