Roger Bacon - The Root of the World

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Some make mercury of lead, thus:

R. LEAD, melt it six or seven times, and quench it in
SALT ARMONIAC dissolved, of which take three lb.: of
SAL VITRIOL, one lb.; of
BORAX, half lb.,

mix, and digest forty days in igne philosophorum. So have you mercury, not at all differing from the natural. But as that is not fit for our work, as the mineral. If you have any understanding, this caution may sufficiently instruct you.

The white liquor, as mercury, contains two superfluities, which must necessarily be removed from it, viz., its foetid earthiness, which hinders its fusion; and its humidity, which causes its flying.

The earthiness is thus removed. Put it into a marble or wooden mortar, with its equal weight of pure fine and dry

SALT, and a little
VINEGAR.

Grind all with the pestle, till nothing of the matter appears, but the whole salt becomes very BLACK. Wash this whole matter with pure water, till the salt is dissolved; this filthy water decant, and put to the mercury again as much more salt and vinegar, grinding it as before, and washing it with fair water, which work so often repeat, till the water comes clear from it, and that the mercury remains pure, bright and clear, like a Venice looking-glass, and of a celestial colour. Then strain it through a linen cloth three or four times doubled, two or three times, into a glass vessel, till it be dry.

And therefore in the Speculum Alchemiae, it is said, the first work is the reducing the body into water, that is, into mercury. And this the philosophers called dissolution, which is the foundation of the whole art. This dissolution makes the body of an evident liquidity, and absolute subtility; and this is done by a gentle grinding, and a soft and continued assation or digestion.

Wherefore saith Rhasis, the work of making our stone is, that the matter be put into its proper vessel, and continually decocted and digested, until such time as it wholly ascends, or sublimes to the top thereof. This is declared in Speculum Philosophorum.

The philosophers’ stone is converted from a vile thing, into a precious substance; for the semen solare is cast into the matrix of mercury, by copulation or conjunction, whereby in process of time they be made one.

as there are three things in a natural egg, viz., the shell, the white, and the yolk, so likewise there are three things corresponding to the philosophers’ stone, the glass vessel, the white liquor, and the citrine body. Of the citrine body, and white liquor, with a temperate or gentle heat is made the avis hermetis, or philosophers’ bird.

saith Rhasis, be very diligent and careful in the sublimation and liquefaction of the matter, that you increase not your fire too much, whereby the water may ascend to the highest part of the vessel. For then wanting a place of refrigeration, it will stick fast there, whereby the sulphur of the elements will not be perfected. For indeed in this work, it is necessary that they be many times elevated, or sublimed, and depressed again. And the gentle or temperate fire is that only which completes the mixture, makes thick, and perfects the work. Therefore saith Botulphus, that gentle fire, which is the white fire of the philosophers, is the greatest and most natural principle matter of the operation of the elements. Rhasis also saith, burn our brass with a gentle fire, such as that of a hen for the hatching of eggs, until the body be broken, and the tincture extracted.

beware of too much heat, lest you come to solution before the time, viz., before the mater is ripe; for that will brig you to despair of attaining the end of your hopes. --- Wherefore saith he, beware of too much fire for if it be kindled before the time, the matter will be red, before it comes to ripeness and perfection, whereby it becomes like an abortion, or the unripe fruit of the womb; whereas it ought to be first white, then red, like as the fruits of a tree, a cherry is first white, then red, when it comes to its perfection.

the dissolution of the body, and coagulation or congelation of the spirit, ought to be done, by an easy decoction in a gentle fire, and a moist putrefaction, for the space of one hundred and forty days.

there is no generation of things, but by putrefaction, by keeping out the air, and a continual internal motion, with an equal and gentle heat. Remember when you are in your work, all the signs and appearances which arise in every decoction, for they are necessary
to be known and understood in order to the perfecting the matter.

You must be sure to be incessant and continual in your operation, with a gentle fire, to the appearing of the perfect whiteness, which cannot be if you open the vessel, and let out the spirit.

 the vessel with the medicine be put into a moist fire; to wit, that the middle or one half of the vessel be in a moist fire, or balneo, of equal heat with horse-dung, and the other half out of the fire, that you may daily look into it. And in the space of forty days, the superficies or upper part of the medicine will appear black as melted pitch; and this is the sign, that the citrine body is truly converted into mercury. Therefore saith Bonellus, when you see the blackness of the water to appear, be assured that the body is made liquid. The same thing saith Rhasis; the disposition or operation of out stone is one, which is, that it be put into its vessel and carefully decocted and digested, till such time as the whole body be dissolved and ascended. And in another place he saith, continue it upon a temperate or gentle balneo, so long till it be perfectly dissolved into water, and made impalpable, and that the whole tincture be extracted into the blackness, which is the sign of its dissolution. Lucas also assureth us, that when we see the blackness of the water in all things to appear, that then the body is dissolved, or made liquid. This blackness the philosophers call the first conjunction; --- for then the make and female are joined together, and it is the sign of perfect mixtion.

Then saith Rhasis, the government of the fire being observed for the space of forty days, both (to wit the white liquor, and the citrine body) are made a permanent or fixed water, covered over with blackness; which blackness, if rightly ordered, cometh to its perfection in forty days space. Of which another philosopher saith, so long as the obscure blackness appeareth, the woman hath the dominion; and this is the first conception or strength of our stone; for if it be not first black, it shall never be either white or red. Avicen saith, that heat causeth blackness first, in a moist body; then the humidity being consumed, it putteth off or loseth its blackness; and as the heat increaseth, or is continued, so it grows white. Lastly, by a more inward heat, it is calcined into ashes, as the philosophers teach.

 In the first decoction, which is called putrefaction, our stone is made all black, to wit, a black earth, by the drawing out of its humidity; and in that blackness, the whiteness is hidden. And when the humidity is reverted upon the blackness again, and by a continued soft and gentle digestion is made fixed with its earth, then it becomes white. In this whiteness, the redness is hidden; and when it is decocted and digested by augmentation and continuance of the fire, that earth is changed into redness, as we shall hereafter teach.

Now let us return to the black matter in its vessel, continually closed. Let this vessel I say, stand continually in the moist fire, till such time as the white colour appears, like to a white moist salt. The colour is called by the philosophers arsenic, and sal armoniac

Phares saith, seeing the whiteness appearing above in the vessel, you may be certain, that in the whiteness, the redness lies hid; but before it becomes white, you will find many colours to appear. 

decoct the male and the (female or) vapour together, until such time as they shall become one dry body; for except they be dry, the divers or various colours will not appear. --- For it will ever be black, whilst that humidity or moisture has the dominion; but if that be once wasted, then it emits divers colours, after many and several ways.

And many times it shall be changed from colour to colour, till such times as it comes to the fixed whiteness. Synon saith, all the colours of the world will appear in it when the black humidity is dried up. But value none of these colours, for they be not the true tincture: yea, many times it becomes citrine and reddish, and many times it is dried, and becomes liquid again, before the whiteness will appear.

Astanus saith, between the white and the red appear all colours, even to the utmost imagination. --- For the varieties of which the philosophers have given various names, and almost innumerable; some for obscuring it, some for envy’s sake. The cause of the appearance of such variety of colours in the operation of your medicine, is from the extension of the blackness; for as much as blackness and whiteness be the extreme colours, all the other colours are but means between them. Therefore as often as any degree or portion of blackness descends, so often another and another colour appears, until it comes to whiteness.

if between the blackness and the whiteness, there should appear the red or citrine colour, you are not to look upon it or esteem it, for it is not fixed, but will vanish away. There cannot indeed be any perfect and fixed redness, without it be first white. Wherefore saith Rhasis, no man can come from the fist to the third, but by the second. From whence it is evident, that whiteness must always be first looked for, after the blackness, and before the redness; for as much as it is the complement of the whole work. Then after this whiteness appears, it shall not be changed into any true or stable colour, but into the red, Thus we have taught you to make the white; it now remains that we elucidate the red.

The matters then of the white and red, among themselves, differ not in respect to their essence; but for the red elixir needs more subtilization, and longer digestion, and a hotter fire in the course of the operation, than the white, because the end of the white work, is the beginning of the red work; and that which is complete in the one, is to be begun in the others. --- Therefore without you make the white elixir first, make the matter become first white, you can never come to the red elixir, that which is indeed the true red

The medicine for the red ought to be put into our moist fire, until the white colour aforesaid appear, afterwards take out the vessel from the fire, and put it into another pot with sifted ashes made most with water, to about half full, in which let it stand up in the middle thereof, making under the earthen pot a temperate dry fire, and that continually. But the heat of this dry fire ought to be double at the least, to what it was before, or than the heat of the moist fire, by the help of this heat, the white medicine receiveth the admirable tincture of the redness.

You cannot err if you continue the dry fire. Therefore Rhasis saith, with a dry fire, and a dry calcinations, decoct the dry matter, till such time as it becomes in colour, like to vermilion or cinnabar. To the which you shall not afterwards put to complete it, either water, or oil, or vinegar; the more red it is, the more worth it is, and the more decocted it is, the more red it is. Therefore that which is more decocted, is the more precious and valuable.

Therefore you must burn it without fear in a dry fire, until such time as it is clothed with a most glorious red, or a pure vermilion colour. For which cause Epitus the philosopher saith, decoct the white in a red hot furnace, until such time as it be clothed with a purple glory. Do not cease, though the redness be somewhat long, before it appears. For as I have said, the fire being augmented, the first colour of whiteness will change into red. Also when the citrine shall first appear, among those colours, yet that colour is not fixed. But not long after it, the red colour shall begin to appear, which ascending to the height, your work will indeed be complete. As Hermes saith in Turba, between the whiteness and the redness, one colour only appears, to wit, citrine, but it changes from the less to the more. Maria also saith, when you have the true white, then follows the false and citrine colour; and at last the perfect redness itself. This is the glory and the beauty of the whole world.



Our medicine, or elixir, is multiplied after a two-fold manner, viz.,
1. By dissolution,
2. By fermentation.

1.By dissolution, it is augmented in two manner of ways,
first, by a greater or more intense heat;
secondly, by dew, or the heat of the balneum roris.

The dissolution of heat is, that you take the medicine put into a glazen vessel, or boil or decoct it in our moist fire for seven days or more, until the medicine be dissolved into water, which will be without much trouble.

The dissolution by dew, or balneum roris, is, that you take the glass vessel with the medicine in it, and hang it in a brazen or copper pot, with a narrow mouth, in which there must be water boiling, the mouth of the vessel being in the mean season shut, that the ascending vapours of the boiling water may dissolve the medicine. But note, that the boiling water ought not to touch the glass vessel, which contains the medicine, by three or four inches, and this dissolution possibly may be done in two or three days.

After the medicine is dissolved, take it from the fire, and let it cool, to be fixed, to be congealed, and to be made hard or dried; and so let it be dissolved many times; for so much the oftener it is dissolved, so much the more strong, and the more perfect it shall be. Therefore Bonellus saith, when the aes, brass, or laten is burned, and this burning many times reiterated, it is made better than it was; and this solution is the subtilization of the medicine, and the sublimation of the virtues thereof. So that the oftener it is sublimed and made subtil, so much the more virtue it shall receive; and te more penetrative shall the tincture be made, and more plentiful in quantity; and the more perfect it is, the more it shall transmute. In the fourth distillation then, it shall receive such a virtue and tincture, that one part shall be able to transmute a thousand parts of the cleansed metal into fine gold or silver, better than that which is generated in the mines. Therefore saith Rhasis, the goodness or excellency of the dissolution and fixation of the perfect medicine. For so much the oftener the work is reiterated, so much the more fruitful it will be, and so much the more augmented. So much the oftener you sublime it, so much the more you increase it; for every time it is augmented in virtue, and power, and tincture, one more to be cast upon a thousand; at a second time upon ten thousand; at a third time upon one hundred thousand; at the fourth time upon a million. And thus you may increase its power by the number of reiterations, till it is almost infinite. Therefore saith Mercedes the philosopher, know for certain, that the oftener the matter or stone is dissolved and congealed, the more absolutely and perfectly the spirit and soul are conjoined and retained. And for this cause, every time the tincture is multiplied, after a most admirable and inconceivable manner.

2.Our medicine is multiplied by fermentation; and the ferment for the white is pure luna, the ferment for the red is pure fine sol.

Now cast one part of the medicine upon twenty parts of the ferment, and all shall become medicine, elixir, or tincture; put it on the fire in a glass vessel, and seal it so that no air can go in or out, dissolve and subtilize it, as oft as you please, even as you did for making of the first medicine. And one part of this second medicine, shall have as much virtue and power, as ten parts of the former.

Rhasisalso said you must now mix it with argent vive, white and red, after their kind; and be so chained that it flies not away. Wherefore we command argent vive to be mixed with argent vive, until one clear water be made of two argent vives compounded together, But you must not make the mixture of them, till each of them apart or separately be dissolved into water: and in the conjunction of them, put a little of the matter upon much of the body, viz., first upon four; and it shall become in a short time a fine powder, whose tincture shall be white or red, This powder is the true and perfect elixir or tincture, and the elixir or tincture, it is truly a simple powder.

Egidius also saith, to solution put solution, and in dissolution put dessication, viz., make it dry, putting all together to the fire. Keep entire the fume or vapour, and take heed that nothing thereof fly out from it. Tarry by the vessel and behold the wonders, how it changes from colour to colour, in less space than an hour’s time, till such time as it comes to the signs of whiteness or redness. For it melts quickly in the fire, and congeals in the air. When the fume or vapour feels the force of the fire, the fire will penetrate into the body, and the spirit will become fixed, and the matter made dry, becoming a body fixed and clear or pure whether white or red. This powder is the compleat and perfect elixir or tincture; now you may separate or take it from the fire, and let it cool.

And first, part from it projected upon 1000 parts of any metalline body, transmutes it into fine gold or silver, according as your elixir or tincture is for the red or the white.

From what has been said, it is manifest and evident, that if you do not congeal argent vive, making it to bear and endure the fire, and then conjoining it with pure silver, you shall never attain to the whiteness. And if you make not argent vive red, and so as it may endure the greatest fire, and then conjoin it with pure fine gold, you shall never attain to the redness. And by dissolution, viz., by fermentation, your medicine, elixir, or tincture, may be multiplied infinitely.

The philosophers therefore made three proportions, divers manners of ways, but the best proportion is this: let one part be cast upon an hundred parts of mercury, cleansed from all its impurities; and it will all become medicine, or elixir; and this is the second medicine: which projected upon a thousand parts, converts it all into good sol, or luna. Cast one part of this second medicine upon an hundred of mercury prepared, and it will all become medicine, and this is the third medicine, or elixir of the third degree, which will project upon ten thousand parts of another body, and transmute it wholly into fine sol or luna. Again, every part of this third medicine being cast upon an hundred parts of prepared mercury, it will all become medicine of the fourth degree, and it will transmute ten hundred thousand times its own quantity of another metal into fine sol or luna, according as your fermentation was made. Now these second, third, and fourth medicines may be so often dissolved, sublimed, and subtilizated, till they receive far greater virtues and powers, and may after the same manner be multiplied infinitely.