Magnificent and Select Tract on the Philosophical Water

It is first necessary for the mercury to be purified of its outer dampness and earthliness, but this must not be done with harmful and destructive things which would destroy its noble, fruitful, green and fertile nature. Avicenna, Arnoldus, Geber, Raymundus in codicillo and other philosophers state that mercury is best purified through the sublimation of commonly prepared salt. The sublimate is dried and mixed with Sal Tartari, is ground per retortam, then cut up. This must be done several times. In this way the mercurius will be rid of its outer dampness and foecibus. This purgation, says Bernhardus at the end of his epistle, does not harm the mercurius because the hot water and the salt do not penetrate it.

But you must understand my son, that while the mercurius is a uniform and inseparable substance and essence, we cannot completely purify its outer whiteness, for its earthy impurity lies hidden in its innermost depths and it cannot be separated from it by any method of sublimation, how ever many ignorant people have the audacity to suggest this. For this reason the following method must be used. The mercurium vivum purgatum must be freed from the bonds with which Nature ties it so securely to the earth. These bonds must be loosed and it must be returned to its very first essence, namely a sulphuric, spiritual water, without the addition of any foreign bodies in the world, as Rogerius Bacon testifies to under the title ‘De Mercurio’, and as Raymundus also says in the ‘Theorica’ of his testament: Unless it is putrified in this way and dissolved, the menstruum will not be worth a fig. But when the living mercury, purified of all foreign bodies, has been freed of its bonds, and returned to its original water, then we can purify it inwardly and separate the spiritum from the water and its earthliness by distillation.

The philosophers have spoken in secret words about the separation, in a way that a hard-headed man would not easily understand. They have written of it mysteriously and in a figurative manner in their description of the distillation of wine that the spirit of wine is mixed with a great deal of water and worldy earthiness. But the dry spiritum, or spirit of wine, can be separated from all phlegmatic moisture and worldy earthliness by artificial distillation. In other words, the whole spiritum is separated from the water o the wine, and the water from the earth. And so the yeast, through whose calcinations its own white salt is extracted, remains. This is married again with the spiritu and distilled again several times until all the sal nitri has then gone into the lid of the distilling vessel with the spiritu. In this way the power of the spiritus is greatly strengthened and heightened by the sal. Truly, the philosophers have given us a remarkable figurative description, which we should also follow in the description of the water of mercury.

For when the latter has been dissolved, we should do exactly as was done to the wine: By the sublimation of the water (or phlegma) from the spiritu, the spiritum is separated from the earth, the earth is rectified and married again to the spiritu, and they are distilled again and again until both substances are to be found in the lid of the distilling vessel.

Of all the philosophers, none has written better and more clearly on this subject than Raymundus Lullius, in his ‘Testamento Novissimo’ and also in his first testament ‘In Libro Mercuriorum, libro Q. Essentia’ in which he explains clearly and at length that after the putrefaction, separation and distillation of the philosophical spirit of wine, the spiritual water is mixed and distilled again with its earth, and they are both put over the alembic together. He also explains that this philosophical wine or mentruum is heightened and strengthened with its own salt. And also you must also understand that this water, menstruum or philosophical spirit of wine dissolves its own corpus or living mercurium into the original essence or water, and is then multiplied ceaselessly through the putrefaction and the distillation. What is said of the extract of this water is confirmed by Arnoldus de Villa Nova when he says: It is a substance full of foul smelling vapours and which contains a gross moisture. From this substance the artist separates the philosophical moisture which is easy to work with and which is as clear as tears. The Q. Essentia lives in is metallic form in this substance. It causes no discomfort to the metals, and the tincture of the whole metal can be gathered in it. For it contains Nature’s Argenti Vivi, and the nature of sulphuris.

On the subject of the distillation of this menstruum or water ‘Rosarius Philosophorum’ says that you should take great care that the dishes in which you wish to purify your spirit are made of glass, so that the spirit can find no place to escape through, for it often slips quickly through the holes in dishes. And once the red spirit has escaped all the artist’s work is in vain. The red spirit is what the philosophers call blood and menstruum. So take care with your dishes and with any cracks in your dishes, so that you can catch the dry spirit with its blood in a receptable, without letting its power escape. Store it carefully until you begin to work on it. But seeing the distillation is more important than reading about it, and none can become a Master without having first been a pupil. For this reason take great care over your work. Using a receptacle distill the element at first over a gentle fire, and when it has been distilled off, put it aside and replace it with another receptacle. Make sure all the cracks are tightly sealed so that the spirit cannot escape. Make the fire a little stronger. A dry yellow spiritus will rise into the lid of the distilling vessel. Keep the fire burning steadily for as long as the spirit is yellow. Then, when the alembic begins to turn red, make the fire a little stronger, and keep it at this temperature until the red spirit and the blood have been completely distilled off and are floating in the lid of the distilling vessel like clouds in the sky. As soon as the red spirit is distilled off, the lid will turn white. Stop as soon as this happens. You now have the two elements air and water in the receptacle, and you have separated the right matter.

    As you will see, you now have the primam materiam metallorum in which corpora can be reduced. []But, my son, the greatest secret of all is how to free the stone or mercurium vivum from the natural bonds with which it is bound to the laws of Nature, that is, how to dissolve it and return it to its original water. For if this did not happen, all our work would be in vain, for we could not separate and extract the true spirit or liquid essence which dissolves all corpora. [] But take note, my dear son, of what I am about to tell you, and of how the philosophers have left an account for those who understand their books, namely, that this water cannot be prepared using strange methods in the world, but rather, it can only be prepared using natural means; together with Nature and from nature. These words are bright and clear to those who understand, so this time I will not explain it openly, but I will write it down in a special little tract, but as a memorial I will add here the following verses:

Take one that is fresh, pure, living, white and clear,
Tie its hands and feet well
With the strongest rope you can find
So that it dries and is choked
In the House of Putrefaction,
As Nature has shown us.
By this same harmonious Nature
It will be dissolved and it will rise to the original essence.
It is a living, spiritual spring
Which flows clearly and brightly from Heaven.
It eats its own flesh and blood
In order to multiply.

    Whoever succeeds, with God’s help, in attaining this blessed water should thank God, for he has in his hands the key which will open the closed locks of all metal chests, and can take gold, silver, precious stones, honour, power and good health. This blessed water is called the daughter of Pluto by the philosophers, it has strength and power over all reassures. It is also called the white, pure, tender and unspoiled maid of Beja and without it no birth or blending can occur. For this reason the philosophers have married this tender and pure maid to Gabrico, so that they bear fruit, and when she was joined with Gabricus, he died. Beja swallowed and consumed him in her great love, as Arisleus tells in his ‘Practica’: The spring or Fontina is like a mother to the king, for she draws him to her and kills him. But through her the king is resurrected again and he joins himself fast to her, so that no man can harm him. This is why the philosopher says that Gabricus is more precious and worthy and dear to the world than Beja, but he can bear no fruit alone.

The philosophers have called this maid and blessed water by many thousands of different names in their books. They call it heaven, a heavenly water, a heavenly rain, a heavenly thaw, a May thaw, water of Paradise, an aqua fortis and an aquam Regis, a corrosive aquafort, a sharp vinegar and liquor, also Quintam essentiam vini, a waxy green juice, waxy mercurium, green water and Leonem viridis, quicksilver, menstruum or blood. They also call it urine and horse piss, milk and virgin’s milk, water of arsenic, silver, Luna or Lunae water, woman, a female seed, a sulphuric steam and smoke, a fiery, burning spirit, a deathly all-penetrating poison, a dragon, a scorpion which eats its young, a hellish fire of horse dung, a sharp salt, sal armoniacum, a common salt, a lye, a viscous oil, the stomach of an ostrich which eats and digests all things, an eagle, a vulture and hermetic bird, a vessel and Sigillum Hermetis, a melting and calcinating oven, and innumerable other names of animals, birds, plants, waters, juices, milks and blood, etc. They have used all these names and written of it figuratively in their books. They have suggested that such a water is made of these things, with the result that all ignorant people who have searched for it in these things, have not found the desired water.