Marsilius Ficinus - Liber de Arte Chemica


Now let us descend to the praxis, which we will divide into two works. In the first mention shall be made of the first solution, and of separation and distillation. In the second we will treat of conjunction and fixation, where consideration will be had of the most secret augmentation, which you will find in no book in the world. But here I have a mind to bring in the degrees of all the work wholly. For first we compound, the compound we putrefy, the putrefied we dissolve, the dissolved we divide, the divided we cleanse, the cleansed we unite, and so the work is accomplished.

Some also of the more modern have thought, that solution may be made in a shorter time if a long pounding or grinding of the gold by itself were first made by a certain mill or in a mortar. First therefore let the copper be purified with common salt prepared or with any other fitting thing, that its most subtle substance may be had. Let some parts of this purified water be mixed very well with one part of the most fine Gold, reduce into leaves or thin spangles, and let them be put in a long glass with a hollow belly, stopped with little pieces of cloth, and with the sign of the cross, and let the glass be covered with ashes, up to the superficies of the water, and let a very small heat be given, that the matter may not seem to ascend, but remain live with the gold, and let that equally balance heat be kept so long a while, until in the water of mercury there out upon it a certain vaporous and subtle earth, which in a wonderful colour is wont to be known when it is to be extracted.

The copper being at length extracted, you shall distill the water, in which there is the soul of gold or the metallic mercury of gold, with a slow heat, so that three core minutes may be counted between drop and drop. And that distilled water is called, our living water, which enlivens all bodies, and is composed of two natures: understand spirit, soul, and ferment, because the spirit is the seat of the soul, and its retaining bond. And this water is called by many names, the most sharp vinegar, lune, the woman's sperm, or the feminine menstruum, heaven, mercury, the hair of the red man, that is, the spirit of Sol, that is of gold: But the Sulfur is called the body, the male Sol, the male sperm, earth and mercury.


We ought therefore to join two waters, the Sulphur of Gold, and the soul and body of its Mercury, Sol and Lune, the male and female, two sperms, heaven and earth, and two, as I may say, Argent vives, and out of which alone the philosophers say their stone is made; which pitiful fellows mistake for crude mercury. But that mercury is all metals, male and female, and an hermaphrodite monster in the very marriage of the soul and the body, which I call solution; and the putrefaction of the philosophers. The earth of gold is dissolved by its own spirit, which you shall discover in these proportions. The body must be dissolved in the subtlest middle air: The body is also dissolved by its own heat and humidity; where the soul, the middle nature holds the principality in the colour of blackness all in the glass: which blackness of Nature the ancient Philosophers called the crows head, or the black sun.


Of the augmentation it self of the stone, both of the ancients and the modern Philosophers: and it is concluded that there is but one day and one night. Again seven days from the seven lords of the world.
It now pleases me, O son of wisdom, to bring that physical pinnacle into the happy work. Then move the oars, spread the sails abroad, give a swift and prosperous wind, the safe haven is to be looked for. After our stone is made white, we call it our begotten son: though now a child it is a perfect man, consisting of a body and soul; yet it is not able to get another progeny, unless it be first bred up with a nourishment of its own nature, until it arrives at an age mature for generation. We have received from these ancient philosophers, who operated in Nature only, that their living water was divided into two parts. Who when they had with one part of the water attained to the fixed whiteness, they rubefied it with the other part of the water which was reserved, or perhaps with fire alone. Others in the red stone, because it hath ascended to the highest degree, and cannot be increased by itself, have begun again those works, which they accomplished before, dissolving that redness with the other part of the water, which they had reserved, they again reduced it into the first essence, as I may say. And they worked almost in all things as from the beginning, but truly with a greater industry both of the fire and of the labours: and I believe this repetition to be the truer and the greater augmentation.

Wherefore also the first philosophers used a longer time in finishing the stone. Which their successors and posterity used to end in the course of a year, so that they augmented the white stone (by which they would tinge into silver) with a lunar sperm throughout the whole, or by adding to it other spirits, namely white ones drawn out of tin, and lead by sublimation. Moreover they rubified the white stone with the solar sperm, or other reddish spirits out of iron and copper. And this you may judge was done not amiss, since those inferior bodies have much tincture in them. If so be you should take what is the more perfect out of those bodies and should add it to the more perfect body, what doubt is there that the whole would be made perfect? And such like inferior bodies are called spirits when we say: Dissolve the body, that is the stone already made, and join the spirits. They are also called children when we say: children play with the stone, when they make it greater in weight and virtue. Whence also we in other works know the urine of children of four years old to be the water of the four inferior bodies; which since it is called the aqua fortis of the Philosophers, is said to dissolve gold: out of which things we do not deny but that a certain stone is made.

The mineral stone we distinguish in three ways. The stone of the Philosophers is made out of gold alone and Nature alone; and that is the more sublime; which is by the philosophers reported to cure all sicknesses. The second is the simple stone, when the root only, and the sulfur of gold or silver is in the end augmented by the spirits of the inferior bodies. Where these weights set down in the lesser Turba are discussed: One to three, or two to seven, wanting only a golden or a silver sulphur.

The three red spirits are reduced to the golden, the three white ones to the Silver sulphur. Now there are two sulphurs and seven spirits out of which the number nine proceeds and is made up: Concerning which most men have even unto this day, made foolish comments. We say that the sulphurs of all the metals with their spirits make up the third stone. It is by the most prudent in philosophy thus determined that the stone can tinge innumerable parts. That every spirit is multipliable, but no body. And since our stone is made extremely volatile, and as I may say, spiritual and all fiery, and nourished in the fire by a long decoction, and very often repeated by very many solutions and coagulations, why may you not believe that that stone can tinge innumerable parts? If you with judgement do inwardly apprehend the way of Nature and her admirable properties. The more often you shall have dissolved it into the white Sol, and again coagulated, the more it will tinge. Also the more wives a man shall have taken, the greater issue he will have.

And a certain philosopher says this: If you shall have given it tincture, it will tinge as you would have it. Which may also be seen in corn and seed, since out of one little grain many are produced, out of which often repeated, there uses to arise at length a rich crop. Nor will this be a lesser argument, if to the sun and moon first conjoined you add their children; that is, the inferior planets, and the planets are the lords of the world, who govern all this mighty mass. What should hinder it, but that the stone composed of all ye metallic things may by tinging the whole world. The same is also manifest concerning the stone out of Gold only, because Sol is the Lord of the other planets, and the rest of the planets take from him a golden lustre. From whence it may be concluded that there is but one day and one night in the whole age of the world. Again seven days from the seven planets, and those days one day; because the sun is one: the brightness of the sun, is day, which shining on you, all trouble and calamity does fly away from you.


Mix the masculine prince with Mercury in a twelfth proportion in respect of the prince. Put it to a slow fire and continue it, until the mercury dissolving the bodies there appear aloft. A Venus swimming, which extracts until nothing of the body remains in the bottom, and you have the first part of the physical work. The second part of the work is sulphur, put that in a glass without water, and by distilling the water of the body, in which there is the soul of Lune. Join this water with the sulphur, and permit a many times, one to arise sometimes with the other, sometimes to be depressed: until Venus shall have conceived her water, which is done in a most white color, and you have the elixir to the white. The third part of the work is: You shall make citrine with a strong fire, the most white, earth which you have obtained: afterward you shall rubify it by the force of fire, and it is the elixir to the red.

Of another way of working: Still I have a mind to contain in short, and with admirable art that divine knowledge. Dissolve the body, take the Sulphur, cleanse it, sublime the spirit, join the spirit with the sulphur, and you will have the physical art. In every perfect alchemical work, though never so small, it is necessary to have the spirit and sulphur of Gold. The spirit tinges with a golden colour. The sulphur gives the weight of Gold, and coagulates. If it wanted either, the work would be nothing. Then say and speak the greatest truth, that all the secret of Nature lies hid in the Venus of the physical Gold. Wherefore it is wont to be called the coagulation; when it is said: take that coagulum from the body, and you have a magistery, than which there is not a greater in Nature. Likewise cleanse the coagulum, and destroy the impediment, and you will tinge. But because a dirty cloth, not compared to sulphur, cannot be washed without water. To wash is to dissolve, to dissolve is to purify, the water is mercury, it is the key. It alone does open the body, and whitens the sulphur, which being whitened, it recedes with uncleanliness. I would say you were admirably learned if you should be able to remove it, the uncleanliness, it is the impediment and eternal death. Wherefore it shall not go to heaven, as above in chapter 14 I have plainly demonstrated. And I say unto you by God the creator of heaven, it is one of the greatest secrets. Furthermore, the very knowledge of the stone is no other thing than the purification of the earth, or of Nature. The earth cannot be cleared from feces and purged, unless through the middle or center it shall have received the water unto itself. And this comprehends the whole art in short, if you have understood Nature.


[]the Questions put by Illardus the Necromancer to the devil, concerning the stone of the Philosophers:

In what time can the stone be brought to an end?

Twelve months are necessary from the first day of the beginning. In thirty days and earth is generated out of lead, or the nature of the earth makes lead grow. In one hundred days argent vive grows in water. In sixty days complete there grew an air out of tin complete. In the other days of the year, fire grows from gold. In the moment of the year ending, the soul, the middle nature, descends from heaven into this earth, and mortifies the superior and inferior powers. The image of a manifold victory to consume the war in the heart of the belly of them, even to the perpetual judgement of fire.