Philalethes - A Breviary of Alchemy or a Comentary upon Sir George Ripley's Recapitulation, being a Paraphrastical Epitome of his XII Gates

Stanza I. Position I.
That the Art is most certainly true.
Which wittily conceiv’d, thou mayest not Work in vain. Whence observe the Truth and Certainty of the Art; so Father Hermes, it is true (saith he,) without falshood, certain, and most true, That which is above, is like that which is beneath; and that which is beneath, is like that which is above, to bring about the Miracles of one thing. So Trevisan, Flammel, Dionys, Zachary, and others, affirm upon their own Experience: And so this our Author in his Epistle to King Edward; his Conclusion of the Admonition concerning erroneous Experiments, and other places of these his Twelve Gates, that I need not enlarge on this Subject.

Stanza II. Position II.
Our Work is made of Three Principles.
Where the Red Man and the White Woman are made one, &c. Thence it is evident, that our Operations are made of Three Principles, yet of one Essence; the Red Man, the White Wife, and the Spirit of Life: By the latter, the two former are Espoused or made One. This is that which Trevisan calls his One Root, and Two Mercurial Substances, crude at their taking, and extracted out of their Minera’s: This our Author else-where calls his Trinity and Unity; the Trinity respecting the Substances as they are severall; the Unity respecting their Essence, which is intirely Homogenial; Therefore it is added, that they live in love and rest without repugnancy, which could not be were they not Essentially and Radically the same; For likeness of Nature is the Cause of Love, and Oneness of Essence the true ground of Union; among different Substances can only be expected Confusion, if not Destruction.

Position III.
Three Substance make only Two Natures, Earth and Water.
Earth and Water equally proportion’d, that is best. Here it is evident, that these Three Substances make up but Two Natures of Earth and Water: The Man and Wife are both Bodies or Earths; the one fixed and ripe; the other Volatile and unripe, and b Mixture make a brittle black Hermaphroditical Body or Earth called the Philosophers Lead, as Ripley in his Preface expresseth it. The White Woman, or Female, is otherwise called the Moon by all Philosophers; and by this Author in his Doctrine of Proportions; One of the Sun, and Two of the Moon, till altogether like Pap be done.

Position IV.
From equal Pondus of Earth and Water, Three of Water to One of the earth is good, but equal is best.
Then make the Mercury Four to the Sun, Two to the Moon, &c. as it should be in Figure of the Trinity. And so we come to take notice of the Doctrine of Proportion between the Earth and water, equal that is best; the same saith our Author in his Chapter of Calcination. This is the surest and best proportion, speaking of equal Pondus of Earth and Water; and gives the Reason, because Solution will be sooner made, viz.

The more thy Earth, the less thy Water be, The sooner and better Solution shalt thou see.
And here he affirms the same of Calcination, which goes before Solution. Yet Three of the Water to One of the Earth, will do well, lest the Tincture should not have room to be sufficiently dilated in the Water, and the Body opened by it; and this is the Pondus of Roger Bacon, which requires a longer time before the quick be kil’d; and by consequence, the reviving of the dead must be longer in doings; For Calcination is nothing else, but a killing the moist with the dry; till which be done, there is no reviving of the dry by the moist, but they have one and the same Operation and Period of time; for one dies not, but the other revives: nor doth the Dragon die, but with its Sister.

Position V.
The White Wife in the first Conjunction is to be Three to One of the Red Man.
Three of the Wise, and one of the man thou take, &c. From the Pondus between the Earth and Water, come we to view the Proportion between the Man and his Wife; here the Pondus is laid down Three to One, and so there are Four parts of Earth to Four of Water, or more, until Twelve; that is, Three of Water to One of the Earth. This also is clear from the Chapter of Conjunction, where the Woman is allow’d 15 Veins to 5 of the Man, as to the Act of their Foecundity, which is interpreted of the first Conjunction by himself, that the Man must have but 3 of Water, and his Wife 9, which is 12 of Water to 4 of the Earth; by which it is evident, that the Woman is to exceed her Husband in a three-fold Proportion.

Or Two to one after Reymund: Or Four to one according to Alanus; but Three to One is best.
However, in Reymund’s Doctrine of Proportions cited by our Author in his Gate of Calcination, One of the Sun is joyn’d with Two of the Moon, which make Three of the Body; and to these are added Four of Mercury, which is One more of the Spiritual than of the Corporal part; and this the Author compares to Trinity and Unity, both are good, Yea, and Alanus prescribes Four parts to One, which may be done, but Three to One is best and equal Pondus of Spirit and Life, for compleating of the marriage between this Royal Pair, the Sun the Husband, and the Moon the Wife; Of this speaks this Author in his Gate of Solution; One in Gender they be, but in Number not so; The Father is the Sun, and the Moon the Mother, the Mover is Mercury.
This Compound according to its various Considerations, hath many Relations, and as many Denominations; Sun and Moon, Man and Wife, Body, Soul and Spirit, Earth and  Water, Sister and Brother, Mother and Son, with many others; but its Proper Name is Magnesia.

Quest. What is the Red Man? What his White Wife? What is the Spirit of Life?
It may be questioned here what this Red Man is? What his White Wife? And what the Spirit of Life? For that is the only knot in understanding the Writings of Philosophers, whose various Expressions, and seeming Contradictions herein, do obscure the Art wonderfully: Yet however they seem to differ in their Writings, they mean all one thing, if well or rightly understood.

Answer 1st. What the Red Man is?
The Red Man betokens the perfect Body of the Sun, or his Shadow the Moon; For Lune the Body, which is one of the Seven, is a Male, and a perfect Body, and fixed, only wants a little Digestion; and therefore the Red is hid under its visible White, as White is hid under the visible Red of Sol: Therefore our Author in his Work of Albification, saith, that the Sun appeareth White and Bright: And Trevisan saith, our King, who is cloathed in Garments of pure Gold, after he is once in the Bath, appears no more till after one hundred and thirty days; and then he appears White, and wonderfully bright and sining. And an old Philosopher saith, Honour our King at his return from the east in Glory and admirable bright whiteness. Therefore saith Artefius, Our Water is of kin to the perfect Bodies, to the Sun, and to the moon; but more to the Sun then to the Moon; (Note this well.) And in all his Books he joyns the Sun and Moon the perfect Bodies Gold and Silver for the work. So doth Ripley, and so all Philosophers, by which it is evident, that either of the perfect Metals or Luminaries with our Aqua Vitae, will compleat the work; as Arnold expressly saith in his Questions & Answers to Boniface; and Jodocus Greverus in his Treatise, confirms the same in these words; If so be (saith he) thou be so poor that thou canst not take Gold, then take so much Silver; yet Gold is the better, as being nearer of kin to our Water and Mercury.
Answer 2. What is the White Wife?
Secondly, The White Wife, otherwise called the Moon, is a Female; it is a Coagulated Mercury, but not fixt: A spiritual Body, flexible in nature of a Body, yet Volatile, in nature of a Spirit; it is called therefore Mercury of the Philosophers; Our Green Lyon; Our immature or unripe Gold: It is Pontanus’s Fire, Artephius’s middle substance, clear like pure Silver, which ought to receive the Tinctures of the Sun and moon, his sharp Vinegar, his Antimonial-Saturnine-Mercurial Argent Vive, without which Laton cannot be whitened; of which an old Philosopher saith, whiten the red Laton, by a white, tepid, and suffocated Water; of which testimony Trevisanus affirms, that nothing could be said better or clearer. This is that which is intimated in the Vision of Arislaus, who found a People that were Married, yet had no Children, because they married two Males together: Such are they who mix Sol and Lune, both Corporal and fixt together, whom the Spirit will never revive, because there is not conjugal Love. Joyn therefore Gabritius to is beloved Sister Beya, which is a tender Damsel, and straight-way Gabritius will die; that is, will lose what he was; and from that place where he appeared to have lost what he was, s shall appear what he was not before.

Answ. 3. What is the Spirit of Life?
Thirdly, The Spirit of Life is Mercury; the Mover saith this Author is Mercury, with which the Stone is to be multiplied when it is made: And it must be true Mineral Mercury, without any foreign mixture, as Arnold resolves expressly in his Answer to Boniface: And so Ripley saith, some can multiply Mercury with Saturn, and other substances, which we desire; Distill it therefore till it be clean, &c. It moreover must have all the proportions of Mercury its ponderosity, otherwise it could not be Metalline; its Humidity, otherwise the Feminine Sperm would be deficient, and it siccity, not to wet the hand; which it can no sooner lose by Corrosives or otherwise; but it straightway loseth its first Mineral Proportion, and so is no longer an Ingredient of our true Tincture.

Position VI.
As the West Latitude is the entrance, so in the North is the first alteration.
Proceed then forth to the North by obscuration, &c. Loosing them, and altering them, &c. The Materials being found, and mixt according to the Proportions taught before, is called the West Latitude; because in it the Sun sets, and afterwards appears no more in his Red Robes, till he first be cloathed with a White glittering Robe, and be Crowned with a very bright Oriental Diadem. Now the progress into the North, is a discovery of the Profundity of the Stone, and is compared to the Winter, which is in the North, (chiefly) long, tedious, cold and slobbery; so will it be in this Work; the Signs are Capricorn, Pisces, and Aquarius; In this there is a retrogradation of Sol into its first matter, in which alteration the old Form dies, the Matter rots and putrifies; and is after renewed in the East.

This Operation (saith Flammel) is not perfected in less then Five Months; and the Colours of the Compound are dark, obscure, waterish, and a length black like Pitch; in which blackness the Body is rotted into Atoms; which intire blackness, and height of corruption last but 2 or 3 days; and therefore saith Ripley in his Epistle, the third day he shall arise; the same saith Dastin in his Rosary, where he allows four days for Putrefaction: The same saith Efferarius the Monk in his intire Treatise published with Dastin; However, the whole time of blackness, in coming, continuing, and going away, is 150 days, although the Sun begins to appear in 130 days, if you work aright. This I have added for the sake of many who expect black of the blackest in 40 or 50 days, mistaking Flammel herein; who saith, the colour must be black of the blackest, and like to the colour of the Dragons in 40 days, which Dragons were blackish, blewish, and yellowish, which colours shew that the Matter begins to rot into Atoms; which rottenness is not perfected in less than 150 days. (so as to let the Sun appear in its Rays;) First in a small Circle of Heir of a whitish Citrine; which increaseth, and changeth hue day by day, till whiteness be fully completed.

Position VII.
The East denoting Whiteness, is the beginning of the Stones Altitude.
Thence by Colours many into the East ascend, &c. In the Work are three Dimensions; Altitude, Latitude, and Profundity: The Altitude is the Perfection of the Bodies which is Inchoate in Whiteness, and compleat in Redness. The Profundity is the first Matter into which they are resolved; For Multiplication and the Latitude is the means through which it passeth from its Perfection to be abased; and from its abasement to its Glorification.

In this passage are infinite gay colours like unto those as appeared before Blackness, but more glorious; For note, the Stone hath but three colours, Black, White and Red: in the first when completed, it stays three, or four days at most; in the second as long; in the last it reposeth it self for ever, between these Periods as the Matter is moister or dryer, purer or impurer, many intermediate colours appear, more than can be numbered; But Two, (viz.) Green and Yellow, are of long continuance, before White and the Red: But many colours appear between the beginning of that Work, and the first colour of Blackness: And although several colours appear, yet are they dark, foggy, and foul coloured; by which it appears, that Blackness is the predominant, which for a space will appear like the Aegyptian darkness, and is much about the same continuance: so between Blackness and the White, although infinite colours appear; yet the Basis of them being Whiteness, they are bright, and very glorious, which being only transient, pass, and go, and others come in their place, until the White be perfected.

Position VIII.
The South or Redness is the complement of this mastery.
Of this course in the South the Sun maketh Consummation. After the White, the Fire being continued, the Compound will become Azure, Gray, and then Citrine, which will last a long time; and at last end in a bloody Redness.

Position IX.
He that supposeth his Work ended when the Stone is brought to its redness, is mistaken.
But yet again Two times turn about thy Wheel, &c. The Stone being by constant and long Decoction brought to this pass; he who thinketh the race quite run, reckons without his Host, and must reckon again: It is Medicine of the first Order, and must be brought to the third Order by Imbibitions and Cibation, which is a second turning round the Wheel; and by Fermentation, which is a third running round the Wheel, and brings the Medicine to the third Order, and makes it then fit for Projection, which at first it is not; For till the medicine flow like Wax, it cannot enter Mercury before its flight; but the Powder as it is made at first, is like Grains or Atoms, and is congealed in a far greater heat, then will make it to fume, yet it abides in its form of Dust or Powder, which must be otherwise before it be fitted for Projection; therefore the Stone tingeth Mercury into a Metalline Mass in the twinkling of an eye, as our Author saith in his Preface, even as the Basilisk kills by sight: But the Red Sulphur converteth Mercury by a digestion of time into its own Nature, (viz.) Powder, if it be joyn’d in a due proportion, and digested in a due heat: Therefore saith our Author, if you give it too much, it must have a Vomit, or it will be sick too long, but the Stone will never part with any Mercury that is joined to it in heat; our Sulphur then is a Royal infant, which doth both hunger and thirst; and if you can but be a Nurse to it as you ought, it will repay both your pains and cost: Leave not then where you should begin; but go on till you bring it to the third Order, which Raymond calls his Oyls and Unguents; and so our Author likewise.

Three Properties there are in which the White and Red Sulphurs of the first Order, differ from those of the third Order.

One flows as easily as any Wax in heat, or on a hot Metal: the other in a strong heat abides a Powder.

The one is like to glass, brittle, ponderous and shining; the other a powder like to Atoms.

The one enters Mercury like an Oyl, and Coagulates it in an instant: the other drinks up Mercury only, as the Calx of a Metal would do, but will not retain it, if the Fire be increased strong, nor turn it into Metal; but if the heat and proportion be both as they ought, by a digestion of Time, it turns it into its own Nature: And so, (as Ripley saith truly,) you may Multiply both White and Red with Mercury; That if at first you had not enough to fill a spoon, yet in short time you may be stored for your whole life, were it ten times as long as it is like to be.

Position X.
Our Stone must have a Specification to Metals before it will Project.
Our Red Man teyneth not until he teyned be, &c. Our Red Man or King must be teyned by Ferment, before it will tinge imperfect metals: the Ferments are only Sol and Luna, the Proportion a fourth part to the Compound let the Sulphurs be, and three parts of Sol or Luna according as the Sulphur is: or four parts Sol and Luna, and the Sulphur a fifth part; then with Mercury digest and putrifie your Ferment, and congeal it, and again Ferment it, till it flow like Wax or Oyl; then will that Oyl fix Mercury, and turn any Metal into perfection; which you may then Multiply at your pleasure, or you may multiply it before Fermentation: Then take the perfect Stone for your Body, and mix him with the White Wife in proportion as at first, and add the Spirit of Life, as at first, and digest it till it pass the three colours, Black, White, and Red.

Thus doth our Author conclude his Erroneous Experiments also: I never saw true work but one, saith he. One he did, but it was after infinite Errours, and other work no Philosopher ever yet saw, which he briefly describes.

Remember Man the most Noble Creature, &c. that is Gold; It is an errour to write it, (Remember that Man is the most Noble Creature of Earthly Composition;) For Man is not of Earthly Composition, but Stones, Metals, and Clays, &c. are. Now because we seek the Noblest of Creatures of Earthly Composition, we must be so wise as to take it for our Principle: For as he saith elsewhere; as Fire of burning the Principle is, so the Principle of Gilding is Gold I wis. In this noblest Creature he saith, are the four Elements proportioned by nature, which makes it incombustible, for were any predominant, it would not abide; but as Trevisan saith, the Anatical proportioning the elements in a metalline matter, is the very form of Gold: or that rather which gives it its form. He adds a natural Mercuriality, which costeth right nought; that is a pure, sincere Mineral Water: without adulteration, not Artifical out of Saturn, Jupiter, &c. But natural not a dear Mercury: but that which is common and cheap. He adds one of his Minera’s by Art is brought, that is our green Lyon, for with our first Menstrue, we Calcine only perfect bodies; but none which are unclean, except one, which is usually call’d by Pilosophers the Lyon-Green, into this the clearness of the Sun or of the Moon, secretly descends: that is, by this the Mercuriality, or profundity of the Sun and Moon are manifested by exuberation, but is hidden from sight a long time; till after putrefaction, it exuberates and appears openly, bleeding and changing colours, and at first being cloathed in a glorious Green: of which saith the Rosary, O happy Greenness, without which nothing can spring? This exuberate-Mercury is our hidden Stone, that is, Potentially, for when that appears; repugnant natures are tyed to unity, that is our Green-Lyon, or Minera, or vegetable humidity, or Mercuriality natural, which costeth right naught, or our first Menstrue, and the noblest Creature of Earthly composition, which is either the Sun, or Moon, but especially the Sun: In each of which the Mercuriality is invisible, and appears not to sight; but by effect, that is, in the quality of clearness, with Whiteness in one, and with redness in the other, these three being United, the Mercury of the Sun exuberates and appears at first green, then is the Eclipse near, and the Northern progress, the process after all this is short; this one thing putrifies, then wash hi in his own broth, till he become White, then Ferment him wisely; there is the beginning, middle and end. Glory be to God.