Philalethes - A Brief Guide to the Celestial Ruby

by Eirenaeus Philalethes

 Thus you see that the stone which is to
be the transformer of metals into gold must be sought in the precious
metals, in which it is enclosed and contained. It is called a stone by
virtue of its fixed nature, and it resists the action of the fire as
successfully as any stone.

In species, it is gold, more pure than the
purest; it is fixed and incombustible like a stone, but its appearance is
that of a very fine powder, impalpable to the touch, fragment as to smell,
in potency a most penetrative spirit, apparently dry, and yet unctuous, and
easily capable of tingeing a plate of metal.

"Thus you see though our stone is made of gold alone, yet it is not common
gold; the latter must be dissolved in our mineral water which does not wet
the hands; this water is mercury, extracted from the red servant, and is
capable of accomplishing our work without any further trouble. It is the
one true natural first substance, to which nothing is added, and from which
nothing is subtracted, except certain superfluities, which however it will
cast off without any aid by its own inherent vital action.

"Consider these signs, that which dissolves is spirit; that which
coagulates is body. A body cannot enter a body so as to cause dissolution,
but a spirit can enter it, attenuate, and clarify it. For every agent has a
tendency to assimilate to itself that which it acts upon, and every natural
effect is conformed to the nature of the efficient; hence water is
necessary if you would extract water from earth.

 Our mercury is in fact a pure water,
clean, clear, bright, and resplendent, worthy of all admiration.

"Our stone is produced from one thing, and four mercurial substances, of
which one is mature; the others pure but crude, two of them being extracted
in a wonderful manner from their ore by means of the third. The four are
amalgamated by the intention of a gentle fire, and there subjected to
conction day by day, until all become one by natural, and not manual

"Afterwards the fire being changed, these volatile substances should be
fixed and digested by means of heat which becomes a little more powerful
every day, (i.e., by means of fixed and incombustible sulphur of the same
genus) until the whole compound attains to the same essence, fixity and

"There are many degrees or phases of this our process, which I may describe
as follows.

The first is calcination. Calcination is the first purgation of
the stone, the drying up of its humours, through its natural heat, which is
stirred into vital action by the eternal heat of water, whereby the
compound is converted into a black powder, which is yet unctuous and
retains its radical humour. This calcination is performed for the purpose
of rendering the substance viscous, spongy, and more especially
penetratable; for gold in itself is highly fixed, and difficult of solution
even in our water, but through this calcination, it becomes soft and white,
and we observe it in its two natures, the fixed and the volatile, which we
liken to two serpents. In order that a full dissolution may be made, there
is need of contrition, that the calcination may afterwards produce a
viscous state, when it will be fit for dissolution.

" When the substances are first mixed, they are at enmity with each other,
by reason of their contrary qualities, for there is the heat and dryness of
the sulphur fiercely contending with the cold .and moisture of the mercury.

They can only be reconciled in a medium which partakes of both natures, and
the medium in which heat and cold are reconciled is dryness which can
co-exist with both. Thus cold and heat are brought to dwell peaceably
together in the dryness of the earth, and the dryness and the moisture in
the coldness of the water.

"Its sufficient cause is the action of the inward heat upon the moisture,
whereby everything that resists it is converted into a very fine powder;
the moving and instrumental cause is the fire contrary to nature, which
being hidden in our solvent water, battles with its moisture, and digests
it into a viscous or unctuous powder.

"Calcination then is the beginning of the work, and without it there can be
neither peaceable commixtion, nor proper union. The first dealbation
reduces the substance to its two principles, sulphur and mercury; the first
of which is fixed, while the other is volatile. They are compared to two
serpents, the fixed substance to a serpent without wings, and the volatile
substance to a serpent with wings. One serpent holds in his mouth the tail
of the other, to show that they are indissolubly conjoined by community of
birth and destiny, and that our art is accomplished by the joint working of
this mercurial sulphur, and sulphureous mercury. Hence the whole compound
is at this stage called 'Rebis', because they are two substances, but only
one essence. They are not really two, but one and the same thing."

Understand then that the alchemist takes four mercurial substances, namely
four metals, as these are all alleged to have mercury as their base, and he
reduces them to their two fundamental principles. In other words, we gather
that most important secret that the end of the first process delivers into
our hands two products made from the chaos or mixture of the four, and
these are named sulphur and mercury. Take good notice now that really we
have only one mass of matter, which may be easily divided into two, the
sulphur and the mercury.

Chapter 2. Sophic Fire

it has often been told that the whole art consists of
first cooking, and later roasting; and this fact appears quite true.

(a) The metals necessary to take in hand
Three are essential; and these are the salt, sulphur and mercury-or the
secret fire, sulphur and mercury. Gold or silver is the sulphur, mercury is
prepared from antimony and iron, or a regulus of these two. The secret fire
might be the name given to the mercury when prepared, or might be a kind of
water which acts as a catalyst. These two names are always purposely mixed
up, that is, one often being named for the other so that mistakes may be
made, but in truth they are two different things. The secret fire which
might be termed the fiery water dissolves the metals; this latter is a salt
nitrate, often termed vinegar, to be found everywhere, easily, and never
valued; yet never mentioned in any alchemical treatise by name. (A natural
product found everywhere and in everything.)

(f) The periods before changes can be expected
These are doubtful, depending upon the correct heat, the proportions used,
and other factors, but most adepts say forty-two days to the black stage,
ninety days to the white stage, and five months to the red stage which
signifies completion. Once the powder is made these times may be reduced to
a few days to make any amount more with the finished product.