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Produced by

rubaphilos Salflure
Associate Writer & Editor - Ouroboros

Issue No 3
(The Paracelsus issue) issue) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Editorial A Brief History Tria Principalis Spagyrics Hermetic Astrology The Primium Ens

copyright rubaphilos 2013

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Paracelsus: Sorcery has been called magic; but magic is wisdom, and there is no wisdom in sorcery.

Cover art:

A portrait of


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Welcome to the third issue of the hermt.

One of the first books

I bought on the subject of alchemy, in the early days of my alchemical apprenticeship, was A.E.Waites The Complete Alchemical and Hermetic Writings of Paracelsus. I had not known the book existed before my teacher introduced me to an old two volume hardback edition she had in her library. She suggested I make a habit of studying the book whenever I came to work in her lab on weekends, stating only that it was an extremely important work and that Paracelsus was a key figure in the system I was being taught. It was both a large work, as well as a complex and very serious commentary on

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Hermetism, so I could not really convince myself to be serious about reading it over the weekends I spent at my teachers lab, and decided to wait until I could buy my own copy. When my copy duly arrived I coveted it with eager interest, intent on reading the entire work until I had mastered an understanding of the teachings of Paracelsus. I remember making a number of concerted efforts to read the massive volume from cover to cover, and while I enjoyed it immensely, much of its content baffled me. True to the fashion of European literature of that period (and still today in many cases), the style of language took some getting used to, as well as the style of writing, which could often be rambling, convoluted and cryptic. Since that time the whole subject of the life and work of Paracelsus has been a constant source of fascination for me. But it wasnt really until I came across a number of books on the subject of Paracelsus written by the well-known Theosophist and esoteric author Franz Hartmann, that I really started getting some insight in to the important role Paracelsus had played in the early modern alchemical tradition. If we have taken time to really pay attention to the ongoing evolution

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of the alchemical tradition, especially in the 20 and 21st centuries, it will be noticed that references to the fact that modern alchemy is very Paracelsian, pop up frequently. For years I never really understood what, exactly, this theme actually referred to. What exactly was it about Paracelsus that made him, over and above the many other important alchemical characters, one of the key players, if not the key player, in the development of what we today recognise as modern alchemical thought and practice? It is with the intent of helping answer this question for those who might be in the same position I myself was once in, that I have chosen the subject of this third edition of the hermt to be that of an explanation of that which has placed Paracelsus on the pedestal he so rightly deserves. I will be looking at two aspects of the Paracelsus curiosity. First, a consideration of just what it is that is so important about the man and his work, and secondly, a look at how misunderstood some of his influential ideas have been on the dynamic of modern alchemical thought, and indeed on the world of modern occultism in general.

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A Brief History
Paracelsus was born and raised in the village of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. His father, Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, was a German chemist and physician; his mother was Swiss, she presumably died in his childhood. At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna. He gained his doctorate degree from the University of Ferrara in 1515 or 1516. Paracelsus journeyed widely through Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Russia), Africa and Asia Minor, working as a travelling physician and as a miner. He believed that the medicinal knowledge of his day was seriously lacking, and that many medical Doctors were incompetent, and charged large sums of money for a service which

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basically was ineffective. So he embarked on his tour of Europe, Africa and Asia Minor with the deliberate intention of finding skilled individuals from whom he could learn serious and reliable knowledge, especially in the realms of medicine, alchemy, and occultism (particularly hermetism). In this way he learned from apothecaries, miners, alchemists, astrologers, gypsies, folk medicine practitioners and occultists of all kinds. Typical with the learning of his day Paracelsus studied hermetism, and the neoplatonic and Pythagorean philosophies that were central to the Renaissance world-view. It is curious that he rejected the magic theories of Agrippa, who was a student of Johann Trithemius, under which Paracelsus himself studied. He also rejected the magical views of the famous alchemist Nicholas Flamel. Paracelsus was a pioneer of a form of medicine which we today call iatro-chemistry the use of minerals in medicine. Before Paracelsus' time this form of medicine (which is the basis of much modern medicine) was almost unheard of. Paracelsus gained a reputation for being arrogant, and that arrogance caused many respected individuals in his day to become

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very angry with him. In particular Paracelsus spoke out increasingly, and in a very radical manner, against the medical establishment, which in its turn vilified him. The kinds of claims Paracelsus made about established medical practice, and his views on the proper form medical science should take, were seen as not only outrageous, but also a great risk to the corrupt lifestyles of many physicians. Not many of his writings were published while he was alive. A large number of books have been attributed to him, and those which are most reliably considered to actually have been written by him can be found in A.EWaite's "Complete Alchemical and Hermetic Writings of Paracelsus the Great". He wrote on all manner of subjects, such as laboratory alchemy, hermetic philosophy, esoteric history, a proto-form of psychology, magic, astrology, folklore, medicine, surgery, anatomy, herbalism, physics and meta-physics. In order to discuss many of the new, or relatively unknown, knowledge which came to make up his overall philosophy and world view, Paracelsus invented a lot of new words (often technical terms), which make reading his works somewhat difficult.

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He died at the age of 48 of natural causes, and his remains were buried according to his wishes in the cemetery at the church of St Sebastian in Salzburg. His remains are now located in a tomb in the porch of the church.

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Tria Principalis
One of the key concepts that Paracelsus played a major role in making popular was the concept of the three alchemical 1 Principals . In fact he is credited with inventing the idea. I believe, though, that this is not likely, since the very same concept exists as part of the Qabala, which is probably at least 500 years older than Paracelsus philosophy. What I think Paracelsus did, though, was to adapt that idea from some other system, to alchemical philosophy, and present it in a way it had never been presented before. Before Paracelsus, when alchemists talked about the discreet units that form the basis of matter, they talked of the four Elements, and of two Principals Sulphur and Mercury. It is assumed that the third Principal, Salt,

We should note that I do not spell the term principle, as is the convention, but Principal. The difference being that the former means ideal and the latter means foremost.

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was either not known, not brought in to consideration, or kept a secret. Practical technique taken in to consideration, the last option is probably the most likely, because it would be very hard to not know that Salt plays a major role. So it was probably the ancient alchemists choice to keep the role Salt plays in the process a secret. When considering how this works we need to be aware that the theory of alchemy is firmly based on observable facts. This is the one thing that separates alchemy from all other occultism. Hermetic magic, for example, is based on mechanisms and concepts which cannot be physically observed. With alchemy, though, the theory of the process is something that can be extremely accurately defined, and passed on as repeatedly reliable knowledge. In this way we know that an alchemist who successfully understands a process today and puts it to practice, is witnessing the same events that an alchemist 2000 years ago did. So when I work a method for making the Philosophers Stone that described only two Principals, but in practice I see three Principals, I know the guy who wrote the recipe I followed saw the same thing I did.

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So what did Paracelsus say about the three Principals? In the following I will quote from his Paragranum. "All things (man included) are composed out of three substances, and all things have their number, their weight, and their measure. Health exists when the three substances constituting a thing preserve their normal proportion of quantity and quality; disease results if this proportion becomes abnormal. These three substances are called Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt. These three substances are not seen with the physical eye, but a true physician should see them nevertheless, and be able to separate them from each other. There are four important concepts in the above passage. (1) That all things are composed of these three Principals. (2) That these Principals have a definite weight and measure inside a living system. (3) That when their natural balance (proportion) is disturbed, ill health arises. (4) That these three Principals are invisible in living systems.

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This last issue is important - that the three Principals, Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, are, in their natural state, in a living system, spiritual substances or conditions. They are not physical substances. This is important because as we shall see in a moment, because these substances exist in exact measure in a living system, the alchemist is in the peculiar position of being able to calculate the proportions of these spiritual conditions in any thing. This much should be well known by an novice who is paying attention to the theory of Hermetism. "The three substances are held together

in forms by the power of life. If you take the three invisible substances and add to them the power of life, you will have three invisible substances in a visible form. The three constitute the form, and become separated only after the power of life deserts them. They are hidden by life, and joined together by life. Their combined qualities constitute the qualities of the form, and only when life

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departs their separate qualities become manifest.

Now Paracelsus speaks in more depth about these ideas. The three Principals come together to compose a living unit (a living system), when the option for life presents itself. We need to be careful not to think of life as a fourth substance. It is, properly speaking, a condition or situation that arises, and when that condition exists, the three Principals will come together, form a unit, and life is the result. The fourth state here is the unit that the three come together to form. Once that living system is established the three Principals dwell within it, invisibly, and can only be recognised externally as qualities that the system possesses. Then, of importance here, once the living system dies, only then do the Principals cluster in to three groups, and become physically recognisable. To be accurate, we need to insist that the physical substances that we call the Principals are not the Principals intrinsically, they are their physical vehicles.

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Man does not see the action of these

three substances as long as they are held together by life, but he may perceive their qualities at the time of the destruction of their form. The invisible fire is in the sulphur, the soluble element in the salt, and the volatile element in the mercury. The fire burns, the mercury produces smoke, and the salt remains in the ashes; but as long as the form is alive there is neither fire, nor ashes, nor smoke.
In the above passage Paracelsus now explains what the physical vehicles of the Principals look like when we see them, at the destruction of the living system. When life ends in a living system, from what is left (physically), the Principal of Fire is in the oil or resin which we call Sulphur. The Principal Salt is everything that is soluble in its ashes. Everything which can be distilled, gently, is the Principal Mercury. That which burns and appears fiery to

the eye is the Sulphur, it is of a volatile (spiritual) nature; that which is of a material nature is the Salt; and the

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Mercury is that which may be sublimated by the action of the fire.

There are hundreds of different kinds of

salt, sulphur, and mercury in the universe and in the human system, and the greatest arcana (potencies) are contained in them. All things are hidden in them in the same sense as a pear is hidden in a pear tree and grapes in a vine.
When we are in the process of searching for the secrets of alchemy, we need to look no further than the three Principals. As Paracelsus tells us in the above passage, the greatest arcana (medicines) are contained in them. What this tells us is that all of the most important alchemical preparations are found in the Principals of a living system, alone. Not in something that is brought to them from outside.

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One of the things I believe is important about a serious study of as involves misconceptions individuals such the that Paracelsus

have arisen around their teachings. Not only misconceptions, but also deliberate creation and proliferation of ideas that are, to be blunt, deliberate fabrications or lies. I am ever mindful, when discussing alchemy, of how hard it can be for relative newcomers to the subject. They are literally assailed by a multitude of ideas of which we know accurate information as well as entirely unreliable ideas are mixed together. One of the better methods of dealing with this confusion is to encourage productive investigation and discussion of these problems.

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When inaccurate the

considering information, recent the

the in

evolution relation that the

of to has term

alchemy, one of the ideas I often talk about is relatively around confusion of arisen definition

spagyric. This is a simple concept (that is, it is not really a big deal in itself), but it is (I believe) an excellent example of how error creeps in to the study of alchemy, and slowly becomes fact. The root of this the recent confusion about this concept is found with an individual who is well known in the alchemical community, and is considered something of an expert in the field of laboratory alchemy. Because he is seen as an expert many ideas he has discussed in public spread quickly, and eventually without reference to their source. So they become accepted, generally, One of as the authentic traditional concepts. accepted as reliable tradition and

ideas he can be credited with spreading, over the last ten years or so, is a erroneous definition of the term spagyric. In his view the term is used to describe any approach to

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laboratory alchemy, which, while containing many reliable techniques, is ultimately not real alchemy because it lacks something that allows it to provide real alchemical results. Part of this claim could be said to be true that there certainly is a level of understanding of lab alchemy that contains many accurate alchemical ideas and techniques, but ultimately does not give real alchemical results. alchemy But the problem with this individuals definition of this approach to the word

is that he insists that

spagyrics was coined as a label for this pseudo-alchemy. It has henceforth become a common turn of phrase in the last five years or more to use the word spagyric to refer to any kind of approach to alchemy that doesnt produce alchemical results, (or alternatively to use the term as a definition for plant alchemy), specifically. So let us have a look at what Paracelsus, the inventor of the term spagyrics, himself, said about the word. It is believed that the word spagyric was first coined the by Paracelsus, and there is a

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footnote in one of his books which gives a good definition of the term, thus: Therefore, learn Alchimiam, otherwise called

Spagyria, which teaches you to separate the false from the true.
For me personally that footnote statement is enough to convince me that Paracelsus himself used the words spagyric and alchemy interchangeably, and meant them both to be understood as being exactly the same thing. But let us see if we can find some more examples to confirm my personal opinion, as well as looking at a closer dissection of the word itself. The term spagyric is compounded of two Greek words: spa, meaning - to draw out, or to divide; and ageir, to bind, or join. These two concepts form the foundation of every genuine alchemical work as Manfred Junius has assured us. It is likely that Paracelsus created this word as a means of presenting the famous alchemical axiom solv et coagula (to dissolve and to bind), in a more user friendly

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form. In fact the formula is not quite that simple. In its fullest form it reminds us to separate, purify and recombine. Alchemists employ the spagyric formula wherever they intend to manipulate something in an alchemical way - be it in visual art, literature, politics, music or (al)chemistry, for example. In this way the spagyric formula is the key formula of alchemy. The first or separation stage of the formula tells the alchemist that his subject (the thing he is manipulating alchemically), must be carefully separated in to its three Principal conditions (Mercury, Sulphur and Salt). The second stage of the work directs the alchemist to purify these Principal conditions. By this he understands that he should employ specific techniques to remove all that is new expression of itself, on a higher level. The technical term for the method of doing this is cohobation. This final stage, where the three Principals are homogeneously recombined, is the point where mere chemistry now becomes alchemy. A new state of matter is generated

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from this unification of Principals, that state of matter which is the key to the art, called by alchemists the Fifth Element, or Quintessence (Q-state). Every student alchemist who is being trained properly by an expert alchemist is taught how to apply this mechanism in the realm of (al)chemistry, first with plant materials then later with minerals and metals.

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Here follows a couple of other quotes, from the works of Paracelsus, which contain allusions to the definition of the tem spagyric:

praise the spagyric physicians (the alchemists), for they do not go about idling and putting on airs, being dressed in velvets and silks, having golden rings on their fingers and their hands in white gloves ; but they are daily and nightly patiently engaged in their work with the fire and seeking their pastime within their own laboratory (the mind). They do not talk much or praise their medicines; for they know that the work must praise the master, and not the master the work" (De Separat. Ber.).
He who wants to separate the Primum,

Ens from its Corpus (vehicle) must have a great deal of experience in the spagyric art. If he is not a good alchemist his labour will be in vain" De Separat. Rer.).

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Hermetic Astrology
(An excerpt from The Hermes Paradigm, Book II By Rubaphilos)

A situation exists within the alchemical tradition, where the average student of alchemy believes he is part of the esoteric school, unaware that the system he studies is largely only a parody of the real, hidden school of Adept alchemists whose task it is to preserve and teach the real nature of the Hermetic mystery. The fact that Hermetism is a mystery, and that an inner school is required to preserve the truth from the kind of corruption it naturally is subjected to on the outer, reminds us that it is often necessary for students of the art to be willing to change their attitude towards knowledge they have received in good faith as being accurate, but which in fact is not. A perfect example of this reality is found in the subject of astrology, which has degenerated greatly over

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the 2000 years since it was first stripped of its accurate theory and practice. Once we have a safe place, and plan, for work and have the required lab equipment, we are ready to begin the first work, the plant prima. This process usually begins with the choosing of a medicinal plant we desire to experiment with. As the subject of our work, and alchemists most often refer to this substance as our or the crude matter. The mistake is often made in believing that the technical term for this crude substance is the ... Prima Materia (first earth or first matter). This misunderstanding arises from a common turn of phrase in alchemical literature that goes something to the tune of ... The artist cannot begin the work until he has found the prima materia. The starting material, the crude matter, is not the prima materia. The prima materia is a condition of matter that is the foundation of the crude matter (alchemically speaking). It cannot be readily found in nature in its pure state, but instead must be prepared (or extracted) by the alchemist. So the prima materia is that which we might call, in more

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modern language, a primogenial state of matter. In the alchemical view of the world every species or class of substances in nature has its own specific proto-state, a protocondition of matter from which it is generated. So what we have, in technical terminology, when we select the herb that we have chosen to start the alchemical plant work on, is our crude matter. This crude matter is the thing that grew out of the primogenial state, or prima materia, of that herb. The old alchemists said that our work (the alchemical laboratory process) cannot begin until we find the prima materia because once we have our crude substance in hand, the first thing we must do to it is retrograde it back to its primal state its prima materia the state from which the plant, and our work, has its beginning. Once we have chosen the plant we want to work with we must harvest it fresh. When practicing the alchemical plant process, in order to learn to carry out the physical lab techniques

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properly, we can use previously harvested plant substances. But when we attempt to carry out the plant work properly, taking in to consideration all necessary esoteric aspects of the work, we must use fresh plant, or plant that is snap frozen. There is no argument here. In previously harvested plant matter important alchemical properties of the plant are missing or seriously depleted, properties that are only found in fresh and snap frozen plants. At the same time we need the entire plant roots, stems, leaf, and any flowers or seeds. The entire plant as it exists at the time of harvest. The only exception here is fruit and seed which, esoterically speaking, are a complete microcosm of the plant entity in themselves, but they must be fully ripe. There is a school of thought within the alchemical community which holds the belief that certain alchemical operations need to be synchronised with particular kinds of astrological events, in order for them to be effective. In consideration of the first work the question of whether this view should be taken in to consideration, or not, first arises when we come to harvesting the plant chosen as the basis for our work. It is a physiological fact that harvesting fresh

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plants is best done in the morning, before sunrise. This is because once the sun rises its heat speeds up the plants metabolism and contributes to the loss of a portion of the essential oils and other volatile components of the plant. Therefore we can say, without too much argument, that to some degree simple and practical astrological considerations are helpful. A more strict view of the application of astrology to alchemical operations would insist, though, that we should calculate a natal chart to predict the absolute optimum time to harvest our plant. This would be based on the planetary attribute assigned to the plant in question, by traditional herbal lore. The main argument supporting this view is that the medicinal properties we hope to concentre in our alchemical plant remedy might not be present, or will be at low ebb, if the plants

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planetary considerations are not in good astrological aspect. Novices often ask about this view of alchemy, how important it is and how one would go about learning the correct astrological technique. Some controversy surrounds this subject. So I believe, firstly, that it is important to be aware that such controversy exists. That is, the astrological school of thought in alchemical work is not a universally accepted rule. A quantity of students of alchemy are taught that natal and horary astrology is indispensable to proper laboratory practice, without ever questioning whether this might be true, and just what the facts might be concerning this belief. So I think it is a good idea to discuss the pros and cons of this idea, here, before we go any further. More importantly, it is necessary to take a closer look at what traditional, earlier authorities on the subject have to say about Hermetic view of astrology. A good many things are said and believed about this aspect of Hermetism, today, that are not accurate to traditional Hermetic philosophy, theory and experience. The concept we are considering is a sound Hermetic principle that sidereal influences

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have an effect on earthly (physical) conditions. What is not properly understood is just what is meant by the term sidereal influences. Hermetists, from the classic and ancient periods, talked about physical astronomical space and its contents (the stars, planets, moons, etc.), most often using these five terms: (1) sidereal space, (2) astronomy, (3) astrology, (4) the astral and (5) the firmament. Each of these terms refers to the same idea. Astrology, astronomy, and the astral all are derived from the Latin word astrum, which translates roughly as of the stars. Astronomy today usually deals strictly with the physical bodies that we recognise as inhabiting physical cosmic space. But the terms sidereal, astrology, astral and firmament all have a twofold meaning in Hermetic use. They are all used to describe both the physical (cosmic) space, (also often including the bodies which inhabit it), but they also refer to inner space ... the mind, and the intelligences which inhabit it. Both references have over time become confused until the original definitions have almost been completely blurred together, or lost. Today the inner space concept is almost entirely unheard of, except where the term

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astral is commonly used by occultists to describe what they call the spiritual level of existence (sic: the astral plane). But very few occultists accept the idea (or even know it exists) that besides its reference to physical cosmic space, that which the ancients called the astral, common language today refers to as the mind, or psyche (both in people or animals and in cosmic or divine terms). Rarely do occultists use the term astral (nowadays) to refer to cosmic (physical) interplanetary space. It is important to grasp the nature of this muddled situation, because without realising the problem involved in the use of this terminology, it is difficult to understand, when discussing the sidereal universe, or the astral plane, or astrology, how these concepts formed a key facet of the ancient Hermetic paradigm . This fact is clearly evident if we read Paracelsus' descriptions of astrology, which are some of the most important explanations of the subject, as viewed by the ancients, which have survived to our own time.

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The ancient philosophers, who knew that we have both a body and a mind, and that together they make up a complete person, saw the universe itself as having a body and mind too . Thus we have the concept of the macrocosm and microcosm ... that humanity is a smaller version of the universe, and that the two levels interact in a fashion that is barely grasped by modern science (or, to be honest, by most modern occultists). Once this basic fact is recognised, we need to be aware that in modern times most astrologers have come to believe that 'astrological influences' have something to do with the physical bodies of the planets, stars and moons. Modern astrologers (and occultists in general) are almost completely unaware that the ancients, (who it should be remembered invented astrology), never saw things that way themselves. The ancients knew that all living systems, from cells, to plants, to bodily organs and animals all had within them intelligences that have a somewhat similar function to the role software plays in computers, governing the functioning of their living systems . This includes the celestial bodies too. In other words, the ancient Hermetists knew that stars, planets and moons

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had minds (intelligences) of their own, and we see remnants of this doctrine clearly present in the teaching of qabala and Hermetic magic, where tables of planetary intelligences are often provided in both ancient and modern works on the subject. If we stop to think about it, how many students of qabala or Magic consider that the intelligence of the planet mars (for example), actually refers to the psyche of that planet? The ancients saw this myriad of intelligences, in man, in mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, and in the cosmos, existing as part of a natural hierarchy of intelligent beings. In this way the greater intelligences in the cosmos, such as those of stars, had a powerful influence over the lesser, such as those of the planets and the beings living on them. Therefore, when an ancient astrologer cast a natal astrological chart (for example), he was attempting to calculate the influence that the mind of certain celestial bodies was having over the minds of living systems in certain terrestrial locations ... at any given time . This is an extremely important concept to grasp ... that the locations of physical celestial bodies, relative to each other, and to terrestrial locations, according to the lore of

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hermetic astrology, indicates the nature of the mental influences emanating from the intelligences of those bodies at certain times, through the greater mind of the cosmos not through physical space. The astral plane (plane of stars) referred to the mind, and its stars are the intelligences in that mind. I understand that this whole idea will be quickly rejected by some individuals, and will be a new and confusing concept for many more. But a great deal of confusing information in Western Hermetism can be reconciled and understood rationally by recourse to the details and practical reality of what may seem somewhat controversial here . I might add that in all my years studying laboratory alchemy as well as the inner work, and discussing the latter with other occultists, the general aversion to the idea that mind plays such an important role in Hermetism comes from both a lack of knowledge of psychology (especially esoteric psychology), as well as a discomfort with the idea that something as (assumedly) common and boring as the mind might have esoteric significance. At the same time many occultists seem to have a fascination for archaic occult terminology, and prefer to reject the notion that a word as mysterious as

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astral (on one level), might simply mean the mind. This point is worth paying attention to, because a good deal of confusion has arisen in the realm of alchemy (and magic) due to a lack of healthy treatment of the cross fertilisation of modern terminology and ideas and more traditional terminology and concepts. So while astrological calculations focus on defining the geometric and trigonometric relationships between physical celestial bodies, the real issue in astrology, just as it is in this area of alchemy, is one of intelligences. This subject deserves a book of its own, but alas there is by no means enough room to cover it here sufficiently. The concept of astrology as described thusfar is solid Hermetic theory, and scientific proof of this fact is not difficult for a real Adept to provide. The real problems which accompany the astrologers view begin when we start to consider the methods used to calculate the nature of these influences. The act of calculation ... the calculation of an astrological chart, is a complex, very confused and highly questionable craft today, especially in the tropical astrological system mostly used in the West.

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The difficulties with this aspect of astrology begin when we learn that the fundamental rules upon which it is based were established by Claudius Ptolemy (a later Greek king of Egypt). Ptolemy, at one point, claimed to be chronicling the astrological secrets of the ancients, but it has been known for a long time that in the second chapter of the third book of his Quadripartitum, he gives up the ancient (archaios) method of astrological prediction as too confusing . So to a certain degree he fudged his preferred view. At the same time we know that the Greeks inherited much of their understanding of ancient science from the Egyptian Priesthood, and that the Egyptian Priests were particularly pro-active in maintaining their science as a secret from the Greeks, even under threat of death. Then later in history, on the basis of the widely accepted erroneous Ptolemaic system, other astrologers tweaked his teaching even further. A good example of how messy the entire astrological system has become by the 21st century, after all of this tweaking, can be recognised in the fact that today there are upwards of a dozen different methods of calculating the cusps of astrological houses. Systems such as the equal house method, Koch

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houses, Placidus houses, Campanus houses, etc., are used on the basis of personal bias by different astrologers, without any consideration of the underlying theory and philosophy of Hermetic astrology. Such factors affect the ability to accurately Caste and interpret an astrological chart to a greater or lesser degree. Therefore, when we begin to look at the question as to whether alchemical operations, in the laboratory, need to be timed by the observation of astrological calculations, the first issue we must consider is ... exactly how accurate is astrology itself? The only sane answer that we can arrive at, after a serious, reasonable, unbiased and lengthy study of astrology is that it is very inaccurate as a tool for calculating the relationship between the cosmic influence of sidereal intelligences and the dynamics of physical (earthly) conditions in living systems.

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Then, when asking the question ... how is astrology actually used by alchemists? we first must realise that not all alchemists agree with or believe in the concept that the timing of laboratory operations must be astrologically calculated. In fact the division between the two camps is probably near equal (50/50). If alchemical transmutation does exist, and if several individuals in the last 3000 years have achieved that goal, then we should ask ourselves, did they all get there because astrological calculation of lab processes made it possible? I personally do not believe there is any strong evidence in historical alchemical literature to support a belief that natal or horary astrology was a factor in any success that might have been gained in lab alchemy. At the same time, if what astrological calculation is attempting to do is determine the condition of the relationships between various intelligences, then using astrology to calculate lab operations is simply not logical. A distillation does not have a mind, and neither does calcination (for example). So there is no connection between laboratory processes and natal or horary astrological calculation.

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The next idea we must be aware of is that the use of actual (complete) astrological interpretation is increasingly being undermined in alchemical teaching today. Because astrology is a complex system to learn, many teachers of alchemy have chosen to teach their students 'simple' methods of making more general calculations (such as solar based astrological prediction), which, of course, are of an even greater disadvantage where accuracy is concerned. Amongst these lesser questionable systems are things like the use of planetary hour tables, planetary cycles (based on the later Gregorian calendar) and the use of geomancy. Again, the reason I have taken a quick look at this matter here is because the first operation we need to attend to, in making our alchemical plant preparation, is to choose the right plant for the work and the best time and method for harvesting it. Modern convention in mainstream alchemical practice encourages the novice to produce seven tinctures (alchemical plant preparations), which are often called the seven simples. Traditional herbal lore tells us that all plants are ruled by planetary forces, thus one each of the seven simples must be ruled by

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one each of the ancient planets. If we approach the harvest of each plant according to the theory of the astrological view of alchemical practice, then the time and conditions of harvest should be astrologically calculated. The traditional hypothesis is that if we do not take astrological influences in to consideration, the end result will not have alchemical properties. The ramifications of this hypothesis are far reaching, when the question arises where do alchemical properties come from? The veiled suggestion posited by the astrological school of alchemy being that the Magical effects of alchemical preparations are rooted in astrological (planetary) forces. So we must ask ourselves, what of the philosophy behind such statements as the one Jabir made? that: "Our stone is one, one medicine, to which we add nothing, from which we take nothing away, only removing that which is superfluous." The theory suggested here is that when searching for alchemical results, the crude matter we take in hand already contains within it everything the work requires, and that no magic bullet from outside the matter needs to be added, or calculated. This is a serious key

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point that needs to be well considered for a number of reasons. There is absolutely no doubt that some alchemical works require the harvest of natural substances at certain times of the year and/or day. The astrological considerations necessary for such timing are nothing more than seasonal or diurnal observations or the common sense knowledge of plant metabolism (and physiology). No complex calculations are necessary for an operation which is so simple and well known that even non-occultists are familiar with the concepts. The planetary attributions of medicinal herbs also require no calculation. Traditional herbological literature contains comprehensive lists of both the (alleged) planetary nature of plants, and also their medicinal properties. It should be pointed out, though, that any objective authority of traditional herbalism will admit that the history of the planetary attributes, and their assumed correspondences to organic or psychological pathology is highly suspect in many cases . This leaves any student of alchemy who possesses a conscience where astrological accuracy is concerned, and a

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belief it is required in lab calculation, in a bit of a quandary. For those who are only interested in following popular trends in alchemical astrological consideration, without careful research, this issue is a moot point, of course. But for any student of the science who wants to consider the question of the use of astrology in timing laboratory events, two choices are available. Either an extensive and distracting research of the subject must be entered in to, or the subject must be virtually ignored, as if it simply was not a reasonable argument. Nevertheless, for our purposes here, in our first experimentation in the production of alchemical plant preparations, and in learning the basic theory and laboratory techniques, no astrological

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consideration is at all necessary. Outside of the question of timing events astrologically, it should be understood that there are a number of other aspects of alchemical and Hermetic theory and practice that require an understanding of the basic philosophy of astrology. Foremost amongst these aspects is the fact that a good number of alchemical and Hermetic concepts are discussed in alchemical literature using astrological symbolism and iconography, as a form of cipher. Therefore, while the study of astrology (at least in theory) is not exactly necessary, for the student alchemist, it certainly eventually proves to be helpful to a lesser degree.

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The Primum Ens or First Being

(Written and edited by Ouroboros)

From The Book Restoration:




"But while we teach concerning simples and arcana, it must be understood that their operations are brought about in different ways. For some are found which violently purge leprosy by means of renovation and restoration, but beyond that touch no other disease; yet nevertheless, they are perfect in renovation and restoration. Beyond these, in the distinctions of these kinds of diseases, are the Quintessence, the Magistery, and the Element of Antimony, which purifies the body from leprosy, none otherwise than silver and gold liquefied therein, and in these it leaves no trace of impurity.

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In like manner the element of the sun and its quintessence, as also the oil of the same, and arum potabile, take away leprosy, together with all diseases, renovate and restore. So also the quintessences of hellebore, of chelidony, of balm, of valerian, of saffron, of manna, and of betonia renovate the body, with the exception of those diseases which we have mentioned above, for these in no wise diminish."
Paracelsus often talked of renovation and restoration. One of his most well known preparations, made famous by the rejuvenative effects it possesses and which have been recorded through history, is the Primum Ens Melissae. It is the Ens that causes rejuvenation. We must remember that the Ens is an intangible substance, which can be incorporated in some material vehicle. Here Rubaphilos tells us a bit about rejuvenation:

Paracelsus correctly tells us that humanity has three ages: youth, middle age and old age. Middle age is that point where the forces that work through the

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body, in order to grow it to maturity and to sustain its health and vigour, have reached their peak. We know exactly when that peak is reached, he tells us, because it is the point where we start to grow grey hair. At such moment in time we are, as an individual, at the summit of the expression of our life force. Rejuvenatives are often referred to as fountains or elixirs of youth, and this is somewhat misleading because ingesting a rejuvenative does not return us to some point in our early youth. Instead, rejuvenatives return us biologically and energetically to the point in time where our life force was at its peak that is, middle age.
Rubaphilos also tells us what experimentation has shown to be the effects of the Ens Melissae:

The signs to watch for include, firstly, an almost immediate increase in the bodys core temperature. This is the primary channel through which rejuvenatives operate the raising of the internal fire, thereby increasing the

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entire bodys speed and pitch of vibration. This bodily warmth is the first manifestation of life in warmblooded organic beings. Light-headedness will follow during the first few mornings, with a mild expansion of awareness (sensitivity) and calmness. For the first week little else will be experienced. During the second week an increase in perspiration, the appearance of acne, increased salivation (thick saliva in the throat early in the morning), and expectoration of thick phlegm from the lungs by coughing. Stools become darker and so does the urine. All of these effects, which are indicative of detoxification, las anywhere from one to two weeks. Towards the end of this stage we noticed in a number of cases featuring two more extreme effects: (1) the distinct aching in the kidneys and liver, as if they were slightly bruised; and (2) the loss of dental fillings from the teeth. In my own case I lost seven fillings during the period of six months after first beginning use of the Ens Melissae. Shortly afterwards I heard stories from

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students of the America based Philosophers of Nature (PoN) that a number of cases of the loss of dental fillings had been reported by individuals ingesting this preparation. After the third week of detoxification almost every individual we had collected information from spoke of an increase in the intensity and frequency of dreams. In individuals who were studying alchemy, clearly recognisable dreams of an alchemical nature were common. This phase lasted for approximately one more week. By the end of the fourth week, in virtually all cases of people under-40 who ingested the Ens, all outward signs of detoxification and affected dream state had subsided or ceased completely. The only other effect that we recorded in the more sensitive cases of under-40year-olds was an increase in psychic sensitivity. In a small number of cases, where experiments of a psychic nature had been conducted, it was noticed that individuals who ingested a dose together from the same batch at the same time experienced some degree of shared psychic experience.

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In his book on renovation and restoration, Paracelsus includes subsections on the First Entities of Minerals, Gems, Herbs and Liquids. The most accessible and least dangerous to work with are herbs, so here is what he says on the First Entity of herbs:

"The First Entity of Herbs: Take celandine or balm; beat them into a pulse, shut them up in a glass vessel hermetically sealed, and place in horse dung to be digested for a month. Afterwards separate the pure from the impure, pour the pure into a glass vessel with dissolved salt, and let this, when closed, be exposed to the sun for a month. When this period has elapsed, you will find at the bottom a thick liquid and the salt floating on the surface. When this is separated you will have the virtues of the balm or of the celandine, as they are in their first entity; and these are called, and really are, the first entities of the balm or of the celandine."
Most modern practitioners take a slightly different approach stemming from a recipe

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provided by Franz Hartmann in his book on the life of Paracelsus, quoted below.

"The Primum Ens: The "Primum Ens" of a thing is its first beginning, its Prima Materia, an invisible and intangible spiritual substance, which can be incorporated in some material vehicle. He who wants to separate the Primum Ens from its Corpus must have a great deal of experience in the spagyric art. If he is not a good alchemist his labour will be in vain. The Primum Ens Melissae is prepared in the following manner: Take half a pound of pure carbonate of potash and expose it to the air until it is dissolved. Filter the fluid and put as many fresh leaves of the plant Melissa into it as it will hold, so that the fluid will cover the leaves. Let it stand in a well-closed glass, and in a moderately warm place, for twenty four hours. The fluid may then be removed from the leaves, and the latter thrown away. On the top of this fluid absolute alcohol is poured, so that it will cover the former to a height of one

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or two inches, and it is left to remain for one or two days, or until the alcohol becomes of an intensely green colour. This alcohol is then to be taken away and preserved, and fresh alcohol is put upon the alkaline fluid, and the operation is repeated until all the coloring matter is absorbed by the alcohol. This alcoholic fluid is now to be distilled, and the alcohol evaporated until it becomes of the thickness of syrup, which is the Primum Ens Melissae, but the alcohol that has been distilled away and the liquid potash may be used again. The liquid potash must be of great concentration and the alcohol of great strength, else they would become mixed, and the experiment would not succeed."

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The plants mentioned above by Paracelsus, which also have rejuvenative properties, could most likely be: Hellebore - Helleborus niger (Hellebore) Chelidony Stylorphorum diphyllum (Celandine) Balm - Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm, Melissa) Valerian - Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) Saffron - Crocus sativus (Saffron) Manna Fraxinus ornus (Ash, Manna) Betonia - Stachys officinalis (Betony, Wood Betony) Key to the successful application of this remedy is that it be ingested over a sufficiently long period of time, and that the dose and medium of administration be appropriate as well. Here follows what Rubaphilos says on the subject in his Book 2;

The dose is small: 5 drops of a 1/10,000 homeopathic dilution in 100 milliliters of white wine, upon rising in the morning, and before food.

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Those who are more interested in the practical preparation of the Primum Ens can find much more detailed instructions in the Book 2 by Rubaphilos. You will find that great skill and experience in the spagyric art are indeed required.

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------------------------------------------For general inquires and for publishing requests please contact: rubaphilos@gmail.com. -------------------------------------------