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Decknamen or pseudochemical language ? : Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung/ Decknamen ou le langage pseudochimique ? : Eirenaeus Philalethes et Carl Jung
In: Revue d'histoire des sciences. 1996, Tome 49 n2-3. pp. 159-188.

Abstract SUMMARY. It is impossible to investigate the historiography of alchemy without encountering the ideas of the father of analytical psychology , Carl Jung. Jung argued that alchemy, viewed as a diachronic, trans-cultural entity, was concerned more with psychological states occurring in the mind of the practitioner than with real chemical processes. In the course of elucidating this idea, Jung draws on a number of alchemical authors from the early modern period. One of these is Eirenaeus Philalethes, the pen name of George Starkey (1628-1665), a native of Bermuda who was educated at Harvard College, and who later immigrated to London. A careful analysis of Starkey 's work shows, however, that Jung was entirely wrong in his assessment of this important representative of seventeenth-century alchemy. This finding casts serious doubt on the Jungian interpretation as a whole. Rsum RSUM. II est impossible d'analyser l'historiographie concernant l'alchimie sans se heurter aux ides du pre de la psychologie analytique , Carl Jung. Jung soutenait que l'alchimie, considre comme une entit diachronique, transculturelle, relevait plus des tats psychologiques de l'exprimentateur que des processus rellement chimiques. Pour expliciter cette ide, Jung met en avant un certain nombre d'alchimistes de la premire priode moderne. L'un d'eux est Eirenaeus Philalethes, le pseudonyme de George Starkey (1628-1665), originaire des Bermudes, qui tudia au Harvard College puis s'tablit Londres. Une analyse attentive des travaux de Starkey montre, cependant, que Jung s'tait tromp dans son apprciation sur cette grande figure de l'alchimie du XVIIe sicle. Cette constatation fait planer un srieux doute sur l'ensemble de l'interprtation jungienne de l'alchimie.

Citer ce document / Cite this document : NEWMANN WILLIAM R. Decknamen or pseudochemical language ? : Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung/ Decknamen ou le langage pseudo-chimique ? : Eirenaeus Philalethes et Carl Jung. In: Revue d'histoire des sciences. 1996, Tome 49 n2-3. pp. 159-188. doi : 10.3406/rhs.1996.1254 http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/rhs_0151-4105_1996_num_49_2_1254

Decknamen or pseudochemical language ? Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung

William R. Newman (*)

RSUM. II est impossible d'analyser l'historiographie concernant l'alchimie sans se heurter aux ides du pre de la psychologie analytique , Cari Jung. Jung soutenait que l'alchimie, considre comme une entit diachronique, trans culturelle, relevait plus des tats psychologiques de l'exprimentateur que des pro cessus rellement chimiques. Pour expliciter cette ide, Jung met en avant un certain nombre d'alchimistes de la premire priode moderne. L'un d'eux est Eirenaeus Philalethes, le pseudonyme de George Starkey (1628-1665), originaire des Bermudes, qui tudia au Harvard College puis s'tablit Londres. Une analyse attentive des travaux de Starkey montre, cependant, que Jung s'tait tromp dans son apprciation sur cette grande figure de l'alchimie du xvne sicle. Cette consta tation fait planer un srieux doute sur l'ensemble de l'interprtation jungienne de l'alchimie. MOTS-CLS. Starkey-Philalethes ; Jung; littrature alchimique.

SUMMARY. It is impossible to investigate the historiography of alchemy without encountering the ideas of the father of analytical psychology , Carl Jung. Jung argued that alchemy, viewed as a diachronic, trans-cultural entity, was concerned more with psychological states occurring in the mind of the pract itioner than with real chemical processes. In the course of elucidating this idea, Jung draws on a number of alchemical authors from the early modern period. One of these is Eirenaeus Philalethes, the pen name of George Starkey (1628-1665), a native of Bermuda who was educated at Harvard College, and who later immi grated to London. A careful analysis of Starkey 's work shows, however, that Jung was entirely wrong in his assessment of this important representative of seventeenth-century alchemy. This finding casts serious doubt on the Jungian interpretation of alchemy as a whole. KEYWORDS. Starkey-Philalethes; Jung; alchemical literature.

The reader familiar with alchemical literature will know very well the obscurity in which many practitioners of the art veiled their ideas. Indeed, the figurative language of these texts is such (*) Department of the History of Science, Harvard University. Rev. Hist. Sci., 1996, 49/2-3, 159-188


William R. Newman

that Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology , argued at length that they have little to do with chemistry at all. According to Jung and his followers, the seventeenth-century alchemists were concerned less with chemical reactions than with psychic states taking place within the consciousness of the practitioner. Thus the prac tice of alchemy involved a sort of auto-hypnosis on the part of the would-be adeptus, which led to a hallucinatory state in which he projected the contents of his psyche onto the matter within his alembic. The Jungian alchemist in some sense literally saw his own unconscious expressing itself in the form of bizarre archetypal images, such as winged dragons and immolated kings (1). In the Jungian view, alchemical practice was a form of ecstatic experience, closely allied to mysticism and religious revelation. Jung even went so far as to classify the secretive enunciations of alche mists as psychic processes expressed in pseudochemical language , thus providing the essence of his interpretative model for alchemy (2). It might seem obvious that the burden of proof lies on the Jungian to demonstrate that alchemical metaphors such as the green lion and the red man are not simply secretive names for mineral substances. Indeed, the German school of the histori ography of alchemy above all Julius Ruska and E. O. von Lippmann maintained in the early twentieth century that the allusive terms of alchemy do make up just such a secret vocabulary of Decknamen or cover-names (3). Their arguments have been fur thered in more recent years by scholars such as Robert Halleux (1) Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, The Foundations of Newton's alchemy (Cambridge : Camb ridge Univ. Press, 1975), 26-35, French transi. Les Fondements de l'alchimie de Newton (Paris : Trdaniel, 1981), 51-63. The works of Jung are peppered with references to alchemy, but sustained treatments are found in the following of his texts : Aion, Collected Works, vol. IX, part II (London : Routledge, 1959); Psychology and alchemy, Collected Works, vol. XII (ibid., 1953), French transi. Psychologie et alchimie (Paris : Buchet-Chastel, 1970) ; Alchemical Studies, Collected Works, vol. XIII (London : Routledge, 1967) ; Mystrium Conjunctions, Collected Works, vol. XIV (ibid., 1963), French transi. Mystrium Conjunctionis (Paris : Albin Michel, 1980). (2) Carl Jung, Psychology and alchemy, 2nd ed. (Princeton : Princeton Univ. Press, 1968), 242. (3) E. O. von Lippmann, Entstellung und Ausbreitung der Alchemie, vol. I (Berlin : Springer, 1919), 11 & passim; Julius Ruska and E. Wiedemann, Beitraege zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, LXVII : Alchemistische Decknamen, Sitzungsberichte der physikalisch-medizinischen Sozietaet in Erlangen, 5 (1923), 1-23 (offprint), or vol. 56 (1924), 17-36.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


and Barbara Obrist who both uphold an overtly anti-Jungian posi tion (4). Given the rejection of Jung by such serious historians of alchemy, one could view yet another critique of his psychological approach as being otiose. Several recent publications reveal, however, that the Jungian model for alchemy is still alive and well. The most striking of these is Marco Beretta's 1993 work, The Enlightenment of matter, which uses Jung to excise alchemy from the historical pro gression of chemistry leading from the sixteenth century up to Lavois ier Beretta employs the Jungian approach to argue that alchemy (5). was primarily a spiritual or mystical discipline, and that its pretended experimental continuity with chemistry is invalid (6). A far less dogmatic view, but one that still gives credence to the Jungian model, may be found in the new Norton History of chemistry by William H. Brock. Brock, unlike Beretta, makes a serious and largely successful attempt to deal with alchemical literature. Nonet heless, he too admits that the more esoteric alchemical texts make up more the province of the psychologist and psychiatrist, as Jung claimed , than that of the historian of chemistry (7). Moreover, a full-blown exposition and apology for the Jungian model may be found in Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs' Foundations of Newton's alchemy, which, though published in 1975, is still widely influential (8). It is clear, then, that Carl Jung is even today a force to be re ckoned with in the historiography of alchemy. The following paper will therefore attempt to challenge the Jungian model directly by analy zing the writing of an alchemist whom Jung himself considered to exemplify the masking of psychic states in pseudochemical lan guage . I refer to the corpus of Eirenaeus Philalethes, whom I have elsewhere proven to have been no other than George Starkey, a native of Bermuda and a graduate of Harvard College (A. B. 1646) (9). (4) Robert Halleux, Les Textes alchimiques (Turnhout : Brepols, 1979), Typologie des sources du Moyen Age occidental , fasc. 32 ; Barbara Obrist, Les Dbuts de l'imagerie alchimique (Paris : Le Sycomore, 1982). (5) Marco Beretta, The Enlightenment of matter (Canton, usa : History of Science Publ., 1993). (6) Ibid., 77, . 6. (7) William H. Brock, The Norton History of chemistry (New York : Norton, 1993), 17. (8) Dobbs, op. cit. in . 1. (9) William R. Newman, The authorship of the Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium, in Alchemy revisited : Proceedings of the international conference on the history of alchemy at the university of Groningen, 17-19 April 1989, d. Z. R. W. M. von Martels (Leiden : Brill, 1990), 139-144. Newman, Prophecy and alchemy : The origin of Eirenaeus Philalethes, Ambix, 37 (1990), 97-115.


William R. Newman

Jung's Mystrium Conjunctions contains a rather detailed analysis of Philalethes' work, which the Swiss psychologist viewed as a paradigmatic case of alchemical symbolism. Jung claims there that Philalethan alchemy is largely a parable of psychic transformat ion which may best be interpreted in the light of the dreams which are the daily fare of the psychotherapist (10). According to the Swiss psychologist, Philalethes allows us to look deep into the world of obscure archetypal ideas that fill the mind of an alche mist (11) . Since Philalethes occupies such a prominent place in Jung's interpretation of alchemy at large, an assault on the Jungian analysis of Philalethes will therefore bring the whole enterprise of his psychologizing view of alchemy into question.

I. Alchemical imagery Let us begin this undertaking with a bit of background material. From its very introduction into Europe in the 12th century, alche mical literature had employed verbal conceits to express itself. As Barbara Obrist has shown in her pioneering study of alchemical imagery, however, it was only during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that this imagistic language came to be translated into actual illuminations (12). Thus the birth of the alchemical figura in picto rial form coincided with the nascent appropriation of vitalism and prophecy by the alchemical theory of the late Middle Ages. This was no accident, for the increasingly picturesque language of alchemy represented a real turning away from academic discourse and subalternation of alchemy within natural philosophy as such (13). The (10) Jung, Mystrium, op. cit. in n. 1, 2nd ed. (1970) 155-160, quoting 160. (11) Jung, Aion, op. cit. in n. 1, 2nd ed. (1968), 133. (12) Obrist, op. cit. in n. 4. (13) I speak only of the development of alchemy in the Latin West. Clearly the corpus of Greek and Arabic alchemy is filled with figurative language one need think only of the Book of Crates or the work of Ibn Umail but in the medieval West one sees a definite attempt by natural philosophy at first to appropriate alchemy, followed by an increasing divorce of alchemy from the universities. The Book of Crates is found in Arabic and French in M. Berthelot, La Chimie au Moyen Age (Paris : Ministre de l'instruction publique, 1893), vol. 3. For Ibn Umail, cf. H. E. Stapleton and Hidayat Husain, Three arabic treatises on alchemy by Muhammad ibn Umail (10th century A. D.), Memoirs of the asiatic society of Bengal, vol. 12 (1933), 1-213. For the issue of alchemy's dissociation from the medieval universities, cf. William Newman, Technology and alchemical debate in the Late Middle Ages, /sis, vol. 80 (1989), 423-445.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


result was that European alchemy became ever more dependent on its specialized language of images and tropes. Needless to say, the cult of emblems in early modern Europe only encouraged this trend, so that an alchemist such as Michael Maier, physician to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, composed actual collec tionsof alchemical emblemata, in which he proposed to give alche mical interpretations to the bulk of Greek mythology (14). Another trend within this movement lay in the association of alchemy with hieroglyphics and cabala (15). The Hieroglyphics of Nicolas Flamel, for example, were supposedly based on a secret book of illuminations belonging to Abraham the Jew (16). Starkey too had a high appreciation of Flamel, and he wrote his own Cabala sapientum, which is unfortunately not extant. This loss was appar ently felt by Starkey's readers, for the Opera omnia of Philale thes, published in 1695 in Modena, comes equipped with a cycle of twelve illuminations drawn from the corpus of the master (17). The riddling image-language of early modern alchemy often existed side by side with expositions of the images coined by their very authors. Although these efforts at decoding their own symbol ism sometimes embroil authors such as Starkey in yet further obs(14) Ulrich Neumann and Karin Figala, Michael Maier (1569-1622) : New BioBibliographical Material, in Martels, op. cit. in n. 9, 34-50. See also Figala and Neumann, Ein Friiher Brief Michael Maiers (1568-1622) an Heinrich Rantzau, Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences, vol. 35 (1985), 303-329. In these two articles, Figala and Neumann reference much of the earlier material on Maier. (15) For Paracelsus and the Cabala, cf. Pagel, Paracelsus (Basel : Karger, 1958, 2nd ed. 1982), 213-217, French transi. Paracelse (Paris : Arthaud, 1963), 239-242. Nicolas Flamel, the pseudonym of a post-Paracelsian alchemist, supposedly acquired the Book of one Abraham the Jew , filled with alchemical hieroglyphs . Abraham's book is described in Le Livre des figures hiroglyphiques de Nicolas Flamel (Paris : Guillemot, 1612). The anonymous author maintains that these figures were of cabalistic origin as on p. 68-69 : Les anciens sages Cabalistes l'ont descrite dans les Metamorphoses sous l'histoire du Serpent de Mars, qui avoit dvor les compagnons de Cadmus, lequel l'occit le perant de sa lance contre un Chesne creux. Note ce Chesne. As one can see, Flamel has managed to conflate Greek and Jewish mythology, while also throwing in the notion of Egyptian hieroglyphics . For the French versions of Flamel, see the important study by Robert Halleux, Le mythe de Nicolas Flamel ou les mcanismes de la pseudpigraphie alchimique, Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences, 33 (1983), 234-255. (16) See note above. (17) For Starkey's reference to his Cabala sapientum, see Eirenaeus Philoponos Philale thes, Marrow of alchemy (London, 1654-1655), part II, 10. The editor of Philalethes' The Opera omnia styles himself F.V. . He says that the illustrations were given to him by a Nobilis Vir in Chemia expertissimus quern summe colo (Philalethes, Opera omnia (Modena, 1695), 3r).


William R. Newman

curity, this is not an accident. Alchemical writers delighted in announcing that they were going to explain a riddle only to give the answer in the form of a conundrum. What was the reader supposed to derive from this allusive style of expression? The alche mists themselves maintained that a diligent reader could decipher their language to arrive at a correct alchemical praxis. Perhaps surprisingly, Starkey's Philalethes writings can indeed be decoded by diligently comparing passages in one text with those of another. Like the Arabic authors writing under the name of Jbir ibn Hayyn, Star key employed the technique called by Paul Kraus dis persion de la science (18). At a crucial point of the discussion, the alchemist would break off or change the subject, only to resume it at some seemingly unrelated or distant locus. It was up to the reader to reassemble the pieces of the puzzle and fit it into an ordered whole. But there is another element that the reader was meant to derive from his alchemical sources. This was the aura of authority that a contemporary figurative text acquired by employing the metaphors utilized by older authors. This requires some explanation. Most alchemical texts were commentaries on older authors who were assumed by the exegete to have been adepti. Michael Sendivogius, writing at the very beginning of the seven teenth century, said that the art had progressed so far in modern times that the old sages could not have conceived of the current plethora of alchemical techniques : but then they did not have to, for they unlike the moderns had the philosophers' stone (19). Hence it was critical that an alchemist establish himself as a member of the elite fraternity of adepti that stretched back to the days of Zosimos and Hermes Trismegistus : otherwise he would not be taken seriously. The primary way of assuming the mantle of author ity was two-fold. On the one hand, one could cite strings of author ities in the form of suggested authors : Philalethes does this (18) Kraus, Jabir ibn Hayyn : Contribution l'histoire des ides scientifiques dans l'Islam (Mmoires prsents l'Institut d'Egypte, t. 45, Le Caire, 1942; Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 1986), xxvn-. Maurice Crosland, in his Historical Studies in the language of chemistry (New York : Dover, 1962), 36-40, derives his principle of dispersion , ident ical to Kraus' dispersion de la science, from the dissertation of M. Taslimi ( A Cons pectus of recent researches on Arabic chemistry : University of London , 1951). Crosland seems to be unaware of the fact that it was Kraus, and not Taslimi, who brought this term into the historiography of alchemy. (19) Michael Sendivogius, Novum lumen chemicum (Prague : 1604), in J. J. Manget, Bibliotheca chemica curiosa (Genve : 1702), vol. II, 465.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


throughout his works (20). Of greater imperative to the reader, however, was an author who could convincingly decipher the tra ditional enigmata of the art. Thus Starkey in his Philalethan guise expends page upon page interpreting an author such as the fifteenth century canon George Ripley, even though Starkey's own alchemical theory and practice owe virtually nothing to Ripley's uvre. What Philalethes is doing here is establishing himself as the legitimate heir of Ripley's alchemy : he is demonstrating his authority. The longevity of alchemical imagery depended both on the alche mists' belief that the old figurae concealed the secret of the philo sophers' stone and on their own need to demonstrate their authority by showing that they could reveal that secret. At the same time, however, their revelation of the secret could not be facile, for Starkey and his seventeenth-century peers were intent on retaining as much as they could for themselves. Alchemical secrets could be lucrative, and as such they were not to be disbursed lightly (21). Hence by employing the twin strategies of figurative language and dispersion de la science, Starkey and his fellows managed to compose treatises of remarkable difficulty. The problem is com pounded by the fact that in the Philalethes treatises, not only the processes of alchemy, but also the theories are often encoded. Without a previous understanding of early modern alchemical theory, therefore, the reader is hopelessly lost. In the following we shall introduce the reader to the striking visual imagery of one of the most obscure Philalethan texts the Exposition upon the first six gates of Sir George Ripley's compound of alchymie. Then we shall decode its practice, using only texts within the corpus of Philalethes. As we shall see, the fustian language of Philalethes was not the product of a disordered mind, but a conscious rewor kingof traditional imagery intended as the alchemist would say both to reveal and conceal.

(20) Good examples of this may be found in the Advertisement to the Reader pre ceding the second part of Starkey's Marrow, op. cit. in n. 17, and in the preface to Philale thes' Ripley Reviv'd (London : 1678), 3v-4r. (21) For example, Starkey was offered 5 000 pounds sterling for his secret of extracting precious metals out of antimony, in 1651. Cf. William Newman, Newton's clavis as Starkey's key, Isis, 78 (1987), 572.


William R. Newman

II. The Ripley-commentary of Philalethes Philalethes begins his allegory by welcoming the reader to the garden of the Philosophers , where he may behold a glorious castle having twelve entrances. These are the twelve gates of Ripley's Compound of alchymie, the text that Philalethes is commenting, by which Ripley referred to twelve alchemical processes calcina tion, dissolution, separation, conjunction, putrefaction, congelat ion, cibation, sublimation, fermentation, exaltation, multiplication, and projection (22). The first gate is recessed into the earth and surmounted by a dire inscription, Dust thou art, and unto Dust thou shalt return (23) . Within the gate lies the corpse of a Great Person . A lady stands there in mourning, very comely, yet black, for why the Sun hath shined upon her . Her name is Juno. But the castle is guarded by a garrison, and Philalethes assures us that we must have a guide, lest we be taken as spies. The guide receives a circumstantial description. He has a humour of his own not to be equalled in the World , so that if he is angered or made sullen, all will be lost. He is very simple, indeed, a very stupid Fool (24) . Nonetheless, he is silent and faithful, though if he can find an opportunity he will give you the slip, and leave you in a world of misfortune (25) . One can tell if he is happy or not by his countenance. He should therefore be shut up close where he may not get forth , and the alche mist should go wisely before with heat . The servant, who will follow, will grow red in the face if he should become angry, but if he is in a good temper, he is indifferent active and merry . Philalethes continues to say that the guide will presently take snuff if left to his own devices, for due to his perpetual working he tires easily. It does not take the perspicacity of an Isaac Newton to make out that Philalethes' guide is simply the fire of an alchemical

(22) George Ripley, A Compound of alchymie (London : 1591). (23) Philalethes, Exposition upon the first six gates..., in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 98. (24) Ibid., 99. (25) Ibid., 100.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


furnace. There is a lesson to be drawn from this that even the most humble tools and operations of alchemy will be allego rizedin Philalethes' conceit. Let us therefore pass to the next scene of the play. Philalethes now takes the reader to a large room with hangings of mixed black, blue, and yellow. Within the room is a Carcass intombed, and very rotten; a Serpent almost dead with cold, laid to the fire, and a Fountain still flowing forth to water a Pot which is nigh to it, in which is planted an Herb much like the Ros solis, only it hath the Root black, the Leaves yellow, with bluish veins and black spots in them continually standing in a dew, and over it the sun as in the Solstice, shining in its full vigour, and under it a Fire, as it were of Aetna burning continually (26). What is th reader to do with this striking concatenation of images? As we shall see, Starkey is describing the first stage in the alchemical great work, the production of the philosophical mercury that will lead to the philosophers' stone. After that sub stance was prepared, it was supposed to be sealed up and heated, whereon it would die and rot. This is the stage or regimen usually called putrefactio (27). The somber figure of Juno pictured earlier is also intended to convey the idea of death and mourning. But let us refrain from interpreting further until our alchemist has enti rely unfolded the panoply of his invention. Philalethes then shifts abruptly to the first person. I lift up mine eyes, and behold I saw Nature as a Queen gloriously adorned (28). The queen is holding a book entitled Philosophy restored to its primitive purity, which she gives the alchemist to eat. After being so honored by the lady, Philalethes says was my Understanding so enlightened, that I did fully apprehend all things which I saw and heard [...] (26) Ibid., 102. The description of the herb is apparently rewritten from Le Livre des figures hiroglyphiques de Nicolas Flamel, op. cit. in n. 15, 12, where the alchemist des cribes a hieroglyph from the book of Abraham the Jew : A l'autre face du fueillet quatriesme, il peignoit une belle Fleur en la sommit d'une montagne trs-haute, que l'Aquilon esbranloit fort rudement, elle avoit le pied bleu, les fleurs blanches et rouges, les fueilles reluisantes comme l'or fin. Later in Le livre des figures hiroglyphiques, Flamel decribes the events that follow the sealing up of the sophic mercury as follows : [...] les exhalai sons montent dans le matras sont obscures, noires blues et flavastres [...] Ces couleurs qui donc signifient la putrefaction et generation [...] It appears that Starkey combined these two descriptions to arrive at his vegetable Saturnia . (27) For the alchemical stage of putrefactio, cf. Dobbs, Foundations, op. cit. in n. 1, 30-31, 34, 45, 170, 178, 212, 224-225, and 229. (28) Philalethes, Exposition upon the first six gates..., in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 103.


William R. Newman

The visionary tone continues when Philalethes describes how he heard a Voice behind me, saying, What wouldest thou in the World? Philalethes, now in love with the beautiful nymph , replies that he desires nothing so much as to see her again. The voice replies that she has gone into seclusion, but that Philalethes should be happy with the book that she gave him, most happy in that thou couldest and didst eat it, which every one that hath it cannot do (29). At the sad news of his abandonment, Philale thes despairs. While Philalethes is bemoaning his lost love, he suddenly hears a shrill voice beside him, and sees a brilliant light. Nearby, he spies a most secret place, and in it a secret Room of Diaphanous matter . Within it is the lady, but now accompanied by a king dressed in beaten gold. There is also a third person in the room, a waterbearer with a pitcher of water on his shoulder, and in the midst of it there burned as it were a Lamp (30) . Despite the beauty of this vision, Philalethes is displeased, for his lady is stark naked in the presence of the King. Averting his eyes, he notes that the room is closed on all sides, so that it seemes as it were made of one entire piece of Chrystal . It is small as well, no bigger than a little egg, and all three of its inhabitents might have been enclosed in a Hazel Nut . The lady, sensing Philalethes' distress, asks him the cause of his anxiety. The alchemist replies that he is not sad, but amazed at the spectacle before him, the sight not being to be parallePd in John Tradescants Chamber of Rarities, which is the System of the Novel Rarities of the known World (31) . What amazes Philalethes is not merely the minuteness of his interlocutor, but the fact that she who had seemed so piously virtuous a Lady is now so retiredly naked with a man, only attended with a Water-bearer . The lady replies that her shrin kage is due to a Magical Vertue, which is alone given to me (29) Ibid., 104-105. (30) Ibid., 106. (31) Ibid., 107. There is an abundant literature on the John Tradescant's. Cf. Prudence Leith-Ross, The John Tradescants (London : P. Owen, 1984), Martin Welch, The Tradescants and the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford : Ashmolean Museum, 1978), and Arthur MacGregor (d.), Tradescant's rarities (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1983).

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


from GOD , and that Philalethes should not worry if he suspects a diabolical agency. Nature goes on for several pages, explaining that the devil is only a deceitful Jugler who must do her bidding. Comparing her own dominion to his, she relates the following : My Rule is not as is the Rule of Princes among Men, but I am serviceable to all, yea to the least Worm in the World; and because I am so serviceable, therefore my Master hath appointed that nothing can or may disobey me; the Devil here hath no power, though malice enough [...] (32) The devil is subjugated to Nature, but Nature herself is the subject of the most humble creature the worm. With these words, Nature begins an apology for her seemingly promiscuous ways. She is, to use an old expression, a sort of meretrix casta, a chaste whore available to all but owned by none. Nature continues by adding that her kingdom is in the State of Innocency , appea rances to the contrary (33). The King, her servant, has been taken prisoner, and he can only be ransomed by the gift of his Flesh and Blood , with the result that he will die and arise from the Dead . She then solicits the help of Philalethes, offering him not only dominion over herself, but the following reward : The Blood of this King, which redeems his Brethren, will give thee a Medicine to command all the Imperfections of thy mortal Body; and though it be no Antidote against Death, the irrevocable Decree being past, yet it triumphs over all the Miseries of Life, both of Poverty and Sickness, and it possesseth a Man of the most incomparable Treasures of this World (34). It goes without saying that the product derived from the King's blood is the philosophers' stone, in its dual role as universal medic ineand transmuter of metals. Philalethes is overjoyed at the pros pect of this gift, but a bit disconcerted when the lovely queen demands that he light a stove beneath the diaphanous chamber so that the King sweat to death . The dissolution of his rival alarms him not a bit, but Philalethes is concerned about the fate of his lady. She informs him, however, that neither heat nor cold (32) Philalethes, Exposition upon the first six gates..., in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 109. (33) Ibid., 111. (34) Ibid., 112.


William R. Newman

can harm her, and upon becoming the recipient of this knowledge, Philalethes reports that I saw a most exquisite Light, which took up an incredible small room, and methoughts my Head seemed as it were diaphanous (35) . Having been commanded to light the stove, Philalethes of course thinks of his erstwhile guide, whereon a voice informs him that the guide is now within the chamber. Looking at the Water-bearer, Philalethes understands that it is he who is his guide, but what arrests the attention of the alchemist is the Water-bearer's pitcher : Then I viewed his Pitcher well, and I found that his Pitcher was clear as pure Silver; and what was strange, the Bearer, and the Pitcher, and the Water in it were one ; and in the midst of the Water, as it were in the very centre, there was a most radiant twinkling Spark, which sent forth its Beams even to the very surface of the Water, and appeared as it were a Lamp burning, and yet no way distinguishable from the Water (36). Philalethes then lights the furnace beneath the chamber, and the Water-bearer pours forth his water, now mixed with fire. The Waterbearer then makes his exit by diving into the stream of water and disap pearing. Inspecting the released liquid, Philalethes notices a goodly Lady in the midst of it , not Nature herself, but one as beautiful as Helen. She is naked, and her skin as bright as fine silver. Although she is tiny at first, she soon grows bigger, consuming all the water as she expands. The new lady, unlike the old, is pained horribly by the heat of the stove, and she repeatedly faints. The King, meanwhile, feeling pity for her whom he knows to be his Sister, his Mother, and his Wife , embraces her. He is at once covered with her sweat and tears, so that both take on the color of silver. Gallantly, he asks her what he can do to help, and she replies that she wants his Conjugal Fealty (37) . Not one to be diverted by euphemism, the King grants her request in such a way that she conceives the King's Seed , saying with some relief that she is now better able to endure the Fire which did prevail upon her (38). But this is not enough : Therefore not contented, she had a second, a third and fourth Bene volence, even to the eleventh time : Then said the King, I am very faint and weak [...] (35) (36) (37) (38) Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., 113. 114. 116. 117.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


The King, wasted by his Venery , begins to sweat marvell ously, until his body is almost consumed. The Queen, no doubt feeling a combination of guilt and disappointment, sheds so many tears that, mixed with the sweat, they produce a river, and so the two are drowned. Philalethes, musing at the strangeness of the sight , then notices a carcass on the surface of the water, which soon grows livid, black, blewish, and yellowish with putre faction (39). This horrible decay soon infects the water, which now grows black and thick, like turbid slime. The heat gradually dries up this decaying mass, only to reveal a horrible venemous tumef ied Toad, [...] as it were dying [...] A raven eats the toad, dies of its poison, and dissolves into a most filthy squallid Liquor blacker than Ink, and thick like Pitch melted [...] Philalethes, who has been idly wondering at this spectacle, now hears a voice that tells him he must not leave. His mind jolted into activity, he has a revelation : Then my Eyes were opened, and I saw Nature walking up and down among the Carcasses, and in her hand the unparallell'd Lamp; and taking a more serious view, I saw in those rotten Atoms the Idea's of all things natural and supernatural [...] (40) He then sees that the King and Queen are buried in a Field Sable and that the tomb is made of polished jet or ebony. On the tomb is written a prophecy that if he keep the fire constant, they should rise again, and be more glorious and powerful than ever they were before . Alarmed at the expectations being made of him, Philalethes asks the disembodied voice for further direc tions. It responds by giving him a Ball of fine Silk , and enjoin ing he should make this fast to a Pin of this Tower, and that then go round and behold the place [...] (41) Emboldened by his possession of this Ariadne's thread, Philalethes takes a candle and begins wandering about the castle. The darkness is literally impenetrable, standing as it were in clusters by it self and resis ting the opposition of the Rays of Light . For all that, Philale thes can make out strange figures, as of Birds, Beasts, and creeping things of monstrous shapes , and soon he comes upon (39) Ibid., 118. (40) Ibid., 119. (41) Ibid., 120.


William R. Newman

a multitude of men (42). Their eyes have been irritated by dark and smoak , so that they flee from the brilliance of Philalethes' candle. His eyes becoming used to the Cimmerian gloom, Philale thes notices that the men have with them Light as it were of Fox-Fire, or rotten Wood, and Glow-worms Tails [...] (43) By the pale phosphorescence of this matter, the men are reading Geber and Rhasis. Remarking that his candle is of no use in a place where the inhabitants seem to themselves wondrous well inlightened by darkness, Philalethes puts it down, wanders off with his thread, and goes to sleep. Awakening, Philalethes finds that he can now see in the darkness, and observes that he is in a ruinous place of many millions of turnings , all illuminated by fox-fire and glow-worms' tails (44). But taking out his copy of d'Espagnet's Enchiridion Physicae Restitutae, he observes that he can no longer read a single word of it (45). He then encounters a blear-eyed man with corroded fingers, who merrily enquires the title of the book. On learning the title, the decrepit individual reveals his familiarity therewith : It is a good Book, saith he. He and Sendivow are the two best that ever wrote. I but, said I, I went to peruse my Book, and I can read not one word in it. That's strange, quoth he; let me see it : Then I shewed it him, and he read out of it such strange things that I never had heard of before; and Sendivogius, saith he, is of the same mind. Marvelling that this man has found processes in d'Espagnet and Sendivogius that he never dreamed of, Philalethes supposes that this is due to the peculiar light of the place. He looks at the copies of Rhasis and Geber that he happens to have with him, and notices that these texts are virtually intact, except for a few places in which the Truth was couched in a few words (46) .

(42) Ibid., 121. (43) Ibid., 122. (44) Ibid., 123. (45) For d'Espagnet, cf. John Ferguson, Bibliotheca chemica (Glasgow : 1906; Hildesheim : Georg Olms Verlag, 1974), vol. I, 249-250. As Ferguson relates, Olaus Borrichius knew the son of the elder d'Espagnet. Additional material not known to Ferguson is found in Borrichius' Itinerarium 1660-1665, d. H. D. Schepelern (Copenhagen : The Danish Society of Language and Literature, 1983) vol. 3, 368 and 439. (46) Philalethes, Exposition upon the first six gates..., in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 124.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


Finally Philalethes returns to the chamber by means of his thread, where he encounters Nature once more. She informs him that the men whom he has met are those who wrot in Alchymy according to the Light of Fancy, and not of Nature; though to them their Light seem clear enough, yet can they see nothing by it but what is phantastical, and mystically or sophistically written by the Envious, for the seducing of such fanciful Doters [...] (47) The phosphorescence of the fox-fire and glow-worms' tails is an imaginary Light , making the eyes so sore that they cannot bear the brilliance of ordinary illumination. Philalethes then returns to visit the sophists once more. He finds them performing myriad operations on sulfur, salts, and strong waters, calcining lead, tin, copper, and iron, distilling vinegar, rectifying spirit of wine, and subliming lead. Philalethes returns to Nature, who tells him that there is no ground of truth (48) in these processes. Naturally enough, Philalethes wants to know what then is the true process for acquiring the philosophers' stone. What follows is in effect Philalethes' explication of the entire adventure. Nature informs Philalethes that the sophists not only are working on the wrong matter, but that they have committed another desperate error : for our work is to make a substance fluid, penetrating and entring, that may have ingress into imperfect Metals : for which cause we do preserve humidity, without which our Stone cannot be penetrative (49). The sophists, not observing the rule that moisture must be maint ained, cook their matter to a dry Powder or Calx . Nature then announces another rule : our this not the Therefore first you must know, that we joyn kind with kind in work, for Nature is mended and retained with its own Nature : for cause is our King wedded to the Water-bearers Daughter [...] Wonder at it that a Queen should spring out of a Water-bearers loins, for King is also his Son, and he is greater than them both (50).

Philalethes goes on to describe this incestuous arrangement in greater detail. Although the King is richer than his father, the (47) (48) (49) (50) Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., 125. 130. 131. 133.


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latter has the Key of a Closet, in which is Riches enough for all in the Kingdom . The King cannot gain access to this wealth, however, unless he marry his sister, which is in the water of the Pitcher invisible . But that sister is also his Mother and his Father, for it is one with the Water-bearer, the Water and the Pitcher, as is said . It is precisely because of their consanguin ity the King and Queen are so strongly attracted to one that another, and that the immoderate use of Venery, and violent sweating, weeping and pissing meld together to make one Sea . Sure that we have not heard enough, Philalethes then tells us that in this sea swim two Fishes without flesh and bones, which after resolve and make one Broth, which is called Water permanent (51) . What can one say of Philalethes' allegory? At once burlesque and arcane, innocent and obscene, it seems to defy the analysis of reason. Must we therefore turn to the analysis of unreason, and employ the analytical psychology of Carl Jung? Instead of taking that step, let us consider Philalethes' own comments : Thus have I somewhat Metaphorically deciphered our true princi ples,yet so plainly as that you may with diligence understand the meaning; and unless you know this, you will proceed blind-fold in your work, not knowing the causes of things, so that every puff of Sophisters will toss you, like as a Feather is tossed in the Air with a blast of Wind : for our Books are full of obscurity, and Philosophers write horrid Meta phors and Riddles to them who are not upon a sure bottom, which like to a running Stream will carry them down head-long into despair and errors, which they can never escape till they so far understand our wri tings, as to discern the subject Matter of our secrets, which being known the rest is not so hard (52). Philalethes tells us that his discourse has been somewhat meta phorical : indeed, it is the custom of philosophers to obscure their processes in horrid Metaphors and Riddles . But that is exactly how the menagerie of toads and ravens should be taken as a succession of riddles enfolding the subject matter of our secrets in a veil of mystery. It is not, pace Carl Jung, a parable of the psyche unfolding its own transformation. Let us (51) Ibid., 134. (52) Ibid., 134-135.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


therefore try to read Philalethes as an alchemist would, in order to see whether we can penetrate the gloom of his writings or whether we too have been blinded by the fox-fire of the sophists.

III. The subject matter of our secrets

We shall begin with Philalethes' entry into the room with parti colored hangings. In that room was a peculiar herb whose roots, leaves, and veins corresponded to the colors of the tapestries, black, yellow, and livid. What is this mysterious plant? Let us employ the principle of dispersion de la science, and consult the Philalethan corpus as a whole. There we shall find only one other plant displayed prominently the herb saturnia. Philalethes' Fons chemicae philosophiae contains a detailed description thereof : In Saturnine places there is found a certain little herb called Saturnia, whose branchlets appear dry, and yet there is much juice in its roots. Collecting this herb together with its roots, you will carry it until you come to the base of a mountain. Digging at the base of this with the aid of Vulcan, you will bury your herb, which should permeate the pores of the mountain at once by loosening its earth (53). The seventeenth century alchemist, reading this passage beside the one in the Exposition, would know that he was on the right track, for the herb Saturnia is supposed to be found in saturnine places . The first gate of Ripley's castle was indeed such a place, both saturnine in the sense of being the scene of a sad burial and saturnine in the literal, planetary sense. The Introitus apertus, arguably Philalethes' most widely read work, divides the alche mical work into seven stages or regimens. These are the regimens of mercury, saturn, jupiter, luna, venus, mars, and sol. After pre paring his philosophical mercury, the starting point of the philoso phers' stone, the alchemist is supposed to seal it up with gold in a flask and subject it to slow, even heating. The Introitus allo cates fifty days to the regimen of mercury, during which time the substance is supposed to boil and change color continually, until (53) Philalethes, Fons chemicae philosophiae, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 694.


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it finally turns black. The stage of saturn, lasting forty days, sees the death of the Lion , gold, and the birth of the crow (54). This refers to the monochrome blackness now found within the sealed vessel. As Philalethes exclaims : Oh sad spectacle and image of eternal death ! Indeed, he adds that the tomb in which our king is buried is called saturn in our work, and it is the key to the coins of our art (55) . But he adds that the pitiful sight of the king's death bears good tidings, for it will be followed by a glorious resuscitation of the matter within the flask. The herb saturnia, then, is clearly something to be associated with the first stages of the alchemical magnum opus. As the Fons chymicae philosophiae stated, it is a dry substance with much juice in its roots. Assuming that our putative alchemist had the Introitus before him, he would probably now turn to Chapter II of that work, where Philalethes describes the composition of the philosophical mercury, the first beginning of the work : Let [the alchemists] know that our water is composed from many things, although it is one matter compounded of diverse things having one essence. In our water is required first fire, second the liquor of the vegetable Saturnia, third the bond of Mercury. The fire is the mineral Sulfur, and yet it is not properly mineral, nor metallic, but a medium between the mineral and metallic, a third thing participating in each. It is a Chaos or Spirit, because our fiery Dragon, which conquers all things, is penetrated all the same by the odor of the vegetable Saturnia, whose blood congeals with the juice of Saturnia into one marvellous body. And yet this is not a body, since it is wholly volatile, nor is it a spirit, because in fire it is rendered a molten metal. It is therefore the real Chaos, which is related to all the metals as mother. For I know how to extract all (the metals] from it, even sol and luna, without the transmutatory Elixir (56). Beneath this riot of imagery there lies a straightforward message. The philosophical mercury must be composed of several ingredients : it is not simply vulgar mercury or quicksilver. These three ingre dients are fire, saturnia, and mercury itself here presumably quicksilver. The fire , however, is not ordinary fire, but the mineral sulfur which is a chaos or spirit . In other words, this sulfur is highly volatile : Philalethes is following the usage (54) Philalethes, Introitus, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 673. (55) Ibid., 673. (56) Ibid., 662.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


of J. B. Van Helmont, who derived the term Gas from Chaos precisely because the latter meant a spiritual sub stance (57). Starkey will shortly distinguish this first chaos or mineral sulfur from another spirit which is the chaos par excellence. Despite the fact that it is a fiery dragon that can conquer all, the mineral sulfur or lesser chaos is pene trated and congealed by saturnia. The result of this penetration is the formation of a wondrous body which is both metallic and volatile. This is the real Chaos , in contradistinction to the forementioned mineral sulfur , because like the primordial chaos of the ancients, it is the progenitor of other substances the metals. The alchemical reader of Philalethes would have discovered a great deal from this. He would now know that the combination of saturnia and the fiery dragon would give him a volatile metallic substance which, since it required heat in order to be fused, could not be ordinary mercury, which is of course liquid at room temperature. Moreover, this wondrous body composed of the fiery dragon and saturnia was to be mixed, after its production, with mercury. Now the number of volatile, metallic substances known in the mid-seventeenth century was fairly restricted. Our alchemist would think perhaps of metallic arsenic and bismuth, but if he were thoroughly grounded in the Philalethes-corpus, the expres sion Chaos would surely make him turn elsewhere. If our hypothetical alchemist were simply to return now to Phi lalethes' Ripley commentary, he could now extract the components of the philosophical mercury without great difficulty. Philalethes there alerts us to the fact that he is going to reveal the nature of the Chaos , or hidden body in the form of a poem, entitled The Learned Sophies Feast (58) : Our Subject it is no ways malleable,/It is Metalline, and its colour sable,/With intermixed Argent, which in veins/The sable Field with gli ttering Branches stains (59). It is unlikely that any alchemist of the period could have mis taken this unequivocal description of Spiessglanz, antimony trisul-

(57) Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista Van Helmont (Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982), 64. (58) Philalethes, An exposition upon the preface, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 48. (59) Ibid., 52.


William R. Newman

fide, the native ore of metallic antimony. In case anyone did miss the point, however, Philalethes tells us at another point in the Ripley commentary that we should : Take then the most beloved Daughter of Saturn, in whose Arms are a Circle Argent, and on it a Sable Cross on a Black Field, which is the signal note of the great world, espouse her to the most warlike God, who dwells in the house of Aries, and thou shalt find the Salt of Nature, with this Salt acuate thy water, as thou best knowest, and thou shalt have the Lunary bath in which the Sun will be amended (60). To an alchemist of the seventeenth century, the interpretation of this passage would have bordered on the trivial. The Daughter of Saturn is holding the papal symbol of the globe surmounted by a cross. Drawn flat, the globe becomes a circle, and we have the tradition symbol of crude antimony, that is, unrefined ant imony sulfide. The symbol had been popularized in the first decades of the seventeenth century by the anonymous author writing under the name of Basilius Valentinus , and would have been wellknown to anyone reading Philalethes (61). Now the import of the passage is that the daughter of Saturn is herself crude antimony, and what would one call a daughter of saturn but Saturnia? We have therefore solved the riddle of Saturnia without recourse to any material unavailable to the seventeenth century reader of Phi lalethes. Let no one doubt, then, that the primary purpose of such wild imagery as Philalethes' was precisely what he said it to be to conceal the subject Matter of our secrets with horrid Meta phors and Riddles . It is only fair to say at this point that the riddle of Philalethes' first matter has been solved many times before us, both in the seventeenth century and in our own. Using a fragment of George Starkey's 1651 letter to Robert Boyle, Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs solved it in 1975 (62). But it had already been solved as early as 1678, by the Moravian physician Johann Hertodt von Todtenfeldt, without (60) Philalethes, An exposition upon Sir George Ripley's Epistle, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 20-21. (61) There is a large literature on the extraordinary pseudepigrapha that go under the name of Basilius Valentinus . A recent treatment may be found in Claus Priesner, Johann Thoelde und die Schriften des Basilius Valentinus, in Die Alchemie in der europaischen Kultur- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Christoph Meinel (ed.) (Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1986), 107-118. (62) Dobbs, Foundations, op. cit. in n. 1, 175-186.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


the use of any documents but the printed corpus of Philalethes (63). Hertodt and Philalethes shared a common language of images, allowing them to communicate their processes. Let us therefore continue a bit with our unravelling of Philalethes, to further ill uminate this mode of communication. In the just-quoted passage from Philalethes' Ripley comment ary, alchemist says that the Daughter of Saturn must be the married to the most warlike God . To anyone familiar with classical mythology, this could only mean Ares, or in the Latin form, Mars. Since the Middle Ages, however, the Latin world had known that Mars was a Deckname, a secret name, for iron (64). So Philalethes is telling us that crude antimony must be combined with iron. But why does he add that Mars dwells in the house of Aries ? In Ptolemaic astrology, one of the two celestial houses of the planet Mars is found in the zodiacal constellation Aries. Aries in turn belongs to the trinity of constellations including Leo and Sagittarius, called the fiery triplicity (65). A reference to Aries would therefore allude to fiery heat : as we shall see, this heat is to be found within iron itself. It is worth noting that Philalethes is decoding Sendivogius here, giving a concrete mineral refe rent to one of the Polish alchemist's Decknamen. Sendivogius had said to look for the matter of the philosophers' stone in the belly of Aries (66). Philalethes is here announcing to the reader that he has solved the enigma of the noble Pole. This is purely an assertion of authority, for Philalethes' process is not dependent on Sendivogius at all, but derives rather from the Prussian alche mistAlexander von Suchten (67). Continuing in this fashion, Phi lalethes adds that Mars will help us find the Salt of Nature , another Sendivogian figura, with which we must acuate our water . Turning back to Chapter II of the Introitus, our seven(63) For Hertodt, cf. George Lyman Kittredge, Dr. Robert Child the Remonstrant, Transactions of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (1919), 135-137. Hertods Epitola was first published in the Miscellanea curiosa of the Academia naturae curiosorum for the year 1677 (Breslau, 1678), Decuria vm, 380-386. This was reprinted in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 697-699. (64) William R. Newman, The Summa perfection^ of Pseudo-Geber (Leiden : Brill, 1991), 347-351, 478-484, et passim. (65) Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos (London : Heinemann, 1980), 83. The term fiery triplicity is not used by Ptolemy, though it is widespread in astrology. (66) Sendivogius, Novum lumen chemicum, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 475. (67) Newman, The authorship of the Introitus, op. cit. in n. 9, 139-144.


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teenth century alchemist would surely take this to mean that the product of the marriage between Saturnia and Mars, the salt of nature, must be mixed with mercury. But what exactly would the product of that marriage be? Another clue is found in Chapter V of the Introitus. There Philalethes tells us that our Chaos , the product of the marr iage between Saturn's daughter and Mars, has a center which is astral, radiating the earth all the way up to its surface with its brightness (68) . To our seventeenth century alchemist, who has already recognized crude antimony and iron behind Saturnia and Mars, this stellar reference can mean only one thing : the alche mist must reduce his antimony ore by reacting it with iron. In doing so, he is to arrive at the famous star regulus of ant imony, the striking star-like formation of metallic antimony that sometimes occurs when the molten metal is cooled slowly under a covering of slag (69). The admonition of the Ripley commentary that this product was identical with the Sendivogian salt of nature probably alludes indirectly to the crystalline character of the star regulus (70). The chemical reaction by which the reduc tionof antimony is carried out is given by Mellor (71), and it will not be amiss to repeat it here : Sb2S3 + 3Fe 2Sb + 3FeS. This is all perfectly straightforward, but the reader may wonder why Philalethes referred to the iron in Chapter II of the Introitus as a fiery dragon and as mineral sulfur . As we said before, Phi lalethes encodes not only processes, but theories. The fiery sulfur is the Paracelsian principle of the same name, contained in great abun dance in iron. Even in the Middle Ages it had been thought that iron was a metal rich in sulfur, because of its very high melting point. Sulfur was the principle responsible for congealing or hardening mercury in order to make a metal; therefore excess sulfur led to great hard ness. But Philalethes elsewhere tells us that native antimony, although it has an external , impure, sulfur, is utterly lacking in the metallic sulfur that is necessary to the formation of a metal (72). This the anti(68) Philalethes, Introitus, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 663. (69) Sydney and Margery Johnstone, Minerals for the chemical and allied industries (New York : Wiley, 1961), 33. (70) J. W. Mellor, A comprehensive treatise on inorganic and theoretical chemistry, vol. 9 (London : Longman, Green, 1970), 355. (71) Ibid., 350. (72) Philalethes, Introitus, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 665.

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mony must get from iron. The sulfur to be gotten is a fiery dragon in that it is volatile, and like any sulfur, capable of burning. Thus Philalethes' recipes refer not only to substances evident to the senses of all, but to hypothetical substances that only one trained in alchemical theory would recognize. We shall return to this subject presently, but let us finish first with the phi losophers' mercury. We have already learned that we are supposed to mix the star regulus of antimony with vulgar mercury in order to arrive at the philosophical mercury. But a careful reading of Philalethes will at once reveal that things are not quite so simple. Let us consult Chapter II of the Introitus once more : This Chaos is called our Arsenic, our air, our Luna, our Magnes, our Chalybs, but in diverse respect, because our matter undergoes various states before our Regal Diadem is extracted from the menstrual blood of our whore. So learn who the comrades of Cadmus are, and who the Serpent who ate them, [and] what the hollow oak, on which Cadmus transfixed the Serpent. Learn what the Doves of Diana are, which conquer the Lion by beating him, the green Lion, I say, which is really the Babyl onian Dragon, killing all by means of his venom (73). Before the reader expires from despair, let us remember that we have solved the problem of our Chaos . It is unequivocally antimony, though in various states . Thus our chaos can refer to unrefined antimony or to antimony metal, which Philale thes views as the product of a fiery ferrous soul and a mercurial substance drawn from Saturnia. Let us first consider why our chaos is both Magnes and Chalybs, that is, magnet and steel. If we know the theory, the answer is again straightforward. We have seen that Philalethes thinks of Saturnia, crude antimony, as penetrating the fiery dragon of iron and combining therewith. Moreover, our Magnet has a hidden center abounding in salt . And we know from the passage expounded above that such salt refers to the star regulus. The magnet, then, is the crude ant imony, which attracts the fiery spirit of sulfur from iron and joins its own mercury therewith to yield metallic antimony (74). The (73) Ibid., 662. (74) Ibis interpretation is confirmed by Starkey's 1651 letter to Boyle :[...] the soule of [iron] is by the Virtue of the [antimony] made totally Volatile (Newman, Clavis, op. cit. in n. 21, 572). Starkey views the crude antimony as the agent, or magnes, while the iron is the patient, or chalybs.


William R. Newman

chalybs is simply the ferrous spirit that is attracted by the magnet and united to it. In other words, Philalethes is simply telling us what he has already revealed under different terms. The same may be said for the striking image of the extraction of a royal diadem from the menstrual blood of our whore . Richard Westfall has commented on the remarkable character of this image (75), but the reader who has borne with us this far will have seen Philale thes eating books and losing the opacity of his head; he will have witnessed copulating royalty drowning in their own sweat and tears; rotting bodies growing into toads have been eaten by melting ravens : why should we be surprised at the blood of a sordid whore ? It is clear that this is but one more Deckname for the star regulus of antimony, the diadem extracted from the impur ityof antimony. Let us quote another passage from the Ripley commentary in order to confirm the identity of the sordid whore : [...] I say our crude Sperm flows from a Trinity of Substances in one Essence, of which two are extracted out of the Earth of their Nativity by the third, and then become a pure milky Virgin like Nature, drawn from the Menstruum of our sordid Whore (76). The trinity of substances alluded to here is that same triumvi rate announced in the Introitus mercury, crude antimony, and iron. The antimony and iron are extracted out of their earth in the sense that the mercury dissolves their product, the star regulus. It is in this sense that the Milky Virgin like Nature , the philo sophical mercury, is drawn from the menstruum of the sordid whore. Philalethes goes on immediately to identify these three subs tances with our true Fountain , which has three springs (77). The first is a Water , or Mercurial Bond , which even sophisters can see so far as the outward shell reacheth , though it has a secret center perceptible only to the wise. The reader will recall that mercurial bond was a term used in Chapter II of the Introitus for vulgar mercury itself : this water is clearly quicks ilver. The second spring is the Blood of our Green Lyon , (75) and W. Science (76) (77) R. S. Westfall, The role of alchemy in Newton's career, in M. L. Righini-Bonelli R. Shea, Reason, experiment, and mysticism in the scientific revolution (New York : History Publ., 1975), 198-199, 213-214. Philalethes, An exposition upon the preface, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 28. Ibid., 29.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


green only in the sense that it is raw and lacking in metalline sulfur, and therefore is Totally Volatile . The expression totally volat ile would of course tip off the diligent alchemist that the Lyon itself is crude antimony. The third spring is a spirit or chaos , which appears to all in a compact and vile despised form. But it is so useful in humane affairs that none can do without it : to the educated reader of Philalethes this would obviously be an allusion to common iron, indeed the most useful of metals, and to the hidden spirit or soul within it, the means of redu cing antimony. Let us now return to Chapter II of the Introitus. Philalethes there identifies our chaos , that is crude or refined antimony, with our Arsenic, our Luna, our Magnes, [and] our Chalybs . All of these refer to antimony, either crude or refined, and if refined, to the putative ferrous component thereof. We have further identified our whore with antimony, as well as the green lion. Philalethes also identifies the green lion here with the Babylo nian Dragon, killing all by means of his venom . This venomous character refers no doubt to the ability of antimony sulfide to kill other metals and absorb them during the process of refi ning gold (78). We have therefore deciphered all the Decknamen of Introitus Chapter II except for the comrade of Cadmus , the serpent who ate them, the hollow oak, on which Cadmus transfixed the serpent , and the Doves of Diana , which conquer the lion by beating him. These Decknamen, drawn ultimately from classical mythology, find their immediate sources in d'Espagnet and Flamel (79). But Philalethes, as usual, has given them specific roles in his own complicated game of riddles. If we return to the Ripley commentary, Philalethes will tell us the following story of the adepts : Their Lyon Green, they suffered him to prey/ On Cadmus Sociates [...] (80) Here the dragon has become our friend the green lion : it is now he who is eating the associates of Cadmus. The inference lies at hand that (78) For the metallurgical use of antimony sulfide in refining and assaying, cf. Georgius Agricola, De re metallica, ed. and transi. Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover (New York : Dover, 1950), 237-239, 451-452, et passim. (79) The ancient myth that Cadmus, the brother of Europa, founded Thebes after having his companions eaten by a dragon, is given an alchemical interpretation in Starkey's source, Le Livre des figures hiroglyphiques de Nicolas Flamel (see the text above in n. 15). (80) Philalethes, An exposition upon the preface, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 53.


William R. Newman

the green lion and the serpent of Introitus Chapter II are the same : crude antimony. Who then are the associates of Cadmus? Some twenty pages earlier, Philalethes already revealed that our mercury is made of a palpable , visible water, a Fiery Form, which is the Blood of Cadmus , and Saturn's Child (81). Once again, we have obvious synonyms for quicksilver, the sulfurous component of iron, and crude antimony. What is described here as a mixing of Cadmus' blood with Saturn's Child later resurfaces as the eating of Cadmus' comrades by the green lion. In both cases the same process is being described the reduction of crude antimony by iron (82). If the serpent is then to be fixed to a hollow oak and left, this must surely be a reference to the alchemical furnace in which the philosophical mercury under goesits successive regimens sealed up in its flask. Virtually all the Philalethan Decknamen have yielded up their colorful costumes to reveal the same three actors mercury, crude or refined antimony, and iron or its sulfurous component. This is not the case with the Doves of Diana , however, the final unre solved figura of Introitus Chapter II. With the doves of Diana we meet a new level of interpretative difficulty, for Philalethes is as chary in describing them as he is prolix in his synonyms for ant imony. Indeed, Hertodt von Todtenfeldt, the seventeenth century commentator of Philalethes, recalls that he came to an utter standstill upon trying to interpret the doves of Diana, until he happened to look in the Second Treatise of antimony vulgar by Alexander von Suchten (83). There he learned that no one will arrive at an amalgam of mercury and the star regulus of antimony without the addition of silver (84). Starkey's 1651 letter to Boyle also confirms this inter pretation, for he says there that you must have the mediation of Virgine Diana that is pure [silver] or else [mercury], & Regulus [of antimony reduced by iron] will not unite (85) . In the longer,

(81) Ibid., 35-36. (82) For an absolute confirmation of this, cf. The Marrow : Old Saturns Son, let two parts taken be,/ Of Cadmus one, and these so long be sure/ By Vulcans aid to purefie, till (free/ from Faeces) the metalline parts be pure;/ This shall be done in four reitera tions,/ The Star shall teach you perfect operations (Philalethes, The Marrow of alchemy, part H, op. cit. in n. 17, 17. (83) Hertodt, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 697. (84) Ibid., 697. (85) Newman, Clavis, op. cit. in n. 21, 573.

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


Latin and German forms of the letter, the two parts of silver that are added to the antimonial amalgam are explicitly called the doves of Diana (86) . It is enlightening to read this passage beside such descriptions of the philosophical mercury as the following : Art, to make the work short, first impregnates Mercury with a spi ritual seed of Sulphur, by which it becomes powerful in the dissolution of Metals, and then adds to it mature Sulphur, by which the work is shortened; and out of these two Parents of one Root is brought forth a Noble Son of a Regal Off-spring, that is not simply Gold, but our Elixir, ten thousand times more precious (87). The work has indeed been made short here, for Philalethes has left out all mention of either the requisite antimony or silver: he refers only to the sulfur drawn from the iron, the quicksilver, and the mature Sulphur found in the gold that is dissolved in the philosophical mercury (88). What we have here is an inten tional ellipsis of Philalethes' process, intended to delude the unwary just as surely as his multiplication of terms for antinomy would have done.

IV. Syncope and parathesis

Could the seventeenth century interpreter of Philalethes have determined the necessity of silver without recourse to Suchten or the letter to Boyle? The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes , for it is a fact that Carolus de Maets, a chemist of Leiden, had already deciphered Philalethes' process in 1675 or 1676, well before Hertodt published it. In his Collegium chymicum secreturn, based on lectures or experiments given privately, de Maets gives a correct interpretation of Philalethes' antimonial amalgam, com-

(86) University of Glasgow, Ferguson ms 85, 168, Dr. Georg Starkeys Chymie (Nuremb erg, 1722), 439. (87) Philalethes, Exposition upon the preface, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 8. (88) Lawrence Principe has pointed out to me that mercury here could alternatively be a Deckname for antimony, in which case it would be the actual quicksilver of the process that had been suppressed from the recipe. Either way, the point would remain the same that the recipe represents a stark example of syncope.


William R. Newman

plete with the addition of cupelled silver (89) . If we return one more time to the Ripley commentary, we shall see how a contem porary alchemist might have divined the necessity of silver. After Philalethes' curious revelation that his head had become transpar ent, observed that the Water-bearer's pitcher was clear as he pure Silver , and that the bearer, the pitcher, and the water within had melted together. In the very midst of this mass was a radiant spark of light, whose beams penetrated to the surface of the water. The product of these four is the philosophical mercury, portrayed later as a lovely but perhaps over-eager lady. Is the silver pitcher not an allusion to the role of silver in the making of the philoso phicalmercury? If so, the spark of light in the center of the com pound, as it were a Lamp burning , would be the fiery component drawn from iron in the making of the stellate regulus. The water within the pitcher would refer to the quicksilver employed in the process, and the Water-bearer himself would be the crude antimony before its reduction. The antimonial character of the Water-bearer is surely suggested when Nature explains the whole mysterious allegory. She relates that it is no offence to nobility that the King should wed the Water-bearer's daughter (the philo sophical mercury), for the King is also his Son (90). This is surely a reference to that fact that the other metals can be extracted from antimony, the primordial chaos , as Philalethes affirmed in the Introitus (91). A careful reading of the Philalethes corpus would reveal further references to the need for silver in the production of the antimon ial amalgam, though in fact Philalethes modified the process over time so that silver's priority was replaced by that of copper (92).

(89) Praeparatio [mercurjii Philosophorum secundum mentem Anonymi Philalethi [...] Rx Reg : [antimon]ii [mart]ialis [unciam] i [luna]e cupellat : [uncias] ii. Fund[untur] simul ubi instar [aqu]ae fluant, aufer ab Igne, Tune in alio [crucibu]lo [ign]i expone [mercur]ii purissimi [uncias] iii. (Carolus de Maets, bl, ms. SI. 123S, 10v). On de Maets, see Lynn Thorndike, history of magic and experimental science (New York : Columbia Univ. Press, 1956), vol. VIII, 145-146. (90) Philalethes, Exposition upon the first six gates, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 133. (91) Ex eo namque omnia extrahere novi, etiam Solem Lunamque absque Elixire Transmutatore, quod qui panter vidit, potest attestari (Philalethes, Introitus, in Manget, vol. II, op. cit. in n. 19, 662). (92) Philalethes, Marrow, op. cit. in n. 17, part I, 44, part II, 15. On 16-17, Starkey rejects the use of Dianaes Doves .

Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung


But let us conclude our exposition of Philalethan allegory here by generalizing on its method. We can now add a good deal to our earlier comments regarding the techniques of concealment. Not only does our author employ dispersion de la science and the use of Decknamen, he uses two complementary techniques that I shall call syncope and parathesis. These terms, although altered from their usual Greek sense, will serve to characterize certain techni ques concealment within an alchemical context (93). By syncope of I mean the elliptical description of an alchemical process, subs tance, or even apparatus, with the intent to conceal. We observed this in the highly abbreviated recipe for the philosophical mercury that omitted both antimony and silver, and the technique is implicit in all of Philalethes' recipes that fail to mention the role of silver or copper as a mediator for making antimony metal amalga mate with mercury. By parathesis, on the other hand, I mean the heaping-up of synonyms for a given process, substance, or appar atus, again with the intention of bewildering the reader. Such parathesis is present in the profusion of names used by Philalethes for antimony in its several forms, as we remarked above. Should anyone believe that Philalethes was an unwitting victim of his own unconscious mind, as the Jungians would have it, let us return to his words a final time. In the Ripley commentary, Philalethes complains that philosophers have hidden much under the Homonymium of Mercury (94). He then launches into an analysis of alchemical metaphor in the following words : [...] this subject of the Philosophers is considered either in refe rence to its Matter, or formal Vertue; in reference to the former, it is a concrete of Water, as all other Compounds are ; in respect of the latter, it participates [27] of a Celestial Virtue, and that in a high degree in both respects. It is said to be in every place : for the original matter, which is Water, passeth equally through the whole Family of Concretes : and for the celestial Influence, it is so universal that nothing is hidden from the heat of it : so that indeed in this sence it is said to be every where. (93) Syncope, to the Greek grammarians, meant cutting a word short by striking out one or more letters . Parathesis meant juxtaposition or the adding of preposit ions.(Both definitions are from the 1983 printing of Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon.) My use of the two terms should be considered as an extension of the Greek meaning beyond its original scope. I intend them to be used as more or less arbitrary termini technici. (94) Philalethes, Exposition upon the preface, in Ripley Reviv'd, op. cit. in n. 20, 25.


William R. Newman

Here Philalethes carefully disentangles the senses in which the philosophers can say that their stone is found everywhere . These are not the words of an irrational mystic unable to express himself in clear English, but those of a scholar trained in the tropological interpretation of texts. But let us note as well the theoret ical participation that Philalethes expects of us. Only if one knows the Helmontian theory that all substances derive from water can he know that this is what the sages mean when they say that their water is found everywhere. Again, only if one knows of celestial virtues and their ubiquity can he appreciate the formal inter pretation given by Philalethes. As we stated at the outset of this paper, it is not merely processes and their implementation that Philalethes has encoded : his theory too is enciphered. It would be beyond the scope of this paper to enter further into the theoretical component of Philalethan alchemy. We have, at any rate, arrived at the goal that we set out the disentangling of Philalethes' works without assumptions drawn from Jungian psychology. Using the techniques of encipherment into Decknamen, dispersion de la science, and the expansion and compression that I have denominated parathesis and syncope, Starkey managed to compose works of such difficulty that Jung and his followers could be deluded into thinking that they represented the unrestrained irruption of unconscious archetypes . And yet, as I have shown, Starkey' s Philalethan works were anything but that : they are the products of a skilled use of traditional techniques of decep tion that extend back many centuries in the literature of alchemy. At the same time, it is clear from the accounts of Starkey's contemporaries that such techniques were far from being water tight . To one who was skilled in the tradition of alchemical hermeneutics, the correct chemical analysis of the texts was indeed attainable. It is time, therefore, that we dispense with gratuitous assumptions drawn from the realm of analytical psychology and approach the historiography of alchemy from a truly historical perspective. Only then may we understand the role of alchemy in seventeenth century culture at large.