The Mercurial Bird Emblem

The Mercurial Bird Emblem Cover Second woodcut of the 1550 Rosarium philosophorum, also appearing in Fabricius’s Alchemy (p24). In this depiction “the king, standing atop the sun and representing the spiritus, meets the bride of his choice, resting on the moon and representing the anima. The rose branches crossed by king and queen bear out their mutual love, but the court clothes suggest the restrained nature of their initial encounter. “The two roses at the end of each branch refer to the four elements, two of which are active and masculine (fire and air), while two are passive and feminine (water and earth). Their ordered arrangement in a ‘rosie cross’ suggests the abatement of the prima materia and its warring elements. The fifth flower is brought by the dove of the Holy Ghost, a parallel of Noah’s dove carrying the olive branch of reconciliation in its beak. Descending from the quintessential star, the bird reconciles the masculine and feminine elements, just as its third branch equates the rose branches with the three pipes of the mercurial fountain, now transformed into a stem of roses. “The dove is the agent effecting the rapprochement between king and queen, just as the bird indicates the spiritual and heavenly nature of their love. The unusual character of this affair is further stressed by the partners’ left-handed contact. This uncustomary gesture points to the closely guarded secret of their infringement of a general taboo. Actually, the royal couple engages in ‘unnatural’ and illegitimate love, the secret of which is of an incestuous nature: the bride is the king’s own sister. Hence the ‘Rosarium’ admonishes: ‘Mark well, in the art of our magisterium nothing is Concealed by the Philosophers except the secret of the art…’” (p24).

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The Quests Of Alchemy

The Quests Of Alchemy Cover
ALCHEMY: The science by aid of which the chemical philosophers of medieval times attempted to transmute the baser metals into gold or silver. There is considerable divergence of opinion as to the etymology of the word, but it would seem to be derived from the Arabic al=the, and kimya=chemistry, which in turn derives from the late Greek chemica=chemistry, from chumeia=a mingling, or cheein, `to pour out` or `mix', Aryan root ghu, to pour, whence the word `gush'. Mr. A. Wallis Budge in his "Egyptian Magic", however, states that it is possible that it may be derived from the Egyptian word khemeia, that is to say 'the preparation of the black ore', or `powder', which was regarded as the active principle in the transmutation of metals. To this name the Arabs affixed the article `al', thus giving al-khemeia, or alchemy. THE QUESTS OF ALCHEMY: The grand objects of alchemy were (1) the discovery of a process by which the baser metals might be transmuted into gold or silver; (2) the discovery of an elixir by which life might be prolonged indefinitely; and there may be added (3), the manufacture of and artificial process of human life. (for the latter see Homunculus) RECORDS OF ACTUAL TRANSMUTATIONS: Several records of alleged transmutations of base metal into gold are in existence. These were achieved by Nicholas Flamel, Van Helmont, Martini, Richthausen, and Sethon. For a detailed account of the methods employed the reader is referred to several articles on these hermetists. In nearly every case the transmuting element was a mysterious powder or the "Philosopher's Stone". LITERATURE: Atwood, A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mastery, 1850 Hitchcock, Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists, Boston, 1857 Waite, Lives of the Alchemystical Philosophers, London, 1888 The Occult Sciences, London, 1891 Bacon, Mirror of Alchemy, 1597 S. le Doux, Dictionnaire Hermetique, 1695 Langlet de fresnoy, Histoire de la Philosophie Hermetique, 1792 Theatrum Chemicum, 1662 Valentine, Triumphal Chariot of Antimony, 1656 Redgrove, Alchemy Ancient and Modern Figuier, L'Alchimie et les Alchimistes, Paris, 1857 Taken from a 1960 reprint of "AN ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF OCCULTISM", by Lewis Spence; University Press, Hyde Park, New York. Originally Published in 1920, it is considered to be one of the most complete texts on the subject.

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