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Thread: Short Dry Path (Ars Brevis)

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    Short Dry Path (Ars Brevis)

    The Ars Brevis as Fulcanelli calls it is a variation of the Dry Path.

    The biggest advantage here is the minimum time taken to achieve the stone. Some adepts have said that this path may be finished in 3-5 hours. Hence very advantageous to the alchemist.

    I will start with relevant quotes from Fulcanelli before moving onto an Allegory which I have added here as an additional data point.

    The human forearm, which the Greeks simply called the arm (brachion), is the hieroglyph for the short, abridged way (ars brevis). As a matter of fact, our Adept, toying with words as the learned cabalist he is, hides under the substantive brachion, arm, a comparative of (brachus), written and pronounced in the same fashion. The latter means short, brief, of short duration, and forms several compounds, including (brachutes), brevity. Thus the comparative brachion, meaning brief, the homonym of brachion, arm, takes on the specific meaning of brief technique, ars brevis.

    But the Greeks used yet another expression to qualify the arm. When they evoked the hand, (cheir), they applied by extension the idea to the entire upper limb and gave it the figurative value of a skilled artistic production of a special process, of a personal style of work, in short, a tour de main, a flick of the wrist, whether acquired or revealed. All these acceptations of the word exactly characterize the fine points of the Great Work in its swift, simple and direct realization, for it only requires the application of a very energetic fire to which the flick of the wrist boils down. Now this fire on our bas-relief is represented not only by the flames, it is also represented by the limb itself which the hand indicates as being the right arm; and it is well known from the proverbial expression that "to be the right arm" always applies to the agent responsible for the executing of the will of a superior --- the fire in the present case.

    Apart from these reasons --- which are necessarily abstract because they are veiled in the form of a stone with a concise image --- there is another one, practical, which comes to uphold and conform in the practical domain the esoteric affiliation of the first ones. We shall state it by saying that whosoever being ignorant of the flick of the wrist of the operation yet takes the risk to undertake it, must fear everything from the fire; that person is in real danger and can hardly escape the consequences of a thoughtless and reckless action. Why then, one could say to us, not to provide this means? We will answer this by saying that to reveal an experiment of this sort would be to give the secret of the short way and that we have not received from God nor from our brothers the authorization to uncover such a mystery. It is already much that, prompted by our solicitude and charity, we warned the beginner whose lucky star leads to the threshold of the cave, that he should be on his guard and redouble his prudence. A similar warning is rarely encountered in the books, and quite succinct as to what concerns the Ars Brevis, but which the Adept of Dampierre knew as perfectly as Ripley, Basil Valentine, Philalethes, Albertus Magnus, Huginus a Barma, Cyliani, or Naxagoras.

    Nevertheless, contrary to the humid way, whose glass utensils allow for easy control and accurate observation, the dry way cannot enlighten the operator at any time in the process of the Work. So, although the time factor reduced to a minimum constitutes a serious advantage in the practice of the ars brevis, the necessity of high temperatures, on the other hand, presents the serious inconvenience of an absolute uncertainty as to the progress of the operation. Everything happens in the deepest mystery inside the crucible which is carefully sealed, buried at the core of the incandescent coals. It is therefore important to be very experienced and to know the fire’s behavior and power well as one could not find in it, from the beginning to the end the least of indication. All the characteristic reactions of the humid way having been indicated among the classical authors, it is possible for the studious artist to acquire indications precise enough to allow him to undertake his long and difficult work. Here on the contrary, it is without any guide that the traveler, brave to the point of rashness, enters this arid and burnt desert. No road laid out, no clue, no landmark; nothing save the apparent inertia of the earth, of the rock, of the sand. The shiny kaleidoscope if the colored stages does not brighten up his uncertain walk; it is as a blind man that he continues his path, without any other certainty save that of his faith, without any other hope but his confidence in divine mercy.

    Yet at the end of his path, the investigator will notice a sign, the only one whose appearance indicates success and confirms the perfection of the sulphur by the total fixation of mercury; this sign consists in the spontaneous bursting of the vessel. Once the time has elapsed, by laterally uncovering a part of its side, we notice, when the experiment has succeeded, one or more lines of a dazzling clarity, clearly visible on the less brilliant background o the envelope. These are the cracks revealing the happy birth of the young king. Just like at the end of incubation the hen’s egg breaks under the effort of the chick, similarly the shell of our egg breaks as soon as the sulphur is produced. There is, among these results, an evident analogy in spite of the different causes, for in the mineral Work, the breaking of the crucible can logically be attributed only to a chemical action, unfortunately impossible to conceive or explain. Let us note however that the rather well known fact often occurs under the influence of certain combination of lesser interest. Thus, for example, while leaving aside, after having cleansed them well, new crucibles which have only been used once, for the fusion of metallic glass, the production of hepar sulphuris, or diaphoretic antimony, they are found cracked after a few days without one being able to explain the obscure reason of this late phenomenon. The considerable spacing of their bulges shows that the fracture seems to occur by the push of an expansive force acting from the center towards the periphery at room temperature and long after the actual use of these vessels.

    But before we leave this masterful ensemble, we will allow ourselves to connect its teaching to that of a curious stone picture that can be seen in Jacques Couer’s palace in Bourges and which apparently can serve as a conclusion to, and summary of, our collection. This sculpted panel forms the tympanum of a door opening on the main courtyard, and represents three exotic trees --- a palm tree, a fig tree, and a date tree --- growing in the midst of herbaceous plants; a frame of flowers, leaves, and twigs surround the bas-relief.

    The palm and date trees, of the same family, were known to the Greeks under the name of (phoenix, and Phoenix in Latin) which is our hermetic phoenix; they represent the two magisteries and their results, the two white and red stones, which partake of one and the same nature included in the cabalistic denomination of Phoenix. As for the fig tree occupying the center of the composition, it indicates the mineral substance out of which the philosophers draw the elements of the miraculous rebirth of the Phoenix, and it is this work of rebirth as a whole which constitutes what is commonly referred to as the Great Work.

    According to the apocryphal Gospels it was a fig or sycamore fig tree (a.k.a. the fig tree of the Pharoah) which had the honor of sheltering the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt, of nourishing them with its fruit and of quenching their thirst, thanks to the clear and fresh water that the child Jesus had drawn out from between its roots. Fig tree in Greek is (suke), from (sukon), fig, a word frequently used for (kusthos), with the root (kuo), to carry in the womb, to contain: it is the Virgin Mother who bears the child, and the alchemical emblem of the passive, chaotic, aquatic, and cold substance, the matrix and vehicle of the spirit incarnate. Sozomeme, a 4th century author, asserts that the tree of Hermopolis which bowed before the infant Jesus was called Persea (Hist. Eccl. Lib. V, ch. 21). It is the name of the balanus (Balanites Aegyptiaca), a shrub from Egypt and Arabia, a kind of oak, called by the Greeks (balanos), acorn, a word by which they also called the myrobalan, fruit of the myrobalan tree. These diverse elements are perfectly related to the subject of the sages and the technique of the ars brevis that Jacques Coeur seems to have practiced.

    Indeed, when the artist, a witness to the fight waged by the Remora and the Salamander, steals from the vanquished igneous monster its two eyes, he must then strive to reunite them into one. This mysterious operation, easy nevertheless for whoever knows how to use the salamander’s dead body, yields a little lump, quite similar to the acorn of an oak tree, sometimes to a chestnut, depending upon how much of it is covered with the rough matrix from which it can never totally free itself. This provides us with the explanation of the acorn and of the oak tree, which we almost always encounter in hermetic iconography; of the chestnuts, specific to Jacques Lallemant’s style; of the heart, the fig, of Jacques Coeur’s fig tree; of the little bell, accessory of the jester’s rattle; of the pomegranates, pears, and apples frequent in the symbolic works of Dampierre, and Coulonges, etc. On the other hand, if we take into account the magical, quasi-supernatural characteristic of this production, we can understand why certain authors have indicated the hermetic fruit by the name of myrobalan, and also why this term has remained in the French common language a synonym for marvelous, surprising or extremely rare things. The priests of Egypt, the principals of the initiatory schools, used to ask the layman soliciting access to the sublime knowledge, this apparently preposterous question: "In your country is the seed of Halalidge and the Myrobalan ever sown?". A question that did not fail to embarrass the ignorant neophyte, but which the skilled investigator could answer. The seed of Halalidge and the Myrobalan are identical with the fig, the fruit of the date tree, with the egg of the Phoenix which is our philosophical egg. It is the one reproducing the legendary eagle of Hermes, whose feathers were dyed with all the colors of the Work, but among which red dominates, as its Greek name (phoinis) purple red indicates. De Cyrano Bergerac does not omit to speak about it, in the course of an allegorical tale where is interspersed some of this language of the birds which the great philosopher admirably commanded. "I began to fall asleep in the Shade, I perceived in the Air a strange Bird, that hovered over my Head; it supported itself by so slight and imperceptible a motion, that I was many times un doubt, whether it might not be also a little Universe, balanced by its own Creator. However by little and little it descended, and at length came so near, that it filled my Eyes with a delightful Prospect. The Tail of it seemed to be green, its Breast Azure-enameled, its Wings Incarnate, and its Head Purple, which tossed a glittering Crown of Gold, the Rays whereof sparkled from its Eyes. It kept a long time upon the Wing, and I was so attentive to observe what became on it, that my Soul being contracted, and in a manner wrapt up in the sole action of Seeing, it hardly reached my Ear, to let me hear that the Bird spoke as it sung. However, being little by little unbent from my Extasie, I distinctly remarked the Syllables, Words and Discourse which it uttered. To the best of my Memory, then it spun out its Songs into these terms,

    "You are a Stranger, whistled the Bird, and have had your birth in a World, of which originally I am. Now that secret propensity to mutual Love, that those of the same Country have one for another, is the instinct, which Inclines me to inform you of my Life...

    "I well perceive, you are big with the expectation to learn what I am, it is I who amongst you am called the Phoenix; in every world there is but one at a time which lives there for the space of an Hundred years; for at the end of an Age, when upon some Mountain of Arabia, it has laid a great Egg amidst the Coals of its Funeral Pile, which it has made of the Branches of Aloes, Cinnamon, and Frankincense, it takes its flight, and diverts its course towards the Sun, as the Country to which its heart has long aspired. It has indeed made many attempts before, for accomplishing that Voyage; but the weight of its Egg, which has so thick a shell, that it requires an Age to be hatched in, still retarded the Enterprise.

    "I am sensible, that you can hardly comprehend that miraculous Production; and therefore I’ll explain it you. The Phoenix is an Hermaphrodite; but amongst Hermaphrodites it is likewise another Phoenix altogether extraordinary, for...

    "It continued half an hour without speaking, and then added: I perceive you suspect what I have told you to be false, but if what I say be not true, the first time I come into your Globe, may an Eagle devour me".


    Another author dwells further on the mythical-hermetical bird and points out a few of its particularities which it would be difficult to find elsewhere. "The Caesar of Birds", he says, "is the miracle of nature, who wanted to show through it the extent of her power, showing herself as a Phoenix by forming the Phoenix. She has done wonders in improving it, by giving it a head embellished with royal feathers and imperial aigrettes, a tuft of feathers, and a crest so bright that it seems to bear either a silver crescent of a golden star on its head. The robe and the down are of a shimmering double-gilt which shows all the colors of the world; the big feathers are rosy red, azure, gold, silver, and of flame color; the neck is a choker made of the stones, and not a rainbow, but a Phoenix bow. The tail is of celestial color with a gold luster, which represents the stars. Its tail feathers and its whole robe are like a first spring, rich of all colors; it has two eyes in its head, shining and flaming, which seem to be two stars; gold legs and scarlet nails; its whole chest and its bearing show that it has some feeling of glory, that it knows how to hold its rank and bring our its imperial majesty. Even its flesh has something royal about it because it only eats drops of incense and chrism of balm. When it was in its crib, says Lactantius, the heaven distilled nectar and ambrosia for it. It alone is witness to all the ages of the world, and it has seen the golden souls of the golden age turn into silver, from silver into brass, and from brass into iron. It alone has never given the sky and the world the slip; it alone scoffs at death, making it its nurse and mother, making it give birth to life. It alone has the privilege of time, of life and of death together. For when it feels laden with years, weighted down by old age and cast down by such a long sequence of years, that it saw to follow on after the other, it lets itself be carried by its desire and proper longing to renew itself by a miraculous death. Then it makes a pile which alone in the world bears no name, for it is not a nest, or a crib, or the place of its birth since it dies there; but it is not a tomb, a coffin, or a funereal urn because in it, it recovers its life; so that I do not know what another inanimate Phoenix is, being nest and tomb, matrix and sepulcher, at once a house for life and for death, which for the sake of the phoenix, work together for this occasion. And, whatever it may be, it is there in the trembling arm a palm tree, that it makes a collection of small sprigs of cinnamon and incense, and on the incense, cassia, and on cassia spikenard; then with a pitiful look, commending its soul to the Sun, its murderer and its father, it alights or lies down on this balmy stake to get rid of its trying years. The Sun, favoring the just desires of this Bird, lights the pyre and reducing everything to ashes with a musky blast, makes it breath its last. Then poor Nature finds herself in a trance and with horrible spasms, fearing to lose the honor of this great world, then orders everything in the world to be quiet; the clouds would not dare pour the slightest drop of water on the ashes nor on the earth; the winds no matter how enraged would not dare run through the countryside; alone the Zephyr is the master, and springtime has the upper hand while the ash is inanimate, and nature holds everything so that the return of her Phoenix is favored. O great miracle of divine providence! Almost at the same time, this cold ash, not wanting to leave poor nature mourning for long or to frighten her, warmed up, I know not how, by the fecundity of the golden rays of the Sun, then turns itself into a little worm, then an egg, then into a Bird, ten times more beautiful than the other. You could say that all of nature was resurrected, for indeed, according to what Pliny writes. The sky again starts its revolutions and its sweet music; and you could properly say that the four elements, without saying anything, sing the motet for four with their flourishing gaiety, as a chant of glory to nature and to mark the return of the miracle of the Birds and of the World.
    Last edited by Dwellings; 08-18-2016 at 04:48 PM.

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