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Thread: Interesting Water Work Lineage

  1. #1
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    Interesting Water Work Lineage

    My researches in more "classical literature" about water works showed a very clear lineage which you might find interesting.

    I exclude Glauber's works with mirrors and lenses, but those are older than the first book, which I am going to start with.

    This water work lineage seems to begin pretty late, when alchemy was officially already pretty dead or drawing it's last breaths.
    All of this books are in german, but maybe you find some of them in your RAMS collections.

    As far as I can see it, all started with "Der Wasserstein der Weisen" supposedly written by J. Siebmacher (1661)

    Wasserstein

    From this book on all the other interpretations derived.

    The next and pretty clear written book is
    "Philosophisch Güldene Quelle" by Carl Paul Wassermann 1682

    Wassermann

    Then there are of course the two "sun and moon books" by Johann Friedrich Fleischer 1740/1744

    Chymische Sonne
    and
    Chymischer Mondenschein

    The most interesting however is the book "Chymischer Wahrsager" by Dietrich David Becker 1755

    Chymischer Wahrsager

    who sums up all the before mentioned books (he doesn't like the method with salts as magnets) and methods and gives very clear instructions how to get a red oil out of water. I am sure that at least Canseliet must have known this book, because I found obvious similarities between his comments on the Mutus Liber and Becker's book. For example they both share the same favourite dew collecting method.

    Becker, who himself was a medical practitoner with an official PhD, of course was critiziced and bullied by the "official sciences" for example in the November issue of the journal "Erfurter gelehrter Sachen Nachrichten 1755".

    He then wrote another book called "Des Chymischen Wahrsagers Verteidigung 1757"

    Verteidigung

    to defend himself against those critics, tells them where they were wrong and gives useful additional practises at hand how to better get his alchemical preparations.

    Especially those methods described by Becker later appeared quite similar and in shorter form in the water work sections of the "Aurea Catena Homeri" by Kirchweger, which you all should know and own.

    Here you are, maybe this is helpful to some of you too.

    Becker announced to write a book how to extract the three principals out of plants without heat or corrosives, but as he wanted to write his "defense" first, it seems it never appeared. If you happen to know more of this third book by Becker, please inform me. Thank you!

    Edit: I was wrong with the Aurea Catena, which was first published 1723. It's therefore chronologically between Wassermann and Fleischer.
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 05-28-2018 at 11:28 AM.

  2. #2
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    That's a very interesting list!

    However, I think that the Water Work is considerably older than it is given credit for. From The Confession of Trithemius:

    This Breath is the Spirit or Soul of the World and is called Spiritus Mundi. It was, at first, like air, then condensed into a nebulous substance or fog and finally transmuted itself into water. This water was at first spirit and life, because it was impregnated and vivified by the Spirit. Darkness filled the abyss, but by the emission of the Word, the Light was engendered, the darkness was illuminated by the Light and the Soul of the World ("The Astral Light") was born.

    This spiritual Light which we call Nature or Soul of the world is a spiritual body which may be rendered visible and tangible by alchemical processes; but as it is naturally invisible, it is called Spirit.

    It is a living universal fluid diffused throughout Nature, and which Penetrates everything. It is the most subtle of all substances; the most powerful, by reason of its inherent qualities. It penetrates every body and determines the forms in which it displays its activity. By its action, it frees the forms from all imperfection; it makes the impure pure, the imperfect perfect and the mortal immortal by its indwelling.

    This essence or Spirit emanated from the beginning from the Center and incorporated itself with the substance of which the Universe is formed. It is the "Salt of the Earth", and without its presence the plant would not grow, nor the field become green and the more this essence is condensed, concentrated and coagulated in the forms, the more stable they become. It is the most subtle of all substances; incorruptible and immovable from its essence. It fills the infinities of space.

    The sun and planets are but coagulations of this universal principle; from their beating heart they distribute the abundance of their life and send it forth into the forms of the interior world and in all creatures acting about their own center and raising the forms on the way of perfection. The forms in which this living principle establishes itself become perfect and durable so that they no longer decay nor deteriorate nor change in contact with the air. Water can no longer dissolve them, nor fire destroy them nor the terrestrial elements devour them.

    This Spirit is obtained in the same way as it is communicated to the Earth by the stars and this is performed by means of the Water; which serves as a vehicle to it. It is not the Philosopher's Stone, but this may be prepared from it by fixing the volatile. I advise you to pay great attention to the boiling of the Water. Do not let your spirit be troubled about things of less importance. Make it boil slowly, then let it putrefy until it has attained the fitting color, for the Water of Life contains the germ of wisdom. In boiling, the Water will transform itself into Earth. This Earth will change into a pure crystalline fluid; which will produce a fine red Fire; and this Water and this Fire, reduced to a single Essence, produce the great Panacea composed of sweetness and strength, the Lamb and the Lion united.
    (Thanks again Andro for bringing this to my attention.)

    I haven't tracked down any biographic details of this text yet (which is contained in RAMS), however, Trithemius lived 1462 - 1562.

    And according to some, this image from the Splendor Solis (early 1530's) shows a dew collecting method.



    And I think that even older examples can be found.

  3. #3
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    Sure, Siebmacher and Wassermann were quoting older sources too. But I think it's a matter of interpretation to really use actual dew, or to see it as a Deckname for s.sth. else, or to see dew as the real thing behind other Decknamen (e.g. the rose).

    It would be interesting to find the original source of Trithemius confession. Maybe it is just a 'pseudo' author who has written later. However, as most of his texts are written in latin, or a cryptic language, this is a harder task. He did not seem to be a full time alchemist too, so I have my doubts here.

    One could say similar things about Siebmacher too, whose profession was in heraldry, though his relatives had alchemy-related jobs. At least we have a publishing year here.

    The picture of the Splendor Solis shows typical women's work, and is not necessarily related to dew collection imo.
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 06-04-2018 at 02:30 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    The picture of the Splendor Solis shows typical women's work, and is not necessarily related to dew collection imo.
    Indeed, there is no sufficient evidence to conclude that the author of that text really had actual dew in mind. In fact, he cites a passage from Hermes that makes it pretty clear that the "dew" in question is NOT real dew:

    HERMES, the First Master of this Art, says as follows: "The
    Water of the Air, which is between Heaven and Earth, is the Life
    of everything; for by means of its Moisture and Warmth, it is the
    medium between the two opposites, as Fire and Water, and
    therefore it rains water on earth, Heaven has opened itself, and
    sent its Dew on earth, making as sweet as honey, and moist.
    Therefore the Earth flowers and bears manifold coloured
    blooms and fruits, and in her interior has grown a large Tree
    with a silver stem, stretching itself out to the earth's surface.
    On its branches have been sitting many kinds of birds, all
    departing at Daybreak, when the Ravenhead became white. The
    same tree bears three kinds of Fruit. The First are the very
    finest Pearls. The Second are called by Philosophers TERRA
    FOLIATA. The Third is the very purest Gold.
    This Tree gives us
    as well the fruit of Health, it makes warm what is cold, and what
    is cold it makes warm, what is dry it makes moist, and
    makes moist what is dry, and softens the hard, and hardens the
    soft, and is the end of the whole Art.


    Has anyone ever seen actual dew perform the things being described here? I don't think so! It is this type of passages in alchemical texts which have confused many a "puffer" to experiment with actual dew. Of course, they never found the things described in them, because what the alchemists had in mind by "dew" is a liquid (i.e. the secret solvent or "water") that is generated inside the "microcosm" (i.e. inside their flasks & retorts) NOT in the "macrocosm" (i.e. the world we live in.)

  5. #5
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    The text allocated to that picture is even more clear:

    It is about the "sublimatio".
    The ashes should be washed and cooked (calcinated) until they are white.
    Washing and cooking: Women's work (in former times for a long time).
    I will have a look at the aurora consurgens, which was the main source for the Splendor Solis, which can almost be considered as a 1:1 copy in some passages.

    On the other hand I would not dismiss the dew too soon.
    As can be observed, all putrefaction, and therefore the reason for all changes in nature (and probably in Alchemy as a follower of nature) needs moisture. This moisture falls from the "heaven" as rain, dew, snow, ...and rises from the earth as a mist up to the heaven again. This is one main aspect of this art and that "water circle" imo symbolized for example in those pictures with the Jacob's ladder (s. Mutus Liber or Alchemya of Notre Dame). Of course it could also show the symbol of niter and other things too..

    Nevertheless the ancients indeed observed that everything in the animal and vegetable kingdoms is changed through that water. They concluded that the same effect takes place in the mineral kingdom, but much longer. It's the artist's task to speed up things in the mineral kingdom.

    Therefore it indeed suits very good at least as a symbol for the universal solvent. Water isn't really attributed to one of the three kingdoms but plays a big role in all three.

    Now pure clean water will never form an earth out of itself that's for sure. But I read in Becker's last book, that he knew a guy (forgot his name - can look it up if wanted), who could force all waters (dew, rain, well) to form an earth with a certain "flick of the wrist". It's the same strange term Fulcanelli uses for a very important yet unknown step in alchemy.

    If there is anything about that water claims, one should therefore focus on the impurities in the water that causes to form some kinds of either algae, funghi or bacteria matter that fits the descriptions (brown, black and slimy, eventually resulting into a white solid and a red oil after further treatment). As most of the alchemist talk about operating in the dark, it is not likely that an organism performing photosynthesis is involved here. Of course living matter would additionaly need some kind of carbon hydrates to live and grow. As for example Azotobacters (who prefer to live in black earth with clay soil BTW) would need a host to grow properly in a symbiosis.

    Of course I can be all wrong with this hypothesis and this indeed is a dead end.

    Edit: I found the source with the “flick of the wrist“, which in german is “geheimer Handgriff“. It is in Baron Schröder's Nothwendiger Unterricht vom Goldmachen from 1684. Schröder was a member of the Royal Society, together with guys like Boyle. In said chapter he also speaks about different methods to attract the Spiritus Mundi out of the air(e.g. with lenses, glasses, salts, ashes, heat(!) or bellows at night and daytime)

    Schröder
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 06-05-2018 at 08:29 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    force all waters (dew, rain, well) to form an earth with a certain "flick of the wrist". It's the same strange term Fulcanelli uses for a very important yet unknown step in alchemy.
    There are at least two ways (that I know of) to precipitate an earth out of good quality distilled water.

    One must also take care that there are no spores present, otherwise we can end up with a fungus growing in the water instead of our desired "earth". Sometimes it may be a good idea to autoclave the vessel beforehand...

    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Of course I can be all wrong with this hypothesis and this indeed is a dead end.
    Common Dew can perform some cool things, but it has a low potency (i.e. very low concentration of what we're after) - so we would need rather huge quantities and a lot of time, only to get a relatively low R.O.I. See for example Gold of a Thousand Mornings by Armand Barbault.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    The text allocated to that picture is even more clear:

    It is about the "sublimatio".
    The ashes should be washed and cooked (calcinated) until they are white.
    Washing and cooking: Women's work (in former times for a long time).
    I will have a look at the aurora consurgens, which was the main source for the Splendor Solis, which can almost be considered as a 1:1 copy in some passages.

    On the other hand I would not dismiss the dew too soon.
    As can be observed, all putrefaction, and therefore the reason for all changes in nature (and probably in Alchemy as a follower of nature) needs moisture. This moisture falls from the "heaven" as rain, dew, snow, ...and rises from the earth as a mist up to the heaven again. This is one main aspect of this art and that "water circle" imo symbolized for example in those pictures with the Jacob's ladder (s. Mutus Liber or Alchemya of Notre Dame). Of course it could also show the symbol of niter and other things too..

    Nevertheless the ancients indeed observed that everything in the animal and vegetable kingdoms is changed through that water. They concluded that the same effect takes place in the mineral kingdom, but much longer. It's the artist's task to speed up things in the mineral kingdom.

    Therefore it indeed suits very good at least as a symbol for the universal solvent. Water isn't really attributed to one of the three kingdoms but plays a big role in all three.

    Now pure clean water will never form an earth out of itself that's for sure. But I read in Becker's last book, that he knew a guy (forgot his name - can look it up if wanted), who could force all waters (dew, rain, well) to form an earth with a certain "flick of the wrist". It's the same strange term Fulcanelli uses for a very important yet unknown step in alchemy.

    If there is anything about that water claims, one should therefore focus on the impurities in the water that causes to form some kinds of either algae, funghi or bacteria matter that fits the descriptions (brown, black and slimy, eventually resulting into a white solid and a red oil after further treatment). As most of the alchemist talk about operating in the dark, it is not likely that an organism performing photosynthesis is involved here. Of course living matter would additionaly need some kind of carbon hydrates to live and grow. As for example Azotobacters (who prefer to live in black earth with clay soil BTW) would need a host to grow properly in a symbiosis.

    Of course I can be all wrong with this hypothesis and this indeed is a dead end.

    Edit: I found the source with the “flick of the wrist“, which in german is “geheimer Handgriff“. It is in Baron Schröder's Nothwendiger Unterricht vom Goldmachen from 1684. Schröder was a member of the Royal Society, together with guys like Boyle. In said chapter he also speaks about different methods to attract the Spiritus Mundi out of the air(e.g. with lenses, glasses, salts, ashes, heat(!) or bellows at night and daytime)

    Schröder
    No matter what you can obtain from common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), which are merely things suspended or dissolved in it, the water itself will always remain the same old common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) it has always been. This is true of all common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), whether from rain, or dew, or whatever. There is no way that you will ever see any common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) perform the things the alchemists described in their books. Take a look at this passage from the Turba Philosophorum, for example:

    For when the fire is kindled the vinegar ascends, because its spiritual nature passes into the air, wherefore, I direct you to keep that part separately. Ye must also know that by multiplied decoctions and attritions it is congealed and coloured by the fire, and its nature is changed. By a similar decoction and liquefaction Cambar is not disjoined. I notify to you that by the said frequent decoction the weight of a third part of the water is consumed, but the residue becomes a wind in the Cambar of the second spirit. And know ye that nothing is more precious or more excellent than the red sand of the sea, for the Sputum of Luna is united with the light of the Sun's rays. Luna is perfected by the coming on of night, and by the heat of the Sun the dew is congealed. Then, that being wounded, the dew of the death dealer is joined, and the more the days pass on the more intensely is it congealed, and is not burned.

    Pay attention to this "congealing" of the "water" or "dew". That's the obvious telltale sign that what is being described is NOT the result of operations with either rain-water, or dew, or any other kind of common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), which will NEVER, EVER, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS of continuous "cooking" solidify into any permanent substance that resists the fire, either by itself or mixed with whatever you like. It will simply continue to be the same old common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) it always was. Heat does NOTHING WHATSOEVER to common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), except evaporate it (a mere change of state, not of its INTRINSIC NATURE.) This is quite contrary to the "water" of the alchemists, which has the peculiar and very unusual characteristic of "congealing" or "coagulating" through "coctions", specially when it dissolves certain mineral/metallic substances, with which it permanently joins and becomes a solid substance resistant to fire and penetrating into metals (i.e. an alchemical "tincture".) The "congealing" or "coagulation" of this "water" is so important, that Khalid Ibn Yazid in one of his alchemical poems in fact said that it is the sign that you are on the right track:

    When I saw the Water coagulating itself I became sure that the thing was right as has been described. - quoted by Ibn Umail in his Book of the Silvery Water and the Starry Earth.

    So, when you read alchemical texts (proper, not texts by chymical dilettantes) that mention "water", "rain", "dew", etc., always take it for granted that they mean this secret artificial liquid of theirs, which is generated inside their flasks/retorts ("microcosm") out of the right combination of substances, and not on the "outside" world we live in ("macrocosm"), where this "water" is never found or generated anywhere (nature in fact CANNOT produce this thing; the chances that the right combination of substances would occur in a natural setting for this "water" to be generated would be practically ZERO, that's why it is never found in nature and the alchemist has to figure out how to make it.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Heat does NOTHING WHATSOEVER to common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), except evaporate it (a mere change of state, not of its INTRINSIC NATURE.)
    Think of annealing. Even repeated annealing cycles. Like in sword-making. What function does it perform?

    I'm not saying that common meteorites are the actual "water" of the alchemists. They're not. Unless you have a few centuries to spare

    Yet, the template and MO are the same, and the same laws apply.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    No matter what you can obtain from common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), which are merely things suspended or dissolved in it, the water itself will always remain the same old common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) it has always been. This is true of all common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), whether from rain, or dew, or whatever. There is no way that you will ever see any common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) perform the things the alchemists described in their books. Take a look at this passage from the Turba Philosophorum, for example:

    For when the fire is kindled the vinegar ascends, because its spiritual nature passes into the air, wherefore, I direct you to keep that part separately. Ye must also know that by multiplied decoctions and attritions it is congealed and coloured by the fire, and its nature is changed. By a similar decoction and liquefaction Cambar is not disjoined. I notify to you that by the said frequent decoction the weight of a third part of the water is consumed, but the residue becomes a wind in the Cambar of the second spirit. And know ye that nothing is more precious or more excellent than the red sand of the sea, for the Sputum of Luna is united with the light of the Sun's rays. Luna is perfected by the coming on of night, and by the heat of the Sun the dew is congealed. Then, that being wounded, the dew of the death dealer is joined, and the more the days pass on the more intensely is it congealed, and is not burned.

    Pay attention to this "congealing" of the "water" or "dew". That's the obvious telltale sign that what is being described is NOT the result of operations with either rain-water, or dew, or any other kind of common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), which will NEVER, EVER, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS of continuous "cooking" solidify into any permanent substance that resists the fire, either by itself or mixed with whatever you like. It will simply continue to be the same old common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O) it always was. Heat does NOTHING WHATSOEVER to common/vulgar/ordinary water (H2O), except evaporate it (a mere change of state, not of its INTRINSIC NATURE.) This is quite contrary to the "water" of the alchemists, which has the peculiar and very unusual characteristic of "congealing" or "coagulating" through "coctions", specially when it dissolves certain mineral/metallic substances, with which it permanently joins and becomes a solid substance resistant to fire and penetrating into metals (i.e. an alchemical "tincture".) The "congealing" or "coagulation" of this "water" is so important, that Khalid Ibn Yazid in one of his alchemical poems in fact said that it is the sign that you are on the right track:

    When I saw the Water coagulating itself I became sure that the thing was right as has been described. - quoted by Ibn Umail in his Book of the Silvery Water and the Starry Earth.

    So, when you read alchemical texts (proper, not texts by chymical dilettantes) that mention "water", "rain", "dew", etc., always take it for granted that they mean this secret artificial liquid of theirs, which is generated inside their flasks/retorts ("microcosm") out of the right combination of substances, and not on the "outside" world we live in ("macrocosm"), where this "water" is never found or generated anywhere (nature in fact CANNOT produce this thing; the chances that the right combination of substances would occur in a natural setting for this "water" to be generated would be practically ZERO, that's why it is never found in nature and the alchemist has to figure out how to make it.)
    You can indeed get something other than simple H2O out of ordinary water with nothing but destillation even according to conventional chemistry. Quoting the Wikipedia article on Heavy Water:

    The HDO may be separated from normal water by distillation or electrolysis and also by various chemical exchange processes, all of which exploit a kinetic isotope effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andro View Post
    Think of annealing. Even repeated annealing cycles. Like in sword-making. What function does it perform?

    I'm not saying that common meteorites are the actual "water" of the alchemists. They're not. Unless you have a few centuries to spare

    Yet, the template and MO are the same, and the same laws apply.
    When I asked what function annealing performs, it wasn't a rhetorical question

    What sword-makers achieve with multiple cycles of annealing, is somewhat comparable to the work of the alchemist, only not with common fire, but with the secret fire, but a "fire" in its function, nevertheless.

    It's essentially the same principle of Solve et Coagula.

    Like being in a hot sauna and then jumping into cold water

    If we better understand such cycles and and their inter-correspondences, we have a better chance to understand alchemy. It's not THAT different.

    As I've been saying for some years now - the same laws apply.

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