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Thread: Advice of the Masters

  1. #1

    Advice of the Masters

    How useful would it be to begin a thread where we let the old masters themselves advise us on how to go about acquiring the knowledge of alchemy? I apologize if this has been done before, please simply post the link to the thread and I will happily close my one.

    The advice we are looking for is those rare statements which alchemists make about how alchemy should be learnt. I will start by giving this advice of Henry Nolius in his Chemist's Key:

    "It is no long time (my honored Lord and patron) since there came to Gueilberg in quest of me, a most learned man, a professor of Logic and a Tutor of under-graduates in a certain famous University, who did earnestly entreat me to discover unto him those principles by which he might be introduced into the true knowledge of our most secret philosophy, finding him therefore to be a person of Singular Humanity, of most excellent abilities, and (as I perceived by frequent discourse) of a most acute and discerning apprehension, I resolved to grant his request; and for that end I did purposely lead him into a dissertation or reasoning about the Generation of natural bodies, and having brought him thither I advised him to search curiously after what manner, and by what means, this great and secret, though daily, work was performed: Signifying farther unto him, that the Foundation of our Art did, next to the divine assistance, consist chiefly in the perfect knowledge of Corruption and Generation. Now, though this answer and advice of mine did nothing like this learned man, seeming in this Book-judgment to be very simple and wise; nevertheless, that which I told him is the very truth; for he that perfectly knows the ways of Generation, will easily come to be acquainted with the true menstruum of every body, which in our philosophy is the most useful and difficult matter to come by; yea, he will find out a way or Process; which if he, by a right Imitation of Nature will wisely practice, he shall out of a convenient body (dissolved first, and digested in its own most natural and proper Vinegar) perfectly extracted and attain to a most noble and precious medicine: A medicine I say, and not Gold; for the sophisters or Pseudo-Chymists, pining with an insatiable hunger after Gold, do by most covetous, chargeable and fruitless processes, infuse into their silly readers a strong desire of Gold-making, and promise them golden mountains; but Art cannot make Gold, Nature only produces substances; but how to perfect and purify imperfect metals by Nature only, and a natural way (not by adding to them, or mixing with them any extraneous substance or ingredient)and to separate and purge from them those obstructing, discordant impurities, which are the cause of their imperfection, the Philosophers do know very well."

    It would be nice if a summary is posted after each quote. Here is my attempt at summarizing this beautiful excerpt:
    1. Think about how natural generation is done
    2. This will lead to knowing what the menstruum of a given body is
    3. This is the most difficult and useful thing in alchemy (thus the "key" to the art?)
    4. It leads to knowledge of the right body which contains the medicine of metals, and also being able to extract this medicine using that body's menstruum
    5. This medicine can perfect imperfect metals into gold, but remember that art cannot make gold, it can only make the medicine

    Very tantalizing indeed.

  2. #2
    Sendivogius New Chemical Light:
    "But though they [the ancient sages] never departed from the simple ways of Nature they have something to teach us, which, in these more sophisticated times, still need to learn, because we have applied ourselves to what are regarded as the more advanced branches of knowledge, and despise the study of so "simple " a thing as natural Generation. Hence we pay more heed to impossible things than to those objects which are broadly exhibited before our very eyes, we excel more in subtle speculations than in a sober study of Nature, and of the meaning of the Sages."
    (my emphasis)

    He says later on in the sixth treatise of the same book:
    "But vegetable seed exhibits most clearly the process by which Nature evolves natural objects out of the four elements. "

    I would summarize this as follows:
    1. Knowledge of natural generation is the key
    2. This is best acquired by studying the type of natural generation which is "exhibited before our very eyes", ie that of "vegetable seed", in other words, natural generation of plants.

    This seems to agree with Nolius.

  3. #3
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    Good topic

    However, since the topic isn’t ‘Practical’ and more along the lines of Alchemical Texts, I’ll move it to the proper forum.


    A bit more on topic:
    Pernety makes a comment in his ‘The Great Art’ which I’ll paraphrase:

    “Where the sages are in agreement, then it should be taken as truth.”

    I’ve always liked that one.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for sharing that Herbigerus. I have never read that before. The Generation of Natural Bodies. Hmm.. What are the qualities of a Natural Body? Is a Natural Body Naked or Clothed? Before a Natural Generation takes place must there first be a Corruption? Anyone?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seraphim View Post
    Thanks for sharing that Herbigerus. I have never read that before. The Generation of Natural Bodies. Hmm.. What are the qualities of a Natural Body? Is a Natural Body Naked or Clothed? Before a Natural Generation takes place must there first be a Corruption? Anyone?
    Yes. Look at the Yin and Yang symbol.

    You see white in black, black in white.

    When the Alchemists talk about orders of the stone, there is no limit... ad infinitum....

    There's always room for rectification.

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