Volume 2 Spring 1981


Editorial: Teachings and Teacher - Frater Albertus
Exemplar - Armand Barbault
Color and Sound - Gregory Sneddon
Hebrew Pronunciation - Israel Regardie
Know the Old to Appreciate the New - Isaac Newton's Seven Aphorisms on the Great Work
The Art of Distillation - Forward

Teaching and Teacher

In our everyday language many words are given a synonymous meaning when actually there is a differentiation in closely related words. As an example, the words "teaching" and "teacher" are not the same in meaning. Teachings, that is what is to be conveyed as evidenced occurrences, may be the result of many incidents formed into a conglomerate whole. The origin of each segment or the entire concept originating with but one can even be so obscured that no trace of identity will be found. Some such teachings may even be attributed to mythical beings. Whatever any of the many different kinds of teachings, philosophical or otherwise, have to say, are subject to interpretation or at least explanation by those who wish to acquaint themselves with such. If self interpretation is not possible for lack of prerequisite knowledge of the subject under question, this is where a teacher enters.

This is of a twofold nature as one may teach him or herself or look for help in one who has a knowledge of a teaching under consideration. Even here a further separation becomes necessary as one who has the knowledge and is in a position to convey it unto others usually does so as an avocation or calling or filling such position because of the knowledge to be dispensed to others. The aspect of the personal life of a teacher is separate and should not be considered synonymous with the work performed. If a Jewish teacher expounds teachings in a Christian school this does not require him to become a Christian. It would be perhaps better if a Christian would be teaching in such an institution, but the one of Jewish faith may nevertheless be a better teacher. Too many people associate teachings and teacher as inseparable. A church or religion may have the highest moral and spiritual standards which do not become obsolete or invalid because a member or teacher thereof does not comply with them in his or her personal life. The ideal state would be when the teachings, teacher and personal life of a teacher are in as close a harmony as possible. History has shown that these are the exceptional cases and not the average.

Another aspect deserves attention, namely, teachings are subject to alterations in the course of time. This may be the outcome of either additional knowledge added unto them or those interpreting teachings not having the grounding in the fundamental concepts and attempting to insert their own opinions foreign to the original.

It becomes even increasingly difficult to discover any discrepancies when no access to such foundation is available. At best, what is presently to be had, needs to be investigated and subjected to scrutiny, if it is what one is searching for. Any explanation by teachers, likewise, needs to be checked so that personal opinions can be separated from what was originally meant before attempts are made to analyze them in a different light. Much suffering, both mental and physical, has been the result of such personal interpretations. The results of teachings, when the theory can be practically demonstrated, are the best evidence that can be had. In only too many instances are theoretical expoundations - especially so-called psychic experiences - so personal, that repetitions on a practical level become almost impossible. As soon as tangible evidence is to be had physical phenomena are evident, whereas psychic, soul or mental functions are not subject to physical manifestations unless exercised in such a state as a matter of proof to one's self only, in contrast to physical experiences by many. Teachings manifest both within and without and can teach us per se, if one is a properly attuned recipient. If not, then the teacher enters to assist the one to be taught with what is not known and understood by him. The effect and result of any teaching, with or without the help of a teacher, depends on the sincerity of the inquirer when applying them to his daily life.



Armand Barbault

Armand Barbault with his son and PRS students at his home in France.

When we as a group of students of the former Paracelsus Research Society visited for the first time with Armand Barbault at his home in France, it became apparent at once that there was a man, or rather a family of man, wife and son, who were dedicated to their work. Emphasizing the practical aspects of laboratory alchemy and taking them literally from the Liber Mundus, it was the earth per se, or the soil as found on the ground that was used to free from it what was to be of therapeutic importance. To have personally seen him explaining diligently the entire procedures of his work beginning with collecting the dew, mixing it with the soil (earth) and baking it on his specially built oven for final extraction and adding some gold to it, to bring it into his Elixir, was most interesting. When he and his wife and son took me upstairs in his home to show me privately some of the glassware he had made up for him and already mounted on the grid, to be used for a special procedure to obtain his alchemistical results that he had hoped to come up with, it revealed his intentions to enter into the mineral world. His work up to then was strictly of an organic nature, but realizing that greater potencies were to be found in the mineral world per se, did let him visualize some other experiments that he had not pursued up to this time.

Actually other attempts have been made by scientists to derive important substances from the earth, literally known as rare earths, which indicates that not commonly found substances only were to be used but those that proved to be the mineral contents of rare elements. In Barbault's simple approach, as former alchemists had demonstrated, it was shown by him that such rare elements could be freed from the soil, though very large amounts of raw materials were needed to come up with comparatively small quantities of the very constituents that made up his alchemistical preparations. One may also question if his results were strictly alchemistical as the spagyric process was not always followed as alchemists would indicate. However, the great merit belongs to Armand Barbault that he advocated he alchemistical way in his laboratory to produce what he did.

How versatile Barbault was is indicated when he made the changes that became necessary when the gold he had added to his Elixir became too expensive.

Neil Powell in his Alchemy, the Ancient Science describes Barbault's Vegetable Gold:"

"Armand Barbault regards this liquor as the alchemists' elixir, and calls it vegetable gold. It seems, in fact, to be a typical homeopathic remedy effective in microscopic doses. Dr. Ruth Jensen-Hillringhaus of Freiburg, Germany claimed to have used it to cure a woman paralyzed by multiple sclerosis. Another doctor tried several drops of the elixir each morning and reported a marked reduction in tiredness, increase in initiative, and improved urination. Others reported miracle cures of uremia and syphilis. Barbault, who found it too expensive to continue adding gold to his liquors, was last reported to be employing the 'Blood of the Green Lion' - extracted vegetable sap.

The ever intriguing alchemistical secrecy and romance in the old volumes with their picturesque illustrations gave rise to many ideas of those who dared to enter into alchemy. Undoubtedly Barbault was one of those daring souls who made every effort possible to him to get hold of the concept of alchemy and what better source could be taken to begin with than the very virgin earth where both the organic and inorganic substances are found that have curative effects upon the ailments of man and beast.

It takes people like Armand Barbault and his family that keep up a tradition as old as the earth is itself, as our own earth is living evidence of the workings of alchemy or evolution.


Color and Sound

Gregory Sneddon

Often through our various senses, we receive impressions that bring the pleasure of nature's harmony into our thoughts. At other times we are aware that man has intervened in nature's processes to produce something by art, which to our highly evolved senses seems to rival even the best nature can display of beauty and harmony. We become aware at such times of man's wonderful ability to bring seemingly unrelated elements into harmonic balance, and receive a glimpse into a world where everything exists in conscious sympathetic attunement to everything else.

When we listen to a piece of music that seems to strike a beautiful chord somewhere inside us, or view a painting that simply glows with harmonic awareness well executed, we probably do not spare much time to contemplate the wonderfully intricate combination of vibrations that our sensors make it possible for us to perceive. We tend to appreciate the relationship between the parts of something, by an awareness of the harmony or dissonance of the whole. This ability enables us to say "what a beautiful house!" instead of "analysis has proven that this collection of building materials exhibits certain elements of harmonic proportion."

While this ability to instinctively appreciate the beauty of true harmony has an important role to play in evolution, a more analytical understanding of the laws involved can be most useful. This is especially so if we wish to create works of art where each part exists in true harmony, not only with the other part of that particular whole, but with the universe within which the creator and the created exist.

Everything vibrates. From the most dense matter to the most subtle cosmic rays, everything which our senses allow our thoughts to become aware of, can be specified in terms of wavelength or frequency of vibration. These two terms define the same thing, but from different points of view. (See Illustration 1)

The following are the approximate wavelengths of various energy carriers:

Cosmic rays 0.000,000,001 mm
Gamma rays 0.000,000,1 mm
X rays 0.000,500 mm
Ultraviolet rays 0.003 mm
Visible light 0.006 mm
Infrared 0.01 mm
Sound waves 1 meter
Radio waves 300 meters

Violet light 400 nm to 450 rim
Blue light 450 nm to 500 rim
Green light 500 nm to 570 rim
Yellow light 570 nm to 590 nm
Orange light 590 nm to 610 nm
Red light 610 to 700 nm

1 nanometer (nm) = 0.000,000,1 cm = 1/10,000,000 cm

If a guitar string is plucked and we hear a sound, it is not too difficult for the human mind to associate this sound with the vibration of the guitar string. With color it is quite different. It is difficult for us to conceive that the color of a substance is not an inherent property of the substance itself, but an indication picked up by our senses of that substance's ability to absorb or reflect the light which happens to be shining on it at that moment. Neither the matter nor the light is colored. What happens is that the brain learns to differentiate between the frequencies reflected or transmitted by the substance the eyes are focused on. The same thing happens with sound. When we say "Oh! listen, they're playing my favorite song," what we really mean is: "my brain has stored within it a particular pattern of frequencies. I have compared the new information being received with this stored pattern and have deduced the answer that the two patterns are similar within certain specified tolerances." The 'pleasure' involved could have something to do with our running the pre-recorded pattern at the same time, in 'sympathy' with the new pattern as it is received.

The word sympathy describes very well our ability to appreciate color and sound. It also describes the reason behind certain elements of harmony. For instance, if a substance vibrating at 100 cycles per second (tone 1) is in the proximity of another substance vibrating at 200 cycles per second (tone 2), we could perceive, if we had the right equipment, a certain sympathetic relationship between the two. If our equipment was a wave form plotter, we may have a drawing like illustration 2.

Illust 2

We will see from this that there is a uniform doubling of the first tone seen in the second. At various points along the waves, the two are the same in amplitude. At other points they are at opposite poles to each other. This doubled frequency has more points of similarity to the original than any other frequency except the original itself. If the equipment we had available for measuring these two frequencies was a sound board amplifier and a pair of ears, then we would hear what would sound to us like one tone. If we had the opportunity to hear one at a time, we would hear that although they sound the same, one is higher in pitch than the other. This characteristic of 'the same but different in pitch', musicians have called the octave. Any two tones produced where one has exactly doubled the frequency of the other is called an octave. Speaking in ratios, an octave would appear then as the ratio 2:1 or 1:2, depending whether we are talking of an octave up or down.

A single note produced by almost any instrument will contain more than one wavelength or frequency. It will have a dominant frequency, the wavelength of which we would call the note's 'fundamental' or 1st harmonic. It will also have a varying number of upper harmonics, gradually fading in intensity into infinity or silence.

Natural harmonics always have the same pattern of intervals between them. The interval between the 1st and 2nd harmonic is a perfect octave; between the 2nd and 3rd a perfect fifth; between the 3rd and 4th a perfect 4th; and so on, the intervals becoming smaller and smaller until they lose any relationship with the western 12 tone scale as it exists at the moment. Just as an octave has certain elements of sympathy with its fundamental, so some intervals have been noted to be more perfectly in sympathy with the fundamental than others. The ratio of the 'perfect 5th' or interval of 7 semitones, as it occurs in the harmonic series, is 3:2 or 2:3, while that of the 'perfect fourth" is 4:3 or 3:4. All the tones in the western 12 tone scale can be expressed in terms of the ratio between the upper tone and its fundamental. This would seem to be an ideal way of generating a scale from any given fundamental and several attempts have been made to do this, the Pythagorean system being probably the most well known. Although when working with a single tone instrument playing on its own, the Pythagorean formula works wonderfully well, if we had several instruments tuned this way together and asked them to play almost any western music, we would find that at times they sounded quite out of tune to each other.

The lack of flexibility of the various scale systems based on the harmonic series has led to what is known as the 'tempered' scale. This uses as its primary unit of interval the ratio of the octave or 2:1. It then proceeds to divide the interval between any fundamental and its upper octave into 12 smaller intervals by applying the ratio: two to the one-twelfth power, to one (21/12:1). This equals 1.059463094, so by multiplying any frequency by this number, we will obtain the tempered semitone next up from our fundamental. We will also find that any tone twelve semitones up from any other tone, in a scale generated in this way, will have exactly double the frequency.

If we took the note middle C on a piano and halved the wavelength, we would have the note C one octave above. If we halved this, we would have the C above, and so on. However, within about 6 octaves, we would find that although a 'sound' was being produced, no human ear could perceive it. If we kept on going, halving and producing upper octaves of our fundamental C, we would proceed through the infrared band, into the visible light spectrum. If we happened to be outside during the day, we would, for one octave only, see the note C with our eyes. The next octave above would already be in the ultraviolet band, and outside the eye's sensitivity range. If we can think of color as being an indication of a substance's vibratory rate or wavelength, we may begin to see a relationship that could exist between the color and sound spectrums.

The logical extension of what has so far been said is that there exists a scale in the color spectrum that coresponds exactly to the scale in the sound spectrum, each color tone being an octave of the equivalent note in the sound range.

This is not the end of the story but only the beginning. If we can for the moment accept that any wavelength in one band has upper and lower octave stretching out to infinity, then tne next question is 'fine, but what shall we use as our fundamental? A particular color? A particular sound frequency?' The musicians among us will probably say 'A 440'. This means that the note A should vibrate at 440 Hertz, or 440 times per second. They would tell us that this is standard pitch has been adopted by most orchestras around the world; pianos are tuned to it, instruments are constructed to formulas based on it, and so to them it would probably seem the most appropriate place to begin. Some of these musicians may know of the battle that is still raging with regards to this being the standard, but few would know why A = 440 Hz was chosen except that it werned when it was set to be a suitable compromise between the many different pitches in use at the time.

There is also a scientific standard of pitch of C= 512 Hz which, although not in common use in nusic, has a lot of theoretical followers, as it is generated from the lower octave of C = 1 cycle per second and has certain advantages of numerical simplicity in mathematical research.

A scale built upon either of these standards will yield an upper octave scale in the color spectrum. However, with the A = 440 Hz scale, we end up with a color series which, although interesting, is hard to relate to any color system or set of values in current use. The C = 512 Hz system, on the other hand, seems a more obvious choice at first sight, having 12 definite color tones and containing the strongest and most pure colors in the spectrum.

Further research showed that there were still things not quite right with this system, and has led to a modified version in which correspondences with other systems seemed to fit into place. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and before being accepted this system will need further research to substantiate the correspondences and prove its value to mankind. What follows is a summary of the process used in drawing up this modified scale.

The upper octave color of a fundamental of one cycle per second is found to be exactly emerald green, which is recognized as having a wavelength of 511 nanometers (this is at 20o in air). 511 nm is also the color of malachite, or hydrous carbonate of copper occurring as a mineral. It would seem reasonable, given the teachings in the QBL, to associate this with the planet Venus. If we take 1 Hz or its upper octave 512 Hz as our fundamental, then build a scale upon it using our tempered scale 'formula', we will have the following 12 color tones:
723 nm = infrared
682 nm = deep red
644 nm = orange red
608 nm = orange
574 nm = yellow
541 nm = yellow green
511 nm = emerald green
482 rim = green blue
455 nm = royal blue
430 nm = indigo
406 nm = violet
383 nm = ultraviolet

There are certain immediate correspondences that become apparent between some of these colors and our teachings in Parachemistry. The yellow here is the color of chromate lead and zinc yellow, the most 'yellow yellow', for want of a better description, to be found in the spectrum. It seems rather logical, if we follow the Queen scale of color, to call this the Sun, or Vulcan, depending on which system we choose to look at. The orange here is exactly the frequency of sulphide of mercury or cinnabar. It would seem appropriate to relate this to the planet Mercury on the tree of life. If we then call the deepest red in our scale Mars and the Royal Blue Jupiter we find a pattern beginning to form. The ultraviolet here is outside our range of color vision and would appear black to us. If we call this Saturn, as Saturn is described as either black or violet, then we have six tones out of the twelve named.

If we can accept for the moment that what we are looking for is a color-scale based on the western 7-tone scale (the white notes on a piano), and we look at what we have already, we will find that the six tones we have placed form a major scale starting from the Sun or Vulcan and what better place to start?), with the exception of one space left empty. This is the color commonly called violet, and seems to beg to be named the Moon or the Earth (depending which tree of life we work with).

We now have a Major Scale which, matches the Queen Scale of Color uncommonly well, but we still have 5 unnamed color tones and 5 planets without a home. Of the seven planets already placed, five are said to have polar correspondence to the outer planets. This can be seen on the new tree of life as being Mercury to Uranus, Venus to Neptune, Mars to Pluto, Jupiter to Adonis, and Saturn to Chronos.

If we name the note one semitone down from each inner planet the corresponding outer planet, we can easily place the outer planets, whilst automatically excluding Vulcan and the Earth which have each other as polar opposites. (See front cover.)

keyboard cover

If we choose to keep the inner planets as 'white notes' and the outer planets as 'flats' as has been done here, we have a musical scale in the sound spectrum, which is approximately two and one-half semitones lower in pitch than the accepted A = 440 Hz scale. We could, for practical purposes, tune our instruments to A = 430.54 Hz and transpose our planetary relationships accordingly. A piano tuned like this would appear as in Illustration 3.

Illust 3

Strangely enough, this gives the standard pitch of C = 512 Hz, which is what we started out with.

At first sight there seems to be little rhyme or reason to this system, but a closer look will reveal some interesting correspondences:

Distance in Semitones from Vulcan
Mercury ... one down (-)
Venus ... two up (+)
Mars ... three down (-)
Jupiter ... four up (+
Saturn ... five down (-)

Distance in Semitones from Earth
Uranus ... five up (+)
Neptune ... four down (-)
Pluto ... three up (+)
Adonis ... two down (-)
Chronos ... one up (+)

If the new tree of life is considered, the same order will be observed as in the above. (See Illustration 4.)

New Tree
Illustration 4

Many correspondences will be observed if the foregoing system is studied and worked with, but eventually the only proof can be in its benefit or lack of it, to all concerned.


Hebrew Pronunciation

Israel Regardie

Some months ago a noted occult writer wrote me a letter asking why it was that the Hebrew pronunciation given in my book A Garden of Pomegranates differed radically from almost every other contemporary Qabalistic writer. When answering him, it had been my intention to assert that the explanations had already been given. When, however, I proceeded to examine the book anew, I found that this had been carelessly omitted.

My reply took a page and a half to clarify the issue. In order to eliminate possible repetitions of this expenditure of time and effort, let me offer the following.

I can best begin by asserting that no matter where or by whom spoken, English is English. The accents used, for example, in the North of England are entirely different from those employed in Kent or Sussex in the South of England. The English of Wales sounds strangely melodious compared to that of Surrey or Northampton. All however are English.

Much the same is true in the United States. The accent of an inhabitant of Maine is entirely different from one who lives in Alabama or Georgia. All speak that variety of English we know as American. Which one is correct?

Let me say that there is no standard or fixed accent which is accepted universally as authoritative. I fancy much the same is true of every other anguage. Northern and Southern Italian vary in many ways. So also in Germany, France and elsewhere. Accents and dialects are integral parts of the linguistic process.

This is true also in Hebrew which is part of the magical language of what has come to be called the Western esoteric tradition. There are two main streams of Hebrew pronunciation called the Ashkenazic relating to North Europe, England and the United States, and the Sephardic spoken in the Mediterranean and Levantine areas. The history of these two streams is really irrelevant to this essay. Anyone interested can do a little research in a good encyclopedia.

The Mediterranean area, as we know historically, achieved a higher level of cultural development far earlier than did Northern Europe. Much of the Qabalistic literature had its origins in Spain where there was a fascinating merger of Christian, Arabic and Hebrew mysticisms in pre-Zoharic times, as well as in the Levantine area as a whole. The obvious result of this cultural superiority was that the spoken Hebrew had a Sephardic accent. When the literature came to be translated by later scholars and Christian Qabalists, the translations or better still transliterations took on the Sephardic flavor.

Much later in the 18th century, when there was a revival of Jewish mysticism called Chassidism, in Central Europe and Poland and Russia, the Ashkenazic accent or dialect was employed. Regardless of how popular Chassidism became, English translators persisted on the whole in using the Sephardic dialect, which is interesting because Baal Shem, the founder of what became the Chassidic movement, obviously used Ashkenazic Hebrew. It seems, however, that the Sephardic dialect and the whole Qabalistic literary corpus were intimately bound together, so that very few could conceive that there was any other way of transliterating Hebrew. This persisted right up to modern times. S. L. Mathers in his Kaballah Unveiled, Arthur E. Waite in all of his Qabalistic writings, and Frater Albertus in one of the early Alchemical Bulletins, amongst many other distinguished writers, all used the Sephardic dialect.

It so happened that when I began my interest in the Qabalah in my midteens, I wanted to be able to translate some of the important books and manuscripts that yet remained to be rendered into English. The head of the Semitic Division of the Library of Congress whom I came to know in those days - I must have made myself a young nuisance to him requesting information about Qabalistic texts in English - recommended that I get a tutor from whom I could learn Hebrew. As a result I had a year's intensive training in Hebrew from a young man attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where I then lived.

Many years later, when I had learned to manipulate letters and numbers (Gematria) with some dexterity, I found that on occasion the Ashkenazic transliterations were far more useful and illuminating than the Sephardic, as I demonstrated in The Garden of Pomegranates. Various people to whom I spoke as a very young man showed not the least interest, so I kept my counsel to myself.

A large number of personal notes and quotations from various authorities gradually accumulated over the course of years. In 1931, while I was in a London literary environment, serving as a secretary to first one and then another novelist and author, I was encouraged to put my ideas in book form. I did so. It became The Garden of Pomegranates published by Riders a long time ago. I had hoped that the use of the Ashkenazic dialect which had solved a number of gematria problems for me, would attract some attention from other students and authorities and be used constructively in other texts. No such thing happened. Since that book was written in the early 1930s, I have seen my Ashkenazic transliterations used only three or four times at most. I was disappointed, I must confess, so that in later writings I dropped it, returning to the more conventional spelling and transliteration of the Hebrew alphabet and Qabalistic terms.

When the State of Israel declared its independence in 1947, with Hebrew as its official language, naturally the Sephardic dialect was used since Palestine was part of the Levantine area. That confirmed my decision to drop the Ashkenazic style of transliteration.

It must not be supposed however that every Jewish community in Europe or the United States has dropped the Ashkenazic dialect by any manner or means. It is still used. But if you went to the State of Israel, your Ashkenazic dialect will hardly be understood, any more than you could make heads or tails out of the Sephardic dialect if you happened to be an Ashkenazi.

It is rather as if someone born and bred in Northumberland or Yorkshire could make much sense out of the Cockney accent used in parts of London. Some Australians have a version of the Cockney accent, with all its colloquialisms, that makes them rather hard to understand at first. But, never let it be forgotten, they are all speaking English - in much the same way that anyone speaking the Ashkenazic dialect or the Sephardic dialect is speaking or reading Hebrew.

This is the core of the Hebrew language problem of the Qabalah in the simplest possible terms. So when I have used "Bes" or "Ches" or "Tes" I am referring to the same letters as "Beth," "Cheth," or "Teth". Keser and Tipharas and Malkus are no other than Kether and Tiphareth and Malkuth and so on and so forth.

I still suggest that the student of QBL - as Frater Achad and Frater Albertus choose to term the subject matter - learn both dialects. He may find one more useful than another in certain specific areas. When he wishes to discover the numerology or Gematria of his name, for whatever reason he may have in mind, he may get much further by the use of one rather than the other, and achieve his objectives more readily.

© Israel Regardie


Know the Old to Appreciate the New

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton is primarily known as the scientist who discovered the law of gravity. It was not gravity per se, for that was evident since times immemorable, but it was the law underlying this cause and effect that brought him fame. Little is known about his alchemical investigations and his laboratory attempts. The reason for this may well be his association with what was known then as the scientific elite that frowned upon alchemistical pursuits. Nevertheless, sufficient evidence is available to show his keen interest as his Seven Brief Aphorisms on the Great Work of Alchemy indicate. Only a thorough study of the Great Work and its detailed procedures could produce such a summary for him. In the Keynes MS49 at the King College Cambridge is the original.

Sir Isaac Newton's
Seven Brief Aphorisms
On the Great Work of Alchemy*

The Regimen

Aphorism 1
The work consists of two parts the first of which is called the gross work & by many imbibitions & putrefactions purges the matter from its gross feces & exalts in highly in vertue & then whitens it.

Aph 2
The second part also putrifies the matter by several imbibitions & thereby purges it from the few remaining feces & exalts it much higher in virtue & then whitens it. For the two parts of the work resemble one another & have the same linear process.

Aph 3
The putrefaction of your second work lasts about five months & is done by seven imbibitions or at most by 9 or 10, & for promoting the putrefaction the spirit is drawn of at the end of every imbibition & digestion.

Aph 4
In both works the Sun & Moon are joyned & bathed & putrefied in their proper menstruum and in the second work by this conjunction they beget the young king whose birth is in a white colour & ends the second work unless you shall think fit to decoct one half of it to the red.

Aph 5
The feces which in the second work are separated by ye putrefactions when the Putrefactions are over & the matter relents into white water, fall to the bottom of the water & must be separated.

Aph 6
The young new born king is nourished in a bigger heat with milk drawn by distillation from the putrefied matter of the second work. With this milk he must be imbibed seven times to putrefy him sufficiently & then decocted to the white and red, and in passing to the red he must be imbibed once or twice with a little red oyle to fortify the solary nature & make the red stone more fluxible. And this may be called the third work. The first Work goes on no further than to putrefaction the second goes on to the white and the third to the red.

Aph 7
The white & red sulphurs are multiplied by their proper mercuries (white & red) of the second or third work, wherein a little of the fixt salt is dissolved.

*Keynes MS49, Kings College, Cambridge. The above is quoted in B. J. T. Dobbs, "Newton's Copy of Secrets Reveal'd and the Regimens of the Work." Ambix, Vol. 26, Part 3, 145-169, 1979.

The Art of Distillation
John French 1651


By Frater Albertus

The Art of Distillation is indeed an unusual book, insofar as it represents a compilation of various formulas and experiments diligently gathered by a lover of the spagyric arts in an easy to follow manner. The reader should bear in mind that such information is at times very sketchy and cannot be taken verbatim in every instance, as much needs to be added to some statements that are made.

Let us take a sample to explain what is meant. On Page 50 it reads, "Oil of Tartar per Deliquium, (i.e.) by Dissolution: Take of the best tartar calcined white according to art. Put it into a cotton bag, and hang it in the cellar or some moist place, putting under it a receiver."

This would be misleading to one not sufficiently instructed in preliminary alchemistical procedures. The outcome of the above experiment would yield nothing else but a dissolved potassium carbonate. It is not oil of tartar as the alchemist knows, which is not mentioned here. This is brought to the reader's attention here at the very beginning in order to avoid disappointment to any who may page casually through the book.

Another important fact should not be overlooked. It is not necessary to duplicate the instruments shown in nearly all the drawings in order to bring about the results for which these instruments were constructed. Most of the experiments and modes of preparation can be performed more safely with modern laboratory equipment. However, the pictures are most revealing when one considers the relatively primitive method of the construction of these instruments compared to present day standards, but above all that these former alchemists, pharmacists, and chemists were able to produce what in our days are still difficult things to come by, in spite of our advanced knowledge in technology and chemistry.

Last, but not least, those who treasure old books, and especially their alchemistical or spagyric texts, will find in The Art of Distillation a most welcome addition to those textbooks that give practical directions, of which there are very few on the market today. Most books of such a nature tell us what others have been able to accomplish previously, but not how they were able to do it. This book will help to lighten this task considerably, especially for the novice who will enter into practical experimentation in his own makeshift laboratory.

Reading alone, without attempting any practical work, will prove most interesting to most because of the insight the text provides into a period of time when man, being closer to nature than he is presently, did accomplish considerable feats in the preparation of remedies we know very little about today. A greater appreciation of the know-how of what went on centuries ago could open wider vistas, even in our sophisticated research programs that have not yielded as yet many things of importance in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and medical fields that were known many generations ago.

Is it indifference, carelessness, or is it sheer ignorance that has prevented modern science from seeing what it failed to recognize because things were only looked at? Nothing had been seen that waits to be rediscovered only by eyes that penetrate more deeply than the sight of those who claim that there is nothing to be seen.

The old saying, "There are none so blind as those who cannot see", may take on a different slant and, above all, a deeper meaning for those who make attempts to see what is presently not seen.

Undoubtedly, this book on distillation does provide us with spectacles that may fit some to see even better.
- Frater Albertus


1. In a recent class a tincture of ammonium chloride was made which tended to green in color. We were told this is superior to a more red tincture. In nature, unripe fruit is green and ripe fruit changes to yellow, etc. Can these be reconciled?

A. What about watermelons, spinach, apples, pears, etc.? This green state is obtained from a yellow to orange sublimate showing, in your way of thinking, "ripe" colors.

2. As the moon has considerable effect on fluids and antimony is supposed to remove "bad humors" from the body, is it best to take antimony tincture with the phases of the moon to remove toxic substances; for example, fixed tincture with waxing moon and unfixed tincture with the waning moon?

A. This is a matter of great importance. Unfortunately not enough evidence is on hand because of insufficient testing in a scientific way and not enough antimonial tinctures available to the therapeutic practitioners.

3. Rudolf Steiner, when asked about a vegetarian diet in comparison to a carnivorous one, answered that man as he evolves should spend less energy digesting food, and rather save it for "spiritual" activities. Do you agree that a vegetarian diet is a natural progression on the evolutionary path?

A. Yes.

4. Is "primum ens" of a substance equivalent to the "quintessence" of the substance?

A. In most instances, yes.

5. The laboratory aspect of these courses is to demonstrate the laws involved in alchemy. You mentioned in passing that all of these laws are encompassed in one law. What is this one law?

A. Evolution.

6. If we were to take the egg white and ferment it, would it yield a spirit?

A. If you can ferment, it will yield a spirit. Any fermentation frees spirit.

7. If spirit of wine is unfixed and vinegar of wine is fixed, what is ether and acetone?

A. Not fixed.

8. If acetone is made by pouring acetic acid over calcium carbonate which gives calcium acetate and acetone, could we deduce that acetone is a fixed or unfixed Mercury or Sulphur of calcium or calcium carbonate?

A. It is unfixed but leaves a fixed salt behind (calcium acetate).

9. Is acetone the true vinegar of the sages?

A. No.

10. If we wear clothes of a certain color, does one absorb the energy of that color, or does it reflect the same energy away?

A. It absorbs what is needed and gives off its excess.

11. Is the so-called Philosophical Mercury that people often make from commercial lead acetate the true living Philosophical Mercury?

A. It can be made from it, but it is not usually obtained at first.

12. Am I correct in believing that it is God who speaks and that is heard sometimes as the "still quiet voice"? Which God is this that speaks in this way to us individually? The God that is the ONE that is IT and ALL, or is it the intelligence of the planet Earth or the intelligence of the Sun?

A. It has been said that God can even speak through a child, which means that when av perser. becomes conscious of what is conveyed and "gets" that inner rapport which is unmistakably different from what one imagines or forms an image thereof, that consciousness from a source different than found in the recipient is evident. There is but One all-encompassing consciousness which is realized through different ones and which is expressed or made known by different ways and means. God can "speak" through or with anything by infusing a different state of consciousness from that which is generally prevailing.

13. What role do color, sound and shape play in manual laboratory work?

A. All three are of great importance. Just look at the feature article in this issue and see the color plate on the cover. You will begin to get involved into such dimensions that the average person does not even dream about.

14. If one uses Acetone of the Wise to extract an oil from an oxide of a metal and there is no carbon available, how can an oil be extracted?

A. The metal actually is the catalyst that transmutes the acetone into an oil just like lead or mercury is by the catalytic action of transmuting powder changed.

15. Was Amo an alchemist and why choose his story to read? What connection does he have to the Paracelsus College or to you?

A. Yes, he was an alchemist as any initiate is. Why his life story was chosen to be to some in class was because it explained that such thorough schooling is possible.

16. What is the difference between "being awakened" and becoming a "conscious assistant"?

A. One has to either awaken by himself or have someone by sound or touch be brought to a state of awakening. One can only assist in any way or manner when one knows or is conscious of what is going on.