The tyro in pursuit of the vegetable stone will eventually come across the phrase, "the four elements." In all the jargon as used by the old alchemists, the one subject that casts so much confusion is the meaning of these elements, their interpretation in the light of practical work, and the meaning of their existence.
What are these four elements? Why only four? Where do they come from? And most basic of all, how do they relate to the work as performed in the laboratory? The ancients gave qualities or characteristics to these four so-called elements. Later science addressed itself to the subject and a host of elements, numbering well over 100, were identified and catalogued.
Those who have been fortunate to have been exposed to this work are already aware of the fact that these 100 and some odd elements can actually be reduced to four in number. Essentially, we are speaking of solids, liquids, gases, and thermal energy. This much, many students of the PRS are already aware of. Our dear editor requested that a comparison be made with the four seasons. This opens up a host of other comparisons that could make this article non-ending, so we will have to stick to essentials for the sake of brevity.
At this time, we are entering into the winter season, the time of death, stillness, and mortification. On page 267 of The Hermetic Museum, Philalethes speaks of the dissolution whereby the subject becomes whitened through the medium of fire and water and to quote, "the fire which I show you is water." We should keep in mind, having picked winter as a starting point in the grand cycle of events, that winter is only the culmination of fall. For the sake of this subject, we have arrested this progression. so as to establish a point of reference.
This author, by no means, is presented as having anything but an imperfect knowledge of this subject and begs your patience and indulgence. We feel certain that there will be points of contention, especially as regards arrangement of the elements relative to the four seasons. Yet, this subject material, as presented, represents the culmination of roughly a year's intense research, meditation, and prayerful supplication.
Of the four elements, there are four qualities: earth, dry; water, cold; fire, hot; and air, moist. Some have given a dual aspect in writing of these elements and they have listed them in the following manner: fire as hot and dry; air, warm and moist; water, cold and wet; earth, cold and dry. Now, we get into it. Of these four subjects, it becomes manifestly apparent to the tyro that in actuality there are only two elements of actual and real subject matter. Right, you guessed it - earth and water. The other two are so ethereal that only specialized conditions or environments will make them apparent to the worker in the fields where that which is sown must be reaped. A very clear and concise example would be if we took a cube of ice as a starting point. Let us imagine that by special refrigeration this cube of ice has been super cooled. The reason for staying with this medium will become apparent as we examine this cube. In a cold room we are able to handle it and weigh it. The surface may be inscribed with a sharp instrument. It is dense and may be reduced to a fine powder by pounding and, for all practical purposes, fulfills the requirements known as earth. If this cube of ice were touched with the bare finger, in view of its super cooled condition we would be in for a startling surprise. There would be no sensation of cold. Some of you have already guessed it - the sensation would be a sharp, burning pain. But wait, something is wrong here. How could something that is cold burn? And here we are. We have actually experienced, in a crude sort of way, the hidden fire that the old alchemists spoke of when they referred to their earth. That this earth contained fire and water. That this earth was actually and for all practical purposes fire and water.
Winter ideally corresponds to the condition previously described. Scientists, through the use of the refracting electron microscope, have been able to verify that atomic motion lessens and becomes still the colder the subject gets. In wintertime, all life that is exposed coagulates, congeals, and mortifies. It is a time of death and resting. How many of us have stepped out on a cold, clear night when the moon shone down on a frosty snow, the air absolutely still, not a breath and have felt that all matter had been temporarily arrested? This earth of ours goes through these cyclic seasons, which are four in number and which correspond to the four elements, each season predominated by one particular elemental activity. Do we now begin to see here a grand alchemical rotation upon this mysterious earth of the philosophers within the retort of our atmosphere?
To return to the subject of the cube of ice, an interesting philosophical point of view arises as related to chemistry and it goes like this:
What dried the water and where did the moisture go? From the hermetic point of view, we would be correct in saying the subject contained hidden fire and that this fire, allowed to dominate, dried all moisture, thereby coagulating into a solid form. Well, here comes the barrage of questions. We are, of course, referring to the scientific fact that water is actually air, if you will, two gases. This air is highly flammable, containing within it it's own secret fire. We call it hydrogen. It is ethereal and escapes to heaven at every opportunity. If the proper conditions are provided, this air, hydrogen, can in turn become water and earth. There are very few who are not aware of liquid hydrogen.
The other air, oxygen, is life-giving and this, too, has a secret fire. This air, oxygen, can be reduced to a liquid, water and a solid earth. These two airs, in combination with each other, become water, H2O. In the hermetic philosophy, all subjects that are in common use have hidden within them the greatest marvels of God's creation; and mankind blinded, the soul in darkness, stumbles about little perceiving the possibility and the grandeur within the humble drop of water.
When Paracelsus spoke of earth or made references to earth, he also stated that the object of the tyro was to separate the "scoria" (filth or dirt) from the earth. Unless this was done, the filth would carry over and degrade the operation and the subject upon which the tyro worked. In our work upon the vegetable stone, it quickly becomes evident that not any "earth" or "salt" will do the job. The purer and the more refined earth became, the less scoria was present, the body appeared salt-like, white, pure, and crystalline in nature. A true and proper receptacle for the masculine sulphur.
This vegetable salt appears quite lifeless and has been shown to be devoid of cohesion. Earth either has life within it or else it is dead. If lifeless, it can be resurrected from the dead by the reuniting of three into one, spirit and soul reanimating the body. Of the four elements, earth is always with us and is more or less homogenized with life-giving water. The desert is a fearful place in summer. Yet, when the first of infrequent rains arrive, overnight a profusion of plant life appears. Water gives life and contains the essential philosophic seed in which life may germinate. It needs only a proper receptacle. Nature will do the rest. In the first chapters of the book of Genesis, we read of the primordial water upon which the spirit of God moved. The heavens separated and earth appeared out of the water. From the hermetic point of view, earth and water are synonymous and inseparable. This is to he understood in the sense as just referred to - that earth came out of water. Have we not read time and time again how the old alchemists stated that earth was dry yet contained a hidden water? This earth upon which we live is alive and experiences a continual rotation of the elements, both in its journey around the sun and within the 24-hour rotation of the earth upon its axis.
Referring back to the cube of ice, it would be an interesting point of speculation to consider how a man or woman would work, having never
experienced heat of a sufficient degree to melt ice, and have this individual peruse manuscripts stating that a mysterious water could be dissolved from this frigid earth. Wouldn't this person, having never known water dissolved from ice, laugh and say how preposterous a thing this is? Wouldn't others, who are more serious, seek to find ways of releasing this hidden water locked within this earth (ice cube)? All this may, to some, sound a bit exaggerated or even far-fetched. It nevertheless emphasizes the point that results are determined by how we view things. As we all are aware, this cube of ice or earth, if heated, will resolve into a liquid, water. Further heating causes air or a gas which if allowed to cool again becomes water. Thus, by fire we have rotated our elements. Yet, we have worked upon one subject only, in one vessel, with one fire.
Philalethes, in his treatise on page 234 of The Hermetic Museum, admonishes us to consider only three elements in actuality. He goes on to state that crude fire, which is corrosive and destructive, is not an element; but that the fire as related to alchemically is the result of action or activity by two separate principles, one acting upon the other. The fire of fermentation when making wine is not evident except by the thermal radiation. Yet, this fire is taking place within a nature which is dynamically opposed to it, namely water, H2O, The fire of our celestial sun, working upon the seemingly cold lifeless winter earth, causes a rotation of the moisture, which at springtime heats the waters of winter in which the seeds of all things are nurtured, and begins a new life cycle.
The dry earth of the vegetable stone begins to absorb its own proper
mercurial water of life and by this internal hidden fire this water is dried
up, fixed in such a way that it will never again depart its proper earth. In
the end, earth and water have again become one and thus begins a new
The Four Elements - Water
"Most happy is the son of that man," says the author of the Golden Calf, "who, by his prayers, obtains this art of arts, unto the glory of God. For it is most certain that this Mystery can be known no other way, unless it be drawn and imbibed from God, the Fountain of Fountains ... happy is he to whom the Royal Way in which he is to walk shall be shown by some expert in this Arcanum. So also the New Light of Alchemy assures us that the "commendable art" is "the gift of God, and truly it is not to be attained to but by the alone favour of God." The Hermetical Triumph describes it as "a divine science" which is communicated from God, and that only "to those who will make a good use of it." The mode in which it is imparted is like that of all revelation, an "illumination of Mind," for "the knowledge of our Magistry," says the Key of the Secret Philosophy, comes by "the inspiration of Heaven," and "this truth is acknowledged by all Philosophers."
Azoth or The Star in the East by A.E. Waite
By Carl W. Stahl
Mars In The Constellations
Mars adds energy to the constellation which it is in. Since the energy is physical in nature the presence of Mars tends to upset the equilibrium by speeding things up. Keeping in mind the basic premise, that it is the planet which influences the constellation, we note that all constellations will be read as though Mars were conjunct their ruler and the planets in exaltation, if any. In the natal chart Mars shows where we feel pain and where we are most easily injured. Its position also indicates how we give pain and injury to others. It pinpoints our aggressive or attack mechanism. Saturn on the other hand, indicates where and how we attempt to protect ourselves by withdrawal and caution. A setting up of fences and barriers instead of attack. Mars' energy expresses itself strongest in Aries and Scorpio, where it rules, and in Capricorn, where it is exalted. At this point we wish to emphasize that the true purpose of these articles is to teach you to think for yourself where astrology is concerned. We are trying to show you how to take the basic building blocks, namely the influences of the planets, constellations, exaltation, elements and qualities, tying these together into a cohesive whole. In this article we take the influence of Mars and try to determine its influence in the constellations. Unless you try to determine for yourself why we give the influence we do, none of us will gain any 'understanding of astrological influences. When Mars is in aspect with other planets it tends toward assault and taking according to the nature of the planet aspected. Mars aspecting the Moon tends toward sexual or bodily assault. With the Sun, physical rather than mental creation. With Mercury, anger, aggression, and action are expressed by one or all means of communication available to the native. With Venus love is expressed physically and through action. With Jupiter joy and expansiveness are aggressively sought with a tendency to overdo and overspend. With Saturn action and energy are controlled and directed to useful work. With Uranus there is an aggressive search for freedom and new horizons to conquer. With Neptune imagination is aggressively transmuted into reality. With Pluto an aggressive search for the voice in the silence. The competitive instinct belongs to Mars who tries to outdo, overcome, or eliminate all rivals. The best qualities of Mars are initiative, leadership, perserverance, efficiency, and action. Regardless of what happens, Mars reacts with action. It strikes out at.whatever attempts to frustrate it.
MARS IN LIBRA.
Love responds to its lower physical aspect. The person has a tendency to take rather than give. There will be a desire to indulge in the more outdoors type of living and the clothing may be practical and sturdy rather than artistic and mode. Instead of the helping hand for others, force will be used if necessary to extract a price for any favors granted. When the Martian energy is sublimated and purified through love for others then the native can use the fire of Mars in spreading the gospel of love and brotherhood throughout the earth. If this purification fails to take place then everything the native touches is tainted with the desires and lust of the flesh.
MARS IN SCORPIO.
This position of Mars gives abundance of energy and unless the person puts it to use constructively it will manifest destructively. It is the nature of Scorpio to attack to attain their ends. Scorpio is the natural fighter of the zodiac. He would rather fight than eat or drink; and he enjoys both these physical enjoyments. Unless the excessive energy can be channeled into constructive ends; such as sports, requiring physical contact, and even vicarious release of pent up energy through watching violence on television and the movies, the lid will blow with resulting violence.
MARS IN SAGITTARIUS.
This position of Mars makes the native a free spender and a natural born athlete. The expansive Jupiterian influence reacts to the impulsiveness of the Martian energy and they literally try to burn each other up. The Jupiterian impulse to expand is fed by the fire of Mars and, unless controlled, results in a day of reckoning when there are only ashes left. If used to expand business or profession, the native will be successful in his chosen field. Gives a tendency toward a philosophy of "might makes right," which could lead to all kinds of trouble and troublemaking until channeled constructively.
MARS IN CAPRICORN.
Under the restrictive influence of Cap: icorn the Mars energy and drive can be brought under control to produce constructive work. A typical example of energy under restriction is the gasoline engine. Here the explosive power of gasoline is restricted and controlled to do useful work. It is the same with our lives. If we can control and direct our energies we will produce an enormous amount of useful or destructive work depending on the aspects in effect and our own character. It is not to be thought that Mars energy is always negative because here, in the sheath of Saturn, he makes this otherwise inert and cautious constellation brave, courageous, and an energetic striver for success.
MARS IN AQUARIUS.
Energy can be used here to uncover the secrets of nature or to destroy what has already been built up. To some, freedom means the absence of all restraint, while to others it means sane and constructive research into that which will help others overcome the restriction of disease and poverty. Uncontrolled, it could bring about a rampant tearing down of everything civilization has built up. Properly directed it opens the far horizons of the mind. At any rate the native approacbes his own search for freedom energetically and without restraint.
MARS IN PISCES.
You will have an expansive and/or imaginative approach to the use of this Martian energy. If your response is to Jupiter, remembering that Pisces is the negative or night house of this planet, then you will have to curb your tendency to give, give and to spend, spend. Under Neptune you will pursue your dreams and imaginative tendencies with vigor aggression, and action. If constructively used both planets, or aspects, of Pisces could bring success and attainment into your life. If approached negatively failure and disillusionment will follow.
MARS IN ARIES.
This position of Mars bestows both energy and leadership qualities. The native is aggressive in his pursuit of success and leadership in whatever field he may be interested in. The outcome of his ventures is according to how the native channels and directs this excess energy and aggressive force. Anger and irritation must be sublimed into constructive channels to bring about useful and energetic beginnings.
MARS IN TAURUS.
The native's excess energies can be used eitheir to promote and spread the ideal of love and brotherhood to all mankind or it can be deflected into the physical expression of love and lust. The passions are strong and easily aroused and as easily satisfied on the physical plane. The spiritual love of Venus is at a disadvantage here but since love gives, it will here give itself physically rather than not manifest at all. Sculpture and. art could be ways to use this physical force constructively.
MARS IN GEMINI.
The Mercury faculties of communication, criticism, travel, and mathematics are vigorously stimulated with Mars here. There is a tendency for the native to react impulsively with anger, irritation, and sarcasm when pushed too far. Properly directed it gives ability for an immense amount of research, lecturing, writing, traveling and other means of communication for profit. There is a tendency to impulsive and sarcastic remarks both orally and in writing. It makes the mind sharp and aggressive in its pursuit of knowledge and communication.
MARS IN CANCER.
Mars is in his fall here which weakens his positive drive. Frustration and irritation go hand in hand causing the native to vent his spleen on those around him. The excess of Martian energy causes the native to feel that he is being pushed into bringing his imaginings and day dreams into physical manifestation with the result that, when he fails to bring this into reality, anger and irritation take over as a means of relieving the emotions. This done, the cycle usually starts over until another head of steam is built up with the usual explosion.
MARS IN LEO.
Here the normally mentally directed creative powers are directed in a physical direction. The physical fire of Mars and the spiritual fire of the Sun may be transmuted to produce results on the soul level. However, this will more normally produce creations that manifest physically. There is an aggressive drive to attain leadership in whatever sphere the native may he functioning on. This excess of energy will cause the native to seek ways of releasing it and anger, irritation and a lack of caution could be a means of doing this.
MARS IN VIRGO.
Properly used this extra energy gives the native
a tremendous capacity for work, especially in the area of communication,
analyzing, criticism, planning, clerical and even research. Handicraft and
work where skill and detail are required are also good areas to release this
energy which gives mechanical aptitude. Negatively it manifests as destruc
tive criticism, sarcasm, irritation, angry outbursts and a general condenma
tion of everyone and everything that gets in the way when they are in this
A True Method to Obtain Oleum Vitelli from "Easter Eggs"
Without Breaking the Shells
Some things are apparently discovered by accident and so was this one. It concerns six chicken eggs which were laid from Wednesday, the 18th of April, till Easter Monday, the 23rd of April, 1973, one on each day. [Full moon: 17th April; 27o Libra]
It was assumed that these six eggs had not turned bad as another six eggs of the same dates had been opened by myself on Saturday, the 2nd of March, 1974, as was witnessed by Frater Albertus and the 4th year students of PRS (Australia). All six eggs were found to be good. There was no putrid smell and the taste of the partly dehydrated orange yolk was perfectly normal. It was noticed, though, that there was no egg white. It seemed to have turned into gas.
The six unopened eggs were kept in the same cupboard in an egg carton without refrigeration and, as before, went through another hot Australian summer.
These eggs were looked at only spasmodically. On one such occasion, during the winter of 1975, about 21/2 years after they had been laid, it was noticed that tiny droplets of yellow liquid had appeared on the WHOLE surface of the eggshell. This liquid proved to be oil of egg, oleum vitelli, although impure.
The eggs were then placed on a test-tube stand and transferred to the lounge room, which allowed daily observation. It looked as if the eggs were sweating, as the oil seemed to come through "pores" of the shell. Within a week the droplets grew big enough to run down, forming still bigger droplets as they joined with those lower down.
When a drop formed at the bottom of the eggs, it was collected in a small vial before it would fall down. The eggs were "milked" this way for approximately 3 weeks when the sweating stopped. Each egg yielded 5 to 6 drops of oil.
It was further observed that the eggs started sweating in reverse order as they were laid and that sweating increased with a warmer room temperature.
When the eggs had ceased sweating they were put back in the carton and in the same cupboard again to he left there until time to take them to the quinta class the end of February 1976.
I never looked at the eggs again until at that class. What a surprise it was for Frater Albertus and all quinta students to see that the eggs had started sweating again. (Most likely because Australian summers are warmer than room temperature.) This time the quantity of oil was so small that it was not worthwhile collecting.
Last observation: As of October 1976, the eggs (eggshells?) have become
as light as a chicken feather. +
- Arthur G. Fehres, Australia
Q. In the preparation of the ore for dry distillation is there at any time a menstruum used?
A. Yes. It can be water, adds, alkaline waters, or any -of others to prepare such ores as you mention.
Q. How is Mercury Sublimate prepared? Some say this is the secret
A. Mercury Sublimate is what the name indicates, sublimated quicksilver, similar to sublimated sulfur (flowers of sulfur).
Q. Which one of the following is the Alchemist's secret fire? IS it (1) White Mercury [Alkahest], (2) Red Mercury, (3) White and Red Mercury after separation, purification, and cohobation, (5) Mercury Sublimate, or (6) Balneum Mariae?
A. Usually your number 1.
Q. Is the green lion derived from galena?
A. Yes, it can also he derived from galena.
Q. How would you make glass of antimony and arsenic, using both. What proportion? How is the arsenic later removed?
A. By mixing both in any suitable proportion. We advise against it as the arsenic fumes given off can he fatal.
Q. What would be the best of Jacob Boehme's works on physical Alchemy?
A. Boehme does not go particularly into physical alchemy in his works, though if one has the key it can be found in all of is works.
Q. On page 127, Cockren says, "ferment of Mercury is added." Does he mean the Red and White together (Philosophic Gold), the Red separately, or the White separately?
A. He refers to the ferment of gold - gold dissolved in the philosophical mercury.
Q. Do the Old and New Testament have a great deal of physical alchemy contained therein?
Q. Can one develop a tolerance or immunity to continued use of intermediate level doses of preparations from herbal stones? From the antimonial preparations?
A. It is possible. After all, such substances are used to obtain a balance. When this has been achieved, the purpose has been fulfilled.
Q. Is the Quintessence variable in quality according to the individual unit's state of inner involvement?
A. No. It is strictly a matter of know how. The effect upon the inner does vary.
Q. Can the vinegar of antimony be taken as a medication without the addition of some other ingredient?
Q. Is it possible to obtain glass from a herb by subjecting it to intense heat after calcination?
A. Yes. Some inorganic minerals will fuse.
Q. Please describe the characteristics of substances included by alchemists in the mineral kingdom. What distinguishes minerals alchemically from metals and plants and animals?
A. There is no difference. Iron in a plant is the same iron found in minerals because that is where plants take it from.
Q. Do you have any comments on Soma (Hoama) Armanita Muscaria, the Sacred Mushroom?
A. Leave your hands off it.
Q. Is there an intelligent, semi-intelligent, or at least conscious entity inherent in the herb that we are processing that is capable of affecting our consciousness positively or negatively? Does the herb resist our purification of it ... or can the herb be strong enough to resist our work with it?
A. Both are possible.
Q. In the purification process within ourselves: We can purify our body which is salt. We can purify our thoughts - our sulphur. Please enlarge on how we purify our spirit or life force - our Mercury.
A. By purifying the blood which is the carrier of spirit (Life).
Q. Since in the proposed extraction of Antimony ore with distilled rainwater the extract will have a very low concentration, would not a maceration, where the powdered ore is in constant suspension, be much more effective? The suspension could be kept up by automatic stirring or by a vibrator.
Q. How would the Qabalistic Tree of Life look if the planet Lucifer were still contained in our solar system? Is is not true that right now we have to deal with a destruct and hence defunct solar system? Will it ever be set into order again? When?
A. It would have a planet between Mars and Jupiter and not look like the present Tree of Life. We are still suffering under this destruct influence to some extent. When it will be restored we don't know.
The entire process of nature is an alchemical one where Transmutation occurs. There is a change from one thing into another as matter is broken down, separated, by degree purified, and then reunited into a new form. The acorn becomes the oak, the caterpillar the butterfly. In the body itself a natural alchemical transmutation takes place and the body is restored by the changes which occur within it. That nature should err is impossible. That man does err is not only possible but a fact. The process of alchemical transmutation that is demonstrated in the laboratory causes us to know that man can assist nature and make restitution for that which he has fouled up. Man, knowing the fundamental laws of the Alchemist of Nature, may not only restore that which he has defiled but may, when he applies the laws with understanding by way of art and science, accomplish in a short time that which takes nature a very long time.
Everything is continuously changing, however slowly. When the transition is complete from one thing into another, there is the death of one thing and the birth of another. Birth is the child of death. Life is eternal, having no beginning and no end, as it manifests through the ever-changing and ever-evolving forms of substance, steadily unfolding cyclically the truth and beauty which is in it. Life, by its activity, reveals the signature of a substance's essential nature. The signature is not the essential nature no more than is a person's signature or name in itself the essence of the person. The essential nature of any substance, that which is of value in it, lies concealed and only partially revealed within the tangible and intangible signature of substance. Man, by the art and science of Alchemy, may not only lawfully transmute any substance but, as well, assist to bring about a much more highly evolved transmutation of substance, thereby enabling the potential of the essential nature in substance to be realized tangibly and its virtue or value, where before hidden or unknown or but partially realized, put to practical use for the benefit of all upon the earth.
The seed of substance cannot be annihilated. It is eternally present but not always tangibly manifest. Its seedling can be improved upon or it can be degraded, such as when grafting or hybridization is undertaken and there results from the experiment that which is more superior or inferior to the original, or as when the mind may be beneficially improved by means of additional knowledge or detrimentally changed by instilling into it that which restricts it or proves harmful.
The issue of death affects us greatly. Man in his ignorance may cause the birth of that which is inferior or in his knowledge and understanding that which is superior to that which was before. In death itself there is nothing to be feared. It is but part of the natural alchemical transmutation of a substance. From it can come a new seedling which in a better way manifests the essential nature of its seed. Within the seed itself is found the essential value and within the seedling the seed.