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Life of Paracelsus
Franz Hartmann MD

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

VIII. ALCHEMY AND ASTROLOGY

ALCHEMY and Astrology are sciences which are at the present time very little understood, because they deal with spiritual things, which cannot be known to persons who are not in the possession of spirituality.

Chemistry deals with physical matter; alchemy deals with their astral principles. Astronomy deals with the physical aspect of the bodies of planets and stars; astrology deals with the omnipresent psychic influences which their souls exert upon each other, and upon the Microcosm of man.

Chemistry is a science that may be learned by any one who has ordinary intellectual capacities, and a certain amount of skill required for its practical application. Astronomy may be studied by anyone who is able to comprehend mathematics and possesses logic and physical sight.

Alchemy is an art which cannot be understood without spiritual or soul knowledge. Astrology is incomprehensible to those who cannot realise the true character of the stars. The books treating of alchemy and astrology will easily be understood by persons who know the things of which they treat, but to those who are not in possession of such knowledge they will be incomprehensible.

Everything in Nature has a threefold aspect. The highest aspect of alchemy is the regeneration of man in the spirit of God out of the material elements of his physical body. The physical body itself is the greatest of mysteries, because in it are contained in a condensed, solidified, and corporeal state the very essences which go to make up the substance of the spiritual man, and this is the secret of the "Philosopher's Stone."

The sign in which the true alchemist works is the Cross, because man roots with his material elements in the earth, penetrates with his soul through the animal forces of Nature, while his higher nature reaches above the animal creation into the realm of immortality.

The next aspect of alchemy is the knowledge of the nature of the invisible elements, constituting the astral bodies of things. Each thing is a trinity having a body and a spirit held together by the soul,[1] which is the cause and the law.

[1. "Hermes said that the soul alone is the medium by means of which spirit and body are united." (Generat. Rerum., i.)]

Physical bodies are acted upon by physical matter; the elements of the soul are acted upon by the soul, and the conscious spirit of the enlightened guides and controls the action of matter and soul. By the power of the spirit material elements may be sublimated into invisible elements, or invisible substances be coagulated and become visible. Instances of this may be occasionally seen in "spiritualistic séances," although in such cases the alchemist who produces them is invisible.

The lowest aspect of alchemy is the preparation, purification, and combination of physical substances, and from this science has grown the science of modern chemistry, which in its present state is a great advancement over the lower aspect of old chemistry, but which has lost sight entirely of the higher aspects of Nature. A higher advancement of the science of chemistry will bring it again into contact with alchemy.

Chemistry decomposes and recombines material substances in certain proportions; it purifies simple substances of all foreign elements, and leaves the primitive elements unchanged; but alchemy changes the character of things, and raises them up into higher states of existence.

To exercise this power, not mere mechanical labour, but artistic skill is required. "A person who composes a chemical preparation by manual labour and according to certain rules is a chemist; the weaver who manufactures a cloth, and the tailor who makes a coat, may be called alchemists, because neither clothes nor coats are grown by Nature.

The chemist imitates Nature, the artist surpasses her; the labourer lends his hands to Nature, so that she may accomplish something through him. The artist makes use of the material with which Nature provides him, and develops something that exists germinally in Nature. The painter who daubs a wall is a chemist; his work requires skill, but no genius. The artist who composes a picture is an alchemist, because he embodies an idea, and puts his own character into his work."

To understand correctly the meaning of the words alchemy and astrology, it is necessary to understand the intimate relationship and the identity of the Microcosm and Macrocosm, and their mutual interaction. All the powers of the universe are potentially contained in man, and man's physical body and all his organs are nothing else but products and representatives of the powers of Nature. The Microcosm and Macrocosm may not only "be compared together," but they are really and actually essentially one in their power, and one in the constitution of their elements.[2]

[2. "Man, being the son of the Microcosm, has in him also all the mineral elements." (De Peste)]

"If I have 'manna' in my constitution, I can attract 'manna' from heaven. 'Melissa' is not only in the garden, but also in the air and in heaven. 'Saturn' is not only in the sky, but also deep in the earth and in the ocean. What is 'Venus' but the 'Artemisia' that grows in your garden? What is 'iron' but 'Mars'? That is to say, Venus and Artemisia are both the products of the same essence, and Mars and iron are both the manifestations of the same cause."

"What is the human body but a constellation of the same powers that formed the stars in the sky? He who knows what iron is, knows the attributes of Mars. He who knows Mars, knows the qualities of iron. What would become of your heart if there were no sun in the universe? What would be the use of your 'vasa spermatica' if there were no Venus? To grasp the invisible elements; to attract them by their material correspondences; to control, purify, and transform them by the living power of the Spirit -- this is true alchemy." (Paragran. i.)

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The Seven Planets

The "Seven Planets" are the Seven Principles which constitute the universe, and which are at least "potentially" contained in everything. Paracelsus speaks of them in a very mystical language, as follows: --

"There are seven elementary powers or principles -- four lower ones belonging to mortal and changeable things (Sthula sharira, Linga sharira, Prana, and Kama), and a trinity of celestial power (Atma, Buddhi, Manas), which is also called the quinta essentia. The four elements (lower principles) can in no way interfere with the quinta essentia. The heavenly and the hellish power is not obedient to the four elementary powers, but each section stands for itself." (De Mercurio, vol. vi. p. 378)

This goes to show that to the spiritual kingdom belongs a state of consciousness different from the lower states of consciousness, and having nothing in common with them. Spirituality is, therefore, not to be considered as a state of high intellectual development, but it is an awakening to an entirely different and higher state of consciousness, which may take place in persons of high intellectual development, but far oftener in those who are unsophisticated and of a simple mind.

The "Seven Planets" are equally mysteriously described in his "Coelum Philosophorum": --

Key [includes three planets more recently discovered]:
Symbols of the Zodiac

1. Mercury Mercury. Wisdom; i.e., the knowledge of the soul that realises the truth, and which has nothing to do with the action of the intellect, that consists in collecting and comparing ideas. "All things are hidden within all things. One of them is their concealer, and at the same time their body and vehicle, external, visible, and movable. All things are revealed within this vehicle, for it is a corporified spirit; but the spirit thereof has no name." Translated into modern language this means: "Mercury represents divine wisdom. The whole of Nature is a vehicle and visible manifestation of the wisdom of God; but God Himself cannot be described. He is the universal life, the root of all consciousness and knowledge, and the will of divine wisdom."

2. Jupiter Jupiter. Universal primordial substance and power. "Within the body of Jupiter are contained all the other six metals in a spiritual state, each always still deeper hidden and more remote than the one that precedes." This means that, of all the seven principles, each contains the other six either actively or potentially. Thus, even within a stone or an oyster there is a hidden spark of divinity, such as may become conscious and manifest in the constitution of man.

3. Mars Mars. Universal energy. The will. "Mars, owing to its combative energy, is enabled to gain glory and to assume the place of the king. Care will have to be taken that he does not become captured. We must see how we can raise him up and combine Sun and Moon with Saturn in the place of Mars." This indicates that we should seek to attain a powerful will, but avoid letting that will become subservient to matter (Saturn). This is done by combining our imagination (Moon) with wisdom ( Sun ).

4. Venus Venus. Love, identical with Knowledge; because true love is the spiritual recognition of the true self. "The six other metals have formed a corruptible external body with the quality of Venus; but all combustible things can be changed by the power of fire." This is to say that human love is at present bound up with many impurities, but when the true fire of love awakens, these impurities will burn away and leave us in possession of unadulterated wisdom.

5. Saturn Saturn. The Life-principle. Saturn says: "My six brothers have relegated me and expelled me from the spiritual kingdom. They have forced me to live in a corruptible form. I have to submit to be that which they refuse to be. My body is attracted to the earth, so that everything I embrace becomes earthly; but it would not be well for the world to know all the virtue hidden in me and all that I may accomplish." This means that the human mind (Manas) is the connecting-link between spirit and matter. If the inquisitive scientist were to know the divine life within his own constitution, and could develop it before he has attained innocence and virtue, he would become an incarnate devil instead of a god.

6. Moon Luna -- Moon. Imagination. "The principal thing to know in regard to Luna is its origin. It is the seventh metal, containing the six others in a spiritual state, and it is externally corporeal and material." This goes to show that Luna, in its external aspect, means matter with its phenomena, which are always illusive as long as we do not know their true origin. If we wish to gain absolute knowledge of all things in Nature, we must attain the knowledge of God.

7. Sun Sol -- Sun. The Life, or Wisdom. "It is pure fire, and has within itself all the other six metals (principles)." Everything that exists is a manifestation and product of the one life in the universe, from which all things receive their vitality and powers; "for that which is visible is merely the vehicle, but the element therein is a spirit, and lives in all things as the soul lives in the body. This is the prima materia of the elements, invisible and incomprehensible, but nevertheless present in all; for prima materia is nothing else than the life itself in all creatures. That which is without life is no longer an element, but within the ultima materia, wherein is contained neither virtue nor energy." (Philosophia ad Athenienses, vol. viii)

The above extracts will be quite sufficient to show that the modern method of thinking scientifically, which deals only with external phenomena, and with comparing opinions referring to them, is quite insufficient for our initiation into the mysteries of alchemy, and that this study requires a mind capable to look upon the world not as being made up of many separate pieces, but as one great and indivisible organism, pervaded by co-existing spiritual powers, whose outward manifestation is the realm of phenomena. Alchemy studies not merely phenomena, but it is the science of the soul of all things.

What does material science know about things of the soul? Chemistry is a science which deals with the chemical combination, separation, and recombination of physical substances. Alchemy deals with the purification and combination of astral elements, and with the development of lower forms and lower states into higher ones. By chemistry we may purify physical substances from all foreign elements, and divest them of physical impurities, but their own element will not be changed. By alchemy we raise a principle into a higher and purer state of development.

The processes in Nature by which combinations and decompositions of matter take place, such as putrefaction, caused by the contact of a substance with air, and the chemical combinations of two or more substances coming into contact with each other, are chemical processes. The growth of a tree out of a seed, the evolution of worlds, the development of precious metals out of an apparently worthless matrix, the growth of a foetus, the development of an animal or a human being, &c., are alchemical processes, because life itself enters into these processes, as a factor, and they would not take place without the action of life.[3]

[3. Johannes Tritheim, Abbot of Spanheim, one of the greatest alchemists, theologians, and astrologers, a learned and highly esteemed man, makes some remarks in his book (printed at Passau, 1506) that may help to throw some light on the perplexing subject of alchemy. He says: "The art of divine magic consists in the ability to perceive the essence of things in the light of Nature, and by using the soul-powers of the spirit to produce material things from the unseen universe (A'kasa), and in such operations the Above (the Macrocosm) and the Below (the Microcosm) must be brought together and made to act harmoniously. The spirit of Nature is a unity, creating and forming everything, and by acting through the instrumentality of man it may produce wonderful things. Such processes take place according to law. You will learn the law by which these things are accomplished, if you learn to know yourself. You will know it by the power of the spirit that is in yourself, and accomplish it by mixing your spirit with the essence that comes out of yourself. If you wish to succeed in such a work you must know how to separate spirit and life in Nature, and, moreover, to separate the astral soul in yourself and to make it tangible, and then the substance of the soul will appear visibly and tangibly, rendered objective by the power of the spirit. Christ speaks of the salt, and the salt is of a threefold nature. Gold is of a threefold nature, and there is an ethereal, a fluid, and a material gold. It is the same gold, only in three different states; and gold in one state may be made into gold in another state. But such mysteries should not be divulged, because the fool and scoffer will laugh at it, and to him who is covetous they will be a temptation."]

[Notice. I wish to warn the reader, who might be inclined to try any of the alchemical prescriptions contained in this book, not to do so unless he is an alchemist, because, although I know from personal observation that these prescriptions are not only allegorically but literally true, and will prove successful in the hands of an alchemist, they would only cause a waste of time and money in the hands of one who has not the necessary qualifications. A person who wants to be an alchemist must have in himself the "magnesia," which means the magnetic power to attract and "coagulate" invisible astral elements. This power is only possessed "by those who are "Initiates." Those who do not know what this expression means are not "reborn" (or initiated), and it cannot be explained to them. But he who is initiated will know it, and needs no instruction from books, because he will know his instructor.]

Planets are states of mind, and as the mind has a higher and a lower aspect, consequently each planet has its two aspects correspondingly.

Mercury in its higher aspect is the symbol of wisdom, in its lower aspect that of the intellect.

Jupiter in its higher aspect represents majesty, in its lower aspect energy.

Mars represents spiritual power, but also in its lower aspect strength of passion, &c.

Venus in its higher aspect is divine love, identical with self-knowledge; in its lower aspect, desire.

Saturn is the life in the universe, and in another aspect it represents matter.

The Sun is the fountain of all life. The spiritual sun is the symbol of spiritual life and immortality, the physical sun the source of vitality.

The Moon in its higher aspect represents spiritual substance, the glorified soul; in its lower aspect it is the symbol of imagination and fancy.

"Separation is the cause of existence, the birth of things from the Mysterium magnum. It is the greatest wonder known to practical philosophy; it is a divine art. He who can attract things out of the Mysterium magnum (A'kasa) is a true alchemist." This power is possessed only by those who are spiritually developed.[4]

[4. Spiritual development is not dependent on intellectual acquirements and there are sometimes persons that are ignorant in worldly things, but who nevertheless possess great spiritual powers.]

Nature continually exercises that art through the organising power of the invisible astral body. "As the fowl produces a chicken with wings and legs out of the small microcosm contained in the shell of an egg, so the arcana of Nature are ripened by the processes of alchemy. Natural alchemy causes the pear to ripen, and produces grapes on a vine. Natural alchemy separates the useful elements from the food that is put into the stomach, transforms it into chyle and blood, into muscles and bones, and rejects that which is useless."

"A physician who knows nothing of alchemy can only be a servant of Nature, however well he may be versed in the science of external things; but the alchemist is her lord. If the physician cannot infuse vitality into decaying parts, he cannot effect a cure, but must wait until Nature accomplishes the task; but he who can guide the power of life can guide and command Nature."

Alchemy is described by Paracelsus as an art in which Vulcan (the fire of Nature) is the active artist. By this art the pure is separated from the impure, and things are made to grow out of primordial matter (A'kasa). Alchemy renders perfect what Nature has left imperfect, and purifies all things by the power of the spirit that is contained in them.

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Sulphur, Mercury and Salt

"All things (man included) are composed out of three substances, and all things have their number, their weight, and their measure. Health exists when the three substances constituting a thing preserve their normal proportion of quantity and quality; disease results if this proportion becomes abnormal. These three substances are called Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt." [5] **

** Energy, mind, and substance. See Chapter 7.

[5. This does not, of course, refer to the chemical substances known to us by these names. "No one can express or sufficiently describe the virtues contained in the three substances; therefore every alchemist and true physician ought to seek in them all his life unto his death; then would his labour surely find its just reward." (De Morte Rerum)]

"These three substances are not seen with the physical eye, but a true physician should see them nevertheless, and be able to separate them from each other. That which is perceptible to the senses may be seen by everybody who is not a physician; but a physician should be able to see things that not everybody can see. There are natural physicians, and there are artificially made physicians. The former see things which the latter cannot see, and the others dispute the existence of such things because they cannot perceive them. They see the exterior of things, but the true physicians see the interior. The inner man is the substantial reality, while the outer one is only an apparition, and therefore the true physician sees the real man, and the quack sees only an illusion."

"The three substances are held together in forms by the power of life.[6] If you take the three invisible substances and add to them the power of life, you will have three invisible substances in a visible form. The three constitute the form, and become separated only after the power of life deserts them."

[6. "The sophist says that nothing living can come out of dead substances, but no substance is dead, and they know nothing about the alchemical labour. The death of a man is surely nothing but the separation of the three substances of which his body is composed, and the death of a metal is the taking away of its corporeal form." (De Morte Rerum)]

"They are hidden by life, and joined together by life. Their combined qualities constitute the qualities of the form, and only when life departs their separate qualities become manifest. If the three are united in due proportions, health exists in the form; but if they become separated, the one will putrefy and the other will burn. Man does not see the action of these three substances as long as they are held together by life, but he may perceive their qualities at the time of the destruction of their form. The invisible fire is in the sulphur, the soluble element in the salt, and the volatile element in the mercury. The fire burns, the mercury produces smoke, and the salt remains in the ashes; but as long as the form is alive there is neither fire, nor ashes, nor smoke." [7]

[7. "The three Substances are three forms or aspects of the one universal will-substance out of which everything was created; for the unmanifested Absolute in manifesting itself reveals itself as a trinity of cause, action, and effect; father, son, and the holy ghost; body, soul, and spirit."]

["It is therefore, above all, necessary that we should realise the nature of the three Substances as they exist in the Macrocosm and recognise their qualities, and we shall then also know their nature and attributes in the Microcosm of man. That which burns and appears fiery to the eye is the Sulphur, it is of a volatile (spiritual) nature; that which is of a material nature is the Salt; and the Mercury is that which may be sublimated by the action of the fire. It is invisible in its condition of Prima materia, but in its ultimate state it may be seen; and as the whole constitution of man consists of these three Substances, consequently there are three modes in which diseases may originate, namely, in the Sulphur, in the Mercury, or in the Salt. As long as these three Substances are full of life they are in health, but when they become separated disease will be the result. Where such a separation begins there is the origin of disease and the beginning of death. There are many kinds of Sulphur, of Mercury, and of Salt; that which belongs to Sulphur should be made into Sulphur, so that it may burn; what belongs to Mercury should be made to sublimate and ascend; what belongs to Salt should be resolved into Salt."]

["To explain the qualities of the three Substances it would be necessary to explain the qualities of the Prima materia; but as the Prima materia mundi was the Fiat (Logos), who would dare to attempt to explain it?" ]

"There are hundreds of different kinds of salt, sulphur, and mercury in the universe and in the human system, and the greatest arcana (potencies) are contained in them. All things are hidden in them in the same sense as a pear is hidden in a pear-tree and grapes in a vine. The superficial observer sees only that which exists for his senses, but the interior sight discovers the things of the future. A gardener knows that a vine will produce no pears, and a pear-tree no grapes. The ignorant speak of heat and cold, of dryness and moisture, of sweetness and acidity, of bitterness and astringency, without knowing the cause that produces such qualities; but the wise recognise in them the qualities of the stars" (Paragranum).

"Let no one be so foolish as to imagine that Alchemy can easily be understood and be made common property. If you want to make the sphere of Saturn run in harmony with earthly life, you may put all the planets therein. Of Luna, however, you must not take too much; only a little. Let it all run until the heaven of Saturn entirely disappears; then will the planets remain. They will have died in their corruptible bodies and taken an incorruptible perfect body. This is the life and spirit of heaven which causes the planets to live again and become corporified as before" (Coelum Philosophorum).

The remedy by which, according to Paracelsus, rejuvenation (regeneration) could be accomplished is something entirely different from what it has been supposed to be by his critics. It is not a compound of chemical substances, but an Arcanum, "an invisible fire, which destroys all diseases" (Tinct. Phys., vii.). "The Materia Tinctura is the greatest treasure in the world." [8]

[8. The "tinctura physicorum" is a great alchemical mystery. Hermes Trismegistus of Egypt, Onus of Greece, Hali, an Arab, and Albertus Magnus of Germany were acquainted with it. It is also called the Red Lion, and is mentioned in many alchemical works, but was actually known to few. Its preparation is extremely difficult, as there is the presence of two perfectly harmonious people, equally skilful, necessary for that purpose. It is said to be a red ethereal fluid, capable of transmuting all inferior metals into gold, and having other wonderful virtues. There is an old church in the vicinity of Kenysten, a town in the south of Bavaria, where this tincture is said to be still buried in the ground. In the year 1698 some of it penetrated through the soil, and the phenomenon was witnessed by many people, who believed it to be a miracle. A church was therefore erected at that place, and it is still a well-known place of pilgrimage. In regard to the material (if it may be so called) used for the preparation of this great medicine, Paracelsus says: “Be careful not to take anything from the lion but the rose-coloured blood, and from the white eagle only the white gluten. Coagulate (corporify) it according to the directions given by the ancients, and you will have the tinctura physicorum. But if this is incomprehensible to you, remember that only he who desires with his whole heart will find, and to him only who knocks strong enough the door shall be opened." ]

Paracelsus was an enemy of endless prescriptions, and of all the daubing and greasing, quackery and nastiness, connected with the apothecaryship of his time. He says: "What shall I say to you about all your alchemical prescriptions; about all your retorts and bottles, crucibles, mortars, and glasses; of all your complicated processes of distilling, melting, cohibiting, coagulating, sublimating, precipitating, and filtering; of all the tomfoolery for which you throw away your time and your money? All such things are useless, and the labour for it is lost. They are rather an impediment than a help to arrive at the truth." But he was a practical alchemist. In the preface to his work entitled "Tinctura Physica" he says: "I have a treasure buried at the hospital at Weiden (Friaul), which is a jewel of such a value that neither Pope Leo nor the Emperor Carolus could buy it with all their wealth, and those who are acquainted with the spagyric art (alchemy) will confirm what I say." [9]

[9. If we remember that the wise ones will lay up their treasures in heaven, the above passage becomes easily comprehensible.]

"True Alchemy which teaches how to make Moon or Sun out of the five imperfect metals, requires no other materials, but only the metals. The perfect metals are made out of the imperfect metals, through them and with them alone; for with other things is Luna, (phantasy), but in the metals is Sol (wisdom)."

CHARMS

The power of certain substances to absorb and to retain certain planetary influences is used for the purpose of investing them with occult qualities. Pure metals may be used by the alchemist for that purpose, and in this way amulets, "magic mirrors," and other things that will produce magic effects are prepared. Paracelsus says: --

"The compositions of the astra of metals produce wonderful effects. If we make a composition of seven metals in the proper order and at the proper time, we will obtain a metal which contains all the virtues of the seven. Such a composition is called 'electrum.' It possesses the virtues of the seven metals that enter into its composition, and the electrum is one of the most valuable preparations known to secret science. The ordinary metals cannot be compared with it on account of its magic power. A vessel made of the electrum will immediately indicate it, if any poisonous substance has been surreptitiously put into it, because it will begin to sweat on its outside."

"Many wonderful things can be made of this electrum, such as amulets, charms, magic finger-rings, arm-rings, seals, figures, mirrors, bells, medals, and many other things possessing great magic powers, of which very little is publicly known, because our art has been neglected, and the majority of men do not even know that it exists."

"It would not be proper to explain all the virtues and powers of the electrum, because the sophist would begin to blaspheme, and the ignorant would become angry; the idiot would ridicule and the wicked misuse it; and we are therefore forced to be silent in regard to some of its principal virtues. But there are a few wonderful qualities which it possesses, and of which we will speak. We have observed them personally, and we know that we are speaking the truth. We have seen finger-rings made of the electrum that cured their wearers of spasms and paralytic affections, of epilepsy and apoplexy; and the application of such a ring, even during the most violent paroxysm of an epileptic attack, was always followed by immediate relief. We have seen such a ring begin to sweat at the beginning of a hidden disease."

"The electrum is antipathetic to all evil influences, because there is hidden in it a heavenly power and the influence of all the seven planets. Therefore the Egyptians and Chaldeans and the Magi of Persia used it against evil spirits, and made great discoveries by its use. If I were to tell all I know about the virtues of the electrum, the sophists would denounce me for being the greatest sorcerer in the world."

"I will, however, say that I have known a person in Spain who possessed a bell made out of the electrum, and weighing about two pounds, and by ringing that bell he could cause various kinds of spectres and apparitions to appear, and they would obey his commands. Before using the bell he always wrote some words or characters on its inside. He then rang the bell, and immediately the spirits appeared in such a shape as he ordered them to take. He was even able to attract by the sound of that bell the spectres of men or animals, or to drive them away when they were not wanted; and whenever he wanted another spirit to appear he wrote some other characters on the inside of that bell. He refused to tell me the secret of these words and characters, but I meditated about it, and found it out myself."

"You need not be surprised to hear that such things are possible, because everything is possible, if it is consistent with natural laws. One man may call another man by his name, and order him to do certain things, and if the latter respects the former, or is awed by his superiority, he will obey his order without being forced to do so with a weapon or stick. On invisible beings the will of man has still more effect, and an inferior being can be made to obey the will of a superior one by the force of the mere thought of a word, because the lower is subject to the higher, and the inferior to the superior, and what else is the will but a power hidden in the thought (mind) of man, and becoming active through his imagination.[10] But the thought of man is as potent to impress a spirit as the spoken word is to impress the mind of a man, for spirits have no physical ears to hear physical sounds, and the voice is only needed for those who cannot hear in the spirit." [11]

[10. The power that man may silently exercise over animals is well known.]

[11. It does not require the sound of our voice to bring the image of some object before our imagination, and if we see the image of a thing in our mind, and realise its presence, it actually exists for us, and thus a spirit may be brought into a form by the power of imagination.]

"If the astral element in man can be sent into another man by the power of his Olympic spirit, such an astral element may also be embedded in metals and leave its influence in them, and thereby the metal can be raised into a higher state than the one into which it was put by Nature." [12]

[12. This remark throws some light on alchemical processes, and goes to show that it is not the "magnetism" of the planets alone, but also the soul-essence of the operator, that is to be bound, and the two connected together in the metal by the process described below.]

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THE ELECTRUM MAGICUM

The electrum magicum is prepared as follows: --

"Take ten parts of pure gold, ten of silver, five of copper, two of tin, two of lead, one part of powdered iron, and five of mercury. All these metals must be pure. Now wait for the hour when the planets Saturn and Mercury come into conjunction, and have all your preparations ready for that occasion; have the fire, the crucible, the mercury, and the lead ready, so that there will be no delay when the time of the conjunction arrives, for the work must be done during the moments of the conjunction. As soon as this takes place melt the lead and add the mercury, and let it cool. After this has been done, wait for a conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn and Mercury, melt the compound of lead and mercury in a crucible, and in another crucible the tin, and pour the two metals together at the moment of such conjunction. You must now wait until a conjunction of the sun with either one or both of the above- named planets takes place, and then add the gold to the compound after melting it previously. At a time of a conjunction of the moon with the sun, Saturn, or Mercury, the silver is added likewise, and at a time of a conjunction of Venus with one of the above-named planets the copper is added. Finally, at a time of such a conjunction with Mars, the whole is completed by the addition of the powdered iron. Stir the fluid mass with a dry rod of witch-hazel, and let it cool." [13]

[13. All the above-mentioned conjunctions take place in our solar system in the course of thirteen successive months, but the directions refer to conjunctions of principles contained in the Microcosm of man.]

"Of this electrum magicum you may make a mirror in which you will see the events of the past and the present, absent friends or enemies, and what they are doing. You will see in it any object you may desire to see, and all the doings of men in daytime or at night. You will see in it anything that has ever been written down, said, or spoken in the past, and also see the person who said it, and the causes that made him say what he did, and anything, however secret it may have been kept." [14]

[14. That is to say, you may come en rapport with the astral light, which is the sensorium of the world, and in which the "memory" or impression of everything is preserved.]

"Such mirrors are made of the electrum magicum; they are made of the diameter of about two inches. They are to be founded at a time when a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus takes place, and moulds made of fine sand are used for that purpose. Grind the mirrors smooth with a grindstone, and polish them with tripoli, and with a piece of wood from a linden-tree. All the operations made with the mirror, the grinding, polishing, &c., should take place under favourable planetary aspects, and by selecting the proper hours three different mirrors may be prepared. At a time of a conjunction of two good planets, when at the same time the sun or the moon stands on the 'house of the lord of the hour of your birth,' the three mirrors are to be laid together into pure well-water, and left to remain there for an hour. They must then be removed from the water, enveloped in a linen cloth, and be preserved for use." [15]

[15. It would be useless to give detailed descriptions of processes that cannot be followed out by any one who does not possess the necessary magic (magnetic) power, and those who possess the power will hardly require such descriptions, in which allegories are strangely mixed with truths.]

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PALINGENESIS

Nothing in Nature is dead, and alchemy does not deal with inanimate things. The old alchemists were believers in the possibility of spontaneous generation, and by the action of psychical powers they created forms in which life became manifest. They could generate living beings in closed bottles, or by the Palingenesis [16] of plants or animals, cause the astral form of a plant or an animal to become visible again, and to resurrect from its ashes. One of the greatest secrets, however, is the generation of beings like men or women, that were generated without the assistance of a female organism, and which were called Homunculi. Paracelsus speaks about them as follows: --

[16. See Appendix.]

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HOMUNCULI

"Human beings may come into existence without natural parents. That is to say, such beings grow without being developed and born by a female organism; by the art of an experienced spagyricus (alchemist)." --  De Natura Serum, vol. i

"The generatio homunculi has until now been kept very secret, and so little was publicly known about it that the old philosophers have doubted its possibility. But I know that such things may be accomplished by spagyric art assisted by natural processes. If the sperma, enclosed in a hermetically sealed glass, is buried in horse manure for about forty days, and properly 'magnetised' it begins to live and to move. After such a time it bears the form and resemblance of a human being, but it will be transparent and without a corpus. If it is now artificially fed with the arcanum sanguinis hominis [17] until it is about forty weeks old, and if allowed to remain during that time in the horse-manure in a continually equal temperature, it will grow into a human child, with all its members developed like any other child, such as could have been born by a woman; only it will be much smaller. We call such a being a homunculus, and it may be raised and educated like any other child, until it grows older and obtains reason and intellect, and is able to take care of itself. This is one of the greatest secrets, and it ought to remain a secret until the days approach when all secrets will be known." [18]

[17. Without this arcanum the experiment would not succeed, nor the form become visible.]

[18. Paracelsus has been reproached for his belief in the possibility of generating homunculi; but a deeper insight into the processes of Nature will show that such a thing is not necessarily impossible. Modern authorities believe it to be not impossible. Moleschott thinks that we may perhaps yet succeed in establishing conditions by which organic forms can be generated; Liebig is of the opinion that chemistry will yet succeed in making organic substances by artificial means. Goethe says in his "Faust ": -- ]

"And such a brain, that has the power to think,
Will in the future be produced by a thinker."

[Where no germ is present such a generation would certainly be impossible; but chickens can be artificially hatched out, and perhaps homunculi may be developed. There seem to be some historic evidences that such things have been accomplished, as the following account will show: -- ]

[In a book called "The Sphinx," edited by Dr. Emil Besetzny, and published at Vienna in 1873 by L. Rosner (Tuchlauben, No. 22), we find some interesting accounts in regard to a number of "spirits" generated by a Joh. Ferd, Count of Kueffstein, in Tyrol, in the year 1775. The sources from which these accounts are taken consist in masonic manuscripts and prints, but more especially in a diary kept by a certain Jas Kammerer, who acted in the capacity of butler and famulus to the said Count. There were ten homunculi or, as he calls them, "prophesying spirits" preserved in strong bottles, such as are used to preserve fruit, and which were filled with water; and these "spirits" were the product of the labour of the Count J. F. of Kueffstein (Kufstein), and of an Italian Mystic and Rosicrucian, Abbe Geloni. They were made in the course of five weeks, and consisted of a king, a queen, a knight, a monk, a nun, an architect, a miner, a seraph, and finally of a blue and a red spirit. "The bottles were closed with ox-bladders, and with a great magic seal (Solomon's seal?). The spirits swam about in those bottles, and were about one span long, and the Count was very anxious that they should grow. They were therefore buried under two cart-loads of horse-manure, and the pile daily sprinkled with a certain liquor, prepared with great trouble by the two adepts, and made out of some ‘very disgusting materials.' The pile of manure began after such sprinklings to ferment and to steam as if heated by a subterranean fire, and at least once every three days, when everything was quiet, at the approach of the night, the two gentlemen would leave the convent and go to pray and to fumigate at that pile of manure. After the bottles were removed the 'spirits' had grown to be each one about one and a half span long, so that the bottles were almost too small to contain them, and the male homunculi had come into possession of heavy beards, and the nails of their fingers and toes had grown a great deal. By some means the Abbe Schiloni provided them with appropriate clothing, each one according to his rank and dignity. In the bottle of the red and in that of the blue spirit, however, there was nothing to be seen but 'clear water'; but whenever the Abbe knocked three times at the seal upon the mouth of the bottles, speaking at the same time some Hebrew words, the water in the bottles began to turn blue (respectively red), and the blue and the red spirits would show their faces, first very small, but growing in proportions until they attained the size of an ordinary human face. The face of the blue spirit was beautiful, like an angel, but that of the red one bore a horrible expression.]

["These beings were fed by the Count about once every three or four days with some rose-coloured substance which he kept in a silver box, and of which he gave to each spirit a pill of about the size of a pea. Once every week the water had to be removed, and the bottles filled again with pure rain-water. This change had to be accomplished very rapidly, because during the few moments that the spirits were exposed to the air they closed their eyes, and seemed to become weak and unconscious, as if they were about to die. But the blue spirit was never fed, nor was the water changed; while the red one received once a week a thimbleful of fresh blood of some animal (chicken), and this blood disappeared in the water as soon as it was poured into it, without colouring or troubling it. The water containing the red spirit had to be changed once every two or three days. As soon as the bottle was opened it became dark and cloudy, and emitted an odour of rotten eggs.]

["In the course of time these spirits grew to be about two spans long, and their bottles were now almost too small for them to stand erect; the Count therefore provided them with appropriate seats. These bottles were carried to the place where the Masonic Lodge of which the Count was the presiding Master met, and after each meeting they were carried back again. During the meetings the spirits gave prophecies about future events that usually proved to be correct. They knew the most secret things, but each of them was only acquainted with such things as belonged to his station: for instance, the king could talk politics, the monk about religion, the miner about minerals, &c.; but the blue and the red spirits seemed to know everything. (Some facts proving their clairvoyant powers are given in the original.) ]

["By some accident the glass containing the monk fell one day upon the floor, and was broken. The poor monk died after a few painful respirations, in spite of all the efforts of the Count to save his life, and his body was buried in the garden. An attempt to generate another one, made by the Count without the assistance of the Abbe, who had left, resulted in failure, as it produced only a small thing like a leech, which had very little vitality, and soon died.]

["One day the king escaped from his bottle, which had not been properly sealed, and was found by Kammerer sitting on the top of the bottle containing the queen, attempting to scratch with his nails the seal away, and to liberate her. In answer to the servant's call for help, the Count rushed in, and after a prolonged chase caught the king, who, from his long exposure to the air and the want of his appropriate element, had become faint, and was replaced into his bottle not, however, without succeeding to scratch the nose of the Count." ]

[It seems that the Count of Kufstein in later years became anxious for the salvation of his soul, and considered it incompatible with the requirements of his conscience to keep those spirits longer in his possession, and that he got rid of them in some manner not mentioned by the scribe. We will not make an attempt at comment, but would advise those who are curious about this matter to read the book from which the above account is an extract. There can be hardly any doubt as to its veracity, because some historically well-known persons, such as Count Max Lamberg, Count Franz Josef v. Thun, and others, saw them, and they possessed undoubtedly visible and tangible bodies; and it seems that they were either elemental spirits, or, what appears to be more probable, homunculi.]

It seems to be useless to quote any more alchemistical prescriptions of Paracelsus, or of any other alchemist. To the uninitiated they are unintelligible; while the initiated, having the light of the spirit for his teacher, will not require them. But those who condemn the ancient occultists for their supposed ignorance and superstition would do well to remember that it requires a vastly greater amount of credulity to believe that great reformers in science and men possessed of wisdom, such as Paracelsus, Johannes Tritheim, Van Helmont, and others, should have consented to write whole volumes of such intolerable rubbish as such writings would certainly be if they were to be taken in a literal meaning, than to believe -- as is actually the case -- that great spiritual truths were thus hidden behind allegories that were intended to be understood only by those who possessed the key in their own hearts.

Although Paracelsus asserts that it is possible to make gold and silver by chemical means, and that some persons have succeeded in making it,[19] still he condemns such external experiments as useless in the end, and it seems to be more than probable that, even in such chemical experiments as may have succeeded, something more than merely chemical manipulations was required to make them successful.[20]

[19. The following is a prescription how to make artificial gold, taken from an old alchemistical MS., and a marginal note says that an experiment tried with it proved successful: -- Take equal parts of powdered iron, sublimated sulphur, and crude antimony. Melt it in a crucible, and keep it in red heat for eight hours. Powder it, and calcinate it until the sulphur is evaporated. Mix two parts of this powder with one part of calcinated borax, and melt it again. Powder and dissolve it in common muriatic acid, and let it stand in a moderate heat for one month. The fluid is then to be put into a retort and distilled, and the fluid that collects in the recipient (the muriatic acid) is returned into the retort and again distilled, and this is repeated three times; the third time a red powder will be left in the retort (probably a mixture of muriate of iron with antimonium oxide). This powder is to be dissolved in the menstruum philosophicum, (made by pouring chloride of antimony into water, filtering, and evaporating the fluid to a certain extent, to make it stronger). The solution is to be evaporated again, and the remaining powder mixed with its own weight of corrosive sublimate of mercury. This powder is to be dissolved again in the menstruum philosophicum (diluted muriatic acid), and distilled until a red oily substance passes into the receiver. If you obtain this oil, you may take some newly prepared chloride of silver, saturate it gradually with the oil, and dry it. Put one part of this powder into five parts of molten lead, separate the lead again from the silver (by cupellation), and you will find that one-third of the silver has been transformed into gold.]

[20. There is a considerable amount of historical evidence of a trustworthy character that goes to prove that pure gold has been artificially made, but it is, to say the least, doubtful if this was done in a way that could be successfully imitated by one who is not an alchemist. According to a trustworthy report, coming from a source whose veracity is not doubtful, a certain alchemist was kept imprisoned by the Prince-Elect of Saxony at a fortress at Dresden in the year 1748, because the Prince wanted to obtain through him artificial gold. This adept produced four hundred pounds of gold by alchemical means, and finally escaped from the prison in some unexplained manner. Flamel is said to have made artificial gold on April 25, 1382.]

"The heavenly fire which comes to us from the sun, or acts within the earth, is not such a fire as is in heaven, neither like our fire upon the earth; but the celestial fire is with us a cold, stiff, frozen fire, and this is the body of gold. Therefore nothing can be gained from gold by means of our fire, except to render it fluid in the same sense as the sun renders fluid the snow and turns it into water." (Coelum Philos.) [21]

[21. Tiffereau has repeatedly succeeded in transmuting inferior metals into gold, by exposing for a long time solutions of chemically pure silver or copper to the sunshine in tropical countries, and he presented a considerable quantity of such gold to the Academy of Science in Paris. The gold thus obtained differed in some respects from the natural gold (Tiffereau, "L'Or," Paris). One of the best modern treatises on Alchemy in its physical aspects is August Strindberg's "Sylva Sylvarum” (Paris, 1896), which goes to show that all chemical substances are only modes of vibration of one primordial substance, and can be changed one into another by changing the state of etheric vibration.]

Astrology is intimately connected with medicine, magic, and alchemy. If we desire to make use of the influences of the planets for any purpose whatever, it is necessary to know what qualities these influences possess -- how they act, and at what time certain planetary influences will be on the increase or on the wane. The quality of the planetary influences will be known to a man who knows his own constitution, because he will then be able to recognise in himself the planetary influences corresponding to those that rule in the sky; the action of such influences will be known if we know the qualities of the bodies upon which they act, because each body attracts those influences that are in harmony with it, and repels the others; the time when certain planetary influences rule may be found out by astronomical calculations, or by tables that have been prepared from such for that purpose; but the spiritually developed seer will require no books and no tables, but will recognise the conditions of the interior world by the states existing in his own mind.

Paracelsus was not -- what is called to-day -- a professional astrologer. He did not calculate nativities or make horoscopes, but he knew the higher aspect of astrology, by which the mutual relations of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm are known. He rejected the errors of popular astrology as he did those of other popular religions or scientific superstitions; and his system of astrology, if rightly understood, appears of a sublime character and full of the grandest conceptions.

He says: "No one needs to care for the course of Saturn; it neither shortens nor lengthens the life of anybody. If Mars is ferocious, it does not follow that Nero was his child; and although Mars and Nero may both have had the same qualities, they did not take them from each other. It is an old saying that 'a wise man may rule the stars,' and I believe in that saying -- not in the sense in which you take it, but in my own. The stars force nothing into us that we are not willing to take; they incline us to nothing which we do not desire." [22]

[22. It is not divine man, but the elements in the body of man, which attract corresponding influences from the powers of macrocosmic Nature.]

"They are free for themselves, and we are free for ourselves. You believe that one man is more successful in the acquirement of knowledge, another one in the acquisition of power; one obtains riches more easily, and another one fame. And you think that this is caused by the stars; but I believe the cause to be that one man is more apt than another to acquire and to hold certain things, and that this aptitude comes from the spirit.[23] It is absurd to believe that the stars can make a man. Whatever the stars can do we can do ourselves, because the wisdom which we obtain from God overpowers the heaven and rules over the stars."

[23. If they come from the spirit, the spirit must have pre-existed, and have acquired them in a previous incarnation.]

He objected strongly to the use of ceremonies that were made for the purpose of attracting spirits by means of planetary influences. He says: "Whatever comes from the astral 'spirits' is sorcery. Such spirits are false, and we do not believe in them; but we believe in the power of that wisdom which rules heaven, and by which all the mysteries of Nature may be known. Sorcery has been called magic; but magic is wisdom, and there is no wisdom in sorcery. True science knows everything. The eternity of all things is without time, without beginning, and without an end. It is substantially present everywhere, and acts where it is not expected. That which seems to be incredible, improbable, and impossible will become wonderfully true in eternity."

"Man's mind is made up of the same elements as the stars; but as the wisdom of the Supreme guides the motions of the stars, so the reason of man rules the influences which rotate and circulate in his mind. The essence of man's sidereal body, which he attracts from the stars, is of a substantial nature; still, we consider it as being something spiritual on account of the ethereality of its substance, and on account of the great dimensions of its invisible body. The essences in man's sidereal body are intimately related to the sidereal essences of the stars, and the former attract the powers of the latter; but if a man is the master over his own mind, he can permit those attractions to take place in an irregular manner, or control his passions and repel influences which he does not desire.

"There is an attractive power in the soul of man, which attracts physical, mental, and moral diseases from the Chaos. The planetary influences extend through all Nature, and man attracts poisonous qualities from the moon, from the stars, and from other things; but the moon, and the stars, and other things also attract evil influences from man, and distribute them again by their rays, because Nature is an undivided whole, whose parts are intimately connected."

"The sun and the stars attract something from us, and we attract something from them, because our astral bodies are in sympathy with the stars, and the stars are in sympathy with our astral bodies; but the same is the case with the astral bodies of all other objects. They all attract astral influences from the stars. Each body attracts certain particular influences from them; some attract more and others less; and on this truth is based the power of amulets and talismans, and the influence which they may exercise over the astral form of the bearer. Talismans are like boxes, in which sidereal influences may be preserved."

"Three spirits, united in one, live and act in man; three worlds, united into one, throw their rays upon him; but all three are only the reflection, image, or echo of one primordial creation."

"The first is the essence of the elements; the second, the soul of the stars (the mind); they are caused by the life of the elements, but there is only one life, and the life that causes the instincts of man is contained in all elements in the stars as well as in vegetable and animal forms. The activity of the life-essence is modified in vegetable, animal, and human forms; it becomes the life of the earth, and the life of the earth is radiated back to the stars. Stars attract and repel each other; they have their sympathies and antipathies; and these living antipathies and sympathies, attractions and repulsions, could not exist if no vehicle of life existed between them."

"Primordial matter, forming the basis of the constitution of the human body, has absorbed influences from the stars, and they nourish the elementary (physical) body, and by means of these influences man's soul is connected with and united to the souls of the stars. Having three worlds in him and living in three worlds, man should learn to know the lower elements, understand the sidereal, and know the eternal."

"The body comes from the elements, the soul from the stars, and the spirit from God. All that the intellect can conceive of comes from the stars." [24]

[24. By "stars" (astra) Paracelsus does not refer to the physical bodies of the planets, but to mental states existing in the Cosmos, and which are represented by the stars.]

"All knowledge comes from the stars (the Universal Mind). Men do not invent or create ideas; the ideas exist, and men are able to grasp them. If all professors of music in the world would die in one day, heaven, being the original teacher of music, would not die, and it would teach other persons this art."

"Many ideas exist which men have not yet grasped; many stars are still too far away to form a connection with the earth. The realm of stars and ideas is infinite, and therefore the source of inventions and discoveries is not yet exhausted."

"New stars appear and others disappear on the sky. New ideas appear on the mental horizon, and old ideas are lost. If a new comet appears on the sky, it fills the hearts of the ignorant with terror; if a new and grand idea appears on the mental horizon, it creates fear in the camp of those that cling to old systems and accepted forms."

"Physical man takes his nutriment from the earth; the sidereal man receives the states of his feelings and thoughts from the stars; but the spirit has his wisdom from God. The heat of a fire passes through an iron stove, and the astral influences, with all their qualities, pass through man. They penetrate him as rain penetrates the soil, and as the soil is made fruitful by the rain. Likewise man's soul is made fruitful by them; but the principle of the supreme wisdom of the universe penetrates into the centre, illuminates it, and rules over all."

"Hail may destroy the fruits of the earth, evil planetary influences be attracted by the soul of the earth and cause epidemic diseases, and the spiritual centre in man be devoid of wisdom, and darkness rule in its place. The earth, the animal kingdom, and physical man are subject to the government of the stars; but the spiritual man rules over the stars and over the elements, and conquers the worlds without and the world within by the wisdom that comes from God."

"Stones, plants, and animals obey the government of the mind, and man should obey the will and wisdom of God. The individual terrestrial life should correspond to the laws governing the universe; man's spiritual aspirations should be directed to harmonise with the will and wisdom of God. If this is attained, the inner consciousness will awaken to an understanding of the influences of the stars, and the mysteries of Nature will be revealed to his spiritual perception."

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