Home > Raeding and Wrighting > Of Mines, Metals, Minerals and Natures

Of Mines, Metals, Minerals and Natures

March 5, 2014


“Within this Mine two Stones of old were found,
Whence this the Ancients called Holy Ground;
Who knew their Value, Power and Extent,
And nature how with Nature to Ferment.
For these if you Ferment with Natural Gold
Or Silver, their hid Treasures they unfold,
According to their Natures then proceed,
And take care properly each one to feed;”

– The ‘key’ lines from Verse on the Threefold Sophic Fire


The First Four Lines:
“Within this Mine two Stones of old were found,
Whence this the Ancients called Holy Ground;
Who knew their Value, Power and Extent,
And nature how with Nature to Ferment.”


The technical term ‘Mine’ is the root of the term mineral, which latter means: ‘that which is drawn from a mine’; which is why, in alchemy, the term is sometimes used in reference to both metals and minerals.

The term ‘mine’ also, more generally, refers to ‘an excavation in the earth from which ore or minerals can be extracted, as well as the site of such an excavation, with its surface features and tools’. It also means ‘an abundant supply or source of something valuable.’

The ‘two stones’ that are found here are the two natures: Absolute and relative, Universal and Individual, Agent and Patient, Objective and Subjective, Active and passive, Gold and Silver.

A ‘mine’, in the alchemystical sense, is thus ‘Holy Ground’ because it is the source of all that we are, were, or can be. We have become estranged from our true Nature, but the mine (as abundant source of that which is most valuable and necessary to human life) is ever there should we desire to return to it and uncover the ‘root’ or ‘radix’ (referred to elsewhere in this text as the ‘radical humidity’) – which is also the soothing ‘balm’ of our true Nature. That root (or radix) being recovered, the individual is then a walking ‘mine’ (a repository of essence, liquor, elixir, alchahest, azoth, stone, tingeing powder, etc.) from which others may receive ‘tincturing’ (which term refers to the process of ‘projecting the stone’). The recovery of Universal Nature (Original Infinite Life) provides one with the capacity to serve as a source for the fermentation of other individual natures.

The hermetic axiom associated with this process/function runs thus:

Nature delights in nature,
Nature conquers nature,
and Nature masters nature.


Let us examine each of these functions individually.

Nature delights in nature [sympathia]
This means that the universal Nature delights in the individual nature – the Universal is the salvation of the individual (this relationship is termed ‘value’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever has faith in him should not perish but have eternal life“.

Nature conquers nature [antipathia]*
This means that the Universal Nature penetrates the Individual nature through and through (this relationship is termed ‘extent’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “I in them and thou in me, that they may be Perfect in One“).

Nature masters nature [magisteria]
This means that the Universal Nature overcomes the individual nature (this relationship is termed ‘power’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “Be still and know that I am God.“)


The Greater Ferment
This ferment can be had direct from the source. It deserves to be called Greater Ferment inasmuch as it remains absolute beyond dualism and contingecies and is the sole or at least primary source of ferment used in the sudden or solo work. The greater ferment could also be called Natural Gold.

The Intermediate Ferment
This ferment can be had from a more proximate locus in the form of an inheritor or exemplar of the tradition, in which case the ferment is not as absolute as the former, but neither is it as susceptible to misuse and abuse as the lesser ferment (see below). This ferment is intermediate inasmuch as it has the benefit of infusions of essence/baraka (through projection of the stone), but though it also uses encoded laws, rules and regulations there is nevertheless an agent able to interpret and reinterpret such laws as necessary for a given time, place and people. The intermediate ferment could also be called manufactured or sterling Silver.

The Lesser Ferment
Lastly, ferment may be had indirectly from the textual and cultural remains of the tradition: in moral codes, regulations, rules, laws and rites. Such ferment is impaired to the extent that the encoding of such material participates in the inevitable limitations of language, concepts, dualisms and contingencies. This lesser ferment could also be called crude Copper (which nevertheless has the seed of gold within it).

The primary intent of the text regards the Greater and/or intermediate ferment and its use in each of the three actions: sympathia (or value), antpathia (or extent) and magisteria (or power) in relation to either the solo or cooperative work.


The Second Four Lines:
“For these, if you Ferment with Nat’ral Gold,
Or Silver, their hid Treasures they unfold,
According to their Natures then proceed”
And take care properly each one to feed;


By the use of the plural, ‘Natures’, is here meant ‘Gold’ (Universal, Essential Nature) and Silver (individual, formal nature) – or also see above for an alternate interpretation where these refer to the quality of the ferment. Rather than eliminating the one or the other nature, we establish that balance which is the unique and defining characteristic of the ‘Man of Insight and Reason’, which our Sufi parent tradition defines as

Someone who sees Truth in creation and creation in Truth, without either of them being veiled by the other; rather he sees one existence in its reality – as Truth from one point of view, and as creation from another. Thus he is not veiled by multiplicity from witnessing the face of the One and Only in its Essence. Nor does he have any difficulty contemplating the multiplicity of the manifestations of the Oneness of the Essence, by which he is illuminated. Similarly, he is not veiled by the oneness of the face of Truth from witnessing the multiplicity of created things; neither does he have any trouble witnessing the Oneness of the Essence revealing itself in the manifestation of multiplicity.


Or, as Ibn al Arabi (aka ‘Doctor Maximus’) relates:

So in creation lies the essence of Truth
If you are a Man of Insight;
And in Truth lies the essence of creation
If you are a Man of Reason;
But if you were a Man of both Insight and Reason,
Then you could not help but see:
The essence and the form of a thing are one.


The phrase “And take care properly each one to feed” finds its Biblical correlative in “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”). Neither nature is to be clung to over against the other for to do so creates imbalance. Nor should either nature be mistaken for, or given the prerogatives of, the other.

In the alternative interpretation where Gold and Silver refer to the quality of the ferment, this line about feeding is in reference to the cooperative work, and the Exemplar (who is responsible for projecting the teaching current and the current teaching) is being advised to take care to project each one properly for the benefit of all concerned.

Understanding the technical terms and phrases embedded in traditional literature is the minimum requirement for even the most basic, surface-level conceptual comprehension. Be that as it may, as was mentioned in the explication of the Epistle of John Pontanus, accurate theory follows upon successful practice, and successful practice takes its direction from accurate theory. One without the other creates imbalance and nurtures error.

*note – antipathia, as a technical term, means ‘opposed’, as for instance when two forces are working at cross-purposes. There is no animosity, hostility, oppression or aggression implied in its usage in such a context.

Categories: Raeding and Wrighting
  1. brkkuroi
    March 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Yesterday, I was reading another interchange regarding the nature of the “mine” and I came across this quote: ” We are what we do and we are constantly remade in the image our “maker” which though initially “God” is now whatever fleeting yet defining desire is able to re-order our sensorium and physical material(making it conform to our state of being.) In the above passage, the “mine” is defined “as the source of all that we are, were, or can be.” It seems to me that we can only begin to work ..in.. the mine in the “present moment.”.But….my “present moment” includes hopes, fears, dreams etc for the future and resentments, nostalgia, false hopes from the past. In addition, “the present” is , to use a quote from Thomas Cleary, “On a microscale, the experience of the present moment is in fact an edited re-play of an immediately past moment of sensation therefore that past moment becomes present through a process that is in its future.” In other words, what we “know” of the future is determined by the present: the “past” is dependent on how we interepret in the “present” and the ” present” is itself a bit of an illusion. How can we establish a” foothold “to work in the mine? How can we work in the “present moment” given that the present moment is so ungraspable.

  2. brkkuroi
    March 7, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Okay…after posting my response above, I re-read and re-read the passage from James several times. I also read and re-read the materials that were referred to in James’ post. I was somewhat shocked to discover, however, that the answer to my query is found in James’ post!! I realized when I wrote my post that it was very confused- and confusing!- but I thought “What the heck, I’ll just put that confusion “out there” and see if it can be clarified” I think the reason that I did not initially see how the post was an answer to my confusion was a lack of trust. I have always thought of trust as being “trust in God” or “trusting in other people” but what I NEVER understood until today is that trust also includes trust in yourself and distrust of “others” often indicates not trusting yourself. The confusion that I felt I was suffering from was a confusion that I was actively (albeit unconsciously) maintaining and feeding. The phrase “He who knows himself, knows his Lord” has a deeper meaning for me now, as now the Parable of the Talents. As with the Parable of the Talents I thought there was something I had to “hold back” or “bury” because” I knew that you were a hard man, Lord.” I am also reminded of the line from the Book of Psalms “Be still and know that I am God” in which the first phrase “Be still” i.e. allow the confusion to sort itself out becomes a key to the second step. Step by step..Of course, I have found more and more in the post but…this is at least, I hope, a good initial step.

  3. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    March 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Idries Shah said that he often received the same questions from the same persons repeatedly, but couched in different terms. He pointed out that this was brought about by undigested knowledge floating to the surface of the mind, and that the process would continue, despite any and all answers, until that piece of knowledge was assimilated.

    Trust is a powerful agent. It can carry you to the place where it becomes clear that there is little separation between “you” and “others,” “God” and “me,” or “me” and “the world.” This is “solution” in alchemical terms. At this point the posture of “not my will, but Thy Will be done” becomes crucial lest one assume a status that should not be, a type of “fixation” in alchemical terms, and one becomes thereby a monster. This is one of the important reasons for the warnings and caveats, the obfuscations and the misdirection so common in alchemical literature.

  4. brkkuroi
    March 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Xiaoyaoxing, thank you again for your considerate and thoughtful response! The word “monster” is interesting , especially with all the connotations associated with that idea. The phrase that popped into my head when reading that word was ” Better to be a Bilbo rather than a Sauron!” Of course, there are many characters in many different cultures and spiritual traditions who can be seen as variations on the type of either “Bilbo ” or “Sauron” I am hoping that I am following your thread of thought in this context correctly so I am sharing this image to make sure that my understanding is not flawed. The image also sprang to mind because of your own use of the name “Bilbo” in another context.
    Secondly, I am a bit puzzled by the use of the word “antipathia” in the context of “Nature conquers nature”. The word “antipathia”-although it is greek- is the root of the english word “antipathy” which has connotations of dislike or even hate. I thought this cannot be right in the light of the biblical quotation that is used,” I in them, and thou in me that they may be Perfect in One.” So my understanding is that as the Universal Nature penetrates the Individual nature, all those elements that are against (anti) the Harmony and the Design of the Universal Nature are removed or transmuted in preparation for the final stage Nature masters nature. I realize there is a danger when these terms or frameworks are reified but is this an accurate understanding?

  5. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    March 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    brkkuroi, how are you progressing with your query on antipathia? James’ note would have relieved your worry about the English connotations, but you can find other aspects relating to this elsewhere on the site as well.

    Here is an example:

    … In every Form the Seed of a higher Form is hidden. Through the power of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ (attraction and repulsion/inclusion and exclusion) and through the third principle, ‘harmony’, (circulation and reconciliation) we advance the work by dissolving the bondage of the inferior qualities of lower Forms while drawing to ourselves the tincturing or tingeing qualities of higher Forms …

  6. brkkuroi
    March 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you for your interest, Xiaoyaoxing, I will try to answer to the best of my ability! Through breaking down the word into “anti”i.e. against(which I have done above) and pathos, I discovered a number of interesting possible lines of inquiry. First the word pathos (feeling) was also translated as patheticus and in the form nous patheticus it can, and has been translated, as the potential or passive intellect. Thus the term pathos ,in this context, does not just mean feeling, it can also have a connotation of passivity. In addition, the word passion is considered to be allied to the word pathos and again, the word “passion” like the word “suffer” to which it is also allied, originally had a broader scope of meaning. “Passion” -as in the Passion of Christ-also had a broader meaning that included the idea of passive and is linked to the word “patient”. I have noted that the word agent( which is often contrasted in many contexts to “patient” has been used many times on this web site. I also found out that the word “agent” in grammar refers to the initiator of an action while the word “patient” refers to the recepient of the action. So my interpretation, so far, is the the Universal Nature in the form of the Active intellect “permeates ‘ or “penetrates” the Passive intellect in the form of the individual nature. This , of course, is the second stage of ferment which leads to the final stage of Universal Nature overcoming the Individual Nature i.e. “Be still and know that I am God”

  7. brkkuroi
    March 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Then I began to analyze the word “penetrate”. I remembered that Ibn El Arabi had used the word “penetrate” ( and linked it to the word “permeate”) in his writings about the Prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h.) “Abraham is called Khalil(which means ‘friend) for no other reason that he permeates (takhullal) and comprises in himself all the qualities by which the Divine Essence is qualified just as a color ‘permeates” a colored object in such a way the the accident”i.e. the color) exists in all parts of the substance.” and further…
    “Know that whenever something permeates (takhullal) another the first is necessarily contained in the second. The permeator becomes veiled by the permeated so that the passive one(as in passive intellect, passion patient)j the permeated is the Outward while the active one,(as in active, action, active intellect , nous poien, agent) is the Inward which is the invisible. Thus it (the permeator) is food for the other ( the permeated)” and in addition, Ibn Al Arabi mentions that the process of “being food for one another ” is reciprocal. So..the process of permeation or penetration of the second stage, it seems to me, is a process,(not unlike cooking as in Rumi’s analogy of the chickpeas!) that includes suffering(as in the archaic meaning as well as current meanings of “suffer” ) “passion” (in both the ancient as well as the modern meanings of the term) and can be linked to, for example, to the Christian framework(as with the use of the two quotes from the Gospel above) in the sense of the host or “food.” provided in the Christian Mass( which has clear echoes in the Story of Abraham (p.b.u.h)Now as for me truly digesting all of this …that is still to come(after a good deal of cooking!)
    but…this is how I interpret the passage at this time.

  8. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    March 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    This is all good, and while there are several areas that could be expanded, especially in its relation to the text in question (the Verse on the Threefold Sophic Fire) it may be best to pause for a time and allow a balance to emerge between head and heart.
    As James pointed out: “Accurate theory follows upon successful practice, and successful practice takes its direction from accurate theory. One without the other creates imbalance and nurtures error.”

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