Archive for the ‘Raeding and Wrighting’ Category

Of Mines, Metals, Minerals and Natures

March 5, 2014 8 comments


“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

Washing with Fire, Burning with Water

October 26, 2013 8 comments

Regarding the affective soul, alchemists often mention that ‘we wash with our fire and burn with our water’ – which is very descriptive of the effects that result from the inclination of our desiring – which word (inclination) has, here, multiple meanings: in the sense of habit, direction and slope.

The phrase has two basic raedings:

1) in the first, water refers to downwardly (outwardly) directed desire (appetite) which burns in the sense that it is the source of pain and suffering. Fire, in contrast, refers to upwardly (inwardly) directed desire that washes in the sense of making clean/pure [during the black and white works].

2) in the second raeding, water and fire are one, and their action is one, due to bringing the focus of ALL desiring to The One, such that even when the sensorium observes external objects these only serve to remind one of The One. In this case water burns in the sense of purification of the superfluous from sensation and fire washes in the sense of a gentle cleansing since there is no scoria to burn [during the red work].

So, the following phrase has reference to the second raeding, which refers to the state or station of being in the world but not of it:

“He who can burn with water and wash with fire makes a heaven of earth and a precious earth of heaven.”

This creates an indissoluble union between the fixed and the volatile.

Categories: Raeding and Wrighting

Paradigms and Templates

March 4, 2009 6 comments

Existing paradigms for reading and interpreting alchemical texts are less than adequate. For the most part these paradigms concern themselves with reading and interpreting these texts according to literary/mythological, psychological, chemical/herbal, or occult templates; or some eclectic amalgamation of these. Such interpretive templates and the reading paradigms which rely on them are foreign to alchemical theory and practice and their use should be re-evaluated by scholars and practitioners alike.

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