Alchemy Academy archive
April 2000

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Subject: ACADEMY : Mercury: A History of Quicksilver
From: Adam McLean
Date: 31 Mar 2000

Does anyone know this book:

"Mercury: A History of Quicksilver" by Leonard J. Goldwater, 1972, York Press,
ISBN 0-912752-01-7.

I heard about it a few years ago but have never been able to see
a copy. A colleague today reminded me of this book. Has anyone
seen it? Is is a good an reliable study?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Raven on skull image in alchemy
From: Gillick Marcella
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000

I have just now come across really beautiful alchemical descriptions
of the Lovers, and Art (Temperance) tarot cards in the Book of
Thoth. In his Art card there is an image of a raven standing on a
skull, which Crowley describes as symbolising the Caput Mortuum.
I first saw the image of a raven on a skull in Fulcanelli's Cathedral
book (the one entitled something like 'The Sphinx protects Science').

I know ravens feature in lots of old alchemical illustrations, but
don't remember this particular image - is it just recent?

Very best wishes

Subject: ACADEMY : Raven on skull image in alchemy
From: Adam McLean
Date: 1 Apr 2000

Dear Marcella,

The raven does occur quite often in alchemical illustrations,
as you rightly recognise. The raven standing on a skull does
occur, though it is quite rare. The most well known example
is the first emblem in Mylius' version of the Basil Valentine
Azoth series. Here seven roundels appear against the tree
under which Senior instructs Adolphus. The first roundel
has the image of a raven on a skull. See A035

Synchronistically, I have just finished, earlier in the week, painting
another image which includes a raven on a skull. This is A134
the frontispiece engraving from 'Microcosmische vorspiele des
neuen Himmels und der neuen Erde', 1744.

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Exhibition in Germany
From: Michal Pober
Date: 2 Apr 2000

Dear Friends,

Recenly an exhibition entitled 'Magia Naturalis' [Alchemy, Magic and
Science at the Beginning of the Modern Age] opened in Boblingen, nr.
Stuttgart, at the Boblinger Bauernkriegs Museum.

I have few other details, re opening-hours etc. but do have an
e-mail address:

Our Drs Turkova and Antonin from the National Museum Library
in Prague have been participating in putting the exhibition together.

With Best Regards,
Michal Pober

Subject: ACADEMY : Mercury: A History of Quicksilver
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000

Dear Adam:

I found two references in the online catalogues of some of
the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland.
Probably you can ask for a copy.

José Rodríguez

Goldwater, Leonard J. (Leonard John), 1903
Mercury; a history of quicksilver / [by] Leonard J. Goldwater
Publisher: Baltimore : York Press, [1972]
Physical Desc.: xi, 318 p : illus ; 24 cm
ISBN/ISSN: 0912752017
Mercury - Therapeutic use - History. History of Medicine
Language: English

Holding Libraries:

Oxford - Bodleian Library
Birmingham - Main Library ; RM 666.M5
Imperial - Central Library ; ANNAN COLLECTION

Subject: ACADEMY : Raven on skull image in alchemy
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000

Hi Marcella,

You might, in connection with Crowley's 'Art' card, care to take a look at
illustration N°9 in Valentine's Azoth series.


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and Genesis
From: Adam McLean
Date: 7th April 2000

I was recently looking at a short verse by the English alchemist,
Simon Forman, entitled 'Of the Division of Chaos' (MS . Ashmole 240).
This draws a parallel between alchemical ideas and Genesis. See

There are, of course, many such appearances of the Genesis cosmology
in alchemical texts. Guttman being the most obvious and, of course,
there is all the Boehme material. I wonder if anyone has made a study
of this link, or can help me draw up a little list of such alchemical texts that
attempt to parallel the alchemical process with that the Genesis

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and Genesis
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000
From: Mike Dickman

Well... at the risk of appearing a bit dim... there is the extraordianry
plate by Merian in Mylius' Opus medico-chymicum (cf., e. g.,
Klossowski de Rola, The Golden Game, London 1988, p. 139, pl.
120 and the accompanying text, ibid., p. 150) which might very well
pass as the 'missing suit' of the Tarot cards, were such a thing to


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and Genesis
From: Stanislas Klossowski de Rola
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000

There are indeed countless texts that draw on the symbolical
connections between Genesis and the Great Work. I would go further
by stating that the Great Work is itself a RE-CREATION wherein all
the "phases" of Genesis are revisited.

Every Hermetick Philosopher worthy of his Salt has been taught by
the Ancient Sages the literal truths contained in Genesis.You have
highlighted here one of the greatest wonders and sources of
inspiration in Western Alchemy whether overtly referred to or not.

As there are so many references it is very hard to list all the texts
that refer to these parallels.

Here are two random examples:
Michael Maier refers to Genesis in the "Septimana Philosophica"
Frankfurt 1620
Johann Daniel Mylius does the same in his "Opus Medico-Chymicum"
Frankfurt 1618 a large folding plate from this work captioned by
quotes from Genesis is reproduced (alas reduced in format) in my
Golden Game on page 139.

All the very best always,
Stanislas Klossowski de Rola

Subject: ACADEMY : John Ledis [Ledes, Ledys]
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000
From: Sophie Page

I wonder if anyone has come across a monk called John Ledis
in connection with the practices of alchemy - probably in the
fifteenth century?

I know of this name only through a reference in Cambridge
University Library Kk. vi. 30, a medical and alchemical miscellany
from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Following some alchemical
recipes on f. 138v is 'dom [?] John Ledis, monke of Canterbury and
William Gold dwellyng by ye abbey gat of ye same town'. This monk
may be the same person as John Ledys [Ledes, Ledis], a monk at
Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the fifteenth century who left after
some unnamed misdemeanour. J. Greatrex, Biographical Register
of the English Cathedral Priories of the Province of Canterbury
(c.1066 to 1590) (Oxford, 1997), p. 220.

My interest in this monk arises through my research into magic
texts and some alchemical texts at St. Augustine's Abbey,
Canterbury in the late Middle Ages,

Sophie Page

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and Genesis
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Adam,

You probably know this, but it is still worth mentioning that Thomas
Vaughan's 'Anthroposophica Theomagica: or A Discourse of
the Nature of Man and his state after death; Grounded on his
Creator's Proto-Chimistry, and verifi'f by a practicall Examination
of Principles in the Great World' (London, 1650) contains a number
of clear echoes of Fludd or of the sources he used such as
Agrippa and the Cabalists. References to Fludd and other
sources used by Vaughan in this work on the 'Creator's
Proto-Chimistry' are given in the notes to Alan Rudrum's edition of
'The Works of Thomas Vaughan' (Oxford, 1984) and can be
traced in the Index to the notes. The dedication is to the Rosicrucians.

Hoping this is of some help,

Michael Srigley

Subject: ACADEMY : The Jesuits and Alchemy
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Some weeks ago someone asked for information about the
esuits and Alchemy. Recently I found some articles while
looking for information about the relationships between the
Spanish church and alchemy:

MARTHA BALDWIN, "Alchemy in the Society of Jesus",
in «Alchemy Revisited...», Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden,
1990, pp. 182-187.

MARTHA BALDWIN, "Alchemy and the Society of Jesus in
the seventeenth century: strange bedfellows?",
in «Ambix», XL (1993), pp. 41-64.

SYLVAIN MATTON, "Les théologiens de la Compagnie de
Jésus et l'alchimie", in «Aspects de la tradition alchimique au
XVIIe siècle», Archè, 1998, pp. 383-501


José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : Urszula Szulakowska and Carl Jung
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000

I have read all of Barbara Obrist's iconological studies on alchemy.
In the present state of research hers are the most authoritative
accounts of the origins of alchemy illustrations in the late fourteenth
century that I study.

I know that Urszula Szulakowska uses the same point of view
when she analyzes alchemical illustrations but I have not read
all her articles. Obrist upholds an overtly anti-Jungian position with
many arguments, so I ask: are there Szulakowska works declaring
openly this anti-Jungian position too?.


José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : Opus ovorum/ Alchemy and Sermons
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
From: Sophie Page

I wonder if anyone in the Alchemy Academy could help me with a couple of
slightly (perhaps) less obscure questions than the last one I asked

- the identification of the works in this entry: Liber Rasy de alkemia.
Item opus ovorum (?) certissimum in alk'
(lost volume in a fifteenth-century catalogue)

Also - I vaguely remember this thread occurring before but could
anyone help with bibliography relating to the incorporation of
alchemical material in sermons, particularly in relation to the
medieval period.
The two works above were compiled with sermons and a mystical
work in a monastic manuscript.

Thank you,

Sophie Page

Subject: ACADEMY : Opus ovorum
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
From: Adam McLean

Dear Sophie Page,

> the identification of the works in this entry: Liber Rasy de alkemia.
>Item opus ovorum (?) certissimum in alk'
>(lost volume in a fifteenth-century catalogue)

The only thing I can find in my database is this manuscript in
Wolfenbüttel. This 'opus ovorum' is not here ascribed to Rasis,
but appears alongside a work of Morienus.

Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, MS. Helmstedt 468. [433.]
15th Century [1415-1429.]
1. f1-2v [Chemical experiments.]
2. f3-171 Das Buch der Verborgenheit Gottes oder der h[eiligen] Dreifaltigkeit Schatz.
5. f174-178v Dialogus inter magistrum quendam eiusque discipulum de rebus chymicis.
8. f185v-192 Ligamenta, quibus omnia corpora ad invicem colliguntur necnon practica quedam.
10. f195-198v Practica pulchra.
12. f210-231v Metra pulchra et bona necnon practica quedam.
16. f221v-232 Lilium alchymie valde pulchrum.
18. f234-235 De lapide rebis vel dabesse tractatus.
19. f235-238 Destillationes et dissolutiones pulchre.
20. f238v-243v Ordo multiplicationis cum sua practica.
21. f243v244v Descriptio furni et vasis de vitro.
22. f244v-245 Probatio operis.
23. f245v [Recipes.]
25. f251v [Recipes.]
26. f252 Epilogus ad precedentia.
27. f252v-255v [Alchemical verse, with various recipes.]
28. f256-257 [Recipes.]
29. f258-270 Vocabularium chymicum.
31. f370v-275v Liber Hermetis bonus valde et utilis.
32. f276-283v Liber Morienus.
33. f284-294 Alexandri liber de opere ovorum.
34. f294v-298 Secreta collecta per M. Henricum Rudorff de diversis sociis in arte occulta expertis.

Subject: ACADEMY : Manuscript of 'Rosarium philosophorum'
From: Adam McLean
Date: 12 Apr 2000

I have found an interesting site in the Czech Republic which
holds a reproduction of an entire manuscript version of the
'Rosarium philosophorum'. This is MS XVII E 77 in the National
Library of the Czech Republic , which was written by Jaros
Griemiller z Tøebska in 1578. Some of the illustrations in this MS
were reproduced in the Opus Magnum catalogue of the
exhibition in Prague in 1997.

I am not sure if this server holds other reproductions of

Subject: ACADEMY : Manuscript of 'Rosarium philosophorum'
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
From: Michal Pober

Adam McLean wrote:

>I have found an interesting site in the Czech Republic which
>holds a reproduction of an entire manuscript version of the
>'Rosarium philosophorum'.

Dear Adam,

Thank you so much for flagging this.
Unfortunately a combination of browser crash and a long-distance
phone connection prevented me from exploring it in detail but
perhaps its worth mentioning that this is an English version of the
site and that after opening each thumbnail there is an option below
each picture labelled [confusingly] 'low picture quality which when it
is clicked on gives a far superior and larger image..

Also this is definitely the National Library page.
As far as what is available, starting from the other end, when I asked in
January about the possibility of a digital version of another manuscript
I was told that they had 'just started' digitalising them.
However the intention is to digitalise all of them and then no doubt they
will find their way to the site.

I will go back to the library and investigate some more but it won't be for
at least a couple of weeks.

With best regards,


Subject: ACADEMY : Voarchadumia
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000
From: Susanna Åkerman

In Deborah Harkness' recent book John Dee's Conversations with
Angels (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999) it is claimed that Dee did
not learn of his Enochian angelic script from the Ethiopian book
of Enoch that would have been in the Kabbalist Guillaume Postel's
possession (they met in Paris in 1551), since that manuscript did
not come to light until the nineteenth century. Rather the source for
Dee, according to Harkness is Giovanni Agostino PANTEO [Johannes
Augustinus Pantheus], Voarchadumia contra alchimiam: Ars
distincta ab Archimia, et Sophia: cum Additionibus: Proportionibus:
Numeris: et Figuris...Paris 1550, in which the Ethiopian
script is used.

I want to draw attention to that Tycho Brahe on p. 517 in his rare
edition De nova stella, Anno 1572 (Uraniborg, 1593) now at Kungliga
vetenskapsakademin, Stockholm, speaks of Postel's use of some
Ethiopian books of magic to interpret the new star, which also is
alluded to in Postel's De peregrina stella...iudicium published in
Cornelis Gemma's De nova stella (Basel 1573) in which the new
star of Cassiopeia is seen as piercing the black soul of Queen
Cush-peh of Ethiopia. This would not be the Ethiopian book of
Enoch apparently, but some other texts. Postel with his knowledge
of Oriental languages could however have been influenced by
the same tradition as Dee is. Apparently there were Ethiopian
books of magic around, probably attributed to Enoch.

Has anyone read Pantheus and seen its script? What is his source?
What does Pantheus do to argue against alchemy?

Happy Easter,

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Speculum veritatis
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000
From: Adam McLean

Has anyone done any work on or viewed the 'Speculum veritatis'
manuscript in the Vatican MS. Lat. 7286.

The manuscript has 13 folios with 12 line drawings - rather
charming in their naive execution.

I am assuming the first folio has the title:

Speculum Veritatis (videtur esse Ars faciendi Aurum vel
Elixirem Figuris ac Emblematibus expressa.)

I assume the drawings are on the recto of each folio,
so are the versos blank or is there any text ?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Speculum veritatis
From: Stanislas Klossowsko de Rola
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000

Dear Adam,

I had the privilege of spending a considerable amount of time at
the Vatican Library and, on my first visit I did study Codex Latinus
7286 a XVIIth century manuscript reproduced in my Alchemy the
Secret Art. The only unreproduced drawing is the fascinating shield
frontispiece in the shape of scales poised on a central vertical arrow
which rests upon a snake coiled like a spiral. Above this device is
the title "SPECULUM VERITATIS" i.e the Mirror of Truths. I have no
record of the title being longer as you have noted.

My research notes are now almost thirty years old but also contain
transcriptions of the latin inscriptions on the facing pages which
accompany each of the plates. Figure one is on page 2 and figure
12 on page 13. I am not sure whether you would want, or indeed
could use, these transcriptions which are couched in truncated,
abbreviated latin defying the rules of grammar and which, initially
were a real challenge to decipher.

However, I could provide them if you should want me to.

All the very best as always,


Subject: ACADEMY : The painted enigma and French 17th-Century Art
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000
From: Bernard Pateyron

Has anyone done any work on or viewed Jennifer Montagu's paper
"The painted enigma and French Seventeeth-Century Art" in
Journal of the Warburg and Courtault Institute, XXXV, 1971, p. 307-335.

This discovery was examined again by Professor Georges Couton,
in a French book "Ecritures codées. Essais sur l'allégorie au XVIIe
siècle" ed. Klingsiek Paris.

Another French book "L'art royal, trahison et clercs. Les brisées de
Grasset d'Orcet (1828-1900" by Limousin Espalier, juin 1997 theorises
upon and brings this discovery into a wider application.

Bernard Pateyron