Alchemy Academy archive
January 2000

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Subject: ACADEMY : Deconstructing Fulcanelli
From: Laly Warkentien
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000


Dear Adam McLean,

I, of course, agree with you, Fulcanelli's books can and
perhaps someone shall in the future pursue them in a scholarly
fashion, even though, I think the findings will not shed any new
alchemical light. I believe the so called "mistakes" are intentional
and any imagery "uniqueness" described by the author, closely
related by esoteric meaning within the contents of the books,
which I must also admit, present a rather romantic view, traceable
only through its source, Alchemy.

It is indeed sad to know the wealth of knowledge in manuscripts
laying undocumented and unknown to many, I trust it is not for
lack of interest but that of time and resources.

Laly Warkentien

Subject: ACADEMY : De Arsenico
From: Michael Brosse
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000


I am looking for a French or English edition of T. Bergman's De Arsenico
(Upsala, 1777). This reference was found on Adam McLean's alchemy
web site.

At this same site I did a query for "Arsenic": the term arsenic seems to
be used for many different meanings... for example in the text "adept
alchemy by Robert A. Nelson. Part I Chapter 4. Oroborus."

Can anyone clarify this extended use of the term "arsenic" ?

Thank you

Michel Brosse

Subject: ACADEMY : De Arsenico
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000
From: Mike Dickman


According to Pernety:

ARSAG - Arsenic.
ARSANECK - Sublimated arsenic. Also called Arcanec, & Artanech. Johnson
ARSENIC - in terms of Hermetic Chymistry, is taken to be now the mercury of
the Wise, now the materia wherefrom it be drawn, & again for the materia in
putrefaction. Certain having discovered in the verses of one of the Sybils,
that the name of the materia from whence is taken the philosofic mercury,
was composed of nine letters, whereof are four vowels, the rest consonants,
whereof is one syllable composed of three letters, and the rest of two,
believed they had discovered that materia in the name Arsenicum, the
more so in that the Philosophers hold their materia to be a poison of the
most dangerous nature; but the materia of the stone is the very same
as that whence are formed arsenic & the others compounds, & the mercury
of the wise is not drawn from arsenic; for arsenic is sold by Apothecaries
and Druggists, and the ore of mercury is everywhere to be found, in the
woods, in the mountains, in valleys, in water, on earth, & in all lands.
Philalethes & various other Philosophers gave also the name arsenic
to their materia in putrefaction, for it is then a poison most subtile & of the
greatest violence.At times also by arsenic they understand their volatile
principlr, the which does office as the female. It is their Mercury, their
Luna, their Venus, their vegetable Saturne, their Green Lion, &c.. This
name, arsenic, comes of the fact that it blanches their gold, as does
vulgar arsenic blanch copper.

According to le Doux

ARSENIC OF THE WISE - It is the Mercury of the Wise; again, the materia
from whence is drawn the Philosophic Mercury; again, the materia of the
Hermetics when that it has come to the black; again, the sulphur or male
seed & agent. Certain do by this name intend the salt that is link betwixt
Sulphur & Mercury, and which, all three, are the principles of nature & of
all compounds.
INCOMBUSTIBLE ARSENIC OF THE WISE - Is the Stone of the
Hermetics perfected unto the white.

Excuse translations, done in haste... Hope this helps. The originals
may be found in A. J. Pernety - Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique (1758),
republished by Arché, Milano, in 1980, and Dictionnair Hermétique
contenat l'explication des termes, Fables, Enigmes, Emblemes &
manieres de parler des vrais Philosophes, etc., (1695) republished
by Gutenberg Reprints (1979)

m

Subject: ACADEMY : De Arsenico
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000
From: Susanna Åkerman


Michael Brosse wrote:
>I am looking for a French or English edition of T. Bergman's De Arsenico
>(Upsala, 1777). This reference was found on Adam McLean's alchemy
>web site.

I have checked Bergman's works in Carolina Rediviva, the Uppsala UB.
There is a German translation Abhandlung der Arsenick (Alterstadt, 1778).
There may be a French translation in some of the French general editions
not visible from the title. I suggest you write the Librarian at Carolina
Rediviva and see whether they can find a copy (or xerox the German one if
you wish).

See their homepage for the address: http://www.ub.uu.se/carol/

It is: Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Box 510,
751 20 Uppsala, Sweden. tel: +46-18-471 39 00.

Good Hunting,

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
From: Adam McLean
Date: 17 Jan 2000


I have just been looking at Michael Wildings 'Raising spirits,
making gold and swapping wives' Shoestring Press, 1999.

In the chapter 'Alchemical visions' Wilding presents his
version of Dee's diary entries on the spiritual actions with Kelly
in Prague from Monday Jan 14th 1585 to Thursday February 28th
1585. This appears to be a quite elaborate alchemical allegory.
I do not seem to have access to a transcription of the original.
Does anyone have this? I would like to check this piece in Wilding's
book against a transcription of the original diary. Is this in Fenton's
'Diaries of John Dee'? I don't immediately have this book to hand.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000
From: Deborah E. Harkness


Dear Adam:

You may want to check in my book, John Dee's Conversations with
Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (1999) or "Shows
in the Showstone: A Theater of Alchemy and Apocalypse in the Angel
Conversations of John Dee," Renaissance Quarterly 1996.

Deb Harkness

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000
From: Michal Pober


Dear Adam,

They seem to be in A True and Faithful Relation.
I have Jan. 14th, 'Monday', 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 28th, 29th,
Feb 5th, 18th, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 28th.
Alarmingly I can't lay my hands on Fenton right now.

Best Regards,
Michal

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000
From: William Hollister



> Wilding presents his
>version of Dee's diary entries on the spiritual actions with Kelly
>in Prague from Monday Jan 14th 1585 to Thursday February 28th
>1585. This appears to be a quite elaborate alchemical allegory.

Here is a late-night transcript of the pages from Fenton's book. I'd be
interested in knowing, what part of this is alchemical allegory, what part
is political allegory, and what is simply renaissance soap opera?


12. Jan. Saturday afternoon I removed clean from Dr. hageck his house by
Bethlehem, and came with all my household to the house which I had hired of
the two sisters (married) not far from the market-place in old Prague.

22 feb. Natus Michael, Pragae, hora. 3. min. 28, a meridie, ascendente
0.... Locus....

23 Feb. Saturday, a meridie horam circiter 2. The occasion of this coming
to the Show -Stone was that as we sat together in the Stove, there was a
pat or stroke or two (not natural) given on the bench and wall: and withal
I felt on my head a heavy moving thing, and also after that E. K. felt on
his back as if one had written letters distinctly: whereupon we went to
understand the will of God, as being thereto half-warned and stirred by
these tokens.

E.K.: 'Madimi is here.;

Madimi: 'what cshould I speak unto you, since you have no faith? I knock in
vain, for you hear me not.'

D: 'Speak in the name of God. Who would not hear the words of the wise and
of the mighty, of the good and trun?'

Madimi: 'Shall I close my mouth because of your wickedness ? Or shall I
open my mouth, because my mother hath commanded me?

'I will go back , and will desire that my mouth may be sewed up with a
double thread: for assure yourself I will not come again willingly. But if
she say again "Go", I will come.'

She went away as if she had been angry. In the man space we argued after
our former manner: E.K. as he was wont, and I still in my constant hope of
God's mercies.

E.K.: 'Now she is here again.

'She putteth off her petticoat, and putteth on another garment full of
pleats of a golden colour, and after that another garment. Now she taketh
the first garment (which she put off) and flingeth it into a fire.'

Madimi: 'envious minds and false hearts do hunt after thee, and they have
said and have conspired. Our divine wisdom must be the guilding star in
this great sea. But I will go unto my mother, and ask her once more whether
I may hide these things from you.'

E.K. 'She is gone.'

We read over the premises, and gathered that some treachery was devised
against me: and therefore I beseech God to give us his counsels.

E.K. 'Here she is again.'

Madimi.: 'that you both (or (if you will be distracted) one of you: go
secretly hence, and speedily, unto Laski: so shall it come to pass, that he
whom they intended to imprison (saying" We will compell him to perform his
word, least he peradventure triumph elsewhere against us") may at least
open the prison doors for them, and salute a strange king, even in the
self-same place where they shall eat tomorrow's dinner. But when they
perceive that you are gone, then will they understand that you kn ew, and
that the spirit of God was amongst you.'

D: 'How soon would you advise me to be going hence? You see how bare I am
of money.'

Madimi: 'Do as in an imminent danger. I have spoke the last word.

25 Feb. Monday, a meridie, circiter 1 1/2. E. K. felt on his back as one
had written as he sat at the Table. Hereupon we resorted to the
Show-Stone...

E. K. : 'Here is Madimi.'

Madimi: ' that which God commandeth, that do. Excuse yourselves with me,
and gird up your garments to the travail : not in wagon, but on horeseback.'

E.K.: 'I pray you to deal openly with us, according to our frail state, and
to declare unto us of my Lord Laski his estate.'

Madimi: 'You depend not upon Laski, but Laski dependeth upon you. If he do
evilly, his punishment is Ready. If he do well,k he doth it for himself.

'I am greater than you, and my eye strecheth father than yours. Yea, though
you went tomorrow, you have lost some days.'

D: 'I must carry my books with me, we must be at the least three horse.'

Madimi: 'Not so, but thou shalt hide them.

D: Am I to return hither again, before my wife come from hence?"

Madimi: 'I am not flesh, neither do I move, or am moved with flesh. But if
you fulfil the first, the rest followeth.

'Do this, as though you committed theft."

E.K. 'She is gone.'


27 Feb. Wednesday, I and E.K. , and Thomas Kelly as servant, rode to
Limburg (otherwise named Nimburge), six miles from Prague, in the way
toward Bressel:otherwise named Wratislavia.

28 feb. Mane circa 6 horam. At Limburg. Thursday. Note I had caused from 4
of the clock in the morning the horses to be looked unto, so as, by 5 or as
soon as it was break of day, we might be riding.

In the mean space, while E.K. yet lay in his bed awake, and I was in the
next chamber by, in ordering my things of my male, E. K. heard a voice
(like mine) say 'D'. Whereat he asked me, 'What say you ?'

i answered that I spake nothing. Then he doubted what creature did youse
that voice.

Afterward he rose: and when he had been ready a while, and sat in the
chamber where my male lay, he said that he felt somewhat crawling, or as
one writing on his back, and at lenth to ascend into his head. And so I
left him, and went out into another place, and knecked to pray, and prayed.
And upon the coming in of Thomas Kelly into that room where I kneeled (in
the door of a little open gallery over the street), I rose up and went in
again to E. K., and he told me that he slumbered by reason of the heaviness
of his head, and that he seemed to see me praying, and Michael to stand by
me.

I answered that truth it was I had been somewhat bent to prayer, but that I
could not pray as I would. Hereupon immediately he saw Michael over my head
with a pen in his hand.

Thereupon I was resolved that I was to write somewhat of importance: and I
made spead to take pen, ink and paper , and to settle myself to writing,
because we made hase to ride, as intending to ride eight or nine miles that
day, and company tarrying for us: one of them being a Jew, whose sister is
wife to Dr. Salomon of Prague, the Jew. And going about to attend for
something to write, a voice said as followeth:'Why do you not shut yourself
away, to hear my voice?'
Hereupon I shut all the doors and uttermore doors.

Voice: ' In the Stone, so that the truth may be made more evident.'

Hereupon speedily I took out the Show-SStone and set it on the Table before
E. K.

E.K.: Here appeareth a white circle round about the border of the Stone,
and a ball or globe of flaming fire in the midst. Michael is come to the
lower part of the circle.'

Michael: 'Before twelve months of you account be finished, with the sun, I
will keep my promise with thee, as concerning the destruction of Rudolf:
lest peradventure he triumph , as he often doth. For thy lines are many
times perused by him, saying" This man doted, where is become his God or
his good angels?"

' And behold, I will sweep him off the face of the earth , and he shall
perish miserably: that he may understand, that thou dealt not for thyself,
but didst fulfil the work of thy master

' Moreover I will bring in , even in the second month ( the twelve ended),
Stephen: and will place him in the seat impreial. He shall posess an empire
most great and shall show what it is to govern, when God placeth.

' My mind abhorreth from Laski, for he is neither faithful to me, nor to
thee: neither he careth for his own soul.

' This therefore shalt thou do. The same way thou camest, the same way thou
shalt also return " not to fly from their malice or tyranny, but to stand
in the face of them as my servant. Hereby, indirectly, shall the traitor
understand you know him. And Rudolphus' hard heart I will stir up with
indignation against him. For he shall be construed a liar. And they shall
begin to fear thee, and also to love thee: and thpu shalt be in favour
amongst them.

'When therfore thou comest home, hide not thyself: but see that the infant
be regenerated.'

D: 'As concerning the godfathers: shall I request and use such as I intended?'

Moichael: 'Do that thou hast done.'

Hereupon we had great comfort, and so brake our fast, and returned to
Prague before four of the clock in the afternoon.

Note. While I was thus out, and had left a letter for the courteous
Balthasar Federicus Dominus ab Ossa., to deal with the Spanbish Ambassador,
the Lord Romff, and Mein Herr Kindsky, to crave pardon of my sudden
departure, and the child not yet christened, and had given my wife charge
not to deliver the letter before Friday night.: it came to pass that this
Mr. Balthasar had sent word of his coming to Prague with the Lord Kinsky
(whom on the Friday before I had met riding out of town: and he told me
that he was to be out three or four days,) and that he was desirous to
speak with me.

Upon which occasion my wife thought it best to send the letter to him snf
do did, not long before my coming home. Which thing when I understood, I
was half sorry for it, and sent prsently word to master Balthasar of my
coming home, and to certify him that my wife had erred to send that letter
unto his worship before Friday night, when she might perceive that indeed I
did ride forth to Bressel.

he thereupon was desirous to speak with me, which I did, and of him I
received my letter which he had perused, and offered himself most ready to
satisfy the content thereof,.

Now to the chief purpose: at my return home from Master Balthasar Federic
ab Ossa, I found Emericus Sontagius in my wife's Stove with Master Kelly,
who at the sight of me was sore amazed, and half not able or willing to
speak, but said : 'You are fast riders. '

Then Kelly told me that Emericus had told him that the Emperor had been all
day yesterday very melancholic, and would speak with nobody. And that he
knew of my journey in a moment when it was, and that by the Jews, and
specially by the Doctor his son, that had gone about to get me the four
horses, and laboured very much with himself (unasked) to persuade me that
the Emperor his first and chief understanding of it was by the Jews,.
Hereupon (being now night) he went home.


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
From: Iain Jamieson
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000


Iain Jamieson wrote:

>I'm not familiar with Wilding's book, which I understand has
>just been published. Is this a study of Dee's 'spiritual actions',
>a narrative account, or...?

Michael Wilding is well known as a novelist and literary
critic. This book presents Dee's diaries as a continuous
narrative in a modernised English style which keeps a sense
of the 16th century language. Without much study and examining
this book in parallel with the original entries, I cannot make an
assessment of just how sucessful he has been in this, however,
on a first reading it seems to make the diaries come alive, and may
in time be seen as the preferred source of information on the
spiritual actions for people from a less scholarly background, as
Michael Wilding has put a lot of work into making the original
text understandable and placing it in the historical sequence of
Dee's travels.

As I am not sure how much reconstruction has gone into Michael
Wilding's version, I am keen to read the original version of the
'alchemical vision' in order to assess it for myself.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
From: Adam McLean
Date: 18 Jan 2000


Dear William Hollister,

Thanks for making the transcription. However, this is not the
alchemical allegory to which I referred. It is a more coherent
section beginning on the 14 th January 1685. Fenton obviously
just omits these entries.

The allegory begins :

"Here is one with a veil before his face, as it were, a hair cloth of
ashen colour. I do not know him yet. I see a garden full of fruit,
of various sorts. In the middle of it is a place higher than the rest.
On that place stands a round house."

The allegory seems on my superficial reading similar to other
alchemical allegories.

Adam McLean

P.S. Fenton's book through presenting itself as Dee's Diaries is
in fact a personal selection from the diaries in which the editorial
reasons for his omitting (or including) sections are not entirely clear.


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
From: Adam McLean
Date: 18 Jan 2000

Yes this is an interesting set of visions. A transcription can be
found in Casaubon's 'True and Faithfull Relation, &c.', London,
1659, pp. 355-381. In Fenton's 'Diaries' this period is covered on
pp. 168-173. All the alchemical material is omitted.

I'm not familiar with Wilding's book, which I understand has just been
published. Is this a study of Dee's 'spiritual actions', a narrative
account, or...?

Regards

Iain Jamieson


Subject: ACADEMY : The Rose Cross and Phillip Sidney
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000
From: Michael Srigley


Dear Michael M,

For the the Family of Love, you could take a look at the following
works and articles: Jean Dietz Moss, ""Godded with God": Hendrik
Niclaes and His Family of Love" (Philadelphia, 1981); Alistair
Hamilton, "The Family of Love" (Cambridge: UP, 1981); L. Voet,
"The Golden Compasses" on Plantin and the Familists; Herman de
la Verwey, "The Family of Love: Radical Spiritualism" in
'Quaerendo' vol IV/3, 1976; René Boumans, "The Religious Views
of Abraham Ortelius" in 'Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes' 17 (1954) 374-377. For John Dee's connections with the
Familists see French, "John Dee". For humanist Familism in England
see my article "The Influence of Continental Familism in England
after 1570" in 'Cultural Exchange between European Nations during
the Renaissance' (Uppsala, 1994). If you don't have access to this,
I can send you a copy of the article. Languet's letter to Sidney
mentioning Sidney's interest in the Family of Love is only to be found
in "Huberti Langueti Epistulae Politicae et Historicae ad Philippum
Sydnaeum' Elzevir ed., 1646, 397-9. I can add that in her forthcoming
book, "Stuart Freemasonry", Marsha Keith Schuchard gives
evidence that both the Stuart Kings and Archbishop Laud were well
disposed towards the Family of Love.

Hoping this will be of some help,
Greetings

Michael S

Subject: ACADEMY : The Rose Cross and Phillip Sidney
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Michael,
Re your enquiry about the Family of Love, in my letter of
today I forgot to include the following important work: Christopher W.
Marsh, 'The Family of Love in English Society 1550-1630' (Cambridge
and New York: CUP, 1994).

Best Wishes,

Michael

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical allegory in Dee's Diaries
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000
From: Michal Pober


Dear Adam,

Definitely A True and Faithful Relation has the text to which you are
referring. It is one of what I think of as the 'purple passages' of
Kelley's scrying. Unfortunately at this moment I don't have time
to examine it and don't have access to the Wilding book.
There is another extraordinary section in apocalyptic vein during
the period of the abortive meeting between Dee and Rudolf.

It is extraordinary how diverse these passages are in content
and in breadth and depth. It would be more explicable if there
were any simple convention to which one could ascribe them.
Their defiance of classification not only keeps them fresh but
also makes it possible to re-read them many times and receive
completely different information.
I can see some drawbacks to making them too lucid - a
consideration that perhaps applies across the whole range of
alchemical works?

It would be good to hear your conclusions when you have had
an opportunity to compare the texts.
I was extremely impressed by Wilding's article about Kelley in
the latest Cauda Pavonis.

Fenton has been a useful resource at times, particularly with his
addendae of place names etc. [not always accurate though - he
confuses Bratislava with Wroclaw, for example] but by no stretch
of the imagination is his work scholarly as regards alchemy.
Comparing with the text of True and Faithful he is prone to omit
words that he doesn't understand.

His primary interest is to create a library of diaries.
Of course Casaubon had an agenda too....

Best Regards,
Michal

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
From: Susanna Åkerman


In Edward Thompson's recent (1999, Kluwer, Dordrecht) edition of J. V.
Andreae's "Christianopolis" (1620) there is a section on the alchemical
laboratory to be built in this Christian Utopia, right next to the archives
and library. Andreae speaks of the alchemical pursuit as an imitation of
nature and uses the image of the ape of nature. Thompson thinks Andreae
must have got this idea from the picture illustrating the frontispiece of
part II of Robert Fludd's "Utriusque cosmi...historia" (1617), that is the
"De naturae simia seu technica". This picture of the Ape pointing at a
mathematical table can be seen on:

http://www.ritmanlibrary.nl/treasures-068.html

Andreae thus took an interest in the work of Fludd, even after Andreae's
turn of mind concerning the value of the Rosicrucian furore. He was at the
time trying to replace the Rosicrucian story with a a more traditionally
Christian design for brotherly cooperation, that he sent around in his
"Dextera porrecta" (the right hand extended in Christian love) and the
"Imago Christiana" of 1617. But the Ape, I take it, may indicate that he
continued to keep an eye on Rosicrucian authors.

Has anyone seen the use of a monkey as a symbol of how art imitates nature
in any other alchemical or Hermetic publication prior to Fludd (or also
later)? Also, does Fludd perhaps suggest that the alchemist in playfull
imitation is involved in a quasi-comic pursuit? On the line of Michael
Maier and his Hermetic allegories "Jocus Severus" and "Lusus serius"?
(texts that I have not fully understood since the Latin is difficult). Does
the monkey-like joyful imitation of nature modify the view of the alchemist
as involved in dead serious toil: Ora, ora, ora et labora? Or is Fludd
perhaps seeing the Ape as a noble and exotic creature, like the alchemical
pursuit? Any ideas?

Susanna Åkerman


Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
X-Attachments: C:\Pipex\alchemy\ATTACH\fludd.jpg;
From: Adam McLean
Date: 26th Jan 2000


Susanna Åkerman wrote.

>Has anyone seen the use of a monkey as a symbol of how art
>imitates nature in any other alchemical or Hermetic publication
>prior to Fludd (or also later)?

A number of people have written in to this group mentioning the
ape in connection with Thoth, however this classical allusion is
not really relevant here.

I have racked my memory trying to think of the use of an ape
figure in alchemical iconology, and can only recall one example
from the Aurora consurgens. Even so it is not entirely clear if this is an
ape as although it has an ape-like face it has a human arm and a
bird like arm with talons, a horses leg as one leg and a fishes tail as
the other leg. So the essence of this figure lies rather in it uniting
various animal forms and not only in the ape part.

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/auror-2.html

The ape is a rare creature in the alchemical menagerie !
I cannot think of another example of the ape in alchemical
imagery, though I am sure it occurs often in emblem literature.

To investigate Fludd's use of this image it may be best to look
at the related text. Another illustration in Fludd, which uses the ape,
may be instructive. This is in his 'Utriusque cosmi historia'.

Here Fludd seems to be
using the image of the ape as the lower nature of humanity.
God in the sky is the macrocosmic spiritual aspect, the female
figure is the soul standing bewteen the worlds and the ape
is the microcosmic aspect of humanity. Of course Fludd may
use the image of the ape differently in different contexts.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000
From: Rafal Prinke


Adam McLean wrote:

> To investigate Fludd's use of this image it may be best to look
> at the related text. Another illustration in Fludd, which uses the ape,
> may be instructive. This is in his 'Utriusque cosmi historia'. I attach
> a section of this to this message. Here Fludd seems to be
> using the image of the ape as the lower nature of humanity.
> God in the sky is the macrocosmic spiritual aspect, the female
> figure is the soul standing bewteen the worlds and the ape
> is the microcosmic aspect of humanity. Of course Fludd may
> use the image of the ape differently in different contexts.

Both of those images are reproduced and shortly discussed in
Joscelyn Godwin's _Robert Fludd_ (Thames&Hudson 1979). The
interpretation is rather different than yours, viz. that the ape represents
Art. This is made clear by Fludd's own inscriptions on the illustration
you have attached - below the globe: "Ars naturae corrigens in regno
mineralis" etc. So it appears to symbolize Art in the wide sense
(including what we would call Science). The chain links the ape
to the woman (Nature) who in turn is linked by a similar chain
to God (whose reflection she is).

In the "De Naturae Simia" picture the ape is shown as a teacher
- so the symbolism is the same. It is certainly not a negative
symbol but a positive one.

Susanna - you may be interested in the following item listed
in the bibliography to Joscelyn Godwin's book:

H.W. Janson, "Apes and Ape Lore", 'Studies of the Warburg Institute',
vol. 20 (1952) - with "brief treatment of De Naturae Simia" on p. 305.

Best regards,

Rafal

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000
From: Ed Thompson


> To investigate Fludd's use of this image it may be best to look
> at the related text. Another illustration in Fludd, which uses the ape,
> may be instructive. This is in his 'Utriusque cosmi historia'.

Interestingly, Fludd's ape alters from one volume of 'Utriusque' to the
next. In the first (1617, Adam McLean's attachment) the ape is
apparently working with compass or dividers on a model of the
world in the middle of a representation of all the sciences; in the
second (1618), the ape is pointing like a teacher at a mathematical chart,
surrounded by representations of other parts of mathematics. In the
third (1620, I think) the ape is down on all fours like a brute beast.

As though to keep the ambiguity going, Fludd refers elsewhere to "the
common & spurious Alchemist, that toyish ape, and superfluous imitator of
Nature..." ('A Philosophical Key; Of the excellency of Wheat' in Huffman
(1992:112))

There's a useful text by H W Janson (1952) 'Apes and Ape Lore in the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance' London, University Press; but it hasn't
anything specific to contribute in the context of alchemy.

Ed Thompson

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
From: Penny Bayer
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000:


Dear Susanna,

William Eamon (Science and the Secrets of Nature, Princeton University
Press, 1994, p 217) discusses the analogy of art as nature's ape in
Giambattista della Porta's Magia naturalis, Venice, 1560, which also
includes a chapter on alchemy.

Penny Bayer

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000
From: Ed Thompson


Rafal,

Joscelyn Godwin's interpretation of the ape is surely the correct one -
not only because of the inscription you cite, but because on page 8 of
the volume Fludd explains quite specifically what he was trying to do:


"... I am saying here that Nature is not a goddess, but God's closest
servant. She has beneath her a maid or attendant, who follows after her
mistress and imitates her, copying things produced by her (and) imprinting
on them likenesses of her traces and plans which agree with them in a
wonderful manner: And hence it is, that we have represented her in the
form and character of an Ape beneath the feet of Nature, though we also
designate her by the more dignified name of 'Art'. This beast (by which I
understand 'Art') has arisen from human genius, when from the careful
observation of his mistress, he learns many very beautiful and notable
secrets, by which it is customary to enrich mankind in all kinds of
discipline."

This is a fairly hasty translation, but the key passage is "Atque hinc
est, quod eam forma & habitu Simiae sub pedibus Naturae
effigiavimus; quam nomine etiam digniore Artem nuncupamus.
Haec bestia (artem intelligo) ab hominis ingenio orta..."(p.8) )

Ed Thompson

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
From: Jose Rodríguez
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000


I send some ideas...

>I have racked my memory trying to think of the use of an ape
>figure in alchemical iconology, and can only recall one example
>from the Aurora consurgens. Even so it is not entirely clear if this is an
>ape as although it has an ape-like face it has a human arm and a
>bird like arm with talons, a horses leg as one leg and a fishes tail as
>the other leg. So the essence of this figure lies rather in it uniting
>various animal forms and not only in the ape part.


I think that the relationships betwen "Art" and "Nature" is the fundament
to understanding the development of the alchemical theories in the
Middle Ages. The alchemist pretention to be able to produce gold
or transformation of species is equivalent to the natural procedures
in their text. They exploit and adapt to their needs philosophical
theories concerning transformations (generations, growing,
transmutations...) that allow them to pose as nature's servants,
which start, accelerate or complete natural processes. Albertus
Magnus explains this idea manifestly when he says:
"...inter omnes artes [ars alchimiae] maxime naturam imitatur
(«De mineralibus», III, 1. 2).
The alchemist may interfere with natural processes or imitate by
means of artificial operations, but he is not nature's substitute. In
that sense the medieval alchemist is an ape of Nature and we
can understand the ape's head in this Aurora consurgens picture.
The ape is a classical image of imitation in the medieval
bestiaries. The Cambridge book of beasts comments on the
relationships between the latin words «simia-simius-simiolus»
(monkey, ape) and the adjective «similis» (similar).

>The ape is a rare creature in the alchemical menagerie !

In the great iconological study called "Les Dèbuts de l'imaginerie
alchimique (XIV-XV siècles)" Barbara Obrist showed that the medieval
alchemist used Christian iconology as metaphors for their processes,
thus, dissimulating alchemical claims. The christian topics were
strongly applied in alchemical images. Moreover, the medieval
bestiaries explain about apes (lat. fem. «Simia»; lat. masc. «simius»)
like a diabolic image. I think this is the motive to exclude the ape in the
alchemical iconology during the Middle Ages. The alchemists try to
show their art as a divine science in the 14th and 15th centuries and
they appear as men with a divine inspiration. As a result, the ape
(negative or devilish image) was not a good representation for
alchemy or the alchemist in this context.

Jose Rodríguez


References:

Alchemical Studies:

a.. OBRIST, BARBARA, "Les Dèbuts de l'imaginerie alchimique (XIV-XV siècles)", Paris, Le Sycomore, 1982.
b.. OBRIST, BARBARA, "Art et nature dans l'alchimie médievale", in «Revue d'histoire des sciences», t. 49 (2-3), 1996, pp. 215-186.


Medieval Bestiaries:

a.. CARLIL, J. (Trad), "Physilogus", in «Epic of the Beast», London, Carlill and Stallybrass, 1924.
b.. ZAMBON, F. "Il Fisiologo", Milano, Adelphi, 1982.
c.. WHITE, T. H, "The Bestiary. A book of Beasts", New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1960.
d.. E. MAYER (ed.). "Der waldensische Physiologus", in «Romanische Forschungen» V, 1890, pp. 392-418.
e.. IGNACIO MALAXECHEVERRIA, "Bestiario Medieval", Madrid, Siruela, 1986.


Subject: ACADEMY : Symbolism of the pomegranate
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000
From: Catherine Fox-Anderson


Greetings to the Academy,

I have read a few references to the symbolism of the
pomegranate, which I understand to be associated with
the rubedo, or the "orb". Any input or references
would be most appreciated.

Thank you,

Catherine

Subject: ACADEMY : Symbolism of the pomegranate
From: Norm Ryder
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000


In one place in a Masonic ritual the pomegranate is said, by the
exuberance of its seed, to denote Plenty.

Norm

Subject: ACADEMY : Symbolism of the pomegranate
Date: 31 Jan 2000
From: Adam McLean


>I have read a few references to the symbolism of the
>pomegranate, which I understand to be associated with
>the rubedo, or the "orb".

I cannot recall any alchemical emblem in which the pomegranate
is a key element.

Do you take this reference to the pomegranate and orb from the
Zadrobilek interview ? This may be an ideosyncratic view.

Rather than base our view on an opinion we must try and locate
the symbolism of the pomegranate in the alchemical tradition.
Although the pomegranate is occasionally mentioned in
alchemical texts, I am not sure if this is a clear symbol. Thus
the rose and the lily are definitely symbols in the alchemical
tradition, but the willow tree or the daffodil are not, though they
could be mentioned in some alchemical texts or even depicted
in some emblems. The key thing here is whether the alchemical
tradition has taken into itself the pomegranate as a definite
symbol.

The pomegranate appears in classical mythology, of course,
as the emblem of Hera and of Ceres and Persephone. Here
it seems to have represented fecundity and fertility.
It found its way into the language of renaissance art, into
emblem literature and is also found in Kabbala but I have
not seen it unambiguously in an alchemical context.

Lyndy Abraham, in her extensive research into alchemical
references in English literature has not identified the
pomegranate as an alchemical symbol.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Ape of Nature
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000
From: Susanna Åkerman


Thank you all for references and ideas on the ape of nature. I
gather that Ed Thompson's two texts from Fludd leaves it
clear that he saw the alchemist's imitation of nature as an
imperfect process, somewhat comical in its lack of certainties.

To my delight the text itself "De simia naturae" exists in two copies
at the Royal library in Stockholm, the editions of 1617 and 1624.
I also heard yesterday that there is a dissertation in the offing on
Fludd's natural philosophy by a student at the University of Lund.
Professor Rolf Lindborg there is also in the process of translating
Georg Stiernhielm's (1598-1672) philosophical manuscripts, the
so-called "Monile Minerva" and "Minerva Arachnae arctoa"
Hermetic texts dealing with the production of the world from a
primal aleph and described as a strife between the artistic
pair Minerva and Arachnae - the weaver who in contest with
Minerva wove so beautiful tapestries (actually depicting Zeus
raping various godesses, although Stiernhielm does not state this
part of the myth) that Minerva tore them apart and with a spell
transformed her to a spider "hang there still, you wicked girl!".
The story (of the dangers with perfect imitation) is part of the
Parthenon friese. Stiernhielm dedicated these to Queen
Christina in 1653. The texts, however, draw heavily on Fludd's
"Philosophia Moysaica" (Gouda, 1638), and reproduces images
of creation that are clear imitations. . . Stiernhielm was a personal
student of the Rosicrucian Johannes Bureus, inherited his books
on Runes and married his niece, so the Hermetic tradition went
on in Sweden, but now with a more classicizing format.
Fludd is clearly in for reading...

Susanna Åkerman