Alchemy Academy archive
June 2001

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Subject: ACADEMY : Philipp von Stosch
From: Louis Bourbonnais
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001

Does anybody have informations on Philipp von Stosch?

He was the owner of the Speculum Veritatis (vat. lat. 7286)
until the Vatican bought it in 1759. We are trying to follow the
Speculum Veritatis trail up to is origin.

Our orientation will look both at an historical as well as from
an iconographical point-of-view.

Any informations will be welcome.

Thank you,


Subject: ACADEMY : Questions of Spirit
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001
From: Jon Marshall

I'm currently writing a paper on the constructions of 'spirit' in the
15th, 16th and 17th centuries, naturally this involves alchemy. However
i'm also intersted in the 'material' of ghosts, apparitions, souls and
so on in the same kind of context.

Because i cannot find much academic writing on ghosts in this period
outside of ghosts in Shakespeare, I'm reduced to somewhat bad secondary
sources. In this particular instance i wonder if any one could help me
find anything about the people mentioned in this unsourced passage from
Peter Hainings *Ghosts: the illustrated history* p33, or even give me
any idea if the passage is genuine or not, or were it might originate.

"French occultists....came to believe that when a corpse was buried the
salts it contained were given off during the heating process of
fermentation. The saline particles then resumed the same relative
positions that they had occupied in the living body and a complete human
form was reproduced. This was the reason, they argued, that ghosts
habitually frequented graveyards; and in an attempt to duplicate the
process, they performed many experiments with blood, from which it was
belived that the saline particles emanated. One such experimenter was a
Frenchman, Joseph La Pierre, who spent a whole week applying various
degrees of fire to samples of blood he had obtained. A report of his
work by the Lord of Bourdalone in 1482 tells us:

"About midnight, the Friday following, when lying betwixt sleeping and
waking, he heard a terrible noise like the roaring of a lion. And
continuing quiet after the sound had ceased, the moon being at the full,
suddenly betwixt himself and the window he saw a thick little cloud,
condensed into an oval form which after, little by little, did seem
completely to put on the shape of a woman and making another and sharp
clamour, did suddenly vanish. But the occultist said that in this he
found solace, because the bishop of who he had the blood did admonish
him, that if any of them from whom the blood was extracted should die in
the time of its putrifation, his spirt was wont often to appear to the
sight of the operator with pertubation..."

Haining continues:
"Shortly afterwards, three German occultists who had tried a variation
of this formula by distilling earth collected from a graveyard claimed
that they had seen 'the spirits of men' in their glass vessels"

Now it is not impossible that this is genuine given Cotton Mather's
remarks in Magnalia Christi Americana about the possibility of the
resurection being demonstrated by palingenisis (the passage is famous
for being used to introduce HP Lovecraft's Case of Charles Dexter Ward),
but i'm, not entirely sure about such an argument dating from 1485, and
Joseph La Pierre sounds awfully pseudonymous...


Subject: ACADEMY : Ninian Bres - Le corbeau menteur
From: Adam McLean
Date: 14 June 2001

I have come across a reference to a book by Ninian Bres
entitled 'Le corbeau menteur', written in the 19th century
which deals in part with Nicolas Flamel.

I suspect is it merely romanticised nonsense or
a novel, but I would like to clear this matter up.

Unfortunately I have found it difficult to locate a copy.

Has anyone seen this book and can give me a report
on it ?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosa Alchemica - French journal
From: Adam McLean
Date: 14 June 2001

A French journal entitled 'Rosa Alchemica' was issued
in the early decades of the 20th century by the Societe
Alchimique et Astrologique de France.

Has anyone seen this and could give a report on the
quality of the articles on alchemy ?

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosa Alchemica - French journal
From: Susanna Åkerman
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001

Dear Adam,

A _number_ issued with the title Rosa Alchemica was part of
L'Hyperchimie - Revue Mensuelle d'Hermetisme Scientifique,
Année VII, no. 11, November 1902. Editor F. Jollivet Castelot,
Docteur en Hermetisme Docteur en Kabbale and announcing
itself as an Organe de la societé Alchimique de France.

The Swedish playwright and novelist August Strindberg has
edited a long rosicrucian inspired poem by name Rosa Mystica
in it. I recently reissued it in Athanor - tidskrift för västerländsk
esoterik 24, 2000.

Strindberg used to publish his articles on a "chemie unitaire"
in this journal and you may already know of the journal's
alchemical qualities.

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Questions of Spirit
From: Neil Mann
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001

Dear Jon,

I cannot suggest a source, but a possible lead is given by
very similar material, which may share the same source as yours.
It appears in the entry on "Palingenesy" in Lewis Spence's
*Encyclopaedia of Occultism* (London: G. Routledge, 1920) 313.
He gives accounts of vegetable palingenesis and then
moves on to the explanation of ghosts, using very similar phrasing
to the passage you quote: "As it was incontestably proved
that the substantial form of each body resided in a sort of volatile salt,
it was perfectly evident in what manner superstitious notions must
have arisen about ghosts haunting churchyards. When a dead
body had been committed to the earth, the salts of it, during the
heating process of fermentation, were exhaled. The saline particles
then each resumed the same relative situation they had held in the
living body, and thus a complete human form was induced,
calculated to excite superstitious fear in the minds of all but

He goes on to describe experiments in France involving blood
and ghosts and then refers to older experiments:

"Dr. Webster, in his book on witchcraft, relates an experiment,
given on the authority of Dr. Flud, in which this very satisfactory
conclusion was drawn. 'A certain chymical operator, by name
La Pierre, near that place in France called Le Temple, received
blood form the hands of a certain bishop to operate upon. . . .'

Regarding this narrative Webster adds :--

'There were many ocular witnesses, as the noble person, Lord of
Bourdalone, the chief secretary to the Duke of Guise; and he (Flud)
had this relation from the Lord of Menanton, living in that house at
the same time, from a certain doctor of physic, from the owner
of the house, and many others."

This makes the date of 1482 extremely unlikely. An inaccurate
but complete version of the entry is available on-line at:

I have not been able to check the reference; John Webster
(1610-1682) who was a surgeon and chaplain in the Parliamentarian
army, who was influenced by Paracelsus and Van Helmont
brings one more closely to chemical and alchemical themes.
He opposed Glanvill in his book *The Displaying of supposed
Witchcraft: wherein is affirmed that there are many sorts of
eceivers and impostors, and divers persons under a passive
delusion of melancholy and fancy, but that there is a corporeal
league made betwixt the devil and the witch, ... is utterly denied ...
Wherein also is handled, the existence of angels and spirits, etc*
(London, 1677);

it is linked to his debate with Glanvill, Casaubon and More over
the nature of witchcraft, the occult; he also clashed with Ward and
Wilkins over natural philosophy and science. He is a transitional
figure in the development of "sceptical chemistry":
"Youth may not be idely trained up in notions, speculations and
verbal disputes but may learn to inure their hands to labour and
put their fingers to the furnaces. . . they may not be sayers but
doers, not idel speculators but painful operators. . . . True natural
magicians that walk not in the external circumference but in the
center of nature's hidden secrets, which can never come to pass,
unless they have Laboratories as well as Libraries, and work in
the fire, better than build castles in the air" (1654).

Catherine Crowe in *The Night-Side of Nature: or Ghosts and
Ghost-Seers" (1848; Wordsworth, 2000, p.327-28) also gives an
account of the three alchemists in the Paris cemetery, placed during
the reign of Louis XIV. Earlier in her discussion of "corpse candles"
she looks at chemical explanations of graveyard ghosts (94-96),
citing Jacques Gaffarel, Du Chesne (Quercetanus), and the usual
sources on the vegetable phoenix (Kircher, Digby, Vallemont) but
adding Oetinger, a Cabalist student of Boehme and priest. Oetinger,
wrote against the ideas proposed by Charles Bonnet in *La
palingénésie philosophique ou idées sur l'état passé et sur
l'état futur des êtres vivans*; see *Des Wirttembergischen
Prälaten, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, sämmtliche Schriften*
(ed. K. C. E. Ehmann; Stuttgart: Steinkopf, 1858-63) Part 2, Vol. 5,
"Gedanken über die Zeugnung und Geburten der Dinge,
aus Gelegenheit der Bonnet'schen Palingenesie. . . ." (437-66).

Blavatsky used Crowe's account in *Isis Unveiled* in her
discussion of palingenesis and it has been corrupted further
at each borrowing of the material.

I hope that this is of some help.

Yours ever,

Neil Mann.

Subject: ACADEMY : Questions of Spirit
Date: Mon, 18 June 2001
From: Jon Marshall

To follow up on my earlier question about the alchemical
experiments in generating ghosts.

A Web site gives the information that the quotation comes
from John Webster's Displying of witchcraft, on the quthority of
Dr. Flud. I wonder if anyone knows the Flud reference? Webster
is of course the 17th century English alchemist and author of
the *metallographia*, not the playwright as seems to be often

I append the web sites version of the passage, which is slightly
different to the one in Haining. Again no idea of the reputability of
the web site, but at least I now have an author to check.

But older analogous results are on record indicating that the
blood was the chief part of the human frame in which those
saline particles resided, the arrangements of which gave rise to
the popular notion of ghosts. Dr. Webster, in his book on witchcraft,
relates an experiment, given on the authority of Dr. Flud, in which
this very satisfactory conclusion was drawn.

'A certain chymical operator, by name La Peirre, near that place in
France called Le Temple, received blood form the hands of a certain
bishop to operate upon. Which he setting to work upon the Saturday, did
continue it for a week with divers degrees of fire. But about midnight,
the Friday following, this artificer, lying in a chamber next to his
laboratory, betwixt sleeping and waking, heard a horrible noise, like
unto the lowing of kyne, or the roaring of a lion ; and continuing
quiet, after the ceasing of the sound in the laboratory, the moon being
at the full, and, by shining enlightening the chamber suddenly, betwixt
himself and the window he saw a thick little cloud, condensed into an
oval form, which, by little and little, did seem completely to put on
the shape of a man, and making another and a sharp clamour, did suddenly
vanish. And not only some noble persons in the next chambers, but also
the host with his wife, lying in a lower room of the house, and also the
neighbors dwelling in the opposite side of the street, did distinctly
hear as well the bellowing as the voice ; and some of them were awakened
with the vehemency thereof. But the artificer said, that in this he
found solace, because the bishop, of whom he had it, did admonish him
that if any of them from whom the blood was extracted should die, in the
time of its putrefaction, his spirit was wont often to appear to the
sight of the artificer, with perturbation. Also forthwith, upon Saturday
following, he took the retort from the furnace, and broke it with the
light stoke of a little key, and there in the remaining blood, found the
perfect representation of a human head, agreeable in face, eyes,
nostrils, mouth, and hairs, that were somewhat thin, and of a golden

Regarding this narrative Webster adds :-- 'There were many ocular
witnesses, as the noble person, Lord of Bourdalone, the chief secretary
to the Duke of Guise ; and he (Flud) had this relation from the Lord of
Menanton, living in that house at the same time, from a certain doctor
of physic, from the owner of the house, and many others.

Subject: ACADEMY : New John Dee thesis
From: Susanna Åkerman
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001

Dear Academy,

A new Ph. D. thesis in intellectual history has been produced by
Håkan Håkansson at the University of Lund, Sweden in excellent
English. The title is _Seeing the word: John Dee and Renaissance
Ocultism_ and the book problematizes the linguistic theories of
the Renaissance on which Dee draws and applies it to the case
of Dee's Monas and his angelic magic. Stephen Clukas who
was invited as the opponent in Lund thinks the thesis should be
published with an international press, but 350 copies are already
available for the facile prize of 100 Swedish crowns which will
cover the postage. The book (373 pages) cannot be sold for
more since it contains many copywrighted illustrations including
a wonderfully painted Dee who points to his monas from the
genealogical Ms Cotton XIV article 1, in the British library, as a
colourful frontispiece.

If you want a copy just send the equivalent of 100 Swedish crowns
(less than 10 dollars) to Ugglan, Minervaserien, Avdelningen för
Idé och lärdomshistoria vid Lunds universitet, Biskopsgatan 7,
223 62, Lund, Sweden and ask for Hakan Hakanssons book.

The book is very clearly argued and paints the linguistic theories
of the occult renaissance and is able to draw on Deborah Harkness
recent book and mentions Georgy Szönyi´s new Dee book:_Magic
Exaltation through powerful signs: The Ideology and Iconography
of John Dee_ which is going to come out soon by New York University
Press. Hakansson has visted the Warburg Institute and has used
English libraries thoroughly and joins in with a clear conception
of the philosophy of Renaissance language with criticisms and
amalgamations of Foucault and Brian Vickers, plus a close
reading of original sources...

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
From: Michael Martin
Date: 22 June 2001

I remember hearing about alleged Jesuit connections to the
Rosicrucians, however apocryphal. I wonder if any of you
know a good source, scholarly or not, that I might investigate
on this trail.

All the best,


Subject: ACADEMY : Redevelopments at the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
From: Adam McLean
Date: 25 June 2001

I visited the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam
on Friday. For much of this year the library has been under
redevelopment, so I was looking forward to seeing what had
been achieved. One immediately realises that an enormous amount
of space has been added to the library. An adjacent building
has been incorporated into the library and this provides four
new floors. The additional room on the ground floor is used
for a permanent exhibition space. On the floor above is the new
reading room, with spaces for 20 readers. Above this are the
stacks for the early books, making the older books more easily

But it is not just the physical space of the Library that has
changed, as Mr Ritman has now been able to provide two
further members of staff enabling the Library to be open
five days a week. The provision of more shelf space means
that all the modern books (post 1800) are now immediately
available to readers to browse through on the open shelves. This
is a really important feature, as few specialist libraries allow
such browsing, and as any scholar knows this is the best way to
find items previously unknown to them. In merely a few moments
scanning the alchemy shelves, I located a number of items I
had never seen before.

The facilities of the library have been improved immensely,
and the problems of access now completely solved.

This is the best collection of hermetic books in the world, and
now there is such ease of access to the material, any scholar
will find that they will be able to undertake really substantial
research even in a short visit.

Do check out the web site

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
From: Robert Vanloo
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001

Dear Michael, Dear Friends,

The book : "L'Utopie Rose-Croix du XVIIe siècle à nos jours" that has just
been published at Dervy, Paris, Juin 2001, fully answers to this question.
But I am sorry to say that this is in French. Please find joined herewith a
description of the book with its summary.

Robert Vanloo

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
From: Susanna Åkerman
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001

Dear Martin,

Montgomery claims in his Johan Valentin Andreae book p. 42. n. 93
that JVA met Jesuits at Dillingen in 1611. I met Manoel Insolera
many years ago in Rome who argued that he thought
Rosicrucianism was a Jesuit plot to convert Lutherans to mysticism
and then to Catholicism, just as happened with Christoph Besold.
Insolera is a scholar of alchemy who is heavily influenced himself
by the Jesuits as his recent book La Transmutazione dell'huomo
in Christo shows. Insolera was talking about records of the
Andreae-Jesuits talk, but these are as far as I know not available.
Worth investigating.

However, I have seen a document in Wolfenbuttel with a
Jesuits' criticism of Paul Nagel's prognostick for 1623-24, i. e. for
the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Leo.

This author likens Nagel's apocalyptic prophecy that the world
will repeat itself from its beginning in the four years till the end in
1624 to a Comedy or Christmas play falsely transposed to reality:

_Bachatianum Nagelianarum prima - Erster Fastnachtsaufzug
des neuen Schwermers_ by Anania Solingio in valle gratiarum
or perhaps Justus Groscürd. He says on Nagel "So stochet er
auch an den worten (Acts 3:21) de restitutione omnium, und wil
daraus erweisen das gleich wie man in Comoedien und
Tragödien eine gewisse catastrophe hat/ da alle personen
noch einmal zum Beschluss eingefuhret werden welche mit in
denselbe gewesen seyn: Also auch noch in diesem und dem
nechsten 4 jahren alles da sol wieder gebracht werden/ was
von anbeginn der Welt sonderlich geschen ist und demnach
noch ein neuwr Nebuchadnezz, Darius, Cyrus, Alexander
Magnus etc. kommen. Und was er sölcher toller
Fastnachtsaufzüge mehr in seinen ausgeflogenen Chartecken

Probably the real Jesuit position in regard to Rosicrucian hopes...

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001
From: Ed Thompson

Isn't this part of a common play on words that did the rounds
in the early 1600s? - the general line being that Rosicrucians
were the true Jesuits ('Jesuiter' in German - read as Latin
'Jesu iter', the road or journey of Jesus), whereas Loyola's
men were false Jesuits. It occurs in Haslmeyer's notes on
the Fama, and (I think) in Andreae and elsewhere.

Ed Thompson

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Michael Martin wrote:

> I remember hearing about alleged Jesuit connections to the
> Rosicrucians, however apocryphal. I wonder if any of you
> know a good source, scholarly or not, that I might investigate
> on this trail.

The source of the suggested connection was:

_Rosa Jesuitica_ by J.P.D. a S., Brussels 1619, Prague 1620

Waite in _The Brotherhood_ p. 235 identifies the author as
one J. Themistus de Melampage.

Best regards,


Subject: ACADEMY : Rosa Alchemica - French journal
From: Robert.Vanloo
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001

Dear Adam McLean,

You will find in "L'Utopie Rose-Croix", pp. 285-293, a detailed
notice concerning François Jollivet-Catelot (1874-1937) of which
here is a brief outline (a large part of my notice is also
dedicated to the social and political works of Jollivet-Castelot
who founded which he called the "Communisme spiritualiste").
In fact it was not before 1897 that Castelot met Sédir and started
to participate in the activities of the Papus' group. He contributed
to some articles in the magazine "L'Initiation", then he started
to publish his own magazine "L'Hyperchimie", called afterwards
"Rosa Alchemica" then "Nouveaux horizons de la Science et
de la Pensée", and finally from 1920 onwards "La Rose-Croix".

In his books such as "L'alchimie" or "Comment on devient
alchimiste", Castelot does not appear to be a classical
alchemist because he accepts and utilizes all the recent
discoveries made by modern chemistry, hence his term
of "Hyperchimie".

He even founded with his two friends Jean Delassus and
Edouard d'Hooge, as him two "chimistes unitaires", la
"Société Alchimique de France". But some critics do not
consider him as a true alchemist according to the traditional
and hermetic acceptation of the Great Work, such as M. Caron
and S. Hutin in "Les alchimistes", Le Seuil, Paris, 1964.

As Suzanna said already, his relationship with August Strindberg
is well known. The correspondance between Strindberg and
Jollivet-Castelot was published in 1912 under the title of
"Bréviaire alchimique", with a preface by Castelot.

One of the best articles on the subject is : Auguste Strinberg et
les alchimistes français Hemel, Vial, Tiffereau in "Revue de
littérature comparée", 43e année, n° 1, janv.-mars 1969, pp.
23-46 (I shall send you a copy of this article when I find it back
in my lot of archive...).

Robert Vanloo

Subject: ACADEMY : Questions of Spirit
From: N J Mann
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001

Dear Jon,

If you are still looking for the references, I was in the British Library
today and looked at the Webster and Fludd, and they show
how the same story is used for different ends.

Webster's use of Fludd's account forms part of an argument
that there are three distinct 'parts' of man to explain ghostly
phenomena which others attribute to witchcraft, at the end of
Chapter XVI of *The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft* (319-320).
After referring to the vegetable phoenix, he goes on to animals
and men and gives three examples, including the "three
curious persons" S. Innocents from Borellus, and the Le Temple
episode from Fludd, although only this last in any detail,
translating most of Fludd's account and concluding:

"So it is most evident that there are not only three essential, and
distinct parts in Man, as the gross body, consisting of Earth
and Water, which at death returns to the earth again, the
sensitive and corporeal Soul, or Astral Spirit, consisting of
Fire and Air, that at death wandereth in the air, or near the body,
and the immortal and incorporeal Soul that immediately returns
to God that gave it: But also that after death they all three exist
separately; the Soul in immortality, and the body in the earth,
though soon consuming; and the Astral spirit that wanders in
the air, and without doubt doth make these strange apparations,
motions, and bleedings, and so we conclude this tedious
discourse with the Chapter."

It would seem that Spence took his wording from this account or
someone who borrowed Webster since they are very close,
and since Webster's reference is to Fludd's Latin work
*Anatomiae Amphitheatrum* (Frankfurt: de Bry, 1623), the
subsection "De Mystica Sanguinis Anatomia", and Chapter VI
of that subsection, "De historia admirabili mysticum sanguinis
post mortem alicuius cum spiritu & anima eiusdem nexum
demonstrante." (233) which gives the account to show the occult
powers of blood, concluding:

". . . quod integer spiritus illius viri mortui, istius sanguinis exigui in
vita sua extracti spiritum relatione indiuisibili respexerit, ita vt igne
cruciata sanguinis ipsius portione, vna etiam spiritus eius è corpore
exhalatus propter continuationem symphoniacam vnius ad alterum
perturbatus & vexatus fuerit, sed & hoc experimentis sequentibus
optime explicatur."

These following examples deal with sympathies and antipathies
demonstrated by blood and lead, inevitably, eventually to the
armary unguent, and to more Macrocosmic considerations.

I've taken copies, so can send you more of them if you want, but
do not want to burden everyone in the tedious discourse with
this e-mail.

Yours, Neil

Subject: ACADEMY : Jesuit Rosicrucians
From: Michael Martin
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001

Dear Robert, Susanna and Rafal,

Thanks for your suggestions on the Rosicrucians and the Jesuits.
Very helpful. Incidentally, I did find out that Robert Fludd spent
quite a bit of time amongst Catholics on the Continent, even
encountering a few Jesuits in the court of the Papal Vice-Legate
at Avignon.

Also, a special thanks to Susanna for giving us all the "heads up"
on the Hakansson's text. Merci.

Michael Martin