Alchemy Academy archive
May 2000

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Subject: ACADEMY : Manly Palmer Hall Collection
From: José Rodríguez
Date: 7 May 2000

I send some information to the alchemy-academy.
I hope it will be useful:


URL address:

Container list:

José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : International conference on alchemy
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Sun, 7 May 2000

I received that notice about an early conference on alchemy and literature.
José Rodríguez


The Institute for English Studies at the University of Leipzig, would like
to invite you to: The Golden Egg.
An International Conference on Alchemy in Literature and Culture Alchemie
in der Kultur und Literatur der Neuzeit 2.-4. November 2000 Universität
Leipzig, Villa Tillmanns, Wächterstraße 30, 04107 Leipzig.
(mit Unterstützung des Vereins Akademisches Begegnungszentrum
Leipzig, e.V.)

Die Alchemie feiert in unseren Tagen eine merkwürdige Auferstehung. Wohin man schaut, ob in die Werbung, auf den Büchermarkt oder in andere Medien, der Begriff "Alchemie" wird geradezu mit einer magischen Intensität benutzt: Alchemie der Liebe, Alchemie des Geldes, Alchemie der Macht, Alchemie der Gefühle. Auch das Internet ist voll von alchemistischen Websites. Im New Age konvergieren Kommerz und Sehnsucht nach Spiritualität und es scheint, daß Alchemie genau diese Verbindung bestens zum Ausdruck bringt. Auf der Internationalen Leipziger Konferenz "Alchemy in Literature and Culture" sollen diese Beziehungen sowohl historisch als auch auf die Gegenwart bezogen untersucht werden. Wir wollen uns fragen, wie die Literatur als kritische und symbolerzeugende Instanz mit den Symbolen der Alchemie umgegangen ist, welchen Anteil sie an der Wiederbelebung einer diskreditierten Tradition hat, die unter dem Ansturm der Naturwissenschaften chancenlos zu sein schien. Wir werden auch der Frage nachgehen, in welcher Weise alchemistische Vorstellungen die europäische Kultur bis in die Gegenwart geprägt haben und möglicherweise den Hintergrund selbst für die neuzeitliche Rationalität und Technologie bilden. Wie weit etwa sind wissenschaftlich-technische Großprojekte wie das Human-Genome Project oder die Verlängerung von Jugend und Lebenszeit von alchemistischen Ideen mitbestimmt? Die Konferenz ist interdisziplinär angelegt und möchte unter dem Blickwinkel von Literaturwissenschaft Fragestellungen aus Psychologie, Philosophie, Geschichte und Kunstgeschichte produktiv aufeinander beziehen.

Alchemy has experienced a recent revival in many different areas.
There are books on the alchemy of love, management, finance. Alchemy
web sites are spawning in the internet and it has become a key-term
for transformations of all kinds. What are the cultural expectations
associated with this apparently outmoded type of research and symbolism?
In order to explore the historical and topical relevance of this activity at
the intersection of science, technology, art, psychology and literature,
we are planning a conference on alchemy in literature and culture at
the University of Leipzig, 2 - 4 November 2000. We are particularly
interested in the role literature plays in this field: how does it mediate,
criticize and enhance alchemical processes? To what extent does
literature borrow from alchemical imagery in order to gain a sense of
its own processes? Is information the new elixir that transforms society
and how are scientific ventures such as the human genome project,
transplantation and life-extending technologies related to the
alchemical quest? This is the framework within which we would like to
conduct an exciting discussion.

Further information may be obtained from:

Elmar Schenkel
Universitaet Leipzig,
Institut fuer Anglistik
Phone: +49 - 341 - 97 37 310 or 97 37 312
Fax: +49 - 341 - 97 37 347

Subject: ACADEMY : Bernard of Treves
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Sun, 7 May 2000

Some weeks ago John Friedman said:

>This is a request for information or bibliography ( post Thorndike)
>on Bernard of Treves or Trevisiano or Treviso (c. 1406--1490)
>author of De Chimico miraculo and other treatises. It is the
>long list of materials with which he experimented and failed,
>which forms Part II of the work in question, which interests me, but
>any scholarly biographical information would be most welcome

I found some information in a conference on medieval alchemy and
medicine at the University of Pavia (16-18 march 2000). The scholar
Didier Kahn (CNRS France) spoke about the alchemist called "Bernard
Trevisano or Treviso" (c. 1406--1490) in a very interesting lecture in
French with a solid bibliographical background:

Didier KAHN, "Recherches sur le 'Livre' attribué au prétendu Bernard le
Trévisan (fin du XVe siècle)".

Kahn explained about the Italian Bernard Trevisano as a fictional
character. If you want a copy of this lecture you should contact Adam
McLean who has the postal address of
the conference organisers.

Good luck in your research John.

José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000
From: Catherine Fox-Anderson

Could anyone help me with the etymology of the term
"prima materia"? I assume it's from the Latin. Jose,
how would you translate it to Spanish? Neither
"primera materia" nor "materia prima" seems complete
as a translation to encompass it's meaning. Abraham's
dictionary has been most helpful with a description of
its use in several texts, but I'd like to footnote
it's linguistic origin in my paper. Could anyone
recommend a worthy source citation?
Hope all of your projects are going well.

catherine Fox-Anderson

Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000


How's your French? Gaston le Doux's 'Dictionaire Hermétique'
repreinted by J-C. Bailly in his Gutenberg Reprints series (1979)
has a lengthy disquisition on the subject (pp. 102-106), as does
the Pernety 'Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique' (reprint, Arche,
Milano, 1980), pp. 268-282... Both sv 'Matiere', pretty much mixed
in with the various other more or less related topics falling under
the same head.

Hope this helps.


Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: Jackson Wiley
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000

As you are looking for a succinct citation on prima materia I can
only offer the following sources as possibilities to the answer
you are looking for: 'Psychology and Alchemy" by Jung gives
several possible origins of the term in chapter four and in the
book in general. However, Jung"s most valuable sources would
perhaps be between pages 317-322. This would be the
paperback edition.

Also, "A dictionary of Symbols' by J.E. Cirlot (1993-Barnes and
Noble) gives the following definition to "Prime Matter"

.....the alchemists give a host of names....The 'Rosarium terms it
'root of itself' and else where it is named 'earth of paradise'.
''This explains why prime matter was thought to come from the
mountain where distinctions are still unknown and where
all things are one, neither distinguished nor distinguishable."

This portion of the definition is cited by Cirlot as coming from Jung's
book as listed above. I do not know where one would find the
above quote in the ' Rosary of the Philosophers'. It would appear
that a word time line would be needed to point to the origins of this

My regards to the academy.

Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: Mike Dickman
Date: 14 May 2000

While on the subject of Jung, by the way, the whole of the
'Mysterium Coniunctionis'; but especially the first two chapters,
deals with this subject and its extensions.


Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000
From: Catherine Fox-Anderson

To Jackson and Mike,
Thank you for your suggestions. While I refer to the
term, of course, throughout the paper, these
particular references will help sharpen my first few
comments on it in the introduction. I have Cirlot's
dictionary of symbols, where he gives the Spanish
translation as primera materia. He, like Jung, cites
the Rosarium, that calls it "raiz de si mismo", root
of itself. He also mentions many of the names by
which it is called; Jung notes that it encompasses the
whole of creation and is itself uncreated. Best
regards to all of you, and thank you.


Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: Eve Sinaiko
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000

Isn't "prime material" or "prime matter" originally a term from Aristotle,
one of those revived by the medieval Aristotelian Christian philosophers?
I can't recall more details just now, but will look.

Eve Sinaiko

Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000

>Jose, how would you translate it to Spanish?

Hello Catherine:
I think we could translate the Latin "Materia prima" as the Spanish
"materia prima" (prime matter). It means "sustancia no elaborada".

The use of this term is so extensive in alchemy and is really very
complex depending upon the texts that you take. One of the first
authors that extend the use of this term in European alchemy was
Roger Bacon. In an important unpublished fragment of Bacon's
"Opus minum" (ms. Vatiganus reginensis latinus 1317) he is more
explicit than elsewhere in identifying the "materia prima" with the
"corpus equale" in which all the elements have been equalized.
He states unequivocally that the "Corpus equale" is identical to the
"Materia prima". He explicitly says that the "materia prima" is the
subject of Pseudo-Aristotle's riddle in the "Secrets of Secrets",
a popular Arabic work translated into Latin. Bacon says that it is
the "materia prima" that is found in every thing, in every man, and
in every place, and into it all things can be reduced. We have
already seen that Bacon determined the subject of Pseudo-Aristotle's
alchemical riddle to be human blood in a commentary of the
"Secrets of Secrets" (edited in ROBERT STEELE, (1920), "Opera
actenus inedita Rogeri Baconi", Oxford.). It is only one example of the
application of the term "materia prima".

For an extensive explanation of this case:
- WILIAM R. NEWMAN, (1995), "The Philosophers' Egg: Theory and
Practique in the Alchemy of Roger Bacon", in: «Micrologus», 3, pp. 75-101.

For the signification of the alchemical terms:
- J. RUSKA; E. WIEDEMAN, (1924-1925), "Alchemistische
Decknamen", Sitzungsberichte der physikalisch-medicinischen
Sociëtat zu Erlanger, nº 56 -57, pp- 17-36. (in German).

There is an index of alchemical dictionaires in:
- R. HALLEUX, (1979), "Les Textes Alchimiques", Brepols Publishers,
Turnhout, pp. 109 -119. (in French).


José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosicrucians in France
From: Penny Bayer
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000

Dear Robert Vanloo and Academy,

Looking back at your posting last November on the Rose Cross
and Philip Sidney I am most intrigued by your comment that "other
unpublished douments prove that Sidney's friend Duplessi-Mornay,
le pape huguenot, so much praised by Johann-Valentin Andreae
knew about the Rose Cross as early as 1611". Would it be possible
to have any more information on these sources?

You mention a forthcoming book - is there a date for publication as yet?

My other question, which I hope is not too naive, is whether it is
accepted that Ole Worm had an interest in or connection with the
Rose Cross in any way.

Any help will be much appreciated,

Penny Bayer

Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000

Dear Eve,

Although I am not sure of the equivalent term in ancient Greek, as far as I
understand Aristotle was a relatively late comer to the concept of a 'first
matter'. The search for one primary substance that forms the foundation of
all natural objects and motion was the concern of the earliest pre-Socratic
philosophers: thus Thales (6th century BC) thought of the primary substance
as water, Heraclitus as fire or Logos, Anaximenes as air and Anaximander as
"the unlimited". I imagine the echos of Thales have been heard through the
millennia in the form of "our Water"... perhaps someone can correct me on
this point? I know at least that the subject of my doctoral thesis, Michael
Maier, was well acquainted with the pre-Socratics. For more on the
pre-Socratic philosophers, see


Subject: ACADEMY : The term "prima materia"
Date: Sat, 20 May 2000
From: Catherine Fox-Anderson

Dear Jose and Academy,

Thank you for your comments. This confirms my own
choice of terms in the paper; I footnoted Cirlot's
term and discussed the variation encountered in
various sources early in the paper.

I would like to extend a sincere thanks to all,
especially Adam, for this Academy; I named the Academy
in the dedication of my thesis. My goal, as a
newcomer to the field and as a student of literature,
was to be true to the source material. If I erred, it
was not for want of effort. While my research focus
was alchemical influence in literature, and was not of
the sort that many of you are doing directly with
alchemical texts, the Web site made my own possible,
and led to many more questions for future study.
I am in the closing days of this work, and within the
year can make a brief version of the paper available
to anyone interested; it has been accepted for
publication in my University's Spanish-language
literary magazine, due next Spring. It will be
available in complete form on microfilm at California
State University Sacramento by next spring. I'll keep
you posted, as it needs a bit more polish. If I
choose to continue with a Phd., I would like to
continue my own studies on this theme.

It has been and will no doubt continue to be a
pleasure. Best wishes to each of you with your
projects. Ora et labore.

Catherine Fox-Anderson

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosicrucians in France
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
Robert Vanloo

Dear Penny Bayer,

Here is the extract of my book on the subject, with the relevant footnote :

"Il y a lieu de relever à cet égard que le pape huguenot
Duplessis-Mornay, dont on a vu au chapitre précédent l'action
renouvelée en faveur de la formation d'une Union évangélique
en Europe, affirme dans une lettre datée de 1623 avoir entendu
parler pour la première fois des frères de la Rose-Croix douze ans
auparavant, c'est-à-dire en 1611 :

« Les freres dont m'escrivés, s'appellent Roseae Crucis, & font de
nouvelle impression. Il y a douze ans que j'en ay ouï parler. Leur
fondation premiere est en Allemagne, & se meslent de toutes
sciences curieuses, comme nommément de la Cabale & de l'Alchimie.
C'est de la Cabale proprement qu'ils tiennent les decem cephiroth,
qui sont emanations de l'Einsoph, c'est-à-dire de l'infinie essence,
sçavoir au dessus des plus hautes creatures. » 1

1. Lettre de M. du Plessis à Madame de Rohan du 26 juillet 1623
(Lettres et mémoires de Duplessis-Mornay, tome IV, années 1618-1623,
p. 891, Amsterdam, chez Louys Elzevier, 1651). Sur l'action politique de
Duplessis-Mornay en France et en Europe, voir l'excellent livre de
Raoul Patry : Philippe du Plessis-Mornay, un huguenot homme
d'Etat (1549-1623)."

The book is quite large (about 350 p.) and I am still working on some
aspects of the Paracelsus' influence on the political thought of Tobias
Hesz and Johann-Valentin Andreae. See in particular the excellent
study :

FUSSLER, Jean-Pierre, Les idées éthiques, sociales et politiques
de Paracelse (1493-1541) et leur fondement, Association des
Publications près les Universités de Strasbourg, 1986.

Robert Vanloo

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosicrucians in France
From: Penny Bayer
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000

Dear Robert Vanloo

Thank you very much for the extract and footnote which I will now
go away and look at. I look forward to your book, in due course.

Best wishes
Penny Bayer

Subject: ACADEMY : Rosenkreuzdiskurs
Date: 29 May 2000
From: Susanna Åkerman

In a recent conference on the History of secrets at the University of
Frankfurt I was tipped of a recently published article that seems to be

Rudolf Schloegl, Von der Weisheit zur Esoteric: Themen und
Paradoxien im fruehen Rosenkreuzdiskurs,

published in: Aufklaerung und Esoterik, Monika Neugebauer-Woelk
und Holger Zaunstöck. ed. (Hamburg: Meiner 1999), pp. 53-86.

It tells of the Rosicrucian reception in two German towns. I have
ordered it on interlibrary loan but have not read it yet.

Susanna Åkerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora Newsletter #1
Date: 29 May 2000
From: Michal Pober

Dear Friends,

I have just published the first newsletter of the Alchemy Museum in Kutna
Hora. Its rather lengthy, to some of you I have already posted, and I
don't want to clutter up the mailboxes of those to whom it may not be of
interest - of course, like a proud father, I tend not to imagine who that
might be...

So please mail me: if you would like to receive it,
either as text or as an msw6 attachment (or by mail).

Amongst other topics it discusses the development of the Museum and
provides an opportunity to support the project from its very inception!

Additionally there are details of a Symposium which recently took place in
Kutna Hora on the 'Mining, Metallurgical and Alchemistic Traditions of
Kutna Hora and their Reflexion in Architecture and Plastic Arts' - not my
translation! - which was part of an extensive programme this year in Kutna
Hora to celebrate the 700th Anniversary of the Royal Mining laws.

This was co-sponsored by the Alchemy Museum Initiative and a number of
other organisations and drew a SRO attendance of 90 people.

There is also a reminder of an up-coming Spagiry Seminar with Manfred
Junius, from 28th June - 2nd July with pre- and post- Seminar options.
Because of a dearth of Czech participants, unfortunately, for this event
there are still some places available. The attendees do however include a
fine crew, augmented, as of last night, by one of our luminaries and
including others who attended the Prague Conference in 1997.

Let me stop here before I re-write the Newsletter!

With best regards,

Michal Pober

Subject: ACADEMY : Pre-Socratics
From: Mike Dickman
Date: 29 May 2000

On the subject of the pre-Socratics, it might be worth mentioning
Peter Kingsley's rather interesting presentations of same in his:

- Ancient Philosophy, Mystery and Magic [OXFORD -

which deals mostly with Empedocles and the Pythagorean
Tradition, and his study of Parmenedes, Apollo and the trance

- In The Dark Places of Wisdom [GOLDEN SUFI CENTER

I find his appreciations of Plato and Aristotle singularly refreshing.


Subject: ACADEMY : Bruno and Rudolf II
From: Erik Ringmar
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000

Dear all,

I wonder if anyone on the list has any information about what Giordano
Bruno was doing in Prague. Was he actually received at the court
of Rudolf II? And a puzzle: can anyone draw an imaginative
intellectual link between Arcimboldo's vegetable portrait of Rudolf
and alchemy?


Erik Ringmar

Subject: ACADEMY : Secretum secretorum
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
From: Mark Clarke

RE: the _Secretum secretorum_ (The compilation based on the "Kitab
Sirr al Asrar" -"The Book of Secret of Secrets"- a book of practical
technical recipes by the physician and chemist Abu Bakr
Muhammed ibn Zakariya al-Razi (known in the West as Rhazes)

Is this the same _Secretum secretorum_ as that text edited by Bacon?

If NOT, does anyone know if there is a published edition or translation
of it?

My problem is that I am looking for technical recipes, and other than
medical ones, I'm not spotting them in the Steele edition.

Thank you all

Mark Clarke

Subject: ACADEMY : Bruno and Rudolf I
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000
From: M.E. Warlick

Dear Erik,

The following chapter discusses Arcimboldo's Rudolf II as Vertumnus,
1590. It does not give an alchemical interpretation, but compares the
portrait to Archimboldo's series of the seasons and the elements and
also has extensive notes on other discussions of these works.

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, "Metamorphoses of Nature,
Archimboldo's Imperial Allegories," in The Master of Nature:
Aspects of Art, Science, and Humanism in the Renaissance.
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993): 100-128.

M.E. Warlick

Subject: ACADEMY : Secretum secretorum
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000

> RE: the _Secretum secretorum_ (The compilation based on the "Kitab
> Sirr al Asrar" -"The Book of Secret of Secrets"...
> Is this the same _Secretum secretorum_ as that text edited by Bacon?

A fair reference (in French) is available at

but you might also find the article on Bacon in the Catholic
Encyclopaedia useful.

Hope this is some help.


Subject: ACADEMY : Secretum secretorum
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
From: Marguerite Halversen

A Steve Williams, Ph.D., currently at (I think) New Mexico Highlands
University, focuses his research on _Secretum secretorum_ and
might be able to help you. I don't know his e-mail address but
do know that he can be reached via that university's history
department. I'll let you know if/when I have more specifics on
his address.

Marguerite Halversen