Alchemy Academy archive
May 2004

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Subject: Alumphume - Everburning Lights of Trithemius
From: Adam McLean
Date: 4 May 2004

I have now put Sam Van Oort's work with the
'Everburning lights of Trithemius' on to my alchemy web site.
This includes some nice photographs of the experiment.

Adam McLean

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Behnam Azadeh
Date: 8 May 2004

Dear All,

There are eight Alchemists (or scientists who worked on Alchemy
as well) that I have been trying to find information on. Their names
were mentioned in a persian alchemical book without any other
info on them. But because I have their names in Farsi-Arabic,
I am not able to find their equivalent in English. I would appreciate
any help:

1. Gharess/Qaress [he was supposed to be as famous as Hermes]

2. Ibn Wahshiyeh / Ibn Wahsh

3. Neman ibn Monzer / Ibn Monzer

4. Promeous

5. Albos /Aulbos

6. Merghes (Perhaps Marques)

7. Jamaseb / Jamasb Hakim

8. Mariyeh Hakim [May be Marinus)


Behnam (Ben) Azadeh

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Ahmad Y. al-Hassan
Date: 8 May 2004

Dear Behnam

I may be able to help if you can send me, as an attachment to your e-mail
message, scans of the pages in Persian or Arabic in which you encountered the names which you have listed. From your list there are names that are obvious. These are:

1.-Ibn Wahshiyah: A well known name in Arabic literature. He wrote a
celebrated book on agriculture, and wrote also on alchemy.
2.- Nu'man ibn Mundhir: This name occurs sometimes in Arabic treatises on alchemy
3.- Jamaseb al-Hakim: A pre-Islamic Persian alchemist. One or two Arabic alchemical treatises are attributed to him.
4.- Merghes is probably Markos ( Arabic: Marqunus). Is a pseudo pre-Islamic alchemist. Two Arabic treatises on alchemy are attributed to him.

Ahmad Y. al-Hassan

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Vahid Brown
Date: 9 May 2004

Dear Mr. Azadeh,

I would imagine that Mariyeh Hakim would be none other than Maria
Prophetessa, aka Maria the Wise, aka Maria the Jewess, aka Maria
the Copt,who has had various careers in Islamicate literatures.

Sometimes considered the teacher of Zosimos, sometimes a
slavegirl of the Prophet Muhammad, sometimes a figure at the
court of Alexander (as in Nizami's Iqbalnama), she figures
prominently in some form or another most Islamicate salasil
of alchemical tradition. There is a chapter on Maria in Patai's
book on Jewish Alchemists.

Could you tell us the title and provenance of the persian
alchemical text you are currently examining?

Best regards,


Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: 9 May 2004

Dear Behnam,
The only Western author who I think might help is Julius Ruska,
for example his "Arabische Alchemisten." Heidelberg: Winter, 1924. Ruska was one of the few European authorities on alchemy
with a good knowledge of Arabic - though this won't necessarily
help with Farsi, unless they are Arabic alchemists known to the
Persians. In any case, my guess is that some of those authors you mention might have been Hellenistic. All sorts of strange things happen when proper names are translated from one
language to another, as Martin Plessner showed in his work on
the Turba Philosophorum, "Vorsokratische Philosophie und
griechische Alchemie in arabisch-lateinischer Überlieferung".

I'll take a look at Ruska and get back to you if there's
anything there which is pertinent.

Hereward Tilton

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: José Rodríguez Guerrero
Date: 9 May 2004

1. Gharess/Qaress [he was supposed to be as famous as Hermes] :

There is a Qûrûs, or Fûrûs, cited by An-Nadîm. This name was
sometimes related to Tadrûs (Theodorus) by Ruska, Plessner
or J. W. Fück. Meyerhof suggest to read Bûlûs (Bolos of Mendes)
instead of Bûrûs if this name had been taken from a Pehlevi
source. J. W. Fück said Bolos is no Alchemist, but there are a
lot of references to alchemical works adscribed to ps-Democritos
(a name related to Bolos of Mendes) in Arabic and Siriac texts.

See: - J.W. FÜCK, (1951), "The Arabic Literature on Alchemy
According to An-Nadim (A.D. 987)", in: "Ambix", 4, pp. 92, .

At the same time, in the alchemical library of Moulay al-Hassan
(1836-1894), in the city of Fez (northern Morocco), appears an
alchemist called [Seyd] Qérîss, or Chérîf, with a book entitled
Miftâh al-kahnz al-Moutalsam.

See: - G. SALMON, (1906), "Notes sur l'alchimie à Fés", in:
"Archives marocaines", 7, pp. 456.


2. Ibn Wahshiyeh / Ibn Wahsh : A well know authority.

See: - J.W. FÜCK, (1951), "The Arabic Literature on Alchemy
According to An-Nadim (A.D. 987)", in: "Ambix", 4, pp. 105-106.


3. Neman ibn Monzer / Ibn Monzer : ?


4. Promeous: ?


5. Albos /Aulbos: Perhaps Ibn Arfa´(sometimes Ibn Alfa´) but
it is only a supposition. He composed an allegorical poem on
alchemy titled "Nuggets of Gold". You can find three treatises
in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

- AFRED SIGGEL, (1949), "Katalog der arabischen
alchemistischen Handschriften Deutschlands: Handschriften
der Öffentlichen Wissenschaftlichen Bibliothek (früher
Staatsbibliothek Berlin)", Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 20-31.


6. Merghes (Perhaps Marques). Probably `Marqûsh, the name
of a legendary king of Egypt.

See: - J.W. FÜCK, (1951), "The Arabic Literature on Alchemy
According to An-Nadim (A.D. 987)", in: "Ambix", 4, pp. 119.


7. Jamaseb / Jamasb Hakim : J. W. Fück speaks about
an egiptian alchemist called Jâmâsp without a conclusive

See: - J.W. FÜCK, (1951), "The Arabic Literature on Alchemy
According to An-Nadim (A.D. 987)", in: "Ambix", 4, pp. 118-119.

But I think it will be the alchemist Jâmâsp Al-Hakîm who
sent a treatise "On the Hidden Secret of Alchemy" to
Ardashir the King, founder of the Sassanian dynasty of
Persia in A. D. 226.

- H.E. STAPLETON & R.F. AZO, (1914), "An alchemical
compilation of the thirteenth century, A.D.", in: "M.A.S.B.",
nº 3, pp. 59-60.


8. Mariyeh Hakim (May be Marinus): Marinus seems to be
a variation of Mariânus, Mariyanus or Morenius, a Byzantine
monk living in Damascus. He wrote the famous text of the
dialogue between Morienus and Khalid entitled "The Book
of the Composition of Alchemy".

See: - MANFRED ULLMANN, (1972), "Die Natur und
Geheimwissenschaften im Islam", Brill, Leiden, pp. 191-194.

Another posibility: the Greek "Marinos" with an Aramaic
ending (Marînâ) is recorded in Hira as the name of an Arabic

See: - ABÛ AL-FARAJ AL-ISFAHÂNÎ, (1961), "Kitâb al-aghânî",
Matba`at Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyah, El Cairo, II, p. 106.


Good luck in the search,

José Rodríguez Guerrero

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Behnam Azadeh
Date: 10 May 2004

Dear Mr. Vahid Brown,

Thank you very much for your response to my questions.
With regards to the question of "What Persian book I am
looking at ": The books I am reading are:

1. Title: "Serr-ol-Hajarr" on Alchemy [Passing the knowledge
to future scientists on Alchemy]
Author: Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha
Published by: Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi
[MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism]
Published 1981 and is only sold by the publisher. Also, Available in US.

2. Title: "Ouzaun va Mizaun" on Alchemy
Author: Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha Published by: Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi [MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism]
Published 1981 and is only sold by the publisher. Also, Available in US.

These two books are the result of many years of laboratory
work in Iran on this subject with access to many rare books,
at the time.

FYI, I study in this school of Sufism.

Regards and thanks again for your help and the
Academy of Alchemy help on this matter.

Behnam Azadeh

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Behnam Azadeh
Date: 10 May 2004

Dear Mr. Guerrero,

Thank you very much for such a response to this letter.
May the keeper of our time open the gate of knowledge of
records to your heart by His Alchemical (Kimia) Touch.

Per sayings from ancient records, Kimiya (Al-chemy) is
the start and it is to be followed by Limiya and then
Himiya and then Simiya and Finally by Rimiya.

Behnam Azadeh

Subject: Farsi-Arabic alchemists
From: Behnam Azadeh
Date: 10 May 2004

Dear Mr. Al-Hassan,

Thank you very much for your response to my question.

The list I had questions on is a part of many names such as
[Ostanes, Albus, Promeous, Zismos, Jamasb HAkim, Jaldaki,
Beliyanes, Shikh Qumri, Mariyeh Hakim, Khalid, Hermes,
Oghlidus, Neman Ibn Monzer, Ibn Wahshiyeh, Merghes,
Ghares..etc...etc..] mentioned in the two books on several
pages and are not on one page to scan. I already mentioned
the info about these two books to another person in our
chat forum. Here they are for your information:

"1. Title: "Serr-ol-Hajarr" on Alchemy [Passing the
knowledge to future scientists on Alchemy]
Author: Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha
Published by: Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi
[MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism]
Published 1981 and is only sold by the publisher.
Also, Available in US.

2. Title: "Ouzaun va Mizaun" on Alchemy
Author: Hazrat Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha
Published by: Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi
[MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Sufism]
Published 1981 and is only sold by the publisher.
Also, Available in US.

These two books are the result of many years of laboratory
work in Iran on this subject with access to many rare books,
at the time.

FYI, I study in this school of Sufism.

Behnam Azadeh

Subject: Lux hermetica clarificata
From: Frank Burton
Date: 12 May 2004

Dear Members,

I'm looking for the complete index of chapters of:

Francesco Onofrio di MARSCIANO. Lux hermetica clarificata, seu circulus
quadratus sapientum, opus hermeticum de vero, ac probato lapide
4° [Vienna or Klagenfurt?]: Johann Friedrich Kleinmayr 1742

Anyone can help me in this?

Frank Burton

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Dan Olson
Date: 12 May 2004

I would like to get input from anyone in this discussion group who may have
made Zosimos of Panopolis a special area of study.

I am a doctoral student doing research on the Book of Enoch, and I have
recently begun to suspect that the Greek translator of the "Book of the
Watchers" (or more likely the glossator of an extant Greek version) may in
fact have been Zosimos. A Greek text of Enoch 1-32 dating perhaps to the
4th-5th c. (according to the latest study of the document by Erik Larson)
was discovered in Panopolis in the 1880's and has been edited and published
many times, perhaps most conveniently on pp 273-305 of R.H. Charles, The
Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), often reprinted. The
editors of the document, including Charles, have identified a number of
idiosyncrasies and glosses in this manuscript (e.g., in En 8:1; 14:8,11,17;
15:11; 18:15), and I believe these glosses show a consciously
anti-Aristotelean bent as well as coincidence with Zosimos' own remarks
about the teachings of fallen angels and the account of their fall
preserved, according to him, in Jewish sacred writings (very probably the
"Book of the Watchers").

If I am correct, then a valuable piece of Zosimos' handiwork is recovered in
this Greek MS. Does anyone in the group have any information relevant to
this inquiry?

Dan Olson

Subject: Lux hermetica clarificata
From: Cis van Heertum
Date: 12 May 2004

Dear Frank Burton,

The contents of the chapters (not all of them described fully!) of Lux
hermetica clarificata is as follows:

(preliminary matter)
chap. 1 De universali natura à Deo creata, p. 24
chap. 2 De primo philosophorum remoto subjeco &c ac de modo verl praxi ipsum
tractandi, seu divideni necessitate, p. 31
chap. 3 Quòd lux hermetica, sive quinta essentia universalis habeat, p. 39
chap. 4 Quòd ignis habitaculum sit sola pinguedo, & qualis, p. 49
chap. 5 In qua substantia inquirenda sit haec sulphurea terra virginea... ,
p. 54
chap. 6 Quis sit haec tam occulta materia, sive remotum subjectum
sapientum..., p. 62
chap. 7 Quod unica tantùm detur in orbe materia ad lapidem philosophicum...,
p. 70
chap. 8 Item de unitate materiae contra pseudo-chymistarum opinionem..., p.
chap. 9 Quomodo sapientum aenigmata, sint explicata, ac intelligenda, p. 96
chap. 10 De erroribus sophistarum, & particularistarum..., p. 105
chap. 11 Quis sit verum lapidis philosophici fermentum, ubi omnes
pseudo-chymici decipiuntur..., p. 115
chap. 12 Quomodo vinum album, & rubrum philosophorum conficiatur..., p. 134
chap. 13 De igne occultissimo philosophorum triplici..., p. 149
chap. 14 De igne contra naturam, ac de igne composito sophorum; de furno
philosophico..., p. 163
chap. 15 Quòd unum sit vas, unicus ignis semper aequalis..., p. 175
chap. 16 Quòd non dentur ullo modo particularia realia..., p. 191
chap. 17 Quòd unicum tantùm sit opus philosophicum..., p. 205
chap. 18 Quare materia philosophica viridis dicatur..., p. 215

p. 230 Recapitulatio, seu conclusio totius operis integra ex Opere Minerali
Magistri Isaacci Hollandi (three chapters)
p. 271 Adhuc in Xenium subjungam

According to David Paisey (Buchdrucker 1701-1750) Johann Friedrich
Kleinmayer printed in Klagenfurt only. I hope this is of some use,

best wishes,

Cis van Heertum

Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica

Subject: Oldest MSS on alchemy
From: Ahmad Y. al-Hassan
Date: 12 May 2004

Dear Members of the Academy

I am trying to investigate the dates of the oldest existing manuscripts on
alchemy dating from the eighth century onwards, both in Arabic and Latin.
Any contributions will be appreciated.

Ahmad Y. al-Hassan

Subject: Lux hermetica clarificata
From: Frank Burton
Date: 12 May 2004

Many thanks to you, Cis.
It will be really useful.
Anyone have also a scanned copy of the images that are
in the treatise?

Frank Burton

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Debra L. Page
Date: 13 May 2004

Just in case you haven't seen this...
There is a chapter in the book "Kabbalah and Alchemy: An Essay
on Common Archetypes", by Arturo Schwarz, that may be of some help.
The chapter is called "The Origin of Alchemy According to Zosimos
and a Hebrew Parallel", by Moshe Idel.


Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Shannon Grimes
Date: 15 May 2004

Dear Dan Olson,

I am a religion scholar, currently writing a doctoral dissertation on
Zosimos of Panopolis. In response to your question on Zosimos and the Book
of the Watchers, I highly doubt that he was the translator; there is no
evidence that he translated any religious works in full. Also, Zosimos was
probably writing in the latter part of the third century (270s), so the date
of this text (4th-5th century) may be a bit late for Zosimos.

As for being the glossator, I don't see a connection between the writings of
Zosimos and the passages you pointed out in Charles' translation other than
8:1, which is the passage (or at least the same story, whether from 1 Enoch
or not) that Zosimos refers to in his account of the origins of alchemy.
Could you elaborate further on what you think the connections may be?

I do find it interesting that a Greek version of 1 Enoch 1-32 was found in
Panopolis, as Zosimos was probably associated with so-called "Gnostic"
metallurgists in that area. There may have been a craft association of
Jewish metallurgists operating there for a few generations or more, and
perhaps there is a connection between them and the 1 Enoch text you mention.


Shannon Grimes

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Dan Olson
Date: 16 May 2004

Dear Debra Page and Shannon Grimes:

First of all, thank you very much Debra for the Schwarz reference. I did not
know about it but have now found it, and it is quite interesting.

Now, Shannon Grimes. I entirely agree that if Zosimos has any connection
with the manuscript in question (which I'll call henceforth Gk BW), it is as
a glossator, not translator. The copy found in a monk's grave in Panopolis
would conceivably be a granddaughter (or even daughter) of Zos's own copy,
with his glosses intact. My main evidences are two passages in Zos.

(1) In the Zos fragment in Syncellus' Chronography that we are doubtless
both thinking of (Dindorf i, pp 24-25), he mentions both the teaching
(didasko) of the angels and the fact that they are punished by remaining
"outside of heaven" (exo tou oupanou). And as you suggest, there is a strong
probability, if not certainty, that at least one of the Jewish "divine
scriptures" Zos references is the Enochic BW.

(2) In the Syriac Zos MS, he criticizes Aristotle. The "angels who
inspired him did not know [invisible things] and consequently could not
communicate to him that which they did not possess" (Scott, Hermetica iv, p
114 n 1). I gather that Zos much prefers Platonic cosmology over
Aristotelian, but as someone specializing in Zos, I expect that your opinion
on this point is far better informed than mine.

Now turn to Gk BW. There is a gloss at 8:1, "teaching of the angels,"
language attested in the Syn Zos fragment. Note that the gloss comes right
at the point where the fallen angels are teaching metallurgical secrets and
other forbidden knowledge. Next, go to 18:15. In the midst of a
description of the incarceration of the seven rebellious stars (= planets
[?] = fallen angels), there is another gloss, "for there is an empty place
outside of heaven" (hoti topos exo tou ouranou kenos estin), the latter
phrase again using the same language as in the Syn Zos fragment. But this
gloss is also a direct blast at Aristotle, who uses the same language in
denying that there is a "kenos" outside of heaven (de Caelo 279a 13-20).
Plato, of course, believed that there was a place "outside of heaven," and
that it was even possible to ascend and see it (Phaedrus 247C). Gk BW 18:15
also contradicts Ari when it says the seven stars "roll" in the flames (as
part of their punishment; the language is partially inspired by LXX Jer
28:25 but goes beyond it). Ari says emphatically that stars do not "roll"
(de Caelo 290a 25). Plato apparently thinks they do (Tim 40A). There is a
gloss in Gk BW 15:11 in the middle of a description of the actions of the
demons, the evil spirits that have emerged from the bodies of the slain
Giants. The gloss is "hard spirits of giants" (pneumata sklera giganton).
I'm not sure, but perhaps this gloss is arguing with Ps-Aristotle de Spiritu
483a 27-b 8, where air only becomes pneuma when condensed in a body, but
outside of a body is said to be soft (praus). There is another, even clearer
shot at Ari in Gk BW 14:8,11,17, where the shooting stars are called
diadromai ton asteron. This terminology has been recognized by Enoch
scholars as uniquely Aristotelian (Meteor. 341a 33; 344a 15, 32-33). What
has not been noticed is that these verses of Gk BW flatly contradict Meteor.
341a 31-34 by putting shooting stars in the highest heavens and among fire.
Whoever elected to use Aristotle's language to translate "shooting stars" in
this Enochic passage did so in order to turn the BW into a club to bash
Aristotle with. (This is also an extremely valuable passage in that the Dead
Sea Scrolls preserve the original Aramaic here for shooting stars, so that
comparison can be made with the Greek. The glossator may have replaced
whatever was there originally with the purely Aristotelian term.) I can
list several other places in BW that agree with Plato and disagree with
Aristotle, but at this point I would simply invite you to compare closely
Zos's remarks about Aristotle's ignorant angel guides and En 16:2-3; indeed,
with all of En 12-36. With that I will stop and wait for your response
before adding to the pile. I suspect I may have found in this glossed Gk BW
a lost piece of Zosimosiana. Any reactions?

Dan Olson

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: José Rodríguez Guerrero
Date: 16 May 2004

Dear Dan Olson:

I am now working on an article that explores the relationships between Greek
or Bizantine alchemy and the classical Doctrine of Four Elements. I am
interested in the aristotelian doctrine of combination (mixtio) of four
elements in species and how this combination could or could not be divisible
by artificial procedures in an alchemical field.

I read your message and I am skeptical about Zosimus as Enoch glossator. Of
course, he cites Jewish scriptures (ioudaikai graphai) in CAAG2, III, VII, §
1; III, XLIII, § 6; III, XLIX § 10. But I think it is not an evidence that
he glosses Jewish works, especialy Enoch. He cites a lot of author or texts
not related to Jewish literature: Paxamos, Aristotle, Plato, Bitos, Homer,
Heron of Alexandria, Nicothe (a gnostic teacher), Hesiodus, etc. and it does
not mean he was his glossator.

Concerning the teaching of the angels in Enoch and Zosimos texts, Michèle
Mertens revels the myth of the angels rebel in the esoteric traditions is
not a rare element at the beginning of the Christian era, until 6 century.
You can find it in another alchemical treatise titled: Isis Letter addressed
to Horus. There are notices in other non-alchemical texts: Book of Jubilees
4, 15 and 5, 1.

See: - MICHÈLE MERTENS, (1989), "Sur la trace des anges rebelles dans les
traditions ésotériques du début de notre ère jusqu' au XVIIe siècle", in:
Juien Ries & Henri Limet (eds.), "Anges et démons : actes du colloque de
Liège et de Louvain-la-Neuve, 25-26 novembre 1987", Université catholique de
Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, pp. 383-398.

Zosimus seems to be related to Platonic cosmology and he demonstrates an
admiration for platonic ideas. Syncellus explains that Zosimus wrote a book
entitled "Life of Plato" and Zosimus himself calls him "Thrice-Great Plato"
in CAAG2, ; III, XLIX § 5. But I think we cannot say he was
anti-aristotelian and, at the same time, we can not say he was neo-platonic,
or gnostic, or whatever philosophical doctine. He was an "alchemist" and it
means he makes an adoption and redefinition of different philosophical
concepts. I warn you about finding aristotelian or platonic words because
greek alchemists usually use philosophical terms (aristotelian,
neo-platonic, stoic, hermetic, etc.) but the word appears in another context
or with another significance. I remember Gérard Verbeke found several
examples related to stoic terminology, an he said: "...les alchimistes se
sont emparés d'expresions courantes dans la philosophie de son époque, mais
il en ont notablement changé la signification...".

See: - GÉRARD VERBEKE, (1945), "L'E?volution de la doctrine du pneuma du
stoïcisme a` S. Augustin. E?tude philosophique", Institut Supe?rieur de
Philosophie, Louvain, p. 347.

In a well documented work Sylvain Matton offers similar conclusions. He says
greek alchemists use the aristotelian, platonic or stoic words but they
modified or extended the significance of the philosophical terminology:
"L'on peut repérer dans le corpus des alchimistes grecs un vocabulaire
d'origen stoïciene, mais ce vocabulaire, à l'exception de queques très rares
expressions, s'était aors considérablement banalisé en prenant des sens très

See: - SYLVAIN MATTON, (1992-1996), "Alchimie et Stoïcisme : à propos de
récentes recherches", in: "Chrysopoeia", 5, pp. 1-144, cf. p. 12

Concerning Aristole references in Zosimus texts you should read:

- CRISTINA VIANO, (1996), "Aristote et l'alchimie greque", in: "Revue
d'histoire des sciences", 49, pp 189-213, cf. pp. 194-196.

Although I am skeptical I think you have an stimulating thesis so I send
you some ideas.

In your second message you say he can be a glossator based on a previous
greek translation. In that sense Zosimus said (CAAG2, ; III, XLIX § 5 = § 8)
all the Jewish writtings (I think Torah, but it could include other texts,
specially Book of Enoch accepted by Tertullian an others) were previously
translated into greek and egyptian (probably coptic) and he said people
could have found it in Ptolemaic libraries in Alexandria.

Enoch could be an interesting source whether he looks at it in a platonic

See: - GRACE H. MACURDY, (1910), "Traces of the Influence of Plato's
Eschatological Myths in Parts of the Book of Revelation and the Book of
Enoch", in: "Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological
Association", Vol. 41. pp. 65-70.

You can find the angels' story not only in Syncellus but in Syriac Zosimus
manuscript (Book VIII, Letter heth). I send you the reference:

- M. BERTHELOT, (1967), " L'Alchimie syriaque au Moyen Âge", Philo Press,
Amsterdam, p. 238: "Les saintes Écritures, ô femme! Disent qu'il y a une
espècie de démons qui ont commerce avec les femmes et les dirigent. Hermés
en fait égalemen mention dans son livre sur les sciences naturelles; et tout
son livre offre un sens à la fois manifeste et caché. Il [s. e. Hermes] en
fait mention dans ces termes: Les livres anciens et divins disent que
certains anges furent pris de passion pour les femmes. Ils descendirent sur
la terre et leur enseignèrent toutes les opérations de la nature. C'est à
leur suject que notre Livre a dit que ceux qui s'etaient enorgueillis ont
été chassés du ciel, parce qu'ils avaient enseigné aux hommes toutes les
choses mauvaises, qui ne servent pas à l'âme. Ce son eux qui ont compose les
ouvrages, et d'eux vient la première tradition sur ces arts".

"Les saintes Écritures" seems to be a reference to Torah (Gen. 6, 2). The
sentence "Les livres anciens et divins disent que certains anges furent pris
de passion pour les femmes. Ils descendirent sur la terre et leur
enseignèrent toutes les opérations de la nature" should be a quotation of
Hermes' "On Natural Sciences". But the next commentary related to
metallurgical revelations could be extracted from Enoch. Berthelot put
"Bible" into brackets ("C'est à leur suject que notre Livre (la Bible) a
dit...") but it is not probable because the Book of Genesis never explains
about angels teaching as Zosimus says: "...s'etaient enorgueillis ont été
chassés du ciel, parce qu'ils avaient enseigné aux hommes toutes les choses
mauvaises, qui ne servent pas à l'âme". What about "notre Livre" (my book)
as a reference to a Book of Enoch glossed by Zosimus?.

Good luck,

José Rodríguez Guerrero

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Shannon Grimes
Date: 18 May 2004

Dear Dan Olson,

I've been reading the Enoch chapters you pointed out, and the cosmology
represented here is certainly akin to Zosimos's understanding of knowledge
and cosmology: the widom of the cosmic realm revealed by the 7 rebel stars
(planets, fallen angels) is inferior to the visions revealed by the angels
of the hypercosmic, or "godly" realm beyond the fixed stars. Of course,
variations on this theme are common in Late Antiquity -- Neoplatonism,
Hermetism, theurgy, apocalyptic mysticism, "gnosticism," etc.

You make a good case that this text promotes a "Platonic" cosmology over an
Aristotelian one, and I can see how the author is refuting Aristotle on some
points. The "anti-Aristotelian" fragment of Zosimos you mention is
basically arguing that Aristotle's knowledge of the cosmos is inferior
because it was revealed by cosmic daemons and not by the divine beings of
the hypercosmic realms. This is a similar statement to the one that 1 Enoch
makes in literary terms. I would not go so far as to call Zosimos an
"anti-Aristotelian," but rather that he thinks Aristotle's knowledge is not
divinely (or hypercosmically) inspired, as it is with other philosophers.
These opinions about Aristotle are fairly common in that time period,
especially among Neoplatonic schools (See Garth Fowden's article "The Pagan
Holy Man in Late Antique Society," Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982),
p. 35; he mentions the Arist. passage in Zosimos and similar sentiments by
Neoplatonists). I'm not sure if you're basing your argument about Zosimos
as glossator solely on these "anti-Aristotelian" and fallen angel
connections, but if so, this could be a problem as they are by no means
unique to Zosimos.

As Jose remarked, in the fallen angel/origins of alchemy story in the Syriac
Zosimos manuscript (Bk. VIII) there is mention of "notre Livre," which is
not "my" book, but "our" book. I still doubt whether Zosimos was the
glossator. He may have been familiar with that particular copy of 1 Enoch,
though, and again, there may be a connection with this text and Zosimos's
Jewish associates ("our book"?), who may have been the glossators
themselves, or had an influence on the glossator somehow. It's a connection
worth pursuing, I think, the evidence, as it stands now, doesn't seem strong
enough (to me, anyway) to establish Zosimos as the glossator.

Shannon Grimes

Subject: Lux hermetica clarificata
From: Adam McLean
Date: 20 May 2004

Dear Frank Burton,

I was in the Glasgow University Library today and had a look
at the 'Lux hermetica clarificata'.

There are only a few illustrations in this work.

p7 Woodcut of a dragon with a key and holding a branch.
p8 Engraving - Sal centrale metallorum.
p171 Woodcut of complex furnace.

In the text were a number of small woodcut blocks, mostly
of geometric figures (triangle, square) . One of a mortar
and pestle and another of an alembic and receiver. One
of a lamp.

Adam McLean

Subject: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch
From: Dan Olson
Date: 24 May 2004

Dear Shannon Grimes and Jose Guerrero,

Thanks to both of you for your careful responses to my suggestions about the
Greek copy of the Enochic "Book of the Watchers" and Zosimos. I appreciate
especially the bibliographical items you both mention. I quite agree that
there is insufficient evidence to claim positively that Zosimos is the
glossator of this text. At best it is a possibility, based on some
circumstantial evidences. In this note, however, I would like to float one
further argument in support of the possibility.

In the famous quote in which Zosimos betrays knowledge of the fallen angel
legend, he is clearly giving Theosebia only a nutshell summary of what he
considers the most salient points. He does not outline an entire narrative.
It seems safe to assume, then, that the items he does mention are the ones
he considers to be the most important, or that most capture his attention.
Syncellus quotes Zosimos as saying:

"Thus the ancient and divine scriptures said this: that certain angels
lusted after women, and having descended taught them all the works of
nature. Having stumbled because of these women," he says, "they remained
outside of heaven, because they taught mankind everything wicked and nothing
benefitting the soul. The same scriptures say that from them the giants
were born. So the first tradition of Chemeu concerning these arts is

The intriguing "our book" that you point out in the Syriac version of this
quote is very possibly original, since it appears to go into the gap
represented above by the "he says," which likely belongs to Syncellus, not
Zosimos. But what I wish to highlight is that the three obvious glosses in
Gk En 1-32 happen to appear at three points that Zosimos describes in this
quote: The angels descend and teach the women ("teaching of angels" in En
8:1); they are punished by remaining outside of heaven ("for there is a
place outside of heaven" in En 18:15); and from them the giants were born
("hard spirits of giants" in En 15:11). The "Book of the Watchers" is a
lengthy piece with a great deal of material in it, yet the three glosses
conform extraordinarily well with Zosimos's ideas about what is important,
and they even replicate his language. When this is coupled with the
demonstrable anti-Aristotelian and pro-Platonic bent of the Greek text, and
we remember Zos's warning to Theosebia about the insufficiency of
Aristotelian cosmology, and when the coincidence of time and place is taken
into account (4th-5th c. Panopolis), it is hard for me to resist positing
some kind of connection between Zos and this MS.

Dan Olson

Subject: Syllables of Monte-Snyder
From: Neil Mann
Date: 26 May 2004

In her excellent essay on Queen Christina of Sweden, the
Porta Magica and poets of the Golden and Rosy Cross

Susanna Åkerman draws attention to the source of the alchemical
symbols incised on the Pallombara Porta in Johannes de Monte-
Snyder's, *Commentatio de Pharmaco Catholico* (Amsterdam 1666).
This is a translation of *Von der Universal Medicin*, done in London
"fast but accurately", according to the title page, and by the same
translator as *Chymica vannus*, together with which it was
published (see Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, *The Golden Game*,

Here, Snyder gives the common symbols for the alchemical elements
as the "Abecedarium" or alphabet of "Chymica": the astrological
metals, along with nitre, salt, sulphur, antimony and acetum/Azoth.
These are each given a list of symbolic titles and chemical equivalents:

Saturn: Lead, Black wolf, Death, Gold;
Jupiter: Tin, Sublimed mercury, Sal ammoniac;
Mars: Iron;
Sun: Gold, King, Red lion & Dragon;
Venus: Copper, Green woman, Green lion;
Mercury: Quicksilver, Mercury, Serpent-bearer, Tilbon, Hermes or
messenger of the gods, Snake, Sal volatile;
Moon: Silver, has Saturnalian weapons, "habilitat se ad Universale
ratione qualitatis &c." (?);
(circle with vertical line): Nitre, rock-snake (rupicoluber), Mercury,
dragon of the wise &c., eagle, Saturn;
(circle with horizontal line): Salt, Venereal property, Green lion,
Draught of the dragon (Potus draconis), Bath of Venus, Salt of
(triangle on inverted T/truncated cross): Infernal Cerberus, Fiery
dragon, Flood of fire, Arrow of death, Oil & Spirit of life, self-sufficiently
vivifying soul
("Anima vivicans per se vivens"), key of keys, winged dragon;
(cross on circle): under antinomy Mercury is always understood.
It is called new life, Unknown medicine, Tree of life of the knowledge
of good and evil, Arsenic of black death, Noli me tangere, three-headed
infernal Cerberus;
(cross): acetum or Azoth, by the cross is most usually understood
Azoth, namely the Redeemer.

The symbols which are used on the doorway are actually combinations
of these, taken from the following section "Syllabæ Chymicæ", which
he does not explicitly anatomize, but comments:

"Intentio mea non est de rebus sublimis hîc sermocinari, sed de
Abecedario, quomodo videlicet indè syllabæ, & postmodùm verba
formanda sint. Hoc Abecedarium sunt simplices characteres
syllabæ verò eorum coniunctio, quando nempe aliqui characteres
in unum contrahuntur, syllabæ abeunt in verba, & hæc dant sensum
sive intellectum; explanant item naturam ac proprietatem
designatorum & figuratorum: Quod enim ex aliqua re facere possumus,
id quoque priùs fuit in illa ratione virtutis."

(It is not my intention to discourse on sublime matters here, but on
the alphabet, from which one may see syllables and then words may
be formed. This alphabet consists of simple characters, syllables
of course their combination, where certain characters are contracted
into one, these syllables go on into words, and these give sense or
meaning; they unfold the nature and property of the designated
and figured things: what therefore we can make from any particular
thing, and also what it was before in terms of virtue" (done fast, and
not too inaccurately, I hope).

The seven symbolic syllables that Synder gives are all used on the
gate, but are usually explained in this context as versions of the
simple characters. Some of them seem relatively clear, but others
do not obviously derive from the Abecedarium he gives.

Can anyone give me any further clarification of these
symbols, which are shown on the gate in Susanna Åkerman's article

and which I include on their own as an attachment in the order
given by Snyder? I would be most grateful for any comment.

Best regards,

Neil Mann

Subject: Alchemy at the Manchester Museum
From: Adam McLean
Date: 26 May 2004


Alchemy is an artist in residence project through which The Manchester Museum will partner with practitioners working across media. Over a two year period, and with the support of an internal Alchemy team, six artists will research and re-interpret the Museums collections from new perspectives. Two international residencies with accompanying installations and publications are planned, and four research positions for practicing/teaching artists in the North West have been conceived.

Alchemy embodies philosophies and practices of transformation. Drawing upon alchemical processes whereby raw materials, knowledge, and technology were once fused in the search for new substances, the Alchemy programme reinterprets this tradition within the contemporary museum. As a laboratory for aesthetic exploration, The Manchester Museums rich science and humanities collections will unite artists, curators, academics, and the public in a shared exploration of the material and immaterial aspects of human culture and the natural world. This project makes clear the Museums and Universitys genuine commitment to engage artistic practice as a form of research that melds aesthetic and intellectual forms of "knowing."

Beloved and Forsaken is Canadian artist Spring Hulrbuts first exhibition in Britain and the first exhibition of the Alchemy project. In it Spring creates a "museum within a museum". "Beloved and Forsaken" is the result of Hurlbut's year-long exploration of The Manchester Museum's collections and other collections held by The University of Manchester. "Beloved and Forsaken" recalls the feeling of an old museum, and includes objects that have never been on public display.


Come to our evening talks and discover Alchemy in unexpected places. Enjoy the exhibition 'Beloved and Forsaken' after hours, then sit back and relax in the Museums own café, Café Muse, for an evening of Alchemical adventure that will take you from Ancient Egyptian mysteries to Arabian cities!

5.00-6.00 pm - view 'Beloved and Forsaken'
6.00-7.15 pm - lecture in Cafe Muse
All talks £3 per person
Book ahead to ensure a seat by calling 0161 275 2648

Thursday 3 June
Alchemy and Witchcraft
Presented by Dr. Ian Fairweather, University of Manchester and
co-authored by Dr. Stephen Pumfrey, University of Lancaster.
Why has the "the witch" a person of magic and mystery fascinated and frightened us for so long? Dr Fairweather explores this figure's transformative powers across cultures and eras.

Thursday 24 June
Alchemy in Surrealist Art
Dr. Urszula Szulakowska, University of Leeds
Discover the overlooked female artists of the Surrealist movement and their use of alchemical imagery.

Thursday 15 July
Alchemy and Ancient Egypt
Dr. Christina Riggs, The Manchester Museum
The physical and the metaphysical have been linked for millennia. Join Dr. Riggs to uncover the medical and spiritual beliefs that were at the centre of ancient Egyptian culture.

Thursday 5 August
Alchemy and Shakespeare
Dr. Richard MacKenney, University of Edinburgh
Enter the magical world of the Renaissance through some of Shakespeare's best known plays.

Thursday 26 August
Early Alchemy and Baghdad
Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, University of Toronto
Take an historical look at Baghdad, a dynamic centre where trade brought ideas on alchemy, medicine and science together from across the globe.

Subject: Syllables of Monte-Snyder
From: Mike Dickman
Date: 27 May 2004

At the risk of stating the obvious, these are - reading from left to right
as usual - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon.

Mike Dickman