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November 2000

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Subject: ACADEMY : Christopher Taylour
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000
From: Lauren Kassell

Dear Penny (and everyone else),

I've always wondered who the 'lady' was. I'm afraid I can't
remember why I thought they were associated -- it's something
that I've not worked on properly. My notes are brief, but at
some point I thought that there was evidence of an association
between Thomas Robson (alias Feltcher) and Taylour -- based
on MS Ashmole 1492, item 9. Robson was an associate of
Napier's. I might be wrong about this. Sorry to be so vague.

Your work on Taylour sounds very interesting -- I'm afraid I won't
be able to make it to the seminar in December, but I'd love to
see a copy of the paper.

All the best,


Subject: ACADEMY : Keren Happuch
From: Susanna Ĺkerman
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000

Also recall the double meaning of Keren, horn and ray. This is
why Moses is depicted by Michelangelo in Rome and in Trinity
College, Cambridge and other such sculptures with two small
horns, since when he came down from Sinai the Bible says
that rays (Keren) shone from his head.


Subject: ACADEMY : Christopher Taylour
From: Penny Bayer
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000

Dear Lauren and Academy,

I had a look at Black's catalogue: he thinks Thomas Robson
wrote the title onto a piece by Christopher Taylour in Ashmole
MS 1492. Black also refers to MS 1447 in which he has catalogued
other pieces attributed to Christopher Taylour as collected by "the
Napiers". This could suggest that Thomas Robson and the Napiers
thought Christopher Taylour's work was worth collecting and keeping.

I'll send you a copy of the paper after I've given it, in late December.

Best regards
Penny Bayer

Subject: ACADEMY : Le Livre des Laveures
From: Gleb Butuzov
Date: Sun, 05 Nov 2000

Dear forum members,

Does anyone have bibliographical information about some
strange author mentioned in Flamel's "Le Livre des Laveures"
(chapter called "Pouqui est faite imbibition"):

"... et pour ce dit Fledus au livre de la secrčte compagnie... "

Thank you and best regards.


Subject: ACADEMY : The Monas' Readership
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for an interesting series of contributions on the
Monas Readership. In connection with this it is worth recalling
that in his peregrinations throughout Europe from late 1583
onwards, Dee was in Cassel in 1586 and again in March 1589.
On June 27, 1589, he met Heinrick Khunrath at Bremen. Between
his two visits to Cassel, Dee was in Denmark, and may well have
visited Tycho Brahe at his observatory, Uraniborg, on the island of
Hven. In a letter from Uraniborg to Caspar Peucer, professor of
astronomy at Wittenberg, written on September 13, 1587, Tycho
Brahe informed him that certain enclosed letters, once read, "were
to be sent on immediately to D. John â Dee, whom indeed we
shall be meeting early tomorrow, God willing, before his departure"
('Hae literae lectae mittantur statim ad D. Ioannem â Dee, quem
cras mane ante abitum, Deo volente, conviemus'; 'Tychonis Brahe
Dani Opera Omnia', VII, 141).In the same letter, Tycho mentions
'the noble and most erudite Daniel Rogers', Elizabeth's emissary
to the Danish Court, "who was recently with me."

Rogers, a key figure in the Sidney circle, friend (and kinsman) of
Ortelius, Plantin and Buchanan, was probably in Denmark in
connection with the forthcoming marriage of James VI of Scotland
to Anne of Denmark. In 1590 James spent several days with Brahe
inspecting Uraniborg. Other Englishmen or Scots mentioned in
Brahe's correspondence are Thomas Savile (who planned to visit
Uraniborg), mathematician, Thomas Digges, mathematician and
colleague of Dee, George Buchanan. I am now exploring the
Brahe-Dee connection and believe that it remained of importance
on into the reign of James I (VI of Scotland).

Michael Srigley

Subject: ACADEMY : 'Zweytes Silentium Dei'
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Can anyone help me with a matter related to my previous message?
In a curious book written by Willy Schrödter, entitled 'A Rosicrucian
Notebook: The Secret Sciences Used by Members of the Order'
(Yorke Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1992), the following
information is given about a manuscript dated 1599 describing the
use of solar energy in an alchemical laboratory. Schrödter cites Karl
Kiesewetter (1854-1895):

"Even theologians were members of the Rosicrucians; men like
Johann Arndt (1555-1621), the famous author of the Wahre
Christentum (1609) who, in 1599, wrote a Rosicrucian work entitled
'Zweytes Silentium De'i which I have in my possession. The
preparation of the Lapis Philosophorum [Philosopher's Stone]
without artificial fire, but only by the heat of the sun concentrated
by an arrangement of concave mirrors, is taught in this

Is this plausible? It is known that Arndt's major interest in his
student days before he devoted himself to theology was alchemy.
His friend and disciple, Johan Gerhard, wrote that in his youth
Arndt devoted himself to a study of the writings of Paracelsus
and Valentin Weigel. This led to the writing of his 'Iconographia' in
1597, and to an inclusion in the third book of 'Wahre Christentum'
of Paracelsus's ideas on the interaction of the heavens and earth
and on the Book of Nature. John Ferguson lists an alchemical
work by Arndt entitled 'Judicium, uber die vier Figuren des Grosses
Amphitheatri Henrici Khunraths'. He states on the authority of
Gmelin that, "like Boehme, [Arndt] was not an alchemist but only
used the language and imagery of the alchemists for his mysticism",
but this seems contradicted by the fact that Arndt first studied
Paracelsian medicine which would have involved laboratory work.

Can anyone throw light on this ms. 'Zweytes Silentium Dei'?

Michael Srigley

Subject: ACADEMY : 'Zweytes Silentium Dei'
From: Chris Pickering
Date: 9 Nov 2000

Hello Michael

As far as Dee and Brahe go, are you aware of the work of Jardine,
Rosen, and Gingerich and Westman which places Dee in the circle
of courtly astronomers of Europe, concentrated around Emperor
Rudolf and the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel and also including Brahe ?
This circle was quietly working on copernican heliocentricity, paving
the way for its acceptance; and its polemic, the Tycho-Ursus
controversy, is said to have given birth to the history and philosophy
of science as a subject in itself.

Sherman, in his excellent study of Dee, places this circle alongside
the angel magic as a question that needs to be answered in order
to understand Dees escapades in the 1580s. It must surely be a
necessary stop for anyone trying to bridge the gap between Dee in
the 1580s and the rosicrucians in the 1610s.

Incidentally, Brahes observatory/laboratory has been put forward
as an example of one form, in comparison with the that of Libavius, in
a study of alchemical laboratories. Are you aware of this work ? I
believe it is part of the modern development of the study of methods
of study !

As far as 'Zweytes Silentium Dei' is concerned, check out Adams
list of the Mellon collection for a MS copy. It is curious that you
mention both Dee and this work on the use of the sun in alchemy.
Monas hieroglyphica mentions something similar as one of the
rare and powerful arts which is encompassed by Dees hieroglyph.
I quote Josten p131:-

"And the optician will confound the stupidity of his art: he had worked
in all manner of ways to shape a mirror into the parabolic line of a
(suitably rotated) conical section, so as to attack any matter
(liable to fire) with that incredible heat from the rays of the Sun;
yet here a line is revealed as resulting from a trigonal section of the
tetrahedron after whose shape, when rendered three-dimensional,
a mirror may be formed which (even when the clouds are before
the Sun ) can reduce any stones or any metal to, as it were,
impalpable powders by the force of (truly the very strongest) heat".

Dees "De speculis comburentibus" survives as Cotton Vit C VII art 5,
but I have not seen it. It is obvious that Dee is not talking about the
infra red which we think of as solar energy and which has been
known of since humans first stood under the summer sun. He is
refering to the astrological influences which the alchemist steers
into matter to perfect the philosophers stone. I do not think the role
of this in Monas Hieroglyphica is appreciated at all. It is a
continuation of the more explicit exposition in Propaedeumata
Aphoristica six years earlier.

I can't remember exactly what I have come across to help explain
this passage in Dee - it is all buried in my notes. But I do know that
this solar mirror is one of the many many stories of wonders which
abounded in medieval and renaissance optics.

I don't think it had occured to me before, but perhaps this 'wonder' was
also to be found in the paracelsist tradition. Paracelsism certainly
dwells heavily on the interaction between astral spirit and the
elemental realm. To me, Monas Hieroglyphica is (among other
things) a paracelsist thesis, be it a very particular or personal one;
and it is probably largely through paracelsism that Dee came to
influence the rosicrucians.

Chris Pickering

Subject: ACADEMY : 'Zweytes Silentium Dei'
From: Stanislas Klossowski de Rola
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000

Dear Michael,

Ms 136, in the Mellon collection, is a late 18th century copy of
Arndt's "Zweytes Silentium Dei in des Konigs Salomonis des
Weisen paradiessischen Lustgarten" dated 18-25 December 1798.
The text begins in Latin on fol. 5 :
" ARCANA DIVINA sev distincta et succincta Descriptio non solum
Lapidis Philosophorum sed omnium totius Naturae Arcanorum,
decerpta ex propriis Manuscriptis Theophrasti Paracelsi, datis
Schaffhausen ad Rhenum, die nona Martii 1555, ab eodem traditis
Imperatori Maximiliano I,"

That is DIVINE SECRETS or distinct and succinct Description not
only of The Philosopher's Stone but of all the Secrets of Nature
excepted from the very Manuscripts of Theophrast Paracelsus
dated Schaffhausen on the Rhine, on the 9th of March 1555 thence
given to Emperor Maximilian I.

The Prologue to this text dated 1599 was published in Paradisgartlein
aller christlichen Tugeden, 1612 and later reprinted with a separate
title page in, Vier Bucher vom wahren Christenhum, 133.

On page 21 a full page illustration shows the sun in the upper right
with rays passing through a central telescope on a stand tilted from
upper right to lower left. The effected sunlight falls on three
alchemical vessels on a table. Eight other vessels in the front
foreground are sequentially affected. The progress of the solar
energy is numbered carefully in eighteen stages.
Similar illustrations occur on the next two pages.

Dear Chris Pickering,
I read with interest your communication on this subject but cannot
find in Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica the passage you quote
(unfortunately without reference from Josten. Could you please be
more precise?

Also your speculation concerning Dee and copernican heliocentricity
is refuted by Dee's stance as stated in Theorem III.
"Thus the central point that one sees at the center of the Hieroglyphick
Monad refers to the Earth around which the Sun as well as the Moon
and the other planets accomplish their course..."

All the very best,

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola

Subject: ACADEMY : Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica
From: Chris Pickering
Date: Mon 13 Nov 2000

Dear Stanislas,

The Monas reference is f6r of the 1564 edition. It is the Preface to
Maximilian. After establishing the Arbor Raritatis, Dee attempts to
place his hieroglyph in this scheme by explaining what it
encompasses, including the optics of the passage I quoted.

I would not call Dee a copernican. It is obvious from MH and
elsewhere that he took up an earth centred cosmology along with
many centuries worth of other ideas related to it. However, the truth
about Dee and others who read Copernicus was probably a little
more complicated. I don't think it would be too contentious to say
that he appreciated Copernicus' work on astronomy and had a
problem with the paradox of being unable to reject it off hand whilst
also being unable to reconcile it with his own beliefs.

I have not seen all of the evidence, and it would necessarily be
scarce on such a heretical subject. It may be one of those
questions that will never be fully answered. But it does open up
questions about the dynamics of emerging exact sciences and
age-old but more vague alchemy. Dees 'astronomia inferior'
and 'astronomia superior' school of alchemy, which uses optics
to apply heavenly forces to elemental matter, is a scientification
[if there is such a word] of alchemy.

It is unthinkable that Dee did not have some position on
Copernicus, even if it was one of uncertainty. Personally, I think it
is more accurate to say he had trouble accepting it rather than
saying he rejected it.

Chris Pickering

Subject: ACADEMY : Humfrey Lock
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000
From: Peter Grund

Dear Members of the Alchemy Academy,

I have been following your interesting discussions for a few
months and I have greatly benefited from them. I am hoping that
you may be able to throw further light on some issues that I have
encountered in my research.

I am preparing a text edition of a 16th century English treatise
on alchemy (previously unedited to my knowledge) for my Ph.D.
at the Department of English, Uppsala University. The treatise
survives in at least 7 manuscript copies from the second half of the
16th century to the late 17th century. One copy, now found in MS
Ashmole 1490, was made by Simon Forman in 1590. The treatise
appears under different titles, e.g. "Ex Semita Recta Alberti Magni
et Medulla Ripleyij", "The Hole Compound of Allchimya or Elixzeres
of the Philosophres wrigtten by H. Lock". It is to a large extent a
compilation of earlier, medieval sources.

In four of the copies, the treatise is attributed to a Humfrey Lock
(found in various spellings). In three of these copies, the treatise
is preceded by an epistle in verse addressed to Lord Burghley.
In the epistle, Lock complains that he has been wrongfully
accused of being a traitor and exiled. However, he does not state
where he is in exile. A marginal note found in some of the manuscripts
states that Lock was in Russia and that he wrote the treatise as a
gift to Burghley and Elizabeth to be allowed to return to England.
The connection to Russia is further corroborated by letter evidence
preserved in the Public Records Office. Lock seems to have been
a builder, architect or engineer. He was sent to Russia in 1567-68
as part of a group of different "artificers" commissioned by
Elizabeth on the request of Tsar Ivan Vassilovitch. In letters to
Lord Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester) and Lord Burghley in 1568
and 1572, Lock writes that he has been accused of being a traitor
since he has found fault with the behaviour of the merchants of the
Muscovy Company. He further writes that he wishes to return home
to answer his accusers.

So far I have found no information on Humfrey Lock after 1572. I
would be very grateful if someone could throw further light on the
identity of Humfrey Lock and his sojourn in Russia. I am especially
interested in whether there are any Russian sources that mention him.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Best wishes,

Peter Grund

Subject: ACADEMY : 19th Century alchemy
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000
From: Julia Grella

I am new to the list. I'm a singer (mezzo-soprano) and the director
of a chamber music ensemble called the Risorgimento Project,
dedicated to bringing to light the forgotten repertoires of Italian
nineteenth-century art song and chamber music. I am looking for
information from anyone whose work might be focussed on the
nineteenth century.

There has been a good deal of work done on Baroque music
and alchemy and the western esoteric tradition in general; the
connection is fairly obvious -- the early opera composers,
Monteverdi (who seems to have been a practicing alchemist)
et al. were influenced by the Neo-Platonic notion that earthly
music reflects the divine music, and has the ability to transform
human nature. My work, however, is firmly focussed in the
nineteenth century, and, while I suspect a connection between
the music of this period and the alchemical tradition, there has
been little scholarly work done on it. Many of the pieces I perform
with the Risorgimento Project either reflect the culture of Italian
unification or helped to stir up revolutionary sentiment, and the
Italian liberationist movement seems to have been rooted in
Masonic principles. In addition, my understanding is that Naples,
a cultural center of the bel canto style in Italian music, had been
also for some centuries a center of alchemical study in Europe.
I have shown a piece my musicologist/pianist partner unearthed,
the 1818 cantata "Calipso" by Michele Carafa, a Neapolitan
composer, to a very learned opera conductor, and he pointed out
"alchemical" tempo, time signature and metronome markings.

Forgive me if my ideas are a bit untidy. I am starting research and
have only my hunches as of yet. I am curious as to whether anyone
on this list can point me toward sources on alchemy in Italy, alchemy
during the Romantic era, or alchemy and music.

Thank you and best wishes to all.

Julia Grella

Subject: ACADEMY : Dee, Copernicanism, Digges
From: Dusan Djordjevic Mileusnic
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000

There's an interesting, rather scientific article on Thomas Digges,
(previously mentioned on AlchAcademy), Copernicanism and
John Dee, at

Hope it will be of some use to recent discussion.

All the best
Dusan Djordjevic Mileusnic

Subject: ACADEMY : Solar energy in the alchemical laboratory
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Dear Michael Srigley and Chris Pickering.

The use of solar energy in the alchemical experiments is one
of the problems that some friends had tested in practical
experiences a few years ago. I was really surprised when they
exposed me to their opinions about the efects of the rays of the sun.
I think it is a rare practical question and in the course of time I
have been forgotten this subject becouse I have not got
well-documented sources.

If you are looking for extensive information about the use of
light by some alchemists, especially Heinrich Khunrath, Michael
Maier and Robert Fludd, you should check:

- URSZULA SZULAKOWSKA, (2000), "The Alchemy of Light.
Geometry and Optics in Late Renaissance Alchemical Illustration",
Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden.

This "well coagulated" study concerns the late Renaissance
metaphysics of light in its adoption to a Paracelsian alchemical
context by John Dee, Heinrich Khunrath, Michael Maier and Robert
Fludd. Their alchemical theosophy is contextualised within the
Protestant reformism of the 1590s to 1620s, specifically that of
Valentin Weigel and Johannes Arndt. This results in a
re-assessment of the Rosicrucian movement which challenges
the existing historiography and problematises the character of
the movement. The volume includes 50 illustrations from
alchemical treatises of the period, the emphasis being placed
on Khunrath's "Amphiteatrum Sapientiea Aeternae" (1595-1609).
The study investigates these images using analytical tools drawn
from semiotics, structuralism and post-structuralism. This method
yields an interpretation of the geometry, optical diagrams and
spatial structures employed in such alchemical engravings.

Concerning Dee and the use of mirrors or light. John Dee had
a great interest in catoptrics, as is demonstrated in Roberts and
Watson's catalogue of his library which contains many Arabic
and scholastic resources. Catoptrics was a branch of the science
of optics initiated by the ancient Greeks and defined by
Archimedes as the study of the refraction and reflection of light-rays
by mirrors or prisms. In the medieval period, Roger Bacon, in
particular, dispersed and popularised catoptrical science through
his treatise "De speculis comburentibus". These optical theories
were important for the development of Dee's astronomy, but there
was one particular idea which may also have affected Dee's alchemy.
Bacon had stated in "De multiplicatione specierum" (I, i) that every
point on a luminous or coloured body sent forth the image of its
visible qualities as "species" in a succession of "multiplications"
which were transmitted through a medium such as light, or air,
to the eye of the viewer.

In 1556 Dee began to engage in the study of medieval optics, an
interest recorded in his library catalogue which included Alhazen's
works, Boethius's "Arithmetica", Nicolas Oresme's "Liberdivinatiorum",
Witelo's "Perspectiva", Bacon's "Opus tertium", Grosseteste's
"De luce, calore et frigide", Pecham's "Perspectiva Communis",
three manuscripts of Alkindi's "De radiis stellarum" along with the
works of many other optical theorists. The scholars Nicholas
Clulee and Wayne Shumaker established that Dee also gained
information concerning the properties of lenses and mirrors from
Gogava's edition of Alhazen on catoptrics (included in his translation
of "Ptolemy Opus quadripatitum", 1548). Urszula Szulakowska thinks
that Gongava instructed Dee in the manufacture and use of
astronomical and optical apparatus.

Dee himself wrote a richly illustrated but unfinished tract on
catoptrics (dated on 1558) which is found in British Library
MS Cotton Vitellius C.VII, art. 5, "De Speculis comburentibus libri 5"
(ff. 280r-309v). I the text he states briefly that his ideas were gathered
from ancient philosophers (f. 280r). Dee's subject-matter concerns
the Euclidean rules of optical conic sections, as well as the angles
of incidence and refraction of light by mirrors, illustrated by several
detailed drawings of light-rays reacting to a parabolic suface. You
can find similar experiments with mirrors in the Oxford Bodleian
Library MS Sloane 3854 which contains a section entitled
"Experimenta in Speculo" (ff. 76r-80v).

Dee's optical and astronomical treatise "Propaedeumata Aphoristica"
explains that by means of optical instruments it was possible to
collect the occult virtues of the stellar radiations, particularly
recommending the use of catoptrics in the making of theurgical sigils.
According to Dee, mirrors could imitate planetary influences,
increasing and decreasing the intensity of their radiations catoptrically
and imprinting their influences on matter.

- PAMELA H. SMITH, (1994), "The Business of Alchemy",
Princeton University Press, pp. 29-31.
- NICHOLAS CLULEE, (1988), "John Dee's Natural Philosophy",
Routledge, London, pp. 56-60 and pp. 260-265.
- DAVID C. LINDBERG, (1976), "Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi
to Kepler", Chicago University Press, pp. 107-116.
- JOHN DEE, "John Dee on Astronomy, Propaedeumata Aphoristica
(1558-1568)", University of California, Los Angeles, 1978, Introduction,
Edition and Translation by Wayne Shumaker, pp 53-.

Best wishes,

José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : 'Zweytes Silentium Dei'
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Friends,
Many thanks to Chris, Stanislas, Dusan and José for so
generously sharing their knowledge with me. What seems to
have emerged from this and previous recent discussions is that
Dee was after all an important figure in what might be called occult
exact science, and played a part in the emergence of the
Roscicrucian movement, not as its leader or initiator, but as one
important influencial figure out of several. As Chris points out,
alchemy for Dee (and for Tycho Brahe) involved a coordination of
heaven and earth by means of grounding astral energies in physical
matter. It is probably for this reason that Dee also called his Monas
the "London Seal of Hermes" in line with his statement in
'Propaedeumata Aphoristica' that the "impressions of celestial
bodies on things in the lower world are ... like images on seals".
This as he wrote could be achieved by catoptrics. The same idea
was expressed by Brahe in the two wood-carvings over the main
entrances of Uraniborg depicting the relationship between
astronomy and alchemy with their respective mottoes,
'Suspiciendo, Despicio' and 'Despiciendo Suspicio'
('by looking up, I look down' and vice versa).

The information given by Stanislas of Arndt's 'Zweytes Silentium
Dei' in the Mellon Collection was invaluable. The main text goes
back to the year 1555 and to Paracelsus, while Arndt's Prologue
was written in 1599. The illustration of a telescope focussed on
alchemical vessels may have been seen Andreae before 1605
when he wrote 'The Chymical Wedding' and if so it influenced
him when he came to describe the final alchemical 'regeneratio' of
the dead bodies in the uppermost part of the Tower of Olympus. This
was achieved by means of a Trumpet or Tube directed at their
mouths and, by the removal of a shutter in the dome, focussing in a
cone the "bright stream of fire" that revived them. An impressive

I have not yet read Urszula Szulakowska's work recommended by
José, and am grateful for this tip and for the others from all of you.

Best Wishes,

Michael Srigley

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical manuscript in Cambridge
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000
From: Catriona Mackay:

Dear Academy,

I am a graduate student working in the English Literature department
of Cambridge University, and have recently started working on
alchemy in the seventeenth century. I have found an intriguing
manuscript in the university library - manuscript Gg.I.8 - and I hope
that someone might be able to help me identify various bits of it.

After 52 leaves of blank paper, there is a handwritten copy of
Daniel Widdowes 1631 edition of 'Naturall Philosophy or A
description of the world and of the severall Creatures therein

Next there is an emblem of a creature with a serpent's body,
wings, the head of a bald bearded man with wings for ears and
winged human feet. Rising from his back on scaly stalks are
symbols for the moon, the sun and mercury - mercury has two
prongs protuding from in in a 'south-easterly' direction.
(Many apologies by the way, that I as yet lack the language to
describe these things properly.) It is annotated, in French as
far as I can tell, and it is out-lined with pinpricks, showing that
it was copied from somewhere.

One of the library catalogues says either it or the next thing
(it's unclear) is 'an ophite emblem'. The catalogue is very
incorrect in other aspects of its description however, so I'm
taking this with a pinch of salt. However, I'd be very interested
to know (1) what an ophite emblem is and especially (2) whether
anyone can help me identify the source of this picture.

Next there is something astrological-looking labelled 'Angelorum opus
Acthore Hermete Pho. perito'. I won't bother describing it in detail -
I need to do more work on it myself. However, at the bottom is
scribbled 'Liber magistri William Waldy' - does anyone know who
William Waldy is?

Stuck on the back of this is an emblem involving a furnace which
seems to be drawn on very thin vellum.

After this there is a sequence of about 70 alchemical emblems
which using the wonderful I have
identified as being 'The Crowning of Nature'. I would really really
really like any information anyone has at all about what 'The
Crowning of Nature' is, as I hadn't heard of it before today.

Finally, there is a second treatise, dealing with (mostly) practical
alchemy, entitled 'Thesaurus Thesaurorum siue Medicina Auroa -
A Manuscript concerning the Philosophers Elixir or their Medicine
both for Humane and Metalline Bodies' and proclaiming itself to
be 'Incertis Authoris'. I would love to know if this sounds at all
familiar to anyone.


Most of all, I'd like to know whether this manuscript as a whole
is known or written about anywhere, as I'm still in the process of
fishing around for possible MPhil research topics.

Apologies for the length of my query, and for my relative ignorance
re. matters alchemical.

Catriona Mackay

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical manuscript in Cambridge
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000
From: Adam McLean

Dear Catriona Mackay,

You asked about an image in the Cambridge manuscript

>Next there is an emblem of a creature with a serpent's body,
>wings, the head of a bald bearded man with wings for ears and
>winged human feet. Rising from his back on scaly stalks are
>symbols for the moon, the sun and mercury - mercury has two

This would appeaer to be (from your description) a copy of one of
woodcuts from an Italian allegorical work of the mid 16th century
by Nazari.

See my coloured version of this on my web page :

A068. Woodcut of triple-headed dragon from Giovanni Battista
Nazari 'Il metamorfosi metallico', Brescia, 1564.

I will try and answer some of the other questions in your
message when I have time later this weekend.

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY : 19th century alchemy
From: Susanna Ĺkerman
Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2000

A while ago, Julia Grella asked about nineteenth century music
and alchemy. It seems as if there is very little work on alchemical
practise in the nineteenth century before "the occult revival" in
Paris and London at the end of the century (with Eric Satie as
a Rosicrucian composer). The meagre reply to questions on
alchemy in the early nineteenth century has been revealed
before on the alchemy-academy and may reflect an interesting
lacunae for people to work on.

However, I just read Wouter Hanegraaff's article on the
constructions of esoteric traditions in Antoine Faivre and
Hanegraaff's "Western esotericism and the science of religion"
Peeters, Leeuven, 1998 p. 14 where he cites Francoise Bonardel's
Philosophie de l'alchimie: Grand ouevre et modernité, Paris 1993
and her article Alchemical Esotericism and the Hermeneutics
of Culture in Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman: Modern
esoteric spirituality New York, 1992. "She includes in her
discussion of "alchemy" a wide range of poets and composers...
who hardly would have described themselves as alchemists
(such as Richard Wagner)." The point is here that while there
may be a sense in which music is leading to transmutation of
the participants of sorts, this is an extended use of the word
alchemy. I suggest these readings since it might give some leads.

Otherwise I recommend Joscelyn Godwin's sourcebook Music,
Mysticism and Magic, Arkana, London, 1987 which has a host of
texts on these connections by Romantic writers and composers
and as well as texts by on the magical influence of music in
Hermetic authors since Ficino. For alchemy in Naples Massimo
Marra's recent book has been posted on the academy a while ago.

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Humfrey Lock
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000
From: Lauren Kassell

Dear Peter Grund and everyone else,

I spent a quite a while trying to identify Humfrey (or Henry)
Lock in the initial stages of my work on Forman, though found
frustratingly little. I do believe, however, that Deb Harkness
(and forgive me if I'm wrong) has information about the Lock
(or Lok) family in Elizabethan London.

I would be very interested to know more about the relationship
between the various copies of this text--at one stage I planned
to compare the various versions of this and other MSS in the
hope that such an exercise might reveal evidence about Forman's
sources for the numerous MSS that he copied.

He says very little about his friends and associates, and his
successors say very little about him.

All the best,

Lauren Kassell

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical manuscript in Cambridge
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000
From: Lauren Kassell

Dear Catriona Mackay,

I do not know anything about this MS in particular, but as I
expect you do not know one of my areas of research is on alchemy
and medicine in early modern England, and I am also in Cambridge,
in the history and philosophy of science department. I'd be happy
to discuss your research, and you can reach me directly at



Subject: ACADEMY : 19th Century alchemy
From: Massimo Marra
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000

Dear Julia,

An useful starting point could be this book:

Cecilia Gatto Trocchi, Il Risorgimento Esoterico
Milano 1996 Arnaldo Mondadori Editore
ISBN 88-04-41815-X

Cecilia Gatto Trocchi is an Italian antropologist (of Catholic
ideas, I suspect) and her approach to the esoteric matter is
very influenced by a positivist point of view. Furthermore, in the
definition of "esoteric" Gatto Trocchi includes paranormal,
spiritism etc. etc..
However, you could find some data contained in that book
very interesting for your researches (chapter X: I sortilegi
del Melodramma italiano).

In addition to the works quoted by Susanna, I recommend:

Joscelyn Godwin - Harmonies of Heaven and Earth.
Mysticism in music from Antiquity to the avant-garde
1995 ed Inner Traditions International ISBN 0-89281-500-0

Bruno Cerchio - Il suono filosofale: musica e alchimia.
Parma 1993 Libreria Musicale Italiana editrice
ISBN 88-7096-079-X (in italian):

Bruno Cerchio is a contemporary Italian musician; he is a
very important scholar of Alchemy and Hermetic studies.

About the relationship between hermetic tradition and music -
especially in Ficino - a good starting point could be the very
important work of P. D. Walker's:
Spiritual and demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella
1958 Warburg Institute, London

Unfortunately, I have only the French edition (La magie spirituelle
et angélique de Ficin ŕ Campanella - Saint Quentin 1988 ed.
Albin Michel ISBN 2-226-03241-X). The first chapter is devoted to
the magic music in Ficino's philosophy (De vita coelitus

The relationship between Alchemy and music is a very
complicated question and it is very difficult to collect an extensive
Pitagoric (Pythagorean) and neoplatonic philosophy - I am
thinking, for example, to Boetio's works - are very important
influences in Medieval and Renaissance philosophy of music.
By the way, I think that it should be interesting to point that
Athanasius Kircher's works (especially the books IX-X of the
Musurgia Universalis - Roma 1650) were greatly influenced by
Fludd's philosophy. Music is the key of many cosmological and
alchemical works by a lot of hermetists, from Fludd to Khunrath,
and the relationship between music and alchemy starts with
some alchemical Greek manuscripts! You have a very large
and extensive field of studies!

History of alchemy in Italy is a very complicated question.
The only scholarly work devoted to the Italian alchemy is:

G. Carbonelli - Sulle fonti storiche della chimica e dell'alchimia
in Italia, Roma 1925 Serono

There are no other extensive and general scolarly works
about the history of Italian alchemy.
In the Kingdom of Naples, during the XIXth century, there were
a lot of masonic lodges. The most important was the Egyptian
masonry (Ordine Osirideo), directly descending from the
Egyptian masonry of Cagliostro and De Sangro (XVIIIth
century - this particular form of Egyptian masonry is also
called "nodo napoletano"). My book (Il pulicinella filosofo
chimico - uomini e idee dell'alchimia a Napoli nel periodo del
viceregno" Milano 2000, ed Mimesis, ISBN 88-87231-72-9) ,
explores the development of Neapolitan alchemy between
the XVIth and XVIIth centuries.

Other interesting works focused on particular areas or
particular times.
Actually, there is no general introduction to the history of
Italian alchemy.

If you have some question about Southern Italy alchemy
you may contact Adam; he will give you my e-mail address.

I hope this suggestions will be useful for your researches.
Best wishes.

Massimo Marra

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical manuscript in Cambridge
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000


'Ophite' is cognate with 'ophidian' - 'Member of the Ophidia
class of reptiles, especially snakes, modern Latin from the
Greek ophis = snake, ' (says my trusty old OED)...

'Ophite', (Latin from the Greek ophites from ophis) according
to the same source, means 'serpentine' and - by extension -
'serpentine marble'.


Subject: ACADEMY : The Monas' Readership
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Friends,

I have come across further evidence of John Dee's far-flung
influence in that learned study, Sten Lindroth's 500-page
'Paracelismen i Sverige till 1600-Talets Mitt' (Uppsala, 1943).
( A great pity it has not been translated).

In his long account of the Swedish hermeticist and Rosicrucian
author,Johannes Bureus, he mentions (111, n.2) that Bureus
was acquainted with Dee's 'Monas Hieroglyphica', and cites
Bureus's 'Cabbalistica' (MS 24 in the collections of 'Linköpings
stifts- och landsbibliotek', N 24, fol. 60v), quoting from it Dee's
words from the 'Monas' "Ista est via, per quam Nostra Monas,
per Binarium, Ternariumque progrediens, in quaternio Purificatio,
sibi Uni restituatur, per Aequalilitatis Proportionem". Lindroth
points out that both Khunrath, (cited by Bureus in N 24) and
Gerard Dorn, discuss this numerological sequence, and that
such speculations were common in hermetic-Cabbalistic
circles at that time. This might suggest that not every reference
to a Monas is to Dee's. It is interesting that Lindroth in this study
spotted (30, 146) the importance of the 'Theophrastia' in the works
of Adam Haselmeyer, something which Carlos Gilly has now
finely established beyond question.

With best wishes,

Michael Srigley

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical manuscript in Cambridge
From: Mike Dickman
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000

Excuse me. I seem to have left out the important bit!
Ophite or Ophian is a term often used in modern scholarship
to refer to the earliest strain of Gnostic thinkers and
practitioners. Budge wondered whether they did not
trace their lineage from Moses.

Forgive my too-ready trigger-finger!

Subject: ACADEMY : 19th Century alchemy
From: Julia Grella
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000

Dear Massimo,

Thank you for your reply. I am interested in your book;
is it available in the U.S. that you know of?

Do you know of a book by Alessandro Luzio called
La massoneria e il risorgimento? I believe it was published
in the 1930s. I tried to locate it while I was a fellow last year
at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America,
but without success - it's difficult to get out of print Italian books
here. Thank you again for your assistance.


Subject: ACADEMY : Dee and Paracelsus
From: Susanna Ĺkerman
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000

I have just returned from a visit to the Arcana-library in Harnosand,
Sweden, and have read the founder Carl Hjalmar Lindblom's
excerpts of texts for contemplation exercises. On the same day,
for the same session, after quoting Heinrich Khunrath and Dee's
Monas on the importunity of revealing what should remain
tacit, Lidblom adds a quote in English:

"When the Quaternary rests in the Ternary ariseth the light of
the world in the Horizon of eternity"

Remarkably, the reference is to "Paracelsus (Aurora 1689)".
Can we identify Paracelsus' text or is Lidblom reading a modern
false attribution?

The other two quotes are to Th. Schaeffers Alkemins Betydelse
Stockholm 1909, (The significance of Alchemy), a translation into
Swedish from some foreign source with long sections from
Khunrath that adds in significance since the author reveals the
alchemical process in chemical terms accounting for all the
colourshifts and the stage of extraction of silver from galena
and the addition of vitriol in a two page footnote on p. 40-42.

Schaeffer does not provide the quote attributed to Paracelsus
though. Aurora sounds like Boehme. Paracelsus is assumed to
have worked with Trithemius (or simply with his texts) from where
the Quaternary resting in the Ternary comes - the cross of light
generated in Dee's Monas as well. Lidblom's Dee quote from
Schaeffer for contemplation is:

"Forgive me God if I have sinned against thy holiness, when I
reveal such great secrets in public books. But I hope that only
they will properly understand them, who are thereto worthy."
Preface to Monas Hieroglyphica.

Lidblom died in 1990 after having donated his library to the town
of Härnösand and Mittenhögskolan, the aspiring local university.

Susanna Ĺkerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Dee and Paracelsus
From: Penny Bayer
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000

Dear Susanna,

Paracelsus his Aurora (etc.) is posted on the alchemy website - or
it was at 3.11.99 ( This text
contains the quote you cite.

I have a note, based on a copy at Oxford, Bodleian 8 A34 Med BS,
that this was first published at Basle in 1575 accompanied by
copious annotations in Latin by the editor Gerard Dorn, who may
have elaborated on the original. I failed to find this text in Sudhoff
and, noticing that its tone is very different to other writings
attributed to Paracelsus, wondered if it was considered outside
the canon of what can be properly called Paracelsian. Can
anyone confirm that?

Penny Bayer

Subject: ACADEMY : 19th Century alchemy
From: Massimo Marra
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000

Dear Julia

> Thank you for your reply. I am interested in your book;
> is it available in the U.S. that you know of?

The web site of the publisher is:
You can find it also at

> Do you know of a book by Alessandro Luzio called
> La massoneria e il risorgimento? I believe it was published
> in the 1930s. I tried to locate it while I was a fellow last year
> at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America,
> but without success - it's difficult to get out of print Italian books
> here. Thank you again for your assistance.

Yes. The first edition were issued in 1925 (Bologna). You can find the
reprint at

Alessandro Luzio edited Verdi's correspondence too (also
available at Forni editore) . In the Forni's catalogue you can find
some other books focused on Italian masonry in XIXth. century:

D. Di Rubba - Mazzini contro la Massoneria
E. Gruber - Giuseppe Mazzini, Massoneria e rivoluzione.
C. Patrucco - Garibaldi e la Massoneria
D. Anghera' - Memoria sulla Soc. dei FF. Liberi muratori del G. O.
Napolitano (focused on napolitan masonry)

Best wishes


Subject: ACADEMY : Experience and Experiment in Early Modern Europe
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000

Dear all:

I send a notice about a NEH Summer Institute for college faculty
on 2001 directed by Pamela H. Smith and Pamela O. Long. It will
explore an increasing reliance on instrumentation as well as
other material and intellectual strategies for the validation of
knowledge claims. This interdisciplinary institute accordingly
encourages historians of science, cultural historians, art historians,
philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, literary critics, and
historians of technology to apply. It will examine key texts
(many in their original or early printings) that affect the histories
of practices such as painting, architecture, cartography, alchemy,
medicine, and performance.

For extensive information, including a week-by-week
description of the institute, its visiting faculty, and an application form,

José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : Gold- und Rosenkreutz
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000

Susanna Ĺkerman wrote:

"I have been told, and think I have read at one point, that Robert
Fludd makes a distinction between the golden and rosy cross in
his defense of the Rosicrucians, but I have no access to the text
for now... It would be good to have the question settled. I have
contacted Carlos Gilly to this end, but have had no reply... Can
someone take a look at Fludd's treatise?"

I have had the opportunity to look through the Rosicrucian
apologetic works of Fludd, the 'Tractatus apologeticus integritatem
societatis roseae crucis defendens' and the 'Apologia
Compendiaria', and there is no mention there of the term
'fratres aureae crucis', nor is a distinction made between a
gold and rosy cross. Fludd only utilises variations on the
terminology given in the manifestos, i.e. he gives Fratres de
Societate R. Crucis, Fratres Societatis de Rosea C., etc.
This seems to mitigate against the possibility that Fludd
contributed to the occult tradition which states that some people
received a golden cross upon initiation and others received a
rose, marking out a practical alchemical and a theosophical
direction in an order.

Does anyone have any ideas on this matter? I'm just submitting
some of my Rosicrucian research for publication to Aries, so I
would be interested to hear from Susanna or anyone else
interested in this area. In fact, if anyone has information on the
relationship between the Gold- und Rosenkreutz of the later
eighteenth century and Freemasonry, I would be very grateful,
as I need to pop a bit on that topic into my soon-to-be-completed
thesis. Silberer states that the Gold- und Rosenkreutz 'infiltrated'
Freemasonry on the continent with almost 'catastrophic'
consequences, but I don't quite know what he means. Also... are
there any alchemical elements in Freemasonic ritual, perhaps
dating from this time?


Hereward Tilton

Subject: ACADEMY : Elemire Zolla
From: Ugo Cundari
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000

Does anyone know if in Naples there is an association where
alchemy is studied? I'm a fan of Elemire Zolla and I would like
also if someone would be interested to talk about him with me.


Ugo Cundari

Subject: ACADEMY : Gold- und Rosenkreutz
From: José Rodríguez
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000

Dear Hereward Tilton,

Some months ago, on February 2000, I asked about the
"Brethren of the Golden Cross" because I found some
references when I was reading Madhatano's «Aureum
saeculum redivivum» and the «Aureus tractatus» by Johann
Grassoff. Susanna Ĺkerman replied in a kind message with
useful references, especially the Palombara's mentioning of
"a company entitled the rosy cross or as others say the golden
cross" in his Ms. "La Bugia" (c:a 1666). Besides, she gave me
the URL of his article on the Porta Magica raised in Rome in 1680
by Massimiliano Palombara. It's really interesting:

After that I was looking for documents about the "Gold- und
Rosenkreutz" and I found:

- A. MARX, (1929), "Die Gold- und Rosenkreutz", Zeulendrola &
Leipzig, (Thesis).
- B. BEYER, (1925), "Das Lehrsystem des Ordens der Gold- und
Rosenkreuzer", (Pansophia, 2, 2), Leipzig & Berlin.
- C. McINTOSH, (1990), "The Alchemy of the Gold- und Rosenkreutz",
in Alchemy Revisited...», Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden,
pp. 239-244.

These studies speaks about "Gold- und Rosenkreutz" as a
heterodox masonic order in the early years of the 18th century
associated with a revival of Rosicrucianism in Germany (it could
be the Silberer's reference that you know). It was an order that
attained a strong following throughout German-speaking world
as well as in Poland and Russia, with many exotic masonic
rites strongly linked with alchemical operations and symbolism.

The order had nine grades of initiation mixing freemasonry,
hermeticism, cabbala and, of course, alchemy. The alchemy
was present on both a theoretical and practical level.

On the theoretical level, alchemical ideas and symbols were
incorporated into the rituals of initiation and the teachings that
accompained each grade. The teachings included
theosophical or spititual questions using alchemical and gnostic
ideas as well as linking alchemy and Pietism.

On the practical level, the laboratory was an important part of
the initiation from the third degree called "Practicus". The
instructions contain a description of an alchemical laboratory
needed for alchemical work and explanatory references on the
kind of retorts, flasks, distillation vessels, crucibles, etc. In a
practical sense they worked making regulus of antimony and
other substances. Some members really interested on a
practical way had their own laboratories and there are notices
about common laboratories too. In other cases, at the end of the
initiation the member focused his/her pursuit in a spiritual or
inner sense.

I think the occult tradition which states that some members
received a golden cross upon initiation and others received a
rose could be borned in this rare masonic order. You should
check minutely the Beyer's extensive work about "...des Ordens
der Gold- und Rosenkreuzer".

Good luck in your reseach,

José Rodríguez

Subject: ACADEMY : Gold- und Rosenkreutz
From: Susanna Ĺkerman
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000

If one reads Waite's the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross
one finds on 344 and 347 a reference to Arcana totius naturae
secretissima, nec hactenus unquam detecta, a collegio
Rosanio in lucem produntur, opera Petri Mormii, Leiden 1630.

Waite who has not found any copy of the tract but follows
reports in eighteenth century works, that "On the authority of
Petrus Mormius, we hear of a certain Rose, not otherwise
designated, who was very old in 1620 and dwellt on the
frontier of Dauphiny. He affirmed that he was a member of
the Golden Rosy Cross, which was composed of three
persons only and refused to accept Mormius, who had come
over from Spain in the hope of securing this advantage, but in
the end Rose permitted the author of Arcana totius naturae to
remain as his servant and famulus, and the latter obtained
sufficent knowledge to warrant in his own opinion the attempted
inauguration of Collegium Rosanium." (This is supposed to be
a Dutch college held "in a palace", therefore speculation on
whether Rose's name was Christian Rose or Fredrick Rose,
after the Winter King). This appears to be the oldest mention
of a Golden and Rosy Cross.

I think I have been mislead by hearsay that this would be founded
on Fludd, but the tradition is alive that some received a golden
cross and others a rose. Does Fludd distinguish an alchemical
and a theosophical path (a sublunary and supercelestial path
or something of that order?) without designating them further
as golden and rosy. Or is there nothing of this sort?

Waite recalls the eques aureae lapidis in the Chemical wedding
and points out that the Order of Golden fleece confers a golden
cross (of St. Andrew I recall, perhaps not falsely this time?).
Madhatanus speaks of a fratres aureae crucis in 1622.

I am glad that you take the effort of sorting this out and be sure
to censure my claim on Fludd on p. 181 of my book Rose Cross
Over the Baltic, I speak there with such apparent certainty
because I have been in contact with certain persons who have
told me something of that sort. These belong to the Order of the
Golden Dawn or are private scholars such as Ron Heisler. I do
not want to blame them, but must have taken something they
said and magnified it in my own mind. The idea of a tradition of
golden cross for alchemists and rose for theosophers is not my
own though, but has a role in certain mythologies that perhaps
are nothing more than attempts of moderns to make sense of
the distinction between the golden and rosy parts of the Cross.
But it does have to have some meaning. Francesco Maria
Santinelli's phrase "de la mia aureae rosa croce fortuna"
stems from 1659, that is for certain. So one wonders how these
ideas and phrasing has travelled out of Mormius to Italy, by
way of Madhathanus, Aureum Saeculum redivivum 1622. It
would have been convenient to find a common source...

There has been much speculation that Waite reports on the
origin of the Golden and Rosy Cross in Freemasonic circles
since they knew of the Order that was not masonic but rather an
order of its own. The Gold and Rosencreutz people were very
traditionalist and conservative and McIntosh regards them as
a counter-enlightenment movement, and I have seen statements
that they worked against Adam Weishaupt's Order of the Illuminati
in 1780's which spread enlightenment ideas.

The cross they conferred golden with a rose in the middle was
tied to a blue ribbon according to Waite, my report that they had
a green ribbon stems from the colour of the ribbon to the Cross
of Order of St. Lazarus, which they depict (Cross of St. Lazarus
whom Jesus raised from the dead) in the Geheime figuren der
Rosencreutzer. I thus want to correct my earlier statement on
the academy.

I am heading for the Bibliotheca Hermetica in February and will
see if I can get some answers from material there. Truth is elusive
when not manifestly seen...

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Humfrey Lock
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
From: Peter Grund

Dear Lauren Kassell,

Thank you very much for your reply.

>I spent a quite a while trying to identify Humfrey (or Henry)
>Lock in the initial stages of my work on Forman, though found
>frustratingly little.

Basically, all the information that I have found about Humfrey
Lock is given in my previous message. If you have additional
information I would be very grateful if you could let me know.
By "Henry", do you mean the poet Henry Lok (1553?-1608?)?
Do you think there is a connection between Humfrey and

>I would be very interested to know more about the relationship
>between the various copies of this text--

I am at the stage of collating the different MS copies. I would be
happy to provide you with information on the interrelationship
of the different MSS as soon as I have completed the collation.
I have considered using Forman's copy as the base text for
my edition. If you have information about MS Ashmole 1490
in general, I would be interested in hearing more about it.

>at one stage I planned
>to compare the various versions of this and other MSS in the
>hope that such an exercise might reveal evidence about Forman's
>sources for the numerous MSS that he copied.

I would be very interested in knowing more about the various
versions that you mention. I have found seven copies of the text.
It would be very valuable to me if we could exchange information
on the different versions of the text.

If you wish, you can contact me directly. You can get my e-mail
address from Adam McLean.

Best wishes,

Peter Grund

Subject: ACADEMY : Ape, homunculus, fertility
From: Susanna Ĺkerman
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000


Thank you for all you wonderful bibliographic research. I want
to point out something that has concerned me lately in the
picture of Christina that I have reproduced in my article you
refer to in Adam's web pages. This is the ape in the background
right. We had the question of the alchemical significance of the
ape on the academy this spring and it seems from Fludd that
there is an evolutionary idea that from a primary and natural, but
only near human level, one can transform into a golden soul.

For a long while I thought the ape in the Christina picture marked
the passage to the netherworld since the Porta Magica is flanked
by two statues of the Egyptian ape-dwarf god Bes, placed there
only in 1888 by some masonic group. I also thought fancifully that
the ape (homunculus) was an allusion to an abortion since there
are some barely seen metallic instruments beneath the feet of
the ape. This was an illusion of course even if there are such
rumours in connection to Christina's life.

I have however been convinced by Kjell Lekeby's recent book
"Kung Kristina" (Vertigo, 2000) that King Christina was a lesbian
and transgendered. She may have been reformed in 1656
when she met Cardinal Azzolino, but it seems that their close
connection was platonic. Lekeby also draws closely on the
alchemical idea of the Androgyne and describes her fictional
gender transformation into Alexander. We have a common
source in Arne Wettermark, who knew Eugene Canseliet
in Paris who first wrote about the Porta.

Since some time I think the barely seen instruments are
alchemical and that Christina as Diana (Artemis) of the
picture is also alluding to the shepherdess Amarantha
(her nickname). Her Order of the Amaranthe had double A's
and an eternal green garland to signify eternal life. I have
discovered that Amaranthos is the mountain in Colchis at
which the river Phanes flows and to which the argonauts
journeyed for the Golden fleece. Notice that Palombara's
door is topped with allusion to Iason, Medea and the golden

I hope I do not tire the academy by carping on this theme.
It has many layers.

One is of course whether alchemy is friendly to women, or
whether the dream of reproducing fertility in the laboratory is
a male pipe-dream. I have been told recently that William
Newman has argued this in connection with the homunculus.
Does anyone have the reference? In defense I would say
that the presence of the feminine in alchemy is valuable,
even if the secrecy and initiation involved probably did
not bring in that many women. Perenelle being presently
written out of the picture...

Also, the making of homunculi is not very prominent in
alchemy, it belongs to fringe mythology.

Susanna Akerman

Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical sites in Venice
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000

I am trying to track down information about a couple of
locations in Venice that have rumors or legends about
alchemy or esoteric practices attached to their history.

One site is the ciruclar church of S. Maria della Salute, which
is said to have Rosicrucian and/or esoteric symbols
embedded in its architecture and decorations. The architect
is Longhena, thought to have been a Jew or converted Jew,
about whom little is known.

A second site is nearby: the 12th-century ex-Benedictine abbey
of S. Gregorio, whose deconsecrated church (suppressed by
the Repubic in 1775 and closed by decree of Napoleon) was
used for gold founding and refining by the state Mint in the early
1800s. There are some vague mentions of possible associations
with alchemy on this site, but I have found nothing concrete.

Also in the same district is Fondamenta (quay) Ca' Bala', whose
name is sometime linked to esoteric legends. The quay is not
near any Casa (Ca' in Venetian dialect) named Bala', nor is
there any family named Bala' in the historical record. It is therefore
speculated that this may be an odd spelling of Cabbala'.

In general Venice is often mentioned as a city with strong
esoteric associations, but I have not found much actual trace
of either true or false alchemy practiced there. Can anyone
recommend books or articles that discuss Venice and
esotericism, or, more specifically, Venice and alchemy?

My thanks and regards to the Academy.

Eve Sinaiko

Subject: ACADEMY : Nigredo
From: John Ashpool
Date: 30 Nov 2000

I cannot not help noticing that some discriptions of the psychic
'event' discribed as the 'nigredo' bear a resemblance to the the
sort of 'events' which M.Eliade described as leading to 'election',
in his study of Shamanism.
Without wishing to provoke discussion of this subject,
which would be a digression from the focus of this forum, I would
appreciate any suggestions as to where I can find any literature
dealing with it.

With thanks
John Ashpool

Subject: ACADEMY : Toad
From: Robert Palmer
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000

Hello everybody. Just joined the ranks and am in search of
information regarding the use of and image of, the toad in
alchemy. So far all I've been able to dig up (which is actually
quite a lot, though not enough) are the references in Rafal's
article, and the works of Ripley and Philalethes. Specifically
I am interested in the actual use of a physical toad, and/or
toad "products" in the alchemical opus and in the creation
of medicinal tinctures.

I am also interested in how the symbol of the toad and raven
originally became interpenetrated in various alchemical traditions.
The purpose behind this research is for the present creation
of an illustrated alchemical mass -- a species of "Mutus Liber",
but with canticle, as well as for an on-going project of mine
correlating certain alchemical referents and their infusion into
various sects of British Traditional Witchcraft. Any help would
be appreciated.


Robert F. Palmer