Alchemy Academy archive
September 2003

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Subject: ACADEMY : Aristotle quote in Albertus Magnus
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003
From: Brian Cotnoir

I have been unsuccessfully looking for the source of a quote
by Aristotle.

In "The Compound of Compounds" Hermetic Research Series
No. 14, on page 16 Albertus Magnus states:

"Aristotle was right when he stated in his Fourth Book of Meteors,
'All the alchemists know that the form of metals can in no way be
altered if they are not first reduced into their first matter.'"

I've not been able to locate this quote in any of the books contained
in "Meteorology" by Aristotle. Any help in tracking down this quote
in any of Aristotle's work will be appreciated.

Brian Cotnoir


Subject: ACADEMY : Aristotle quote in Albertus Magnus
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003
From: Adam McLean

Dear Brian,

>I have been unsuccessfully looking for the source of a quote
>by Aristotle, in "The Compound of Compounds"

With the early manuscript tradition we have to approach the
situation regarding quotations and references rather differently
from the way in which these appear in modern books.

Before there were printed books scholars such as Albertus
Magnus had no authoritatrive text to rely on. The text of a
work often varied greatly between the different manuscript
copies. So when an early author quoted from a source they
were often paraphrasing what they understood was the
meaning intended in that work.

So it might not be always possible to find an exact phrase
in the various manuscripts of a work mirroring the quotation.

With best wishes,

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Aristotle quote in Albertus Magnus
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 2003
From: Peter Grund

Dear Brian,

A similar quote attributed to Aristotle appears in (Pseudo)
Albertus's "Libellus de Alchimia" (see "B. Alberti Magni...Opera
Omnia", ed. A. Borgnet, 1898, vol. 37, p. 548). Pearl Kibre
commenting upon this quote says that the quote is actually from
Avicenna's "De Congelatione et Conglutinatione Lapidum"
but mistakenly attributed to Aristotle (see Pearl Kibre. 1984.
"Studies in Medieval Science: Alchemy, Astrology, Mathematics
and Medicine". The Hambledon Press, III, p. 198). You also find
some good remarks about this quote in Virginia Heines. 1958.
"Libellus de alchimia ascribed to Albertus Magnus". University
of California Press, p. 6 fn. 23.

I hope this is of some help to you.

All the best,

Peter Grund


Subject: ACADEMY : Aristotle quote in Albertus Magnus
From: Frank van Lamoen
Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2003

Dear Brian,

"sciant artifices alkimie species metallorum transmutari
non posse" is a quotation from the latin translation of
Avicenna's Kitab al-Shifa [De congelatione et conglutinatione
lapidum] which was added to the latin translation of Aristotle's
Meteorologica IV.

Since Avicenna denied the possibility of transmutation someone
added: "nisi fiat resolutio ad materiam primam"

(There's is no slightest trace of alchemy or transmutation in
the Greek texts of the real Aristotle.)

Best wishes,
Frank van Lamoen


Subject: ACADEMY : A myth of Mercury
From: Ross Caldwell
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003

Dear Academy,

While transcribing Bibl. Nat. lat. 8745, a 15th century manuscript
unrelated to alchemy, I came across an account of the god
Mercury that has distinctly alchemical overtones, at least to me.
I thought this would be the place to ask.

The author, Marziano da Tortona (died 1425), in the middle of a
brief discussion of Mercury as the god of eloquence, writes (as
nearly as I can translate it) -

"however they (the rhetors) call upon other streams, that he was
illuminated when the so great power in him and his sweetness of
voice would be told, because sometimes he compelled spirits to
be taken out of their proper bodies; yet at another time he would
now call back to bodies those that had been deprived."

(Alios autem rivos vocant tantaque in eo vis dicendi claruit, vocisque
suavitas, quia nonnumquam coegerit animas propriis corporibus
exui. Ast alias iam exutas, ad corpora revocarit.")

I cannot find any mention of such an activity on the part of Mercury
or Hermes, unless it is some way of speaking of his function as
psychopomp.

What this description does remind me of is the line concerning
the Stone from Everard's commentary on the Emerald Tablet -

"*for it will overcome any subtle thing*, as metals in Mercury, and the
spirit of the bodies; which though they be thin it will be congealed, and
though they be volatile, it will fix"
http://www.levity.com/alchemy/everard.html

and that of the Glory of the World -

"The spirit and body are first separated, then again joined together
by gentle coction"
http://www.sacred-texts.com/alc/emerglor.htm

I'm not sure of the date of Glory of the World, but Everard is too
late for our author.

Could Marziano (a scholar and astrologer, secretary of the duke
of Milan) be speaking of Mercury as Hermes, and thus as the
father of alchemy? Or is it merely some obscure story of Mercury
from classical mythology?

Ross Caldwell


Subject: ACADEMY : A myth of Mercury
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003
From: Pat Aakhus

A possible source for this idea might be Odyssey,
Book XXIV, lines 1-3

"Meanwhile the suitor's ghosts were called away
By Hermes of Kyllene, bearing the golden wand
with which he charms the eyes of men or wakens

whom he wills. He waved them on, all squeaking
as bats will in a cavern's underworld...."

whereupon he takes them to the underworld.

Best regards,
Pat Aakhus


Subject: ACADEMY : Clangor Buccinae
From: Adam McLean
Date: 11 Sep 2003

Has anyone any information on the work 'Clangor Buccinae' ?

This work appears in a number of the compendia

De alchimia complura, 1550 (the book also containing the 'Rosarium
Philosophorum').
Auriferae artis, 1572.
Artis auriferae 1613.
Manget. Bibliotheca chemica Curiosa, 1702.

Does anyone know when it was written ? Or the name
of the author. Also is there an English translation available?
I seem to recall reading this some years ago, but my
memory might be deceiving me.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : A myth of Mercury
From: Stanislas Klossowski de Rola
Date: 9 Sep 2003

The quoted text cannot but by an extreme stretch of the
imagination refer to alchemy and in that context to "the strength
of all strengths" in the Emerald Tablet.

Indeed the philosopher's stone could provide one with such
unsuspected powers but I repeat that is an extreme stretch
and one could most certainly eliminate such a flimsy, fanciful
connection from ever having occured to the author of the original text.

All the best,

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical Rainbow
Subject: David Borgmeyer
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003

Dear Academy,

In Stanislas Klossowski de Rola's Alchemy, the Secret Art, the
author employs in passing the metaphor of alchemy as a rainbow,
bridging this world and the next. As I am a very novice student
of alchemical iconology, can anyone tell me if this is a rare or
common alchemical motif, in what source texts in might be found,
what its ultimate origin might be, and especially any association
with the motif of woman or the feminine?

I'm very grateful for whatever help list members can provide.

Yours,

David Borgmeyer


Subject: ACADEMY : A myth of Mercury
From: Ross Sinclair Caldwell
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2003

>A possible source for this idea might be Odyssey,
>Book XXIV, lines 1-3

Thank you for this suggestion.

It does appear to be part of the classical attributions of Mercury, rather
than an alchemical allusion.

I supposed it might have something to do with Mercury's function as
psychopomp, but I had never heard of him calling souls *back into* bodies
before. Perhaps "wakens whom he wills" in the passage above, alludes to this
concept.

I don't know if Marziano could read Greek, or for that matter if any Greek
codices of the Odyssey were available to him, but he could have read both
Odyssey and Illiad in Leontius Pilatus' Latin translation, made for
Boccaccio, copies of which were in the Visconti library at Pavia.

On the other hand, Marziano writes "they say that...", indicating as he does
throughout the text that he is simply reporting what is written somewhere
else (for example he refers to Virgil several times in other chapters), so
it does appear to be part of the classical description of Mercury.

Boccaccio's "Genealogia Deorum Gentilium" seems to have the answer, where he
describes the classical or pythagorean myth of transmigration in book II
(under the First Mercury), -
"...after a thousand years (in the Elysian fields), being placed by Mercury
in the stream named Lethe; having drunk of this stream they would forget the
labours of the present life, and thus desire another time to return to
bodies, to which Mercury recalled them."

Boccaccio cites this as a "ridiculous opinion" of Virgil (Book VI of the
Aeneid). So Marziano's brief synopsis has a good pedigree in contemporary
and classical literature (both texts being available to him of course), and
this is all I need by way of an explanation.

Ross Caldwell


Subject: ACADEMY : A myth of Mercury
From: Ross Sinclair Caldwell
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2003

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola wrote:

>The quoted text cannot but by an extreme stretch of the
>imagination refer to alchemy and in that context to "the strength
>of all strengths" in the Emerald Tablet.
>Indeed the philosopher's stone could provide one with such
>unsuspected powers but I repeat that is an extreme stretch
>and one could most certainly eliminate such a flimsy, fanciful
>connection from ever having occured to the author of the original text.

But although it is fanciful, I'm not sure we can certainly *eliminate
the possibility* of the idea ever having occured to the author. For
one thing, a large 13th-14th century compendium of alchemical
texts (now in Paris, Bibl. Nat. lat. 6514), including a section
containing the Emerald Tablet with "commentaries" (which ones
I can't say) was available to him in the library at Pavia. As reputedly
a "most learned man", an astrologer, and the secretary to the
owner of the library, it seems reasonable to think he would have
known of this volume, if such knowledge were ever needed for us
to make sense of his allusions.

But in this case there is no need to invoke an alchemical connection,
since there is a classical source of the description - from Virgil,
and via Boccaccio.

Best always,

Ross Caldwell


Subject: ACADEMY : Clangor Buccinae
From: Hereward Tilton
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003

Dear Adam,

I only know that Maier cites this work in his Atalanta Fugiens
(discourses 11 and 50) and in his Septimana Philosophica
(enigma 40) concerning the condensation and rarefaction of the
elements. I've never seen the work myself, but there seems to be
a manuscript copy dating to the 16th century in the Bayerische
Staatsbibliothek here in Munich - would you like me to take a look?

Hereward Tilton


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical Rainbow
From: Adam McLean
Date: 17 Sep 2003

There are many examples of the use of the rainbow both in
alchemical emblems and in texts. Here are just a very few
examples from texts. The rainbow usually appears in the
context of the cycle of colours of the alchemical process,
with some association often to the Peacock's Tail.

but once the body has corrupted, it corrupts the spirit and
through the corruption of the spirit appear all the colours of
the world, as the decoction continues; at the beginning when
the spirit corrupts the colours appear in succession; at the end
they all rise rainbow-like above the space of the globe of the matter,
and this is near the end; once they have exhaled there appears only
perfect whiteness, which is useful as a guideline.
--Tesson - The green Lion

Forty dayes then more, thy matter shall turne white
And cleere as pearles, which is a declaracion
Of voideing away of his cloudes, darke, & night.
This sheweth our infante's organisacion,
Our white elixer, most cleere in his carnacion.
From white vnto all coloures without faile,
Like to the rainbow or to the peacocke's taile.
--Bloomfield's Blossoms

Which is as it were the beginning of King Hercules his Book, which entreateth

of the colours of the Stone, entitled Iris, or the Rainbow, in these termes
--Flamel Hieroglyphic figures

When the Regimen of Venus is over, and therein has appeared the philosophical
tree, with all its branches and leaves, the Reign of Mars begins with a light
yellow, or dirty brown colour, but at last exhibits the transitory hues of the
Rainbow, and the Peacock's Tail.
--An Open Entrance - Philalethes


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical Rainbow
From: Aaron Crim
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003

David,

I don't have any direct textual citations at this point, but on reading your
post I was immediately reminded of the Greek goddess Iris, and HER role as a
messenger of the gods, esp. Hera. Iris is, of course, the goddess of the
rainbow, and many of her attributes mirror those of Hermes. So, in her role
as messenger, she of course "bridges" this world to the realm of the gods.
I know I have come across some alchemical literature that discusses Iris,
but I can't think of it right off hand. I'll post if/when it comes to
mind - at any rate, you might start your search w/ her and see where it
leads you.

Aaron


Subject: ACADEMY : Aristotle quote in Albertus Magnus
From: Brian Cotnoir
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003

Dear Peter and Frank,

I want to thank the both of you for answering my question.

I had never come across any reference to alchemy in my readings
of Aristotle. So I was very puzzled by this quote. Thank you
both again for resolving this question.

Sincerely
Brian Cotnoir


Subject: ACADEMY : Astrological almanacs
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Academy,

Some 16th c. Polish astrological calendars/alamancs produced
by astrology professors from the Cracow University and
printed there contain advice on proper time to "start
alchemy" or "fire up alchemy furnaces", along with
the standard blood-letting etc. information.

I wonder if that was also the case in such calendars
in other countries?

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Astrological almanacs
From: Eugene Beshenkovsky
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003

Dear Rafal,

Here is a Russian astrological publication which used to be in
a Rosicrucian library. It was translated from Polish. I believe,
that I found its German original. Do you have any idea about
the Polish editions?

Eugene Beshenkovsky

[TELLOLOT VON CHICESTER, JOSEPH (?)
Istolkovanie snov po astronomii proiskhodiashchikh po techeniiu Luny,
perevedeno s pol'skago [A.V.]. Izdanie 3-e. Moskva: Tip. Komp. Tipografich.,
1780. 30 p. ; 8º]
Contains: K chitateliu. - Znaki snov [Tables].
References: SK, 1, no. 2687; RLIN no. MAHGBIB59496B (anonymous). See also
no. 3539.

Is it: Tellolot von Chicester, Joseph. Gantz neues und Grundreiches
Traum-Buch, In welchen aufs gewisseste allerhand Träume mit ihren wahren
Bedeutungen in rechter Ordnung nach dem Alphabet zufinden sind : Nebst einem
Anhange, darinnen die fürnehnsten und gemeinesten Träume nach des Mondes
Lauff durch die zwölff himmlischen Zeichen ausgeleget / Aus den bewährtesten
Schrifften Weltweiser Leute zusammen getragen, und also verfasset, durch
Joseph Tellolot von Chicester. [s.l.], 1723. [31] leaves ; 8º. GBV
(Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Signature: Na 5021).


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemical oaths & prayers
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003
From: Marcella Gillick

Is there a collection of alchemical oaths/prayers that you know
of (not modern ones)? I found the alchemical mass and a
couple of other prayers on the alchemy website, and I found the
following in an internet search:-

In Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, Elias Ashmole gives from
the "Breviary of Philosophy," the Oath of the Alchemists:-

"Will you with me to-morrow be content,
Faithfully to receive the Blessed Sacrament,
Upon the Oath that I ball heere you give,
For ne gold, ne silver, so long as you live;
Neither for love you beare towards your kinne,

Nor yet to no great man, preferment to wynne,
That you disclose the seacret I shall you teach,
Neither by writing, nor by swift speech,
But only to him, which you be sure,
Hath ever searched after the seacrets of nature,
To him you may reveal the seacrets of this art,
Under the cover of Philosophie, before the world you depart."

thanks in advance
best wishes
Marcella


Subject: ACADEMY : Astrological almanacs
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Eugene,

> Here is a Russian astrological publication which used to be in
> a Rosicrucian library. It was translated from Polish. I believe,
> that I found its German original. Do you have any idea about
> the Polish editions?

> [TELLOLOT VON CHICESTER, JOSEPH (?)
> Istolkovanie snov po astronomii proiskhodiashchikh po techeniiu Luny,
> perevedeno s pol'skago [A.V.]. Izdanie 3-e. Moskva: Tip. Komp. Tipografich.,
> 1780. 30 p. ; 8º]

I do not recognize it - but I was never interested in dream-books.
I will try to find out if the Polish original is known but it
may take a few days, as I will be away for the rest of this week.

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Astrological almanacs
From: N J Mann
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003

Your question has piqued my interest. Are any of
these 16th Cracow almanacs (or parts of them)
available to view on-line?

Best wishes,

Neil Mann


Subject: ACADEMY : Astrological almanacs
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Neil,

> Your question has piqued my interest. Are any of
> these 16th Cracow almanacs (or parts of them)
> available to view on-line?

Unfortunately not. I have not seen them myself, I must
admit, but know about them from quotations elsewhere.
I will, however, try to find out more.

Best regards,

Rafal