Book of Alchemy


Chapter 3


    We must find the First Matter in ourselves, and not in the animal kingdom.  Man’s physical body is evolved from the animal kingdom, but is not itself part of that kingdom; and, even in the lowest human tribes, the consciousness of man transcends that of the highest animals.  Therefore, we look for the First Matter of the Great Work not in the animal kingdom, but in man himself.


 Yet, it may be described as mineral, because a mineral is any chemical element or compound occurring naturally as a product of inorganic processes.


    The processes which bring the First Matter into manifestation are correctly described as being inorganic, because they are the work of a Power having no physical organs.


    Only by the Grace of God is there success in the transmutation.  When it operates, the Spirit is firmly fixed in the body, the spiritual Center is awakened, and from thence forward, remains in action.


    Some have named it “white magnesia.” One philosopher translates this as “magnet of Jah,” or, the attractive principle of Divine Wisdom.  This magnet is the power of attraction which establishes the orbits of the planets and the astronomical order of the heavens.


    Strict continence aids the work in its early stages.  This is called, “sealing the vessel,” and adds to energy built up; thus, intensifying the power.


    However, after the Stone has been confected, and the work achieved, the abstinence is no longer needed, though moderation is always best.  This practice has to do with the “secret fire” of alchemy.


    The First Matter is sometimes called the subconscious, sometimes the Akasha; yet, neither is the whole of it.  The Stone of the Eagle is one description, the malleable substance available to the regenerated.


    Always, it is referred to as the element of water, yet not the water of earth.  It is the Water “which will not wet the hand.”


    Lamech said, “….Soul, Spirit, and Body, joined into one.  The stone which contains all these things is called Zibeth (“handful” – relates to Yod.)


    “It is a stone, and not a stone, vix., the eagle-stone.  The substance has in its womb a stone, and when it is dissolved, the water that was coagulated in it, bursts forth.


    “The stone is the extracted spirit of our indestructible body.  It contains mercury, or liquid water, in its body, or fixed earth, which retains its nature.  This explanation is sufficiently plain.


    “The chyle, called Virgin’s Milk, is in the intestinal area, an unctuous, oily substance, one of the means whereby the blood is supplied with energy derived from food.


    “Our Mercury is a water which cannot be found upon earth, for it is not made or manifested in the ordinary course of Nature, but by the art and manual operation of man.”


    These manual operations are not performed by man’s physical hands.  They are carried on by the mind alone, or solely by the aid of Mercury, in the field designated by the Yod. (hand)


    The fat of chyle from the lacteals is made up of a combination of three elements: fire (oxygen), water (hydrogen), and earth (carbon).  These correspond also to the alchemical principles of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt.  This fire, water, and earth are not physical, but esoteric elements.


    It is with these complex elements that alchemists work, and the First Matter of the Great Work (which should be distinguished from the macrocosmic, First Matter of the Universe, even though the latter is essentially the same as the former), is to be sought in the place where these compounds are taken into the lymphatic circulation – hence, as they say, “sought in the bowels of the earth.” 


    An alchemist recognizes what goes on in his body, and uses his knowledge of the control exerted over subconscious processes by self-consciousness to form a definite intention that this body-building function shall act with maximum efficiency, to the specific end that the blood shall be charged with a superabundance of energy.


    This supercharge of energy wakens to full activity the organ of spiritual vision, the pineal gland.  When this “single eye” is opened, the alchemist sees that his whole body is full of light.


    The vision is the complete discovery of the First Matter.  Progressing from this discovery to the final stage of full realization, the body-building power of subconsciousness changes the alchemist himself into a new creature.


    He has entered the Fifth Kingdom , and members of this Fifth Kingdom know themselves to be true sons and daughters of God, though there are degrees of unfoldment leading ever higher.  They have become actually gods with divine powers and the illimitable freedom of beings who know their essential divinity.


    Accepting that the Virgin’s Milk is the form of the First Matter, we may understand some of the ancient references, as – “It is of Thee O King, and thou art its ore.”  Or, Philalethes’ statement that it is a virgin who meets her wooers in foul garments.  Paracelsus scandalized the faculty of a university on showing them what he called the Elixir of Life, and it proved to be a jar of excrement.  However, the original meaning of Elixir was “ash,” or “dry powder,” and excrement is the ash of First Matter.


    The adept extracts from the upper part of the intestines (the black dragon,) certain essences of value, wasted by one who does not know, as nature unaided does not complete the work.


    By gaining control of the process of intestinal digestion and assimilation, adepts in alchemy fill their veins with the “potable gold,” the priceless fluidic radiant energy which not only perfects their vital functions, but makes possible the preparation of the Stone of the Wise.  Some say the Stone itself is made of gold, that is, of solar substance.


    Correctly spoken were the words, “Know that our Stone is such that it cannot be adequately described in writing.”  Words can only point out the intellectual explanation, to a certain extent, but the discovery is another thing.


    The Emerald Tablet of Hermes states:


“All things are from one, by the mediation of one,….and all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.”


Again, it has been called Magnesia, Magnet of Jah.  Condensed from the writings of Thomas Vaughan:  Magnesia in its chemical sense, is distinct from the chemical.  It is the matter of the Stone, sometimes called red, and sometimes, white magnesia. 


    “In the first preparation, the chaos is blood-red, because the central sulphur is stirred up and discovered by the philosophical fire.  In the second, it is exceedingly white and transparent like the heavens.


    “It is something like common quicksilver, but of such a celestial and transcendent brightness that nothing on earth can be compared to it.  It is a child of the elements, a pure virgin, from whom nothing has been generated as yet.  When she breeds, it is by the fire of Nature, which is her husband.


    “She is neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral, nor an extract from these; she is pre-existent to them all, and is their mother.  She is a pure, simple substance, yielding to nothing but love, because generation is her aim, and that is never accomplished by violence.


    “She produces from her heart, a thick, heavy, snow-white water, which is the Virgin’s Milk, and afterwards, blood from her heart.  Lastly, she presents a secret crystal.  She is one and three, but at the same time, she is four and five.  She is the Catholic Magnesia, the Sperm of the World out of which all natural things are generated.  Her body is, in a sense, incorruptible; the common elements will not destroy it, nor does she mix with them essentially.


    “Outwardly, she resembles a stone, and yet she is no stone.



    “The philosophers call her their white gum, water of their sea, water of life, most pure and blessed water; she is a thick, permanent, saltish water which does not wet the hand; a dry water, viscous and slimy, and generated from the saline fatness of the earth.


    “Fire cannot destroy her, for she is herself fire, having within her a portion of the universal fire of Nature, and a secret, celestial spirit, -- animated and quickened by God.  She is a middle nature, between thick and thin, not altogether earthly, not wholly igneous, but a mean aerial substance to be found everywhere, and at all seasons.”


    Concerning the numbers, “3” refers to the homogenous unity of its three elements, sulphur, mercury and salt; “4” to fire, air, earth, and water (subtle, invisible entities, not limited to the physical plane) – their properties: fire: expansion.  Hot, pungent; water: contraction.  Cool, astringent, bitter; air: locomotion.  Acid, sour, sharp; earth: cohesion.  Sweet.


    Four is for the forces which give us our consciousness of sight, taste, touch and smell.  From these, and from the fifth principle (the Akasha) out of which all proceed, or are derived, we formulate our whole awareness of the world surrounding us.


    The fifth essence is the Quintessence, extracted (it is said) from the four elements in the course of the Great Work, because we derive our knowledge of it from our experience of the other four.  However, in fact, they are derived from it.


    Quintessence, or Akasha, has neither touch, taste, color nor odor.  Akasha is Absolute Space, not the relative of finite space we perceive.


    Moreover, Akasha is the subtle principle of sound – not the ordinary sound, the atmospheric vibration which we hear, but the original Power of vibration.  It is the undifferentiated Life Power, the source of all other manifestations.  Unmanifest Reality, actually indefinable.


    It is out of the Akasha that every form comes, and it is in Akasha that every form lives.  The Akasha is full of forms in their potential state.  It intervenes between every two of the five senses.  Here it is equivalent to Zero, which precedes every number.


    Another symbol of the 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the First Matter is the Great Pyramid.  It has triangular faces, a square base, and apex, plus four corners equals 5.


    Like the phoenix, the First Matter is incombustible, because its inner nature is the very essence of fire, and thus, cannot be injured by fire.


    It is a whirling, circulating essence, which dances through our veins, moves more slowly through the lymphatic vessels, and gyrates rapidly through the nervous system.  The main point to remember is that it is ready for our use in its mineral forms.


    Jacob Boehme writes,


“The dew of heaven, and the oiliness of the earth is our subject of art, or Matter.  Neither mineral nor metal; the Pythagorean Y shows us that there are two mercurial substances in one root, Fire and Water, namely Sulphur , and Mercury, extracted from the substance in which lie all metals and minerals.  It is a salt dew of heaven, but a mineral and metallic dew of heaven, in which are contained all the colors of the world.


“This dew may be coagulated by Art into a sweet salt called Manna, by means of Arsenic.  Sol is its father, Luna its mother; from these two, it receives its light, life and brightness; from the Sun, its fiery, and from the Moon, its watery, radiance. 


“We find it both coagulated and dissolved.  This dew falls from above into the depths of the earth, and the subtlest portion of the earth is its body.  From above come its soul and spirit, fire, and light, and enter into a body of Salt.


“Thus, it receives the strength or substantial virtue, of both the superior and inferior things.


“It has no other colors to the outer eyes than white, green, yellow, red, and black.  This mineral Dew appears corporeal to our outer eyes, yet to the miners in the mountains, it is sometimes perceptible, subsequent to the outward appearance, as thick, watery and dripping.  The best dew is coagulated like an electrum, or like transparent amber, of mixed color.”


        Uninstructed man cannot know it.  To continue with Jacob Boehme,


“It is present, with all its powers in all things.  But, the world treats it with contempt, and casts it away.  It divides itself into two branches, white and red; from the single root, Y – Ischschamaim, are fire and water, Sulphur and Mercury extracted. 


“Solar and Lunar, red and white, positive and negative currents of Life Force in the body rising up the spine, they cross each other.  As it grows, it rises from that one root like a white and red rose of Jericho, and blooms like a lily standing in the Valley of Joshaphat .


“It is often broken prematurely by the miner, and is tortured by ignorant workmen.  The true Artist observes its influence, and plucks it in its ripeness, with its flowers, seeds, roots, stem and branches being enabled to take it when it is ripe, by means of the vision of his inwardly opened eyes.  Ischachamaim means Fire of Heaven, or Lightening as peh.


“It is neither mineral nor metal, but the original Mother and First Matter of all minerals and metals.  It is nothing else but the Lion, with his coagulated blood, and the gluten of the White Eagle.”


    Genesis 27:28 – “Therefore, God gave thee the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.”


    The heavenly dew is light.  It is the universally diffused radiance, which takes physical form as electro-magnetic energy.  It is granular in structure, so that it actually falls upon the earth in drops, and the weight of its fall may be measured.


   In truth, everything within the range of our senses is a condensed or solidified form of light.  Too, there is implied in “oiliness of the earth,” fertility, the active power of reproduction, the driving force expressed in the evolution of forms from lower to higher levels of expression.


    A salt, mineral and metallic Dew of Heaven.  A slight current of electricity has a saltish, metallic taste, metallic because every metal is made from light.  In it are all colors.


“This dew falls from above into the depths of the earth, and the subtlest portion of the earth is its body.” -- Cosmic rays have penetrating power so great that they will pass through anything but thick shields of lead.  Certain kinds of light penetrate deep into the earth.


“Fire is the proof or trial of all the colors, in which none subsists but white, the same being a reflection of God’s majesty.  The black color belongs not to the mystery of the wonders of creation, but is the veil or the darkness in which all things lie.” 


    “The best dew” refers to the highest manifestation of the “dew” or light.  It refers to the coagulation of the Matter in the form of an amber prism in the pineal gland.  This prism is made by the fusing of brain sand in that organ. 


    The fusion is effected by a current of vital electricity passing through the nervous system of a trained adept.  When this prism is produced in the pineal gland, it is an actual physical stone.  Thus, it may be ground to powder.  This is the Transparent Jewel of the yogis – the physical instrument which interrupts the high-tension vibrations of the astral light, or universal agent.


    Those who proceed to seek the First Matter by looking within, are called “miners,” who, if they proceed clumsily, may break the substance, thus causing short-circuits in the flow of the energy forms of the Prima Materia; or torture, by attempting to force its growth too rapidly.


    The astral light is modified by Mercury in being introduced into the blood, at two points:  


1.  At the point where the substances in the chyle are introduced into the blood stream by the action of the lacteals in the small intestine.


2. In the lungs, where blood is aerated, and where subtle forces in the atmosphere are combined with those taken from the Virgin’s Milk.


    Unless the subtle elements derived from food are in the blood stream as it passes through the lungs, the other subtle elements taken from the atmosphere cannot be added.  Otherwise, unless the blood be charged with substances taken from food, there is no base to hold, or fix, the volatile essence taken from air.


   Digestion and assimilation volatilize the fixed, or earthy, substance of food.  The aeration of the blood in the lungs, under the conditions described, fixes the volatile elements taken from the atmosphere.


    The “coagulated blood of the Red Lion” is human cell tissue impregnated with these substances.  Most of it is nerve tissue, but some of it is located in the endocrines, and some in the blood itself.  As this tissue is built into the actual structure of the body, the alchemist becomes a new creature, this physical instrument capable of utilizing and differentiating the astral light into forms of force outside the ken of ordinary humanity.


    “Gluten of the eagle,” is a term applied to the Mercury after sublimation, because of its volatility, and because even as the eagle devours other birds, so does the Mercury of the sages destroy, consume, and reduce even gold itself to the first matter.


    Knowledge has its price, and that price includes the personal effort of the seeker.  Those who know, signal the knowledge from age to age, with enigmatic words and symbols, but it can never be told.


    Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they turn and rend you.    

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