NEWTON Artephius His Secret Book (Isaac Newton's Alchemical Notes - Keynes MS 14).

Isaac Newton, 1643-1727


(Alchemical Notes)

Isaac Newton

Cambridge, Keynes MS. 14, 
King's College Library, Cambridge University

 Antimony is of the parts of Saturn & hath in every respect
the nature thereof: so this< or >& the Saturnine Antimony agrees with the
Sun, having in it self Argent vive wherein no metal is
drowned but gold; that is to say, gold only is truly drowned in Antimonial
Saturnine Argent vive , & without that Argent vive no metal
can be whitened. It whiteneth therefore Leton, that is Gold
& it reduceth a perfect body into it's first matter; that is
into sulphur & argent vive of a white colour, & shining
more then a looking glass. It dissolves I say the perfect body which is
of his nature; for this water is friendly & pleasant to the
metals & unites it self to them whitning the sunn because it conteins a white argent
vive. And from hence thou mayst draw a great secret,
to wit, that the water of Saturnine Antimony ought to be
mercurial & white to the end that it may whiten the gold,
not burning it, but dissolving & afterwards congealing it
to the form of white cream. Therefore saith the
Philosopher that this water maketh the body to be volatile,
because after it hath been dissolved in this water & cooled
again it mounts aloft upon the surface of the water. Take
saith he, gold crude foliated laminated or calcined with ☿
& put it into our Vinegre Antimonial Saturnine Mercurial
& drawn from< or >of Sal Ammoniack (as is said< or >tis called) in a broad
glass-vessel four fingers high or more, & leave it there
in a temperate heat; & in short time thou wilt see
lifted up as it were a liquor of oyle swimming aloft
in manner of a thin skin. That gather with a spoon, or
with a feather dipping it in & so doing many times a day,
untill there do nothing more arise: afterwards make the
water vapour away by the fire, that is to say, the superfluous
humour of the Vinegre, & there will remain unto thee a
quintessence of Gold in form of a white oyle incombustible
wherein the Philosophers have placed their great< or >greatest secrets. And this

oyle is exceeding sweet & is of great power to mitigate the
pain & grief of wounds.
 All the secret then of this vinegre Antimonial is that we know how
to extract & draw out of the body of the Magnesia, Argent vive not
burning, & this is Antimony & Mercurial Sublimate, that is, we must
draw a water living, incombustible, & then congeale it with the
perfect body of the sun which is dissolved therein into a nature & substance
white, congealed as if it were creame, which maketh it all to become
white. Nevertheles first of all this Sun in his putrefaction &
resolution in this water in the beginning will loos his light, be
darkened & become black, & afterward will lift himself upon the
water & there will swim upon it by little & little a white
colour in a white substance. And this is called to whiten the
red Laton, to sublime it philosophically & to reduce it to his
first matter, that is to say into white Sulphur incombustible & into
argent vive fixed: & so the terminated moisture, that is to say
Gold our body by the reincrudation of liquefaction in this our dissolving
water, is turned & reduced into Sulphur & Argent vive fixed:
And so the perfect body of the Sun taketh life in this water
is revived inspired increased & multiplied in his kind, as all other
things are; for in this water it cometh to pass that the body
compounded of two bodies of the Sun & of the Moon, puffeth up
swelleth putrefieth as grain of corn, becometh great with young
is lifted up & encreaseth, taking the substance & nature living
& vegetable.
 Also our water or our afforesaid Vinegre, is the vinegre of
the mountains, that is of the Sun & Moon & therefore it is mixed
with the Sun & moon & cleaveth to them perpetually: to wit the body
taketh from this water the tincture of whiteness & with it the
water shineth with inestimable brightness. He therefore that knows
how to turn the body into white silver medicinal, he may
afterward by this white gold easily turn all imperfect metals into
very good & fine silver. And this white gold is by the Philosophers
called their white Moon, the white argent vive fixed, the gold
of Alchimy, & the white smoake. Therefore without that our
Antimonial vinegre, the white gold of Alchemy cannot be
made. And because in our Vinegre there is a double substance
of argent vive, one of Antimony & another of Mercury
sublimed; it doth therefore give a double weight & substance of

argent vive fixed, & also augments therein (in the gold) the natural
colour weight substance & tincture thereof.
 Therefore our dissolving water carries a great tincture & great
fusion because that when it feels the common fire, if there be in it
the perfect body of the Sun or of the Moon, it suddenly maketh it to
be melted & to be turned into his substance, white as it is, & adds
colour weight & tincture to the body. It hath also power to dissolve all things
that may be melted, & it is a ponderous body viscous pretious &
honourable, resolving all crude bodies into their first matter, that is into
earth & a viscous pouder, that is to say into Sulphur vive & argent
vive. If therefore thou put into this water any metal filed or
attenuated, & leavest it for a time in a gentle heat, it will be
all dissolved & changed into a viscous water, or a white oyle, as is
said. And so it mollifies the body & prepares it to fusion &
liquefaction. Nay it makes all things fusible, as well stones as metals, &
afterwards gives them spirit & life. Therefore it dissolves all things
with a wonderful solution turning the perfect body into a fusible
medicine, melting, penetrating, & more fixed, encreasing the weight &
 Work therefore with it & thou shalt obtain from it that which thou
desirest; for it is the spirit & the soule of the Sun & Moon, it is
the oyle & the dissolving water, the fountain, the Balneum Mariae,
the fire against Nature, the moist fire, the secret hidden &
invisible fire & the most sharp vinegre of which a certain Philosopher said
I besought the Lord & he shewed me a certain cleane water which I
knew to be the pure vinegre altering piercing & digesting. The
vinegre I say penetrative, & the instrument moving the gold or the
silver to putrefy resolve & to be reduced into his first matter; & it
is the only agent in the whole world for this art, that can resolve &
reincrudate, or make raw again, the metallick bodies with the
conservation of their species. It is therefore the only fit & natural mean
by which we ought to resolve the perfect bodies of the Sun & Moon
by an admirable & solemn dissolution under the conservation of
their species & without any destruction, unless it be to receive a new more
noble & better form or generation, that is to say to be changed into the perfect stone
of the Philosophers, which is their wonderfull & hidden secret.
 Now this water is a certain middle substance cleare as pure silver
which ought to receive the tinctures of the Sun & Moon to the end that it may be

congealed & converted into white living earth: for this water hath
need of the perfect bodies that with them after dissolution it may be
congealed, fixed & coagulated into white earth; & their solution is
also their congelation, for they have one & the same operation,
for the one is not dissolved but that the other is congealed. Neither
is there any other water which can dissolve the bodies but that which
abideth with them in matter & form. Nay it cannot be
permanent except it be of the nature of the other body that they may
be made one together. Therefore when thou seest the water
coagulate it self with the bodies that be dissolved therein, rest assured that
thy science Method & operations are true & Philosophical, that thou
proceedest aright in the art.
 Nature then is amended in its like nature, that is Gold & Silver
are amended in our water, as our water also with the bodies; which water is called
the mean of the soul, without which we can do nothing in this art: & it is
the vegetable Animal & mineral fire, preserving the fixed spirits
of the Sun & Moon; the destroyer & the conquerer of bodies becaus
it destroys dissolves & changeth bodies & metallick forms & makes them
to be no bodies but a fixed Spirit, & turneth them into a moist soft
& fluid substance which hath ingression & power to enter into other
imperfect bodies & to be mixed with them by the smallest parts &
to colour them & make them perfect; which they could not do when
they were metallic bodies dry & hard, which have no entrance nor
power to colour & make perfect imperfect bodies. And therefore
to good purpose do we turn the bodies into a fluid substance, because
every tincture will colour a thousand times more when it is in a
soft & liquid substance then when it is in a dry one, as appears by
Saffron: & consequently the transmutation of imperfect bodies is
imposible to be done by perfect bodies while they are dry, except they be
first brought back into their first matter, soft & fluid. From hence
we conclude that we must make the moisture return & so reveal that
which is hidden; which is called the reincrudation, or the making raw
again of the bodies, that is the boyling & the softning them untill they
be deprived of their hard & dry corporality or bodilyness; because that which
is dry doth not enter nor colour any more then it self. Therefore
the dry earthly body doth not tein except it be teined, becaus, as is above-
said, that which is thick & earthy entreth not nor coloureth; & becaus it
entreth not therefore it alters not. Wherefore Gold coloureth not untill
the hidden spirit be drawn from the belly thereof by our white water, &
that it may be made altogether a spirituall & white fume, the white

spirit & the wonderfull soul.
 Wherefore we ought by our water to attenuate alter & soften the perfect
bodies that they may afterward be mixed with the other imperfect bodies. And therefore
if we had no other profit by that Antimonial water then this, that it makes the bodies subtil,
soft, & fluid according to his own nature yet it were sufficient for us: for it brings
back the bodies to their first original of Sulphur & ☿ that of these we may afterward
in a short time, in less then one hower of the day do that above ground
which nature wrought under ground in the bowels of the earth in a thousand
years which is as it were miraculous. And therefore our final secret is by
our water to make the bodies volatile spiritual & a teining water which
hath ingression into other bodies: for it makes the bodies to be a very spirit
because it doth incerate (that is bring to the temper & consistence of wax)
the hard & dry bodies, & prepares them to fusion, that is turns them to a
permanent or abiding water. It makes then of the bodies a most
pretious blessed oyle, which is the true tincture & the white permanent
water, of nature hot & moist, temperate subtile & fusible as wax,
which pierceth, reacheth to the bottom, coloureth & maketh perfect.
Therefore our water doth incontinently dissolve gold & silver, & maketh of them
an incombustible oyle, which may then be mixed with other imperfect bodies.
For our water turns the bodies into the nature of a fusible salt, which is
by the Philosophers called Sal Abroe< or >Albrot, which is the best & noblest of all
salts, being in the regimen thereof fixed & not flying the fire, &
it is indeed an oyle of a nature hot, subtile, penetrating, reaching to
the depth & entring, called the complete Elixir, & it is the hidden
secret of the wise Alchimists. He therefore that knoweth this salt
of the sun & moon, & the generation or preparation thereof, &
afterwards how to mix it, & make it friendly to the other
imperfect bodies; he in truth knoweth one of the greatest secrets of
Nature, & one way of perfection.
 These bodies thus dissolved by our water are called argent vive,
which is not without sulphur, nor sulphur without the nature of the
Luminaries, because the Luminaries (the Sun & Moon) are the principal
means in the form by which nature passeth in the perfecting & accomplishing the
generation thereof. And this Quicksilver is called the Salt honoured
& animated & pregnant, & fire seing it is nothing but fire, nor fire
but Sulphur, nor Sulphur but quicksilver drawn from the Sun & moon by our
water & reduced to a stone of great price; that is to say, it is the
matter of the luminaries altered from baseness into nobleness. Note that
this white Sulphur is the father of metals & their mother together. It is our

Mercury, & the minera of Gold, & the soul, & the ferment, & the mineral
vertue, & the living body, & the perfect medicine, our Sulphur & our ☿, that is
Sulphur of Sulphur & Quicksilver of quicksilver & Mercury of Mercury. The
property therefore of our water is that it melteth gold & silver &
augments in them their native colour; for it turns the bodies from
corporality into spirituality, & this water it is which sends into the body
a white fume, which is the white soule subtile hot & of much
fieriness. This water is also called the bloody stone & it is the vertue of
the spirituall blood without which nothing is done, & the subject of all
liquable things & of liquefaction, which agrees very well & cleaveth
to the Sun & Moon, but more to the Sun then to the moon. Note
this well. It is also called the mean of conjoyning the tinctures of
the sun & Moon with imperfect Metals: for it turns the bodies into a
true tincture to tein the other imperfect metals, & it is the water
which whiteneth, as it is white, which quickeneth as it is a soule, &
therefore (as the Philosopher saith) soon entreth into its body. For it is a
living water which cometh to moisten its earth that it may budd & bring
forth fruit in his time, as all things springing from the earth are
engendred by dew or moisture. The earth therefore buddeth
not without watering & moisture. It is the water of May dew
that cleanseth the bodies, that pierceth them like rain water, whiteneth
them & maketh one new body of two bodies. This water of life
being rightly ordered with his body, whiteneth it & turneth it
into his white colour: for the water is a white fume, & therefore the
body is whitened by it. Whiten the body then & burn thy books.
And between these two, that is between the body & the water, there
is friendship desire & lust as between the male & female, because
of the nearness of their like natures. For our second living water
is called Azot washing the Leton, that is the body compounded
of the Sun & Moon by our first water. This second water is also
called the soule of our dissolved bodies, of which bodies we have
already tied the souls together to the end that they may serve the wise
Philosophers. O how perfect & magnificent is this water, for without
it the work could never be brought to pass! It is also called the
vessel of nature, the belly, the womb, the receptacle of the
tincture, the earth & the nurse. It is the fountain in which the king
& Queen wash themselves & the mother which must be put & sealed
in the belly of her infant, that is, the Sun which proceeded from her, &
which shee brought forth: & therefore they love one another as a

Mother & a Son & are easily joyned together because they came
from one & the same root & are of the same substance &
nature. And because this water is the water of the vegetable life
therefore it giveth life & maketh the dead body to vegetate
encreas & spring forth & rise from death to life by solution &
sublimation; & in doing so the body is turned into a spirit & the spirit into
a body & then is made amity peace concord & union between the
contraries, that is between the body & the spirit which reciprocally change their
natures which they receive & communicate to one another by the least parts,
so that the hot is mixed with the cold, the dry with the moist & the hard
with the soft: & thus is there a mixture made of contrary natures,
that is of cold with hot & of moist with dry, an admirable
connexion & conjunction of enemies. Then our dissolution of bodies which is made
in this first water is no other thing then a killing of the moist with
the dry because the moist is coagulated with the dry, for the moisture
is contained terminated & coagulated into a body or into earth only
by driness. Let therefore the hard & dry bodies be put in our first
water in a vessel well shut, where they may abide untill they be
dissolved & ascend on high; & then they may be called a new body,
the white gold of Alchimy, the white stone, the white sulphur not
burning, & the stone of Paradice, that is the stone which converts
imperfect metalls into fine white silver. Having this we have also the
body soul & spirit all together, of the which spirit & soule it is said
that they cannot be drawn from the perfect bodies but by the conjunction
of our dissolving water, because it is certain that the thing fixed cannot
be lifted up but by the conjunction of the thing volatile. The spirit
then by the mediation of the soul is drawn from the bodies, & the body is
made no body, because at the same instant the spirit with the soul
of the bodies mounteth on high into the upper part, which is the perfection
of the stone & is called sublimation. This sublimation (saith
Florentius Catalanus) is done by things sharp spiritual & volatile, which are
of a Sulphureous & viscous nature, which dissolve the bodies & make
them to be lifted up into the air in the spirit. And in this
sublimation a certain part & portion of our first water ascendeth with the
bodies, joyning it self to them, ascending & subliming into a middle
substance, which holdeth of the nature of the two, that is of the bodies &
of the water; & therefore it is called the corporal & spiritual
compound, Corsufle, Cambar, Ethelia, Zandarach, the good Duenech, but
properly it is only called the water permanent because it flieth not in
the fire, always adhering to the commixed bodies that is to the Sun & Moon,

& communicating unto them a living tincture incombustible & most
firm more noble & pretious then the former which these bodies had,
because from hence forward this tincture can run as oyle upon the bodies
perforating & piercing with a wonderfull fixion, because this tincture is
the spirit & the spirit is the soule & the soule is the body, because in
this operation the body is made a spirit of a most subtile nature
& likewise the spirit is incorporated & is made of the nature of
a body with bodies, & so our stone contains a body a soul & a spirit.
O nature how thou changest the body into a spirit which thou couldst
not do if the spirit were not incorporated with the bodies & the
bodies with the spirits made volatile or flying & afterward
premanent or abiding. Therefore they have passed into one another
& are turned one into the other by wisdom. O wisdom how thou
makest gold to be volatile & fugitive although by nature it be
most fixed. It behoveth therefore to dissolve & melt these bodies
by our water & to make them a permanent water, a golden water
sublimed, leaving in the bottom the gross, earthly & superfluous
dry. And in this sublimation the fire ought to be soft & gentle.
For if in this sublimation the bodies be not purified in a lent
or slow fire, & the grosser earthly parts (note well) separated
from the uncleanness of the dead, thou shalt be hindred from
ever making thy work perfect. For thou needest only this subtile
& light nature of the dissolved bodies which our water will easily
give thee if thou proceed with a slow fire, for it will separate
the heterogeneal from the homogeneal.
 Our compound therefore receiveth mundification or cleans
by our moist fire; that is to say dissolving & subliming that which
is pure & white, & casting aside the faeces like a voluntary
vomit (saith Azinaban.) For in such a dissolution & natural
sublimation there is made a loosing or an untying of the Elements, a
cleansing & a separation of the pure from the impure, so that
the pure & white ascendeth upwards, & the impure & earthly
fixed remians in the bottom of the water or the vessel which must
be taken away & removed becaus it is of no value, taking only the
middle white substance flowing & melting & leaving the feculent
earth which remained below in the bottom, which came principally from
the water & is the dross, & the damned earth, which is nothing worth, nor
can ever do any good as doth the pure clear white & clean matter
which we ought only to take. And against this Capharaean rock the ship

and knowledge of the scholars & students in Philosophy is often
(as it happened also unto me sometimes) most improvidently dashed
& beaten, because the Philosophers do very often affirm the contrary,
namely that nothing must be removed or taken away but the moisture
that is the blackness, which notwithstanding they say & write only to deceive
the unwise gross & ignorant which of themselves without a master
unwearied reading or prayer unto God Almighty would like conquerors
carry away this golden fleece. Popup Note: Click to View Note therefore that this separation division
& sublimation is without doubt the key of the whole work. After the
putrefaction then & dissolution of these bodies our bodies do lift
themselves up to the surface of the dissolving water in the colour of
whiteness & this whiteness is life: for in this whiteness the antimonial &
mercurial soule is by the appointment of nature infused with the
spirits of the sun & moon which separateth the subtile from the thick
& the pure from the impure, lifting up by little & little the subtile
part of the body from the dreggs untill all the pure be separated &
lifted up. And in this is our philosophical & natural sublimation
fulfilled. And in this whiteness is the soul infused into the body
that is the mineral vertue which is more subtile then fire, being
indeed the true quintessence & life which desireth to be born &
to put off the gross earthly faeces which it hath taken from the
menstruous & corrupt place of his original. And in this is our philosophicall
sublimation not in the naughty common ☿ which hath no qualities
like unto them wherewith our ☿ drawn from his vitriolate
caverns is adorned. But let us return to our sublimation.
 It is therefore most certain in this art that this soule drawn
from the bodies cannot be lifted up but by putting to of a volatile
thing which is of his own kind, by the which the bodies are made
volatile & spiritual, lifting up subtiliating & subliming themselves
against their own proper nature which is corporeal heavy &
ponderous. And by this means they are made no bodies, but
incorporeal & a quintessence of the nature of the spirit
which is called Hermes his bird & mercury drawn from the red
servant: & so the earthy parts remain below, or rather the
grosser parts of the bodies, which cannot by any wit or device of
man be perfectly dissolved. And this white fume this white gold
that is this quintessence is also called the compound Magnesia, which
as a man conteins, or as a man is compounded of body soul &
spirit. For the body is the fixed earth of the sun, which is more then

most fine ponderously lifted up by the force of our divine water. The
soul is the tincture of the Sun & of the Moon proceeding from the
conjunction or from the communication of these two. But the spirit is the
mineral vertue of the two bodies & of the water which carries the soule or
the white tincture upon the bodies, & out of the bodies, as the tincture of
Diers is carrried by water upon the cloth. And that ☿ial spirit is
the bond or tyall of the soul of the sun; & the body of the
Sun is the body of fixion, containing with the Moon the spirit &
soule. The spirit therefore pierceth, the body fixeth, the soul
coupleth coloureth & whiteneth. Of these three united together is our
stone made, that is of the Sun Moon & Mercury. Then with our
gilded (or golden) water is extracted a nature surpassing
all nature, & therefore except the bodies be by this our water
dissolved imbibed grownd softened & sparingly & diligently governed until
they leave their grosness & thickness, & be turned into a thin &
impalpable spirit our labour will always be in vain. For unless the
bodies be changed into no bodies, that is into the Philosophers mercury,
the rule of art is not yet found, & the reason is because it
is impossible to draw out of the bodies that most thin or subtile
soul which hath in it all tincture, if the bodies be not first dissolved
in our water. Dissolve therefore the bodies in the golden water & boyle
them untill by the water all the tincture come out into a
white colour or a white oyle & when thou shalt see this
whiteness upon the water then know the bodies are dissolved or
melted, & continue the decoction untill they bring forth
the cloud which they have conceived dark black & white. Put
therefore the perfect bodies in our water in a vessel Hermetically
sealed upon a soft fire & boile them continually untill they be perfectly
resolved into a most pretious oyle. Boyle them (saith Adfar) with a gentle
fire as it were for the hatching of chickens untill the bodies be dissolved
& their tincture most nearly conjoyned (mark well) be wholly drawn out.
For it is not drawn out all at once but it cometh forth by little &
little every day & every houre untill after a long time this dissolution
be complete & that which is dissolved do always arise uppermost upon the water.
And in this dissolution let the fire be soft & continuall untill the bodies
be loosed into a viscous impalpable water, & that the whole tincture come
forth first in the colour of blackness, which is a sign of true solution. Then
continue the decoction untill it become a white permanent water: for
governing it in its bath it will afterwards be clear, & in the end become

like common argent vive climing thorow the air upon the first water.
And therefore when thou seest the bodies dissolved into a viscous water
then know that they are turned into a vapor & that thou hast the
soules separated from the dead bodies & by sublimation brought into
the order & estate of the spirits, wherupon both of them with a part of our
water, are made spirits flying & climing into the air, & that there the body
compounded of the male & female of the Sun & moon & of that most
subtile nature clensed by sublimation taketh life, is inspired by his
moisture, that is by his water as a man by the air & therefore from
henceforth it will multiply & encreas in his kind like all other things.
And therefore in such an elevation & philosophical sublimation they are
all joyned one with another & the new body inspired by the air liveth
vegetably, which is a wonder. Wherefore unles the bodies be subtilized &
made thin by fire & water untill they arise like spirits, & be made
like water & fume or like mercury, there is nothing done in
this art. But when they ascend they are born in the air & changed
in the air, & are made life with life in such sort that they can
never be separated, as water mixt with water. And therefore it
is wisely said that the stone is born in the air because it is
altogether spirituall: For the Vulture flying without wings, cryeth upon
the top of the mountain, saying, I am the white of the black & the red
of the white, & the citrine Son of the red, I tell truth & ly not.
 It sufficeth thee therefore to put the bodies in the vessel & in the
water once for all & to shut the vessel diligently untill a true separation bee
made, (which by the envious is called conjunction, sublimation, assation,
extraction, putrefaction, ligation, desponsation, subtiliation, generation, &c.)
& that the whole mastery be done. Do therefore as in the
generation of a man & every vegetable, put the seed once into the womb,
& shut it well. By this means thou seest that thou needest not
many things & that our work requires no great charges because there
is but one stone one medicine one vessel one Regimen, & one
successive disposition to the white & to the red. And although we say
in many places, take this, & take that, yet we understand that it
behooveth to take but one thing & put it once in the vessel & to shut the
vessel untill the work be perfected. For these things are so set down
by the envious Philosophers to deceive the unwary, as is afforesaid. For is
not this art cabalistical & full of secrets? And doest thou, fool,
beleive that we openly teach the secrets of secrets? And doest
thou take our words according to the literal sound? Know
assuredly (I am no whit envious as others are) he that takes the words of
the other Philosophers according to the ordinary signification & sound of them, he

doth already, having lost Ariadne's thred, wander in the midst of
the labyrinth & hath as good as appointed his money to perdition.
But I Artephius, after I had learned all the art & perfect
science in the books of the truth speaking Hermes, was sometimes
envious as all the rest, but when I had by the space of a
thousand years or thereabouts (which are now passed over me
since my nativity by the only grace of God Almighty, & the use
of this wonderful Quintessence) when, I say, for so long time
I had seen no man that could work the mastery of Hermes,
by reason of the obscurity of the Philosophers words; moved with pitty
& with the goodness becoming an honest man, I have
determined in these last times of my life to write all things truly &
sincerely, that thou maist want or desire nothing to the
perfecting of the philosophers stone excepting a certain thing which it
is not lawful for any person to say or to write because it
is always revealed by God or by a Master. And yet in this
book he that is not stiffnecked shall with a little experience
easily learn it. I have therefore in this book written the naked
truth although clothed with a few colours that every good & wise
man may from this philosophical tree happily gather the admirable
apples of the Hesperides. Wherefore praised be the most high God
which hath put this benignity into our soul, & with a wonderful
long old age, hath given us a true dilection of heart,
wherewithal it seemeth unto me that I do truly love cherish &
imbrace all men.
 But let us return unto the art. Surely our work is quickly
dispatched, for that which the heat of the sun doth in a hundred years
in the Mines of the earth for the generation of a Metal, (as I
have often seen) our secret fire, that is, our fiery sulphureous water
which is called Balneum Mariae worketh in short time. And this
work is no great labour to him that knows it, neither is the
matter so dear (considering a smal quantity sufficeth) that it ought
to cause any man to pluck back his hand because it is so short
& easy that it may well be called the work of weomen & the play
of children. Work then cheerefully (my Son,) pray to God, read books
continually, for one book openeth another. Think of it profoundly.
Fly all things that vanish in the fire: for thou hast not thine intent
in these combustible things but only in the decoction of thy water drawn

from thy Luminaries. For by this water is colour & weight
given infinitely, & this water is a white fume which as a soul floweth
in the perfect bodies, taking wholly from them their blacknes &
uncleanness, & consolidating the two bodies into one & multiplying
their water. And there is no other thing that can take away
their true colour from the perfect bodies, that is from the sun
& moon, but Azoth, that is our water which coloureth & maketh
white the red body according to the regiments thereof.
 But let us speak of Fires. Our fire therefore is
mineral equal continual, it vapours not unless it be too much stirred
up, it partakes of Sulphur; it is taken otherwhere then from the smaller;
it pulleth down all things; it dissolveth, congealeth, & calcineth; it
is artificial to find; it is a short way, [or an expence] without cost,
at least without any great cost; it is moist vaporous, digestive,
altering, piercing, subtile, aery, not violent, not burning, compassing
or environing, conteining but one; & it is the fountain of living
water which goeth about & conteineth the place where the king &
Queen bath themselves. In all the work this moist fire is
sufficient for thee, at the beginning middle & end; for in it consisteth
the whole art. This is the fire natural against nature
unnaturall, & without burning; & finally this fire is hot dry moist
& cold. Think upon this & work aright, taking nothing that is of
a strange nature. And if thou dost not well understand these
fires, hearken further to what I shall give thee, never yet
written in any book, from out of the abstruse & hidden
cavillation< or >mysteries of the Ancients, concerning fires.
 We have properly three fires without which the art cannot be
done, & he that works without them takes a great deale of care
in vain. The first is the fire of the Lamp which is continual, moist,
vaporous aery & artificial to find. For the Lamp ought to be
proportioned to the place in which it is shut up. & herein we must use
great judgment, which cometh not to the knowledge of a workman
of a stiff neck. For if the fire of the Lamp be not
geometrically & duly proportioned & fitted to the furnace, either for
lack of heat thou wilt not see the expected signes in their times
& so thou wilt loos thy hope by too long expectation or els with
too much heat thou wilt burn the flowers of thy gold & so
sadly bewail thy lost labour. The second fire is the fire of
ashes in which the vessel Hermetically sealed is shut up: or rather
it is that most gentle heat which proceeding from the temperate vapor

of the Lamp, goeth equally round about the vessel. This fire is
not violent if it be not too much stirred up. It is digesting, altering.
It is taken from another body then the matter. It is but one or alone
It is moist & innaturall &c. The third is the natural fire of
our water, which for this cause is also called fire against nature,
because it is water. & yet nevertheless it makes a mere spirit of
gold, which common fire cannot do. This fire is mineral, equal,
& partakes of Sulphur. It breaks congeals dissolves & calcines all.
This is piercing Subtile not burning, & it is the fountain of living
water wherein the king & Queen bath themselves, whereof we
have need in the whole work, in the beginning middle & end: but
the other two above said fires we do not always need but only
sometimes. Joyne Therefore in reading the books of Philosophers these
three sorts of fire, & without doubt thou shalt understand
all their cavillations concerning their fires.
 As touching the colours, he that doth not make black cannot make
white because blacknesss is the beginning of whiteness & a sign of
putrefaction & alteration & that the body is now pierced & mortified. Therefore
in the putrefaction in this water, there first appears blackness like unto
broth wherein blood or some bloody thing is boyled. Secondly the black earth
by continual decoction is whitened because the soul of the two bodies
swims aloft upon the water like white cream: & in this only whiteness
all the spirits are so united that they can never fly from one another.
And therefore the Leton must be whitened & tear the books lest our
hearts be broken. For this intire whiteness is the true stone to the white
& the body ennobled by the necessity of his end, & the tincture of
whitness of a most exuberant reflexion & shining brightness, which being
mixed with a body, never departeth from it. Here then note that the
spirits are not fixed but in the white colour, which by consequent is more
noble then the other colours, & ought more earnestly to be desired,
considering it is, as it were, the complement & perfection of the whole
work. For our earth is first putrefied in blackness, then it is clensed in the
elevation or lifting up, afterwards being dried the blackness departeth
& then it is whitened, & the dark moist dominion of the woman
perisheth, & then the white fume pierceth into the new body, & the spirits are
shut up or bound together in driness, & that which is corrupting deformed
& black with moisture vanisheth, & then the new body riseth again
clear white & immortal, getting the victory over all his enemies. And as
heat working upon that which is moist causeth or engendreth blackness, which
is the first colour, so by decoction ever more & more heat working

upon that which is dry begetteth whiteness which is the second colour, &
afterward working upon that which is purely & perfectly dry, it causeth
citrinity & redness, & so much concerning the colours.
 We must therefore understand that the thing which hath the head
red & white, the feet white & afterwards red, & yet before that the
eyes black, this only thing is our Mastery. Dissolve then the Sun & Moon
in our dissolving water which is familiar friendly & of the next
nature to them, which is likewise to them sweet & pleasant, & as it were
a womb, a mother, an original, the beginning & the end of life, &
that is the reason why they are amended in this water becaus nature
rejoyceth in nature & nature contains nature, & in true marriage they
are joyned together & made one nature, one new body raised up &
immortal. And thus we must joyn consanguinity with
consanguinity, & then these natures will meet & follow one another putrefy
themselves engender themselves & make one another rejoyce because nature
is governed by nature which is nearest & most friendly to it. Our water
then saith Dathin is the most pleasant fair & clear fountain
prepared only for the king & Queen, whom it knoweth very well, & they
know it, for it draws them to it self, & they abide therein to wash
themselves two or thre days, that is two or three months; & it maketh
them young again & fair. And because the sun & moon have their
original from this water their Mother, therefore it behoveth that they enter
again into their mothers womb that they may be born again & be made
more strong more noble & more valiant. And therefore if these
do not dy & be turned into water, they remain alone & without fruit,
but if they dy & be resolved in our water, they bring forth an
hundredfold, & from that very place where it seemed they had lost what
they were, from thence shal they appear what they were not before
Let therefore the spirit of our living water be with great wit &
subtlety fixed with the Sun & Moon because they being turned into the nature
of water do dy & seem like unto the dead yet afterward being inspired
from thence, they live encrease & multiply like all other things. It
is enough then to dispose the matter sufficiently from without; for from
within it self doth work sufficiently to its own perfection. For it hath
in it self a certain inherent motion according to the true way better
then any order that can be imagined by man. And therefore do thou
only prepare & nature will perfect; for if she be not hindred by the
contrary, she will not pass her own certain motion as well to conceive
as to bring forth. Wherefore after the preparation of the matter take heed
only lest by too much fire thou make the matter too hot. Secondly
take heed least the spirit do exhale: for it would hurt him that
worketh, that is it would destroy the work; & cause many infirmities, that is
much sadness & anger. From this that hath been spoken is drawn this

Axiome, to wit, That by the course of Nature he doth not know the making
of metals that knoweth not the destruction of them. It behoveth then to
joyn together them that are of kindred, for natures do find their like natures,
& being putrefied are mixed together & mortefy themselves. It is
necessary therefore to know this corruption & generation, how the natures
do imbrace one another, & are pacified in a slow fire; how nature
rejoyceth in nature, & nature retains nature, & turns it into a white
nature. After this if thou wilt make it red thou must boyle this white
in a dry continual fire untill it be as red as blood, which will be nothing
els but fire & a true tincture. And so by a continual dry fire the
whiteness is changed to citrine & acquireth redness a true fixed colour. And consequently by how
much more this red is boyled so much the more is it coloured & made
a tincture of perfect redness. Wherefore thou must with a dry fire &
a dry calcination without any moisture boyle this compound untill it
be clothed with a most red colour, & then it will be a perfect Elixir.
 If afterwards thou wilt multiply it, thou must again dissolve that red
in a new dissolving water, & after by decoction whiten & rubefy it by
the degrees of fire, reiterating the first regiment. Dissolve, congeale, reiterate,
shutting, opening & multiplying in quantity & quality at thine own pleasure
For by a new corruption & generation there is again brought in a new motion
& so we could never find an end if we would always work by reiteration
of solution & coagulation by the means of our dissolving water, that is to say
dissolving & congealing as is said in the first regiment. And so the
vertue thereof is increased & multiplied in quantity & quality; so that if in
the first work one part of thy stone will tein an hundred, in the
second it will tein a thousand, in the third tenthousand, & so by pursuing thy
work thy projection will come into infinity, teining truly & perfectly
& fixedly every quantity how great soever it be; & so by a thing
of an easy price is added colour & vertue & weight. Therefore our
fire & Azoth are sufficient for thee. Boyle, boyle, reiterate dissolve &
congeale & so continue according to thy will, multiplying it as much as thou
wilt, & untill thy medicine be made fusible as wax, & that it have
the quantity & vertue which thou desirest. Therefore all the
accomplishment of the work, or of our second stone (note it well) consisteth
in this that thou take the perfect body, which thou must put in our water
in a house of glass well shut & stopped with cement, lest the air
get in or the moisture enclosed get out, & there hold it in a digestion
of a gentle heat as if it were of a bath, or the most temperate heat of
dung, upon the which with a fire thou shalt continue the perfection of
decoction untill it be putrefied or resolved into black, & afterwards be lifted
up & sublimed by the water, that it may thereby be cleansed from all

blackness & darkness & that it may be whitened & made subtile until
it come to the utmost purity of sublimation, & at the last be made
volatile & white within & without. For the Vulture flying in the Air without
wings cryeth that it might get upon the mountaine, that is upon the
water upon which the white spirit is carried. Then continue a
convenient fire, & that spirit, that is the subtile substance of the body & of
mercury, will ascend upon the water, which quintessence is whiter then
snow. For know well that all that is pure cleare & spiritual
ascends on high in the air in the form of a white fume, which the
Philosophers call the Virgins milk.
 It behoveth therefore that (as Sibyll said) the son of the Virgin be
exalted from the earth, & that the white quintessence after his
ressurection be lifted up towards the heavens, & that the gross & thick remain
in the bottom of the vessel & of the water. For afterwards when the
vessel is cold, thou shalt find in the bottom thereof the faeces black, burnt,
& combust, separate from the spirit & white quintessence, which dreggs
thou must cast away. In these times the new argent vive
raineth from our air upon our new earth which is called argent vive
sublimed from the air, whereof it made a water viscous clean &
white, which is the true tincture separated from all black faeces.
& so our brass or Leton is with our water governed purified & adorned
with a white colour, which white colour is not gotten but by decoction
& coagulation of the water. Boyle it then continually, wash away
the blackness from the Leton not with thy hand but with the stone,
or the fire, or our second mercurial, water which is the true
tincture. For this separation of the pure from the impure is
not done with hands, but nature her self alone by working it
circularly to perfection bringeth it to pass. It appeareth then that
this composition is not a manual work, but only a change of
the natures, because nature dissolves & conjoyns it self, it sublimes
& lifts up it self, & having separated the faeces it groweth
white: & in such a sublimation the parts are always joyned
together more subtile more pure & essential, because that when
the fiery nature lifteth up the subtile parts, it lifteth up
always the more pure, & by consequent leaveth the grosser in
the bottom. And therefore it behoveth by an indifferent fire
to sublime in a continual vapour that the stone may be inspired
in the air & live. For the nature of all things takes life of the
inspiration of air, & so also all our mastery consists in vapour, &
in the sublimation of water. And therefore our brass or Leton must by

degrees of fire be lifted up & freely of himself ascend on high..
Wherefore unless the body be by fire & water dissolved attenuated &
subltilized untill it ascend as a spirit, or clime like argent vive,
or as the white soul separated from the body & carried in the
sublimation of the spirits, there is nothing at all done in this art. But
when it ascends on high it is born in the air & changed in the air, & is
made life with life being altogether spiritual & incorruptible. And
so in such a regimen the body is made a spirit of a subtile nature
& the spirit is incorporated with the body & is made one with it, &
in such a sublimation conjunction & elevation all things are made white.
And therefore this philosophical & natural sublimation is necessary
because it maketh peace between the body & the spirit which is
impossible otherwise to be done then by this separation of the parts.
Wherefore it behoveth to sublime them both to the end that in the troubles
of this stormy sea the pure may ascend & the impure & earthly
may descend. And for this cause it must be boyled continually that
it may be brought to a subtile nature & that the body may assume
& draw to it self the white mercurial soul which it naturally
retains, & suffereth it not to be separated from it because it is
like unto it in the nearness of the first pure & simple nature.
From hence it appears that this separation must be made by
decoction untill there remain no more of the fat of the soule
which is not lifted up & exalted into the upper part: for so they
shall be both reduced unto a simple equality & unto a simple
whiteness. The Vulture therefore flying in the air, & the Toad
going upon the earth is our Mastery. And therefore when thou shalt
gently & with great discretion, separate the earth from the water, that is,
from the fire, & the subtile from the thick, then that which is pure
will ascend from the earth into heaven, & that which is impure will go
down to the earth, & the more subtile part will in the upper place
take the nature of a spirit, & in the lower place the nature of
an earthly body. . Wherefore let the white nature with the more
subtile part of the body be by this operation lifted up, leaving the
faeces, which is done in a short time; for the soul is aided by her
associate Fellow & perfected by it. My Mother (saith the body) hath
begotten me, & by me Shee her self is begotten, & after Shee hath
taken her flight [or I have taken from her her flying] She after the best
manner she can becomes a pious mother, nourishing & cherishing
the son whom she hath begotten untill he come to perfect state. Hear
the secret: Keep the body in this our Mercurial water untill it ascend on

high with the white soul, & the earthly descend to the bottom which is
called the earth that remaines: then shalt thou see the water coagulate
it self with its body, & Shalt be assured that the science is true,
because the body coagulateth its moisture into dryness as the rennet
of a Lamb coagulateth milk into cheese. In the same fashon the
spirit will pierce the body, & there will be a perfect mixture
made by the least parts, & the body will draw unto himself his
moisture, that is to say his white soul, even as the Loadstone draweth
Iron, because of the likenesse & nearness of his nature & his
greediness; & then the one will hold the other; & this is our sublimation
& coagulation which retaineth every thing volatile & maketh that it
can fly no more. Therefore this composition is not a manual
operation, but (as I said) a changing of natures, & a wonderful
connexion of their cold with hot & their moist with dry: for the hot is
mixed with cold & the dry with moist, & so by this means is made
the mixture & conjunction of the body with the spirit which is called
the changing of contrary natures because that in such a solution &
sublimation the spirit is turned into a body & the body into a spirit,
so that the natures being mingled together & reduced into one do
change one another in as much as the body makes the spirit a body
& the spirit turns the body into a teyned & white spirit.
 And therefore (this is the last time that I will tell thee) boyle
it in our water that is in Mercury untill it be dissolved into blackness,
& then by continual decoction it will be deprived of his blackness, & the
body so dissolved will at length arise with the white soule, & then one
will be mingled with the other, & they will embrace one another
so that they shall no more be divided asunder, & then the spirit is
united to the body with a real accord, & both are made one
permanent thing. And this is the solution of the body & the coagulation of the
spirit which have one & the self same operation.
 He therefore that knoweth how to marry & make with child, to
mortify, to putrefy, to engender, to quicken the species, to bring in the
white light, & to cleans the Vulture from his blackness & darkness
untill he be purged by fire coloured & purified from all his spots,
shall be the owner of so great dignity that Kings shall reverence
him & do him honour.
 Wherefore let our body abide in the water untill such time as it
be loosed into a new pouder in the bottom of the vessel & of the water,
which is called the black ashes: & this is the corruption of the body which is by
wise men called Saturn, Leton, or Brass, the Philosopher's Lead, & the discontinued
pouder. And in this putrefaction & resolution of the body, there appear

three signs, to wit, the black colour, the discontinuity of the parts, &
a stinking smell, which is likened to the smell of Sepulchres or graves.
These ashes then are that of which the Philosophers have said so much, which
remained in the bottom of the vessel which we ought not to despise
for in it is the diademe of our king, & the argent vive black &
unclean from whence the blackness must be purged by continual
decoction in our water, untill it be lifted up in a white colour which
is called the Goos & the Poulet of Hermogenes. He therefore that
maketh the red earth black & then white, hath the Mastery as also he
that killeth the living & quickeneth the dead. Wherefore make the black
white & the white red that thou mayst make the work perfect; &
when thou seest the true whiteness appear which shineth like a naked
sword, know that in that whiteness is redness hidden, & then thou
must not take out of the vessel that whiteness but only boyle it to
the end that with driness & heat there may come upon it a citrine
colour, & in the end a most shining & sparkling red: which when
thou seest, with great fear & trembling prais the most good &
great God which giveth wisdom & by consequence riches unto whom
he pleaseth, & according to the iniquity of the persons taketh them
away again & depriveth them of them for ever, plunging them
in the servitude & slavery of their enemies. To him be
prais & glory for ever & ever. Amen.


GEORGE RIPLEY - Rouleau alchimique (Bodleian Library - University of Oxford) - 15ème siècle

GEORGE RIPLEY - Rouleau alchimique (Beinecke Library - Yale University) - 15ème siècle

GEORGE RIPLEY - Rouleau alchimique (Huntington Library) - 15ème siècle

GEORGE RIPLEY - Rouleau alchimique (The Getty Research Institute)