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There are, it has been said, already far too many books dealing with Hermetic Philosophy. More than 900 Authors have written on the subject; they have left us upwards of 2500 Treatises on the subject; and these numerous Texts have served no purpose other than the deception of an infinite number of people, who, taking these Writers on faith, duped by their imposture and their own avarice, have mostly ruined themselves, wasting their time in useless activities and never arriving at any of the goals proposed by this Science. This is more or less what people say, thus authorised, no doubt, by their own ignorance to describe the Science of Hermeticism. Let us answer them with Maier (in the Forward to his excellent Treatise entitled Arcana Arcanissima), who says that ‘tis the argumentation of children to imagine that there is nothing in this world except what we ourselves have seen around us and in the land in which we live; and that ‘tis doubly infantile to believe that things of which we have not heard and cannot ourselves conceive, which are impossible for us to imagine, can not, in fact, be heard, conceived of or imagined; to conclude in consequence, because an infinity of ignoramuses and greedy people have failed in their study of the Hermetic Philosophy, that which it promises is an imaginary chimera, is the height of extravagance and presumption. However, ‘tis not my intention here to undertake an apologia for and justification of this Science; even less would I dare pronounce on its reality: to convince those less adept as to its necessity and importance, I need have no other recourse than to what is generally known: that it is the principle of an infinity of rare and useful discoveries; that Medicine has taken from it several subjects most useful as to health; and that the Arts are indebted to it for a large number of marvellous secrets and noteworthy operations. Of all Moderns writing on this aspect of Philosophy, Maier is incontestably recognised as having been one of the most knowledgeable and adept. All his Treatises on the subject, twenty-five in number, are generally highly esteemed and sought after by the Cognoscenti: all contain many curiosities and some are even extremely rare. One of the most curious and least obtainable is this text, entitled Cantilenæ Intellectuales de Phœnice redivivo, etc. As regards its subject and contents, Maier promises to expose in the form of Allegories - all most ingenious and very varied - the secret and key to all that is most mysterious and hidden in the Great Work. As regards style, ‘tis often so elegant and pure that it is difficult to imagine that ‘tis the work of a German Author. The book is written in rhyming verse and the rhythm observed in these Anacrean verses renders the reading of them infinitely agreeable to one whose ear is attuned to the harmonious cadences given them by the Author of these Cantilenæ, or Songs. This exceptional Treatise was first published in Rome in 1622 and reprinted in Rostock the following year, since when it has become exceeding rare. "I am assured," says the Historian of the Hermetic Philosophy (M. l'Abbé Lenglet du Fresnoi, Hist. de la Philosophie Hermétique, To. III p.229 ), "that this is Mayerus' most rare work and that ‘tis worth as much as forty pounds."
‘Tis the merit and rarity of this little Book that push me today to once more present to the public the version printed at Rostock To it I have appended a translation into French of the same Work for the benefit of those who do not speak the Language in which the Author wrote. I shall not boast of the pains and care this has cost me, Amateurs of the two Languages may judge, but I dare flatter myself that they shall justly recognise my exactitude and fidelity. Those who know me will perhaps wonder what capacity I might have brought to the translation of a Work the interpretation of which is often fairly difficult; others will be curious as to whether I am an initiate into the mysteries of this secret Philosophy; but it does not please God that I lay claim to such an honour. I claim only that I have a little knowledge of the Books of the Philosophers who have written on this Science, adding even that I have read many: I have even translated into our Language - in part or in toto - several composed by the very greatest Masters; and if the translation presented here is favourably received by Amateurs, I am so placed as to be able to present them with several others as a follow-up, amongst others the Arcana Arcanissima by this same Maier: Works of a curious nature and much sought after. ‘Tis in these texts and in my relations with persons better instructed than myself in these mysterious secrets that I have discovered a few of the principles of this extraordinary Art which would doubtless still be unknown to me and which nonetheless were sweeter never unknown. APPROBATION By order of Monseigneur the Chancellor, I have read a Manuscript entitled Cantilenæ Intellectuales, &c. auct. Michaële Mayero with French translation of the same work entitled Chansons Intellectuelles divisées en neuf Triades, sur la Résurréction du Phénix; and I have found nothing prejudicial to their being printed. Paris, this 29th. of July 1758
The Privilege will be found after the Treatise on Diseases of the Bone by M. Duverny.
in nine Triads
the resurrection OF THE PHŒNIX
THE MOST PRECIOUS OF MEDICINES
The epitome of the World and mirror of the Universe presented not so much for the voice as for the mental faculty and offered to the Wise as the key to the three impenetrable Secrets of Chymistry by
Knight, Count of the Holy Empire, Doctor of Medicine, etc. * * *
AND DISPOSAL OF THE HARMONIOUS TRIADS
The first of the quadrate triads treats of the names given divers things; the second contains Allegories; and in the third are to be found the application of the mysteries of this Art to those of Religion.
AND PUISSANT PRINCE
Hereditary Prince of Norway, Duke of Sleswick and Holstein, of Stormaria and of Ditmars, Count of Oldenburg and of Helmenhort, is this addressed, dedicated & offered. MY LORD,
all things in this Universe, all forms, heavenly or earthly, being created in NUMBER, WEIGHT & MEASURE, there is, between them, an exact and marvellous proportion of parts, strengths, qualities, quantities and effects, such that, together they seem to resemble an extraordinarily harmonious Music, and there is between spiritual beings, amongst which is to be numbered the Mind, or intellect, in man, a similar musical concord. In the vast system of this Universe, between Earth as foundation and the Sphere of the Moon, the interval is that of the Ditone or Third; thence, to the Sun, which is the heart or core, a Diapente, or Fifth; from the Sun to the ultimate heavens, is it a Diapason, or Octave, such that the first interval be of 18 commas, the second of 35 and the third of 61. In the Microcosm or little world, which is to say, in Man, the same proportions, counting upwards as do Physicians rather than as Arithmeticians or Geometricians, are observed between the principal organs, the liver, heart and brain. ‘Tis the same, too, for the hidden subject of the Hermetic Philosophers: a sort of philosophical micro-world, naturally divided into three ordered parts, bass, tenor and soprano, just as the hammers heard by Pythagoras in the smithy played a pleasant harmony by reason of their various and proportional weights. And ‘tis by contemplating such things, comparing those things superior with things inferior, wholes with parts and causes with their effects, that there will arise in the minds of the intelligent a species of three part musical echo, discernible
less by the ears than by the inmost sentiments of the soul. This is the sense of the saying that Aspendius played music with himself. For, as prayers addressed to God, though not spoken aloud, go directly to Him, so these harmonies will make themselves audible to the mind, even amidst total silence. And indeed ‘tis not so rare to hear Philosophers speaking quite clearly of their mysteries without that those who listen understand a single word, for they stop at the letter, barely perceiving the sense at all, and remain so attached to words that the subject escapes their comprehension. Similarly and vice versa one may ever discuss the spirit in hidden ways, or in songs that will forever be inaudible to the ears of the vulgar. And ‘tis this, My Lord, that has been my chief preoccupation - I, the least of Philosophers! - who, having laboured, among the other studies that absorb me, to the point of sounding and discovering the nature of things high, middle and low, and used up the greater part of my life studying not only Mathematics and all that is contained within Heaven and Earth, but also in searching out and putting to the test the practical applications of Dogmatic Medicine consisting in the cure and prevention of illnesses in the human frame, and devoted the same care to the Hermetic Philosophy, the which cost me immense labour with oft-repeated experiments, many errors and grievous troubles, not to mention the great expense: it has been, as I say, my chief preoccupation, after so many shipwrecks, to search out this harbour, this satisfaction after so many bitter pains, this compensation for such expense and care, that is to say, to publish abroad, secretly and in silence after such sweat and clamour, these Intellectual Songs. And nor is it my intention to vaunt my tiny knowledge of this subject or to try to convince others; on the contrary, I have no other goal than to show as well as I may the harmony that rules between the ordered parts of a single subject, or between this subject itself and all other things, superior and inferior, and between all these, even, and God Himself, providing in this way a clear understanding of the things of the sense and a depth of feeling to that which is knowable. And as to the reasons which have led me to dedicate to YOUR HIGHNESS a book which, if one were to consider just the cover or the verses, is so small a thing, so mean and unworthy of Your consideration, they are indeed very real - as many with regard to YOUR HIGHNESS, himself, as with regard to myself and my text. From YOUR HIGHNESS' side, because you have become famous, not only throughout Germany, but in all of Europe, for the singular and sincere love, so worthy of a Prince so great that you have for Letters and for those that cultivate them, such that I have no doubt that You will receive favourably this feeble essay of my work which I here dare to present to you, or that You will generously grant me Your protection - unknown to You as I am up to this point. From my own side, because I am a native born of Holstein, which place I left of my own free will fourteen years ago with the sole purpose of perfecting my Hermetic studies in foreign lands, a departure I hoped would be not lasting but only for a little time, resolving to return there as soon as it pleased God and my Prince. For the rest, my family is well known, not only among the nobles of Holstein, but also to the father of YOUR HIGHNESS, himself, and to Your Grandfather of saint memory, to whose service my own was always faithfully attached. As to the subject dealt with in these rhyming verses, contemptible and unimportant as it may seem in the eyes of the vulgar, I dare hope for the prudence and sagacity of HIS HIGHNESS, and that He will not disdain them. And should He accept my small offering, as I dare flatter myself He shall, ‘tis my hope to present Him, also, with a longer, if not more erudite, work on Medicine. In the meanwhile, I shall not cease to make prayer unto heaven for the prosperity of YOUR HIGHNESS and all the great House of Holstein, and to recommend myself to their protection. At Rostock, the 25th. of August, 1622.
MY LORD, I AM YOUR HIGHNESS' most humble, obedient and dedicated subject & servant, MICHAEL MAIER, Count &c., Doctor &c., Knight &c.
THE ORDERING Utilised in these Intellectual Cantilenæ
Hymning the PHOENIX, that rare and miraculous bird, Herewith the order I have used: Each triad is a succession of Harmonies for three voices The first part, or ALTUS, expresses always the dulcet tones of VENUS; Next comes the MEDIA, or TENOR, which is the sidewardmoving lobster or crayfish; Finally, the GRAVIS or BASS, is reserved to the LION, terrible in its anger.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS I shall sing now of the work of Vulcan The nature and properties of that fire Wherein the PHOENIX is immolated and takes renewal. Be still and attend. This fire is not that of Etna's fiery maw Nor that which from the terrible furnaces of Vesuvius does pour, Nor yet that vomited from Mount Hecla, The blazing Sulphurs of which seem fain To set fire the seas that ring it round. Our fiery principle is something else quite other. From the Mountain Highest on the globe, Whereon do Cinnamon, Saffron And other herbs diffuse their fragrant load It takes its birth. Illumining the vast Universe, Source of warmth and life to all that lives; A flame whose heat and brightness may never be exhausted nor consumed. This Fire having readied and prepared, Here Our Bird, Shall seek his pyre And final end. May this Sacred Fire be kept ever secret and well hid! May its stupendous flame be always well known to the Wise! One who knows it not, knows nothing at all.
You who would penetrate to the fecund sources of the Science, Let not this Secret Fire become manifest.
MEDIA What verse could fitly sing the praise of the Bird so dear to the Wise? Had I an hundred mouths and as many tongues, They would not suffice To sing the eulogies of that Bird Whose ashes, in the very teeth of death, Find life more perfect and a strength renewed. This wondrous Bird took first wing Near Syene on the borders of High Egypt. Beautiful PHOENIX, with throat of purple hue, Collar of gold and head adorned with a crest as bright as any ruby; His wings are white without And of deepest red within. His temperament tends more toward the fiery than the cold, And this is the cause of the excellent quality of blood That in his veins does course, Animating and filling him with all vitality. This Bird, so dear to both holy PhŒbus and bright Diana, Braves the ardours of the Sun And the most incandescent temperatures, Tempering and testing by fire. Even water, eroder and corroder of all things, cannot destroy him. His home he makes upon the frowning cliffs Whence fall the head-waters of the Nile As they pass along their way to irrigate the fields of Egypt, Abundance in their silts. And to this great river is the Bull, Apis, Who wears the crescent moon upon his brow, sacred.
GRAVIS Thebes, town famed once through all the world for its hundred gates, Was justly consecrated to the Sun. There were priests in great number ordained to serve at the Altar, Residence of holy PhŒbus. Not e'en the renowned Temple of Delphi, Shining with gold and enriched by the presence of Kings, Merits comparison! And ‘tis hither that, ten centuries of his life passed by, The PHOENIX hastes on fleet wing Seeking death, And glad to relinquish life In the sure knowledge that he will again find youth. Here alone is a tomb fit to serve as sepulture to this wondrous Bird: No superb Mausoleum raised by the pious living to house the ashes of their dead; Not the loftiest Pyramid, Nor richest kingly Tomb ever boasted by the Universe Can compare. Nor in these solemn obsequies, is seen a common urn like those of the Atrides, For, no sooner has the PHOENIX - full ready to offer himself victim to the flames & begin his life anew Landed at Thebes and upon the Altar of the Sun, Than, stripping himself of himself, He perishes in the flames. And is he not then victim of death at such a time? Indeed not:, for do we not see the PHOENIX rise anew? Such that, in some strange and unheard of way, This Bird is his own tomb.
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ALTUS Teach us now, O Muse, In fitting verse, and worthy of the subject, The many different names that Fire has And beneath what divers figures and allegories the real lies hidden. Celestial Dew, ‘tis called, Falling on the flowers of the field, Well known to the Wise, who make of it their pleasure, And possession of which is so precious. ‘Tis the sea's salt water With which to cook our fish And tint him to a lovely ruddy hue. ‘Tis an fŒtid Liquor Of disagreeable smell; The Vinegar that dissolves all gold; ‘Tis a fire like unto the humid warmth of a horse's steaming dung, Wherein putrefies our Matter And dissolves into chaos. Is called the Perennial Waters of Life. The Menstruum giving growth to the fŒtus As sperm be nourished in the womb. For when the male cast forth his seed ‘Tis then watered by the dampness of the female and nourished by her blood, And Nature forms and produces a child Who, in terms of its perfections, Wondrously resembles those to whom it owes its life. This is the Sacred Fire
Taken from the chariot of the Sun and Brought to earth by Prometheus, Taught unto the Greeks by Orpheus, Establishing amongst them the Bacchanal. ‘Tis the Fire the Bacchantes carried in their races, Symbolised by the blazing torches in their hands. ‘Tis the Fire burning day and night Upon Altars consecrate to Vesta and Minerva.
MEDIA None there are who not know the origin of the PHOENIX: Its tale is told throughout the Globe, And there is no place on Earth, Highest mountain nor deepest valley, That rejoices not in it or is ignorant of it. ‘Tis the Stone best known of stones, Of which sufficient glimpse is revealed by the Wise unto true Children of the Art, But which they hide from those who would demean it. ‘Tis the Vulture That frames its nest within a tree upon the soaring mountain peak Whence comes forth the feathered chick, A Crow, who day and night cries out: "Give unto me my due And I'll to thee Return what's thine by rights!" ‘Tis a King drowned in a deep sea, Who stuggles to attain the surface And return unto his Realms. ‘Tis the White Swan; The golden-feathered Peacock; The Pelican, redeeming With its own blood, The lives of its young; The twin-bodied Lion, Who at first supported by his own strength Soon after falls to the ground. ‘Tis the Serpent twined about the caduceus of Hermes Used by that messenger of the gods to work his miracles, Bringing sleep to, or stealing it from whom he will, Restoring life to the dead, Carrying death unto the world of the living.
GRAVIS Not every place is conducive to the generation of things Nor does a common urn serve for the ashes of a King. In like wise, there is but one unique Coupling of Earth and Iris, A small portion of which will serve to contain the ashes of our Bird until his resurrection; But, hid within the bosom of that earth Is a secret virtue or essential power That restores to him his life. For just as by fermentation, leaven forms all divers kinds of bread, Fitting them to nourish the various parts of the body, So, too, the all-powerful virtue of this earth revives what is dead And hid beneath the waves. Again ‘tis Mother's milk, Born of the blood that courses the veins of a young woman, Which, recooked within her breasts, Becomes fit nourishment for the child newborn. Never shall I reveal this secret. And yet, will I add that ‘tis of this earth the Hermetic Vase should be made, For ‘tis fireproof And will never split or crack. Hence is it ever sought out with such care. This then is the Royal wax With which to seal our secret. In a word, ‘tis the one, Unique thing that gives unto all others Their form, their strength and their beauty.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS Difficult t'would be to express in full the value fire brings unto the Universe, Or to the many and varied operations of our Art. A deathly cold would bind all things in stasis Did not heat come to our aid, Animating and envigorating things. In vain would we strive at the divers operations of the Art And nothing gain, Were it not for the aid of that Fire known to the Wise. It draws not strength from herb nor wood, this Fire; Nor is its nature in any wise animal, But mineral almost. ‘Tis the iron summoned to the Lodestone, To which ‘tis linked by indissoluble bonds. ‘Tis a sulphurous Torch; A living silver Water To tint and colour our Work. ‘Tis a beneficent Spirit Giving form intrinsic to all that exists And subtlety, And ornamenting all things. O, marvellous property of warmth, What a gift you are to the Wise, Directing their operations in the Art they know! For the whole secret of Art Consists only in knowledge of the Fire. Withdraw from this, O you, profane! Draw back, you, the vulgar and inane,
That this sacred flame enlighten ye not Nor your impure tongues Make public These mysteries best kept concealed!
MEDIA Many the books that make well enough known the virtues and excellences of the little plant called Moonwort. Red its stem, Its bark is blackish Its flower citrine-coloured And it exhales a scent both soft and sweet. It waxes in accord with the moon, Becoming lovelier as the days pass. T'was by Lull hid 'neath Allegories mysterious, And of the Wise not a few have sung the virtues Of this marvellous herb, Commending it to their successors, Yet none indicate where it might be found, All closely guarding the secret of the matter. Some say ‘tis the herb Glauce, The touch of which restores life Unto dead fish, And imbues them with warmth anew. ‘Tis, if the Poets may be believed, The famous Moly given Ulysses By Laertes, son of Maia, As proof against the enchantments of Circe And antidote to the poison served him by that cruel Sorceress. The Sun and Moon prevailing over all other metallic bodies are in it: The Sun as potency, And the Moon as accomplishment. ‘Tis the sole foundation and basis of the great Art. ‘Tis a Lodestone attracting iron, A vapour heavy with moisture, A contagious disease for the fish that feed in the salt sea And a brilliant Star, blazing in heaven on high.
GRAVIS 'Twas not to force of arms fell glorious Troy, But to ruses and schemes. She took within herself the fatal gift As offering to Minerva, And t'was graciously accepted. There is no-one knows not How from this Wooden Horse her ruin sprang; Enclosed within its giant flanks Lay hidden foes untold. These are the towers, walls and ramparts of Troy, Nor shall we - without recourse to subterfuge and artifice Ever scale them. For Bodies never can receive the virtues Communicated them by the breath of the spirit, Which is to say, the vapours and fire of Nature, Unless that female be brought to marriage with the fixed male. If, thus, ye wish not to lose your way In your quest for the Stone of which ye know, Imitate the Greeks' trick. Here, the famous apples Thrice thrown by Ephebus, Certain of victory In his race with fleet-foot Atalanta. Only a Son of the Sun, Holder of the precious fleece of Phrixus, May single-handed conquer The hosts of the Fields of Mars. Such are the unshakeable foundations of our house. To he who knows them not, All else is without use. This is the nest wherein the Bird arrays himself In feathers lost, And from which oft again ‘tis reborn featherless chick.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS A young Virgin of goodly beauty And Royal blood, Had come to marriageable age and, Thinking to obtain for herself a worthy husband, Sent certain of her Subjects into the most distant lands To search her out a befitting spouse, Adapted both to her rank and inclination. These, passing through all lands, Arrived at last, by sea, unto the High Indies And the shores of far Japan. There found they, in vile and unclean habit, A young man said to be of Royal blood. His body was covered o'er with a pelt Replete in long and matted hairs, And entangled in the hair of his head were feathers Which, moreover, seemed to turn and spin with every breeze. They accosted him; and when they had apprised him How that he was destined to wed their august Princess, He returned with them. That nothing might lack in the ceremony, And to assure that all be carried out in due and proper order, The celebration of these nuptials Was a most solemn occasion. The married couple, loving each the other well, Went unto the marriage bed, Where Cypris granted them her most precious favours for their love-embrace. Three Paranymphs carried the nuptial torches and conducted the ceremonials. The Three Graces acknowledged the union with joy,
And the Muses hymned it in verses befitting PhŒbus. What delicious sleep the two lovers drift into at last! And the lass will waken with child, the fruit deep enclosed within her.
MEDIA From Moon to earth, the Poets claim, Meaning perhaps to hide their mystery 'neath the veil of Allegory, Some several ferocious animals fell, Among them the terrible Lion of the Nemean Forests, Scion of the congealed spume of brilliant Cynthia, Who from Heaven fell to this world below And was done to death by the valiant Hercules. A Fable, yet it hides a truth, For in the Lion's mouth lies hid A thing more esteemed by the Wise than all worldly wealth A thing to them most useful. To find it is no little thing, But who will kill the Lion? He will have need of strength of arm Not less than that of Alcides as well as the use of his club Who would overcome a terrifying monster of teeth and claws. Should one force him into the damp cranny Of the bed one has prepared him, Sweet-smelling of saffron and amber, There will his limbs all weaken and, Choking on the waters, he shall drown beneath the flood. Let one then make every effort to know this Lion. The Star from which he falls Rains down a celestial dew, Moistening the grasses, Bearing fruitfulness to their seed, And covering their stems with flowers. Thus it is our little flower grows, Making it to bring forth a food to the Lion's taste, And valuable too to those who lack in strength.
GRAVIS Once on a time there was a King Rich in lands and gold, And who governed with great peace A Vast Realm of territories rich in all things. This King had no male offspring, But his sole heir, his daughter, married And gave unto the light A Prince of great beauty to succeed him. Now it chanced that another King Offered to this Prince rich lands If he would marry one of his daughters who loved him most tenderly, And come to live in his lands. This proposition, being well pleased by her beauty, The Prince readily accepted, And so the marriage was made. Not long after, The Prince's mother brought unto him All the wealth of her father's realm and, Giving it to her son in gift, Thus made him The richest and most powerful Monarch in all the Globe. The immensity of the treasure he possessed Of gold and precious things of all kinds Can scarce be expressed: T'was a veritable Cornucopæia. For the kingdom of his grandfather, Offered him by his mother, Abounded in gold: Its earths produced but gold, And its rivers poured their streams o'er sands of gold And golden pebbles, which they washed down from the Mountains.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS Beautiful Psyche, decked out in most precious raiment And carried onward by her ardour, Sought long for Love whom from her she had driven. Years long did she voyage with wondrous fatigue Through the Lands of the earth but ne'er found him. She learned at last that the god she loved Had hid himself in Araby, The which mightily upset her, For his inseparable comrade there was Vulcan Whom she abhorred and feared, Counting him not among her friends And fleeing him always, Unable to endure his close presence. She knew, too, that he was opposed to the union, And far from making peace between them, Would work entirely to keep them estranged. In agitation and disquiet, Seeking remedy to the situation, She turned to her daughter, Explaining to her all that had transpired. Now her daughter, Gammarina, Wife and mother to Psyche's grandson, The truant, fugitive Love, Immediately assumed charge of the affair Promising to set matters aright. Since that time,
Protected by her daughter, Who cares for them both and fears not the tyranny of the God of Fire, Psyche dwells in profound union with her grandson, The diversity of their inclination Finding thus happy conciliation.
MEDIA In the Isles of the Indian Ocean, Dwells a Bird named Ruk, Of size and strength so prodigious That it may catch up men, and horses even, And fly with them through the æthyrs. Taking up in its claws one day A beast with ivory teeth, And furnished with a trunk in lieu of mouth, Succumbing to the weight of that creature's dense mass It fell to earth, without, for that, releasing hold on its prey. Unable to rise, there they lay, Each of the death it was causing the other perishing. Up ran then an inhabitant of that land And put an end to the two half-spent Monsters And, flaying them, took of their flesh And with it returned home To cook it in an oven, Roasting it that he might serve it unto his King. And, indeed, a short while after it did so happen That that Prince partook of a meal of that ragout. Now this dish has the power to restore and rectify sight To the point where one may perceive those things most hidden in Heaven and earth, Be they covered by the densest cloud or shade. Moreover, ‘tis a dish reserved unto the mouths of Kings, That they may furthest see, And thus provide for the government of their realms most wisely.
GRAVIS An heir of Tamerlaine, Whom Men, with reason, have named the Great Mogul, The tenth of that name, Is Lord, now, Of all the wealth and divers Realms of India, And loves, whatever be the season of the year, To pass in review his treasures And feast his eyes upon the wealth of his Estates. This pious Prince Employs vast sums of wealth To erect unto his father a superb Temple, Enriching it with countless gifts. The sides of the magnificent building Are adorned with triple rows of columns That raise their heads through the airs to the height of the very clouds, Their feet made of gold, That the ravages of fire and water might do them no harm. The Prince believed that his father's soul Would, after death, attach itself to that place and live there, Adopting it as his body, And t'was to this end he had erected the dignified monument to his Ancestor, Wherein would he asperge his ashes with the blood of many victims. Such a tomb alone is worthy of our King, Whose spirit, stripped of its body, Should take up residence in that place. Thus, at death, we believe, Did the Egyptian, Serapis, Enter into the precious Urn he inhabits.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS A dragon of immense size secreted himself in a cavern, Whence sent he forth his poisons upon all passers-by. Already at the simple touch of his pestilential breath Had the monster laid waste a vast territory Without that any imagine the cause of so great a desolation. Of old, Socrates Was, by means of a concave mirror, Enabled to detect, Hid atop a tall column, A gigantic Serpent, Regulus by name, Mortal enemy of all men, Whose poison was subtler than that of any other creature. He so sited on the heights of a nearby tower An image of the Monster, That it could be clearly descried And that the serpent therein would recognise himself. To it he conjoined a concave mirror, Of the most brilliant metals made And burnished to a high sheen, Which, by its magnetic power, had this virtue: That it could gather poisons, The most distant as the most near, Without in any way altering in itself. The Basilisk, on seeing in the mirror its own reflected image, Swallowed the poison without noticing, And was thus pierced by that self-same shaft that he himself had loosed. To know how to kill so mortal a Dragon, And to draw forth, subtly and cunningly, all its venom
And make it enter into burnished metal is great art indeed.
MEDIA On the frontiers of Persia, Where blazes the Tropic of Cancer, Is a red Sea, Whither, having endured sore perils, By winds of chance was carried a vessel from Teutonic lands. The Ship had in command a valiant Captain who, Seated on the heights of the poop, Had steered her through the stormy seas unto that place. Her ensign was a leaping Bull with starred forehead, Bound round with a circlet of red iron, And with this metal too had they loaded the ship That its weight Might preserve it from becoming the toy of the winds and tides. Eurus, notwithstanding, Furiously raising the waves, Had swept the Ship away, Engulfing it in deep waters. Stranded they were, And as the Captain sought some means whereby to deliver them, He perceived that the bed of the Sea was strewn with lodestone Which was drawing in the iron-laden Ship And would not permit it to escape, For there is, between them, a sympathy so great That the one attracts the other Until they must unite completely. ‘Tis ours, the Ship the Sea engulfs within its deeps. As to the lodestone which has the power to halt that Goddess Whose blood, once shed, reddens the white rose, The Wise know where ‘tis to be found.
GRAVIS There was a Prince, Scion of the ancient line of Parthia, To whom the Brahmins predicted That there would come a time when the yield of the year would be sterile And the earth no longer bring forth fruit. It was, in consequence, his part To order built throughout the land vast granaries Whose walls would mount unto the very skies. Accepting and carrying out the decrees of the Oracle, The Prince assembled forthwith a great host of labourers and artisans, And - since he paid them well They worked with a will to build up the new granaries unto the Heavenly heights. The great task was begun And brought to perfection within a short time, And presently all products of the earth And of the ingenuity earth in her fruitfulness has conferred upon mankind, All the manifold gifts of Bacchus and of Ceres, Were gathered within them. Ye who seek the treasure hid beneath this Allegory, If ye give it the attention necessary, Ye will find it without fail, And be struck by its lightning clarity. Not those alone who live beside the banks of the Nile Nor those that dwell upon the Isle of Pharos Hasten to gather in stores of gold: The Wise, too, toil to make gold multiply from gold.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS This is the Queen of all Science, prevailing over all others; ‘tis, says Raymond Lull, the epitome of all Arts; and, as Morien shows, ‘tis what elevates the mind of the Sage, rendering it fit to pierce the tenebrous veils of the future and penetrate the profoundest mysteries of the Deity ‘Tis the living image of our own Creation and Redemption, which thus unveil to us their secret. For, just as Adam was of red clay formed, and gifted with every beauty and filled with the spirit of the breath of Almighty God, who gave unto him life and soul, so, too, the Wise have their materia, drawn of the red earth, which they nurture and tinge to a pretty hue, the which, being drawn from metals, suffuses itself throughout their most intimate reaches, uniting itself with the Body which receives it with pleasure. Three Streams water the Garden of Delights, wherein was placed Adam upon his creation, and where, deceived by the Serpent, he incurred blame in the eyes of God. In like manner, three Waters bathe our mine; and the Art, too, has its subtle Dragon, who 'midst the spreading gloom of shadows black, ensnares in a sole solution and flask our Conjugal Pair.
MEDIA Since, in eating of the fruit of the tree which had strictly been denied him, our first father disobeyed the injunction of GOD, all the Seed of Adam have been made subject to death. The crime is inexpungible; and all descended from that guilty man have been born into the guilt that he incurred. Then, THE CREATOR, touched by these evils and recalling His fatherhood over them, resolved, by the greatest of all His mysteries, to free Humankind from death. And thus did Omnipotent God became Man, taking birth of a Virgin; and, for all His innocence, shedding His blood and, suffering upon the cross the most cruel of deaths, He crushed the head of the infernal Dragon and took from him his poison's sting. Hid by figure and veil, this sacred mystery is found also in the Art as may be seen throughout the works of Raymond Lull and others. For here, too, the pure comes to the aid of the impure; and by its purest of Sulphurs, this light of lights fortifies the sulphur of metals. He who wits how JESUS CHRIST delivered us from death eternal, will comprehend as well the goal of this mysterious Art, as also the tinging of gross and impure metals.
GRAVIS The infinite virtues and omnipotence of the Eternal are well beyond reason and human understanding, for since He is without beginning or end, nothing which has come into existence and thus must perish, could ever be compared with Him. And thus, to reconcile sinful mortals unto Himself and to render them worthy of a heavenly life, and establish a unifying link between opposites - between what is above and what is below - the Supreme Being thought to unite God and man in one sole being, thus skilfully righting wrong and saving the sinful posterity of the original Father. In like manner, the fixed Body marries never well with what is volatile or nor can come into close union with it if there be no a soft link bringing together extremes and uniting the divers metals in a single form. One must find some Mediator which, equally friendly to one and all, gives equally of itself to each and all. O prodigies of Nature, what sacred traces of our Saviour do ye not contain within ye and to our eyes reveal! For this, too, has the Art come to be known as sacred, for it imparts unto us the Mysteries of the Godhead, ensuring that we be never unconscious of that which is most divine.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS Where'er go the Children of Adam, they take with them the stain of original sin and transmit it unto posterity. It is for this, that CHRIST decreed they be reborn of the spirit in the sacred waters of Baptism. So, too, that they be born anew, must the things of the Art be returned to and resolve themselves in that pure liquor from which they had their origin. Where one omits to do so, or so doing, fails to take adequate care, metals come not to sublimation. For we see, also, that immediately upon the birth of Bacchus-Lyæus, he was given unto the Amalthean Nymphs for that he be nourished of water, that he might be raised among their pleasant meadows, watered by countless streams and planted o'er with gardens beyond number, waxing there and putting on flesh until, plumped by the dews, his youth flourished. Twice-born he was called because his mother, who was also his nurse, twice bore him, feeding him first from her breasts, and then from the produce of the Horn of Plenty. In like manner, and to render our own young newly born more lovely yet, must we wash it three or four times in wholesome bath, whereby to purify it of menstruum and cleanse it of the gross impurities which might damage it.
MEDIA Raised up upon the Cross, CHRIST suffered cruel death to redeem our sins before his Father, who is Himself, like unto the Father, GOD, and unto the Holy Spirit who forms with them the Most Holy Trinity. In so doing, as precursors of His death, He received five wounds from which His innocent blood streamed forth to wash away the stain of original sin with which our first Parents did soil us. ‘Tis from this the institution of this divine Redeemer stems, His flesh and blood offered upon our Altars in the guise of bread and wine, and serving as pledge of salvation to the Faithful. In the Sacred Art the Wise offer further image of this Mystery, showing how there, too, there is a stream of flowing blood which, once entering into metals, conserves them whole amidst even the most violent fires. ‘Tis this blood, streaming from the breast of Pyramis as he stabbed himself above the dying body of his beloved Thisbe, that blackened first the fruit of the Mulberry which had before been white. ‘Tis this blood, streaming from the foot of Venus in the rose-garden, that coloured red the rose, which had theretofore been white. But that which purple flows from the veins of our Body has an incomparable perfection and virtue.
GRAVIS The Prophet Elijah, so they say, was raised unto Heaven in a chariot of fire, where, dwelling beyond the Stars, he remains as certain proof for us of the future life to be enjoyed once death has stripped us of this body of clay to which we are attached. Depicted also in pious Enoch's transport unto Heaven in his very body, ‘tis especially that which is proven by the example of CHRIST JESUS who, by His divine and all-powerful virtue, victor over death, would not have it that His glorious body be subject, but arose again alive from out the tomb upon the third day. Ascending thereafter unto Heaven, He opened unto us with His vivifying grace the gates that had ever been closed. So too, as in living tableau, the Adepts in our Art clearly see the dead spring anew from out the darkness of the tomb, well though their elements be separated from the close union that binds them. For the virtue housed in this perfect Body does not permit that the volatile there be within the imperfect disperse or lose its form: indeed, on the contrary, it affirms and fortifies itself, bonding with the Bodies in liaison so close, that it renders them capable of maintaining their life-force even in the midst the most ardent flames. For the fixed perfects and fixes the volatile in due turn.
of the INTELLECTUAL CANTILENÆ
ALTUS O wondrous Profoundness of the eternal Trinity! O how exalted the supreme Mystery of a GOD essentially one, and yet three in Person! Who could comprehend thee, or justly sing thy praises in Verse? The mortal made of muddy clay never could conceive of thee; the human mind is but a shade before thee; and man, in his lowly estate, cannot lift himself to understanding of these divine secrets. How so be it, may it so fall that I be accorded the favour to see, through the clouds that veil my eyes, that ineffable light of the essential and singular Sun. I recognise one, unique Lord, Creator of this Universe, who made of nothing all that in it is contained, who knows neither beginning nor end, and who is the force of all well-being. This God is at once the most bountiful Father, the only-beloved Son, and the Spirit of Love proceeding from both. Thus it is that, in Art, as in the Holy Trinity, are three distinct and separate things, connected by a single bond, such that even the most violent fire cannot set them apart. These three are the Body or father, the filial Link and the Spirit which uniting with the one and the other, produces between them a soft accord, so uniting metals that no degree of violence might set them apart.
MEDIA That Egyptian King, both Priest and Sage, spoke often in his writings of the Father, Son and Spirit. This being so, many of the Wise affirm that none of his Disciples instructed in the Art knew not that the Son of GOD was to incarnate, born without human intervention of a Virgin: thus thought noble Ferrarius and many others. Let them believe what they will; for our part, we will hold to that which Religion tells, attested to by manifold witness, not only that of Sacred Writ but also of many lay Authors. If I adduce new proofs, ‘tis not to distort reality, but that we may with pleasure see it writ and traced upon the very Books of nature. A pure Virgin conceives without human agency, and brings into the world a male Child. Emerged from the innocent womb of the Virgin Mother, he is of three the only one that can be seen without, the first and last being beyond our perception. Who then shall understand so great a mystery? Our Virgin is neighbour among the Stars to the ass and the manger: her Husband is the beloved of Cynthia, her brother and son.
GRAVIS Our understanding cannot compass the joys of eternal future life: it loses itself in contemplation of such things unheard, above and beyond all imagination. For man inhabiting this earth so abject and gross cannot conceive of the marvels of Heaven. We know only that sight of the supreme Being will always be a source of joy, and that we shall never tire of singing the praises of the Creator. Thus far our feeble lamps will light. This being so, men are addicted to worldly property and seek out with greatest care those things that seem to them closest to approach the lasting values of eternity. Gold of all things precious do they follow as their object of desire: all Nations dream of its acquisition and work to achieve that aim. They make of it the value and measure of all the most precious products of Nature and Art, and that for no more reason than that this metal be proof against the violence of fire and the elements which consume all other things. Only Gold endures forever; and ‘tis its compact nature which would seem to have earned it the right of comparison to things both eternal and divine.
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