The ouroboros (Greek: “tail-eater,” alternatively spelled ourobouros, oureboros or uroboros) is a serpent forming a circle, eating its

own tail. The origin of the symbol is unclear. Some trace it to Neolithic cultures, and the seventh century writer Horopollon stated that the Egyptians used the ouroboros to illustrate their concept of the universe--eternity and immortality (Shepard 1232). The Egyptian goddess Isis held a sun disk mounting an ouroboros, which was called Abraxas. Isis mythology became embedded in the beliefs of the Gnostics, an offshoot of early Christianity that adopted Abraxas as the name of its high aeon (Guiley 2). The Gnostic text Pistis Sophia states that the sun disk was imagined as a great dragon with its tail in its mouth, an image also featured on Gnostic gems (Walker 268-9). The ouroboros was the “universal serpent that passes through all things… [an] unchanging law” (Cirlot 235). Sects called the Naassenes or Hophites saw the serpent as the Soul of the World, encircling all of creation (Hutin 44). Greek alchemists later adopted the ouroboros. The symbol was possibly a variant symbol for Hermes, Mercury, Thoth or other related deities, who under the name Hermes Trismegistus, was the mythical founder of alchemy (Cirlot 235, Walker 268-9). The Chrysopoeia of Kleopatra contains a drawing of the ouroboros with the Greek inscription En to pan: ”All is One” (“Circle” 422, Shepard 1232); the same inscription appears in the second century Codex Marcianus. Sometimes, as in a Venetian alchemical manuscript, the serpent is half-light, half-dark, signifying the balance of opposing principles (Cirlot 235). Alchemists viewed the ouroboros as the guardian of a mystical treasure that had to be “destroyed or dissolved” to gain knowledge of the treasure. It was also a sign of the sun, as it had been for the Gnostics (Shepard 1232). Alchemy was a closed process that purified substances, so the tail-eater could serve as a symbol for alchemy itself. Sometimes two creatures, the top one a winged dragon standing for volatility, were depicted swallowing each other (Biedermann Dictionary 363). Occasionally, the symbol consisted of two long-necked birds (Becker 316). The process of alchemy was viewed as having neither a beginning nor an end (Hutin 35). The opposite ends of alchemical work, the raw material and the final product, were the same. On one level, this referred to the “unity of matter,” the idea that the alchemist could reduce all material to a single primordial substance that could not be destroyed, only transformed (Hutin 77-8). On another level, the process referred to the perfection of the soul, with the raw material and the end product consisting of a human being. Thus the Latin phrase Ars totum requirit hominem: “The art requires the whole man” (Biedermann “Alchemy” 72). For those following a mystical path, the ouroboros represented the unity of sacrificer and sacrificed (Shepard 1232). The ouroboros continued to appear in the symbolism of Western magic for centuries. It connected the zodiac signs on the Greek Cross of the Zodiac, an emblem of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The Order was a nineteenth century British “university” of magic (Cavendish 1042). The ouroboros entered the popular imagination of the twentieth century through its use in mass media, such as in the titles of E. R. Eddison’s 1922 fantasy-adventure story The Worm Ouroboros (Shepard 1232) and episodes of the science-fiction television series Red Dwarf and Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. Its most well-known appearance was in Chris Carter’s television series Millennium. The ouroboros reflects the cosmic serpent of mythology through its reconciliation of opposites (Griffiths 2339-40, Walker 268-9). The taileater is the synthesis between chthonian and celestial principles (Cirlot 235). Thus, the symbol may be related to the yin-yang of Chinese symbolism (Shepard 1232). Jormungandr, the serpent that laid at the base of the Tree of Life in Norse tradition, grew so big that he encircled the world, biting his own tail (Coulter and Turner 252). {It has been postulated that this image only entered Norse symbolism after the introduction of Christianity [Moon 132].) The snake was often a symbol of reincarnation because of its apparent ability to constantly rejuvenate itself through shedding its skin. The ouroboros also carried this connotation (Biedermann Dictionary 362). Furthermore, the ouroboros is related to the dragon, a common symbol of beginnings and ends--and in Semitic and Indo-European myths, the primordial chaos that must be overcome to create life and order (Moon 132). A psychological interpretation of the ouroboros sees it as an archetype symbolic of the undifferentiated

personality--the Self that exists prior to the development of the ego. It may also stand for the "ongoing reality behind the individuating ego," representing the recognition of the selfsustaining individual (Moon 132-3). Not only did the ouroboros represent the journey of the soul between the physical and spiritual realms, the cycle of death and rebirth (Becker 316, Biedermann Dictionary 363), it also signified the universe as a whole because the circle encloses everything, yet is one thing in itself (“Circle” 422). The ouroboros is an image of the eternal return (including global cycles of destruction and restoration)--the cycle of endless repetition reminding us that in every end there is a new beginning. (Biedermann Dictionary 362). It is self-sufficient Nature, the continuity of life, expressed in a cyclic pattern (Cirlot 235). The ouroboros is the “closing of the circle” (Biedermann Dictionary 362).

Works Cited
Becker, Udo. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols. Trans. Lance W. Garmer. New York: Continuum, 1994. Biedermann, Hans. “Alchemy.” Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. ---. Dictionary of Symbolism. Trans. James Hulbert. New York: Facts on File, 1992. Cavendish, Richard. “Order of the Golden Dawn.” Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. 21 volumes. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. “Circle.” Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. 21 volumes. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. Cirlot, Juan Edvardo. A Dictionary of Symbols. Trans. Jack Sage. New York: Philosophical Library, 1962. Coulter, Charles Russell and Patricia Turner. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2000. Griffiths, J. Gwyn. “Serpent.” Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. 21 volumes. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Angels. New York: Facts on File, 1996. Hutin, Serge. A History of Alchemy. Trans. Tamara Alferoff. New York: Walker and Company, 1962. Moon, Beverly. ed. An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism. Boston: Shambhala, 1991. Shepard, Leslie. ed. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. 2 volumes. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991. Walker, Barbara. The Women’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.

More ouroboros images...  Abacus: Ouroboros  Ouroboros: The Engine that Drives Reality  Spira Solaris and the Universal Ouroboros

The Ouroboros
Engine that Drives Reality

. "All is One!" cries this Ouroboros from Alexandrian Egypt. Stylized Ouroboros in a medieval alchemy lab in Heidelberg.The Ouroboros connects the Above with the Below. The Ouroboros is the connection between man and God.

"The Serpent Ouroboros" from ancient Egypt. . 1200 BC. Earthly Ouroboros from Alciato's Emblems. Seven-segmented Aztec Ouroboros.Chinese Ouroboros from Chou dynasty.

Alchemically. the generative. from a book by an early Alchemist. Heaven. yang.. In researching the ouroborus it soon became apparent that a number of people had not only concerned themselves with the topic. The enclosed words mean ' the all is one. the endless round of existence." The second example and the following expansion on the topic is by Chris Aynesworth (The World . if not universal terms.'" The same source also explains that: "In the above drawing. they had also placed their understanding of it on the Internet. creative force. yin. the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph . The graphical representations and insights below are all from this rapidly expanding resource. the black half symbolizes the Night. etc. Earth.The 'tail-devourer' is the symbolization of concepts such as completion. THE OUROBOROS In general. tail-eating snake. which according to the source (Chris McCoy) was from: "The Chrysopoeia ('Gold-Making') of Cleopatra during the Alexandrian Period. Fom left to right. It is usually represented as a worm or serpent with its tail in its mouth. the Ouroboros may be defined as a self-sustaining. the light half represents Day.Oceanic Ouroboros from Alciato's Emblems. PART VI. Cleopatra.. and the destructive force of nature. SPIRA SOLARIS AND THE UNIVERSAL OUROBOROS A. perfection and totality. but it is clear that there is far more to the matter than this. the first Ouroboros is one of the better known examples. for the concept is almost global in its distribution and evidently has far deeper meanings in many cultures.

It is of interest to mention that a symbol such as that of the Ouroboros is something which Carl Jung refers to as an archetype. 'My end is my beginning. In the broadest sense." called Pontus. primordial unity. and the idea of the beginning and the end as being a continuous unending principle. the primaeval waters. "A return to wholeness. Its form suggests immobility with its locked jaws upon itself. From "Ouroboros. Through the years the serpent moved on to the Phoenicians and the Greeks-who were what gave it the name "Ouroboros. but in a cyclical sense. rather than linear. the undifferentiated. weds. The Ouroboros encircles the Universe. self-fecundation. and was at a stop point in his work until after waking up he interpreted the dream to mean that the structure was a closed carbon ring. which has a large and diverse selection of these impressive archtypes. "As Above. the Totality. truth and cognition complete. It is a single image with the entire actions of a life cycle . is just one). the All'. The word 'Ouroboros' is really a term that describes a similar symbol which has been cross-pollinated from many different cultures. thus there are good and bad connotations which can be drawn.we are born from nature. This is the prime primordial end to human endeavor. Born from this symbolic notion." "Ouroboros was and is the name for the Great World Satan.Tree) "Of The Androgyne: The Serpent Ouroboros. "tail eater. as in the Codex . yet at the same time it pushes the insistent message of perpetual movement through its twined coils. The androgyne is the united male and female principles together. it is symbolic of time and the continuity of life." The Greek translation means. It is not unlike the idea of androgyny.'The One.a series of movements which repeat. snake or serpent biting its own tail. It injects life into death and death into budding life. He had been researching the molecular structure of benzene. supporting and maintaining the earthly balance. because it is what man wholly is a part of. disintegration and re-integration. which is a duality complete. there are many different cultures which share this great dragon-serpent symbol (the serpent Jormungandr." there is the serpent or dragon gnawing at its own tail. it fashions our lives to a totality more towards what it may REALLY be . it seems to makes its way into our conscious mind time and time again in varying forms. selfsufficiency. the Androgyne (see below). Thus. everything known and unknown is encompassed in its embracing coils." The third is apparently an Aztec Ouroboros (with proportions that even Hermes would have found pleasing) originally from: Project Ouroborus at the University of Minnesota. The symbolic connotation from this owes to the returning cyclical nature of the seasons. There are some cultures that see the image as not being beneficial. from the myth of Yggdrasil. It sometimes bears the caption Hen to pan . but evil . This was the breakthrough he needed. the reunion which births totality and creation. It represents the conflict of life as well in that life comes out of life and death. The 19th century German chemist named Kekule dreamed of a snake with its tail in its mouth one day after dosing begets. the potential before the spark of creation. So Below" . and slays itself. encircling the earth." It has a strong relation to what is known as the Androgyne. The first clues to this symbol go back as far as 1600-1700 BC in Egypt. the oscillations of the night sky. There is another mention of the Ouroboros laying at the edge of "the sea which surrounds the world.' In a sense life feeds off itself. and we mirror it. impregnates. These more specific re-interpretations will be spoken of later. The following commentary from this source links with what has already been said and also adds further points of interest: This symbol appears principally among the Gnostics and is depicted as a dragon.

. Evola asserts that it represents the dissolution of the body. the body is half light and half dark. and was first used in Gabriel Rollenhagen's Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum. that is which. and of things.23) Wither explains further the snake swallowing its tail (ouroboros): Old Sages by the Figure of the Snake Encircled thus) did oft expression make Of Annual-Revolutions.. A demanding poem to read on a screen.. There was no surrounding air to be breathed. à la Nietzsche. These Roundells. Both the dragon and the bull are symbolic antagonists of the solar hero. a more ornate dragon-like example.40) and the following amplification: Emblem 2. help to shew the Mystery of that immense and blest Eternitie. because its designer considered that a being which was sufficient unto itself would be far more excellent than one which depended upon anything. quae Itali vulgo impresas vocant . There ending. From whence the CREATURE sprung. to its own beginning. or the primitive idea of a self-sufficient Nature . Ruland contends this proves that it is a variant of the symbol for Mercury . It has also been explained as the union between the chthonian principle as represented by the serpent and the celestial principal as signified by the bird (a synthesis which can also be applied to the dragon). Solar Architect Dennis Holloway more than twenty years ago defined the Ouroboros as: ".40 from George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes.Marcianus. and timely. the viper and the universal solvent are all symbols of the undifferentiated-of the 'unchanging law' which moves through all things. for there was nothing outside it to be seen. Which wheele about in everlasting-rings.the duplex god. its own waste providing its own food.D. alluding in this way to the successive counterbalancing of opposing principls as illustrated in the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol for instance. (33 -The Construction of the World) The fourth ouroboros is from Alciato's Book of Emblems and the Memorial Web Library at Memorial University of Newfoundland.. nor of ears. where they first of all begun . linking them by a common bond. 1611-13). 1635). Ancient and Moderne (London. the ancient Greek mythical serpent that survived by devouring itself. In some versions of the Ouroboros." He also linked the Ouroboros with the following quotation from Plato's Timæus: "It had no need of eyes. Continuing in the same locale and context. within a cyclic pattern. page 102." In a later emblem (3. The Ouroboros biting its own tail is symbolic of self-fecundation. of the 2nd century A. The plate was engraved by Crispin de Passe and son. Of design it was made thus. or the universal serpent which (to quote the Gnostic saying) 'passes through all things'. acting and being acted upon entirely with and by itself. with full perfection come .. for there was nothing outside to be heard. .. nor was it in need of any organ by which to supply itself with food or to get rid of it when digested.. for instance. (Arnhem and Utrecht. Poison. Nothing went out from or came into it anywhere. The Greek running around the picture (aionion kai proskairon) means something like "timeless. There is a Venetian manuscript on alchemy which depicts the Ouroboros with its body half-black (symbolizing earth and night) and half-white (denoting heaven and light). The sixth. and into whom It shall again. is one of twelve emblems discussed in detail by Adam . The latter source also provided the fifth example (Emblem 2. continually returns.a Nature. for there was nothing." from Timaeus..

pictured here in the meeting of Lion and Lioness. Next in Emblem 3 we have the beautiful picture of the meeting in a clearing in the forest of a magnificent Stag and a graceful Unicorn.. and intimates that each ending in a perpetual renewal corresponds to a new beginning. or Wolf and Dog. in Artemidoros and Acrobius. form a circle. The next example (7 and 8) and following description: "The symbol Ouroboros. The second emblem shows a different aspect to polarities in the fight between the inner dragon and an armed knight (a St George figure) in the Forest of the Soul.left) mirroring the posture of the Stag and Unicorn in the previous emblem. These polarities are further linked in the verse with the directions West (Dog) and East (Wolf). Their upper extremities bend round together. there are many others. The former.) while another representation of the ouroborus serves as the logo of the J.. So the Phoenicians have represented it in their temples as a dragon curled in a circle and devouring its tail. The Stag as a symbol is often associated with the Sun and the Unicorn is usually linked with the Moon. he explains that: The first layer of five emblems deal with the different facets of polarities in our inner world. some less. the heavens. and many in more complex configurations.' The latter declares the two-headed Roman god Janus is the world: 'that is. and the meeting and relationship indicated in the Stag-Unicorn and Lion-Lioness emblems.R.C. Emblem 6 is a clear statement of the Ouroborus. and his name Janus comes from eundo [by going] since the world always goes rolling on itself in its globe-form . In this emblem there is a sense that the polarities must struggle to overcome each other. a snake or dragon biting its own tail. The dynamically opposed though balanced way of the two fishes.. the polarities are seen in their manifestation as masculine and feminine. Ritman Library (Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica Site) in the Netherlands. Lioness . We note how they raise their opposite paws (Lion . while the . (A Threefold Alchemical Journey Through the Book of Lambspring). "It is also clear that it's the Sun honoured under the name of Mercurius [Hermes] according to the cadeuceus that the Egyptians have consecrated to the god in the figure of the Two Serpents. male and female. engraved on a bronze receptacle from the Chou dynasty. in his dream-book. in Emblem 4. especially in the alchemical context. and. (1970. pp. Next. e. Moreover. some more ornate. These polarities are to be coupled together through the alchemist's work. the battling of the Dragon and Knight elements. The Ouroboros symbolizes the continuity of life. interlaced.g. which completes this part of the sequence shows the wild Wolf and the tamed Dog fighting for supremacy. remarks that 'the dragon also signifies Time because it is long and undulant.267-268): 1 Ideas about the Ouroboros found their way into the literary world. the serpent dragon that siezes its own tail and unites these polarities in forming its circle in the Soul.right. embracing one another.. A suitable symbol for the life cycle philosophy" were made available on the Internet by the Swedish Engineering concern ivf/ep (The Symbol Ouroboros. China about 1200 B. Thus we can see that the first five emblems show us different ways in which the polarities appear in our inner world. The fifth emblem. to denote the way in which the world feeds on itself and returns on itself .Mclean in terms of psychological and alchemical symbolism.. These are but a few representations of the Ouroboros. As Mclean leads up to the latter example. The next five emblems seem to indicate different ways in which we must inwardly work to unite these polarities in our beings. as Jack Lindsay explains in The Origins of Alchemy in Græco-Roman Egypt.

revealing the huge interior.. was created from Chronos and rebelled against it. A Serpent encloses. after forming a knot. the threshold-guardian. there the silver gleaming. Those of brass are there upheaped. and the wider presence of the Ouroboros in mythological contexts is discussed further in the following passage (Towards a Taxonomy of the Pure Ones Parallels within Gnosticism. there stiff the iron. its beginning. unknown. usually called the Aeon of Jupiter or Zeus. The Greek Myth tells us that Chronos feared that his children would one day rebel as he had rebelled against his father. aged and yet lovely. Here in appointed places the Ages dwell. At the entrance Nature sits. and green scales always glinting. and the Aged Seer strongly suggests one of the alchemic visions of revelation or initiation: Far off. Claudian came from Egypt and his imagery shows the Egyptian idea of the night-journey of the sun through the cave or tunnel in the earth. the snake biting its own tail and incidentally also a symbol for the death/rebirth so intimately linked with Time. displaying the House the Secrets of Time. Of its own accord the admantine door swung open. the Old Man bent grey hairs to the proud rays. makes some of them move and others hang at rest. This could correspond to a will to stop the descent into matter by closing himself into an Ouroboros. So all things live or die by predetermined laws. is Time's cradle and womb.tails. with varying Metals marking their aspect. and round her gather and flit on every side Spirits. consuming all things with slow power. is set the flock of golden years. stands a primeval Cave in whose vast breast. Even more interesting is the passage that ends the second book of Claudian's poem. come together at the haft of the caduceus and are provided with wings that start off at this point. Magister Templi of the Ordo Rosae Crucis. When the Sun rested on the cave's wide threshold.. ALCHEMY. SPIRA SOLARIS. the years' rough haggard mother. AND EGYPT The antiquity. scarce reached by gods. He fixes the number of stars in every constellation. shy of earth-contacts. Nature ran in her might to meet him. the backbent tail as with mute motion it traces. and the very foundations of life itself. B. On the Consulship of Stilicho. But the introduction of the Ouroboros in association with Natura (Physis). the various metals. rebirth. 1994): The next aeon. so he ate them. beyond the range of thought. . in a distinguished section. complexity. A Venerable Man writes down immutable laws. Graeco-Roman Mythology and Hermeticism by Frater IAM. Its mouth devours." From the above descriptions and the widespread occurrence of this Jungian archtype in both time and place it is also apparent that the Ouroboros embraces cyclic regeneration. the Cave.

But they subsist in the earth. as likewise other things. [emphasis supplied] Here the speculation concerning the Ouroboros extends to embrace the philosopher's Stone. We have also touched upon the similar type of feedback inherent in the inverse-velocity phenomena evident in the modern Solar System and briefly considered the complications that arise from periodic variations in planetary motion in Section III. however. and each of the metals. from the celestial Gods.. Perhaps it was originally intended that all roads should indeed lead to Rome . But there are additional themes running throughout all this with strong religious and biological undertones that link the whole with the Sun and its undoubted influence on life as we understand it.But this was broken by the stone Abadir (also called Baetylus) given to him by Rhea (who could in fact have been Ialdabaoth!). The resurgence of "Alchemy" in the Middle Ages on the other hand may have had both ancient origins and modern insights. It is said. therefore. and the consequences of the Dark and Middle Ages. one that points again to the subject of Alchemy. Book I. Hence these are generated from thence. which has the ability to open up the Ouroboros or close it ". In Section IV we have already examined the inter-related natures of the periods. Here again. In fact. It would seem that great pains were taken to ensure that it was passed on. It is interesting to speculate if this stone is not the original archetype of the Holy Grail (which has been alternately described as a cup. To this problem must also be added the waxing and waning of empires. and from an effluxion thence derived. therefore that gold pertains to the Sun. lead to Saturn. that gold and silver. but sufficiently coherent enough for its understanding among those who avidly studied the writings of the ancients. a stonelight by different mystics) or the Philosophers Stone. conformably to Cephalus. silver to the Moon. keys and approaches adopted .a location unfortunately rendered untenable by Roman degeneration and excesses which forced the disastrous relocation to Constantinople. perhaps not entirely intact. For they do not receive anything from material natures.. silver to the Moon. which he devoured instead of his something akin to our present astronomical context that was always under consideration (e. changing religious beliefs. (emphasis supplied)] The references linking gold with the Sun. and not in the celestial Gods who emit the effluxions. grow on earth. lead to Saturn.. and iron to Mars. and iron to Mars are all clearly alchemical. a sound mathematical case can undoubtedly be made from extant writings that it was predominantly the "Golden" Section itself . In any event it would seem that it was not until the Middle Ages that the matter resurfaced." [Commentaries of Proclus on the Timæus of Plato. hence the multiplicity of methods. it seems that one could present an argument that there was always more than the unlikely transformation of base metals into physical gold at stake here. if you are willing also. it may be said.. Thomas Taylor supplies the linkage and incidentally the humour: 2 They say.the phi-based mean period of Mars and also the mean velocity of Mercury . p. mathematical transformations involving the black "lead" of . even for those with only a passing knowledge of the subject. with the intriguing suggestion that the two are in a special relationship. in fact that partial confusion may well have been an inevitable consequence. In more detail. that the rich have many much so. who eventually defeated him. But to what exact degree such complexities and consequences were known and understood in the earlier period and the Middle Ages has still to be fully assessed. 36. distances and velocities pertaining to the Phi-series period spiral and the manner in which the outer and inner regions may be considered to feed back on one another..g.

looking and beholding the image of himself. or rendering it firm and solid. the synodic "Oil" of "Antimony" and parameters pertaining to Mercury. the subject is simply too vast and too complex for the present discourse. [emphasis supplied] The similarity lies in the mirroring of numeric values associated with the extremal locations of the planets Mercury and Saturn. But of this luminous subsistence smoothness is a symbol. consider the following line of inquiry and where it ultimately leads. which is mentioned by Plato.. the whole universe being luminous. into which the God. it is most lucid according to its external superficies. Thus Thomas Taylor states: 3 It is well observed here by Proclus that. And you may say that the smoothness of the external surface of the universe. therefore. reminds us of the above-mentioned catoptric apparatus. just as mirrors.1600 A. Proclus further observes that a mirror was assumed by ancient theologists as a symbol of the aptitude of the universe to be filled with intellectual illumination.. Subject to further observation and refinement..D. We also know from the fundamental synodic period relationship given in Section Two that the intermediate mean synodic period (or mean lap time) for adjacent co-orbital bodies is obtained from the product of the mean .) entitled: The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine. But to give some idea just how complex the matter can become. and full of divine splendour. Hence. i. are the extremities of the universe smooth? We reply. It is not the intention here to discuss the multifarious aspects of Alchemy in detail. From this viewpoint. through similitude to them. In the second context we are dealing with material that post-dates both the heliocentric model of Copernicus and the publication of Kepler's Harmonic Law (1618). i. Why. Venus and Mars as discussed below). Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton who (among others) became involved in this seemingly dubious enterprise. we have a means of robbing the common liquid quicksilver of its vivacity. is significant of extreme aptitude. a planetary model and estimates for both the mean distances and the mean velocities may (or may not) follow. the "Tin" of Jupiter.e. they say that Vulcan made a mirror for Bacchus. receive the representations of things. then the description is both apt and well-merited. And it is also a far more fitting and reasonable occupation for highly regarded scholars such as Francis Bacon. the phi-series mean velocity for the synodic difference cycle between Jupiter and Saturn provides the value of 0. says he. When it has been reduced to a sweet oil. it is relevant to note that the erudite Thomas Taylor's comments concerning the construction of the universe in Plato's Timæus (33b) have some similarity with helpful (but equally cryptic) remarks provided near the end of an alchemical work (ca. That it may be harmoniously adapted to supermundane lights. therefore.e. To understand the above it is necessary to recognize that the first astronomical parameters normally obtained from the observation of the planets and major luminaries are the periods of revolution." [emphasis supplied] while "Basil Valentine" adds in The Twelve Keys : As a parting kindness to you. by their smoothness.3819660112 which also occurs as the mean distance of Mercury and again as the mean synodic period between the latter and Venus (see Table 5a in Part IV for the complete relationship). Smoothness. through which the universe is able to receive the illuminations proceeding from intellect and soul. I am constrained to add that the spirit may also be extracted from black Saturn and benevolent Jupiter. proceeded into the whole divisible fabrication.Saturn. if "The Great Work" of the Alchemists was indeed essentially the preservation of a complex corpus of knowledge concerning the Sun and the structure of the Solar System. as is also set forth in my book..

854101966 A. Mercury through Mars. proceeded into the whole divisible fabrication").38196601 1 29. POSITION Planet/Synodic MERCURY Synodic/(Oil) Phi N PERIOD "SOUL" DISTANCE "BODY" VELOCITY "SPIRIT" .1 0. into which the God./Antimony SATURN/Lead 5 6 7 11. if you wish). the Harmonic Law (exponent = 2/3) and the velocity variant (exponent = -1/3) respectively produce a corresponding mean distance of 6.23606774 (years) the Harmonic Law yields the mean distance for Mercury from: (Phi ) = Phi with the mean velocity similarly obtained from (Phi ) = Phi. Unity provides the frame of reference.6180339 1.6180339 0. if one is aware that the mean period of Mercury is approximately 0.3 0. and Jupiter to Saturn.97308025 0.44660278 0.448422366 17.090169944 and 29.1/3 1 altogether.3819660112.72556263 1.6180339887499 In keeping with the hint provided by Thomas Taylor and Proclus ("Vulcan made a mirror for Bacchus. In passing one might also note that the mirror analogy includes the equality between the . one could also proceed forward from Table 1 to obtain both the harmonic law and the velocity variants from another direction -3 -3 2/3 -2 -3 .U and a mean relative velocity of 0.325358511 Table 1. but either way the reference to mirrors appears to be singularly appropriate as well as helpful. Table 1 below provides the numeric data and a simple cipher that connects the "Period-Distance-Velocity" and "Soul-Body-Spirit" triads in the present context. looking and beholding the image of himself.24 years and that Phi is 0.378240772 1 VENUS/Copper .173984996 8 Synodic/Earth MARS/Iron 0 1 1 11 1.38196601 1.sidereal periods divided by their difference.37824077 0.0901699 4.0344418 9. From the Phi-series mean periods for Jupiter and Saturn of 11. The Phi-Series Planetary Framework.23606797 0.52644113 1.3819660 0.85410196 0.851799642 8 (Asteriod Belt) JUPITER/Tin Syn. The resulting period.944271910 years. This is perhaps looking at the matter in reverse (the mirror image.9442719 6.034441854 years respectively we therefore obtain an intermediate mean synodic period of: 17. "Gold" = Phi = 1.61803398 8 -2 0. the latter as noted above.

or the motion of the stars. and the demiurgic and vivific divisions in it. he does not add how much. Wagner observed in Introduction to the Solar System (Holt. either the magnitude. we may say. Orlando. but all these numbers and ratios. or philosophically. that a line is adapted to the soul.2360679774 Years in the first instance and a mean orbital velocity (relative to unity) of 0. Kessinger Books. Even a sharp eyed ancient Greek astronomer could have spotted it. emphases supplied]. And after this. which was sequialter indeed of the second. For. and this is true even of the soul of the universe. the first seven terms. it is greater. adumbrate its truly existing essence. but admitting that one star is greater than another. and energizing about the same things. yet it has this energy intransitive. but not entirely improbable. For intellect indeed. Proclus. To which it may also be added that Plato nowhere defines. tells us [The Commentaries of Proclus on the Timeus of Plato. The part that refers to "magnitudes" and "velocities" (included by Thomas Taylor in square brackets) is from the obscure writings of Nicholæus Leonicus Thomæus.2360679774 in the second.. as Jeffrey K. Unlikely. perhaps. it is not easy for those to assign. Kila. and to the demonstrations given by them. for in spite of its relatively recent discovery (by William Herschel in 1781). But of what things the mathematical ratios are images. 89-90. or the swiftness. a third part. [Others the magnitudes of the stars . and how they develop the essence of the soul of the universe.] But others. in which place they arrange the monad. the emphases are also Thomas Taylor's]: 6 . i. though some should give it motion. evinces the difficulty of this theory. In the next place he took away the double of this. Book III. etc. [Vol II... But soul possesses a transitive energy. refer them to other such like explanations.. 1991:334) "Uranus is just bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. and among the rest with this.}. 4 Those who balk at the inclusion of planetary velocities in the above context in general might wish to consider Thomas Taylor's translation of the commentary by Proclus on "The Construction of the World Soul" (Book III: The TIMÆUS OF PLATO): 5 He first took one part from the whole. does not consist of mathematical numbers and ratios. Rinehart and Winston. and the opposition of the modern to the more ancient expositors. are attended with many difficulties. but triple of the first. or the distance. and after what manner. that it is not proper to understand what is here said by Plato. and not cosmogony {hereafter follows a discussion of various interpretations. as Plato . For at different times. pp. who do not look to the conceptions of Plato. But this is manifest from the discord of the interpreters. Thomas Taylor. The triadic sets: Period/Distance/Velocity and Soul/Body/Spirit represent a specialized application of what appears to have been a wider comprehension of the nature of the Soul. 35b:] We have observed. refer them to the motions of the spheres. For the essence of the soul. Their interpretations. And others adapt them to the velocities of the celestial orbs. But others refer them to the distances of the spheres from the center of the earth. And that the thing proposed by him to be discussed in this part is psychogony. [Timæus. pp. but physically. for example. it applies itself to different forms.e.mean period ("Soul") of Mercury and the mean velocity ("spirit") of the next outer planet. transl. Others again. however.115-118. a mean sidereal period of 0. to which we have assumed as analogous the numbers that exhibit the whole diagram. Uranus. having an eternal life. in the same nature. and it is surprising that it escaped detection for so long.. mathematically. according to the same. that they are discordant with the observations of recent astronomers. For it surveys at once the whole of the intelligible. For some of them think fit to refer to the seven spheres.

and the circular motion. that souls are carried round in a circle. is divided according to its parts. but the circle. about the admixture of the soul. in consequence of the whole of it moving itself. we must say. For it has whence and whither. The right line therefore and the circle of the soul. But in what he says concerning the right line and circles. for the sake of concealment. as veils of the truth of things. and that it is not like the life of irrational natures. For both these may be surveyed in souls.. For the self-motive nature is moved from itself to itself. and returning from the same objects to the same. Since therefore. sees itself.. how it produces and converts things posterior to itself. and to itself. the right line indeed. in the same manner as in that which is converted to. no arguments are sufficient. that Xenocrates thought it requisite to call the essential reason of a line an indivisible line. that the soul is an essence. the essence of the soul. what kind of line Plato here assumes ? Is it physical line ? But this would be absurd: for this is the end of bodies. Plato unfolds the being itself of the soul. and shows how it is one and many.--if we admit this. and another for the end. and also in what is said concerning numbers and middles. So that in this respect we refer a line to psychical life. . But its life is rectilinear. that the right line adumbrates the transitive. and as having an appetite directed to other things placed externally to itself. what progression it has. we now admit that the right lines are lives.In short therefore. and how it is converted to itself. employed mathematical names. Why therefore. are without interval. on which account also. and is both one and many. says in the Phaedrus. and is present with itself. and not absolutely of all life. It is evident however. and through the former to pass to the latter. And this Socrates knowing. is harmonized number. and these essential.. should we any longer fear those skillful Peripatetics who ask us. But every transitive motion is a line. but the latter of life converting to itself. We say therefore. begins from. and returning to itself. assumes the rectilinear. being at different times happily affected by different things. For in a circle. For it would be ridiculous in any one to think that there is an indivisible magnitude. therefore. If therefore. Against such men however. how it fills ratios. Or rather prior to the gnostic. as never being able to converge to itself. and the rectilinear. But let us return to the words of Plato. Hence Timeus delivering to us in what is here said. and ends in itself. And prior to us Xenocrates calls a line of this kind indivisible. Hence also. In what is said. it is the peculiarity of soul to energize through time.. but the circle according to a circumduction from the same thing to the same. the same thing is the end and the beginning.says in the Phaedrus. and one thing for the beginning. and the Pythagoreans symbols. as these Peripatetics. and is not essence: Plato however says. For there are in it being. and is uniform and biformed. perceiving that the vital powers are in themselves at one and the same time transitive. For it is possible in images to survey paradigms. life. we have not ceased asserting that this line is essential. he delivers to us the vital and intellectual peculiarity of the soul. that it is self-moved. in the same manner as theologists employed fables. and intellect. who are contentious. the soul is one. and self-motive. revolving under intelligibles as objects of desire. that they in vain make these inquiries. the vital motion by itself alone. For they are moved from themselves to themselves. but in what follows unfolds the gnostic motions of the circles.. and is separate from bodies. as possessing life by its very existence. and what regressions both to superior natures. the Demiurgus made the composition of the soul itself to be rectilinear. But Plato. being a whole and consisting of parts. . and direct our attention to each of them. and binds together the whole world. and indicates how it participates of the life in intellect. then we must say. that the circle manifests what the quality is of the form of this life. . And its intellect is dianetic and doxastic. tending to externals as it were in a right line. the self-motive nature of these powers. so far as it is self-vital and self-moved. beginning from. For long before this. the soul now becoming self-motive. Is it then a mathematical line ? But this is not self-motive. according to the transitions of appetites. viz. the former being the image of life [simply]. such a form of life as this is circular.

The philosophical canons of Paracelus in the 17th Century Sloane Ms 3506. preserves every where the same ratios. that we may not.618033989) is in turn the mean period of revolution of Mars. as being one. In the first. just as the present character is adapted to the soul. so likewise a certain figure. as the initiators into mysteries say. and continued. are adapted to the psychical middle: for they subsist in a middle way. on this account. a character of this kind. But because it has the same reasons or ratios. Perhaps too. omitting the things themselves. For the complication of the right lines indicates the union of a biformed life. and not as some fancy. and composition. above and beneath. is a symbol of a life which flows from on high. vis.. Plato adds " as it were. Returning to the relative simplicity of the triadic sets in question.61803989 ) represents the mean period of revolution of Venus. he would have said. but it subsists primarily. and colour. The figure X however. For different characters and also different signatures are adapted to different Gods. are symbols of this kind. as some fancy. he delivers it to us divided according to length. the duple ratios here. and at the same time multitude. the bases of first are united to the summits of secondary natures. But these are conjoined to each other. with respect to both inferior planets (Mercury and Venus). and Mars it should be noted that the mean velocity (or "Spirit") of Mercury is itself the "Golden Ratio" Phi = 1. For the last part of the dianoetic. but contains and connects the partible essence. Moreover. as both. produced by this application. because there is difference. conformably to its paradigm. that he applied the middle to the last. but the triple there. but according to an ultimate distribution into parts. the biformed progression of the soul. And as Porphyry relates. and vocal emissions. in a way adapted to it. in Sloane Ms 1321 (both transcribed by Adam Mclean). lie says that the Demiurgus applied middle to middle. Phi (1. i. and is discrete. But in the soul both have a middle subsistence. because the contact of the soul is properly of a middle nature. one union is produced of these two lives. We must not however conceive. and things continuous. --hence Plato calls it double. For this division alone. and indivisibly. For these are without communion with each other.first to the middle. so that it intellectually perceives the impartible essence through the circle of the same. Lastly. . and conformably to these. and the summit of the doxastic power.6180339887499 while the inverse (0. be known from characters. but all. These special inter-relationships are stated (albeit cryptically) in further alchemical works. through the right lines indeed. But the soul is one. For the duad is seated by him. and An hundred aphorisms containing the whole body of magic.Plato denominates it this. that the Demiurgus applied the. Since however the psychical reasons are biformed. has a great affinity to the universe. and regression according to an intellectual circle. X. But since he teaches us concerning the psychical duad. Hence also the union in these is obscure and evanescent. that the division and contact of things intangible. which is appropriate to the Demiurgus. and if about body and soul. In order however. But the scission itself exhibits demiurgic section. surrounded by a circle. be too busily employed about. form tile media of all tile psychical composition. the words " middle to middle" indicate perhaps. For a right line itself also. And if indeed Plato had spoken concerning intellect and soul. but through the circle its uniform life. as some one of the Gods says. For perhaps it signifies.e. But these are after another manner symbols of divine natures. In sensibles likewise there is division. and for the sake of concealment. for the soul is of an ambiguous nature. thus endeavouring to invest with figure the unfigured nature of the soul. Earth. through the circle of the different. that Plato thought a divine essence could be discovered through these things. and as it were occultly." indicating that this is assumed as a veil. For as a certain motion. For in intellect also there is division. the theory of the character. and also to the soul. and has two faces. and is refulgent with intellectual sections. which also shows that the essence of it differs both from things discrete. is with the Egyptians a symbol of the mundane soul. as being multitude. he says this. For in every order of beings. positions. For the truth of real beings cannot.

possesses a treasure better than all the riches of the world." Mars. "Gold. 3. and this is called the Vital Spirit. The greatest arcanum of the work. 49. In this production whilst the Soul fashions to itself a body. 145. and Mercury. By natural application it is done when the Spirit of one body is implanted in another. and this joined with the sulphur of gold makes a medicine. 9. 39. The second reference is divided into three parts with the first concerned with "Twelve conclusions upon the Nature of the Soul ". and by which the operation of all natural things are dispensed. which merely and purely considered are able to do no more than the eyes can see without life. The Sulphur is the soul. the body is generated or produced out of the power of the Soul. 56. . in so much as the period/soul of Venus is both Phi -1 and the reciprocal of Phi Aphorism 49 also quite appropriate. The organs by which this Spirit works are the qualities of things . In generation the Spirit is mixed with the body. and that the Mercury of perfect bodies is the form. there is some third thing the mean between them both by which the Soul is now inwardly joined to the body. Aphorism 57 provides a succinct summation of the relationship between the velocity/spirit of Mercury and the period/soul of Mars as shown in Table 1. and he that knows how to join it with a body agreeably. Gold resolved into Mercury is spirit and soul. by means of those things which are apt to intercept the Spirit. as being nothing else but modification of the matter of the body. 57. 14. 15. The sulphur of Mars is the best. and to communicate it to another. and reduction into Mercury. Aphorism 56 is correct. for two extremes cannot be joined without a mean . The whole world is animated with the first supreme and intellectual Soul possessing in itself the seminary reasons of all things.. distances and velocities) may be consistantly expressed as fractional exponents of Phi as shown earlier in Table 5a. 2. 18. Nature makes and generates minerals by degrees. we find the following aphorisms: 12. This Spirit is somewhere or rather every where found as it were free from the body. hence it hath the denominating power over the body which it could not have except the body did fully and wholly depend upon it. and is diversely formed according to the imagination thereof. 11. The Mercury receives the form of gold by the mediation of the spirit. which proceeding from the brightness of the ideas of the first Intellect are as it were the instrument by which this great body is governed and are the links of the golden chain of providence. 64. Aphorism 14 is undoubtedly correct as far as the Phi-series planetary framework is concerned since all the mean parameters (periods. The highest secret of all is to know that Mercury is both matter and Menstruum. Moreover. is the physical dissolution into Mercury. While the operations of the Soul are terminated or bounded. 152. the remainder are from additional sections: 1. and directs the intent of Nature to its end.bearing in mind the relationship between the two triadic sets. Statements 1 through 11 are from this source.. nor Intelligences can work upon bodies but by means of this Spirit. They who take the Sulphur of Venus are cheated. but the Mercury is the matter. also out of one root are generated all metals till the end of all which is gold. Neither Souls nor pure Spirits.

6180339887499). and I. with a perpetual union. which none of you separately can verify. O Gold. "The Lord Chief Justice pronounced sentence to the quarreling and disputing metals. Thou hast spoken rightly. [emphases supplied] Before returning to "antimony. Iron! I order thee to accept and make use of the sweet heaven or ferment of Gold . Defendant. and by the ancients called amatoria or such things as love one another. appeal to me concerning thy nobility and nature.' 'Thou." Mercury says to Gold: 'Whilst Thou.' continued the supreme Lord. Iron and Gold." i. Dost thou not know that there is a mother of all metals and their greatest substance? All things have been subdued unto man! and thou haughty Gold do not elevate thyself too much. that thy power over the diseased Knights (the inferior metals) is nothing! Thou hast mentioned my perfect knowledge of thy exalted state amongst the Knights. I will never refuse to grant to thee. and more powerful subjects than thee? and all other metals containing the four elements as well as they do. am a declared enemy to thy external dirty appearance and thy dirty works. knowest well that I do perfectly understand thy nature and complexion Thou canst much less than Gold effect anything useful without my assistance.1.' 'Thou. but I order thee to make good use of its noble beautiful red flowers (when a crocus Mars is sublimated with Sal Ammoniac. Dost thou not know that there are greater. knowest well if I Mercury do not deal kindly with thee and unite with thee in perpetual love and harmony. however. Gold. and I have often given thee that power. a power to procure riches. if we please. as thou well knowest when thou and I did sweat in our hot bath and dried ourselves afterwards. it ascends in beautiful red flowers . shalt henceforth not vex nor despise Iron. Recollect then what friendship and services we rendered to Lady Luna. from a motive of special goodness and friendship towards my fellow-creatures.. Mercury. Gold. introduced in this Allegory by Sternhals as so many Knights.e. for the sake of truth and justice. This relationship may well have provided the basis for the allegorical "War of the Knights" by Johann Sternhals (1595) concerning the resolution of the "conflict. nobler. and as I am well acquainted with thy origin but am likewise no stranger to the nature. and the mean period/soul of Mars ("iron") are identical. I complain justly against you both!' 'Yet. as there are creatures of God far above thee in power and virtue!' 'I then." it is clear from Table 1 that "Gold" ( Phi. not omit to declare that you have both boasted of great things. Which. because thy nature and power proceed from mine (from the Sophic or animated Mercury). Thou shalt unite with Iron in friendship. I must further tell you both (Iron and Gold) that you stand both in need of my counsel and help. and operation of the defendant Iron. O Iron.' 'And thou. hast said that thou art the true Stone. thou canst not do without my assistance. I can.. property. O Iron. the mean velocity of Mercury. if thou meanest ever to be of any service to the diseased poor knights. Gold. Thou. about which the Philosophers contest. Thy nature must be retrograded and converted into mine. which we are able to do again. Therefore. The Judge's name was Mercury.' 'Thou. 'unite you both. as plaintiff against Iron. Mercury. whilst I can do with very little of your assistance.this must be repeated three or four times) which Iron has got in his garden for the sake of multiplying thy active power.and they are known by the signature.

This saturnine antimony agrees with sol. Their studies have .. and the other from mercury sublimated. in The foundations of Newton's Alchemy (1975) discusses the occurrence of a special symbol introduced by Isaac Newton in some of his later alchemical writings that may have some bearing on our present discussion.. substance and tincture thereof. have remarked how its outermost nature and power has collapsed into its interior. and also augments therein the native color." The same source later states that: ". Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs. After tentatively assigning the name "quintessentia" to the symbol in question Dobbs explains that: 7 Some pages of the manuscript seem to identify the quintessence with antimony (presumably the ore).. Cambridge University Press. On a more general but nevertheless ourobotic level. weight.e. the one from antimony. [ Sigismund Backstrom's embedded notes are omitted for clarity] With respect to alchemical "metals" in general." probably meaning an ore of bismuth. or medicine might wish to consider the following words of caution expressed by Basil Valentine in The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony: Many Anatomists have subjected Antimony to all manner of singular torments and excruciating processes. Either of these designations would at least make it appear to have been a concrete substance to Newton. united in friendship to be of use to all that knew them. and its interior thrown out and has now become an oil that lies hidden in its innermost and depth. there is a double substance of argentum vivum. yet elsewhere in the same manuscript he defined the quintessence as a "corporeal spirit" and a "spiritual body" and the "condensed spirit of the world. itself the golden ratio. except gold. and the second ("Saturnine Antimony") similarly positioned between the "Tin" of Jupiter and the "Lead" of Saturn. Cambridge.. 1975:165) Table 1 shows that the "Spirit" of "Saturnine Antimony" (the mean velocity of the Saturn-Jupiter synodic cycel) is equal to the "body" (mean distance) of Mercury and it also follows that this parameter may in turn be reduced from the "Spirit" (mean velocity) of Mercury. but another renders the symbol .." the first (in the positional and also the numerical sense) between the "Iron" of Mars and the "Tin" of Jupiter.. "Antimony" also looms large .. and has in all respects the nature thereof. by Mark House and also the numeric relationship between "Iron" and "Antimony" in the Biblical Aesch-Mezareph). In such contexts it would appear that there were two types of "Antimony." The Secret Book of Artephius notes also that: "Antimony is a mineral participating of saturnine parts. chemistry. and contains in itself argent vive.for thy good and nourishment. which it is difficult either to believe or to describe..' And thus they departed. or as Basil Valenttine informs the reader in his Triumphal Chariot of Antimony: "By our Art it (antimony) can also become an oil." Moreover. well prepared and ready. it does give a double weight and substance of fixed argent vive.a "metal" that in fact attracted Isaac Newton's attention (see: Newton And Flamel On Star Regulus Of Antimony And Iron Part 1. when they have thus prepared our Antimonium in secret. Those who feel that "Antimony" in this context is more reasonably construed in terms of metallurgy. and gold is truly swallowed up by this antimonial argent vive. i. Roger Bacon's Tract on the Tincture and Oil of Antimony also contains the following aside: "The Philosophers."(The foundations of Newton's "Bism. etc. in which no metal is swallowed up. the JupiterSaturn synodic cycle." [emphasis supplied].

119. but Antimony only. which abound with the Tincture of Gold. did not soon find that fictitious soul of which they were in search their path being obscured with black colours which rendered invisible what they desired to see. But by it.1680): Aph. If these three substances be mixed. as a Medium. These elements work underground in the form of fire. That of Antimony. the internal soul. Aph. such as water. and there produce what Hermes. you should not devote yourself to the study of philosophy. 117. and earth. 114. they are hardened and coagulated into a perfect body. an earth-like substance. Mars. This is a most important and certain truth. Antimony. Venus and Mercury are also stated in alchemical Aphorisms 117 and 119 below (source: 153 Chymical Aphorisms. there will also be metallic quicksilver. which represents the seed chosen and appointed by the Creator. the said Mercury may be obtained. For. Aph. 115. [italics supplied] Numerically. and. And among Minerals there is none found which can perfect the colour of pale Gold. When this union has taken place. Aph. 118. without beginning or end. of which. Mars and Venus. the relationships between Antimony. and the metallic form of body be present. Of which sort there are found only two. Aph. as hath been already said. Aph.. and salt. so that it can shew an ancestry. and visible bodies. beyond which we can find no earlier beginning of our Magistery. the two bring forth a third namely. the more diligent and prudent the search which is made. of its first source. ought to be more perfectly Tinged by the Mercury of philosophers. and from which three the elements. 111. ca. of Mars also. And Gold. our Royal Menstruum is to be elicited. [emphasis supplied] Moreover. the metallic spirit. sulphur.. to wit. One man's life is too short to discover all these mysteries. 112. and the more is always found in it. which is the principle of our seed. In the course of time these three unite. metallic sulphur. and Venus. by the work of Art and Nature. and metallic salt. consist of Sulphur and Mercury. like Mercury. Aph. and all who have preceded me. and by its help. than the natural perfection of Gold requireth Aph. Whence we conclude. viz. from other imperfect Metallick Bodies. and render it more penetrating. 116. 113. A celestial influence descends from above. seeing that Antimony cannot communicate more Tincture to Gold. quicksilver. and are changed through the action of fire into a palpable substance. it would therefore appear that "soul" can be equated with the mean . because they did not seek the true soul of Antimony. call the three first principles. therefore. and mingles with the astral proper ties . If you cannot perceive what you ought to understand herein. Antimony. Therefore that appeareth to be the only Mineral. is comparable to a circle. take their origin. This Mercury cannot be had of Antimony alone. in this and similar contexts. and facilitate its Flux. Mars and Venus. [emphasis supplied] The latter writer also provides an additional cautionary remark in The Twelve Keys along with the following expansion: Know that our seed is produced in the following way. air. and by which.led to no result. the impalpable spirit. viz. by the decree and ordinance of God. which together make up the perfect metallic body. composed of all colours. If the metallic soul. Aph.

Hermes. It is called: Lion. e.259). 'Know that copper. In case it is assumed that "alchemy" can be completely deciphered from the above information alone. silver. fat. spirit. etc (see: Animal Symbolism in the Alchemical Tradition and The Birds in Alchemy by Adam McLean). p. tirac. How can one fail to recognise something white showing up against a black background? The separation isn't painful for anyone accustomed to distance. with much antithesis and heaping-up of synonyms. and birds of the air. Leaving aside the majority of such words and choosing those which are.Barkis[Balti=Venus?]. I'm going to mention the easiest ones. possible. water. the Aristotle here cited is an apocryphal figure: 'I have heard Aristotle say: 'Why do these seekers turn away from the stone? It is however well known thing. oil. has a spirit and a body' (Jack Lindsay. Needless to say. matters do not necessarily become simpler as as result. But the essential ideas are much earlier. Saturn. vinegar. talc. denizens of the sea.' [emphasis supplied] From a somewhat wider viewpoint there is also the following description of the "Stone" provided in another alchemical treatise. I then used yet more enigmatic expressions than those I'd used at first and I have increased the obscurity of the phrases out of fear that their sense was already too plain.1620): .8 This representation appears to be one of a number of triadic keys and much further analysis will be required to clarify them all.' [emphasis supplied] "Another Sage has said: 'I've lived now forty years and I've never spent a single day without seeing the Stone day and night so well that I was fearing nobody could help seeing it too. just like a man. it is necessary to point out that the significance of the Moon has been omitted here and the various terms and names associated with the subject are still as confusingly intermingled as the names of the Heroes and Gods of the ancient Greeks. torrent.. jackal. lead.113) while in the writings of Kleopatra it is also stated that: ". gazelle. oppressor. page. tin. we may cite some more passages that seek to stress the paradoxical nature of the secret. submitted[being] magnet. collyrium. mercury. 'What are its qualities? Where is it found? What is its possibility? He told me. in an Arab MS called The Twelve Chapters by Ostanes the Philosopher on the Philosopher's Stone we find that: 9 "The style of the Twelve Chapters shows that it derives from the period when alchemic ideas were set out in elaborate rhetorical fashion. monkey. For example. vein. Night cannot be dubious for him who owns two eyes. iron. for as The Book of Krates says. as far as I know. fire. salt. Sun. 'I'll characterise it by telling you it's like lightning on a dark night. dumb man." (Lindsay. dog. "body" with the mean distance.' "I replied. Moon. (ca. serpent. congealed or dissolved [body]. p. the symbolism also expands to include (among other things) animals of the land. sulphur. tutty. tarc. foam of silver. wolf. tulac. and as the points are strongly and clearly made.period of revolution. The Glory of the World. viper.the body and the soul and the spirit were all united in love and had become one: in which unity and the mystery has been concealed. Moreover. panther. arsenic.' 'Know then that the authors in their books have used a great number of words to denote the Stone. gold. characterised. Mars. the ones best known in the world. urine. serving-maid. and "spirit" with the mean velocity. scorpion. courser. bone.g. soul... dragon. copper. existent.

perfecteth. by help whereof the work goes on. for they either belong unto matter. there are rare references to the spiral configuration and further allusions to the Ouroborus in other alchemical works. It is also denominated the One Stone of the Philosophers. Next. then. which was One. Magnesia.I have called it by various names. 1970:265. Lastly. The operative means (which are also called the Keys of theWork) are four: the first is Solution or Liquefaction. which is done by the conversion of the Body into Spirit. the second is Ablution. These Circulations are Nature's Instruments. the third Reduction. by an Erratic and Intricate Motion. or operations. In both these latter operations the Dragon rageth against himself. and do often (seven times at least) drive about every Element. and at length is turned into the Stone. Let the Philosopher therefore consider the progress of Nature in the Physical Tract. which happeneth by the retrogradation of the Luminaries. The extremes of the Stone are natural Argent vive and perfect Elixir: the middle parts which lie between. it is worth repeating here Jack Linday's assessment of the Ouroborus in alchemical contexts: 10 In the symbolism of Kleopatra and the alchemists in general. the golden Stone. yet it is only one. or Silex (flint). mean distances and mean velocities have been discussed here largely in tabular form. the Stone of the Metals. the corporeal Stone. In a very small selection from: The Hermetic Arcanum. but the simplest is perhaps that of "Hyle. doth wholly exhaust himself. By these and many other names it is called. raiseth it up to the height of sublimity. the Stone of the free. by the mediation of the spiritual tincture. and so agreeable. the Stone of the Sun. In fine by penetrating and tincturing the flowing Elixir it generateth." or first principle of all things. The Circulation of the Elements is performed by a double Whorl. the Ouroboros was used to represent the All. The Whorl extended fixeth all the Elements of the Earth . and lastly. Now in this Whorl there are three Circles placed. return into their first form. from whence the Crow is generated lastly the Stone is divided into four confused elements. and its circle is not finished unless the work of Sulphur be perfected.) Lastly. or Radix (root). penes nos unda tagi") for example. in its aspect of Time: that is. as a system in a ceaseless development. the aeriform Stone. the runaway slave. ca. and sweeteneth the bitter. yet revealing a comprehensive structure which could be defined in the triadic formula. the fountain of earthly things. by the greater or extended and the less or contracted. Xidar. 63. in order succeeding one another. more fully described for this very end. and to 83. things concocted are made raw again and the combination between the position and negative is effected. the fourth Fixation. (The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt. The Ablution teacheth how to make the Crow white. the operation of the Fixation fixeth both the White and the Red Sulphurs upon their fixed body. The work of an anonymous author. The Office of Reduction is to restore the soul to the stone exanimated. By Liquefaction bodiescreate the Jupiter of Saturn.1623 ("The Secret Work of the Hermetic Philosophy. composed of hostile elements. although the inter-relationships between the mean planetary periods. or Porta (gate). Xelis. [emphases supplied . The revolution of the minor Whorl is terminated by the extraction and preparation of every Element. whereby the Elements are prepared. and by devouring his tail. it decocteth the Leaven or Ferment by degrees ripeneth things unripe. which always and variously move the Matter. the Stone of the jewel. are of three sorts. we find the following information: 11 61. that if one shall be wanting the labour of the rest is made void . until it shall attain unto perfect strength. the Thirnian Stone. or demonstrative signs: the whole work is perfected by these extremes and means. Atrop. and to nourish it with dew and spiritual milk.

and the diversity of methods employed." The Secret Doctrine (2-12). medicinal aspects. There is in fact a wealth of Alchemical material now available. P.. Such analysis is undoubtedly hindered by the proliferation of names. the many allegories.a work that is dated in some respects yet timeless in another: Fortunately. the Bibliotheca Philosphica Hermetica in Holland. Then is all the secret found . in spite of many complications. But even though the subject is to some extent shrouded by secrecy it can nevertheless still be examined in terms of methodology and mathematics rather than numerology or mysticism. animal symbolism. thanks largely to the massive presence of the Alchemy Web Site." and the approximation Pi = 355/113 in "The Mystery of Blackness. the ouroboros and an initial quotation by the alchemist George Ripley (1490) of some significance: "When thou hast made the quadrangle round." and wider issues associated with religious beliefs and origins. especially on the Internet. Blavatsky's minor Kabbalistic excursion into the numbers of the "Dove. and works such as The Pythagorean Pentacle and The Rotation of the Elements by John Opsopaus . the Great Work of the Alchemists appears to be a continuing process. organised by Adam McLean." . see the erudite H. ." the "Raven. for one last example.. properties.The above discussion began with a relatively limited inquiry concerning "Antimony" and as a consequence it skimmed over colors.the latter replete with three-dimensional spiral. alchemical "recipes.

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