Additions and Extractions by STEPHEN SKINNER
First published in the United States in 1976 by SAMUEL WEISER, INC.
734 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10003
Lapidus 1976


Hidden deep in the heart of things,
Thou carest for growth and life.
The seed becomes shoot, the bud a blossom,
the flower becomes fruit.
Tired I slept on my idle bed
in the illusion that the work had an end.
In the morning I awoke to find
That my garden was full of flowers.

Rabindranath Tagore

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.

St. Augustine, A.D. 353






1.   The Confusion of Alchemy
2.   Sophic Fire
3.   The Secret Book
4.   The Wisdom of Artephius
5.   The Secrets of Antimony
6.   The Green Lion
7.   The Red Man and his White Wife
8.   The Journey through the Twelve Gates
9.   Consummation of the Hermetic Marriage
10. The Use of the Stone
11. Sulphur and Salt
12. Vade Mecum

I.   Paracelsus’ Answers
II.  Equipment
III. Signs and Symbols





  " Alchemy in Theory and Practice" - by LAPIDUS



















The pictures displayed in this book are taken from an illustrated treatise by Michael Maier, an artist in alchemy, published in 1618, under the title Atalanta Fugiens, and printed in Latin. There are fifty beautiful copper engravings, showing much detail, which are symbolic pictures of the different aspects of the art of alchemy, that are said to be “accommodated partly to the eyes, and partly to the understanding “.

Only a few of these plates, the most helpful, have been introduced here. In the original work, the pictures are not in any special order, therefore a few guiding remarks have been added under each picture, by the present author, which may make them more useful to the interested student. These pictures, it must be remembered, are nothing more than the fanciful imaginations of an artistic author whose intention was to simultaneously reveal and conceal the secrets of alchemy. Indeed, such mixed intentions are quite a common thing in alchemical literature.


To watch the pictures presentation , "click" HERE






Owing to the disparagement cast on the art of alchemy in modern times by those who have failed to unearth its secrets, it has been by-passed by science, and has become obscured to the point where few people even clearly understand what it stands for. If asked what is alchemy, the short answer might be the search for the “Philosophers’ Stone”. This, however, is no stone, but a powder with the power to transmute base metals into gold or silver.

Thousands of books have been written on the subject throughout the centuries, in many languages and in many parts of the world. It may possibly be conjectured that this is how the unfortunate Incas of Peru produced such great quantities of gold; or again it may be hazarded that from the same source came the gold with which King Solomon decorated his temple so lavishly in biblical times.

The “Philosophers’ Stone” was also called the “Elixir of Life”, which has the virtue of being able to cure any of the diseases of mankind, thus assuring perfect health and a longevity far beyond the normal span that is hoped for by man.
Artephius, an alchemist of the twelfth century, wrote in his treatise entitled The Secret Book that up to that time he had already lived a thousand years by aid of the Elixir. Among others famed for longevity in more modern times, there was the mysterious Count de St. Germain, who never appeared to grow older in appearance. In the seventeenth century, King Frederick the Great named him, “ the man who does not die”. These men were always known to flit from one country to another to preserve their identity and conceal their secret, to prevent their lives from being endangered. Why, in spite of so much literature on alchemy, are we still in the dark with regard to its processes? The simple answer is that there is hardly a treatise among the many thousands that can be clearly understood. The men who wrote them were always in fear of the dangers that would inevitably follow anyone rash enough to expose his knowledge too frankly. Human greed has always been a deterrent against open declarations of success in the art, and therefore the philosophers thought it best either to remain silent, which many did, or else record their knowledge in the curious symbolic forms which each decided for himself; and what a chaos and babel has ensued from all these treatises! It is from such writings that today we derive the word “gibberish”, coming as it does from works by the eighth century Arabian adept known as Geber, who wrote the truth in a fashion that few can follow.

Because of this confusion, alchemy will not lightly open her doors to the dilettante. The treatises are full of stumbling blocks, blinds, misleading statements, important keys left out and lies put in: many names are given to one thing and one name given to many things. There are also many books written by ignorant rogues who battened on greedy rich men to trick the money out of their coffers.

It is important to remember that, if alchemy is a true science, and an art mastered by men of past ages, who were simple-minded by comparison with present knowledge and standards of research, how much easier ought it to be today to uncover all their secrets with our resources, equipment and materials. However there must be some prior belief in the feasibility of attaining the goal sought, for without this, one could not persevere undaunted. Although admittedly not easy to discover, many adepts in alchemy wrote that the art was really quite easy and, when once known, “child’s play and woman’s work”. One cannot help arriving at the conclusion that the very simplicity of the work may have been the chief cause of the failure of so many brilliant workers in this field. Among the secrets that were lacking was the knowledge of the correct timing and heating techniques.

It is worthwhile to again attempt the unravelling of this great problem. In many ways we today have many advantages and facilities which they sorely lacked. For example, their fairly primitive furnaces which were heated with charcoal, wood, and less savoury fuels, were difficult to control at a constant temperature over long periods of time, whereas our modern thermostatically controlled hot-plates are able to carry on this task continuously without some one constantly in attendance. Again, the measurement of temperatures was another difficulty as the men of old depended upon feeling with their hands or using hot sand, water baths and such like; all of which means nothing to us in these days of thermometers and thermostats.

Modern science has not yet reached the state of all knowledge, and those secrets of nature that are known are indeed still a very minute part of the whole. In the long-lived family of metals there are still many potential secrets, undreamed of by man, remaining to be discovered. It is therefore unwise, to say the least, to deny the basis for this lost art, because the road to it has not yet been systematically investigated.

Many godfearing men, who had nothing to gain by deception, testified on their death-beds to the truth of alchemy. Moreover, they confirmed that they had completed the work more than once themselves and furthermore that anyone could do it, at any time and anywhere, at very little cost. They also wrote that, because of its simplicity, fools would ridicule the art, were the materials and processes to become known. They concealed what they knew, so that alchemy should not become common property. Thus, for the present the secrets are concealed, but not irretrievably lost. It is the intention of this book to raise the aura of complexity from alchemical writings, and once again restore the interest of enterprising minds in the subject.

It is proposed to examine only a few treatises, those which are the most lucid, sincere and genuine. Every endeavour will be made to explain and illuminate these writings, most of which are very rare (although some have been reprinted, and the rest may still be found in the British Museum Library). They were written often in Latin by masters who asserted they had themselves completed the work. Other less helpful works will be ignored to avoid confusing the student.

It is generally imagined by those who are rather vague about the subject that alchemy has some connection with occultism, yoga or witchcraft, and possibly magical practices; and booksellers quite often group alchemical books with these subjects together on their bookshelves. This idea is altogether erroneous. Alchemy has no connection whatsoever with these matters except that their practitioners sometimes also pursued alchemy. To suppose this is to make nonsense of all alchemical writings, for it is a purely chemical knowledge. Indeed, what has salt, sulphur and mercury, the three principles of the art, to do with religion or spiritual thought? It is well known that the art has been equated with religious or psychological ideas by some people who have failed to understand the treatises, and still persist in trying to read these meanings into the writings.

“Our principles know it is but one, and that is in metals. Even those metals which you may buy commonly, the best of them; you must be a master and not just a scholar, namely as it is wisely said in Norton: ‘To know how to destroy their whole composition, that some of their components may help in the conclusion’.”

Take good notice of what was said by Norton in 1678 in the above quotation from Ripley Revived. During past ages everything under the sun has been tried out by ignoramuses in their attempts to produce the Philosophers’ Stone. Again, from the above-mentioned book, to emphasize the obvious:

“This is according to nature, and it is the true ground of all generation, for out of kind, nothing doth engender; a man begetteth a man, not a lion; nor doth a lion beget a sheep; a rose does not beget a thorn, nor a nettle a gilliflower; and 60 if need be, I could particularly demonstrate it throughout all vegetables, minerals. and animal bodies; but it is so plain a thing, that I need say no more, and leave it as the foundation stone on which you shall build whatever you intend.”

Several metals are mentioned in alchemical works, with a number of names attached to them, planetary and otherwise, of which the planetary were in most common use. Here they are given so that they may be recognised later on.

  • Gold Sol, sun, the greater luminary, the king.

  • Silver Moon, luna, the lesser luminary, the queen.

  • Copper Venus.

  • Lead Saturn.

  • Tin Jupiter.

  • Iron Mars.

  • Mercury Quicksilver, metalline water.

There is one other metal which is not very common and which will be discussed later in this book, namely Antimony.
That which has been outlined in this introduction has been beautifully summed up in the opening paragraph to the treatise attributed to Hermes entitled The Golden Tract included in the composite book known as the Hermetic Museum first published in 1678.

“Ancient as well as modern philosophers, most beloved reader, and devoted seeker after true wisdom, when through the Grace of God they reached the goal of their desires, have endeavoured to make their discovery known to their fellow inquirers in all parts of the world-not only because they wished to inform them that the thrice great and good God had enlightened their minds, blessed the labour of their hands, and shown to them the greatest and most profound secret of earthly wisdom (for which benefit all praise, honour and glory are justly due to Him) but also that they might afford assistance to beginners in the art, by which they too might attain to the knowledge of this most holy mystery. Such men there have been in all countries; among the Egyptians, Hermes Trismegistus holds the highest place; then come Chal deans, Greeks, Arabs, Italians, Gauls, Englishmen, Dutchmen, Spaniards, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Hebrews and many others. Though the aforementioned sages wrote in different times, and in different languages, yet their works exhibit so marvellous an agreement, that any true philosopher may easily see that all their hearts have been gladdened by God in the discovery of this stone, and that they all had perform407,452 work with their own hands. Now, as the truth of their views is perceived by their agreement, so the disagreement of certain others marks them as false philosophers. For not knowing the foundation of this glorious art, and making up fanciful theories out of their own minds, they exhibit their ignorance to all”.





Chapter 1. The Confusion of Alchemy

So much has been written about alchemy during past centuries that everything possible that could have been said about the subject has been reiterated again and again in a multitude of ways. Therefore it is not surprising that this has resulted in the complete secret art being exposed many times over, although of course never in any one treatise. Infact, some adepts in alchemy have written so many treatises that, from these alone, one may gather the whole secret if their works are properly pieced together in an orderly fashion. But only with experiment may one find enough clues in one author’s writings to build up a complete picture, cast out the blinds and pit falls, and realise that, after all, the art is not so difficult. Although spread chaotically over thousands of volumes, it will indeed emerge that in one page only in a book, the whole theory and practice of the art of alchemy could lie revealed.

Notwithstanding, the reader is warned against haphazard reading of alchemical books, for this will lead to mental confusion, and finally desperation of ever learning anything. Once started on alchemical research however, this becomes a great temptation and a bad fault. One tends to read voraciously any alchemical book that comes to hand. This one book, closely studied, is however all that is necessary for practical experiment.

Every treatise on alchemy is so artfully written that at every reading a different conception arises in the mind: what seemed so clear and helpful yesterday will seem an utter misconception tomorrow and thus it often transpires that a correct understanding is replaced by an error. A well-known modern scientist who had actually written books on alchemy which were mainly quotations and commentary, albeit in fragmentary form, when asked by the present author why he had not experimented himself, sadly remarked, “If I only knew what materials to take in hand to commence with, I would gladly do so.” The books by this author are now on library shelves along with many others, all filled with quotations and commentary which lead the readers nowhere, since the modern authors know nothing of practical alchemy.

The metallurgist’s outlook on metals differs greatly from the alchemist’s view. The latter looks upon metals as living things while they are still unmade into some permanent form, in just the same manner as a farmer will look upon corn before it is made into bread Both contain the seed of growth. Under varying conditions, this seed can be transformed by nature, or it may fail, but it is always nature that does this work. The farmer knows the differing conditions by which plants may be made to multiply, and the alchemist likewise must know what treatment the metals demand from nature to give forth their special and characteristic result, and the virtues of the right metal needed to produce the Philosophers’ Stone. Although the techniques of the old masters of alchemical science were not quite up to the standard of today’s scientists, they were aware of many secrets that for the present are completely lost. Even so modern chemistry has much for which to thank them.

Now to properly understand how the alchemist’s mind worked, it’s necessary to know that he believed that metals have a life of their own, equal to animals and vegetables. This being so, since in every department of nature there is a constant progression of birth, growth and increase, this natural evolutionary law applies to metals as well. Otherwise one may ask quite logically, why should nature stop at metals? Alchemists maintain that nature does not stop at metals. This fact is not immediately obvious owing to the shortness of human life compared to the long stretches of time necessary for minerals to gestate and develop imperceptibly those changes in nature which occur whilst they are in the earth.

The alchemist constantly reiterates the expression that what takes nature a thousand years, he can bring about in a very short time. Following from this alchemical axiom was the idea that everything living consisted of earth and water. Fire and air were the two other elements which made up their four elements, but these latter two we can ignore for the moment.
Metals, they stated, were made from earth and water, but this water was a “ dry water, which did not wet the hand “. We must take good notice of this claim, for here lies one of the main stumbling blocks. Here you are presented with the first great secret and problem. Their dry water was not water so much as the vapour given off by metals and, this being hard to come by, was a secret so deeply hidden that men spent their whole lives experimenting without ever discovering it.

The first work of the alchemist was to reduce the solids into liquid or water and, again, the water into solids. “Dissolve and coagulate” was the old axiom of alchemical practice. The solids became a slime, or liquid, and the slime or liquid was thickened into solids again. Thus the artificer dissolved and congealed or coagulated, and mixed the atoms of various principles into one neutral matter, or third thing rarely mentioned, and when mentioned it was called mercury. This mercury disarmed everyone who thought it was just ordinary mercury.

All this work was carried out in a natural manner; no fires or furnaces like the metallurgist uses. The masters said of fire that it kills the life in metals even as corn made into bread is not fit for planting in the earth to grow again.
One point now must finally be made clear; alchemy does not mean the art of making gold or silver, or precious stones for that matter, since these latter are also possible by the same processes, for man cannot make or create anything that is nature’s work. What man may do, provided he has the requisite knowledge, is to change things from one form into another, but not out of their genus, which is quite a different matter. To make this clearer, it may be trite to say that man cannot make a tree, yet he may grow one from seed-but this seed must first be found and planted in the correct manner, in a place and condition suitable to nature’s demands. Likewise, he can only produce gold and silver by transmuting other metals into these, and the “know-how” is known as alchemy.

As for the Elixir of Life, conferring immortality is the prerogative of God alone, but to quote from an old book:

“By virtue of this quintessence, Artephius testifieth that he lived above a thousand years; Flamel also recordeth it, that it triumptheth over all the miseries of the world, Laznioro is more bold, and saith, that if in the agonies of death, a man should taste but a grain of it, all mortal pestilence would depart from him.”

As already pointed out, the first difficulty to be met with in alchemical writings has always been the multiplicity of names for most items, purposely invented to mislead. Conversely many different things are called by the same name; for example, as soon as one approaches the art, promptly the name “Mercury” appears. One finds it a prominent term in all the literature on alchemy. This mercury has been permutated and juggled with in a thousand different treatises. They have called it a dry water, which will not wet the hand, and a metalline water, which can destroy metals, and mixes with them all in varying degrees. As is generally known, these facts can be said about ordinary mercury or quicksilver, yet to all the adepts in the art this latter is disdained and is not used.


Their mercury, they warn, must be prepared and is permanently fixed, not to be separated from any metal once it is joined to it. Ordinary or vulgar mercury, as they term it, will however volatilise or run out of amalgams when heat is applied. Thus we must conclude that although vulgar mercury fits their description perfectly, yet it would be an error to use this. This problem will be dealt with later in this book. Besides a number of other types of “mercury”, many of which will in time give a hint as to what their mercury really is, are mentioned in the following quotations so that the tyro coming across them will be familiarised with the various usages of the word.

They say it is a metal, water, vinegar; at different times, blood and blood red, milk and milky white like cream, silvery, clear, or opaque. Were they being deliberately misleading, or were all these descriptions the truth? No wonder their child’s play became a great mystery! In fact, each of these names could describe what the matter in the flask appeared like during the processes that took place at various stages of the alchemical process. The Secret book by Artephius presented later in this book will help solve this difficulty to a great extent.

There is another important item of which to take note. When the alchemists
speak of “Our Gold” or “Our Mercury” or “Philosopher’s Mercury”, they are
really speaking of metals that they have processed as, for example, corn
made into flour, might be termed “Our Corn”, thus indicating that the item
referred to was not in its original state,

If all this seems complicated, the reader may be assured that it is not so; patience and perseverence are all that are needed and everything will fall into place and become clear. Skimming over anything, or turning to the end pages will not help at all, for like any other science, alchemy demands careful study, and a careful grasp of what is explained. These preliminary explanations will later make every thing clearer, and the determined alchemist will save many long years of wasteful experiments, and money.

Before drawing too near to those treatises whose importance consists in seeming plainly written, with apparently full instructions both in theory and practice, we would like to present the explanatory treatise by Philalethes entitled A Brief Guide to the Celestial Ruby. It may further help the reader to grasp the import of what follows in the rest of the book. This work is also abridged. A Brief Guide is one of many treatises to be found in the Hermetic Museum published in 1678 in two volumes. It may be of interest to know that these two volumes have- been republished in facsimile in 1893,1953 and 1973; and there the reader will find the treatise in full.



by Eirenaeus Philalethes

“The Philosophers’ Stone is a certain heavenly, spiritual, penetrative, and fixed substance, which brings all metals to the perfection of gold and silver, and that by natural methods, which yet in their effects transcend nature.

“It is prepared from one substance, of which the art of chemistry is conversant, to which nothing is added, and from which nothing is taken away, except that its superfluities are removed. [The superfluities are a useless sediment.]

“No one will question the utility of our art, if he believes that it enables us to transmute base metals into gold. That base metals are capable of such transmutation, is clear; nature has destined them all to become gold, but they have not been properly matured. If then that which hinders their perfect digestion be removed, they will all become gold; for crude, cold, and moist mercury is the common first substance of gold as well as of other metals. Hence all other metals may be perfected into gold by the aid of our art, which being projected upon imperfect metals, has power to quicken the maturing process by as much as itself exceeds the standard maturity of gold. How potent then must be the spiritual nature of our stone, which can effect more in one hour by a bare projection than nature in the course of the ages.

“If that substance which nature supplies be taken in hand by art, dissolved, coagulated and digested, its perfection is increased from a monadic to a denary virtue; by repeating the same process, it is increased a hundred-fold, and then a thousand-fold, etc. This wonderful medicine penetrates each smallest part of the base metal in proportion of 1 to 1000, and tinges them through and through with its noble nature. A reproach is sometimes levelled at our art, as though it claimed the power of creating gold; every attentive reader will know that it only arrogates to itself the power of developing through the removal of all defects and superfluities, the golden nature, which the baser metals possess in common with that highly digested metalline substance.

“Those foolish people who seek for the substance of our stone outside the domain of metals will never arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. For as a lion is always born of a lion and a man of a man, so all things owe their birth to that which they are like. Thus you see that the stone which is to be the transformer of metals into gold must be sought in the precious metals, in which it is enclosed and contained. It is called a stone by virtue of its fixed nature, and it resists the action of the fire as successfully as any stone. In species, it is gold, more pure than the purest; it is fixed and incombustible like a stone, but its appearance is that of a very fine powder, impalpable to the touch, fragment as to smell, in potency a most penetrative spirit, apparently dry, and yet unctuous, and easily capable of tingeing a plate of metal.

“How is this stone to be obtained? It does not exist in nature, but has to be prepared by art, in obedience to nature’s law. Its substance is in metals, but in form it differs widely from them; and in this sense, the metals are not our stone. It is necessary then to reduce metallic bodies to their homogeneous water which does not wet the hands, and that from this water there may be generated a new metallic species, which is nobler by far than any existing metal, viz., our Celestial Ruby.

“The whole process which we employ closely resembles that followed by nature in the bowels of the earth, except that it is much shorter. Nature produces the metals out of cold and humid mercury, and by assiduous digestion; our art takes the same crude and humid mercury, and conjoins it with mature gold, by a secret artifice; the mixture represents a new and far more potent mercury which by digestion, becomes not common gold, but one more noble, which can transmute imperfect metals into pure gold.

“Thus you see though our stone is made of gold alone, yet it is not common gold; the latter must be dissolved in our mineral water which does not wet the hands; this water is mercury, extracted from the red servant, and is capable of accomplishing our work without any further trouble. It is the one true natural first substance, to which nothing is added, and from which nothing is subtracted, except certain superfluities, which however it will cast off without any aid by its own inherent vital action.

“Consider these signs, that which dissolves is spirit; that which coagulates is body. A body cannot enter a body so as to cause dissolution, but a spirit can enter it, attenuate, and clarify it. For every agent has a tendency to assimilate to itself that which it acts upon, and every natural effect is conformed to the nature of the efficient; hence water is necessary if you would extract water from earth.

“ When I speak of water, I do not mean aquafortis, or any other corrosive whatsoever, for these waters, instead of dissolving metal only corrode, mar, and corrupt them, without destroying their old form to which task they are insufficient, as they are not of a metallic nature. No, our water is the water of mercury, which dissolves homogeneous metallic bodies, and mingles with them in indissoluble union, abides with them, is digested with them, and together with them become the spiritual whole which we seek. For everything which dissolves a substance naturally, still preserving the specific properties of the thing dissolved, becomes one with it, coalesces with it, and is thickened by it, thus nourishing it; as we see in the case of a grain of wheat, which when dissolved by the humid earthy vapour, thereby takes up that vapour as its radical moisture, and grows together with it into a plant.

“Common gold, if mixed with common mercury, or anything except its own essential, is not dissolved, because such waters are too crude, cold and impure; for which reason, being utterly unlike gold, they cannot amalgamate with it, or attain with it to a far nobler degree of development. Our mercury, indeed, is cold and unmatured, in comparison with gold, but it is pure hot and well digested in respect of common mercury, which resembles it only in whiteness and fluxibility. Our mercury is in fact a pure water, clean, clear, bright, and resplendent, worthy of all admiration.

“Our stone is produced from one thing, and four mercurial substances, of which one is mature; the others pure but crude, two of them being extracted in a wonderful manner from their ore by means of the third. The four are amalgamated by the intention of a gentle fire, and there subjected to conction day by day, until all become one by natural, and not manual conjunction.

“Afterwards the fire being changed, these volatile substances should be fixed and digested by means of heat which becomes a little more powerful every day, (i.e., by means of fixed and incombustible sulphur of the same genus) until the whole compound attains to the same essence, fixity and colour.

“There are many degrees or phases of this our process, which I may describe as follows. The first is calcination. Calcination is the first purgation of the stone, the drying up of its humours, through its natural heat, which is stirred into vital action by the eternal heat of water, whereby the compound is converted into a black powder, which is yet unctuous and retains its radical humour. This calcination is performed for the purpose of rendering the substance viscous, spongy, and more especially penetratable; for gold in itself is highly fixed, and difficult of solution even in our water, but through this calcination, it becomes soft and white, and we observe it in its two natures, the fixed and the volatile, which we liken to two serpents. In order that a full dissolution may be made, there is need of contrition, that the calcination may afterwards produce a viscous state, when it will be fit for dissolution.

“ When the substances are first mixed, they are at enmity with each other, by reason of their contrary qualities, for there is the heat and dryness of the sulphur fiercely contending with the cold .and moisture of the mercury. They can only be reconciled in a medium which partakes of both natures, and the medium in which heat and cold are reconciled is dryness which can co-exist with both. Thus cold and heat are brought to dwell peaceably together in the dryness of the earth, and the dryness and the moisture in the coldness of the water.

“Its sufficient cause is the action of the inward heat upon the moisture, whereby everything that resists it is converted into a very fine powder; the moving and instrumental cause is the fire contrary to nature, which being hidden in our solvent water, battles with its moisture, and digests it into a viscous or unctuous powder.

“Calcination then is the beginning of the work, and without it there can be neither peaceable commixtion, nor proper union. The first dealbation reduces the substance to its two principles, sulphur and mercury; the first of which is fixed, while the other is volatile. They are compared to two serpents, the fixed substance to a serpent without wings, and the volatile substance to a serpent with wings. One serpent holds in his mouth the tail of the other, to show that they are indissolubly conjoined by community of birth and destiny, and that our art is accomplished by the joint working of this mercurial sulphur, and sulphureous mercury. Hence the whole compound is at this stage called ‘Rebis’, because they are two substances, but only one essence. They are not really two, but one and the same thing.”

Here you have another straightforward account of the first process of alchemy leading on to the beginning of the second. This is all the present author intends to present of the Brief Guide, for to give more at this juncture is but to lead to confusion. There is a good deal more, but its involved nature, much of which is padding, is best left alone until one is more advanced.

Perhaps it would help to recapitulate what has been said in the above work. Understand then that the alchemist takes four mercurial substances, namely four metals, as these are all alleged to have mercury as their base, and he reduces them to their two fundamental principles. In other words, we gather that most important secret that the end of the first process delivers into our hands two products made from the chaos or mixture of the four, and these are named sulphur and mercury. Take good notice now that really we have only one mass of matter, which may be easily divided into two, the sulphur and the mercury.

This sulphur and mercury are the elements with which all the books of the philosophers busy themselves. In the above Brief Guide it is revealed to the reader that here we have the “Rebis” or two things, so often mentioned, and we are also introduced to the two serpents constantly met with in the writings of the adepts. More than this, they are often referred to as “our gold and silver”; the latter is also termed “our mercury” because basically the sulphur is red in colour, and the mercury white; they are also called the red man and his white wife. Other names include Sun and Moon, king and queen, earth and water, male and female, and a few animals’ names besides. Be ready therefore to recognize this pair whenever they are met with in alchemical literature.

To a great extent we have now cleared the ground of a good many blinds, stumbling blocks and misconceptions. This will bear fruit when we come to examine a complete treatise on the art of alchemy.