Monday, January 25, 2010
Dion Fortune's Greatest Masterpiece of Self Protection for Acolytes and Adepts alike.
To be published in Chapters at periodical intervals on Occult Magick
Psychic Self Defense
It is with a sense of the seriousness of the issues involved that I set myself to the task of writing a book on psychic
attack and the best methods of defence against it. The undertaking is beset with pitfalls. It is hardly possible to give practical information on the methods of psychic defence without at the same time giving practical information on the methods of psychic attack. It is not without reason that initiates have always guarded their secret science behind closed doors. To disclose sufficient to be adequate without disclosing sufficient to be dangerous is my problem. But as so much has already been made known concerning the esoteric teachings, and as the circle of students of the occult is becoming rapidly wider every day, it may well be that the time has now come for plain speaking. The task is not of my seeking, but as it has come into my hands, I will do my best to discharge it honourably, making available the knowledge which has come to me in the course of many years' experience of the strange by-ways of the mind which the mystic shares with the lunatic. This knowledge has not been attained without cost, nor, I suspect, will the divulging of it be altogether free from cost, either.
I have endeavoured to avoid, as far as possible, the use of second-hand material. We all know the person who has a friend whose friend saw the ghost with her own eyes. That is not of very much use to anybody. What we need is to have the eye-witness under cross-examination. For this reason I have not drawn upon the vast literature of the subject for illustrations of my thesis, but have preferred to rely upon cases that have come within the range of my own experience and which I have been able to examine.
I think I may fairly claim to have practical, and not merely theoretical, qualifications for the task. My attention was first turned to psychology, and subsequently to occultism as the real key to psychology, by the personal experience of a psychic attack which left me with shattered health for a considerable period. I know for myself the peculiar horror of such an experience, its insidiousness, its potency, and its disastrous effects on mind and body.
It is not easy to get people to come forward and bear witness to psychic attacks. Firstly, because they know there is very little likelihood of their being believed, and that they will be more likely to earn themselves a reputation for mental unbalance than for anything else. Secondly, because any tampering with the foundations of the personality is an experience of such peculiar and unique horror that the mind shrinks from the contemplation of it and one cannot talk about.
I am of the opinion that psychic attacks are far commoner than is generally realised, even by occultists themselves. Certainly the general public has no conception at all of the sort of things that are done by people who have a knowledge of the powers of the human mind and set to work to exploit them. I am convinced that this factor played a large part in the witch-cult, and was the real cause of the universal horror and detestation of the witch. These powers have always been known to students of occultism, but nowadays they are known and used by people who would be exceedingly surprised to find who are their fellow-practitioners. Mrs. Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, stumbled on to these methods empirically without ever acquiring any rational knowledge as to their modus operandi. She endeavoured to teach them in such a way that they could only be used for good and their power for evil should be concealed; but that she herself was well aware of their possibilities if abused is witnessed by the dread of what she called "Malicious Animal Magnetism," which shadowed her whole life.
"Transfer your thoughts to others. Send for free folder, Telepathy, or Mental Radio."
"Troubled - health, love, money? Let me help you. No failures, instructions being followed. Strictly personal and professional. Careful as family physician. Five dollars must accompany enquiry. Money back if not satisfied."
"What do you want? Whatever it is, we can help you to get it. Just give us the chance by writing for 'Clouds Dispelled.' Absolutely free. You will be delighted."
"HYPNOTISM. Would you possess that strange mysterious power which charms and fascinates men and women, influences their thoughts, controls their desires and makes you supreme master of every situation? Life is full of alluring possibilities for those who master the secrets of hypnotic influence, for those who develop their magnetic powers. You can learn at home, cure diseases and bad habits without drugs, win the friendship and love of others, increase your income, gratify your ambitions, drive worry and trouble from your mind, improve your memory, overcome domestic difficulties, give the most thrilling entertainment ever witnessed and develop a wonderfully magnetic will power that will enable you to overcome all obstacles to your success.
"You can hypnotise people instantly - quick as a flash - put yourself or anyone else to sleep at any hour of the day or night, or banish pain and suffering. Our free book tells you the secrets of this wonderful science. It explains exactly how you can use this power to better your condition in life. It is enthusiastically endorsed by ministers of the gospel, lawyers, doctors, business men and society women. It benefits everybody. It costs nothing. We give it away to advertise our institution."
These are a few specimens chosen from among the sixty- three similar advertisements counted in this single issue of a popular weekly magazine. They are given in extenso, in no way edited save by the omission of addresses.
Let us now consider what such advertisements as these signify from the point of view of the persons to whom they are not addressed, the persons over whom the reader is presumed to want to acquire power. What will be their position should he break the tenth commandment and covet his neighbour's wife, or his ox, or his ass, or any of his other valuables? Supposing the diligent student of these methods wants something he ought not to have? Supposing he is on the shady side of the law? Or is nursing a sense of injury and desires to be revenged? Or merely loves power for its own sake? What is the fate of the cannon-fodder that supplies the student of mind-power with the material for his experiments? What does it feel like to be dominated by these methods, and what results may ultimately be obtained by a competent experimenter?
Let me give my own experience, painful though it is, for someone has got to be the first to come forward and uncover these abuses which are only able to flourish because of the general failure to realise their significance.
As a young girl of twenty I entered the employment of a woman who I now know must have had a considerable knowledge of occultism obtained during a long residence in India, and concerning which she used to drop hints that I could make nothing of at the time, but which, in the light of later knowledge, I have come to understand. It was her custom to control her staff by means of her knowledge of mind-power, and she had a steady succession of most peculiar breakdowns among the people working under her.
I had not been with her very long when she wanted me to give evidence in a lawsuit. She was a woman of violent temper, and had dismissed an employee without notice and without wages, and he was sueing her for the money due to him. She wanted me to say that his behaviour had been such that she was justified in thus dismissing him. Her method of collecting my evidence was to look into my eyes with a concentrated gaze and say, "Such and such things happened." Fortunately for all concerned I had kept a diary and had a day-to-day record of the whole transaction. If it had not been for this I should not have known where I was. At the end of the interview I was dazed and exhausted, and lay down on my bed in my clothes and slept the sleep of utter exhaustion till next morning. I suppose I slept for about fifteen hours.
Soon after this she wanted my testimony again. She wished to get rid of my immediate superior, and wanted to find sufficient grounds to justify her in doing so. She repeated her previous maneuvers, but this time I had not got a diary record to fall back upon, and to my intense surprise I found myself agreeing with her in a series of entirely baseless charges against the character of a man I had no reason to believe to be otherwise than perfectly straight. The same exhaustion and the same dead sleep descended upon me immediately after this interview as aft& the preceding one, but an additional symptom now manifested itself. As I walked out of the room at the end of the interview I had a curious sensation as if my feet were not in the place I expected them to be. Anyone who has walked across a carpet that is bellying up with the under-floor draught will know what I mean. Occultists will recognise it as having to do with the extrusion of the etheric double.
The next incident to occur in this curious menage did not concern myself, but another girl, an orphan with considerable means. My employer kept this girl constantly with her, and finally persuaded her to put the whole of her capital into her schemes. However, trustees descended in wrath, forced my employer to disgorge, and took the girl away with them then and there, leaving all her belongings behind, to be packed up and sent on to her afterwards.
Another incident followed quick on the heels of this one. There was an elderly woman in the establishment who was slightly "minus" mentally. A dear old thing, but childlike and eccentric. My employer now turned her attention to her, and we watched the same process of domination beginning. In this case there were no trustees to interfere, and the poor old lady was being persuaded to take her affairs out of the hands of her brother, who had hitherto managed them, and commit them to the tender mercies of my employer. My suspicions had by now been thoroughly aroused. It was more than I could bear to see old" Auntie" rooked, so I took a hand in the game, woke "Auntie" up to the situation, pushed her belongings into a box, and got her off to her relatives while my employer was away for a brief absence.
I hoped my complicity in the affair would not become known, but I was soon disillusioned. My employer's secretary came to my room one night, after "lights out," and warned me that the Warden, as we called our employer, had found out who it was that had engineered "Auntie's" escape, and I had better look out for trouble. Knowing her to be of an exceedingly revengeful nature, I knew that my best refuge was flight, but flight was not altogether easy to achieve. The institution in which I was employed was an educational one, and a term's notice had to be given before leaving. I did not look forward to working out that term under the unchecked control of a spiteful woman. So I watched for an opportunity that should justify me in walking out. With my employer's uncontrolled temper it was not long to seek. I was up late the following night packing, in preparation for my intended flight, when there came to my room another member of the staff, a girl who seldom spoke, had no friends, and went about her work like an automaton. I had never had any dealings with her, and was more than surprised at her visit.
It was soon explained, however.
"You are going to leave?" she said.
I admitted that it was so.
"Then go without seeing the Warden. You will not get away if you don't. I have tried several times, and I cannot get away."
However, I was young and confident in my untried strength, with no means of gauging the forces arrayed against me, and next morning, dressed for the journey and suitcase in hand, I went down and bearded my formidable employer in her den, determined to tell her what I thought of her and her methods, quite unsuspicious that anything save ordinary knavery and bullying was afoot.
I was not allowed to get started with my carefully prepared speech, however. As soon as she learnt that I was leaving, she said:
"Very well, if you want to go, go you shall. But before you go you have got to admit that you are incompetent and have no self-confidence."
To which I replied, being still full of fight, that if I were incompetent, why did she not dismiss me herself, and anyway, was the product of her own training-school. Which remark naturally did not improve matters.
Then commenced a most extraordinary litany. She resumed her old trick of fixing me with an intent gaze, and said:
"You are incompetent, and you know it. You have no self-confidence, and you have got to admit it."
To which I replied, "That is not true. I know my work, and you know I know it."
Now there was no doubt that much could be said concerning my competency in my first post at the age of twenty, with a great deal of responsibility on my shoulders, and newly inducted into a disorganised department; but nothing whatever could be said against my self- confidence, except that I had too much of it. I was quite prepared to rush in where archangels would have hung back in the collar.
My employer did not argue or abuse me. She kept on with these two statements repeated like the responses of a litany. I entered her room at ten o'clock, and I left it at two. She must have said these two phrases several hundreds of times. I entered it a strong and healthy girl. I left it a mental and physical wreck and was ill for three years.
Some instinct warned me that if I admitted I were incompetent and had no self-confidence my nerve would be broken, and I would never be good for anything afterwards, and I recognised that this peculiar maneuver on the part of my employer was an act of revenge. Why I did not pursue the obvious remedy of taking refuge in flight, I do not know, but by the time one realises that something abnormal is toward on these occasions, one is more or less glamoured, and just as the bird before the snake cannot use its wings, so one cannot move or turn away.
Gradually everything began to feel unreal. All I knew was that I had to hold on at all costs to the integrity of my soul. Once I agreed to her suggestions, I was done for. We went on with our litany.
But I was getting near the end of my resources. I had a curious sensation as if my field of vision were narrowing. This, I believe, is a characteristic phenomenon of hysteria. Out of the corners of my eyes I could see two walls of darkness creeping up behind me on either side, as if one stood with one's back to the angle of a screen, and it were being slowly closed upon one. I knew that when those two walls of darkness met, I should be broken.
Then a curious thing happened. I distinctly heard an inner voice say: "Pretend you are beaten before you really are. Then she will let up the attack and you will be able to get away." What this voice was, I have never known.
I immediately followed its advice. With my tongue in my cheek I asked my employer's pardon for everything I had ever done or ever should do. I promised to remain on in my post and to go softly all the days of my life. I remember I went down on my knees to her, and she purred complacently over me, well satisfied with the morning's work, as she had every reason to be.
Then she let me go, and I went up to my room and lay down on the bed. But I could not rest until I had written her a letter. What that letter contained, I do not know. As soon as I had written it and put it where she would get it, I fell into a sort of stupor, and lay in this state with my mind completely in abeyance till the following evening. That is to say, from two o'clock one afternoon till about eight o'clock of the following day, thirty hours. It was a cold spring day with snow on the ground. A window close to the head of the bed was wide open and the room unheated. I had no covering over me, but I felt neither cold nor hunger, and all the processes of the body were in abeyance. I never stirred. Heartbeat and respiration were very slow, and continued so for several days.
I was found eventually by the housekeeper, who revived me by the simple application of a good shaking and a cold sponge. I was dazed, and disinclined to move or even to eat. I was left to lie in bed, my work taking care of itself, the housekeeper coming to look at me from time to time, but making no comment on my condition. My employer never showed herself.
After about three days my especial friend, who thought I had left the house, learnt of my continued presence, and came along to see me; an act requiring some courage, for our mutual employer was a formidable antagonist. She asked me what had happened at my interview with the Warden, but I could not tell her. My mind was a blank and all memory of that interview had gone as if a sponge had been passed over a slate. All I knew was that out of the depths of my mind a most terrible state of fear was rising up and obsessing me. Not fear of any thing or person. Just plain fear without an object, but none the less terrible for that. I lay in bed with all the physical symptoms of intense fear. Dry mouth, sweating palms, thumping heart and shallow, hasty breathing. My heart was beating so hard that at each beat a loose brass knob on the bedstead rattled. Fortunately for me, my friend saw that something was seriously wrong and she sent for my family, who fetched me away. They were exceedingly suspicious. The Warden was exceedingly uncomfortable, but no one could prove anything, so nothing was said. My mind was a blank. I was thoroughly cowed and very exhausted, and my one desire was to get away.
I did not recover, however, as had been expected. The intensity of the symptoms wore off, but I continued to be exceedingly easily tired, as if I had been drained of all vitality. I knew that, somewhere at the back of my mind, was hidden the memory of a terrible experience, and I dared not think of it, because if I did, the shock and strain would be so severe that my mind would give way altogether. My chief consolation was an old school arithmetic book, and I used to spend hour upon hour doing simple sums to keep my mind from racing itself to pieces in wondering what had been done to me and sidling up towards the memory, and then shying away from it like a frightened horse. Finally I gained some measure of peace by coming to the conclusion that I had simply had a breakdown from overwork, and that the whole queer transaction was the fruit of my imagination. And yet there was a lingering feeling that it was real and this feeling would not let me rest.
About a year after the incident, my health still being very poor, I went away to the country to recuperate, and there came across a friend who had been on the spot at the time of my breakdown. It had apparently caused a good deal of talk, and I found here one who was not inclined to explain away my experience, but asked pertinent questions. Another new friend became interested in my case and haled me off to the family doctor, who bluntly gave it as his opinion that I had been hypnotised. It was before the days of psycho therapy, and his ministrations to a mind diseased were limited to patting me on the back and giving me a tonic and bromide. The tonic was useful, but the bromide was not, as it lowered my powers of resistance, and I speedily discarded it, preferring to put up with my discomfort rather than to render myself defenceless. For all the time I was obsessed by the fear that this strange force, which had been applied to me so effectually, would be applied again. But although I feared this mysterious power, which I now realised was abroad in the world, I cannot tell what a relief it was to me to find that the whole transaction was not an hallucination, but an actual fact that one could rise up and cope with.
I obtained my release from the bondage of this fear by facing the whole situation and determining to find out exactly what had been done to me and how I could protect myself against a repetition of the experience. It was an exceedingly unpleasant process, in fact the reaction caused by recovering the lost memories was only a little less violent than the original one; but I finally succeeded in freeing myself from my hag-ridden condition of fear, although it was a very long time before my physical health became normal. My body was like an electric battery that has been completely discharged. It took a long time to charge up again, and every time it was used before the charging was completed, it ran down again rapidly. For a long time I had no reserves of energy, and after the least exertion would fall into a dead sleep at any hour of the day. In the language of occultism, the etheric double had been damaged, and leaked prana. It did not become normal until I took initiation into the occult order in which I subsequently trained. Within an hour of the ceremony I felt a change, and it is only upon the rarest occasions since then, after some psychic injury, that I have had a temporary return of those depleting attacks of exhaustion.
I have told this story in detail because it is a useful illustration of the manner in which the little-known powers of the mind can be abused by an unscrupulous person. First-hand experience is of far more value than any amount of illustration from the pages of history, however well authenticated.
If such a transaction had taken place during the Middle Ages, the parish priest would have organised a witch-hunt. In the light of my own experiences I am not at all surprised that people who had acquired a reputation for the practice of witchcraft were lynched, the methods are so terrible and so intangible. We may think the records of the witch-trials are ridiculous, with their tales of wax images melting in front of slow fires, or the crucifying of christened toads, or the reciting of little jingles, such as "Horse, hattock, To ride, to ride." But if we understand the use of mind-power we soon realise that these things were simply aids to concentration. There is no essential difference between sticking pins into a wax image of an enemy and burning candles in front of a wax image of the Virgin. You may think that both these practices are gross superstition, but you can hardly think that one is real and potent and deny reality and potency to the other. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal may as truly be said of the practitioners of Black Magic as of the Church.
My own case belongs more to the realm of psychology than to occultism, the method employed being an application of hypnotic power to improper ends; I have given it, however, because I am convinced that hypnotic methods are very largely used in Black Magic, and that telepathic suggestion is the key to a large proportion of its phenomena. I cite my own case, painful as it is to me to do so, because an ounce of experience is worth a pound of theory. It was this experience which led me to take up the study of analytical psychology, and subsequently of occultism.
As soon as I touched the deeper aspects of practical psychology and watched the dissection of the mind under psycho-analysis, I realised that there was very much more in the mind than was accounted for by the accepted psycho logical theories. I saw that we stood in the centre of a small circle of light thrown by accurate scientific knowledge, but around us was a vast, circumambient sphere of darkness, and in that darkness dim shapes were moving. It was in order to understand the hidden aspects of the mind that I originally took up the study of occultism.
I have had my full share of the adventures of the Path; have known men and women who could indubitably be ranked as adepts; seen phenomena such as no seance room has ever known, and borne my share in it; taken part in psychic feuds, and stood my watch on the roster of the occult police force which, under the Masters of the Great White Lodge, keeps guard over the nations, each according to its race; kept the occult vigil when one dare not sleep while the sun is below the horizon; and hung on desperately, matching my staying-power against the attack until the moon-tides changed and the force of the onslaught blew itself out.
And through all these experiences I was learning to interpret occultism in the light of psychology and psychology in the light of occultism, the one counterchecking and explaining the other.
Because of my specialised knowledge people came to me when an occult attack was suspected, and their experience reinforces and supplements my own. Moreover, there is a considerable literature on the subject to be found in quarters where one would least expect it - in accounts of folk-lore and ethnology, in the State Records of witch-trials, and even under the guise of fiction. These independent records, by people in no way interested in psychic phenomena, confirm the statements made by those who have experienced occult attacks.
On the other hand, we have to distinguish very carefully between psychic experience and subjective hallucination; we have to be sure that the person who complains of a psychic assault is not hearing the reverberation of his own dissociated complexes. The differential diagnosis between hysteria, insanity and psychic attack is an exceedingly delicate and difficult operation, for so frequently a case is not clear-cut, more than one element being present; a severe psychic attack causing a mental breakdown, and a mental breakdown laying its victim open to invasion from the Unseen. All these factors have to be borne in mind when investigating an alleged occult attack, and it shall be my task in these pages not only to indicate the methods of occult defence, but also to show the methods of differential diagnosis.
It is very necessary, with so much occult knowledge about, that people should know an occult attack when they see it. These things are much more common than is generally realised. The recent tragedy in Iona gives point to this assertion. No occultist is under any illusion as to that death being from natural causes. In my own experience I have known of similar deaths.
In my novel, The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, there were presented, under the guise of fiction, a number of cases illustrative of the hypotheses of occult science. Some of these stories were built up to show the operation of the invisible forces; others were drawn from actual cases; and some of these were written down rather than written up in order to render them readable by the general public.
So much first-hand experience, confirmed by independent evidence, should not go unregarded, especially since rational explanations are difficult to find save in terms of the occult hypotheses. It may be possible to explain away each individual case mentioned in these pages by alleging hallucination, fraud, hysteria, or plain lying, but it is not possible to explain the sum-total of them in this way. There cannot be so much smoke without some fire. It is not possible that the prestige of the magician in antiquity and the dread of the witch in the Middle Ages could have arisen without some basis in experience. The vapourings of the wise woman would be no more heeded than those of the village idiot if no painful consequences had ever been found to follow upon them. Fear was the motive of these persecutions, and fear founded upon bitter experience; for it was not officialdom which incited the witch-burnings, but whole country-sides that rose up for a lynching. The universal horror of the witch must have some cause behind it.
The labyrinthine windings of the Left-hand Path are as extensive as they are devious; but while exposing them in something, at any rate, of their horror, I still maintain that the Right-hand Path of initiation and occult knowledge is a way to the loftiest mystical experiences and a means of lifting the burden of human suffering. Not every student of this knowledge necessarily abuses it; there are many, nay, the great majority, who hold it selflessly in trust for mankind, using it to heal and bless and redeem that which is lost. It may well be asked, If this knowledge can be so disastrously abused, why should its veil ever be lifted? What answer is made to this question is a matter of temperament. Some will maintain that knowledge of whatever kind cannot be without its value. Other may say we had better let sleeping dogs lie. The trouble is, however, that sleeping dogs have an unfortunate knack of waking up spontaneously. So much occult knowledge is abroad in the world, so much of the kind of things described in these pages is going on unknown and unsuspected in our midst, that it is very desirable that men of goodwill should investigate the forces which men of evil will have perverted to their own ends. These things are the pathologies of the mystic life, and if they were better understood, many tragedies might be averted.
On the other hand, it is not well that everybody should indulge in the study of textbooks of pathology. A vivid imagination and a weak head are a disastrous combination. The readers of that one-time "best seller," Three Men in a Boat, may remember the fate of the individual who spent a wet Sunday afternoon reading a medical textbook. At the finish he was firmly convinced he had got every single disease described therein with the single exception of house maid's knee.
This book is not intended merely to make the flesh creep, but is designed as a serious contribution to a little-understood aspect of abnormal psychology, perverted, in some instances, to the purposes of crime. It is a book intended for serious students and for those who find themselves confronted by the problems it describes, and who are trying to understand them and find a way out. My chief aim in speaking so frankly is to open the eyes of men and women to the nature of the forces that are at work below the surface of everyday life. It may happen to any one of us to break through the thin crust of normality and find ourselves face to face with these forces. Reading of the cases cited in this book, we may well say that there, but for the grace of God, goes any one of us. If I can give in these pages the knowledge which protects, I shall have fulfilled my purpose.
Coming up in the next Post, Chapter One- Signs of Psychic Attack
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The Six Keys of Eudoxus
THE FIRST KEY
1. The First Key is that which opens the dark prisons in which the Sulphur is shut up: this is it which
knows how to extract the seed out of the body, and which forms the Stone of the philosophers by the
conjunction of the spirit with the body -- of sulphur with mercury.
2. Hermes has manifestly demonstrated the operation of this First Key by these words: In the caverns of
the metals there is hidden the Stone, which is venerable, bright in colour, a mind sublime, and an open
3. This Stone has a bright glittering: it contains a Spirit of a sublime original; it is the Sea of the Wise, in
which they angle for their mysterious Fish.
4. But the operations of the three works have a great deal of analogy one to another, and the philosophers
do designedly speak in equivocal terms, to the end that those who have not the Lynx's eyes may pursue
wrong, and be lost in this labyrinth, from whence it is very hard to get out. In effect, when one imagines
that they speak of one work, they often treat of another.
5. Take heed, therefore, not to be deceived here; for it is a truth, that in each work the Wise Artist ought to
dissolve the body with the spirit; he must cut off the Raven's head, whiten the Black, and vivify the
White; yet it is properly in the First operation that the Wise Artist cuts off the head of the Black Dragon
and of the Raven.
6. Hence, Hermes says, What is born of the Crow is the beginning of this Art. Consider that it is by
separation of the black, foul, and stinking fume of the Blackest Black that our astral, white, and
resplendent Stone is formed, which contains in its veins the blood of the Pelican. It is at this First
Purification of the Stone, and at this shining whiteness, that the work of the First Key is ended.
(Pic left; Relief with the figure of the mathematician and astronomer Eudoxus (ca. 408–355), his body bent over. Budapest,National Museum)
1. The Second Key dissolves the compound of the Stone, and begins the separation of the Elements in a
philosophical manner: this separation of the elements is not made but by raising up the subtle and pure
parts above the thick and terrestrial parts.
2. He who knows how to sublime the Stone philosophically, justly deserves the name of a philosopher,
since he knows the Fire of the Wise, which is the only instrument which can work this sublimation. No
philosopher has ever openly revealed this Secret Fire, and this powerful agent, which works all the
wonders of the Art: he who shall not understand it, and not know how to distinguish it by the characters
whereby it is described, ought to make a stand here, and pray to God to make it clear to him; for the
knowledge of this great Secret is rather a gift of Heaven, than a Light acquired by the natural force of
reasoning; let him, nevertheless, read the writings of the philosophers; let him meditate; and, above all, let
him pray: there is no difficulty which may not in the end be made clear by Work, Meditation, and Prayer.
3. Without the sublimation of the Stone, the conversion of the Elements and the extraction of the
Principles is impossible; and this conversion, which makes Water of Earth, Air of Water, and Fire of Air,
is the only way whereby our Mercury can be prepared.
4. Apply yourself then to know this Secret Fire, which dissolves the Stone naturally and without violence,
and makes it dissolve into Water in the great sea of the Wise, by the distillation which is made by the rays
of the Sun and Moon.
5. It is in this manner that the Stone, which, according to Hermes, is the vine of the Wise, becomes their
Wine, which, by the operations of Art, produces their rectified Water of Life, and their most sharp
Vinegar. The Elements of the Stone cannot be dissolved but by this Nature wholly Divine; nor can a
perfect dissolution be made of it, but after a proportioned digestion and putrefaction, at which the
operation of the Second Key of the First Work is ended.
THE THIRD KEY
1. The Third Key comprehends of itself alone a longer train of operations than all the rest together. The
philosophers have spoken very little of it, seeing the Perfection of our Mercury depends thereon; the
sincerest even, as Artefius, Trevisan, Flammel, have passed in silence the Preparation of our Mercury, and
there is hardly one found who has not feigned, instead of showing the longest and the most important of
the operations of our Practice. With a design to lend you a hand in this part of the way, which you have to
go, and where for want of Light it is impossible to know the true road, I will enlarge myself more than
others have done on this Third Key; or at least I will follow in an order, that which they have treated so
confusedly, that without the inspiration of Heaven, or without the help of a faithful friend, one remains
undoubtedly in this labyrinth, without being able to find a happy deliverance from thence.
2. I am sure, that you who are the true Sons of Science will receive a very great satisfaction in the explaining of these hidden Mysteries, which regard the separation and the purification of the Principles of our Mercury, which is made by a perfect dissolution and glorification of the body, whence it had its nativity, and by the intimate union of the soul with its body, of whom the Spirit is the only tie which works this conjunction.
3. This is the Intention, and the essential point of the Operations of this Key, which terminate at the
generation of a new substance infinitely nobler than the First.
4. After the Wise Artist has made a spring of living water come out of the stone, and has pressed out the
vine of the philosophers, and has made their wine, he ought to take notice that in this homogeneous
substance, which appears under the form of Water, there are three different substances, and three natural
principles of bodies -- Salt, Sulphur and Mercury -- which are the spirit, the soul, and the body; and
though they appear pure and perfectly united together, there still wants much of their being so; for when
by distillation we draw the Water, which is the soul and the spirit, the Body remains in the bottom of the
vessel, like a dead, black, and dredgy earth, which, nevertheless, is not to be despised; for in our subject
there is nothing which is not good.
5. The philosopher, John Pontanus, protests that the very superfluities of the Stone are converted into a
true essence, and that he who pretends to separate anything from our subject knows nothing of philosophy; for that all which is therein superfluous, unclean, dredgy -- in fine, the whole compound, is made perfect by the action of our Fire.
6. This advice opens the eyes of those, who, to make an exact purification of the Elements and of the
Principles, persuade themselves that they must only take the subtile and cast away the heavy. But Hermes
says that power of it is not integral until it be turned into earth; neither ought the sons of science to be
ignorant that the Fire and the Sulphur are hidden in the centre of the Earth, and that they must wash it
exactly with its spirit, to extract out of it the Fixed Salt, which is the Blood of our Stone. This is the
essential Mystery of the operation, which is not accomplished till after a convenient digestion and a slow
7. You know that nothing is more contrary than fire and water; but yet the Wise Artist must make peace
between the enemies, who radically love each other vehemently. Cosmopolite told the manner thereof in a
few words: All things must therefore being purged make Fire and Water to be Friends, which they will
easily do in their earth, which had ascended with them. Be then attentive on this point; moisten oftentimes
the earth with its water, and you will obtain what you seek. Must not the body be dissolved by the water,
and the Earth be penetrated with its Humidity, to be made proper for generation? According to
philosophers, the Spirit is Eve, the Body is Adam; they ought to be joined together for the propagation of
their species. Hermes says the same in other terms: "For Water is the strongest Nature which surmounts
and excites the fixed Nature in the Body, that is, rejoices in it."
8. In effect, these two substances, which are of the same nature but of different genders, ascend insensibly
together, leaving but a little faeces in the bottom of their vessel; so that the soul, spirit, and body, after an
exact purification, appear at last inseparably united under a more noble and more perfect Form than it was
before, and as different from its first liquid Form as the alcohol of Wine exactly rectified and actuated
with its salt is different from the substance of the wine from whence it has been drawn; this comparison is
not only very fitting, but it furthermore gives the sons of science a precise knowledge of the operations of
the Third Key.
9. Our Water is a living Spring which comes out of the Stone by a natural miracle of our philosophy. The
first of all is the water which issueth out of this Stone. It is Hermes who has pronounced this great Truth.
He acknow- ledges, further, that this water is the foundation of our Art.
10. The philosophers give it many names; for sometimes they call it wine, sometimes water of life,
sometimes vinegar, sometimes oil, according to the different degrees of Preparation, or according to the
diverse effects which it is capable of producing.
11. Yet I let you know that it is properly called the Vinegar of the Wise, and that in the distillation of this
Divine Liquor there happens the same thing as in that of common vinegar; you may hence draw
instruction: the water and the phlegm ascend first; the oily substance, in which the efficacy of the water
consists, comes the last, etc.
12. It is therefore necessary to dissolve the body entirely to extract all its humidity which contains the
precious ferment, the sulphur, that balm of Nature, and wonderful unguent, without which you ought not
to hope ever to see in your vessel this blackness so desired by all the philosophers. Reduce then the whole
compound into water, and make a perfect union of the volatile with the fixed; it is a precept of Senior's,
which deserves attention, that the highest fume should be reduced to the lowest; for the divine water is the
thing descending from heaven, the reducer of the soul to its body, which it at length revives.
13. The Balm of Life is hid in these unclean faeces; you ought to wash them with this celestial water until
you have removed away the blackness from them, and then your Water shall be animated with this Fiery
Essence, which works all the wonders of our Art.
14. But, further, that you may not be deceived with the terms of the Compound, I will tell you that the
philosophers have two sorts of compounds. The first is the compound of Nature, wherof I have spoken in
the First Key; for it is Nature which makes it in a manner incomprehensible to the Artist, who does
nothing but lend a hand to Nature by the adhibition of external things, by the means of which she brings
forth and produces this admirable compound.
15. The second is the compound of Art; it is the Wise man who makes it by the secret union of the fixed
with the volatile, perfectly conjoined with all prudence, which cannot be acquired but by the lights of a
16. The compound of Art is not altogether the same in the Second as in the Third Work; yet it is always
the Artist who makes it. Geber defines it, a mixture of Argent vive and Sulphur, that is to say, of the
volatile and the fixed; which, acting on one another, are volatilized and fixed reciprocally into a perfect
Fixity. Consider the example of Nature; you see that the earth will never produce fruit if it be not
penetrated with its humidity, and that the humidity would always remain barren if it were not retained and
fixed by the dryness of the earth.
17. So, in the Art, you can have no success if you do not in the first work purify the Serpent, born of the
Slime of the earth; it you do not whiten these foul and black faeces, to separate from thence the white
sulphur, which is the Sal Amoniac of the Wise, and their Chaste Diana, who washes herself in the bath;
and all this mystery is but the extraction of the fixed salt of our compound, in which the whole energy of
our Mercury consists.
18. The water which ascends by distillation carries up with it a part of this fiery salt, so that the affusion
of the water on the body, reiterated many times, impregnates, fattens, and fertilizes our Mercury, and
makes it fit to be fixed, which is the end of the second Work. 19. One cannot better explain this Truth
than by Hermes, in these words:
When I saw that the water by degrees did become thicker and
harder I did rejoice, for I certainly knew that I should find what
I sought for.
It is not without reason that the philosophers give this viscous Liquor the name of Pontick Water. Its
exuberant ponticity is indeed the true character of its virtue, and the more you shall rectify it, and the
more you shall work upon it, the more virtue will it acquire. It has been called the Water of Life, because
it gives life to the metals; but it is properly called the great Lunaria, because of its brightness wherewith it
20. Since I speak only to you, ye true scholars of Hermes, I will reveal to you one secret which you will
not find entirely in the books of the philosophers. Some of them say, that of the liquor they make two
Mercuries -- the one White and the other Red; Flammel has said more particularly, that one must make
use of the citrine Mercury to make the Imbibition of the Red; giving notice to the Sons of Art not to be
deceived on this point, as he himself had been, unless the Jew had informed him of the truth.
21. Others have taught that the White Mercury is the bath of the Moon, and that the Red Mercury is the
bath of the Sun. But there are none who have been willing to show distinctly to the Sons of Science by
what means they may get these two mercuries. If you apprehend me well, you have the point already
cleared up to you.
22. The Lunaria is the White Mercury, the most sharp Vinegar is the Red Mercury; but the better to
determine these two mercuries, feed them with flesh of their own species -- the blood of innocents whose
throats are cut; that is to say, the spirits of the bodies are the Bath where the Sun and Moon go to wash
23. I have unfolded to you a great mystery, if you reflect well on it; the philosophers who have spoken
thereof have passed over this important point very slightly. Cosmopolite has very wittily mentioned it by
an ingenious allegory, speaking of the purification of the Mercury: This will be done, says he, if you shall
give our old man gold and silver to swallow, that he may consume them, and at length he also dying may
be burnt. He makes an end of describing the whole magistery in these terms: Let his ashes be strewed in
the water; boil it until it is enough, and you have a medicine to cure the leprosy. You must not be ignorant
that Our Old Man is our Mercury; this name indeed agrees with him because He is the first matter of all
metals. He is their water, as the same author goes on to say, and to which he gives also the name of steel
and of the lodestone; adding for a greater confirmation of what I am about to discover to you, that if gold
couples with it eleven times it sends forth its seed, and is debilitated almost unto death; but the Chalybes
conceives and begets a son more glorious than the Father.
24. Behold a great Mystery which I reveal to you without an enigma; this is the secret of the two
mercuries which contain the two tinctures. Keep them separately, and do not confound their species, for
fear they should beget a monstrous Lineage.
25. I not only speak to you more intelligibly than any philosopher before has done, but I also reveal to you
the most essential point in the Practice; if you meditate thereon, and apply yourself to understand it well;
but above all, if you work according to those lights which I give you, you may obtain what you seek for.
26. And if you come not to these knowledges by the way which I have pointed out to you, I am very well
assured that you will hardly arrive at your design by only reading the philosophers. Therefore despair of
nothing -- search the source of the Liquor of the Sages, which contains all that is necessary for the work;
it is hidden under the Stone -- strike upon it with the Red of Magic Fire, and a clear fountain will issue
out; then do as I have shown you, prepare the bath of the King with the blood of the Innocents, and you
will have the animated Mercury of the wise, which never loses its virtue, if you keep it in a vessel well
27. Hermes says, that there is so much sympathy between the purified bodies and the spirits, that they
never quit one another when they are united together: because this union resembles that of the soul with
the glorified body; after which Faith tells us, there shall be no more separation or death; because the
spirits desire to be in the cleansed bodies, and having them, they enliven and dwell in them.
28. By this you may observe the merit of this precious liquor, to which the philosophers have given more
than a thousand different names, which is in sum the great Alcahest, which radically dissolves the metals --
a true permanent water which, after having radically dissolved them, is inseparably united to them,
increasing their weight and tincture.
THE FOURTH KEY
The Fourth Key of the Art is the entrance to the Second Work (and a reiteration in part and development
of the foregoing): it is this which reduces our Water into Earth; there is but this only Water in the world,
which by a bare boiling can be converted into Earth, because the Mercury of the Wise carries in its centre
its own Sulphur, which coagulates it. The terrification of the Spirit is the only operation of this work. Boil
them with patience; if you have proceeded well, you will not be a long time without perceiving the marks
of this coagulation; and if they appear not in their time, they will never appear; because it is an undoubted
sign that you have failed in some essential thing in the former operations; for to corporify the Spirit,
which is our Mercury, you must have well dissolved the body in which the Sulphur which coagulates the
Mercury is enclosed. But Hermes assumes that our mercurial water shall obtain all the virtues which the
philosophers attribute to it if it be turned into earth. An earth admirable is it for fertility -- the Land of
Promise of the Wise, who, knowing how to make the dew of Heaven fall upon it, cause it to produce fruits
of an inestimable price. Cultivate then diligently this precious earth, moisten it often with its own
humidity, dry it as often, and you will no less augment its virtue than its weight and its fertility.
THE FIFTH KEY
The Fifth Key includes the Fermentation of the Stone with the perfect body, to make therof the medicine
of the Third order. I will say nothing in particular of the operation of the Third work; except that the
Perfect Body is a necessary leaven of Our Paste. And that the Spirit ought to make the union of the paste
with the leaven in the same manner as water moistens meal, and dissolves the leaven to compose a
fermented paste fit to make bread. This comparison is very proper; Hermes first made it, saying, that as a
paste cannot be fermented without a ferment; so when you shall have sublimed, cleansed and separated
the foulness from the Faeces, and would make the conjunction, put a ferment to them and make the water
earth, that the paste may be made a ferment; which repeats the instruction of the whole work, and shows,
that just so as the whole lump of the paste becomes leaven, by the action of the ferment which has been
added, so all the philosophic confection becomes, by this operation, a leaven proper to ferment a new
matter, and to multiply it to infinity. If you observe well how bread is made, you will find the proportions
also, which you ought to keep among the matters which compose our philosophical paste. Do not the
bakers put more meal than leaven, and more water than the leaven and the meal? The laws of Nature are
the rules you ought to follow in the practice of our magistery. I have given you, upon the principal point,
all the instructions which are necessary for you, so that it would be superfluous to tell you more of it;
particularly concerning the last operations, about which the Adepts have been less reserved than at the
First, which are the foundations of the Art.
THE SIXTH KEY
The Sixth Key teaches the Multiplication of the Stone, by the reiteration of the same operation, which
consists but in opening and shutting, dissolving and coagulating, imbibing and drying; whereby the
virtues of the Stone are infinitely augmentable. As my design has been not to describe entirely the
application of the three medicines, but only to instruct you in the more important operations concerning
the preparation of Mercury, which the philosophers commonly pass over in silence, to hide the mysteries
from the profane which are only intended for the wise, I will tarry no longer on this point, and will tell
you nothing more of what relates to the Projection of the Medicine, because the success you expect
depends not thereon. I have not given you very full instructions except on the Third Key, because it
contains a long train of operations which, though simple and natural, require a great understanding of the
Laws of Nature, and of the qualities of Our Matter, as well as a perfect knowledge of chemistry and of the
different degrees of heat which are fitting for these operations. I have conducted you by the straight way
without any winding; and if you have well minded the road which I have pointed out to you, I am sure
that you will go straight to the end without straying. Take this in good part from me, in the design which I
had of sparing you a thousand labours and a thousand troubles, which I myself have undergone in this
painful journey for want of an assistance such as this is, which I give you from a sincere heart and a
tender affection for all the true sons of science. I should much bewail, if, like me, after having known the
true matter, you should spend fifteen years entirely in the work, in study and in meditation, without being
able to extract out of the Stone the precious juice which it encloses in its bosom, for want of knowing the
secret fire of the wise, which makes to run out of this plant (dry and withered in appearance) a water
which wets not the hands, and which by a magical union of the dry water of the sea of the wise, is
dissolved into a viscous water -- into a mercurial liquor, which is the beginning, the foundation, and the
Key of our Art: Convert, separate, and purify the elements, as I have taught you, and you will possess the
true Mercury of the philosophers, which will give you the fixed Sulphur and the Universal Medicine. But
I give you notice, moreover, that even after you shall be arrived at the knowledge of the Secret Fire of the
Wise, yet still you shall not attain your point at your first career. I have erred many years in the way
which remains to be gone, to arrive at the mysterious fountain where the King bathes himself, is made
young again, and retakes a new life exempt from all sorts of infirmities. Besides this you must know how
to purify, to heal, and to animate the royal bath; it is to lend you a hand in this secret way that I have
expatiated under the Third Key, where all those operations are described. I wish with all my heart that the
instructions which I have given you may enable you to go directly to the End. But remember, ye sons of
philosophy, that the knowledge of our Magistery comes rather by the Inspiration of Heaven than from the
Lights which we can get by ourselves. This truth is acknowledged by all artists; it is for good reason that
it is not enough to work; pray daily, read good books, and meditate night and day on the operations of
Nature, and on what she may be able to do when she is assisted by the help of our Art; and by these
means you will succeed without doubt in your undertaking. This is all I have now to say to you. I was not
willing to make you such a long discourse as the matter seemed to demand; neither have I told you
anything but what is essential to our Art; so that if you know the Stone which is the only matter of Our Stone, and if you have the Understanding of Our Fire, which is both secret and natural, you have the Keys
of the Art, and you can calcine Our Stone; not by the common calcination which is made by the violence of fire, but by a philosophic calcination which is purely natural. Yet observe this, with the most enlightened philosophers, that there is this difference between the common calcination which is made by
the force of Fire and the natural calcination; that the first destroys the body and consumes the greatest part
of its radical humidity; but the second does not only preserve the humidity of the body in calcining it, but
still considerably augments it. Experience will give you knowledge in the Practice of this great truth, for
you will in effect find that this philosophical calcination, which sublimes and distills the Stone in
calcining it, much augments its humidity; the reason is that the igneous spirit of the natural fire is corporified in the substances which are analogous to it. Our stone is an Astral Fire which sympathizes with the Natural Fire, and which, as a true Salamander receives it nativity, is nourished and grows in the Elementary Fire, which is geometrically proportioned to it.