Category:Alchemy of Fire

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Spiritual Alchemy - Part 2

by Athos A. Altomonte
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Technique of the Inner Way

The Unity of the Matter is the starting postulate of the old hermeticists. Modern nuclear physics and chemistry demonstrate it, when they make matters and products which were completely unknown; they also follow the old saying: “Omnia ab uno et in unum omnia”, viz. “all is in one and one is in all”. All things come from the same germ and they have all been generated by the same mother.

“The Soul of Men, Demons and Holy Angels all come from one Source; Man encloses in himself the part of the Exterior world that the Devil encloses in himself, but in a different Principle…” (Jacob Boehme).

Much earlier than these philosophers, traditional Gnosis used this theory in its doctrinal statement of Emanation, stating that all spiritual creatures have been emanated by a unique Source: God – Abyss. According to the Gnostic doctrine they have come up following detachments from the Second to the First Causes, from the Third to the Second, etc. Everything came up from the Original One, though, which is God. From this doctrine we can then draw the conclusion that all that is here is of a divine origin, although prisoner of a gross world. It has degenerated and devalued in its spiritual possibilities but it can still gain them back; this Work of re-generation is called “Reintegration”.

Since then Alchemy was divided into three stages of probation:

1) Work that transforms all metals from the imperfect status into pure gold.

2) The Elixir of Long Life, a kind of universal medicine, able to cure every disease and to ensure a relevant longevity, even immortality. These statements must be taken in a spiritual sense.

3) Universal Reintegration, viz. the regeneration of the Whole Cosmos through all the spiritual creatures and ultimate goal of true Alchemy.

“There isn’t an essential difference between Eternal Birth, Reintegration and the discovery of the Philosopher’s Stone. Since everything originates from Unity, everything must return the same.”

Hints of the Comment on the Elixir of Long Life can be found in these words: “…the re-birth is triple; there is the re-birth in our reason first, then in our heart and our will, but very few have known the bodily re-birth…”.

We must distinguish Alchemists from Blowers.

The former were philosophers owing a millenary Gnosis; they had particular theories which didn’t allow them to exceed some limits in their requests. Their field of research was the Metallic world. The Blowers, on the contrary, didn’t have any esoterical and scientific knowledge and were extremely empirical; they had the most improbable products of the three Kingdoms in their retorts and they didn’t have a problem in working with the strangest substances, such as the most disgusting natural residues. Alchemists have kept and demonstrated the truth of Hermeticism and Alchemy; blowers have ignored them but they have created Chemistry.

The existence of a Spiritual Alchemy as an element of the individual reintegration of the Adept is proofed by the reading of old authors, which were certainly good Christians. But were they not, perhaps because they understood that Knowledge and Wisdom must go together, and that Knowledge without Wisdom is worse than Ignorance alone? In the very rare work: “The Lost Word” it is said: “…so it is Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, because where Spirit, Soul and Body are, there are also Sulfur, Mercury and Salt.” The Great Work has therefore three goals: in the Material world, it is the Transmutation of metals in order to turn them into Gold, perfection; in the microcosm, it is the perfection of Moral Man and in the Divine world, it is the contemplation of the Divinity in his Splendor.

According to the second view, Man is therefore the philosophic Athanor where the elaboration of Virtues occurs. In this sense, according to mystics, we must intend these words: “Since the Work is with you and in you, by finding it in yourselves, where it always is, you will have it forever, wherever you are, on earth or sea. About this you shall know, my friend keen on the alchemic Art, that Life is only a great and true Spirit and as a consequence all that the vulgar or ignorant person believes dead, must be led back to an incomprehensible, visible and spiritual life, and it must be kept in it. In brief, if you want to realize our Stone you must be without sin and persevere in Truth. Decide, after having received the divine gift that you wish, to help poor and needy people and to give your hand to help who is in disgrace to get up.

The four natural Elements of the old peoples:

Water (Hydrogen) – Air (Azoth) – Fire (Oxygen) – Earth (Carbon)

Correspond to the four Qualities:

Humid Hot Dry Cold

And to the four Temperaments:

Sanguine – Bilious – Nervous - Lymphatic

This is the plane corresponding to the realization called Alkahest. To the higher stage of these four ways of manifestations, in the matter of Life, the alchemists drew, by copulation, the three terms of the second plane, called the realization of Azoth, viz. the three essential principles for the start of the Work.


Water + Air

Air + Fire

Fire + Earth





There, the Work could go from Black to White. In actual fact, because of the copulation of the Mercury and Sulfur principles, the Adept found and obtained the philosophical Silver, or Mercury of the Wise men. From the copulation of the Sulfur and Salt Principles he obtained the Philosophic Gold or Sulfur of the Wise men.

Mercury Principle + Sulfur = Philosophic Silver

Mercury Of the Wise men

Sulfur + Salt Principle = Philosophic Gold

Sulfur Of the Wise men

Finally, because of the copulation of Mercury and Sulfur of the Wise men, the Work went from White to Red and the Adept obtained the Philosopher’s Stone. The Way of Mercury was also called the Palace of the Queen, because it led to the “White Bride”, Mercury, in actual fact. The way of the Salt was the Royal Palace because it led to the “Red Groom”, Sulfur.

This material and experimental way revealed itself to be a transcendental and spiritual way, when the four starting elements were linked to the Four Cardinal Virtues of the old Scholastic:

Fire corresponds to Strength

Air corresponds to Justice

Water corresponds to Temperance

Earth corresponds to Cautiousness

The three Principles originated by these four Elements corresponded to the Three Theological Virtues, viz.

• The Sulfur Principle corresponds to Faith;

• The Mercury Principle corresponds to Hope;

• The Salt Principle corresponds to Charity.

The two Philosophical Metals, Silver and Gold of the Wise men, originated by the coagulation of the three principles Sulfur, Mercury and Salt, corresponded to the Two Sublime Virtues:

• The Mercury of the Wise men corresponds to Indulgence;

• The Sulfur of the Wise men corresponds to Wisdom.

These two Sublime Virtues have been kept quiet and led back to the status of gifts of the Holy Spirit, as it is read in these parts of the Holy Scriptures:

“And God told Salomon: Since you didn’t ask Me for a long life, wealth or the death of your enemies, but you asked for intelligence and wisdom to act with justice, I will act according to your words and I will give you a heart full of wisdom and intelligence... ” - (Catholic Bible: Re 5, 11-12; Protestant Bible: Re 3, 10-12).

“...because there will be your wisdom and intelligence to the eyes of the peoples...” - (Deuteronomy 4, 6).

It is known how in the higher ternary of the Sephirothic system of the Hebrew Cabbala, “Binah”, intelligence, is the attribute of what corresponds to vision, intuition, penetration and information. As such, intelligence is therefore also “knowledge” of the divine absolute things, Gnosis. Its twin is “Chokmah”, wisdom, which well expresses the idea of the choice of the best among the data accessible to intelligence “Binah”, which works by elimination. It is spontaneous, intelligent and understanding submission to a dominating Good.

As such it is discrimination between Good and Evil and their science. As a consequence, Intelligence is the highest Knowledge, and Wisdom is how it is used. From Sulfur and Mercury of the Wise men the Philosophic Egg will originate at the right time, the Stone to the Red, the Chrysopoeia, likewise in the Soul of man originate Athanor, Total Illumination, decisive element of Reintegration; this ultimate goal of the Work is called: “Divine Light”.


« Of the Secrets of Nature.

The fourfold globe rules this work of the fire.
You, who want to imitate the work of Nature, look for four globes that fix in themselves a light fire that animates.
The lowest reminds you of Vulcan and the following of Mercury.
The third orbit is a domain of the Moon, the highest belongs to us, oh Apollo, we call it Nature’s fire.
This chain guide your hands in Art.»

« The four degrees of heat.

The sun during the year goes round through the whole Zodiac.
With its splendor it renovates grass, plants and flowers. From this we must learn the four degrees of heat of our work, which will be for you the guiding thread of the work we have carried out.
They are: Aries, Cancer, Scales, Capricorn, as I tell you.
Choose at your will which one will be the first and which one the second among these.»


“The Fire goes from four to fourteen and from fourteen to twenty-four wicks. To the starting Quaternary it is added a Denary and following another one”.

Four + Ten + Ten = Twenty-four; Two + Four = Six (The Hexagram).

If these words didn’t evoke the Alexandrine Gnosis for us and its Eons, we might remember that the “first degree of the Fire”, the start of the Work, was called Fire of Egypt, because it was supposed to equalize, from the physical point of view, the highest summer temperature of that area.

“...make your fire in the same amount as the heat is in the months of June and July...” (Dialogue between Mary and Aros, fragment of an Egyptian papyrus).

This progressive evolution of the Fire is repeated, in the Work by the Spiritual Alchemy, with a progressive evolution of the Prayer and the whole Ascent, their width, their frequencies and most of all their immediate and following aims. It would be dangerous to rush or to have a dense locution of esotericism. Unfortunately we have plenty of examples, in the Mystics history, of Neophytes who, not ready to the violence of intuitive revelations and dazzled by such unexpected psychic realizations, diverted and got lost in the irrational ways of the mind. In order to protect from these dangers, both the oriental and the Latin Churches have imposed the principle of the “Director of conscience” to their devotees wishing to penetrate these domains.

We will listen to the Masters once again: “…you will not leave the vase to get too hot, you will always be able to touch it with bare hands without burning yourself. This will last the whole time of solution…” “Make an exhaling, digesting, continuous and non violent, subtle and airy Fire”; “…a part of Fire has more potential energy than a hundred parts of air; as a consequence a part of Fire can easily rule a thousand parts of Earth…”.

We will see, later on, how our Fire, viz. the Prayer, must be guided; thanks to it, according to the favorite expression of easterners, we will be able to “burn some karma”.

We will now study the Elements of our Work, the Principles to free in the first place, and then what will originate, nine Essential Virtues:

Four called “Cardinal” – from Latin “cardo”, hinge, door, essential element;

Three “Theological” - because they essentially have God as their subject;

Two “Sublime” – because they are the highest result of the practice of the first Seven and therefore they are their sublimation.

They all correspond to Spiritual Entities linked to the Divine Plan, like the Eternal Ideas from Plato.

Let’s see what Hermas of Cumae, one of the Four Apostolic Fathers, heirs and immediate successors of the Apostles, says in the Christian Oral Tradition: “… and who are these Virgins? They are Spirits of Sanctification. Nobody can be admitted to the Kingdom of God without being first of all covered by Them, with Their own dress. If you receive only the Name of the Son of God without receiving the dressing of these Virgins from Their own hands, all will be useless! Because these Virgins are Virtues of the Son of God. If you bear his name without having His Virtue, you bear His Name in vain…” Hermas, the Shepherd IX, 13.

And again: “…without the help of these Virgins, it is impossible for you to preserve His Commandments. I see They appreciate your home, only keep it clean! They will be happy to live in a clean home, because They are pure, chaste, active and they enjoy great credit from the Lord. Until your home will be clean, They will live there; the smallest impurity they’ll find, they’ll go out immediately, because these Virgins can’t stand the lightest stain…” – Ib. X,3.

The reader will understand the esoterical meaning hidden in the text. We will complete it with a fragment from a Gnostic apocrypha of the second century: “…and in Bethel, after seventy days, I saw seven men dressed in white who told me: “Get up! Wear the Dress of Priesthood, the Crown of Justice, the Rational of Intelligence, the Dress of Truth, the Diadem of Faith, the Miter of Prodigies, the Ephod of Prophecy”. And each of them, bringing an Ornament, put it on me saying: “…Be now a Priest of the Lord, you and your Race, until the eternity.” – The Testament of Patriarchs, Levi 6.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit…” – John, XII, 24.

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This article comes from Esotericism Readings

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