By Lyndy Abraham

This dictionary records alchemical symbolism from the early centuries advert to the late-twentieth century, to be used by way of historians of literary tradition, philosophy, technological know-how and the visible arts, and readers drawn to alchemy and hermeticism. every one access incorporates a definition of the logo, giving the literal (physical) and figurative (spiritual) meanings, an instance of the emblem utilized in alchemical writing, and a citation from a literary resource. There are fifty visible photos of photo woodcuts, copperplate engravings and painted by hand trademarks, a few reproduced right here for the 1st time.

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This devouring union is frequently represented as an *incestuous act, as in Jean de la Fontaine’s ‘The Pleasant Founteine of Knowledge’, where the alchemist is advised to ‘Make thy Sulphure penetrative, /By fire to become attractive; /And then make itt eate itts mother’. The ‘mother’, Fontaine informs us, is mercury: ‘When thy Sulphure hath devoured /Thy mercury mortified /For forty dayes imprison these /And in transparent glasse inclose’ (ap, 108-9). The image of devouring admirably expresses the violent nature of the opposing substances (or qualities) and the paradoxical nature of the *solve et coagula, the separation and union necessary for the creation of that pure new substance known to the alchemists as the philosopher’s stone.

Michael Drayton wrote of the false alchemist in ‘The Moone-Calfe’ that he would ‘shew you in a Crusible, or Glasse: /Some rare extraction’ (Works, 3:190, lines 912-13). The projection of the philosopher’s stone (or powder) on the molten base metal usually takes place in the crucible because it can withstand great heat. The Clangor buccinae advised the alchemist on transmuting tin into silver: ‘If thou would’st make Projection upon Jupiter, melt it in a Crucible, and put to one pound of Jupiter one ounce of pure Luna, and melt them together; then cast on it thy White Tincture’ (zc, 85).

51 dew decapitation D devil devour decapitation decoction the preparation of an ore, a mineral, or the philosopher’s stone by heat. Also the extraction of the essence of a substance through boiling in water. Artephius described the process of decoction as causing the advent of the three major stages and *colours in the opus: ‘And as heat working upon that which is moist causeth or generates blackness, which is the prime or first colour; so always by decoction, more and more heat working upon that which is dry, begets whiteness, which is the second colour; and then working upon that which is purely and perfectly dry, it produceth citrinity and redness’ (sb, 37).

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A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery by Lyndy Abraham


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