650 C.E.: TABULA SMARAGDINA HERMETIS TRISMEGISTI

The Emerald Table, which is a seminal text for Islamic and Western Alchemy, first appeared in the following works: Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa Sanat al-Tabia (c. 650 C.E.), Kitab Sirr al-Asar (c. 800 C.E.), Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (12th cent.), and Secretum Secretorum (c. 1140). TABULA SMARAGDINA HERMETIS TRISMEGISTI (Latin version of H. Khunrath) Verba secretorum Hermetis – Verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum : quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius; et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius. Et sicut omnes res fuerunt ab uno, mediatione unius, sic omnes res natae fuerunt ab hac una re, adaptatione. Pater ejus est Sol, mater ejus Luna; portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo; nutrix ejus Terra est. Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic. Vis ejus integra est si versa fuerit in terram. Separabis terram ab igne, subtile a spisso, suaviter, cum magno […] Read More

800: Emerald Tablet of Hermes

History of the Tablet History of the Tablet (largely summarised from Needham 1980, & Holmyard 1957) The Tablet probably first appeared in the West in editions of the psuedo-Aristotlean Secretum Secretorum which was actually a translation of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar, a book of advice to kings which was translated into latin by Johannes Hispalensis c. 1140 and by Philip of Tripoli c.1243. Other translations of the Tablet may have been made during the same period by Plato of Tivoli and Hugh of Santalla, perhaps from different sources. The date of the Kitab Sirr al-Asar is uncertain, though c.800 has been suggested and it is not clear when the tablet became part of this work. Holmyard was the first to find another early arabic version (Ruska found a 12th centruy recension claiming to have been dictated by Sergius of Nablus) in the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of […] Read More

1150: The Secret Book by Artephius

By Artephius This treatise describes the entire process of preparing the philosopher’s stone. There are three separate operations described here: The preparation of the ‘secret fire’ (the catalyst or solvent which is used throughout the whole work, without which nothing can be achieved, but which is seldom if ever mentioned in any alchemical treatise), The preparation of ‘mercury’ (a metallic vapor made from antimony and iron, said to resemble vulgar mercury (Hg) in appearance, necessary in the preparation of the stone) and The preparation of the stone itself. These operations are not presented in sequence. The reader will note that the language is allusive and recondite, that several names are used to refer to the same thing and that one name is used to refer to several things. This is, however, an exceptionally clear alchemical text. Artephius is said to have written this in the 12th century. The Secret […] Read More

1200s: Tract on the Tincture and Oil of Antimony by Roger Bacon

Preface Dear reader, at the end of his Tract on Vitriol, Roger Bacon mentions that because of the multiplication of the Tincture that is made from Vitriol, the lover of Art should acquaint himself with the Tract De Oleo Stibii. Therefore I considered that it would be good and useful that the Tract De Oleo Stibii follows next. And if one thoroughly ponders and compares these tinctures with one another, then I have no doubt that one will not finish without exceptional profit. Yet, every lover of Art, should mind always to keep one eye on Nature and the other on Art and manual labour. For, when these two do not stand together, then it is a lame work, as when someone thinks he can walk a long path on one leg only, which is easily seen to be impossible, Vale. Joachim Tanckivs De Oleo Antimonii Tractatus. ROGERII BACONIS […] Read More

1300s?: Hortulanus Commentary on the Emerald Tablet

A briefe Commentarie of Hortulanus the Philosopher, upon the Smaragdine Table of Hermes of Alchimy. The praier of Hortulanus. Laude, honour, power and glorie, be given to thee, O Almightie Lorde God, with thy beloved sonne, our Lord Iesus Christ, and the holy Ghost, the comforter. O holy Trinitie, that art the onely one God, perfect man, I give thee thankes that having the knowledge of the transitorie things of this worlde (least I should bee provoked with the pleasures thereof) of thy abundant mercie thou hast taken mee from it. But forsomuch as I have knowne manie deceived in this art, that have not gone the right way, let it please thee, O Lord my God, that by the knowledge which thou hast given me, I may bring my deare friends from error, that when they shal perceive the truth, they may praise thy holy and glorious name, […] Read More

1321: An hundred aphorisms containing the whole body of magic

This text has been transcribed by Adam McLean from the second section of Ms. Sloane 1321. An anonymous treatise upon Magnetical Physic, divided into three parts; containing:- 1. Twelve conclusions upon the Nature of the Soul. f.2-13. 2. ‘An hundred Aphorismes conteyning the whole body of Naturall magick, being the Key to open that which goeth before and which followeth after.’ ff.14-19. 3. ‘Of things necessary in a Physitian before he undertake this part of Magnetical Physicks.’ ff.20-40. [The English has been modernised.] 1. The whole world is animated with the first supreme and intellectual Soul possessing in itself the seminary reasons of all things, which proceeding from the brightness of the ideas of the first Intellect are as it were the instrument by which this great body is governed and are the links of the golden chain of providence. 2. While the operations of the Soul are terminated […] Read More

1377: Alchemy in Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah

Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead, Cairo University, Giza (During the DAAD fellowship hosted by Heidelberg University, July-October 1998)   Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mohammad Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis in 732 A.H. (1332 C.E.) to an upper-class family that had migrated from Seville in Muslim Spain. His ancestors were Yemenite Arabs who settled in Spain in the very beginning of Muslim rule in the eighth century, but after the fall of Seville, had migrated to Tunisia. He received his early education and where, still in his teens, he entered the service of the Egyptian ruler Sultan Barquq. His thirst for advanced knowledge and a better academic setting soon made him leave this service and migrate to Fez. During his formative years, Ibn Khaldun experienced his family’s active participation in the intellectual life of the city, and to a lesser degree, its political life. This was followed by […] Read More

1516: The Treasure of Treasures for Alchemists by Paracelsus

�The Treasure of Treasures for Alchemists. By Philippus Theophrastus Bombast, Paracelsus the Great NATURE begets a mineral in the bowels of the earth. There are two kinds of it, which are found in many districts of Europe. The best which has been offered to me, which also has been found genuine in experimentation, is externally in the figure of the greater world, and is in the eastern part of the sphere of the Sun. The other, in the Southern Star, is now in its first efflorescence. The bowels of the earth thrust this forth through its surface. It is found red in its first coagulation, and in it lie hid all the flowers and colours of the minerals. Much has been written about it by the philosophers, for it is of a cold and moist nature, and agrees with the element of water. So far as relates to the […] Read More

1536: Coelum philosophorum by Paracelsus

THE COELUM PHILOSOPHORUM, OR BOOK OF VEXATIONS; By PHILIPPUS THEOPHRASTUS PARACELSUS. THE SCIENCE AND NATURE OF ALCHEMY, AND WHAT OPINION SHOULD BE FORMED THEREOF. Regulated by the Seven Rules or Fundamental Canons according to the seven commonly known Metals; and containing a Preface with certain Treatises and Appendices. THE PREFACE OF THEOPHRASTUS PARACELSUS TO ALL ALCHEMISTS AND READERS OF THIS BOOK. YOU who are skilled in Alchemy, and as many others as promise yourselves great riches or chiefly desire to make gold and silver, which Alchemy in different ways promises and teaches; equally, too, you who willingly undergo toil and vexations, and wish not to be freed from them, until you have attained your rewards, and the fulfilment of the promises made to you; experience teaches this every day, that out of thousands of you not even one accomplishes his desire. Is this a failure of Nature or of Art? I say, no; but it […] Read More