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"My son, before all things I admonish thee to fear God, in whom is the strength of thy undertaking, and the bond of whatsoever thou meditatest to unloose; whatsoever thou hearest, consider it rationally. For I hold thee not to be a fool. Lay hold, therefore, of

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my instructions and meditate upon them, and so let thy heart be fitted also to conceive, as if thou was thyself the author of that which I now teach. If thou appliest cold to any nature that is hot, it will not hurt it; in like manner, he who is rational shuts himself within from the threshold of ignorance, lest supinely he should be deceived.

"Take the flying bird and drown it flying, and divide and separate it from its pollutions, which yet hold it in death; draw it forth and repel it from itself, that it may live and answer thee, not by flying away into the regions above but by truly forbearing to fly. For if thou shalt deliver it out of its prison, after this thou shalt govern it according to Reason, and according to the days that I shall teach thee: then will it become a companion unto thee, and by it thou wilt become to be an honoured lord.

"Extract from the ray its shadow, and from the light its obscurity, by which the clouds hang over it and keep away the light: by means of its construction, also, and fiery redness, it is burned.

"Take, my Son, this redness, corrupted with water, which is as a live coal holding fire, which if thou shalt withdraw so often until the redness is made pure, then it will associate with thee, by whom it was cherished, and in whom it rests.

"Return, then, O my Son, the coal being extinct in life, upon the water for thirty days, as I shall note to thee, and henceforth thou art a crowned king, resting over the fountain, and drawing from thence Auripigment dry without moisture. And now I have made the heart of the hearers, hoping in thee, to rejoice, even in


their eyes, beholding thee in anticipation of that which thou possessest.

"Observe, then, that the water was first in the air, then in the earth; restore thou it also to the superiors by its proper windings and not foolishly altering it; then to the former spirit, gathered in its redness, let it be carefully conjoined.

"Know, my Son, that the fatness of our earth is sulphur, the auripigment sirety, and colcothar which are also sulphur, of which auripigments sulphur, and such like, some are more vile than others, in which there is a diversity, of which kind also is the fat of gluey matters, such as are hair, nails, hoofs, and sulphur itself, and of the brain, which too is auripigment, of the like kind also are the lions' and cats' claws, which is sirety the fat of white bodies, and the fat of the two oriental quicksilvers, which sulphurs are hunted and retained by the bodies.

"I say, moreover, that this sulphur doth tinge and fix, and is held by the conjunction of the tinctures; oils also tinge, but fly away, which in the body are contained, which is a conjunction of fugitives only with sulphurs and albuminous bodies, which hold also and detain the fugitive ens.

"The disposition sought after by the philosophers, O Son, is but one in our egg, but this in the hen's egg is much less to be found. But lest so much of the Divine Wisdom as is a hen's egg should not be distinguished, our composition is, as that is, from the four elements adapted and composed. Know, therefore, that in the hen's egg is the greatest help with respect to the proximity and relationship of the matter in nature

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for in it there is a spirituality and conjunction of elements, and an earth which is golden in its tincture."

But the Son, inquiring of Hermes, saith:

"The sulphurs which are fit for our work, whether they are celestial or terrestrial?"

To whom the Father replies:

"Certain of them are heavenly and some are of the earth."

Then the Son saith:

"Father, I imagine the heart in the superiors to be heaven, and in the inferiors, earth."

But saith Hermes:

"It is not so; the masculine is truly the heaven of the feminine, and the feminine is the earth of the masculine."

The Son then asks:

"Father, which of these is more worthy than the other, whether is it the heaven or the earth?"

Hermes replies:

"Both need the help one of the other, for the precepts demand a medium."

But saith the Son:

"If thou shalt say that a wise man governs all mankind?"

"But ordinary men," replies Hermes, "are better for them, because every nature delights in society of its own kind, and so we find it to be in the life of Wisdom where equals are conjoined."

"But what," rejoins the Son, "is the mean betwixt them?"

To whom Hermes replies:

"In everything in nature there are three

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from two; the beginning, the middle, and the end. First the needful water, then the oily tincture, and lastly, the faeces, or earth, which remains below.

"But the Dragon inhabits in all these, and his houses are the darkness and blackness that is in them, and by them he ascends into the air, from his rising, which is their heaven. But whilst the fume remains in them, they are not immortal. Take away, therefore, the vapour from the water, and the blackness from the oily tincture, and death from the faeces, and by dissolution thou shalt possess a triumphant reward, even that in and by which the possessors live.

"Know then, my Son, that the temperate unguent, which is fire, is the medium between the faeces and the water, and is the Perscrutinator of the water. For the unguents are called sulphurs, because between fire and oil and this sulphur there is such a close proximity, that even as fire burns so does the sulphur also.

"All the sciences of the world, O Son, are comprehended in this my hidden Wisdom, and this, and the learning of the Art, consists in these wonderful hidden elements which it doth discover and complete. It behoves him, therefore, who would be introduced to this hidden Wisdom, to free himself from the hidden usurpations of vice, and to be just and good and of a sound reason, ready at hand to help mankind, of a serene countenance, diligent to save, and be himself a patient guardian of the arcane secrets of philosophy.

"And this know, that except thou understandest how to mortify and induce generation, to vivify the Spirit and introduce Light, until they fight each other

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and grow white and freed from their defilements, rising as it were from blackness and darkness, thou knowest nothing nor canst perform anything. But if thou knowest this, thou wilt be of a great dignity so that even kings themselves shall reverence thee. These secrets, Son, it behoves thee to conceal from the vulgar and profane world.

"Understand, also, that our Stone is from many things and of various colours, and composed from four elements which we ought to divide and dissever in pieces, and segregate, in the veins, and partly mortifying the same by its proper nature, which is also in it, to preserve the water and fire dwelling therein, which is from the four elements and their waters, which contain its water; this, however, is not water in its true form, but fire, containing in a pure vessel the ascending waters, lest the spirits should fly away from the bodies; for by this means they are made tingeing and fixed.

"O, blessed watery form, that dissolvest the elements! Now it behoves us, with this watery soul, to possess ourselves of a sulphurous form, and to mingle the same with our Acetum. For when, by the power of water, the composition is dissolved, it is the key of the restoration; then darkness and death will fly away from them and Wisdom proceeds onwards to the fulfilment of her Law."

Next: Section III