OF THE PROPERTIES AND WONDERFUL NATURE OF FIRE AND EARTH.
THERE are two things, (says Hermes) viz. fire and earth, which are sufficient for the operation of all wonderful things: the former is active, and the latter passive. Fire, in all things, and through all things, comes and goes away bright; it is in all things bright, and at the same time occult, and unknown. When it is by itself (no other matter coming to it, in which it should manifest its proper action) it is boundless and invisible; of itself sufficient for every action that is proper to it;--itself is one, and penetrates through all things; also spread abroad in the heavens, and shining. But in the infernal place, straitened, dark, and tormenting; and in the midway it partakes of both. It is in stones, and is drawn out by the stroke of the steel; it is in earth, and
causes it, after digging up, to smoke; it is in water, and heats springs and wells; it is in the depths of the sea, and causes it, being tossed with the winds, to be hot; it is in the air, and makes it (as we often see) to burn. And all animals, and all living things whatsoever, as also vegetables, are preserved by heat;--and every thing that lives, lives by reason of the inclosed heat. The properties of the fire that is above, are heat, making all things fruitful; and a celestial light, giving life to all things. The properties of the infernal fire are a parching heat, consuming all things; and darkness; making all things barren. The celestial and bright fire drives away spirits of darkness;--also, this our fire, made with wood, drives away the same, in as much as it hath an analogy with, and is the vehiculum of, that superior light; as also of him who saith, "I am the light of the world," which is true fire--the Father of lights, from whom every good thing that is given comes;--sending forth the light of his fire, and communicating it first to the sun and the rest of the celestial bodies, and by these, as by mediating instruments, conveying that light into our fire. As, therefore, the spirits of darkness are stronger in the dark--so good spirits, which are angels of lights, are augmented not only .by that light (which is divine, of the sun, and celestial), but also by the light of our common fire. Hence it was that the first and most wise institutors of religions and ceremonies, ordained that prayers, singings, and all manner of divine worships whatsoever, should not be performed without lighted candles or torches: hence, also, was that significant saying of Pythagoras--"Do not speak of God without a light!"--And they commanded that, for the driving away of wicked spirits, lights and fires should be kindled by the carcasses of the dead, and that they should not be removed until the expiations were, after a holy manner, performed, and then buried. And the great Jehovah himself, in the old law, commanded that all his sacrifices should be offered with fire and that fire should always be burning upon the altar, which custom the Priests of the Altar did always observe and keep amongst the Romans. Now the basis and foundation of all the elements is the earth; for that is the object, subject, and receptacle of all celestial rays and influences: in it are contained the seeds, and seminal virtues of all things; and therefore, it is said to be
animal, vegetable, and mineral. It, being made fruitful by the other elements and the heavens, brings forth all things of itself. It receives the abundance of all things, and is, as it were, the first fountain from whence all things spring;--it is the centre, foundation, and mother of all things. Take as much of it as you please, separated, washed, depurated, and subtilized, and if you let it lie in the open air a little while, it will, being full and abounding with heavenly virtues, of itself bring forth plants, worms, and other living things; also stones, and bright sparks of metals. In it are great secrets: if, at any time it shall be purified, by the help of fire, 1 and reduced into its simple nature by a convenient washing, it is the first matter of our creation, and the truest medicine that can restore and preserve us.
77:1 Agrippa here, speaking of the element of earth being reduced to its utmost simplicity, by being purified by fire and a convenient washing, means, that it is the first and principal ingredient necessary to the production of the Philosopher's stone, either of animals or metals.