Revised: August 2019
Webster’s Dictionary describes common antimony thusly: “a silvery-white, metallic chemical element used in alloys to harden them.” This element from nature is toxic to the human organism, as early man discovered when he used it for paints, pottery and even eye makeup in early Egypt. Any attempt to use such an element for the sake of the High Art in an actual laboratory is the height of folly. The genuine philosopher-alchemists named these common elements as code. Paracelsus’ admonition concerning the “use of the Qabalists” with regard to alchemical experiments referred to mental and spiritual activities. The seeker must go deeper and beyond all the material metaphors. So look to the numbers!
In Latin antimony is stibium. Its letters in the Latin Cabala Simplex total 85, as does metallum, 'metal or mineral,' and sol auri, 'Sol of Gold.' Dr. Franz Hartmann says of Antimony in The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians:
"A symbol representing the element of Earth in its gross material aspect; primordial matter, also represented as the insatiable Wulf, the destroyer of forms."
Out of the twelfth century, The Secret Book Artephius begins the very first paragraph:
"Antimony is a mineral participating of saturnine parts, and has in all respects the nature thereof. This saturnine antimony agrees with sol, and contains in itself argent vive, in which no metal is swallowed up by this antimonial argent vive."1
Paracelsus begins chapter 14 in the Aurora of the Philosophers: "Antimony is the true bath of gold."2
When pondered together carefully all these hints serve to point to the human body (saturnine parts) and its base nature as the Antimony to be considered, transmuted and sublimated. Are we not all, early in our human evolution, "insatiable wolves" destroying all forms in our paths? Yet Gold (sol auri, 85) is truly within us, and our gross bodies do serve as its bath. This body does indeed represent element Earth and has the nature of Saturn, and contains the Living Silver, argent vive.
The thirty-second path on the Tree of Life is symbolized by the World Tarot Key. This is also the key of planet Saturn and element Earth. It is the first path of the return road on the Tree. All the sages knew this to be the first part of the Great Work, and Artephius began his book with its first sentence alluding to that fact. Our bodies agree with Sol because it is of it, as is everything in creation. Within our bodies, composed of light, is the Oil of Antimony, chyle. This is the ‘Oiliness of the Earth,’ the "antimonial argent vive," and the First Matter inside the body of an alchemist. When an extra quantity of this Lac Virginis is artfully released into our blood stream from the intestinal region, our blood becomes the ‘potable gold’. Eventually, our whole physical vehicle is "swallowed up" by the "antimonial argent vive," or turned into the Gold of the Philosophers’ Stone.
The Hebrew word for the alchemical antimony is אנטימן, antimon. It sums to 160. Genuine alchemists themselves claim that their antimony is identical with the permanent water! The Hebrew word קיים, qayam, ‘stable’, which also sums to 160, is the name of the 23rd Path on the Tree, שכל קיים, Sakel Qayam, ‘Stable Intelligence’, and assigned the Hanged Man Tarot key, to which letter Mem, ‘water’ is also assigned. The “sivery-white” metaphor found in Webster’s definition.
The first matter or business of all alchemists, the SUBJECTUM (see same), is a healthy body, the only physical laboratory before and after the antimony metaphor is transcended. The First Matter within the body is Lac Virginis. Prima Materia of the Universe is AIN SUPh AUR, which is in all, encompasses all, and swallows all. Repeatedly we are told from all quarters that this Art is "from One, by the mediation of One, so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation." Please refer to AURUM POTABILE, LAC VIRGINIS, CHYLUS and ARGENT VIVE.
1 Artephius, The Secret Book Of Artephius. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 5.
2 Paracelsus, Philippus Theophrastus, The Aurora Of The Philosophers. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1986, pg. 19.