Revised: June 2021
Of the Manner of Working, and of Moderating,
and Continuing the Fire
I hope ere this time you have already found out by the words already spoken (if you are not dull, ignorant, and foolish) the certain matter of the learned Philosophers blessed Stone, whereon Alchymy works, while we endeavor to perfect the imperfect, and that with things more perfect. And for that Nature has delivered us the imperfect only with the perfect, it is our part to make the matter (in the former Chapters declared by us) more perfect by our artificial labor.
The “certain matter of the learned Philosophers blessed Stone, whereon Alchymy works” is the human personality complex working its own physical Chariot and its inner, finer bodies with the ultimate objective in maturing the pineal body. It is the constant striving to perfect the flow of super-consciousness through it by invoking the perfect matter of Spirit. The aspirant’s part, as Bacon points out, is artificial, that is, induced by self-conscious desire for union with THAT which is within. The means, “our part”, is prayer, study, meditation, living a life as moral as one is able, and persistent, ardent desire. “We endeavor to perfect the imperfect (our entire lower nature and its base, imperfect expressions), and that with things more perfect” (the metals, chakras, honed from meditations, prayers, etc., the manner of the working). Once again, constantly reiterated by Bacon, by bringing down from within the ‘perfect’ Super-conscious influences (Argent-Vive or Mercury) by means of our Self-conscious (Sulfur) cooperation, to assuage our ‘imperfect’ habit patterns within our Subconscious. These negative patterns within our subconscious can only be ‘cleansed’ by constant work. Those old patterns are not necessarily banished, but rather ‘over-ridden’ by the same methods by which they were implanted originally.
And if we know not the manner of the working, what is the cause that we do not see how Nature (which for a long time has perfected metals) does continually work? Do we not see, that in the mines through the continual heat that is in the mountains thereof, the grossness of water is so decocted and thickened, so that in continuance of time it becomes ARGENT-VIVE? And that of the fatness of the earth through the same heat and decoction, SULPHUR is engendered? And that through the same heat without intermission continued in them, all metals are engendered of them according to their purity and impurity?
The fire alluded to in alchemical writings is the heat generated by aspiration, prayer, and meditation, their (our) artificial fire. This is the ‘heat’ of passionate desire. Persistence is the absolute key; this is how nature works in the evolution of species. The “mines” is the limitless depth of consciousness within human personality, and to go to the “mountain(s)” is to enter into profound meditation where lies the mountain of Spirit. There one “decocts” the gross water, AIN SUPh AUR from its natural state, refining it into perfect Argent Vive, super-consciousness into body cells. This is blended with the “fatness of the earth,” chylus, the white, oily fatness emulsified into the blood stream at the lacteals in the small intestinal region. Blending these two principal elements, that is, the prana within the atmosphere (Universal Argent Vive) and the “fatness” injected into blood during digestion, increases desire in the cellular consciousness (becoming sulphur). The process engenders new cellular consciousness.
The entire process just described above is, in effect, Argent-Vive (Sattva Guna) and Sulfur (Rajas Guna) working together in meditation.
“The grossness of water” needs development here. The First Matter, the Limitless Light or Ain Suph Aur within the depths beyond our ‘personal’ subconscious, is the Qabalistic World of Yetzirah. It is the collective consciousness of all humanity and the storehouse of all humanity’s thoughts and imagery. Due to the collective immature expressions of human thought and imagery the Limitless Light on that level is color distorted. In its purest form the First Matter is bluish-white and sparkly with its intelligence. However, beyond our ‘personal’ region of the dark subconscious, it appears greenish, or citrine, and described in the Yaqui Indian Tradition as a “greenish fog”, due to the distortions of human ignorance and mental negativity and imagery. When we meditate we are slowly ‘cleansing’ that ‘personal’ level of the subconscious by replacing all that negativity with imagery of Super-conscious influence. We are enclosing our spiritual aura with a Hermetic Seal and cleaning the greenish discoloration to be replaced with higher vibratory emanations. None of this can be perceived from the self-conscious level since it is performed by subconsciousness in her depths. Readers of the Carlos Castaneda series on the Yaqui Traditions might be more familiar with the description of this process. Bacon continues:
Nature does by decoction alone perfect or makes all metals, both the perfect and the imperfect? O extreme madness! What, I pray you, constrains you to seek to perfect the foresaid things by strange melancholic and fantastic regiments? As one says: Woe to you that will overcome Nature, making metals more perfect by a new regiment, or work with what has sprung from your own senseless brains.
Bacon pulls no punches and admonishes that nature alone will not complete the manufacture of the Philosophers’ Stone (the fully mature pineal gland). Nature, through painfully slow evolution, has generated the rudiments of that gland. In other words, if one does no conscious work toward its perfection, there will be no maturation of the pineal gland. He tells readers outright that it is madness to suppose that nature alone will perfect the metals into the Stone. And, do not try any “new regiment, or work with what has sprung from your senseless brains.” Ya gotta love Bacon. Aspirants need not look outside themselves or perform stupid strife in some physical laboratory concocting various sorts of elixirs. Conscious cooperation with nature’s unfolding processes is all that is required. Assist nature with proper meditations, sensible diets, and with releasing extra quantities of chyle from the lacteals by proper suggestions to sub-consciousness. When all is ripe, and our intent is pure, The Almighty will bless the happy recipient with all that was and is desired.
God has given to nature a straight way, to wit, continual concoction, and you like fools despise it, or else know it not. Again, fire and Azot, are sufficient for you. And in another place, Heat perfects all things. And elsewhere, seek, seek, seek, and be not weary. And when working in another place, let your fire be gentle and easy, which being always equal, may continue burning. Let it not increase, for if it does, you will suffer great loss.
Fire (meditation and aspiration) and Azot (Ain Suph Aur) are truly sufficient for the work. Bacon quotes others who agree. The fire of aspiration and meditation should be steady. If one backs off the enterprise, the process “cools” to a halt. If this process is approached with the zeal of a fanatic, the unbalanced state of consciousness that results from such behavior will “burst” the aura, creating what some alchemists refer to as “leakage of humidity from the glass vessel”.
Also, know you that in ONE THING, to wit, the Stone, by the one way of decoction and in one vessel the whole mastery is performed. And in another place, patiently, and continually, and in another place, grind it seven times. And at another point, it is ground with fire. And in another place, this work is very like to the creation of man: for as the Infant in the beginning is nourished with light meats, but the bones being strengthened with stronger, so this material also. First it must have an easy fire whereby we must always work in every essence of decoction. Though we always speak of a gentle fire, yet in truth, we think that in governing the work, the fire must always by little and little be increased and augmented to the end.
Here Bacon continues to quote others as to the manner of working, i.e., keeping the fires burning steadily, and gradually increasing it till the end of the work. He also tells us that while performing other duties in our lives to keep thinking about the Work; being mindful of who and what we are and from whence we came, and such along those lines. Bacon also wrote in another opus:
"For the knowledge of this art consisteth not in multiplicity, or a great number of things, but in unity; our stone is but one, the matter is one, and the vessel is one; the government is one, and the disposition is one. The whole art and work thereof is one and begins in one manner, and in one manner it is finished."1
1 Friar Roger Bacon, The Root of the World (Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1985), 10.