Chapter Three - Part I
Revised: June 2021
Out of What Things the Matter of ELIXIR Must Be
More Nearly Extracted
The generation of metals, as well perfect, as imperfect, is sufficiently declared by that which has been already spoken. Now let us return to the imperfect matter that must be chosen and made perfect. Seeing that by the former Chapters we have been taught, THAT ALL METALS ARE ENGENDERED BY ARGENT-VIVE AND SULPHUR, and how their impurity and uncleanness does corrupt, and that nothing may be mingled with metals which have not been made or sprung from them, it remains clean enough, that no strange thing which has not its original from these two, is able to perfect them, or to make a change and new transmutation of them: so that it is to be wondered at, that any wise man should set his mind upon living creatures, or vegetables which are far off, when there be metals which are to be found close enough: neither may we in anyway think that any of the Philosophers placed the Art in the above remote things, except it was by way of comparison.
There is but ONE “Elixir.” However, it has three main levels of expression in the writings of genuine alchemists. The first and main elixir is the Universal Light Substance, AIN SUPh AUR, equally diffused throughout eternal space, AIN SUPh. This is the First Matter of the Alchemists. A second expression is manifest by the alchemist through breath inhalation, Prana from the atmosphere, where that same Light Substance (in the form of solar prana) is taken into the lungs (the bellows) and thereby mixed into the bloodstream to create aurum potabile, “the drinkable gold.” The third manifestation, and the one Bacon is referring to here, is what was written in Song of Solomon 2:1 “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley,” equivalent to Kundalini of the Eastern yogis. However, Bacon writes that he has “sufficiently declared” each nature of the metals. This is because each of the Metals also express a sub-level of the ‘elixir’ within themselves, the Mercury Principle, or Sattva Guna, of Eastern Traditions. He reiterates how each may become perfect, “engendered by Argent-Vive and Sulphur,” through “decoction,” which is meditation. It is the primary way self-consciousness (sulphur) co-operates with super-consciousness (Argent Vive). Nothing need be added to the metals which is not already there. It just needs refinement by 'art'. “Their impurity and uncleanness...that corrupts,” is inherent within the natural man not intent upon the Great Work. The qualities ‘that corrupt’ emerge from within ourselves when our self-conscious mind is steeped in self-serving interests; Mercury steeped in Salt, alchemically speaking. When Self-consciousness aspires toward Super-conscious influences the Metals eventually become perfect.
The purification and sublimation of all the force centers (metals) are engendered by the nerve currents from the elixir, eventually raised after prolonged disciplines in meditation. Impure force centers tend to corrupt the personal consciousness due to their natural tendencies to react from the base habit patterns and neuroses in the subconscious, that is, the sulphur or self-conscious expression through each chakra tends naturally to placate its subconscious, salt influences toward involution. Bacon informs readers that nothing but the super-conscious (Argent Vive) and the self-conscious (sulphur) modes, working harmoniously, are needed to perfect the force centers.
Physical laboratory alchemists misunderstood and misconstrued the genuine, original authors’ metaphors. Bacon tells us here, point blank, “it is to be wondered at” that students should set their minds on anything 'out there' when “the metals are to be found close enough.” Humans already possess them within us, as part of our human consciousness. How much closer can they be? He again tells us, as most genuine alchemists do in their manuscripts, that the philosophers placed no remote thing in their art, “except by way of comparison.” Just how all the physical laboratory alchemists misinterpret these clear, simple statements are a great arcanum in itself. Bacon reiterates:
Of the aforesaid two, all metals were made, neither does anything cleave unto them, or is joined with them, not yet changes them, but that which is of them, and so of right we must take ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR for the matter of our Stone. Neither does ARGENT-VIVE by itself or SULPHUR by itself beget any metal, but of the commixtion of both, diverse metals and minerals are brought forth. Our matter, therefore, must be chosen of the commixtion of both ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR.
No single aspect of the three modes of the all-consciousness can perfect total consciousness within human personality. Super-consciousness can only be aware of itself, the I AM. And Super-consciousness will GIVE everything to Itself, which we are. Universal Sub-consciousness, through impulses from Super-consciousness, creates nature, to the eventual evolution of Self-consciousness. Human self-consciousness and sub-consciousness together continue to create involution. But the conjunction of self-consciousness (sulphur) in cooperation with super-conscious (Argent Vive) influences, maximizes evolution. Alchemically speaking, this is the “commixtion of both Argent-Vive and Sulphur,” as Bacon admonishes repeatedly. He continues:
Our final secret is most excellent, and most hidden, to wit, of what mineral thing that is more near than others, should it be made of. In making this choice, we must be very wary. I put the case then, if our matter were first drawn out from vegetables (of which sort are herbs, trees, and whatsoever springs forth from the earth), here we must first make ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR. And if we should draw from living creatures (of which sort is man’s blood, hair, urine, excrements, hen’s eggs, and what else proceed from living creatures), we must likewise out of them extract ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR by decoction, from which we are freed, as it were before. Or if we should choose it out of middle minerals (of which sort are all kinds of Magnesia, Marchasites, of Tutia, Coppers, Allums, Baurach, Salts, and many others), we should likewise as before extract ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR by decoction from which as from the former, we are also excused.
“Our final secret, most excellent, and most hidden,” is the discovery of the First Matter, AIN SUPh AUR, the vast ocean of awareness or the Universal Sub-conscious “mind-stuff.” No one can find it. It is revealed to aspirants after prolonged efforts through meditation, study, prayer, and ardent desire for its own sake. Alchemists state that it is of a mineral substance, “a stone but no stone.” The One-Light-Substance may be coagulated into the very cellular structure of human bodies through the wise selection of foodstuffs, principally vegetables, and Pranayama Yoga breath exercises. Extraction from all the so-called inanimate substances mentioned in the writings of genuine philosophers (hair, urine, alums, salts, etc.), can only be done by way of metaphor and “decoction,” which we must understand by now is meditation. Prima Materia is eventually revealed to the aspirant by his reducing all the things perceived in this world to its primal essence, AIN SUPh AUR. Be mindful, therefore, of everything we ingest into our bodies. The finer edible matter we ingest holds more of the ‘pure substance’ than processed foods and snacks. “Grace” before meals was initially intended to be mindful of this point. Unfortunately the ritual has disintegrated over the centuries. But we, as aspirants, can silently and intimately recognize this truth with every meal we take. Simply be aware that what we put into our bodies is another aspect of the Universal One Thing. Really rather simple. This is also achieved by meditation. If one can arrive to the essence, the idea, and the interior nature of any object put to meditation, one eventually comes to the perception of the One Essence of which ALL is composed. This is discovery of the First Matter, the luminous mind-matter. It is how an alchemist extracts Argent Vive and Sulphur by “decoction.” Bacon resumes:
And if we should take one of the Seven Spirits by itself, as in ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR alone or ARGENT-VIVE and one of the two SULPHURS or SULPHUR-VIVE or Auripigment or Citrine Arsenicum or red alone or the like, we should never effect it, because since nature does never perfect anything without equal mixture of both, neither can we. Again from these as from the aforesaid ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR in their nature we are excused. Finally, if we should choose them, we should mix everything as it is, according to due proportion, which no man knows, and afterward decoct it to COAGULATION, into a solid lump.
The Seven Spirits are the seven force centers, or chakras. No one can isolate any one of the force centers and work on it alone any more than one can separate Argent Vive or one of the two sulphurs (that is, the red or white sulphurs). Some physical laboratory alchemists actually attempt to separate lead and other physical metals into mercury, sulphur, and salt. Now how that can be done, I can only wonder. Every aspect of consciousness is intimately connected with every other aspect. Since the primary instruction from Bacon is the task of “decoction,” that is, meditation, that discipline eventually heals all our levels of consciousness, simultaneously, like a healing balm. When we meditate properly we are affecting ALL SEVEN Metals simultaneously; we are in effect pulling down super-conscious influence into the very cellular life of the body. We “decoct it to COAGULATION into a solid lump,” that is, into our very physical body.