Chapters One & Two
In many of the ancient books, there are found many definitions of this Art, the intentions of which we must consider in this chapter. For Hermes says of this science: Alchymy is a Corporeal Science simply composed of one and by one, naturally conjoining things more precious by knowledge and effect, and converting them by a natural commixtion into a better kind. A certain other said: Alchymy is a Science, teaching how to transform any kind of metal into another: and that by a proper medicine, as it appears in the many Books of the Philosophers. Alchymy therefore is a science teaching how to make and compound a certain medicine, which is called ELIXIR, the which when it is cast upon metals or imperfect bodies, does fully perfect them in the very projection.
Note that Bacon quotes Hermes from the Seven Golden Chapters. Alchemy is the chemistry of consciousness, ONE consciousness, “simply composed of one and by one.” It is both an Art and a Science. The 'science' portion consists of learning and using what Paracelsus teaches: “the use of the cabalists and the old astronomers.” The 'art' portion is the ability to apply that science portion efficaciously to gain an intuitive grasp and understanding of what the coded ciphers are hinting toward. By pulling or drawing down super-conscious light and energy into corporeal consciousness (the Corporeal Science mentioned above by Bacon) through the aid of self-conscious intent, the latter (body) is eventually transmuted at the cellular level. This is the ELIXIR, human blood that has become aurum potabile, the drinkable gold. The elixir medicine is a compounded matter (scientifically made of fire, water, air, and earth, or light, water, breath, and food) calling for human creativity and skill at its application. The prepared blood, while traversing arteries and veins, picks up and leaves off vitamins and minerals perfecting various glands and organs (cast upon metals or imperfect bodies). This again is the 'art' of alchemy to be combined with its nutritional 'science'. It might be noted here that many of the authors on Alchemy before, during, and well after Bacon's period were physicians for that very reason.
Of the Natural Principles and Procreation of Metals
Secondly, I will perfectly declare the natural principles and procreations of Minerals: where first it is to be noted, that the natural principles in the mines, are ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR. All metals and minerals, of which there are sundry and diverse kinds, are begotten of these two. But I must tell you that Nature always intends and strives to the perfection of Gold, yet many accidents coming between, changes the metals, as is evidently to be seen in the Books of the Philosophers. For according to the purity and impurity of the two aforesaid principles, ARGENT-VIVE and SULPHUR, both pure and impure metals are engendered: to wit, Gold, Silver, Tin, Lead, Copper, and Iron: of whose nature, that is to say, purity and impurity, or unclean superfluity and defect, give ear to that which follows.
According to esoteric philosophers from all times and climes, there are three basic principles to the One Divine Essence. The expression of these principles through human personality can be found in the 14th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita and are listed as sattvaguna, rajasguna, and tamasguna. Alchemists in their literature name these Mercury (or Argent Vive), Sulphur, and Salt respectively. Modern psychology labels these three principles super-consciousness (sattva, Mercury), self- consciousness (rajas, Sulphur), and sub-consciousness (tamas, Salt). All three are within and are contained by the all-pervading super-consciousness, the Qabalists' Ain Suph Aur (the One Divine Essence).
“While all is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in all. To him who truly understands this truth hath come great knowledge.”1
Nature, through the human sub-conscious (tamas or salt) mode of expression of the all-consciousness, slowly perfects all that is created toward 'gold', that is, back to its super-conscious source, AIN SUPh AUR. It must be remembered, though, that the power by which this is performed is itself super-conscious, working through the agency of sub-consciousness. The Latin per means 'through.' When self-consciousness (sulphur) deliberately and consciously cooperates with super-conscious (Argent Vive) expressions, everything is formed or engendered (begotten) all the more quickly through its otherwise meticulously slow and natural evolution. The study and practice of Alchemy hastens our evolution. Metals (the Eastern chakras, whose combined influences form human personality) may be “pure” or “impure,” demonstrating “unclean super-fluity and defect” because of the immature expressions of self-consciousness (sulphur) and erroneous perceptions or complete ignorance of super-consciousness (mercury, or Argent Vive). The pseudo, separative intellect that creates these erroneous perceptions is called “gross, unripe mercury” by alchemical authors. The Alchemical Art calls for the necessity of self-consciousness (sulphur) to cooperate with super-consciousness (mercury) for the “purity” of metals. When self-consciousness (sulphur) gravitates naturally to sub-conscious (salt) neuroses and negative habit-patterns, the combination then engenders “impurity” in metals (chakras). All the chakras contain the three principles. However, whether 'metals' express “pure or impure” energies depends entirely upon the co-operation of Argent Vive and Sulphur (super- and self-consciousness). The two combined “engender” the desired effects, or expressions, of 'metals.'
1 Three Initiates, The Kybalion (Chicago: Yogi Publication Society, 1940), 95