Discovering the First Matter
The first two of the One Hundred Alchemical Aphorisms by Baro Urbigerus state most plainly:
1. The hermetic science consists only in right knowledge of the First Matter of the philosophers, which is in the mineral kingdom, not yet determined by nature.
2. An undetermined matter being the beginning of all metals and minerals, it follows, that as soon as any one shall be so happy, as to know and conceive it, he shall easily comprehend also their natures, qualities and properties.1
In the preface to The Hermetic Mercuries Of Raymund Lully, we find:
"Great indeed, yea vast is the treasure of our chymy; but altogether inaccessible to those who have not the keys thereof; by which alone the adepts themselves could either dissolve or coagulate bodies. For this cause it is, saith Parisinus, that the wise men say, to know the celestial water, which reduceth our body into a spirit, is the chief mystery of this art."2
Then again, in one preface of The Secret Symbols, Part II, an anonymous adept begins:
"Some years ago, after having long and earnestly prayed to Good, the unmanifested, incomprehensible cause of all things, I was attracted to Him, and by the power of His Holy Spirit - through whom all wisdom descends upon us, and who has been sent to us through Christ, from the Father – He illuminated my inner sight, so that I was capable to recognize the Centrum in Trigono Centri, which is the only and veritable substance for the preparation of the Philosopher's Stone."
Quotation after quotation could be echoed. They all reveal essentially the same point. In all their operations, combinations and stages of the work, alchemists refer to the First Matter. Without Prima Materia "thou canst affect nothing," is the frequent aphorism. Unless we truly know this First Matter, first-hand, none of the alchemical procedures we so often read about is worth the attempt. The knowledge of it is the beginning of all works. Most sages begin their manuscripts by reminding us of this fact.
So, how do we discover or find this magical substance? The plain fact of the matter is that we do not. It is a metaphysical substance that does not exist in this world, that is, the physical plane, though the whole physical creation and all therein are indeed comprised of it. There is nowhere we can look for the substance save in the writings of the Masters. By re-reading their works frequently, our own subconscious mind, with her powers of deduction, will reveal Prima Materia to us first in the Light of Reason. We can reason the First Matter in this plane, but the direct perception of it is an interior revelation that comes solely from the pure Loving Grace of God, through the Light of Christ, Our Savior. This is not to be taken as platitudinous moralizing, nor is it hawking Christian Dogma as it is understood extant. The present perception of the Christ tendered to the masses by highly organized and controlling religions, is nothing close to what is revealed to a True Alchemist or to anyone who has experienced, inwardly, the Light of the Christ Consciousness. To be ‘born again of water’ is not to be dipped in a font, pond or river. When the revelation comes to us, and it will come if we persist in our desirous knowing, the First Matter is clearly ‘discovered.’ It is the Universal Water known by all those before us as the same Living, Loving Substance, regardless the multitudinous names given it through the centuries.
We are indeed then born again of water, but it will be direct knowledge, not symbolic. It will be unshakable. All our beliefs, theories, hunches and conjectures conceived through conscious mental gymnastics will disappear in a ‘lightning flash.’ There will be nothing more we can say concerning it that has not been said repeatedly. We will be left with a silent smile, content with pure knowing. We may know about the matter for years. We see it in all we survey. Some adepts wrote knowing about the Substance fifteen or more years prior to receiving the interior Glory from the Grace of God. These alchemical initiates could not work any wondrous experiments despite their reasonable knowledge about it. All they could do were to continue their studies, prayers and meditations, and to live as moral a life as they were able. It takes the actual Grace of Almighty God. When that comes, it is final. Spirit, Soul and Body are one. Once having received the direct experience, we may now commence with all the magical alchemical experiments, if we so choose. We may even make the external, physical Philosophers’ Stone, that reddish-gold material of which so much has been written and and about which has been fantasized. It is really rather easy to make, if we are to believe the sages. And we will not need complicated, physical laboratories to do so. The Master, Christ, never had a magic pebble or magic dust in His possession when He worked His miracles.
Now and again we read or hear of some would-be alchemist from behind the equipment of a basement laboratory, proclaiming s/he ‘thinks’ he came close to this or that alchemical transmutation. Do not believe it. Direct experience of the First Matter leaves no doubt in an alchemist's mind as to what has been transmuted. Knowledge is pure, silent knowing. The way we get that knowledge is through study of the Qabalah, re-reading the Masters, keeping mental fires warm by thinking about it, meditating on what we have read concerning it, living a moral life, and prayer...sincere, ardent prayer for our personal enlightenment. Persist, through years, through lifetimes (which we have already if we are drawn passionately to these matters this round). All time will cease for the ones who come to attainment by His Grace.
1 Urbigerus, Baro, One Hundred Alchemical Aphorisms. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1986. pg. 3.
2 Lully, Raymond, The Hermetic Mercuries of Raymond Lully. Notes and preface J.S.Weidenfeld. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 3.