This is the Magic Glass or Magic Vessel wherein the principal work of transmutation is brought to perfection. It has nothing whatever to do with anything in an actual physical laboratory or even outside the human body. It is certainly a vessel in that it contains all that is required for the Work, as well as the Subjectum being worked upon. It is like glass in that it is transparent. In Root of the World, Roger Bacon wrote:
"Also another philosopher, in his Breveloquium saith, as there are three things in a natural egg, viz. the shell, the white, and the yolk, so likewise there are three things corresponding to the philosopher's stone, the glass vessel, the white liquor, and the citrine body. And as of the yolk and white, with a little heat a bird is made, so is it in the work of the philosopher's stone. Of the citrine, and white liquor, with a temperate or gentle heat is made the avis hermetis, or philosopher's bird."1
The Glass Vessel is frequently compared to a HEN’S EGG (see same), from which the Phoenix, the regenerated God/Man rises. This Vessel is also the principal arena of work in the Yaqui Indian Sorcery or Way of Return. From the introduction of The Power of Silence, we read:
"Human beings are also composed of an incalculable number of the same threadlike energy fields. These Eagle's emanations form an encased agglomeration that manifest itself as a ball of light the size of a person's body with the arms extended laterally, like a giant luminous egg."2
The threadlike energy lines crisscross each other from every conceivable angle on the Vessel’s surface. A major intersection of crossed lines is called an 'assemblage point' in the Yaqui tradition, 'metal' by the alchemists, and CHAKRA (see same) by the eastern yogis. When the seven basic metals or 'assemblage points' are purified, transmuted and sublimated, intent can move our awareness from the seven fixed positions to any other point on the Vessel’s surface. Carlos Castaneda records this as “moving the assemblage point of awareness.” The result is the perception of another world, a separate reality, every bit as real as the one we presently inhabit. Paracelsus describes the Vessel in his Aurora of the Philosophers, chapter 18:
"Sham philosophers have misunderstood the occult and secret philosophic vessel...Nevertheless, hereby the philosophers understand one vessel alone in all the operations up to the perfection of the red stone. To Cabalists our vessel is perfectly well known, because it must be made according to a truly geometrical proportion and measure, and from the quadrature of the circle, so that the spirit and the soul of our matter, separated from their body, may be able to raise this vessel with themselves in proportion to the altitude of heaven...So, then, our philosophic vessel must be made with the greatest care. The method of describing the form of the vessel is difficult...In all these particulars which have been mentioned it must have a proper proportion of rotundity and of height."3
This is a perfectly accurate description of the human aura, an oval, egg-shaped body of light, emanating from the center but extending beyond the limits of the physical body in all directions. Other Hebrew schools of Kabbalah might name this auric oval surrounding the physical and astral bodies כלי, kli, the 'vessel,' basically. The health of the Glass Vessel is derived from the “quadrature of the circle,” that is, the circle symbol of spirit evolved from the quad elements fire, water, air and earth (light, water, breath and food). The proper “rotundity and height” of the Glass Vessel are 5 units wide by 8 units high; in units, not in feet, inches, or centimeters. The proportional result is 5/8ths, the Golden Section of occult geometry. It is also the proportions of the green oval wreath surrounding the dancer in the World Tarot Key. Those with the developed clairvoyant sight maintain that the aura changes colors corresponding to various mood changes. Through stages of the Grand Alchemical Process there are also the corresponding predominant symbolic color changes from the black, to the white and to the red. But these three color references allude to the stages of zeal (periods of growth and awareness) within the consciousness of the aspirant, and not to actual colors in the aura. The other colors, however, created by the passionate daily mood swings and emotions can and do taint a predominant color, hence all the colors of the rainbow hinted at by the different authors. The diligent, steady intent toward the goal is the steady, gentle heat applied to this egg by study, thought, meditation and prayer. Back off the intent and the whole subjectum cools down. Impatiently applying the zeal of a fanatic overheats the aura to a bursting point, described as the leakage of humidity into a fume that destroys the work. With time and patience the aura or etheric body of light grows stronger as it nears completion. Aleister Crowley described it thus:
“The Aura should be clean-cut, resilient, radiant, iridescent, brilliant, glittering; ‘A soap bubble of razor-steel, streaming with light from within,’ is my first attempt at description; and it is not bad, despite its incongruities.”
The citrine body from Bacon’s quotation is the auric color of a healthy physical body, the yolk of the egg. Many clairvoyants see this citrine color in the aura of a healthy, well-balanced individual. The sphere of Malkuth on the Tree is composed of four colors symbolizing the various stages of the primitive human, wherein lay an imbalance of the four elements. When a human takes up the work of self-rejuvenation, the aura slowly turns citrine. It is that portion of the tenth sphere leading inward and upward on the thirty-second path of Saturn and Lead toward Yesod, the seat of the Vital Soul. The “citrine body” mentioned by Bacon is also the color of the First Matter, Universal Mercury, in its raw stage. This is the 'green fog' which Don Juan Matus described to Carlos Castaneda in the Yaqui teachings. In its impure state it is 'greenish' to our inner vision due to impurities from the astral plane where it is imbued with thoughts and imagery from collective humanity. Bacon elsewhere refers to it as a “vile thing,” needing Art. We enclose a portion of the greenish ocean within the limits of the Glass Vessel, hermetically seal it, and create a Bath for the King and Queen after cleansing it. Like most everything in this Art, the Glass Vessel has several names: the Philosophic Egg, Auric Egg, the Ovoid, the Magic Glass, Hen's Egg, the Glass and the One Vessel are all the Principal Vessel in the laboratory. See BALNEUM and HERMETIC SEAL as cross references.
1 Bacon, Friar Roger, The Root Of The World. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1985, pg. 8.
2 Castaneda, Carlos, The Power Of Silence. New York: Pocket Books, 1987, pg. xv.
3 Paracelsus, Theophrastus, The Aurora Of The Philosophers. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1986, pg. 25.