Manual Operation


       Frequently, and in several philosophers’ writings, there is mention of a Permanent Water, and that it “wets not the hands.” In the Turba, decoctions are performed “with a moderate fire, not with hands.” Yet there are references calling for Manual Operations, and in some cases, they are the very operations where we have just been advised are performed “not by hands.” Such contradictions further confound an Art already riddled with enigma. Sometimes these authors have outright fun with us. We can have nothing but compassion for the physical laboratory alchemists who follow these experiments to the letter. The Turba Philosophorum and many other alchemical manuscripts were originally written in languages foreign from English and contain word subtleties and archaic terms that are not easily translatable. This is common, innocently, with all translations. In genuine alchemical writings, however, there are also the deliberate elements like gematria and other Qabalistic tools. English and other modern language translations have caused many recent interpreters of Spiritual Alchemy to speculate that actual outward, physical laboratory operations must be performed concurrently with the inner operations. Yet, no physical Philosopher’s Stone has ever been produced in this manner. These conclusions persist despite admonitions dispirited by the Wise in this Art. Tell me, please, just what part of this following quotation is so difficult to understand:

"Some, however, reading this book, think that the composition can be bought. It must be known for certain that nothing of the work can be bought." - 48th Dictum1


       The Latin for 'operation, effect,' is effectio. For Qabalists familiar with gematria, this opens labyrinths. Its number, 64, is shared with solve, 'dissolve'; in balneo 'in the bath'; Virgo 'virgin'; sal aqua 'salt water'; salus 'well being, health'; and assuredly enough, the Hebrew ידים, idim, 'hands.' All these terms can be found in different steps of various operations. The 'operation' or 'effect,' with numerical hints to Virgo and 'hands,' links the Manual Operation to the assimilation process (solve) occurring within the intestinal (Virgo) region. There Lac Virginis (see same) is flooded into our blood stream from self-conscious suggestions. The physical portion, so initiated, is then brought to completion through imagination. It would not be surprising to a Qabalist or a 'genuine' Alchemist that effectio, at 64, should equal the numeration of נוגה, nogah, Venus. The Manual Operation, therefore, is the conjunction of physical and imaginative powers.


       Consider the Hebrew letter יוד, yod, and its spelling. The glyph of the single letter itself is shaped like a droplet (י). The modern Hebrew spelling for 'hand' is יד, id, composed of two letters, YOD and DALETH. Letter Daleth, 'door,' is the letter symbol-glyph for Imagination. When we consider the Qabalistic spelling of YOD, the point is driven home. Qabalists spell YOD with the letters YOD, VAV, and DALETH. VAV in Hebrew grammar is the conjunction 'and.' A Qabalist then, when analyzing this through Theosophic Articulation, immediately sees YOD 'and' DALETH, the blending of inner physical and imaginative functions.


       The alternate, dictionary spelling of י, yod, as יד, id, sums to 14. Reversing these letters renders די, dee, 'sufficient, enough.' The Latin, manualis, 'manual', sums to 80. Alchemists familiar with gematria recognize and associate this number with יסוד, Yesod, 'Foundation', and with the Hebrew letter פ, peh, 'mouth.' Subconsciousness (Yesod, the Foundation of our conscious awareness) creates the alchemical Bath within the Glass Vessel. It is affected through a ‘moderate, moist fire’ from the Mars Center and our Metal Iron, symbolized by letter PEH. This is the 'Iron Key' mentioned by some alchemical writers. The Manual Operation works in Balneo. These hints are sufficient, enough, to complete manufacture of the Stone, with God's Grace.


       Consider also the word ‘manufacture’ as something fabricated ‘by hand,' manu. Finally, the two words, Manual Operation, in Latin, are effectio manualis. This sums to 144. Vinum novum, the 'new wine,' manufactured as charged blood, cleanses and purifies the human physical organism to build the 'Living Stone,' lapis vivus. Each of these terms sums to 144. Without these “uses of the cabalists,” as Paracelsus exhorts, we are left shaking sea-salt into boiling water in the lab (good for rice and pasta, by the way!). When we carefully ponder and meditate upon the numerous hints given us generously and lovingly by all the sages, we cannot help but arrive, by God’s Good Grace, at one of the most simple yet profound alchemical maxims – YOD IS THE CROWN! See BALNEUM, IRON, CHYLUS and AURUM POTABILE for cross references.

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1 Waite, Dr. Arthur E., Turba Philosophorum. Notes and commentary by Waite. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1914, pg. 147.