Random House Dictionary offers several definitions for the noun and verb, Tincture. Two serve to expand upon alchemical ideas:
“1. to impart a tint or color to; tinge. 2. to imbue or infuse with something.”
This simple explanation has provided a problem for many a miner. Physical laboratory alchemists have attempted hundreds of dyes and concoctions in beakers, stained with myriad solutions and injected powders, over Bunsen burners. The following will prove little value to those who might be so inclined. Let us examine some of the alchemical hints offered from four authors:
“TINCTURA - (Alch.) Tincture. A spiritual or ethereal substance which, by impregnating another substance, endows (tinctures) the latter with its own properties. If a gross principle is penetrated by a higher one, the former is said to be tinctured (colored) by the latter one.” – From Secret Symbols, vocabulary of occult terms, by Dr. Franz Hartmann.
“The sun receives his splendor from the tincture of the fire world and the world of light, and is manifested as a revealed point in relation to the world of fire.” - Mysterium Magnum, (xiii, 16) Jacob Boehme.
“Know, all present, that no true tincture is made except from our copper.” - Turba Philosophorum, Ninth Dictum.
“All external formations proceed from the fire-life by means of the tincture and the oily, spiritual quality, which manifests its power and activity in contrast with the elements.” - Jacob Boehme: Life and Doctrines, p.178, Dr. Franz Hartmann.
“Each thing is like a fire. However, the torture of the fire is not a true life, but the tincture that originates from the fire.” - Threefold Life, (viii. 18.) Jacob Boehme
“As the spirit is in a thing, so is the tincture, for the tincture issues from the spirit and is its delight.” - Three Principles, (xiii. 45.) Jacob Boehme
“Where a desire exists there is a fire, for the fire desires substantiality, so that it may have something to consume. It cannot make for itself any substantiality, but it makes a tincture, and that tincture produces the substantiality.” - Threefold Life, (viii. 33.) Jacob Boehme
“Wherefore I say, take only the rose-colored blood from the Lion and the Gluten from the Eagle. When you have mixed these, coagulate them according to the old process, and you will have the Tincture of the Philosophers, which an infinite number have sought after and very few have found.” - Tincture of the Philosophers, Chapter IV, Paracelsus
The numerous quotations were necessary. As usual, all these sages speak of ONE THING. The tincture originates in AIN SUPh AUR, the Limitless Light, where it manifests as three divine modi operandi. Firstly, the Limitless Light tincts Kether, the Crown on the Tree. This first sphere has been called the Root of Air, Universal Mercury, and Spirit. It is “the oily, spiritual, ethereal substance that the tincture issues from.” Proceeding to the second sphere, Chokmah, Wisdom, the Root of Fire, it becomes animated. This is Virgin Sulphur “from which the sun (and all the stars) receives his splendor,” suggested in Mysterium Magnum. The Root of Fire is root Desire. What it desires is Substance. It cannot make substance but provides the impetus (desire, tincture) for form, which It consumes. The Fire-Life consumes Body-Substance. In Chokmah is a power of formation, suggested elsewhere as the I, Yod, thrust into AMA, forming AIMA, the Pregnant Mother. In the third mode, Binah, substance is produced and nurtured, and called the Root of Water and Alchemical Salt. Jacob Boehme instructs again in Six Mystical Points, (i. 5):
“The tincture produces all colours, because it introduces the quality of fire and light into the water. Thus it also transforms water into blood.”
Tincture (Universal Desire) now rooted in the Waters of Binah, tincts all the way down the Tree, involuting into manifestation, and evoluting into the 'blood' of humankind, in whom “no true tincture is made except from our copper.” Copper, assigned to the seventh sphere, Netzach, is the metal of Venus. Qabalists instruct it is the seat of our desire nature (see KAMA MANAS). It is desire that has plunged us into manifestation and created all that we can sense in our physical world now. It is also the desire welling within us toward spiritual enlightenment. Now evoluting through us, this One Desire seeks reunion with Itself. When we have evolved to the level of self-conscious intent and cooperation, far enough inward and upward toward the Source, “the rose-coloured blood from the Lion and the (lily) Gluten from the Eagle” will rise as Kundalini Power. This shows us the rest of the way toward completion of the Great Work. The final Tincture comes from the Christ Consciousness, seated in Tiphareth, when Saturn swallows his child, permeating, tincting, our cellular consciousness completely with Light of the Sun, bearing the True King to His Throne once again.