Revised: September 2019
The ‘Vase (vessel, receptacle) of Nature’. In The Secret Book of Artephius the author declares:
How precious then, and how great a thing is this water! For without it the work could never be done or perfected: it is also called the vas naturae, the belly, the womb, the receptacle of the tincture, the earth, the nurse.1
‘This water’ Artephius mentions is none other than Ain Suph Aur, the limitless ocean of Universal Liquid Light, most frequently referred to as ‘water’ in alchemical literature. When we discover number 109 within Vas Naturae by Latin Cabala Simplex, we see it is also the number shared with אם כל חי, am kol chai, 'Mother of All Life'. Aspirants becoming familiar with the vocabulary of The Art should by now recognize ‘Mother’ as Binah, Understanding, the third sphere on the Qabalistic Tree. Under the definition of TINCTURE it is suggested that Universal Desire also originates in Ain Suph Aur, and that Desire (the Virgin Sulfur) becomes active in Chokmah to impregnate Binah; then AMA becomes AIMA, or Chaos becomes the Pregnant Mother Substance. Thus, Vas Naturae, the womb of Binah, is also the ‘receptacle of the tincture’. Yet the two combined then become Universal Earth, the nurturing root matter of all physical forms.
Compare the above with a dialogue from Paracelsus’ Alchemical Catechism:
Q. What does our matter contain?
A. It contains Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury.
Q. What operation is it most important to perform?
A. The successive extraction of the Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury.
Q. How is that done?
A. By sole and perfect sublimation (see SUBLIMATION).
Q. What is in the first place extracted?
A. Mercury in the form of a white smoke (fumus albus, research this gematria).
Q. What follows?
A. Igneous water, of Sulfur (the First Matter).
Q. What then?
A. Dissolution (see DISSOLUTION) with purified salt, in the first place volatilizing that which is fixed, and afterwards fixing that which is volatile into a precious earth, which is the Vase of the Philosophers, and is wholly perfect.2
The ‘matter’ mentioned above is again the First Matter, Ain Suph Aur. Sublimation and Dissolution are two of the suggested 'twelve steps' toward manufacture of the Stone. Both steps are dealt with in detail elsewhere on this site, and both contain the Saturn force as key, while Saturn is assigned Binah on the Tree. Moreover, Natura, ‘Nature’, sums to 67, that of Unus, ‘One’, and again בינה, Binah. Confusing? that Prima Materia is one, then three, then four, then five, then Earth and Fire and Water? But true it is, a homogeneous unity, the very ‘Earth’ described as ‘unformed and void’ in the second verse of Genesis. It is Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, or Air, Fire and Water. Yet a fifth, quintessential root lies within Its milky-whitish, shimmering green-blueness. It twinkles, sparkles, and behaves like liquid fire. Yet all these attempts inadequately describe Its Livingness, Its Love, and Its Supreme Intelligence. Like the Grand Pyramid of Egypt, it is one unit, with three-sided faces, four of those faces, and five surfaces and corners. There it is, and that’s that!
Paracelsus also tells us this Salt Water ‘volatilizes’ that which is ‘fixed’ and afterwards ‘fixes the volatile’. Through meditation (DISSOLUTION) our fixed consciousness, full of ignorance and negative habit patterns, is slowly cleansed of the mental dross and blended with the ALL, volatile consciousness, where we discover, first-hand, the First Matter. The ALL consciousness then becomes fixed again within the regenerated personality, now a ‘precious earth which is the Vase of the Philosophers’. Yours and my body will eventually become the regenerated vehicle of the Adept. And how precious this Vas Philosophorum, also known as Vas Arits, the ‘vase of the art’, is indeed! We, then, are also Vas Naturae, for we are her Son. We are united forever with the Mother in Binah as the Son in Tiphareth. Artephius wrote more of the water:
It is the royal fountain in which the king and queen bathe themselves; and the mother must be put into and sealed up within the belly of the infant; and that is sol himself, who proceeded from her, and whom she brought forth; and therefore they have loved one another as mother and son, and are conjoined together, because they come from one and the same root, and are of the same substance and nature.3
Please reference with TINCTURE, AIN SUPh AUR, EARTH, SUBLIMATION and DISSOLUTION.
1 Artephius, The Secret Book of Artephius. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 10.
2 Paracelsus, Theophrastus, Alchemical Catechism. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 22.
3 Ibid., pg. 10.