Universal Water, Nature and Vinegar are addressed by dialogue in the Fifteenth Dictum of Turba Philosophorum:
Frictes: “There is one thing which is stronger than all natures, more sublime in the opinion of philosophers, whereas with fools it is more common than anything. But for us it is a thing which we reverence. Woe unto all ye fools! How ignorant are ye of the Art, for which ye would die if ye knew it! I swear to you, if kings were familiar with it, none of us would ever attain this thing. O how this nature changeth body into spirit! O how admirable is Nature, how she presides over all, and overcomes all!”
Pythagoras: “Name this Nature, O Frictes!”
Frictes: “It is a very sharp vinegar, which makes gold into sheer spirit, without which vinegar, neither whiteness, nor blackness, nor redness, nor rust can be made. And know ye that when it is mixed with the body, it is contained therein, and becomes one therewith; it turns the same into a spirit, and tinges with a spiritual and invariable tincture, which is indelible.”1
From the twelfth century we find this in the Secret Book of Artephius, paragraph 6:
"Work with it, and you shall obtain from it what you desire, for it is the spirit and soul of Sol and Luna; it is the oil, the dissolving water, the fountain, a Balneum Mariae, the praeternatural fire, a moist fire, the secret, hidden and invisible fire. It is also a most acrid vinegar, concerning which an ancient philosopher saith: [This quote is again from Frictes in the Turba] “I besought the Lord, and He showed me a pure clear water, which I knew to be the pure vinegar, altering, penetrating and digesting. I say a penetrating vinegar, and the moving instrument for putrefying, resolving and reducing gold and silver into their prima materia or first matter.”2
Frequently in this work we have looked at 'water, nature, fountain, Balneum, and the moist fire,' included under a multitude of other names for AIN SUPh AUR. The different names are various degrees of One-Consciousness, divided into three: super-, sub- and self-consciousness. Vinegar, on the Universal, Macrocosmic scale is this AIN SUPh AUR. Then again, within us, the Microcosm, philosophers hint Vinegar that degree of the All-Consciousness used in the self-conscious expression, meditation.
When we meditate we are focusing down that personal portion of Universal Water which can dissect and dissolve any problem that we hold in concentration for long enough. Meditation performs all the functions described above in the Turba. Meditation blends personal consciousness with the Universal Mind, where it is cleansed and purified, made white as spirit, and brought back to earth. Meditation is the acid, the Vinegar that dissolves expressions in lower consciousness that prevent us from knowing our godhead behind and above our false, separate state. Vinegar is the acidic ingredient that causes substances to leaven or ferment. In meditation it ferments personal consciousness. Meditation is the healing balm that aids organs and glands to secrete vital essences into the blood stream. And Artephias advises in the beginning of his quotation above: “Work with it,” meaning – meditate!
Dr. W.W. Westcott provided a supplement of alchemical terms appending Aesch Metzareph. The Hebrew word for Vinegar is misspelled there. The correct spelling does not end with letter Ayin, but Tzaddi final. The two letters are frequently misread or obscured (in the middle of words, at least), especially if they are scribed poorly or glanced over hastily. The correct spelling is חמץ, chometz; Cheth, Mem, Tzaddi-final. This yields 138 as one of its numerical equivalents (the gematria is counted and considered both ways when a final letter is used). This is also the number of Aurum Potabile, Potable Gold. The drinkable gold prepares the Stone within our bodies, affected through meditation. Meditation is performed successfully through long 'perseverance,' the Latin for which, perseverantia, sums to 138 by Latin Simplex. Many authors use the Latin form for Vinegar, Acetum, totaling 57. The Hebrew noun for 'ruin, destruction, loss', is אבדן, abedon. And the Hebrew verb, 'to build, to erect, or to establish' is בנה, banah, the root form for Binah, Understanding. ABDN and BNH each shares 57 as its number value. Acetum, or meditation, slowly destroys habitual consciousness to a ruin, only to establish renewed consciousness, one with light from the Limitless Substance. What it eventually builds is the Transparent Stone of the Wise. In its early stage the Stone is called gummi, 'gum,' referred to as 'our gum' by many authors. Gummi sums to 57. The esoteric significance of Gum is developed under TRANSPARENT STONE (see same). Finally, regarding the analysis of Vinegar, this lengthy quotation from The Secrets of John Dee presents:
"In Alchemy and Medicine, nothing almost can be prepared but Vinegar must set a helping hand to it. In Alchemy it is used to set metals and minerals into putrefaction. It is used also to extract the essences and tinctures, being first prepared thereunto, even as the spirit of wine is usual to extract the tinctures from vegetables. In Physics it deserves its praise also, for it takes the pure from the impure, and is a separator, and takes from the Mineral Medicaments their sharpness and corrosiveness, fixes that which is volatile and is a great defender against poison. Vinegar is used inwardly also, and both men and beasts are benefited thereby, and outwardly it is applied to hot inflammations and swellings, as a coolant. Spirit of Wine and Vinegar are of great use both in Alchemy and Physics, both have their descent from the Urine, are of one substance, but differ in the quality, by reason of putrefaction. But this is not the Philosophers' Vinegar. Our Vinegar, acetum, is another Liquor, namely a matter itself; for the Stone of the Philosophers is made out of the AZOT of the Philosophers, which must be prepared with ordinary distilled AZOT, with a Spirit of Wine, and with other waters besides, and must be reduced unto a certain order. Note this for memorandum, if distilled pure Vinegar be poured upon destroyed Saturn, and is kept warm in Mary's Bath, it looses its acidity altogether, is as sweet as any sugar. Then abstract two or three parts of that Vinegar, set it in a Cellar, then you will find white transparent stones like unto Crystals. These are an excellent cooler and healer of all adult and inflamed symptoms. If these Crystals are reduced into a red oil, and poured upon Mercury, precipitated by Venus, and proceeded in further as it ought; if that be his rightly; then neither Sol nor Luna will hinder thee from getting riches."3
'Urine' above is urina in Latin, summing to 57 by the Latin Cabala Simplex, as is acetum. Occasionally readers will come across the phrase urina pueris (urine of a young boy) in alchemical manuscripts. I'm not sure what an experimenter would actually do with such a substance in a physical laboratory, and I don't want to know. However, from the Latin Cabala Simplex urina pueris sums to 137, which is the number of QBLH, Qabalah. Never forget that the masters in this Art have a great sense of humor when it comes to misleading those of us unworthy enough to see. The author of this last above quotation does mention the actual, physical venegar and some of its practical uses in our every day lives. A liitle vinegar in our drinking water will go a long way to enhancing health. However do not take all of this passage so literally. He continues with the metaphorical side of the matter. The message between the lines above would not escape a discerning reader familiar with “the use of the Cabalists.” Such catch phrases as “another Liquor, namely a matter itself,” and “AZOT of the Philosophers” are well-known names for AIN SUPh AUR. That meditation “putrefies metals and minerals, fixes the volatile, mixes AZOT with Wine (blood)” and eventually “destroys Saturn” is well substantiated by countless alchemical authors who have sung the praises of both meditation and Prima Materia. Venus personifies love and creative imagination. Meditation, after our discovery of the First Matter, is accelerated or “precipitated by Venus.” In regenerated consciousness, images of form-matrices augment or 'precipitate' the Limitless Substance into new vehicles. We do this now, albeit inadequately and imperfectly due to our distorted and selfish desires. By knowing the truth, however, which discovery of the First Matter always brings, imagery is all the more potent, and the Matter gathers and coalesces onto form-matrices all the quicker – even instantaneously. Cross reference with TZADDI and AURUM POTABILE.
1 Waite, Dr. Arthur E., Turba Philosophorum. Notes and commentary by Waite. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1914, pg. 50.
2 Artephius, The Secret Book Of Artephius. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 7.
3 Dee, Dr. John, The Secrets of John Dee. Ed., Intro. and commentary by Gordon James. Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing Group, 1995, pg. 144.