Revised: October 2019
Indisputably, the most common name given the First Matter by all sages through history has been simply, Water. The Great Sea, The Mother of All and the Ocean of Awareness enhance the root metaphor. The anonymous author begins Chapter II in An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King:
"Let those who aim to purify Mercury by means of salts, faeces, and other foreign bodies, and by strange chemical processes, understand that though our water is variously composed, it is yet only one thing, formed by the concretion of diverse substances of the same essence. The components of our water are fire, the vegetable “Saturnine liquid,” and the bond of Mercury."1
Yet again, this author, in agreement with many other sages, explicitly warns of physical substances in a make-shift laboratory to be useless. The fire, explained elsewhere as Sulphur, appears neither mineral nor metallic. Mercury, he explains, is the glutinous bonding material several alchemists have called white sperm or white gluten. The vegetable “Saturnine liquid” is Salt, but it is us, or more accurately, our blood stream. The Prime Matter evolves into its highest potential through us. The author continues:
"The Saturnine liquid, its blood growing together with the Saturnine sap (our blood stream) into one body which is neither a body nor a spirit."2
As an alchemical elemental sub-mode of the First Matter ‘Water’ is a mixture of the hot/moist qualities of Air with the cold/dry qualities of Earth. In Water the Life-breath of Air predominates due to its locomotive property, but due to the receptive property of Water, it may be actualized into physical forms due to the cohesive property of Earth.
Prima Materia is an actual liquid ocean of light, silent and invisible to our still undeveloped potential range of physical senses. The Sea of Awareness does deserve its Water metaphor. All physical liquids in our tangible world do behave in the manner of their archetype. All those who have meditated, prayed and desired to know the truth about themselves and the universe, and proved that desire through perseverance, have eventually been shown the Magical, Mystical Mind Substance of God. This is the Mosaic Earth. Please read the very first two verses in Chapter 1 of Genesis.
It is invisible to the physical world, but this world and all worlds and everything within all worlds are comprised of it. It eludes all current scientific measuring devices, but science has hinted its effects as 'dark energy' and 'dark matter' without knowing and proving what they are actually. Qabalistically speaking 'dark energy' is the chief fiery expression of the second sphere on the Tree of life, חכמה, Chokmah, Wisdom. The 'dark matter' is the chief watery expression of the third sphere, בינה, Binah, Understanding. These two spheres are subordinate to the chief airy expression of the first sphere, כתר, Kether, the Crown. Science is yet quite far from discovering this 'dark sentience'. If they ever do, then truly they will have discovered the illusive 'God Particle' of scientific speculation.3
These three are one with each other and one within the Earth, recognized esoterically by the reclusive erudite philosophers the world over as the One God in Three Divine Persons. All the major religions have at their root this concept of 'three-in-one' under some name or another: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu; Osiris, Horus, Isis; Purusha, Prana, Akasha. And with modern terms we see it as: Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence; Intelligence, Animation, Substance; or, the Universal Super-consciousness, Self-consciousness, and Subconsciousness (mirrored within us). The list is almost endless.
This One, Divine, Living, Loving, Liquid-Light Substance has as many names for it as there are things in the Universe. The genuine Prophets, Saints, Seers, Adepts, and all Truly Blessed Enlightened know it and work with it. Many people having had protracted Near Death Experiences (NDEs) have seen it and all, that is all of us, will come into contact with it eventually. Through millennia in all times and climes many sage writers have alluded to it, described it, illustrated it by all manner of diagrams and paintings and named it 10,000 different ways. However, because it is a fourth dimensional essence, it defies accurate description that will satisfy our simple consciousness. It must be witnessed to be believed, but can only be witnessed within from Divine Grace. So the masters, adepts, and other blessed recipients have alluded to it under numerous metaphors and allegories. The author of Genesis did likewise with “A river watering the garden...”
Writings about the matter have failed with attempts to describe accurately the living and loving characteristics of the Almighty Ocean of Consciousness. This will always be so. Written descriptions will never completely satisfy those who have not witnessed it first-hand. Those who have seen it are unable to describe it adequately to those who have not. It is a fourth dimensional experience, and there are no words for the fourth dimension. However, that we may become more familiar with the inner, baptismal vision, consider these testimonies from various sages who recorded their visions as best they could in The Secrets of John Dee:
"If thou wilt attain to the truth, rely upon my words, for I speak the truth; the Mother or First Matter of Metals is a certain watery substance, neither very watery, nor very earthy, but a third thing compounded of both, retaining the complexion of neither. To this agrees the learned Valentine in his opposite and genuine description of our Sperm. The First Matter (saith he) is a waterish substance found dry, or of such a complexion that wets not the hand, and nothing like to any other matter whatever. Another excellent and well experienced philosopher defined it thus. It is (saith he) an earthy water, and a watery earth, mingled with earth in the belly of the earth, and the spirit and influences of Heaven commix themselves therewith. Indeed it cannot be denied but some authors have named this substance by the name of all ordinary waters, not to deceive the simple, but to hide it from the ranting, ill disposed crew. On the contrary some have especially and faithfully informed us, it is no common water, and especially the reverend Turba. The ignorant (saith Agadon) when they hear us name water, think it is water of the clouds, but if they understood our books, they should know it to be permanent or fixed water, which without its sulphur to which it hath been united cannot be permanent. The noble and knowing Sendivogius tells us the very same thing: Our water is a heavenly water which wets not the hand, not that of the common man, but almost as it were, pluvial. We must therefore consider the several analogies and similitudes of things, or we shall never be able to understand the philosophers. This water then wets not the hand, which is notion enough to persuade us it can be no common water. It is a metalline, bitter, saltish liquor; it hath a true mineral complexion. It is (saith Raymond Lully) a dry water, not water of the clouds or phlegmatic water, but a caloric water more hot than fire. It is, moreover, greenish to the sight, and the same Lully tells us so. It looks (saith he) like a green lizard. But the most prevalent color in it, is a certain inexpressible Azure, like the body of Heaven in a clear day. It looks, in truth, like the belly of a snake, especially near the neck where the scales have a deep blue tincture, and this is the reason why the philosophers called it their Serpent and their Dragon. The predominant element in it is a certain fiery subtle earth, and from this prevalent part the best philosophers have denominated the whole compound. Paracelsus names it openly but in one place, and he called it Viscum Terra, the slime or viscous part of the earth. Raymond Lully describes the Crisis or Constitution of it in these words. The Substance of our Stone (saith he) is altogether fat or viscous and impregnated with fire. In which respect he calls it elsewhere not water but fire."3
What is so special about this lengthy quotation is that, in one place, so many sources voice their agreement concerning the Ocean of Awareness. When sages call the matter Sperm, they hint its 'livingness.' Common animal or human sperm contains the seed of life potential. Prima Materia contains the potential of all things. However, none of this ought to be taken literally, please! I have no clue as to what one would do with actual human or animal sperm in a laboratory. And I would hesitate to guess. But as for the genuine Prima Materia we are told repeatedly that nothing need be added to the primal substance, that it only need be improved upon. By imagination it can be shaped and formed into anything whatever by the skilled artisan. Sendivogius says it is pluvial, Latin for 'rain.' In the Bible we are told about the Heavenly Dew. The First Matter, Prana, 'rains' from the ethers in minuscule, corpuscular droplets, albeit invisible.
It is atmospheric, borne upon the air (“the Wind carries it in its belly,” says Hermes) and inhaled into our lungs in the step AERATION (see same). This is the “manna from heaven.” Pluvia sums to 72 in the Latin Cabala Simplex, the same as Fumus, 'smoke.' In the Turba this matter is often referred to as 'white smoke.' The mineral complexion alluded to by Dee and others hint a grainy quality to the substance. The minuscule particulate, however, twinkles and sparkles. It is not actually gritty, but appears so due to the shimmering particula characteristic of its intrinsic fiery nature. There is a physical side effect for the happy recipient of the inner vision. The whole body is 'charged' with a genuine current of energy that prods one to do something as result. It has a taste of salty metal, like electricity. This has prompted witnesses to declare its 'metalline' quality. The sweet smell of flowers permeates the nostrils. Yet its whole complexion changes hues as it moves in swelling, billowing clouds. “Phlegmatic” may not seem very appealing, but accurate it is when used to describe the matter’s slimy texture, which is another reason for naming akin to sperm. It has viscosity. 'Serpentine' is also descriptive. Like a serpent it seems slithery and slimy, but the skin of a snake is dry. In far eastern disciplines the Dragon is the most revered of sacred mythic animals. This, again, is representative of the First Matter in Asia. A symbolic Dragon, the fiery first matter of all, is at the lead in every parade in the Orient.
Paracelsus called it "Viscum Terra, the slime or viscus part of the Earth" in the above quotation. This sums to 134 by Latin Cabala Simplex, equaling liquor vitae, the ‘liquor of Life’. He was quite aware that the ‘water’ we are speaking of here, as with the ‘fire’ and ‘air’, are all sub-modes of the First Matter, the mosaic EARTH. In very truth, however, it is none of the above. It is the most miraculous compound substance one could ever hope to have the incredible good fortune to witness.
Those of us not yet ripe, for reasons known only by God, are still trapped in this three dimensional awareness. His Grace is coming, that is for certain, but in His Own good time, reciprocal to our desire and perseverance to want to know. Until then, such ones are those whom the Biblical writings refer to as “the dead.”
In John 3:4-6, The Master explains the birth of Water:
“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?’
Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.’”
Again, in John 4:13-14, The Master speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well:
“Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Clearly in the quotations above, at least to genuine Alchemists and Qabalists alike, the Master was not speaking in mere metaphor, but actually referring to the Ocean of Living Water. Those of us not yet given the 'rebirth of water' and not yet sincere enough to 'inherit the earth' must work to perfect the potentials within ourselves. 'Meek' is not to be understood in its most common English usage, that of weakness or passive submissiveness. The Hebrew word for 'meek, humble', is ענו, onow, with number value 126. This is also the value of נעבד, nobed, meaning 'assisting or administrative'. The thirty-second path on the Qabalistic Tree is titled 'The Administrative Intelligence'. Assigned Saturn and Saturnine qualities, this path unites Body and Vital Soul (see Th, TAU).
As the first path on the Road of Return, it calls for self-conscious assistance and administration. It also suggests discipline with concentration and meditation to turn our passionate, lower nature. By watching our initial, automatic responses to life's experiences, and assisting with the mature development of those responses toward intuitive guidance, we become true Qabalists, meaning that we become Receptive and Accepting. We administer to our lower natures to avoid, eventually, all circumstances and events preventing our penetration through the astral regions symbolized by the ninth sphere, and into the Light of the sixth sphere above it. When we become familiar with the realms above Yesod (the deeper levels of the subconscious through meditation) we experience the occasional 'lightning flash' from the reciprocal path of Peh on the Tree, before Tiphareth. After a few of these, to goad us onward, God's Grace is bestowed. Isis lifts her veil, revealing the Third Veil of the Absolute, AIN SUPh AUR, the One, and Heavenly Ocean of Watery-Earth. All praise to the Glory of God in the Highest! Study, meditate, and pray. Reference the above with EARTH from the Glossary.
1 Anonymous, Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 8.
2 Ibid., pg. 8.
3 The name for this 'particle' came about originally as a frustrated expletive, “the goddamn particle,” while searching for the smallest measurable substance. Subsequently it has taken on a life of its own to become the 'God Particle'.
4 Dee, Dr. John, The Secrets of John Dee. Ed., Intro. and commentary by Gordon James. Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing Group, 1995, pg. 36.