Mr. Arthur E. Waite produced A Short Lexicon on Alchemy in which he described various alchemical terms used in Paracelsian times. Some terms, interpreted literally, erroneously describe physical experiments. Others fall short of the deeper significances due to the over intellectualization prevalent in Waite's period. True Spiritual Alchemy probes far beyond intellect. Even the purely psychological interpretations presented by Dr. C. G. Jung or by Dr. Israel Regardie can be found lacking. Here is an exception. Under 'Magnesia' in A Short Lexicon, Dr. Waite offers Thomas Vaughan's definition verbatim. Part of that quotation is presented verbatim here:
"...It is something like common quicksilver, but of such a celestial and transcendent brightness, that nothing on earth can be compared to it. It is the child of the elements, a pure virgin, from whom nothing has been generated as yet. When she breeds, it is by the fire of Nature, which is her husband. She is neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral, nor is she an extraction from these; she is pre-existent to them all, and is their Mother. She is a pure simple substance, yielding to nothing but love, because generation is her aim, and that is never accomplished by violence..."1
From the outset it is clear Vaughan is not suggesting any reference to the physical, tangible element, magnesium. Physical magnesium may behave like the mystical White Magnesia since the chemical is a light, ductile, silver-white metallic element that burns with a dazzling white light. This is most certainly true of the alchemists' Universal Mercury. However, other sages' descriptions must also be considered before we purchase pounds of the chemical substance for the lab. In The Secrets of John Dee, the alleged original author describes it:
"It is a Laxative, instable (sic), incomposed (sic) substance, of a porous Crasis, like a sponge or soot. In a word, I have seen it, but it is impossible to describe it."2
Please do not misunderstand, think nor believe for a moment that what Dr. Dee described here is in any way associated with the standard mineral laxatives used to relieve constipation, like milk of magnesia. The laxative state of the First Matter is descriptive of its primal, chaotic essence; it is a loosely cohesive or porous structure; a lax texture. Crasis is a make-up, composition or constitution. It comes from the Greek krasis, which gematria reduces the word to number 571. Archaic now is a Hebrew word that shares value 571, מתקלא, meeth-kayla, 'balance.' We have read suggestions from other philosophers that the primal substance already contains within itself all that is necessary for any operation whatever. True, it is in complete balance. Nothing need be taken away nor added save the Art of the Artificer. The Art consists in the coagulation or compaction of Prima Materia into one's own body or into any object held in imagination after the physical body and the consciousness itself has become the Living Stone. This is why sages tell us the Heavenly Chaos is such a vile, gross thing in its initial state. It calls for Art from the self-conscious level after one has been shown its primal state by the Loving Grace of the Almighty.
Vaughan tells us above that “she yields to nothing but love.” This is perhaps why so many who attempt this Great Art fail. All our conjured motives for seeking the illusive First Matter do not merit its apprehension. Only love, of the purest kind, will attract her essence. Only then will Isis lift her veil; and none may fool her. The wise Greeks knew it as he Magnesie Lithos, the 'Stone of Magnesia.' The phrase sums to 646 by Greek gematria. Theosophic Reduction trims 646 to 16, the number of הוה, hoveh, 'is' from the verb form 'to be.' Universal White Magnesia has been, is and shall be the root matter of all creation, equally diffused throughout space. It has never been NOT! Artephius tells us in his Secret Book:
"...this white vapor, this white gold, to wit, this quintessence, is called also the compound magnesia, which like man does contain, or like man is composed of a spirit, soul and body."3
Spirit, Soul and Body are the supernals on the Tree of Life, equivalent to alchemical Mercury, Sulphur and Salt. The three are in all things in endless proportion above in the macrocosm, White Magnesia, and below in the microcosm, humankind and its world. The alchemists' Universal Magnesia, then, is the triune substance, אין סוף אור, AIN SUPh AUR, of the Qabalists. Sendivogius calls this Matter, Magnet:
"Tis our Magnet, which, in our foregoing Treatises, I called Chalibs, or Steel. The Air generates this Magnet, and the Magnet generates or makes out Air to appear and come forth. I have here entirely showed thee the truth."4
Henry Kunrath calls Magnesia, magnes-IAH, or the 'magnet of Jah.' Jah is a divine name attributed to the second supernal, Wisdom, the Universal Desire, Virgin Sulphur. Magnet, offered in Waite's Lexicon, is “the Dew of the Philosophers,” the Dew of Heaven mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. It has an adhesive quality. Some sages have called it White Gum (not to be misconstrued with the Amber Gum within the pineal gland). It is a substance that adheres to matrices of imagination. We use it now in our imperfect state, which always brings conditions less than the desired ideal. Our imperfections, with attendant impure desires, always, of a matter of recourse, bring built-in repercussions with them. And it usually takes some time period to manifest our little hellish states. Perfected Yogis, however, are at liberty to manifest images instantaneously. The secret for this is hinted in the twenty-third dictum of Turba Philosophorum:
"Understand, all ye Sons of the Doctrine, that which Theophilus hath told you, namely, that there exists an affinity between the magnet and the iron, by the alliance and composites existing between the magnet and the iron, while the copper is fitly ruled for 100 days."5
Iron, the Metal of the Mars Center and the reproductive force, heats the Bath when rechanneled. AIN SUPH AUR is attracted to an electrically (sexually) charged aura. Rechanneled reproductive force aligns fiber-like threads of Light inside the Glass Vessel to the Universal Magnesia threads of Light outside the Egg. When aligned they behave like iron and a magnet, attracted to each other. The result is illumination. Copper, the Venus Center, is our desire nature. This is craftily concealed by “copper is fitly ruled for 100 days.” The number of Hebrew letter Qoph is 100. The letter and the Moon Tarot Key are attributed to the zodiacal sign, Pisces, which esoteric astrologers tell us rules sleep. It is also the sign in which Venus, and the Metal Copper, is exalted, or 'fitly ruled.' Its path on the Tree is called the 'Corporeal Intelligence.' Its influence builds our physical and etheric bodies during the sleep state. This is more than ample information with which to draw many more profound conclusions. How then may we come closer to the certain experience of White Magnesia? The Latin, Clavis Magnesia, the 'Key to Magnesia,' conceals a hint within its letters. Summing also to 137 are the numbers of קבלה, QBLH, Qabalah, and Spiritus Dei, the Spirit of God. Study, pray, meditate and desire, and it shall be yours by the Spirit of God. Cross reference with IRON, HERMETIC SEAL, HUMIDITY, GLASS VESSEL and MEANS MINERAL.
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1 Waite, Dr. Arthur E., A Short Lexicon of Alchemy. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1990, pg. 30.
2 Dee, Dr. John, The Secrets of John Dee. Ed., Intro. and commentary by Gordon James. Edmonds, WA: Holmes Publishing Group, 1995, pg. 28.
3 Artephius, The Secret Book Of Artephius. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 13.
4 Westcott, William Wynn, Short Enquiry Concerning The Hermetic Art. Edited by Westcott. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 31.
5 Waite, Dr. Arthur E., Turba Philosophorum. Notes and commentary by Waite. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1914, pg. 78.