& Child's Play
Roger Bacon, Baro Urbigerus, and Thomas Vaughan, like most alchemists through the ages, tell us that after the Herculean effort to gain self-conscious control over the lower nature is complete, the rest of the process is “Woman's Work and Child's Play.” It implies the ease by which the one-substance is perfected. 'Our Woman' is subconsciousness. At the final stage the end of the work is perfected primarily, and solely, through that level of consciousness. Those who insist upon actual physical processes conducted in a secret laboratory somewhere will have a very difficult time reconciling this final stage. In his Secret Book, Artephius wrote:
"Excepting one certain thing, which is not lawful for me to discover to any, because it is either revealed or made known, by God Himself, or taught by some master, which notwithstanding he that can bend himself to the search of, by the help of a little experience, may easily learn in this book.... Now this operation or work is a thing of no great labor to him that knows and understands it; nor is the matter so dear, considering how small a quantity does suffice, that it may cause any man to withdraw his hand from it. It is, indeed, a work so short and easy, that it may well be called a woman's work and the play of children."1
The “one certain thing excepted” is revelation of the First Matter. No one can find it. No one can make it. It is revealed to us by God alone. But unless we are shown it, nothing in this Art may be affected. The whole Art consists in the working of Prima Materia. Most books and manuscripts of genuine alchemists were written for those who have already seen the Great Salt Sea. Words of the sages teach the perfection of the 'gross, vile matter.' But they also wrote for those of us desirous of receiving God's Grace with that inner vision. Truly the best instruction is graphically represented for us by Solomon Trismosin’s Fifth Treatise of Splendor Solis. It involves the last four color plates numbered XIX through XXII. Plate XIX illustrates a black spiritual Sun, AIN SUPh AUR, the First Matter, descending and imbuing the Earth of Caput Mortuum (our body, the Dead Head) with its essence. It might also be co-interpreted as the death of the 'personal' separated ego. This he calls DISSOLUTION (see same). Plate number XX illustrates the play of children, described as Coagulation, which, for all intent and purpose, may be considered the same as CONGELATION (see same). Through meditation we dissolve our personal consciousness into that of the universal, while hoping and praying to find the ORE deep within the subconscious mine. It may take years of effort before God grants us holy vision of the Limitless Light. We then seal off a portion of that Light within our Glass Vessel. We coagulate it into our physical body, principally through right use of imagination, to which the White Magnesia, like a magnet, adheres.
This portion Trismosin compares “to the play of children, who when they play, turn undermost that which before is uppermost.” That is, we pull Super-consciousness down into subconsciousness by surrendering our selfish desires. We use 'our Sulphur,' purified, to bring down Universal Mercury to influence our Metals. We do this with right use of self-conscious imagery. Those of us not committed to this Great Work employ self-consciousness to further separative gain. We place our separative, self-conscious mind “uppermost,” like children.
Plate XXI shows the work of women. This stage he rightfully calls SUBLIMATION (see same). Here the Essence pulled into the depths of subconsciousness by imagery now rises upwards to the conscious level. It rises subconsciously. Trismosin calls it the “cooking and roasting, the woman's work,” since it is all affected by the subconscious mind. This is almost the very end of the work. The final plate numbered XXII illustrates the Super-conscious Sun, rising again from the same Earth imbued before in plate XIX. Reconstituted, it is now the consciousness of the Adept, completely one with the Son, BN, symbolized as the Sun, and Tiphareth on the Tree. Tiphareth is already in union with the Father, AB, the second sphere, Chokmah, the Virgin Sulphur. Ab and BN spell ABN, ehben, STONE. Our whole effort then is to arrive at the state of evolution, of being, where we know ourselves equal as one aspect of God, incarnate. We must learn to live that life in the highest sense capable; to live and to love as if all life were a part of THAT WHICH IS. In His own good time, in accordance with our persistent desires, God, Almighty and Loving, will reveal His Divine Essence. From thence forth, d'Espagnet wrote in the Hermetic Arcanum:
"The whole progress of the Philosophers' work is nothing but Solution and Congelation; the Solution of the body, and Congelation of the Spirit; nevertheless there is but one operation of both."2
Meditate! Solve et Coagula!
1 Artephius, The Secret Book Of Artephius. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 16.
2 d'Espagnet, Jean, The Hermetic Arcanum. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 23.