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TitleArmand Barbault Gold of a Thousand Mornings
TagsAlchemy Mass Matter Metals
File Size15.0 MB
Total Pages89
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was insufficiently digested or assimilated at the end of an
operation, we had to wait, then add further quantities of
dew to repeat the moistening stage, and leave the whole
thing to stand for a while at a low temperature. This
ensured that impregnation and internal activity were
properly accomplished. Only then could reheating begin.
One also had to synchronise one's actions with the great
clock (i.e. the sky) since certain rhythms of the processes
involved followed the phases of the moon. Thus it seemed
right to us to introduce new elements at the time of a new
moon, to leave everything to steep for a fortnight, then to
begin heating again at the full moon. The length of time
the matter was left to soak could also be increased and the
entire operation set to a new cycle of forty days. In con-
nection with this, note that numerous old texts dealing
with spagiric preparations count on a period of forty days
as necessary for reaching the state of corruption indis-
pensable to the separation of mixtures.

However, what must be grasped is that the length of
time varied according to the 'hardness' of the elements
included. The shoots of pine trees, for instance, called for
a long period of work, while the little rosy-coloured shoots,
such as those found in hedges cut during winter, needed
much less. Similarly, very small plants needed only a little
work done on them. It is possible to encourage the process
of assimilation by pounding the plants, so leaving only a
thick, greenish-coloured gruel to be added to the Matter.
In that case, though, one runs the risk of dispersing the
etheric forces needed to maintain the vitality of the sacred
earth. In our opinion, it is preferable to let nature work in
her own way and not ill-treat the plants. If desired, during
the autumn period one can also add fresh algae gathered
from the sea. The corruption of these is more difficult to
bring about, but once obtained, acts as a catalyst and
allows the state of absolute black to be reached more
rapidly. This process should not, however, be misused. In
general terms, whilst all nature's elements should be taken

Treatment of the First Matter

into account, particular attention must be paid to plants
taken from the ground. I refer here to the directions of the
Ancients: they recommended that plants be picked with
the greatest possible delicacy, so that they yield their
properties in toto. This, again according to the Ancients,
is not possible if they have been maltreated before reach-
ing the stage of corruption. I myself will shortly deal with
this matter in detail. For a long time I thought that my
operations could be speeded up if I pounded the plants
before putting them into the container; however, Iaban-
doned this method in favour of allowing nature to accom-
plish her own task in her own time.

It is easy to imagine how continual addition of vege-
table substances leads to blackening of the Matter, since
the corrupted organic remains mix with the earth to pro-
duce a sort of humus. But beyond this phenomenon, there
is another: as one saturated the Matter with fresh dew in
such a way as to leave a small excess of the latter, it became
apparent that the dew was becoming intensely black, as if
absorbing the floating organic residue. Very tricky opera-
tions finally yielded this black water; after it had been
collected and left for a certain time, a new black: matter
gradually appeared as a deposit on the bottom of the vessel
in which it was standing. As it increased in volume, this
produced an excellent ferment for the next stage of the
process. At this point I kept to the instructions given by
Cyliani in his little book Hermes Unveiled. The method
of collecting and withdrawing the black water which I
found there greatly helped the internal work of corruption.
After five or six years I reached the second degree of cor-
ruption. From this time on, the Matter began to blacken,
not only on the surface as it had up till then, but right the
way through. I dared to hope that I might reach the third
degree of corruption, or Absolute Black, by following
particular courses of action which experience and observa-
tion had taught me. After a while a steadily increasing
quantity of whitish strands appeared at the drying stage.

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These gave way to wool-like flakes, while the final distilla-
tions produced a greenish water smelling fairly strongly of
ammonia. All this indicated the imminence of the third t
degree of corruption and the end of the first stage of the
work. This indeed ought to culminate in the total incinera-
tion of the matter transformed during it.

That surnmarises the essential operations concerned in
preparing the Philosopher's Peat. In the next stage this will
become the Leaven which should elevate the gold to its
first crown, that is to say bring into being the elixir of the
first order, or first medicine. Before going any further,
however, I want to discuss several points relating to the
gathering of plants.

Acquisition of Mother Plants

In his work entitled Herbarius, A. Delatte has assembled
a whole range of information on the ceremonial which the
Ancients used in gathering both ordinary plants and also
those reputed to be magical. Ovid describes with meticu-
lous care the rites observed by Medea when she undertakes
to rejuvenate her father Eson: the essential task consists
not in discovering plants whose juices will replace the old
man's worn-out blood, but rather in choosing a day when
there is a full moon and in carrying out complicated in-
structions. She turns round three times on her own axis,
sprinkles herself with water drawn from a river, gives vent
to the three-fold ritual cry, and so on. It is not the plants
themselves which one seeks to acquire but the properties
which they conceal and which the egregoric divinities re-
tain. Ovid, and also Sophocles who describes the same
scene, insists that a sickle of brass be used. A great deal of
literature on this subject has reached us from antiquity but
even so, this is only a fraction of what was available to the
Ancients themselves.

In any case, correspondences between plants and astro-

Treatment of the First Matter

logical signs have long inspired books, attributed amongst
others to Hermes Trismegistus, Solomon, Ptolemy and
Alfred the Great. The H erbarius contains a whole host of
information and references for each plant. These have
been very precious to me and will usefully be referred to
again in the completion of the next stages, even though the
author, concerned exclusively with plants, does not add
that the most important thing is to mix them with sacred
earth, thus fulfilling the law in the Emerald Tablet: 'The
earth shall be its wet-nurse.'

Here is a summary of the rules which should be followed
when acquiring mother plants. These are basic plants
which yield not only their sap and juices but also the vital,
life-giving fluid whose energy value will be crystallised in
our preparations. This, hopefully, will provide them with
the expected medicinal power.

I. Qualities of purity and cleanliness;
the Herbalist's knowledge

It is not enough, as one might think, to have a knowledge
of the plants and of their special properties. The herbalist
must be initiated into a knowledge of all the phenomena of
the natural world and be aware of the two-fold nature
-physical and psychic-of plants. To do this, he has to be
of an evolved nature and to be healthy and right-living.
He has to possess particular gifts of perception and sensi-
bility so that he not only sees a plant but perceives its
power, its psychic vigour and the intensity of its vital
fluid. The herbalist must therefore often undergo self-
purification, withdrawing from impure contacts, so that he
finds himself to some extent in a 'state of grace' as he con-
fronts nature and the spiritual forces which radiate over
all her kingdoms. The methods of purification vary accord-
ing to the birth charts of those concerned. Some take ritual
baths, others do breathing and yoga exercises, others again

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expressions will not be grasped by reading further and yet
more complicated texts, nor even by meditation. It will
come as a result of work carried out both in nature and in
the laboratory. My own method, when doubtful or lacking
information over the next stage of an operation, is to wait
until the planets are in a favourable configuration for me
personally and then to reflect on the question. Further, I
always construct an astrological chart of the essential
stages of the operation, so that I may see whether the pro-
cess is evolving in harmony with those planetary cycles
which presided over the birth of the Work. As my horo-
scope clearly shows, Saturn is my guiding influence, con-
demning me to reach each stage of the operation by the
longest and hardest route. On the other hand, Saturn's
support is constant and deep-seated. Because of it I have
been able to grasp many details which would have been
lost in more rapid revelation, and have drawn knowledge
and understanding of technique from the mass of symbol-
ism which have proved vital in practice.

For example, I have already shown that when one adds
the rich quintessence of the Blood of the Green Lion-
which incidentally quickly becomes separated out at the
top of the vessel from the impure elements--the quantity
of etheric forces yielded up to the distillation is slightly
less than the quantity introduced. I came to understand
that this disparity was vital, that the germ had appro-
priated this force to aid its own growth. If you re-use the
liquor which is recovered as Virginal Milk, the same re-
sults obtain: when passed through the apparatus, it will
again yield something of itself. This is what the old al-
chemists meant when they talked of the water changing
into earth and of the waters becoming exhausted. By this
means one knows that the germ is alive and is being
nourished and that the waters, too, are living, and will
remain so until the quantities at the start and at the end
of this stage of the operation are found to be the same.
When that happens the waters will be dead, having yielded

Introduction to Preparations of the Second Order

all their energy. In this way the written word and experi-
ence mutually enhance 'understanding; no real or lasting
truth can be reached in any other way.

Influenced at the start of my labours by what I had read
in ancient texts, I imagined that the First Matter extracted
from the ground had to be nourished like a child and so I
used to soak my plants at great length in dew before ex-
tracting the juice. I then fed my earth exclusively on this,
believing that it could only stand liquid nourishment at
this early stage-like a child which at the start is fed only
on milk. Today I know that the Child referred to is the
germ which is imprisoned in the matter of the second
degree and whose task is to give birth to the mercury.

Of course I now know that one may proceed more
quickly than I have done. One can speed the work up, for
instance, by extracting black earth from the hollows of
certain trees. One may also use minerals.. I do not seek to
devalue this alternative method, I say only that it was not
my way and that I can claim no knowledge of it. Because
it is quicker, it is more finely balanced and one can more
easily go astray, particularly if one seeks to simplify
alchemy by introducing elements of chemistry.

All chemists I have met and who have been interested
in alchemy have in the end honestly convinced themselves
that the symbolic terminology may be reconciled with the
body of knowledge which they command: to take an ex-
ample, they decide that sulphuric acid is the 'blood of the
dragon'. In fact there is in alchemy something known as
a 'sulphureous precipitate' but this is something quite
different. To obtain it, one needs virginal liquors, to which
one adds sulphur (which must be specially chosen). In a
water bath, this forms a very useful liquor which may in
fact be the'blood of the dragon' but which is certainly not
sulphuric acid, for one may put a drop of it on the tip of
the tongue without experiencing any burning effect.

Naturally enough the contacts that I have made and
the relations I have entered into with certain firms have


Page 89


given a fair number of researchers the 'corruption of peat'
bug. Believing that the knowledge may be readily given
and received, they jump the gun or proceed on a grand
scale, sometimes with material gain in view. Instead of
taking one or two kilos of earth, they start with 40 or 50,
blissfully unaware of the considerable quantity of plants
and dew which I had to gather and treat in twelve years'
work on a mere kilo and 800 grammes of original matter.
Here, as in every operation, the sense of proportion is vital
and experience alone has the last word.

May 1969



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