Basic Theory of the Acetate Path (9) — The Ferment of the Stone
In the previous essay I described how Ripley gives instruction on the preparation of the special solvents used in the Acetate Path. The summit of that stage of the work is the production of Philosophic Mercury.
The test to be sure that we actually have Mercurius Philosophorum is that if we place a pure sample of a metal in that solvent to digest, the Mercury will dissolve the metal, and reduce it to an oil, the special property of which is that this oil can not again be returned to its metallic state. The entire metal is consumed by this process. The old alchemists referred to this as 'radical dissolution'. That is, the metal is altered in its composition right to the core of its very nature.
Because of this property of Philosophic Mercury this substance, when discussed by the old alchemists, is described with the utmost reverence, and is recognised as the first substance in the unfolding stages of the Great work which possess truly alchemical properties, and because of this is 100 percent 'philosophic' in nature. That is, its action on metals (and other substances) is such that modern science has nothing like it, and its physics and chemistry cannot be explained by modern science (yet).
Among its other curious properties are its ability to convert glass into a soft liquid, and to dissolve precious gems in such a way that while liquid they can be poured into a mold and 'cast' into any shape desired, and then processed again into a solid gem. There is a famous story about the Count Saint Germaine, who was given a large diamond by the King of France, which had a flaw in it. Germaine took the diamond, made a mold from it, dissolved it, cast it in the mold, re-solidified it, and returned it to the King … now flawless. (See the authoritative work on Saint Germaine 'The Comte de St. Germain: Isabel Cooper-Oakley).
There is a legend that at one time there was not a royal crown in Europe that did not contain precious gems that either were produced artifically from scratch by alchemists, or were composed of many lesser stones dissolved and combined to form larger single stones.
Very little is said about these aspects of advanced alchemy in writing, but there are comments scattered here and there among the 1000s of volumes written about alchemy.
The importance of Philosophic Mercury in the Great Work is that once the 'basis' for the Stone is complete (the three Principals are recombined into a homogeneous whole), the Stone cannot transmute until it has its 'Ferment' … which is an oil of either Silver or Gold produced by the radical dissolution of these metals in Philosophic Mercury.
A Stone at the white stage of perfection imbibed with the Ferment of Silver will transmute base metals into precious white metals (such as silver, platinum and uranium). A Stone calcined to the red stage of perfection imbibed with the Ferment of Gold will then transmute base metals in to Gold.
The Ferment of Gold, or philosophic oil of Gold, is the 'true' potable gold of the alchemists. The old Adepts tell us that its potency alone is almost equal to that of the Elixir Vitae. This Ferment (of either Silver or Gold) is also a strictly Philosophic substance, since by its very presence in the process of transmutation it has the ability to force other metals to become Gold or Silver. From the point of view of modern Physics such a reaction is completely unthinkable. There is no theory in modern science that could even begin to explain such a reaction.
But … before the basis of the Stone can be imbibed with its Ferment to Gold or Silver, that basis must first be prepared, itself. Which is the subject of my next essay.
Disclaimer: I strongly advise that you do not attempt to put the techniques I describe here in to practice unless you have a well developed experience with chemistry, or you have access to the careful instruction of someone who is intimately knowledgeable in the processes I describe herein. Many of these techniques I describe in these essays have potential risks involved, and I do not always point out those risks in my descriptions. I do not take responsibility for any injuries or damages which may occur from the practical experiment with instructions contained in this email.
This essay was first published on the Hermetic Alchemy Forum on 11 December 2013, as post #515.
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