Martin Rulandus on the 3 Essentials

February 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

In the deep considerations of the Hermetic and Paracelsian writings, that has well-nigh come to pass which of old overtook the Sons of Shem at the building of the Tower of Babel. For these, carried away by vainglory, with audacious foolhardiness to rear up a vast pile into heaven, so to secure unto themselves an immortal name, but, disordered by a confusion and multiplicity of barbarous tongues, were ingloriously forced. In like manner, the searchers of Hermetic works, deterred by the obscurity of the terms which are met with in so many places, and by the difficulty of interpreting the hieroglyphs, hold the most noble art in contempt; while others, desiring to penetrate by main force into the mysteries of the terms and subjects, endeavour to tear away the concealed truth from the folds of its coverings, but bestow all their trouble in vain, and have only the reward of the children of Shem for their incredible pain and labour. Unto both these classes I wish to come forward with help, that they may not only seek more diligently into the writings of the Hermetists, but that they may understand them better, and that in this manner the divine Art of Alchemy may be more successfully taken in hand. For which reason I have concluded to publish this Lexicon of Alchemy, formerly compiled, and enlarged and completed since by me.

From the dedication of the Lexicon of Alchemy, by Martin Rulandus (1612)


MERCURY — is mentioned everywhere, in every alchemical work, and is supposed to perform everything. Everybody wastes his brain and his money in endeavouring to produce a quantity of it. Now, Mercury is a thick gluey liquid, yet it does not stick, for it is of a dry nature, Moist and Warm Water, almost inseparably mixed with Earth, so that they either remain together, or depart together.

2. Speculum Alchimiae states that Mercury is Living Gold, and kills or makes alive, moistens and drys, warms and cools, becoming opposite things according to the measure of its regimen.

3. It is also called Vinegar, Oli, a Father of all Wonders, and the Chief Medicine; also Living Silver because it possesses a soul; also Bath, a continually Stagnant Water, Water of Sulphur, Burning Water, Water of Life, of Gold, of Saltpetre, Pure Water, White Karo, Vapour, Seed, Shade, Fiery, Poison, Fire, Ore, Lime, Azot, Gold, Orpiment, Lunar Saliva, Strftarna Boletorunr, Citronat, Juice, Wine of Souls, Brightness of the Sea, Heart of Salt, Kanderich, Colla Auriborites, Alum from Apples, Kuhul, Esbuit, Stomach, juice from Metallic Roots.

4. An essential of all metals, as it is in itself a poison to them all. It cleanses gold.

5. It is of the nature of silver, and of the spirit of the same, the White Stone, the Disappearing Water, Virgin’s Milk, the Proud Lady.

6. When he conquers, he is white; when overcome, he is red; he is a Powerful Water.

7. Mercury of the Body is White Earth.

8. Exuberatus is Earth of the Body, which, along with the Menstruum, has arisen over the bright part of the body.

9. Mercury of Mars is red yellow, even as Mercury of Venus.

10. Crude Mercury dissolves the bodies, but Mercury of the bodies effects nothing.

11. The Earth wherein to sow the grain. It is incombustible, whether it sustains the brightness of the fire, or whether it flows right away. It is an index of perfection that nothing should remain in the fire.

12. Trenes — Mercury is the Subject and Matter of the Stone. When you have amalgamated with it the calx of the perfected body, press it through a linen cloth, and again through a hare’s bladder. If it passes clean through, then all is well.

13. Rosin. Our Stone consists of fixed Mercury, which possesses in itself Soul, Spirit, and Body.

14. Lully says: Ordinary Mercury cannot be the Mercury of the Philosophers, no matter however prepared.

15. Bernard states that Mercury is in some fashion reckoned among the Metals, but it is the Medium for Uniting the Tincture; it is not itself the medicine, but an aid thereto; it is purified through sublimation, washed with salt and vinegar.

16. Mercury is the bane of all metals, even of all things, for he eats away and devours the vessels; all things immersed in him swim to the surface, except gold which, however, he attracts to himself and purifies. He conducts the feces with himself through the strainer, and leaves the gold pure.

17. Adam of Mercury is the Essence of Sulphur and Earth.

18. Theophrastic Mercury is hardened by the Sulphur of Metals, and is transformed into the nature of the sulphur of that metal with which it is hardened.

19.Mercury is extracted from the body by means of solution, distillation, sublimation, and subtilisation: it becomes a Tincture of Mercury of the Sun; it is volatile, nevertheless, has the property of fixing, and does not blacken like the ordinary Mercury.

20. You must always be careful to distinguish what is generally and particularly stated concerning Mercury, as to whether it be about ordinary Mercury, or about our Mercury. Do not make a mistake; otherwise, the information will be useless.

SULPHUR — In Arabic Chibur, Albusao, is a part of the Stone of the Philosophers, warm and dry in the fourth grade. It is the fat of the earth, thickened by a moderate cooking, until hardened and made dry. Rightly considered, it is produced from the purest, driest earth, wherein fire altogether prevails. It is a sort of warm and dry vapour, the cause and father of metals. To sum up, Sulphur is Earth Cooked by Heat, and changed by the watery, fiery, and earthy matters passing through it.

Sulphur is obtained in Germany from mountain mines and marshes. The latter is Apyron, or unforged Sulphur, because it has not come in contact with fire. This is also the simple, natural Sulphur, called, vulgarly, living Sulphur, because it produces Metals, and is one of their elements. Dioscorides praises Apyron, because it shines brilliantly, and is not stony. It abounds at Melon and Lipara. Its nature is heating, exciting, cooking. The species of Sulphur are as follows:

1. A Sulphur which solidifies into a cloddy earth. This is properly called living; it is the only genus employed by physicians; it is transparent, brilliant, compact, excellent.

2. Exceptionally fine.

3. Like to Goslarian Mica. Concerning all these, consult Pliny, Avicenna, and others. There is great affinity between Sulphur and Bitumen. In the Eolian Isles it is collected, and very readily kindles the fire. It is found in great abundance, and is exported to Italy, and thence to us. Concerning its sublimation, solution, and melting, consult the chemists, for these exceed my purpose.

Manufactured Sulphur is that prepared and perfected by art, that which has been treated by fire, burning Sulphur, the substance used everywhere. It comes imperfect from the mines. There are three species — Gleba, used by fullers; Ezula, employed in dyeing wool; while the third is Elychina.

Sulphur is a formative principle, partly gaseous, partly fiery, partaking of an ethereal nature; it is that whence strength proceeds, and life inheres in things. Hence it is called the Balm of Nature — Sal Terminator, Sulphur Informator — possessing plastic virtue. Mercury is an unctuous vapour. As for the essential form of Sulphur, chemists leave this to physicists. Although Mercury is a living, active, spiritual principle, which can be rarefied, it is a dry, acidulating, preservative Salt. Sulphur is strong-smelling, warm, and very pure. Note the peculiar significance of the term Mercury; it cannot be compared with liquid Quicksilver. The life of these elements is not Galenian or Aristotelian, but chemical. Consult Paracelsus.

Sulphur is the seed of the stone, and is of two kinds — an external, whereby the internal is born in Mercury, which, being earthy, combustible, useless, is removed as menstrual water from a child. The internal Sulphur is the power which makes and prepares the body and cannot be separated from it, because it is inherent, congenital in its very heart and substance. It is originally white, becomes red by means of heat, just as food in the belly by means of the liver, and is the form of the matter, the soul and ferment of the stone, the husband, king, and bridegroom — Red Arsenic, Burnt Ashes, our Gold, Philosophical Gold, Dry, Stony Water, Fire, Earth, Red Stone, Coagula, Mercury, Tincture.

Ordinary Sulphur, by whatever name we may call it, remains an enemy of all metals; consumes, blackens, and destroys; but Philosophical Sulphur is life-giving, matures, makes black, but destroys not, and is called Sulphur because it is never found in the perfect body.

Tercusculus in his Epistles says: Among metals there are two kinds of Sulphur — one can be separated, the other cannot just as in man there are two kinds of blood — one that becomes flesh, and another which departs by means of perspiration. Essential Sulphur is a real working of the air and of fire, which digests and cooks its proportioned and cognate earth and warm waters in a Mercury. The Mercurial Water is a Dissolved Gold; a Vitalising Water, Incombustible, Philosophic Gold, found in Sol and Luna.


SULPHUR — one of the three principles of which all substances are composed of an Oily and Inflammable Matter.

The general species of Sulphur are as follows :

1. White Liquid Sulphur, not unmixed with Alum, obtained at certain seasons during the overflow or inundation of a lake, and deposited on the surface of the earth. From this Sulphur there is a Natural Oil extracted.

2. Clay-like Neapolitan, from the Forum Vulcanium, as Pliny terms the
place, naturally concreted into a fibrous or capillary mass.

3. Pure, Native, Neapolitan, Clay-like Sulphur, not tried by fire.

4. Fossile Neapolitan, of the natural colour, but combined with a Greyish

5. Clay-like, Neapolitan, Living Sulphur, in a Hard, Grey Atrament.

6. Living, Grey, Cloddy, Native Sulphur, in a White Earth.

7. Grey, Living, Native Sulphur, having a Grey, Petrine Cortex.

8. Living, Grey Sulphur, in a Grizzly-coloured Cortex.

9. Black, Living Sulphur, combined with a Soft and White Sulphur.

10. Black, Manufactured Sulphur, of poor quality.

11. Oil of Sulphur, similar to Liquid Bitumen, derived from Liquid Sulphur.

12. Oil of Sulphur, derived from Native Sulphur.

13. Elychnia — a Preparation of Sulphur, by Clarifying or Straining.

14. Sulphureous Neapolitan Earth, from which Sulphur is excocted in large

15. A Stone of a Black and Ruddy Colour, which is the Parent of Sulphur. Sulphur-stone.

16. Sulphur, of Blue Colour, known to the people of Ausonia, and perchance to those of Spain.

SAL — In the Greek, Alas ; in the Arabic, Melech or Selenipum, is Brine or Muriate of Salt, from salt melted by cold or damp. Or it is the Terrene Principle, powerfully restricting, coagulating, and so also preserving. Thus it is closely related to Nature, and works well therewith. It is also Mercury.

The Salt of the Philosophers is the Stone of the Philosophers. Some would extract the Salt from all metals, and make the art to consist in doing so, which is wholly unnecessary, as Hermes says:

1. Every Salt is present in this art, that one alone excepted whereby the souls are extracted from the metals.

2. The First Matter is everywhere, and in all houses ; it grows in the sea and in all men.

3. There is another Salt of Vegetables, another of Animals, a third of Metals, which is the most acrid of all.

4. It is the best Balsam, purges, acts as an astringent, makes thin, cleanses, separates, alters, and stimulates the power of the seed. Therefore we say that Venus is born out of the sea.

5. Senior and Gratian state that Lime and Salt can be made out of all things-Salt out of Ashes, Water out of Ashes, Gold out of Mercury. Therefore have they sought for Gold in all things.

6. Everything which you would elevate and alter you must reduce to Salt and Alum, and this is the secret of preparing the Calcined Salt.

7. Everything that is capable of dissolution absorbs the nature of Salt and Alum, and after corruption assumes the Stone.

8. Salt which is fixed is used for holding the body together, and is extracted from calcinated things by means of putrefaction, until the whole composition alters its nature and assumes another.

9. Reinmund says: The Art requires Lime, that is, its proper earth, which, of all Minerals, possesses the greatest power of hardening the Mercury.

10. The Salt of the Metals dissolves the Mercury into a clear water in dung, and the same is mixed up and coagulates till the perfect medium is produced. Therefore, he that understands the Salt and its solution possesses the wisdom of the ancients. Therefore, place your whole reliance on the Salt. Count nothing else of importance. For Salt by itself is the most important secret which all the Wise have thought proper to conceal. Gebir says: You must know that this is a Salt, although at first it has by no means the appearance of a Salt, but it becomes like it during operation. It is white, bright, clear, and excellent. Then it becomes impure, and then pure again; it dissolves and coagulates; also it expands and it contracts.

Paracelsus in Paramiro affirms as follows: Salt produces coagulation ; it causes the given matter to thicken and to coagulate, till it assumes such a consistency that it can be touched, for nothing can be tangible without the presence of Salt. Now, there are many species of Salt, just as there are many kinds of Sulphur, and many kinds of Mercury.


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§ 3 Responses to Martin Rulandus on the 3 Essentials

  • Willi Paul says:

    What does “… corruption assumes the Stone” mean?

  • David says:

    The original matter has to go through putrefaction/dissolution in order to be purified of it’s base nature and impurities, and then the new substance has to harden to become effective.

    “6. Everything which you would elevate and alter you must reduce to Salt and Alum, and this is the secret of preparing the Calcined Salt.

    7. Everything that is capable of dissolution absorbs the nature of Salt and Alum, and after corruption assumes the Stone.

    8. Salt which is fixed is used for holding the body together, and is extracted from calcinated things by means of putrefaction, until the whole composition alters its nature and assumes another.”

    As Dennis points out in Chapter 8 “salt shows up at both the beginning and the end of the work. It is the imperfect and corrupted matter at the beginning of the experiment that must be destroyed and dissolved to release its essences, so they can be purified and reconstituted into the perfected new Salt at the end of the experiment.”

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