Perpetual Fires, Luminous Substances and Phosphorus (fbn press)

Perpetual Fires, Luminous Substances and Phosphorus
Everburning Lights of Trithemius
Alchemical Fire in a Flash & Glow from Glow-Worms (John French, The Art Of Disillation, 1651)
The Bologna Phophorus (Vincenzo Casciorola of Bologna, 1602)
Balduin’s ‘Phosphorus’ (Christian Adolf Balduin [1632-1682])
The Preparation of Phosphorus
Rosicrucian Thoughts on the Ever-Burning Lamps of the Ancients (by W. Wynn Westcott)

As you can see this booklet is a compilation of texts about ever-burning lights. Some are informative, other instructive. Something that we will see more lateron.

Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont (fbn press)

One Hundred fifty three chymical Aphorisms. Octob. 1687
One hundred fifty seven alchemical canons Octob. 1687
Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont

A new famous alchemist in the line, this time the famous Belgian son of an alchemist who names his son “Mercurius”. Two texts with similar (al)chemical aphorisms (short lines) displaying a nice overview of the philosophy of alchemy.

Forman, Rawlin, Cibinensis and Tschoudy on alchemy (fbn press)

Of the Division of Chaos (Simon Forman (1552-1611)
Admonitio de Pseudochymicis (Thomas Rawlin 1611)
An Alchemical Mass (Melchior Cibinensis 1602)
Hermetic Catechism of Baron Tschoudy 1766

The first text is a short, alchemical poem. The second “a waning to false chymists or the philosophical alphabet”, a strange text with heavy alchemical symbolism. Then we get an even stranger text, some kind of alchemical prayer. The last is a long Q&A with is very informative and very interesting, but I personally very much dislike reading Q&As. The text goes from theory to practise and philosophy, of alchemy of course.

Philipp Aureolus Theophrast Paracelsus (fbn press)

The Coelum Philosophorum or book of Vexatations
The Treasure of Treasures for Alchemists.
The Book concerning the tincture of the philosophers

Three alchemical writings by noone less than Paracelcus. This booklet is very interesting. The first article deals with the theory of alchemy, the second with the philosophy of alchemy and the third with the practise of alchemy.

Die Zauberflote. an Alchemical Allegory * Tjeu van den Berk (isbn 9004130993)

Quite some books have been written about Mozarts famous opera “The Magic Flute”. The story is so symbolic and full of mysteries, that many have broken their heads to explain it. It is known that Mozart was a freemason, so the opera is often depicted as a masonic story, while others see an initiation-story and more others just a loose romantising with symbols to please the public of the late 18th century.

The Dutch scholar Van den Berk (1938) was first intrigued by the music and later by the story and he spend years to investigate the characters, story, history of Vienna in Mozarts time, etc. This resulted in a magnificent work that was first published in Dutch in 2002. Two years later the fifth pressing saw the light of day and every pressing has had corrections, expansions and general editing. Readers brought things under the writers attention, for example freemasons noticed something that he overlooked, or opera-experts knew of something in the score (the written music) so now we have a four-times-made-better massive investigation of “Die Zauberflöte”. There is also an (expensive) English version).

Van den Berk did not really find a Masonic symbolism in the opera, also not really Rosicrucian, but an alchemical; the whole opera is the course of ‘the great work’. To found his theories, Van den Berk extensively investigated Hermetism, alchemy, Freemasonry in Vienna in Mozarts time, Rosicrucianism, mythology and towards the end of the book the writers of the libretto Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812) and Karl Gieseke (1761-1831) and the “homo esotericus” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) himself.

Of Hermetism you get a quick overview and how a ‘renaissance’ appeared with the coming of Rosicrucianity and Freemasonry and especially Hermetism and the art of alchemy. The history of Freemasonry in Austria is interesting. You learn how fast it grew and how fast the decline was when someone else got power over the country. Mythology was still important in Mozarts time and most of the characters have elements of mythological figures. Of course alchemy is treated most extensively. Van den Berk did his utmost to explain how alchemical symbolism can be found in the characters of the opera, in the general story and even in the music itself. This investigation is sometimes tiringly detailed, but fascinating for treating with both practical and spiritual alchemy and giving a very nice picture of alchemy in practise in the 18th century. Van den Berk used a massive amoun of illustrations too. However of course Van den Berk writes about the opera, this book is also interesting for anyone interested in alchemy, Freemasonry and Rosicrucianity, also (or maybe especially) people who are new to this area.

A very interesting book, even when the music of the opera itself does not appeal much to me. Maybe I should not only hear it on cd, but see it on stage (or DVD) some time.

Alchemie, de kunst van transformatie * Jay Ramsay (isbn 9062719341)

The flood of books about alchemy has become so strong that now you also get easy-to-read books for a larger audience. This one appears to me as an easier and more popular version of The Tower Of Alchemy by David Goddard, but Goddard isn’t in the bibliography. Ramway closely follows the alchemical process to give you a system of spiritual exercises. In the beginning I found it all way too new-age, but this does get a little better. Afterall I am not totally sure what I think about this book. It is a book with simple meditation exercises based on alchemical symbolism and obviously for a large new-age audience. Not too bad, but not for me.

Strange, by the way, I can’t find the original version. This book is said to be a translation of Alchemy by Ramsay, 1997 Thorsons.