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The second issue of Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s somewhat recent ezine, The Hermět, has been published. Issue No. 2, Southern Autumn 2012 of this e’zine of Hermetism for the e’mortal proffers a detailed introduction to the ciphers utilised in alchemical literature, specifically symbolic images and terminology, obfuscated work processes and ‘plain’ (i.e. not exclusively alchemical) ciphers. Elaborating upon the subject, Rubaphilos says in the second issue’s editorial:

I have entitled this edition of The Hermět ’the cipher issue’, with the intention of, primarily, discussing some of the main methods of concealment used in classic alchemical literature, as well as general problems related to the difficulty of understanding what is being said in those old books and manuscripts.

It seems somewhat unusual that there has not appeared, in the realm of public and easily accessible modern alchemical literature, any works attempting to focus on explaining the inherent problems with trying to understand alchemical literature. That which I have presented here, on this subject, is really just a collection of rough notes based on a conversation I had some time ago, with a friend. So it is intended only to be a brief introduction, lacking in detail, of the matter at hand. I hope at some time in the future to do the subject some real justice by producing a more substantial work on this area of interest.

Within the entire body of written and art-orientated alchemical publications (and manuscripts), there are a number of problems that arise that contribute towards the difficulty of understanding just what it is that is being explained in such works. There are some very obvious kinds of cipher mechanisms in classic alchemical literature, but there are also some which are not so widely known. I feel it might prove helpful, especially to individuals who are relatively new to the study of alchemy, if I try to round up and explain here the extent of my knowledge of this subject – even if only briefly … In this edition of The Hermět you will find examples and explanations of each of these types [of ciphers utilised in alchemical literature], as well as some general information on problems with reading alchemical literature.

Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s ezine, The Hermět

Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s ezine, The Hermět

The superb opening article, ‘General Problems (with understanding alchemical literature)’, is followed by discussion of the V.I.T.R.I.O.L. cipher – arguably the most well known, yet still largely misunderstood, of alchemical ciphers – and three more fine articles: ‘Art as a Cipher’, ‘The Order of Things’ and ‘Text [Manipulation] Ciphers’.

The V.I.T.R.I.O.L. acrostic: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum, or, visit the interior of the purified earth, and there you will find the hidden stone … the version here – taken from Johann Neithold’s Aureum Vellus; oder Güldenes Vleiss of 1733 – is hand-coloured by Adam McLean and appears with permission

Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s long-awaited The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work is forthcoming from Salamander and Sons. Originally scheduled for a February 2012 release, the publication date has been necessarily revised to late July / early August 2012. The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work continues to be available for pre-order. Its publication will be followed by the third volume in The Hermes Paradigm cycle, namely Book Three: Metallic Oils, during later 2012.