Dark Spirits, creeping closer

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By late April 2012, all pre-order copies of the Deluxe Edition of Dr. Nevill Drury’s Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare – strictly limited to 95 copies numbered by hand, fully bound in black leather with gilt title and device, silk bookmark ribbon, and accompanied by an exclusive hand numbered print of the terrible Werplon entity encountered by Rosaleen Norton – had been snapped up by a mix of dedicated esoteric practitioners, astute bibliographic investors and ‘curious readers’. Sincere gratitude to the fine individuals who subscribed to the Deluxe Edition:

Steven Doelan, Michael Thompson, Jesse A. Mantyh, Scott Madison, Thomas Karlsson, Robert Wallis, Maria Azambuja, Michael Gallant, Alan Kostrencic, Jonathan Davies, Angi Patton, Lutz Lemke, Paul Bisanti, Gary Owen, Simon Buxton, David Beth, Richard Kaczynski, Peter Oravetz, John Smith, Cameron Lindo, AJNA, Arild Stromsvag, Neil Graf, Mark Corcoran, David Kairis, Jesper Petersen, Adam McLean, Paul Prescott, Esoteric Source, Stanton Marlan, William Kiesel, Tim Hartridge, Melissa Reaburn-Jenkin, Allan Harrison, Mariusz Doering, Jacqueline Maher, Darcy Kuntz, Sue Cavanagh-Lang, William Morris, Matthew Ward, Amy Duncan, William Burkle, Paul Bland, Patrice Maleze, Michael Douglas, Gudni Gudnason, Jerusalem Press, Aron Clark, Robert Wyatt, Mitch Stargrove, Judith Illes, Andersen Andrews, David Heney, Orryelle Defenestrate Bascule, Greg Brown, Evelyn Hall, David Metcalfe, David Greenhill, Shellay Maughan, Brian Broadt, Kenneth Iverson, and Mark Mould.

Cover artwork for the Deluxe Edition of Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare, fully bound in black leather

Cover artwork for the Deluxe Edition of Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare, fully bound in black leather

Due to considerable demand from those who had missed out on a Deluxe Edition of Dark Spirits, we elected to publish a standard hardcover edition, also limited to just 95 copies. This edition will be bound simply in cloth with a dust jacket, unnumbered and without the Werplon print.

Cover artwork for the standard hardcover edition of Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare

Cover artwork for the standard hardcover edition of Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare

Both the Deluxe Edition and the standard hardcover edition will be published on 05 December 2012 in order to coincide with the 33rd anniversary of Rosaleen Norton’s death – and with our profound apologies for the necessary revisions of publication dates. Later posts during October will feature more updates, excerpts and page spreads (the latter of which are currently being proofed by the author).

In the footsteps of Fulcanelli

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While the true identity of that most enigmatic of Hermetic Adepts, Fulcanelli, continues to be debated, what cannot be contested is the indelible legacy of the Master Alchemist. The books attributed to Fulcanelli – Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals, first published 1926) and Les Demeures Philosophales (Dwellings of the Philosophers, first published 1929) – are perhaps the two most important alchemical texts of the past century. Although it is widely acknowledged that Fulcanelli’s texts “represent the unquestionable testimony of an illuminated Adept”, few who have entered his alchemical labyrinth of phonetic cabala, secret language (argot and cant), Latin and Greek puns, double entendres, and cryptic symbolism have emerged to enjoy the sunlight of understanding.

Fulcanelli’s identity has been suggested diversely: Jean-Julien Champagne (1877-1932), R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961) and Eugène Canseliet (1899-1982)

Fulcanelli’s identity has been suggested diversely: Jean-Julien Champagne (1877-1932), R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961) and Eugène Canseliet (1899-1982)

For five years between 2007 and 2012, four courageous souls – Juan D. Bermejo, Manlio Padovano, José Antonio Puche Riart, and Francisco Clemente Parra – plunged headlong into the complex branching maze of the Great Work, navigating their course through “the baffling and intricate passages, from room to room and from court to court” with the awesome insights of Fulcanelli as their map and compass.

Documenting their alchemical journey via 180 full colour photographs and more than 50 additional illustrations – from the preparation of Saturnia and the canonical salts, the collection of dew and confection of the Styx; to obtaining the Martial regulus of antimony, treating the caput mortuum and obtaining the golden salt and Adamic earth, and purifying the regulus; to unleashing the Green and Red Lions, animating Mercury, flying the Eagles, and forming the Island of Delos; to the cooking of the Philosophical Egg and the ultimate ‘Crowning’ of the Work – The Dry Path of Alchemy: Practical Development of the Work is a book that no serious student of alchemy can afford to be without. If Fulcanelli’s complex and often abstruse masterpieces are capably described as “mind shattering in their revelations” and “texts of incomparable value”, this text – both erudite and magnificently practical – is possibly beyond compare.

The Dry Path of Alchemy: Practical Development of the Work consist of ten chapters plus two appendices, all profusely illustrated and free of incomprehensible jargon, and accompanied by detailed chemical analysis of the products of the Work.

The Styx, Adamic Earth and regulus covered by the Green Lion (photographs copyright © Juan D. Bermejo, Manlio Padovano, José Antonio Puche Riart, and Francisco Clemente Parra)

The Styx, Adamic Earth and regulus covered by the Green Lion (photographs copyright © Juan D. Bermejo, Manlio Padovano, José Antonio Puche Riart, and Francisco Clemente Parra)

The Dry Path of Alchemy is available in Red Lion and Green Lion bindings. The Red Lion is strictly limited to 33 copies numbered by hand; is fully bound in red leather with gilt title and device, and silk bookmark ribbon, and is slipcased. Each of the 33 Red Lions includes a free and exclusive hand numbered print of the Allegory of the Dry Path. The Green Lion is strictly limited to 167 copies numbered by hand; is fully bound in green leather with gilt title and device, and silk bookmark ribbon.

Although The Dry Path of Alchemy was originally scheduled for publication at the time of the Northern Summer Solstice 2012, the date of availability has been necessarily revised to later in 2012 – most likely during September or early October.

Those genuinely committed to the Great Work and seeking a copy of The Dry Path of Alchemy are welcome to contact Salamander and Sons for details of the private link from which the book can be purchased.

The publication of The Dry Path of Alchemy is a major moment in contemporary alchemical publishing.

As this ground-breaking tome is finalised for publication, read The Fire Lizard for updates regarding, and excerpts from, The Dry Path of Alchemy.

Dusting Lapidus off ‘The Hermetic Bookshelf’

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During 1976, a remarkable hardcover volume appeared in both the United Kingdom and in the USA. The book – which would later go on to become a genuine collector’s item – bore cover artwork that was dull (yet iconically so) and the following blurb on the inside of the dust jacket:

This book, by a practicing alchemist, is unique in the history of alchemy, being the first to take a completely physical approach to the science of alchemy while explaining the precise chemical and metallurgical equivalents of the terms used by the alchemists from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the late seventeenth century.

These are not merely conjectures or theories, but actual detailed analysis of a number of texts which have been either quoted in full or systematically reduced in length by the elimination of irrelevant and misleading material.

This work follows in the footsteps of Artephius, Pontanus, and Ripley explaining the real secret of the Sophic Fire, the hidden references to antimony, the true nature of the Green Lion and the copulation of the Red Man and his White Wife. Ripley’s Twelve Gates is examined and explained in detail, with careful explanations of the operations of cibation, fermentation, calcinations, putrefaction, etc. The triple symbolism of salt, sulphur and mercury, which has provided the great stumbling block for practical alchemists, is for the first time neatly explained and disposed of.

The last chapter comprises a vade mecum of practical experimentation and the appendices include a complete list of equipment needed for the initial stages of the operation, conventional signs and symbols used in alchemical texts, and a glossary of terms which also provides a chemical-alchemical cross-reference. Finally there is an abridged version of Paracelsus’ questions and answers on alchemy, which provides an overview of the whole process, theory and practice of physical transmutation.

The 1976 first edition of In Pursuit of Gold: Alchemy Today in Theory and Practice – the cover artwork was designed by Reg Boorer

Published in the United Kingdom by Neville Spearman Publishers, and in the USA by Samuel Weiser, the book was entitled In Pursuit of Gold: Alchemy Today in Theory and Practice. The book was written by an author utilising the nom de plume Lapidus, and featured “additions and extractions” by the noted occultist and author Stephen Skinner, known at the time for his books The Search for Abraxas (1972, with Nevill Drury), Aleister Crowley’s Astrology (1974), and Techniques of High Magic: A Manual of Self Initiation (1976, with Francis King).

Stephen Skinner, responsible for the “additions and extractions” of the first edition of In Pursuit of Gold

The anonymity of the author, combined with Skinner’s provision of “additions and extractions”, led many to assume that Lapidus and Skinner were one and the same – an assumption that would persist for at least two decades and only be publicly clarified some 30 years later, during 2006. Even the late esotericist and alchemist Hans Nintzel (1932-2000), widely known and respected for his monumental work, the Restoration of Alchemical Manuscripts Society (R.A.M.S.), entertained this possibility in his review of In Pursuit of Gold, which was published in the ‘Hermetic Bookshelf’ section of Parachemy: Journal of Hermetic Arts and Sciences, Astrology, Alchemy, Qabalah Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 1977). Nintzel’s review is presented in its entirety below.

Parachemy Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 1977) – the cover artwork is entitled ‘Separation’ by Leandro Della Piana

With the relative scarcity of new books dealing with alchemy, it is pleasant to report that Weiser is distributing In Pursuit of Gold. The author preferring to remain anonymous assumes the nom-de-plume of Lapidus. The title page indicates that there are “additions and extractions by Stephen Skinner.” Mr. Skinner presided over Askin Press in London and published Arch Magazine. These two organisations produced a series of items dealing with Enochian Magick, Qabala and Alchemy. The latter was a reproduction of The Archidoxes of Paracelsus. With that in mind, it is not a far step to conclude that Mr. Skinner might even be Lapidus. While some may feel it is unimportant who the author is, it is actually quite important. In this case credentials have some bearing as to the factuality of the writings. However, the reader can certainly draw some conclusions having read the book.

The table of contents list such chapter headings as: ‘Sophic Fire’, ‘The Secret Book’, ‘The Secrets of Antimony’, ‘The Green Lion’, ‘Consummation of the Hermetic Marriage’, ‘The Use of the Stone’ and others. The dust jacket has words to the effect that this is a book by a practicing alchemist and is the first such book to take a totally physical approach to the science of alchemy. The book is indicated as being not mere conjectures or theories but “actual detailed analysis of a number of texts which have been either quoted in full or systematically reduced in length by the elimination of irrelevant and misleading material.”

This last piece of information causes some immediate concern as an analysis, no matter how detailed, of other writings is still in my opinion, conjecture and theory. I would say further that ALL alchemistical writings will remain that, conjecture and theory, until the reader puts the theory to practice and proves that it is indeed fact. Until then, the laboratory work, it is only interesting theorems. So, Lapidus runs the risk of analysing spurious writings and digesting them for the readers of his book. Naturally, it is implied that as a practicing alchemist he is able to discern the chaff from the wheat. Perhaps.

This is not meant to denigrate this book. It has definite value as will be pointed out. It is merely my desire to insert the necessary caveats to not swallow whole this book or any other dealing with alchemy. The writings of the ancient alchemists were not meant to be crystal clear. It was not intended to put anything on a silver platter. True, the thread of veracity and the clues are to be found, but they do not jump out and declare themselves. The reader can, at best, by poring over many tomes of alchemical lore, pick out commonalities and tie together similar threads. Happily, this is just what Lapidus does in his book. There is little original material except for some analysis, as indicated, of the writings of others. For this alone, the book has great worth.

Lapidus presents to us the entire text of The Secret Book of Artephius. This is one alchemist who seems to be respected by others. John Pontanus also praises Artephius and Lapidus includes excerpts from Pontanus’ writings. Since this material is rather rare, this is a service indeed to the student. The book also includes many plates from Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens which are of great interest also. Finally, in the same vein, Lapidus reproduces Ripley’s poem ‘The Twelve Gates’, and has a great deal of material from the writings of Sigismond Bacstrom. The latter published a slim volume called Bacstrom’s Alchemical Anthology. This book has been referred to as being a “Rosetta Stone of alchemy”. And indeed it is. Since only 500 or less copies were produced, the material in Lapidus’ book is most welcome. Lapidus uses the technique that the good Doctor used. That is, Bacstrom took a subject, such as Mercury. Then, in that chapter, he had 20-25 quotations from as many authors on the subject of Mercury. A sentence, a paragraph or a page of explanation of the term ‘Mercury’ as given by such authors as Lully, Vade Mecum, Bloomfield, Paracelsus, Valentine, etc. The reader could then synopsise all these writings under a particular heading and get a very good notion or, as least a better understanding of what was meant by that term. Lapidus aims to explain the terms ‘Sophic Fire’ and ‘Secret Fire’. He uses Artephius and a Bacstrom like technique on Bacstrom’s Anthology. Although he seems to get things mixed up a bit, the reader should be able to figure out what these two terms mean. At least as Lapidus understands them. The book concludes in the same vein by presenting a set of questions and answers attributed to Paracelsus entitled ‘The Theory of Alchemy’.

The book has a few other features such as a glossary and a listing of materials needed for alchemical experiments. The glossary does not offer anything new and in some cases is not what one might call ‘direct’. For example, the definition of ‘Red Man’ is: Iron, or occasionally gold or copper. Another entry is ‘Earth’ defined by: Metals are often referred to as ‘earth’. The Alchemist’s Handbook of Frater Albertus is by far the superior in these matters and can be considered indispensable. Lapidus clearly means well with these insertions but just doesn’t do all that much for those who have read other alchemystical works. Of course, the tyro will find it all new and exciting.

Aside from occasional lapses into the turgid and obfuscated writings Lapidus is trying to clear up, such as in the chapter on ‘Sophic Fire’, we find: “The Secret Fire which might be termed the fiery water dissolves the metals: this latter is a salt nitrate, often termed vinegar, to be found everywhere easily and never valued, yet never mentioned in any alchemical treatise by name”, the book does a valuable service to the student and even to the ‘expert’. If nothing else, the material described, since it is so rare, is welcome indeed. Lapidus’ conclusions on certain matters (Green Lion, Secret Fire, etc.) may or may not be valid. Nonetheless, he leads the reader to follow a certain technique in synthesising the writings of others in a way that enables one to draw definite conclusions. The final truth or proof of these conclusions, of course, can be only revealed in the laboratory.

In summary, Lapidus whoever he or she is, does seem to have a grasp on the fundamentals of alchemy. This background enables a reasonable analysis to be done on the writings presented in the book and allows the reader a modicum of confidence that the conclusions DO seem reasonable as well. For those who have never been exposed to Artephius’ writings or those of Bacstrom, the book is highly recommended. For those who have read material by these two excellent writers, perhaps a different viewpoint can reveal new vistas. In other words, it is my opinion that the book is valuable and I recommend reading it.

The great 20th century alchemical enthusiast, Hans Nintzel (1932-2000)

Thirteen years would pass before In Pursuit of Gold would again be mentioned in print, this time by Tim Scott in his article, ‘An Introduction to Modern Practical Alchemy’, which appeared in New Moon Rising: Journal of Magick and Wicca Vol. 2, No. 5, September / October 1990. Lapidus’ book – by then long out of print and available only via specialist esoteric booksellers – was mentioned rather dismissively in the annotated bibliography that accompanied Scott’s article and lumped in with half a dozen or so other ‘General or Historical’ alchemy books. Much of Scott’s brief bibliographical mention of In Pursuit of Gold is taken up by tasteless sniping directed towards, and ill-informed conjecture regarding, Stephen Skinner. Scott’s bibliographical note reads:

Lapidus [pseud.], In Pursuit of Gold: Alchemy in Theory and Practice (Samuel Weiser, New York, 1976). This shows up in used book stores occasionally. It is a mixed bag of selections from ancient alchemical texts, including Artephius’ Secret Fire and Pontanus’ Sophic Fire. Obscurantism in classic alchemical style mars useful material. There is no indication that Lapidus has done any laboratory work. A strange appendix gives a detailed list of equipment for doing experiments, but the reader must deduce how to go about it. A note reads, “Additions and Extractions by Stephen Skinner”. This is a bad sign. Given his hostility to honest scholarship, it may mean that he has added to and subtracted from Lapidus’ original. On the other hand, it is entirely possible, indeed likely, that the entire book is a production of Skinner.

Even among those who admired the book, the notion that Skinner was Lapidus persisted. Almost a decade after Scott’s conjecture, Stuart Nettleton in his The Alchemy Key: Unraveling the Single Tangible Secret in All Mysteries (1998) says:

Stephen Skinner’s excellent book Lapidus – In Pursuit of Gold … proves to be a treasure on alchemy.

Nettleton equates Skinner with Lapidus despite the revelations arising from an informed online dialogue one year prior between members of Adam McLean’s Alchemy Texts email group. This dialogue began on Wednesday 20 August 1997 when Johann Plattner posted the following three questions to the email group:

1. Is Stephen Skinner = Lapidus, or are they different persons?

2. Is Lapidus (Skinner) still active?

3. Did Lapidus write another book since 1976?

Adam McLean replied to Plattner’s questions later the same day. In response to the first question McLean stated:

About a year ago Stephen Skinner told me that since Lapidus had died, Stephen felt able to clear up the mystery of the authorship of the book. He assured me that he himself had not written the book and told me the name of the author. He wished me to not to make this identity public. The name of the author meant nothing to me. Lapidus appears to have been someone who did not want his interest in alchemy publicly revealed, and I think Stephen is right not to want it openly revealed. Suffice it to say that he was British and lived in England. He does not seem to have made any impact on outer history and as I said above, his name was unknown to me.

In response to Plattner’s second question McLean wrote:

Lapidus died some years ago. Stephen [Skinner] is very much alive and living in London.

McLean then indicated that he did not know if Lapidus had written another book after that of 1976, and that he [McLean] had not heard of any other material under the name of Lapidus.

The following day another member of the email group, Jorge Mas Majnon, wrote the following:

I have followed the work by Lapidus, my opinion is that the book is the most accurate in the current era, in the description of the operative work. It is a [sic] excellent book. I am gratified that there are such books as this.

The author Lapidus is live [sic], and will probably in the next years publish a new work.

In the modern era that we live, it is necessary that works describe with clarity the process of the Art, already we are fatigued of work rhetorics [sic] of other authors.

The brief dialogue continued during Thursday 21 and Friday 22 August 1997, with Plattner asking Majnon to clarify his assertions, particularly those pertaining to Lapidus being alive and the likelihood of his publishing a second book. However, no such clarification was forthcoming.

The entire dialogue regarding Lapidus is preserved in Adam McLean’s Alchemy Texts email group archive.

Six years on from the Alchemy Texts email group discussion, we find Lapidus’ In Pursuit of Gold reviewed on Amazon – this, it must be remembered, some 27 years after its publication! The review, posted by morning star on 09 March 2003 and entitled ‘The Gift of Lapidus’, is presented below:

This book is an outstanding resource for the modern pursuant of gold (& silver). Lapidus has spelled out the key information at the heart of this noble enterprise. Lovers of the Art will marvel at the candor and generosity of this author who so freely throws open the door to the sanctuary.

Traditional stumbling blocks are highlighted and dispelled as the reader is taken methodically through the challenges of both the literature and the practical work. While much is revealed, the author (like his peers) also cleverly introduces doubts; little is withheld, but the variety of descriptive methods and names lead the unwary reader into the mire. However, the seeming contradictions cannot withstand the persistent scrutiny of an enterprising individual.

The Secret Book of Artephius is reproduced here in full, with Pontanus’ little Sophic Fire as a prelude. There are extensive quotes, mainly from Bacstrom’s Alchemical Anthology – often with Bacstrom’s own comments. Ripley’s 12 Gates appears here in an edited version; there are a selection of plates taken from Atalanta Fugiens – original captions have been replaced with Lapidus’ own comments; and many other quotes are to be found, including swathes of the Vade Mecum, Philalethes and Paracelsus.

Read, Pray, Work and Come.

Six more years would pass before the next mention of In Pursuit of Gold. In his WordPress blog, Our Daily Bread: A blog for esoteric living, Ron Wetzel posted on 12 September 2009:

I purchased this book several years ago during a period of exhaustive research and obsession with alchemy. This book was a limited printing and has become increasingly rare and is relatively costly to acquire. It contains a great deal of information and includes the classical wisdom from the core contributors, back to Artephius.

The text includes at least 4 complete instruction sets on how to make the stone and does reference the white powder. There is a fine assortment of classic alchemical plates in the center binding as well as modern sequences for completing the work and a useful Q&A section in Appendix I.

I must stress that this book is only useful to those with full grasp of symbolic teachings and esoteric interpretation … Those attempting to access this book using traditional western thought or a midrash-esque view of alchemical texts will find this work frustrating.

Chapters 3 (The Secret Book) and 12 (Vade Mecum) may be especially useful to those ensconced in alchemical pursuits. A fine collector’s piece.

Unique in the history of alchemy … more than mere conjectures or theories … an analysis of spurious writings … a book of great worth … valuable and recommended … alchemical obscurantism marring useful material … Stephen Skinner writing as Lapidus … the most accurate alchemy book in the current era … much revealed, little withheld … a book for operative alchemists, or simply for fine book collectors … although opinions regarding both Lapidus himself and his In Pursuit of Gold varied widely across the years between 1976 and 2009, interest in both remained, and during 2011 a revised, expanded and in some instances corrected edition of In Pursuit of Gold was published by Salamander and Sons.

How In Pursuit of Gold came to be republished during 2011, and how a second book by Lapidus – entitled The Pass-Keys to Alchemy – will be published by Salamander and Sons during 2012, will be detailed in subsequent posts.

Another Hermět heads this way

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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.

Double Visionary: Norton and Spare

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Devil-worshipping harpy. Pagan rebel. ‘Wicked’ bohemian from Sydney’s red light district. The notorious, Pan-worshipping Witch of Kings Cross. Despite being widely portrayed in such sensationalist terms by the popular print media of the 1950s and 1960s, the Australian trance occultist and visionary artist Rosaleen Norton (1917-1979) remains largely unknown, even among contemporary devotees of Western magical traditions.

Australia’s first and most famous witch, Rosaleen Norton

Australia’s first and most famous witch, Rosaleen Norton

At a time when diversity was not celebrated (or tolerated) and the prevailing Australian social mentality was somewhat prudish (conservative, edging towards the puritanical), and when the appropriate place for a woman was perceived to be within the home, tending to the needs of husband and children, Rosaleen Norton flaunted accepted social conventions and instead utilised her extraordinary talent to portray the results of her visionary explorations of trance states, including:

… a wide range of supernatural beings … Norton depicted naked women wrestling with reptilian elementals or flying on the backs of winged griffins, gods who were both male and female, and demonic forms with menacing claw-tipped wings. But central to her magical cosmology was the figure of the Great God Pan, who for her was an essentially benign figure – the all-pervasive life-force of the Universe.

So says researcher and author Dr. Nevill Drury, one of Australia’s leading writers in the field of esoteric non-fiction (specialising in the Western magical tradition, shamanism and the history of New Age spirituality) and contemporary Australian art, and arguably the world’s leading scholar of the life, art and sex magic of Rosaleen Norton. Drury received his PhD from the University of Newcastle during 2008 for a dissertation on the art and magic of Rosaleen Norton and the Western esoteric tradition, some 31 years after having met Norton in her Sydney garret.

Nevill Drury: leading scholar of the life, art and sex magic of Rosaleen Norton

Nevill Drury: leading scholar of the life, art and sex magic of Rosaleen Norton

In his forthcoming Salamander and Sons title, Dark Spirits: The Magical Art of Rosaleen Norton and Austin Osman Spare, Drury elaborates upon this meeting which precipitated a deep and personal connection with Norton and her work and strongly influenced his career as a writer:

I met Rosaleen Norton in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Kings Cross in 1977, while researching my book Inner Visions: Explorations in Magical Consciousness. At that stage Roie [Norton] had already become a recluse but a friend of mine and I tracked down a person called Danny who knew her. Danny worked in a jeweller’s shop in Kings Cross and we explained to him that we were genuinely interested in magical techniques and practices and wanted to discuss both her personal view of magic and her perceptions of the world at large. The message filtered through and we were granted an interview. Roie was living then in a dark basement flat at the end of a long corridor in an old building in Roslyn Gardens, just down from the centre of Kings Cross in the direction of Rushcutters Bay. She was somewhat frail but still extremely mentally alert, with expressive eyes and a hearty laugh. She even invited us to share an LSD trip with her, but in the gloomy recesses of her basement flat we shuddered to think of the shadowy beings we might unleash through this powerful psychedelic, and we both politely declined.

Dark Spirits is the third of Drury’s many books to step into the dark, private life and visionary work of Australia’s first and most famous witch. His previous texts on Norton include Pan’s Daughter: The Strange World of Rosaleen Norton (1988 and 1993, later republished as The Witch of Kings Cross in 2002) and Homage to Pan: The life, art and sex magic of Rosaleen Norton (2009), both of which are highly recommended.

Highly recommended: Nevill Drury’s earlier works on Rosaleen Norton

Highly recommended: Nevill Drury’s earlier works on Rosaleen Norton

Drury elevates Norton beyond the tawdry tales of the cheap, sensationalistic tabloids and offers insights into the life of a remarkable individual whose:

… personal beliefs were a strange mix of magic, mythology and fantasy, but derived substantially from mystical experiences which, for her, were completely real … Roie was very much an adventurer – a free spirit – and she liked to fly through the worlds opened to her by her imagination. Her art, of course, reflected this. It was her main passion, her main reason for living. She had no career ambitions other than to reflect on the forces within her essential being, and to manifest these psychic and magical energies in the only way she knew how … art was the very centre of her life, and Roie took great pride in the brief recognition she received when the English critic and landscape artist John Sackville-West described her in 1970 as one of Australia’s finest artists, alongside Norman Lindsay … she [Norton] felt that at last someone had understood her art and had responded to it positively. All too often her critics had responded only to her outer veneer – focusing on her bizarre media persona in particular – and this was not the ‘real’ Roie at all.

In Dark Spirits, the wonderful visionary universe of this artistic outsider and dweller of the social margins is considered and contextualised alongside the life and work of the British visionary artist Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956) whose major self-published works – Earth Inferno (1905), A Book of Satyrs (1907) and The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): The Psychology of Ecstasy (1909-1913) – are increasingly acknowledged as the works of a creative genius, and their creator one of the key figures in the 20th century Western magical revival and one of its most original thinkers.

Austin Osman Spare’s 1909 self-portrait

Austin Osman Spare’s 1909 self-portrait

Although these two artists never met or even knew that the other existed, Drury says that Norton and Spare:

… resemble each other as innovative esoteric practitioners. Numerous comparisons can be made in relation to the two artist-magicians … The most intriguing similarity between the two artists relates to their visionary exploration of magical imagery through techniques of self-hypnosis, and there are several parallels in their personal lives and artistic careers as well. Within their respective individual contexts both Spare and Norton regarded themselves as artistic outsiders, largely alienated from the mainstream cultural trends of the day, and both spent most of their lives in squalid circumstances. Both were skilled figurative artists whose art school training contributed substantially to their graphic style, both exhibited their work extensively in popular meeting places like pubs or coffee shops in order to reach an appreciative audience, and both had a strong love for animals, especially cats. However, there are more specific parallels between Spare and Norton that suggest they should be regarded as visionary artists within the same esoteric genre. As occult practitioners, both considered themselves pantheists; both were well versed in the literature of the Western esoteric tradition, Theosophy, Eastern mysticism, and modern psychoanalysis (especially the works of Freud and Jung); both were attracted to the practice of sex magic and were familiar with the magical writings of Aleister Crowley – Spare knew Crowley personally. Both magicians explored magical grimoires like the Goetia and were fascinated by the sigils or ‘seals’ associated with elemental spirit-beings, and both were familiar with the philosophy and magical significance of the kabbalah. Both artists also developed and utilised their own, personal techniques of self-hypnosis and trance in order to produce their distinctive visionary artworks as a direct result of their magical methods. There is a clear parallel between the trance-based ‘otherworld’ consciousness explored by Norton and the Zos / Kia cosmology of Spare and this in turn draws attention to the unique contributions of the two artist-magicians operating as ‘visionary outsiders’ in the Western magical tradition.

Featuring more than 120 colour and black and white images, fully bound in black leather with gilt title and device and silk bookmark ribbon, and strictly limited to 95 copies numbered by hand, Dark Spirits is Drury’s superb tribute to Norton and Spare.

Although the limited edition of Dark Spirits was originally scheduled to manifest at the time of the Northern Summer Solstice 2012, the publication timeframe has been revised to late August 2012. As we edge closer to publication, updates regarding, and excerpts from, Dark Spirits will appear in later posts.

Cat among the books

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In his Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée (The Bestiary: or Orpheus’ Procession) of 1911, the Polish-French literary giant Guillaume Apollinaire writes of ‘The Cat’:

I wish there to be in my house:
A woman possessing reason,
A cat among books passing by,
Friends for every season
Lacking whom I’m barely alive.

An alternative translation renders the lines thus:

I want to have in my house:
A sensible woman,
A cat moving among the books,
Friends in every season.
Without which I can’t live.

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) and woodcut illustration of ‘The Cat’ by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) and woodcut illustration of ‘The Cat’ by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

A little more than a century later, this five line composition by the one-time mentor to the young André Breton came to mind upon receipt of an unexpected email from our friends (in every season) Marilyn Rinn and Keith Richmond of Weiser Antiquarian Books in Cape Neddick, Maine. The email, dated Tuesday 05 June 2012, bore the subject line:

thought you would enjoy seeing your boxes HERE in Maine w/ Freddie (cat)

and contained no text other than the photograph – curious fragment of the everyday – presented below.

Cat among the books: Freddie, one resident familiar of Weiser Antiquarian Books

Cat among the books: Freddie, one resident familiar of Weiser Antiquarian Books

The boxes stacked in the foreground contain no fewer than 120 copies of Tarosophy: Tarot to Engage Life, Not Escape It by the British magus Marcus Katz, which was published by Salamander and Sons during 2011, to some acclaim. Meticulously packed in the 40 degree Celsius (approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit) heat of Chiang Mai during April, the four cartons took the best part of a sweltering weekend to wrap, box and tape, and most of May to make the long journey from our office here in Thailand, all the way to Marilyn and Keith – and Freddie the cat – in Maine.

Admiring Freddie (brother of Noodle, we are informed!) perched atop the cartons of copies of Tarosophy, and surrounded by rare, secondhand and out-of-print books on comparative religion, mysticism, and the occult, this candid photograph seemed to perfectly complement the words of that most eloquent elucidator, the historian of art and the occult, Fred Gettings, in his The Secret Lore of the Cat (1989):

The cat thrives in the darkness for it is an occult creature, happier in the reflected light of the Moon than in the bright glare of the Sun’s rays … The ideal cat sits brooding over that deep well of hidden wisdom in every human soul.

Freddie certainly appears to be both thriving and happy … surely it’s not too much of a stretch to see some of that ideal cat in dear Freddie, and more than a little of that deep well of hidden wisdom in every human soul encapsulated within 120 copies of Tarosophy?!

Hooray for The Hermět!

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The second of an anticipated five volume series, Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work edges closer to completion. Dedicated readers and students of alchemy who pre-ordered the title – initially scheduled for publication during February 2012 – should by now have received their free Salamander and Sons ‘2012 YEAR OF THE SALAMANDER’ tote bag by way of apology for the unforeseen delay, and as a humble gesture of thanks for the continued and unwavering support.

Tote Bag - 2012 is the Year of the Salamander!

2012 is the Year of the Salamander!

Much like its predecessor, this second book of The Hermes Paradigm cycle is a slender and perhaps unassuming looking paperback of approximately 165 pages, overflowing with undiluted insights into the Western mysteries.

The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work consists of two parts and 14 chapters. Part One, ‘Thesis’, includes chapters on: Science; the Creation of Matter; the Nature of Matter; Spagyria; and Equipment. Part Two, ‘Praxis’, includes chapters on: Astrology and the Crude Matter; Separation and Putrefaction (the First Stage of the Work); Purification (the Second Stage of the Work); Cohobation (the Third Stage of the Work); Of Stones, Circulata and Entia (the Summit of the First Work); the Primum Ens Melissæ; and Rejuvenation. The text also includes a glossary, a bibliography and multiple appendices.

The three Principals from The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work

The three Principals from The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work

The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work is profusely illustrated, with illustrations and diagrams pertaining to: the spread of the Western mystery tradition, post 1200 AD; the manifestation of Fire; the evolution of the Elements; the three Principals; the hexagram and its Elements; the traditional symbols of the Principals; the alchemical Elements; the quaternary of the Elements; Elements composed of the Principals; a numeric consideration of the alchemical process; the pentagram; a novice’s glassware; Natural death in the Plant Kingdom; the Principals of a living system contained; Circulation in the Plant Work; Continuum of the Principals; and the Three become One.

The revised publication date for The Hermes Paradigm, Book Two: The First Work is late July / early August 2012.

While enduring the wait for Book Two, the wise reader is encouraged to study the contents of Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s somewhat recent ezine, The Hermět.

Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s ezine, The Hermět

Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s ezine, The Hermět

Dubbed an e’zine of Hermetism for the e’mortal, Issue No. 1, Southern Summer 2012 is an orientation issue featuring the following articles: A Definition of Hermetism; Spiritual Alchemy, a Rationale; Pearce the Black Monke upon the Elixir (being verse on the subject of the acetate path); plus a detailed exposition upon the issue’s cover artwork (Rubaphilos’ reproduction of the second plate from Rosarium Philosophorum, or The Rosary of the Philosophers). Rubaphilos’ editorial from the first issue of The Hermět is presented below:

It is my intention, primarily, to use this e‘zine to record ideas about Hermetism which are of interest to students of the Western alchemical tradition. From time to time I will not only publish my own ‘off the chuff’ rants on Hermetic subjects, as well as deliberately designed rants, but will also publish items from classic alchemical literature, excerpts from emails, IRC [internet relay chat] channel discussion logs, email forum posts, etc. that are of interest (and where circumstances allow). So the primary plan is to gather together information and ideas that are circulating online, specifically. I believe this is a good way to help people find resources that they may previously have been unaware of, and to expand their own awareness of just what is going on ‘underground’ (if you will). At the same time, to help give some idea of how to assess productive information from that which is really just plain garbage.

In numbering these publications I have opted for a less conventional approach. Instead of listing them by number and then grouping those numbers in to volumes (annual sets), I will keep things simple and just number them as consecutive ‘issues’. I have opted for wide margins on the left and right both because I think it looks better, and because it will allow me to add margin notes (my own comments) on occasion, especially when publishing classic texts. I have no intention of establishing a fixed minimum and/or maximum number of pages per edition, nor a regular publishing cycle. I will make each issue as long or as short as I like, and will publish at random. Some issues will cover a bunch of topics with a number of articles, some only one topic and one article. It is my desire to attempt to get at least three editions out per year, with the intention of more, as often as possible. But it all depends on available time and available information. I will on occasion provide a list of previously published copies of this e’zine for anyone collecting them, and will send copies via email to anyone who has missing editions from their collection. I also welcome inquiries via email if I have taken a while to get the next edition out, and you want to know when it will be available.

I also suggest, to anyone distributing copies of these e‘zines digitally or in hardcopy, to include this first issue with any others you pass on. This is because herein is the only place I will be explaining all the basic info’ about this e‘zine.

I will also accept requests for articles (that is, I will write on subjects by request), from readers. I will also, on occasion, accept articles submitted by readers, where they are sufficiently worthwhile, and as long as they fit the overall theme of the e‘zine.

The range of subjects to be discussed here are (in order of importance): lab alchemy, inner alchemy, Hermetic initiation, magic, qabala, info about various schools within the Hermetic tradition, initiatory teaching and learning techniques, past adepts (bios), classic Hermetic literature, Hermetic art, esoteric history, alchemical (and other esoteric) cryptography, astrology, divination, tarot, magic ritual, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, the Grail and Arthurian mysteries, modern Hermetic literature, esoteric therapeutics, esoteric psychology, chemistry / physics / botany and biology when related to alchemy. All of which shall be addressed specifically to the Western and Hermetic tradition. If you have an article to submit, please, no Eastern terminology (unless there is no Western equivalent), nor subject matter or articles about systems which are not Western and Hermetic. Articles must be serious and contain sound information, and include reference notes where possible.

Many of the ideas I will present in future issues can be found in their rudimentary form in my official published book material: beginning with The Hermes Paradigm series. These books contain information on all of the foundation principles discussed in the articles which I personally produce for this e‘zine, and I will reference them frequently. (Some of them before they are even released). Copies of those books can be obtained from http://www.salamanderandsons.com, and I will publish information as new editions in the series are released.

Lastly, it is relatively well known that I teach Hermetic alchemy within an organisation called The HEREDOM GROUP. On occasion I will make reference to that GROUP, since I often write with the intention of clarifying concepts that are part of the tuition and research within that GROUP, for its members and past members. Also some of the information that ends up in this publication will come directly out of that GROUP. So I welcome inquires via email if anything I mention on that subject is of interest to you.

Download Rubaphilos Salfluĕre’s ezine, The Hermět here.

By the Graciousness of the Veil

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Unknown to many students of the perennial philosophy is that Paul Hardacre is, in addition to his publishing endeavours with Salamander and Sons, an extensively published and anthologised poet. His first collection of poetry, The Year Nothing, was published by HeadworX in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2003. His second collection, Love in the place of rats, followed in 2007 via Melbourne-based publishers Transit Lounge. His most recent book, liber xix: differentia liber, was released in September 2011 by Puncher and Wattman of Sydney, Australia. Written over a period of 19 months between November 2004 and May 2006, poems from liber xix appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies during 2006, 2007 and 2008. Readers of the Alchemy Journal may recall that an article entitled ‘By the Graciousness of the Veil: Four Poems by Paul Hardacre’ appeared in Vol.8 No.3 (northern Winter 2007) of the Alchemy Journal, edited at the time by the erudite Duane Saari. In an effort to elaborate upon liber xix and its contents, this article [only marginally abridged] is reproduced below.

liber xix: differentia liber by Paul Hardacre

liber xix: differentia liber by Paul Hardacre

The purpose of the Green Language … is to disguise ideas … so that they will be evident only to those familiar with the tongue, yet offer a semblance of a meaning to those who cannot read the language.

So says the acclaimed author David Ovason in his radical 1997 interpretation of the prophecies of Michel de Nostredame, The Secrets of Nostradamus, with reference to the use of the avian tongue by the legendary French apothecary and mystic in his ‘obscure’ and ‘crabbed’ quatrains. However, the seer of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence was by no means alone in his employ of this brilliant technique (or collection of techniques) of linguistic obfuscation.

Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus)

Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus)

Since ancient times, diverse authors – including the Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar, with his Manteq at-Tair (The Conference of the Birds); François Rabelais (who originally published works under the anagrammatic pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier, for fear of being labeled a heretic) with the now universally acknowledged books of Renaissance romp and ribaldry of the two giants, Gargantua and Pantagruel; and the satirical fabulist Jonathan Swift, whose Gulliver voyaged to ‘Parts Unknown’ and the imaginal lands of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, and Grubbdubdrib – have toiled to veil the intentions, or the esoteric meaning, of their words from a general reader, in favour of a specialist or ‘initiated’ reader capable of decoding or unveiling the true meaning, embedded within the black and white fires of a given text.

François Rabelais (1483–1559)

François Rabelais (1483–1559)

Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift

The canonical and revered works of il Sommo Poeta, Dante Alighieri; Mozart and Schikaneder’s The Magic Flute; the masterpieces of the Florentine school by Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (also known as Sandro Botticelli); the argot (Art Gotique – not to be confused with Jason’s ship, the Argo, the oaken figurehead of which, carved from a tree of the sacred grove of Dodona, could speak the Language of the Birds) of that most enigmatic Adept of Hermetic Science, Fulcanelli; the timeless songs and sagas of peoples Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Welsh, German, Russian, and more; the countless alchemical and other occult texts, from the age of the red hermaphrodite onwards, the time of Thoth-Adam, and understood by personages including – but by no means limited to – Zosimus, Moses, Solomon, Anaximander, Tiresias, King Dag the Wise of Sweden, and Francis of Assisi … these are works of the wise, by initiates drunk on the divinity of words, the good red wine of Bacchus. God-intoxicated lovers of the Language of Angels, masters of the medu-netjer (‘divine language’), custodians of the closed language, troubadours of the hidden tongue, and guardians of the Gay Speech alike have preserved the truths of the philosophia perennis.

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri

In 1945 the English writer and thinker Aldous Huxley summarised the perennial philosophy, in the book of the same name, as:

… the metaphysic that recognises a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal.

Importantly, in the context of our subject, he continues:

Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.

As Huxley asserts, one need look no further than the great Holy Books, among them The Sepher Yetsirah, Genesis, and The Song of Songs which is Solomon’s, and other books of the Old and New Testaments – along with their contemporary cabalistic analyses by the likes of the French writer, painter and qabalist, Carlos Suarès and the Belgian-born alchemist Artofferus – to experience some of the most sublime celebrations of the language which, according to the Master Alchemist in Le Mystère des Cathedrales, “… teaches the mystery of things and unveils the most hidden truths.” Such texts are deserved treasures and wondrous symbols and, as Manfred Lurker, quoting Goethe, in 1987’s Wörterbuch der Symbolik, emphasises: “The symbol is at once concealment and revelation”; it is Ovason’s “double science, sacred and profane.” And so it is that we come to know, as Brian L. Lancaster states in The Essence of Kabbalah, that:

… the whole of life conforms to this pattern: we are confronted with a veil that paradoxically both conceals and reveals the true nature of reality. The mystic is the person who studies and practices in order to grasp that which lies beyond the veil.

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Similarly, poets and alchemists – along with those increasingly rare poet-alchemists – are, in the words of A.E. Waite, interpreters of “the unrealisable beauty of that which is behind the veil,” doing so “by the graciousness of the veil.” The poems of liber xix: differentia liber are the products of a heart which is ‘awake’; of a ‘supersensual researcher’ who has benefited from Ezekiel’s gift – Ezekiel having transmuted [a] “heart of stone” into a “heart of flesh”; this process being, according to Lancaster, arguably the most vital obstacle to be overcome “in order that the heart may achieve its proper spiritual function, that is, as an organ of prophecy.”

Like the mystic opening up “to an influx from a realm beyond the mundane level of the human mind,” the true Hermetic or Mercurial poet enters a ‘prophetic state’ of visualisation – enabled by the ‘wakeful’ heart – “through which the imagination connects our minds with the sphere of divine influence.” [The] poems [of liber xix] are testament to this state of being, and the power of the Green Language “to delude, elucidate and condense.”

Poems from liber xix are forthcoming in an as-yet-unnamed anthology of contemporary Australian poetry to be published by the University of Louisiana at Monroe in early 2012. Copies of liber xix are available from Iliaster.

Remarkable alchemical periodicals of the 20th century

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Six remarkable English language alchemical periodicals were published during the latter half of the 20th century, namely the Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins, Parachemy, the Australian Parachemica, The Hermetic Journal, Essentia, and The Stone. The serious student of alchemy is encouraged to obtain copies of these periodicals and to carefully study their contents.

The Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins were published during the period 1960 to 1972 by Frater Albertus Spagyricus’ Paracelsus Research Society (P.R.S.) of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bulletins were slender volumes, usually less than a dozen pages in length, and sparsely illustrated. But collected over a period of years the Bulletins amass to a sizeable tome more than 500 pages in length. Bound volumes of the Bulletins are extant in two versions: one covering the decade 1960 to 1969 (Nos. 1-41), the other the 13 years from 1960 to 1972 (Nos.1 -52). Each version appears bound in the distinctive dark blue imitation morocco fabrikoid with silver lettering, similar in appearance to many other P.R.S. publications. Our copy [below] came from the library of Artofferus, by way of the Australian doctor, scientist, antiquarian, and operative alchemist, Ross Mack.

Bound volume of the Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins 1960-1969, from the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Bound volume of the Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins 1960-1969, from the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Following the completion of the cycle of Alchemical Laboratory Bulletins, Frater Albertus and the P.R.S. set about publishing a “new and enlarged JOURNAL OF PARACHEMY” – specifically Parachemy: Journal of Hermetic Arts and Sciences, Astrology, Alchemy, Qabalah. Vol. 1, No. 1 appeared in northern Winter 1973, edited by Robert Bremer and with art work credited to Alice Whipple. Later issues of Parachemy were edited by Mary Joyce Adams. The final issue of Parachemy – Vol. 7, No. 4 – was published in northern Fall 1979. Parachemy includes contributions from Frater Albertus, Israel Regardie, Arthur Fehres (later Artofferus), Frater Achad, Dale Halverstadt, Carl W. Stahl, Dr. A.K. Bhattacharya, Alec Gathercole, and Hans Nintzel, among others. Amidst the manifold treasures of Parachemy, Frater Albertus’ interview of Fulcanelli’s sole pupil, Eugene Canseliet, in Vol. 4, No. 4 (northern Fall 1976) documents the meeting of two of the greatest alchemical minds of the 20th century. Copies of Parachemy are not easy to come by, although some continue to be available via Frater Albertus Legacy Publications, administered by Angela Walz, daughter of Frater Albertus and Soror Emmy. Rik Danenberg and Jeannie Radcliffe of Paracelsus College in Bendigo, Australia, have toiled to archive and index much of the contents of the seven volumes of Parachemy online; it is from this online archive that many have access to this increasingly rare alchemical periodical. Raise a goblet to Rik and Jeannie!

Issues of Parachemy, gifted to the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell by Robert Bartlett (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Issues of Parachemy, gifted to the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell by Robert Bartlett (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Issues of Parachemy, gifted to the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell by Robert Bartlett (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Issues of Parachemy, gifted to the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell by Robert Bartlett (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Overlapping the publication lifetime of Parachemy, the Australian quarterly Parachemica: Journal of Hermetic Arts and Sciences, Astrology, Alchemy, Qabalah emerged in southern Spring 1976, edited by D.E. (Don) Foster. From the Editorial of Vol. 1, No. 1:

The aims and objectives of this journal are principally directed towards students of the P.R.S. in Australia in an attempt to aid the student in integrating the triune concepts of Parachemy, Astrocyclic Pulsations (Astrology) and Qabalah within himself and in relation to the world in which he lives and works.

We shall try to include material which is of practical value in regard to the laboratory as well as material which is stimulating intellectually and spiritually.

Equal emphasis will be placed as far as possible on the practical laboratory work, on astrocyclic pulsations and on the QBL, because advancement to any degree in understanding of any one of these subjects depends on an equal advancement in the other two. Students, all being different, usually find an initial attraction to one of the three, sometimes to the detriment or imbalance of the other two. Thus a practical person may look for immediate results or proof of the Divine in the laboratory foremost. Another will find intellectual or philosophical illumination in the QBL, perhaps to the detriment of laboratory activity or the application of astrological cycles to their life. But all three are aspects of the One when understood, and should be applied concurrently.

Students are invited to contribute their ideas, illuminations and problems to the journal for the general benefit since this journal is intended as a vehicle for communication between the students. Active communication and cross-fertilisation of ideas will produce a richer product. None of us are authorities in these subjects.

We are all students and we are all ‘seeing through a glass darkly’ or groping in the mists which only rarely part for seconds at a time, showing us a small illumination. But, however small our illumination, or whether it be first or second-hand, it can always be profitably shared.

One danger experienced in regard to spiritual or occult teachings in general is that of wandering too far away from the original given teachings and becoming lost in the burgeoning mire and confusion of other interesting and apparently parallel teachings. The curriculum of the P.R.S. is complete and adequate within itself. Also, it is noted by some students that communication occurs on a level other than the conscious. This does not mean that these are ‘the only true teachings’ and that no other teachings should be read or studied in conjunction.

In fact, several other relevant and complementary books are and will be recommended. But these are limited in number. The living out of the teachings or putting them into practice is more recommended rather than too much reading about them.

If one is to use a ‘system’ and progress in understanding, one should stick with the system rather than jumping from system to system like the occult shopper.

The triune teachings of the P.R.S. is one system or way which has revealed itself as being rapidly illuminating for the devoted seeker of truth and understanding, as can be readily testified by many changed lives.

Parachemica was published until southern Winter 1980, when the final issue – Vol. 4, No. 4 – appeared. With written content by the likes of Arthur Fehres, Don and Lenni Foster, and Kevin Masman, copies of Parachemica – like those of its sister journal Parachemy – are rare. Again, it is largely due to the commendable online archiving efforts of Rik Danenberg and Jeannie Radcliffe that the student of alchemy has any access whatsoever to these important writings.

Edited by Adam McLean, The Hermetic Journal emerged in northern Autumn 1978 as a quarterly published by Megalithic Research Publications of Edinburgh. From the first typewritten issue of 1978 to the more polished productions of the 1990s, The Hermetic Journal consistently published high quality, often scholarly material from renowned authorities – Gareth Knight, Stephen Skinner, Ithell Colquhoun, Kenneth Rayner Johnson, R.A. Gilbert, Graham Knight, Hans Nintzel, Joseph Ritman, and Joscelyn Godwin are but a few of the contributors. As Adam McLean says in his first Editorial:

This Hermetic Journal has been established with the spiritual task of assisting in the rediscovery of the wisdom woven into Hermeticism and the particular spiritual discipline of Alchemy … Although this Journal will be focused on Alchemy it will seek to open bridges of understanding to the other facets of the Hermetic Arts, in particular, Magic, Kabbalism and Neo-Pagan ideas.

Vast quantities of Adam McLean’s own original writings are to be found among the more than 1,000 articles published in The Hermetic Journal. Although some back issues of The Hermetic Journal remain available in bound paperback editions (each bound volume covering one year, with the years 1989 to 1992 available), it is acknowledged that original copies of The Hermetic Journal – particularly from the late 1970s and into the mid-1980s – cross the hands of antiquarians and collectors only infrequently. As such, the student of alchemy should secure one of the scanned electronic versions of The Hermetic Journal in its entirety, directly available from Adam McLean.

The Hermetic Journal

The Hermetic Journal, Number 1

By 1980, both P.R.S. sister publications – Parachemy and Parachemica – has ceased publication: Parachemy in northern Fall 1979 and Parachemica in southern Winter 1980. In their place, Essentia: Journal of evolutionary thought in action, which first appeared in northern Spring 1980. A quarterly publication of Paracelsus College (formerly the P.R.S., still of Salt Lake City), Essentia was brought forth by an initial publishing team consisting of Editor-in-Chief Mary Adams, Contributing Editors Kathryn Anderson, Dale Halverstadt and Frater Albertus, and Art Consultant Richard T. (Rick) Grimes. Over time the publishing team frequently changed: Frater Albertus occupied the role of Editor-in-Chief and, later, the role of Associate Editor and, finally, Editor; for some time Kathryn Andersen took on the Managing Editor role, solo; Art Kunkin was the Editor from Volume 2, northern Summer 1981 until Volume 2, northern Winter 1981; and Rick Grimes was joined by fellow Art Consultant Gertrud Schein, and Artist Leandro Della Piana. Worth noting is that, from Volume 3, northern Spring 1982 onwards until the demise of the journal with Volume 5, northern Winter 1983 / Spring 1984, the credited publishing team shrank to Editor – Frater Albertus, Office – Olive van der Meulen, and Business Manager – Viola Engel. For the final three issues of Essentia just Frater Albertus and Olive van der Meulen are listed in the publishing credits. Throughout the four years of its publication Essentia conducted an assuredly vital current of evolutionary thoughts in action penned by Frater Albertus and an array of international contributors including Dr. Werner Nawrocki (Germany), Gregory Sneddon (Australia), Isaac Beck (Belgium), Peter van Wunnick (Australia), Clive Riach (New Zealand), Ludwig Wriesing (Austria), Manuel Algora Corbi (Spain), Joseph Lisiewski (U.S.A.), Lawrence Principe (U.S.A.), Professor Manfred Junius (Switzerland / Australia), Israel Regardie (U.S.A.), Dale Halverstadt (U.S.A.), and Robert Bartlett (U.S.A.). Like Parachemy, copies of Essentia – including some complete sets – are still available from Frater Albertus Legacy Publications.

The alpha and omega of Essentia, from the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

The alpha and omega of Essentia, from the collection of Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

As the subtitle implies, The Stone: The Journal of the Philosophers of Nature was the newsletter (or journal) for members and associates of the Philosophers of Nature (or PoN), the American offshoot of the late Jean Dubuis’ Les Philosophes des la Nature (or LPN). From the website of Triad Publishing:

The Philosophers of Nature was founded in 1987, as an educational and research organisation. Its primary activities included the distribution of course materials developed by Mr. Jean Dubuis, and educational workshops and seminars on the topics of Alchemy, Qabala and Western Esoteric Studies. The board of directors voted to close the organisation as of 31-Dec-1999, after transferring rights to all properties to Sue and Russ House [Triad Publishing].

The Stone ran for a total of 35 issues – Issue 1 was published in northern Fall 1990, with the final issue published in November / December 1999. Ken Miller edited the first 16 issues. From Issue 17 onwards, Russ House acted in that capacity alongside Editor-in-Chief Rick Grimes. Collectively, the writings of Jean Dubuis, Anthony M. House, Greg Boag (later Rubaphilos Salfluĕre), Bill van Doren, Paul Baines, Robert Bartlett, Kevin Townley, Mark Stavish, Henry Hintz, Sue House, Adam McLean, Joseph Caezza, Tim Scott, Wade Coleman, John Eberly, Arthur Fehres, John H. Reid III (JHR3), Beat Krummenacher, Curt Kobylarz-Schmidt, Rawn Clark, Kathleen Ahearn, Telémaco Pissaro (later Rubellus Petrinus), Paul Bartscher, Micah Nilsson, Ray Cullen, Steve Kalec, and Anthony Follari presented in The Stone represent centuries of alchemical labour and qabalistic experience. Highly recommended, a scanned electronic version of the 35 issues of The Stone is available from Triad Publishing of Winfield, Illinois.

The Stone

Volume 1 of The Stone: The Journal of the Philosophers of Nature

In future posts we will, at our leisure, present choice excerpts from these six remarkable English language alchemical periodicals.

Steve Kalec’s Slovenian wine stone

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After some years of communication via the internet, it was our good fortune to be in a position to invite Steve Kalec to present at the Fourth International Alchemy Conference in Long Beach, 16-18 September 2011. His presentation, entitled Initiatic Potentials of Alchemical Operative Work – a certain highlight of the gathering’s ‘traditional track’ – is described as follows:

This presentation provides examples that will express the mastering of the alchemical art as being an initiatic path opening the elusive portals of realisation into the higher understanding of the alchemical process. Once realised, the initiate will see it everywhere around him as his world is transformed. In the operative laboratory work, the vigilant alchemist knows that at all times he is in his crucibles, boiling flasks and retorts as he realises the spiritual and corporeal physical forces converging through sympathetic resonance helping and exalting each other. A most wonderful magistery on the volatilisation of the fixed Tartarus salts will be expounded on with pictures depicting the steps of an accomplished work. Van Helmont’s hidden circulation and secret digestion will be discussed revealing nature’s Arcanum in the conversion of the common into the more noble, rendering the spagyric into the alchemical and glorified elixir.

For those in the unenviable position of having been unable to attend Steve’s presentation, note that it remains possible to purchase a DVD of his presentation.

Robert Bartlett and Steve Kalec at the Fourth International Alchemy Conference in Long Beach, 16-18 September 2011 (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

Robert Bartlett and Steve Kalec at the Fourth International Alchemy Conference in Long Beach, 16-18 September 2011 (photograph copyright © Salamander and Sons)

During the course of the weekend, Steve mentioned that he was planning to travel to ‘the old country’ – Slovenia – in October 2011, and while there to try to source some wine stone (Tartarus Crudus or crude tartar). We remarked that the sourcing of wine stone had been discussed among participants of an alchemy seminar we attended in Nanango, Australia, almost one year prior – most in attendance reported difficulties in obtaining this salt crust, despite having approached vineyards and wineries in Australia, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A., and Spain. I neglected to mention that Steve has long moderated the Alchemystica Yahoo discussion group. His mid-October post read:

Greetings Alchemystica, My vacation in the old vine hills of Slovenia was truly enchanting. Being here I had the opportunity to go off on a hunt for some wine stones. I truly had a great time. I met a lot of people still working the wines the old ways with oak barrels, but it is getting rarer even in these parts in a Slovenian wine hills area.

The old vine hills of Slovenia (photographs copyright © Steve Kalec)

The old vine hills of Slovenia (photographs copyright © Steve Kalec)

My brother in law is a master wine maker and even he is slowly shifting over to stainless steel containers. They are easier to clean, maintain and handle. Oak barrels need to be very meticulously kept clean and free of our very mysterious slow fire process of alchemy called putrefaction. Barrels ruin easily due to bacteria and moisture. As you can see in this picture [below], the stainless steel containers are claiming their space. Still there are many who still use the oak barrels. The good people here collected for me five kilos in all.

I also found a lot of old cut vines stacked up as fire wood. I took the opportunity to incinerate and calcine a good amount of it and sent the ashes home via mail for further leaching work to get at the salts. While I was at this, I also used the fire to calcine two kilos of the wine salts since I was outside up on the hills in the open fresh October air. As we can see [below], lots of ashes were produced. I pretended and felt a little as the ancient alchemists did working with their makeshift athanors. It was great fun and joy. Even my walks through such meditation paths up to the wine cellars were enchanting being in the thick of nature. I was thinking how great it would be to organise a trip to here as a working get together as a group on some alchemical work such as the Tartarus Magistery some time in the future. It would make a great vacation.

All best wishes to all, Steve Kalec.

Stainless steel containers are gradually replacing oak barrels, even in the old vine hills of Slovenia (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Stainless steel containers are gradually replacing oak barrels, even in the old vine hills of Slovenia (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Some Slovenian wine makers continue to use oak barrels (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Some Slovenian wine makers continue to use oak barrels (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Slovenian wine stone (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Slovenian wine stone (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Calcining old cut grape vine (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Calcining old cut grape vine (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Calcining old cut grape vine – ashes (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Calcining old cut grape vine – ashes (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Not all roads lead to wine stone … but this one does (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Not all roads lead to wine stone … but this one does (photograph copyright © Steve Kalec)

Steve’s post made for compelling reading for many in the Alchemystica discussion group. A handful of people expressed interest in the prospect of an alchemical get together revolving around the Tartarus Magistery, and there is of course a chance that something along these lines may eventuate. Steve knew of our interest in the Magistery, and generously offered to send a box of Tartarus Crudus to us here in Chiang Mai. The box – weighing in at 1.9 kg and labeled ‘Tartar Salt’ – arrived one month to the day from our initial dialogue. More posts to follow as we navigate this Magistery.

Steve Kalec’s Slovenian wine stone … far from home in Chiang Mai, Thailand (photographs copyright © Salamander and Sons):