Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 1

What is Transmutation?

by Paracelsus
February 24, 2024 17 minutes  • 3614 words
Table of contents

If we write of the Transmutation of all Naturall things, it is fit, and necessary that in the first place wee shew what Transmutation is. Secondly, what bee the degrees to it. Thirdly, by what Medium’s, and how it is done.

Transmutation is, when a thing loseth its form, and is so altered, that it is altogether unlike to its former substance, and form, but assumes ano[Pg 62]ther form, another essence, another colour, another vertue, another nature, or property, as if a Metall bee made glasse, or stone: if a stone bee made a coale: if wood be made a coal: clay be made a stone, or a brick: a skin bee made glew: cloth bee made paper, and many such like things. All these are Transmutations of Naturall things.

There are seven principal degrees of transmutation.

  1. Calcination
  2. Sublimation
  3. Solution
  4. Putrefaction
  5. Distillation
  6. Coagulation
  7. Tincture

If any one will climbe that Ladder, he shall come into a most wonderfull place, that hee shall see, and have experience of many secrets in the Transmutation of Naturall things.

What Calcination is, and its kinds are. The first degree therefore is Calcination, under which also are comprehended Reverberation, and Cementation. For betwixt these there is but little difference as for matter of Calcination: Wherefore it is here the chiefest degree. For by Reverberation, and Cementation, many corporeall things are calcined, and brought into Ashes, and especially Metalls. Now what is calcined is not any further reverberated, or cemented.

By Calcination therefore all Metalls, Mineralls, Stones, Glasse, &c. and all corporeall things are[Pg 63] made a Coal, and Ashes, and this is done by a naked strong Fire with blowing, by which all tenacious, soft, and fat earth is hardened into a stone, Also all stones are brought into a Calx, as wee see in a Potters furnace of lime, and brickes.

What Sublimation is, and its kinds?

Sublimation is the second degree, and one of the most principall for the Transmutation of many Naturall things: under which is contained Exaltation, Elevation, and Fixation; and it is not much unlike Distillation. For as in Distillation the water ascends from all flegmatick, and watery things, and is separated from its body; so in Sublimation, that which is spirituall is raised from what is corporeall, and is subtilized, volatile from fixed, and that in dry things, as are all Mineralls, and the pure is separated from the impure.

Besides Sublimation, many good vertues, and wonderfull things are found out in Mineralls, and many things are made fixed, and become constant, so as to abide in the Fire, and that in this manner.

Let that which is sublimed be ground, and mixed with its feces, and bee againe sublimed as before, which must bee done so long, till it will no longer sublime, but all will remaine together in the bottom, and bee fixed.

The fixation of Mineralls into a stone. So there will bee afterward a stone, and oyle when and as oft as thou pleasest, viz. if thou puttest it into a cold place, or in the aire in a Glass. For there it will presently bee dissolved into an Oyle. And if thou puttest it againe into the fire, it will againe bee coagulated into a Stone of wonderfull, and great vertue. Keep this as a great secret, and mystery of Nature, neither[Pg 64] discover it to Sophisters. Moreover, as in Sublimation many Corrosive things are made sweet in the conjunction of two matters, so on the contrary, many sweet things are made Corrosive: many sweet things are made sowre, harsh, or bitter; and on the contrary, many bitter things as sweet as Sugar.

Rules concerning Salt Armoniack.

Here also wee must take notice, that every Metal which is brought into Sublimation by Salt Armoniack, may afterward in the cold, or in the aire bee brought into an oyle, and againe bee coagulated into a stone in the Fire, which indeed is one of the chiefest, and greatest Transmutations in all naturall things, viz. to transmute Metall into a Stone.

What Solution is, and its kinds. The third degree is Solution, under which are to bee understood Dissolution, and Resolution, and this degree doth most commonly follow Sublimation, and Distillation, viz. that the matter be resolved which remaines in the bottome.

Now Solution is twofold: the one of Cold, the other of Heat; the one without Fire, the other in Fire.

A cold dissolution dissolves all Salts, all Corrosive things, & all calcined things. Whatsoever is of a Salt, and Corrosive quality, is by it dissolved into Oyle, Liquor, or Water. And this is in a moist, cold cellar, or else in the Aire on a marble, or in a glasse. For whatsoever is dissolved in the cold, contains an Airy spirit of Salt, which oftentimes it gets, and assumes in Sublimation, or Distillation. And whatsoever is dissolved in the cold, or in the Aire, may again by the heat of the Fire bee coagulated into powder, or a stone.

What things a hot Solution dissolves.

But a hot Solution dissolves all fat, and sulphureous things. And whatsoever the heat of the Fire dissolves, the same doth coldnesse congeal into a Masse.

A double Solution viz. of Heat and Cold. And whatsoever heat coagulates, is again dissolved by cold, or in the Aire. Here also we must know that whatsoever Aire, or the Cellar doth resolve, is of a very great drynesse, and hath a secret corrosive Fire hid in it: so whatsoever is dissolved in Fire, or in the heat thereof, hath a sweetish frigidity out of the Fire. Thus, and no otherwise is Solution to be understood.

Putrefaction what it is, and its kind. Putrefaction is the fourth degree, under which is comprehended Digestion, and Circulation.

Now then Putrefaction is one of the principall degrees, which indeed might deservedly have been the first of all, but that it would be against the true order, and mystery, which is here hid, and known to few: For those degrees must, as hath been already said, so follow one the other, as links in a chain, or steps in a ladder.

The aforesaid order of Degrees is to be observed in making tinctures. For if one of the linkes should bee taken away, the chain is discontinued, and broken, and the prisoners would bee at liberty, and runne away. So in a ladder, if one step bee taken away in the middle, and bee put in the upper, or lower part, the ladder would be broken, and many would fall down headlong by it with the hazard of their bodies, and lives.

So you must understand the matter here, that those degrees follow one the other in a just order, or else the whole work of our mystery would be mar’d, and our labour, and pains would bee in vain, and fruitlesse.

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The force of putrefaction. Now putrefaction is of such efficacy, that it abolisheth the old Nature, and brings in a new one. All living things are killed in it, all dead things putrefied in it, and all dead things recover life in it.

Putrefaction takes from all Corrosive spirits, the sharpnesse of the Salt, and makes them mild, and sweet, changeth the colours, and separates the pure from the impure, it places the pure above, and the impure beneath.

What Distillation is, and its kinds are. Distillation is the first degree to the Transmutation of all naturall things. Under it are understood Ascension, Lavation, and Fixation.

By Distillation all Waters, Liquors, and Oyles are subtilized out of all fat things. Oyle is extracted, out of all Liquors, Water, and out of all Flegmaticke things Water, and Oyle are separated.

Cohobation. Besides there are many things in Distillation fixed by Cohobation, Fixation by Destillation.and especially if the things to bee fixed containe in them Water, as Vitriall doth, which if it bee fixed is called Colcothar.

Allum, if it bee fixed with its proper Water, is called the Sugar of Allum, which also is resolved into a Liquor, which Liquor if it bee putrefied a moneth, produceth a Water of the sweetnesse of Sugar, which is of great vertue, and an excellent secret in Physicke, to extinguish any Metalline heate in Man, as wee have wrote more at large in our Booke of Metalline Diseases.

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And as you have heard of Vitriall, and Allum, so also Salt nitre, and other Watery Mineralls may bee fixed by Cohobation.

What Cohobation is. Now Cohobation is, that the dead head be oftentimes imbibed with its own water, and that again bee drawn off by Distillation.

The force of Distillation in things to be Transmuted. Moreover, in Distillation many bitter, harsh, and sharp things become as sweet as Honey, Sugar, or Manna; and on the contrary, many sweet things, as Sugar, Honey, or Manna, may bee made as harsh as Oyle of Vitriall, or Vineger, or as bitter as Gall, or Gentian, as Eager, as a Corrosive.

Many Excrementitious things lose their great stink in Distillation, which indeed goeth forth in the water.

Many Aromaticall things lose their good savour.

And as Sublimation alters things in their Quality, and Nature, so also doth Distillation.

What Coagulation is, and its kinds. Coagulation is the sixt degree: Now there is a twofold Coagulation, the one by Cold, the other by Heat, i.e. one of the Aire, the other of the Fire: and each of these again is twofold, so that there are foure sorts of Coagulations, two of Cold, and two of Fire.

The Coagulations of Fire are fixed, the other of Cold are not.

The one is done only by common Aire, or without Fire. The other by the superiour Firmament of Winter starres, all which coagulate Waters into snow, and ice.

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But the Coagulation of Fire, which alone is here to bee taken notice of, is made by an Artificiall, and Graduall Fire of the Alchymists, and it is fixed, and permanent. For whatsoever such a Fire doth coagulate, the same abides so.

The other Coagulation is done by the Ætnean, and Minerall Fire in Mountains, which indeed the Archeius of the Earth governs, and graduates not unlike to the Alchymists, and whatsoever is coagulated by such a Fire, is also fixed, and constant; as you see in Mineralls, and Metalls, which indeed at the beginning are a mucilaginous matter, and are coagulated into Metalls, Stones, Flints, Salts, and other bodies, by the Ætnean fire in Mountaines, through the Archeius of Earth, and operator of Nature.

What things cannot be Coagulated. Also wee must know that Fire can coagulate no water, or moisture, but only the Liquors and Juices of all Naturall things.

Besides also there can no flegm bee coagulated, unlesse in the beginning it was a corporeall matter, into which by the industry of a skilfull Alchymist it may return.

So also any mucilaginous, matter, or spermaticke slimynesse may by the heat of Fire be coagulated into a body and corporeall matter, but never bee resolved into water again.

And as you have heard of Coagulation, so also know concerning Solution, viz. that no corporeall matter can bee dissolved into Water, unlesse at the beginning it was water: and so it is in all Mineralls.

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What Tincture is, and its kinds. Tincture is the seventh, and last degree, which concludes the whole worke of our mystery for Transmutation, making all imperfect things perfect, and transmuting them into a most excellent essence, and into a most perfect soundnesse, and alters them into another colour.

Tincture therefore is a most excellent matter, wherewith all Minerall, and Humane bodies are tinged, and are changed into a better, and more noble essence, and into the highest perfection, and purity.

For Tincture colours all things according to its own nature, and colour.

All things that are to be tinged must be fluid. Now there are many Tinctures, and not only for Metalline, but Humane bodies, because every thing which penetrates another matter, or tingeth it with another colour, or essence, so that it bee no more like the former, may bee called a Tincture.

Wherefore there are many, and various sorts of Tinctures, viz. of Metalls, Mineralls, Mens bodies, Waters, Liquors, Oyls, Salts, all fat things, and indeed of all things which may bee brought to flux, out of the Fire, or in the Fire.

For if a Tincture must tinge, it is necessary that the body, or matter which is to bee tinged, bee opened, and continue in flux, and unless this should bee so, the Tincture could not operate. But it would bee, as if any one should cast saffron, or any colour upon coagulated Water, or Ice: for so it would not so suddenly tinge the Ice with its colour, as if it were cast into other water. And although it should tinge, yet it would at the same time resolve the Ice into[Pg 70] Water. Wherefore those Metalls that wee would tinge, must first bee melted in the Fire, and bee freed from Coagulation.

And here wee must know, that by how much the stronger fire is requisite for their melting, so much the sooner the Tincture runs through them, as Leaven penetrates, and infects the whole masse with sowreness; and by how much better the masse is covered, and kept warm, so much the better is it fermented, and makes the better bread: for ferment is the Tincture of Dowe, and Bread.

Feces are of a more fixt nature then their Flegme. Wee must also note, that all feces are of a more fixed substance then the liquor of it is, also of a sharper, and more penetrating nature: as you see in the spirit of Wine which is made of the feces of Wine, and of Aqua vitæ, which is distilled out of the grounds of Beer, and burns like spirit of Wine, and is inflamed as Sulphur.

The preparation, and Nature of distilled Vineger. Also if of the feces of Vineger another Vineger bee distilled, as commonly spirit of Wine is distilled, there will bee thereby made a Vineger of so fiery, and sharp a nature, that it consumes all Metalls, Stones, and other things, as Aqua fortis.

How the Tinctures of Metalls must be made. Moreover, it is necessary, that Tinctures be of a fixt, fluxil, and incombustible nature, so that if a little of a plate of any Metall red hot bee cast into them, they will presently flow like wax, without any manner of fume at all, and they penetrate the Metalls, as oyle doth paper, or water a sponge, and tinge all Metalls into white, and red, that is, into Silver or Gold.

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Now these are the Tinctures of Metalls, which it is necessary must bee turned into an Alcool, by the first degree of Calcination, then by the second degree of Sublimation, must get an easy, and light flux. And lastly, by the degree of Putrefaction, and Distillation are made a fixt, and incombustible Tincture, and of an unchangeable colour.

The Tinctures of Men. Now the Tinctures of Mens bodies are, that they bee tinged into the highest perfection of health, and all Diseases bee expelled from them, that their lost strength, and colour bee restored, and renewed, and they are these, viz. Gold, Pearles, Antimony, Sulphur, Vitriall, and such like, whose preparation wee have diversly taught in other books; wherefore it doth not seem to us necessary here to repeat them.

Of Dying and Painting. Wee shall write no more of Tinctures, seeing every extracted colour may bee called a Tincture, which doth indeed tinge things with a permanent colour, which doe not go into the Fire, or preserve colours fixed in the Fire.

All these are in the hand, and power of the Dyer, and Painter, who prepares them according to his pleasure.

How many degrees of the Alchymists fire there be. It is very necessary in this book to know the degrees of Fire, which many wayes may bee graduated, and intended, and every degree hath a peculiar operation, and one produceth the same effect, as another, as every expert Alchymist, by the daily experience, and exercise of the Art knows.

For one is as living, and flaming Fire, which reverberates, and Calcines all bodies: Another is the Fire[Pg 72] of a Candle, or Lamp, which fixeth all volatile bodies: Another is a Fire of coals, which cements, colours, and purgeth Metalls from their dross, exalts Gold and Silver to a higher purity, whitens Copper, and in brief renews all Metalls.

Another Fire is of an Iron plate made red hot, in which the Tinctures of Metalls are proved, which also is profitable for other things.

The Filings of Iron heat after one fashion, Sand after another, Ashes after another, a Balneum Mariæ after another, in which manifold Distillations, Sublimations, and Coagulations are done.

Balneum roris after another, in which there are made many Solutions of corporeall things.

Horse-dung after another, in which the chiefest putrefactions, and digestions are made.

The Celestiall fire. And after another fashion works the invisible Fire, by which wee understand the rayes of the Sun, and that which is manifested by a glasse, or Crystall, and shews its operations and effects, of which Fire the Ancients wrote nothing at all; and by this fire the three Principles of every corporeall thing may bee separated.

This Fire is of such wonderfull force, that by it Metalls may bee melted, and all fat, and fluxible things, may upon the table without any Fire bee together with all combustible things, reduced into coales, and ashes.

Therefore after I have proposed, and opened to you the degrees of the Art of Alchymie, and the degrees of the Alchymists Fire: I will yet further shew, and declare to you in generall, various Transmutations of naturall things: of Metalls first,[Pg 73] secondly of Stones, and thirdly of divers things in generall. The transmutation of Metalls therefore is a great secret in Nature, and it can hardly bee done by reason of many impediments, and repugnancies. Yet it is not against Nature, nor Gods ordination, as many falsly affirm.

The Transmutation of Metalls into Silver and Gold. But that the five lesser, and impurer Metalls, viz. ♀ ♃ ♄ ♂ and ☿ may be transmuted into the greater, purest, and most perfect Metalls, viz. into ☉ and ☽, it cannot be done without the Tincture, or Philosophers stone.

Now seeing we have before sufficiently opened the secrets of Tinctures in the seven degrees, and described them there, it is not necessary that wee spend any further labour in this, but rather bee satisfied with those things, which we have wrote in other books concerning the Transmutations of Metalls.

The Transmutation of Iron into Copper. Now there are other Transmutations of imperfect, and impure Metals, as the transmutation of ♂ into ♀, which may bee done divers wayes.

If plates of Iron bee boiled in water of Vitriall, or bee cemented with calcined Vitriall, or being red hot be quenched in oyl of Vitriall.

These three ways Iron may be transmuted into very good, and ponderous Copper, which indeed flows well, and hath its weight as well as any naturall Copper.

The Transmutation of Iron into Lead. Plates of Iron may bee as it were reduced, and transmuted into Lead, so that it bee as soft as naturall Lead, but doth not flow so easily: and the processe is this:

Take Filings of ♂, and so much of the powder of Borax, mingle them well together, put them in a[Pg 74] crucible, and into a wind furnace, let there bee made a strong Fire, but so that the ♂ doe not flow, but stand as it were in a Cement for a whole houre, then encrease the Fire, that it may bee red hot, and flow: then let the crucible cool of it selfe, and thou shalt find the regulus of Lead in the bottome of the crucible, soft, and malleable, as naturall Lead can be.

The Transmutation of Copper into Lead. But to transmute ♀ into ♄ the processe is this:

First of all bring Copper with ☿ sublimate, and fixt Arsenick to bee white, yea as white as ☽, then beat it small. Take this, and the powder of Borax, of each a like quantity, and first cement it, then let it bee melted into a regulus, and thou hast a true regulus of Lead.

The Transmutation of Lead into Copper. Now on the contrary, it is easy to transmute Lead into Copper, neither doth it require much pains, and it is done thus:

Take plates of Lead, strow them over with calcined Vitriall, or Crocus of Venus, cement them, and then melt them, and thou shalt see naturall Lead, transmuted into good, ponderous, and malleable Copper.

A Metalline mixture like Gold. Now if this Copper, or any other Copper be beaten into plates, and strowed over with Tutia, or Capri Celaminaris, and be cemented, and lastly melted, it will bee transmuted into an excellent reddish Electrum like to Gold.

To make English Tin out of Lead. If thou wilt turne ♄ into ♃ make plates of ♄, strow them with Salt Armoniack, cement, and melt them, as abovesaid, so will all the blacknesse, and darknesse bee taken away from the Lead, and it will be in whitenesse like fair English Tin.

Now as you have in briefe heard of some Mutations of Metalls, so also know, that there are Transmutations of Gemmes, which indeed are various, and in no wise like.

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