Department of History
University of California, Irvine
 Instructor:    Dr. Barbara J. Becker


Week 3.  Generation

Ortus medicinae, Id est, initia physicae inavidita (1648)
by Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579-1644)
trans. (1662) John Chandler (b. 1624)

Oriatricke, or Physick Refined, the common Errors therein Refuted...

CHAP. VIII. The Elements.

...I deny that God created four Elements....  For our handicraft operation [experiment or demonstration], hath made manifest to me, that every body (to wit, the Rockie Stone, the small Stone, the Gemme or precious Stone, the Flint, the Sand, the Fire-stone, the white Clay, the Earth, cocted or boyled Stones, Glasse, Lime, Sulphur or Brimstone, &c.) is changed into an actual Salt, equal in weight to its own body, from whence it was made:  and that, that Salt being sometimes forced to a mixture with the Circulate Salt of Paracelsus, altogether looseth its fixedness, and at length may be changed into a Liquor, which also at length passeth into an un-savory water:  and that, that water is of equall weight with its Salt, from whence it sprang.  But the Plant, fleshes, bones, Fishes, and every such like, I have known how to reduce into its meer three things; whence afterwards, I have made an un-savory water.  But that a Metall, by reason of the undissolvable co-mixture of its own seed, and the Sand (quellem) are most hardly reduced into Salt.  I have learned therefore by the fire, that God before there was a day, created the Water and Air, and of the Water an Elementary Earth, which is the Sand, Quellem.  Because it was the Future Basis, or foundation of Creatures, for man their Standard-defender:  and therefore, in the very beginning it ought to be created, although in its own nature, it was not truly primo-genial, or first-born.  Wherefore I finde two onely primitive Elements, although there is mention made of neither, in the holy Scriptures, because they are comprehended under the Title of Heaven.  But with the two, he also created the Earth....

Indeed the Water putrifying by continuance, in the Earth, doth obtain a locall, or implanted Seed.  And therefore it passeth either into the Liquor (Leffas) for every Plant, or the Mineral juyce (Bur) according to the particular kindes, chosen by the direction of the Seedes.  Which Seedes, are replenished by the Ferment of the Earth, at first, empty and void, and then straightway, by the blessing of the Spirit boren upon the Waters.  But my experience of the fire, hath taught me, to wit, that the three first things, the Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury of the Water, do alwayes remain undivided, whether in the mean time, the water be lifted up in manner of a Vapour, in the form of a Cloud, or be made thin like unto invisible things, or at length also it doth flote in its ancient shape of water.  For, that Paracelsus would have the water, by evaporating, to be wholly brought to nothing; let that be his own Idiotisme or property of speech, at leastwise not to be winked at by the ingenious Distiller.  Truly I have certainly found, that the water being lifted up into the Atomes or Moats of Clouds, yet doth they remain the same, in number and water, in kinde, which the Atomes of the Mercury of the water, do shew to us in the likeness of a Cloud.  But there is never made in the water a seperation of the three former things, and much less any essentiall transmutation or changing.  For truly there is a simple turning outward of the inward parts by the fire, the which again return inward, as oft as the Vapour is co-thickned into drops.  But the cause why I may think the Earth not to be reckoned among the primary Elements, although it was also created in the beginning, is, because it may at length be turned into water by the depriving of its essence.  And therefore I believe the water to be the first and most simple body, seeing that never returns into Earth, but by the vertue of the Seeds, and so the water takes the turns of a composed body, before the Earth or Sand Quellem, be made.  Which thing, I shall hereafter more largely demonstrate.

CHAP. XII. The Essay of a Meteor.

...[T]he ignorant ... will urge:  If the water be not pressed together, nor its parts go to ruine, and Gold be of water alone, whence therefore have Gold or Lead their weight?  For truly, water hath not pores, bigger by ten fold than the whole water....  I will shew from the premises, that the seed of Gold hath a power of transchanging the water into [this something] which is far different from water.  Wherefore it is agreeable to nature and reason, that in transmutation, the water doth sustain as much pressing together, going to ruine, and aduniting, as great Stones or Mettalls do overpoyse the water in weight, and as much as the necessity of the seed doth require:  Because that, of nothing, nothing is made.  Therefore weight is made of another body weighing even so much; in which there is made a transmutation as of the matter, so also of the whole essence.  Therefore the water, while it undergoes the lawes of the seed, it is also bound to the precepts of the dimensions of its own weight, co-thickning, and going to ruine.  For if the water of its own accord flies up, out-flees the sight, in the shew of a vapour a hundred fold lighter than it self, and yet remains water; why shall not the water, while it is made, [this something] neither is any longer formally water, also receive thicknesses greater than it is wont, by ten fold?  for indeed on both sides, the matter doth follow the properties of the seedes.  Therefore the liberty of nature is perpetuall, of its own accord, to cause, and to suffer the pressings together of a watery body, and will not undergoe those by any guidance of an Artificer; yea Mountains are sooner overturned by Gun-powder.  Therefore there shall be sixteen parts of water pressed together into the room of one part, where Gold is framed of water.

Wherefore, so far is it, that the piercing of dimensions becomes impossible, seeing that nothing is more natural or home-bred to nature, than to co-thicken the body of the water, but indeed, although there may something appear in the water like to the three first things, yet also there is no hope that they should be rent asunder from each other, because in the every way simplicity of the water, an adequate or suitable Sulphur is after a certain sort hidden, which cannot be seperated from the other two, but they all do accompany together.  Those are not the three true Principles, which are abstracted or seperated onely by the Imagination.  The water therefore, since it doth on every side vary off-Springs according to the diversity of their seedes; thus so many kindes of Earths, Mineralls, Salts, Liquors, Stones, Plants, living Creatures, and Meteors, do rise up in their particular kindes, from the blast or inspiration of the seeds.  For the water putrifies by continuance, in the Earth, is made the juyce of the Earth, Gums, Oyl, Rosin, Wood, Berries, &c. and that which of late, was nothing but water materially, now burns, and sends forth a fume or smoak.

Not indeed, that that fume is air, but is either a vapour, or a drie exhalation, and a new fruit of the water, not yet appointed to be wholly turned by its seed.  It is proved.  For the Body of the air cannot make a shadow in the air; but whatsoever doth exhale out of alive Coal, doth make a shadow in the Sun.  For since the air hath a limited consistence and thickness, and that agreeable to its own simpleness:  it followes, that whatsoever is thicker than the air, that is not air.  Moreover, that which is being made thin by the heat of the fire, doth now exhale, is as yet thicker than the air; and so for that cause, makes a shadow; surely that shall become far more thick in the cold, and shall be made visible in Clouds...

For when any thing doth exhale, whether it be in the shew of water, or Oil, or smoak, or mists, or of an exhalation, although indeed it brings not away with it, the seedes of the Concrete or composed Body, at leastwise, it carries the Ferments upward, which that they may be fully abolished from thence, and that the remaining matter may return into water, it behooves, that they may be first lifted up into a subtile or fine Gas [a word coined by van Helmont based on the Greek word chaos, a name for the formlessness which preceded the ordering of the universe; to alchemists it represented the first principle in the kitchin [kitchen; simple or common place for cooking] of the most cold air, and that they passe over into another higher Region, and do assume a condition in the shape of the least motes or Atomes.  And that the Ferments do there die, as well through the cold of the place, as the fineness of the Atomes, as it were by choaking and extinguishing.  For cold is therefore a principle not indeed of life, but of extinguishment....

The Air therefore is the place, where, all things being brought thither, are consumed, and do return into their former Element of water.  For in the Earth and water, although Bodies sprung up from seedes, do by little and little putrifie, and depart into a juyce; yet they are not so nearly reduced into the off-spring of simple water, as neither into a Gas.  For Bodies that are enfeebled or consumed, do straight-way in the Earth, draw another putrifaction through continuance, a ferment, and Seed:  Whence they flee to second Marriages, and are again anew increased into succeeding fruits.  But the fire, the death of all things, doth want seeds, being subjected to the will of the Artificer, it consumeth all seminall things, but brings over their combustible matters into a Gas....

CHAP. XIII. The Gas of the Water.

GAS and Blas [another word coined by van Helmont; where "gas" refers to the "first stuff" of the world, "blas" refers to the fundamental force by which things change and move] are indeed new names brought in by me, because the knowledge of them hath been unknown to the Antients:  notwithstanding, Gas and Blas do obtain a necessary place among natural Beginnings.  Therefore this Paradox is the more largely to be explained.  And first, after what sort Gas may be made of water, and how different a manner it is, from that, wherein heat doth elevate water into a Vapour.  And likewise we must know after what sort these things do happen, by the dissection of the water....

For neither is Gas a dry, and Oily Body, which the Antients have called an exhalation:  but it containeth moreover, another water body also, besides Vapours, from whence the body, manner, and progress of Meteors will be known.

I consider the body of the water, to contain in it an Elementary, and native Mercury, liquid, and most simple:  next an un-savoury, and alike simple Salt.  Both which, do embrace within them, a uniform, homogeneall, simple and unseperable Sulphur.  These things I suppose, even as Astronomers do their excentrices, that I may go to meet the weakness of our understanding.

Therefore the Salt of water, as it is moved, and waxeth hot from the least luke-warmness, being impatient of heat, straight-way climbes on high, as it were to the place of rest and refreshment, with a proportionable part of its own Mercury.  And for that cause, the Sulphur also being unseperable from both, ought to accompany them.  The three things being thus conjoyned, are the vapour, which being brought into the luke-warm air, for the same Reasons, hasteneth to ascend, untill it hath touched the places of its refreshment, provided by the Creator.  Whither the vapour being now brought, the heat which troubled it being presently laid down, the Salt as it were repenting of its flight, could wish, that it might again receive a resolving in its Mercury, and return into its former state of water.  But the lofty and troublesome cold of the place hinders it.

By occasion whereof, the Mercury of the water is so frozen or congealed, that it is unfit for the resolving of its Salt.  Wherefore that vapour is presently changed into a Gas, and Gas hanging in doubt, in a shape, wanders up and down:  So that, unless the cold did dry up the Sulphur of the water in a bark or shell, and in this respect divide it, every vapour and Cloud (even as in our glassen Vessels) as being heavier than the air, should by and by rush downwards.  Hence se see that vapours having slidden down a little beyond their bound (even as straightway after great colds, when as the South winde blowes on it at unawares), the Mercury of the water being unfrozen, that the Salt is at length easily resolved within its Mercury.  For the importunities of cold and heat, do command the Beginnings of the water, to be turned inward or outward.  For so the lesser rains and the dew, do fall down in the least Atomes, as it were descending and resolved vapours.  Therefore there is not a new and substantial generation, while of water, a vapour is lifted up; since it is onely an extenuating, by reason of a turning of its parts outward.  As neither also. whiles the Mercury of the water doth resolve the Salt, which it again shuts up within it self; and is changed into rain.  Which is nothing but the resolving of the former....

...I have shown an exhalation arising from beneath, to wit, a vapour, and Gas, to be the material cause of every Meteor.  It sufficeth to have known Blas to be the effective cause.... This therefore is the unrestable appointment of the water, that by proceeding continually upwards and downwards, it should answer no otherwise than as the windes by an inordinate and irregular motion, do answer to their Blas of the Stars....

CHAP. XIV. The Blas of Meteours.

THE Stars are to us for signes, times or seasons, dayes and years.  Therefore they cause the changes, seasons, and successive courses or interchanges.  To which end, they have need of a twofold motion, to wit, locall, and alterative.  But I signifie both these by the new name of Blas.  And they do rather stir up a Blas by their mooving through a place, than by their light....

Therefore the Air, unless it have a Blas, remains quiet, nor hath it the principle of motion from it self, but it comes to it from elsewhere.  Therefore the motive Blas stirreth up Windes, Tempests, over-flowing of Waters, by running thorow the divers Peroledes [layers] of the Air, sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards, across, long-wayes, side-wayes, into all the Coasts of the Earth:  although the Elements have no need of motion, yet mans necessity requireth that motion.

But seeing nothing was for mooving of it self (except the Archeus granted to seedes) it hath well pleased the Eternall, to place in the Stars, a flatuous, violent, motive force, not much unlike to the Command of his mouth.  So that Blas is for a testimony to us, that God of his excelling goodness, hath made the Elements, and Stars for us, by measuring out bounds of these according to our Commodities.  Blas therefore mooveth, not so much by light beames, and motion, as motion:  but as the Stars have come down unto certain places, whereunto these Stars do owe their offices.  Therefore there are stable properties in those places:  but if they are not stable, that happens in respect of other Stars brought with them by an analogicall or proportionable motion, for the interchangeable courses of continuance.  Blas therefore as a Masculine thing in the Stars, is the generall beginning of motion; it seemes no less to respect the Earth, than the Air and Water.  For the Moon according to the holy Scriptures ruleth the night, as the Sun doth the day:  although the Moon for her own half, runs not under the night.  For the Globe of the Earth is divided into four parts, into two accesses or flowings, and recesses or ebbings of the Ocean daily.  And it spends almost 28 houres therein; and so much the less, by how much the Sun and Moon shall in the mean time, depart from, or draw near to each other.  Blas therefore stirs up also a raging heat in the waters, the winde being still.  But the alterative Blas, consisteth in the producing of heat and cold; and that especially, with the changings of the windes.  But the Stars, neither have not given moysture or dryth of themselves....

CHAP. XV. A Vacuum or emptiness of Nature.

...I have ... said, that it is to be proved by Handicraft-operation, that water is not from the co-pressing of air, how cold soever it be:  and so that they have hitherto erred in the mixing of the Elements, originall of Fountains, &cs.  But the Handicraft operation is true; that air may be pressed together in an Iron Pipe of an ell, about the length of fifteen fingers, at the expansion or enlarging of which co-pressed air, the sending forth of a small Bullet thorow a Board or Plank, should happen, no lesse than if it were driven out of a Hand-gun.

Which thing surely could not so come to passe, if the air by so great a pressing together of it self, under the cold of wintery Iron, were to be changed into water.  For from thence have I first of all learned the matter and conditions of the air; that it should sometimes most easily sustain a pressing together, and enlarging of it self, as the sight doth shew.  From whence I consequently have supposed, that by all meanes there must needes be in the air enlarged, some free space and vacuum, according to the double extension of it....

But besides, I again thus prove an ordinary vacuum in nature, in the air.  Let a piece of Candle be placed in the midst of the bottom of a dish, being fastened to its melted Tallow in the bottom:  Let it burn, and let water be powred round about it, to two or three fingers space; but let a deep Cupping-glasse be set over the flame, the flame appearing three fingers space out of the water, so that the mouth of the glasse set over it, may stand upon the bottom of the dish:  Thou shalt straightway see the place of the air in the aforesaid free Glasse, but the water by a certain sucking to be drawn upwards, and to ascend into the Glass in the place of diminished air:  and at length the flame to be smothered; wherein many things come to hand.  First, true things.

    1. And in the first place is not to be doubted, but that the flame is a kindled smoak.
    2. That that smoak is the body Gas.
    3. That a smoakiness or fuliginous vapour doth ascend from the top of the burnt smoak.
    4. That one part of the Tallow or Wax is easily extended into ten thousand fold as much as it self.  From whence I conclude, that the place of the air, ought not to be lessened by the flame, but necessarily to be increased, unless some place in the air were empty, which is lessened.  Not otherwise doth it want an absurdity, that an Element should be brought to nothing or consumed.  For indeed, a Gun, or fiery Mines or Burroughs, should not work those monstrous things of our age, not the breakings asunder of the hardest and greatest stones in Mines, unless a small quantity of powder, being kindled as it were at one moment, did send forth ten thousand times as much flame as it self at least:  which flame cannot be stayed with the former place of the Powder; it rather breaks asunder all things, than that smoak should pierce smoak, or flame, flame.
    5. To which particulars, the extension of the air through the heat of the flame, hath access, and not a pressing of it together, as it otherwise appeares to the common lott.  Lastly, let a sulphurated Torch or Candle be hung up by a thred in a Glasse-bottle:  but let there be some small quantity of water in the bottle, and let the Bottle be exactly stopped with the bark of the Cork-Tree, that nothing breath out:  Thou shalt see the flame, and smoak of the Sulphur, to fill up the whole floore or space of the Bottle in which the air is, and at length the fire to be quenched:  Yet that there is not made a lessening of the air,  nor a sucking of the water upwards, because the water ought to be put in the place of the air, so that sucking here should make no gain, nor should recompence the defect in the air:  Well indeed, because the cover being opened, a sucking is discerned.  But the flame doth not so toughly stick on the Candle, that it may be for the lifting up so great a weight of water, which flame is dispersed from its Candle, by the least blast:  And so the flame doth not  immediately lift up the water:  but a sucking being caused through a consuming of some part in the air, doth lift up the water, and for many dayes, the water remains as yet advanced, after the extinguishing of the flame.

Wherefore I have meditated, that the air hath pores or little holes, which should suffer a violent constriction of the air in the Pipe, and some certain naturall annihilation in the dish.  But that the Air should be co-thickned in the Glasse by reason of the heat, flame, and smoak, that opposeth Mathematicall Demonstration.  And the Instrument sheweth, that by how much the degrees of the encompassing air are measured, the heat doth enlarge, but not contract the air.  Therefore the aforesaid objection opposeth the supposed position, wherein it is granted that there is made an addition of matter in the Air, by a new matter of flame and smoak.  But if it be said that there is something in the Air that is inflameable, which is consumed by the flame of the Candle; Now a new absurdity ariseth:  To wit, that some body is plainly annihilated, or burnt up by the flame, and in burning up that it is not enlarged.  Again, by supposing something to be wasted away; it is at leastwise necessary, that that inflameable matter be turned into nothing, or into something:  But it is the property of fire, that in burning up, it doth extend every thing that is inflameable, but doth not presse that thing together:  As before I have taught by Gun-powder.  But if we say, that the air in the Glasse is lessened by the flame:  now I have what I intended:  To wit, that there is in the air something that is less than a body, which fills up the emptinesses of the air, and which is wholly annihilated by the fire.  Nor that indeed, as if also it were the nourishment of the fire it self:  For although that thing be impertinent to this Question and place; yet that which is not truly a body can nourish nothing.  And then, seeing it is neither a body, nor a fat thing, it cannot be inflamed, kindled, or wasted or consumed by the fire. 

Then also I will demonstrate in the Chapter of forms, that the fire is not a substance:  but that which is not a substance, doth not require to be nourished.  Lastly, seeing the air is an Element, and a simple thing, it cannot admit of composition, or a conjoyning of divers things or Beings in its own nature:  Nor are there in the essentiall substance of the Air, diversities of parts, some whereof may be consumed by the fire, but others not.  For therefore, if the fire had found a part in the Air capable of inflaming, the whole Air being kindled, had even by one onely Candle, long since perished:  For neither had the fire ceased, if having need of nourishment, it had known that to be in the Air which was neighbour to it:  Yea, if the Air could be burnt up by the fire, the Air should passe over to some more simple and formerly Being, and should cease to be an Element:  for the flame of the Candle should be before the Element of the Air, and more simple than it.  Therefore it is manifest, that the flame in the aforesaid Glasse, although in respect of heat, it enlargeth the quantity of the air; yet that naturally, it will have its smoakes entertained in the hollownesses of the air, so far is it, that the air doth extend it self:  and this is the one onely cause of the diminished space in the air, whence the flame is also consequently smothered.  For the heat that is externall to the Glasse, seemes to inlarge the air in the Glasse:  but the fire within, by reason of its smoakes, doth actually stir up a stifling and pressing together of the air.  Therefore the heat doth by it self enlarge the air; as appeareth by the Engine meating out the degrees of the encompassing air:  but the fire by reason of its smoakes, presseth it together.

And so it followes, that smoakes do more strongly act by pressing together, than heat doth in enlarging:  And then also that smoaks are more importunate or inconvenient to the air, than its own naturall vacuum, yea than is the enlarging of its own vacuum.  Seeing that the enlarging of the space of the air, made by heat, is delightfull to it, in respect of com-pression caused by smoakes.  For from hence I conjecture, that all particular members of the Universe, have a certain sympathetical feeling.

And so, seeing the air essentially hath porosities or little hollow spaces, it grieveth it, that they should be filled up, and over-burdened by a strange Gas.  Yet unless the air should have empty porosities (at leastwise the Doctrine of naturall Philosophy founded upon a vacuum negatively, falls) bodies could never admit of an enlargement of themselves, or of a strange Gas:  because by the changing of them into Gas, they should require a thousand fold bigger capacities, and so room would fail for the breathing out of belching blasts.

Therefore the air was created that it may be a receptacle of exhalations; wherefore also it must needes have an emptiness in its pores:  yet it receiveth those exhalations, by its set and just proportion:  and where it hath its emptinesses filled up to a just measure, the air fleeth away, and in its flight, it forceth or gathereth all the flame into a Pyramide or Spire.  But if the air being detained from its flight, be loaded with too much smoak, it straightens it self, and extinguisheth the fire, which fils it self with smoak above due measure....

CHAP. XVIII. The fiction of Elementary Complexions and Mixtures.

I Have said, that there are two primary Elements; the Air, and the Water; because they do not return into each other:  but that the Earth is as it were born of water; because it may be reduced into water.  But if water be changed into an Earthy Body, that happens by the force or virtue of the Seed, and so it hath then put of the simpleness of an Element.  For a flint is of water, which is broken asunder into Sand.  But surely, that Sand doth lesse resist in its reducing into water, than the Sand, which is the Virgin-Earth.  Therefore the Sand of Marble, of a Gemme, or Flint, do disclose the presence of the Seed.  But if the Virgin-earth, may at length, by much labour be brought into water, and if it was in the beginning created as an Element; yet it seemes then to have come down to something that is more simple than it selfe; and therefore I have called those two, Primary ones....

But now I take upon me to demonstrate, that Bodies which are believed to be mixt are materially the fruits of water onely; neither that they have need of the Wedlock of another Element:  to wit, that Bodies, whether they are dark, or clear, sound, or fluide, bodies of one and the same kinde, or those that are unlike;  Suppose them to be Stones, Sulphurs, Mettalls, Hony, wax, Oils, a Bone, the Brain, a Grisle, Wood, Barke, Leaves:  lastly, that all things, and all particular things, are wholly reduced into a water onely:  For indeed, most of those things are destroyed by fire, and do straightway of their own accord; give their part to the water:  which part, although it after some sort resembles the nature of the composed body, at length, at least-wise, the contagion of that composed Seed being taken away, that water, or Mercury of things, returns into the simple and un-savoury water of rain:  So Oils, and fats, being seperated by the fire, a little of the Alcali Salt being added to them, do at length assume the nature of Soap, and depart into Elementary water:  yea, whatsoever things are inflamed by an open fire in the very entertainment of the Clouds, are reduced voluntarily, into water:  For such was the necessity of the cold of that place (as I have already taught above) that whatsoever things should rise up thither from the lower places, should forget their seeds, by the mortall cold in that place, and their sub-division into a Gas of almost infinite Atomes.  For Salt, Sulphur, and Mercurie, or Salt, Liquor, and Fat, are in the most speciall particular kindes or Species:  not indeed, as certain universall Bodies which are common to all particular kindes; but they are similar or like parts in composed bodies, being distinguished by a three-fold variety, according to the requirance of the seeds.  Therefore if the seminall properties shall the more toughly remain in the three things now seperated:  then, by things being admixed with them, the impressions of those properties are taken away, and estranged; From whence they do afterwards passe into the Element of water....

Moreover, every coal which is made of the co-melting of Sulphur and Salt (working among themselves in time of burning) although it be roasted even to its last day in a bright burning Furnace, the Vessel being shut, it is fired indeed; but there is a true fire in the Vessel, no otherwise than in the coal not being shut up; yet nothing of it is wasted, it not being able to be consumed, through the hindering of its eflux.  Therefore the live coal, and generally whatsoever bodies do not immediately depart into water, nor yet are fixed, do necessarily belch forth a wild spirit or breath.  Suppose thou, that of 62 pounds of Oaken coal, one pound of ashes is composed:  Therefore the 61 remaining pounds, are the wild spirit, which also being fired, cannot depart, the Vessel being shut.

I call this Spirit, unknown hitherto, by the new name of Gas, which can neither be constrained by Vessels, nor reduced into a visible body, unless the seed being first extinguished.  But Bodies do contain this Spirit, and do sometimes wholly depart into such a Spirit, not indeed, because it is actually in those very bodies (for truly it could not be detained, yea the whole composed body should flie away at once) but it is a Spirit grown together, coagulated after the manner of a body, and is stirred up by an attained ferment, as in Wine, the juyce of unripe Grapes, bread, hydromel or water and Honey &c....

But I have learned by this handicraft-operation, that all Vegetables do immediately, and materially proceed out of the Element of water onely.  For I took an Earthen Vessel, in which I put 200 pounds of Earth that had been dried in a Furnace, which I moystened with Rain-water, and I implanted therein the Trunk or Stem of a Willow Tree, weighing five pounds; and at length, five years being finished, the Tree sprung from thence, did weigh 169 pounds, and about three ounces:  But I moystened the Earthen Vessel with Rain-water or distilled water (alwayes when there was need) and it was large, and implanted into the Earth, and least the dust that flew about should be co-mingled with the Earth, I covered the lip or mouth of the Vessel, with an Iron-Plate covered with Tin, and easily passable with many holes.  I computed not the weight of the leaves that fell off in the four Autumnes.  At length, I again dried the Earth of the Vessel, and there were found the same 200 pounds, wanting about two ounces.  Therefore 164 pounds of Wood, Barks, and Roots, arose out of water onely....

CHAP. XIX. The Image of the Ferment, begets the Masse or lump with childe of a Seed.

...There are therefore double Ferments in nature:  one indeed containeth in it a flowable air, the seminall Archeus which aspireth by its flowing into a living Soul:  But the other doth onely contain, the beginning of the moving, or the generation of a thing into a thing:  The which indeed, although in its beginning, it should not have a seminall air, which may embrace or contain the aims of things to be done; yet it straightway obtains a vapour, which, as well the locall ferments, as those things which the disposition of the matter it self attaineth by externall nourishing warmth, do awaken.  Whence something like an Archeus is made, which changeth, fitteth, and increaseth it self, and its own perceived entertainment:  Moreover, afterwards it acteth the other things unto a proportion of perfection, and to what is required of that air:  For this seed doth at first abound with a certain, and that a genericall largeness:  For although it rejoyceth to have directed the masse subjected under it, unto the scope of the conceived ferment; yet oft-times it receiveth the fewels of a more hidden light from elsewhere, and a rash boldness being taken, it aspireth also into a living soul.

For from hence, not onely lice, wall-lice or flies breeding in Wood, Gnats, and Worms, become the guests and neighbours of our misery, and are as it were bred or born of our inner parts, and excrements:  but also, if a foul shirt be pressed together within the mouth of a Vessel, wherein Wheat is, within a few dayes (to wit, 21) a ferment being drawn from the shirt, and changed by the odour of the grain, the Wheat it self being incrusted in its own skin, transchangeth into Mice:  and it is therefore the more to be wondered at, because such kinde of insects being distinguished by the Signatures of the Sexes, do generate with those which were born of the seed of Parents:  That from hence also, the likeness or quality of both the seeds, and a like vitall strength of the ferments may plainly appear:  And which is more wonderfull, out of the Bread-corn, and the shirt, do leap forth, not indeed little, or sucking, or very small, or abortive Mice, but those that are wholly or fully formed.  Now and then, the lowsie evill ariseth in us, and a louse, mans upper skin being opened, goes forth:  he is also otherwise generated in the pores, being not indeed enclosed in the Egge-shell of a nit; but small, and scarce to be beheld.  But the gnat is alwayes not generated, but by the ferment being drawn more outward.  Neither hath it been sufficient to have said in the Schooles, that such insects do proceed from putrified things:

For Birds Eggs also do notably putrifie, and stink hugely, before the constituting of a chick.  Therefore life is in those putrified things, no lesse than in Eggs:  nor is it sufficient to have doubted from whence those kindes of Insects may draw a uniform and specificall vitall spirit out of our Body, seeing a natural generation, an Archeus sufficeth, not indeed a humane one, but such a one, which by a fermental virtue, and for identity or sameliness sake, doth alwayes generate in excrements, such Insects of a like or an equall form:  And so although in respect of us, it be a monstrous and irregular generation, yet it is naturall and ordinary in order to its causes to wit, we affording onely a ferment and nourishing warmth:  therefore the ferment of the shirt being sprinkled on the Wheat, doth resolve the matter by going or entring backwards, and so a youthful mouse, but not a new one is born.  For that, it hath respect unto another manner of making.

Therefore in the former, and vitall seedes, the generater inspires the Archeus, and the vitall air, together with the masse of the seed, with his own likeness:  But in the latter, the Odour onely of the ferment is snuffed in from the containing Vessels, or from the contagion of the encompassing air:  which when they shall be tightly fitted together, they are straightway formed into a Plant, or Insect, to wit, the Air being stirred up by the Odour, and ferment of putrefaction by continuance, which afterwards is exalted into a ruling Archeus:  Even as concerning forms elsewhere.

Therefore seeds are made by the conception of the generater, making his own Image through desires, or from the Odour of the ferment, which disposeth the matter to the Idea or first shape of a possible thing:  For even as the matter drawes from the Odour a disposition of transmutation; so from the Image is afterwards made a disposition of the matter, which procureth and promoteth a specificall ferment.  But in this the ferment differs from the seed:  that, that is an Odour, or quality of some putrefaction by continuance, apt to dispose unto an alterity or successive alteration, and corruption of the masse:  But the seed is a substance wherein the Archeus already is, which is a spiritual Gas containing in it a ferment, the Image of the thing, and moreover, a dispositive knowledge of things to be done.

Therefore whatsoever things do contract a filthiness, or putrefaction by continuance, from an Odour, do also presently conceive Worms:  and therefore also Balsams know not how to putrifie, or breed Worms:  For the Odour of the Herbe Basil being inclosed in the seed, produceth that Herbe, together with an Air that existeth within it; which Odour, if it be changed by a putrefaction through continuance, it produceth true Scorpions:  For neither is it a fiction; but in very deed, the Herbe being bruised, and depressed between Bricks and exposed to the Sun, Aquitane after some dayes, hath yielded unto us, Scorpions.  But the more curious one will say, That the Scorpion came from without, to the sweet smell and food of the Herbe:  but that doubt is prevented.  For truly, the two bricks being mutually beaten together, did suitably touch each other, so that they hindered the entrance of the Scorpion, as well by their co-touching plainness, as by their weight:  But a trench did contain the Herb in the middle.  The Ferment therefore in a voluntary seed, doth after a neer manner reach to the Horizon or terme of life:  For neither is one thing changed into another without a ferment and a seed.

Which things, as they have stood neglected hitherto, all things have been ascribed to naked or bare heats, and the healings of many Diseases have remained desperate:  For truly they have hitherto laboured onely about the correcting of the first qualities, and the withdrawing of a feigned humour, either alone by it selfe, or together with the bloud; but they have not a whit considered, that every Disease is poysonous, if not, to the whole body, yet at least, as to a part of it:  and so although it be not contagious to every part, yet it ceaseth not to imprint its fermentall odour from its self, on the part whereon it setteth....

Therefore if the seeds of voluntary living Creatures are to be born of odours, and a putrefaction by continuance, nor do differ in the particular kinde, from others which are procreated by a conjoyning of the Sexes:  the seeds of all living Creatures also, must needs have their speciall odours, whereby there are made suitings or fittings for the Archeus to the matter, and the more easie obedience for transchanging:  From whence at length are made diversities of impressions into any bowels Organs, and powers, and in the strength, and life:  Surely specificall odours do affect the matter, and subdue it into their own protection:  and an inclination, and selfe-love ariseth from the specificall odour:  Next through custome, there is an easie receiving, and a more perfect fitting:  and at length, a love snatches into all desire of its selfe:  Therefore fragrant or sweet smelling things do delight:  Even like as the light pleaseth good natural inclinations, so it displeaseth reprobate ones; and that not, because both do see alike well, without, or with light, or have need of the use of a clear air, or not; but by reason of the abstracted, and Almighty light, whose Image the light of the day is:  For the spirits are delighted with an odour and light, because light and odour do immediately touch and pierce them:  For the spirit of the bloud in one that fainteth, ought to be more refreshed by the smell of roasted flesh, than by a sweet smell, unless the fragrancy should as soon as it toucheth the life, prepare herein a purity, and sweetness.  Odours therefore are seen to reach even unto the abstracted spirits, even as pestilent smell being not perceived by the nostrils, shakes the Archeus with horrour....

CHAP. XXI. The Birth or Originall of Forms.

...Mark, That since Beings have nothing from themselves for generating, but do possess all things from a borrowing, and freely:  they do confess for that very cause, that God worketh all things mediately, and immediately, but that a living Creature doth not generate a living Creature, but the seed well disposed to a living Creature.  Therefore, it doth not generate the form thereof:  But the seed is as it were the disposing Master-Workman, as to the form of a living Creature; but not as the maker of the form:  indeed it borroweth the Archeus from the thing generating, not the form, yea nor the light of life wherein the form shineth.

Therefore in the beginning of generation, the Archeus is not as yet lightsome; but it is an Air, into which the form, life, or sensitive soul of the generater hath a little twinckled, untill it had sufficiently imprinted some shadowie Seal of its brightness....

...But in Stones, Mineralls, and Metalls, and so in fruits of the water that are without life, the same things are suitably to be interpreted:  For although this Family doth not propagate by virtue of a seed, neither doth send forth its posterity out of it self, a Being is not therefore wanting in it which may thorowly bring it unto the appointed bounds of maturity:  For indeed, since nothing doth any where dispose, or move it self, unless it be a seed; it must needes be, that whatsoever is generated, that hath a disposer within, who sits in a soft, watery, salt, clayie, &c. Air:  Nor indeed that it floweth here, or wandereth thorow that masse, even as it doth in bruit Beasts, or that therefore it dwelleth in a perpetual juyce; but the Air is incorporated throughout the whole Body, nor varying from the disposition of the fruit produced:  yea in the number or rank of Mineralls, that disposer is almost vitall, and sensitive.

Because Chymicall Adeptists do with one voyce deliver, that if the seed of the Stone which maketh Gold, being once kept warm in their Egg, be afterwards, in the least cooled or chilled, its conception, and progress to a stone would be afterwards desperate:  which thing, seeing it is like to Birds Eggs, it also therefore cannot subsist without a sensitive life.  Truly, it is to be wondered at, that the Schooles do acknowledge all second matter to flow from a certain universal matter, yet that they do not admit, immediately to derive every life, or all forms from the primitive life, and first act of all things:  To wit, to derive all the perfection of things from the universal, and super-essential essence of perfection:  yea rather, that they at this day do deride Plato with his principle of the Gods; and Avicenna, with his Cholcodea Panto-Morphe or goddess of Cholchis that gives a form to all things:  who nevertheless, have far neerer saluted the truth in this thing than Christians, who maintain, that the very lives, substantial forms, and essential thinglinesses of things are produced by the aspiration or influence of the Heavens, by the endeavour of accidents, and the favour of material dispositions....

CHAP. XXII. Magnum Oportet, that is, it is thing of great necessity, or concernment

...At length, Mineralls also do shew three lives by a distinct order.  It is thus:  Mineralls indeed, have not a seed, with the Image of their Predecessor, after the manner of soulified things; which thing notwithstanding, hath deceived many, a proportionable or resembling flux of seeds being not rightly well weighed:  For Mineralls are tied to their constitutive causes no less than other things; and so do proceed from a necessity and flowing of their own seeds:  And therefore they cannot want a threefold difference of a seminal life:  For whatsoever doth proceed without a Father, unto [this something] (as do Mineralls) it findes its seed in the Inne of places:  Wherefore some things are immediately in place, but other things in the Body placed....

...Therefore Mineralls are not promiscuous every where; but certain Mineralls in set years, and places:  For Suevia is as rich in Copper, as Cyprus in times past could be:  Therefore cold is guiltless, as heat is vain, to the constitutions of their seeds:  For places which have wanted Mines in times past, will or sometime in their day, their seed being ripe, restore Usuries not unlike to the more rich ones; because the Roots or Ferments of Mineralls, do sit immediately in place, and do breath without disdain, for fulness of dayes:  The which, when it hath compleated a seed, then the Gas environing the water in the same place, receiveth a seed from the place, which afterwards begets the Sulphur of the water with childe, condenseth the water, and by degrees transplants it into a Minerall water.  For it oft-times happeneth, that a digger of Metalls in Mines breaking great Stones asunder, the Wall cleaves or gapes, and affords a chink, from whence a small quantity of water of a whitish-green colour hath sprung, which hath presently grown together like to liquid Sope, (I call it Bur) and afterwards its greenish paleness being changed, it waxeth yellow, or growes white, or becomes more fully green:  For thus that is seen, which else without the wound of the stone, comes to passe within:  because that juyce is perfected by an inward efficient.  Therefore the first life of a metallick seed, is in the Buttery or Cellar of the place, plainly unknown to man.  But when as the seed comes forth to light cloathed with a Liquor, and Gas hath begun to defile the Sulphur of the water, there is the middle life of the seed:  But the last life is when it now waxeth hard:  But the last life of the metallick seed, is the first life of the Metalls, or at leastwise very nearly conjoyned to it.  But while that Masse doth breath Sulphur, and shuts up its Mercury within; then I say, is the middle life of Metalls:  But their last life is, when it hath attained a fixedness, and the proper stability of a vein.

Wherefore there is a more manifest progress of a life, and seed in Metallick Bodies, than in the two fellow Monarchies:  For that Metalls do not require a figure, nor their whole Body so exquisite or exact:  yea if the Image of seeds in things that have life, do flow forth from their own Father or begetter; surely the typicall Images of Mineralls are to be fetched from the Cellers or Store-houses of divine Bounty.

Hence also the seeds of Minerals are not defiled with the filthiness and wantonness of their begetters; nor therefore do they offer themselves as monstrous:  But because they are undefiled, therefore they are of famous power in healing.  Mineralls therefore are to be spoiled of the possession of their last life, no more than other things, if we do expect obedience from them in healing:  Else they will bring a feeble help, and will bewail that they have come in vain, because they have attained the ends of their appointments; but are directed for the leaders of whoredoms and Riots....

Go to:
  • works of Paracelsus (1493-1541)
  • The Golem: Legends of the Ghetto of Prague (c. 1916) by Chayim Bloch (1881-1973)
  • The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597) by John Gerard (1545-1612)
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