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Philosophical stone origins project.
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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 01:06 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Ah, but it says in Mertens,  "Prenant donc la pierre d'albatre, grillez un jour et une nuit: vous obtenez de la chaux" which is about burning it for a day and a night (no mention of temperature though, you certainly don't need a day and night if you have a good enough furnace, but thats an interesting question by itself)


Yes, that's in III.II.1, where the Greek is more straightforward, talking about "lithos alabastrinos", the "stone made of alabaster", which you should "opta nuchthēmeron", "roast for a night and a day", to give you "asbestos", which is fortunately not asbestos but unslaked lime.

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 03:04 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Authentic memoir 9 contains the recipe for treatment of eggs.  I've carried it out as well as I can, and the problem is that if you try to distill it all at a low enough temperature you don't get much coming over, because oddly enough you need the heat to vaporise water etc.

I'm going over the translation of Mertens now. The recipe seems to describe mixing calcinated eggshells (aka quicklime, CaO) with the yolks of eggs. Do the fatty acids of egg yolks react with quicklime in any interesting way? You are right about the low temperature because Zosimos suggests using manure as a heat source. This is a lengthy operation, 14-21 days, and not a quick distillation. I suspect that this recipe is encoded, and that yolks are not the true name of the ingredient (yolk = sulfur = the female/moist nature).

It is also entirely likely that Zosimos was not writing accurately himself, as well as the fact that there seems to have been some variety in alchemical practise in the period anyway, so several different things would have been regarded as the stone.

I agree with you, however, the Mushaf as-suwar (Zosimos) teaches that even though the operations appear to be different on the surface, they are actually aspects of one central experiment (but encoded). The big question, which is one of the main points of my paper, is whether or not this understanding represents the true Greco-Egyptian tradition. If the Zosimos material within the Mushaf as-suwar is correct, then our entire understanding of these recipes has been incorrect (because the recipes are not meant to be taken literally, but rather the symbols are to be analyzed on a case by case basis).

As for metals, I mean especially gold or silver, I don't recall Zosimos referring to metals per se, but I am not good at languages (we desperately need a proper English translation of the Authentic memoirs).  Anyway, number 5 mentions something along the lines of "Whoever comprehends this posesses gold and silver".  Number 2, in part 4, uses a "copper without shadow", which is a substance familiar to us from pseudo-Democritus

Gold, silver, and copper without shadow are all explained in great detail within the Mushaf as-suwar. The book teaches that none of them are actually metals. "Our gold is not the gold of the people, our silver is not the silver of the people", etc. The four metals, which are base metals or a starting point for the work (especially with the schools of Maria and pDemocritus) are copper, iron, lead, and tin. Copper and iron are 'tool metals'. They are hard, and reddish in color (they have a hot color). Lead and tin are soft metals, whitish in color (they have a cool color). The Mushaf as-suwar teaches that when the sages mention these metals, they are not talking about metals but about the male nature (hot, strong, and dry) and the female nature (cold, weak, and moist).

I agree that calcium acetate is a likely 'stone', but it is surely not the only one, even if Zosimos favoured it above all others.

Is there another clear recipe for a 'stone not a stone' in the Greco-Egyptian tradition? Of course I think the concept of the stone changed over time, but in the Greco-Egyptian tradition I believe they are talking about one specific experiment. This is what the Zosimos of the Mushaf as-suwar teaches in any case. It's asking quite a lot to make a detailed study of a book that is 440 pages in English translation, but I promise you that if you make the endeavor it will completely reorient your thinking on alchemical symbolism.

Last edited on Sat May 17th, 2014 03:05 pm by Daniel_Burnham

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 07:13 pm
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Daniel_Burnham wrote:

I'm going over the translation of Mertens now. The recipe seems to describe mixing calcinated eggshells (aka quicklime, CaO) with the yolks of eggs. Do the fatty acids of egg yolks react with quicklime in any interesting way?


The result would be an insoluble soap.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sun May 18th, 2014 12:41 am
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
(we desperately need a proper English translation of the Authentic memoirs). 


I have spoken to Jenny Rampling about the possibility of including the Authentic Memoirs in the Sources of Chemistry monograph series being put out by SHAC. She tells me that it was considered, but was given a lower priority because Michèle Mertens was already editing the Greek texts for Belles Lettres. However, Sources of Chemistry do have several Zosimos volumes planned, including some of his works in Arabic and Syriac that have never been previously edited (including material where the Greek is no longer extant). There are also a number of important Arabic and Coptic works by other writers in the pipeline.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sun May 18th, 2014 03:49 am
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Abt's translation of the Mushaf as-Suwar was a Jungian project encouraged by Marie-Louise von Franz.

http://www.daimon.ch/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=5759

Just sayin' ;)

Last edited on Sun May 18th, 2014 03:52 am by Paul Ferguson

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Sun May 18th, 2014 03:02 pm
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Daniel_Burnham wrote: Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Authentic memoir 9 contains the recipe for treatment of eggs.  I've carried it out as well as I can, and the problem is that if you try to distill it all at a low enough temperature you don't get much coming over, because oddly enough you need the heat to vaporise water etc.

I'm going over the translation of Mertens now. The recipe seems to describe mixing calcinated eggshells (aka quicklime, CaO) with the yolks of eggs. Do the fatty acids of egg yolks react with quicklime in any interesting way? You are right about the low temperature because Zosimos suggests using manure as a heat source. This is a lengthy operation, 14-21 days, and not a quick distillation. I suspect that this recipe is encoded, and that yolks are not the true name of the ingredient (yolk = sulfur = the female/moist nature).

It is also entirely likely that Zosimos was not writing accurately himself, as well as the fact that there seems to have been some variety in alchemical practise in the period anyway, so several different things would have been regarded as the stone.

I agree with you, however, the Mushaf as-suwar (Zosimos) teaches that even though the operations appear to be different on the surface, they are actually aspects of one central experiment (but encoded). The big question, which is one of the main points of my paper, is whether or not this understanding represents the true Greco-Egyptian tradition. If the Zosimos material within the Mushaf as-suwar is correct, then our entire understanding of these recipes has been incorrect (because the recipes are not meant to be taken literally, but rather the symbols are to be analyzed on a case by case basis).

As for metals, I mean especially gold or silver, I don't recall Zosimos referring to metals per se, but I am not good at languages (we desperately need a proper English translation of the Authentic memoirs).  Anyway, number 5 mentions something along the lines of "Whoever comprehends this posesses gold and silver".  Number 2, in part 4, uses a "copper without shadow", which is a substance familiar to us from pseudo-Democritus

Gold, silver, and copper without shadow are all explained in great detail within the Mushaf as-suwar. The book teaches that none of them are actually metals. "Our gold is not the gold of the people, our silver is not the silver of the people", etc. The four metals, which are base metals or a starting point for the work (especially with the schools of Maria and pDemocritus) are copper, iron, lead, and tin. Copper and iron are 'tool metals'. They are hard, and reddish in color (they have a hot color). Lead and tin are soft metals, whitish in color (they have a cool color). The Mushaf as-suwar teaches that when the sages mention these metals, they are not talking about metals but about the male nature (hot, strong, and dry) and the female nature (cold, weak, and moist).

I agree that calcium acetate is a likely 'stone', but it is surely not the only one, even if Zosimos favoured it above all others.

Is there another clear recipe for a 'stone not a stone' in the Greco-Egyptian tradition? Of course I think the concept of the stone changed over time, but in the Greco-Egyptian tradition I believe they are talking about one specific experiment. This is what the Zosimos of the Mushaf as-suwar teaches in any case. It's asking quite a lot to make a detailed study of a book that is 440 pages in English translation, but I promise you that if you make the endeavor it will completely reorient your thinking on alchemical symbolism.

I don't recall any noticeable reaction; given lime forms over 800C I'm not sure the egg shells had totally formed lime, also they had been sitting about for a while, in a bag, but still possible for some carbonate to have formed.  Certainly sulphur itself might come off more easily and do things than the proteins and water in egg yolks.
The next task for you is, I suppose, to compare the Mushaf as-suwar with the known Zosimos texts.  Good luck with that! 
But then seeing what you wrote next, it makes me wonder at all whether the Mushaf as-Suwar is genuine Zosimos or a heavily edited text.  Unfortunately I don't have the money for a copy right now. 

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Mon May 19th, 2014 08:35 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
The next task for you is, I suppose, to compare the Mushaf as-suwar with the known Zosimos texts.  Good luck with that! 
But then seeing what you wrote next, it makes me wonder at all whether the Mushaf as-Suwar is genuine Zosimos or a heavily edited text.  Unfortunately I don't have the money for a copy right now. 


We don't have to wonder about the Mushaf as-suwar - it is indeed a heavily edited text. Portions are authentic material that are reworked, and other portions are quite obviously Islamicate interpolation. Most of the text we simply do not know if the material is authentic or not.

However, my point is that this is the only text we have that provides a detailed methodology for understanding the symbolism of Greco-Egyptian texts. Even if the Mushaf as-suwar contains material that is reworked or not authentic Zosimos, there is still great value if the methodology of symbolic understanding is correct.

And to Paul's comment: As far as the publication being part of a Jungian initiative, I don't really think it matters why the text got translated and published. I disagree with Abt's psychological assessment of the text. For every subject where Abt sees psychic processes, I believe I can make a counter argument in favor of a chemical interpretation of the symbols.

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Wed May 21st, 2014 01:56 am
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Interesting entry in Berthelot I just noticed - a definition of alabastron. Lime from the shells of eggs is the first description, followed by various salts. This would seem to reinforce my suggestion that the quicklime operation of Zosimos might be talking about lime made from eggshells.

Another entry says that copper is the eggshell. This supports the symbolic approach taken by the Mushaf as-suwar and my paper (copper = male nature = quicklime). In fact, the majority of the list seems to support the symbolic approach of the Mushaf as-suwar. A very interesting list.

http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/alchimie/alchimieI.htm#II

---

I. II. — LEXIQUE DE LA CHRYSOPÉE PAR ORDRE ALPHABÉTIQUE

ALBATRE ou ALABASTRON. — C’est la chaux tirée des coquilles d’œufs, le sel des efflorescences, le sel ammoniac, le sel commun.

CUIVRE. — C'est la coquille des œufs.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Thu May 22nd, 2014 05:58 pm
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I had time to read your PDF file on the train, it's good and interesting.  I am interested in acetate stuff myself, but focused more on the later medieval period, where they really got into it in Europe.  I shall be carrying out experimental distillations when I have time, after the end of June, so will include the burning eggshells for lime (I have lots to spare, a friend saved some eggshells for me) and use of vinegar.


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