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TWELVE KEYS

Second Key


To see illustrations and picture: [Key2b] [Key2c] [Kingbath]

This key refers to the preparation of the King's bathing, that is, to the preparation of solar star solvent water. In the second key woodcut, a nude winged and crowned young man can be seen, to stand on a pair of wings, seizing two caducei, in the two combatants' middle (fencers) that combats.

On the right combatant's sword a Serpent is coiled and of the one of the left an eagle is landed. On of the winged youth's crown it is the mercury spagyrical symbol. We see, still, on each side, between him and the combatants, on the right side the Sun and on the left side the Moon.

The comment to the second key is the following (French edition Mr. Canseliet’s comments):

«Expressive image of the Bride of the Great Work, substituting it a young man nude, winged and crowned, young mercury and small king, as attest it the two caduceus where the stick gave place to the sovereign sceptre. He was born of the sun and of the philosophers' moon because they are debate the two fencers and, thanks to these, he
wins in beauty, in purity, what loses with the heterogeneous faeces in volatility. This is that express the great abandoned wings and extended on the soil.»

In agreement with the illustration and according to the comment, the symbolism doesn't seem us difficult to interpret: the philosophical mercury (young winged man) it is obtained by the solvent action on the first matter of the resulting water of the two champions' fight (two chemical opposite substances) one fix and penetrating (snake) and the other volatile (eagle). This water is also the bathing of the Sun and of the Moon.

Let us see, now, what says the text of second key in its essential part:

«In the same way our bridal pair, Apollo and Diana, are arrayed in splendid attire, and their heads and bodies are washed with various kinds of water, some strong, some weak, but not one of them exactly another, and each designed for its own special purpose.

But you should notice that the King and his spouse must be quite naked when they are joined together. They must be stripped of all their glorious apparel, and must lie down together in the same state of nakedness in which they were born that their seed may not spoiled by being mixed with any foreign matter.

Let me tell you, in conclusion, that the bath in which the bridegroom is placed, must consist of two hostile kinds of matter, that purge and rectify each other by means of a continued struggle. For it is not good for the Eagle to built her nest on the summit of the Alps, because her young ones are thus in great danger of being frowned to death by intense cold that prevails there.

But if you add to the Eagle the icy Dragon that has long had its habitation upon the rocks, and has crawled forth from the caverns of the earth, and place both over the fire, it will elicit from the icy Dragon a fiery spirit, which, by means of it great heat, will consume the wings of the Eagle, and prepare a perspiring bath of so extraordinary a degree of heat that the snow will melt upon the summit of the mountains, and become a water, with the invigorating mineral bath may be prepare, and fortune, health, life, and strength restored to the King.»

If you read carefully the text excerpt, you will verify that, in the beginning, the Master refers to the engagement of Apollo and Diana and the waters with that should be washed the bridegroom.

Already in the end, he says that invigorating water of bridegroom mineral bath may be wisely prepared by two fencers.

It is more than evident that he changes completely of speech refers to the bridegroom bathing and not to the engagement of Apollo and Diana. He finishes advising that the mineral bathing is prepared so that it gives to the King the fortune and health.

This is in agreement with the first key, because as we saw, the described purification refers, just to the King, that is to the gold.

Finally, Basil Valentine tells, as the water will be prepared for the king bathing:

«But if you add to the Eagle the icy Dragon that has long had its habitation upon the rocks, and has crawled forth from the caverns of the earth, and place both over the fire, it will elicit from the icy Dragon a fiery spirit, which, by means of it great heat, will consume the wings of the Eagle, and prepare a perspiring bath of so extraordinary a degree of heat that the snow will melt upon the summit of the mountains, and become a water, with the invigorating mineral bath may be prepare, and fortune, health, life, and strength restored to the King.»

Transposing this for spagyrical language, the Serpent represents the nitre and the Eagle the ammonium salt. Therefore, the referred water will be prepared by the hot reaction in a Pyrex glass retort, with tubulure, of two contrary chemical substances, one fix (nitre) and the other volatile (ammonium salt), both very well known from the antiquity for the alchemists.

When these substances mixed in proportions "ana" (equal parts) and pour it by successive fractions into the retort, they enter in contact for the caloric action supplied by an stove with controlled temperature with bathing of sand, a violent chemical reaction will be produced, that will make to distil for the beak of the retort a sudorific water that it has the property of dissolve the gold or King, known by royal water.

We don't want to leave of notice, all those that for curiosity or confirm what we said, they want to prepare this solvent water for the method indicated by the Master in this key, that abstain from doing it if they don't have laboratory experience and not know the indispensable "hand work", otherwise, they would be exposed to a great danger.

The retort can explode because the inner pressure excess caused by the fast expansion of the gases. After the chemical reaction start between the two belligerent (salts) it is uncontrollable and it would break immediately the retort, provoking you serious burns.

The technique to observe, I as we already said, it is pour of every time for the tubulure of the retort small successive amounts of matter and to place the cover immediately.

Nevertheless, it continues to verify a divergence between the text of this key and its pictorial symbolism.

The second key illustration shows us symbolically which the necessary chemical substances to the preparation of this solvent water, as well as the goal this purpose: the obtaining and purification of the philosophical mercury. But we already know it and in the text it was very clear, that the purpose of this water is the King's bathing (dissolution), with view to the extraction of its mercury, of its salt and, mainly, of its alchemic sulphur.

Let us see, now, which Basil Valentine says in the "Le Dernier Testament" (Will and Last Testament) in the second key, p 216, French edition:

«The Second Key. To notice my friend and take this thing to chest as very important for your work, so that you dispose your bathing correctly so that anything it is increased that is not necessary, so that to noble seed of the gold doesn't deteriorate for any annoyance or heterogeneity susceptible of destroying this seed, which being destroyed, it will be impossible to returns it the good state.

Therefore, take caution and careful to the teaching of the precedent key and which the matter that you shall take for the bathing composed of the suitable water for the King that shall be died there and his destroyed external form, so that his pure soul can come out immaculate.

For this design, it is necessary that you serve of the Dragon and of the Eagle that are not another thing that the nitre and the ammonium salt of the which, after its union, it shall be made a royal water, as I will teaching, in the end the "hand work", when I describe the particularity of the gold and, well like this, the one of the other metals.

However, you need know that such solution is not enough so that the King has still some intention of letting to leave his soul outside of its fixed body, as you can try...

As soon as your gold is dissolved in referred water and be reduced to yellow and beautiful oil, leaves it, then, in a very close vase to digest one day and one night in moderate bathing-maria; if there are dregs separate it and pour the pure and clean solution in a cucurbit or in another vase and it adapts it a chapiter and recipient well closed.

Digest and distil this solution in the sand, not very hot, mixed again and shaking the vase where it is the gold and the water from time to time and repeat this three times. Now, distil the whole humidity for the bathing-maria and you will find in the bottom of the alembic a powder of gold that you will place in an open vase on the fire of sand, for the space of one hour, until that the whole humidity evaporate.»

As you can see in Basil Valentine "Le Dernier Testament" text the "nude winged young man" that symbolises the Mercury in the illustration he has not any role in this key.

Why? You will see it in Third Key

To see illustrations and picture: [Key2b] [Key2c] [Kingbath]

Rubellus Petrinus