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TWELVE KEYS

To see illustrations and picture: [Key 3] [Key 3b] [Gold Sulphur]

Third Key

«A winged dragon with coiled tail and pointed tongue stands in landscape with high mountains in the background. On the left behind the dragon, a wolf or fox, runs off holding a bird (possibly a hen) in its mouth and is attacked by a cockerel riding on its back.»

Canseliet comments to the third Key in French edition:

«The dragon is the origin of the two natures, aqueous and igneous and it is the base of the combat the that they surrender that, he occupies the whole first plan of this composition. Of it is born directly the fox chosen by Basil Valentine, in a physical analogy that underlines, according to us, this curious fact that the name of the astute quadruped is of the feminine kind in all the Aryan languages.»

The text of the Third Key is the following, in its more essential part:

«But no such triumph can take place unless the King imparts great strength and potency to his water and tinges it with his own colour, that thereby he may be consumed and become invisible, and then again recover his visible form, with a diminution of this simple essence, and a development of this perfection.»

«This Tincture is the Rose of our Masters, of purple hue, called also the red blood of the Dragon…»

Let us see now the text of the third key, just as it is described in the "Le Dernier Testament" p 219, French edition:

«The Third Key. Take, then of the good nitre spirit, one part and of the spirit of the common salt, three parts; pour these two spirits together in a Cucurbit moderate hot, on the powder of the gold above described, then, adapt a Chapiter and the recipient closed well, in the suitable manner; then, having moved and agitated several times your gold, as previously it was done in the sand and reiterating the distillation the more better, you will see that the gold becomes, of times at times, more volatile and that, finally, it will distil and it will come to the from top.

Because, for a repetition and distillation of all your gold, the solidity and fixity of its body separates and it divides in all its members, which are undone this way one with the
other and restored, so open that the gold attenuated leaves after that, to go its soul to private judge...

But you observe that, after this work finish, it is necessary that you separate carefully and assiduously your gold that distilled all the saline spirits, for distillation in bathing-maria, the more moderately that it is possible, so that it doesn't distil anything of the colour of the gold and that doesn't suffer reduction.

Then, with prudence and judgement, take your gold or the crystals of gold from you where separated the water and place them on a suitable small mud porringer to reverberate, place it in the oven and you give, firstly, a slowly and moderate fire for one hour until that everything that there is of corrosive is removed entirely, then, you will have a powder of gold of a beautiful colour purple, so subtle and beautiful that is good of seeing.

Put in a clean matrass this gold powder and pour into the recent spirit of common salt, which, previously, have been reduced to a great sweetness, following the order in which I will instruct you in my "hand work". Close the matrass and place it in the moderate heat, because, like this, the sweetened spirit of salt it cannot more dissolve and to break the powder of gold as it had done before, so much more than its corrosiveness and acrimony were it reduced by the spirit of wine that caused it this great sweetness.

Leave the matrass on this non-violent heat, until that the spirit of salt is dyed of a colour of a sovereign degree, beautiful, transparent and red as rubies. Removes gently, for inclination, the coloured spirit and it pour it again so many times on your gold that the spirit is dyed more.

Then, it places in a alembic the whole coloured spirit and separates the whole humidity in bathing-maria with moderate heat and in the bottom of the alembic will find the sulphur of the gold powder, beautiful, delicate and subtle, of great merit and value, a matter with which we can, by means of a fast and short procedure, to dye the silver in its higher perfection...»

What does it can understand, then, what the Master tells us in these three keys?

In the first key, he teaches to purify the gold or Sun by means of the antimony; in second, the preparation of the royal water for the King's bathing, with view to its dissolution and, in the third, the extraction of the alchemic sulphur of the gold.

If well you noticed in the text of the third key, the Master recommends to dissolve the gold in a royal water composed of three parts of spirit of salt and one part of nitre spirit.

Curiously after some year centuries, at present, it water is made of some way.

We already said as we prepare the royal water with the nitre spirit and of the ammonium salt.

In this key, the representation pictorial agrees with the description of the text because the sulphur of the gold, before its fixation, was volatile, for have flowed by the beak of the alembic with the respective water. Thus, the winged Dragon represents, and very well, the volatile and the fix. In our opinion this isn't the suitable manner for this symbolical meaning.

For us two Lions one yellow volatile and the other purple that represents the fix gold Sulphur should represent the suitable manner to the King symbological meaning.

Alquimicaly, the philosophical stone or universal medicine is constituted for three very well known beginnings: Sulphur, Mercury and Salt.

So, these three beginnings should be extracted from gold vitriol (gold trichloride).

In the end of the operations of the third key you are obtained, just, a subtle powder, dry and incombustible, of colour purple, that is, as we already said, the gold sulphur. They lack, therefore, more two beginnings, the mercury and the salt. To extract of the gold these two beginnings it would be necessary a great amount of vitriol (salt) of gold, what would be impracticable, given the high price of the noble metal.

That, the Master says in "Le Dernier Testament":

«An so it cannot this whole to find any humidity in the gold that is aqueous, if this be not reduced in vitriol, but this would be an useless work, of inexhaustible expense.»

«But I exhort my disciples, because that the nature left it a shorter way of the to keep and to proceed now, fearing that they don't hurry to extract the mercury of the gold, when it have been reduced in the destruction and own ruin of him, what was not practised by the old ones, because that is against-nature.»

It is evident that this process is against-nature as the Master charitably affirms, that, it finishes here the explanation of the text of the Twelve Keys here, for afterwards, indicate the way for the extraction of the three beginnings starting from the Roman vitriol.

«But you observe, above all, that this universal spirit (mercury) find itself in another metals, although, however, find itself parallelly and more effective incomparably in the spirit of a certain mineral, from where it can be extracted and prepared with very less work and expense...»

«And, therefore, the star of gold doesn't only meet in the gold, in such a way that only for the addition of the mercury spirit and of the golden sulphur, the philosophical stone may be made...»

«So that now I satisfy the rest of my promise and refer more than in my twelve keys said and that they contain, you know that any philosopher is not entirely forced to work on the metal of the gold...»

«For now, at this time, it is necessary that you learn that such soul or golden sulphur, such salt and spirit meets stronger and virtuous in Mars and Venus and, well like this, in the vitriol, as well as Mars and Venus been able to reconduct as for retrogradation in very virtuous and effective vitriol, in which metallic vitriol meets now under a sky all the three beginnings, to know, mercury, sulphur and salt and, each one of them it can particularly to extract and to obtain with little work and time, as you will understand, when does you, presently, a brief narration of a mineral vitriol that meets in Hungary, beautiful and of high degree.»

Basil Valentine sends us for a canonical native Mars and Venus vitriol, existent in Hungary, which one can also find, with relative easiness, in our country (Portugal), in the small lakes, near the pyrites mines and of chalcopyrite. In this natural vitriol, they also find these three beginnings.

«However, a such great dignity didn't never go granted to any other metal or mineral as advantageously as to the vitriol that is the philosophers' stone of which were made so much mentions...Therefore that the ancients had this mineral hidden to the last point and they hid it to its own children, what did with much precaution.»

«Because the best than it was shown as more probable and approved by my experience, is it who is extracted and it collected in Hungary, which is of a high colour degree, in anything different from the one of a beautiful blue sapphire colour and it has little of humidity in itself and little of noxious mineral quality...»

It is more that evident that the Master suggest us to make this work by vitriol distillation because the gold price. So, for us, alchemists, the remaining Keys have not any practical alchemical interest because the Master teaches us in clear language the modus operandi of vitriol work.

Now the main question: why the some Keys not agree with the text and with Mr.Canseliet comments?

The answer is in the 12 Keys of Basil Valentine. This work was first published in Ein kurtz summarischer Tractat, von dem grossem Stein der Uralten…,Eisleben, 1599 without illustrations and again at Leipzing in 1602 with some woodcuts of 12 Keys.

McLean Web: http://www.levity.com/alchemy_12keys.html

Basil Valentine’s book was published without illustrations and later someone in the 1602 edition put the illustrations in the book adapted at his own alchemical interpretation, which in our opinion, it not was the better.

To see illustrations and picture: [Key 3] [Key 3b] [Gold Sulphur]

Rubellus Petrinus