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THE CHYMICAL WEDDING
JOHANN VALENTIN ANDREAE
First digital edition 2017 by Gianluca Ruffini
THE FIRST DAY
THE SECOND DAY
THE THIRD DAY
THE FOURTH DAY
THE FIFTH DAY
THE SIXTH DAY
THE SEVENTH DAY
THE FIRST DAY
On an evening before Easter Day, I sat at a table, and having (as simfiliiul my custom was) in my humble prayer sufficiently conversed with my Creator, and considered many great mysteries (whereof the Father of Lights his Majesty had shown me not a few) and being now ready to prepare in my heart, together with my dear Paschal Lamb, a small, unleavened, undefiled cake; all of a sudden arose so horrible a tempest, that I imagined no other but that through its mighty force, the hill on which my little house was founded would fly into pieces.But inasmuch as this, and the like from the Devil (who had done me many a spite) was no new thing to me, I took courage, and persisted in my meditation, till somebody in an unusual manner touched me on the back; whereupon I was so hugely terrified, that I dared hardly look about me; yet I showed myself as cheerful as (in such occurrences) human frailty would permit. Now the same thing still twitching me several times by the coat, I looked back, and behold it was a fair and glorious lady, whose garments were all sky-coloured, and curiously (like Heaven) bespangled with golden stars; in her righthand,she bore a trumpet of beaten gold, on which a Name was engraved which I could well read but am as yet forbidden to reveal it. In her lefthand,she had a great bundle of letters of all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry to all countries. She also had large and beautiful wings, full of eyes throughout, with which she could mount aloft, and fly swifter than any eagle.
I might perhaps have been able to take further notice of her, but because she stayed so little time with me, and terror and amazement still possessed me, I had to be content. For as soon as I turned about, she turned her letters over and over, and at length drewout a small one, which with great reverence she laid down upon the table, and without giving one word, departed from me. But in her mounting upward, she gave so mighty a blast on her gallant trumpet, that the whole hill echoed from it, and for a full quarter of an hour after, I could hardly hear my own words.
In so unlooked for an adventure I was at a loss, how either to advise or to assist my poor self, and therefore fell upon my knees and besought my Creator to permit nothing contrary to my eternal happiness to befall me. Whereupon with fear and trembling, I went to the letter, which was now so heavy, that had it been mere gold it could hardly have been so weighty. Now as I was diligently viewing it, I found a little seal, on which a curious cross with this inscription, IN HOC SIGNO VINCES, was engraved.
Now as soon as I espied this sign I was the more comforted, as not being ignorant that such a seal was little acceptable, and much less useful, to the Devil. Whereupon I tenderly opened the letter, and within it, in an azure field, in golden letters, found the following verses written.
This day, todayIs the Royal Wedding day.For this thou wast bornAnd chosen of God for joyThou mayest go to the mountainWhereon three temples stand,And see there this affair.Keep watchInspect thyselfAnd shouldst thou not bathe thoroughlyThe Wedding may work thy bane.Bane comes to him who faileth hereLet him beware who is too light.
Below was written: Sponsus and Sponsa.
As soon as I had read this letter, I was presently like to have fainted away, all my hair stood on end, and a cold sweat tricked down my whole body. For although I well perceived that this was the appointed wedding, of which seven years before I was acquainted in a bodily vision, and which now for so long a time I had with great earnestness awaited, and which lastly, by the account and calculation of the planets, I had most diligently observed, I found so to be, yet could I never foresee that it musthappen under such grievous perilous conditions. For whereas I before imagined, that to be a welcome and acceptable guest, I needed only to be ready to appear at the wedding, I was now directed to Divine Providence, of which until this time I was never certain.
I also found by myself, the more I examinedmyself, that in my head there was nothing but gross misunderstanding, and blindness in mysterious things, so that I was not able to comprehend even those things which lay under my feet, and which I daily conversed with, much less that I should be born to the searching out and understanding of the secrets of Nature, since in my opinion Nature might everywhere find a more virtuous disciple, to whom to entrust her precious, though temporary and changeable, treasures.
I found also that my bodily behaviour, and outward good conversation, and brotherly love towards my neighbour, was not duly purged and cleansed.Moreover,the tickling of the flesh manifested itself, whose affection was bent only to pomp and bravery, and worldly pride, and not to the good of mankind: and I was always contriving how by this art I might in a short time abundantly increase my profit and advantage, rear up stately palaces, make myself an everlasting name in the world, and other similar carnal designs. But the obscure words concerning the three temples particularly afflicted me, which I was not able to make out by any after-speculation, and perhaps should not have done so yet, had they not been wonderfully revealed to me.
Thus stuck between hope and fear, examiningmyselfagain and again, and finding only my own frailty and impotence, not being in any way able to succour myself, and exceedingly amazed at the fore mentioned threatening, at length I betook myself to my usual and most secure course - after I had finished my earnest and most fervent prayer, I laid myself down in my bed, so that perchance my good angel by the Divine permission might appear, and (as it had sometimes formerly happened) instruct me in this doubtful affair. Which to the praise of God, my own good, and my neighbours’faithful and hearty warning and amendment, did now likewise come about.
For I was yet scarcely fallen asleep, when I thought that I, together with an innumerable multitude of men, lay fettered with great chains in a dark dungeon, in which, without the least glimpse of light, we swarmed like bees one over another, and thus rendered each other’s affliction more grievous. But although neither I nor any of the rest could see one jot, yet I continually heard one heaving himself above the other, when his chains and fetters had become ever so slightly lighter, though none of us had much reason to shove up above the other, since we were all captive wretches.
Now when I with the rest had continued a good while in this affliction, and each was still reproaching the other with his blindness and captivity, at length we heard manytrumpets sounding together and kettle drums beating in such a masterly fashion, that it even revived us in our calamity and made us rejoice.
During this noise the cover of the dungeon was lifted up from above, and a little light let down to us. Then first might truly have been discerned the bustle we kept, for all went pell-mell, and he who perchance had heaved himself up too much, was forced down again under the others’feet. In brief, each one strove to be uppermost. Neither did I myself linger, but with my weighty fetters slipped up from under the rest, and then heaved myself upon a stone, which I laid hold of; howbeit, I was caught at several times by others, from whom yet as well as I might, I still guarded myself with hands and feet. For we imagined no other but that we should all be set at liberty, which yet fell out quite otherwise.
For after the nobles who looked upon us from above through the hole had recreated themselves a while with our struggling and lamenting, a certain hoary-headed ancient man called to us to be quiet, and having scarcely obtained this, began (as I still remember) to speak on thus:
If the poor human raceWere not so arrogantIt would have been given much goodFrom my mother’s heritage,But because the human race will not take heedIt lies in such straitsAnd must be held in prison.And yet my dearest motherWill not regard their mischief,
She leaves her lovely giftsThat many a man might come to the light,Though this may chance but seldomThat they be better prizedNor reckoned as mere fable.
Therefore,in honour of the feastWhich we shall hold today,That her grace may be multipliedA good work will she do:The rope will now be loweredWhoever may hang on to it
He shall be freed.
He had scarcely finished speaking when an ancient matron commanded her servants to let down the cord seven times into the dungeon, and draw up whosoever could hang upon it. Good God! that I could sufficiently describe the hurry and disquiet that then arose amongst us; for everyone strove to get to the cord, and yet only hindered each other. But after seven minutes a sign was given by a little bell, whereupon at the first pull the servants drew up four. At thattime,I could not get very near the cord, having (as is before mentioned) to my huge misfortune, betaken myself to a stone at the wall of the dungeon; and thereby I was made unable to get to the cord which descended in the middle.
The cord was let down the second time, but many, because their chains were too heavy, and their hands too tender, could not keep their hold on the cord, but with themselves beat down many another who else perhaps might have held fast enough; nay, many a one was forcibly pulled off by another, who yet could not himself get at it, so mutually envious were we even in this our great misery.
But they of all others most moved my compassion whose weight was so heavy that they tore their very hands from their bodies, and yet could not get up.Thus,it came to pass that at those five times very few were drawn up. For as soon as the sign was given, the servants were so nimble at drawing the cord up, that the most part tumbled one upon another, and the cord, this time especially, was drawn up very empty.
Whereupon the greatest part, and even I myself, despaired of redemption, and called upon God that he would have pity on us, and (if possible) deliver us out of this obscurity; who then also heard some of us. For when the cord came down the sixth time, some of them hung themselves fast upon it; and whilst being drawn up, the cord swung from one side to the other, and (perhaps by the will of God) came to me, and I suddenly caught it, uppermost above all the rest, and so at length beyond hope came out. At which I rejoiced exceedingly, so that I did not perceive the wound which during the drawing up I had received on my head from a sharp stone, until I, with the rest who were released (as was always done before) had to help with the seventh and last pull; at which time through straining, the blood ran down all over my clothes, which I nevertheless because of my joy did not take notice of. Now when the last drawing up on which the most of all hung was finished, the matron caused the cord to be laid aside, and asked her aged son to declare her resolution to the rest of the prisoners, who after he had thought a little spoke thus unto them.
Ye childer dearYe who are here,It is completedWhat long hath been known,The great favour which my motherHath here shown you twainYe should not disdain:A joyful time shall soon be come.When each shall be the other’s equal,No one be poor or rich,And who was given great commandsMust bring much with him now,And who was much entrusted withStripped to the skin will be,
Wherefore leave off your lamentationWhich is but for a few days.
As soon as he had finished these words, the cover was again put to and locked down, and the trumpets and kettle-drums began afresh, yet the noise of them could not be so loud but that the bitter lamentation of the prisoners which arose in the dungeon was heard above all, which soon also caused my eyes to run over.
Presently afterwards the ancient matron, together with her son, sat down on seats before prepared, and commanded the redeemed should be told. Now as soon as she had demanded everyone’s name, which were also written down by a little page; having viewed us all, one after another, she sighed, and spoke to her son, so that I could well hear her,“Ah, how heartily I am grieved for the poor men in the dungeon! I would to God I could release them all.”
To which her son replied,“It is, mother, thus ordained by God, against whom we may not contend. If we were all of us lords, and possessed all the goods upon Earth, and were seated at table, who would there then be to bring up the service?”
Whereupon his mother held her peace, but soon after she said,“Well, however, let these be freed from their fetters,”which was likewise presently done, and I was the last except a few; yet I could not refrain (though I still looked upon the rest) but bowed myself before the ancient matron, and thanked God that through her, he had graciously and fatherly vouchsafed to bring me out of such darkness into the light. After me the rest did likewise, to the satisfaction of the matron.
Lastly, to everyone was given a piece of gold for a remembrance, and to spend by the way, on the one side of which was stamped the rising sun, and on the other (as Iremember) these three letters, D.L.S.; and therewith everyone had license to depart, and was sent to his own business with this annexed limitation, that we to the glory of God should benefit our neighbours, and reserve in silence what we had been entrusted with; which we also promised to do, and so departed one from another. But because of the wounds which the fetters had caused me, I could not well go forward, but halted on both feet, which the matron presently espying, laughing at it, and calling me again to her said thus to me:“My son, do not let this defect afflict you, but call to mind your infirmities, and therewith thank God who has permitted you even in this world, and in your state of imperfection, to come into so high a light; and keep these wounds for my sake.”
Whereupon the trumpets began to sound again, which gave me such a shock that I woke up, and then first perceived that it was only a dream, but it so strongly impressed my imagination that I was still perpetually troubled about it, and I thought I still felt the wounds on my feet. Howbeit, by all these things I understood well that God had vouchsafed that I should be present at this mysterious and bidden wedding. Wherefore with childlike confidence I returned thanks to his Divine Majesty, and besought him that he would further preserve me in fear of him, that he would daily fill my heart with wisdom and understanding, and at length graciously (without deserting me) conduct me to the desired end.
Hereupon I prepared myself for the way, put on my white linen coat, girded my loins, with a blood-red ribbon bound cross-ways over my shoulder. In my hat I stuck four red roses, so that I might sooner be noticed amongst the throng by this token. For food I took bread, salt and water, which by the counsel of an understanding person I had at certain times used, not without profit, in similar occurrences.
But before I left my cottage, I first, in this my dress and wedding garment, fell down upon my knees, and besought God that in case such a thing were, he would vouchsafe me a good issue. And thereupon in the presence of God I made a vow that if anything through his grace should be revealed to me, I would employ it to neither my own honour nor my own authority in the world, but to the spreading of his Name, and the service of my neighbour. And with this vow, and good hope, I departed out of my cell with joy.
THE SECOND DAY
I had hardly got out of my cell into a forest when I thought the whole heaven and all the elements had already trimmed themselves in preparation for this wedding. For eventhe birds chanted more pleasantly than before, and the young fawns skipped so merrily that they made my heart rejoice, and moved me to sing; wherefore with a loud voice I thus began:
Rejoice dear birdAnd praise thy Maker,Raise bright and clear thy voice,Thy God is most exalted,Thy food he hath prepared for theeTo give thee in due season.So be content therewith,Wherefore shalt thou not be glad,Wilt thou arraign thy GodThat he hath made thee bird?Wilt trouble thy wee headThat he made thee not a man?Be still, he hath it well bethoughtAnd be content therewith.What do I then, a worm of earthTo judge along with God?That I in this heaven’s stormDo wrestle with all art.Thou canst not fight with God.And whoso is not fit for this, let him be sped awayO Man, be satisfiedThat he hath made thee not the KingAnd take it not amiss,Perchance hadst thou despised his name,That were a sorry matter:For God hath clearer eyes that thatHe looks into thy heart,Thou canst not God deceive.
This I sang now from the bottom of my heart throughout the whole forest, so that it resounded from all parts, and the hills repeated my last words, until at length I saw a curious green heath, to which I betook myself out of the forest.
Upon this heath stood three lovely tall cedars, which by reason of their breadth afforded excellent and desired shade, at which I greatly rejoiced. For although I had not hitherto gone far, yet my earnest longing made me very faint, whereupon I hastened to the trees to rest a little under them. But as soon as I came somewhat closer, I saw a tablet fastenedto one of them, on which (as afterwards I read) in curious letters the following words were written:
“God,save you, stranger! If you have heard anything concerning the nuptials of the King, consider these words. By us the Bridegroom offers you a choice between four ways, all of which, if you do not sink down in the way, can bring you to his royal court. The first is short but dangerous, and one which will lead you into rocky places, through which it will scarcely be possible to pass. The second is longer, and takes you circuitously; it is plain and easy, if by the help of the Magnet you turn neither to left nor right. The third is that truly royal way which through various pleasures and pageants of our King, affords you a joyful journey; but this so far has scarcely been allotted to one in a thousand. By the fourth no man shall reach the place, because it is a consuming way, practicable only for incorruptible bodies. Choose now which one you will of the three, and persevere constantly therein, for now whichever you will enter, that is the one destined for you by immutable Fate, nor can you go back in it save at great peril to life. These are the things which we would have you know. But, ho, beware! you know not with how much danger you commit yourself to this way, for if you know yourself to be obnoxious by the smallest fault to the laws of our King, I beseech you, while it is still possible, to return swiftly to your house by the way you came.”