The Turba Philosophorum - Arthur Edward Waite - ebook

The Turba Philosophorum ebook

Arthur Edward Waite



The Turba Philosophorum , or Assembly of the Sages. An Ancient Alchemical Treatise, with the chief Readings of the Shorter Codex. Parallels from Greek Alchemists. and Explanations of obscure terms. Translated, with Introduction and Notes, by A.E. Waite. A great symposium or debate of the Adepts assembled in convocation. The work ranks next to Gober as a fountain-head of alchemy in Western Europe. It reects the earliest Byzantine, Syrian and Arabian writers. This famous work is accorded the highest place among the works of Alchemical Philosophy which are available for the students in the English language.

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The Turba Philosophorum

Arthur Edward Waite


The First Dictum.

The Second Dictum.

The Third Dictum.

The Fourth Dictum.

The Fifth Dictum.

The Sixth Dictum.

The Seventh Dictum.

The Eighth Dictum.

The Ninth Dictum.

The Tenth Dictum.

The Eleventh Dictum.

The Twelfth Dictum.

The Thirteenth Dictum.

The Fourteenth Dictum.

The Fifteenth Dictum.

The Sixteenth Dictum.

The Seventeenth Dictum.

The Eighteenth Dictum.

The Nineteenth Dictum.

The Twentieth Dictum.

The Twenty-first Dictum.

The Twenty-Second Dictum.

The Twenty-third Dictum.

The Twenty-fourth Dictum.

The Twenty-fifth Dictum.

The Twenty-Sixth Dictum.

The Twenty-Seventh Dictum.

The Twenty-Eighth Dictum.

The Twenty-Ninth Dictum.

The Thirtieth Dictum.

The Thirty-First Dictum.

The Thirty-Second Dictum.

The Thirty-Third Dictum.

The Thirty-Fourth Dictum.

The Thirty-Fifth Dictum.

The Thirty-Sixth Dictum.

The Thirty-Seventh Dictum.

The Thirty-Eighth Dictum.

The Thirty-Ninth Dictum.

The Fortieth Dictum.

The Forty-First Dictum.

The Forty-Second Dictum.

The Forty-Third Dictum.

The Forty-Fourth Dictum.

The Forty-Fifth Dictum.

The Forty-Sixth Dictum.

The Forty-Seventh Dictum.

The Forty-Eighth Dictum.

The Forty-Ninth Dictum.

The Fiftieth Dictum.

The Fifty-First Dictum.

The Fifty-Second Dictum.

The Fifty-Third Dictum.

The Fifty-Fourth Dictum.

The Fifty-Fifth Dictum.

The Fifty-Sixth Dictum.

The Fifty-Seventh Dictum.

The Fifty-Eighth Dictum.

The Fifty-Ninth Dictum.

The Sixtieth Dictum.

The Sixty-First Dictum.

The Sixty-Second Dictum.

The Sixty-Third Dictum.

The Sixty-Fourth Dictum.

The Sixty-Fifth Dictum.

The Sixty-Sixth Dictum.

The Sixty-Seventh Dictum.

The Sixty-Eighth Dictum.

The Sixty-Ninth Dictum.

The Seventieth Dictum.

The Seventy-First Dictum.

The Seventy-Second Dictum.


The Turba Philosophorum, A. E. Waite

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9


ISBN: 9783849606350

[email protected]

The Turba Philosophorum

The Epistle of Arisleus, prefixed to the Words of the Sages, concerning the Purport of this Book, for the Benefit of Posterity, and the same being as here follows:-

Arisleus, begotten of Pythagoras, a disciple of the disciples by the grace of thrice great Hermes, learning from the seat of knowledge, unto all who come after wisheth health and mercy. I testify that my master, Pythagoras, the Italian, master of the wise and chief of the Prophets, had a greater gift of God and of Wisdom than was granted to any one after Hermes. Therefore he had a mind to assemble his disciples, who were now greatly increased, and had been constituted the chief persons throughout all regions for the discussion of this most precious Art, that their words might be a foundation for posterity. He then commanded Iximidrus, of highest council, to be the first speaker, who said:-

The First Dictum.

Iximidrus Saith:- I testify that the beginning of all things is a Certain Nature, which is perpetual, coequalling all things, and that the visible natures, with their births and decay, are times wherein the ends to which that nature brings them are beheld and summoned. Now, I instruct you that the stars are igneous, and are kept within bounds by the air. If the humidity and density of the air did not exist to separate the flames of the sun from living things, then the Sun would consume all creatures. But God has provided the separating air, lest that which He has created should be burnt up. Do you not: observe that the Sun when it rises in the heaven overcomes the air by its heat, and that the warmth penetrates from the upper to the lower parts of the air? If, then, the air did not presently breathe forth those winds whereby creatures are generated, the Sun by its heat would certainly destroy all that lives. But the Sun is kept in check by the air, which thus conquers because it unites the heat of the Sun to its own heat, and the humidity of water to its own humidity. Have you not remarked how tenuous water is drawn up into the air by the action of the heat of the Sun, which thus helps the water against itself? If the water did not nourish the air by such tenuous moisture, assuredly the Sun would overcome the air. The fire, therefore, extracts moisture from the water, by means of which the air conquers the fire itself. Thus, fire and water are enemies between which there is no consanguinity, for the fire is hot and dry, but the water is cold and moist. The air, which is warm and moist, joins these together by its concording medium; between the humidity of water and the heat of fire the air is thus placed to establish peace. rind look ye all how there shall arise a spirit from the tenuous vapour of the air, because the heat being joined to the humour, there necessarily issues something tenuous, which will become a wind. For the heat of the Sun extracts something tenuous out of the air, which also becomes spirit and life to all creatures. All this, however, is disposed in such manner by the will of God, and a coruscation appears when the heat of the Sun touches and breaks up a cloud.

The Turba saith:- Well hast thou described the fire, even as thou knowest concerning it, and thou hast believed the word of thy brother.

The Second Dictum.

Exumedrus saith:- I do magnify the air according to the mighty speech of Iximidrus, for the work is improved thereby. The air is inspissated, and it is also made thin; it grows warm and becomes cold. The inspissation thereof takes place when it is divided in heaven by the elongation of the Sun; its rarefaction is when, by the exaltation of the Sun in heaven, the air becomes warm and is rarefied. It is comparable with the complexion of Spring, in the distinction of time, which is neither warm nor cold. For according to the mutation of the constituted disposition with the altering distinctions of the soul, so is Winter altered. The air, therefore, is inspissated when the Sun is removed from it, and then cold supervenes upon men.

Whereat the Turba said:- Excellently hast thou described the air, and given account of what thou knowest to be therein.

The Third Dictum.

Anaxagoras saith:- I make known that the beginning of all those things which God hath created is weight and proportion, for weight rules all things, and the weight and spissitude of the earth is manifest in proportion; but weight is not found except in body. And know, all ye Turba, that the spissitude of the four elements reposes in the earth; for the spissitude of fire falls into air, the spissitude of air, together with the spissitude received from the fire, falls into water; the spissitude also of water, increased by the spissitude of fire and air, reposes in earth. Have you not observed how the spissitude of the four elements is conjoined in earth! The same, therefore, is more inspissated than all.

Then saith the Turba:- Thou hast well spoken. Verily the earth is more inspissated than are the rest. Which, therefore, is the most rare of the four elements and is most worthy to possess the rarity of these four?

He answereth:- Fire is the most rare among all, and thereunto cometh what is rare of these four. But air is less rare than fire, because it is warm and moist, while fire is warm and dry; now that which is warm and dry is more rare than the warm and moist.

They say unto him:- The which element is of less rarity than air!

He answereth:- Water, since cold and moisture inhere therein, and every cold humid is of less rarity than a warm humid.

Then do they say unto him:- Thou hast spoken truly. What, therefore, is of less rarity than water?

He answereth:- Earth, because it is cold and dry, and that which is cold and dry is of less rarity than that which is cold and moist.

Pythagoras saith:- Well have ye provided, O Sons of the Doctrine, the description of these four natures, out of which God hath created all things. Blessed, therefore, is he who comprehends what ye have declared, for from the apex of the world he shall not find an intention greater than his own! Let us, therefore, make perfect our discourse.

They reply:- Direct every one to take up our speech in turn. Speak thou, O Pandolfus!

The Fourth Dictum.

But Pandolfus saith:- I signify to posterity that air is a tenuous matter of water, and that it is not: separated from it. It remains above the dry earth, to wit, the air hidden in the water, which is under the earth. If this air did not exist, the earth would not remain above the humid water.

They answer:- Thou hast said well; complete, therefore, thy speech.

But he continueth:- The air which is hidden in the water under the earth is that which sustains the earth, lest it should be plunged into the said water; and it, moreover, prevents the earth from being overflowed by that water. The province of the air is, therefore, to fill up and to make separation between diverse things, that is to say, water and earth, and it is constituted a peacemaker between hostile things, namely, water and fire, dividing these, lest they destroy one another.

The Turba saith:- If you gave an illustration hereof, it would be clearer to those who do not understand.

He answereth:- An egg is an illustration, for therein four things are conjoined; the visible cortex or shell represents the earth, and the albumen, for white part, is the water. But a very thin inner cortex is joined to the outer cortex, representing, as I have signified to you, the separating medium between earth and water, namely, that air which divides the earth from the water. The yolk also of the egg represents fire; the cortex which contains the yolk corresponds to that other air which separates the water from the fire. But they are both one and the same air, namely, that which separates things frigid, the earth from the water, and that which separates the water from the fire. But the lower air is thicker than the upper air, and the upper air is more rare and subtle, being nearer to the fire than the lower air. In the egg, therefore, are four things- earth, water, air, and fire. But the point of the Sun, these four excepted, is in the centre of the yolk, and this is the chicken. Consequently, all philosophers in this most excellent art have described the egg as an example, which same thing they have set over their work.

The Fifth Dictum.

Arisleus saith:- Know that the earth is a hill and not a plain, for which reason the Sun does not ascend over all the zones of the earth in a single hour; but if it were flat, the sun would rise in a moment over the whole earth.

Parmenides saith:- Thou hast spoken briefly, O Arisleus!

He answereth: Is there anything the Master has left us which bears witness otherwise? Yet I testify that God is one, having never engendered or been begotten, and that the head of all things after Him is earth and fire, because fire is tenuous and light, and it rules all things on earth, but the earth, being ponderous and gross, sustains all things which are ruled by fire.

The Sixth Dictum.

Lucas saith:- You speak only about four natures; and each one of you observes something concerning these. Now, I testify unto you that all things which God hath created are from these four natures, and the things which have been created out of them return into them, In these living creatures are generated and die, and all things take place as God hath predestinated.

Democritus, the disciple of Lucas, answereth:- Thou hast well spoken, O Lucas, when dealing with the four natures!

Then saith Arisleus:- O Democritus, since thy knowledge was derived from Lucas, it is presumption to speak among those who are well acquainted with thy master!

Lucas answereth:- albeit Democritus received from me the science of natural things, that knowledge was derived from the philosophers of the Indies and from the Babylonians; I think he surpasses those of his own age in this learning.

The Turba answereth:- When he attains to that age he will give no small satisfaction, but being in his youth he should keep silence.

The Seventh Dictum.

Lucusta saith:- All those creatures which have been described by Lucas are two only, of which one is neither known nor expressed, except by piety, for it is not seen or felt.

Pythagoras saith:- Thou hast entered upon a subject which, if completed, thou wilt describe subtly. State, therefore, what is this thing which is neither felt, seen, nor known.

Then he:- It is that which is not known, because in this world it is discerned by reason without the clients thereof, which are sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. O Crowd of the Philosophers, know you not that it Is only sight which can distinguish white from black, and hearing only which can discriminate between a good and bad word! Similarly, a wholesome odour cannot be separated by reason from one which is fetid, except through the sense of smell, nor can sweetness be discriminated from bitterness save by means of taste, nor smooth from rough unless by touch.

The Turba answereth:- Thou hast well spoken, yet hast thou omitted to treat of that particular thing which is not known, or described, except by reason and piety.

Saith he:- Are ye then in such haste! Know that the creature which is cognised in none of these five ways is a sublime creature, and, as such, is neither seen nor felt, but is perceived by reason alone, of which reason Nature confesses that God is a partaker.

They answer:- Thou hast spoken truly and excellently.

And he:- I will now give a further explanation. Know that this creature, that is to say, the world, hath a light, which is the Sun, and the same is more subtle than all other natures, which light is so ordered that living beings may attain to vision. But if this subtle light were removed, they would become darkened, seeing nothing, except the light of the moon, or of the stars, or of fire, all which are derived from the light of the Sun, which causes all creatures to give light. For this God has appointed the Sun to be the light of the world, by reason of the attenuated nature of the Sun. And know that the sublime creature before mentioned has no need of the light of this Sun, because the Sun is beneath that creature, which is more subtle and more lucid. This light, which is more lucid than the light of the Sun, they have taken from the light of God, which is more subtle than their light. Know also that the created world is composed of two dense things and two rare things, but nothing of the dense is in the sublime creature. Consequently the Sun is rarer than all inferior creatures.

The Turba answereth:- Thou hast excellently described what thou hast related. And if, good Master, thou shalt utter anything whereby our hearts may be vivified, which now are mortified by folly, thou wilt confer upon us a great boon!

The Eighth Dictum.

Pythagoras saith:- I affirm that God existed before all things, and with Him was nothing, as He was at first. But know, all ye Philosophers, that I declare this in order that I may fortify your opinion concerning these four elements and arcana, as well as in the sciences thereof, at which no one can arrive save by the will of God. Understand, that when God was alone, He created four things- fire, air, water, and earth, out of which things He afterwards created all others, both the sublime and the inferior, because He predestinated from the beginning that all creatures extracted from water should multiply and increase, that they might dwell in the world and perform His judgments therein. Consequently, before all, He created the four elements, out of which He afterwards created what He willed, that is to say, diverse creatures, some of which were produced from a single element.

The Turba saith:- Which are these, O Master!

And he:- They are the angels, whom He created out of fire.

But the Turba:- Which, then, are created out of two?