The Alchemy web site on

Muller's allegory

Extracted from Patrick Ruthven's commonplace book in Edinburgh University Library.
Back to allegories.

The copy of D. M[uller] letter written to the Earl of Argyle, containing the whole work enigmatically as he conceived it, first out of the former wheels and cipher of Trithemius, and then made it with his own hands: copied by me from the original letter under D.M. own hand; copied, I say, anno 1629 October 2 per me Patricium Ruthuenum.

Right Honourable,

Your earnest desire to profit in this study of metaphysical philosophy, I thought it good to give your Lordship a taste of such marrow as I have by God's assistance sucked out of the bones of old philosophy. First, therefore, taking it pro confesso, esse artem, quam vocant chemicam ["through confession, to be the art, which they call chemica"], and that the same is most firmly founded and grounded upon invincible maxims, and undeniable principles, as by manifold authorities and apologetic arguments (too strong to admit any contradiction) may fully appear, I say taking that, and diverse other needless doubts daily in contumely of this admirable art, as granted and fully resolved; I have made choice to leave all questions concerning the possibility of the art, and to set down only the very true and lively method and order which I would follow, in case I now were ready to put a practical hand to perform the effect of all my rhetorical speculations.

And therefore where I find by the relation of diverse credible authors, that not far from that famoured Neptunian Metropolis, there lurketh in the hidden caverns of one huge Mountain a most ugly venomous, and horrid, flying dragon and that without the living blood of such a one, this great work cannot be performed, I say that he will endeavour to bring this work to effect, must of necessity be of an invincible courage to wage war with so full a Monster, and thither he must, where if he fortune to fail of Hercules strength to get the golden apples of the Hesperides; yet let him be so politic, that he can with Jason insinuate with Medea to master that Monster, so as though he can not possibly quite extinguish and defeat him, that yet he fail not to bring away with him a good share of the strongest and deadliest poison that is within him. If it be the true venom, it will show in the open air the very natural colour of the heaven, but let him be very circumspect in carrying it, lest it breed his bain, for it is wonderfully subtle and penetrative, and therefore take heed that thou give it no, not the least vent, and keep it part by itself. When thou hast furnished thy self with this strong intoxication, then get thee speedily to another huge mountain consecrate to the Virgin Mary, whom the Gods by one old decree, in the General Council held at the beginning, established and consecrated with the keeping of all the broken and waned moons, who have made choice of that place to be her Gazophylacium for that purpose.

Scoff not at this fiction, though it seem fabulous, and there once arrayed thou shalt be kindly entertained being a stranger especially if thou covet to see that Treasure - where either the doorkeeper or some other employed of trust there, will not stick for small consideration to let thee have a cast of his office and pleasure thee with the broken offals of some of these waned moons. As soon as thou has got it, fly thee to the Cyclops forge, but in any case see that Vulcan be not at home, and get one of them to beat thy old fragment into book leaves upon their subtle anvils, for without the Cyclops help herein to temper thy Moon metal, it would not abide, but would fly from thee quickly into his own region of the sky, the Sphere of the Moon. This done yet has thou one more journey to make before thou return, namely into North Albion, where is a famous river generally known to be of this virtue, that so often as the Sun shineth brightly upon the same, it retaineth so strongly the influence thereof, that often times in the bottom thereof are found certain rays of the Sun so purely bright and refulgent, as no eye can possibly discern them to be of one other substance, than of the Natural Sun.

Dive for and get thereof a good quantity, and do with this in all respects as I directed thee to do with thy broken Moons: and let each of all these be kept apart till thou have occasion to use them severally.

Thus thoroughly furnished with materials, build thee up a furnace in the forge of Philosophy. Let Zacharius by thy Architect, herein he will either make it for thee himself, or will not stick to let thee have his model: howsoever I would advise thee to take his advice. Thy furnace artificially framed, there is a bird called Hyle bred in the fire that layeth transparent eggs. This bird is most commonly found, near some convent of sable friars, who for the most part love to sit by good and warm fires. Choose one of the purest and clearest eggs, the best have the longest neck. When thy shall is clean washed, and nothing left within it, then take the venomous blood of thy Dragon, and purge it after this manner. Take a hare, and pour it into her body, and presently bind up fast all the vents both behind and before, and course her so long that all the venom sweat out again at her sides. When the hare beginneth to sweat, then have a clean vessel of glass ready to receive the azure drops of the distilling venom, and immediately let it be poured into the translucent eggshell but not above the quantity of nine drops, wherein infuse one of the leaves of thy battered Moon. Then stir them well together, and presently set Hermes Seal upon the vent of thy eggshell, and print it well that thou mayest easily perceive, if any have offered to meddle with thy work. This done carry it into the forge of Philosophy, and place it in thy furnace where art requireth. But now followeth a most hard task to be performed, and that is, thou must of necessity entreat Jupiter, that he would be content to spare thee Vulcan the forger of his thunderclaps, to attend this thy world wondered, for without his continual presence thou canst do nothing, yea all thy labour is lost. And having obtained this at Jupiter's hand, then hast thou himself to entreat, who I assure thee, is of a very crabbed disposition, and sullen demeanour, but never leave using of mild terms, and gentle motives, till thou hast reclaimed him from his churlishness, and made him affable and tractable. All which he will be very willing to perform, if thou cast but procure Venus once to smile upon him, for with one hours dalliance she can enjoin him even a whole years task, without grudging or gainsaying.

He thus reclaimed and lenified, set him to his task, but be sure thou have a watchful eye over him, lest any matter unfortunately crossing his now mild disposition, should unhappily move him to impatience, and so in fury, he might happen to set the forge and all on fire, and then wert thou undone. But if thou canst like a philosopher, keep him in a mild and temperate mood, then shalt thou see his continued temperance show itself in the orderly process of they work.

Further shalt thou see the Man in the Moon first clad all in a suit of black satin, and after that in due process of time will he appear in another suit as white as snow, and when thou seest these successive alterations, then stroke Vulcan's head, and say he is a good boy and tell him Venus shall thank him for his pains, if he will continue yet a while longer, but in any case take heed you increase not his diet, nor give him no food of a dry or combustible quality, for then all is lost, but keep him yet at a straight diet, and still hold him hard to his task.

When the Man in the Moon hast had on his whitest garment, and that you see him once put on his yellow girdle, then O! then, even then, break open the seal warily, and add to thy composition one leaf of the rays of the Sun which thou must have always in readiness to watch this opportunity withal, ah, then shalt thou see there how gladly friends that have been so long absent will embrace each other, but as soon as ever it is put within the shell, presently clap on the seal again, and see thou remove not the shell out of his place, for the doing thereof. Nor ever let Vulcan's eyes so much as one's wink from his labour, but hold him incessantly at his work, and thou shalt see that if thou and Vulcan prove careful workmen, thy first Man of the Moon will once again in due time, if thou have patience to abide the time, show himself in his former colours.

And first of Black, but much more black and of a far deeper dye in grain, and after in white again fare exceeding the former. If you please here to break off your work, then may you by virtue of this whiteness make daily new moons at your pleasure, but better it were to bide a little longer, and then you shall see this whiteness turn into red, and so little by little, it will wear into a deep sanguine red, in such grain as you cannot imagine a deeper, and this is called the crocus solis, wherewith you may dye every imperfect body into the natural colour of the Sun, and then is your wished work at an end, and now thou mayest give Vulcan leave to sport him for a time, till thy further occasion.

If you will try whither thou hast wrought wisely, take one part of thy red powder and first project it upon 10 parts of thy reserved Sun rays, and it will all become Medicine of Metals, and then project one part of that on ten parts of Mercury, and thou shall see thy Medicine will turn this little star into a bright and perfect shining Sun.

If thy saffron grow scant, then mayest thou easily multiply it into more, then make it anew, and that thou mayest do by continuing thy first course till thou comest to put in thy Sun's rays, and then instead of them, infuse so much of thy reserved sovereign saffron, and that will hasten the perfection of thy work, and so mayest thou use it to the glory of God that gave it thee, to thy own honour, and to the exceeding great comfort of all the distressed members of Christ, thy own brethren.

I say with this thou may instantly heal all manner of diseases of all living creatures, restore the sick to their health, preserve the whole from sickness, and continue them both, in one assured estate of health, until that hour appointed by God to call them hence for their original sin. Thou mayest also help all the infirmities of vegetables, and of crystal make rubies, and all kinds of precious stones.

Judge then whither this be not the rarest gift, that God hast given to Man, next after his soul, and the salvation of the same.

Use therefore this Sacred Gift as a means whereby to acknowledge the goodness of so Gracious a God, and take heed thou abuse not both Him and His gifts, and think that in this, thou art but God's Steward, and must give to Him a full account, how thou hast used this thy talent, for to whom he lendeth much, of him shalt much be required.


If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.
Alchemical texts

16th Century
Practical alchemy
Philosophical alchemy

17th Century
Practical alchemy
Philosophical alchemy

18th Century
Practical alchemy
Philosophical alchemy

Alchemical poetry

Alchemical allegories

Works of Nicolas Flamel
Works of George Ripley
Works of Sendivogius
Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum
Emerald tablet of Hermes
Rosicrucian texts
Literary works
Texts from Musaeum Hermeticum

Spanish alchemical texts
German alchemical texts
French alchemical texts
Russian alchemical texts
Italian alchemical texts