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Philalethes exposition of Ripley's Vision

This interesting exposition of a short poem of Sir George Ripley entitled his 'Vision', which uses symbolic ideas also explored in the Ripley Scrowle, is included in Philalethes, Eirenaeus. Ripley Reviv'd: or, an Exposition upon Sir George Ripley's Hermetico-Poetical Works. Containing the plainest and most excellent Discoveries of the most hidden Secrets of the Ancient Philosophers, that were ever yet published. Written by Eirenĉus Philalethes an Englishman, stiling himself Citizen of the World. London, Printed by Tho. Ratcliff and Nat. Thompson, for William Cooper at the Pelican in Little-Britain. 1678.

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The Vision of Sr George Ripley, Canon of Bridlington, Unfolded.

When busie at my Book I was upon a certain Night,
This Vision here exprest appear'd unto my dimmed sight:
A Toad full Ruddy I saw, did drink the juice of Grapes so fast,
Till over-charged with the broth, his Bowels all to brast:
And after that, from poyson'd Bulk he cast his Venom fell,
For Grief and Pain whereof his Members all began to swell;
With drops of Poysoned sweat approaching thus his secret Den,
His Cave with blasts of fumous Air he all bewhited then:
And from the which in space a Golden Humour did ensue,
Whose falling drops from high did stain the soyl with ruddy hue.
And when his Corps the force of vital breath began to lack,
This dying Toad became forthwith like Coal for colour Black:
Thus drowned in his proper veins of poysoned flood;
For term of Eighty days and Four he rotting stood
By Tryal then this Venom to expel I did desire;
For which I did commit his Carkass to a gentle Fire:
Which done, a Wonder to the sight, but more to be rehearst;
The Toad with Colours rare through every side was pierc'd;
And White appear'd when all the sundry hews were past:
Which after being tincted Ruddy, for evermore did last.
Then of the Venom handled thus a Medicine I did make;
Which Venom kills, and saveth such as Venom chance to take:
Glory be to him the granter of such secret ways,
Dominion, and Honour both, with Worship, and with Praise.

An Exposition upon Sir George Ripley's Vision.

Written by Ĉyrenĉus Philalethes, Anglus, Cosmopolita

The Vision of George Ripley, Canon of Bridlington, Unfolded.

This Vision is a Parable rather or Enigm, which the Ancient Wise Philosophers have been wont to use often in setting out their secrets; this Liberty is granted to all men for to make use of Enigmatical expressions, to decipher that which is indeed mysterious. The Ancient Egyptians taught much by Hieroglyphicks, which way many Fathers of this Science have followed; but most especially they have made use of Mystical or Cabalistical descriptions; such is this. But to the thing in hand.

A Toad full ruddy I saw.

Here we have a Toad described, and in it the whole secret of Philosophers: The Toad is Gold; so called, because it is an Earthly Body, but most especially for the black stinking venemosity which this operation comes to in the first days of its preparation, before the whiteness appear; during the Rule of Saturn, therefore it is called the ruddy Toad.

To this Authors assent with one accord; when they say our stone is nothing else but Gold digested unto the highest degree, to which Nature and Art, can bring it; and again the first work, saith another Philosopher, is to sublime Mercury, and then into clean Mercury to put clean bodies: many witnesses I could bring, yea the whole current of writers run this way: And what if some subtle Philosophers seem to deny this, on purpose to deceive the unwary? We shall not make it our work to reconcile them; (though we might) for many of them wrote very enviously, on purpose to ensnare; all of them wrote mysteriously, as much as they could to darken the truth: and at the best none of them were but men, and described things according to their apprehensions in Philosophy, none of them wrote in everything the naked truth; for then the Art would become so easie, that it would be condemned. But what needs words? we know the Truth, and we know by a secret Character, true Writers from Sophisters; and we need no Arguments being eye-witnesses our selves, and know that there is but one truth; not but one path, even the beaten path in which all who ever have attained this Art have trodden, nor can we be deceived our selves; nor would we deceive others.

Did drink the juice of Grapes.

This Toad is said to drink the juice of Grapes according to the Philosopher, the body, saith he, is not nobler than Gold, nor yet the water more precious than wine. This water they call sometimes Aqua Ardens, sometimes Acetum Acerrimum, but most commonly they call it their Mercury; this denomination I shall not insist upon; but shall assure you that is only deciphers Mercury, even that Mercury, of which I writ in my little Latine Treatise, called Introitus apertus ad occlusum Regis palatium; in that I discovered the whole Truth fully and nakedly, and if not too plainly, I am sure plain enough. I shall not here repeat; to that I remit the Reader.

This juice of Grapes this Toad is said to drink; that is not only in the gross Conjunction, which is an Impastation of the body, with the Water to the temper of Dough or Leaven, which the Water readily doth: such affinity there is between the Water and the Body; as the Philosopher saith, this Water is friendly and pleasant to the metals. But over, and besides the Water soaks Radically into our Body; being circulated upon it, according as the Philosopher saith, When its own sweat is returned to the Body, it perforates it marvellously. Thus the Body drinks in the Water, or Juice of Grapes, not so much then when they are first mingled: but most especially, when by Decoction it pierceth radically to the very profundity of it; and makes it to alter its Form; This is the Water which teareth the Bodies, and makes them no Bodies, but flying Spirits like a Smoak, Wind or Fume, as Artephius speaketh plentifully.

This operation is performed in a short while, in comparison of Subterraneal operations of Nature, which are done in a very long time; therefore it is that so many Philosophers say, that it is done in a very short time, and yet it is not without cause, that so many of the Philosophers have complained of the length of this decoction.

Therefore the same Artephius who had said, that this fire of the Water of our Mercury, doth that in a short time above ground, that Nature was in performing in a 1000 years, doth in another place say, that the tincture doth not come out at once, but by little and little each day, and hour, till after a long time the decoction be compleat, according to the saying of the Philosopher: Boyl, boyl, and again boyl, and accompt not tedious our long decoction.

So fast.

So then this expression here, that the Toad doth drink in the Juice of Grapes so fast, doth not imply but that this work must have the true time of Nature; which is indeed a long time, and so is every decoction at least: so they will seem to the Artist who attends the fire day by day, and yet must wait for the fruit with Patience, till the Heaven have showred down upon the Earth the former and latter Rain: yet be not out of heart, but attend until the compleatment, for then a large Harvest will abundantly recompence all thy toyl.

Till over-charged with the Broth, his Bowels all to brast.

It follows in the Vision, that at length the Toad (over-charged with the broth) did burst asunder; This broth is the same which the fair Medea did prepare, and pour upon the two Serpents which did keep the Golden Aples, which grew in the hidden Garden of the Virgins Hesperides.

For the Vinegre of the Philosophers being circulated upon the Body, doth engender a substance like unto a bloudy Broth, and makes Colours of the Rainbow, to appear in the ascension and descension upon your Lyon, until the Eagles have at length devoured the Lyon, and all together being killed with the Carion of the Carcasses become a venemous Toad, creeping on the Earth, and a Crow swimming in the midst of the dead Sea.

The Juice of Grapes then, which is our Mercury, drawn from the Chameleon or Air of our Physical Magnesia, and Chalybs Magical, being circulated upon our true Terra Lemnia; after it is grossly mixed with it by Incorporation, and set to our fire to digest, doth still enter in and upon our Body, and searcheth the profoundity of it; and makes the occult to become manifest by continual ascension and descension: till all together become a Broth; which is a mean substance of dissevered qualities, between the Water and the Body, till at length the Body burst asunder and be reduced into a Powder, like to the Atoms of the Sun, black of the blackest and of a viscous matter.

And after that, from poysoned bulk he cast his venom fell.

This Reduction of the Body, thus in this water ingenders so venemous a Nature, that truly in the whole World there is not a ranker Poyson, or stink, according as Philosophers witness: And therefore he is said to cast his fell venom from his poysoned bulk; in as much as the exhalations are compared to the Invenomed Fume of Dragons, as Flamell in his Summary hath such an Allusion. But the Philosopher (as he adds in his Hieroglyphicks of the two Dragons), never feels his stink, unless he break his Vessels, but only he judgeth it by the colours proceeding from the rottonness of the Confections.

And indeed it is a wonder to consider, (which some Sons of Art are eye-witnesses of) that the fixed and most digested Body of Gold; should so rot and putrify, as if it were a Carcass, which is done by the admirable Divine virtue of our dissolving Water, which no Money can purchase. All these operations, which are so enlarged by variety of expressions, center in one, which is killing the quick, and reviving the dead.

For grief and pain whereof his members all began to swell.

This venemous fume of exhalations returning upon the Body, cause it to swell all over according to the saying of the Philosopher; The Body in this Water puffeth up, swelleth and putrefieth as a Grain of Corn, taking the nature living and vegetable, therefore for this cause this Water is in this sence called by the Philosophers their Leaven, for as Leaven causeth Past to swell, so this fermented the body, and causeth it to tumefie and puff up; it is also called venom, for as this venom causeth swelling, so this Water by its reiteration uncessantly upon our body.

This operation is uncessant from the first incitation of the matter, even until compleat putrefaction; for the Toad doth always send forth his exhalations (being rather called the Lyon), till he be over-come in part: and then when the Body begins a little to put on the Nature of the Water, then it is compared to two Dragons, one winged, and the other without wings: and lastly when that stinking Earth appears, which Hermes calls his Terra Foliata, or Earth of Leaves, then it is most properly called the Toad of the Earth; from the first excitation, even to the last of this putrefaction; which exhalations are at the beginning for a time White, and afterwards become Yellowish, Blewish, and Blackish, (from the virulency of the matter) which exhalations hourly condensing, and ever and anon running down like little veins in drops, do enter the Body marvellously, and the more it is entred; the more it swells and puffs up, till at length it be compleatly putrefied.

With drops of poysoned sweat, approaching thus his secret Den.

The following two Verses then are but a more Ample description of this work; of volatilization which is an ascension, and descension, or circulation of the confections within the Glass. Which Glass here called the secret Den, is else-where called by the same Author, a little Glassen-tun, and is an oval Vessel; of the purest White Glass, about the bigness of an ordinary Hen-Egg, in the which about the quantity of an ounce of 8 drachms of the confection, in all mixed is a convenient proportion to be set, which being Sealed up with Hermes Seal, the Glass having a neck about 6 fingers high, or there-abouts, which being thin and narrow; is melted together Artificially, that no Spirits can get out, nor no Air can come in, in which respect it is named a secret Den.

Also it is called a secret Den, because of the secretness of Ashes or Sand, in which in a Philosophical Athanor it is set, the doores being firmly shut up, and a prospect left to look in by a Window, either to open a little, as much as is convenient sometimes, as occasion requires, or else with Glass put into it, to admit the view of the Artist; together with a light at hand to shew the colours.

His Cave with blasts of fumous Air, he all bewhited then.

Which Glass, Nest, and Furnace being thus secretly ordered, the Artist must in the first place expect to be in Prison a long time, as Bernard Trevisan saith, for the Concave of this secret place, will be so bewhited with the fumes which ascend, that an Artist rules his work more by skill and reason, or the eye of the mind, then of the Body, for the Spirits arising like a smoak or Wind, sticketh to the Concave of the Glass, which is above the Sand or Ashes, and there by degrees, there grow drops which run down and moisten the Body below, and reduce as much as they can of the fixed, and so the Body by the Water, and the Water by the Body alter their colours.

And from the which in space a Golden Humour did ensue.

In so much that at length, the whole Vessel will seem as though it were all over gilded with Gold, for the exhalations will be Yellow, which is a sign of true Copulation of our Man and Woman together, but before this Yellow, and with it there will be an obscuring of the White brightness of the Fume, with mixture of Colours, Dark, obscure and Blewish.

The space is not long, for all the several passages are conspicuous before 40 days; for in that space from these Colours, are demonstrating Signs of Corruption and Generation, which is given us by the biting, and fiery Nature of our pontick Waters, and the resistance of our Bodies; in which Fight the Body is over-come, and killed, and dying yields these Colours: which is a Sign that the Eagles now are getting the Mastery, and our Lyon hath also a little infected them with his Carcass, which they begin to prey upon. This Operation is by Ingenious Artists called Extraction of Natures, and Separation, for the Tincture begins now to be separated from the Body. Also Reduction to the first matter; which is Sperm or Seed, which by reason of its double Nature is compared to two Dragons. I shall not enlarge in this Vision, but briefly unfold what is briefly laid down.

Whose falling drops from high did stain the soyl with ruddy hue.

These colours of the Mercury, do affect the subsident fixed Body, with sutable colours and the Bodies from these exhalations, be Tincted with a ruddy colour, which Flamel expresseth to this purpose, that these two Natures, or Dragons do bite one another very cruelly; and never leave from the time they have seized one upon another; till by their slavering Venom, and mortal hurts, they be all or a gore bloud, and then being stewed in their own Venom, are changed into a fifth Essence.

And when his Corps the force of vital breath began to lack.

But before the renovation of these Natures, they must in the first place pass through the Eclipse, both of the Sun and Moon and the darkness of Purgatory, which is the Gate of Blackness, and after that they shall be renovated with the light of Paradise.

This Allegorically is called Death, for as a man will resist violence, which entrencheth upon his life as long as he can, but if his Enemies are many and mighty, at length they grow too mighty for him, and he begins to fail both in strength and courage, and so Paleness, the Harbinger of Death, doth stand as it were on his lips, so our Body or Man the Sun, like a strong Champion, doth resist long, till he be wounded, and bleed as it were all over, and then dies, at whose death blackness doth begin to appear, as of old the Ravens were foretellers of Man's death approaching: for this Reiteration of Rotation of the Influences of the Heaven of it, together with heat still drying up and soaking in the Moisture as fast as it falls, brings it at last naturally to die and corrupt, as any other thing doth.

And then the Corps begin to lack breath; that is, the Fumes begin to cease: for with oft ascending and descending the Spirits are somewhat fixed, and turned into Powder or Dust, and are now in the bottom of the Vessel, drawing fast to Putrefaction: Nor do they for a time ascend, but remain below.

Wherefore govern your Fire, that your Spirits be not so exalted, and climb so high that the Earth want them, and they return no more: For this Operation is, as Morien saith, a drawing out of Water from the Earth, and again a returning of the same to the Earth, so often and so long till the Earth putrefie.

This dying Toad became forthwith like Coal for colour black.

This is the final end of the Combat, for herein in this Earth of Leaves all are reconciled, and final Peace is made; and now one Nature embraceth another, in no other form but in the form of a Powder impalpable, and in no other colour but black of the blackest.

From henceforth Natures are united, and boil and bubble together like melted Pitch, and change their forms one into another. Take heed therefore lest instead of Powder Black of the Blackest, which is the Crows Bill, you have an unprofitable dry half red Precipitate, Orange-coloured, which is a certain sign of the Combustion of Flowers, or Vertue of the Vegetative Seed. On this very Rock I have stumbled, and do therefore warn you.

Thus drowned in his proper Veins of poysoned Flood.

It appears by all that hath been said, and by the undoubted Testimony of all Philosophers who have been Eye-witnesses to this Truth, that the work is not so tedious, nor so chargeable, but that in the simple way of Nature the Mastery is to be attained: for when once the true body is Impasted with its true Leven, it doth calcine it self, and dissolve it self for the dissolution of the Body into a black and changeable coloured Water, which is the sign of the egression of the Tincture, is the Congelation of the Spirits into this lowest Period of Obscurity, which is this black Powder like unto Lamp-Black, this is the Complement of Eclipsation, which Contrition begins soon after the Colours, Yellowish, Blewish, etc.

For term of Eighty Days and Four he rotting stood.

This Calcination begins with these Variation in Colour about the two and fortieth day, of fiftieth at the farthest, in a good Regimen: After which comes putrefying Corruption, like to the Scum of boiling bloody Broath or melted Pitch; but Blackness in part, to wit, Superficial, begins about the fortieth day after the stirring up of the matter, in case of right Progress and Regimen of the Fire, or about the fiftieth at farthest. But this drowning of him in his own Poyson, and stewing him in his own Broath, is the intire Blackness and Cimmerian utter Darkness of compleat Rottenness, which according to the Author, is for the space of eighty four days. This time is not certainly agreed upon by Authors: But in this they all agree, they prescribe so long time until the Complement. One writes, That this Blackest Black indures a long time, and is not destroyed in less than five months. Another writes, That the King when he enters into his Bath pulls off his Robe, and gives it to Saturn, from whom he receives a Black Shirt, which he keeps forty two days: And indeed it is two and forty days before he put on this Black Shirt instead of his Golden Robe, that is, be destroyed as touching his Solary Qualities, and become instead of Fixt, Citrine, Terrene, and Solid, a Fugitive, Black, Spiritual, Watery, and Flegmatic Substance: But Putridness begins not till the first Forms be put off; for so long as the Body may be reduced into its former Nature, it is not yet well ground and imbibed: grind therefore and imbibe, till thou see the Bodies to become no Bodies, but a Fume and Wind, and then circulating for a season, thou shalt see them settle and putrifie.

Saturn then will hold the Earth, which is Occidental, Retentative and Autumnal, in the West; then proceed to the North, where Mercury holdeth the Water, where the Matter is Watery and Flegmatick, as it is Winter, and the North expulsive. But they who divide the Operation into Saturn's Rule, and after him succeeding Jupiter, ascribe to Saturn the whole of Putridness, and to Jupiter the time of variety of Colours. After Jupiter, who holds but twenty or two and twenty days, comes Luna, the third Person, bright and fair, and she holds twenty good days, sometimes two over and above: In this Computation it is good to count from the fortieth or fiftieth day of the first beginning of the Stone, to the fourteenth or sixteenth day of Jupiter's Reign, wherein in the washing of Laton there is still Blackness, though mixed with variety of gay Colours, which amounteth to the sum of days allowed by the Author in Putrifaction, to wit, Eighty four days. Accounting intire Blackness, with Augurellus, after four times eleven days and nights, which make four and forty: Or, according to another Philosopher, which saith, In the first Fifty Days there appears the True Crow, and after it in Threescore and Ten Dayes the White Dove; and after in Fourscore and Ten Days the Tyrian Colour.

By Tryal then this Venom to expel I did desire;
For which I did commit his Carkass to a gentle Fire.

Which done, a Wonder to the sight, but more to be rehearst;
The Toad with Colours rare through every side was pierc'd;

And White appear'd when all the sundry hews were past:
Which after being tincted Ruddy, for evermore did last.

I shall add my own Sentence: Mix thy two Natures well, and if thy matter be pure, both the Body, and the Water, and the internal Heat of thy Bath as it ought to be, and the external Fire gentle, and not violent; yet so that the Matter may circulate, the Spiritual Nature on the Corporal, in six and forty or fifty days expect the beginning of intire Blackness; and after six and fifty days more, or sixty, expect the Peacocks Tayl, and Colours of the Rainbow; and after two and twenty days more, or four and twenty, expect Luna perfect, the Whitest White, which will grow more and more glorious for the space of twenty days, or two and twenty at the most: After which, in a little more increased Fire, expect the Rule of Venus for the space of forty days, or two and forty; and after it the Rule of Mars two and forty days more; and after him the rule of Sol flavus forty days, or two and forty: And then in a moment comes the Tyrian Colour, the sparkling Red, the fiery Vermilion, and Red Poppy of the Rock.

Then of the Venom handled thus a Medicine I did make,
Which Venom kills, and saveth such as Venom chance to take.

Thus onely by Decoction these Natures are changed and altered so wonderfully to this blessed Tincture, which expelleth all Poyson, though it self were a deadly Poyson before the Preparation, yet after it is the Balsam of Nature, expelling all Diseases, and cutting them off as it were with one Hook, all that are accidental to Humane frail Body, which is wonderful.

Glory be to Him the Grantor of such secret Ways,
Dominion and Honour both, with Worship, and with Praise. Amen.

Now God only is the Dispenser of these glorious Mysteries: I have been a true Witness of Nature unto thee,and I know that I write true, and all Sons of Art shall by my Writings know that I am a Fellow-Heir with them of this Divine Skill. To the Ignorant I have wrote so plain as may be, and more I had written if the Creator of all things had given me larger Commission. Now to Him alone, as is due, be all Honour, and Power, and Glory, who made all things, and giveth knowledge to whom he listeth of his Servants, and conceals where he pleaseth: To Him be ascribed, as due is, all Service and Honour. And now, Brother, whoever enjoyeth this rare Blessing of God, improve all thy strength to do him service with it, for he is worthy of it, who hath created all things, and for whose sake they were and are created.

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