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Tabula Smaragdina

The Emerald Tablet from the Geheime figuren

This picture, plain and insignificant in appearance,
Concealeth a great and important thing.

Yea, it containeth a secret of the kind
That is the greatest treasure in the world.

For what on this earth is deemed more excellent
Than to be a Lord who ever reeketh with gold,

And hath also a healthy body,
Fresh and hale all his life long,

Until the predestined time
That cannot be overstepped by any creature.

All this, as I have stated, clearly
Is contained within this figure.

Three separate shields are to be seen,
And on them are eagle, lion, and free star.

And painted in their very midst
Artfully stands an imperial globe.

Heaven and Earth in like manner
Are also placed herein intentionally,

And between the hands outstretched towards each other
Are to be seen the symbols of metals.

And in the circle surrounding the picture
Seven words are to be found inscribed.

Therefore I shall now tell
What each meaneth particularly

And then indicate without hesitation
How it is called by name.

Therein is a secret thing of the Wise
In which is to be found great power.

And how to prepare it will also
Be described in the following:

The three shields together indicate
Sal, Sulphur and Mercurium.

The Sal hath been one Corpus that
Is the very last one in the Art.

The Sulphur henceforth is the soul
Without which the body can do nothing.

Mercurius is the spirit of power,
Holding together both body and soul,

Therefore it is called a medium
Since whatever is made without it hath no stability.

For soul and body could not die
Should spirit also be with them.

And soul and spirit could not be
Unless they had a body to dwell in,

And no power had body or spirit
If the soul did not accompany them.

This is the meaning of the Art:
The body giveth form and constancy,

The soul doth dye and tinge it,
The spirit maketh it fluid and penetrateth it.

And therefore the Art cannot be
In one of these three things alone.

Nor can the greatest secret exist alone:
It must have body, soul, and spirit.

And now what is the fourth,
From which the three originate,

The same names teach thee
And the sevenfold star in the lower shield.

The Lion likewise by its colour and power
Showeth its nature and its property.

In the Eagle yellow and white are manifest.
Mark my words well, for there is need of care:

The imperial orb doth exhibit
The symbol of this highest good.

Heaven and earth, four elements,
Fire, light, and water, are therein.

The two hands do testify with an oath
The right reason and the true knowledge,

And from what roots are derived
All of the metals and many other things.

Now there remain only the seven words,
Hear further what they mean:

If thou dost now understand this well
This knowledge shall nevermore fail thee.

Every word standeth for a city
Each of which hath but one gate.

The first signifieth gold, is intentionally yellow.
The second for fair white silver.

The third, Mercurius, is likewise grey.
The fourth for tin, is heaven-blue.

The fifth for iron, is blood-red.
The sixth for copper, is true green.

The seventh for lead, is black as coal.
Mark what I mean, understand me well:

In these city gates, indeed,
Standeth the whole ground of the Art.

For no one city alone can effect anything,
The others must also be close at hand.

And as soon as the gates are closed
One cannot enter any city.

And if they had no gates
Not one thing could they accomplish.

But if these gates are close together
A ray of light appeareth from seven colors.

Shining very brightly together
Their might is incomparable.

Thou canst not find such wonders on earth,
Wherefore hearken unto further particulars:

Seven letters, and seven words,
Seven cities, and seven gates,

Seven times, and seven metals,
Seven days, and seven ciphers.

Whereby I mean seven herbs
Also seven arts and seven stones.

Therein stands every lasting art.
Well for him who findeth this.

If this be too hard for thee to understand
Here me again in a few other particulars:

Truly I reveal to thee
Very clearly and plainly, without hatred or envy,

How it is named with one word
Vitriol, for him who understandeth it.

If thou wouldst oft figure out
This Cabbalistic way with all diligence,

Seven and fifty in the cipher
Thou findest figured everywhere.

Let not the Work discourage thee,
Understand me rightly, so shalt thou enjoy it.

Besides that, note this fully,
There is a water which doth not make wet.

From it the metals are produced,
It is frozen as hard as ice.

A moistened dust a fuller wind doth raise,
Wherein are all qualities.

If thou dost not understand this,
Then I may not name it for thee otherwise.

Now I will instruct thee
How it should be prepared.

There are seven ways for this art,
If thou neglectest any of them thou workest in vain.

But thou must, before all things else, know
Thou hast to succeed in purification.

And although this be twofold,
Thou art in need of one alone.

The first work is freely done by it
Without any other addition,

Without distilling something in it,
Simply through its putrefication.

From all of its earthliness
Is everything afterwards prepared.

This first way hath two paths,
Happy is he who goeth on the right path.

The first extendeth through the strength of fire,
With and in itself, note this well.

The second extendeth further
Until one cometh to treasure and to gain.

This is done by dissolving,
And again by saturating, I inform you:

This must be undertaken first of all,
So comest thou to the end of the fine art.

After the whole purification hath been completed
It will be prepared and boiled in the sun

Or in the warm dung of its time,
Which extendeth itself very far

Until it becometh constant and perfect,
And the treasure of the Wise is in it.

The other ways are very subtle
And many mighty one fail therein,

For here is the purpose of the distillation
And the sublimation of the Wise Men.

The separation of the four elements
Is also called by the Wise Men

Air, water, and rectified fire.
The earth on the ground hath mislead many,

Having been deemed a worthless thing,
Although all the power lieth in it.

Some know not how to separate it