Alchemy Rising: The Green Book
Alchemy Rising: The Green Book
Limited to 69 copies; half bound in grey goatskin with marbled boards & endpapers, gilt edges, ribboned and presented in a slipcase
– Sold out
Standard hardback edition
Limited to 666 copies; bound in grey batiste cloth stamped in gold, sunken panel, embossed green endpapers
4to (246 × 189 mm)
Illuminated with over 80 colour photographs of the work; and original iconography of The Plant Phoenix and The Homunculus by Oliver Liebeskind
Alchemy Rising: The Green Book is the first in a projected trilogy by the alchemist Heliophilus that aims to unveil the Sacred Art. Alchemy is the central pillar of Hermeticism, essential for both understanding and undertaking the magical work of the Western tradition, which is steeped in its symbolism. As such, the initiatory lessons of this opening volume comprise a valuable addition to the library and laboratory of alchemist, herbalist, magician or witch.
The Green Book is concerned with plant alchemy, how to practically confect spagyrical Tinctures, Elixirs, the true Primum Ens, Plant Magisteries and the Quintessence. Also covered are the Plant Stone of Hollandus, the Plant Phoenix, the Quintessence of Blood and the Homunculus. It constitutes a complete programme of practical works from the occult laboratory of a modern day spagyricist.
Alchemy is often thought to be impenetrable, breaking the lances of those who challenge it. The Green Book enables the reader to engage in the quest, building on key principles and cumulative experiments. The processes Heliophilus discloses follow the works of the alchemical tradition, and those of Paracelsus in particular, from whose extensive writings he has extracted the virtue, and adumbrated with his own working notes and photographic documentation.
Recipes and methods of working are given, and compared with those of Jean Dubuis, Mary Anne Atwood, Frater Albertus, Joseph Lisiewski, Van Helmont, Crollius, John French, Hollandus, Sibly and others, to indicate a path for the seeker to pursue in their own practic. The inclusion of copious folk magical receipts and sympathetic cures (including the rare weapon salve), in addition to the elixirs, tinctures, essences et cetera, make this volume a veritable treasure, showing both the philosophical theories and folk magical influences that informed his guide Paracelsus.
The alchemical creations are produced in the laboratory and the field, extracted and perfected from the virtues of the plants growing in his native Shropshire in England. The third part of the book consists of a carefully selected Herbarium, along with guidance on the gathering and uses of plants as healing remedies for body and soul. It is a work that will potentise the philtres of the herbalist or witch and will give depth to the practice of the magic of the grimoires. The Green Book will teach you the art of distillation, how to separate the pure from the impure, and instruct in the foundational laboratory experience that will allow us to unlock the higher kingdoms.
Book 1: Heal Thyself
Book 2: Ora et Labora
The Three Essentials
The Plant Stone
The Plant Phoenix
Book 3: The Philosophers’ Garden
The Norse people of old would use runes and charms to guide the gathering of herbs, the Eastern people also gathered herbs and prepared ointments using prayers and benedictions. We hear whispers of incantations and rituals being used to gather plants in Scandinavian myths, fragments of which would later migrate to British shores. But these are rare, partly due to men like Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, the attributed author of the Penitential of Theodore, who imposed strict penalties on any person practicing the old ways of gathering wyrts.
Some examples do survive, and we find in The Leech Book of Bald, a tenth century manuscript of Saxon origin, the following:
Against every evil rune lay, and one full of elvish tricks write for the bewitched man this writing in Greek letters: alfa, omega, IESVM(?), BERONIKH. Again, another dust or powder and drink against a rune lay; take a bramble apple and lupins, pulegium, pound them, put them in a pouch, lay them under the alter, sing nine masses over them, put the dust into milk, drip thrice some holy water upon them, administer this to drink at three hours…
As Christianity’s authority grew in Briton the monks, transcribing the early herbals, replaced these heathen incantations and practices with biblical passages and prayers. The following example dates back to fourteenth century, (although it is thought to be older), it runs thus:
Haile be thou holie hearbe / Growing on the ground / All in the mount of Calvarie / First wyrt thou found. / Thou art good for manie a sore / And healest manie a wound / In the name of Sweete Jesus / I take thee from the ground.
An incantation gathered from Agnes Sampson, a witch burned in 1590 is a ‘Prayer and Incantation for visiting of sick folks,’ it is entirely Christian and suggests the following formula should be incanted:
All kindis of illis that euer may be, / In Chrystis name I conjure ye, / I conjure ye, baith mair and less, / By all the virtues of the mess, / And rycht sa, by the samyn.
Among the most important rites and observations, as to when herbs were gathered, was when they were strongly influenced by their governing planet. Herbs under the dominion of the Sun were picked with either gold or stag horn, the stag’s antler tines being symbolic of the sun’s rays. In later herbals, and in the grimoire tradition, a white handled knife (the handle made of bone) is often used to gather herbs; the blade being made from copper, as this is said to prevent the plant from being ‘determined’ by steel or iron. For this reason purists would prefer to use a simple mortar and pestle instead of a food blender, but when dealing with kilograms of plant material this can become be a wearisome task. On this point I will defer to the sage advice of my friend and alchemical teacher, old father Nottingham, whose reply, when I asked such questions, was always: My dear boy, you must do as your Art demands!
As physic changed from the four humors of Hippocratic medicine to the doctrine of Signatures, the princile of sympathetic relationships between the body and the universe around us grew stronger. This helped physicians predict and control diseases by matching the sickness to the cure by means of the plants’ signatum:
The Signatum (or signature) is a certain organic vital activity, giving to each natural object (in contradistinction to artificially made objects a certain similarity with a certain condition produced by disease, and through which health may be restored in specific diseases in the diseased part. The Signatum is often expressed even in the exterior form of things, and by so observing that form we may learn something in regard to their interior qualities, even without using out interior sight.
Plants, according to the doctrine of signatures, under Mars are of a ‘hot,’ temperament, for example, black pepper and nettles. Bright yellow flowers are dedicated to the Sun, whereas pale yellow or white flowers are said to be under the watch of our Lady the Moon. These, both being luminaries, are said to be good for the eyes. Jupiter tends smooth leafed herbs, which maybe slightly serrated and narrow, the veins on the underside of the leaves being neither ridged nor prominent. Herbs of Venus are those adorned with flowers of bright and delicate colours and pleasant odours. Mercurial herbs are said to be refreshing and more aromatic than others, whilst Saturn hath dominion over gloomy green herbs, whose leaves are, according to Folkard, ‘hairy, dry, hard, parched, coarse.’
Since the days of the Druids, certain herbs have been gathered with the rising and the setting of the heavenly spheres, some being picked at the equinoxes, whilst others at the eclipses of the sun and moon; or on the appearance of comets and at certain planetary conjunctions. To the Druids no journey was taken, no crops were sewn, no timber felled and no hair was cut unless the moon was favourable to the undertaking. Indeed, a conjunction of a group of stars with a fixed body was considered the precursor for contagious disorders, whereas comets or shooting stars denoted putrefaction. Kircher, the famous Jesuit, went further when he declared that all putrid diseases prevailed according to where Mars and Saturn were placed. Mead notes Kirchringius’ own extraordinary experience regarding a gentlewoman ‘whose beauty depended on the lunar force, in so much that at full moon she was very handsome, but in the decrease of the moon became so wan and ill favoured that she was ashamed to go abroad.’
According to Martius: ‘primum nemo negabit, lunam virtute sua in corpore sibi subjecta manifesto agree et observarunt medici ac chirurgic, referente waldschmidio, non solum vulvera capitis in plenilunio ob cerebri turgescentiam majori cum periculo conjuncta esse, quam in novilunio, ubi cerebrum magis subsidet.’ (That birth and deaths chiefly happen about the new and full moon is an axiom even among women. The husbandmen likewise are regulated by the moon in planting and managing trees and several other of their occupations. So great is the empire of the moon over the terraqueous globe.)
Many alchemists prefer to gather on the planetary day and hour of the herb, but it has been argued that since changing to our modern calendar, that the dates and days of the ancient Pagan tradition have become problematic to ascertain. Calculating the planetary hours can assuage the purists, but in order to perfect the art of gathering an astrological chart is considered the finest guide. We hear Culpeper suggesting the time when herbs should be gathered: ‘Fortify the body with herbs of the nature of the Lord of the Ascendant, ’tis no matter whether he be a Fortune or Infortune in this case. If the Lord of the Tenth be strong, make use of his medicines. If this cannot well be, make use of the medicines of the Light of Time.’ In some Herbals specific days are chosen for the gathering, most commonly during the early days of May or St. John’s Eve: ‘All herbs pulled on May Day Eve have a sacred healing power, if pulled in the name of the Holy Trinity; but if in the name of Satan, they work evil.’ In my own experience, and once again I will be scowled at by purists, the most important aspect of the gathering is the gathering. And therefore my only advice would be to step out of you front door, with your herb bag and staff, and go a roving through the woods and the fields to discover for yourself what friends and allies you might have among the wild grasses and weeds. Follow the moon tides and gather the plants before they flower, never too many from the same spot, and always with reverence. Plants gathered before the sun rise are best, since all their virtues are in them; during the day they work and by sunset are exhausted and have less efficacy. Dry (assuming you’re not proceeding with a wet distillation of the plant, in which case freshly picked is best) in a dark, airy space and when thoroughly dried, place them in an air tight container away from direct sunlight. Most herbs will last a year, but after that they will lose their potency. When working with them, be of a cheerful heart and know that even though we have killed this little herb, you are resurrecting it and allowing it to fulfil the potential for which it has been created.
In terms of the part of the herb to be gathered, each plant is different and research is essential, but since each of the elements abounds in different parts of the herb, the entire plant is to be used in spagyrical preparations. If in doubt let us defer to those sage words of Gary Nottingham: you must do as your Art demands! Some Alchemists prefer using the seed alone and on this point Glauber offers his worthy advice:
If thou has not so much seed, thou may’st make the medicine out of the whole plant, as the root, the stalk, the flowers and leaves: and the reason why I mentioned only seed was this, that the chief virtue of all the vegetables is occultly placed and concentrated in the seed, else the whole plant may (as aforesaid) be made use of, which although it yield not so much oil as the seed does yet may we even this way receive a good quantity.
Our herbarium is a compound of old wives tales, herb lore, research and the snippets of forgotten wisdom gathered from living on the Shropshire borders. This knowledge is by its very nature a work in progress, and in no way to be taken as the final word on the subject of herbalism. To this end I have tried to include the time of their gathering, their planetary signature and finally their application. Each of us is tasked to create our own living herbarium from the plants we encounter and work with. When prepared by an alchemist, their power will be unlocked a hundredfold.
A review by Christopher Bradford
So. The writer states (in summary) quite early in the book that his aim is to revitalize alchemy in the UK.
I don’t know why he’s leaving it at just the UK. This book has the potential, assuming you all aren’t a bunch of lazy gits, to revitalize modern alchemy period.
I’ve been an alchemist for some time. Well past the decade mark. I legit spent the first half of that in a state of near perfect confusion. No two books were alike, no meanings the same, progress was near glacial. I grew in understanding in the way a paleontologist does, slowly brushing off old bones in hopes of revelation, unable to move quickly for fear of screwing up the whole mess. I had to learn the hard way, to study spagery in Orders and then of course the laboratory. I worked Junius, I studied Philalethes. From the Golden Chain on down to modern works. Spent roughly eleventy-billion dollars on glassware. What you end up with is an understanding that there are a thousand methods, but one 'Way' that is alchemical. There are certain processes that shine with the light of truth, that are consistent in all the works of the operative alchemists. They are rarely explained in such a way that it is easy to grasp. There is rarely clarity.
Clarity usually only comes from moments of gnosis; the right line read from a dusty old book combined with an ongoing operation and a moment when they shine together. I remember when I first understood, in Emblematic form, what the Toad and the Eagle within a vessel at once meant. I meditated upon the image, and thought about an operation I had ongoing at the time, an elixir of Garlic I was preparing. I’d reached the point where once makes the spirit fly to join the washed Salts (heating the 'mercuric' solution in the retort, so that it rises in steam and moves to the other vessel). I remember thinking, there goes the 'volatile' sulfur, and looking at the 'fixed' salt, and thought '…..!!!!….AHHHH. That’s what the bastards are talking about!' Then looked back upon the emblem, saw the Toad and the Eagle, and what had once been a pretty picture was now opening like a flower to reveal it’s wisdom. When the Language of the Birds was first truly graspable for me.
Well. Wish I’d have had this book.
Heliophilus is very gentle in his use of obscuration; he does just enough to drive the reader toward self-discovery, without creating walls out of blinds, or misleading. This is, in my opinion, the only sane or sensible way to teach alchemy. His reading and understanding of Paracelsus are internally consistent. That alone makes the book a golden one. Heliophilus is well-named.
Often modern authors go to great lengths to separate Spagery and Alchemy; Spagery done to completion is Alchemy, and spagyric processes are alchemical processes. Spagery is just specific to plants – what makes a thing a work of Alchemy is the process, not the nature of the First Matter used. We don’t have a separate name for the mineral or animal alchemies, and perhaps we shouldn’t. Spagery should bear a badge of honor, for the finest medicines come from the Plant kingdom. Always have. Don’t consider Spagery a lesser art; instead, it’s a less dangerous and in most cases more useful art, as it’s medicines can generally be consumed safely and by folks of all ages (who aren’t allergic to the root Matter).
I would recommend this tome before Junius. Before the work of Dubois and the Philosopher’s of Nature. Yeah, I said that. You know why? This will make it possible for the aspiring alchemist to deeply understanding the older works. It will enable deeper engagement. This book is a Mercury of sorts, a Crossroads-spirit for folks who wish to open the roads of alchemy.
I have, for the purpose of working this book, made an elixir of Lemon-balm using Heliopholus’ opening of Paracelsus’ process. While alchemy is alchemy, there were some subtle differences to my own process that I found quite interesting. The elixir in the end is quite potent, thoroughly alchemical and an excellent medicine.
This book will join the my own offering on Lambspring, Junius’ Plant Handbook, and the PoN course as standard reading for my alchemical students, and recommended reading for my peers. It is a classic. If you are at all interested in Alchemy, you simply must have it and read it. The light shines bright inside, with the only obfuscating clouds providing helpful shade instead of storms of confusion. Go buy it. Buy it twice, once for working, and one to sit pretty on your mantle. I simply cannot recommend it enough.