BLTC Press Titles

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Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Characters of Theophrastus


Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


by Arthur Edward Waite


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: —Which element is of less rarity than air? He answereth :—Water, since cold and moisture inhere therein, and

* The original is pietas et ratio, but the technical use of the term pietas by the Hebrew or Arabic original seems obviously to connect it with the sense of the Hebrew Paz, signifying compactness. Compare also the Greek verb Pitzo, to press or squeeze down.

every cold humid is of less rarity than a warm humid. Then do thsy 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!

* " You have been told . . . that the ancients discoursed of four elements. Know that it is by means of these four elements that humid and dry things are constituted, as also things warm and cold, the male and the female. Two [elements] rise up and two fall down. The two ascending elements are fire and air; the two descending elements are earth and water."—Olympiodorus On the Sacred Art.

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 -r 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 isconstituted 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, or 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

* The allegory of the philosophical egg can be traced to the Greek alchemists. A short treatise is still extant under this title, and another on the Nomenclature of the Egg, which is described as the Mystery of the Art. It is composed of lour elements, because it is the image of the world. It is the stone which is not a stone, the stone of copper, the Armenian stone, &c. The shell is likened to the earth, being cold and dry; it has been named copper, iron, tin, lead. The white of the egg is divine water, water of the sea, water of alum, &c. The yolk is copperas, native sulphur, mercury, &c. The oily part (? the chicken) is fire. But the egg, symbolical as it is, is sometimes itself described symbolically, after the similitude of a seed; the shell is likened to the skin which covers the seed; the white and the yolk are the flesh, and the watery part is the breath, or air.

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.

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