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By Lyndy Abraham

This dictionary records alchemical symbolism from the early centuries advert to the late-twentieth century, to be used via historians of literary tradition, philosophy, technological know-how and the visible arts, and readers attracted to alchemy and hermeticism. each one access features a definition of the logo, giving the literal (physical) and figurative (spiritual) meanings, an instance of the emblem utilized in alchemical writing, and a citation from a literary resource. There are fifty visible photographs of image woodcuts, copperplate engravings and painted by hand logos, a few reproduced the following for the 1st time.

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The neck of the *alembic. Arthur Dee cites Laurence Ventura on distilla­ tion: ‘the vapour of the Matter ascends and then it descends again by the Crows beak, that is, the Neck of the vessell of the Alembick’ (f c , 34). See beak. Another name for the crow’s beak is the ‘stag’s horn’. a melting-pot for metals or a vessel for collecting molten metal at the bottom of a furnace during the refining process. The crucible has a narrow base which widens into a triangular or round bowl. Michael Drayton wrote of the false alchemist in ‘The Moone-Calfe’ that he would ‘shew you in a Crusible, or Glasse: /Some rare extraction’ (Works, 3:190, lines 912-13).

The cucurbite is also a generic name for the philosophical *egg, the ‘one’ vessel in which the opus is accomplished. Zoroaster's Cave says: ‘Our vessel is a Glasse, firmely shut, round bellied, of a neck strict and long, half a foot, or thereabout. This vessel is called an Egge or Sublimatory, a Sphear, a sepulcher, a Cucurbit’ (79). The ‘ coniunctio or coupling of the two waters, the *red man (‘ sulphur) and ‘ white woman (‘ argent vive), takes place in this vessel. Arnold of Villanova wrote: ‘Take of the red Water and White as much of the one as of the other...

The four lines represent the four elements which, at their point of union, form the magical ‘ fifth element. Thus the cross contains within it not only the symbol of the dismemberment or sacrifice of the old body or outmoded state, but also the image of the creation of a new state of unity. The alchemists saw the death of their matter in the alembic as analogous to the crucifixion of Christ on the cross. One of their most often stated ideas is that regeneration and resurrection of the matter of the Stone can only come about through an initial stage of death and corruption.

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A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery by Lyndy Abraham


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