1. Artistic creation and the meaning of symbols
The conscience of modern man often needs to abandon its place in history and travel down roads that diverge from the phenomena marked by the time, such as progressing, improving, fixing, developing, arriving, innovating, perfecting, prospering, triumphing, discovering, reaching, etc. When the vestiges of ancient cultures are contemplated, one cannot help but feel a healthy envy at the simplicity (not ignorance) that dominated the conscience of men who lived a strange present, far removed from time and history, living as one with nature and the symbolic and mythical universes.
But it is not easy to divest oneself of the yoke of history and the “dogma” of progress to recognize oneself in the candidness of a child who laughs and sings, focused on the light of his own play. Whether we like it or not, we are a consequence of our past and our spirit can hardly refrain from considering temporal phenomena as our own. However, history itself has left open a few small pathways providing a means to veer away from its dominion. One of these would be the possibility that modern man enjoys of gaining access to different cultures, comparing them, and appreciating their differences. This is a strictly historic deed which allows us to understand that there are levels of reality that exist beyond changes, that is to say, they are atemporal and proximal to what the ancients held to be sacred. Two of these levels will be addressed in this work: artistic creation, and the transcendental meaning of symbols. Our desire is to address both issues with the greatest simplicity we are capable of, but striving to avoid reductionism, knowing that it is no easy task.
2. Azoth or the Means to Make the Occult Gold of the Philosophers.
In the Europe of the late 16th century, and particularly of the early 17th century, the light of the sacred was becoming extinguished, and another very different one – the light of time – would illuminate the coming centuries.
Dressed in black and sporting wide, starched collars, several noble men put down their reflections in strange books intended to encourage the spirits of their descendants in their search for the timeless. Their texts described the imperishable reality of the Philosopher’s Stone, and the eternal light of love and knowledge is perceived in their words. They may have been pursuing a Quixotic dream (the first edition of the Quixote is from 1605 and the Azoth from 1599), but – and here lies its interest – that dream had little to do with historic or speculative reasons. That is why it is necessary to hearken back to its teachings when one attempts to recover – as is the case now – the timeless that endures over time.
One of these figures wrote a brief and valuable alchemical opuscule titled Azoth, or the Means to Make the Occult Gold of the Philosophers. At first, the treatise was included in a collection of works. Later, however, many editions were made of the text by itself, which was translated into several languages. The author, instead of using his name for the publication, attributed it to a Benedictine monk called Basil Valentin, who “lived” in the second half of the 14th century.
It is not necessary to waste time rummaging around archives to realize that this alchemist monk never existed. What matters here is that at a certain point in history, an anonymous figure dared to print something that until then had been a closely guarded secret: the means and materials required to make the Philosopher’s Stone or the occult gold of the philosophers, the medicine that would allow men to avoid the pain caused by the passage of time and live in the sacred light of the beginning of Creation.
A mysterious writer transcribed the words that left the tip of his well-sharpened quill into a combination of letters taken from large drawers or newly cast for the occasion, and helped the operators order them correctly in order to transmit to the rest of humanity the secret of how to make the “elixir of eternal youth”. He was neither an ignorant nor a fool, though his intent may seem to be totally devoid of logic. But he who went by the name of Basil Valentin dedicated his life and fortune to setting down in writing the mysteries of alchemy. With discretion he printed a few hundred copies of an opuscule which at a glance was capricious and fanciful. He did it because he felt that he was the heir of a tradition that dates back to the very origins of humankind and could be conveyed thanks to the skill of Noah and his three sons, and which, some time after the great flood, was formulated through hieroglyphs by Hermes Trismegistus, a descendant of Cam. According to our author, the text of the Azoth contains the recipe for the only universal medicine or panacea, thanks to which man may return to the Garden of Eden and know immortality.
3. The symbols ofthe Occult Gold
The second part of the work, the subtitle of which explains, “Which contains the general practice of the work of the wise and the ancients,” is structured around a series of images or emblems, following the formula invented by Andrea Alciato almost a century earlier. As is known, emblematics was born with the purpose of emulating the work of the ancient Egyptians, who hid behind hieroglyphs their most sublime mysteries. Thus, Valentin’s small engravings show without profanation the secret formulas and operations of the art of transmuting lead into gold and death into life. The images show the practice. In a society like ours, where sight seems to predominate over the other senses, this teaching should perhaps arouse more enthusiasm.
At present, and according to the language used in the philosophy of religions, we should call the engravings depicted in the second part of the Azoth “symbols”. The mysterious figure from the 17th century also called them “symbols” and not emblems, as would have been logical, adding one more coincidence for the reencounter. The author surely decided that the fourteen engravings that order the text were “symbols” because they were conceived as eloquent images of a reality that was separate from that which is perceived with the external senses. According to the alchemists, the sacred reality can never be confused with, or limited to, mere spirituality; rather, as they state time and time again, it is a physical reality, though it is not evident to our external senses. “Symbols” take part in the sacred and the profane, as they show pure light under the appearance of mundane images. They are the bridges that cross the disjunctive darkness that separates men from their celestial origin. We should recall that the word “symbol” comes from a Greek very meaning “to unite”, as they unite heaven and earth and the infinite with the particular, which in the alchemists’ language would be the volatile and the fixed. Symbolic images are not referential signs of meanings established by human conventions; rather, they are the forms of universal contents that are alien to historic conventions.
Our unknown author placed in the minuscule engravings of the second part of the Azoth what he believed to be the most precious treasure of humanity, because, as precious stones show the most limpid side of the mineral world, the symbols created by the knowledgeable wise men reveal the universe that is hidden and separated from the passage of time.
Unfortunately, four hundred years after they were made, Basil Valentin’s symbols are no longer living images. The richness they contained remains hidden, and that which they taught – which was no more nor less than the manner and means to obtain the hidden gold – is of interest but to a very few people. And nobody takes the assertions of this author – or, for that matter, those of the other philosophers of fire – seriously anymore. Scholars are quite well acquainted with the symbolic images of Basil Valentin and also of other royal artists, but they limit themselves to cataloguing them and seeking possible coincidences with earlier and later images, in order to determine the cultural context in which they were made. In this way, they enclose them in time, and this temporality ends up being confused with the contents of the pieces. At present it seems impossible to connect with their hidden message, surely not for want of intellectual capacity, but rather for want of a theory to trace the interpretive lines of these symbols, as occurred in the past. That is why they have become simple illustrations that add value to the collections of bibliophiles.
Perhaps current science is right and the aspirations of the wise man who conceived the symbols of the Azoth are chimerical and do not deserve to be taken into account. If there were a way of making gold, wouldn’t the all-powerful researchers of our century know it? Didn’t modern culture abandon that so-called divine art a long time ago precisely because of that impossibility? However, and in spite of multiple dissuading arguments, curiosity about the contents of the symbols has not completely abandoned the spirit of 21st-century man. We believe that it is not pointless to take a new look at Basil Valentin’s opuscule and try to brush off the forgetfulness and negligence – the two terrible filths that conceal their profound value – from its images.
4. The experiencing of sacredness
In order to revive the symbols that Basil Valentin designed, it does not appear to be enough to know the socio-cultural context in which they were born. Nor is it a guarantee of success to follow them literally, as do the false alchemists who are best described by the French term souffleurs, because they blow on a fire they do not understand and only seek the dead gold. Nor perhaps is it a good idea to regard them as universal images of the collective unconscious, classifiable as basic models of human behavior.
Each of the foregoing considerations contributes something to the knowledge of the different facets that concur in man when he creates symbols, but they are missing something that – moreover – is the most capital element. The symbol of the sacred can only be understood to the extent that it is experienced. Authentic symbols, like those proposed by Valentin, escape any effort at intellectual categorization. Louis Cattiaux, a painter and hermeticist who lived during the first half of the 20th century, wrote the following in this regard: “It is not enough to study – it is also necessary to understand what we study. And why understand if we do not experience in ourselves the truth of God?” (The Message Rediscovered 18, 40).
Thus, we are hounded by an inevitable question: How can 21st century man experience sacredness? Attempts at ritualizing the everyday according to old models, no matter how traditionalist these may be, are not little avail; nor does it do much good to artificially provoke moments of ecstasy or submerge oneself in similar experiences. We have already pointed out that it is only possible to depart from history “with” history, since we belong to our past and we know that there is nothing new under the sun. The desire to rest in eternity and in simplicity pursued by men who accompany the progress of the 21st century is an aspiration that has been generated in history. And although it is necessary to underscore their coincidence with old beliefs, this is not enough because the languages used are profoundly different. The contents cannot be different, as they are universal by definition, but the form has to be strictly new.
5. Transcendence and experience
In this regard it seems important to us that for the last two centuries, the experiencing of sacredness has sought refuge in artistic practices and the creative genius has been erected as a bastion to ensure a genuine spiritual praxis. We’re not discovering anything new – since the late 18th century phrases like “the religion of art”, “the divine genius”, “artists are modern-day priests”, etc. have been coined.
Just by scratching the surface of the assumptions of romanticism, impressionism, symbolism, abstraction, surrealism, or whatever other movement or trend one can think of, one can see that a sensitive experience is reanimated in the creative act and the attending aesthetic pleasure, opening pathways to gain access to the sacred contents of the images. When a work of art “works,” that is, fulfills its function, it awakens the most interior secret inside man – and obviously, this is not merely subjective.
The intersection between symbol and art is the place that is sought by the work the reader now has in his hands. There is no doubt that if it were found, it would be a significant point that would enable history to be historically corrected, so that time could return to its inactive origin, as proposed by Lao Tse: “All things under heaven are born of being (you); being is born of wu” (Tao Te Chi, 40). These pages seek only to be a study, a simple assay; a difficult assay, as it can only advance by performing multiple balances between different disciplines, as the reader can see in the brief bibliography. But this is precisely what can offer the greatest interest.
Indeed, the hypothesis we are proposing here is that, just like art needs the transcendence of symbols to join together its disparate contents, symbols also need art to vivify themselves in its experience. Transcendence and experience are two complementary facets of the human spirit, and they have developed under this unity through the coming and going of civilizations. However, something has changed in the modern world; by recognizing manifestations of spirit only in time, the different disciplines have been isolated, as if they were independent universes. But why should one resort to a classic book of alchemy to rediscover the symbolic universe, or mundus imaginalis, that Western man lost with the advent of the modern world?
6. Alchemy or the art of God
The meaning of the word alchemy is profoundly hazy and misleading. Up until the 16th century, the term “alchemist” was synonymous with “swindler,” since in practice it referred to counterfeit coin makers who made innocent people believe they were made of gold when in reality they were worthless. The authors of classical and medieval texts that we now consider to be alchemists never thought of themselves as such; rather, they considered themselves to be “natural philosophers.”
Starting with the teachings of Philippus Aureolus Teophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus (1493-1541), writings about natural philosophy were called alchemistic and were disseminated all over under this heading. But in no case did their dissemination lead to a better understanding of the mysteries of this science. A large number of false disciples arose after Paracelsus’s death, and stemming from the publication of his extensive and controversial works; in their bid to imitate the master, they let themselves get carried away by useless verbiage and pointless experiments.
Since then, the term alchemy encompasses multiple meanings, and it is almost impossible now to discern between the false practitioners and the true wise men. But, why such a mystery? Surely it is a barrier, created by those who devoted their lives to this art, to keep the profane guessing. In the opinion of these adepts, true alchemy is the practice of the art of God, since it is the almighty that operates – the artist is nothing but a means through which to achieve the Opus Dei. To describe this process, alchemists have used a multitude of symbolic images, which are impossible to understand if viewed alone, as their authors have resorted to different cosmological languages. As a result, one should not wonder at complaints about the difficulties in systematizing the meaning of the “alchemists’ symbols.” The difficulty lies in the interest in determining them one by one, each image separate from its context, which is impossible and invalidates any attempt at discovering the deeper intentions of those who designed them.
7. The bond between art and symbol
There is the alchemy of the greedy, who, like King Midas, wish to possess the divine science for their own benefit, and there is also the alchemy of the wise, who cooperate with the Creator to take creation to its perfect conclusion. In commenting on the essay by René Guénon titled Aperçus sur l’Initiation, Louis Cattiaux made these two sciences very clear. The former, the one that seeks gold, he calls chrysopeia [gold-making], and he says of it: “Alchemy and chrysopeia should not be mistaken; for alchemy, which is the practice of hermetism, is the total science of being, while chrysopeia is only the part which is related to metals.” The other science, the one that gives life, he calls palingenesis [new birth], and he defines it as follows: “Palingenesis is the highest term of alchemy, in the same way that chrysopeia is the lowest term,” or also: “Alchemy is the golden key that opens the traditional secret which is the regeneration of the fallen creature. We repeat that alchemy is one, but the higher is palingenesis and the lower is chrysopeia.” (in R. Arola, Los amores de los dioses. Mitología y alquimia, 1999)
In the same regard, Mircea Eliade noted the following: “C. G. Jung has demonstrated that the symbolism of alchemical processes is renewed in certain dreams and fantasies of subjects who have no knowledge of alchemy whatsoever; their observations are interesting not only to the psychology of the profound, but they also indirectly confirm the soteriological function that appears to constitute alchemy.” (in M. Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes, The Forge and the Crucible, 1956) What Cattiaux calls palingenesis or regeneration, Eliade frames in the search for salvation for the fallen soul –soteriology– so in both cases real alchemy is at the core of all spiritual manifestations.
Thus, alchemy becomes allied with the human being’s dearest dream, summarized in taking creation to its completeness and perfection. And this can only be done by God himself – the Supreme Architect, first and only, or, as the masons aptly expressed it, “the great Architect of the Universe.” Alchemists warn us over and over in their texts that the regeneration or salvation of Man and of creation takes place not only at the spiritual level. Even matter must be transformed or transmuted into sacred reality. Louis Cattiaux’s disciple, Emmanuel d’Hooghvorst, wrote the following about alchemy: “It is not a recipe. It is a philosophical school that allows only sensitive experience as a criterion of truth. The alchemist needs to touch in order to know. That this experience is of a secret nature does not contradict at all the sensualist nature of such a philosophy, the world’s oldest and most materialistic – the oldest, indeed, because to this day it has been impossible to determine its historic origins; and the most materialistic as well, as it is based only on the testimony of the senses.” (E. d’Hooghvorst,Le Fil de Pénélope I, 1996)
Perhaps alchemy’s proposal is a chimera, but we believe it deserves study, since – as we will try to demonstrate in this essay – therein lies the surest path to understanding the bond that unites art and symbol.
8. Basil Valentin and the alchemical legends
Some of the most important works in the history of alchemy appeared in the 17th century, alongside great compilations and arduous summarized works. However, the authorship of these works is undetermined. The shadow of legend intertwines with history, forming a rich piece comprising multiple nuances.
Basil Valentin is one of the most representative cases. Since the moment he appeared, his works were considered to be as important as those of Hermes Trimegistus himself, and multiple reprints were made – and continue to be made – of them. His quotes were irrefutable arguments and were celebrated as the most eloquent prodigy of traditional wisdom. However, in spite of it all, almost nothing is known of the author who penned them. As we have said, the case of Basil Valentin is paradigmatic, but it is not the only one: the history of alchemy is full of anonymous or pseudo-epigraphic books, which lead the shrewdest researchers astray and mock the charlatans.
According to a legend from around the same time, Basil Valentin was a Benedictine monk who had been born in Germany in 1394. But the only thing that is certain is that the first text attributed to this author was published in 1599, and the oldest known manuscript appeared sixteen years before that. Coincidentally, the complete works of Paracelsus appeared during the same decade, and some authors of that time perceived a link between Paracelsus and Basil Valentin.
The shadow of Paracelsus, admired by many but repudiated by others, is involved in the appearance of the texts attributed to Basil Valentin, and also those that narrate the legend of Christian Rosenkreutz, which originated the Rosicrucian frenzy. The theme set out in both accounts, published between the 16th and 17th centuries, is too similar to be ignored. Under the names and the histories of Basil Valentin or of Christian Rosenkreutz, it was explained that toward the end of the Middle Ages, when Christian alchemy reached its full development, one or more masters created a secret school where the most sublime mysteries of nature and divine grace were taught. These teachings were handed down uninterruptedly all the way to the early 17th century, but from that point onward the schools of initiation confronted – with little chance of success – the change of course in Western mentality. It then became urgent to bear witness to the legacy of the wise. Thus, under the guise of fables that fit the period’s imaginary context, the hidden teachings of the divine Christian kabala and the sacred alchemy saw the light of day. Independently of the highly unlikely existence of a 15th-century German monk devoted to alchemy, the figure of Basil Valentin was, above all, a formula for conveying the West’s alchemical legacy to the new generations.
Another element to be taken into account – which raises not a few hypotheses – is the name “Basil Valentin” itself, with the epithet of “Benedictine monk.” The name is too symbolic to be true; therefore, multiple etymologies have been proposed to unveil the mystery that the anonymous author wished to point out. Gottfried Leibniz offered the following suggestions: “I think his name is fictitious and that the catalogues of our monks will be searched in vain: Basile means [in Greek] “the King”, that is, gold; and Valentin means “health”. Thus, it seems that the author wished to indicate the two main effects commonly attributed to the Stone: the perfecting of the human body and of metals.”
9. Art as the store of sacred experience
As we have pointed out, the present essay seeks the concurrence of art and symbols. We have just reviewed the importance of alchemical symbols for such a reencounter. We will add a brief reflection about art as the store of sacred experience. To do this, we will situate ourselves at the origin of Romanticism, when artists realized that their practice fulfilled a function that was near to the sacred, and also when their affirmations in this regard became more emphatic and categorical.
In the early 19th century, two centuries after the appearance of the work of Basil Valentin, the Londoner William Blake made a surprising engraving which depicts the moment Laocoon, the Trojan priest who worshipped Apollo, is devoured together with his two sons by two sea serpents. Blake’s engraving reproduces the famous collection of ancient sculpture found in the Vatican. As such, Blake’s image does not present anything unique; many sketchings and engravings of the time reproduced ancient works of art. However, the phrases written around the figure are profoundly perturbing. The series of sentences are reflections about art and religion, and the oddest thing about them is the strange relationship Blake establishes between these two realities. Thus, for instance, if one starts to read on the lower left-hand side, one finds the following affirmation: “Spiritual War: Israel delivered from Egypt is Art delivered from Nature & Imitation.”
The ideas put forward by the English artist are the fruit of his visionary genius, set in romantic sentiment. Like many of his contemporaries, Blake identified spirituality with artistic creation, that is, with the freeing of the divine genius trapped in the internal materialness, and he scorned religiousness established as a vehicle for the transcendent. He seems to refer to this when he proposes a “spiritual war” through which Israel is delivered from Egypt’s slavery thanks to the prophet Moses.
The artist identifies himself with the prophet and, like him, his mission is to deliver and save men from sin and from death, whose clearest image is slavery. “A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian.” Spirituality is detached from religion: “The outward Ceremony is the Antichrist,” but in no case – and this must be underscored – in the sacred books, and, therefore, its origins: “The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art.”
The poet, the painter, the musician and the architect update the symbols of the ancient texts and breathe new life into them. Without the practice of art, the letter kills and the possibility of salvation disappears: “Without Unceasing Practice nothing can be done. Practice is art & If you leave off you are Lost.” William Blake’s sentences are consciously apocalyptic, and consequently messianic. The aesthetic experience means putting into practice what is written in the code of the Old and New Testaments that is realizing the mystery of the regeneration of man. In Hebrew tradition it means delivering Israel from Egypt, and in Christianity it is the realization of the promise of salvation, as is written in the Gospel: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5, 17).
According to Blake, the function of artistic creation would be to fulfill religion, so that Art leaves behind the bonds of death to shine like a new and divine cosmos, just as Laocoon, who sheds his brute body through the sea serpents. Dom Pernety, author of a dictionary on mythology and hermetism, and a contemporary of Blake, wrote: “The sea serpents are the serpents that came out of the Sea of the Philosophers, which dissolve the fixed part of the vessel or temple of hermetic Apollo.” (Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique, 1980) Pernety’s language is alchemical, but its significance is no stranger to the language of art as understood by the London-born visionary, as the desire for artistic creation is the awakening and manifestation of the hidden genius. And that, in religious terms, equals the liberation of Israel and the messianic fulfillment. We should not lose sight of the fact that the flight from Egypt occurred during the night of the Pesach that is the Jewish Passover, the date marked by Christianity as the date of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
10. The spiritual eye
William Blake’s theoretical proposals were a vital need for him – his visions, like those of Swedenborg which so influenced him, were more real than what his hands could touch. That is why his inner existence approached a religious experience; the mysterium tremendum emerged from his heart with uncommon strength. Now then, the emerging vitality did not recognize its place or its expression within the “external ceremonies” of religion nor, consequently, in symbols. In Romanticism, as well as in most ensuing artistic movements, sacredness desperately seeks to realize itself, apparently without finding any space other than artistic sublimation, with the dangers that this entails.
In the early 19th century, the inspiration of the heavens, which in remote times dictated to the prophets, is heard basically by the poets and by the more or less visionary painters. The aesthetic experience, in its loneliness and emotion, becomes oblivious to ceremony. In this context, the great Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich wrote these words, which became famous: “Shut your physical eye and look first at your picture with your spiritual eye then bring to the light of day what you have seen in the darkness so that it may react on others from the outside inwards. The painter should not paint only what he sees in front of him, but what he sees within himself; and if he sees nothing within, he should refrain from painting what he sees without, because then his paintings will be screens, behind which are hidden only illness or death.” (in R. Argullol, La atracción del abismo. Un itinerario por el paisaje romántico, 1983)
On innumerable occasions, from the Romanticism of the early 19th century to the globalized present, the debate has raged on about the sacred value of artistic creation. It has been qualified, reinforced, denied, etc. but the proposals have not varied substantially from those pointed out in William Blake’s blunt affirmations. But seeking and defining the alternatives that have arisen over two centuries would be a different task from that which we have set out to do here.
11. The visual series as an “Art of memory”
In this essay we have tried to create a theoretical discourse through an aesthetic experience in such a way that reflection does not distance itself from the sensitive reality, which, in turn, can recognize itself in the subtle spheres. To this end, we have to a certain extent recovered the practice of the old “art of memory” which consisted of imprinting in it a series of loci or imaginary places where the ideas to be remembered, represented by symbolic or emblematic images, are deposited.
Based on the figures of the Azoth by Basil Valentin, we have generated five “visual discourses” that envelop and explain the contents of its symbolic images. Drawn from the vast universe of the general history of art, the voyage through images that we have used should allow us to access the conscience of symbols. We have striven to avoid limiting the sensation of beauty of the works of art from taste, but rather to awaken the desire to transcend by updating the universal contents of symbols.
Obviously, any such selection or arrangement or is fundamentally justified by particular tastes. It cannot be otherwise – but such inclinations are by no means an end unto themselves. Each image unveils an aspect of the contents of Valentin’s figures, but in turn opens up pathways that are germane to the idiosyncrasy of the selected work. To weave a plot with images is complex, and its success is not assured, as styles overlap and, on occasion, can generate more dispersion than concentration. However, in crossing cultures, seeking contrasts and balancing styles, we have striven to unite form and content, transcendence and experience. Should success follow, it would be but a first step.
The book structure follows the following scheme: each chapter starts with a text explaining the selected images, followed by the visual series that attempts to revive the reality of the symbols. At the end of the seven series we have translated the text that Basil Valentin attached to his figures, and which constitutes the second part of his work.
Having a visual discourse supported by a written discourse is not the optimum solution, and we would have preferred to suppress the comments on the selected images. However, in view of the possible partiality of the visual relationships, we were obliged to justify them – albeit in an introductory and precarious fashion – simply to orient the sense of the visual discourse.
The danger of commenting images lies in placing obstacles to the aesthetic experience that should give life to the symbols – hence we have limited the comments as much as possible, and always bearing in mind that they allude only to a partial aspect. In this respect, it is convenient to include a quote from Cattiaux: “When we comment on a Holy Scripture, a rite or a symbol, let us add for the listeners and for ourselves: Here is one of the numerous interpretations of the One Truth. God alone is the master of clothing and of nakedness.” (The Message Rediscovered 15, 4).
We would like to mention one last, obligatory detail. We have reproduced the images of the French edition of the Azoth made, as indicated in the frontispiece, “in Paris, in the house of Pierre Moët, sworn bookseller, close to the S. Michel Bridge, of the image of S. Alexis. 1659.” This edition is not the first – not even the first in French – yet it possesses the value of having been “revised, corrected and augmented by M. L’Angeau, doctor”. L’Angeau was an important compiler of alchemical tradition, as we have already explained in our book La cábala y la alquimia en la tradición espiritual de Occidente. Siglos XVI- XVII. The translation of Basil Valentin’s text was based on L’Angeau’s text, checking it against the Latin original established in 1702 by Jean-Jacques Manget in the Bibliotheca chemica curiosa.