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URL - http://www.levity.com/alchemy/goldtrac.html


The Golden Tractate of Hermes Trismegistus

This is taken from "Aureus:" The Golden Tractate of Hermes Trismegistus. 
Concerning the Physical Secret of the Philosopher's Stone. In Seven 
Sections. With an Introductory Essay by John Yarker, Esq. Edited and 
Published for Friends (200 copies only): Robt. H. Fryar,Bath. 1886. 
Transcribed by Frank Modica.

Go to Yarker's Introduction . Go to Alchemical Texts.. Go to home page


Aureus or the Golden Tractate of Hermes

Section I 

Even thus saith Hermes: Through long years I have not ceased to 
experiment, neither have I have spared any labour of mind And this 
science and art I have obtained by the sole inspiration of the living 
God, who judged fit to open them to me His servant, who has given to 
rational creatures the power of thinking and judging aright, forsaking 
none, or giving to any occasion to despair. For myself, I had never 
discovered this matter to anyone had it not been from fear of the day of 
judgment, and the perdition of my soul if I concealed it. It is a debt 
which I am desirous to discharge to the Faithful, as the Father of the 
faithful did liberally bestow it upon me. 

Understand ye, then, O Sons Of Wisdom, that the knowledge of the four
elements Or the ancient philosophers was not corporally or imprudently 
sought after, which are through patience to be discovered, according to 
their causes and their occult operation. But, their operation is occult, 
since nothing is done except the matter be decompounded, and because it 
is not perfected unless the colours be thoroughly passed and 
accomplished. Know then, that the division that was made upon the water 
by the ancient philosophers separates it into four substances; one into 
two, and three into one; the third part of which is colour, as it were-a 
coagulated moisture; but the second and third waters are the Weights of 
the Wise. 

Take of the humidity, or moisture, an ounce and a half, and or the 
Southern redness, which is the soul of gold, a fourth part, that is to 
say, half-an-ounce of the citrine Seyre, in like manner, half-an-ounce 
of the Auripigment, half-an-ounce, which are eight; that is three 
ounces. And know ye that the vine of the wise is drawn forth in three, 
but the wine thereof is not perfected, until at length thirty be 

Understand the operation, therefore. Decoction lessens the matter, but 
the tincture augments it; because Luna in fifteen days is diminished; 
and in the third she is augmented. This is the beginning and the end. 
Behold, I have declared that which was hidden, since the work is both 
with thee and about thee - that which was within is taken out and fixed, 
and thou canst have it either in earth or sea. 

Keep, therefore, thy Argent vive, which is prepared in the innermost 
chamber in which it is coagulated; for that is the Mercury which is 
separated from the residual earth. 

He, therefore, who now hears my words, let him search into them; which 
are to justify no evil-doer, but to benefit the good; therefore, I have 
discovered all things that were before hidden concerning this knowledge, 
and disclosed the greatest of all secrets, even the Intellectual 

Know ye, therefore, Children of Wisdom, who enquire concerning the 

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report thereof, that the vulture standing upon the mountain crieth out 
with a loud voice, I am the White of the Black, and the Red of the 
White, and the Citrine of the Red, and behold I speak the very truth. 
And know that the chief principle of the art is the Crow, which is the 
blackness of the night and clearness of the day, and flies without 
wings. From the bitterness existing in the throat the tincture is taken, 
the red goes forth from his body, and from his back is taken a thin 

Understand, therefore, and accept this gift of God which is hidden from 
the thoughtless world. In the caverns of the metals there is hidden the 
stone that is venerable, splendid in colour, a mind sublime, and an open 
sea. Behold, I have declared it unto thee; give thanks to God, who 
teacheth thee this knowledge, for He in return recompenses the grateful. 
Put the matter into a moist fire, therefore, and cause it to boil in 
order that its heat may be augmented, which destroys the siccity of the 
incombustible nature, until the radix shall appear; then extract the 
redness and the light parts, till only about a third remains 
Sons of Science ! For this reason are philosophers said to be envious, 
not that they grudged the truth to religious or just men, or to the 
wise; but to fools, ignorant and vicious, who are without self-control 
and benevolence, least they should be made powerful and able to 
perpetrate sinful things. For of such the philosophers are made 
accountable to God, and evil men are not admitted worthy of this wisdom. 
Know that this matter I call the stone; but it is also named the 
feminine of magnesia or the hen, or the white spittle, or the volatile 
milk, the incombustible oil in order that it may be hidden from the 
inept and ignorant who are deficient in goodness and self-control; which 
I have nevertheless signified to the wise by one only epithet, viz., the 
Philosopher's Stone. 

Include, therefore, and conserve in this sea, the fire and the heavenly 
bird, to the latest moment of his exit. But I deprecate ye all, Sons of 
Philosophy, on whom the great gift of this knowledge being bestowed, if 
any should undervalue or divulge the power thereof to the ignorant, or 
such as are unfit for the knowledge of this secret. Behold, I have 
received nothing from any to whom I have not returned that which had 
been given me, nor have I failed to honour him; even in this I have 
reposed the highest confidence. 

This, O Son, is the concealed stone of many colours, which is born and 
brought forth in one colour; know this and conceal it. By this, the 
Almighty favouring, the greatest diseases are escaped, and every sorrow, 
distress, and evil and hurtful thing is made to depart; for it leads 
from darkness into light, from this desert wilderness to a secure 
habitation, and from poverty and straits to a free and ample fortune.


MY SON, before all things I admonish thee to fear God, in whom is the 
strength of thy undertaking, and the bond of whatsoever thou meditatest 
to unloose; whatsoever thou hearest, consider it rationally. For I hold 
thee not to be a fool. Lay hold, therefore, of my instructions and 
meditate upon them, and so let thy heart be fitted also to conceive, as 
if thou wast thyself the author of that which I now teach. If thou 
appliest cold to any nature that is hot, it will not hurt it; in like 
manner, he who is rational shuts himself within from the threshold of 
ignorance; lest supinely he should be deceived. 

Take the flying bird and drown it flying and divide and separate it from 
its pollutions, which yet hold it in death; draw it forth, and repel it 
from itself, that it may live and answer thee; not by flying away into 
the regions above but by truly forbearing to fly. For if thou shalt 
deliver it out of its prison, after this thou shalt govern it according 
to Reason. and according to the days that I shall teach thee; then will 
it become a companion up to thee, and by it thou wilt become to be an 
honoured lord. 

Extract from the racy its shadow, and from the light its obscurity, by 
which the clouds hang over it and keep away the light; by means of its 

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construction, also, and fiery redness, it is burned 
Take, my Son, this redness, corrupted with the water, which is as a live 
coal holding the fire, which if thou shalt withdraw so often until the 
redness is made pure, then it will associate with thee, by whom it was 
cherished, and in whom it rests. 

Return, then, O my Son, the coal being extinct in life, upon the water 
for thirty days, as I shall note to thee - and henceforth thou art a 
crowned king, resting over the fountain and drawing from thence the 
Auripigment dry without moisture. And now I have made the heart of the 
hearers, hoping in thee, to rejoice even in their eyes, beholding thee 
in anticipation of that which thou possessest. 

Observe, then, that the water was first in the air, then in the earth; 
restore thou it also to the superiors by its proper windings, and not 
foolishly altering it; then to the former spirit, fathered in its 
redness, let it be carefully conjoined. 

Know, my Son, that the fatness of our earth is sulphur, the auripigment 
sirety, and colcothar, which are also sulphur, of which auripigments, 
sulphur, and such like, some are more vile than others, in which there 
is a diversity, of which kind also) is the fat of gluey matters, such as 
are hair, nails, hoofs, and sulphur itself, and of the brain, which too 
is auripigment; of the like kind also are the lions' and cats' claws, 
which is sirety; the fat of white bodies, and the fat of the two 
oriental quicksilvers, which sulphurs are hunted and retained by the 

I say, moreover, that this sulphur doth tinge and fix, and is held by 
the conjunction of the tinctures; oils also tinge, but fly away, which 
in the body are contained, which is a conjunction of fugitives only with 
sulphurs and albumninous bodies, which hold also and detain the fugitive 

The disposition sought after by the philosophers, O Son, is but one in 
our egg; but this, in the hen's egg, is much less to be found. But lest 
so much of the Divine Wisdom as is in a hen's egg should not be 
distinguished, our composition is, as that is, from the four elements 
Adapted and composed. Know, therefore, that in the hen's egg is the 
greatest help with respect to the proximity and relationship of the 
matter in nature, for in it there is a spirituality and conjunction of 
elements, and an earth which is golden in its tincture. But the Son, 
enquiring or Hermes, saith, The sulphurs which are fit for our work, 
whether are they celestial or terrestrial ? To whom the Father answers, 
Certain of them are heavenly, and some are of the earth. 

Then the Son saith, Father, I imagine the heart in the superiors to be 
heaven, and in the inferiors earth. But saith Hermes, It is not so; the 
masculine truly is the Heaven of the feminine, and the feminine is the 
earth of the masculine.

The Son then asks, Father, which of these is more worthy than the other; 
whether is it the heaven or the earth? Hermes replies, Both need the 
help one of the other; for the precepts demand a medium. But, saith the 
Son, if thou shalt say that a wise man governs all mankind? But ordinary 
men, replies Hermes, are better for them, because every nature delights 
in society of its own kind, and so we find it to be in the life of 
Wisdom where equals are conjoined. But what, rejoins the Son, is the 
mean betwixt them ? To whom Hermes replies, In everything In nature 
there are three from two: the beginning, the middle, and the end. First 
the needful water, then the oily tincture, and lastly, the faeces, or 
earth, which remains below But the Dragon inhabits in all these, and his 
houses are the darkness and blackness that is in them and by them he 
ascends into the air, from his rising, which is their heaven. But whilst 
the fume remains in them, they are not immortal. Take away, therefore, 
the vapour from the water, and the blackness from the oily tincture, and 
death from the faeces; and by dissolution thou shalt possess a 
triumphant reward, even that in and by which the possessors live. 
Know then, my Son, that the temperate unguent, which is fire, is the 
medium between the faeces and the water and is the Perscrutinator of the 

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water. For the unguents are called sulphurs, because between fire and 
oil and this sulphur there is such a chose proximity, that even as fire 
burns so does the sulphur also. 

All the sciences of the world, O Son are comprehended in this my hidden 
Wisdom; and this, and the learning of the Art, consists in these 
wonderful hidden elements which it doth discover and complete. It 
behoves him, therefore, who would be introduced to this hidden Wisdom, 
to free himself from the hidden usurpations of vice; and to be just, and 
good, and of a sound reason, ready at hand to help mankind, of a serene 
countenance, diligent to save, and be himself a patient guardian of the 
arcane secrets of philosophy. 

And this know that except thou understandest how to mortify and induce 
generation, to vivify the Spirit, and introduce Light, until they fight 
with each other and grow white and freed from their defilements, rising 
as it were from blackness and darkness, thou knowest nothing nor canst 
perform anything; but if thou knowest this, thou wilt be of a great 
dignity so that even kings themselves shall reverence thee. These 
secrets, Son, it behoves thee to conceal from the vulgar and profane 

Understand, also, that our Stone is from many things, and of various 
colours, and composed from four elements which we ought to divide and 
dissever in pieces, and segregate, in the veins, and partly mortifying 
the same by its proper nature, which is also in it, to preserve the 
water and fire dwelling therein, which is from the four elements and 
their waters, which contain its water; this, however, is not water in 
its true form, but fire, containing in a pure vessel the ascending 
waters, lest the espirits should fly away from the bodies; for by this 
means they are made tinging and fixed. 

O, blessed watery form, that dissolvest the elements: Now it behoves us, 
with this watery soul, to possess ourselves of a sulphurous form, and to 
mingle the same with our Acetum. For when, by the power of the water, 
the composition is dissolved, it is the key of the restoration; then 
darkness and death fly away from them, and Wisdom proceeds onwards to 
the fulfillment of her Law. 


Know my Son, that the philosophers bind up their matter with a strong 
chain, that it may contend with the Fire; because the spirits in the 
washed bodies desire to dwell therein and to rejoice. In these 
habitations they verify themselves and inhabit there, and the bodies 
hold them, nor can they be thereafter separated any more. 
The dead elements are revived, the composed bodies tinge and are 
altered, and by a wonderful process they are made permanent, as saith 
the philosopher. 

O, permanent watery Form, creatrix of the royal elements; who, having 
with thy brethren and a just government obtained the tincture, findest 
rest. Our most precious stone is cast forth upon the dunghill, and that 
which is most worthy is made vilest of the vile. Therefore, it behoves 
us to mortify two Argent vives together, both to venerate and be 
venerated, viz., the Argent vive of Auripigment, and the oriental Argent 
vive of Magnesia.

O, Nature, the most potent creatrix of Nature, which containest and 
separatest natures in a middle principle. The Stone comes with light, 
and with light it is generated, and then it generates and brings forth 
the black clouds or darkness, which is the mother of all things. 
But when we marry the crowned King to our red daughter, and in a gentle 
fire, not hurtful, she doth conceive an excellent and supernatural son, 
which permanent life she doth also feed with a subtle heat, so that he 
lives at length in our fire. 

But when thou shalt send forth thy fire upon the foliated sulphur, the 
boundary of hearts doth enter in above, it is washed in the same, and 
the purified matter thereof is extracted. 

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Then is he transformed, and his tincture by help of the fire remains 
red, as it were flesh. But our Son, the king begotten, takes his 
tincture from the fire, and death even, and darkness, and the waters 
flee away. 

The Dragon shuns the sunbeams which dart through the crevices, and our 
dead son lives; king comes forth from the fire and rejoins with his 
spouse, the occult treasures are laid open, and the virgin's milk is 
whitened. The Son, already vivified is become a warrior in the fire and 
of tincture super-excellent. For this Son is himself the treasury, even 
himself bearing the Philosophic Matter. 

Approach, ye Sons of Wisdom, and rejoice; let us now rejoice together, 
for the reign of death is finished, and the Son doth rule. And now he is 
invested with the red garment, and the scarlet colour is put on. 


Understand, then, O Son of Wisdom, what the Stone declares; Protect me, 
and I will protect thee; increase my strength that I may help thee ! My 
Sol and my beams are most inward and secretly in me my own Luna, also, 
my light, exceeding every light, and my good things are better than all 
other good things. I give freely, and reward the intelligent with joy 
and gladness, glory, riches, and delights; and them that seek after me I 
make to know and understand, and to possess divine things. Behold, that 
which the philosophers has concealed is written with seven letters; for 
Alpha and Yda follow two; and Sol, in like manner, follows the book; 
nevertheless, if thou art willing that he should have Dominion, observe 
the Art, and join the son to the daughter of the water, which, Jupiter 
and a hidden secret. 

Auditor, understand, let us use our Reason; consider all with the most 
accurate investigation, which in the contemplative part I have 
demonstrated to thee, the whole matter I know to be the one only thing. 
But who is he that understands the true investigation and enquires 
rationally into this matter? It is not from man, nor from anything like 
him or akin to him, nor from the ox or bullock, and if any creature 
conjoins with one of another species, that which is brought forth is 
neutral from either. 

Thus saith Venus: I beget light, nor is the darkness of my nature, and 
if my metal be not dried all bodies desire me, for I liquefy them and 
wipe away their rust, even I extract their substance. Nothing therefore 
is better or more venerable than I, my brother also being conjoined. 
But the King, the ruler, to his brethren, testifying of him, saith: I am 
crowned, and I am adorned with a royal diadem: I am clothed with the 
royal garment, and I bring Joy and gladness of heart; for being chained, 
I caused my substance to lay hold of, and to rest within the arms and 
breast of my mother, and to fasten upon her substance; making that which 
was invisible to become visible, and the occult matter to appear. And 
everything which the philosophers have hidden is generated by us. Hear, 
then, these words, and understand them; keep them, and meditate thereon, 
and seek for nothing more. Man in the beginning is generated of nature, 
whose inward substance is fleshy, and not from anything else. Meditate 
on these plain things, and reject what is superfluous. 

Thus saith the philosopher: Botri is made from the citrine which is 
extracted out of the Red Root, and from nothing else; and if it be 
citrine and nothing else, Wisdom was with thee: it was not gotten by the 
care, nor, if it be freed from redness, by thy study. Behold, I have 
circumscribed nothing; if thou hast understanding, there be but few 
things unopened. Ye Sons of Wisdom ! turn then the Breym Body with an 
exceeding great fire; and it will yield gratefully what you desire. And 
see that you make that which is volatile, so that it cannot fly, and by 
means of that which flies not. And that which yet rests upon the fire, 
as it were itself a fiery flame, and that which in the heat of a boiling 
fire is corrupted, is cambar. 

And know ye that the Art of this permanent water is our brass, and the 

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colourings of its tincture and blackness is then changed into the true 

I declare that, by the help of God I have spoken nothing but the truth. 
That which is destroyed is renovated, and hence the corruption is made 
manifest in the matter to be renewed, and hence the melioration will 
appear, and on either side it is a signal of Art. 


MY SON, that which is born of the crow is the beginning of Art. Behold, 
how I have obscured matter treated of, by circumlocution, depriving thee 
of the light. Yet this dissolved, this joined, this nearest and 
furtherest off I have named to thee. Roast those things, therefore, and 
boil them in that which comes from the horse's belly for seven, 
fourteen, or twenty-one days. Then will the Dragon eat his own wings and 
destroy himself; this being done, let it be put into a fiery furnace, 
which lute diligently, and observe that none of the spirit may escape. 
And know that the periods of the earth are in the water, which let it be 
as long as until thou puttest the same upon it. The matter being thus 
melted and burned take the brain thereof and triturate it in most sharp 
vinegar, till it becomes obscured. This done, it lives in the 
putrefaction, let the dark clouds which were in it before it was killed 
be converted into its own body. Let this process be repeated, as I have 
described, let it again die, as I before said, and then it lives. 
In the life and death thereof we work with the spirits, for as it dies 
by the taking away of the spirit, so it lives in the return and is 
revived and rejoices therein. Being arrived then at this knowledge, that 
which thou hast been searching for is made in the Affirmation, I have 
even related to thee the joyful signs, even that which doth fix the 
body. But these things, and how they attained to the knowledge of this 
secret, are given by our ancestors in figures and types; behold, they 
are dead; I have opened the riddle, and the book of knowledge is 
revealed, the hidden things I have uncovered, and have brought together 
the scattered truths within their boundary, and have conjoined many 
various forms -even I have associated the spirit. Take it as the gift of 


It behoves thee to give thanks to God who has bestowed liberally of his 
bounty to the wise, who delivers us from misery and poverty. I am 
tempted and proven with the fullness of his substance and his probable 
wonders, and humbly pray God that whilst we live we may come to him. 
Remove thence, O Sons of Science, the unguents which we extract from 
fats, hair, verdigrease, tragacanth, and bones, which are written in the 
books of our fathers. But concerning the ointments which contain the 
tincture coagulate the fugitive, and adorn the sulphurs it behooves us 
to explain their disposition more at large ! and to unveil the Form, 
which is buried and hidden from other unguents; which is seen in 
disposition, but dwells in his own body, as fire in trees and stones, 
which by the most subtle art and ingenuity it behoves to extract without 
burning. And know that the Heaven is to be joined mediately with the 
Earth - but the Form is in a middle nature between tie heaven and earth, 
which is our water. But the water holds of all the first place which 
goes forth from this stone; but the second is gold; and the third is 
gold, only in a mean which is more noble than the water and the faeces. 
But in these are the smoke, the blackness and the death. It behoves us, 
therefore, to dry away the vapour from the water, to expel the blackness 
from the unguent, and death from the feces, and this by dissolution. By 
Which means we attain to the highest philosophy and secret of all hidden 


Know ye then, O Sons of Science, there are seven bodies, of which gold 
is the first, the most perfect, the king of them, and their head, which 
neither the earth can corrupt nor fire devastate, nor the water change, 
for its complexion is equalised, and its nature regulated with respect 
to heat, cold, and moisture; nor is there anything in it which is 

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superfluous, therefore the philosophers do buoy up and magnify 
themselves init saying that this gold, in relation of other bodies. is, 
as the sun amongst the stars, more splendid in Light; and as, by the 
power of God, every vegetable and all the fruits of the earth are 
perfected, so gold by the same power sustainneth all. 

For as dough without a ferment cannot be fermented so when thou 
sublimest the body and purifiest it, separating the uncleanness from it, 
thou wilt then conjoin and mix them together, and put in the ferment 
confecting the earth and water. Then will the Ixir ferment even as dough 
doth ferment. Think of this, and see how the ferment in this case doth 
change the former natures to another thing. Observe, also, that there is 
no ferment otherwise than from the dough itself. 

Observe, moreover, that the ferment whitens the confection and hinders 
it from turning, and holds the tincture lest it should fly, and rejoice 
the bodies, and makes them intimately to join and to enter one into 
another, and this is the key of the philosophers and the end of their 
work: and by this science, bodies are meliorated, and the operation of 
them, God assisting, is consummate. 

But, through negligence and a false opinion of the matter, the operation 
may be perverted, as a mass of leaven growing corrupt, or milk turned 
with rennet for cheese, and musk among aromatics. 
The sure colour of the golden matter for the red, and the nature 
thereof, is not sweetness; therefore we make of them sericum - ie Ixir; 
and of them we make the enamel of which we have already without and with 
the king's seal we have tinged the clay, and in that have set the colour 
of heaven, which augments the sight of them that see. 

The Stone, therefore is the most precious gold without spots, evenly 
tempered, which neither fire nor air, nor water, nor earth is able to 
corrupt for it is the Universal Ferment rectifying all things in a 
medium composition, whose complexion is yellow and a true citrine 

The gold of the wise, boiled and well digested with a fiery water, makes 
Ixir; for the gold of the wise is more heavy than lead, which in a 
temperate composition is a ferment Ixir, and contrariwise, in our 
intemperate composition, is the confusion of the whole. For the work 
begins from the vegetable, next from the animal, as in a hen's egg, in 
which is the greatest help, and our earth is gold, of all which we make 
sericum, which is the ferment Ixir. 


[ The Translation here used and followed is from that notable work, "A 
Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery," (London, 1850.) ] 

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