The Book of Lambspring, 1556
The Book of Lambspring, 1556, folio 1v
This is one of the earliest copies of The Book of Lambspring I could find so far, dated 1556. The treatise is written in German (with a few parts in Latin), with a postumus dedication to Hermannus Marsoui Ecclesiae Doreptensis superintendens.
This alchemical manuscript is held at the central library of Zürich in Switzerland. Catalog entry is Ms P 2177.
The reproductions can be found here (PDF available) at the e-manuscript platform.
The Book of Lambspring is an alchemical treatise devoted to inner and outer alchemy. The tract is structured with a sequence of 15 allegorical drawings identifying alchemical stages.
Nicolas Barnaud has published in the Triga Chemica (Antwerp, 1599) a translation of the German text in to Latin. And Arthur Edward Waite has published an English translation of the Latin text in The Hermetic Museum Restored and Enlarged (London, 1893). A full transcription of the English text can be found here. Also of interest is an article by Adam McLean, titled “A Threefold Alchemical Journey Through the Book of Lambspring“. He also has made and printed a coloured edition of The Book of Lambspring, A5 hardback, available here.
The text that accompanies the following images of the manuscript, was taken form the above mentioned English version.
BE WARNED AND UNDERSTAND TRULY THAT TWO FISHES ARE SWIMMING IN OUR SEA.
The Sea is the Body, the two Fishes are Soul and Spirit.
HERE YOU STRAIGHTWAY BEHOLD A BLACK BEAST IN THE FOREST.
HEAR WITHOUT TERROR THAT IN THE FOREST ARE HIDDEN A DEER AND AN UNICORN.
In the Body there is Soul and Spirit.
HERE YOU BEHOLD A GREAT MARVEL – TWO LIONS ARE JOINED INTO ONE.
The Spirit and Soul must be united in their Body.
A WOLF AND A DOG ARE IN ONE HOUSE, AND ARE AFTERWARDS CHANGED INTO ONE.
The Body is mortified and rendered white, then joined to Soul and Spirit by being saturated with them.
THIS SURELY IS A GREAT MIRACLE AND WITHOUT ANY DECEPTION -
THAT IN A VENOMOUS DRAGON THERE SHOULD BE THE GREAT MEDICINE.
The Mercury is precipitated or sublimed, dissolved in its own proper water,
and then once more coagulated.
WE HEAR TWO BIRDS IN THE FOREST, YET WE MUST UNDERSTAND THEM TO BE ONLY ONE.
The Mercury having been often sublimed, is at length fixed, and becomes capable of resisting fire: the sublimation must be repeated until at length the fixation is attained.
HERE ARE TWO BIRDS, GREAT AND STRONG – THE BODY AND SPIRIT; ONE DEVOURS THE OTHER.
Let the Body be placed in horse-dung, or a warm bath, the Spirit having been extracted from it. The Body has become white by the process, the Spirit red by our Art. All that exists tends towards perfection, and thus is the Philosopher’s Stone prepared.
THE LORD OF THE FORESTS HAS RECOVERED HIS KINGDOM, AND MOUNTED FROM THE LOWEST TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE. IF FORTUNE SMILE, YOU MAY FROM A RHETOR BECOME A CONSUL; IF FORTUNE FROWN, THE CONSUL MAY BECOME A RHETOR.
Thus you may know that the Tincture has truly attained the first degree.
A SALAMANDER LIVES IN THE FIRE, WHICH IMPARTS TO IT A MOST GLORIOUS HUE.
This is the reiteration, gradation, and amelioration of the Tincture, or Philosopher’s Stone; and the whole is called its Augmentation.
THE FATHER AND THE SON HAVE LINKED THEIR HANDS WITH THOSE OF THE GUIDE: KNOW THAT THE THREE ARE BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT.
ANOTHER MOUNTAIN OF INDIA LIES IN THE VESSEL, WHICH THE SPIRIT AND THE SOUL – THAT IS, THE SON AND THE GUIDE – HAVE CLIMBED.
HERE THE FATHER DEVOURS THE SON; THE SOUL AND SPIRIT FLOW FORTH FROM THE BODY.
HERE THE FATHER SWEATS PROFUSELY, WHILE OIL AND THE TRUE TINCTURE OF THE SAGES FLOW FORTH FROM HIM.
HERE FATHER AND SON ARE JOINED IN ONE SO TO REMAIN FOR EVER.
Source of the images:
e-manuscripta.ch, (Ms P 2177, Zentralbibliothek Zürich)