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glossary

(Hebrew: עד) "The Universal Medicine is, for the soul, supreme reason and absolute justice; for the mind, it is mathematical and practical truth; for the body, it is the quintessence, which is a combination of gold and light. In the superior world, the first matter of the Great Work is enthusiasm and activity; in the intermediate world, it is intelligence and industry; in the inferior world, it is labour; in science it is sulfur, Mercury and Salt, which, volatilized and fixed alternately, compose the AZOTH of the sages. sulfur corresponds to the elementary form of fire, Mercury to air and water, Salt to earth. All masters in alchemy who have written concerning the Great Work have employed symbolical and figurative expressions, and have been right in so doing, not only to deter the profane from operations which would be dangerous for them, but to make themselves intelligible to adepts by revealing the entire world of analogies which is ruled by the one and sovereign dogma of Hermes. For such, gold and silver are the Sun and Moon, or the King and Queen; sulfur is the Flying Eagle; Mercury is the winged and bearded Hermaphrodite, throned upon a cube and crowned with flames; matter or Salt is the Winged Dragon; metals in the molten state are Lions of various colours; finally, the whole work is symbolized by the Pelican and Phoenix. Hermetic art is, therefore, at one and the same time, a religion, a philosophy and a natural science. Considered as religion, it is that of the ancient Magi and the initiates of all the ages; as a philosophy, its principles may be found in the school of Alexandria and in the theories of Pythagoras; as science, its principles must be sought from Paracelsus, Nicholas Flamel and Raymund Lully. The science is true only for those who accept and understand the philosophy and religion, while its processes are successful only for the adept who has attained sovereign volition, and has thus become monarch of the elementary world, for the Great Agent of the solar work is that force described in the Hermetic Symbol of the “Emerald Table”: it is universal magical power; it is the igneous spiritual motor; it is the OD of the Hebrews and the Astral Light, according to the expression which we have adopted in this work. There is the secret, living and philosophical fire, of which all Hermetic philosophers speak only under the most mysterious reservations; there is the universal sperm, the secret of which they guarded, representing it only under the emblem of the caduceus of Hermes. Here then is the great Hermetic Arcanum, and we reveal it for the first time clearly and devoid of mystical figures: that which the adepts term dead substances are bodies as found in Nature; living substances are those which have been assimilated and magnetized by the science and will of the operator. Therefore the Great Work is something more than a chemical operation: it is an actual creation of the human Word initiated into the power of the Word of God Himself." - Eliphas Levi, Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1855)

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