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Venerdì, 28 Giugno 2019 10:45

On making gold yesterday. Tradition, ethics, history

It is essential not to fall into the incorrect idea of believing that alchemy only means “to make gold”, as we have already explained in the editorial, and we invite everyone to read it because it contains all the ethics of the science/art in just a few sentences.

Every form, sector or level of knowledge involves an unavoidable responsibility, even if we do not know or notice it.

Suffice it to say that the alchemists of the past were not attracted by gold but by Art. Ars Gratia Artis[1]. Making gold to them was a demonstration of an intellectual refinement, both operational and spiritual.

The ethics of the true, ancient alchemists forced them to use gold produced in the laboratory for the benefit of the sick and the poor, and, for themselves, only to finance the start of a trade or a profession.

making gold alchemy

But it goes without saying that modern alchemy critics are fond of the image of the alchemist, disheveled, filthy, obsessed by gold; this is the typical image for all alchemists. So much so that, as we have already repeated, many alchemists such as Newton, Boyle, Malpighi, and Falloppio are still being defined in extremely convoluted ways – such as neoteric iatrochemist for Malpighi! - in order not to call them alchemists.

By the way, many of those disheveled alchemists who actually were feverishly seeking the Philosopher’s Stone, discovered and invented many new substances, instruments and medicines. However, until the seventeenth century, the professional figure of the alchemist could not always be precisely defined, as long as kings, nobles, princes, universities and hospitals did not have a need for a qualified pharmacist. This has been particularly crucial in Germany, bringing its influence throughout Europe.

It should be added that, thanks to universities, sometimes the alchemist was both a physician and a pharmacist and even an astrologer, as Paracelsus, who studied astrology in Ferrara, suggested. In other cases the alchemist offered his services to the court of a king, sometimes rising to administrator of the botanical garden and the pharmacy of the king. When he was less able or fortunate, the alchemist could be hired by a noble lover of science perhaps as tutor to his heirs, and in some cases was shared between many nobles, as it was for Fioravanti and Borri.

We also present the case in the third issue of the Philosophical Transactions, born from the dream of the German Londoner scholar, Hartlib. From this juncture, a young king, Charles II, as an act of restoration of the monarchy, began to sponsor the projects of Hartlib and later alchemists with big names such as Newton and Boyle, founders of the Royal Society.

We will truly see how these two researchers were ungrateful apprentices of George Starkey, a young and timid Calvinist pastor, a native of Bermuda and a naturalized American, who ended up in London, where he became famous in the Hartlib circle for his alchemist abilities, and as an iatrochemist and furnace manufacturer.

Now we come to understand real alchemy in terms of initiation or, at least, esoterically or even in a speculative sense, thus finishing our excursus on the alchemy of the past in the West.

A word that remained well-known in Europe and has continued to fascinate America was Rosa+Croce.

A foolish plot-mania has linked this historical reality with the Illuminati of Bavaria and mixed as many groups as possible, even with individuals (such as Pike and Mazzini), inventing impossible soups in which either the Rosicrucians or the Masons, or Jesuits or whoever would be - just pick one - were Communists, Nazis, homosexuals, homophobics, perverts or moralists, then of course aliens or elohims, because faithful people don’t study history or, if they do, they don’t have a clue of what is going on out there in the big world but like to be opinionated.

The historical reality is more simple and easily delineated in a nutshell. Valentin Andreae, a German Protestant pastor whose mother was an alchemist, assisted by Tobias Adami made a manifesto intended to intrigue Europe. In the manifesto, he stated that a group of Masters were hiding among ordinary people carrying wonderful discoveries that could transform the world into a paradise. This paradise included Parnassus[2], then Cristianopoli and then la Città del Sole, the Sun City.

Meanwhile many Europeans were now disinterested in the various, quarrelsome fideistic religions, guided by their heads as well as by their hearts, sought precisely what the two friends were trying to propose; nonetheless Andreae and Adami were dragged to court and were accused of having created a sinister secret organization, when in fact, they told them that it was just a joke, a “ludibrium Rosicrucianum”.

They fared well actually but were not very dignified despite all the posthumous prophetic esoteric inventions about Christian Rosenkreutz et cetera, but most came to recognize in the name “Rosa+Croce” a quantity of contents connecting everything with a new way of conceiving the world, which was what Paracelsus had set out to do: the creation of a new Europe based on knowledge and the exchange of experiences.

Thus organizations sprang up everywhere devoted to self-knowledge, or reintegration, or regeneration (palingenesis), which led to several similar or closely-related names to that of the Rosicrucians. Historically, the name “Rosicrucians” was coined for these organizations and for those more close to us, the “neo-Rosicrucians”.

So if someone tells you that “I’m a Rosa+croce (rose+cross)” treat him with fraternal acquiescence because if he/she is a madcap or, may be, has survived for about three and a half centuries.

Yet we are still debating whether this reality was born in Italy at the Gonzaga court, one of the Medici, being taken from the preaching of Giordano Bruno, who had a large following in England, or in a group of German philosophers.

Then came Freemasonry, as a large container of virtual initiatory principles, showing the degree of Rosicrucian Prince, both in the Scottish Rite and in the various Egyptians Rites; then there were masonic orders considered as direct emanations of the various ancient Rosicrucian fellowships.

What has all this to do with alchemy?

Some of Rosicrucian groups had already established initiatory schools during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in which the RANKS maximum division concerned Ergon and Parergon[3], where what is essential, the ergon, was the meditation and prayer to merge with the absolute, while the ergon approach was the alchemy. We can add that some read the word “rose” as dew and the word “cross” as crucible, which could actually fit.

We still have the text, almost complete, of the group rituals but also of laboratory practices, where it is specified that success in the Philosopher’s Stone quest was regarded as an excellent start for the final phase of absorption into the Divine Reality. In the first phase, these classes were taught in the laboratory through a path that worked on vitriol.

Since we talked about it, a question may arise: What was the historical connection between the discipline of alchemy and Freemasonry?

Building an inner temple may have an affinity with the alchemical laboratory? Somebody answers yes.

As we have said, several Rosicrucian groups also had a ritual; so it became easy for many authors to bring alchemy to Masonic symbolism; the Tschudy Baron, Oswald Wirth, Grillot De Givry, are the best known names of those who approached these two forms of symbolism and in some ways gathered them together.

To conclude this excursus on making gold in antiquity, we can add that, under the law, the alchemist has almost always been sentenced to death, considered a fraud by the state, and therefore making gold has always had a bad reputation. For what we know only three alchemists received some kind of reward or approval from the people of their time and they were the Parisians, Nicolas and Pernelle Flamel, and the Polish Sędziwój - better known as Sendivogius. All the other researchers, unless they were under the patronage of princes, nobles or universities, had been, until the eighteenth century at least, misunderstood.

Moreover alchemical gold, once realized, if it is not prepared with precision, has a dry and a warmer radiance that make it easily recognizable since it has a unique purity.

If the readers are really interested in alchemical transmutations throughout history, just sincerely searching, they will realize that history is full of them.

Those interested will find more historical information in future editions of NitroGeno, in which we will write about the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, and his dispute with Egypt, who paid taxes with alchemical gold, and we will write of Cleopatra[4] that dissolved a large pearl in a glass of “vinegar” in just a few seconds, then drank the liquid. In our advertisement-video for this issue of NitroGeno, we have included the case of Baron Von Reussestein who helped the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinando III’s, producing enough gold to win the Thirty Years War against the Swedish front. It was a typical example of a perfect collaboration between an alchemist and a monarch; the first did not want to become emperor and the second did not want to invade every country on the planet, so they both did well for what was their responsibility.

These stories, which have the same credibility and sources as all other historical facts, do not leave any doubt in the reader?

I’m sure that there could be a doubt even in a practicing alchemist, if teams of expert chemists try their best to make gold, and finally they succeed in producing real gold - without adding it during the process or playing other tricks - but not in enough quantity to pay for all the expenses that the process requires.

So, maybe, again, the wise Fulcanelli’s statement makes sense:

“Here is the secret of Alchemy: there is a way to manipulate Matter and Energy such that eventually is generated what a modern scientist would call a Force Field. This Field is active on Matter and as well on the Observer and by doing so the Field will position this particular individual a privileged position in relation to the rest of the Universe. From this position the Observer gains access to all the dimensions of reality normally hidden by time and space and by energy and matter. This is what we, alchemists, call the Great Work.”

article from Nitrogeno #3 >>

[1] Art for art’s sake.

[2] These mythical place names are derived from Traiano Boccalini, from Andreae himself and then by Friar Tommaso Campanella who donated to the two friends the manuscript of “The City of the Sun”, which was first published in Germany by Adami.

[3] Ergon means “doing” or “the real thing” - in this case the essential fact of contemplation - and Parergon or Parerga “accessory” which in this case means the material operation, or thus the laboratory practice.

[4] This is Cleopatra who is the fifth Cleopatra of the Egyptian dynasty of Tolom

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    How i succeeded in making gold according to the process of mr. Jollivet Castelot - December 1925
    By A. Ballandras

    Dosage of Gold obtained by the second method.

    The residue, which had been obtained by a mixture of:

    • Silver 10 grams
    • Tin 3 grams
    • Arsenic sulphide 3 grams
    • Antimony sulphide 3 grams

    was crushed as much as possible and subdued (read: subjected) to a treatment of pure chloric acid like in the first method. [Here is a reference to a first method - not presented here - the above being the second method presented by Ballandras from a text, the name and size of which is unknown to me.] However, to completely eliminate the silver and the tin employer, I scrupled to begin the indicated treatments, that is to say that the powder which was obtained having been subdued first to the action of azotic acid then washed with distillated water, then subdued to the action of chloric acid, then once more washed with distillated water, and these different operations were begun once more with another portion of pure azotic acid, and another portion of pure chloric acid after having carefully washed the insoluble residue was subdued to the prolonged action of aqua regalis following:

    Chloric acid - 15 parts/ Azotic acid - 4-5 parts.

    It must be noted that this thing happened during the ebullition (bubbling; boiling) The washed residue contained the slighter part of gold, this thing would be found dissolved in the last liquor, which I obtained. After 18 hours of digestion at the temperature of about 25 degrees, I subdued the mixture to ebullition during 3 hours. After refrigeration, I filtered this on wool of glass and I looked to see if parts were not drawn along in suspense. Finding nothing I proceeded with an analysis of the liquor which I obtained. For that month I made two parts strictly equal of the liquor, the first being destined to qualitative analysis, the other quantitative.

    A) Qualitative Analysis: Assay of usual reagents:

    • Chloride of Tin - Rose colored precipitate
    • Pure Soda in solution - Voluminous yellow reddish precipitate
    • Sulfate of Iron - During ebullition, metallic precipitate, greenish black very dense spangles.

    B) Quantitative Analysis:

    The second part of the liquor destined to undergo quantitative analysis was treated by H2S when the most important part of chloric and azotic acids were driven out by a prolonged ebullition.

    This time the liquor was slightly acid and had a weak smell of chlorine. I called H2S into action; about 20 minutes long. The black precipitate which I obtained was received by a filter paper carefully washed first with well distillated water, then with hot water and at last with chloric acid. After drying in the vapor-bath, the precipitate was put in a capsule of porcelain and heated in a mould at about 850 degrees, so as to destroy the sulphides precipitated with gold i.e., the arsenic and the antimony. These were naturally decomposed by the temperature of 850 degrees to which it had been subdued during two hours. The quantity of gold obtained was 0.238 grains. The half of the liquor having served for the dissolution having been turned to good use for the qualitative analysis it followed that the whole quantity of gold contained in the original liquor should be equal to double the quantity obtained. i.e., 0.476 grains of gold per 10 grams of silver employed, yield then was 0.476 grains of gold per gram silver. {I must point out that the obtaining of gold is not a mathematical regularity, that is to say, the purport (proportion) of residue changes according to the conditions of heating.}

    old drugstore

    2) Dry method

    I acted on 22 grains of chemically pure silver supplied by Messrs. Poulenc of Paris and on 3.5 grains of chemically pure orpiment supplied by the Pharmacie Central of Paris. The mixture was heated to about 1600 C in a metal smelting furnace for about ¾ hour. The residue obtained was again melted for an hour with the addition of orpiment, after having been hammered for half an hour and re-melted with the addition of small quantities of orpiment every 10 minutes, it was withdrawn. After cooling and the addition of chemically pure antimony sulphide, it was again put back into the furnace, small quantities of orpiment being thrown in every 5 minutes. The residue obtained had a dark metallic tint, after hammering it became slightly golden.

    Analysis of the Residue

    The residue dissolved in chemically pure 36 degree HNO3 first cold and then hot, gave an abundant pulverulent deposit. This deposit after being washed and treated with HN3 to dissolve the arsenic and antimony salts was completely dissolved in aqua regia. The liquor after being chlorinated and filtered was subjected to the reagents of Platinum and gold.

    Mr. Andre Vandenberghe who was acting as preparator for this experiment, had thought that in accordance with the law of evolution of matter, the transmutation of bodies into gold should be preceded or accompanied by their transmutation into platinum. According to Mendeleiev’s progression, we have Pt - 195.2 and Au - 197.2

    The reactions of gold were quite characteristic; the reactions of platinum also seemed to reveal its presence. The quantity of gold obtained in this experiment was estimated at about one gram. I emit the hypothesis that the arsenic acts as a catalyzer and the sulphur as a ferment in this transmutation.

    Jollivet Castelot, Douai, December 1925

    A recent experiment in transmutation

    By M. Jollivet Castelot

    All my research work on transmutation since 1908 has started from the fact that gold is found in nature associated with antimony and arsenic sulphides as well as with Tellurium which is considered as the mineralizer of gold. I therefore considered it logical to introduce Tellurium into the artificial combination of silver and arsenic and antimony sulphides that I make. The following is an account of one of my recent experiments:bI prepared a mixture composed of 6 grams of chemically pure silver, 1 gram of native orpiment (Arsenic trisulphide A52S3) free from gold, 1 gram of chemically pure antimony sulphide, and 2 grams of chemically pure Tellurium. I added pure silica to the usual fluxes. This mixture was heated in the furnace in the usual way for one hour at a temperature of 1100 C (approximately) [note: parenthesis are not mine AMWH].

    The residue obtained was of a blackish grey color with violet reflections. It weighed 6.420 grains. When subjected to the action of nitric acid, the residue was attacked with difficulty and greenish metallic particles became detached. The solution was then decanted and a greenish-yellow residue remained which was kept at the boiling point in nitric acid for several hours, after decanting off the liquor once again, the residue, which had not changed, was washed, treated with ammonia and then subjected to the action of aqua regia in which it was entirely dissolved after boiling for several hours.

    The solution after being chlorinated and then subjected to the reagents of gold, gave the following:

    • Potassium Ferrocyanide - greenish brown coloration.
    • Tin Protochloride + Tin Bichloride - a yellow bronze coloration and then a metallic deposit of the same shade.
    • Ammonia - coloration and precipitate identical with the preceding one and which became transformed into a yellow deposit of fulminating gold at the end of a few hours.
    • Formol - light yellowish black metallic precipitate.
    • Peroxide of Hydrogen - light very finely divided brownish black precipitate.
    • Oxalic acid - yellowish black precipitate.
    • Ferrous Sulphate - golden yellow metallic precipitate.
    • Caustic Potash - a fairly abundant golden yellow metallic precipitate at the end of a few hours.

    The presence of gold was therefore very distinctly shown and a remarkable feature was that the metal obtained possessed the yellow bronze color of gold telluride and of native silver. I had therefore produced a bronze colored gold in my laboratory by artificial means thanks to the intervention of the Tellurium.

    “A certain amount of gold was certainly lost in this test as in all my previous tests, for it is known that arsenic, antimony and Tellurium entrain gold in their fusion and their volatilization. In order to obviate this disadvantage, I had thought of making the vapors of arsenic and antimony sulphides and of Tellurium act on the silver in fusion in a closed vessel by means of a special device, but I have been forced to give up this scheme for the time being on account of the difficulties met with for the construction of this apparatus, the cost of which would be very high. I consider it certain that if the vapors were allowed to bubble through the melted silver, a much higher yield of gold would be obtained than that I have obtained hitherto by an imperfect and too rapid contact of the bodies in presence; while it is undoubtedly necessary to make them react on one another in the state of vapor in a closed vessel.” Jollivet Castelot, Douai, April 24th, 1926

    The chemical manufacture of gold account of one of my last experiments in the transmutation of silver into gold

    As a sequel to my previous work on the artificial synthesis of gold, I have introduced Tin into these new tests as it is also often associated with gold in nature. The following is a description of this new process, thanks to which the percentage of gold obtained destroys all the objections that are raised with regard to impurities.

    I made an intimate mixture of 6 grams of chemically pure silver of which the purity was tested by a professional chemist, the Head of the laboratory of one of the most important Works of the region. 2 Grams of antimony sulphide, 1 gram of orpiment, and 1 gram of Tin; all these bodies were obtained from the Establishment Poulenc of Paris and were chemically pure. I added the usual fluxes and then heated the whole in a crucible in the furnace to about 1100 C fort2 about 1 hour, twice adding a small quantity of antimony sulphide.

    The residue obtained was treated for a long period in pure 36 degree nitric acid, first cold and then at the boiling point.

    The insoluble residue was next washed with distilled water, treated with ammonia, washed again and finally treated for a long period with boiling aqua regia. The liquor when filtered and subjected to the reagents of gold showed the presence of this metal in the form of deposits3 which maybe estimated at 0.05 grains in all, which is very high considering the 6 grams of silver employed.

    With Oxalic acid, the solution turned violet and gave an abundant black pulverulent precipitate.

    With Hydrogen Peroxide, a very finely divided precipitate of gold.

    With Formic Aldehyde, a brown precipitate of gold.

    With Tin Protochloride, an intense violet pink coloration.

    The addition of Tin to the other bodies has certainly facilitated the reactions of the gold and increased the yield of this metal which can be manufactured artificially by my process.

    It would be easy to show that, given the respective prices of gold and of the other substances that are used in my process to produce it, a profit could be obtained if the process were worked industrially; all the more so as the greater part of the silver employed can be recovered at each test.

    I believe I now hold the key to the regular and even industrial manufacture of gold. But the industrial question is voluntarily put aside from my thoughts, for my only object is the search for pure scientific truth.
    Jolivet Castelot, Douai, April 15th, 1927

    Table of reactions


    • C2H2O4 - Abundant deposit of metallic gold.
    • H2O2 (basic) - Brown precipitate.
    • K4 Fe Cy6 . 3H2O - Green coloration.
    • Na2CO3 (in ebullition) - Brownish precipitate.
    • NH3 - Reddish yellow precipitate (Au); topped by a yellow precipitate (Pt).
    • KOH - Reddish yellow precipitate (Au); topped by a yellow precipitate (Pt).
    • SnCL2.2H2O - Solution colored brown with reactions of platinum salts and deposit of black powder.
    • KI - Solution becomes reddish followed by a discharge of iodine and a brown precipitate (Platinum iodide).

    Extracts from the press

    “It must be admitted that it is extraordinary and incomprehensible that France for the past ten years has refused to take an interest in the experiments of a rich and universally respected scientist who has given proofs of his worth, even after the conclusive experiments carried out by an official chemist, Mr Ballandras of Lyons.”
    Andre Ibels, La Razon, June 8, 1927

    It is unjust, gentlemen, that a scientist of the value of Mr. Jollivet Castelot should be held in suspicion at the very moment when he is losing his sight through overwork. To continue his work, however embarrassing it may be to yours, is a sacred duty.”
    Declaration by Mademoiselle M.L. of Paris. Professor of Engineering at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, Paris, at the Chemical Congress in Paris. October 1927

    “Oh! it is not that Mr. Jollivet Castelot has not attempted to make his invention known in France, on the contrary, he has written leaflets and books and has founded reviews for this purpose... Not only was he not taken seriously, but he was also a butt to the sarcasm and even to the insults of the official scientists in general and of the Nobelist Perrin in particular. The Acedemie des Sciences itself - as usual - refused to record his communication.”
    Andre Ibels, Nouveau Journal de Nice, October 16, 1927

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