One of the less discussed aspects in the lab practice is the choice of the right Vas Artis, which must be associated to the proper operation. It is not so uncommon observe, in the illustrative engravings of the ancient texts, the relevant armamentarium represented by retorts shaped in the most daring manners, simple and composed cucurbits, multiple and common helmets, circulatory apparatus and feedback flasks, crucibles and complex furnaces adapted to the most various requirements.
Often, this choice is not well understood both by the postulant and the already expert alchemist, and an alternative solution is chosen, ie the use of ordinary chemistry labware. Without taking anything away from this, there are capital operations which involve the use of tools absolutely targeted. Usually, is often overlooked that the common laboratory glassware can be used only in an alchemy and spagyric research perspective. However, when certain philosophical operations are required in reason to obtain reaction not commonly reach by usual chemical manipulation, the ordinary glassware is no longer sufficient.
These needs stems from objective requirements based on the intrinsic nature of philosophical matter and not from a "romantic" taste of the past. The ancient alchemists, although not aware of the thermodynamic extent of their operations, were nevertheless aware of the substantial issues of matter to be handled in the right synergy with mechanic dynamics (pressure and temperature) and Fire (exotic conditions), according to the rules of Nature and Philosophy.
Exactly replicating the work of Nature, the concept of circulation is forged in the synergy vaporization/condensation and becomes the basis of the principle of distillation, which still today retains its purpose and its application. From this again, derived a series of operations apt to transform deeply the structure and the substance of the matter, where the phase changes are imperative to be managed in the right direction.
Laboratorium Philosophiæ want to deal with this sensitive issue, bringing it directly to the laboratory practice and configuring, since the beginning, as a necessary compendium for the systematic learning of laboratory operations, both in the alchemical and spagyric fields. The work is divided into four volumes and face the problem from the Laboratory design and construction perspective, to the more detailed description of every lab manipulations, passing through the same nature and architecture of Instrumenta Philosophiæ. This latter argument usually ignored or considered into the background by many modern authors is developed in clear words and without any allegorical veil. Although Alchemy and Spagyria appears to most people as completely different sciences, they actually belong - from an instrumenta point of view - to similar lines of thought, in spite of epistemological and gnoseological differences.
The Spagyria, art of destruction and reconstitution of the “bodies”, work with the same tools of Alchemy, although in a different way and despite the first not consider the dynamics of Fire embodied in the organized compound that become essential to every alchemical operation: The Spirit of Philosophical Wine otherwise known as Alkahest.
Laboratorium Philosophiæ will be the result of over 34 years of personal lab experience, but even taking advantage from the over 50 years work of Gerhard Köenig, the chief designer and workshop manager of Chymia Labor –Tools, the internal glassblowing and instrument workshop facility of Chymia Laboratorium SA.
An irreplaceable and essential manual for both the postulant and for the experienced operator. The work will be released simultaneously in two prestigious paper hardcover editions (four volumes each), in English and German.
Über die Organisation, die Werkzeuge und den Betrieb von Alchemistische/spagyrischen Labor, mit besonderem Augenmerk auf Laborgeräte, Öfen und anderen Instrumenten, ihr Design, Form und Funktion.
(About the organization, tools and operation of Alchemical/spagyrical laboratory, with particular attention to laboratory equipment, furnaces and other instruments, their design, shape and function).
Design und Konstruktion dieses Laboratoriums
(Design and construction of laboratories)
The first volume details the principles for the design and construction of the alchemical and spagyrical laboratory, well highlighting the differences between the two and their particular characteristics. The right architecture of the alchemical laboratory is the first step in the systematic approach to alchemical science. In the history of alchemy, this was often overlooked. On the other hand was of primary importance for Ancient Philosophers identify the right structure of the operative space, as wisely pointed out by Owen Hannaway in his article Laboratory Design and the Aim of Science: Andreas Libavius versus Tycho Brahe (in Isis Vol. 77, No. 4, Dec., 1986, pp. 584-610, The University of Chicago Press). Andreas Libau (1550-1610), also known as Libavius, devoted many pages to the design of the spaces in which to conduct the alchemical operations.His House of Alchemy is a true demonstration of all this. Spaces that are kind of interaction environment in the dynamic of mind-matter alchemical dialog.
Die Laborgeräte für die Philosophie. Konzept, Gestaltung und Produktion von Glasgeräte, Keramik und feuerfeste Werkstoffe
(The laboratory equipment for the Philosophy. Concept, design and production of glassware, ceramics and refractories).
Together with Gerhard Köenig, the chief designer and workshop manager of Chymia Labor –Tools, the internal glassblowing and instrument workshop facility of Chymia Laboratorium SA, the authors look across the wide arsenal of alchemical laboratory, focusing on all those instruments that Tradition considers as indispensable in their specific function, highlighting the thermodynamic aspects of their shape and architecture, the specific proportions and their course of action.
Here are described the traditional distillations apparatuses, monostage and multistage retorts, the various condensing helmets, circulators, cohobators and rectificators. A very detailed section is dedicate to the sublimation instruments, in their different concepts and applications. Both for Via Sicca, Via Humida and Via Brevis, the wide armamentarium of refractory ceramic labware and crucibles are described in their most technical aspects.
The subject is treated very rigorously as is the habit of these authors, starting from design issues passing through the careful selection of materials oriented to the specific alchemical laboratory application. The book is full of technical data, such as corrosion tables for borosilicate glass, quartz, ceramics and refractory, curves of thermal and mechanical resistance, models of the vapor thermodynamics for individual classes of substances in relation to the specific condition and operations where these are involved.
Über Öfen und ihre Funktion.
Konstruktion und Bau von alchemistischen Athanor für Via Sicca, Via Humida, Via Brevis.
(About Furnaces and their function. Design and construction of the alchemical Athanors for Via Sicca, Via Humida, Via Brevis)
Common opinion, but still rooted in many modern operators, is that ancient alchemists used a furnace called Athanor in which they operate the final cooking of the Stone. Until today, nobody know the real structure and architecture of this singular furnace (Piger Henricus), in spite of the countless graphical representations. This also because under the term Athanor was often designated a more wide class of special philosophical ovens. Not limited to the best known Philosophical Backing, this wide class of ovens and furnaces is addressed to various temperature class operations. Thus, there are many other Athanor in the lab, as the multiple burner ovens (Fornax spagyrica), the cupola furnaces, the reverberatory, annealing and calcinatory furnaces, the more “infernal” blast furnaces, the impressive quartz-corundum furnace for Via Brevis (die Art und Weise des Blitzes) and the amazing "Apollo’s Eye", the retort’s ovens and the various Balnea.
This text is the fundamental guide for the design, construction and management of all philosophical furnaces and ovens used in the alchemical/spagyrical lab. Again in couple with Gerhard Köenig, Alexander Jenner expose the principles of construction and operation of the alchemical furnaces based on their own long experience, not forgetting the connection with the individual preparatory and completive manipulations that occurs systematically in the lab.
Über dem allgemeinen, Unitarier und speziellen Prozessen in der alchemistischen/spagyrischen Labor.
(About the general, unit and particular processes in the alchemical/spagyrical laboratory).
The fourth and last volume of this full-bodied compendium is dedicated to the general, unitary and particular operations that occur in the alchemical/spagyrical laboratory, dealt in strictly technical and systematic terms.
For the first time, in plain language, went to be exposed the operating criteria of the 12 general operations by the traditional instrumentation, the 24 unit operations, and the 36 particular processes. The reader will learn the whole series of alchemical lab processes that no author has ever described so accurately. It will be up to him to apply them in the right context and on the right matters, although it is widely exposed the methodological criteria. Unlike many other modern texts on the market - where the majority of the pages are dedicated to obscure diagrams and images taken from classical authors but without any clear comment to comfort the reader - our work is entirely based on practice, avoiding any additional confusion and veil.Philosophy is first of alllaboratory application and not empty words without direct practical translation.
Three large Addenda in the end of this volume will be devoted to the techniques of separation and purification by modern instrumentation (fractionating columns, thin film and rotary evaporation techniques, preparative HPLC, etc.). It'll be clarified some points about the “Etheric Fire’s operations”, not fully completed in our “De Ignis Cælestis”, and finally will be faced the possible use of extreme vacuum in Alchemy for certain highly igneous Sulphurs separations.