4to; pp. 211; index fugarum, 1 p.; monitio ad Philomusicum, 2 pp., portrait
-- 50 engraved emblematic pictures, each with an epigram, which is set to
music. The first edition at Oppenheim, 1617; a different title-page, and
where on page 11 (1618) a woodcut appears, this is blank in edition of 1617.
-- Mr F. Leigh Gardner (Hopetoun bookplate.)
Short Title. -- MICHAELIS MAJERI, Secreta Naturae Chymica, nova plane
subtilique methodo indagata.
Title. -- MICHAELIS MAJERI, Imperial. Consistor. Comit. Med. D. Eq. Ex. &c.
Secretioris Naturae Secretorum Scrutinium Chymicum, per oculis et intellectui
accurate acomodata, figuris cupro appositissime incisa, ingeniosissima
Emblemata, hisque confines, et ad rem egregie facientes sententias,
doctissimaque item Epigrammata, illustratim. Opusculum ingeniis altioribus, &
ad majora natis, ob momenta in eo subtilia, augusta, sancta, rara, & alioqui
nimium quantum abstrusa, quam maxime expetitum, desideratum; Iterata vice
amplissimae Reipublicae Chymicae Bono & Emolumento, non sine singulari
jucunditate, legendum, meditandum intelligendum, dijudicandum, depromptum.
Francofurti, Impensis Georgii Henrici Oehrlingii, Bibliopolae. Typo Johannis
Philippi Andreae. MDCLXXXVII.
4to; pp. 150; preface to reader, 4 pp. more; then rest A-T3. 50 symbolic
engravings. The differences in this edition are the alteration of the title,
the omission of the engraved title and Maier's portrait, the omission of the
music, and of the "Epigramma Authoris" and "Epistola dedicatoria." -- Haigh
Edition in German. -- [bibliography omitted] 1708.
At the foot of the title-page of Atalanta fugiens is shown the race of
Atalanta and Hippomenes. The former, swift and beautiful, was warned against
marriage by an oracle, and lived a lonely life in a forest. "She meets the
addresses of her suitors by challenging them to race with her, and spearing
them in the back. She is at length beaten by Hippomenes, who, during the
race, drops on the ground three golden apples given him by Aphrodite.
Atalanta stoops down to pick up the apples, and thus loses the race: --
"The nimble Virgin, dazzled to behold
The glittering apple tumbling o'er the mold,
Stop'd her career to seize the rolling gold."
"Hippomenes forgets to render thanks to Aphrodite" (or profanes the
temple), "and the goddess in anger causes the pair to wander into a sanctuary
of Cybele, where they are changed into lions."
At the side of the title-page, Venus is shown handing the golden apples to
Hippomenes; at the bottom, Atalanta is picking up one; while Hippomenes is
running with an apple in each hand. Behind is a temple, the lovers in the
entrance embracing each other, while from behind they issue as a lion and
lioness. The upper part of the plate represents Hercules with a club over his
shoulder, clad in a lion's hide, with the tail hanging so as to appear in the
natural position. He has arrived at the trees whereon hang the golden apples
of Hesperides. He stretches out his hand to seize one. Up above appear
Aegle, Arethusa, and Hespertusa. The title is pretty and well drawn. It has
been very aptly remarked by one writer, that in the illustrated title-pages of
Maier's works more information is communicated to the capable student than in
whole volumes of other writers. On the back of the title is "Epigrammata
Authoris," followed by a dedication to Christopher Reinart, doctor of laws,
and Imperial Senator of Mülhausen, in Thuringia. As the tripod given by
Vulcan to Pelops on his marriage was afterwards offered by him to the Pythian
Apollo, and preserved at Delphi, becoming the seat wherefrom the Divine
Oracles were declared, so the author, following the example of Pelops,
consecrates his tripod to the use of that distinguished place from which he
writes, and, before all other persons, to you, most excellent and noble, that
he may give some public testimony of the benevolence which he had received a
few years ago, in the time of the Emperor Rudolph, from the Medical Council of
Frankfort. He hopes that his Atalanta may give his patrons, when they rest a
little from their graver pursuits, recreation for both mind and hand, so that
the author may still be kept in recollection, and numbered amongst the friends
still dear to him and them. The dedication is dated, "Francofurti, ad Maenam,
anno 1617, mense Augusto" [Frankfurt-on-Main, August 1617].
The preface contains a dissertation upon ancient music, and the story of
Atalanta and Hippomenes, which is awanting in the Secretioris Naturae, but
otherwise that second work is in the beginning and the end the same.
Maier tells us in the preface that Atalanta "virgo mere chymica est, et
Hippomenes tanquam malo aurea in tertia temen stabalimetur et firmantur, . . .
ex Hippomenes et Atalanta coeuntibus in templo Matis Deum, hoc est vase, fiunt
liones, sive rubeum acquirent colorem" [the virgin is simply chemistry, and
Hippomenes like the golden apples is stabilized and strengthened by the third
voice; from Hippomenes and Atalanta copulating in the temple of the Mother of
the Gods, which is the vessel, lions come into being and take on a red color].
The story of Atalanta in her victory over the suitors, and in the killing of
the wild boar, and receiving from Meleagar the head and hide of the monster as
a prize, "apud stethaeum Aesculapii fanum en saxo percusso aquam elicuit quam sitibunda bibit" [at the temple of Stethaean Aesculapius she drew water by
hitting a rock, which being thirsty she drank] -- all is explained in the
Each Emblem has three illustrations. First page -- part of the epigram in
verse set to music, in three voices -- Atalanta, or the vox fugiens [fleeing
voice]; Hippomenes, or the vox sequens [following voice]; Pomum objectum, or
the vox morans [grounding voice]. The epigram, in German, is at the bottom of
the page. Second page -- the emblem in figure, with the Latin verse at the
foot; then in two pages, the discursus.
The emblems in all number fifty, and the plates in both editions are the
same. According to Mr Waite (Rosicrucians, 269), these quaint and mystical
engravings "emblematically reveal the most unsearchable secrets of Nature."
Probably the most curious picture is Emblem No. 34, in which the Sun and
Moon, represented in human form, are represented in the act of coition,
standing in a pool of water.
A few specimens from the work will now follow: --
1. The wind has taken him in the belly. Epigram -- "The wind carried it
in its belly, and nurse thereof is the earth." The fruit which lives,
concealed in the wind -- look that it is not unsuitably born before its time,
but comes living to earth in right measure.
7. The bird flies young from the nest; the bird falls back into the nest
-- "It ascends from earth to heaven, and again descends to earth." In a
hollow rock the eagle has made his nest. Therein concealed, he nourishes his
young. One feathered easily raises itself; but the featherless cannot -- so
falls back into its nest.
8. Take the Egg and strike it with a glowing sword. This bird has an egg,
which is to be carefully sought. The white surrounds the yellow yoke; such
burn prudently with a glowing sword. Seek help from Mars, the fire god. Then
will a young bird bore through. Fire and iron can destroy. Here see "the
strength of superiors and inferiors."
11. Make Latona white, and tear up the books. No one knows properly the
twin race born of Jove. It is the Sun and Moon. Yet black spots leave many
traces -- make Latona white in the face -- free from all colour; and that you
may escape injury, tear up the books -- "penetrates every solid thing."
13. The brass of the wise is water-seeking, and desires to be bathed seven
times in the river, like the leprous Naaman in Jordan.
14. The Dragon eating its own tail. Hunger compels the many-footed fish
to devour its foot. Many nourish themselves with the flesh of others, and so
it does not vex the dragon to bite, even devour his tail, so that he even
enjoys a part of his own body for food. He will be tamed by the sword, by
hunger, and imprisonment, till he completely devours and recreates himself
again. "The strongest of all fortitudes."
21. Make of man and woman a circle; then a quadrangle; out of this a
triangle; make again a circle, and you will have the Stone of the Wise. Thus
is made the stone, which thou canst not discover, unless you, through
diligence, learn to understand this geometrical teaching.
23. Gold rains while Pallas is born at Rhodes, and the sun lies in Venus.
It is a wonderful thing, so the Greeks teach us as true, which at Rhodes took
place in the ancient time. They say that a fruitful rain of gold fell. As
the sun has lain by Venus in love, also as out of the forehead of Jove did
Pallas come, so also in thy vessel must gold show its elf-like rain.
25. The Dragon does not die, but is really killed by his brother and
sister, which are the sun and moon. The Dragon may, unless the art be more
than slight, begin to live and again creep out. His brother and sister strike
his head with clubs. This is the only way he can be killed. Apollo is the
brother, and Diana the sister.
29. As the Salamander lives in the fire, so does the Stone. The
Salamander lives, strong and unhurt, in the strong fire -- so the cruel heat
of the flames is but of small matter, for the Philospher's Stone is born in the perpetual fire. It is uninjured, becoming cold out of the fire. It
stands in equal heat with the Salamander.
35. As Ceres, Triptolemus, and Thetis Achilles became accustomed to linger
under the fire, so will the maker of the Stone. The fire is as the milk from
the breast of the mother -- nourishment for the medicine of the wise.
41. Adonis is killed by a wild boar. Venus, hastening to help, colours
the roses with Adonis' blood. Myrrha has given birth to Adonis, by her own
father, whom Venus greatly loves. He is killed by a wild boar, and Venus,
running to his assistance, hurts her leg by a rose branch, so by her blood the
white rose becomes red. She weeps with the Syrians, and soon lays him to rest
under the soft lettuce --
Illum lactuis mollibus et posuit.
43. Atalanta listens to the Vulture, which does not speak falsely. On the
high summit of the mountain, the Vulture sits screaming aloud without ceasing.
I alone am the white and black, the lemon yellow and the red. I lie not. The
raven also, flying, though his wings are cut off, in the dark night. It is
out of this or that the whole art goes.
"These fifty plates, and the epigrammatic description of them, supply to
the adept who holds the Clavicula [key] a complete view of the system of the
Universe, the essential unity of all things, the possible transmutation of
matter, and the highest form of Theosophy able to be conceived by earthly
mortals. (Quod Scis Nescis, 1866)."
The Atalanta may be called a book of alchemistic or mystic proverbs.
Everything in Nature is explanatory of or connected with "the Stone." For
instance, the 39th emblem refers to the Coral. A man is fishing out a branch
from the water. The epigram tells that the coral, which grows under water,
becomes hard when brought to air, sic lapis [as does the stone].
Emblem 45 represents the earth in space, with the motto -- Sol et ejus umbra perficiunt opus [the sun and its shadow finish the job].
The whole earth, then, lies between the Sun and Moon, and the influence of
Sol and his shadow are everywhere felt. Silver is but the shadow of gold, and
the Dragon must become as the Salamander in the fire, impervious to heat, yet
at the same time fully operated on by the influence of its power.
Man, then, has in his body the anatomy of the whole world, and all his
members answer to some celestial influences. So the adepts describe the life
of man, as by their art revealed, to be a pure, naked, and unmingled fire of
"Man, then, shall we conclude at length, is the true laboratory of the
Hermetic art, his life the subject, the grand distillatory, the thing
distilling, and the thing distilled, and self-knowledge is at the root of all
alchemical tradition" (A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, [1850,
Philo declares that the soul of man is but an impression of the Seal of the
Logos. All the emblems, then, of Maier's Atalanta have a meaning beyond that
of crucible, fire, and ore. They are mystic, spiritual, and the reflex of a
higher and nobler nature. He desires to teach us, not merely of gold and
silver under Sol and Luna, of the black matter under the story of the dragon,
or the red tincture as colouring the roses at the death of Adonis, but of
greater and deeper things. He teaches us, in the words of the authors of the
Suggestive Inquiry, that the Father can only be discovered in perfect quiet
approach to the cause of all. That in drawing near to the Deity, although no
eye can penetrate that fire which is his circumference, that yet when the
light in the purified soul meets the eternal light of God, then the whole
intelligible universe unfolds itself. The shell dissolves, and the
magnificence of the pearl within is discovered. In the words of Böhme, "by
death and contrition of the agent in the patient, and vice versa, the old life
is finally crucified, and out of that crucifixion, by reunion of the
principles under another law, the new life is elected, which life is a very
real and pure quintessence -- the mercury so much sought after, even the Elixir of Life, which needs only the corroborative virtue of the Divine Light,
which it draws in order to become the living gold of the philosophers,
transmuting and multiplicative, the concrete form of that which in the dead
metal we esteem."
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Thelema Lodge Events Calendar for March 2002 e.v.
|3/3/02||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||(510) 534-5739||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/10/02||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/13/02||New Moon in Pisces 6:03 PM|
|3/16/02||Initiations into OTO call to attend||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/17/02||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/18/02||Section II reading group with|
Caitlin: "Atalanta Fugiens"
by Michael Maier 8PM in the library
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/20/02||Vernal Equinox ritual & feast 7:30PM|
Sun enters Aries 11:16 AM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/24/02||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/28/02||The Book of Thoth study group|
8:00PM library with Paul
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/31/02||Office of Thelemic Hours. 7:00 PM||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|3/31/02||Gnostic Mass 7:30PM Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the
contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its
Ordo Templi Orientis
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