Our podcast episode on Urbigerus:
We take a look at one of the alchemical ciphers to understanding Baru Urbigerus’ works.
Baro or Baru Urbigerus was a seventeenth-century writer on alchemy.
He is known for his Aphorismi Urbigerani (1690) This collection of 100aphorisms claims to set out completely the theory of the alchemical work, the preparation of the Philosopher’s Stone.
A shorter collection of 31 aphorisms, contained in it, is known as the Circulatum Minus Urbigeranum
I couldn’t find much of anything of his life, but noted some interesting things in his writings.
For one he was toward the end – or after – the golden age of alchemy, so if anyone would have a chance to summarize all alchemical knowledge – as he claims to do – he’d be in the right time period.
Another thing is that he’s dropped the “al” in alchemy and says chymistry (with a ‘y’.) Not the first, I just wanted to point out that “chymistry” in this case specifically talking about making the philosopher’s stone.
He still talks in the language of alchemy: “Universal Elixir,” “Diana’s Tears,” “The Three Elements”
I wanted to point out that alchemists were alive and well in the so-called “scientific revolution” he stills refer to his process as “hermetic philosophy”
On the other hand his recipe seems to have a fewer metaphors and with some understanding of the vocabulary the directions seem to be more precise and he gives clearer signs along the way that you’ve failed in your experiment. That’s just an impression of mine, but I would make that argument.
Inside the cover of his 100 Aphorisms, there’s a picture.. basically of a few people standing around a tree.
He says that his book can’t be understood by the uninitiated. And since Urbigerus is in a good position at the tail end of the alchemic golden age to wrap up all alchemical knowledge to date, we’ll read you his description of his figure. Urbigerus says that by making the figure of the tree clear, it should be easy to understand his aphorisms.
I’ll read it to you, since we haven’t really gone over many alchemical writings in themselves before, and I’ll let you be the judge of how understandable it is to the unanitiated:
The Tree is a Supporter of the Motto, ‘Virtus unita fortior’: which, being to be read from the side of the Serpent, representing by the Half-Moon on its Head the Planet, under whose Influence it is born, is to be referred to it according to its particular Motto, which signifies, that, if you take it alone, it can do little or Nothing in our Art, as wanting the Assistance of others. By the Green Dragon is to be understood our first undetermined Matter, comprehending all our Principles, (as is demonstrated by the Half-Moon on its Head, the Sun in its Body, and the Cross on its Tail,) and denoting by its Motto, that it can perform the whole work without being joined with any other created or artificially prepared thing: which is our first way. But this our Dragon, when copulating with our Serpent, is forced to comply with her, degrading it self from its undetermined Being for the production of our second way. Apollo with the Sun on his head, and Diana with the Half-Moon, embracing each other, shew our third way, and the Continuation of our first and second. The River, into which they descend, signifies the State, they must be reduced into, before they can be in a Capacity of being born again, and before in any of our three ways they can be brought to a perfect Spiritualization and Union. Apollo and Diana, coming out of the River in one wonderful Body, Diana having obtained all, represent our Herculean works, ready finished and the beginning of their Conjunction, and by their going to set their foot on firm ground, where she is to sow the noble Fruits for the Procreation, is to be understood the Continuation of their Conjunction, till they are fully united and perfected. In this Scheme also, as well as in our Aphorisms, are mystically exhibited all the principal Points of Faith and Religion, comprised in the Volumes of the Old and New Testament: whence it manifestly appears, that the Contemplation of Nature truly leads to the Comprehension of those heavenly Verities, by which alone we can expect to arrive at the Enjoyment of that blessed Immortality, to which, as to the true and ultimate End of our Creation, all our Endeavours are to be directed.
As you see, many allegories and allusions to religious and mythical figures, but they all stand for ingredients or steps in creating the elixir of life, or the philosopher’s stone. It’s a great example of an alchemical text with all kinds of hidden meaning. We’ll go over some of those symbols in another episode.