This is the beginning of dew season around here, the time each year when we collect as much of the “celestial water” as we can, for use in the lab the rest of the year.
You may ask, why now? It’s easy to understand the unique and powerful life force of Spring, which brings growth and regeneration out of the quiet stillness of winter. Buds swell, bulbs arise and flower, seeds sprout, and baby animals are born.
Alchemically, much of this rebirth is connected to the energy that the dew carries during this time, considered the fire of nature, “cooking” the seeds in the ground, drawing the green out of the trees with its warmth, and transferring life back into the land.
For the period around the Spring Equinox, this fire is especially powerful, and carries not just the general spark that kindles the rebirth of the land, but also the Secret Fire, which can be used in many Alchemical operations.
The fire that the dew carries is understood on many levels. First, it is the energy of the Sun’s increasing warmth, carried to the plants as already mentioned.
Secondly, dew is the carrier of Nitre, the life force of the air, which Sendivogius was describing when he wrote that “there is in the Aire a secret food of life”. Paracelsus called this life spirit the Azoth, the aerial Nitre that the Sun transmits to Earth through the waters of the sky. Paracelsus and other alchemists also connected this Nitre with more literal physical Niter, more commonly called Saltpeter, or Potassium Nitrate, which is present in dew.
Potassium Nitrate is a very fertilizing substance, whether naturally occurring as in manure, or as the main ingredient in chemical fertilizers. When heated, it gives off pure oxygen, enough that the inventor Cornelius Drebbel, building on Sendivogius’ work, was able to maintain the life of his crew traveling in the first submarine ever created- in 1620!
Nitre is considered so powerful in its energy because it is at the very upper limit of material existence, the most subtle state possible without being completely non-physical. This is how it brings both an etheric and physical fire and life to the water that carries it, and transfers that life to the earth. Nitre’s special fire can also be transferred to substances in the lab, and so dew is used to revive dead substances and quicken the force of many operations.
The 17th century alchemical text, the Mutus Liber, is an entirely pictorial book depicting the collection and alchemical preparation of dew. Through both clear operational imagery and hidden allegory, a couple is followed as they collect the celestial waters, prepare them in their lab, and then give thanks and praise at the end as they finish the medicine.
The image on the left, from this book, shows the beginning of the collection process, with sheets suspended over the grass to collect the dew, the couple wringing out the sheets in the foreground, and the sheep and bull in the background, referring to the Spring signs Aries and Taurus.
Another alchemical text about dew is Gold of a Thousand Mornings, by Armand Barbault. Besides being one of the all-time most beautiful alchemical book titles, it is notable for its recentness, written in 1968. In words and photographs, the author journals his work creating medicine from dew, plants, and soil. It is a wonderful text, with pictures of the author and later, his son, working with dew, photos of the dew-cart they created (which we have also made for field use), and a clear and heartfelt style of writing which carries the author’s presence in a personal and living way.
Another important text dealing with the celestial waters is the Golden Chain of Homer by Anton Josef Kirchweger, issued in the early 1700’s. This book discusses many ways of working alchemically with water, both dew and rain, and teaches about the Archaeus of Water. This is a fascinating process of dividing the water into 12 sections, organized by the elements and three principles, and then recombining those divisions in specific ways to create life and the Stone.
We have worked with the Archaeus and found the work and results truly amazing, and we will talk about this process in a future posting. In the meantime, we hope you will share your thoughts and experiences with the “angel’s waters” from above and below.