Alchymia Archetypica By Hereward Tilton
A practicing laboratory alchemist, Fludd carefully explains to his readers that his use of the term «alchemy» for such supernatural processes is not metaphorical. There is, he tells us, an «archetypal alchemy» (Alchymia archetypica) which governs processes in both the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of man: nature operates in her «chymical laboratory» through imitation of this archetypal alchemy, though not without the spagyric power of the archetypal agent or divine spirit residing in the sun (Fludd 1633: 77-78).
Both the alchemy of human and divine artifice and that of the created natural world follow the archetypal alchemical laws of an «uncreated nature», which is eternal wisdom and the divine logos. Hence, Fludd argues, the word «alchemy» legitimately pertains as much to supernatural matters as it does to natural and artificial (78).
Here we should note that the conceptualisation of theurgy with the use of alchemical symbolism does not always constitute «a mere rhetorical embellishment or didactic exemplification» of an essentially non-alchemical pursuit (Principe and Newman 2001: 398): in the work of Dee and Fludd we are dealing with an activity we might indeed follow Fludd in terming «archetypal alchemy».
The sweeping compass of this alchemy is expressed in three emblems from Fludd’s magnum opus, Utriusque cosmi, maioris scilicet et minoris, metaphysica, physica, atque technica historia (1617-21). With regard to the macrocosm, Fludd was firmly wedded to the Ptolemaic system: hence at the centre of the first figure lies the earth, correlated in the microcosm of man with the genitalia as the basest of organs. In microcosmic matters Fludd was similarly medieval, adhering to the Galenic conception of the human body as the site of the distillation of ever-finer spiritus. Within the body the four humors correspond to the sublunary elements of earth, water, air and fire, above which lie the seven planetary spheres. The planets and their spirits rule over particular organs and members, and the highest faculties in man, ratio, intellectus and men, correspond and grant access to the supernatural empyrean realm of God and His angels (figures 2, 3).
In Fludd’s work both the universe at large and the spiritual processes within the microcosm of man mirror the transformations observable within the laboratory alchemical vessel; what is more, the spirit operative within the various macrocosmic and microcosmic manifestations of this archetypal alchemy is of divine origin, in accordance with Ficino’s equation of the alchemists’ quintessence with the spiritus mundi transmitting occult virtue from heavenly to earthly bodies (Ficino 1989: 257; cf. Matton 1993: 143-148; Kahn 2007: 65-66).
From the book : Alchymia Archetypica By Hereward Tilton