Spagyric (pronounced /spəˈdʒɪrɨk/) is a name given to the production of herbal medicines using alchemical procedures. It involves the dissolving and recombining of essences back into a purified form to be consumed as an edible talisman.
Spagyric most commonly refers to a plant tincture to which has also been added the ash of the calcined plant. The original rationale behind these special herbal tinctures seems to have been that an extract using alcohol could not be expected to contain all the medicinal properties from a living plant, and so the ash or mineral component (as a result of the calcination process) of the calcined plant was prepared separately and then added back to 'augment' (increase) the alcoholic tincture. The roots of the word therefore refer first to the extraction or separation process and then to the recombining process. These herbal tinctures are alleged to have superior medicinal properties to simple alcohol tinctures. In theory these spagyrics can also optionally include material from fermentation of the plant material and also any aromatic component such as might be obtained through distillation. The final spagyric should be a re-blending of all such extracts into one 'essence.'
The concept of the spagyric remedy in turn relies upon the three cardinal principles of alchemy, termed as salt, sulphur and mercury. "The basis of matter was the alchemical trinity of principles--salt, sulfur and mercury. Salt was the principle of fixity (non-action) and in-combustibility; mercury was the principle of fusibility (ability to melt and flow) and volatility; and sulfur was the principle of inflammability."
The three primal alchemical properties and their correspondence in spagyric remedy are:
He formulated that nature in itself was 'raw and unfinished,' and man had the God-given task to evolve things to a higher level. As an example: The 'raw' medicinal plant would be separated into the basic components he termed 'mercurius', 'sulphur' and 'sal' and thereby cleaned of non-essential components. 'Mercurius', 'sulphur' and 'sal' were then recombined forming the medicine.
In contemporary terms, this would be the extraction of the essential oils with vapour gaining the 'sulphur'. Then fermentation of the remaining plant and distilling the alcohol produced thus gaining 'mercurius'. Extraction of the mineral components from the ash of the marc which would be the 'sal'. Diluting the essential oils in the alcohol and then solving the mineral salts in it would produce the final potion.Note that this is a simplified representation of the process which varies strongly depending on the source chosen.
Joseph Needham devoted several volumes of his monumental Science and Civilisation in China to Spagyrical discovery and invention. In 1965, Malaclypse the Younger and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst popularized the term as a result of their joint seminal work Principia Discordia.
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