Ens Melissae

by Moreh

The Primum Ens Melissae is seen as one of the most powerful rejuvenating medicines of the Plant Kingdom, and therefore is recommended for extensive research to all practitioners of the Art.


Franz Hartmann presents a recipe from Paracelsus in his book “The Life of Paracelsus”, 1985, which will be the basis of this class. Let's have a look first at the footnote he presents with this recipe, regarding its effect:

"Lesebure, a physician of Louis XIV. of France, gives, in his "Guide to Chemistry" ("Chemischer Handleiter," Nuremburg, 1685, page 276), an account of some experiments, witnessed by himself, with the Primum Ens Melissae as follows:- "One of my most intimate friends prepared the Primum Ens Melissae, and his curiosity would not allow him to rest until he had seen with his own eyes the effect of this arcanum, so he might be certain whether or not the accounts given of its virtues were true. He therefore made the experiment, first upon himself, then upon an old female servant, aged seventy years, and afterwards upon an old hen that was kept at his house. First he took, every morning at sunrise, a glass of white wine that was tinctured with this remedy, and after using it for fourteen days his fingernails and toe-nails began to fall out, without, however, causing any pain. He was not courageous enough to continue the experiment, but gave the same remedy to the old female servant. She took it every morning for about ten days, when she began to menstruate again as in former days. At this she was very much surprised, because she did not know that she had been taking a medicine. She became frightened, and refused to continue the experiment. My friend took, therefore, some rain, and soaked it in that wine and gave it to the old hen to eat, and on the sixth day that bird began to loose its feathers, and kept on loosing them until it was perfectly nude, but before two weeks had passed away, new feathers grew, which were much more beautifully coloured; her comb stood up again, and she began again to lay eggs."

In the “Life of Cagliostro” some such rejuvenating medicine is mentioned, and the name of some persons who succeeded in the experiment are given. These and similar facts have neither been proved nor disproved by science, but are waiting for an investigation. The judges at the trial of Cagliostro, before the tribunal of the Inquisition at Rome, were only intent to convict him; but he who can read their report “between the lines” will find a great deal that speaks in favour of Cagliostro, and much that has not been explained.

The 'Primum Ens' is considered to be a thing in its first beginning, its first entity or Prima Materia; an invisible and intangible spiritual substance, which may be incorporated in some material vehicle. The recipe that we will deal with in this lesson is the most potent of those commonly known in alchemical circles. The effects however, as not as strong as would be expected on the basis of above quoted account, and a complete spagyric essence by comparison could be more effective and more delightful and fine in their smell and in its taste. Could it be that the ingredients that Paracelsus gives are actually decknamen for other materials? A later class will deal with different and more obscure recipes of preparing the Primum Ens Melissae. Before continuing with our first recipe, let us have a look at the understanding of Paracelsus on the process of rejuvenation.


Paracelsus stated that nature provides substances that could rejuvenate, to some degree, the well being and vitality of the body by attracting and concentrating the source of spirit and soul that was found in particular remedial substances.

“Seeing that certain medicines are discovered which preserve the human body for a second and subsequent periods of life, which also protect it altogether from diseases, corruptions, superfluities, and other diminutions of its powers; nay, even when these infirmities and corruptions have broken in upon it, take them away, every physician must carefully study these medicines, and learn them from the very foundations. Indeed, numberless wearisome diseases and accidents of all kinds are taken away and extirpated from the very roots by this conservation of life.”

In “The Book concerning Renovation and Restoration” the following recipe is given under the title of “The First Entity of Herbs”: Take celandine or balm; beat them into a pulse, shut them up in a glass vessel hermetically sealed, and place in horsed dung to be digested for a month. Afterwards separate the pure from the impure, pure the pure into a glass vessel with dissolved salt, and let this, when closed be exposed to the sun for a month. When this period has elapsed, you will find at the bottom a thick liquid and the salt floating on the surface. When this is separated you will have the virtues of the balm or of the celandine, as they are in their first entity; and these are called, and really are, the first entities of the balm or of the celandine.

“We know that there are some medicines and some regions in which there is no death, in others it is slow, and life is very long because of the harmonies which prolong life are in these places most abundant. Although there are in these places some who are mortal, still they live a very long time, concerning whom I do not purpose at present to write more fully. We should know also that some persons are immortal, so that we ought to learn what is mortal and what is not, as also what the grades of the universe are, what vast natural powers exist therein, and how supremely man may be beautified by a long life.”

Paracelsus makes clear distinction with regards to the restorative processes to the metal and the physical plane, in much the same way as modern day energy medicine. He speaks of a world that is partitioned into regions, namely, Paradise and the outer world. He stresses the importance of the state of mind as a basis of immortality, and the limits that our material lives have set on our power. “Out of the mind those matters regulate us which are therefrom produced, which also specially belong to it, as incantation, imagination, thoughts, and influences, all of which operate in the mental sphere [...] Whatever, then, is from Paradise is able to render our life immortal, and not the Nile itself could wash away that attribute or despoil us of that virtue. “ One should note that destructive influences on the mental plane can enter a man in two ways:

1. Ideas, information and world views that we accept and assimilate from our surroundings,
2. Adverse projections of energy from the imagination of others onto ourself. Our natural disposition and the weaknesses that were imprinted in the astral matrix underlying our physical body from birth should be considered in this respect.
We can learn to master the process of assimilation of ideas and the construction thereof in a world view, and its subsequent materialization. On a very basic level we can recognize superstitions for example, or neurotic behaviour, as chatter of the mind – things that are part of everyone. The power of the superstition can be annihilated by assessing it (not dwelling on it) and recognizing it as a folly. This principle extends to other constructs of the mind that bring unnecessary stress to the system, and that need rigorous internal rewiring. This is an aspect of Inner Alchemy and falls outside the scope of this lesson.


Below is a transcript of the process of preparation that we mentioned above:

“Such a remedy is the Primum Ens, the source of all life. As the fabulous halcyon becomes rejuvenated and its own substance renewed by drawing its nutriment from the Primum Ens, so may man rejuvenate his constitution by purifying it so that it may be able to receive without any interruption the life-giving influences of the divine spirit. But the vehicle that forms the medium through which life acts consists of elementary substances that are found in Nature,and which forms the quintessence of all things. There are some substances in which this quintessence is contained in greater quantities than others, and from which it may more easily be extracted. Such substances are especially the herb called Melissa, and the human blood. But the Primum Ens Melissae is prepared in the following manner: Take half a pound of pure carbonate of potash, and expose it to the air until it is dissolved (by attracting water from the atmosphere). Filter the fluid, and put as many fresh leaves of the plant Melissa into it as it will hold, so that the fluid will cover the leaves. Let it stand in a well-closed glass in a moderately warm place for twenty-four hours. The fluid may then be removed from the leaves, and the latter thrown away. On the top of this fluid absolute alcohol is poured, so that it will cover the former to the height of one or two inches, and it is left to remain for one or two days, or until the alcohol becomes of an intensely green colour. This alcohol is then to be taken away and preserved, and fresh alcohol is put upon the alkaline fluid, and the operation is repeated until all the colouring matter is absorbed by the alcohol. This alcoholic fluid is now to be distilled, and the alcohol evaporated until it becomes of the thickness of a syrup, which is the Primum Ens Melissae; but the alcohol that has been distilled away and the liquid potash may be used again. The liquid potash must be of great concentration and the alcohol of great strength, else they would become mixed, and the experiment would not succeed.


Why this focus on Melissa? Lemon Balm, known by its botanical name as Melissa Officinalis, is by many thought to be related to the Sun4, by others to Jupiter5 and by others yet again to Venus. Paracelsus states Melissa is in fact supra-celestial by nature6. The astrological imprint of the Sun is probably closest to it supra-celestial nature, but the principle here is that Melissa is in fact not related to a specific planetary vibration, but is a herb that acts on all frequencies. Interestingly, Melissa is particularly rich in Magnesium Chloride, which is a mineral that is associated with rejuvenation.

The process of preparation of the ens is can be summarized in the following steps:

1. Take a few hundred grams of of pure carbonate of potash. The modern chemical name is potassium carbonate (K2CO3). Alchemists also called it tartar and in modern days it is also called “potcarb”. It can be easily obtained from a chemical supplier, and it is a very common chemical with no trade restrictions on it. It can also be prepared by hand by simply burning any plant material. The ash that results from burning vegetable matter is predominantly potassium carbonate – the 'salt' of the Plant Kingdom. The salt should be leached out of the ashes as done in common spagyric work. Put a layer of potcarb in a flat dish or ceramic plate and expose it to outside air to deliquesce (dissolve by attracting water from the atmosphere).

2. When the potcarb turns liquid, poor it off into a glass jar and seal it airtight. If any insects or particles are found in the liquid these can be filtered off through a regular coffee filter. Repeat the process until you have at least half a litre of liquid. This saturated solution of tartar and water is the menstruum of the ens process. It is important that the solution is saturated. A little extra dry tartar may be kept at the bottom of the jar in order to keep the liquid above it saturated. If you live in a dry climate it will not be easy to collect this tartar water. It is recommended to leave a thin layer outside in a shaded place for couple of weeks, and incline the ceramic dish slightly, so that the liquid can be collected in the lower part of the dish.

3. Take a good amount of fresh Melissa leaves and grind or beat them to a pulp. The plant cells should be broken as much as possible in order for the menstruum to penetrate it. We recommend to use the leaves only. Although the flowers, stem, root represent other aspects of Melissa's healing qualities, the leaves are said to contain the finest essence of the ens that we are after. Seedlings are easy to get, and provide a nice fresh plant leaves, but you may also choose to plant them in May and harvest them at the end of summer. Although it is susceptible to frost, the plant's root system will survive winter in most European countries and live again another year.

4. Put as much fresh Melissa leaves into the salt liquid as it can hold, making sure the liquid covers the leaves. Some mix fresh unpulped leaves with the saturated tartar and put it in the blender for a few minutes. The practice of stirring the drug in the menstruum with a high-speed mixer or homogenizer it is called vortical or turbo-extraction in the pharmaceutical world. Don't fill the jar more than half, so that there is some air space above the liquid for circulation of gasses during the next step of maceration.

5. Macerate the mix for a couple of days in a moderately warm place. The tartar-water is an alkaline solvent (a lye), which will extract the volatile components from the herb. This maceration is best carried out in a warm place, but there is no need to digest at higher temperatures. The warmth helps the liquid to circulate in the jar and it ensures the extraction moves along at a reasonable pace. Stronger degrees of heat are advised against because than active substances begin to decompose. After a few days the salt liquid has turned into a red-brown transparent liquid.

6. The fluid is decanted from the leaves into a new clean jar in such a way that as much of the vegetable matter as possible remain behind in the jar. These pulped leaves are no longer of value in the process and can be discarded. Filtering the liquid is not a good idea. The reason for this is that the ens-proper is a spirit, of close affinity, in nature, to ethanol. Because of this the ens floats on the surface of the tartar-water-pulp emulsion. When this emulsion is poured into a filter the filter will absorb the ens and will thus be largely lost in the process.

7. Carefully poor absolute alcohol on top of the decanted liquid, so that it will cover the saturated tartar by a couple of centimetres. The alcohol should be absolutely dry (without water). If not, the process will not work and the end result is more likely to be a poison than a medicine7. Experience shows that a simple distillation set up (without fractioning column like Vigreux or Hempel packed, and without vacuum) can result in 95% pure alcohol in a few rectifications. This is sufficient, although the alcohol can be further dried by adding potassium carbonate to it. The potcarb drinks up the water like a sponge, leaving the alcohol float on top. In the same way, the pure alcohol that we poor on top of the saturated tartar water will float on top of it as a clearly separate layer. The alcohol is macerated on top the saturated tartar water for a couple of days, until it becomes emerald green. When slightly more mature leaves are used the colour of the alcohol is usually more brownish than green, due to a higher content of sulphuric essences. However, the ens itself is a green spiritus oil, which may or may not be mixed with the brown resinous essences.

8. The alcohol is decanted and preserved and a fresh alcohol is poured on the saturated tartar water. This step is repeated until all colouring essence is absorbed by the alcohol. A single proper dose of alcohol may do the job, but this is of course a matter of experience.

9. The tinged alcohol is distilled and evaporated until it gets the consistency of syrup. This syrup is the Primum Ens. It is a very tiny amount, because the ens presents only a fraction of the plant's body, and usually it is difficult to discern whether the consistency is syrup-like. Only with larger amounts or repeated collection can one establish the ens is indeed a form of oil. All materials may be used again: the potcarb ca be dried and re-calcined; the alcohol that was distilled off can be rectified for future use.

10. Store the ens in amber bottle away from light and in a cool place. Photons of ultraviolet light have enough energy to cause most coloured materials to decompose over time, like being bleached with an oxidizing chemical. Tincted materials or "tinctures" are more sensitive to this decomposition because they tend to absorb more UV light than clear or colourless materials.