What distinguishes a Plant Tincture from the Primum Ens
"The Preparation of So-Called Primum ENS Melissae" in the A Compendium Of Alchemical Processes published by Kessinger Publishing Company, USA, page 100, author unknown, describes a preparation of a vulgar tincture of Melissa made with tartar oil as the first solvent and later with the spirit of wine. This is not a First Being.

This tincture of Melissa cannot even be considered as spagyric, because a spagyric tincture must have the three "fundamental beginnings" of the plant, Sulphur, Mercury and Salt. In the recipe given, only Sulphur and Mercury are present. Therefore, it is just a vulgar tincture, as referred to in old medicine books and not a "PRIMUM ENS".

The recipe calls for dissolving first the plant in tartar oil and later carefully pouring on spirit of wine, which will extract the tincture from the tartar oil. The alcohol will float on top of the denser tartar oil. This extraction process is performed until the alcohol ceases to be colored.

What is the difference between a spagyric tincture and a First Being? The preparation of spagyric tinctures requires the three essential "beginnings" of the plant as above. The preparation of a proper spagyric tincture of Melissa is as follows:

Macerate the fresh plant with pure cold 60% spirit of wine. Other alcohols are not desirable. After some days of maceration (at least 10) in a close large mouth glass flask, filter the tincture into another flask and incinerate the residue. Extract the ashes. Calcine the extracted material and while still hot, pour it into the tincture. Circulate and then filter. The tincture is now ready for use. A repeated calcination, circulation and filtering can also be performed, if desired.

Another way to make a distilled tincture of Melissa is as follows:

Distill a mixture of the fresh plant and at least 60% spirit of wine. The distillation will drag the Sulphur of the plant along with the spirit of wine. Calcine the residue of the distillation, and extract the ashes. Join the leached Salt to the distillate. Circulate as above.

What then, is the difference between the genuine spagyric tincture, the distilled vegetable and the First Being?

After you have made your spagyric tincture of Melissa, pour it into a Pyrex glass retort with a ground glass beak and a vented receiving flask. Distil to dryness with a gentle heat that doesn't surpass 80 degrees C. The distilled will be an inseparable mixture of Sulphur and Mercury remaining a "honey" in the bottom of the retort. Pour this thick "honey" into a small stainless steel pan and calcine well, until the ashes are of a clear white color. Leach them and coagulate. What will find in the coagulation? The "raw" Salt of the plant this is potassium carbonate.

Follow the same procedure with the distilled vegetable tincture. This won't leave a "honey" like the spagyric tincture but the Salt, which is impure, can be calcined, leached, filtered and coagulated. What will you have then? Just the "raw" Salt as in the previous case. Why?

The Salt was not "volatilized" and was just dissolved in the water contained in the spirit of wine at 60% and, thus, it cannot unite to the other two "beginnings".

It is easy to see that this way will never have the three "beginnings" united, as they must be in a First Being.

In the preparations described only two of the three beginnings are united: the Sulphur and the Mercury. The Salt continues "raw", therefore it cannot unite to the other two ones. These preparations can never be considered a First Being, but just a tincture and a spagyric distilled Melissa.

How then can a Melissa preparation be considered a First Being? The three "beginnings" Sulphur, Mercury and Salt are united. It is necessary to volatilize the Salt so that it can unite inseparably to the other two. This is the "key".

If you distil in a retort with a gentle temperature, a First Being of Melissa, the Sulphur and the Mercury first indissolubly united just as in the tincture will drag with it some volatile Salt, and, instead of being in the bottom of the retort as a "caput mortem", it will be partly volatilized as "ice" in the upper walls of the retort and in its throat. Pour some spirit of wine into the retort and distil with gentle fire to drag the "ice" into the receiver where the three "beginnings" will be indissolubly united forever.

To conclude, the secret of the First Being it is the Salt Volatilization by the Sulphur and then to join it the Mercury.

This is a true "PRIMUM ENS".

Rubellus Petrinus