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Mutus Liber – An Alchemical Manuscript

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

The book of the great secrets of Alchemy

The real story of a bizarre book

This book was the first print in 1677 in La Rochelle. It was an initiation of Frenchman Jacob Saulat who was probably not the creator of the images. The images were derived from someone who used the nickname Altus, which means tall. Some (Alexander Roob), claim that the nickname is an anagramming of Saulat. In the intro text (License of the King), some figures were once found in handwritten style under the bizarre title Mutus Liber. The value of the figures was very high, so that was why they decided to re-issue them. The first edition by the Frenchman is nowadays very rare. There is a copy of it in the Ferguson collection at the Glasgow University library. The book itself, with its bizarre drawings, became famous in 1702 through the two-volume book by Manget, Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, who designed the entire content of the book.

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The images differ from the edition by the Frenchman, Manget had added two more drawings to the 13 figures by Saulat. That was the result is completely different! This intervention has raised many questions as many wonders if the recent version is the actual interpretation of the Mutus Liber by Manget or if the last was the holder of the legendary book by Altus. Nevertheless, the new version of the book changed many holders until Eugene Canseliet in 1967 was the first who commented on the book. Two years after that, Armand Barbault was affected by the book and wrote Gold of a Thousand Mornings. In his book, Barbault presented his attempts for the discovery of the Philosopher Stone through the guidelines by Mutus Liber. According to Barbault, his attempts were successful! In 1979, Jean Laplace reissued the book. In that edition, he chose to present a colorful version of the images, as they were found in the handwritten edition in 1760. In 1982, the great contemporary researcher of hermetic alchemy, Adam McLean completed a concise commentary on the secrets of the book. 

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Some comments

The images below will not be analyzed, as this may be tedious for the readers. Certain points will be examined. The text in the first image that depicts the stair, the sleeping Jacob, and the angels that try to wake him up, states:

“ It is the book, without any words, in which, nevertheless, the whole Hermetic Philosophy can be found, it is located in hieroglyphic figures, sacred to the God the merciful, three times great and glorious [The Christian God but also Hermes the Triune], and dedicated solely to the sons of art [alchemy]. The author’s name is Altus.” The numbers presented below correspond to the passages of the bible. The only difference is that they are written backwards! Thus, we have the references of Genesis 28:11, 12, Genesis 27:28, 39, and Deuteronomy 33:18, 28. In figure 14, between the alchemist and his companion who makes the Apocrates sing of silence, one may read: you pray, you study, you study, you study again, you work and you discover.” Finally in figure 15, above the dead Hercules and inside the square (4) formed by the alchemist, his companion, and Zeus (3), who is supported by two cherubim (2) under the sun (1), there is a text which mentions: “the Stone has been produced with eyes that you let them be lost”.

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