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The alchemical manual of Ulrich Ruosch

Ulrich Ruosch (1628-1698) was a Paracelsian surgeon from Appenzell in Switzerland who produced a beautiful manual which captures the world of 17th-century alchemy, rife as it is with meaningful connections between the planets and the metals and the operations of cosmic forces in the sublunary world of the four elements.

The series of the seven virtues continues with Temperantia (Temperance) and Fortitudo (Fortitude). Temperance is humorously symbolized by a precious golden pitcher. Fortitude is symbolized by two crossed pillars with a red heart in the centre. In the background a charming lake scene with men in a boat.

Geber expressed the necessity of practising virtue before practising alchemy as follows: ‘He who lacks a natural disposition and a keen mind able to penetrate nature and its laws, will not be able to grasp the roots of our august art. (…) Our art remains closed to people who are driven by avarice and greed.’

Based on: Das Alchemiehandbuch des Appenzeller Wundarztes Ulrich Ruosch, eds. Rudolf Gamper and Thomas Hofmeier. Basel: Schwabe3 & Co. Verlag, 2002
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