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the Philosopher’s Stone

  For years I have on and off been interested in the so called Philosopher’s Stone. The Philosopher's Stone is the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. The Philosopher's Stone is the most sought-after goal in Western alchemy and for the alchemist the consummation of the Magnum Opus, the Great Work. Once you have done the Great Work, you will have created the Philosopher’s Stone.
My personal study of this Philosopher’s Stone has recently led to some intriguing discoveries.

Over the centuries numerous great minds have been captivated by the Philosopher’s Stone and many of them have written about it. One of them was the German physician and counsellor to Rudolf II Habsburg, Michael Maier (1568–1622), a learned alchemist. In his book ‘Atalanta fugiens’, published in 1617, you will find the following image (emblem 21).
 

The text that goes with it says:
Make of a man and woman a circle; then a quadrangle; out of the this a triangle;
make again a circle, and you will have the Stone of the Wise.

The Stone of the Wise is the same as the Philosopher’s Stone. Because of the use of a square that encloses a circle, many people say this is ‘squaring the circle’. It has of course nothing to do with the traditional ‘squaring the circle’, which is a square and a circle with identical surface area, or a square and a circle with identical perimeters (circumferences). I personally am very interested in the latter form of squaring the circle.

Although the image (emblem 21) doesn’t show squaring the circle, the idea of squaring the circle being involved in the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone has haunted me for years. In the end to such an extent that I revisited the depicted geometry with the conviction that, although it was not obviously involved, squaring the circle had to be hiding somewhere. I actually boldly started with a perfect ‘squaring the circle’. See diagram on the left. To my amazement I was - by using this starting point - able to reconstruct the geometry shown in emblem 21.
 


Perfect squaring the circle shown in the left diagram. The middle diagram shows how the square is copied and rotated over 45 degrees. The rotated square is 'cut in half'. See diagram above on the right. Next a square is fitted in the triangle of the half-square. See left diagram below.
 


Look closely and notice that only one square will fit! Using this square we can construct a triangle as shown in the middle diagram above. The triangle shares its base with the square. The tips of the triangle are just touching the circle and the sides of the triangle are just touching the little square. This is all indicated by the red arrows. The final step is adding a circle that exactly fits in the little square.

The diagram and image below show that we indeed have recreated the geometry as shown in emblem 21 and ... we needed squaring the circle to achieve this.
 

So the Philosopher’s Stone is based on ‘squaring the circle’, only not in an obvious and immediately visible way.

Let’s go back to the ‘Atalanta fugiens’ and the text accompanying emblem 21.
Thus is made the stone, which thou canst not discover, unless you, through diligence, learn to understand this geometrical teaching.
The word ‘teaching’ is used. We have to learn something. Can it be that the drawing (emblem 21) is only indicating that ‘squaring the circle’ is involved? Is it just a starting point? I decided to start all over again. Following the words, but now ignoring the accompanying emblem.

Make of a man and woman a circle; then a quadrangle; .....
Since I had discovered that ‘squaring the circle’ was indeed involved, I took the above words as an instruction to construct squaring the circle. See left diagram below.

..... out of the this a triangle .....
With other words, construct a triangle using both the circle and the square.
..... make again a circle, and you will have the Stone of the Wise.

What we have got now is a most intriguing drawing. Let’s for example take a look at the triangle. The base of this triangle is defined by the square, while its height is defined by the circle. The so formed triangle has angles of 51,51 degrees and is identical to the outline of the Great Pyramid! (see left diagram below)
The small circle is encircling the capstone of the Pyramid. Many belief that the capstone (which is by the way missing) is symbolic for the relationship between body, mind, spirit and God. Manly P. Hall puts it in his ‘The Secret Teachings of all Ages’ as follows: “The mind is the capstone of the body. The spirit is the capstone of the mind and God is the capstone of the spirit.
I have used this concept in my novel ‘Sophia’s Egg’.
 


But there is more. The size of the small circle compared to the size of a circle that exactly fits in the square is identical to the size of our Moon compared to the size of Earth. See middle diagram above.

During a total eclipse, the Moon moves in front of the Sun and exactly covers it. Although the Sun is much much larger than the Moon, because of its enormous distance the Sun is to our perception exactly the same size as the Moon. This is an amazing coincidence. Think about it. Because of this we can replace the Moon in our drawing, by the Sun. See right diagram above.
The Sun and the Moon. According to alchemical texts, the Philosopher's Stone comes in two varieties, prepared by an almost identical method: red and white. The Sun and the Moon? The Ida and the Pingala? The igniting of the Kundalini?

I have already shown that ‘squaring the circle’ could be the Key of Life ( see article ), but can it be that the same squaring the circle is also the heart of the Philosopher’s Stone?

© Bert Janssen, 2011.