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Basic philosophical principles of alchemy

In alchemy there is the model of the theory of principles, which forms the basis for the theoretical understanding of the effectiveness of alchemical herbal essences. This model is based on three basic qualities, which ultimately form a unit: MERCURY, SULPHUR and SAL.

These designations are not to be confused with their meaning in the language of chemistry!

The three principles can be found everywhere, including humans and plants. They go beyond the material and are therefore also called "philosophical".


According to Paracelsus, man has a mortal part, the body, and an immortal part, the soul. He further divides the mortal part into body and spirit. This results in the trinity of body, mind and soul.

In alchemy, the human body, mind and soul are assigned to the above principles. The material body corresponds to the SAL principle, thoughts, emotions and feelings are assigned to the MERCURY principle and consciousness, individuality and immortal soul correspond to the SULPHUR principle.


It is also possible to assign the three principles to plants. All water-soluble inorganic substances, such as minerals, in the herbal essence are the SAL principle, all organic substances, such as carbohydrates, that are produced during fermentation, the MERKUR principle and all organic substances that survive the process unchanged, such as ethereal Oils, assigned to the SULPHUR principle.


(according to Fritschi and Meier, Plant Spagyric, 2015)

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