Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol. IV

The Book of the Rank of the SageCover CALA IV
Rutbat al-Hakim
by Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi

Arabic Text edited with an Introduction by Wilferd Madelung. Foreword by series editor Theodor Abt.
208 pages

Living Human Heritage Publications
ISBN 978-3-9523880-0-6

From the Introduction of the Editor:
«first imperfect edition» of Rutbat al-hakim is based mainly on three manuscripts [Ms. Paris Arabe 2612, Ms. Istanbul, Süleymaniye, Hajji Mahmud 6224, and Ms. Teheran, Kitabkhaneh Milla Malek 5346], «in order to provide a reasonably reliable text as originally composed by the author without any of the corrections and alterations introduced by later scholars of alchemy who used the book as their teaching manual
The correct identification of the author as Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi (d. 353/964) was first proposed by Maribel Fierro in an article in 1996
. […] For CALA the early dating of the Rutbat al-hakim is significant, since Maslama al-Qurtubi is the first author to mention the Arabic translation of the Mushaf as-suwar attributed to Zosimos of Panopolis (Arabic Akhmim) of which a manuscript dated in 668/1211 has been published by Theodor Abt in CALA II. Maslama al-Qurtubi states that he considered Zosimos as his master and teacher among pre-Islamic alchemists. […] It should be noted, that the version of the Mushaf as-suwar Maslama had, differed significantly from the published version which represents a translation produced much later in Egypt. The two Arabic versions evidently are based on different Greek originals. […]»

From the Foreword of the Series Editor:
«The publication of this fourth volume of the Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA IV) is a milestone in achieving our aim to make the wealth of Arabic alchemy more easily accessible for research. Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi (died 353/964), the author of this Rutbat al-hakim, provides a basic teaching of alchemy, quoting extensively from Zosimos’ Mushaf as-suwar. Zosimos was an alchemist who lived in the 3rd/4th century and is generally considered to be the first alchemist known to us by his true name […]
The significance of the present publication is to be seen in the relationship to the earlier volumes of this series, especially to CALA II and CALA III. The author of the Rutbat al-hakim emphasises the importance of understanding symbols (rumuz). The publication of the Rutbat al-hakim as CALA IV rounds up the first four publications in this series: They started with the Kitab hall ar-rumuz (Book of the Explanation of the Symbols), written by the Arab alchemist Muhammad ibn Umail (10th century). Then in the next volumes, in CALA II and CALA III, there came a further clarification of the symbols given by the Greek alchemist Zosimos, and now, in CALA IV, we find an overview of the knowledge and significance of the symbols (rumuz), written by another Arab alchemist.»

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Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol. III

The Book of the Keys of the Work.Cover CALA III
Kitab Mafatih as-san’a
by Zosimos of Panopolis.

Arabic Facsimile and English Translation. Edited with an Introduction by Theodor Abt.
Translated by Salwa Fuat and Theodor Abt.

346 pages with 16 illustrations, black-white and in colour (introduction) and with about 100 coloured images of the manuscript. With bibliography and index.
Living Human Heritage Publications
ISBN 978-3-9523880-6-8

From the Introduction of the editor:

The manuscript of Zosimos’s Kitab Mafatih as-san’a (The Book of the Keys of the Work), here presented as a facsimile together with a parallel English translation, makes this document accessible in a Western language for the first time. Although the scientific community has known of this book for almost a century, it has up to now remained difficult to obtain for study purposes. Yet this text is crucial for the history of alchemy and especially for a better understanding of the origins and the significance of symbolic alchemy, as will be demonstrated in the following. […]
At the beginning of the Kitab Mafatih as-san’a we read: «Zosimos, when he wrote about these treatises to Theosebeia, named them The Keys of the Work, and the completer (hatim) of what had been extracted as essence from its sciences. They (the ten keys) are for Theosebeia; it is the last thing that he wrote for her. And when she came across it, she understood the work.» On the basis of arguments collected in the introduction to this book, one can conclusively say that it is a translation from a Greek original, and it can be considered as Zosimoses summa, the very essence of his teachings.

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The Book of Pictures Muṣḥaf aṣ-ṣuwar: Edition of the Pictures and Introduction

The Book of Picturesby Zosimos of Panopolis
Introduction by Theodor Abt

162 pages with color and b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-3-9522608-6-9

The images published here are from the almost complete manuscript of the Mushaf as-suwar, one of the oldest available manuscripts of perhaps the first Greek alchemist.
In different places, Zosimos advises the female student Theosebeia to ponder the meaning of his symbolic explanations, through which he answers her questions. His images complement the dialogue and clarify the meaning of his teaching.
We have here a highly interesting transmission of knowledge in the form of image and word.

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book of pictures

Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol II.2

Cala II.2The Book of Pictures
Muṣḥaf aṣ-ṣuwar
by Zosimos of Panopolis

Edited and introduced by Theodor Abt
English translation by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt

747 pages with bibliography and index, 72 illustrations
ISBN 978-3-9522608-7-6

The translation presented here of the Mushaf as-suwar (The Book of Pictures) into English is its first translation into a European language. It is the result of careful, repeated, distillation work over a period of twenty years, encouraged by Dr. M.-L. von Franz.
The text is a dialogue between the teacher Zosimos and his beloved student Theosebeia, explaining to her the symbolic meaning of the alchemical work.
The unique contribution of this text is its 42 pictures, mostly colored, that Zosimos has drawn for Theosebeia. These pictures are, as is demonstrated in the introduction written by Theodor Abt, the earliest alchemical pictures known, and they are the source of the picture series given in the Rosarium and of the Mutus Liber.
The whole dialogue is the earliest known psychological dialogue concerning transference and counter-transference.

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Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol II.1

Cala II.1Facsimile of the Book of Pictures
Muṣḥaf aṣ-ṣuwar
by Zosimos of Panopolis

Introduction by Theodor Abt

69 pages English introduction and commentary
and 420 pages of the original Arabic facsimile with color plates
ISBN 978-3-9522608-5-2

This Arabic facsimile consists of an almost complete rendering of the manuscript of the Mushaf as-suwar, one of the oldest available manuscripts of perhaps the first Greek alchemist. It includes a collection of 13 books written by Zosimos of Panopolis as a dialogue between the teacher Zosimos and his student Theosebeia. Zosimos collected the teaching of past alchemists and thus consolidated the knowledge of symbolic alchemy of his time.
This book represents a unique, lively and thorough account of the important alchemist.

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Cala II.1

Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol I B

Cala 1BBook of the Explanation of the Symbols
Kitab Hall ar-Rumuz

Psychological Commentary by Theodor Abt

400 pages, hardbound, bibliography and index
ISBN 978‑3‑9522608‑8‑3

This second commentary on Muhammed ibn Umail’s Hall ar-rumuz (See CALA I) gives important additions and clarifications that had become possible in the light of other texts of Ibn Umail and authors quoted by him, which at the time when Dr von Franz wrote her first commentary (see CALA I A) were either poorly translated into Latin or not yet available in any European language. That allowed an enlarged understanding of this text, based on Ibn Umail’s own reflections. The text is accompanied by 100 illustrations that help the reader better to understand the symbolic world of Ibn Umail.

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Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol I A

Cala 1ABook of the Explanation of the Symbols
Kitab Hall ar-Rumuz

Psychological Commentary by Marie-Louise von Franz

Edited by Theodor Abt

237 pages, hardbound, Bibliography and Index
ISBN 978-3-9522608-3-8

This is the last manuscript of Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz, dictated during the final years of her life. It not only contains a brilliant historical survey of alchemy since Egyptian times, but above all, a profound comment on a newly translated Arabic alchemical text from the 10th Century which is a ‘Summa’ of her entire life’s experience and work.

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Foreword by Marie-Louise von Franz

The history of this publication reads like a fiction story. When I lectured on alchemy in the late 1960s at the Jung Institute in Zurich, I expressed my anger that I could not get an answer from the Hyderabad Library (India) where Stapleton indicates that they have many manuscripts of Ibn Umail. Even C. G. Jung could not get an answer. A student, Dr Abt, picked up the thread and offered to go to Hyderabad.
With the help of various personalities and thanks to remarkable synchronicities he could get hold of a crop of photocopies of these manuscripts. Then came the difficult task of translation because the translator had not only to know tenth century Arabic, but also to be familiar with alchemical thinking.
Finally, Dr Abt succeeded in finding in Cairo, in the person of Mrs Salwa Fuad, an adequate translator of the language, and having himself learned Arabic, Dr Abt provided the alchemical choice of word. This enterprise grew and Dr Abt is now in the possession of a valuable collection of Arabic alchemical manuscripts, which we intend to publish. A look at their content shows that they constitute the missing link within the mystical branch of alchemy, between the Gnostic-Hermetic Greek alchemy and that of the mystical Latin alchemy in Europe. Up till today the text De Chemia of Senior—as Muhammad ibn Umail was called in the Latin translation—was practically the only relevant writing concerning this period of time. The invaluable finding of Gnostic manuscripts in Nag Hammadi has opened up new vistas onto the tradition of Gnosticism and Hermetism and now a new world also opens up onto the whole of mystical alchemy in this period. A rational scorn against this part of alchemy, which was useless for the history of chemistry, had blocked the view till today. It is C. G. Jung’s unique merit to have shown the invaluable treasures of insight which lay hidden in this material. Hitherto, only some esoteric societies knew something about it, but their viewpoint was lacking a connection with the empirical reality of the psyche and was, and still is, in danger of drowning in historical associations.
The text of the Hall ar-Rumuz with my commentary is only an hors d’oeuvre for the meal to come. We decided to call the whole text-collection Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA).
I want to express my deepest gratitude to Professor Theodor Abt for his bold enterprise and incessant devotion to the task. My thanks also go to Mrs Salwa Fuad for deciphering the nearly unintelligible text. My greatest gratitude goes to Dr Barbara Davies who has been my right hand and who has helped me to realize this work and never forsook me during all my fits of despair. I also want to thank Dr Alfred Ribi and Dr René Malamud for valuable bibliographical suggestions.

Küsnacht, Summer 1997 Marie-Louise von Franz

Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol. I

Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum Vol. ICover of CALA I

Book of the Explanation of the Symbols Kitab Hall ar-Rumuz by Muhammad Ibn Umail

Edited by Theodor Abt, Wilferd Madelung and Thomas Hofmeier.
Translated by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt.

200 pages, ISBN 978-3-9522608-1-4

The Corpus Arabicum Alchemicum (CALA) will be editing and publishing a collection of key manuscripts on symbolic Arabic alchemy. The Arabic text is always accompanied by a parallel English translation. In order to improve the understanding of the spiritual side of alchemy, each edited volume is followed by one or more commentaries.

Volume I of CALA presents the first edition of Hall ar-Rumuz (Explanation of the Symbols). It was written by Muhammad Ibn Umail (10th century), one of the most important representatives of the symbolic branch of alchemy. In later Latin alchemy he is known under the name, Senior.

Ibn Umail’s description of the alchemical work is a symbolic rendering of his experience of an inner-psychic process of transformation that he considered as being the highest goal in human life. Due to his extremely introverted lifestyle and his devoted focus toward the inner world, Ibn Umail was able to observe and describe this mysterious process with the “substantial symbols”, emerging out of the depth of his psyche.

Ibn Umail’s symbolic attitude facilitates a kind of inter-confessionalism: he states in Hall ar-Rumuz that “the result of the alchemical work can be produced by a person from any religion”. The psychic transformation achieved by the work leads to the stone, a symbol for the solidified divine kernel of an individual. This center also has a collective dimension. Thus Ibn Umail also names the stone “mosque” or “temple”.

His work connects and bridges the Ancient Egyptian quest for immortality directly with later Latin alchemy and the modern depth psychology of C.G. Jung with its aim of creating spiritual gold: consciousness. Ibn Umail’s work thus constitutes an important cultural link in the history of the spiritual aspect of alchemy.

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From the Contents:

1. The corpus Alchymicum Arabicum (CALA)

2. Muhammad Ibn Umail and his significance for our time

3. Hall ar-Rumuz — a synoptic view

4. The edition

5. The translation

6. The corpus Alchymicum Arabicum (CALA)

Overview of the manuscripts of the Hall ar-Rumuz

Book of the Explanation of the Symbols by Muhammad Ibn Umail

Text in Arabic and English



Bibliography, Index