Alchemy : Mutus Liber
The Mutus Liber is a great classic of alchemy. This book is clearly remarkable since, unlike other reference books on the topic (such as the “Emerald tablet”, for instance), it does not consist in a text, but essentially in images. This is what drives to translating logically its title by “The mute book”, however this translation, maybe too obvious, is debated: as the “mutuae artes” are not the “mute arts” but the “symbolic arts”, the Mutus Liber would not be the “mute book”, but rather the “symbolic book”. Anyway, undoubtedly, it has been made in a universal language: drawings and symbols, and maybe this was a key of its success.
This “comic” –since it is one-, was published in 1677 by Pierre Savouret, in the city of La Rochelle, France. The author, anonymous, could have been recently identified as Isaac Baulot, son of a surgeon and himself an innovative specialist of medical formulae, friend of a collector of “curiosities” and of authors of religious writings, and to whom John Locke himself, during his travel to La Rochelle, would have paid a visit. But according to Jean Flouret, the Mutus Liber could be the product of a collective research taking place amongt a whole group of philosophers.
The reader must be warned that the comparison between the PILGRIM and the Mutus Liber will have to do with an exception: the step 4, which is here placed at the very end of the process. I will try to provide an explanation to this in the corresponding chapter.
Isaac Baulot, L’alchimie et son livre muet (Mutus Liber), réimpression intégrale de l’édition de La Rochelle, 1677, Gutenberg Reprint 1996.
Limojon de Saint-Didier, Le triomphe hermétique, introduction et notes d’Eugène Canseliet précédées du Mutus Liber avec une hypotypose de Magophon, Bibliotheca Hermetica, Denoël 1971.