Once the two prepared compounds are combined in the correct proportions, they are placed in a glass vessel of the proper volume and sealed airtight. What follows is a process of digestion via a simple ramped heating regimen by which the stone confects itself, requiring little more than observation and adjusting the temperature accordingly. Each successive stage of heating results in a unique color-indicator confirming that confection is proceeding properly. For nearly two thousand years, the ramped heat regimen and color-indicators have been primary clues that the historical Philosophers’ Stone in each of the various traditions was in fact the product of the same chemical reaction. Indeed the Stone can be crafted several different ways by various preparatory processes yet at the stage of confection, the chemical reaction is the same for all recipes that follow the archetypal Alexandrian process. Each successive stage is determined by a combination of exact temperature and duration, specific colors of which indicate transition or stabilization. Stabilization is indicated by a black, white or red color indicator, with a yellow transition between white and red. The final product has historically been described in a variety of conflicting ways, yet these descriptions actually indicate the Philosophers’ Stone at various stages of refinement or application.
The finished Philosophers’ Stone can be further refined by grinding it to a fine powder and reacting the powder with divine-water a second time. The second reaction proceeds much more quickly than the first, yet follows the exact same ramped heating regimen as in the initial reaction. Morienus, Byzantine alchemist operating in the late-Alexandrian style of the 7th century, was the first to reveal this process openly and it became a standard method of operation for confecting and refining the Stone by various European alchemists inspired by his canonical work. A summation of this process occurs in the 17th century illustrated manuscript Cabala Mineralis, where the equation is:
sophic gold + sophic mercury = sophic sulfur
– followed by –
sophic sulfur + sophic mercury = Stone of the 3rd Order
During the early-Alexandrian period, the Stone’s primary value was its application as the Tincture or tingeing agent employed to create a unique species of alchemical gold from copper or by using similar techniques to craft fantastic alchemical gemstones from glass. Spiritual or ideological currents pervaded any form of tradecraft and artisans were considered to be performing divine work, yet it was work nonetheless and the products were extremely valuable trade-goods. Alchemists during this period were known as gold-makers – chrysopoeians in Greek. Gold-making guilds were wealthy, respected and wielded considerable power and influence to the degree that they presented a serious threat of revolt to Roman emperor Diocletian, who strictly and violently banned the Art and attempted to destroy all writings concerning it throughout the empire circa 298 CE.
In response to Diocletian’s ban and during the decades that followed, alchemy anthologist Zosimus collected and chronicled many alchemical texts in an effort to rescue the Art. He highlighted alchemy’s spiritual, religious and philosophical foundation that later became the primary focus during the mid and late-Alexandrian periods. During the 4th – 5th centuries CE, alchemists operating under the name Cleopatra, Synesius and others, appear to have used the process of confecting the Stone and the resulting product as a type of visual study-aid to reinforce philosophical lessons concerning heaven and earth, above and below, purification, dual-soul theory and others. During the 6th century, Christian court philosopher and astrologer Stephanos applied the stone as a form of high initiation into his particular universal mystery tradition and as a memorial or monument symbolic of personal gnosis or redemption. He was also the first to use medical jargon when discussing the Stone, although it remains unclear whether it was used therapeutically up to this point or not.
The late-Alexandrian method of alchemy was transmitted from Stephanos via his student, a Christian hermit-monk named Morienus, to Prince Khālid ibn Yazīd. As a feature of the Islamic Empire’s fascination with learning, alchemy was preserved by philosopher-physicians known as Ḥakīm. Throughout the Islamic Empire during the 7th – 10th centuries, alchemy became incredibly experimental with an emphasis towards applied chemistry and pharmacology. The Philosophers’ Stone was known to Islamic alchemists as al-iksir, from which we derive the term elixir. Writings attributed to Jābir ibn Hayyān are the first known to reveal the Philosophers’ Stone as possessing fantastic therapeutic and antidotal properties. Jābir claims to have prescribed the elixir to treat over 1,000 cases successfully. His therapeutic use of the Philosophers’ Stone set the standard for Islamic medico-alchemy, which resulted in a number of other alchemical elixirs that owe their development to experimental Islamic alchemy and cultural intercourse with Chinese, Indian and Persian elixir-alchemy traditions.
In Europe, Paracelsus favored the therapeutic application of alchemical products over industrial uses such as gold making. His personal approach to alchemy became known as Spagyrics or Iatrochemistry, which has become a living tradition surviving into modern times and preserved by countless adherents. Paracelsus believed that the Tincture of the Philosophers was used as sacred medicine in ancient Egypt and responsible for incredible health and uncommon longevity. The tradition of confecting the Philosophers’ Stone was preserved into the 20th century by modern alchemists such as Archibald Cockren, the Ingalese couple, Fulcanelli and many others. The reason for such secrecy surrounding the Philosophers’ Stone was to protect the simplicity of its confection. The process of initiation or the incredibly arduous independent search for the secret of its confection ensured a level of appreciation, reverence and personal dedication to the Art.