Mercury is one of the most important substances in Alchemy. The metal mercury is part of every stage of the Great Work of the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone and has numerous symbolisms. Mercury, or Mercurius, is the Roman name for the Greek god HERMES, the central mythological figure in the Hermetic arts.

The metal mercury, or quicksilver, is liquid at room temperature, lending it the qualities of substance and of liquid spirit. It is both volatile and fixed, masculine and feminine, and thus is symbolized by the HERMAPHRODITE. Alchemists believed that they could extract mercury from any metal, thus giving it great importance in the transmutation of base metals into GOLD and SILVER. Mercury also is a solvent and thus purifies.

As a spirit or vapor, mercury is associated with the biblical “spirit that moves upon the face of the waters,” the breath of God. Zosimos called mercury “divine water.”

Mercury also is a Symbol for the Prima Materia.

See also : 

  • Cinnabar
  • Tria Prima

From :The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.