The Quintessence (quinta essentia) is the fifth Element. Quintessence is a psychic spiritual energy that is superior to the other four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. It can bind the other elements together or dissolve them. According to PYTHAGORAS, the quintessence was the equivalent of the soul. Paracelsus said the quintessence permeates and ensouls the body, enabling it to become a living being.

In Alchemy, the quintessence was held to heal any disease or condition and to rejuvenate the body. It was important in the process for transmuting base metals to GOLD and SILVER. The First Book of the Secrets of Nature or the Fifth Essence, a spurious work attributed to RAYMOND LULLY, describes the quintessence’s alleged miraculous and adaptive powers:

It preserves the body from corruption, strengthens the basic constitution (elementativa), pristine youth is restored by it, it unifies the spirit, dissolves the crudities, solidifies that which is loose, loosens the solid, fattens the lean, weakens the fat, cools the inflamed, heats up the cold, dries the humid, humidifies the dry; in what way soever, one and the same thing can perform contrary operations, the sole act of one thing is diversified according to the nature of the recipient, just as the heat of the sun has contrary effects, for it dries the mud and liquifies the wax.

Numerous recipes for miraculous medicines were written with the quintessence as a key ingredient. The quintessence is associated with the Anima Mundi, the Prima Materia, the PENTACLE and the Pentagram, and the ROSE. See also AKASHA.

Further Reading:

  • Patai, Raphael. The Jewish Alchemists. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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