Monday, October 8, 2012

“What the Fuck is a Fluid Condenser?!”

Seriously, though, what is it?
When I first began threatening (e.g. I promised some folks an essay on the subject) to write on Fluid Condensers, I received several emails requesting more information from folks I know. My favorite email was the one-line title for this blog entry. Since I promised some of you a basic explanation prior to finishing my essay on the subject, this blog (although admittedly late) is that response.

So, what the fuck is a Fluid Condenser, anyway? The Fluid Condenser is a body of water and other materia which the magician prepares at an appropriate time to hold or maintain “Vital Forces” or to serve as an anchor for a spirit.

The technique, which is based on the principles of “Natural Magick,” appears to have been developed by Paschal Beverly Randolph during the middle of the 19th century. I am not sure when precisely he developed the method, but I think it is very likely around the time he had an Alchemy lab in New York City which later burnt down. It first appears in his Mageia Sexualis (Sexual Magic; P. 79). He explains:
“To operate with these forces, according to the laws which regulate them, it is necessary, first of all, to concentrate them in a point or on a given surface. One can, then, guide and channel them at will. These operations, which are very important and which offer the possibility of many varied realizations can be made in four different fashions:
  1. The operator can make use of his own energy proper.
  2. He can act with the outer forces by means of induction and of the correspondences.
  3. He can bind the outer force to an individual object which has been chosen for this.
  4. He in bind these forces to an object that, in general, is of the material of his choice.
This last procedure has been known for thousands of years as talismanic magic...”
- Randolph, Sexual Magic (P. 80).
Thus, the Fluid Condenser finds its basis in Talismanic Magic, and functions as a type of storage vehicle or fluid object which is manipulated by the given magician. While I state that it appears that Randolph himself produced the first series of Fluid Condensers, it is very, very likely that his study of the works of Franz Anton Mesmer and alchemy both in turn helped combine into the method used today and continuing to be put to use by the students of Franz Bardon. In fact, Bardon offers his own Fluid Condenser variants in Initiation to Hermetics, which will be discussed more in depth in my essay on the subject for the When Kingdoms Come anthology.

But Where Can We Find the Guiding Principle?

Despite being a fairly recent development, the guiding principle of the Fluid Condenser can be found (along with a great many other things, only some of which I think I understand) in John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica, which is a treatise on symbolic language and Alchemy. I want to take a moment to assert that creating a Fluid Condenser is not the same as producing a form of Spagyric medicine. You might go so far as to call it “the cheater's method”!

However, in his Tenth Theorem, Dee writes the singular line which permits the creation of the Fluid Condenser. (Note: it's the part that is in bold-text.):
“The following figure of the zodiacal sign Aries (see the link for the symbol of Aries, which you ought to already know...), in use amongst the astronomers, is the same for all the world (a sort of erection both cutting and pointed), and it is understood that it indicates the origin of the fiery triplicity in that part of the sky.

Therefore, we have added the astronomical sign Aries to signify that in the practice of this Monad the use of fire is required.

We finish the brief hieroglyphic consideration of our Monad, which we would sum up in one only hieroglyphic context:

The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire.
The biggest difference between the creation of Bardon's Condensers and Randolph's is that Randolph's require permeating the plant matter in a solution of alcohol and sealing them up – a process which appears to be based on practical Alchemy. Bardon (Initiation into Hermetics, P. 244 - 252), on the other hand, has his liquid Fluid Condensers (he also has Solid and Gaseus Fluid Condensers in that marvelous book; Randolph has solid condensers as well) subjected his Condensers directly to flame as well as including alcohol, which is very helpful for the preparation. This subjection of the material and fluid components of his Condensers follows along the lines of the Dee quote above, allowing the extraneous elements of the material to be separated (by the process of boiling and evaporation) and then “filled” with the appropriate element, planetary essence, etc. I do not consider either of these methods of significant difference as I consider alcohol to be the “Fire of Water” in a sense. I do recommend you take a look at both versions before creating your own, but if you can't be bothered with doing that, you can wait for my essay. Heh!

There is one additional note about these differences to make before I stop this discourse and say everything before the time is right: Bardon's variants require less toxic, 'magical', and dangerous plants to create! Two of Randolph's Condensers require extract of Mandrake and one requires extract of Atropa Belladonna! Also, don't bother buying anyone else's condensers. I am well aware some “Adepts” occasionally sell them, complete with their own blood and semen (a method that Bardon explicitly states should be kept for one's own ends), but it will do you far more good to make your own.

Incidentally, I do not recall Bardon or Randolph stating this, but I have found it very useful to prepare my Condensers during appropriate planetary hours for elemental or planetary based “Fluid Talismans”!

Be seeing you,

P.S. If none of this makes sense, please feel free to bother me privately or here. I'll do my best to respond in a timely manner.


Brother Christopher said...

I am thinking of getting some Everclear and making up some simple Bardon fluid condenser.

Jack Faust said...

Bardon's instructions for the Simple Fluid Condenser are a real joy, and its a lot of fun to make. I couldn't get gold extract for any, so I used his Red Hot method of diffusion and the entire process was a blast. That said, I've really been enjoying using the Doctrine of the Signatures to make my own using both as a basis.

I've never used everclear. I grabbed different forms of alcohol and applied the Doctrine (and when lacking that, just plain Vodka) to sort each for the planets. But lacking Everclear, I totally go for Vodka. It's clear and can be powerful enough to fill in the gaps. At some point I should use some high alcohol content Rum...

Diotima Mantineia said...

I use colloidal gold, available in some health food stores and on Amazon.
I've moved away from using Everclear in any of my plant extracts, medicinal or magical -- these days, I tend to prefer brandy.

Jack Faust said...

Diotima: Colloidal gold is a good choice! I just lighting some metals on fire... It's much more fun to drop that into your fluid and chortle!

Jack Faust said...

In all honesty, I initially had all the materials on hand except for extract. But we had worthwhile gold. Now I may stick to that method, as I realize just how much fun I had with all but the Mars condenser.

Harold Roth said...

I have tinctures of mandrake root, leaf, and fruit, and tincture of belladonna berry and was wondering what to do with them. :) Where are Randolph's condenser recipes at?

Harold Roth said...

I found them. Pretty complicated. His definition of lactucarium is really WEIRD. The pharmacy def. is a preparation of wild lettuce:


Jack Faust said...

Harold: Wild lettuce wouldn't be a bad answer. He uses some of his plants because of hoodoo, I think, and I seem to recall at least one form of Wild Lettuce being called 'sleep wart.' I'll double-check and let you know.

The thing about Randolph is he had this amazing ability to disguise some of his sources. He uses his Mesmerism with alchemy and hoodoo (not entirely surprising, given that the Loadstone is a magnet), and so forth. His approach is a very nice middle ground between a lot of Continental Magick and stuff going on in the Americas.

Jack Faust said...

Lactucarium has never been thoroughly and satisfactorily investigated in relation to its therapeutical influences: indeed, various experimenters differ in their views on this point, some asserting it to be a stimulant and others a sedative. It is, when employed at all, usually given as a calmative and hypnotic, and as a substitute for opium, to which it is to be preferred in many instances, on account of its freedom, from unpleasant after-effects, as constipation, excitement of the brain, etc. However, it is not considered equal in power to opium. The most energetic lactucarium. is said to be obtained from L. virosa and L. altissima. Moderate doses of it act as a narcotic poison on the lower animals, and 10 or 20 grains swallowed by a dog will cause sleep, or the watery solution injected into a vein occasions sleep, coma, and death. It appears to be of use in insomnia, due to mental overwork. A syrup of lactucarium is of value in the cough of phthisis, and even garden lettuce appears to exert a good influence in this disease, tending to allay the broncho-pulmonary irritation. Dose of lactucarium in pill or powder, which is the most efficient mode of administration, from 5 to 20 grains; of the tincture, 30 to 60 drops; of the alcoholic extract, 1 to 5 grains.

Oh, yeah. That totally follows with a lot of the other ingredients, like Mandragora Officinarum and Atropa Belladonna!