Alchemy, Prophecy, and the Rosicrucians: Raphael Eglinus and Mystical Currents of the Early Seventeenth Century

  • Bruce T. Moran
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 140)


Even among historians of alchemy Raphael Eglinus (1559–1622) is a relatively obscure figure. For years he has stood on the periphery of discussions concerned with Renaissance occult traditions. When mentioned at all it has usually been in the context of a certain type of prophetic literature or as a casual acquaintance of Giordano Bruno. And yet, in the light of what scarcely known printed and archival sources actually reveal about him, Eglinus has to be considered one of the most important intellectual links supporting a Swiss-Italian and German connection within the mystical and alchemical history of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In his writings, almost sixty published works, Eglinus combined New Testament studies with readings in prophetic mysticism, alchemy and Paracelsian natural philosophy. He examined the relation between the macro- and microcosmos, wrote of the returning Elias Artista, discussed magical symbols, edited a text of Giordano Bruno, composed Rosicrucian essays, and made prophecies based on marks appearing on the back of a herring caught off the coast of Norway.1 That orthodox Lutheran schoolmaster and chemist, Andreas Libavius (1540–1616), despised most of these things; but when it came to patching together his own defence of alchemy, even he found it useful to include part of an alchemical treatise written by Eglinus, albeit one composed under a pseudonym.2


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    MBK: 2° MS Chem 19, vol. 1, 250r-v 327r. Other alchemists whose work Eglinus represented to the prince include Wolfgang Lambert, 2° MS Chem 19, vol. 1, 70r-v, 345r-v; Fabiano Campani, vol. 1, 35r-37v, 253r-254r; and Cyriac Waschmuntzer, 4° MS Chem 39, no. 8. Eglinus himself also took an interest in the alchemical work of the Hessen nobleman Heinrich von Siegerodt. After falling into disgrace at the Hessen court in 1613, when he refused to reveal to the Prince one of his procedures for founding light cannon, von Siegerodt left Hessen and went later to Sweden where he supplied Gustavus Adolphus with alchemical secrets. A search of Siegerodt’s personal property uncovered alchemical texts written in cipher, 2° MS Chem 19, vol. 3,45r; 59r-66r; 72r. A partial description of Siegerodt’s coded alchemical writings appears in Rudolf Schmitz and Adolf Winkelmann, “Über die alchemistischen Geheimschriften im Briefwechsel des Landgrafen Moritz von Hessen-Kassel,” Pharmazeutische Zeitung, 111 (1961), pp. 374–378. In 1620, Eglinus reported to his son, Hans Ulrich, that von Siegerodt was “doing wonders with medicines, and has such a mercury of antimony that I think he has a tincture from it, but this he has forgotten to send me.” 2° MS Chem 19, vol. 1, 58r-59v. Earlier, in 1617, Eglinus copied a tincturing process directly from one of Siegerodt’s own manuscripts, 4° MS Chem 45, no. 2.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

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  • Bruce T. Moran

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