Also popularly known as quicksilver. Known for many centuries,
the metal has played an important part in the history of
alchemy. In its refined state it forms a coherent, very mobile
liquid that at ordinary room temparature was a well-known
unique substance. The early alchemists believed that nature
formed all metals from mercury, and that it was a living and
feminine principle. It went through many processes, and the
metal that evolved was pure or impure according to the locality
of its production.
The mercury of the philosophers’ stone needed to be a purified
and revivified form of the ordinary metal; as the Arabian
alchemist Geber stated in his Summa perfectionis ‘‘Mercury,
taken as Nature produces it, is not our material or our physic,
but it must be added to.’’
Mercury seems to have been an entirely different substance
than any ordinary metal or chemical element. Depending upon
one’s interprepation of alchemy as a system of spiritual growth,
mercury could be one of several substances or states of consciousness

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