The spark of life

Life itself can easily be considered one of the great mysteries. No one knows exactly how it works, and certainly no one knows how to create it. Or do they?

In 1837, a little-known scientist named Andrew Cross created life in his personal laboratory. Although it happened entirely by accident, Andrew carefully documented his actions, and several members of the London Electric Society were able to replicate the incident, including the famous Michael Faraday.

Surely such a discovery must have turned the world upside down and made the man an instant hero? While the whole world did pay attention to him, and Andrew was listed in the Dictionary of National Biography, he was far from a hero.

In fact, Andrew became one of the most hated people in England, and this infamy would soon ruin him.

Who was Andrew Cross?

Andrew Cross (June 17, 1784 – July 6, 1855) was a British scientist who was born at Fine Court, Broomfield, Somerset. Cross was one of the first pioneers and experimenters in the use of electricity.

It is well known that Cross lectured in England in the early 1800s on topics related to his electrical experiments. Moreover, oddly enough, there is a strong possibility that Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, attended one of Cross’s lectures.

It is quite possible that during that particular lecture Andrew Cross had already succeeded in creating life, or at least come close to doing so. But it would not be until 1837 that the world would be stunned by Cross’s success.

Experiments

In his electrical experiments, Cross tried to create glass crystals.
He made glass from crushed silica and potassium carbonate and dissolved it in hydrochloric acid. His idea was to let this liquid dry by gradually passing it through a piece of porous rock that had been “electrified” by the battery and see if crystals formed.

No crystals formed, but Cross noticed a curious side effect. He noticed many small white lumps on the porous stone. Then he decided to continue the experiment.

After a week, he noticed limb-like sprouts growing out of the white lumps. Later he was able to determine that they were legs. After four weeks, the creatures could easily be seen under a magnifying glass as they moved.

They turned out to be small insect-like creatures. Thinking that perhaps insect eggs had contaminated his controlled experiment, he decided to try again and this time carefully control the effects of external variables.

This time Cross used sealed containers. Beforehand, all components were completely sterilized with hot alcohol. The electrical wire entered the sealed container through a glass stopper.

The glass was made at a temperature that allowed the iron to melt, and distilled water was used to mix the composition consisting of iron sulfate, copper sulfate, and copper nitrate.

Finally, the battery was hooked up, and the slow process began. A few months later, Cross again noticed insect-like creatures crawling inside the controlled environment. At the time, he was sure he had indeed created life.

Delighted with his discovery, he immediately documented the results and quickly sent them to the Electrical Society of London. Other engineers repeated the experiment with similar success. Soon the whole world learned of Cross’s experiments, and his personal hell began…

Some said that because the solution was not sterile, it could have been contaminated with common mite eggs. Cross then conducted control experiments with a sealed sterilized flask and a solution on distilled water, with the wires leading into the solution calcined and passed through a container of mercury. The minerals carrying the current were boiled and treated with acid.

Finally, in order to exclude the appearance of mites from the pores of minerals where eggs could be preserved, he carried out several experiments on growing mites on the same solution, without minerals. And in these cases the creatures appeared, only at the very edge of the liquid.

Once mites even appeared on the bottom of quartz submerged five centimeters into a solution of acid and silicon fluoride. Convinced that it was impossible for ordinary household mites to get into the flask, the scientist sent an open letter describing his experiments to the journal “Proceedings of the London Society for the Study of Electricity”. The letter also included the zoologist’s conclusion and a sketch of how the insects looked under the microscope.

Cross’s experiments were successfully repeated by another researcher, Henry Wick. Wick took even more precautions to ensure sterility: he calcined the flask, used distilled water and chemically obtained oxygen instead of atmospheric air, and treated the constituent parts of the solution with flames and boiling. Wick found that the number of insects depended on the amount of carbon in the solution.

Consequences

Clergymen and others throughout Europe were shocked by this blasphemous atrocity. People closed their doors in his face. Merchants refused to serve him, and the local church gathered at his doorstep to perform a rite of exorcism against the demonic beast.

Cross tried to explain that he was “in humble and low reverence for this Great Being,” but the world refused to listen. He became an outcast and quickly disappeared from the public eye.

The great Michael Faraday defended Cross before the Royal Institution and claimed to have been able to repeat the experiment himself and create strange creatures. All this was to no avail.

Cross died 18 years later a lonely and unhappy man.

What we know today

The exact details required for the experiment are unclear these days, but it is generally accepted that several people were able to replicate Cross’s experiment. It is also known that many others have failed…

Those who succeeded described the creatures as tiny “mites” and even suggested naming the new species Acari Crossii. Detractors insisted that some kind of contamination had occurred, and the creatures had to be some kind of common insects.

Time, as is often the case, has obscured the exact method necessary for the success of this experiment. Thus, we will never know how or why these creatures were created, or if they were created at all.

But is it possible that Cross stumbled upon the primordial soup that evolutionists theorize was necessary to create the world’s first life form…

New Experiments

Wilhelm Reich, a 20th-century German physiologist, coined the term orgone, a pervasive life force distinct from electricity and magnetism that concentrates living and even “non-living” objects. He claimed that this energy could be observed under a microscope as a bluish glow around blood cells and other living substances, and believed that it permeates not only the planetary atmosphere, but the entire cosmos. (The idea, come to think of it, is not at all that far removed from the “secret fire” of the alchemists.)

In the 1940s, Reich discovered that if organic (hay, wood) and even inorganic matter – sea sand, for example – were subjected to the intense action of fire – complete combustion to ash, or calcination on an open burner flame, and then poured in water and left in sterile conditions, after a day or more in the solution, microscopic bubbles appear in great numbers, hollow inside and surrounded by a thick membrane.

Inside the bubbles Reich observed through a special microscope with 3000x magnification the very bluish glow – the energy that he called orgone. Individual bubbles were actively moving and showed a tendency to combine with each other into conglomerates.

Reich called these bubbles biones, from the Greek word for “life,” as an intermediate stage between non-living and living nature. The ability of bions to self-organize allowed them to form proto-biological structures, which Reich called pseudoamoebas, artificial cells, microbiomes, liquid crystals, etc.

A microphotograph of “liquid crystals” made of bions, taken by Reich

There is speculation that these very kinds of structures were involved in the experiments of the alchemists, who also guided primordial matter through the effects of fire. The bionic structures, being fixed on the material carrier – the primordial matter from the mineral kingdom, gave an impulse to transmutation – the transformation of an ordinary metal with a simpler crystal lattice into the most perfect precious metal.

This frame from a modern video, taken with an 800x magnification microscope by followers of Reich’s methods, shows the bionic structure dividing into two parts in a process very reminiscent of cell division

The sterile conditions under which the experiments were conducted, with exposure to temperatures above 1400° C, excluded the possibility that it was protozoa and spores that had penetrated from the air. Reich believed that he had succeeded under laboratory conditions in creating from organic matter an intermediate natural organization that had some of the properties of living organisms. Together with his co-author Otto Hahn, Reich published his results in a scientific journal in an article published in 1938.

Of course, Reich was ostracized as a pseudo-scientist, obscurantist, charlatan and so on, but… bionics do appear. This is a case where it is enough to see once than to read a hundred times: here are pictures taken by a follower of Reich’s ideas nowadays.

In 2001, Ignacio Pacheco, a Venezuelan neurobiologist, reproduced Reich’s experiments using ordinary sea sand from the environmentally friendly Mochima National Park in Venezuela. After heating the sand over a burner, he placed it in a test tube with sterile distilled water. The hermetically sealed test tube was left to cool for an hour, after which Pacheco placed it in an autoclave, where he sterilized it twice under high temperature and pressure, 24 hours apart.

After this treatment, none of the known life forms could survive in the test tube. However, on the fifth day, a murky suspension appeared on the surface of the water, consisting of the smallest particles of sand, salts and organic residues present in sea sand. Pacheco called the slurry the scientific word supernatant

. Pacheco began to examine it under a microscope, hoping to see Reich’s biones, but found something more surprising – there were living beings in various stages of formation in the suspension.

Their photos were published by Pacheco in an article entitled Ultrastructural and Light Microscopy Analysis of SAPA Bions Formation and Growth In-vitro (2001):


This is perhaps the most amazing thing Pacek discovered in the test tube – a freely moving multicellular creature, with a head and barbed spines for protection.

Two other, rather fleshy, life forms


Pacheco called this unusual biological form “microgorgonia” because it resembled a microscopic version of the coral gorgonian or “Venus fan”.

An interesting point: in the control tubes with sand that had not been preincinerated, as is evident from this photo, no traces of life were found after sterilization.

Perhaps the presence of manifested fire is the key moment for the spark of life to begin to clothe matter? After all, in Cross’s experiments living beings appeared only after exposure to electricity, one of the forms of manifested fire. And the alchemists who used the water of thunderstorm showers also attracted the power of “heavenly fire” – lightning – for the emergence of life.

And although all this is difficult to comprehend, the most amazing thing is abiogenesis as a result of exposure to a special kind of hidden fire – the fire inside a person…

Did the alchemists know?

Ignis et Azoth tibi sufficiunt.

“Fire and Nitrogen are all you need.

To begin with, it is necessary to clarify what medieval alchemy really was. The production of gold, contrary to the established stereotype, was not the main purpose of this science. In fact, the alchemists’ efforts were aimed at gaining power over the essence of life, gaining immortality and universal knowledge.

The alchemists believed that the root cause of all life is the Secret Fire, a manifestation of either a divine will or a cosmic principle. The essence of alchemy came down to the art of capturing this fire and imprisoning it in a material body. The substance capable of imprisoning the Secret Fire within itself was called Mercury of the Wise or Heavenly Salt, and it was very difficult to obtain.

The material from which it was produced was kept a great secret, so the original matter of the Great Matter was often called simply Prime Matter. Both substances had hundreds of names even beyond those mentioned. Some of these names will be discussed below. The result of the imprisonment of the Secret Fire in the dungeon of Mercury the Wise was the Philosopher’s Stone.

As such, the Philosopher’s Stone did not produce transmutation – it was simply a vessel containing the power of the Secret Fire. In order for the stone to gain the ability to transform certain metals into other metals, there was a special procedure called “Pigmentation” or “Coloring.

“Finally, by subjecting the solid universal potion to fermentation by direct melting along with very pure gold or silver, you get projection powder (Poudre de projection), the third form of the stone. It is a translucent red or white mass, depending on the metal, suitable only for transmutation. Poudre de projection is intended to target the mineral realm. It has no effect on the other two realms.”

The pure Stone, which had not been pigmented, was taken as a medicine, and it was also believed to give immortality.

“This potion restores hearing to the deaf, sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, cures lameness; it is capable of completely renewing a person, replacing his skin, old teeth, nails, replacing gray hair with new…”.

If the old masters are to be believed, the stone also gives excellent results with respect to the plant world, especially with respect to the fruit trees. By watering the soil near the roots in the spring, with a solution of the elixir diluted in rainwater, it is possible to make trees resistant to all kinds of pernicious influences. This increases the yield, fruits become larger and tastier. Batsdorf even used this stone to grow exotic plants in northern latitudes:

“If this solution is used to irrigate a plant for which our climate is unaccustomed, it will get stronger, as if nature had created it especially for our region.

Divine Fire

Divine Fire is a key concept in both PtC and alchemy. In the first case it gives life to Prometide, in the second to the Philosopher’s Stone.

Let’s break down what we think is the most succinct description of the Great Work:

“Capture the sunbeam, give it substantive form, infuse this embodied spiritual fire with elemental fire, and you will have the greatest treasure in the world.”

If we translate the above into the language of the setting, taking as an example the process of creation by Prometides of his own kind, we get the incarnation of the creative facet of the principle (Elpis) into the material form of Azoth by means of elemental fire (Pyros).

In both alchemy and PtC, the Mystery Fire has many names, depending on how and why it is used.

The term Nitrogen is used in both setting and classical alchemy. In classical alchemy it was a direct synonym for Mercury of the Wise – i.e., the material embodiment of the Secret Fire. It was believed that apart from the source of the Secret Fire and the actual vessel for it – Mercury of the Sages or Nitrogen – nothing else was needed for making. Even the saying “Azoth et ignis tibi sufficiunt” has survived.

In the setting, this symbol refers to the coagulated and purified Pyros, which has no material form. However, the concepts are similar: in both, the term symbolizes concentrated Mystery Fire.

Flux is the destructive beginning of Fire. There is no direct analogue of it in alchemy, although indirectly it is often referred to when referring to the first phase of making, Nigredo, in which it is necessary to destroy the Primary Matter of making before it can be turned into the Philosopher’s Stone. It is believed that nothing can destroy the Primordial matter to its proper state except Alkagest, the universal solvent. Alkagest is seen as one aspect of the same Mystery Fire that is behind all the manipulations of alchemy in general, only not in a life-giving but in a destructive hypostasis.

“Know that I have descended from the heights of the heavens here, into the caves of the earth, where I find my sustenance. But I desire only one thing: to return to my homeland, and for that you must kill me and then resurrect me, and resurrect me with the same weapons you used to kill me.”

During the milestones, Prometheus, seeking to acquire humanity, is rewarded with Vitriol, a special kind of experience point that allows you to develop thematic character traits like Humanity and Nitrogen. Unlike ordinary experiences, Vitriol is an alchemical solvent produced in the protagonists’ bodies and on the physical level. This quality allows the Creatures to transform some elements of their bodies with it, although the physical origin of Vitriol makes it possible to abduct it as well.

In alchemy, Vitriol is synonymous with Mercury of the Wise, infused with Secret Fire. It is an almost-formed philosopher’s stone – all that remains is the operation of “multiplication” to strengthen it and bring it to perfection.

“… Here is all the information that helps us find the mysterious agent of the Great Work <…> This legend contains an allegorical description of the work that the alchemist must do to extract the living luminous spirit – the secret fire enclosed in it in the form of a translucent, fusible as wax (cire) crystal that the Sages call their vitriol – from an untreated mineral.”

Using vitriol, the Prometid can create Atanor, an inner furnace that allows Vitriol to be transformed into a substance that can survive its master’s attainment of Mortality. Atanor is an alchemical furnace, though, of course, Promethid is not literally building a furnace inside himself. Nevertheless, in connection with this, it is worth noting that even the alchemical Atanor was not a furnace of clay and stone. In alchemy, Atanor served as another synonym for Mercury the Wise. Atanor’s ability to remain with the created even after acquiring Mortality seems to go back to the Greek meaning of the word.

“Atanor, however, the abode of the mysterious fire, is not such a simple device. <…> The one and true atanor (from the Greek Άθάνατος – renewing and never dying) for us is matter itself, the bearer of natural and secret fire (feu naturel et secret), the indestructible cause of all our processes.”

Homer’s Golden Chain.

According to the setting, the Prometid must create another member of his species to achieve Mortality, i.e., according to this logic, the Prometids will always walk the earth. According to hermetic legend, the line of masters, or the so-called “Golden Chain of Homer,” is never interrupted, otherwise humanity’s existence could be threatened. There are even apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of breaking this tradition.

Nowhere is it explicitly stated what the mission of alchemical knowledge is globally, but it can be assumed that its main task is to maintain the circulation of the Secret Fire in nature.

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