A Suggestive Inquiry Into the Hermetic Mystery


Portrait photo of M A Atwood from Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery in Mary Anne Atwood at Hermetic Library

Suggestive Inquiry
Into the Hermetic Mystery
a Dissertation
on the
More Celebrated of the Alchemical Philosophers
an Attempt Towards the Recovery
of the
Ancient Experiment of Nature.

A New Edition:
with an Introduction by
Walter Leslie Wilmshurst.

Also an
Appendix Containing the Memorabilia of
Mary Anne Atwood.

With a Photograuvre Portrait of the Authoress.

William Tait, 87 Marlborough Park North.
London: J M Watkins, 21 Cecil Court, W.C.


To the memory of its authoress,
Mary Anne Atwood,
the re-issue of her work,
“A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic
is dedicated
by her devoted friend,
Isabelle de Steiger

Introduction (Part I, Part II, Part III) (by Walter L Wilmshurst, 1918)
The Preface



An Exoteric View of the Progress and Theory of Alchemy.

CHAPTER I.—A Preliminary Account of the Hermetic Philosophy, with the more salient Points of its Public History—gathered from the best extant authorities, with notices of the works of various writers, ancient and modern, in succession, on the subject of Alchemy—their evidence in support of the art of gold-making and transmutation.—Page 3.

CHAPTER II.—Of the Theory of Transmutation in general, and of the Universal Matter—showing the true basis on which the rational possibility of Transmutation rests; with Definitions from Albertus Magnus, Aquinas, Friar Bacon, Raymond Lully, Arnold DiVilla-Nova, Syensius and others, descriptive of the Hermetic Material—with some suggestions additional concerning the Ethereal Nature and analogous phenomena of Light.—Page 72.

CHAPTER III.—The Golden Treatise of Hermes Trismegistus concerning the Physical Secret of the Philosopher's Stone, in Seven Sections—esteemed one of the best and oldest pieces of Alchemical Philosophy extant; comprising in epitome, the whole Art and secret method of the confection—to which some elucidatory annotations are added from the Scholium and elsewhere.—Page 105.


A More Esoteric Consideration of the Hermetic Art and Its Mysteries.

CHAPTER I.—Of the True Subject of the Hermetic Art, and its concealed Root—opening, by way of evidence, the Alchemical Laboratory and only vessel which the Adepts employed to sublime the universal Spirit of Nature and concentrate her Light—how, when, and where the Spirit may be arrested, introverted in the circulation, and brought forth from immanifest being into power and act, leading on from thence towards an outline of the Hermetic Art.—Page 143.

CHAPTER II.—Of the Mysteries—beginning from the early initiations, to show the imperfection of the natural life and understanding the artificial means and media employed by the ancients to rectify these—connecting together Alchemy and Mesmerism, also, with those preliminary Rites.—Page 181.

CHAPTER III.—The Mysteries continued—which indicate the greater ordeals and disciplines which the vital Spirit is made to pass through in the progress of a physical regeneration by art, from the the sensual dominion of the Selfhood, through a temporary death and annihilation to a new life and consciousness.—Page 202.

CHAPTER IV.—The Mysteries concluded—with a view of the ultimate object of these initiations to prove the perfection, purity, and integral efficiency to which the human spirit may arrive by divine assimilation coming in vital contact with its Source.—Page 233.



CHAPTER I.—Of the Experimental Method and Fermentation of the Philosophic Subject according to the Paracelsian Alchemists and some others—whereby the Principles of the Art are yet more intimately unfolded, and the methodical order in which the experiment was conducted to discover that hidden Light which is the specific Form of Gold—how to educate this and multiply it by the ethereal conception until it is made concrete and substantially brought forth.—Page 271.

CHAPTER II.—A further Analysis or the Initial Principle and its Education into Light—comprising the Metaphysics of the Matter; gathered more particularly from the Greek Ontologists and Kabalists, to show the progress of the consciousness through the various stages of purification and dissolution until the rectified ferment, overwhelming, becomes established in life.—Page 324.

CHAPTER III.—Of the Manifestation of the Philosophic Matter—exhibiting how, when, and where the invisible Spirit of Nature is by Art made visible and brought through a vital distillation into substantive effect- with power and will to transfuse its luminous aurific virtue and draw the universal life of Nature to its homogeneal accord.—Page 371.

CHAPTER IV.—Of the Mental Requisites and Impediments incidental to Individuals, either as Masters or Students, in the Hermetic Art—to which are added various practical instructions concerning the means and instruments that have to be arranged and called together in furtherance of this undertaking, the qualifications of external circumstances and accordances of fitting seasons and places for operation.—Page 417.



CHAPTER I.—Of the Vital Purification, commonly called the Gross Work—which develops the actual mode of operation practised by the Ancients, and mechanic means employed to dissolve the vital compound and eradicate the inbred evil of life—the mode of rational investigation lifewise by which the Spirit is induced to yield up her light and hidden virtue to increase it.—Page 453.

CHAPTER II.—Of the Philosophic or Subtle Work—which affords, by a theoretic conduct, suggestions amply leading to a practical understanding of the most abstruse secret of the Hermetic philosophy, showing the Trinitarian method of operation which Reason follows recreatively for the verification of her light to discover, magnify, and know the Causal Nature transitively in being and in imaged manifestation.—Page 481.

CHAPTER III.—The Six Keys of Eudoxus—leading into the most secret Philosophy of the Multiplication and Projection, Rewards and Potencies, Nature, Properties, Analogies, and Appliances of the Philosopher's Stone.—Page 500.

CHAPTER IV.—The Conclusion.—in summary of the whole, comparing this Philosophy, its method, relations, and ultimate promise, with those of more modern acceptation and repute.—Page 541.

Appendix (Table Talk and Memorabilia of Mary Anne Atwood, Begun August, 1860.)