Turba Philosophorum

Turba Philosophorum 

2010 By Ariana Clausen – Vélez


Within the Tubra Philosophorum there are twenty-five dictums, however, I will only be reviewing the first nine as referred to in my reading of Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic.  Within reading the Ancient Philosophy Mystery, and Magic the first nine speakers of the dictum’s are referred to variously throughout the chapters, however, more so focused on in the fifth chapter speaking on the Sun.

To say who are alchemical philosophers are who make up the Turba, I cannot say, however, the first nine of the speakers are very well known Philosophers of there time/s and more work will be done on each of them to understand them and their teachings as taught by Pythagoras of Samos.

The main nine speakers of the Turba are in order according to the dictums.  Speakers are in order with the high council to speak first, Iximidrus, Exumedurs, Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, Pandolfus, Arisleus, Parmenides, Lucas, Democritus [disciple of Lucas], Lucusta, Pythagoras, and Eximenus.   Arisleus, was a Sage and disciple of disciples of Thrice Great Hermes.

Now in looking at the first nine dictum’s we are looking directly at the elements/roots in which Empedocles theorized in his separating them and what each of them were associated with, earth, air, fire and water.  Many of his theories were used in the later studies of understanding the elements/roots by later Philosophers as well as alchemists.

I will attempt here to give my understandings of each of the nine dictum’s starting with the first.


First Dictum:

Iximidrus speaks here.

Speaks of three elements as being both enemies and friends, however, it shows the Ultimate power of Fire and the Sun.  Speaking of how when Fire and Sun joins with Water it is an enemy as its’ natural nature is to evaporate into the and create humid mists, however, when mixed with Air the heat penetrates both the upper and lower parts of the element Air, and being able to actually establish a peaceful flow between the two elements, making them friends.  Now in healing we know that the Sun is a healer, as well as Air in Mercury which are right next to each other, making Mercury the closet planet to the Sun and ultimately this creates a powerful combination both energy, vitality, health, healing and speedy recovery, so this naturally would make fire and air friends when you look deeper into the associations of the two roots.

However, it is to mention that Earth is not yet mentioned in the Turba at this point.


Second Dictum:

Exumedrus speaks here.

The main discussion here focuses on how when the air changes it is due to the Sun’s movement and in this the temperature of the air can altar its’ state from hot only being hot, but also to being cold, warm and when it actually begins to manifest it creates visible moisture, such as snow, rain, dew, hail, etc…


Third Dictum:

Anaxagoras speaks here.  Circe 500-428 BC ~ A Greek philosopher introducing the notion of nous “mind” or “reason”.  Born in Clazomenae [modern dayIxmir,Turkey].

Here we begin to speak of the root of Earth as spoken by a disciple of Pythagoras.

The root Earth is said to be of the rarest of the roots, however, another speaks saying that the root Fire is the rarest [it is not clear who is speaking in regards to the root fire], I can only figure it to be either that of Iximidrus or Exumedrus.  Further into this dictum we there is another speaker, Anaxagoras, who states that neither air nor water is at all, rear roots.  Now in the later statement I find this to be true as we must remember that air was the first root to separate out and then fire, water and then lastly earth and in knowing this, yes, would make earth the rarest of all the roots.

As quoted from the Turba

“For from the apex of the world he shall not find an intention greater than his own”.   Showing us that nothing is more powerful than, the Fire/Sun that brims from the Earth, on of the two rarest of all the roots.  The Sun was created out of Fire and from the centre of the Earth making it rear indeed as it associates to both the [Celestial] and the [Underworld].  Again showing us the of the [mentis notis].


Fourth Dictum:

Pandolfus speaks here.

Within this dictum, Pandolfus speaks of how air and water cannot separate from either, as if they were, there would be no morning dew, no mist within the realms, no rain and most important the Earth that resides above the waters.  Speaking here again of air and fire, which resides under the waters to create what we know as volcanoes and from that earth above, the humid waters, example the isle of Sicily.

Further, therein, when Pandolfus, uses the example of an egg, here again we see the yoke is the centre [as the Sun is the centre of the earth], andDelosas it is the centre also of the earth and the birth place of Apollo, again symbolized here by the yoke.  Then you have the water which nourishes the earth as when fire and water work together earth was created, however, air being the of the four roots that separates, appears on the egg as the thin albumen just beneath the shell which is the earth.

So in the example of the egg you still see what Empedocles means in the creating and separating of the roots.


Fifth Dictum:

Arisleus speaks here:

Briefly spoken here of how earth depends on fire.  Here it is important to mention the reason why earth depends on fire so much.  Fire is of course an element of destruction and is known for destroying many forests, however, when fire does this work, it actually is helpful to the earth in that it provides it nutrients for the soil in which all of the trees, plants, herbs, flowers and more grow.  It is also a way of removing or banishing the dead and making room for new life.  It is as a cycle as are all other things which involve the roots as they show their ultimate power within.


Sixth Dictum

Lucas speaks here.

Now we begin to see more of the four roots being spoken of and how each root is responsible for creating within their own root.  When we speak of air, within this root there are specific traits in which are ruled by air, such as communication, travel, knowledge, wisdom, intellect, sylphs, angels and more, not to mention the Gods Hermes, Mercury and the Archangel Gabriel to name a few.  In the root of fire, we have forging of metals, angels, fires, energy, vitality, healing, illumination, protection, and death.  Within the element of water, you would have healing, cleansing, death, life, protection, undines, angels, nourishment, and more.  Lastly, in Earth, you would have life, prophecy, protection, grounding, centring to name a few.  However, it is also to be noted that each individual element also has traits that the others will not have as well.

Also spoken on is the nature of where this philosophy was derived fromIndiesand the Babylonians.   I am sure that since all things began inSumerthat so too the roots of our elements began life there as well.


Seventh Dictum

Lucusta speaks here.

Now we come to the speaking of the five senses and the sublime creature, which is neither seen nor felt, but perceived by reason alone of which reason Nature confesses that God is a partaker.

When speaking of the sublime creature here it is what we know as the Moon and as we look deeper into this dictum you will see that the Sun is one who is the subtle and lucid creature.   Looking yet even deeper one will see the connection between Diana and Apollo and the separating of the female to create male as well as to create day from night, also known as [mentis notis], the hidden face of the Sun behind the Moon.  Here it speaks of how the Sun is the light of all things, including that of the moon, stars, or fire, all which are given light by the Sun.  No we with the naked eye cannot see this, however, we know in the travels of the Sun that he also has two natures, making him extremely powerful, he has the connection to the day and life as in the realms of the Celestial [As Above], as well as the connection to the darkness of the night in the Underworld [So Below].  The Sun was created from the Underworld to bring life and light, however, he also rules the Underworld by night when he travels again to keep his promise to those who reside below the earth to return with the light by the fires of the night.

It is interesting to note here that this specific information in the Turba is located in the seventh dictum.  In Pythagorean teachings seven is a magical number for many reasons, seven meaning completion of process (the last level of initiation prior to reaching that of the One Mind), the planetary clock, seven planets, seven chakras, and composite of being.  Seven also being associated to the celestial being the Moon on the planetary clock as one of the two ruling numbers.  When the Moon is being referred to it is being called the sublime of the two and the Sun the subtle and lucid light.


Eighth Dictum:

Pythagoras speaks here.  Arcana and Element Definitions are from Alchemy Electronic Dictionary.  http://www.alchemylab.com/dictionary.htm#Calcination

Remembering that all were done in riddle form it is easy to overlook what Pythagoras was taking of here unless one is a man who knows.  In this dictum Pythagoras is speaking of magical secrets.

Pythagoras states to all Philosophers saying the following “I may fortify your opinion concerning these four elements and arcane”.  Here is where the riddle begins.  Arcana to someone who is not a man who knows would be the obvious Major Arcana of Tarot, however, Pythagoras means something completely different in this statement.  Arcana, is being referred to here as “magickal secrets” are archetypal influences that transcend space and time. According to the ancient text Archidoxies, the arcana are pre-existing powers that “have the power of transmuting, altering, and restoring us.” In this view, the arcana are the secret workings of the mind of God, the logos of the Greeks or what the alchemists referred to as the thoughts of the One Mind. In the Tarot, the arcana are represented by symbolic drawings that the reader tries to work with through meditation. In the Cabala, the arcana are represented by the esoteric properties of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, energies that the cabalist tries to work with in the Tree of Life. In the in the ancient Chinese system of divination, the I Ching, the arcana are represented by the sixty-four trigrams, each with its own properties and influences. The alchemists believed the arcana were expressed on all levels of reality — from chemical compounds to our innermost moods and desiresSpeaking of the four elements, in alchemy they are understood similar to our occult teachings of the elements, Earth in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of manifestation, birth, and material creation. It is associated with the operation of Conjunction and represented by the green ore of copper.  Fire in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of activity and transformation. It is associated with the operation of Calcination [alchemical symbol equilateral cross and symbol for the first sign of the zodiac, Aries, Martian energy] and represented by the metal lead.   Air in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of spirit into the manifested world. It is associated with the operation of Separation and represented by the metal Iron.  Water in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of cleansing and purification. It is associated with the operation of Dissolution and represented by the metal tin.

Pythagoras was teaching them the secrets of alchemical magick using the four elements, as well as the creation of all creatures, plants, and the celestial realms as well as the underworld realms.

Ultimately, Pythagoras is saying that even though all things are created from the elements, be it plant, beast, animals, vegetables, and more, all have a spirit that has a manifestation of a physical shell and in the end all will die, except the spirit which will again move on and be reincarnated.   The One Mind joins with the One Thing.  Death is necessary in the elements as well as living beings in order to complete one cycle in life.  However, if made of a single element there is no shell in which one lives in and this angel will transform over and over again and can change as many times as necessary to be of aid in any situation.  Those with shells need to eat, drink and sleep to sustain, however, angels do not need to do any and in that are always able to transform.

Ending the eighth dictum with Pythagoras telling the Turba that he will place this information not for the eyes of fools to see, but for Sons of the Doctrine, for it is the key [keeper of all secrets], the perfection and the end.

Ninth Dictum

Eximenus speaks here.

In the bringing together of the four roots and in creating all of the creatures with two or more substances, it brings together a balance in the elements within each creature that is created.  It brings about the need to learn to work peacefully with all of the elements and ultimately having a complete balance within all of the elements.  The diversity is to bring out our differences and uniqueness as individuals, creatures, plants, beasts and more.   When we are of only one substance there is really nothing, however, with being created of two, three, or four elements is teaches us about life, and death and the need for complete understanding.  The spirit within is of fire, the body earth, the feelings and emotions water, and our intellect of air.  Bring balance and allowing all the roots to work together, and making each of us with different natures.

Finally, to speak on each of the speakers, very little is able to be found on most, however, all were of a common factor, disciples of Pythagoras.























Leave a Comment