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The Three Principles of Alchemy

In Alchemy, Salt, Sulphur and Mercury are known to be the Three Principles. It is believed that all matter can be divided, via alchemical processes, into these three things.

Salt was the principle of fixity (non-action) and in-combustibility. Salt is the earth element, representing the vegetable salts extracted from calcined ashes of plant body. The Salt represents the Body of a thing. It is the receptacle for the energies of Mercury and Sulphur. Salt contains the elements Water and Earth. The receiving of the influences of the Soul which are transmitted through the spirit occurs through the element Water. In the chemical aspects, this neutral energy resides in the salts of the lab materials, both soluble and insoluble.

Mercury was the principle of fusibility (ability to melt and flow) and volatility. Mercury is the water element, representing the life essence of the plant, the very alcohol extract of the plant is the carrier of the life essence. Mercury is the passive, Female energy of the universe. It unites with the Sulfur to produce a Manifestation, whatever that may be (whatever you are trying to create). In order for the energies of Life to transmit their influence into matter, Mercury is needed: It contains the Air of Life and the Water of Matter. In chemistry, this energy resides in the alcohol of the material you work with.

Sulphur was the principle of inflammability. Sulphur is the fire element, virtue of plant, representing the volatile oil essence of the plant. Sulphur is the Male, active energy of the universe. For us it represents the Soul. Chemically, it resides in the essential oils of the material you work with.

NOTE: My thanks and gratitude to James Collins of for permission to use his well researched and beautifully written information on the Three Principles of Alchemy.



I was guided to bring 2 magical elements together to explore the magic of alchemy through the stone beings – sulphur and cinnabar. Both are rare beings and both come to teach us of crystal alchemy. These stones have come together in union – yes for the purpose of creating a “new” energy, but also to reveal something to us … look deep into their essence to discover what that wisdom is.


Sulphur is a magical substance. It is an essential element to all life. When burned, sulfur melts to a blood-red liquid and emits a blue flame which is best observed in the dark. (NOTE: Please do not try to do this without the proper experience and/or supervision.) There is something truly amazing about the crystals who have an outward appearance that is different to it’s essence. Sulphur shows us this special quality through the colours Yellow, Blue and Red … the bright yellow of its outward appearance, it’s inner essence of blood red, and the blue energy it emits when burning. Another way Sulphur shows us it’s “blue side”, is that Lapis Lazuli owes it’s blue colour to a Sulphur radical. This “trinity” that Sulphur holds is, I believe, a significant part of it’s magic!

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Mercury is another magical substance. Also known as quicksilver, it is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. I have always loved its magical magnetic quality and how it will come together with separate drops of itself. Something that connects it to Sulphur is the colour red. Sulphur is red in liquid form – mercury reveals its red essence when found in its solid form as Cinnabar. Because it contains mercury which is a potentially toxic substance, Cinnabar must be handled with care. I have done some research and the consensus seems to be that the tumbled version of the stone is safe to handle, providing you take precautions: ie, don’t ingest, don’t inhale the dust and wash hands after handling. I would add that it’s best to keep this stone away from kids. Mindat has a health warning on their site if you want more information. I feel I should mention that there are many imitation versions of Cinnabar on the market and sometimes they are sold as authentic. I did get these stones from a reliable source, but even my source would not guarantee its authenticity. I trust it, but I always prefer to reveal everything I know about the stones.


Red and Yellow – bright, intense colours. Colours of caution and danger. Colours of fire and of intensity. Colours of power and survival. The colours of energy and life force – the Sun and blood. Masculine and feminine. An Alchemical marriage is a union between two energies which come together to create a third energy that was not present before the union. Each partner illuminates qualities within the other without hiding anything of themselves.

NOTE: Sulphur and Cinnabar are not to be treated lightly in their handling. If you have any concerns or fears, please consider other stones. Trust yourself with these as with all the stone beings. There are several non-toxic Alchemical Crystals for you to choose from. Sulphur has a very distinctive scent. Please keep this in mind when handling it. You will probably want to wash your hands afterwards. Lemon and/or baking soda work wonders for releasing the scent.