Dew

Dew traditionally has been considered a symbol of the Philosopher’s Stone: «Thus out matter is our dew, fat, airy, and heavy, also found on the surface of the earth…Another dewy general subject coming directly from a celestial source and indirectly from plants and animals… It is celestial and terrestrial, fluid and stable (compare coral), white and reddish, light and heavy, sweet and bitter»

(Hermetisches ABC von Stein der Weisen, 1779).

Dew is thus conceived of as a tangible watery aggregate of that prima materia which all other matter come. In the «silent book» (Mutus Liber, 1677) of the alchemists, the gathering of dewdrops in cloths is portrayed allegorically. From the above descriptions it is seen that dew is an important element in occult practices for many centuries.

In alchemy, dew is one of the chief sources of the mysterious central niter, the subtle form of the primal fire of nature. During the two months that the sun is in the astrological signs, Aries and Taurus (March 21 – May 21), alchemists gather dew by dragging sheets over clean grass, placing metal bowls out over night to serve as condensation surfaces, or shaking dewdrops from the leaves of the herb lady’s mantle. The collected dew is used as a solvent in many alchemical processes.

In folk magic throughout the world dew is considered important in healing and medical cures, especially of the female reproductive system. Women wishing to become pregnant would lay nude on the backs beneath the moon until sunrise.

Thus she was covered by and bathed in dew, considered a potent potion for fertility. In Italian Witchcraft dew is collected from sacred herbs, kept in small bottles and used as holy water for blessing and purification.

 

Definition and meanings

Dew, in alchemical and folk magical traditions, has been revered for its symbolic and practical significance. Its role in various occult practices and beliefs illustrates a deep connection with nature and the pursuit of esoteric knowledge. Here’s an overview of dew’s symbolism and uses in these contexts:

 

Symbolism in Alchemy

  • Philosopher’s Stone: Dew is often symbolized as a tangible form of the prima materia, the primary substance from which all matter is believed to originate in alchemical thought. It is considered to embody the qualities necessary to create the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals into gold and granting immortality.
  • Representation of Prima Materia: Dew is seen as embodying the duality of celestial and terrestrial, fluid and stable, light and heavy, etc. This makes it an ideal symbol for the prima materia, which is thought to contain all opposites.
  • Source of Niter: In alchemy, dew is regarded as one of the primary sources of niter, the subtle manifestation of the primal fire of nature, essential in various alchemical transformations.

 

Collection and Use in Alchemy

  • Gathering During Aries and Taurus: Alchemists traditionally collect dew during the months when the sun is in Aries and Taurus (March 21 – May 21). This period is considered astrologically significant for capturing the essence of dew.
  • Methods of Collection: Techniques include dragging sheets over grass, placing metal bowls as condensation surfaces, or gathering dew from specific plants like lady’s mantle.
  • Use in Alchemical Processes: The collected dew is used as a solvent in alchemical operations, playing a crucial role in the pursuit of transforming substances.

 

Folk Magic and Healing

  • Fertility Rituals: In various folk magic traditions, dew is used in fertility rites. For example, women seeking to conceive might lie outside under the moon to be bathed in dew, believed to possess potent fertility-enhancing properties.
  • Healing and Medical Cures: Dew is also considered significant in healing, especially in treating ailments related to the female reproductive system.
  • Italian Witchcraft: In this tradition, dew collected from sacred herbs is used similarly to holy water, for blessings and purification.

 

Allegorical Representation

  • Mutus Liber: In the «Mutus Liber» (The Silent Book), a famous alchemical text, the collection of dew is portrayed allegorically, emphasizing its mystical importance in the alchemical process.

Sources:

Biedermnn, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & the Meanings Behind Them.Transl. by James Hulbert. New York. A Meridian Book. 1989. p. 95
Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. pp. 131-132
Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications. 2000. pp. 98-99