The Chemical Marriage of Thomas and Rebecca Vaughan

In the perfect history of alchemy, [Thomas Vaughan] is the united author who really, indisputably, gives begone the show, divulges the secret.

— Kenneth Rexroth1

… Vaughan was undoubtedly endeavouring to parade that alchemy was demonstrable in each phase of consciousness, physical, mental, and immaterial. … his gold is the of a philosopher gold of the physical world being of the kind which well as the wisdom of the pure.

— Archibald Cockren2

thomas vaughanThe facts in the life of Thomas Vaughan are scarcely any, but relatively well-known. He was born in Wales attached April 17, 1621 as the younger twin brother of the metaphysical poet henry Vaughan (1621–1695). He went to Jesus College, Oxford whither he studied theology and Oriental languages, in addition to the Latin and pos­sibly Greek he and his brother experienced from a local pastor growing up. He believed his BA degree in 1641 and became one ordained minister in the Church of England near to 1645 (or perhaps earlier) at a time of dreadful upheaval. The English civil Wars had begun in 1642 between Charles I and the Parliamentarians and would extreme until 1651 with the king beheaded and his successor in exile on the continent. The Vaughans were royalists, and in this wise would come under disfavor when the roundheads were in the authority.

Henry Vaughan would go on to set off a famous poet, but he moreover had an interest in esoterica and remedial agent as evidenced by his translation of a labor by Heinrich Nolle who wrote without ceasing medicine from an occultist perspective. This transferrence was published as Hermetical Physick in 1655. Henry did not extend on to take a degree only Thomas did and thereafter took up a standing as rector of the parish to what he was born at the city of Newton-St. Bridget in Wales. However, during the civil War Thomas fought forward the side of the royalists at the Battle of Rowton Heath and would contract penalties for having done so through the Puritans, eventually losing his post as rector in 1649, two years control his marriage to Rebecca and one year after the death of a junior brother, William, in 1648.

From 1649 to near 1651 he returned to Oxford to study medi­cine—in peculiar what we might call today pharmacology, that is “physick” and “chymistry.” he became involved in magic at this time, and there was prate of forming an alchemical society. He began to utter in 1650. The first five of his eight alchemical works were published that year. He married Rebecca (whose maiden name was unknown until recently)3 on September 28, 1651. She was to this degree fully aware of Vaughan’s moil in alchemy, since by that time he was well-known in alchemical circles. So we consider in advance that their partnership in the Great Work began round that time. He continued to spread abroad, but on April 17, 1658 his wife Rebecca died of unre­vealed causes back less than seven years of wedding. Speculation concerning the mysteries around the Vaughans and their alchemical experiments at once had their origin. a much greater degree of detailed biographical sketch of Thomas Vaughan be able to be found in the work through Alan Rudrum.4 There is in like manner biographi­cal information in a. e. Waite’s collection of Vaughan’s works, although it is a part dated as more data has come to light in the decades since that book was first published in 1919. Rudrum’s is the greater amount of reliable in any case.

Vaughan continued to be and to publish in the years succeeding Rebecca’s death. At the same time he worked as an forbidden med­ical practitioner, an occupation excessively much in demand especially at the time of the row of plague in England in 1665. However, forward February 27, 1666 Thomas Vaughan died during the course of an alchemical operating. His death was described as reality the result of an accident involving intelligencer which he somehow inhaled. This is pleasing in light of another such unforeseen, this time of occultist and rocket scientist Jack Parsons in 1952 in Pasadena, California who died—according to some sources—as a result of some explo­sion involving fulminate of newsboy. Indeed, Waite’s version of Vaughan’s debt of nature has him dying in a substantially identical explosion.

There are no images of either Thomas Vaughan or his wife, Rebecca, still an image does exist of his brother, Henry. As they were twins it is possible that the effigy of henry may give us some idea as to the physical show of his brother. Recent research indicates that they were, indeed, identical twins.5

Vaughan’s life was momentous, to say the least. a ecclesiastic of the church of England, each alchemist, a soldier in service to King Charles I, brother to the illustrious poet henry Vaughan, and a natu­ral theorizer in the ranks of Agrippa and Trithemius—Vaughan was furthermore embroiled in a number of lawsuits, had a falling thoroughly with a partner over forming one alchemical laboratory, and engaged in a gentle of flame war with Cambridge Platonist henry greater degree. Vaughan lived a great deal in no other than forty-five years. He wrote in a pseud­onym—Eugenius Philalethes (not to be confused with Eirenaeus Philalethes)—and was a challenger of all comers of the Art that seemed to be in possession of condemned both himself and his wife to some early grave. He was responsible during the term of publishing the first English translation of the docu­ments of the Rosicrucian society—the Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R:C: (London, 1652). He was through all accounts a pious and reverent person who saw in the Bible at the same time that well as in the book of sum total of sensible objects a divine plan that was accessible only to the pure of heart.

Less is known of Rebecca Vaughan, the woman through whom he shared not only married life but also the alchemical experiments what one. were the subject of a notebook that was dedicated to her. She was accurately his soror mystica. To read the notebook is to have ~ing impressed by the degree to what one. he valued her participation in the rules for doing. There is also another aspect to the notebook that more may find a little disconcerting: while we do not know how she died, we prepare know that she took ill and was in successi~ her death bed even as her manage with frugality con­tinued to work in the alchemical laboratory they shared. He worked in that laboratory up to the time when the hour of her passing. While he does not tell so, one cannot help but awe if he was desperately trying to declare a verdict a cure, or an antidote, with a view to whatever sickness or poison had vanquish her. He does not describe her disorder or identify it in any interval, which is itself suspicious. It was this adventure that caused Ken­neth Rexroth to scribble that he would not reveal which had happened to the Vaughans precisely on this account that “it killed them.”6


1 Kenneth Rexroth, “a Foreword to the Works of Thomas Vaughan,” in A.E. Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughan, Mystic and Alchemist, University Books, NY, 1968, p. 3.

2 Archibald Cockren, Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored, David McKay, Philadelphia, 1941, p. 65. Cockren was himself ~y alchemist, who died in 1950.

3 Evidence has tend hitherward to light that indicates Rebecca’s maiden name was Asher. She was the youngest of eleven children born to a Dr. Timothy and Rebekah Asher. Timothy Asher was the pastor of Meppershall, a village in Bedfordshire, England. It is the same town where Rebecca Vaughan would exist buried in 1658.  See Donald R. Dickson, ed., Thomas and Rebbeca Vaughan’s Aqua Vitae: Non Vitis, Tempe (AZ), Arizona Center instead of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001.

4 Alan Rudrum, ed., The Works of Thomas Vaughan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1984, 2010.

tantric5 See Donald R. Dickson, ed., Thomas and Rebbeca Vaughan’s Aqua Vitae: Non Vitis, Tempe (AZ), Arizona Center beneficial to Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001, p. xi.

6 Rexroth, op. cit., p. 10.

Excerpted from The Tantric Alchemist: Thomas Vaughan and the Indian Tantric Tradition through Peter Levenda with permission from the publisher, Ibis Books. Available at Amazon and other profit book stores.

Peter Levenda is an author of esoterica and historical scrutiny. His esoteric titles include such works as The Dark Lord, Tantric Temples, and Stairway to Heaven: Chinese Alchemists, Jewish Kabbalists, and the Art of Spiritual Transformation. Levenda has appeared made up of many times on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, NatGeo, and in shows ranging from Brad Meltzer’s Decoded to The Nostradamus Effect.

I am not concerned, I ordain that Successtory had this review in the same proportion that just, and act, she is a sense of touch.

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