Also Die Chymiste Hochzeit des Christian Rosencreutz, originally published in 1616.
Illustrated Rosicrucian mystery text depicting an initiation journey and expounding Rosicrucian spiritual revelations and philosophy, using alchemical concepts and images as the narrative's allegorical matrix. Fans of Umberto Eco will remember the re-enactment of the alchemical wedding in Foucault's Pendulum (Ch. 58: Alchemy is a chaste prostitute).
As a medieval metaphysical fairy tale, it's a fine example of early fantasy writing.
From the MSS derived from an uncredited English translation published in 1690. No part of this document is copyrighted or copyrightable in any domain.
From The First Day:
...On Easter eve I was sitting at my table in my cottage on a hilltop, preparing my heart for the next day's festival, when all of a sudden there arose so horrible a tempest that the hill whereon my little house was founded was like to fly all in pieces.
I feared this to be another trick of the devil, who had done me many a spite; and now I felt my coat being twitched behind me. Hugely terrified, I turned to look; and there I beheld a fair and glorious lady, in garments of sky-blue, bespangled with golden stars, and with large and beautiful wings, full of eyes, wherewith she could mount aloft and fly swifter than any eagle. In her right hand was a golden trumpet, and in her left a great bundle of letters in all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry into all countries.
I took up the letter in fear and trembling, and found it so heavy as almost to outweigh gold. It was sealed with a little seal which bore a curious cross, together with the inscription, "In this Sign conquer," at which I felt greatly comforted, knowing that this sign was little acceptable, and much less useful, to the devil.
Inside I found this verse written, in golden letters on an azure ground:
"This day, this day, this, this,
The Royal Wedding is.
If you by birth and by God's choice
Are bidden to this feast, rejoice!
Forthwith now to the mountain wend
Whereon three stately Temples stand,
And there see all from end to end.
Yourself examine first with care;
Let him who weighs too light beware;
No guest this Wedding can endure
Who keeps not watch and is not pure."
As I read these warnings, all my hair stood on end. Seven years previously, I had learned in a vision that one day I would be invited to a Royal Wedding; and when I now calculated the positions of the planets, I found that this was indeed the appointed time...
From The Second Day:
...Now I went singing through a forest filled with Nature's rejoicings, emerging on a green heath, where stood three tall cedar trees, to one of which was fastened a tablet, offering a choice of four ways to the Wedding.
The first it described as short but dangerous, leading into rocky places scarcely possible to pass. The second was long, but easy provided we kept to it and were guided by our magnet. The third was a royal road, which only one in a thousand might follow. The fourth was a consuming way, encompassed by fire and cloud, fit only for incorruptible bodies.
At these dire warnings, I sank down beneath the tree in great perturbation of spirit. While I sat perplexed, pondering whether to turn back, and, if not, which way to follow, I took out a slice of my bread from my bag and began to eat.
At once a snow-white dove fluttered down from the branches above, betaking herself to me very familiarly, and I willingly shared my slice of bread with her. But now a black raven darted down at the dove, who took refuge in flight, the raven hastening after her and I after him.
When I had chased the raven away, I bethought me of my bag and bread, left behind beneath the cedar. But when I turned myself about, to go back to retrieve them, a contrary wind was so strong against me that it was ready to fell me; yet if I went forward, I perceived no hindrance. Looking about me, I saw I was already, without my knowledge, entered upon one of the four ways - the long, circuitous one...
From The Third Day:
...We were shown a costly clockwork regulated according to the course of the planets; and next a huge terrestrial globe, on which we found our native lands marked with little rings of gold; others doing likewise, we discovered that our company was drawn from all parts of the Earth.
This globe being hollow, we were able to sit within it and contemplate the stars glittering in an agreeable order in the interior of the Earth, and moving so gallantly that I had scarce any mind ever to go out again, as our page told our Virgin, and with which she twitted me, for it was already supper time, and I was almost the last at table...
From The Fourth Day:
...Next morning I overslept my breakfast, they being unwilling to waken me because of my age; but I was soon ready, and found the rest assembled beside the fountain in the garden.
When we had all washed in the fountain, and drunk of its water from a golden cup, we were given new garments of cloth-of-gold, gloriously set out with flowers, and a new insignia of the Golden Fleece, from which hung a disc of gold, with the sun and the moon on one side, and on the other this inscription:
"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be seven times brighter than at present..."
From The Fifth Day:
...From the lake we passed through a narrow strait into the sea, where sirens, nymphs and sea-goddesses swam to meet us, begging to be allowed to sing to us. Our Virgin, having re-arranged her ships in a pentagon about the Sun and Moon, yielded to their entreaties, whereupon the sirens sang of love so delicately and sweetly that I no more wondered at Ulysses for stopping the ears of his companions.
Presently we sailed on, and after some hours came within sight of the Tower of Olympus. At the gate of the Tower, we were led a little aside while the six coffins and the little shrine were brought in without anyone but myself noticing. Then we were taken into its underground laboratory, to wash herbs, crush precious stones and extract juices and essences, our Virgin being so busy with us, and so full of directions, that she knew not how to give us employment enough.
By nightfall these tasks were completed; a little broth and a little wine were distributed, and mattresses were laid on the laboratory floor. I could not sleep, but walked for a while in the garden, where, coming to stone steps leading to the top of the wall, I mounted them, to contemplate the calm, moonlit sea and the starry sky.
Here I was much moved to observe a conjunction of the planets such as is seldom seen. Then, just before midnight, I saw the seven flames appear again far across the sea, and pass over it to the island, coming to rest above the spire of the central tower.
Suddenly the winds rose, the sea grew rough, and clouds covered the moon. Hastily I stumbled back to the laboratory, where, lulled by a gently purling fountain, I quickly fell asleep.
From The Sixth Day:
...Our Virgin, running in with her cypress box of the Bird's ashes, also joined in the laughter; and we four were set to work under the direction of the old Warden, moistening the ashes to a dough with prepared water, heating this paste, then casting it into two little molds.
When we opened our two little moulds, we found two bright and almost transparent little images, angelically fair babes, a male and a female, each being but four inches long. These we laid on two little satin cushions, and beheld them till we were almost besotted upon so exquisite an object.
Under the old man's direction, we let the blood from the Bird's breast fall drop by drop from a golden cup into their mouths, till they had reached their perfect full growth, with curled gold-yellow hair...
From The Seventh Day:
After breakfast, the old lord presented each one of us with a golden medal, bearing on one side the words, "Art is the priestess of Nature," and on the other, "Nature is the daughter of Time". So we went forth to the sea, where our ships lay richly equipped... Our flags were the twelve celestial signs, and we sat in Libra. The sea was so calm that it was a singular pleasure to sail; but that which surpassed all was the old man's discourse, who so well knew how to pass away our time with wonderful histories that I could have been content to sail with him all my life long.
At this point the narrative breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence; and this colophon is added:
"Here are wanting about two leaves in quarto; and he (the author hereof) whereas he imagined he must in the morning be door-keeper, returned home."