isis unveiled: chapter chapter VII (thou great first cause)

“The ancients made the wick of their perpetual lamps from another stone also, which they called Lapis Carystius. The inhabitants of the city of Carystos seemed to have made no secret of it, as Matthaeus Raderus says in his work that they “kemb’d, spun, and wove this downy stone into mantles, table-linen, and the like, which when foul they purified again with fire instead of water.”


Pausanias, in Atticus, and Plutarch also assert that the wicks of lamps were made from this stone; but Plutarch adds that it was no more to be found in his time. Licetus is inclined to believe that the perpetual lamps used by the ancients in their sepulchres had no wicks at all, as very few have been found; but Ludovicus Vives is of a contrary opinion and affirms that he has seen quite a number of them.


Licetus, moreover, is firmly persuaded that a “pabulum for fire may be given with such an equal temperament as cannot be consumed but after a long series of ages, and so that neither the matter shall exhale but strongly resist the fire, nor the fire consume the matter, but be restrained by it, as it were with a chain, from flying upward.”


To this, Sir Thomas Browne, speaking of lamps which have burned many hundred years, included in small bodies, observes that “this proceeds from the purity of the oil, which yields no fuliginous exhalations to suffocate the fire; for if air had nourished the flame, then it had not continued many minutes, for it would certainly in that case have been spent and wasted by the fire.” But he adds, “the art of preparing this inconsumable oil is lost.”


Not quite; and time will prove it, though all that we now write should be doomed to fail, like so many other truths.”


H. P. Blavatsky

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