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«***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY AND THE OCCULT ARTS*** Hidden Symbolism of ALCHEMY and the OCCULT ARTS (Formerly ...»

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Then in “projection” upon a baser metal it is able to tincture immense amounts of it to gold. [In the stage of projection the red tincture is symbolized as a pelican. The reason for this will be given later.] If the main work was interrupted at the white stage, instead of waiting for the red, then they got the white stone, the small elixir, with which the base metals can be turned into silver alone.

We have spoken just now of the main work and the after work.

I mention for completeness that the trituration and purification, etc., of the materials, which precedes the main work, is called the fore work. The division is, however, given in other ways besides.

Armed with this explanation we can venture to look for the alchemic hieroglyphs in our parable. I must beg the reader to recall the main episodes.

In the wanderer we have to conceive of a man who has started Section II. Alchemy. 99 out to learn the secret of the great work. He finds in the forest contradictory opinions. He has fallen deep into errors. The study, although difficult, holds him fast. He cannot turn back (Sec. 1).

So he pursues his aim still further (Sec. 2) and thinks he has now found the right authorities (Sec. 3) that can admit him to the college of wisdom. But the people are not at one with each other. They also employ figurative language that obscures the [127] true doctrine, and which, contrasted with practice, is of no value.

(I mention incidentally that the great masters of the hermetic art are accustomed to impress on the reader that he is not to cling to their words but measure things always according to nature and her possibilities.) The elders promise him indeed the revelation of important doctrines but are not willing to communicate the beginning of the work (Sec. 5, 6, preparation for the fight with the lion). That is a rather amusing trait of hermetic literature.

We have come to the fight with the lion, which takes place in a den. The wanderer kills the lion and takes out of him red blood and white bones, therefore red and white. Red and white enter later as roses, then as man and woman.

I cite now several passages from different alchemistic books.

Hohler (Herm. Phil., p. 91) says, apparently after Michael Meiers, “Septimana Philosophica”: “The green lion [a usual symbol for the material at the beginning] encloses the raw seeds, yellow hairs adorn his head [this detail is not lacking in the parable], i.e., when the projection on the metals takes place, they turn yellow, golden.” [Green is the color of hope, of growth.

Previously only the head of the lion is gold, his future. Later he becomes a red lion, the philosopher's stone, the king in robe of purple. At any rate he must first be killed.] The lion that must die is the dragon, which the dragon fighter kills. Thus we have seen it in the mythological parallel. [128] Psychoanalysis shows us further that lion = dragon = father (= parents, etc.). It is now very interesting that the alchemistic symbolism interchanges the same forms. We shall see that again.

100 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts

Berthelot cites (Orig. de l'Alch., p. 60) from an old manuscript:

“The dragon is the guardian of the temple. Sacrifice it, flay it, separate the flesh from the bones, and you will find what you seek.” The dragon is, as can be shown out of the old authors, also the snake that bites its own tail or which on the other hand can also be represented by two snakes.

Flamel writes on the hieroglyphic figure of two dragons (in

the 3d chapter of his Auslegung d. hierogl. Fig.) the following:

“Consider well these two dragons for they are the beginning of the philosophy [alchemy] which the sages have not dared to show their own children.... The first is called sulphur or the warm and dry. The other is called quicksilver or the cold and wet.

These are the sun and the moon. These are snakes and dragons, which the ancient Egyptians painted in the form of a circle, each biting the other's tail, in order to teach that they spring of and from one thing [our lion!]. These are the dragons that the old poets represent as guarding sleeplessly the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperian maidens. These are the ones to which Jason, in his adventures of the golden fleece, gave the potion prepared for him by the beautiful Medea. [See my explanation of the motive of dismemberment] of which discourses the [129] books of the philosophers are so full that there has not been a single philosopher, from the true Hermes, Trismegistus, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Artephias, Morienus, and other followers up to my own time, who has not written about these matters. These are the two serpents sent by Juno (who is the metallic nature) that were to be strangled by the strong Hercules (that is the sage in his cradle) [our wanderer], that is to be conquered and killed in order to cause them in the beginning of his work to rot, be destroyed and be born. These are the two serpents that are fastened around the herald's staff and rod of Mercury.... Therefore when these two (which Avicenna calls the bitch of Carascene and the dog of Armenia) are put together in the vessel of the grave, they bite Section II. Alchemy. 101 each other horribly. [See the battle of the sons of the dragon's teeth with Jason, the elders in the parable, but also the embrace of the bridal pair and the mythological parallels wrestling = dragon fight = winning the king's daughter,... = incest = love embrace or separation of the primal parents, etc....]... A corruption [destruction] and putrefaction must take place before the renewal in a better form. These are the two male and female seed that are produced... in the kidneys and intestines... of the four elements.” The dragon, who is killed at the beginning of the work, is also called Osiris by the old alchemists. We are now acquainted with his dismemberment, also his relation to lead ore. Flamel calls the vessel of the alchemistic operation a “grave.” Olympiodorus [130] speaks in an alchemistic work of the grave of Osiris. Only the face of Osiris, apparently wrapped up like a mummy, is visible.





In the parable only the head of the lion is golden. The head as the part preserved from the killing [dismemberment] stands probably for the organ of generation. The phallus is indeed exactly what produces the procreating substance, semen. The phallus is the future. The phallus was consecrated by Isis as a memorial.

Janus Lacinius gives in his Pretiosa Margarita the following allegory. In the palace sits the king decorated with the diadem and in his hand the scepter of the whole world. Before him appears his son with five servants and falling at his feet implores him to give the kingdom to him and the servants. [The author takes the thing wrong end to. The gold, king, is assailed by the other six metals, because they themselves wish to be gold. The king is killed. Essentially the same thing happens as above.] Then the son in anger, and at the instigation of his companions, kills his father on the throne. He collects the father's blood in his garment. A grave [the lion's den, the grave] is dug, into which the son intends to throw the father, but they both fall in.

[Cf. the dangerous walk of the wanderer on the wall, Section 8, where the people fall off.] The son makes every effort to get out again, but some one comes who does not permit it.

102 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts [Symbolism of obstruction, the locked door, etc., in the parable.

[131] The grave changes imperceptibly into the vessel where the bridal pair—with Lacinius they are father and son instead of mother and son—are united and securely locked in.] When the whole body is dissolved the bones are thrown out of the grave. They are divided into nine [dismemberment], the dissolved substance is cooked nine days over a gentle fire till the black appears. Again it is cooked nine days until the water is bright and clear. The black, with its water of life [in the parable the mill water is black] is cooked nine days till the white earth of the philosophers appears.

An angel throws the bones on the purified and whitened earth, which is now mixed with its seeds. They are separated from water in a strong fire. Finally the earth of the bones becomes red like blood or ruby. Then the king rises from his grave full of the grace of God, quite celestial, with grand mien, to make all his servants kings. He places golden crowns on the heads of his son and the servants.

As bearers of both seeds, male and female, the lion is androgynous. Actually the subject (i.e., the first material) is conceived as twofold, bisexual. It is called by names that mean the two sexes, it is also called “hermaphrodite.” It is represented as rebis (res bina = double thing), as a human with a male and a female head standing on a dragon. From the conquered dragon (lion) comes forth the Double. The substance is also called Mercurius; his staff bears the two antagonistic serpents mentioned by Flamel. In the parable also appears an hermaphrodite, the being (Sec. 8) which the wanderer cannot [132] distinguish, whether it be a man or a woman. It is the original substance, Mercury, “our hermaphrodite.” In Section 9 of the parable, and also later, red and white appear in roses. The white and the red tincture are often in alchemy compared to white and red roses.

In Section 9 the wanderer comes to those houses where people work alone or by twos. They work in a slovenly fashion. The Section II. Alchemy. 103 alchemistic quacks are generally called “bunglers” and “messy cooks” by the masters of the art. These are the ones who do not work according to the “possibilities of nature,” which is, nevertheless, the touchstone of all right production.

The garden (Sec. 10, 11) is one of the “rose gardens” of which, e.g., the alchemist, Michael Meier, likes to speak.

There are difficulties in uniting the red youths with the white maidens. A wall separates them. The wanderer removes the obstruction in unlocking the door. That may indicate a chemical unlocking, by which the bodies are chemically brought nearer together.

The wanderer comes to a mill (Sec. 11). The mill naturally indicates the already mentioned trituration of the substance. It has, however, also reference to fermentation and in particular to that by means of meal.

Rulandus (Lex., pp. 211 ff., s. v. Fermentum): “Ferment is [133] elixir, leaven, or yeast as it is called; it makes porous the body that swells up and the spirit finds a place in it so that it becomes fit to bake. As now the meal is not yeast, but meal and water [mill water] and the whole dough is thoroughly leavened and real yeast, so also the lapis [stone] is itself the ferment, yet gold and mercury are also called ferment.” Now begins the main work—marriage, prison, embrace, conception, birth, transfiguration—to which the rest of the parable is devoted.

The prison is the philosophic egg. It is also called “Athanor, a sieve, dunghill, bain-marie (double cooker), a kiln, round ball, green lion, prison, grave, brothel, vial, cucurbit.” It is just like the belly and the womb, containing in itself the true, natural warmth (to give life to our young king). The warmth that is used must first be gentle, “like that after the winter”; it must be stronger like the sun in spring, in summer [cf. the seasons in our parable].

(Flamel, pp. 50 ff.) 104 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts Daustenius (Ros., VII): “... And this thing can be a symbol of a woman's belly, which, when she has conceived, will immediately close the womb.” Id. (Ros., VII): “Therefore, when you have put them (the white woman and the red man) in their vessel, then close it as fast as possible....” [Seal of Hermes.] Id. (Ros., VIII): “Therefore that you arrange the substances right and fine, and regulate your work well, and marry [134] consanguineous matter with masses acting consanguineously....” [Incest.] Id. (Ros., VII): “So now this is our solution, that you marry the Gabricum with the Beja, which when he lies with the Beja, dies immediately and is changed into her nature. Although the Beja is a woman, still she improves the Gabricum because he is come out of her.” [Death of the bridegroom son. It should be remembered in this connection that all metals or all substances generally—consequently also the [Symbol: Sun]—come forth from the “mother,” the primal substance [Symbol: Mercury].] In a “Vision” of Daustenius, the king is to return into his mother's womb in order to be procreated afresh. The king “goes into his bedroom and unexpectedly is fired with a great desire for coition, and goes to sleep at once, and has lain with a surpassingly beautiful maiden, who was a daughter of his mother” [weakened form of mother incest]. Later the vision says, “The woman, however, incloses her man, as a mother, quite carefully in the innermost part of her body.” The bodies inclosed in the vessel fall to pieces and are partly volatile. The vapors [soul] return, however, into the bodies.

There conception takes place.

Daustenius [Ros. IX.]: “... From that are airy spirits come, that with each other rise into the air, and there have conceived life, that is blown into them by their dampness, as the human being has life from air, by which it increases.... For life of all [135] natural things depends upon the blowing in of air.” Section II. Alchemy. 105 The bestowing of life by a blowing in of air plays a great part in myths. Also there occurs quite frequently special impregnations by air and wind. It is a primitive impregnation theory, that is found also in the ideas of children.

Children think of the blowing in of air into the anus as a natural sexual theory. I know several cases where this practice is carried out with emphasis on the erotic under the pretense of “playing doctor.” A child once told what papa and mamma do when they are alone; they put their naked backsides together and blow air into each other.

Another infantile theory explains impregnation by the swallowing of an object. In myths and fairy lore this motive occurs with extraordinary frequency. To the swallowing as conception, corresponds defecation as parturition. Incidentally we should note that the bodies in the philosophic egg turn actually into a rolling, stinking, black mass, which is expressly called dung by many authors. The water is also called urine. The prima materia is also called urine. In the philosophical egg the white woman swallows the red man, man-eating motive. (Stucken.) Liber Apocal. Hermetis (Cited by Hohler, p. 105 f.): “...



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