Thursday, October 9, 2008

Look at the alchemical picture closely

In response to the comments on my last post, particularly of the alchemical manuscript picture:

Yes, Genesis and Proverbs are being invoked...the alchemical tradition is about creating the primordial perfect Adam be like "god". Look at the androgynous man and woman in the outside courtyard. This is Genesis 1:26-28. And Sophia is God's partner in creation according to Proverbs. Sophia is the mother. She is also the Tree of Life. She is also God's presence, the Shekhinah. Look at her sitting in the Temple in the holy of holies in the tree of life - and also this must be the tree of knowledge. The fire is guarding the gates of Paradise. I'm not sure because I can't see it well enough, but I think the Zodiac signs (Leo and Taurus) are guarding gates, the entrances to the heavenly world. And I think there is a figure of a soul ascending; it looks like a baby ghost coming out of a corpse on the wall and being pulled into the upper court by its angelic Twin. This is all of esoteric Christian tradition rolled into one manuscript picture. Now we just need to find out what manuscript this comes from. Does anyone know?

Source of manuscript illumination:
Janus Lacinius, Pretiosa Margarita Novella (1577-1583).

From: Alexander Roob, The Hermetic Museum (Taschen 1997), p. 36.


PLP Ottawa said...

Janus Lacinius, Pretiosa Margarita
Novella (1577-1583).

Source: Alexander Roob, The Hermetic Museum (Taschen 1997), p. 36.

April DeConick said...


Ian said...

If the Zodiac signs guard the gates, then presumably there are 12 of them, as in Revelation.

Unknown said...

Rather than being a piece of Esoteric Christianity, this is actually a Hermetic piece describing the creation of the Lapis Philosophorum of the alchemists.

Notice at the very bottom you see the separate image of male and female, demarcated by the Sun and the Moon. Also notice the Phoenix sealed hermetically with the 4 colors of the Great Work on the pillars underneath.

Just this alone is enough to highlight it's alchemical origins... That minute section of this piece details the ingredients of the Great Work, as well as the stages of it's completion.

The rest of the allegory is about the laboratory operations that would need to be performed to bring forth the Elixir represented by the Tree of Life, brought forth as the the fruits of Wisdom, represented here as the Divine Androgyne.

While it's a beautiful piece, the underlying philosophy is practical or operative Hermeticism more so than Christianity.

One could argue whether or not it's meant to depict stages of Inner Alchemy, or Laboratory Alchemy, but the inclusion of Leo, Taurus, and what appears to me to be Scorpio tends to hint at a lab operation.

But that's just my two cents on the matter...