alchemical Maison-Dieu

#21
The Alchemical Maison-Dieu. Of all the cards, this one most closely resembles a piece of alchemical apparatus, specifically the furnace, or athanor. There was one in operation in the picture from the Mutus Liber that I showed in the previous chapter, on the Devil card. A later illustration reveals that its top comes off.

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Similar apparatus can be seen even in theDresden Heilege Dreifaltigkeit of the early 1400s.

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Clearly the top is supposed to stay on, if the distilled substance is to be collected by the tube and sent below. On the card, however, the top is off. There has been an onslaught of energy, from above to be sure, but also, in the Noblet, from below, the fire in the tower.

O'Neill compares the onslaught to an alchemical emblem by Fludd (Summum Bonum 1609) of demons and their associated birds and insects attacking the alchemist at God's command, while the archangels defend it. The demons are Azael, Azazel, lSamael and Mahazael; the archangels are Raphael, Uriel, Michael, and Gabriel. In the middle the alchemist, "Homo Sanus"--sane man--can only pray. In someways, to be sure, this image is different from the Maison-Dieu. The figures in the tarot card have no such place of safety, and no archangels to protect them.

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O'Neill also compares the card to an account of a thunderstorm that breaks out just as the alchemist is beginning to climb up the sacred mountain out of hell. It may force him back into the depths, from which he will have to try again and again. O'Neill uses again the images of a man falling out of a tree or off the end of a ladder (the first time was with the Hanged Man). Similarly, we have figures falling off the tower in the tarot card. But there is a bright side. O"Neill concludes
The long blackening period has ended, the decomposition is completed in the traumatic thunderstorm. The dark night of the soul is completed and the ascent to heaven begins. (Tarot Symbolism p. 284)
Yet it seems to me that there is one detail suggesting that the process can be less traumatic than it looks. The figure who appears falling may be suspended in the air, his fingers just dipping into some liquid below. An example is the original Noblet, with its colors faded, on the right below. According to Flornoy's reconstruction, the color of the dark mass at the bottom is blue, hence water (http://letarot.com/jean-noblet/pages/pa ... -diev.html). At the same time, the figure's legs are positioned similarly to that in the alchemical text we saw in connection with the "Gringonneur" Hanged Man ( from Dixon, Bosch p. 256, Folio 40 of Ms. 29, Wellcome Institute, London):

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What is being depicted in the manuscript is distillation, the purification of a substance by boiling in an enclosed space. The upside-down man in the flask might be floating upward. Either that or he is falling, condensing, again a gentle process, a distillation that results in an ever-purer Subject.

I think there may also be an alchemical significance to the small globes that are descending on both sides of the tower in most 17th century versions of the card. They are different colors, and are the flashes of color that are seen at this stage of the work, the so-called "peacock's tail." That tail may be seen to the left of the flask in the manuscript image above. The alchemists also called the flashes "scintilla," or sparks.

As I exhibited in relation to the Hanged Man, Bosch had many upside down men in his Garden of Earthly Delights, where the pose seems to be that of a trance-state, although none that I see has precisely the same leg positions. William Blake, as I exhibited in relation to the Hanged Man, used this alchemical image in depicting the element of air.

What is important is to use a lot of dung, the alchemists advised. One emblem that O'Neill cites, from Maier's Symbola aureae mensae 1617, shows a man trying to run up the side of a building. The master alchemist advises the other, "Take that which is trodden underfoot in the dunghill, for if thou dost not, thou wilt fall on thine head when thou wouldst climb without steps" (quoted in Fabricius, Alchemy p. 22, where the emblem also appears; Fabricius does not offer an interpretation). This quotation is from an Arabic manuscript translated into Latin in 1182 by Robert of Chester, de Rola tells us.

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De Rola says that the alchemist pointing to the ground is "a reminder that the earth shares with the Philosophick Earth or Subject the same spagyrical [i.e. alchemical] sign" (p. 114). My interpretation is that with the gentle heat and gases provided by decomposing dung, the Subject, philosophical Mercury, will be able to ascend and descend successfully. In the card, however, the top has come off. Also, there is heat coming from above, the sun's rays, or a lightning-strike. Well, accidents due to overheating no doubt were frequent. It is the same in life.

The alchemical Star

#22
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Many aspects of the Star card can be found in alchemy. O'Neill associates the young person holding the water jugs--a motif going back to the 15th century Cary Sheet--with the albedo, the whitening, a process of repeated washings. So we have illustrations of women pouring hot liquid into a washtub and drying the clothes afterwards: Maier's 1617 Atalanta Fugiens emblem III (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... em_03.jpeg), for which the motto is "Go to the woman washing sheets, do thou likewise"; and Mylius's 1622 Philosophia Reformata emblem 22 (out of 28 in the series), shown below. However there are never two jugs.

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O'Neill also refers us to the Splendor Solis; a lady with a star on her head is shown about to clean off a dark man (Emblem 8, which I reproduce from Transformation of the Psyche, p. 84). There are no jugs, just the lady and her star.

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This perspective, seeing the card as about cleansing, is consistent with the ritual of washing and anointing as presented both in the Bible and in Homer's Odyssey. For examples from the Odyssey, see my post at http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=67, where I also talk about the a possible pun from "LE TOILE" as the word is seen on some cards, to "LA TOILLE", meaning cloth, and "LA TOILETTE," washing. And there is also "LE TOULE," Marseille dialect for "spring," another place for washing, which the Conver title looks a lot like, especially in the mutilated form in which we have it.

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Here I have just reproduced the bottoms of the cards (further down, you can see the wholes from which they are taken); there is no suggestion of "LE TOULE" in the Chosson; it is most evident in the 1760 Conver (middle image).

But my subject here is washing and anointing. not possible puns. I will give some biblical examples (the ones in Homer are similar). In a diatribe chastising Israel as a harlot, Ezekiel (16:9) counts being washed and anointed as one of the blessings that God has given his ungrateful people. Ezeikiel has God say: "And I washed thee with water, and cleansed away thy blood from thee and I anointed thee with oil." (Et lavi te aqua et emundavi sanguinem tuum ex te et unxi te oleo; at http://vulgate.org/ot/ezekiel_16.htm).

Similarly, Moses has Aaron and his sons washed, and then Aaron, as high priest, anointed (Lev. 8:6-12). In the New Testament, John the Baptist washes Jesus in the Jordan, while the Holy Spirit anoints him (Acts 10:38). Then at the end of Jesus's life, Mary Magdalene washes his feet with her tears and anoints them with oil (John 13:2).

Then there is King David. Upon hearing of the death of his newborn son, he first washes and then anoints himself, and finally breaks the fast he had been on in hopes of winning God's pardon (II Sam. 12:20). His first sin had been to have sex with Bathsheba and beget a child. His second was to have her husband killed in battle, so that David could marry the widow and claim the child. Appropriately, the figure on the Budapest card (16th century, below right, Kaplan vol. 2)) looks down as though contrite. After the bath and anointing, David apparently is cleansed of guilt, because the next thing we hear is that Bathsheba is pregnant again, this time with Solomon (II Sam. 12:24).

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On this Budapest Museum card, the young man, with a six-pointed star above him, is reminiscent of Michelangelo's David. During the 15th-16th centuries such a star was known as the "shield of David" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_of_David)--and a symbol of Christ's reputed ancestor. David is the prototypical "anointed one," (Psalm 89:20), the meaning of "Christos" in Greek. Perhaps our 16th century card player, in seeing the naked man on the card and the six-pointed star, would have thought of a popular statue recently completed in Florence.

My guess is that the meaning is that washing was meant to purify one, while anointing made one holy. It is thus like the two steams in Dante, needed for him to pass from Purgatory into Paradise. There, in drinking the one, Lethe, one forgets one's sins. Drinking the other, Eunoia. one remembers one's good deeds and so prepares for Paradise. Here one is cleansed by the water and made a man of God by the oil.

Comparing other images on the card to images in alchemy, we can see this washing as the culmination of a long process. In Mylius's Anatomia auri, 1628, near the end, six small stars appear with one large one, with the sun and moon above them. De Rola says that they symbolize "the seven Sublimations."

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The sublimations are what occur when the Subject is put into a gaseous state. It condenses on the walls of the retort as tiny specks (first below), similar to the globules seen on the Maison-Dieu card, or it falls inside the retort like raindrops (second below). Here are two examples; in each case we see star imagery as part of the process. The first is from Mylius's Anatomia auri

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Above, the left beaker would seem to correspond to the Devil card, the middle the Maison-Dieu, and then the Star. Next in this sequence come Luna and Sol.

Here is another version of the process, from Barchusen's Elementa chemiae, 1718. According to Fabricius (Alchemy p. 235), these are engraved versions of watercolorillustrations in the early 17th century "Crowne of Nature."

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Here the stage corresponding to the Star card is a star with a sun and a moon inside it. Its allegorical equivalent, Fabricius tells us, is Latona, mother of Apollo and Diana. Maier shows her and her children in Emblem XI of Atalanta Fugiens, being washed by the alchemist. I suspect that the Splendor Solis's image of a lady with a star on her head also represents the same result, the albedo, from which the new Luna and the new Sol will emerge.

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The other part of the emblem, of the philosopher tearing a book to pieces, is not related to the tarot.

The alchemical interpretation, when extended to include a second jug, comes to much the same thing as Dante's purification so as to enter Paradise from Purgatory: he is dipped in one steam for cleansing of sin, and the other to make one suitable for the gods. The alchemical version as given, with only one jug, is less developed than the tarot version, which--like the Odyssey, the Bible, and the Divine Comedy, uses two.

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On the Marseille II versions (e.g. above), there is a bird in a tree with outstretched wings, facing the sun about to rise, or perhaps the largest star. This bird has its alchemical equivalent. The frontispiece to the French translation of the Hypnerotomachia shows a phoenix facing the sun with its wings outstretched.

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The rest of the page puts the image into an alchemical context. Here I can do no better than to quote from Gerhart B. Ladner, Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages (in Google Books, but without many of the images)
The phoenix on the tree of life appears, for instance, in a late Renaissance pictorial synthesis of alchemistic renewal symbols: the frontispiece of Francois Beroalde de Verville's translation (published in the year 1600) of the famous allegorical novel Hynnoerotiomachia Polifili by Fra Francesco Colonna, O.P. (first published 1499), which in the sixteenth century had greatly influenced hieroglyphics and emblematics, but now was interpreted by Beroalde de Verville from the "stenographic", that is to say, esoteric point of view of alchemy. ...In Beroalde de Verville's image the fountain, the new sprig from the old trunk, the phoenix, the tree of life, and the other symbols of renewal are all connected by the curve of a strong branch which holds this symbolic universe together; the composition is supported furthermore by a vegetative background network formed by a ramifying myrtle tree, which we are told symbolizes the all-pervading power of love. (p. 759f)
Ladner explains that the phoenix signified the "mercurial" power of the spirit which the alchemist reached in the final and highest stage of his "work":
...in such alchemistic imagery (cf. Fig. 16) the symbolism is no longer that of the Resurrection but of the "highest mercury"; the quasi-mystical matter-transforming and life-renewing core of alchemy (related, of course to ancient Hermetism).
Here is Ladner’s illustration, along with a close-up of the relevant detail.

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Jesus was often put in a tree in a similar place, at its top. He is another symbol of regeneration and resurrection. So the bird in the tree, which would have been seen as a phoenix, is another symbol of the regeneration, from this alchemical perspective, which the washing and anointing by the two jugs symbolize.

The motif of a bird next to a a new shoot coming out of a cut-off tree appears elsewhere at that time. Here is another image, from 1633 (from Roberta Albrecht, The Virgin Mary as alchemical and Lullian Reference in Donne, p. 62, at Google Books):

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The accompanying poem says:
Behold how Death aymes [aims] with his mortal dart,
And wounds a Phoenix with a twin-like hart.[heart].
These are the harts [hearts] of Jesus and his Mother
So linkt [linked] in one, that one without the other
Is not entire...
This is from England, written in the shadow of Shakespeare's famous "The Turtle and the Phoenix," in which there was a similar linking of hearts in death (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phoenix_and_the_Turtle):
So they lov'd, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.
After that there was John Donne's "Love's Alchemy." These poems may or may not be overtly alchemical, but they are very much in a culture which mined alchemy for poetical purposes suggesting transformation and renewal.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#23
A passage from Gloria Mundi (1620) mentions two waters flowing from the spring of nature:
"From our earth wells forth a fertilizing fountain,"
"whence flow two precious stones. The first"
"straightway hastens to the rising of the Sun;"
"the other makes its way to the setting thereof."
"From them fly forth two Eagles, plunge into the"
"flames, and fall once more to the earth. Both"
"are furnished with feathers, and Sun and Moon,"
"being placed under their wings, are perfected."

Know also that two waters flow forth from this fountain; the one (which is the
spirit) towards the rising Sun, and the other, the body, towards the setting Sun.
The two are really only one very limpid water, which is so bitter as to be quite
undrinkable. The quantity of this water is so great that it flows over the whole
earth, yet leads to nothing but the knowledge of this Art. The same also is misused
too often by those who desire it. Take also the "fire," and in it you will find the
Stone, and nowhere else in the whole world. It is familiar to all men, both young
and old, is found in the country, in the village, in the town, in all things created by
God; yet it is despised by all. Rich and poor handle it every day. It is cast into the
street by servant maids. Children play with it. Yet no one prizes it, though, next to
the human soul, it is the most beautiful and the most precious thing upon earth,
and has power to pull down kings and princes. Nevertheless, it is esteemed the
vilest and meanest of earthly things. It is cast away and rejected by all. Indeed it
is the Stone which the builders of Solomon disallowed, but if it be prepared in the
right way, it is a pearl without price, and, indeed, the earthly antitype of Christ,
the heavenly Corner Stone. As Christ was despised and rejected in this world by
the people of the Jews, and nevertheless was more precious than, heaven and
earth; so it is with our Stone among earthly things: for the spring where it is found
is called the fount of nature. For even as through Nature all growing things are
generated by the heat of the Sun, so also through Nature is our Stone born after
that it has been generated.

I also attach an image from "Pandora" (Basel, 1588). On this page the image is described as "Pandora, Alchimitisches Manuscript, 1550, Ms. L IV 1, UB Basel".
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Re: tarot and alchemy

#24
Excellent, Marco. I hadn't known of an alchemical text with such a clear understanding of the two streams. The language is very close to that of Porphyry's "Cave of the Nymphs," which Vitali applies to the Star card. But there aren't two streams in the Cave that I could find, just two doors.

While I was aware of the Pandora picture, with its tree-woman and the bird where Christ would be, I hadn't looked at the bottom and seen the two streams, one going to the yellow sun and the other to the dark earth, nor did I understand the significance of the birds. Very nice, how the text and picture complement each other.

In the poem, there are two birds, both eagles. Eagles are a more common alchemical species than phoenices, to be sure. Either will do. But the phoenix is particularly connected to the sun, and never appears in pairs; there is only one in the world at a time. So I think the phoenix fits the Star card, although the birds of the Pandora are eagles.

Now that I know that the two streams were part of the alchemical tradition, I may want to say more about the two jugs of the Star card from an alchemical perspective, along Vitali's lines. I will have to do more reading and pondering. Thanks for the references.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#25
I wrote
The language is very close to that of Porphyry's "Cave of the Nymphs," which Vitali applies to the Star card.
Reading more of “Glory of the World,” I see that my hunch that the two waters correspond to the two doors of the “Cave of the Nymphs” was less than inspired. The water that leads in the direction of the setting sun is not a path toward new incarnation on earth, as is the case of one of the doors in the Cave; it is a path of purification leading to the moon, the dominant figure of the night sky. So the two waters correspond to two forms of purification, lunar and solar. As such they are along the lines of my Biblical analogy of washing and anointing by water and oil. The next paragraph after the part Marco quoted seems to confirm such a perspective:
...In the chemical process you will learn to distinguish earth, oil, and water, or body, spirit, and soul: the earth is at the bottom of the glass vessel, the oil, or soul, is with the earth, and the water is the spirit which is distilled from it. In the same way you will come upon two colours, namely, white and red, representing the Moon and the Sun. The oil is the fire, or the Sun, the water is air, or the Moon; and Sun and Moon are silver and gold which must enter into union...
So the two streams, water and oil, produce the Moon and the Sun, i.e. the next cards in the tarot sequence. However it would seem that the author of “Glory” is somewhat confused (or else I am), in that he has the water being distilled from the oil, whereas, since the oil corresponds to the Sun, which appears later in the process, it should, it seems to me, be the other way around. He perhaps is juggling two metaphors that are not quite consistent: oil as solar purification and oil as “oil of vitriol,” corresponding chemically to an acid of sulfur which perhaps loses its potency over time and changes to water (or to something else,I don't know about).

As for the eagles of the Pandora picture, they would seem to represent the Subject in a gaseous state, evaporating and condensing in the flasks. As such they correspond more to the figures of card XVI than to the liquids of card XVII. Yet they result in the liquids, which are in the two pipes and flasks at the bottom.

The alchemical Moon

#26
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O'Neill calls the appearance of Luna in the sequence here the "lunar conjunction," explaining that it is expressed in the fighting of the dog and the bitch--or dog and wolf--as a copulation as well as an opposition. The dog and the wolf are not fighting on the card, and in any case it is a late addition. In the 15th century Cary Sheet, although some people see two dogs, what I see are crocodiles, in a deliberately Egyptianate scene. Still, the red and gray canines might have been prompted by the alchemical dog and wolf. (Above are, from left to right, the Cary Sheet, the Noblet, and the 1761 Conver.)

In alchemy I find two instances of what O'Neill is talking about, in Maier's Atalanta Fugiens (below, second image) and in Lambsprinck's De lapido philosophica of 1625 (not shown but similar; see http://www.levity.com/alchemy/lambtext.html, Emblem V). Maier does not suggest that the interaction is particularly lunar; perhaps that comes from Lambsprinck, who says "The Body is mortified and rendered white..." That the two canines constitute a coniunctio comes from Fabricius (Alchemy p. 30), whose Freudian orientation finds copulation in many places. There is no suggestion of this in de Rola's commentary or Maier and Lambsprinck themselves (see de Rola, Golden Game, commentary on emblem 76, pp. 103, and emblem 360, p. 197; also Maier p. 139ff at and Lambsprinck, already cited). However it is true that their antagonism results a mutual death and dissolution into one each other, as in the case of the coniunctio; moreover, in the Atalanta, the emblem is in the right place in the sequence, corresponding very much to the place of the tarot Moon card. what precedes it (Emblem 46) is the eagles (i.e. card XVI or XVII), and what follows (Emblem 47) is signifies the elixir: a cup of poison is offered to a king, who after sickness becomes the Stone. A nice touch of Meier's is his bird flying into the sun, as we might imagine the bird of card XVII doing.

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O'Neill suggests that the crayfish in the water on the card represents a fetus in the womb, about to be born. I see no basis for this interpretation in alchemy. The only time I see a crayfish in an alchemical emblem, it is simply the animal associated with Luna astrologically. On the other side of the page are Sol and a lion, for the same reason. (This is from the frontispiece to the Musaeum hermeticum, 1625, de Rola Golden Game p. 184. Higher up on the right, not shown here, Aquarius, symbolizing the element of water, pours from his one jug.)

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Yet some parallels remain. The colors on the droplets coming down suggest different planets that were identified with the different sublimations (see Philalethes' commentary on Ripley, http://www.levity.com/alchemy/rpvision.html): red for Mars, green for Venus, yellow for the sun. Similarly Ripley's Vision speaks of a multitude of colors--which we saw beginning with the Maison-Dieu--followed by a whitening and then immediately a reddening (http://www.levity.com/alchemy/rpvision.html):
...The Toad with Colours rare through every side was pierc'd;
And White appear'd when all the sundry hews were past:
Which after being tincted Ruddy, for evermore did last...
Mylius's Anatomia auri of 1628, after the appearance of the three stars in the beaker, has a white Queen with a white rose on top, and after that a king with a red rose. That looks very much like the Moon followed by the Sun. As for what the two together might mean, that issue will come up in relation to the Judgment card. for now I will confine myself to saying that after the Red stage comes the Multiplication {called "Augmentation" here), in which the Sun and the Moon beget much progeny.

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Re: tarot and alchemy

#27
Some material relating to the bird with outstretched wings facing the sun, as in Maier Atalanta Emblem 76 and the Conver Star card, surfaced in another thread. So here is Pierre de la Moyne, De l'Art des Devices, Paris 1666, pp. 270-271 (my thanks to Hoo and Huck at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=729, where Hoo also gives the link, http://www.archive.org/details/delartdesdevises00lemo.

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In the image, notice also the stump with leafy branch, a symbol of rejuvenation. It is also an example of a phoenix not on a burning nest: the nest has already burned, and this is the new bird arisen from the ashes.

The text reads:
Le Phenix naist des cendres de son pêre bruilé au Soleil, & de ces cendres encore chaudes lui vient cette inclncation Solaire, qui lui fait aimer le Soleil; & se tourner à sa lumière, dés qui'il à les yeux ouvers & les aisles libres.

Ce Symbole est noble & Royal: & represente asssez naturellement, l'inclination que le Roi encore enfant a euè, apres le seu Roi son Père, pour une Personne illustre, dont la vertu eminente a longtemps fait l'honneur de la Cour.
My stab at a translation:
The Phoenix born of ashes of its father burned by the Sun, and of these still warm ashes comes to him this Solar inclination, which makes him love the Sun; and to turn to its light, from which he [has] opened eyes and free wings.

This Symbol is noble and Royal: and represents naturally enough the inclination which the King still a child had, after the king his Father, seen as an illustrious Person, whose eminent virtue long honoured the court .
And another version of the same picture, from the same author's 1649 Devices Heroiques et Morales, http://www.archive.org/details/deuisesheroiques00lemo

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And me yet after my father

How the fire of this Star is pure and glorious!
How the day is powerful that it bears in the eyes!
And how its influence is strong on the Hemisphere!
My heart is hardly formed
And on the cinders of my Father,
Desirous [?] of its beams my heart is lit up.

Re: tarot and alchemy

#29
Thanks Bertrand. That makes more sense, although getting "deja" out of what's written is something of a stretch. But typos aren't unknown here: for example, the 1666 (I have now corrected the dates) has "...dés qui'il à les yeux ouvers..." when the 1649 has "dés qui'il a les yeux ouvers..." A big difference.

The alchemical Sun

#30
In alchemy the red Solar stage follows the white Lunar stage, as many works assert. I have already cited Ripley's "Vision." Another is in part 3of the "Glory of the World ", the text Marco referenced.
ix. ARISTEUS, in his Second Table, says: Beat the body which I have made known to you into thin plates; pour thereon our salt water, i.e., water of life, and heat it with a gentle fire until its blackness disappears, and it becomes first white, and then red.
The progression is the same in tarot. The blackness was in the Death card, continued in the Devil (underground), washed in cards XVI and XVII, then white, like the Moon, in XVIII and now red, like the Sun (or yellow, higher in the sky). But then what about the people underneath this sun (e.g. below, Noblet c. 1650 restored and Conver 1761)?

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In many illustrations of the rubedo, just one person is shown, as in the one I showed in my last post (above middle), where a red rose tops the flask and a mature man, a king, stands within, corresponding to the Queen of the Albedo stage, who will join him in the Augmentatio. In the tarot, however, when there is one person it is a male child, from the PMB forward. Below is first, the PMB, then the Cary Sheet fragment, the left half in a different color how the figure was probably completed (I get this from http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards69.htm), and then the Vieville of c. 1650, which seems to follow a similar conception.(There can also be a woman with a spindle, and other odd images, but these are in different traditions, in which I have seen little alchemy.)

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What do these children have to do with alchemy? If you look at Ripley's Cantilena, an alchemical poem of around the same time as the PMB image (and perhaps written in Italy, where he lived 1457-1477, per Wikipedia), there is just such a child, called a "ruddy son." Here are verses 26-29 of an early translation (the original is in Latin), which I take from Jung's Mysterium Coniunctionis, pp. 316-317.
Her time being come, the Child Conceiv'd before
Issues re-borne out of her Wombe once more;
And thereupon resumes a Kingly State
Posessing fully Heaven's Propitious Fate.

The Mother's Bed which erstwhile was a Square
Is shortly after made Orbicular.
And everywhere the Cover, likewise Round
With Luna's Lustre brightly did abound.

Then from a Square, the Bed a Globe is made,
And Purest Whiteness from the Blackest Shade;
While from the Bed the Ruddy Son doth spring
To grasp the Joyful Sceptre of a King.

Hence God unlock'd the Gates of Paradise
Rais'd him like Luna to th'Imperiall Place,
Sublim'd him to the Heavens, and that being done,
Crown'd him in Glory aequall with the Sun.
The transition from square to round is, according to Jung, the attaining of perfection, "i.e. the king has attained eternal youth and his body has become incorruptible" (paragraph 439, p. 316). The most relevant part is the last two lines of verse 28: "While from the Bed the Ruddy Son doth spring/To grasp the Joyful Scepter of a King" (De quo statim prodiit natus rubicundus/ Qui resumpsit regium scepturum Iaetabundus). Jung comments:
Vessel and content and the mother herself, who contains the father, become the son, who has risen up from "blackest shade" to the pure whiteness of Luna and attained his redness (rubedo) through the solifactio.(paragraph 441, p. 317)
But from the language I have quoted, this is no docile infant in the lap of the Virgin Mary, but a lively, joyful child springing into action, much like the ones on the tarot cards.

Looking at Ripley's poem, I also see now the alchemical precedent for O'Neill's association of the crayfish of the Moon card to a fetus in its mother's womb. It is in the analogy between the alchemist's retort, under gentle heat for a lengthy period of time, and a mother's womb. Some alchemical illustrations show a dragon in the retort. If a dragon, why not a giant crayfish?

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In Noblet (above left), the child has been changed to a man and a woman. The same pattern occurs in the Sforza Castle card (above middle). That scene could conceivably represent the reborn king with his Queen in Paradise, as Ripley describes them. But then why is she looking at him sadly? Something else is going on. Possibly it is in the tradition of the sad Madonnas of late 15th century Italy, who look at their infants with prescient foreboding of the suffering to come (e.g. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... ria_01.jpg). In Paradise, time has no meaning, and everything is simultaneous: so he is the son about to be crucified--or as resurrected after the ordeal--as well as the happy bridegroom of Mary in Heaven.

Oddly enough, the pattern of the sad look and comforting gesture occurs even in the "Schoen Horoscope" version of 1515. (This is an engraving of the Planets, Signs of the Zodiac, and the Houses as concentric circles; the Houses are reminiscent of tarot trumps that more or less fit the astrological meaning of each House. You can see the whole thing, thanks to SteveM, at http://media.photobucket.com/image/Scho ... oscope.gif). I cannot quite determine the gender of the right-hand figure; I think it's female, but it could be either male or female. The upward gesture of the left-hand figure's hand suggests an allusion to Christ.

There is also a wall on the Noblet card. To me that suggests a space separated off, such as the alchemist's retort. The puddles of water on the ground might hint that not all the liquid has boiled out.

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In Chosson 1672, Dodal c. 1701, and Conver 1761 (left to right above), the man and woman have been changed to two boys. The sad look and compassionate gesture are still there, but from a boy. I find no 17th century or earlier alchemical precedent for this change in gender and age (although in another post I may be able to construct an 18th century alchemical equivalent.)

O'Neill (Tarot Symbolism p. 286) says that that the setting on the card suggests a walled garden, i.e. the Garden of Eden and a return to lost innocence.There is ample precedent in Ripley for seeing the scene as Paradise. The innocence O'Neill finds would be symbolized by the children, or by the man and woman as a new Adam and Eve, now Jesus and Mary, restored to before the Fall. But is it a return to innocence? The sad look on the part of the left hand figure is not one of innocence. O'Neill's account may fit some Sun cards, but not the standard "Marseille" versions.

O'Neill insists that there is alchemical precedent for the twins that we see. He points to fig. 22 of Jung's Psychology and Alchemy, which turns out to be emblem 11 of the Mutus Liber, 1677; two cherubs bow toward a Mercury enclosed in a large water-drop, with the sun overhead (http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Mutus-Lib ... 72765_.htm). But this motif is not something introduced only near or at the end of the sequence, where it would be if it were associated with the rubedo. It occurs four times in the Mutus Liber, in emblems 2, 8, 11, and 15 (out of 15). In 15 the two angels frame an adult male who hangs in a pose resembling both crucifixion and ascension (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_JmOhe-3opIc/T ... r_15_n.gif). That is more relevant, since the angels are making a gesture of compassion (crowning him), but it is still not very similar to the Conver image.

Another picture O'Neill cites is of an "alchemist" by a fire with two children, Sol and Luna. He means emblem 20 (out of 28) of Mylius's Philosophia Reformata (http://images.unurthed.com/de-Rola-tyra ... re-172.jpg). But the two children are not of the same gender, nor are their poses anything like those on the card. Also, there is an extra entity (not an alchemist, since it has wings), the emblem is too early in the sequence, and a bonfire is not the sun.

Not everything in a card has to be accounted for by alchemy. There are many influences on the tarot, as O'Neill himself emphasized, and alchemy is just one of them. In the case of the two boys, the reference is probably to mythological themes having to do with Gemini, twins. How this connects to alchemy has yet to be determined. I will return to this subject when I get to the 18th century, when charismatic figures introduced untraditional twists.

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