The Rosarium Philosophorum’s Woodcut Carvings: An Esoteric and Kabbalistic Analysis
by William John Meegan
I have been meaning to put this analysis of the Rosarium Philosophorum in this forum for some time now but always there was a project on the horizon that prevented me from seeing that idea come to fruition. Of course I had to rework my original paper, which is quite long with numerous endnotes. So I trimmed it somewhat omitting all the endnote and other diagrams, which I have discussed in other blogs on this forum; however, I have left the essentials of the analysis as originally envisaged.
I should point out from the outset that I have renamed all eleven plates: woodcut carving to coincide with my thesis so that the reader can readily follow the logic of the analysis.
I first got interested in these Alchemical Woodcut Carvings because Carl G. Jung did a psychological analysis of his own on them (The Psychology of the Transference: Vol. 16), which I found in his collective works. When I first saw these images they were in black and white and not in the color format I use in this analysis. Unlike CG Jung my analysis is not psychological; rather, it is an Esoteric and Kabbalistic analysis. I make no claim to understanding Alchemical jargon; however, I do believe that Alchemy is a reworking of the Sacred Scriptures, Astrology, Kabbalah and Esotericism. When I first saw these images (1985) the first plate literally struck me as being a commentary on Genesis. That is how quickly I saw its meaning. After my analysis on the first two images the rest were quite easy to analyze because slowly but surely from one plate to another symbols were disappearing so the storyline became quite effortless to assimilate.
It surprised me somewhat that those others whom took an interest in these Alchemical Woodcut Carvings did not comment on many of the apparent nuances in the symbolism that is evident in the eleven plates. From my point of view they threw out the baby with the bathwater. Of course I could readily see how that could happen. CG Jung was writing from a psychological perspective and Adam McLean was writing from a purely alchemical viewpoint. From their perspectives I probably threw the baby out with the bathwater. I am not experienced or an expert in either of their fields of study; thus, I am not qualified to comment upon their work. I can only submit my analysis and hope that the reader enjoys it and can take something from it.
Alchemical Woodcut Carvings:
THE MERCURIAL MANDALA FOUNTAIN: The Sacred Scriptures: the Word of God Made Flesh
“As above so below” should be the first impression that one receives when viewing this image [Figure 1] for the reason that its entire makeup exudes that old occult maxim.
This image embodies in pictorial form the foundations of the sacred scriptures: the Word of God made flesh. “As above so below” is not necessarily a mirroring imaging process as humans tend to understand that concept. It is, and yet, it is not mirroring imaging simply because the divine does not explain to the dullard word for word outwardly its message to the world. The individual that eternally seeks spoon feeding tends towards the mirror imaging literal-minded explanations as to what God’s message is to the world. This is linear thought where the individual is eternally following his or her nose with a literal interpretation in mind when reading the sacred scriptures rather than having any kind of abstract and/or symbolic thought in relationship to that same material.
THERE ARE THREE CONCEPTUAL PARTS TO THIS FIRST ALCHEMICAL WOODCUT CARVING
The two serpents (Michelangelo portrait the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as having two serpents wrapped around it: in the sixth panel from the altar wall on the Sistine Chapel ceiling) are creating the universe with the four main elements: fire, earth, air and water depicted by the outpouring of gaseous vapors that the four stars personify. These two serpents are further personified in the symbols of the Sun and Moon: they are creating a new heaven and a new earth within a gigantic symbol of the first letter of the Torah: BETH, which is interpreted as a container, meaning the universe is a vessel: it contains the Word of God.
The Sun (Yahweh), Moon (Elohym) and Star (PEI ? = Star of David): are the symbolic personification in anthropomorphic form of the Trinity: God that brings about the process of creation: they are not the process they are what cause the process to commence. In this image the Trinity: Sun, Moon and Star are at once contained and uncontained. The serpents demonstrate they are uncontained, and yet, the Sun, Moon and Star are contained in the four square image.
The fountain symbolically represents the creation process in terminology that humans can comprehend. The entire fountain is a tribute to the Trinity and its creation process.
- The three spouts emitting water (symbolic to the serpents’ vapors)
- The waters: sun, moon and star combined
- The basin: Zodiac; three Quadruplicities: i.e. Trinity.
- Three impelling paws (not compelling or grasping claws) touching the earth: the Trinity’s influences on the individual.
- This fountain is analogous to a torus a symbol of a galaxy where the galactic core represents the central obelisk and its three spouts.
The separation of the opposite, which is here represented by the two serpents could not have commence without mediation of the divine. The undifferentiated vapors emanating from the mouths of the two serpents ending in the production/concretization of four stars points to the fact that they collectively symbolically represent the lone star: each doing it own version of mirror imaginings, which represents the Most High God. This undifferentiated substance from the empyrean can be, to human comprehension, nothing more than chaos within a container: i.e. the different vapors, contained within the universe, would be expected to commingle: thus becoming undifferentiated [see: Figure #3 and its commentary]. However, in viewing the two serpents it can be seen that one is masculine and the other is feminine. This is determined not by the fact that one symbolically represents the sun and the other the moon but rather from the head and facial features of the serpents. The serpent depicted above the moon is depicted as somewhat gentler than the one over the sun.
Those that study these word and image scenarios in Alchemical images to determine what the esoteric science has to offer should maintain that nothing is written or etched into a graphic illustration unless it has a meaning to the overall understanding of the text or image. There is no appropriate wording or designs to fill in space. For example: one serpent has one tongue and the other a fork tongue. When it is realized that this image is depicting a graphic illustration of the sacred scriptures then the single tongue is declaring that interpretation of the text of the sacred scriptures is literal and the fork tongue serpent is declaring no there are two meanings: literal and esoteric. Both are telling the truth from their individual perspectives. The single tongue serpent gives 100% of its mindset to the literal interpretation, whereas, the fork tongue gives 50% to both the literal and 50% to the esoteric interpretation: for with the literal there would be no esoteric similar to the sun and moon’s or male and female relationship. Another nuance from this same two serpent symbol is the fact that the female serpent is dominant in this image for she is up front and the other serpent is in the rear so to speak. These two serpents, where the female is dominant, depict the emergence of the opposites [see: Figure #2 and its commentary] otherwise this entire ‘Mercurial’ Fountain Mandala would not exist: this is why the Torah has the Elohym as the creator rather than Yahweh.
The next thing that is noticeable about the ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain [Figure 1] is the four stars creating the squared perimeter or outer boundaries of the concepts being expressed within this alchemical image. Four is the number for limited or finite thinking or man trying to compress the infinite into his way of thought: as in squaring the circle which happens to have a great deal to do with this image. The inner structure of the image:the fountain is round as in a circle. Nonetheless, the four stars have been objectified and solidified from the mist of the undifferentiated vapors belching from the mouths of two serpents, which in turn emanates from the lone star in the central upper region above the fountain.
From the fact that the two serpents are belching out gaseous materials which coalesce into stars, which are exact images of the central star between the Sun and Moon points to the fact that there is a higher spiritual force impelling the opposites to symbolically speak of it in symbols: this higher spiritual force is the Unknown God, which Saint Paul speaks of in his epistles. This monotheistic God of Christianity, which is symbolized as the Trinity. There is simple no way of truly knowing this Unknown God other than indirect evidence.
This brief outline above relating to the “Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain is quite a recognizable pattern (empyrean = star, two serpents and four stars); 1 to 2 to 4: septenary not only found in Jung’s and Edinger’s writings when they discuss the birth of consciousness but also from the central core of the Old and New Testaments: Zechariah 14:4. This is also found in the first letter of Genesis: BETH?, which in its spelling has a Gematria value of 412:that is a transposition of 1, 2, and 4. This symbolism is additionally elaborated on with the obelisk and round fountain. At the top of the obelisk is a Lotus Flower, which represents the DOT. The obelisk represents the LINE and the fountain represents the CIRCLE, which again symbolizes the birth of consciousness.
Only a person that understands the deeper esoteric and Kabbalistic nature of the first chapter of Genesis could have known to depict the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire andWater (four stars) as coming from the mouth of God. That is nigh unto an impossibility to envisage not only from a translated text of the Hebrew but even well educated Jews that read and write Hebrew on a daily basis are unaware of this nuance in the text. The white area surrounding the Hebrew alphabet’s second letterBETH? [first written letter of theTorah] depicts the seventeenth letter:PEI??: which symbolically represents ‘mouth’: as in the mouth of God. PEI??in turn, when scribed, shows the white area in its folds to be a BETH?: second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which symbolically means ‘house: i.e.container’. The world beyond the mouths of these two serpents is represented by the four nuclear forces: electromagnetism, weak bosons, strong gluons, and graviton: i.e. fire, earth, air and water. Anything preceding these two mouths: two serpents and lone star represent the empyrean; God: the Trinity in its creative mode.
The four elements (stars) belching from the mouths of these two serpents should not be taken to represent a square nor is the fountain to be seen as a circle. On a two dimensional surface it may appear that this is so but looking at this image in the light of the concept of a three dimensional reality it can be easily seen that the sphere is within the cube. In the Zohar there is a reference to the first word of Genesis: Bereshith’s six letters representing the six ordinal directions.: i.e. east, west, north, south, up and down that, in and of themselves, would create a cube or a sphere denoting the time/space continuum. The math is not too difficult to perform. Since Beth is the first letter #2 the radius of the square is two, the diameter is four, and four squared is sixteen: 42 and cubed is sixty-four: 43. The math of the sphere: pi x diameter x 4 to obtain the surface area of the sphere = 50.26… Thus the volume of the sphere: 33.51… is not equal to the volume of the cube. There can only be whole words, verses and chapters in the bible: not portions thereof. Thus it is found that the surface of the sphere: 50.26… represents symbolically the 50-chapters in the book of Genesis and the volume of the sphere: 33.51… when this quotient is reversed and the decimal point is removed from the equation the calculation symbolically points to the 1533-verses found in the 50-chapters of the book of Genesis. Thus the concept of the cube and the sphere in the Rosarium Philosophorum is no mere whim. This also answers the question concerning the squaring of the circle. This is a highly sophisticated method to communicating this science across the epochs of humanity history and it is also is a way of authenticating the document veracity and authenticity. This is a powerful method [magic if you will] of writing a document the uninitiated would be out of his or her depth to fathom.
Beneath the two serpents figure in this image are the Sun and the Moon, which symbolically represent these reptiles. Jung and Edinger saw these serpents as cold blooded and heartless and not warm blooded as human feeling. This idea should be taken as cosmic law coming directly from the empyrean. The spiritual and cosmic universe would not survive if spiritual and cosmic law changed on a subjective emotional whim. The Zohar says that Yahweh [Yud ?] represents the Sun and Elohym [Aleph ?] represents the Moon. More of that will be explained in the second image. In this ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain image the lone Star is between the Sun and Moon, which is represented in the three water spouts in the fountain. Here the fountain’s three water spouts (symbolically Trinity) obviously comes from the same source (empyrean) that has three different purposes [three persons in one God] that pour into the one basin of water: cosmic ‘material’ universe. Nevertheless, the image of the fountain gives off the impression of being self-sustaining; however it is not. Of course a normal everyday fountain in the midst of a city is not self-sustaining for the water is constantly being refreshed as is the cosmic ‘material’ universe being constantly refreshed by the empyrean. The fountain implied this through the three water spouts. In other words this alchemical image literally says the cosmic ‘material’ universe is not self-sustaining as does the first letter of Genesis: BETH. If the entire material universe was to blink out of existence it would all begin again through the MONAD, which is what BETH and PEI combined symbolize.
The creation of the universe depicted by the belching vapors from the mouths of the two serpents is reenacted symbolically in the fountain’s symbolism: this is a redundancy, and yet, an example of the age old maxim: as above so below. The fountain represents the constellation of the empyrean’s dynamic forces condensed into a coherent whole that can be understood by the use of the soul/psyche’s cognitive abilities. The fountain is a way of expressing that the creation process: the fountain does not depict the empyrean: God emitting divine substance into the material universe in a devil may care attitude rather the inclusion of the fountain suggest that there is an intelligent purpose behind the process. There are three examples of the Trinity summarized in this first image each expressing the same concept differently:
The two serpents: Yahweh and Elohym belching vapors into the material universe, which denotes the first example of the opposites. It is the empyrean that spurs or initiates the two serpents into action. This will be understood as the commentary continues. Note that this is not the first and only account of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Each time that God answers a prayer this process is called forth for those that have been given a psychic numinous luminosity (vision): born again.
The Sun (Yahweh), Moon (Elohym) and Star (Empyrean: God). This will be discussed further in the second image.
The three spouts in the fountain: three different color waters. The basin demonstrates that the belching vapors from the empyrean concretize into Astrological constellations, which more than infers that the whole of the infinite material creation is represented by the Zodiac. Therefore, it suggests that the material universe is the container that holds within its grasp the Eucharist: divine substance. The constellations of the Zodiac represent the chalice at the Catholic Mass.
This woodcut carving image and the Genesis creation account denotes quite clearly that God can be comprehended through the process of understanding the symbolism of mythology that cloths His divine Word. This is an awesome concept because it suggests that the symbolism that esoterically cloths the process of creation is analogous and equal to the so-called material universe that contains the divine substance. This more than infers that the soul/psyche is that container: the universe and the world as each individual knows it is in actuality the psychic envelope of the soul/psyche.
In the prologue of the Zohar there is a fanciful tale concerning how the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet coming before the Lord of the Universe to have the world made through one of them. The Zoharic text narrates how each of the letters of the alphabet is rejected for one reason or another: good or ill until the second letter: BETH of the Hebrew alphabet arrives on the scene and is chosen as the perfect candidate/conduit. Aleph the first letter is mysteriously not given an audience before Beth is chosen, yet, the text says Aleph was chosen to head the Ten Commandments. Actually, Aleph is the key to why Beth was chosen. Aleph when spelt out is Aleph-Lemmed-Pei. This would read Al-Pei or El/Pei or mouth of God. This is because El: the Most High God of Melchizedek King of Salem of the Old and New Testaments is in the empyrean, whereas, the mouth is the portal [liken to a spout?], whatever that may be, to the cosmic ‘material’ universe. The word Aleph has the Gematria value of 111, which is the numerical value of all three letters: Aleph #1, Yud, #10 and Qoph #100 that has the common denominator #1, which are the letters of the Holy Trinity. This letter Aleph is most likely where Catholicism obtained its concept of the Trinity because it is well worked out in the reading of the first verse of Genesis from the first word of Genesis. The first verse of Genesis was conceptually structured from the nuances in the first word: BERESHITH long before it was penned in detail. When the first word of Genesis: BERESHITH is analyzed from the text of the original Hebrew the story outlined in the prologue of the Zohar concerning the legend of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet comes to life as the source for the myth in the Zoharic text [Figure 4]. So once the Genesis Formula is read and understood it can be seen that the waters of the ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain is sent back to its original source just as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are sent back into the empyrean: God for recycling. In every sense the Waters of Creation are the Souls that come into the world.
It must be understood that the concept CHRIST is the controlling factor in all that has to do with the Old and New Testaments for without His intercession there would be no religion anywhere in the world. To demonstrate this in the Judeao Christian Scripture it is worth pointing out that the last four letters of the Hebrew alphabet spells out the word CHRIST in Greek using Hebrew letters: Qoph ?, Resh (?), Shin (?),Tav (?): spell out krst-CHRIST.
Since the letter PEI ?? exudes the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet: BETH ? then it should be looked at more closely. Each of the 22-Hebrew letters and the five final letters totaling to 27-letters are grouped according to their own common denominators: i.e. BETH ? #2, Kaf ? #20, and RESH ? #200 all have the same common denominator of two: #2. Each of these letters is interchangeable, exactly as was seen with Aleph ?, Yud ? and Qoph ? with the common denominator of one: #1. It can only be surmised that this is why these three letters with the same common denominator of #2 are the first letters depicted in the Torah. Not that they were the first but actually depicted visually or abstractly first. All the Hebrew letters should be conceptualized as seeds having their own seed within themselves. BETH is spelt: BETH-YUD-TAV and RESH is spelt RESH-ALEPH-SHIN. When BETH opens up to be impregnated RESH is inserted as a new Heaven and a new Earth: thus the word BERESHITH ?????? is formed. In fact it can be said that the entire Old and New Testaments are commentaries on the first letter of Genesis: BETH ?or should it be PEI ? (actually it is both: combined)?
Now that it has been demonstrated that PEI ?? is the mystical first letter of Genesis it must be understood that it is the governing factor in the Old and New Testaments. Since PEI ?? (the 17th Hebrew letter) means ‘mouth’ this implies 32-teeth that reside in the mouth coupled with the knowledge that the seventeenth Tarot Card: is the Star. Is it not interesting that the 18thand 19th Tarot Cards are the Moon and the Sun respectively? The Star sitting between the Moon and the Sun is precisely what depicted here is in the ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain’s alchemical image. Yet, at the beginning of the Torah before a letter is actually written there is an implied significance to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life [32-teeth in the mouth] and the Star of David via the letter PEI ?? itself. In the main body of the text of the first chapter of Genesis the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Star of David is much more highly developed esoterically.
The 32-Elohyms used in the text of the first chapter of Genesis when placed in sequential order give off the pattern of these graphic images. The Elohyms in the categories they are listed under when 180° from another aids mapping the graphic images into the text.
The actual structural frame of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life was literally worked into the text by the ten Sefirahs. All of this is here discussed only to demonstrate the sophisticated nature of the esoteric science being dealt with.
There is so much that has to be understood about the first word of Genesis BERESHITH ??????as well as the first chapter of Genesis as a whole before this Alchemical ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain image can be fully understood; however, I will not rehash what I have place in other writings but will touch on them generally.
It was mentioned above that the Yahweh and Elohym represent the Sun and Moon respectively. In fact the entire first chapter of Genesis brings this point out about the Sun and Moon quite clearly as having to do with its overall text. There are 434-Hebrew words in the first chapter of Genesis. There is but one letter in the Hebrew alphabet that has that numerical value 434 and that is Daleth, the 4th letter, which symbolically means ‘Door. Couple this information with the pattern of 31-words in the first day of Creation and 38-words in the second day of creation, which totals to 69-Hebrew words. Both the third and fourth days of creation have 69-Hebrew words. This totals to 207-Hebrew words in the first four days of creation. The word ‘light’ in Hebrew has a total Gematria value of 207. In the first four chapters of Genesis there are a total of 1449-Hebrew words: 1449 / 69 = 21‘. The twenty-second group of 69-words is found in the first chapter: there are 69-groups of words [142-words = septenary] held together by 80-hyphens: 434 – 69 = 365: Solar Year and 434 – 80 = 354: Lunar Year. Hyphens really have no direct meaning other than to separate words. The hyphens get their glory from the group of 69-words just as the Moon gets its glory from the Sun as the esoteric science obtains its glory from the surface text of the sacred scriptures. The inference is that the surface text represents the intellectual ‘literal’ realm of Yahweh (Sun) and the esoteric knowledge of abstractions is of Elohym’s (Moon) realm: this twain of literalism and abstractions can never meet: they will always be at war and the victor will assimilate the other just as the dominant personality exerts itself in any marriage: this concept is also seen in the surface text of the Torah in relationship to the esoteric science’s married to the text. It should be mentioned that the fifth and sixth days of creation have a combined total of 206-words, which coincide with the 206-bones in the human body. The first two verses of Genesis have 21-words but the first word can be seen as two: BERESHITH = ‘created six’, thus pointing to the 22-letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The inference here is that the 207-letters of the first four days of creation that represent LIGHT mingle with the 206-words, which represent the skeleton of the body.
The word Yahweh has a Gematria value of #26 that reduces to the lowest common denominator of #8 and Elohym has a Gematria value of #86 that reduces to the lowest common denominator of #5: these two numbers #5 and #8 are a set in the sequence in the Fibonacci sequence concerning the Golden Ratio, which has to do with all organic life on earth: hence this is the foreshadowing of the human, vegetable and animal kingdoms. In the creation and maintaining of the cosmic material universe organic life was already foreordained before the foundations of the earth. Combined Yahweh #8 and Elohym #5 totals to #13, with a lower common denominator of #4: symbolically Door #4 or Water #40: as in waters of creation: symbolically the waters of the ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain[i]. This is why the breath (spirit) of God coming from the MOUTH (Pei) of Godbrooded over the face of the waters in the second verse of Genesis. Combined the forces of creation [Yahweh and Elohym] will not interact unless the spirit or breath of God [third aspect of the Trinity] moves over the still waters: as in initiating action. Unless there is a consensus in the Trinity as to how the opposites are to interact there cannot be a material creation. This is why creation is depicted as a fountain in this alchemical image: so that it can be envisage as the divine waters being continuously replenished. Thus God: Trinityis the sole cause of the creation of the opposites. To create a universe of opposites organic life had to be the prerequisite for creation. The only thing that creates life is the interaction of the opposites otherwise there would be no creation to speak of or to maintain. Thus here it has been established that humanity: Adam was not created for the world but rather the world was created for humanity: Adam. When the nuances in the Sun and Moon symbiotic relationship is considered the initiate can envisage why mathematics is cold. When the Moon is out during the night time hours the universe can be studied mathematically objectively; however, the warmed of the Sun implies organic life: subjective thinking because the universe is hidden behind the glare of the Sun during the day time hours: out of sight out of mind.
The basin of the ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain is quite unique for it stands on the earth on three animal paws: nature. With the sun and the moon above and the sky between the earth and the water depicts the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water as suggested by four stars squared. The six stars on the front side of the basin infer six stars on the backside of the basin, which infers that the basin is in fact a symbolical representation of the Zodiac. Therefore, the basin is a collection or circle of animals as is the Zodiac cycle. Since the basin’s legs are depicted as animal paws touching the earth it suggests that the Zodiac impels but does not compel: they are not grasping claws. The three paws suggest that the Trinity takes on anthropomorphic tendencies by immersing/concretizing itself symbolically into the mythology of Astrology. This is further collaborated by the fact that the three spouts pours water: or let’s say the empyrean’s substance into the basin, which flows to the outer rim concretizing into the mythology of Astrology/Zodiac. The empyrean’s substance or primordial ooze would therefore be the hierarchal circle of angels emanating out from the empyrean: God’s creative abode. The number three as in three spouts, three paws and the Trinity in relationship to the symbolism of the Zodiac implies Quadruplicities: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable interlaced with the Triplicities of Astrology: Earth, Air, Fire and Water (four). This ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain is going out of its way to point to the Trinity immersing itself into Astrology, which is abhorrent to the majority of modern Christians. This is because few people know or understand what Astrology is. It is not a fortune telling tool though it is a predictive tool for it is conceived abstractly from mathematics. Astrology merely aids the initiate into decoding the esoteric science embedded mathematically and symbolically into the world literature. As a predictive tool an initiate can foresee patterns that must emerge somewhere in the immediate text.
Astrology is a product of the Universal Mathematical Matrix: The Prima Materia (Perennial Matrix).
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Here are the remaining chapters of this article (available in the complete PDF version):
- THE SEPARATION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH: The Emergence of the Opposites
- THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND EARTH The Reunification of the Opposites: The Birth of Darkness
- DESCENT INTO THE ABYSS: Acquiescence to Darkness
- THE BAPTISM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: Total annihilation of the Divine: Embracing the Darkness
- THE TWO BECOME ONE: The Living Dead: Everlasting Darkness
- THE ASCENT OF PRAYER: Desires (Needs not necessarily wants)
- THE AGONY AND THE PAINS OF LIFE: Darkest Before the Dawn: Every Conceivable Wicked Imagination of Man
- PRAYERS ANSWERED: The Baptism of Christ Born Again: Birth of the Christ Child
- THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE EVERLASTING: Life Lived More Abundantly
- THE EUCHARIST: Christ Rising From the Tomb of the Sacred Scriptures
These alchemical images were and are a teaching tool for the mystery schools of the past and present. The purpose of the mystery school is to instruct as to how to read, write and portrait the esoteric science as codified into the sacred scriptures and artworks of the world.
Unlike modern man’s method of reading at the speed of summer-lightning the ancient taught that meditating on what one read even if it is just a few chapters of the sacred text could take a lifetime.
The process of unraveling the first word of Genesis to read the first two verses into it, which includes all its varied nuances not to mention reading the construct of the six days of creation as an additional breakdown of the first word of Genesis demonstrates how to portrait in graphic detail the same process. The breaking down of a graphic image into its constituent components uses the same process as used to breakdown an individual word of the sacred text: contrasting the techniques of using word and image.
To speculate as to what the esoteric science means in the ultimate reality one could say that as spiritual beings living out existence in the material plane of existence seems to be analogous to the wealthy jet-setting or globe-trotting around the world. This could possibly be the only manner spiritual beings can experience existence; whereas, the esoteric science appears to be an ULTRA-FAIL-SAFE system ingeniously codified into the material creation that educates the individual soul so that he or she can return to the source for recuperation before beginning the cycle of incarnation again. Personally, I believe the only true purpose for life is to experience and enjoy it. When it becomes too overbearing this Esoteric Science, Kabbalistic Teachings, Gnosticism, Alchemy and the teachings of the world’s religions are there for the soul/psyche to get to know him or herself again.
The esoteric science is a highly sophisticated mathematical and grammatical system of thought that comes directly from the empyrean that forces one to reason along these lines. Researches into this esoteric science more than suggest that there does not appear to be any other reason for existence in the material world outside of experiencing it. What other reason would a spiritual being come into this world? Here in the material world there are infinite variations of the esoteric science spanning the cultures of high civilizations to the indigenous aboriginal cultures around the world. The soul can choose to experience any one of the infinite variations throughout the history of humanity. Though it sounds science fiction the empyrean could be a portal to any of the eons throughout humanity history. Birth into any one of these epoch of human history into parentage, culture and education sets the mental stage for the life that is to be experienced. The system apparently wipes the intellect of the soul as a blank slate (tabula rasa) coming into the world as a cautionary measure so a devious purpose cannot be the reason for an individual seeking to experience creation. From what humans experience after coming into this world it has the appearance of being very much like an itinerary in a travel agency. Individuals can choose the time of year, destination and conditions as if one choosing to experience a particular kind of vacation. Now view the birth of a new born baby and ask yourself what attracted this soul to this time, parentage and culture? It would seem that the ultra fail-safe system: the esoteric science is available in all times and climes if the environment is just too horrendous to continue in the life chosen. Thus the unspoken prayer to God is one’s deepest desire to know Him and thus the esoteric science is made available to that particular soul.
A cautionary warning should append this paper. From the deep logic and reasoning devoid of emotion and subjectivity that one must apply to these researches to envisage this esoteric science suggest a most cold blooded or reptilian attitude toward existence in the material world: note the reptiles depicted in the first woodcut carving The ‘Mercurial’ Mandala Fountain: consider ‘Adam made into the image and likeness of God’. There are indications that an initiate can grasp this science to such a point that his or her environment can be manipulated. An amoral person could and probably has taken advantage of this knowledge, in past times, for his or her own benefit and to the detriment of others. This may well be the foundation as to the code of secrecy that is the foundation of the mystical teachings throughout the ages. One’s internal deep desire to know God and the continuous vetting process throughout would filter out any ulterior motives to learn this esoteric science but what would be the consequences of an amoral uninitiated learning the techniques of this science from an indirect source: such as this paper? One would think that the vetting process would still dominate the teachings and understanding of this science: as of this moment the question stands open for discussion.
There are twenty woodcut carvings originally associated with the Rosarium Philosophorum: this paper is a commentary on eleven of those images: the same Jung and Edinger commented on. If one was to view the other nine woodcut carvings they would be seen basically as variants of the first eleven. There are small and great difference between the two sets. The second set has stronger and more complex symbolic image depicting basically the same concepts as the first eleven: i.e. the Sun dominating the tomb denotes the descent back into the letter BETH where totalitarianism rules. Another obscure image is that of the Green Lion (envious of itself) eating the Sun. This would symbolize that such a totalitarian state would turn on itself: the lion represents the Sun: evil always destroys itself.
The purpose of this paper was to discuss the basic reasons for the descent and the renascent or transmutation process of the soul descent into hell: BETH and its rebirth: RESH back into the light of God as outlined in the Rosarium Philosophorum Alchemical Woodcut Carvings and the Genesis text.
Copyright 2014 William John Meegan
Presented with Author’s Permission
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