Splendor Solis, Plate 3

Chose for our Stone that wherewith kings are decorated and crowned. – Aristotle


Last time,  we looked at the second plate, that of an alchemist exploring the elements. Today we meet another figure, the knight, which moves us in a different direction. The alchemist represents the head, what Descartes thought of as the Pineal gland, or third eye, and what Tantrics refer to as Ajna, the Chakra of Gnjana, or Knowing. The Knight moves us beyond the realm of  knowing, into the realm of doing. This is where Dharma, the idea of the right thing to do, manifests into Karma, the actual working through of the process of Right Action.

The transformation from Fool to Knight is painful, and is perfectly depicted in one of the oldest Holy Grail stories that we have. Parzival, by Wolfram Von Eschenbach, is worth reading twice; there is a direct line from George Lucas to Joseph Campbell back to Eshenbach, because every Knight has to start out as a fool.

And that is the story. To summarize the hero’s journey, just look at the plates: the student passes through the realms of ignorance, and enters the world of action, as unprepared he or she maybe. And that, in the end, is where the true tests lie:Wisdom, unproven, or unprovoked, can never be more than a shadow of the truth.

Now, for our knight errant, this was no easy task.

In fact, Parzival failed, more than once. It wasn’t a lack of knowledge, because he knew the right words. However, he couldn’t ask the right question.

So what was the question that Parzival, champion of the Holy Grail, redeemer of the Waste Lands, the man who could fix a broken world, failed to ask?

“What ails you, uncle?”

At least from an Alchemical standpoint, a warrior without mercy is not fit for the cause.

As we enter an age of proud, merciless warriors, maybe it’s time to reclaim the notion of honor. The seven stars above this knight’s head exemplify this notion

Of course, before I get too heavy handed, there’s also two people peeing in the background…which leads right to the quote on the banner the knight is heralding:


This roughly translates to  “from two waters are made one, who seek the sun and the moon, and prepare to drink the wine of the enemies. And you will see with the dead. Then make the watery earth, and multiply the stone.”

Now, this sounds pretty dark. But could it be telling us something else? And what else is this image telling us?

Well, for one thing, we know this knight is presenting us with the four primal colors of Alchemical transformation. As black goes into white, then yellow, and finally into red, a spiritual (and chemical) process is unfolding. It’s fair to assume that this knight, presented in front of two primal energies, one solar, the other lunar (both peeing), is in good standing. This is reaffirmed by his crown of seven stars.

Still, if we consider the symbolism of the peacock, our knight isn’t finished yet, even if he has Athena (the owl) on his side.

Sometimes, wise people wage wars.

Let’s hope the next warrior who leads into the Wastelands is wiser…

From back, to white, to yellow, and red.

And that is the journey we’re undertaking.

Just don’t forget, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a word is worth a thousand bullets.

You don’t need guns if you’ve got a voice. Find one; if you can’t, you might find one in the forgotten lore of alchemy. The Splendor Solis has a story to tell, and it isn’t about violence. In fact, it can be summed up with one word:


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