The Heat is necessary, because through its power the earth becomes freed from darkness and blessed with light instead – Trismosin
Today we look at the second plate in the second series, plate thirteen. Again, we have the same basic composition which identifies the second series, with a central, hermetically sealed cucurbit within which the physical alchemical stages play out. The child feeding the prima materia to a dragon has been replaced by three birds, one black, one white, and one red. The black bird is on the bottom of the flask, belly up as the red and white birds peck away at it. This is designed to represent the stage of dissolution, the stage in which the black ashes that were created from the prima materia are being passed through the body of the dragon to be mixed with a solution. The black bird is being ‘dissolved’ as the other birds peck away at it. This process reminds us of the sacrifice required for transformation. The black bird must die so that the process can move forward and reveal the white albedo.
Above the flask we see another chariot. This one is being pulled by two peacocks, and they are carrying Jupiter. On the wheels are the symbols of Sagittarius and Pisces, both of which were previously associated with Jupiter based on the classical seven planet system (Pisces is now ruled by Neptune). Before Jupiter kneels a knight, making an offering to him.
In the background we are shown a number of scenes. On the left is a coronation scene, the new king kneeling before the pope as he receives his crown. Next to this is a man sitting at a table writing on a parchment. There are treasure chests surrounding him, as well as gold coins piled on the table. A pair of scales for weighing the coins is present, and suggest that the man is a treasurer. Two men stand before him, discussing a manuscript they hold.
Beside them is another scene, as a man kneels before others. His submissive stance suggests he is requesting a favor from the other men. Beyond that two men work together tending a still as they add heat. In the distant background is a hunt, the dogs running alongside their masters as the ride through the country. All these scenes suggest both subservience and status, as well as offering and sacrifice.
Perhaps this plate infers piety to the Great Work, the Magnum Opus, the Alchemical transformation of both matter and spirit. Perhaps it means something else altogether. Either way, this image is one of the many mysterious images that, taken together, makes up the Splendor Solis.