Splendor Solis: Plate 15

The Heat works elevatingly, for by its force the spirits hidden in the Earth are raised up into the air, wherefore the Philosophers say, that whosoever can bring to light a hidden thing, is a Master of the Art. – Trismosin

splendor 15

Plate fifteen of the Splendor Solis shows that the three-headed bird from plate fourteen has morphed and there is now a three-headed dragon in the hermetically sealed cucurbit. The body of this dragon is almost identical to the dragon from plate twelve at the start of this series, and the flashback to the original dragon body serves to reminds us of where the material came from, the original prima materia that has been transformed by the alchemist’s actions. The heads of the dragon differ from the three heads of the bird in the previous plate; where the bird had all of its heads pulling in different directions, an indication of its internal strife. The three-headed dragon, however, shows all its heads turned in the same direction in a show of unity and inner harmony. The process of separation is finished, and the process of conjunction has begun; the saved elements are recombining to form a new substance. The three heads are also colored in stages of alchemical change, the lowest head black for the initial nigredo stage (dissolution), the middle head white for the albedo (transformation), and finally the upper red head to represent the final rubedo (purification) stage.

Above the alembic flask is the King, the personification of Sol, the Sun. He is riding through golden clouds in a green-gold chariot that is drawn by two stallions. Level with the king’s head is a radiant sun, which illuminates his path. The wheel of the chariot is decorated with the symbol of Leo, the astrological sign associated with the sun.

Below on the left we see another king, watching two men who are fighting with swords. Beside the king, are two other men, their swords in hand, but not drawn. This scene is not of battle, but of sport, and the king is merely watching their activities. On the opposite side of the flask are more men competing in various games: archery, log tossing, wrestling, and stone throwing. Below the sporting scenes is a gathering of men, all in peaceful discourse with each other.

Now that the internal conflict of the previous plate has been resolved, the creative powers are free to unite; the white dragonhead and the black-dragon head, the negrido and the albedo, flank the red dragonhead, the rubido. Dissolution and transformation, give rise to the sacred third, perfection (body, spirit and soul). Of course, there are many more transformations to come.

While the overall theme of this plate is peaceful and harmonious (a far-cry from the bloody battles in the previous plate) it still energetic. A contained but very frenetic energy is held within the alembic; there are more steps ahead on the path to the philosopher’s stone.

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