Splendor Solis: Plate 16

He who can recreate the Soul is able to see colour – Morienus

In plate sixteen of the Splendor Solis stands a solitary peacock, its resplendent tail fanned behind it. The unity that began in plate fifteen is fully realized with the encapsulated animal’s transformation into a single-headed being. The peacock tail is a physical stage in alchemy, a brilliant flash of green which comes to signify that the alchemist is one the right path. It can also be recognized in spiritual/psychological alchemy as a flash of visions that come to the adept as they move through the phases of transformation.

Plate 16, Splendor Solis

The niche that holds the cucurbit differs slightly in this picture; it now has a circular opening immediately above the pointed tip of the flask. Golden chains extended from the sides, as if tethering the cucurbit in place. Above the opening is Venus, seated in her chariot that is being drawn by twin doves.  The signs for Aries and Libra adorn her wheels, the elements of air and fire. Perched on the front of the chariot is Cupid, his bow drawn, ready to shoot. His arrow is aimed at a tiny heart that basks in the radiance of the sun.

The scene that Venus presides over is one of love. Various couples are embracing in the below right. A couple on horseback rides into the woods, as many others wander the fields. Meanwhile, another couple is seated on a log, embracing each other. To the left is a stream, filled with naked bathers. It is impossible to distinguish their genders, but they are gathered in groups, their intimacy cemented by the visible comfort they proudly display between their naked and exposed flesh.

Towards the bottom of the picture is a festive scene. Musicians play for a table of three, who are feasting on grapes and wine. Two other women sit, chatting animatedly over a text they hold between them. The entire picture is one of harmony and perfect balance. The couples exhibit love and unity, the masculine and feminine combined into something more, something spiritual and intangible in the earthly realm. The musicians playing, and the book the two women hold, represent art. These are the noble pursuits of the human spirit, the move away from our base animal nature into something higher.

The key to the process of plate sixteen lies in the bottom left-hand corner, with the three people seated at a table, drinking wine and eating grapes. The process of this plate is fermentation. Grapes must be crushed and destroyed to create sweet intoxicating wine. The grapes are perfect as they are, but by destroying them we can make something higher, something that can alter consciousness. Plate sixteen embodies that process, the turning point where the adept reaches a new level of consciousness with a flash of the peacock’s tail.

Consider the words spirit (i.e., the wine), spiritual, and inspiration.

To inspire can mean to breath; it can also mean to transmit fervor. Spirit can be meditative, or evocative. It just depends on the spirit (and the alchemist) in question. Spirit runs through the 16th plate of the Splendor Solis, and that brings us one plate closer to the alchemical transformation of our souls.

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