Materia Prima Lapidis Philosophorum
This painting, entitled “Materia Prima Lapidis Philosophorum,” is from the Circle of the Gold and Rosicrucians, a manuscript inspired by Aurea Catena a Homeri (Kirchweger, 1781). It is the cover art used on The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation. Basically, the work represents the transformation of the Chaos Philosophorum (Materia Prima or First Matter) into the Coelum Philosophorum (the perfected First Matter or Lapidis Philosophorum – Philosopher’s Stone).
Below in the green mountain of the Chaos Philosophorum are nine lapis lazuli octagons laid out in what was known as the Magic Square of Saturn, which contains the signs and numerical equivalents for all the fundamental materials of the work. Each of these octagons is embossed with a seven-pointed star symbolizing the seven steps in the formula of transformation: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation. On top of the green mountain is an athanor or alchemical furnace in the first step of transformation (Calcination) begins. This is where the four archetypal elements of creation (Air, Fire, Earth, Water) are “cooked” in the fires of existence. On top of the athanor is the Retort of Transformation, in which the waters of Dissolution melt away the pretences of the former self. In a process of Separation symbolized by a bird taking flight, the essences of the sacrificed self rise up from its baptism of Fire and Water. During Conjunction, the King and Queen, the archetypal powers of the Sun and Moon, work together to lift the Child of the Philosophers into the higher stages of transformation. The ensuing Fermentation is symbolized by the sudden emergence of a Peacock’s Tail of colorful blooming flowers, which is followed by a process of Distillation, as the refined essence leaves the vessel of transformation and sublimated into an entirely new level being or state of consciousness. This final step is symbolized by the Crown of Coagulation that partakes of both the material forces Below and the spiritual forces Above. These spiritual energies are denoted by the shining Sun and inverted triangle of heavenly forces.