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I have been contemplating this teaching.......any thoughts on it would be appreciated........

In alchemical writings we meet a seemingly bewildering multiplicity of animal symbols - red lions, white eagles, stags, unicorns, winged dragons and snakes. Although at first glance all this complex mass of symbolism seems tortured and confused there is an inner coherence to these symbols, which the ancient alchemists used in specific ways reflecting their esoteric content. In this article I wish to consider a particularly tight knit group of these animal symbols, the birds of alchemy - the Black Crow, White Swan, Peacock, Pelican, and Phoenix - which are descriptive of certain stages of the alchemical process

Full article on link.

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/alcbirds.html

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Comment by Sunmover on March 10, 2012 at 3:37pm

The more we learn Annabelle the more questions and guidance we get to open further understanding and information from many sources...and all valid.....any  ideas and thoughts  you have feel free to share.....blessings.....

Comment by Annabelle Lee on March 7, 2012 at 11:23pm

I really enjoyed reading the description behind the 9th key, as well as the other postings about animal symbolism in alchemy.  I myself am struggling through the understanding of alchemys many symbols, correlations and quiet meanings.

Comment by Sunmover on December 11, 2011 at 11:28am

Comment by Sunmover on December 11, 2011 at 11:27am

Nice points  Rem.  Thanks.  In ancient times we humans were very closely aligned and connected with nature and we have mostly lost that,  but planetary happenings are making us once again more conscious of our connectedness. 

The ancient Egyptian Neters were the Gods & Goddesses who are aspects of Nature and our own consciousness.  All indigenous peoples revered the nature kingdom and in shamanism - which is really indigenous interactiveness with all sentient life - know that each animal, plant or bird has 'medicine' healing potential for the human. 

The alchemists of old have continued this tradition through their teachings.  Our role I suppose is to decipher and apply the understanding to aid our awareness spiritually.  Interesting isn't it that once our eyes can see and our ears can hear how much is really hidden in plain site.

Comment by cymaglobe on December 11, 2011 at 6:33am

A whole world opened up for me when i started reading about symbolism and in the context of this blog alchemical symbolism.  Old paintings came to life and stained glass windows in cathedrals turned into worlds.  It was not only that the veil was lifted and my 3 eyes saw more layers, it was also as if the resolution of the world around me changed from 8-bits to infinite bits metaphorically speaking.  In the bible the jewish people were punished by their God because they worshipped a golden cow. You cant tell me that they just simply because everyone did it starting worshipping an animal that is sacred in soooo many other cultures and you cant tell me its about the cow either. Behind any form of zoolatry often lies a set of principles or a story explained by a depiction in which the animal becomes the carrier of a deeper principle such as the pelican stands for self sacrifice for the greater good. The question is why people were made to believe god punished them because religion has been misused as opium for the masses by the powers that be since the dawning of man  and his upright strife to go back to its devine origin.

Comment by Sunmover on December 10, 2011 at 6:35pm

The Ninth Key from D. Stolcius von Stolcenberg, Viridarium chymicum, 1624


This image is the ninth key from Basil Valentine's series of the Twelve Keys. It describes the stage known as the "peacock's tail." The bottom section shows three hearts with a snake emanating out of each; their circular motion recalls the movement of a wheel and with it the sense of yoga (yoke). The snake, or serpent, is the symbol of transformation and in this form recalls the ouroborus. The three hearts represent body, soul and spirit and more essentially the principles of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury. Together they form a small mandala symbolizing the wholeness of the Self. Together the three elements in this section of the picture are joined together within the wholeness of the outer circle. Psychologically, this part of the image indicates that all three aspects are flowing in harmony with each other.

The upper section shows two figures, one male and one female, posed in such a way as to form a cross. At each point of the cross we find some animal depicting various aspects of the opus. Beginning at the top there is a black crow sitting on the man's feet. This is the nigredo, the blackening, where the work begins. Moving counterclockwise, we come to the white swan perched on the woman's head. The work moves from the nigredo to the albedo, the whitening stage of the opus that is associated with the feminine. At her feet is the symbol of the peacock's tail. The peacock's tail marks the precipitation of the final stage - the beginning of integration. The "eyes" on the peacock's tail were thought to represent all universes and the iridescence of its colors the entire spectrum of light that reflects the infinite dimensions of consciousness. Finally, as we move to the man's head, we see the phoenix bird wings stretched wide in a triumphant pose.

Adam MacLean (The Alchemical Mandala, p. 78) mentions that these birds represent the four elements. The Crow=Earth, Swan=Water, Peacock=Air, Phoenix=Fire. He points out the various polarities that are formed by specific connections made between each bird and the point of contact (head or feet) of the male and female figures. These polarities -the four elements, the three principles, the masculine and feminine and the four stages of the work- when adequately experienced prepare the adept for complete integration.

It is interesting to note also that the movement in the upper section is contrary to the bottom section. These counter-movements remind us that alchemy is an opus contra naturum, that its work moves contrary to nature, not to oppose it but rather to facilitate both evolution and involution.

Finally, another way of viewing this picture is to trace the outline of the design instead of focusing on its details. Then, what appears is a cross above a circle. This is the symbol for Antimony, a poisonous metal that is derived from stibnite. In prescribing antimony, instead of stibnite, Valentine sickened many of his brother monks, thus the name "Anti-monk" gave rise to the word anitmony. It is also significant to note that the Star Regulus ("petty king")which is produced from antimony fascinated Sir Isaac Newton many years later. The crystallized shards from the Star Regulus pointing outward and inward ultimately contributed to Newton's formulation of the laws of gravitation.

From the same author;  http://alchemicalpsychology.com/new/7.htm

Comment by Sunmover on December 10, 2011 at 6:24pm

It seems AB that many believe things that are held sacred to be 'evil' 'satanic' or in league with the 'devil'.  Seems that maybe some who knew the real power of such belief have done their best to eradicate that which is high minded.

Comment by Sunmover on December 10, 2011 at 6:21pm

Good question Sky as the peacock is very important in many disciplines;

The peacock is a very important bird, 1st it is an emblem of romantic love and beauty. In Buddhism the peacock supports the throne of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west (main qualities include passion (lotus), love, vital fluids, evening twilight, summer and fire). The peacock is the mortal enemy of snakes, killing cobras with their talons. The main quality of the peacock is transmutation of poison into amrita or nectar. This is tied to Lord Shiva getting a blue throat from taking the poison produced by the churning of the ocean; thus the transmutation of poison or venom by the peacock is said to produce the electric blue of its throat plumage and the wisdom eyes of its tail feathers. In Vajra yana symbolism a bundle of peacock feathers is used as a sprinkler for the consecrated water or amrita contained in the blessing flask. In specific tantric rituals individual feathers are used as fan, mirror, and parasol adornments, also as the feathers for darts, and as the peacock feather parasol used by the goddess Palden Lhamo, symbolizing her wisdom activities and the transmutation of all evils or poisons.

Comment by ancestralblue on December 10, 2011 at 2:24am

That was really good...The multiple definitions of the stages of higher mind...I found the peacock description interesting because there is a sect, I believe in Iraq, that is persecuted mightily for belief is the "peacock angel" which many other Muslims believe is a devil.

  It's that rigid notion that asserts itself in far too many old religions.

  Anything that has to do with true higher mind is defined as satanic.

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