Cosmic Emblems

Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra Emblem 5-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme

The German shoemaker, mystic and visionary Jacob Boehme’s dense theosophical writings are filled with alchemical references and allusions. These taken together with elements of Gnosticism and the Kabbalah make Boehme one of the most occult inclined of Christian writers.

The following illustrations are taken from the appendix to William Law’s four volume edition of Boehme’s writing translated into English. Law was an Anglican priest who lost his position when he refused to give an oath of allegiance to King George I and therefore become a private tutor. Among his students were Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall Of the Roman Empire and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, (though they fell out over Law’s admiration of Boehme).

The illustrations were undertaken by the London based German mystic Dionysuis Andreas Freher, whose work was a major influence upon the English poet, painter and prophet William Blake.

The complete series of emblems included above and below tells of Creation, the fall of Lucifer followed by the fall of Adam and man’s redemption through Jesus. Interestingly Sophia, a figure found in Gnosticism features prominently (the top S contrasting with the S of Sathan down below). The drawings of Hieroglyphica Sacra are unusual with their  near geometric abstraction, minimalism and pared down symbolism. It is alchemical art taken to its most cosmic level, an allegory of the War in the Three Realms of Heaven, Earth and HellDionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 3-William Law edition of Jacob Boehm

Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 1-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme

Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 2-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 2-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 3-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 3-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 4-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 4-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 6-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 6-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 7-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 7-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 8-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 8-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hierolgyphica Sacra 9-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 9-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 10-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 10-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 11-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 11-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 12-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 12-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 13-William Law edition of Jacob Boehm
Dionysuis Andreas Freher-Hieroglyphica Sacra 13-William Law edition of Jacob Boehme

 

 

 

 

Seven Eagles

Figure XII-Sapientia Veterum
Figure XII-Sapientia Veterum

The 40 illustrations of the Sapientia Veterum Philosophorum are among the finest and most striking of later (18th Century) alchemical art. Stanislas Klossowski De Rola, Balthus son and resident occult adviser to the Chelsea set in Swinging London, notes that it deserves to be seen in full, however I am unfortunately only able to present a limited number of images.

Reducing the royal art to only essential imagery, (glass vessel, dove, lion, rain, sun and moon), Sapientia shows the process of conjuration and separation of the elements in the ascent and descent of the dove, which occurs seven times in the manuscript. This transmigration of matter where the fixed is rendered volatile and the volatile fixed result in the so-called eagles, of which seven precede the exaltation of the Quintessence.

Figure VI
Figure VI
Figure VII
Figure VII
Figure VIII
Figure VIII
Figure X
Figure X
Figure XIV
Figure XIV
Figure XXIX
Figure XXIX
Figure XXXIII-Sapinetia Veretum
Figure XXXIII

Atalanta Fugiens

Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_14
Michael Maier -Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 14

The German physician and alchemist Michael Maier served as a counsellor to the occult besotted Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, Capital of Bohemia, however the forces that would lead to the Thirty Years War were conspiring against the Emperor and Maier was forced to leave, first to England, where he composed a song for the royal wedding of Frederick V of the Palantine to Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of James I, and then back to Germany in 1616, settling in Frankfurt am Main.

Atalanta Fugiens (Atalanta Fleeing) was published in 1617 by Johann Theodor de Bry in Oppenheim. de Bry published numerous works by authors aligned with the Rosicrucian movement and/or followers of the Swiss physician and occultist Paracelsus (incidentally also known as the ‘father of toxicology’).

An early example of a multi-media project, Atalanta is comprised of 50 discourses, each accompanied with an engraving by Matthias Merian of an alchemical emblem, an epigram, prose, a poem and a musical fugue for three voices.

Atalanta, as suggested by the title, frequently references Classical mythology, especially the story of the virgin huntress Atalanta, in addition to alchemical allegories featuring dragons, lions, the worm ouroboros and eagles..

Michael_Maier._Atalanta_Fugiens_Title_Page
Michael_Maier._Atalanta_Fugiens_Title_Page
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_1
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_1

 

Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_02
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_02
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_07
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_07
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_08
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_08
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_16
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_16
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_17
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_17
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_20
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_20
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_21
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_21
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_24
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_24
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_29
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_29
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_32
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_32
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_36
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_36
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_50
Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_50

 

Splendor Solis

Splendor_Solis_19_Black_Sun
Splendor_Solis_19_Black_Sun

One of the most sumptuous and beautiful of all illuminated alchemical texts, Splendor Solis was published in various versions throughout the German states in the 16th Century. Attributed to Salomon Trismosin, a legendary figure who acquired the Philosopher’s Stone and was allegedly Paracelsus’s teacher, Splendor contains 22 (the same number as the Major Arcana of the Tarot)  gorgeous, mystifying images with elaborate decorative borders reminiscent of  medieval Book of Hours. As with all alchemical treatises the text is full of dense allegorical references to the Solar King and Lunar Queen, death and re-birth, the black and the inner suns, planets and tinctures.

Splendor_Solis_04_Solar_King_and_Lunar_Queen_meet
Splendor_Solis_04_Solar_King_and_Lunar_Queen_Meet
Splendor_Solis_05_Miners_Excavating_Hill
Splendor_Solis_05_Miners_Excavating_Hill
Splendor_Solis_06_Philosophers_Beside_Tree
Splendor_Solis_06_Philosophers_Beside_Tree
Splendor_Solis_07_Drowning_King
Splendor_Solis_07_Drowning_King
Splendor_Solis_09_Hermaphrodite_with_Egg
Splendor_Solis_09_Hermaphrodite_with_Egg
Splendor_Solis_10_Severing_the_Head_of_the_King
Splendor_Solis_10_Severing_the_Head_of_the_King
Splendor_Solis_12_Saturn_Dragon_and_Child
Splendor_Solis_12_Saturn_Dragon_and_Child
Splendor_Solis_16_Venus_Peacocks_Tail
Splendor_Solis_16_Venus_Peacocks_Tail
Splendor_Solis_21_Women_Washing_Clothes
Splendor_Solis_21_Women_Washing_Clothes
Splendor_Solis_22_Sun_Rising_Over_the_City
Splendor_Solis_22_Sun_Rising_Over_the_City

 

 

SinisterShoreSide

Kurt Seligmann

At the school where I did anything but study
They tried to beat out the boldness
Only to encourage my wild and wicked side,
So they changed tack and instead talked and talked
Attempted to bore me from being bad
But it was of no use, they couldn’t avail
Because I was born sinister, one of the devil’s own;
My sympathy is always for the rogues and rebels,
The wanton and the wayward, waifs and strays,
Those sweet tarts with sickly gold hearts.
Even then my intentions were never honourable
But always and forever criminal, amen.

Let me take you down the left hand path,
Come on angel and crash with me
On the west side with its sinister streets,
Lift up your skirt and part those legs
Let’s ride through the rippling night
I will take you up to where I’m at,
Before showing you what’s down below,
Under the hill and beneath the deep blue.
Then solve et coagula, our reflections
Will refract in an avant garde rehearsal
Then splinter before a final re-con
Figuration on the distant sinister shore.