The second series of Daniel Cramer Emblemata Sacra engravings. The introductory Coronor emblem immediately suggests that we are in a phase after Classical Alchemy. We are in theurgy.
For an exhaustive biography and a discussion of the theme of the sacred heart in Christianity during the Baroque age, I have already written extensively in the previous part dedicated to the first series of Cramer’s emblems. I will add that the Christian Sacred Heart broadly symbolizes devotion, faith, the receptacle of love, the metaphor of detachment from worldliness, consolation of human tribulations, and divine reward for human suffering. And this has already been said in the previous article. But, back there, I had only mentioned the symbolism of the heart as a receptacle of love and memory. Here, with extreme humility, I will try to mention what is hidden under these two symbols. Love and Memory. These are, in turn, just two symbolic iconographies: it’s not about common and popular love and memory, the one we all know in front of a loved one’s grave or panic during a school exam. The common denominator of these two human “potentialities” is what the Greeks called a theophany.
The counterpart, the judge, the divine sacred heart depended on Epiphany, from the Greek theophàneia, composed of theos (“god”) and phainein (“manifest”), which literally means “a manifestation of divinity in the sensible form”. In a philosophical sense, the theophany manifests divinity through his/her – perhaps better “its” – works. For a religious person, the success of these hopes and meditations depended on the degree of intensity of the believer’s awareness, which was expected only in humans. But for the ancient Greeks, “a manifestation of divinity in the sensible form”, a theophàneia, was a practice with little devotional and much theurgic purpose: it had to do with the actual “fabrication of a divinity”. Possibly the darkest, most mysterious, and most dangerous of ancient religious practices. To keep on the safe side, I’ll let the neo-Platonist philosophers talk in the following articles on the topic (in fact, what Neoplatonic philosophy was about). Here I’ll say that it is, as the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili texts picturesquely express, the union of a ghost with human intellect. And, you know, generally, human intellects are only possible when embodied. When, in great antiquity, they spoke of heaven-earth communication, this was meant.
The property of this central inner heart of transmitting and receiving was called in medieval south Europe Amor Cortese or Platonic Love. The secret brotherhoods who practiced this esoteric doctrine were known as Fedeli d’Amore. The Divine Comedy of Dante, Petrarca’s poems, the Provencal troubadours’ songs, and sagas of love all dealt precisely with this ancient belief disguised as ordinary love between two human beings. But the themes of courtly love were peculiar to the Middle Ages; after the reform of the church and the consequent beginning of the Inquisition, this wave was already treated with suspicion. Between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, Europe was inflamed by religious struggles, and suddenly everything was cloaked in burning declarations of faith; natural philosophy and medicine treatises began with statements of faith, while authors hidden by pseudonyms wrote Alchemy books, but even anonymous no longer call upon the love of knowledge, but faith in Jesus Christ. The German Rosicrucians were born in this challenging age and took on immediately a cautious attitude of devotion to the divine. Never like, in this age, the name of God was so often cited in the books of any discipline, never like in this era were written more Christian panegyrics, and never like, and despite censorship and Inquisition, were written so many treatises on Alchemy.
The iconography of the humble human heart burning love to the pitiful Sacred Heart of Jesus was born in the baroque era and soon became synonymous with ardent mysticism. The symbol of the heart was adopted by theologians and famous mystics like Jakob Böhme and Valentin Weigel, who often adopted the theme of the Sacred Heart to represent sky-to-ground communications. Still, their mystical imagery was very contemplative and free from alchemical complications. Daniel Cramer’s book appears to run along similar lines; the protagonist always remained a humble human heart, burning to love to the sky, but whose story extravagantly assumes the typical themes of medieval courtly love. Therefore the heart faces challenges and fights and yearns for a reunion with his beloved. If we can imagine a young knight in place of a heart muscle, the story fits in all respects to the love poems of the troubadours.
Let’s now return decisively to the second series of Daniel Cramer’s emblems. I consider it a work in progress, but I could not postpone its publication much longer.
The second series shows very little that could be attributed to an allegory for lab alchemy, like the first series. Suppose the first series might represent the so-called “Operatio”, or operation. In that case, that’s to say, the achievement of the Stone or something similar; the second part might represent the “Amplificatio”, or what to do after. To confirm my thesis, the second part presents a prefatory emblem with the motto “Coronor”, or I’m crowned, “I’m an adept now”, a motto commonly known by lab alchemists as the watershed between Operatio and Amplificatio. But that lab alchemists only know from their side as the “Achievement of the Stone”. The presence of the lyre, an instrument built by Hermes to be given to Apollo, confirms the achievement of a level beyond obtaining the Stone: the seven notes have been struck.
In fact, the open book symbol represents the total opening of the raw material and the extraction of its spiritual parts. The scepter is a symbol of initiation too.
The altar represents a sacrifice, a passage from life to death to life again, or the beginning of a new time. It is where mortal and immortal meet. Souls join and merge with what is closer to nature, fire, and smoke. Cramer does dip souls and merges them with what is closer to their nature. In the second series, the heart appears to symbolize the soul and is a symbol of initiation.
Emblemata Sacra second series
Emblemata Sacra: hoc est, decades quinque emblematum ex sacra scriptura, de dulcissimo nomine & cruce Jesu Christi, figuris aeneis incisorum. Pars prior to Prime reveren. Dn. Danielem Cramerum SS. Theologiae doctorem collectio. Postea true Dn. Cunrado Bachmanno, hist. … Illustrata. Francofurti, Sumptibus Lucae Jennis I., 1674.
1 Radicabor ( I get rooted, consolidated) – into the soul are the germs of eternity, but the soul must be double. Specifically: roots= element earth, in this case, the ultimate earth, the stone; spider+ net= broadcasting soul; roses=philosophers stone; bees=universal dissolvent or even what we philosophically know as “net“ – Mumia/Ochêma, the spirit of life. See also Michelangelo & the Mumia Skin in Last Judgement.
2 Confortabor (I get strengthened, invigorated) – Cross: fixation; Lion the archetypal Soul or macrocosm See also The Aldus Manutius’ Dolphin at Anchor.
3 Pacis Amans – ( peace-loving) – feather= ray of light, the two feathers-plumes of Isis and Nephtys, the fixation of the two plumes on the shoulder or head of the initiated witnessing his perfection. Feathers, as well as plumes, are a symbol of what is whirling in the air.
4 Mitesco (I tame) – grazing the flock means caring for the sheep/soul to find the proper nourishment. Shepherds symbolize wisdom; Herodotus said that the pyramids were erected by “shepherds” who came from afar.
5 Coecutio – (I am dim-sighted) – the owl, dear to Athena, goddess of the divine Verb, with its bright eyes like the moon reflects the sun’s light. In this case, sunlight rather indicates the “verb” that comes from afar. The light that is heard with the ears.