Hortulus Hermeticus engraving number thirty-nine puts on display two unfamiliar starry horned goats with hovering Sun and Moon. And that is very appropriate to Michael Maier Subtilis Allegoria Super Secreta Chymia.
Amalthea is the name of a goat in Greek Mythology, lifted to the sky to suck the infant Zeus or supply Nymphs to feed Zeus. Nymphs are synonyms for Virgin’s Milk/Mercurius.
One of Amalthea’s horns was tied with the idea of abundance: Cornucopia. We have two nymphs: Ida and Idraste, named after those watery, or better raining, matters feeding infant Zeus or Jupiter or grey phase.
These rains are said Melissas, namely bees – alchemical bees, like common bees, are hardworking and hovering everywhere. For this rain, feeding is being fiercely performed. Yes, but the Hortulus Hermeticus collection provides another engraving, number five, showing bees tempest and a beautiful woman finally getting out. We supposedly are in Main Work ( see an Opus Magnum scheme) in grey or Jupiter phase between black and white. Saturn and Venus. See an exhaustive picture of Main Work with grey Jupiter phase on the right from Abraham the Jew Molinier. Tempest-feeding during the grey phase is visible as the size grows.
But despite all that, I’m not wholly convinced about Stolcius’s plan for these two goats. Rule of three ( an allegory may stand for at least three different concepts) allow me to search for more suitable meanings. We know that our stone is to be fed like an infant. But is the second and littler goat representing infant Zeus? Have you ever seen a horned infant goat? And why these infant horns are starry too, like its supposed mother? Things are here not so fitting with Amalthea’s iconography. Why Sun and Moon are symbols hovering in the scene? Our two goats are identical, but for their size. Sun is here shorter than Moon. Differences are kept to a minimum.
For further information, we can check out Bibliotheca Chemico-Curiosa Mangeti Hortulus Continuus mottos around every engraving. So: “Materia Philosophica naturaliter vocatur Vulphi, hoc est animal” or Philosophical Matter is naturally called Vulphi ( a neologism middle way between wolf and fox), which indeed is an animal. Of course, what’s more natural than breastfeeding, our Virgin’s Milk/Mercurius? But what’s more natural, too, than our Mercurius Universalis and Sideribus affecting from the sky? And Philosophical Matter might be everything from Mercurius Universalis-Sideribus to Perfect Sulphur inside our vessel. The last one is often better represented as a lamb or a ram. As much as we try to fit these two starry goats comfortably and their motto, we will find that we have to cancel or misplace something in alchemical works.
One of the many secrets involving Alchemy is Time. Or better weather, as well as Sun Path or Ecliptic. 160 engravings should grant Hortulus Hermeticus enough feasibility to cover many alchemical issues. Indeed, if we recall Hortulus Hermeticus as a whole, we can observe that the first picture is unquestionably about the ecliptic or Sun Path. Since the beginning, Stolcius points out the uselessness of making alchemical operations at the wrong times of day and year.
Speculum Veritatis summarized this concept in its first picture. And Canseliet captions it in this way: “ The union of two rams”. The hermetic use of this symbol dates back to the “ cabalistic” or green language ancient Egyptian attitude. The Egyptian name for ram and Soul, our Sulfur, sounded alike: Khnum. Indeed Cabalist language’s cryptic code is, moreover, a phonetic one.
We are ready to read that excerpt from Michael Maier’s “Subtilis Allegoria Super Secreta Chymia Authore Michaelis Mejeri” taken from Musaeum Hermeticum Amplificatum et Reformatum, 1677. Or “A Subtle Allegory concerning the Secrets of Alchemy very useful to possess and pleasant to read”, as A.E.Waite summarized in his translation of“ HermeticMuseum”,1893.
In this treatise, Michael Maier describes important covered alchemical phases through a fictive journey accompanied by the correct times, Signatures, or Sun Path.
Title Europe: Earth. “I left my native town on the day of the vernal equinox (Spring Equinox), when the Moon and Sun were both in the sign of Aries, intending to first travel through Europe, and to enquire everywhere after the Phoenix”. ButWaite fails to translate a: “circa caput draconis, ut vocant astronomi constituta” or about the time when Caput Draconis or Head of Dragon, as astronomers call it, will be. Renaissance period astronomers were astrologers as well.
A cultured Christian person may call to mind that in Spring time there is a resurrection, a new body, a supreme fixation or calcination if you like, as Europe-earth gives us a synonym for and as a sidenote points out: “Europa terra assimilatur” or Europe is assimilated to earth what horned animals are for. And what’s more animal than Sun’s Path on the ecliptic and its Sun beams gathered from the reflecting Moon? A new life is being born through this ultimate fixation or Fire Proof. A Phoenix is the ultimate product of Solve et Coagula. Perfect Red Sulphur is achieved forever. You can see a Phoenix picture enlarging the colored Abraham the Jew Molinier.
Do not confuse here with the Limojon de Saint Didier, Alexandre Toussaint’s famed engraving. He represents the alchemical labors of Hercules starting in Taurus, while Michael Maier means a final achievement in Aries. Limojon is painting mass disgregation while Maier a new body.
My final opinion is that Hortulus Hermeticus 39 might display secret information about External Influences or Signatures on display. This time on “Cosmos” (1) or middle note. Sun goat may be the astronomical Sun, shorter than the Moon goat since Sunbeams are gathered from the reflecting Moon. As a matter of fact, in Cosmos, alchemists did only check for Sun-Moon aspects.
Latin epigram poetic structure and poor printing, in Bibliotheca Chemica-Curiosa tome 2 page 898, causes it to be very difficult to translate and consequently does not provide real help, but for a comparison between Goat Moon and Apollo/Sun. My translation cannot but be interpretative: ” Beef Apis of Egypt provided plenty of symbols to feed when Isis and Osiris were celebrated. Similarly, you goat (2) Moon or (3) perfect Apollo will bring help …(4)”.
- See Thesaurus Hermeticum & Dry Pythagorean River ;
- Caprum sounds like a male term and is nonexistent. Capra,ae or goat is feminine indeed;
- Vel means or, either, like. Apollo is here in ablative;
- Not readable;