A crowned bird in Ripley Scroll and seven feathers. We will see why only a skillful artist can pluck the alchemical bird King.
In Ripley Scroll our attention is focused on the feathers rather than the flying general attitude we are used to see in alchemical images. Some of us may remember Michael Maier sadly announcing he could pluck just a few feathers from the alchemical duck. Not properly to be identified with a generic failed task. But a precise alchemical phase.
The image we are examining is in the middle of the Ripley Scroll Yale (which you can see at the next article link on the bottom). This section is occupied by our white bird. It is just before the final red nutritional phase. We are in the Main Work (see an Opus Magnum scheme). And this nutritional phase is white.
We can see from he top: a dark cloud, a golden Sun, a golden rain, on a white crowned bird with golden wings, standing on a dark globe with the seven feathers. That’s all.
Let’s try to understand what this dark cloud may possibly is and where possible comes from. We are in the second part of the Work, so our Mercurius Philosophorum has already been achieved. In fact the two lions, female and male, are just above and before, in the entire image. And some additional Secret Fire will officiate their marriage (1). The Dissolving Green Lion and the Dissolved Red Lion. So they get married and then they ……..begin to putrefy together.
The dark cloud is this putrefactive stage, indeed. Not the first of our work though, but the most delicate putrefaction. Because it’s going to be then fed on raining Mercurius (2). Now we are waiting for colors. The cloud starts to color in dark grey and the mass to increase (3).
After the black will come the grey, and then the whiteness will fade the grey, till a snowy white will replace the grey. The Sun represents it as well as the opposite of the element Water which is bound to fall to the bottom.
Then the white, if everything is fine (4) will be replaced by an orangish white and finally to a red. And a black again. At every turn a mercurial golden rain is required to feed, and to wash as well, our mass, or embryo (5). Our future King.
Why a symbolic bird? Because the final result of our first part has been a white dove ( the first white), now in this phase it can act as an eagle because of the lifting power.
This lifting power will bring a rotation of colors. Six times we will see the rotation of black, white, red. Till a definitive seventh perfect red. But why do appoint feathers for this purpose? Because it is an ancient way of saying. I pasted here an excerpt from my previous article, Rodanius and the Rotations of Elements part 2, which will explain better than my words: ” …..certainly from this White the whole art of Alchemy is performed, and because of that it is a kind of moulting ( shed old feathers), which one who wants to operate must mainly know.”
To shed old feathers, or transmute colors ( in Greek mythology the feather was also a symbol of beam light). If our First Matter/Materia Prima has a great amount of Secret Fire inside, our white bird will shed spontaneously its feathers, provide the mercurial nourishment, of course. But if, like the majority of paths, our first matter is not so powerful, we will have to cook and carefully operate. Hence we will have to carefully try to pluck feather by feather. And hope for the feathers to be easy to being pulled out.
Between the image in this article and the image at footnote 1, we can see a Sun and a Moon. They symbolize our tools. That’s to say the Solve et Coagula by means of the Elements. The Sun stands for the fixative Elements, the Moon for the volatile ones (6). The Sun lifts, the Moon makes fall. By continue passages of states the feathers continuously fall and the alchemical bird will change in colors. In fact there are three colored balls inside the Sun and the Moon is colored in the same series of black-white-red. Till a permanent redness. A dragon.
To be continued at Ripley Scroll: the Soul Drinks only Blood, where, in the end of the article, you can see a full image of the Replay Scroll Yale MS 41 Mellon.