The Venus Birth portrayed by Botticelli has close resemblances with alchemical Primaterialistic Subject and its vegetative power.
The title “Birth of Venus” was a wrong one given by a curator of Galleria degli Uffizi museum, in nineteenth century. While, to be precise, the painting by Sandro Botticelli represents the Landing of Venus at Cyprus Island. According to many analysts it would depict the spiritual beauty of Soul.
The characters in the painted scene have been conceived to embody all different phases of the same leading role. Venus is all the same Zephirus, Aura, sea froth, shell, flowers, trees, woman handling red mantle and red mantle. Botticelli will use the same narrative method in “ The Springtime”.
Both the paintings, “Venus Birth” and “The Springtime” beautify a countryside villa owned by Cosimo the first, duke of Firenze. Both pictures have been assumed to conform to the piece of poetry “Stanze” by Agnolo Poliziano, a poet very close to the neo platonian culture prospering at De Medici court on fifteenth century. Alessandro Filipepi aka Sandro Botticelli ( 1445-1510) was brought up in Firenze in the very years when the pseudo Corpus Hermeticum has been said to be covertly offered by a monk miraculousy escaped from Byzantium siege in 1453.
Since Poemander supposed translation, and during centuries, there had been more or less brilliant attempts to put Alchemy and Catholicism getting along. According to Poliziano, Venus would represent spiritual beauty of the soul and red mantle is ready just to properly cover her nakedness. It is not so difficult to spot a naked person in an italian renaissance painting. But, to be honest, it was much more common to find young boys portraied without clothes. Feminine nudity, like in greek classic iconographies, was reserved for more sacred occasions rather than profane ones, even if they may seem so to a layperson.
Venus plays countless roles in mythological fictions. The scene in Botticelli’s painting gives the impression to be focused on ancient greek mythology. Indeed here all seems to fit classic iconography. But why Venus is being mantled with red? Never heard of that. Strange enough, in Alchemy, does exist a white phase going to redness, and this white phase is called Venus. Or vegetative power. Or extraction of our Primaterialistic Subject.
You can hardly find no mention of Venus in hermetic literature. Venus looks to be everywhere and, like in mythology, performs varied and sometimes contradictory functions. Dom Pernety makes her a leading role in his “Fables Egyptiennes et Grecques” edition 1786. In Alchemy Venus may be a good example of rule of three (an allegory stands for at least three different concepts). Philalethes regards Venus as a major constituent of “Magisterium”. And Magisterium is close to the alchemical final goal. A rough translation for it may be “Master dominion”.
Venus is being born by Laton or Putrefaction, that’s to say she represents the whiteness towards redness in the Main Work (see an Opus Magnum scheme). So, if speaking of Planets or phases, she is daughter of secon Saturn, That’s to say she is situated in the metamorphosis between black Saturn and reddish-citrinus Mars towards purple Sun (see a Kamala Jnana introduction). Indeed she is white, but has “citrinus” or citrus color hair and going to be red mantled.
Some authors identify Venus with a greenish color between black and white. And after that they affirm her vegetative power is an allegory standing for green color. Merèlle, in her Alkymiens Mysterier 1990, states: “The copper salt is blue, and in solution it has the same colour as the mediterranean ocean in sunshine. Food for thought. Because from this area stems the myth of Venus (Aphrodite), the woman that was born in a seashell on the blue ocean. Already in the year 3.000 B. C. copper was produced on the mediterranean island of Cypern, which means “copper island”. Here they also had, as previously mentioned, the legend of Pygmalion, that had his statue animated with the help of Aphrodite. But who was she actually, for she was also called Venus, and was synonymous with copper in alchemy!” Ok. But what if one is not likely to use copper as Materia Tertia or raw matter? Alchemists were usually not so keen on forcing people to a strict “recipe”. Their allegories should cover universal concepts rather than definite chemical molecules. For they perfectly know that our Secret Fire does all the job ( at least the most important one). Chemical proceedings are just the beginning. Alchemy without the belief in a strange and undetectable substance called Secret Fire would be unapproachable. Secret Fire causes a person skilled in the Art being able to employ quite all you can think of material. Copper is definitely not better than other metals. Perhaps easier to work, for a human being. But let’s return to our main topic.
Botticelli paints Venus being born from the Philosophical Sea, or Saturn Belly or Primitive Mercurius at which Luna ( Moon) or Mercurius/Solvent is being returned. These are rather volatile substances, in fact vessels are well stoppered during putrefaction. Volatile substances are feminine. But Venus, in spite of her good name, is less female than Luna or Moon. For Venus is losing her indeterminate feminine nature and involving in a methamorphoseon. We are always talking about Mercurius and its density stairs, nevertheless in Venus we are well towards fixity or masculine property. Nothing to be sown inside, so vessels are open. Blowing Zephirus and Aura are getting her ashore. Zephirus, gods son, is an allegory for white Stone, White Sulphur. Aura represents Soul that is to be extracted from its prison. We can notice that Aura is wingless, Zephirus is holding and lifting her up. As stated above, all characters are performing Venus attributes and metamorphosis phases.
Venus has been said to be born from sea froth. Some air is inside Mercurius. Kamala Jnana called Venus, or whiteness in Main Work, a Coagula process. We know that Coagula is opposite to Solve, and has a stimulating uplifting power, typically masculine. In fact, if seeing at Kamala Jnana “the Great Work photographed” we may notice a white mass taking much more space than previous black one and less than next red. Venus vegetative power appears quite evident. Trees along picture side put emphasis on this aspect. Flowers appear at her stepping. Flowers are a symbol for Coagula or Sublimation. Of course in Main Work we have already finished alchemist labor or Labors of Hercules, in which sublimations have been performed by human craft. In Main Work Secret Fire, this strange undetectable substance, has gone out and begun working by itself, on itself. Slightly sublimating itself, in an astonishing spectacle which may be observed by alchemist. Of course vegetative power is not just that. But an intrinsic factor. Venus was worshipped as the goddess of pregnancy. If Luna or Moon is the Spirit coming out of body, Venus is the Soul extracted from Spirit. She is the Queen of Amor ( Love), playing countless unions. Remember Philaletes calling her a major constituent of “Magisterium”. In fact Soul-Evestrum-Daemon-Sal Saturni-Proteus-Corpus Sideribus ( stellar body) is our Primaterialistic Subject. That’s to say Soul, now definitely out of mass-body.
Botticelli was probably well funded by his patron, because metallic gold is everywhere in the painting. It innervates Zephirus wings and trees leaves. As Metallic Gold or redness can be sown before Venus Phase. To extract its Soul.