The resurrection day of flesh, or better the divine ethereal flesh, is the day we will remain only with the noblest part of ourselves, more precisely the one we will be able to extract. Although alchemists commonly reserve this treatment to metals, that’s to say destroying a metal to take out the most noble part, or Secret Fire/Mercurius/Spirit of Life. But, as Michelangelo apparently knew very well, we then need a new flesh, or body, to host it (2).
On a ladder of densities this Secret Fire/Mercurius will make denser, or richer, the same Mercurius, once duplicated, till becoming a metallic Perfect Sulfur/Soul/Christ through sublimation and/or fixation on the cross of St. John the Baptist. The whole action seems to start from St. Peter, the old white-bearded man just above St. Bartholomew, and on the left of Christ. The first of the evangelists, or the Holy Stone Saint, looks very similar to our Saturn, the extracting and dissolving agent, or Mercurius. In fact St. Peter is handing two keys to his Christ: one gold and one silver. Just as the two secret keys mentioned by Dante in Divine Comedy and very much resembling the two hermetic keys sealed in gold and silver, that’s to say the moon tree and sun tree.
Michelangelo conceived the whole Last Judgement central movement performed by our main five characters: Peter, Bartholomew, Lawrence, John the Baptist and Christ are a representation of the rotation, or repetitions, of the alchemical work necessary to refine our Secret Fire/Mercurius. The other movement is designed as a climb up, a raising, in alchemical vessels. In fact the figures below are in a kind of dark, watery hell or putrefaction. In the fresco lower area, hidden by altar candlesticks, Michelangelo painted the damned inside a cave. One can safely say that the the artist’s intentions were of a cross section of hell. Nevertheless this scene fits perfectly with the knowledge that our alchemical matter is extracted from the raw material. And the same alchemical subject is to be inevitably extracted from the human body.
Note on St. Bartholomew left St. Catherine holding a harrow to help sowing in a white cloud, and just above her a man with strange rakes, to comb the white wool or real Terra Alba Foliata or Mercurius Philosophorum to be sown. Usually the St. Catherine inonographic theme is an entire wheel, not a demi arch. Probably these two figures are other saints with their instruments of torture and martyrdom. Anyway some very appropriate alchemical tools.
To complete the alchemical devices series, in the upper zone of the fresco, above the Christ,we can see a cross and a column to complete the suite. I beg to differ from those saying these are the tools of Christ torture and martyrdom to allow our spiritual elevation. But coincidently I notice that the cross and the column, allegories of our Solve and Coagula, sublimating/fixating as well dissolving stages (3), are just perfectly convenient for our alchemical purposes. It really is true that the Cappella Sistina is where our hermetic Spirit of Life/Mercurius, wonderfully disguised in Holy Spirit, does act. But let’s get back to our Skin.
As the skin of our body is the organ qualified to interact with light, so Secret Fire extracted out of a whichever body is qualified to interact with light and with another Secret Fire/Mercurius/Spirit of Life. Mercurius Duplicatus (4) and/or the interactions between our Spirit of Life and light (5) are all model roles for our alchemical skin. Thus skin is a synonymous standing for Spirit of Life as well as being a synonymous for “Mumia” or mummy. And in the same way Mumia/mummy and skin are allegories for Mercurius.
Both Paracelsus and Philalethes made use of this term “Mumia”. Paracelsus called it also “Evestrum” in “Liber Apocalypseos Hermetis, de Supremo Mundi Secreto” or book of the hermetic revelations on the ultimate secret of the world (retaken by B.Figulus in Pandora 1608). He also writes a little treatise entitled “De vi magnetica mumiae in homine” in which Mumia-Skin has the attribute of magnetic because of its essential fire, unlike the common fire, operates exclusively by means of its essences and virtues. Ostanes would say that “a nature delights in another nature”.
Archarion in his Von Wahrer Alchemie, Freiburg 1983 retook Philalethes:“It is the Light of Life, Mumia Vitalis, the Calidum Nativum (native warm), the radical humidum, Mercurius Vitae (Mercurius of Life), Mercurius of a spiritual and heavenly pure essence, which ordinary men called Heaven, which appears to their eyes consisting of blue light, air and a magnetic salt. This salt is the fermenting agent, flavoring, balsamic, opening and altering, in fact into it, its nice mirror, there is a magnetic air light, the concentrated breath of life that gives taste and smell, the celestial fire, the blue agent, the fiery nature, the celestial matter that makes visible the invisible, spiritual the material and manifest the hidden”.
The last sentence bring us to an alchemical axiom, not hermetic though, that’s to say we have to made another pulpy flesh to embody this spiritual light. Mummies and skins seems here to have close resemblances with the esoteric etheric bodies, but Alchemy is all about new embodiments for ancient Souls and moreover the most ancient of all, namely our Spirit of Life/Mumia/Skin (6). Is the Last Judgment, like the Last Dinner, the ultimate fixation or the unknown ( for quite all mortals) last cooking? Was Michelangelo here talking of metal or human last cooking, or a little of both?
If you are not afraid, or bored, by gnostic implications, our mumia or evestrum is not wrapping the body, as is believed for the etherical bodies, but seems to be like a column inserted into the body through the head.
- see also or Aldus Manutius and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili or Botticelli, Venus Birth & the Primaterialistic Subject;
- see also Eros, Psyche & a new Alchemical Body;
- See also Wenceslaw Lavinius and the Sky and Earth Properties and Stoll, the Lacinius Translator on Male and Female Elements ;
- see also Atalanta Fugiens & Mercurius Duplicatus;
- see also Thesaurus Hermeticum & the Dry Pythagorean River and Aiòn, Light & Spirals of Immortality;
- See also Holbein Dead Christ Builds his Grave ;