An unexpected Perugino’s uncombed Madonna. But a Sun painted on her shoulder easily reveals the reason: she is our Secret Fire main catching system.

Pietro_Perugino_madonna child hair detailRenaissance, moreover in Italy, was the hair styled age for antonomasia. Wealthy women spent a huge amount of their time having their hair perfectly combed and architecturally arranged. So Pietro Perugino’s models in all his paintings, in fact he, as the aesthete he was, would have never represented a neglected woman in a canvas of his.

As a matter of fact the painter tries to stop the turmoil with ribbons in her hair. But all in vain. This “Madonna col Bambino”, or Madonna with child, is the unique of this kind in the italian fifteenth century painter repertory. And one of the few with the solar logo too.

The canvas we are examining wasn’t a Perugino’s highlight. I can only find it  mentioned in Vittoria Garibaldi’s “Pietro Perugino Catalogo Completo”, or complete catalogue, Octavo Edizioni, Firenze 2000. You can get an introduction to this painter at Pietro Perugino and the Black Horned Motherhood, in that article I scrutinized another solar Madonna, the Decemviri altarpiece, but there I rather pointed at other unusual details. And I just limited to mention the little sun logo on the girl left shoulder, but failed to give a thorough explanation: because I waited for additional articles on the descent of Secret Fire from the Sun. Which I had with Nuisement and the Sun Resisting Capture.

I get to the point: a Sun painted everywhere other than in sky, in Alchemy, is always a symbol of Secret Fire/Spiritus Mundi. Sometimes to indicate fixity and volatility, dissolvent and dissolved, macrocosm and microcosm and so on. In almost every article I warn you that every alchemical symbol stands for at least three different meanings and that Secret Fire is our First Matter (1). On the ubiquitous Sun-Moon symbology I have already written some articles (2). As well as on motherhood (3).

Perugino employes here another unusual iconographic theme of his, that’s to say an alone girl with her baby. In fact that can be hardly found  in the Raffaello Sanzio’s master repertory. Perhaps you are asking yourself why I’m so confident Pietro Perugino being a hermetic savant. Simply because Alchemy, as strange as it may seem to us nowadays,  was actually the mainstream culture of renaissance. And back at that time symbology hadn’t a mere decoration reason.

As we have already seen in the Tempest by Giorgione (3), motherhood represents our Mercurius in reproductive stage. Which is also our Secret Fire, of course. In fact in that famed Giorgione’s painting the girl was our volatile Mercurius: she was white and naked with a fixed man in the nearby. This symbolism can be explained by links at footnote number 2.

But the girl in this Perugino’s canvas is different. She is neither the Giorgione’s woman, nor the putrefactive dark queen, like the Madonna in Decemviri Altarpiece, who was comparable to Primitive Mercurius.

This girl is antecedent to many Mercurii, but successive to others. For example she surely is not an allegory of the “Cosmos” world, or our solar system world, she is not the Moon, she is not a Mercurius Sideribus from Stars.

She is our Lady of the Wind. She is the girl who ties Cosmos with Ouranos, or our Earth. In my article Thesaurus Hermeticum and the Dry Pythagorean River I quoted a paragraph from Introitus Apertus, namely from Chapter entitled “ On Air”. In those lines Philalethe talked of Above invisible Waters as the “Air of Sages”. But this is not our case yet. Since those waters where really impalpable and unable to mess a girl’s hair.  But who is this girl?

She surely represents Secret Fire, as the solar symbol on her shoulder, but both as a perceptible natural movement, since she is the perceptible natural movement, she is the “flowing”, a denser Secret Fire carried by atmosphere. Here I don’t mean the mere element Air though, as elements can be assimilated to changes of state. She is the “Flowing Net” which literally gets hold of Secret Fire corpuscles and bring them down to the ground for us.

To be more precise she represents Secret Fire while in the Air net grasp. And, as you can imagine, this Secret Fire is here a little denser than Moon, which is a little denser than solar Secret Fire. This density stairs can be much more understandable in a geocentric representation (4).

Our unpretentious girl has borne a child. Or, better, she is her child as well as perfectly able to replicate herself and nourish.  For in alchemical iconographies all personages are different moments of the same thing.

But, as we will see in Kriegsmann’s commentary on Tabula Smaragdina, the Wind symbol stands also for physical rain-snow-dew. In fact, together with the Wind/alchemical net, they grasp the Secret Fire bouncing from the moon. And together with the Net they are flowing phenomena. So, no wonder that the alchemical element Water does represent them. Not Air.

  1. See also Basilius Azoth, Salt or Philosophers Gold?
  2. See also Sun and Moon at the Turn of the First Millennium and Philosophia Reformata, Father Sun and Mother Moon ;
  3. See also Giorgione, Tempest & Aqua Pontica ;
  4. See Two Stars in a Geocentric Venetian Sky and Voynich Manuscript and the Unknown Part of the Rhythm , Nuisement and the Sun Resisting Capture ;
  5. Kriegsmann: Sun, Moon, Wind and Earth in Tabula Smaragdina ;