But le’s proceed with systematic order. Or at least, I’m trying, since nothing is more refractory to order than symbolism. First of all why we have a male actor applying for a female role? In poor words why Eros/Mercurius is usurping a role traditionally entrusted with female? No usurpation at all. We can notice that in Renaissance Hypnerotomachia Poliphili characters sex is inverted: Polia girl is acting as Eros and Poliphilo boy as Psyche (2). Secret Fire has no sex, indeed. But reproductive capacities.
Or the power to awake another sleeping Secret Fire. Romans called it “De Potentia ad Acto” or from potential to act. Is Eros here awakening Psyche, in the same way as Polia is awakening Poliphilo? The answer cannot but being affirmative.
Psyche is our definite Soul/Sulphur, while Eros is indefinite Mercurius/Spirit of life. That’s the reason why Eros prohibits Psyche from looking at his face: because he doesn’t have an individual face.
The series of engravings below belong to Rosarium Jacobi 1550. First three pictures are about our Primitive Mercurius or first darkness or first Putrefaction (see an Opus Magnum scheme) from which we are trying to extract our Mercurius or Eros. We can follow the whole process from left to right. Mercurius/Eros is abandoning putrefacted mass to reach the top of the vessel ( well stoppered, of course). Then Mercurius/Eros washes itself and returns into the mass. Quite in a circulation.
The scene above is quite identical, but for the sex of volatile taking off substance. As a matter of fact now a woman is abandoning and then returning. What is the difference between the two apparently similar sequence? Just timing. Or phasing, if you prefer. In Blaise de Vigenère “Traité du Feu et du Sel” or Treatise on Fire and Salt 1618, we have already heard of Mercurius being the unique entitled to further extract Sulphur or Soul or Psyche.
A first alchemical body will be a Mercurius plus Sulphur union. Since our main actors are nothing more nothing less than Secret Fire in its different densities, we can understand that a material vehicle is needed (3). A first, or minor, Magisterium Corpi or Embodiment is being performed. That’s to say to give a body to a spirit and soul previously extracted from a body. Dealing mainly with metals the practice may not seen so outlandish. As a matter of fact we only need a material support, which we called Salt, for the huge amount of flying Secret Fire we have managed to gather.
Nevertheless some alchemists (very few) do not content themselves with a mere metallic Philosophers Stone. But they eventually may decide to go further, pushing their last cooking. You may know that there ‘s no difference among natural reigns. In fact we alchemists do believe that every mixed is indeed composed by a corpse, a Spirit of Life and a Soul. All mixed, even human kind (4). Demetra and Dyonisos mysteries are all about Eros and Psyche myth. Dyonisos, Adonis, Bacchus, Eros, Cupid are all Aphrodite’s children and often they went confused one another.
On the right we can see a roman high relief in which Eros and Psyche are very close to Eleusinian Mysteries. Psyche seems here fearful and restive about taking the decision to fly off, being too little winged ( in comparison with her Juno size). A short and very young Eros with a torch light appears as Psyche’s guide in a dreadful path. Why is he holding a torch?
We have already appreciated our Psyche/Soul/Sulphur flying qualities. Indeed Fulcanelli, in his Mysteries of Cathedrals 1926, compares Psyche to a butterfly, and the ancient Greeks had called the soul Psiche, which literally means “butterfly.” When a substance tends to raise inside a stoppered vessel to then precipitate again, is usually defined as volatile. But we cannot bother two Gods to simply represent metallic spirit and soul union in a new body. Philosphers Stone is absolutely about metallic immortality, hence its famed incorruptibility. Eleusinian Mysteries are about human Psyche/Soul immortality and its underworld and quite deadly travel, only enlightened by Eros/Spirit of Life.
Porphirius said that was not without a reason that ancient people associated Souls to Winds that use to keep going and returning (5), since according to someone Souls draw Breathing and make its substance. In the above roman high relief Psyche is waiving her delicate peplus to create an air current, a wind.
Iamblichus ( Misteriis I, 12) :” Souls should be used to separate from their body since they dwell in it and wrap around their immortal principle”. Isis is calling Osiris back to life by flapping around him.
The flapping of Eros will not take Psyche off skywards, but heads her towards underworld, in a real descent to nether regions. He is flying her to a cave. To an Embodiment again. After having been separated, construction and destruction, or chemistry and Alchemy will rejoin again (6).
- Summary from “New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology”, 1959 by The Hamlyn Publishing Group;
- See also Aldus Manutius & Hypnerotomachia Poliphili ;
- See also Morienus & Mercurius Odor;
- See also Aiòn, Light & Spirals of Immortality;
- See also Gnostic Gems & the Art of Drawing Spirits;
- See also Demeter, Anima Mundi & House of Bread , Dionysus, Universal Dissolvent and Kykeon , Pompeii Mysteries Villa: a Gentle Flowing with Mystica Vannus , Rossetti and the Mystery of Platonic Love, part 1 , The Dangerous Journey into the Gundestrup Cauldron , Michelangelo & the Mumia Skin in Last Judgement , Rennes le Chateau, Alchemy & Counter Initiation , Botticelli, Venus Birth & Primaterialistic Subject ;