The throne hieroglyph’s different meanings reveal an ancient symbolism and later artistic iconographies on the primordial alchemical feminine.
Egyptian hieroglyphics are sapiential writing, or perhaps they are incredibly ancient. As we will see, they often explain themselves just like, and, very often, as complicated alchemical symbolisms. The hieroglyph, commonly known as “stile”, did instead represent a throne. But that’s not all; an Egyptian hieroglyph frequently has more than one signification, and even more interesting, these significations may assemble an honest philosophical discourse.
In the case of the “stile” hieroglyph, we can add the meaning of “altar” to that of “throne”. So here we have a throne but also an altar. They are not incoherent. But if we incorporate the third possible meaning of “womb”, even the more inattentive reader would have already noticed an alchemical pregnancy.
Cleopatra, the legendary Egyptian alchemist, used to employ sexual mechanics to explain alchemical works better: “they are very similar to a marriage with coitus, pregnancy, and childbirth”—all operations in which a womb takes prominence.
A throne is a clear symbol of a king, an altar for a ritual of consecration, or a sacrifice—a womb for childbirth. But let’s go on with the fourth meaning: the “origin”. And the fifth significance is “power”.
The “throne” hieroglyph is sometimes accompanied by the hieroglyph meaning Osiris, and sometimes we find the sixth meaning carrying the hieroglyph itself, as we can see here in the picture that’s Isis. So Isis is the sixth sign of the “stile” or “throne” design. And so the throne was explicitly for a queen: Isis, the Egyptian queen for antonomasia.
Alchemists often hide the most important concepts under Isis’s name: Secret Fire in all its densities. Secret Fire is the foundation of Alchemy. It is an ineffable substance coming from the sun and stars, which we collect from metals because the electronic clouds of metals contain the same secret fire of the sun. Secret Fire is then “worked” into Mercurius, sulfur, salt, and philosopher Stone. More ineffable than the Secret Fire’s texture, we have a Spirit of life and Souls. There is a Secret Fire density stairs or scale. Secret Fire in the texture of Mercurius is a magnet to call for Suns and Stars. As well as the more prestigious fire to cook our matters.
In Alchemical symbology, Isis is also the female: the volatile, the dissolvent. Isis is the whole. Like in Egyptian mythology, she does make quite all the alchemical work.
Then we are ready for the seventh meaning of the “throne” hieroglyph: the nightly power of Isis, which is nothing obscure if we consider the usual color for the night: Black or dark Blue.
In “Kore Kosmou”, or “The Virgin of the World”, Isis is the main character and subject of the work. Isis, the speaking alchemist-goddess, is unveiling to her son Horus how Isis, the Secret Fire/Mercurius/Virgin of the World, was the origin of all things. The section I chose is universally known and perfectly suits this article theme: “ Now give good heed, son Horus, for thou, are being told the mystic spectacle which Kamephis, our forefather, was privileged to hear from Hermes, record-writer of all deeds, and I from Kamephis, most ancient of us all, when he did honor me with the black-rite-that gives perfection; hear thou it now from me.”
The above translation in English is by Brian Brown. The unique observation I can make is about the last phrase. I have always read, in latin translations, the wording “ he did honor me with the perfect black” instead of “he did honor me with the black-rite-that gives perfection”. In truth, Alchemy begins with the perfect black appearing on the scene. But Brown’s rendition seems just a more poetic construction. Unless it was a verbatim construction, the result is a bit involute for us moderns.
Complete dark putrefaction ( see an Opus Magnum scheme) is Alchemy introducing herself. But I could put the phrases in plural since dark putrefactions are periodical in our art. The first reported black is called Primitive Mercurius since it is antecedent to the first apparition of luminous whiteness/dissolvent/Mercurius. The Primitive Mercurius/blackness is the nightly power of Isis, the seventh sign of the “throne” hieroglyph. The white power of Isis, or the Universal Dissolvent, coming out of the nightly power of Isis will always be known as Isis but under another hieroglyph.
Furthermore, we are now ready to understand the second meaning of the same hieroglyph: the “altar”, which we can now see with alchemical eyes. Sacrifices are quite often involved, not only literally but also symbolically, in Alchemy. We have two kinds of immolations. The first is the renunciation of matter, with its destruction, during the first phase. And this is our case.
The throne symbology also explains why, in Italian medieval and renaissance art, so many “Madonna” or Virgins Mary have been painted upon a dominion chair. On the other side of the mediterranean sea, the ancient Isis iconography still survived for a while. On the left, a sixth-century b.C. enthroned goddess found in Paestum, near Naples.