Animals are used to symbolize the basic components and processes of alchemy. They may be used to symbolize the four Elements such as the lion or ox (Earth), fish or whales (Water), eagles (Air), or salamanders or dragons (Fire). Aerial animals indicate volatile principles. Terrestrial animals indicate fixed principles. Whenever two animals are found, they signify Sulfur and Mercury or some relationship between the fixed and the volatile.
To understand this Sage Sweetwater article, first one must comprehend the word antimony, also known as Wolf as applied to alchemy. The metal antimony symbolizes the animal nature or wild spirit of woman/man and nature. It is often symbolized by the wolf. Alchemist Basil Valentine named the metal antimony after feeding it to some monks in a Benedictine monastery. The monks got violently ill and some even died. The Latin name antimony means "anti-monk." Spiritually, monks feel threatened by their own animal natures. Surprising enough, the Tincture of Antimony cures venereal diseases.
The Basilisk is a symbolic alchemical creature said to have the head of a bird and the body of a dragon. The wingless serpentine animal was hatched from a hermaphroditic cock's egg and nursed by a serpent. Psychologically, the Basilisk represents the melding of our higher and lower natures in Conjunction, a process that must be continued in the next three operations of alchemy for this "Child of the Philosophers" to become the Living Stone of the fully integrated Self. Biologically, the Basilisk represents the mammalian embryology, the genetic replaying of the stages of evolution within the egg or womb. The Basilisk also has chemical connotations, which has to do with a metallurgical process involving cinnabar.
Ascending birds indicate the volatilization of compounds or their sublimation. Descending birds indicate the fixation of compounds or their condensation and precipitation. Birds shown both ascending and descending indicate the process of Distillation.
Crows are the symbols of the black phases of Calcination and Putrefaction.
Dogs signify primitive matter, natural sulfur, or material gold. A dog being devoured by a wolf symbolizes the process of purifying gold using antimony.
The dove is a symbol of renewed spirit or infusion of energy from Above. Chemically, it signifies the change from the Black Stage to the White Phase of transformation.
The dragon in flames is a symbol of fire and Calcination. Several dragons fighting is symbolic of Putrefaction. Dragons with wings represent the volatile principle; dragons without wings represent the fixed principle. A dragons biting its own tale is the Ouroboros and signifies the fundamental unity of all things.
The eagle is always a symbol of volatilization. For instance, an eagle devouring a lion indicates the volatilization of a fixed component by a volatile component
The griffin is a half-lion and half-eagle creature that symbolizes the Conjunction of the fixed and volatile principles. An allusion to the Vessel of Hermes.
The Ouroboros (or Uroboros) is the symbolic rendition of the eternal principles presented in the Emerald Tablet. The great serpent devouring itself represents the idea that "All Is One," even though the universe undergoes periodic cycles of destruction and creation (or resurrection). In Orphic and Mithraic symbology, the Ouroboros was called the Agathos Daimon or "Good Spirit" and was a symbol for the "Operation of the Sun." In Greek terminology, the Ouroboros was the Aion, which Herakleitos likened to a child at play. To the Greeks, the Aion (from which our word "eon" is derived) defined the cosmic period between the creation and destruction of the universe.
A circulatory vessel with two side-arms feeding condensed vapors back into the body. It has a fancied resemblance in shape to a pelican pecking at its breast.
Two serpents represent the opposing masculine and feminine energies of the Work. Three serpents stand for the three higher principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. Winged serpents represent volatile substances; wingless serpents represent fixed substances. A crucified serpent represents the fixation of the volatile.
According to the Doctrine of Correspondences in the Emerald Tablet ("As Above, so Below"), the stars must find expression on earth and in mankind. In alchemy, it was essential to consult the zodiac before commencing any of the major operations.
Completing the animal cycle of alchemy from A to Z, back to:
The word is derived from the Arabian phrase "al-kimia," which refers to the preparation of the Stone or Elixir by the Egyptians. The Arabic root "kimia" comes from the Coptic "khem" that alluded to the fertile black soil of the Nile delta. Esoterically and hieroglyphically, the word refers to the dark mystery of the primordial or First Matter (the Khem), the One Thing through which all creation manifests. Alchemy is the Great Work of nature that perfects this chaotic matter, whether it be expressed as the metals, the cosmos, or the substance of our souls.
Sage Sweetwater wrote her Lesbian Western screenplay The Sundance Wives: The Gates of Doogun Hill under the manifestation process of alchemy. The Screenplay Logline: The Sundance Wives, Four women in search of the Philosopher's Stone in 1879 take over The Establishment. Tumbleweed vs hoof of the wild boar. Lesbian Western story based on the transformed guise of alchemy - Christian Myth & Folk Christianity laced with Jung.
The Sundance Wives are the basis of historical narrative, legendary in their making, correcting a social blunder involving the real-life Sundance Wives. The scenes are historically accurate.
The Sundance Wives: The Gates of Doogun Hill is currently in Film Development with Triboro Pictures.
Copyright Ms. Sage Sweetwater, firebrand lesbian novelist