Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rosarium Philosophorum

Attributed to Arnoldo di Villanova (1235-1315), the spiritual alchemy text 'Rosarium Philosophorium' was first printed in Frankfurt in 1550 with 20 woodcut illustrations (plus 1 title image). It was the 2nd volume of a work known as 'De Alchimia Opuscula Complura Veterum Philosophorum'.

These famous illustrations depict one of the important themes in alchemy, that of the conjunction of opposites in the quest for the philosopher's stone. It does so by incorporating elements from the traditional religious symbolism of 'Heiros Gamos' or 'the holy wedding'.

Adam McLean divides the stages of the alchemical process represented into:

1 An entry into the vessel of transformation,
2 A conjunction of the two primal archetypal forces,
3 Their merging into an hermaphrodite in a death or nigredo stage,
4 The extraction or ascent of one facet of the soul into the Spiritual realm,
5 The descent of a spiritual dew or essence from above,
6 The return of the extracted soul forces,
7 The final formation of the Stone pictured as the resurrection of the hermaphrodite.

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