Once we understand the codes in the great masterpieces preserved in the churches, abbeys and cathedrals, then it becomes clear that these symbols are a series of still-life tableaus forming a narrative about the alchemical process of the transformation of metals, with ourselves as the crude lead.
Each metal is assigned a god or goddess to encapsulate their qualities, and we can see these characteristics writ large in the classical Greek dramas featuring the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus.
For instance, iron is Ares (the Roman Mars) and always portrayed as passionate and warlike, while tin is Jupiter who is jubilant, outgoing and adventurous and together with the quicksilver messenger, Hermes (the Roman Mercury), they manage to charm and trick the strict, leaden-natured schoolmaster, Chronos (the Roman Saturn) into dissolving some of his stiffly-held boundaries to allow new life and new worlds to form, while the coppery Aphrodite (the Roman Venus) is the personification of harmonious beauty who brings her rose gold beatitudes of natural order and proportion to every situation.
In much of Renassiance art, the Madonna is depicted in a cloak that is blue with a red lining, or covering a red dress underneath. This is an alchemical cipher for Venus and her associated metal of copper, which burns with a blue-green flame that flashes sporadically with red sparks. She is often found with the Child of the Philosopher, or Philosopher’s Stone, on her lap or at her breast. It is a metaphor meant to imply the nature of copper as the mother of the Great Work, because it is a metal that has the ability to balance and raise the energies of other metals, in the same way that the harmony and order is expressed through the feminine nature of the mother of the family.
Then there’s a local legend here in Avalon about Jesus’s uncle from Arimathea, of whom it was said: “Joseph was a tin man.” For all the reasons stated before, it is unlikely that that meant he was a tin trader or even that he existed in history. It is more probable that the J in his name stood for Jupiter, which governs the metal of tin, and this would be quite fitting for the “uncle” of the Child of the Philosopher in alchemical lore because Jupiterian-ruled processes applied in the right way can release lead from its dark Saturnic captivity into the light as much as Jesus was resurrected and released from his dark tomb.
Mercury’s metal is called quicksilver because it is the only one that remains liquid at room temperature and thus it flows more quickly and easily than any others. Alchemists regarded the god Mercury as the messenger that carried the catalytic life principle and so mercury-ruled materials would be used to animate their operations. The symbol for this life principle is found in the twisting serpents that crawl up the Caduceus, and also in the double-helix of DNA. In Celtic lore, this vital messenger force is known as the Rivers of Blood; in the gospel stories of the New Testament, it is the message that is delivered to the womb of Mary (Venus) by the angel Gabriel.
The poetic children of the quicksilver god Mercury are the words “message”, “memory”, “measure“, “meaning”, “marine”, “metal”, “mettle” and “memes”. And so in understanding the mytho-poetic story told in the processes of the alchemical Great Work, we come to realise that we’re benefitting from the once and always and forevermore mercurial force which those who came before us intoned sonically into our Rivers of Blood.
Those voices come to us in our dreams and visions as a series of metaphorical memes that invoke memories which reach to us, over the subconscious, submarinal oceans of Time, like messages in a glass bottle blown from the sands of Saturn the Clockmaker’s hourglass; the sands by which our human span is measured. And while the costumes of the characters or the scenery may change over the Ages, the meaning of the message is always the same: we are being ground in these dark Saturnic mills for the testing of our mettle.
And so the stage is set. We enter as the star, the hero of the drama, playing the lead-ing role of the Fool, the unevolved, leaden human, who takes birth with a series of pre-arranged missions designed to evolve his soul, but who, once here, drinks a draught of forgetfulness and falls asleep to who he truly is and the purpose of his life…
© Annie Dieu-Le-Veut, January 2019
This was an extract from a chapter in my new book, Stories in the Land: A guide to esoteric Avalon, that deals with the underlying spiritual messages carried in the art and architecture of many churches around here. It should be out by Beltane, all things being equal. So if you’d like to be notified when it’s published, please send me your email address and I’ll add you to the mailing list.
How to read my books
If you’re thinking of getting one or more of my books, can I give you a bit of a steer? There are two ways to receive my teachings, and each augments the other.
If you wish to go down the fictional route, and become inspired in your dreams and imagination by the coded magical keys, symbols and metaphors hidden in the mytho-poetic stories of our ancestors, I suggest that you read The Bright World of the Gods first, and then The Grail Mysteries.
These are actually the first two books of a trilogy, although they work great as standalones too. I haven’t written the third in the series yet.
However, if you feel you need some help with unravelling the meanings of the symbols and metaphors found in ancient myths, my theoretical works are straightforward accounts that explain these Mystery teachings in plain language, so read on.
In Stories in the Stars, you’ll learn that ancient myths are like Trojan horses carrying our ancestors’ voices and wisdom that they hid in astrological and alchemical metaphors.
Over thousands of years, these orally-transmitted wisdom teaching stories have been twisted and bastardised into fake histories in order to serve various and changing political imperatives. Once I’ve taught you how to decode them, you will be able to transform and reincarnate into your own life today.
Reclaiming Sovereignty is largely about the historical and mythological evidence, going back thousands of years, for the practice of shamanic sex magic, otherwise known as the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, which brought wisdom and enlightenment to the newly-crowned king on the night of his coronation.
Shamanic sex is about the superior intelligence and self empowerment that comes from interacting with beings which inhabit a parallel universe to this one – another dimension – from whom human beings have traditionally gained their wisdom about their place and purpose on Earth and in the cosmos. There is also a step-by-step guide for practising it yourself.