The Sun and the Lion
The fire was called the Sun or the Inner Sun which symbolized the inner search. The lion represents a lower part of man – the beast – which needs to be refined by the light of the Sun. The image of the Green Lion eating the Sun was used to denote this inner work. When the Green lion has taken the Sun into its being – then the inner process of transmutation is completed. The sequence of the work is the following: “Old Lion”, “Ordinary Lion”, “Red Lion”. The symbolism of the lion is derived from astrology. The Lion or Leo is ruled by the Sun, which rules the human heart.
Alchemy was a science of the soul that’s why the images of the sea, sea creatures and fish appear frequently. In occult symbolism the sea has always been an image of the soul or spirit.The fishtail in occult images is usually a sign of the initiate. The image of the siren is usually intended to indicate a state in which the alchemist has reached the point of breaking through into the other world. The story of Jonah being swallowed by a large fish can be explained as a man who gives up his own lower personality, dies to the world and is then reborn into the world as a new man. This rebirth of soul was the main goal of the alchemists. The water is a symbol of a higher level of consciousness, the Quintessence.
The pictures showing the processes of the alchemists depict changes and transformations taking place in hermetically sealed bottles. The bottle here is a symbol of the human soul or body and the secret changes within the bottle are symbols of the soul’s growth.
In fact, all kind of furnaces and heating apparatus play an important role in occult symbolism. The first step was to burn or boil away all the darkness of the “lower man”. The true alchemist wanted to burn away the lower part of his being and have access to the stars. Continue reading Symbols of Alchemy – seven steps