Monday, November 7, 2016

Reimaging the Azoth of the Philosophers

Azoth of the Philosophers copyright Dee Rapposelli
Azoth of the Philosophers copyright Dee Rapposelli
So, instead of getting into political arguments on Facebook as the US Presidential election nears, I have begun designing bomos. It’s been a long-held artistic intention of mine to do so. Bomos is the Greek term for an altar platform. About a year ago, I made 2 low-table prototypes, the tops of which were canvas prints of original photography. The tabletops held up pretty well (Thank you Glicee Factory ) , considering they were used as plant stands and kept in direct sun for about a year now.

I recently posted an image of what will be the top of myAlmadel bomos. That piece of art is an adaptation of tables described in a magical text called the Ars Almadel. Each table, which is a different color, is used as a platform for scrying different angelic spirits that rule over specific seasonal periods. A scrying device, such as a crystal ball, shewstone, or mirror is placed on the table as the focal point for evocation work.

This latest piece—a digital collage—is an adaption of an alchemical mandala that has long fascinated me and many others. That mandala is the 12th plate of an alchemical picture book called The Azoth of the Philosophers. It depicts the process of alchemy--both as a laboratory exercise and as spiritual pathwork via ascension through the planetary spheres (the Western equivalent of "chakras").

As I have explained in the book The Seal of Secrets of theWorld Adventures in Planetary Magic, which addresses my work with the Arbatel, Western magical mandala and seals are similar to Eastern mandalas and yantras in that they are mnemonic instruments made of symbols that are understood by and/or provide revelatory contemplative experiences for the initiated.

The term Azoth is thought to be derived from the Arabic al za’uq : “the mercury.” It may also be meant to suggest “A-to-Z” –the totality of name and form, as is meant in the terms Alpha-Omega and A-U-Mg (popularly written as Om). It is said to be the life principle.

The sun, moon, and cube of salt in the image represent sulfur, mercury, and salt and also soul, spirit, and body. I refer the reader to thispost  by art curator Johnes Ruta for more insight on the meaning of the sulfur, mercury, salt triad.

On the left of the image stands the red king (sulfur) who dies to be reborn as the Philosopher's Stone (Enlightened). On the right is the melusine white queen (mercury), who is the source of life and also revelation of spiritual identity. As in Eastern Tantric lore, in which spiritual integration and enlightenment in a path of return is symbolized by the union (and dissolution) of male and female polarities, so too does the union of the alchemical king and queen result in transfiguration into the Divine Self.  


Excerpt from the novel The Fallen Fairy

“There is a saying in the alchemical texts that goes like this,” Michael murmured. “The dragon only dies when he is killed by his brother and sister at once; not by one alone, but by both at once. That is, by the sun and moon.’ You and me,” he said.

 . . .

“In creation mythology, we talk about the world forming from chaos and void by the will of a conscious entity—God. But the chaos—the so-called prima materia—is not matter, nature, or the world; it is the human psyche full of convoluted impressions, habituations, and the conditioning of nature and nurture. This is the seven-headed dragon that must be slain by the hero who is none other than the divine spirit within asserting itself. It rescues the damsel-in-distress, which is the soul.”The path of inner alchemy and of mysticism in all the great traditions founded in gnosis, Michael said, was to transform the human creature, who was nothing more than a helpless gear of the world machine, into a real person with real will, intention, and creative abilities.
“Some persons call this enlightenment; some call it ‘being like unto God’; some call it the Great Work, which is magic,” he said.