Heavenly bodies are essential in alchemy, particularly the sun, moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Symbols of these planets are common in alchemical art along with their Greek god counterparts, and the success of operations were sometimes tied to zodiacal time. Beyond times of the month, day and hour, these heavenly bodies also corresponded to metals, parts of the body, cardinal sins, and cardinal virtues. Images: Clavis artis, Zoroaster, 17th century and De naturae…historia, Robert Fludd, 1680
The title plate from Michael Maier’s Arcana Arcanissima, 1614. Above are three figures from the Egyptian myth of the dismemberment of Osiris by his brother Typhon, and reassembling by his sister Isis. The Greek gods Hercules and Dionysus flank the sides and below are the Egyptian mythological creatures of Ibis, Apis, and Cynocephalus.
Cynocephaly or “having the head of a dog” is a characteristic found in many mythological and folklore traditions across the world, such as ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and China. These humanoid, dog-headed beings were often described by travelers coming back from far off lands. Images: Saint Christopher by Anonymous, 17th Century | The Egyptian Book of the Dead, 1550 BCE | Kievan Psalter by Unknown, 1397 | Man with dog head by Hartmann Schedel, 1493.
Echidna is a cave dwelling, half-woman, half-snake being. With Typhon, she bore all of Greek Mythology’s most famous monsters: the regenerating Hydra, Cerberus who guards the gates of Hades, the Chimera, the riddle-giving Sphinx, and more. Image: Gabriele Delhey
Before pregnant with Dionysus, Princess Semele dreamt Zeus destroyed a fruit tree with lighting, but the fruit was unharmed. A bird to retrieved a fruit, and he sewed it to his thigh, before a man emerged from that spot. Semele then realized that she was the tree.