The Alchemy web site on Levity.com
Inner alchemy archives - Dom Pernety's ZodiacBack to alchemy forum page . Back to Inner alchemy archive.
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 17:52:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Patz
In "Alchemy, The Philosopher's Stone", Allison Coudert provides a list of
correspondences between alchemical processes and the signs of the Zodiac
that Dom Pernety (18th C. France) gives in his alchemical dictionary:
I wondered what opinions people might have about these associations. Aries
(Cardinal Fire) and calcination, Taurus (Fixed Earth) and Congelation, or
Cancer (Cardinal Water) and dissolution - I have no trouble with these. But
I have difficulty connecting Gemini (Mutable Air) with fixation. Can someone
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 02:47:49 -0500 (EST)
The element of air (=RVCh) is associated with the mind.
Gemini's ruler, Mercury, is also associated with mind, the nervous system,
lungs and hands and all twin structures in general. This sign is also
associated with communication and the function of linkage.
In qabalah, the ruach is conceived of as volatile and ever-changing. It is
this principle of our human constitution which is to be "fixed," i.e., made
A chemical definition of fixed means additionally, "being in a stable,
What are to be combined and stabilized are first the ruach, the self
conscious principle, and the nephesh, which for our purposes here may be
understood as the habit-mind or attitude.
The ruach and the nephesh correspond the the spheres of tiphareth and yesod,
the spheres of the sun and the moon.
We need to be a little careful here and realize that the sun and mercury are
sometimes equivalent in symbolism and stand in for each other. In particular,
in alchemical symbolism mercury often has a more exalted significance than
which is usually understood in a primarily astrological light. The
relationship of the colors yellow and orange to tiphareth and hod in the
"minutum mundum" are suggestive in this respect.
The inference here is that the self-conscious aspect of human personality is
sometimes equally well represented by solar and mercurial symbolism.
The second act of fixation results from a linkage of the united duality of
human personality (our vision and our habits working in accord) with the
neshamah, the understanding, the "divine soul" or super-consciousness,
which may be here understood as an exalted mercury symbol, sometimes
connected with the archangel Raphael, the "healer of god," associated with
the element of air in the G,',D,', system.
But in all this, the ruach, the mind, is the area of application of the
principle of fixation, which consists of right relationship of the functions
of consciousness and the establisment of clear communication between the
divine mind and human personality, a communication so filled with the life
breath that it vivifies our unconscious habits of perception and attitudes
Additionally: Gemini = lungs, nerve force; ruach = aleph = Uranus (by
here, the subtle nervous system) = The Fool > latin, follis, a bag of wind,
may yield some interesting lines of thought.
If you are not familiar with "The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages," by
Paul Foster Case, may I now refer you to this tersely written volume?
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 15:44:54 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Patz
>But in all this, the ruach, the mind, is the area of application of the
>principle of fixation, which consists of right relationship of the functions
>of consciousness and the establisment of clear communication between the
>divine mind and human personality, a communication so filled with the life
>breath that it vivifies our unconscious habits of perception and attitudes
That makes sense. The fixation of Gemini - the most fugitive of signs.
Is that what each of the signs in Dom Pertney's Zodiac is then: "the area of
application" rather than an astrological description of the process? (Maybe
it is not a situation of either/or)
>Additionally: Gemini = lungs,
Although I am not a student of medicine (or medical astrology for that
matter) can we say then that the lungs are the place where oxygen is
"fixated" into the bloodstream?
But what about Leo = heart? This doesn't seem like a place of digestion
except insofar as the Sun - the heart of our solar system - is the ruler of
Leo. The solar nature of the sign, the season it represents (July-Aug),
might best describe the gentle heat of digestion.
Is there another correspondence for Leo in the human body? Is it one that
Dom Pertney might have been aware of?
>If you are not familiar with "The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages," by
>Paul Foster Case, may I now refer you to this tersely written volume?
Thank you. I will look for this book.
Your introduction of Tarot to this conversation brings up a second point. Do
people feel that Dom Pertney's Zodiac combines well with the
astrological-Tarot correspondences that they might be used to? It might
depend on who's deck one is using.
I am most familiar with the Golden Dawn system.
Aries Calcination Emperor
Taurus Congelation Hierophant
Gemini Fixation Lovers
Cancer Dissolution Chariot
Leo Digestion Strength
Virgo Distillation Hermit
Libra Sublimation Justice
Scorpio Separation Death
Saggittarius Ceration Temperance
Capricorn Fermentation Devil
Aquarius Multiplication Star
Pisces Projection Moon
Nevertheless, I can't help wondering, should we perhaps be considering a
different set of Tarot associations to alchemical processes based on
In "Alchemy, the Secret Art", Stanislas Klossowoski de Rola reprints the
illustrations by Mylius in the "Philosophia reformata". When I first saw
these beautiful drawings (a while ago), some of them appeared to be so close
to Tarot images that I was dumbfounded.
A couple of quick examples:
Multiplicatio: shows a woman seated on a lion. Lion cubs are nursing at the
lion's breast. The woman holds a globe showing a pelican pecking at its
breast to feed its young.
This image reminds me of the Strength card. And isn't multiplicatio the
strengthening or concentrating of the power of the Stone?
Fermentatio: shows Luna and Sol lying in a field. The alchemist, to the
left, is sowing the field. To the right, an angel blows a trumpet.
This image reminds of the Last Judgement card: with the dead rising from
their graves to the sound of the angelic horn. Fermentatio, as I understand
it is a rising, like the action of yeast in baking bread.
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 12:46:12 -0500 (EST)
In a message dated 97-02-25 05:29:33 EST, you write:
> Is that what each of the signs in Dom Pertney's Zodiac is then: "the area
> of application" rather than an astrological description of the process?
> (Maybe it is not a situation of either/or)
If you draw here on your experience with gematria, in which the meanings of
some words appear to be in contradiction to others of the same value, but
which, through a process of antithesis, shed light on the root concept
through meditation, you are on a profitable track.
> >Additionally: Gemini = lungs,
> Although I am not a student of medicine (or medical astrology for that
> matter) can we say then that the lungs are the place where oxygen is
> "fixated" into the bloodstream?
Yes. Oxygen is critical to the fire in every cell which furnishes the energy
on which our vehicle runs (phosphorus plays a key role here also).
Additionally, our habitual breathing (rate, depth) influences our state of
mind (and emotion!).
> But what about Leo = heart? This doesn't seem like a place of digestion
> except insofar as the Sun - the heart of our solar system - is the ruler
> of Leo. The solar nature of the sign, the season it represents (July-Aug),
> might best describe the gentle heat of digestion.
Digestion is a destructive, firey process which breaks complex molecules into
simple forms suitable for assimilation (in the Virgo phase).
> Is there another correspondence for Leo in the human body? Is it one that
> Dom Pertney might have been aware of?
Digestion is the usual yetziratic attribution to teth. Leo rules also the
spine in general and the upper portion of the back in particular.
> Do people feel that Dom Pertney's Zodiac combines well with the
> astrological-Tarot correspondences that they might be used to? It might
> depend on who's deck one is using.
> I am most familiar with the Golden Dawn system.
The correspondences which I have used vary slightly:
> Aries Calcination Emperor
> Taurus Congelation Hierophant
> Gemini Fixation Lovers
> Cancer Dissolution Chariot Separation
> Leo Digestion Strength
> Virgo Distillation Hermit
> Libra Sublimation Justice
> Scorpio Separation Death Putrefaction
> Saggittarius Ceration Temperance Incineration
> Capricorn Fermentation Devil
> Aquarius Multiplication Star Dissolution
> Pisces Projection Moon Multiplication
However, I certainly do not insist upon these as apodictic, though they are
useful and workable.
> Nevertheless, I can't help wondering, should we perhaps be considering a
> different set of Tarot associations to alchemical processes based on
> alchemical symbolism?
Quite possibly. We must always be aware of individual differences and
corresponding variations in the process of the work.
> In "Alchemy, the Secret Art", Stanislas Klossowoski de Rola reprints the
> illustrations by Mylius in the "Philosophia reformata". When I first saw
> these beautiful drawings (a while ago), some of them appeared to be so
> close to Tarot images that I was dumbfounded.
As I am not directly familiar with these images, comment is difficult.
> A couple of quick examples:
> Multiplicatio: shows a woman seated on a lion. Lion cubs are nursing at
> the lion's breast. The woman holds a globe showing a pelican pecking
> at its breast to feed its young.
> This image reminds me of the Strength card. And isn't multiplicatio the
> strengthening or concentrating of the power of the Stone?
Multiplication refers to the growth and dissemination of the inwardly formed
stone to all parts of our body, i.e., grounding this state of consciousness
in each cell of our vehicle. At least, this is the way I look at it.
Again, symbols admit of a variety of interpretations, and we oughtn't make
too rigorously rational demands in interpretation of them. Lest this
statement be misunderstood, let me clarify it. We need to allow the symbols
to speak to us through meditation before (and after) we begin "cutting and
The lion symbol may not have at all times the sign Leo as its primary
correspondence. What we are dealing with here are the correlation of two sets
of symbols of a process, and one of these sets, the zodiac, does not admit of
an easy rearrangement.
> Fermentatio: shows Luna and Sol lying in a field. The alchemist, to the
> left, is sowing the field. To the right, an angel blows a trumpet.
> This image reminds of the Last Judgement card: with the dead rising from
> their graves to the sound of the angelic horn. Fermentatio, as I
> understand it is a rising, like the action of yeast in baking bread.
This is certainly suggestive, though the heat associated with fermentation is
a particularly gentle heat, which is not the impression I have of the fire of
Judgement. This is not to argue the point, but merely to make an alternate
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 97 16:50:03 UT
From: Mike Dickman
Just a parenthesis... Shambhala's e-mail address (for possible copies of
Maitreya I - VI) is: shambhalbooksellers@internetMCI.com... If you'll excuse
the impertinence, I warned 'em you might be coming (!)...
Hope this's helpful.
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 12:58:13 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Patz
First permit me to thank Dan for his observations and opinions. This has
been a very useful discussion for me.
And thanks to Mike for the Maitreya info! I'm there!
At 08:33 PM 27/02/97 +0000, you wrote:
>Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 12:46:12 -0500 (EST)
>The correspondences which I have used vary slightly:
> Cancer Dissolution Chariot Separation
> Aquarius Multiplication Star Dissolution
Could you remark further on these two variations?
Aquarius and multiplication is an association I am comfortable with (putting
aside the question of Tarot for a minute). Aquarius rules masses of people,
societies and fraternal organizations - the multitude as it were.
I am interested to hear your alternative observations.
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 97 11:19:30 UT
From: Mike Dickman
The other obvious correspondences, of course are Ripley's Twelve Gates -
"... Twelve gates to the City, Halelu!...", as the old Gospel song would have
it - and Kircher's resumption of St. John...
The Ripley list, you will recall, is:
1st. Gate Calcination
2nd. Gate Dissolution
3rd. Gate Separation
4th. Gate Conjunction
5th. Gate Putrefaction
6th. Gate Congelation
7th. Gate Cibation/Nutrition
8th. Gate Sublimation
9th. Gate Fermentation
10th. Gate Exaltation
11th. Gate Multiplication
12th. Gate Projection
For the St. John, let me return to my old friend, John Michel ('City of
Revelation', Abacus, 1973, pp; 62-65 and 90-92)...
"... The City 'had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the
gates twelve angels, and names written thereon which are the names of the
twelve tribes of the children of Israel; on the east three gates; on the north
three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the
wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve
apostles of the Lamb.
"'And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth:
and he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs... and he
measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits.
"'And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner
of precious stones... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several
gate was of one pearl.
"'In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there
the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit
every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.'
"The twelve pearls at the gates (...) are also the twelve fruits of the tree
of life, one for each month (...) (for) 2160 years is the length of the
Platonic month, the time taken by the sun to move through one complete sign of
the zodiac and a twelfth part of the great year. The twelve circles can
therefore be taken to represent the twelve signs, and the whole figure is both
an image of the universe and a model of time, its dimensions recording
astrological cycles as well as astronomical distances... The circles are each
inscribed with one of the zodiacal symbols, and the corresponding apostles,
jewels, sons of Jacob, etc...
" (...) It is generally allowed that the twelve precious stones set in the
foundations of the Holy City correspond to the signs of the zodiac. Dr. R. H.
Charles in his monumental 'Commentary of the Revelation of St. John' discusses
the matter at length and declares that St. John's astrological arrangement was
made with intent. The correspondences between the jewels and the signs are
given by Kircher in 'Oedipus Aegyptiacus' as set out below, and the
appropriate Greek Gods are added.
The Ram amethyst Athena
The Bull hyancinth Aphrodite
The Twins chrysoprase Apollo
The Crab topaz Hermes
The Lion beryl Zeus
The Virgin chrysolite Demeter
The Balance sardius Hephaistos
The Scorpion sardonyx Ares
The Archer smaragdus Artemis
The Goat chalcedon Hestia
The Water-carrier sapphire Hera
The Fishes jasper Poseidon
"In the description of the New Jerusalem the stones are places in reverse
order beginning with Piscean jasper and ending with the amethyst of Aries. The
reason is that the sun retreats through the twelve signs in the course of the
great year, passing from Taurus to Aries and then through Pisces to Aquarius,
John Michel is fun... On pp. 65-66, by the way, he also mentions the number
seven, as follows:
"... In Revelation there are 7 churches, 7 candlesticks, 7 stars, 7 angels, 7
vials, 7 seals, 7 thunders, 7 plagues and 7 spirits of God; the Lamb has 7
horns and 7 eyes, the dragon 7 heads and 7 crowns, and the beast has 7 heads
which are the 7 hills of the Whore of Babylon.
"Seven is the number of things sacred and mysterious, as the 7 veils of
initiation. According to Philo 'nature delights in the number seven', for the
astrologers know 7 planets, there are 7 stars in the Great Bear and 7 notes in
music; God rested on the seventh day, a man's head has 7 orifices and his life
proceeds in 7 year periods; the cycles of women and the moon occur in sevens,
28 days making the lunar month. 'By reason of this the Pythagoreans, indulging
in myth, liken 7 to the motherless and every virgin Maiden, because neither
was she born of the womb, nor shall she ever bear;'
"Seven is the Virgin because it is neither the product nor the factor of any
other numbers in the decad, and the geometry of seven is developed from no
other system of proportion nor does it give birth to any. Another reason is
that the seventh division of a circle has an angle of just over 51.4° and 515
is the number of 'parthenos', virgin. Seven has no gender for, as St.
Augustine writes, '3 is the first number wholly odd and 4 wholly even and
these two make 7... Therefore is the Holy Ghost often called by this number
" (...) There are 7 colours in the rainbow and 7 petals on the temple flower,
the pomegranate, but the number seven is rarely apparent in physical nature,
corresponding rather to the spiritual forces that regulate the cycles of time
and human development. The gnostics drew attention to the fact that the name
'Iesous' has only six letters xhile 'Xristos' has 7 as evidence for their
belief, against the teaching of the Church, that the body of Jesus was but the
temporary mortal lodging of the ancient spirit of Christ... Thus the body of
the New Jerusalem is shaped according to the geometry of six, which is the
image of matter, its construction simple and rational; but the construction of
the geometry of seven is neither, etc..."
I leave the rest of this to those of you who might find it interesting... The
book contains a useful introduction to Greek gematria and has long been one of
my own favourites... He's nuts! ...It's wonderful!
Concerning the gnostic Jesus and Christ dichotomy, by the way, the useful
reference is Meade's translation of 'The Hymn of Jesus' (Watkins, 1907 and
1963)... not to mention, of course (!), the 'Pistis Sophia'... This is on the
Gnostic Site accessible from Adam's, for those of you who have not yet been
Have a good Sunday!
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 03:49:43 -0500 (EST)
> > Cancer Dissolution Chariot Separation
> > Aquarius Multiplication Star Dissolution
> Could you remark further on these two variations?
> Aquarius and multiplication is an association I am comfortable with
> (putting aside the question of Tarot for a minute). Aquarius rules
> masses of people - societies and fraternal organizations - the
> multitude as it were.
Aquarius rules in the body the lower legs and ankles, and the circulation of
blood, which was thought to have a wave-like motion. The association with the
site of red blood cell production is difficult to avoid. These cells are
dissolved in the fluid medium of blood and carry oxygen to the community of
organs of the body.
The symbol of Aquarius is understood by Paul Case as a symbol of the process
of dissolution, though I am not familiar with this from any specifically
alchemical work. He associates this also with the function of meditation.
Separation in this context refers to the results of discrimination between
the "personal" self, the "carnal" man and the atman, the one incorruptable
soul; appeals to the letter cheth and to the Chariot are helpful.
Any attempt to allocate the processes of alchemy with the signs of the zodiac
is an effort to order chaos, and the exercise is often more valuable than the