HTML Scrolling Menu

Inner alchemy archives - Serpents

Back to alchemy forum page . Back to Inner alchemy archive.

Subject:- Serpents and Sex

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 11:41:58 -0500
From: Gilbert Arnold

In response to Deanna's question I would like to forward the following

Symbolism was and is a very important part of communicating individual
conceptions of what Alchemy is about; this was done as a function of
alchemical knowledge being expressed symbolically in different ways
including and by;

1) Individuals who had a clear knowledge and experience of Alchemical
procedures but a poor knowledge of symbology.

2) Individuals who had no first hand knowledge of Alchemy but a good
knowledge of Symbols.

3) Individuals who had no knowledge about either Alchemy or

4) Different combinations of 1,2 and 3.

A medieval monk writing in a monastic context would probably shun the
use of graphic sexual symbology if he intended his work to be used by
other monks and if the monk in question had led a life of celibacy. As an
example, Basil Valentine goes to great pains to explain this very point.
Basil's symbology uses examples from typical renaissance materials ie
greek mythology, Biblical and Sacramental symbolism, practical examples
ect. Basil also states that he was intending to be as clear as possible.

Other male practionners whose sexual experience was a rape of the
female with quick orgasmic result for themselves would describe quick
explosive "alchemical" manipulations with their own sexual symbology.

Sex being as sensitive a subject as "real lab experience" I'll move on to
the specific symbols you mentioned;

The Snake;

In the woodcuts that I have found that had some kind of correlation with
tangible results ( both in physical and spiritual alchemy) there are usually
four kinds of serpents, depending on their modus operandi;

Air serpents; dragonlike
fire serpents; salamander like
water serpents; sea monster like
earth serpents; serpent like

The serpents in questions I have found to symbolise duality in differing

1) elemental and physical action

2) catalysing and dissolving action

3) Stabilising or coagulating actions

As to the King and Queen in the bath;

These could represent vitriols from metals; or metals themselves.
The bath could represent a common solvent or process. The crown
usually represents a metal.

Many solvents can be prepared by combining vitriols or salts and
distilling; many kinds of aqua regias not only the nitic acid/hydrochloric
acid combo, the serpent probably represents a foul smelling, dangerous

As one example; Sulfuric acid (oil of vitriol) and other alkahests appears
to be more "potent" for certain works when derived from copper and
iron vitriols.



Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 00:31:11 -0400
From: Deanna Herrera

Dearest Gilbert,

So what you are saying is that if the depiction I had described
was symbolic of an alchemical (physical process) then the plates
were symbolic of a specific process of mixing substances (metals, acids
etc...) rather than being symbolic of an internal union of the anima and
animus to create a third entity of soul or the Self. The snake would depict
an actual physical property or event and the type of creature would infer
or be a code for the specific nature of that event. The piece I am
confused about is at what point does the alteration of physical properties
begin to transform the inner world of the achemist and does the inner world
of the alchemist have physical effects on the outer world? I suppose,
because I am a psychologist that I truly have not taken alchemical work
literally as I might if I were coming at it from another angle. I am always
looking for symbolic representations of spiritual growth. It is an
interesting exercise in projection, being who studies symbols I would
naturally interpret say, even the most straightforward alchemical recipe
(please offer a better term) as having a non-physical inner world meaning.
I truly appreciate your comments and am very interested in the symbolism of
the snake creature and how its physical correlates can be related to
archetypal experience. If you are struck by any ideas concerning the final
querry please reply.

To All. How do you spell Cabala?

Dr. Deanna Herrera

Date: 27th Jan 1997
From: Adam McLean

>In an old book of alchemy where I found a charming depiction of
>a man in one tub wearing a crown on his head and a woman in another
>tub wearing a crown as well. The two then are, in the next frame, in
>another tub together and all you can see is their crowns. The next scene
>details a serpent-like creature with a crown atop its head and in the next
>frame the serpent-creature divides and becomes again a man and a
>woman both with their crowns intact. The engraving obviously depicted
>the union of the masculine and the feminine to become something other,
>a third thing, which then became the two royals once again.

Do you have a reference to the source of these illustrations? They appear to
be a variation of the 'Pretiosissimum donum Dei' - the most precious gift of God.
This early manuscript of which at least forty copies have survived dates from the
15th century. I have placed a copy of an English translation of the Latin text with
some early 17th century engravings on the alchemy web site. The early text is, I
think you will agree, simultaneously a description of a physical and an inner
psychological process. This particular series of symbols was very influential
and probably inspired to some extent both the 'Rosarium' and the 'Crowning of
Nature' series. The 'Donum Dei' presents the work as a union of two
principles - the male and female - through a conception, and gestation phase,
which descends into a putrefaction, pictured by the worms or snakes, through to
the rebirth of the king and queen in a spiritualised form which has integrated the
snake/worm/scaly dragon aspect. Jumg discusses some of this material in
'Alchemical Studies' where he presents modern drawings from some of his
patients which seem to parallel the symbolism of the earlier alchemical figures.
A physical alchemical process involving the separation, putrefaction and final
purification of substances in a flask can be paralleled with the inner process.
We can use experiences drawn from working alchemically with substances in
flasks as the basis for our meditations on this inner work, just as in some other traditions images taken from the natural world were used as metaphors for inner processes.

Adam McLean

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 00:28:06 -0500
From: Br. Athanasius

There is no essential opposition between a physical interpretation of
a symbol, and a psychic interpretation, the mark of authenticity of a
symbol is that is is able to withstand interpretations of on a multiplicity
of domains and levels.

Truth is polyvalent, and the symbol, which is the expression of the
archetype of truth, is as a neccesary result also polyvalent. This is
the key to genuine understanding of all symbolism, be it alchemical, or
kabbalistic, or otherwise.

It is the most basic error, though, to confuse domains of different
orders of reality, or what is worse to truncate all of reality to one
level. There is a tendencey in modern times toward reductionism,
which is the surest way to render the various traditional studies of
no real value. Reality is hierarchical, starting with the transcendent
and descending down the degrees of reality to the lowest levels.
Said another way, reality is rooted in the upper domain of quality and
conjoined with the realm of quantity, but this relationship is always
assymetrical, the domain of the quality or essence clearly being
ther superior.

That being said, asnwers of a purely psychological order are by
their nature limited and thus incapable of providing the key to the
nature of certain symbols and symbolisms, that is not to say that
they are untrue, or even false but it is to say that it must be born
always in mind of their limited nature, the more true answers are to
be sought in the realm of the spirit, the Nous of European tradition,
this is a fact attested to by the Kabbalists, the Alchemists, (as well
as certain Christian mystics and even Vedantists).

External and rational explainations are the husk, the Interior is the
kernal that must be sought with the greatest effort. To those familiar
with the Zohar, the oft repeated expression "Come and See" is not
merely a literary device but a formula for spiritual realization. It points to
the experential nature of genuine spirituality, and to the objective quality
of it a revealed, (This is expressed by the word " See"). The word
"come" denoted the quality of work and struggle toward the goal, the
jouney toward the pole of reality. Note well it does not say " Come and
Feel" or "Stay where you are and think about it" but " Come and See"
this alludes to the Psalm verse "Taste and See that the Lord is Good"
(it might be noted hear that the root of wisdom in Latin is to "taste")
and the dialogue between, St. Andrew (the First Called) and St. Peter
( the Rock) about Jesus ( the Logos), St. Andrew said only to St. Peter
"Come and See" because rational explaination would fall far short of the
Transcendant reality of the Logos of God. I have expressed these thoughts
in Christian language, but they are truths of a universal order. I hope to
here some feedback.

The least of monks

Brother Athanasius

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 97 09:25:58 UT
From: Mike Dickman

For Deanna Herrera,

Taking your last query first, Qabalah and /or Kabalah seem the most common,
the former being more correct as to the letters (QBLH) of the word, the second
a closer approximation of its pronunciation.

I was interested in the serpent question you've brought up - not least
inasmuch as I'm busy working among other things on a series of naga texts from
the Tibetan...

Nagas, of course (lu [klu] in Tibetan, lung in Chinese), are the holders of
the knowledge and texts of what is technically called transcendent and perfect
insight (praj˝a paramita - skipping most diacritics) often rather lamely
translated as the perfection of wisdom.

Pra- as a root means 'exceedingly', 'very'; -j˝a - the root of our word 'to
know' - means just that; and their combination could be taken to signify
'insight', 'realisation' in the sense of perceiving and accepting... Para =
'taking across' and -iti, 'going'; the combined form, then, construable as
'transcending', 'transcendent'...

The Tibetan shes rab pha rol tu phyin pa (pronounced as sherab p'ar÷ltu
chinpa) bears this out. Shes is 'knowing', rab 'supreme', pha 'beyond', rol in
this context seems to be cognate with the abyss of cyclic existence known as
samsara, or 'running around in circles' , as I once heard it put); tu, oddly
enough, means 'to', and phyin pa 'to reach'.

Nagarjuna, the compiler of the so-called Middle Way and most probably of the
sutras on which it is based - notably the Praj˝aparamitasutras - was said to
have received these from the nagas... Cf. the following tale...

Nagarjuna - who, by the way, was also a famous alchemist - was abbot of the
great Buddhist university of Nalanda. He noticed, while teaching, that
whenever two young men were present there was always a strong smell of
sandalwood which disappeared when they left. He asked them about it one day
and they admitted that they were actually naga princes and that they anointed
themselves with sandal paste to protect themselves from human impurities.
They then told him that they had been present when the Buddha taught the
Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, and, since very few people had been able to
understand them at the time, had written them down and taken them to the naga
realm in order to safeguard them until someone capable of understanding them
should appear. They invited him to come with them to their undersea realm and
study them, which he did, returning some time later to teach what he had
learned there, and bringing with him the 100,000 verse Praj˝aparamita-sutra.

Hope this is of some aid.


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 03:57:16 -0600 (CST)
From: Mackie Blanton

It seems that many of us spend more time speaking over
one another's energy, as if Alchemy has to be and mean one thing only,
and we won't rest until we get others to mispeak so that we can then claim
that our understanding of Alchemy must broaden.

To my knowledge very few - if any, actually - of the alchemists on our
various lists have ever intimated or outright stated that Alchemy does not
include "non-physical inner world meaning." So the depiction of Alchemy as
described here recently (by D. Herrera), describing certain plates, suggests
both that Alchemy can be and is that symbolic of "a physical process"
(transmutation, transformation, transsubstantiation, etc.) and that which is
symbolic of internal union, change, and reunion.

Obviously, the two ideas of what Alchemy is, suggests the nature of
Alchemical understanding: it is not, in other words, impossible to view
Alchemy as the reunion of our varied assumptions of what it is, and of what
it can be. It's never either/or. It's always both/and. And certainly it
is always many/more.

"Cabala" in Western traditions. "Qabbalah" in Eastern, including
Ashkenazic, traditions. Christians tend to use "cabala." (As someone
else has already pointed out here.)

So, please, let's stop pretending that Alchemists are onsided
about what Alchemy is. Just pay to the transformations.

Mackie Blanton

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 97 18:48:33 UT
From: Mike Dickman


Although there are, occasionally (and possibly even only perhaps) elements of
one-upmanship in some of what appears on our forum, I for one am more than
grateful to all contributors, and - indeed! - what strikes me most about them
is their generosity and their humility... Perhaps we are reading different

A note, by the way, on qabalah/cabala...

According to Dujols/Fulcanelli (he could just as conceivably be wrong, of
course, and there are certainly distinct moments where one feels that a
modicum of antisemitism might have clouded his opinion concerning the
former), and quoting just his 'Demeures Philosophales' - he often goes
into this subject - there is a very distinct difference between QBLH and
cabala, to the point where they are completely different things with
completely different aims in view, although both equally complex in terms
of technique and diversity...

Cabala he divides into Pythagorean, Hermetic and Phonetic, none of
which has anything to do with any of the aspects of qabalah as generally
studied or understood. It's worth a look.
The exact references are Vol. I, pp 148-169 and p 343, Vol II pp 262-276...
There is also a brief reference in Canseliet's introduction to the 'MystŔre des
CathÚdrales' (p 27)


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 17:01:06 -0500
From: Gilbert Arnold

Dear Diana,

You wrote;

"Dearest Gilbert, "

That a first for someone calling me "dearest" in the context of an
alchemical discussion (smile) <-- another first.

You wrote;

>So what you are saying is that if the depiction I had described
>was symbolic of an alchemical (physical process) then the plates
>were symbolic of a specific process of mixing substances (metals,
>acids etc...) rather than being symbolic of an internal union of the
>anima and animus to create a third entity of soul or the Self. The
>snake would depict an actual physical property or event and the
>type of creature would infer or be a code for the specific nature of
>that event. "

I am not saying that the depiction is not "symbolic". Rather, I was giving
you an interpretation of the symbols from an the point of view of "lab
alchemy" as a context to what could be an interpretation. I am also a
Gnostic Bishop, and carry out Chaplaincy duties that involve some
counseling and I am familiar with Jungian type symbol analysis. I also
have read and used information contained in Adam's publication. My
training as an engineer has permitted me to work in the fields of
Agriculture, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Chemical Engineering, Pharmaceutical
and Phytopharmaceutical Iatro Chemistry, Environmental Engineering thus
giving me a field of life experience to build up a background to interpret
symbols. I used an example in the field of lab alchemy. I could have
used an example in the field of hydrology (water flow in "snake-shaped"
watercourses) or any other of the above mentioned fields. Or I could
have discussed how I learnt about the different kinds of "snakes" by
observing different chemical, alchemical and metallurgical processes.

You wrote;

>The piece I am confused about is at what point does the alteration of
>physical properties begin to transform the inner world of the achemist
>and does the inner world of the alchemist have physical effects on the
>outer world?

When the Alchemist (Defined here as someone who does something
usefull with Alchemical knowledge) begins to learn from the
manifestation of "Why" Gnosis (Wisdom-Sophia) and and "How" Gnosis
(Knowledge-Logos) to result in a harmonious manifestation with the
process of Creation ie " true knowing" .



Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 15:07:28 -0500
From: Gilbert Arnold

As I understand from an Alchemical point of view the process of
creation is a result of logos (intent) and sophia (wisdom).

intent wisdom


This is the path of Nature that I strive to follow and to find in the
processes I observe happening around me within any given context, be
it giving the last rites to someone who is dying or preparing a extraction
of iron from it's ore. A path includes a process, a point in given time and
an upcoming direction, all linked, all interdependent.



Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 01:09:32 -0400
From: Deanna Herrera

To those of you who graciously replied to my queries.

To: Mike Dickman,
Very interesting. I appreciate the thoughtful comments on cabala and
also, the good data. I realize that the question was a basic one so I am
thankful for the respectful reply. A bit surprised by the richness of
responses I have received and retrieved from the replies to others re:
cabala and etc... Even the most basic of questions can open up discourse
on a variety of levels of interperetation and understanding. I get a bit
lost on the naga data. Although I am quite interested in it. I need some
basic readings on those. It gets somewhat obtuse for my concrete mind.
Any suggestions besides what you have already sent my way? I hope to hear
from you soon.

To: Br. Athanasius,
Thank you for the gift of your thoughts. I believe
this to be true, that there is no opposition between physical
interperetation of a symbol and a psychic interperetation etc... What I was
trying to get at, unsuccesfully, is that symbolic interperetation can be a
form of projection of one's inner life onto the outer world, which is no
less valid than other types of knowing when one understands a meaning of a
symbol (although, there are often many meanings).{This part gets a little
personal so please be patient.} But it can act as a key to opening doors
of knowing the hidden aspects of the Self or collective Soul development.
For instance, I went grocery shopping one day and left a bag of food on a
countertop. An hour later, in Beta wave mode, I put my hand in the bag
to retrieve the goods and what I found was a snake which then curled itself
around my hand.
Earlier that day, in alpha mode, I had meditated and was struck by an image
of three men in a pyramid who were offering me a snake. This suprised me
because I do not practice active imagining in my meditations. In fact, the
vision interrupted my meditation, like an image on a screen.
The next day another snake found it's way into my bed. I was not
meditating this time either, the snake was real and I threw it outside.
Clearly, I was not intending to understand the MEANING of the snake
symbolicaly, in terms of a psychological view. Instead I was infused with
a certain knowing or impression of the snakes archetypal power in my life
during that time period. Now, if I did not pay attention to the appearance
of snakes in both meditative and waking states I could have lost some
good intuitive understanding of the message that was being sent. I will not
waste time detailing my beliefs as to where and from what/who the message
was sent. The point is that I was not making a psychololical inquiry into
the meaning of 'snake' and at the same time a psychological understanding
was the cognitive vehicle I used to make sense of the inner knowing later
in time. Intellectual understanding is not the same as knowing, it is
simply one attempt to define and describe events that are beyond reason.
Beyond the rational.
So what?
I experienced a transcendent knowing or understanding of the reptile and
that in turn was beneficial. The same week, (I was ill at the time) I had
a dream of worms slithering inside of my belly. After the dream I was
symptom free for two years after three years of extreme physical pain and
Perhaps I felt the physical impact of, the upper domain of quality...
conjoining with "the realm of quality" (well said by you). Inner, knowing
and psychological understanding are not mutually exclusive and both can
approach similar transformation of self. The knowing can come through the
back door or the grocery bag. It can also come from scholarly or
psychological pursuits.
That for me is the inner personal work related to my intellectual/
psychological understanding of this specific symbology. Sorry, to bore you
with this narrative but I am making a point. A psychological querry does
not exclude spiritual, physical intellectual, or emotional querries. It
simply gives one (me) a language to explore and navigate the process of
inner knowing. Also, I do believe in archetypal power so, the historical
coding of symbolic knowledge is important to unlocking or managing the
power of a given symbol. Worms and snakes are related symbolicaly by their
regenerative natures (transformation, rebirth and all of that) am I wrong?
And at the same time symbols do as you say, withstand interperetaion over
time. Simply because one chooses a certain language to gain access to
hidden realms of "essense" does not make that language any less useful or
valid in obtaining knowledge. Like you say, It is not untrue, it may only
be limited. What is language if not symbolic? We are limited and freed by
I disagree that the Interior is the kernal that must be sought with the
greatest of effort. Effort, spiritual growth, and Christianity do seem
married ideologicaly. The notion of Effort (work) does not follow
logically with the rest of your argument. Taste and See do not imply any
more effort than Feel and Think. Unless, I misunderstood your last
paragraph, I really do not see and taste the whole idea of effort and how
it is related to spiritual knowing of universal order. Many traditions
utilize games and play to obtain understanding, to evoke higher beings,
inner knowing and altered states of consciousness through having fun. Being
is one way of knowing and so is daydreaming. Some times I think that the
interior is with us all of the time and shows itself in the simplest forms,
we simply forget to look. /for instance, I was in Oaxaca doing some work
this Holiday season where I witnessed something mundane and holy. A small
girl was sitting on my lap. She was very very poor but was not asking for
money. She simply wanted some attention. So I was touching her hair and
speaking to her about small things. A little boy walked by us and was
singing teribbly and loudly for money. I had given the girl some pesos for
a drink and some food. She then gave the little boy all of the money I had
given to her for his song. That certainly was a transformative experience
for me sans effort. It was a matter of looking and listening and paying
attention to the beauty in others which brought me back to remembering my
own inner truth/ knowing which is not that far from the universal truth of
giving. O.K. I'll get off of my lecturette here. I just don't think that
inner knowing needs to be this constant effort thing of self sacrifice and
buddha like denial of attachment or whatever, there is no parting of the
clouds or dramatic transformation. It might be the paying attention to
what is miraculous in regular life minus heavy intellectualisms and
philosophising (I am not saying here that I think you were doing either).
I apologize for the stream of concsiousness slightly schizophrenic
correspondence. Making words out of what is beyond description is
I am checking myself here, I am getting off of the Alchemy topic. So sorry.

If you are the least of monks I can hardly imagine the fine quality of
person held by the median of monks.

To: Adam McLean
Thank you for the reply.
You answered my questions. I will research the original. I found the book
holding the plates in Italy and returned it to the library there in Rome.
I have quite a bit more to go on now. You have provided me with useful
call ws. It seems that the "Donum Dei" is not far from what I guessed to
be the significance of the plates. Pretiosissimum donum dei, "the most
precious gift of god". Thank you for the translation.
I am having difficulty with my retrieval of data via websites.
Technological problems, insufficient RAM. I hope to gain access to
engravings you have added to the web sites. Yes, I have seen modern
drawings of patients in flasks. This material is similar to homunculous
drawings, which seem related to a very different chemical process. I will
review Jungs 'Studies'. I have also seen individuals encased in amber.
These I find particularly interesting because the Self is seen as
undergoing an evolutionary process of natural gestation in a living
substance, intact unto itself with no external manipulation. That too can
be used for meditative practices. What do you think? Am I off the track?

To Mackie,
I didn't mean to speak over anyone's energy. Particularly yours. However,
I disagree. I think sometimes Alchemy can be an either/ or and it can also
be a both/and. It just depends on the viewpoint. How can anything be a
never? Like the plates I described, the king can still be a king and hold
his integral constellation of elements and the queen a queen even though
they both merge and then become the Other. The integrity of an idea or
concept or way of interpereting a discipline does not imply permanence nor
is it immune to alteration. Nor does it negate other viewpoints. All
things are true and sometimes at once. And sometimes only one truth can
hold it's integrity at one time. Not looking for a reply. Very sincerely,

Subject:- Crowned serpent

Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 21:08:08 -0800
From: Richard Roberts

To Deanna
I had hoped last week to reply to your query re crowned figures in "tubs,"
but two journalists were here interviewing me about my psychological
development as reflected sequentially in my eight books. One of them delves
into animus/a, and I would be glad to send you a comp copy of "Tales for
Jung Folk." One of the stories about the persona was made into the movie
"The Mask." You may contact me off-line at

I think the strange crowned figure is more likely a dragon, because
Mercurius or Hermes took many forms. As serpens mercurii he was
the dragon that creates and destroys itself as the prima materia.
In Paracelsus, serpens mercurii , or draco, is bisexual and capable of
self-fertilization and childbearing, as he is throughout all of alchemy.
These "tubs" to which you refer are of course the alchemical baths
which effect the transformations. Mercurius' masculine component
is frequently depicted as a solar king, and his fem. a lunar queen.
Their union brings forth the homonculus, the infant Mercurius, who
reverts to prima materia and again differentiates into masculine and
feminine. The symbolism of "making love as an alchemical process"
to which you refer is often depicted as couples in coitus, one humorous
caption to which reads,"I need you as the hen the cock."
It should be remembered, however, that the philosopher's stone,
the goal of the process, symbolized the resolution of all opposites,
hot/cold, up/down, etc. as well as m/f. The latest edition of my book
"Tarot Revelations" has a cover that depicts al the aforementioned
points of your query. There is a likeness of Joseph Campbell as
alchemist making the hermetic gesture of "as above so below." On the
front of his robe are two trines, facing up and down, and touching at
the points. The lower trine contains fire going up; the upper trine bears
droplets descending. Atop the top trine are two crowned heads of a
solar king and lunar queen facing each other. The tableau depicts my
secret theory that alchemy is in reality Tantra Yoga, or rather the form
it took when reaching the West in order to prevent its practioners from
persecution at the hands of the Judeo-Christian religion, which despised
the body and sexuality as invitations to damnation. However, the
crowned couple on my cover are in Tantric embrace. He (the masculine
trine) is on his knees while she sits astride him.
When their union is consummated in the hieros gamos, or sacred
marriage, the two trines become a six-pointed star, another symbol of
the stone. Above the couple is the Stairway of Planets(seven in number),
with King Sol and Queen Luna at opposite penultimate peaks, while at the
very top is the product of their union, a dancing Mercury, and above him in
the sky , a silver globe embossed w/a golden six-pointed star.

Remember the alchemist cannot his goal without his soror(sister). I
myself have been intiiated into Tantra and have experience the sacred
marriage, but this is not the stuff of New Age soul mates coming together.
This marriage cannot be with a flesh and blood person, for then he or she
is still a projection of the inneranimus/a. No, this marriage occurs when
the upper trine of the conscious mind descends to meet the ascending
trine of the unconscious, resulting in a third state which dissolves all pairs
of opposites and contradictions of the other two, a hypnopompic or
hypnogogic state into which all treasures flow from the unconscious
I should know; my last book "The Wind& the Wizard" was basically
channeled from my anima by putting the left brain in "park' and letting
the right brain (anima) do the driving, a state in which I heard the
characters' voices and merely took dictation.
Could I have accomplished the Great Work without my soror? No way.

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 00:36:46 -0400
From: Deanna Herrera

To All,
I received many informative and interesting replies and am taking some time
to reply to those I would like to. I went for a long run and broke my leg
while hurdling a fence (unfortunately it was not a metaphorical fence I
hurdled, but the kind made out of big molecules) and am having other
problems, so please be patient with delayed responses. I have printed out
the e-mails and am reading them from my couch. Thank You to all and anyone
who did reply to my querries RE: Serpents and symbols

Dr. Deanna Herrera

Subject: INNER - Snake spewing out venom

From: Mats Winther
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 09:53:30 +0100

Among the myths of India there is one that parallels the vomiting snake
mythologem. It is called "The churning of the sea". I give it here in
abbreviated form.

Indra had lost his vigour. To restore his strenght the gods followed
Vishnu's advice. Vishnu promised that that the snake Vasuki would produce a
liquid of immortality. They took the Snake and twined him around mount
Mandara and began to churn. The gods were at the tail, and the demons at
the head. But as they were churning the mountain began to shake and did
great damage to the inhabitants of the ocean. And the heat destroyed the
animals and birds in the surroundings. The mountain threatened to break
through the earth and destroy it. But the giant turtle got beneath the
mountain and became its pivot. The churning went on faster and faster. The
snake suffered from his painful labour. Torrents of venom escaped from his
jaws and poured down on earth in a vast river and threatened to destroy
everything, even the gods. To save the world from destruction, Siva drank
the poison. But the poison burnt his throat. In the end the gods had their
reward. The sea of venom created, became the sea of milk which engendered
many wonderful gods, among them the Moon and Lakshmi, the god of fortune.
But first of all came Surabhi, the marvellous cow, mother and nurse of all
living things.

Comments: the mythologem of the spewing snake seem to be (1) extremely
dangerous, (2) procreative on the grand scale.

I would appreciate if someone could relay the myth of "Dragon spewing out
Jason". I only have references to this myth in my library.

Mats Winther

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 04:02:56 +0200
From: Dimitris

>From: Mats Winther
>I would appreciate if someone could relay the myth of "Dragon spewing out
>Jason". I only have references to this myth in my library.

I haven't heard any version of the myth where the Dragon spews out Jason.
Here's a brief and general account of the myth of Jason: Jason and the 50
Argonauts started a quest for the golden fleece. The fleece was somewhere in
Colchis, a place reigned by Aeetes. Jason asked for the Golden Fleece and
the king assigned him some tasks that he had to accomplish, in order to get
the fleece. First, he was to yoke two bronze leg bulls that spit fire. Then,
he had to sow dragon teeth. Warriors sprouted from the teeth, but Jason
tricked them, and they killed each other. Medea -Aeetes' daughter-
fell in love with Jason and helped him accomplish his assignments,
successfuly. Aeetes refused to give Jason the fleece, which was guarded by a
sleepless dragon. Medea got the dragon off to sleap, and they stole the
Fleece. The sailed with Argo, but Aeetes followed them, so Medea and Jason
killed Apsyrtus (Medea's brother and Aeetes' son) and cut his limbs off one
by one, thus forcing Aeetes to fall behind as he stopped to pick up each
piece...... (to be continued.)

Some thoughts:
Medea: the female part of Jason(/anima?) The dragon: chaos, nuclear force.
Golden Fleece: the secret of reality/the opus of alchemical
process/manifesting reality using the secrets of sub-atomic, quantum field.
50 Argonauts: why 50 ?


P.S. If the myth isn't a myth, then according to some, the story must have
occured round 1600 BC. There is a brilliant account and intepretation of the
myth in 'Barbara Hand Clow's: Chiron, Llewelyn, 1987, USA'. She relates the
myth with the passage from The Age of Taurus (matriatrchy) to the Age of
Aries (patriarchy), the balance between animus/anima, the quest for
survival, and large scale destruction (I think.) According to her, the 1.600
BC date is part of a vast transpluto planetary cycle. Now, we're on the same
point of the cycle, as Jason back in 1.600 BC!

Subject: The Serpent on the Cross

Date: Mon, 7 Apr 1997
From: Richard Patz

Richard Roberts wrote:

>Indeed, Jung tells us,
>"among the Ophites, Christ was the serpent." And also, "Mercurius is likened
>to the serpent hung on the cross (John3:14) to mention only one of the
>numerous parallels." And in his essay on "The Philosophical Tree," he tells
>us, "The somewhat unusual allegory of the sword hanging on a tree is almost
>certainly an analogy of the serpent hanging on the cross. In St. Ambrose
>the 'serpent hung on the wood' is a 'typus Chrsti,' as is the 'brazen
>serpent on the cross' in Albertus Magnus.

Thank you, Richard. All this talk of crucified serpents has prompted me to
re-examine the Figures of Abraham the Jew, with new eyes (as it were):

Richard Patz

Subject: INNER - Brazen Serpent

From: Steve Kalec
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997

Our highest spiritual understanding is rooted in that
which is the lowest in us and that is the serpent.

Numbers 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a
fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass,
that everyone that is bitten, when he looked upon shall live.

John 3:14, And Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This to me is a clear reference to Christ and the
serpent as being the same source, essence, and power.
It is the regenerative primordial subtle energies in almost
all teachings. It is the Secret Fire that the alchemists above
all seek to accomplish their art. When it is coiled dormant
in the pit it is inactive. When through mystical excersise it is
aroused and fanned from its embers into flames it becomes an
awesome spiritual bioelectrical fiery energy. As it is purified
through the inner alchemical methods as it rises to the
higher psychic levels it becomes the consuming, life giving,
healing, purifying, transmuting, uplifting, everlasting infinite
cosmic energy of life. In its ceaseless effort and striving to be
is the very source of being itself. It is the Awesome energy and
power of the ever generation of universal life. This divine fire
in man is his very divine inner Self. The fiery flames of Christ
within as the saviour. The fire of the Gods.

The pole, tree, or cross is the same thing. It is the body
or matter. Serpents on a pole is the Caduceus, still
used today as a symbolic emblem of medical centers.
The Divine energies infused or cruxcified on matter.Through
matter as a vehicle and receptacle this spiritual consciousness
evolves and unfolds.Likewise matter is transmuted and uplifted
through the unfolding and evolving of this Light within.
The Rosy Cross of the Rosicrucians beautifully symbolizes
this. The Rose in the center of the Cross represents man's
Divine inner higher consciousness unfolding itself as it is
cruxcified in his body. The saying and statement reads,
" Ad Rosam per crucem, ad crucem per Rosam."

To my Rose by way of the cross, to my cross by way of
the Rose.

Best Regards

Steve Kalec

Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997
From: Peggy

What does the serpent symbolize in the Catholic icon
of the Blessed Virgin Mary stepping on a serpent?

I think this is called "Our Lady of Victory" and IMO
is associated with Netzach and Hathor.



From: Steve Kalec
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997

Peggy wrote

> What does the serpent symbolize in the Catholic icon
> of the Blessed Virgin Mary stepping on a serpent?
> I think this is called "Our Lady of Victory" and IMO
> is associated with Netzach and Hathor.

From, Manly P Hall's ( The Secret Teachings of all ages ).

"The Madona represents the maternal creative mother
aspect of Divinity as the highest expression of being.
The Christ child always symbolizes wisdom, the virgin
Mother, faith. The figure therefore declares that, Wisdom
born of Faith , shall redeem the world now encircled by
the serpent of evil." This is a theologian view.

The Church always enjoyed blaming the serpent or Satan
for all our problems as it still does. The infamous scene in
the garden of Eden has branded the serpent as evil yet
nowhere in the Bible is it refered to as being evil .
The Bible says of the serpent in Genesis 3:1
" Now the Serpent was more subtle than any beast of the
field which the Lord God had made " Never is he called
evil. In fact it did open the eyes of Adam and Eve. Brought
them consciousness, light about themselves. For prior
to their encounter they were naked and did not know it.
After their encounter they realized that they were naked
and became ashamed.This is meaning that consciousness
of the Self was born .

This is of course all In my humble opinion.

Best Regards,

Steve Kalec

Subject: Serpent/Tree

Date: Sun, 11 May 1997
From: Richard Roberts

To All: At the risk of being called an heretic by some of those who have
been quoting scripture on the evil nature of the serpent
and as being explained so clearly in Isa 14:12-13 " How art thou fallen from
heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground,
which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will
ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will
sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north" from
this you will see that to eat the tree indeed "brings down to hell, to the
sides of the pit."

The point I was making last week was that the writer or writers of genesis
had an agenda to render the serpent as evil, in order to grant a special
pleading for the new patriarchal god over the divinities that had preceded
him. Since I was able to scientifically establish an astronomical precedent
for Eve/Serpent/Tree(thru the help of a planetarium), I think it is only
fair here to balance the denigration of the serpent w/some of the
alternative perspectives on the Eden scene. Indeed, Eric pointed out that in
the Sefer Yetzirah that serpent/Satan was not interpreted as evil. The
following lines are quoted from my book FROM EDEN TO EROS published in 1985. Gnosticism the diety is Pistis Sophia,*Pistis* the feminine greek for
"faith," and *Sophia* feminine Greek for "wisdom." When she breathes on the
Abysss, a shadow comes into being beneath the Ogdoad, the starry realm where
she reigns. the shadow becomes matter...and assumes the shape of a great
beast, lion-like and androgynous, without knowledge of its creation by
Sophia.The next step involves the creation of the world, which seems to have
been the reason for Sophia's creation of this monster, variously named
*Saklas*(Aramaic for fool),*Samael*("blind god" in Aramaic), and
*Ialdabaoth*, child of chaos, since he was created from the watery abyss...

Originally two Adams are created, one a spiritual essence of
Light/Adam (Sophia's creation), the other of dust, that is, of a merely
physical body.The "dirty" Adam is Yahweh's creation. Eve now enters
the Eden scene in the Gnostic text *On the Origin of the World*:
"Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter who is called 'Eve (of Life),'
as an instructor in order that she might raise up Adam, in whom
there was no soul, so that those whom he would beget might become
vessels of the Light...."

Sophia creates the serpent in order to instruct Adam and Eve regarding their
origins. Sophia, then, is mother to both the serpent and Eve, the "mother of
the living."
"Then the one who is wiser than all of them...said when you eat from it your
mind will be sobered and you will become like god, knowing the distinctions
which exist between evil and good men."

Richard Roberts

From ???@??? Tue May 13 21:33:45 1997

From: schalk
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997

Richard Roberts writes:
[sc] on which schalk responds:

>The point I was making last week was that the writer or writers of genesis
>had an agenda to render the serpent as evil, in order to grant a special
>pleading for the new patriarchal god over the divinities that had preceded

[sc] is this then why all the other writers of the bible followed suit, and render the serpent as evil, including the nt writers?
consider this too: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

>Since I was able to scientifically establish an astronomical precedent
>for Eve/Serpent/Tree(thru the help of a planetarium), I think it is only
>fair here to balance the denigration of the serpent w/some of the
>alternative perspectives on the Eden scene. Indeed, Eric pointed out that in
>the Sefer Yetzirah that serpent/Satan was not interpreted as evil.

[sc] i like to remind you that the image or idea of the serpent or devil is a one of opposition to the God of Truth and Light, and has always been that. why do you choose to be the advocates diabolis? does that not make you represent darkness, and allowing that which can be crystal clear, to be tainted with your interpretation, and then rather becomes a concoction of the truth?

>The following lines are quoted from my book FROM EDEN TO EROS published in 1985.

[sc] it is of a rare opportunity to be able to comment to a "published book" in a manner like this, not? nevertheless, does the content necessary stand as valid, on a book becoming a published one?

> Gnosticism the diety is Pistis Sophia,*Pistis* the feminine greek for
>"faith," and *Sophia* feminine Greek for "wisdom." When she breathes on the
>Abysss, a shadow comes into being beneath the Ogdoad, the starry realm where
>she reigns. the shadow becomes matter...and assumes the shape of a great
>beast, lion-like and androgynous, without knowledge of its creation by
>Sophia.The next step involves the creation of the world, which seems to have
>been the reason for Sophia's creation of this monster, variously named
>*Saklas*(Aramaic for fool),*Samael*("blind god" in Aramaic), and
>*Ialdabaoth*, child of chaos, since he was created from the watery abyss...
>Originally two Adams are created, one a spiritual essence of
>Light/Adam (Sophia's creation), the other of dust, that is, of a merely
>physical body.The "dirty" Adam is Yahweh's creation. Eve now enters
>the Eden scene in the Gnostic text *On the Origin of the World*:
>"Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter who is called 'Eve (of Life),'
>as an instructor in order that she might raise up Adam, in whom
>there was no soul, so that those whom he would beget might become
>vessels of the Light...."
>Sophia creates the serpent in order to instruct Adam and Eve regarding their
>origins. Sophia, then, is mother to both the serpent and Eve, the "mother of
>the living."
>"Then the one who is wiser than all of them...said when you eat from it your
>mind will be sobered and you will become like god, knowing the distinctions
>which exist between evil and good men."

[sc] i want to know if you are saying that moses, the author of the creation epic and the writer of the story of the fall of man, needed to tell all of us rather what you are saying in your book, and that his recollection of that all was a concoction, where yours is then the truth? God being as the gnostics, are you thus too, say a female, and this twin of adam, being created by sophia?
the simplicity of a truth does not need to be made complicated, and shrouded with myth, when the understanding of that is hidden from the "wise", as Jesus commented : " I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes", and when this happens, will you not agree that this is what is being talked about by obadjah when he says "How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!"?


From: Jeffrey
Date: Wed, 14 May 1997

Dear schalk:

Of all the recent postings which have seem to me to take us away from the
topic of alchemy, ours have been the most disturbing. This forum is not a
Christian bible study forum and I found your exposition of "truth" very
offensive. If there is one thing I have learned it is that truth cannot be
one, since truth is composed of not only of objective experience, but
subjective experience as well. In alchemy "theoria" consists of objective
observation of trtansformation)objective can mean in the outer world or in
the unconscious world) and subjective interpretation of that phenomena. If
Jesus is your spirit of truth that is fine with me, but your assuption that
it is the only objective truth is absurd. I wonder why this forum is
spending so much time on topics that are only tangentially related to
alchemy. As Adam points out, if we get locked into arguments about whether
alchemy is tantric or kabbalistic or christian we loose the capacity to get
inside alchemy and see what mystery it attempts to depict. And at the risk
of repeating myself there are an infinite number of paths, not just one.

There is a wonderful sufi concept that though God is one, it has a billion
different names. There is one name for each human being, and the task of the
mystic is to learn his or her own unique name. The name is not a word, but
alivng being, and if the mystic unites in love with his or her own unique
name, then later, possibly, they come to learn all the names. Instead of
arguing about wehther all collective names are the same, shouldn't we be
looking for our own? To me alchemy is a symbolic system of processes and
transformations that allow one to come to their own unique truth.


Date: Thu, 15 May 1997
From: Richard Roberts

To Schalk:

Two days have passed since I was on-line, and since then some have replied
on behalf of Jean Dubuis and myself. As i said several months ago in
responding to Fundamentalists attacking other members, most of us in this
forum have spent a lifetime in esoteric studies, and we are not to be
treated like wayward children whose feet must be set back upon the path of
"righteousness." I do not read Gnosticism as truth, nor do I the bible, but
as mythology, which, however, is not "untruth." But I do not read the bible
as history, as you do, for I do not believe--among other things-- in talking
serpents, although I have lifted rattlers by the tail from my garden and
their tails were most eloquent.

I was fortunate in my youth to have met my mentor Joseph Campbell, who
awakened me to the fact that humankind did not go from being cave men to
Genesis, that before Genesis there was a high culture worshipping a Mother
goddess, "for at least seven thousand years before the composition of the
Book of G."(Campbell).

The books of Marija Gimbutas document this, and Campbell always paid
homage to her as the expert on matriarchal religions. As a matter of fact,
the last time that I saw him alive in 1987, he had spent the day writing a
tribute to her on his first computer. A storm in Honolulu had caused some
power problems and he had lost the day's work. After dinner with me, he
went home and wrote it again until 3:00am, and then met me for breakfast
at 7:00am. He said, "I wanted to do this for her."

You ask "why all the other writers of the bible followed suit and rendered
the serpent evil?" I think it's pretty clear that when you begin your new
religion with the idea that death and the Fall of Man are the result of
woman and the serpent you are stuck with that for the rest of your book,
unless some of the writers demurred, in which case their buried books do not
come to light until 1940(Nag Hammadi). What troubles me, however, is that
since "god was a woman" before Genesis, and that her consort was the
serpent, "The scriptures we have believed for two thousand years, pertaining
to original sin and the inherent evil of women, that have given patriarchy
its authoritarian validation for treating women as witches and economic
slaves, prove to be a misreading-- probably deliberate-- of an astronomical
myth that accurately and yet poetically explained the nature of the cosmos
thousands of years before Genesis." (RR)

IMHO in life there are two kinds of humans: those who accept another's
truth, and therefore live by dogma, and those who seek always their own
truth. Galileo merely asked that his inquisitors look through his telescope
to prove that the earth went around the sun. They said it was but a trick of
the devil. Schalk, I fear you are one whose mind is made up, and who does
not want to be confused by facts that contradict your mindset. I have found
a home on the Inner-alchemy forum because its members are almost all in the
category of individual truth seekers. Although we are from different
countries, of different religions and disparate circustances, some once mad
and others perhaps too sane too long, we all seek the inner alchemy of
transformation, growth, CHANGE.

As they say in Ireland, "May you be half an hour in Heaven, before the Devil
knows you're dead."

Date: Thu, 15 May 97


Seventeen years ago I left for the last time the country of my birth - a
country founded for, and peopled and ruled by Christian fundamentalists for
themselves alone, regardless of the demonstrable - and, as fate would
strangely have it, singularly 'Christian' - gentleness and wisdom of the
ousted 'natives'... I have never been back though I am often invited to do so...

The reason is the following: I am not sure that anything I have to say there
would ever actually get through. This after thirty-five odd years of intensive
study and practice...

You may have found the 'Truth', my friend... For myself, along with Socrates,
Altus, Rabbi Nachmann and the Firesign Theatre I prefer to think Truth not so
much something one 'has' as something to 'do', eternally, humbly, in
ever-changing patterns and continuous amazement... From the little I've
managed to notice about the Universe, and regardless of who (if anyone at all)
'created' it (She was a lesbian black Jewess wasn't She, God?) seems to bear
me out...

Perhaps the terms I'm looking for are just the 'infinitely vast' and
'surprising' I always seem to be using... Forgive me...

Jean Debuis an alchemist? I think so. But then what would I know?