The Fifth Alchemical Recipe

The Fifth Alchemical Recipe
The sun and the shadow complete the work

The sun and the shadow complete the work.

We are to see sun and shadow (umbra solis) not as opposites but as two manifestations of the same energy. Just as male and female denote two aspects of the human consciousness (conscious and subconscious, the left and right sides of the brain), sun and shadow are two opposites of a field of development, with the earth in the middle.

Sun and shadow represent the two poles necessary to create a field of development, in the same way that  an electromagnetic field has a positive and a negative pole. The creative, male pole contrasts with the receptive, female pole: together the two generate force.

From the one the two is generated from which the three arises and thus in this way creation becomes possible.

In the emblem, a golden ring of stars encircles the sun and the moon. This astral ring (aster = star) symbolises the heavenly marriage – the matrimonium coeleste – between Sol and Luna, sun and moon. This heavenly marriage symbolises the union of spirit and soul, in which the moon reflects the spiritual sunlight.

We may extrapolate ‘as above, so below’ from this simile to man himself. Thus the sun emanates a spiritual impulse which the moon receives and reflects, creating a structure of lines of force – the image – from which the earth arises as a physical body.


(Text first published in Pentagram 2015  No. 2.   Emblem: Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 45: The work is perfected by Sol and his shadow – Michael Maier )