The king (ego) floats on the frontier between air (consciousness) and water (subconsciousness). His head is above the water (his thinking is free), his heart is just under the water (emotions coming up from the subconscious), the pelvis is still deep under water, signifying the magnetic tensions which bind us to the past. The king floats away from the world. The palms of his hands are spread sideways (keeping the world away) in the form of a cross (surrender of self). His legs are crossed in a closed position. Thinking, desiring and feeling are dissolved in the water. The conscious and subconscious become united, resulting in self knowledge and self awareness.
In this alchemical emblem we find a parrallel with ‘The First Hour’ of the Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana: “In unity, the demons praise God; they lose their wickedness and wrath.”
(Text first published in Pentagram 2015 No. 2. Emblem: Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 31: He that delivers me shall have a great reward – Michael Maier )