The Seventh Alchemical Recipe

The Seventh Alchemical Recipe
The rose gives honey to the bee

The rose gives honey to the bee.

This alchemical recipe originates from the 17th Century manuscript Summum Bonum (The Highest Good) by Robert Fludd (1574-1637).

A rose with seven times seven petals blooms on a trunk in the shape of a cross. The rose has long symbolised a love of which giving is the essence. This is spelt out in the script ‘Dat rosa mel apibus’: the rose gives honey to the bee.

The rose has opened its petals wide: the bees fly to and fro and find the precious nectar in its heart. They store this in the golden beehives to the right of the rose. The bees build a structure of honeycombs. They do not seek the nectar for themselves but transform it into honey as food and building material for the many – love increases when it is imparted to others.

At the left of the rose we see the contrasting image of the spider weaving its web to capture and suck out for itself all that is caught up in it.

The rose is the symbol of the highest love. Christ is the rose of roses, bleeding and flowering at the heart of the cross, on the intersection where God meets man. As the rose gives honey to the bee, so Christ gives his heart blood, freeing the faculty of love for every man.


(Text first published in Pentagram 2015  No. 2.   Emblem: Title page of Summum Bonum – Robert Fludd)