Stories > Splendor Solis > Plate 11 - The Boiled Philosopher Rejuvenated
A naked bearded man with a white bird perched on his head, is being cooked in water heated by a fire that is tended by a assistant with bellows, in an ornate Renaissance courtyard. The process seems voluntary and the bird on the man's head suggests the boiling off of vapour or spirit. A liquid is being drawn off into a flask at the side of the boiler. In two niches are statues of Jupiter and Mercury. A bas relief of Pygmalion and sculpture he fell in love with is seen at the foot of the column. (Stephen Skinner's Splendor Solis commentary)
The Boiled Philosopher Rejuvenated vs The Caregiver
"The symbolism of the vessel appears as the vessel of spiritual transformation. The pre-Christian plunge bath signifies a return to the mysterious uterus of the Great Mother and its water of life. The image of the alchemist in the bath takes the integration a step further: the objective psyche is fully manifest and aware of itself. It is nothing less than transformation of the whole person. The bird perched on the golden sphere of the youthful king now appears on the head of an ordinary human being. What was formerly the wish of the adept to transcend the limitations of the material reality has resulted paradoxically in a humbled and embodied spiritual attitude. In alchemy, salvation comes not only from above, it comes also from below.”
My drawing of the Caregiver is the opposite of The Denier that goes with the Golden Head. After death comes rebirth, and the ocean in the Caregiver also represents that plunge back into the womb of the Great Mother, or the primordial ocean of the unconscious. And with this rebirth the connection to the divine is reestablished, represented by the crowns on the heads of the seahorses, which is similar to the bird on the head of the alchemist. The lionfish hiding in the seagrass, symbol of the poisonous and healing properties of the serpent, might be the equivalent of the assistant tending to the fire of the alchemist bath, perhaps combining the healing and destructive aspects of water and fire. There's something of that combination too in the sun setting above the seahorses, the sky and the ocean coming together representing the transformation resulting from the meeting of the conscious and unconscious.
Note: the quotes in italic are from the book by J.L. Henderson and D.N. Sherwood, Transformation of the Psyche: The Symbolic Alchemy of the Splendor Solis

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