Anton Channing Liber Minor 7
|Pagan Teenage Voice |
(Magazine of Minor Arcana)
|Quest Magazine: |
|University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire|
|Pagan Dawn |
Theory 7 - Monas Hieroglyphica and Alchemical Mercury.
I first came across Dr John Dee's Monas Hieroglyph a couple of years ago, in an underground Chaos magazine called Kallisti. I remember thinking at the time that it looked interesting but I gave it little thought and passed on to what I presumed more interesting parts of the publication. The Monas Hieroglyph is a symbol, taken from Dee's alchemical work Monas Hieroglyphica. Kallisti says of this...
- Dr Dee's alchemical work 'Monas Hieroglyphica' [is] a magic parable which emphasises the spiritual transformation of man over the chemical transformation of metals. The hieroglyph itself, when contemplated for long enough, will allow the unifying principle of the cosmos to bring together the celestial realm with the terrestrial.
Recently I discovered some theories concerning a breakdown of the composite symbols in the glyph and came to a realisation that it was a symbol of alchemical mercury enclosed in the philosophical egg. It represents not only a harmonisation of the four elements but also the seven classical planets.
The philosophical egg is itself another symbol of mercury, and also contains the four elements. The outer shell is the earth, the white is water, the fine membrane attached to the shell is air and the yolk is fire. The resulting young chick represents the quintessence, the ether. The egg is the result of the union between the Solar and Luna principles of the cock and the hen. The Solar cock represents Alchemical Sulphur, whilst the Luna hen represents Alchemical Salt. The egg has been called Latona, after the mother of Apollo and Diana, and is a symbol of Alchemical Mercury. Salt and Sulphur can thus be seen as representing duality, or existence, whilst Mercury represents the transcendence of that existence. However, transcendence without a return to reality is like an infertile egg and leads only to the sterility of religion. Religion is a rotten egg.
The top part of the internal figure in the Monas Hieroglyphica can be seen as a combination and mixing of the Solar and Luna symbols, representing the successful combination of Salt and Sulphur. The cross underneath can be taken to represent the four elements. Alchemical Mercury also represents a successful union of these elements. If one were to examine the alchemical symbols of the seven classical planets, it would be found that they are all made up from symbols representing the four elements, a circle, a crescent, a cross and an arrow.
None of the symbols for the seven planets contain all four elemental symbols, but all four symbols are present in both the central figure of the Monas Hieroglyph and the symbol for Alchemical Mercury. The four symbols can be assigned elemental correspondences by comparing them with the four magical weapons of the pentacle, cup, sword and wand.
Since Alchemical Mercury represents the perfect union of the four elements it can be seen to be a representation of the quintessence, the ether. The seven planets are all made up exclusively from the symbols of the four elements, and so Alchemical Mercury can also be seen as representing the perfect union of the seven planets. Today we are aware of addition planets, including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. (I didn't know about Eris and other recently discovered planets when I wrote this back in early 2000/late 1999). The alchemical symbols for these are also made up of the four elements. Pluto being a very recently discovered planet, also has a non-alchemical symbol made from a combination of the letters 'P' and 'L'. This symbol is best avoided when working with hermetic alchemy, but is perfect when working with Austin Osman Spare's sigils.
Thus Alchemical Mercury can be seen as the completion of the ten planets. The ten planets also have correspondences with the ten sephiroth of the Qabala, so it can also be seen that not only does the symbol of Alchemical Mercury contain a perfect balance of Sulphur and Salt, Male and Female, Yin and Yang, in addition to the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, it also contains the entire tree of life and all ten planetary energies. It is the ultimate symbol of life and of the ether.
The figure in the centre of the Monas Hieroglyph is a stylised version of the symbol for alchemical mercury. Since the stylised central figure can be seen as the magician in a state of completion in the Great Work (Gnosis), and the egg can be seen as a representation of the Cosmic Egg, a symbol Dee himself used for the ethereal heavens, the Monas Hieroglyph can be seen as the ultimate symbol of Gnosis, Magician (microcosm) and Heavens (macrocosm) united in perfect completion and balance. It is in such states of Gnosis that all magic can be performed.
Practicks 7 - Monas Hieroglyph Meditation.
Dr John Dee was most famous for his discovery/invention of the Enochian system of Angelic Magic, in which task he relied greatly upon his assistant, Edward Kelly. The majority of modern magicians don't believe literally in the Christian concept of heavenly angels (at least they seem to be a minority amoung the ones I'm acquainted with), or in any divine truth inherent in the Enochian language, but instead see Enochian as magickal system especially useful in any magic designed to contact 'higher intelligence', be they angels, elves, gods or aliens from the dog-star, Sirius.
It is not necessary to learn Enochian in order to contact higher intelligences, in fact it is extra-ordinarily easy. UFO sightings, sightings of Greys, little green men, elves, the blessed virgin Mary, faeries, angels, demons, the devil and other entities are common experiences for many individuals who have no magickal knowledge at all. The Monas Hieroglyph is a symbol of, among other things, divine communion of between the celestial realm and the magician. As such it is a perfect symbol for use in contacting the heavens. The following exercise is designed with the intent of contacting higher intelligences, of any kind you desire. Use it carefully.
For the excercise you will need a large reproduction of the Monas Hieroglyph, some candles, lots of paper and some writing implements that have been tested and definitely work. You will also need a comfortable place to write. Read through the exercise and make sure you understand it before attempting to use it.
Preparation: Arrange a table in front of you with the writing paper and pens nearest you, the Hieroglyph a few feet away and directly in front of you as you sit and the candles all to the side. Make sure there will be enough light to write by, but also ensure that it will be dim enough to comfortably meditate with your eyes open and fixed on the glyph.
Step One: Sitting comfortably and still, begin to breath deeply and slowly. Don't concentrate too much on your breaths, just breath deeper than normal. Keep you eyes open and stare intently at the hieroglyph.
Step Two: Once the deep breathing has become automatic, focus all your attention upon the hieroglyph, staying relaxed and still the whole time.
Step Three: When you are ready, probably after a few minutes, close your eyes and visualise the Monas Hieroglyph.
Step Four: Once the image is steady in your mind, enlarge it so that it is large enough and step inside it, so that you become the central glyph, with the cosmic egg around you.
Step Five: Invite the egg, a higher heavenly intelligence, to come into your body and write a message for you. Keep doing this until you feel this intelligence fill your body.
Step Six: As soon as you have the urge to write, open your eyes and write as quickly as you can. Just write what ever nonsense comes out of your head. If you see symbols, draw them too. It is important at this stage not to think about the words, symbols and images you are recording. As soon as you feel your normal consciousness returning, stop.
Step Seven: Ground yourself in some way. Laughter, or making a tea or coffee are usually effective. Don't look back at the message until at least a few hours later, try not to think about it. I would suggest leaving it a day before reading but that's up to you.