In Hermetic Art the lover of Philalethes opens his first several pages regarding the conjunction of the Sun and Moon. Cohobation of these two, the Soul of Sun and Moon, makes the moist fire, the Principal Agent of this Art.
A modern definition of 'cohobation' is offered with this:
"In pre-modern chemistry and alchemy, cohobation was the process of repeated distillation of the same matter, with the liquid drawn from it; that liquid being poured again and again upon the matter left at the bottom of the vessel." – Wikipedia.
If we are able to read the above with the mind's eye, we might perceive a degree of accuracy in the esoteric sense. Cohobation as defined by sage alchemists is a process of continuous volatiltization and condensation of a volatile liquid in a closed vessel while subjected to heat (see HUMIDITY and HERMETIC SEAL). According to the genuine Alchemists, to collect these virtues of Sun and Moon, however, requires a Mean. The Mean, according to Norton’s Ordinal of Alchemy, is the Green Lion (see LION). The Green Lion is converted into Means Mineral, the which, again Norton tells us, is none other than Magnesia (see WHITE MAGNESIA) and Litharge, her brother. In the common chemical sense, litharge is a heavy, earthy, poisonous solid with a lead base. In Spiritual Alchemy the term Red Lead is our gross, poisonous, physical body, prior purification. It also becomes cleansed in a sense by a means mineral (see MINERALS).
An ardent student might do well to research Litharge and its root forms (Hebrew, Greek, Latin), and work the gematria while being mindful of the 'chemistry of consciousness.' It is said the Philosophical Work begins with the Heavenly Mercury and an imperfect body purified. Our Means Mineral then, is the Alchemical Marriage of the White, feminine patient and ‘her brother’ the Red, masculine agent, together being the left and right nerve currents of the sympathetic nervous system (see IDA). When we consider Red Lead we must conclude the Red Lion, the sublimated Green Lion. We have discovered the Green Lion to be the raw, immature reproductive energy under the regimen of the Mars Center and our Metal Iron. The Lion force is our separative will-sex-urge, rooted in raw, involuting reproductive energies that require rechanneling in order to heat the Bath. However, to turn the Lion force with sure and safe success alchemists imply, is the secret of secrets. From A Closed Palace of the King we are advised:
"Learn who are the doves of Diana that overcome the green lion by gentleness: even the Babylonian dragon, which kills everything with its venom."1
Again in Hermetic Art:
"Learn what Diana's Doves are, which doth vanquish the Lion by assuaging him; I say, the Green Lion, which is indeed the Babylonian Dragon, killing all things with his poison."2
Qabalists agree these doves to be two in number, a 'Secret Pair.' Jean d'Espagnet appropriates them to נוגה, nogah, 'Venus', which he calls fifth amongst the planets. In Hermetic Arcanum he calls them the Birds of Venus, though other Qabalists apply the name of Doves to Diana. The Birds of Venus, Doves of Diana, and the Doves of Venus are all the same. Venus and Diana, being feminine deities, personify slightly differing modes of subconsciousness. So the ‘secret pair’ does come out from both, which is one root source. These 'Doves' are Creative Imagination and Love, both from the wellspring of subconsciousness. Consider this paragraph from A Short Inquiry Concerning Hermetic Art:
"We do not find the Enigma of Doves so frequently used as many others, and which also are very difficult to be understood. These figures, I conceive, spring from a Root of Knowledge and Learning, far above the Vulgar's reach: For is this Art, saith one, Cabalistical and full of Mysteries? So one of these Masters, well versed in Rabbinical Learning, has told us what the name of a Dove doth signify, as well as what it doth not, viz.: ‘The Name of a Dove is never applied to Metals themselves but the ministering and preparing Natures. And that he that understands the Nature of the Burnt Offering (for Purification) will not take Turtles themselves, but two young Pigeons which are the Off-spring or Sons of the Dove.’"3
Some have considered the Chakras (Metals) to be these Doves, but the author tells us clearly that they are not. He explicitly says they are the “ministering and preparing natures” of the interior metals. The primary way all our metals are prepared and brought to perfection is by Creative Imagination and Love. The two foster Compassion. Love turns all Salt-ish tendencies within our centers Mercurial, and makes Mercury of all the Metals. Creative Imagery, with sensible foodstuffs, builds healthier bodies to function efficaciously. Health radiates Life. The Central Life brings on Love and Compassion for All Life. We all recognize that it is most difficult to force these fine attributes through conscious effort. As the author says: “These figures spring from a Root of Knowledge and Learning, far above the Vulgars' reach.” The true and lasting effects of these qualities must come from subconsciousness. More accurately it must be said to come through the subconscious from a super-conscious level, the Christ, an effect of our quest for 'Knowledge and Learning.' A Burnt Offering has nothing to do with sacrifices made of the animal kingdom such as rams, bulls or doves. Mark 12:33 is the clearest example of the Nature of effective Burnt Offerings. Counterfeits will not be accepted. Doves are symbols of the covenant filled with the Holy Spirit, who harbors genuine peace, innocence and gentleness. Those of us in this Art who cannot find and demonstrate the unifying forces of the Dove toward all creation are yet far from His Grace to complete this quest. The very dust we tread upon is the physical body of Almighty God.
May I suggest researching the following Biblical passages on Burnt Offerings: Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 6:6 and Psalms 40:7. If we can grasp the inner significance of these and other admonitions, mining beyond the English translations, we will not be far from assuaging the course of the Green Lion, who marries the Red and the White, Pingala and Ida, the Sun and Moon.
1 Anonymous, An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 8.
2 Westcott, William Wynn, A Short Enquiry Concerning The Hermetic Art. Edited by Westcott. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 20.
3 Ibid., pg. 20.