Plate XIX – The Fifth Treatise, Part I, 1st Chapter
This Fifth Treatise is an overall synopsis of the ‘manifold operations’ described within the previous eighteen plates. The author calls this portion out as ‘Part I’, which is puzzling in that there is no ‘Part II’, just the four Chapters.
In previous Plates the details toward the end result are illustrated here in one image to show Dissolution and Putrefaction. It was important, however, to know just what we actually must do to get here.
Pictured is the dismal, forlorn expression on the false face of you and me when we finally come to discover the delusion of personal will. This is the deluded ‘personal’ ego in its state of Dissolution and Putrefaction. In this Art, this Great Work, we eventually come to the absolute purpose and necessity for the continuous dissolution and destruction of our old forms on all levels. The bleak and outworn landscape is our physical body down to its cellular level. We cannot come to anywhere near the exalted state that we have imagined for ourselves by remaining who and what we are now. All that must eventually be dissolved.
Behind the Black Sun are rays of radiance from the One True Ego within us all. The false ‘self-personality ego’, having fulfilled its purpose of evolving into awareness of the True SELF, is now to be dissolved. Some sages describe this as “Saturn consuming, or eating, his own child”, the allegory of the Central Self, personified as Saturn, swallowing his child, the personified separate child personality.
Furthermore, we also will come to the realization that all we ever thought ourselves to have been, or to be, was of necessity as well. Because all that brought us to where we are today. The same force that built us up is the force that brings us down to ultimate surrender. Before a Super-conscious awareness can be experienced, the personal level of our separative Self-consciousness has to be utterly dismantled, decomposed, as exhibited in Plate X – The Sixth Parable, but only for a time. And the ‘head’ that was held up in that picture is at the stage where it is now being dissolved in this illustration. Our ‘outer’ appearance does not change. It is rejuvenated. What is being symbolically expressed by these illustrations of decomposition is our ideas of personal existence. That is what is shattered.
The “Black Stage”, also frequently referred to as the Black Work of Alchemy, is fundamentally destructive and breaks down all the accrued errors within our personality complex so that Renewal can take place. Following this Black Work is the White Work, which has to do with techniques that eventually reveal all our ‘personal’ activities as reflections from a higher, deeper Source.
Not shown in this illustration are the border embellishments in the original. At center-below is a chrysalis of a butterfly while at center-above is a caterpillar, with other hints around suggesting metamorphoses. That is the theme of this sinking sun; metamorphosis.
Destruction and rejuvenation are the polar opposites of that irresistible Life-force. It is sourced from what Qabalists name Chokmah (the god Shiva in Eastern Traditions), and the fiery martial stream of descending energies works its way downward and outward through a symbolic Tree of Life as sensations of ‘personal’ memory, will, ego, desire and intellect into the very cells of our physical vehicles. We thought it all ours, personally. Our body sense feels separate, feels independent. All these senses are mine because “I” feel them, even when the “I” feeling is not you or me as we thought ourselves to be; for many this is a very uncomfortable conclusion to deal with and comprehend. However, we go through these ‘personal’ feelings because it is one of the necessary illusions we must experience through this level of our human evolutionary process, up to a certain level of our development. At this uncomfortable stage we wrestle with the inner conflicts still warring with the strong tendencies of our lower nature, but these conflicts are also contrary to the growing power of our strong desires to be like the adepts about whom we hear and read and therefore aspire to be like.
Because this business may seem too daunting to handle, we may come to think and to believe that, well, maybe sometime later ‘I’ will surrender everything all on my own when ‘I’ feel the time is right. Not so. The surrender also is not even ours, but comes from the way beyond, from a time and place known long ago to be inevitable.
It is not merely this life, these situations and circumstances that are ultimately surrendered. We are part and parcel with the collective, universal ‘subconscious mind matter’ that began with the birth of three-dimensional space and time, name and form. We must, each and every one of us, surrender that, too. All that simply cannot be done by this one, separative entity who believes in its own deluded identity. We are nothing at all that we can sense by any means. Sages wrote about the Step of Incineration that purges those ageless obstructions after the Step of Putrefaction is accomplished.
The First Chapter of the written portion of this Fifth Treatise lays it out succinctly albeit allegorically. If we have grasped just portions of what has been presented thus far in this Article, we should have little problem understanding what is scribed there.
The genuine sages and philosophers of this style of literature knew of the necessity of their metaphorical, and even physical, death and looked forward to it, with welcome. They understood that death is/was their metamorphosis into a grander entity; that illumination is the result of a new and better bodily structure. That we all shall come to this point of actual realization is ultimately inevitable.
A more detailed reference concerning Dissolution and Putrefaction may be found in the Glossary Section of this site, should you wish.