Plate XX – The Fifth Treatise, Part I, 2nd Chapter
This Plate, and the following Plate XXI, the 3rd Chapter, are most often coupled under the one phrase “Woman’s Work and Child’s Play”. Solomon Trismosin, however, must very well have understood that there are more specifics to be gleaned beyond the hints within the phrase.
There are ten children in the illustration; seven who are naked; three yet clothed. In purely allegorical language we are in ten desires, in what is called ten Sephiroth. The egoistic structure of our soul, consists of ten parts, and within the deep subconscious we must give up each of them. Only then do we come out of our egoism. They are personified aspects of our personality complex being worked upon in the Qabalistic World of Yetzirah, the astral plane, or our personal world of the subconscious, therefore the nannies overseeing. Note the three predominant colors of all the apparel; the super-conscious higher octave colors described in Plate VII – The Third Parable. This is due to the work being done within the Subconscious, but rooted from the Supernals, or the ‘higher octaves’.
The Great Work of regeneration of the personality is worked out in the field of Yetzirah, where forces are subject to dissolution and re-coagulation. In classic alchemical literature Coagulation and Congelation are synonymous.
Even our modern dictionaries, as Webster’s, states: “Coagulate; to cause (a liquid) to become semisolid; clot”; compared with, “Congeal; to thicken; jell; coagulate.”
It seems important enough here to write out the entire Second Chapter from the manuscript for a little commentary:
“The next is COAGULATION, which is turning the WATER again into the CORPUS or MATTER, meaning thereby that the SULPHUR, which before was dissolved by the LIVING SILVER, absorbs the same and draws it into itself. The Water that turned to Earth, which the Corpus has absorbed, necessarily shows other and manifold colors. For if the properties of an operating thing alter, so must the thing operated on alter. Because in the DISSOLUTION the LIVING SILVER is active, but in the COAGULATION it is passive, operated on. Wherefore is this Art compared to the play of children, who when they play, turn undermost that which before was uppermost.”
The “SULFUR, which before was dissolved by the LIVING SILVER” is our separative self-conscious desires (Rajas). The dissolving ‘WATER’ is אין סוף אור, Ain Suph Aur, the Limitless Ocean of Universal Subconscious Mind Matter, which comprises everything everywhere. It is again turned into the Body that was previously Dissolved, but now it is as the “New Wine in a New Skin”; the cellular consciousness is now in heightened awareness, after Rajas Guna (Sulfur) was joined with Sattva Guna (Mercury). “In the DISSOLUTION the LIVING SILVER is active” (Meditation).
When ‘personalities’ (children) are in their ‘separative’ state, the pseudo, egoistic self-conscious mind is foremost, or ‘uppermost’, and Super-consciousness is not even considered. Hence it is ‘undermost’. In the Art of Alchemy, however, when personalities are rejuvenated, they now turn the Super-conscious mind ‘uppermost’, using the new personality as the tool for that Super-conscious Life as the personality was originally designed to be, ‘undermost’.
Mr. Julius Kohn seemed intent to call out the JACKDAW on the floor to the left. A European Jackdaw is of the Crow family (Corvids), but of a smaller variety than the Carrion Crow. Mr. Trismosin is reminding us of Corvus Niger, the ‘Black Crow’, symbolizing Binah on the Tree as the ‘Door of the Art’. Binah is to Yesod on the Tree, as the Universal Subconscious Mind (Neshamah) is to our ‘personal’ Subconscious (Nephesh), in the World of Yetzirah, where all this alchemical transmutation activity is taking place. A detailed explanation of Corvus Niger can be found in the Glossary Section of this site.