I can’t get enough of this image. It is from The Rosary of the Philosophers, a 16th-century alchemical treatise. The original 1550 print includes a series of 20 woodcuts with German-language captions, this is the 18th image. The actual image above is from a later edition of the treatise.
The most compelling aspect of the image is blood being spilled at the same time the sun smiles calmly. This goes against human instinct. A brutal scene of blood, annihilation, and destruction of the glowing sun is transformed into one of joyful acceptance through the smile of the sun.
The sun symbolizes time and cycles and in being devoured, the end to time and cycles. It also symbolizes the human ego. Just as the glorious burning sun will soon run out of energy and become a dark shell, the human body has a beginning and an end and therefore the human ego is finite and inevitably will be devoured by whatever is more prime than itself. The sun symbolizes the multiple levels of human reality.
The fact that this sun is being happily consumed by the green lion symbolizes that human reality is not the prime reality. Human reality is not king.
Green Lion’s reality is king. The reality at the base of all, further emphasized in this image with the green extending beneath the figure of the lion making up the ground, or the base of the entire image.
The green lion is prime, it cannot be destroyed, it is beyond time. The reality the green lion represents is the reality of timelessness, beyond all time, cyclical or otherwise. A reality beyond our human comprehension.
The sun is smiling because it accepts its role in this system, it is not king, it is not prime, it is not forever.
It knows being eaten is the correct thing to happen.
We live inside of both symbols, lion and sun, and both live inside of us. We are much more aware of the reality of sun though.
What lesson can we take from this image based on the interpretation I have laid out.
We are all children of the Golden sun in this lifetime, prone to being consumed by forces around us that are more powerful. We are also children of the Green Lion. If we can access the Green Lion within us we can access the power that allows us to start to turn aspects of our life that have reached the end of their purpose back into energy for our own vitality.
It is always good to reflect on our life and think about what is currently consuming us whether that be a relationship, job, idea, action, feeling, cause, or social group.
What consumes us… and is it deserving of our smile?
The answer depends on if what consumes us is feeding our own greater reality, our own Soul, our higher purpose, our genuine Self.
Then we should smile.
If the things that are consuming us are instead feeding something else, someone else’s agenda, or the agenda within our self that is not in resonance with our deepest self, we might want to reexamine if what is consuming us is a worthy process to have in our life.
If we decide what we are being consumed by is not worthy of our golden glowing energy then it may be time to access the Green Lion.
Get out the teeth, get out the claws, return to our deepest self, the base of our being, and start consuming whatever has outlived it’s purpose in our own lives.
Spill blood metaphorically.
And when we are all done and all that is false to our own deeper and most genuine self has been consumed and returned to the Greater self for energy we can return to being the glowing Golden sun happily being consumed by things and processes that are feeding our deepest Self.