The Rebis of the fifth image from the Azoth by Basil Valentine (1624).
This iconic image of the Rebis is taken from the fifth engraving of the Azoth by Basil Valentine (1624).
Dissolve then Sol and Moon in our friendly water
like it was a uterus, a mother,
the origin and end of life.
So they can be generated again
and be reborn healthier, nobler and stronger.
The commentary to the seal
The philosophical (orphic) egg shell separates the Rebis from the undifferentiated chaos or everything from nothing. You can divide the figure into two halves, one upper and one lower, which are the halves of the philosophical egg: one heavenly and the other earthly.
In the upper and celestial halves there is the settenary of the planets: the Sun and the Moon, that is, the inner male and female, spirit and soul, join together with the other planets to form the Rebis. We are now in the representation of the macrocosm within the microcosm. On the right are the planets that determine the physical sex, Mars (male) and Venus (female), on the left are the planets that shape the inner qualities, Jupiter (character) and Saturn (thought). He is a human being whose Moon-soul is married in alchemical marriage to the Sun-spirit. The man-spirit keeps the compass of art directed because he brings the spirit into creation, the circle. The woman-soul holds the team of art directs because she carries the substance of creation, the square. Mercury, the androgynous, is the union of the two polarities, forming the solilunar energy: it is at the same time the son of the Sun and the Moon, for it contains both and dominates the cross of matter. This condition is also symbolized by the “Y” shaped Tau, that is the confluence of the lunar and solar light into a single third light. Here is the Re-bis, the “double thing”. This shows that the Rebis is the final and essential condition of the initiate, of the one who has made his soul alive and fruitful through the light of the spirit and brings it into the world. According to Jung’s archetypes this would be the integration of the male Animus into the woman and vice versa, the integration of the female Soul into the man, and it is only through the struggle with the Shadow (the dragon, below).
Let us now move on to the lower, earthly half on which the Rebis rests his feet, the columns of the Temple. We are now in the sphere of creation of the macrocosm. The solidity of spiritual construction rests upon the tamed dragon: the dark energies of the infernal nature which, far from being denied, must instead be known and domesticated. The dragon is both astral (cravings) and etheric (instincts). The dragon’s fire must be turned upwards, as must its wings and tail, rendered helpless by its knot. The dragon rests in turn on a winged sphere: it is the raw material that, created innocent, is spherical, that is, it resembles the spirit. It is the philosophical “zero”. But because of the dragon that dominates it, it undergoes an internal differentiation: first of all a central point is formed, thus forming the symbol of the Sun and gold, it is the One. Then the two polarities are separated, immanent (the horizontal line) and transcendent (the vertical line), such is the cross of the Edenic rivers (the naturating nature) from which the four elements (the square) will originate. The two is synthesized in the three, the triangle. At this point in the evolution of the world, the Trinity has entered into action: from power we pass to the act of material creation, with the four of the square being the four elements (the naturating nature).
Within creation the 3 Trinity + 4 elements = 7 operations or steps to create the philosopher’s stone, which is the ultimate matter. 7 which become 1, as above so below. It is at the same time the undifferentiated raw material and all that is differentiated within it: because of this balance between power and act, it is able to make the substance evolve towards its ultimate reason. In the case of man, in the Rebis. The symbol of the Sun-gold placed at the centre of the philosopher’s stone is also Christ hidden in matter. He stands precisely as Alpha (past) and Omega (future), which is always at the center (eternal present): among the planets is the Sun and among the Tria Prima is Mercur.
The Rebis and the Mercur
Mercur as the centre of the Tria Prima is the origin of the lower half of the air (hot and humid) and the upper half of the water (cold and humid). It is in fact the compensation of the extremes of the Sulphur (upper) formed by fire (hot and dry) and the upper half of the air (hot and humid) with the Sal (lower) formed by the lower half of water (cold and humid) and the earth (cold and dry).
Therefore we have the following correspondences between matter of the macrocosm (world) and components of the microcosm (man):
- Sulphur = fire + superior air = superior spirit;
- Mercur = lower air + higher water = Median Soul;
- Sal = lower water + earth = lower body.
If we take the symbol of Mercur, identical to that of the planet Mercury, we have that the symbol of the Sun (the circle with the point) is located in the center of the Tria Prima. So there is an occult identity between the Sun as a planet in the macrocosm and the Mercur of the Tria Prima in man. Mercur receives the spirit in the lunar cup (Holy Grail) facing upwards, enlivens it in the central Sun and thus impregnates the lower matter represented by the cross of the four elements.
The descent of Adam Kadmon
The Rebis, the androgynous, was primordially the edenic state of the human being: in the Polar Era he was asexual and reproduced by cleavage; in the Hyperboreal Era he was bisexual and reproduced by self-fertilization; in the middle of the Lemur Era, the separation of the two sexes took place. In other words, the original Adam Kadmon went towards a progressive descent into matter so that his macrocosmic being separated in the descent, in fact generating the single human beings, the microcosms. This separation took place unconsciously, since man at that time lived in his group soul, it was the angels who assisted him in the reproduction.
We also know that the etheric body is countersexual to the physical body, the astral body is androgynous and the ego is completely asexual. The same is true for the triple spirit and therefore the Trinity, which despite its Christian appellations, remains a being prior to polarization between the sexes. Such is the root of Amor (A-mors, without death), unconditional divine love, of a non-polarized nature, and which therefore descends into matter in the form of Eros, Philia and Agape. Indeed, it is the diffraction of the original divine light (sattwa condition) of creation that causes these three aspects to differ in degree and quality (rajas), coming into contact with the densest matter that is only capable of a partial restitution of the original light (tamas).
It is man who, through the I, can bring matter, and therefore that which has been divided, back to the One: alchemically, to unite the Sun and the Moon in marriage means to make the soul (female Moon) meet its spouse (male Sun). Whenever in alchemy we speak of the Sun-Moon, masculine-female, we mean the inner qualities of an individual. The androgynous alchemist, the Rebis, is therefore an individual whose soul (Sophia) has been fertilized by the spirit; and the spirit has been born of the soul (the divine child); so that both can act on the physical plane. Such a prodigy of the chemical wedding is Mercury, the androgynous son who, unlike the primordial Adam Kadmon, is now endowed with the I, and therefore conscious of his condition of being. For this reason Mercury is also referred to as the “mind”.
The original Androgynous and the Rebis
From an esoteric point of view, both in anthroposophy and in theosophy, during the Lemuric Era (third radical race) the female half of the androgynous being who was man in his totality, had an early formation compared to the male half.
At that time man passed his stage of animal consciousness (recapitulation of the Ancient Moon, the third metamorphosis of the Earth) being directed by a group soul. Man therefore lived in a group consciousness, in which male and female were continually converging. Man was still devoid of the I, he possessed as a superior body the astral body, which is androgynous. In the middle of the Lemuric Era, the feminine half was more evolved, since it was directed towards the interiority to which corresponded an etheric (vital) male body and therefore inwardly active. The Lemur race constituted matriarchal societies, in which women channeled astral impulses. For this reason she attracted the attention of the luciferic spirits who lived in the astral element. The action of these spirits led at the same time to the “opening of the eyes” for the first time, showing what had already crystallized in the physical world and thus the separation from the group soul.
A comparison with Natural Science
One could say that the feminine channels etheric-astral energy from the original time and space of creation, since the crystallization of Eve’s physical-sensitive body. On the other hand, the Y chromosome, which is considered evolved from the X chromosome, carries the information to prolong the physical body over generations.
It should be noted that while the male Y chromosome has only a hereditary transmission function, the mitochondria are cellular organelles, i.e. ancient bacteria (without nucleus) incorporated into the eukaryotic cell (with nucleus) and forming an internal symbiosis with it. These mitochondria have ceded part of their functionality to the eukaryote nucleus, thus becoming dependent on it for reproduction, in exchange for supplying energy to the cell, and therefore as a whole, to the entire human organism. The metabolism of the mitochondria makes us pass from ATP to pure energy, breaking the bonds: the energy that flows inside our physical body is therefore generated by a gift inherited by maternal line.
In natural science, the ancestors of all human men and women are thus identified as two distinct individuals:
- Mitochondrial Eve: that is, the most ancient female progenitor to whom one goes back through the line of mitochondrial inheritance, inherited only by maternal line;
- Chromosomal Adam: i.e. the oldest male progenitor to whom one ascends through the Y chromosome inheritance line, inherited only by paternal way.
Even the human embryo, before differentiating specifically into male and female, has completely androgynous characters: the male and female sexual organs originate from the same parts, arranged in a different way. The law of Haeckel’s recapitulation is respected;
- Initially there are the gonads, the ducts of Müller and the ducts of Wolff;
- Müller’s ducts develop inside the urogenital fold, in the woman as uterus, vagina and fallopian tube; in the man, the prostate will develop.
The deferent ducts develop from Wolff’s ducts in the man; in the woman they degenerate.
But the woman maintains a physiology and a genital morphology closer to the androgynous one for the whole life than the man. In fact, the neoteny, i.e. the maintenance in adult life of the typical characters of the juvenile stages of a species, is definitely more marked in women than in men (thicker adipose panniculus, soft forms, less hairs, more acute voice). The generative organs of the woman are therefore permeated by etheric forces much more powerful than those of the man, which are instead more directed towards the muscles.
For these reasons, Steiner also indicates a double hereditary line: ether-astral for the female, physical-individual for the male. In other words, the Adam that is “earth” and the Eve that is “source of life”, dense and subtle body. According to the science of the spirit, in the future, just as the female part evolved first (in the Lemuric Era), so it will be the prototype of future evolution: the male sex will disappear before the female one in the sixth era. All humanity will therefore return to being androgynous with a prevalence of the female function, becoming capable of fertilizing its own body with the word, and carrying the unborn child.
The meditation of the Rebis
Imagine your being inside an egg, the intimate space of your soul. There will then be a division between what is outside of you, the undifferentiated chaos, and what is within you, what is hatching in the philosophical egg. The alchemist in his intimacy recognizes two halves of himself, one in the vertical sense and one in the horizontal sense:
- Vertical Half: the male-female polarity of the original androgynous. The alchemist becomes aware that, regardless of the biological sex, his active volition is the male part of the soul (compass), but his passive receptivity is female (team). For the mere fact of having recognized these two halves animically, he now feels them slightly detached, like the two heads of the Rebis. But nevertheless both heads command a single body placed on the lower half of the dragon;
- Horizontal Half: the upper-lower polarity of the created world. In the upper half of the sky the Seven Sacred Planets of Alchemy shine, all in chorus giving their celestial energies so that the alchemist himself may exist. The Sun gives fire to the male; the Moon gives water to the female. Mercury gives the balance between the two. But these astral rays are also chains which the alchemist recognizes when he can see unity in multiplicity, when he can bring back the masculine-feminine dualism to the One of the Rebis.
The dragon is the Shadow of all that we have so far seen good within the egg. But just as there is light, in creation, there is necessarily shadow and it is precious to the alchemist. He does not slay the dragon, but directs his forces upwards, so that they provide the secret fire to all his work of differentiation within the philosophical egg. The dragon is kept in its place, as is the alchemist. He, like Rebis, recognizes the high and the low, the right and the left, as all part of the One. He becomes invulnerable to the brute and undifferentiated force of his own Shadow: he knows it and loves it for what it is, thus using its raw energy.
Rising above the dragon of unconscious and brutal nature, union of astral cravings and etheric instincts, the alchemist even manages to restore the wings of matter, bringing it back to its original state of perfection with the addition of the new element of individual consciousness. The whole of nature rises to the elevation of the alchemist’s consciousness.