Serving the ideals of the Rosicrucian Movement

Commentaries on the Chymical Wedding of C.R.C.

The Virgin wondered at it, and well observed where I was. She replied, "Well then, let us both be quit," and then desire the solution from the rest. But I had already made them wise. Whereupon the next began thus: "In the city where I live, a virgin was lately condemned to death, however, the judge feeling something pitiful towards her, caused it to be proclaimed that if any man desired to become the virgin’s champion, he should have free leave to do it. Now she had two lovers and one presently made himself ready, and came into the lists to expect his adversary. After a bit, another also presented himself, but in coming somewhat too late, he resolved nevertheless to fight, and willingly suffered himself to be vanquished that the virgin’s life might be preserved and so it came to be so. Whereupon each of the champions challenged her. Now my lords instruct me to which of them by right does she belong?"

True judgement comes from the faculty of right discrimination, combined with intuition. These are different faculties, but related. They require careful cultivation. We must work to develop them.

The Virgin could hold no longer but said, "I thought to have gained much information and have gotten myself into the net, but yet would gladly hear whether there be any more behind." "Yes, that there is," answered a third, "a stranger adventure hath not been yet recounted than that which happened to myself. In my youth I loved a worthy maid. Now that this love might attain its wished end, I was fain to make use of an ancient matron as liaison and who brought me to her. Now it happened that the maid’s brethren came in upon us just as we three were together. These brothers were in such a rage that they would have taken my life, but upon my vehement supplication, they at length forced me to swear to take each of them for a year, to my wedded wife. Now tell me my lords, should I take the old, or the young one first?" We all laughed sufficiently at this riddle, and although some of them muttered one to another thereupon, yet none would undertake to unfold it.

That which is an obvious desire, is not necessarily correct. What is the right thing to do? Logic is no help, because truth is greater than logic. We can make the right decision for the wrong reasons and vice versa.

At this time, the fourth began: "In a certain city there dwelt an honourable lady, who was beloved by all, but especially by a young noble man, who would needs be too importunate with her; at length she gave him this determination, that in case he would, in a cold winter, lead her into a fair green garden of roses, then he should obtain what he so desired, but if not, he must resolve never to see her again. The noble man travelled into all countries to find such a man as might perform this, until at length he came upon a little old man that promised to do it for him, but for the payment of half his estate. He consented to this and was as good as his word. Whereupon he invited the aforesaid lady to his garden, where contrary to her expectation, she found all things green, pleasant and warm, and withal remembering her promise, she only requested that she might once more return to her lord, to whom with sighs and tears she bewailed her lamentable condition. But for as much as he sufficiently perceived her faithfulness, the lord dispatched her back to her lover, who had so dearly purchased her, so that she might give him satisfaction. This husband’s integrity did so mightily affect the noble man, that he thought it a sin to touch so honest a wife; so he sent her home again with honour to her lord. Now the little man perceiving such faith in both these, would not, regardless how poor he were, be the least, but restored the noble man all his goods again and went his way. Now my lords, I know not which of these persons may have shown the greatest ingenuity."

Note the masculine search for the feminine; the initiatory journey; the giving up of possessions; the test; and the recovery of what had been given up. What is truly valuable, we never lose.

Here our tongues were quite cut off. Neither would the Virgin make any other reply, but only that another should go on. Wherefore the fifth, without delay, began: "My Lords, I desire not to make long work. Who hath the greater joy, he that beholdeth what he loveth, or he that only thinketh on it?" He that beholdeth it," answered the Virgin. "Nay", said I; hereupon arose a contest. Wherefore a sixth called out, "My lords, I am to take a wife; now I have before me a maid, a married wife, and a widow; ease me of this doubt, and I will afterwards help to order the rest."

Look at the contrast between loving and thinking and further, the 3 aspects of the feminine. All of this is a mystery to the masculine. Note also that 6 men have spoken and there is now a 7th.

"It goes well there" replied the seventh, "where a man hath his choice, but with me the case is otherwise; in my youth I loved a fair and virtuous virgin from the bottom of my heart, and she loved me as well: howbeit because of her friend’s denial we could not come together in wedlock. Whereupon she was married to another, yet an honest and discreet person, who maintained her honourably and with affection, until she came into the pains of childbirth, which went so hard with her that all thought she had been dead, so with much state, and great mourning she was interred. Now I thought with myself, during her life thou could have no part on this woman, but yet now dead as she is thou may embrace and kiss her sufficiently; whereupon I took my servant with me, who dug her up by night. Now having opened the coffin and locked her in my arms, and feeling about her heart, I found still some little motion in it, which increased more and more from my warmth, until at last I perceived that she was indeed still alive; wherefore I quietly bare her home, and after I had warmed her chilled body with a costly bath of herbs, I committed her to my mother until she brought forth a fair son, whom (as the mother) I caused faithfully to be nursed. After two days (she being then in a mighty amazement) I related to her all the prior affair, requesting that for the time to come she would live with me as a wife, against which she thus excepted, in case it should be grievous to her husband who had well and honourably maintained her. But if it could otherwise be, she was now obliged in love to one as well as the other. Now after two months (being men to make a journey elsewhere) I invited her husband as a guest and among other things demanded of him, whether if his deceased wife should come home again, he could be content to receive her, and he affirming it with tears and lamentations, at length I brought him his wife together with his son, and an account of all the prior business, entreating him to ratify with his consent my fore-purposed espousals. After a long dispute he could not beat me from my right, but was fain to leave me the wife. But still the contest was about the son." Here the Virgin interrupted him, and said, "It makes me wonder how you could double the afflicted husband’s grief." "How?" answered he, "was I not then concerned?"

There are many issues here, but the most important are the death and resurrection of the feminine and the birth of the son. On the Tree of Life, life and death are the experience of the path between Tiferet and Netzach. This is a crucial initiatory experience. The relationship of mother and child, is the path between Tiferet and Binah. These two paths are diametrically opposite to each other on the Tree, therefore as in this parable, they need to be considered together.

Upon this there arose a dispute among us, yet most of us affirmed that he had done but right. "Nay," said he, "I freely returned him both his wife and son. Now tell me, my lords, was my honesty, or this man’s joy the greater?" These words had so mightily cheered the Virgin that (as if it had been for the sake of these two) she caused a toast to be round.

The 7th man does not get a straight answer. We are left with a question that can only be answered by right discrimination. This is the result of treading the path between the Mother (Binah) and the Son (Tiferet), the path of the sword, hidden behind ikons of the Madonna and Child.

After which the rest of the proposals went on somewhat perplexedly, so that I could not retain them all, yet this comes to my mind, that one said, that a few years before he had seen a physician, who bought a parcel of wood against winter, with which he warmed himself all winter long; but as soon as the spring returned he sold the very same wood again, and so had the use of it for nothing. "Here must needs be skill," said the Virgin, "But the time is now past." "Yea," replied my companion, "whosoever understand not how to resolve all the riddles, may give each man notice of it by a proper messenger, I conceive he will not be denied."

The answer to riddles is a paradox. Intuition gives us the answer. That is why we search for the feminine.

At this time they began to say grace, and we arose together from the table, being rather satisfied and merry than glutted; and it were to be wished that all invitations and feasting were thus to be kept. Having now taken some few turns up and down the hall again, the Virgin asked us whether we desired to begin the marriage. "Yes," said one, "noble and virtuous lady," whereupon she privately dispatched a page, and while waiting proceeded in discourse with us. In brief she was already become so familiar with us, that I adventured and requested her Name.

After all the work of preparation, comes the Mystic Marriage. The Virgin sends a messenger to a higher level of reality in order to prepare the process. The trigger comes from CRC - he asks her Name. We cannot experience the mystical union until we know this secret and we must know enough to know that we must ask the question.

The Virgin smiled at my curiosity, but yet was not moved, but replied: "My Name contains six and fifty, and yet hath only eight letters; the third is the third part of the fifth, which added to the sixth will produce a number whose root shall exceed the third itself by just the first, and it is the half of the fourth. Now the fifth and the seventh are equal, the last and the first are also equal, and make with the second as much as the sixth hath, which contains just four more than the third tripled. Now tell me, my lord, how am I called?"

How indeed?

The answer was intricate enough, yet I took it up, and said "Noble and virtuous lady, may I not obtain one only letter?" "Yea," said she, "that may well be done." What then (replied I again) may the seventh contain? It contains (said she) as many as there are lords here {there were nine}. With this I was content, and easily found her Name, at which she was well pleased, with assurance that much more should yet be revealed to us.

Her name has a number. Likewise, the Beast of the Apocalypse has a name that has a number (Revelations ch 13 v 17,18). The Virgin will reveal much to us if we can find the number of her name. Let us try:

Letter Number Name Number Clue
1 A 1
2 L 12
3 C 3
4 H 8
5 I 9
6 M 13
7 I 9
8 A 1
8 letters = Name = 56


Through the subtle interplay of Latin kabala and German, (the Chymical Marriage was written in German), we discover she is the Lady Alchemy. She personifies the entire process of transformation. The 8 letters of her Name point to the 8 paths to Tiferet and the 8 steps of the Emerald Tablet. The number of her Name, 56, reminds us of the 56 lesser arcana of the Tarot. That is, the alchemical process can be described by the 56 cards of the lesser arcana. Further, the number clues give us specific references to particular paths on the Tree of Life and the order in which we should tread them: (1) Keter; (12) Keter-Binah; (3) Binah; (8) Hod; (9) Yesod; (13) Keter-Tiferet; (9) Yesod; (1) Keter. A pattern emerges if we look at them this way:

Number Clue Tree of Life Tarot
1 Keter
12 Keter-Binah Magus
3 Binah
8 Hod
9 Yesod
13 Keter-Tiferet High Priestess
9 Yesdo
1 Keter

First, look at the order of the sefirot: Keter, Binah, Hod, Yesod, Yesod, Keter. This is a circuit down the left pillar of the Tree. This is the feminine pillar of Severity, proceeding from the Divine Spark of Keter to the Great Mother of Binah, based on the Intellect of Hod, through the Sub-conscious of Yesod and back to Keter. This is the Orientation to God by Knowledge. The circuit is activated by the masculine guiding principle of the Magus and the feminine creative principle of the High Priestess. Secondly, the circuit must be grounded in the heart of the Tree at Tiferet by activating all 8 paths that lead to it. However the double path of the High Priestess having already been used, we must activate the remaining 7 paths which consist of the 3 descending and the 4 ascending paths of the Tablet of Hermes. Thirdly and obviously, is the fact that we are dealing with the deep, feminine principle of creativity. Alchemy is a Lady. To transform ourselves we must reach our own feminine.

Fourthly, let us look at a mystery that involves time. On the Tree of Life there are 12 paths that relate to single letters and 7 paths that relate to double letters. There are 365.25 days in a year, 12 months and 7 days in the week. Kabalistically, for the number of days in the year we can multiply the number of days by the number of weeks and take particular note of the remainder (1.25):

7 x 52 = 364 + 1.25 = 365.25

Let us do the same by multiplying the number of months by the archetypal number of days in a month and again, take note of the remainder (5.25):

12 x 30 = 360 + 5.25 = 365.25

Add the two remainders: 1.25 + 5.25 = 6.50, they are the key numbers of Lady Alchemy’s name; six and fifty. There are 3 paths on the Tree that relate to the mother letters; with respect to time, there are 3 numbers, including
six and fifty, that point to the alchemical process. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Meantime certain virgins had made themselves ready, and came in with great ceremony. First of all two youths carried lights before them; one of them was of jocund countenance, sprightly eyes and gentle proportion. The other looked very angry, and whatever he would have, must be, as I afterwards perceived. After them, there followed four virgins. One looked shame-facedly towards the earth, very humble in behaviour. The second also was a modest, bashful virgin. The third, as she entered the room seemed amazed at the room, and as I understood, she cannot well abide where there is too much mirth. The fourth brought with her certain small wreaths, thereby to manifest her kindness and liberality.

There are 2 youths with lights, the left and right pillars of the Tree of Life, of opposite disposition thus portraying the pillar of Mercy and the pillar of Severity. Then there are 4 virgins symbolising the 4 alchemical elements of our being. Note the polarity of masculine and feminine.

After these four came two which were somewhat more gloriously apparelled; they saluted us courteously. One of them had a gown of sky-coloured spangled with golden stars. The others was green, beautified with red and white stripes. On their heads they had thin flying tiffaties, which did most becomingly adorn them. At last came one alone {Theologia}, who had on her head a coronet. She looked up towards heaven and not towards earth. We all thought it had been the Bride, but were much mistaken, although otherwise in honour, riches and state she much surpassed the Bride; and she afterwards ruled the whole Marriage.

There are 3 more virgins to make a total of 7. This matches and balances the 7 men and their parables. We have 7 pairs of male and female, 7 pairs of opposites. The colours of the gowns are alchemical. The last virgin is called "Theologia". This is Greek and means "she who speaks of God". No wonder she looks to heaven. She surpasses the Bride and rules the Marriage, because on the Tree of Life, the Bride is Malkhut, whilst Theologia is much higher on the Tree. Theologia is a higher aspect of "Alchimia".

Now on this occasion we all followed our Virgin, and fell down on our knees, although she showed herself extremely humble, offering everyone her hand, and admonishing us not to be too much surprised at this, for this was one of her smallest bounties, but to lift up our eyes to our Creator, and learn hereby to acknowledge his Omnipotency, and so proceed in our enterprised course, employing this grace to the praise of God, and the good of man. In sum, her words were quite different from those of our Virgin, who was somewhat more worldly. They pierced even through my bones and marrow. "And thou," said she further to me, "You have received more than the others, see that thou also make a larger return."

From those to whom much is given, much is expected.

This to me was a very strange sermon; for as soon as we saw the virgins with the music, we imagined we must presently fall to dancing, but that time was not as yet come. Now the weights, whereof mention has been before made, stood still in the same place, wherefore the Queen (I yet knew not who she was) commanded each virgin to take up one, but to our Virgin she gave her own, which was the last and greatest, and commanded us to follow behind. Our majesty was then somewhat abated, for I well observed that our Virgin was but too good for us, and we were not so highly reputed as we ourselves were willing to fantasize. So we went behind in our order, and were brought in the first chamber, where our Virgin in the first place hung up the Queen’s weight, during which an excellent spiritual hymn was sung. There was nothing costly in this room save only curious little prayer books which should never be missing. In the midst was erected a pulpit, being very convenient for prayer. Here the Queen kneeled down and about her we were all fain to kneel and pray. The Virgin, who read out of a book, that this Marriage might tend to the honour of God, and our own benefit.

The 7 karmic weights are given to the virgins, who are apparently quite capable of carrying them. CRC realises that his status is lower than he fantasised and adopts proper humility. That is a lesson for us. Significantly, a chamber is entered and the Discipline of worship is performed.

Afterwards we came into the second chamber, where the first Virgin hung up her weight also and so forward until all the ceremonies were finished. Hereupon the Queen again presented her hand to every one, and departed thence with her virgin. Our president stayed yet a while with us. But because it had been already two hours into night, she would no longer detain us; methought she was glad of our company, yet she bid us good night, and wished us quiet rest, and so departed friendly although unwillingly from us. Our pages were well instructed in their business and therefore showed every man his chamber, and stayed also with us in another pallet just in case we wanted anything and might make use of them.

In the second chamber, the karmic wights are hung up and quiet rest is now possible.

My chamber (of the rest I am not able to speak) was royally furnished with rare tapestries. It was also hung about with painting. But above all things I delighted in my page who was so excellently spoken and experienced in the arts, that he yet spent another hour with me. It was half an hour after three when first I fell asleep. And this indeed was the first night that I slept in quiet, and yet a scurvy dream would not suffer me to rest; for I was all the night troubled with a door which I could not get open, but yet in the end, I did it. With these fantasies I passed the time until at length towards day I awaked.

The third chamber is the place of the dream. A higher state of consciousness is entered and a door opens. The next stage of the journey is about to begin.