Serving the ideals of the Rosicrucian Movement

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

Now because (in the interim) the mirth began to fall into my consort's feet, and the virgins were not sorry to see it, as they quickly led up a civil dance, which I beheld with pleasure then assisted for my mercurialists were so ready with their postures, as if they had been long of the trade. After some few dances our president came in again, and told us how the artists and students had offered themselves to their Royal Majesties, for their honour and pleasure, before their departure to act a merry comedy. If we thought good to be present at it, and to wait upon their Royal Majesties to the House of the Sun, it would be acceptable to them, and they would most graciously acknowledge it. Hereupon we returned our most humble thanks for the honour granted us and moreover most submissively tendered our small service, which the Virgin related again, and presently brought word to attend their Royal Majesties (in our order) in the gallery, whither we were soon led. We stayed not long there, for the Royal Procession was just ready, yet without any music at all.

Part of the celebration involves watching a play. The theatre is called the House of the Sun. Let us pause. We are reading an allegorical text that takes us to a different level of reality. Within it, we shall witness a play, which is itself a device for taking us to yet another level of reality. What is real? What is not real? The House of the Sun suggests the zodiac with its 12 signs (and the 12 Disciplines). We are about to discover the play has 7 acts. This suggests the 7 planets are the actors and the agents of karma. The play itself is a comedy and this reminds us of the game of 7, just played.

The unknown Queen who was yesterday with us went foremost with a small and costly coroner, apparelled in white satin, carrying nothing but a small crucifix which was made of a pearl, and this very day wrought between the young King and his bride. After her went the six previously mentioned virgins in two ranks and they carried the King's jewels belonging to the little altar. Next to these came the three Kings with the bridegroom in the midst of them in a plain dress of black satin, after the Italian mode. He had on a small round black hat with a little black pointed feather, which he courteously put off to us, thereby to signify his favour towards us. To him we bowed ourselves, as also to the first, as we had been before instructed. After the Kings came the three Queens. Two whereof were richly clothed, only she in the middle went likewise all in black and Cupid held up her train. After this, intimation was given to us to follow, and after us the virgins, until at last old Atlas brought up the rear.

The numbers of the procession are interesting. There are 1 (queen) + 6 (virgins) = 7 women. Then 3 (kings) + 1 (bridegroom) = 4 men. Then 3 more queens. There is a total of 10 women, divided into 7 and 3, which suggests the Tree of Life in its natural division of the 3 Supernal sefirot and 7 lower sefirot. In turn this refers to the 3 alchemical principles (Mercury, Sulfur, Salt) and the 7 psychic centres. The 4 men remind us of the 4 levels of reality. And the pearl? Another small detail. What is a pearl? It is the outpouring of the life substance of the oyster; and this is something very precious. Perhaps this symbolises the solidification of the life force. That is consistent with the meaning of the numbers in conjunction with the cross as a symbol of sacrificial action.

In such procession, though many stately walks, we at length came to the House of the Sun, there next to the King and Queen, upon a richly furnished scaffold, to behold the fore-ordained comedy. We indeed, though separated, stood on the right hand of the Kings, but the virgins on the left, except those to whom the Royal Ensigns were committed. To them was allotted a peculiar standing at the top of all. But the rest of the attendants were moved to stand below between the columns, and therewith to be content. Now because there are many remarkable passages in this comedy, I will not omit in brief to run it over.

Note the polarity as CRC and the other initiates stand on one side of the Kings and the virgins on the other. The very careful placement of the people indicates a ritual or ceremony.

First of all came forth a very ancient King with some servants and before whose throne was brought a little chest. It was mentioned that it was found upon the water. Now it being opened, there appeared in it a lovely babe, together with certain jewels, and a small letter of parchment sealed and superscribed to the King, which the King therefore presently opened, and having read it, wept, and then declared to his servants how injuriously the King of the Moors had deprived his aunt of her country, and had extinguished all the royal seed even to his infant, with the daughter of which country he had now purposed to have matched his son. Hereupon he swore to maintain perpetual enmity with the Moor and his allies, and to revenge this upon him; and therewith commanded that the child should be tenderly nursed, and to make preparation against the Moor. Now this provision and the discipline of the young lady (who after she was a little grown up was committed to an ancient tutor) continued all the first act, with many very fine and laudable sports besides.

There will be very little comment about this play other than to point out that this is an allegory of the inner journey of the soul, through life. For instance, the play begins with a very ancient king. This is an image of Keter on the Tree of Life. This gives the clue for the kabalistic interpretation of the rest of the play. We should remember that although there are 10 sefirot on the Tree, there are 7 levels. This is consistent with the 7 acts of the play.

In the interlude a lion and griffin were set at one another, to fight, and the lion got the victory, which was also a pretty sight.

This fight symbolises an alchemical process.

In the second act, the Moor, a very black treacherous fellow, came forth also; who having with vexation understood that his murder was discovered, and that too a little lady was craftily stolen from him, began thereupon to consult how by stratagem he might be able to encounter so powerful an adversary, whereof he was at length advised by certain fugitives who by reason of famine fled to him. So the young lady, contrary to all men's expectations, fell again into his hands, whom, had he not been wonderfully deceived by his own servants, he had like to have caused to be slain. Thus this act too was concluded with a marvellous triumph of the Moor.

If we assume that the young lady is a symbol for the soul, we can follow the inner journey and see ourselves.

In the third act a great army on the King's party was raised against the Moor, and put under the conduct of an ancient valiant knight, who fell into the country of the Moor, until at length he forcibly rescued the young lady out of the tower, and apparelled her a new. After this in a thrice they erected a glorious scaffold, and placed their young lady upon it. Presently came twelve royal ambassadors, among whom the aforementioned knight made a speech, alleging that the King, his most gracious lord, had not only heretofore delivered her from death and even hitherto caused her to be royally brought up (though she had not behaved herself altogether as became her), but moreover his Royal Majesty had before others, elected her, to be a spouse for the young lord, his son, and most graciously desired that the said espousals might be really executed in case they would be sworn to his Majesty upon the following articles.

At this stage we should notice the emphasis on the number 12 and the proposed marriage. The 12 Disciplines are the beginning of the Great Work and the Marriage is its culmination. So here we have an allegory of the Marriage within the Chymical Marriage. An image within an image. Whay is real? What is not real?

Hereupon out of a patent he caused certain glorious conditions to be read, which if it were not too long, were well worthy to be here recounted. In brief, the young lady took an oath inviolably to observe the same, returning thanks withal in most seemly sort for this so high a grace. Whereupon they began to sing to the praise of God, of the King, and the young lady, and so for this time departed. For sport, in the meanwhile, the four beasts of Daniel, as he saw them in the vision, and hath at large described them, were brought in, all which had its certain signification.

In this interlude we see the 4 living creatures of Daniel. They are the same as the 4 beast of Ezekiel and of the Apocalypse. We shall see them again soon.

In the fourth act the young lady was again restored to her lost kingdom, and crowned, and for a space, in this array, conducted about the place with extraordinary joy. After this many and various ambassadors presented themselves not only to wish her prosperity, but also to behold her glory. Yet it was not long that she preserved her integrity, but soon began again to look wantonly about her, and to wink at the ambassadors and lords, wherein she truly acted her part to the life.

The lady is behaving with questionable morals. This is a subtle reference to Mary Magdalene. She prostituted herself but is extremely important both in "official" Christianity and Gnosticism. Mary anoints Jesus and this turns Him into Christ. Those with eyes let them see.

There her manners were soon known to the Moor, who would by no means neglect such an opportunity, and because her steward had not sufficient regard to her, she was easily blinded with great promises, so that she had no good confidence in her King, but privily submitted herself to the entire disposal of the Moor. Hereupon the Moor made haste, and having (by her consent) gotten her into this hands, he gave her good words so long until all her kingdom had subjected itself to him, after which in the third scene of this act, he caused her to be led forth, and first to be stripped stark naked, and then upon a scurvy wooden scaffold to be bound to a post, and well scourged, and at last sentenced to death. This was so woeful a spectacle, that it made the eyes of many to run over. Hereupon thus naked as she was, she was cast into prison, there to expect her death, which was to be procured by poison, which yet killed her not but made her leprous all over. Thus the act was for the most part lamentable.

Remember that this play was introduced as a comedy. Obviously, a point is being made about the way in which we live our lives. Dante’s great work was also called a comedy, the Divine Comedy, and what a terrible scene he painted.

Between, they brought forth Nebuchadnezzar's image, which was adorned with all manner of gems, on the head, breast, belly, legs and feet, and the like, of which too more shall be spoken in the future explication.

What happens in the interludes is very important. Note that 5 parts of the image are named. This is a type of Adam Kadmon and a subtle reference to the 5 sefirot (including Da’at) on the middle pillar of the Tree of Life.

In the fifth act the young King was acquainted with all that had passed between the Moor and his future spouse, who first interceded with his father for her, entreating that she might not be left in that condition; which his father having agreed to, ambassadors were dispatched to comfort her in her sickness and captivity, but yet withal to give her notice of her inconsiderateness. But she would not yet receive them, but consented to be the Moor's concubine, which was also done, and the young King was acquainted with it.

The lady’s faithlessness is a comment about our attitude to the inner life. However we should also remember Mary Magdalene.

After this comes a band of fools, each of which brought with him a cudgel, where within a moment they made a great globe of the world, and soon undid it again. It was fine sportive fantasy.

Another interlude. What does it mean to make and unmake a globe of the world? What is real? What is illusion?

In the sixth act the young King resolved to bid battle to the Moor, which also was done. And though the Moor was discomfited, yet all held the young King too for dead. At length he came to himself again, released his spouse, and committed her to his steward and chaplain, the first whereof tormented her mightily; at last the leaf turned over, and the priest was so insolently wicked, that he would needs be above all, until the same was reported to the young King, who hastily dispatched one who broke the neck of the priest's mightiness, and adorned the bride in some measure for the nuptials.

Faithlessness now comes from the king’s side and yet, the wedding is prepared.

After the act a vast artificial elephant was brought forth. He carried a great tower with musicians, which was also well pleasing to all. Another interlude and more enigma. More artificial images pointing to the illusion.
In the last act the bride-groom appeared in such pump as is not well to be believed, and I was amazed how it was brought to pass. The bride met him in the like solemnity, whereupon all the people cried out VIVAT SPONSUS, VIVAT SPONSA {Long live the Bridegroom! Long live the Bride!} so that by this comedy they did withal congratulate our King and Queen in the most stately manner, which (as I well observed) pleased them well.

In spite of everything, the inner life is consummated by the Marriage. All the previous trials have led to this. Surely a good description of our own inner journey. Also an indication that a wedding is the analogy for a particular stage of the process of self transformation.

At length they made some passes about the stage in such procession, until at last they altogether began thus to sing:

I. This time full of love
Does our joy much improve
Because of the King's nuptial;
And therefore let's sing
That from all parts it ring,
Blest be he that granted us all.

II. The bride most exquisitely fair,
Whom we attended with long care
To him in troth's now plighted:
We fully have at length obtained
The same for which we did contend:
He's happy, that's fore-sighted.

III. Now the parents kind and good
By entreaties are subdued:
Long enough in hold was she mewed;
In honour increase,
Until thousands arise
And spring from your own proper blood.