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The Rebis in the Rosarium Philosophorum

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Rebis in Alchemy
Public Domain - Rosarium Philosophorum (1550), fol. X, iiiv.

This image pairs both the serpents in the cup and on the ground in three. The serpent on the ground equates to the dragon seen in other Rebis images. The groupings of three may reference the three processes of alchemy: nigredo, albedo, and rubedo. They might also present the three elements of alchemy (sulfur, salt and mercury) or the three qualities of an individual (body, soul and spirit). Working with all of these is part of the Great Work.

The crowns remind us that this is the product of the Red King and White Queen.

The pelican represents the purification process. It is modeled after a piece of scientific apparatus that is also called a pelican. It is used in distillation, the process of separating separate parts from a single substance.

The plant on the left bears sunbursts, a male symbol. Some images also have moon-leafed plants in them for the feminine qualities.

The wings represent transcendence, as the Rebis is no longer confined to a physical existence but exists in a transformed and exalted state.

Read more: The Rebis

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