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The following is a presentation given in my Alchemy class (led by Dr. Evans Lansing Smith). It was intended to provide an analysis of a selected image from the Splendor Solis, an alchemical text by Salomon Trismosin and written in the 16th century. Naturally, I selected an image depicting the Muse (plate II-6): Here we see the usual arts we associate with the Muse: painting, writing, music. But we also see architects, craftsmen and merchants. This is because the Muse is found not only in the arts but in every facet of human life that requires thought. Creativity and inspiration abounds in all activities and comes in many forms. At the top of the painting, Hermes/Mercury is seen presiding over the realm of the Muse. Hermes is, of course, the trickster. He presides over speech and problem solving, for he is the messenger. He is also the god of liminal space: of creating and breaking boundaries. Both Hermes and the Muse are in blue which, in alchemical symbolism, is the final color of the stages of transformation. It represents transcendence, the ascension of thought, the ascension of the spirit onto a higher plane – onto a realm of the unconscious …

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