SOLVE ET COAGULA
ALCHEMY AND THE STARS
BY CHRISTOPHER MORFORD
“Solve et Coagula” is familiar to some as an ancient maxim of the Alchemists, the “Puffers” of old. In its simplest form it means to Dissolve and Coagulate, to break a substance down to its basic elements before reforming it into something new. This could be analogous to the destruction of one’s ego before the realization of the true self, or the distillation of a substance down to the prima materia, the matter from which all of reality is formed, the Philosopher’s Stone, that magical element that some say can transmute lead into gold, grant immortality, heal all diseases, grant unsurpassed knowledge, and on and on.
You may have become familiar with the term after seeing Eliphas Levi’s interpretation of Baphomet. The image has “Solve” inscribed on one raised arm and “Coagula” inscribed on the other, downward pointing arm.
Fulcanelli, the Master Alchemist had this to say about the phrase in his book “Le Mystere des Cathedrals”: “Solve et Coagula teaches how to achieve the elementary conversion by violatilizing the fixed and fixing the volatile. If you know how to dissolve the fixed, and to make the dissolved fly, then to fix the flying in powder, you have something to console yourself with.”
Fixed and volatile elements were often symbolized by dragons or serpents of the air with wings (Volatile) and wingless earthly dragons (Fixed).
In the heavens above, the planets (which seemed to move about freely) were volatile entities, while the stars (which all appeared to move in unison) were considered fixed entities. This connection to celestial alchemy led me to wonder if there was more to Solve et Coagula…maybe it also had a connection to the stars above.
I stared at the phrase for quite sometime and took note of the 14 letters and wondered if they could stand for something else entirely. I thought of the constellations of the zodiac and and began connecting the signs to each letter. To my surprise, a vast majority of the signs could be directly assigned to the letters. I was left with a few that did not match up, but without going too far to make a connection, I think I found substitutions that make sense and are justified.
I do not know if these relationships are intentional, but I am saying that the likelihood of that many letters matching up to that many signs is very slight and seems to me to be more than mere coincidence.
Here are my findings:
S – Saggitarius
O – Oannes / Pisces (Oannes was the Mesopotamian Fish-God the constellation Pisces was previously known for)
L – Leo
V – Virgo
E – Eagle/Scorpio (Scorpio has three known aspects – Scorpion, Serpent and Eagle)
E – Ea / Enki / Capricorn (The Goat-Fish of Capricorn was the Mesopotamian God Ea or Enki)
T – Taurus
C – Cancer
O – Ophiuchus (The Serpent-Bearer, the 13th Zodiac sign.)
A – Aquarius
G – Gemini
U – Uranus (Uranus, the sky God, stands at the center of the Zodiac, the point in the center.)
L – Libra
A – Aries
I’ve included Uranus, who seemed like a natural choice as the God of the heavens who placed the stars and stands in the center of the wheel of the zodiac.
Uranus and Gaia
I hope you found this useful and perhaps it will lead to other discoveries. Thanks for reading.