Alchemical Study Group - Ace of Vessels

Leisa

A fish in water bears on its back a glass vessel containing a heart, from which grows a grape vine. The vessel is the fundamental symbol of femininity. It also represents the alchemist's retort. Here the retort is surrounded by water, the element symbolized by this suit, the symbol of emotions and the unconscious. The fish, a messenger from the unconscious, is a dweller in water. The heart (a vessel itself) represents a potential philosopher's stone. This transformation can be brought about through love.

The Ace of Vessels shows that blood (from the heart) is the water of life. The heart bears fruit in its expression of love, shown as wine grapes. Wine is a universal symbol for blood. It is the blood of the vegetable kingdom, the downward pull on the human soul that connects us to our earthly roots. Wine is the blood of Christ in the mystery rite of the Eucharist, a symbol of spiritual rebirth. It is the symbol of the classical vegetation god Dionysus, who expresses the joy and ecstasy of nature. In alchemy, the "juice of grapes" refers to Mercury, who, in his role as Good Shepherd, provided a model for the earliest images of Christ.

Tarot wisdom: You are at a new beginning concerning your emotions, the unconscious or the soul. The card points out that both the goal and the source of emotions, represented by the heart in the vessel, is the need to give and receive love. Love is the very source of life, and the goal of love is to be fruitful. Rejoice and release an out-flowing of love, and allow its returning bounty into your soul, for then the alchemical vessel of the heart shall sustain new life. If the message relates to an existing situation rather than a new one, it points to a renewal, a fresh outlook, a "beginner's mind."
 

mac22

What other evidence is there for Mercury, as Good Shepherd?

Mac22
 

Leisa

I found it here

Myths of Greece and Rome, by Jane Harrison, [1928], at sacred-texts.com
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/mgr/mgr11.htm

and here:

Hermēs (Greek: 'Έρμης', Ερμής: 'pile of marker stones'), in Greek mythology, is the god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators, literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures and invention and commerce in general, of the cunning of thieves, and the messenger from the gods to humans. A lucky find was a hermaion. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes gives us our word "hermeneutics" for the art of interpreting hidden meaning.

http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Mythology/Hermes.html
 

Attachments

  • HermesShepherd.jpg
    HermesShepherd.jpg
    21.2 KB · Views: 447

mac22

Many thanks!

Mac22
 

sapienza

I really like this card. Like all the aces though, I find it challenging to get my head around for some reason. With this card it's obvious that it's the beginnings of love and emotions. Place says that 'transformation can be brought about by love'. I really like this. I see this card as a message that in order for things in your life to grow, or prosper, then you need to give love. Often we focus on what we lack and feel sorry for ourselves. Instead the message of this card could be that we should focus on where we can give to others, how we can give our love, in order to help things grow. Also, I feel like the fish, being a symbol for the messenger from the unconscious, could indicate that it's important to listen to our hearts and trust our instincts when making choices of where to direct our emotional energy in life.

Leisa said:
Wine is the blood of Christ in the mystery rite of the Eucharist, a symbol of spiritual rebirth.

This is interesting as well. I've never linked this card with spiritual rebirth. So is this perhaps an indication that if you do act with love then spiritual rebirth is possible?
 

Kenny

sapienza said:
This is interesting as well. I've never linked this card with spiritual rebirth. So is this perhaps an indication that if you do act with love then spiritual rebirth is possible?
I have found that none of the cards are pure 'original' tarot meaning. They are similar but off-key.

____________________
Water is the lowest element and Fire the highest. Between them, and in order, are Earth and Air.

So though related, by number, to The Magician this card is also related to The Fool as being the start, the foundation, on what the whole tarot deck rests upon--or grows from (as this is the only Ace that has an important 'growth' aspect shown on the card).

____________________
What I don't understand: why blood? According to the humors Blood should be associated with Air.

____________________
Crowley said of his Thoth Tarot that the Aces are not of the element but somewhat deeper so could it be true of these Aces?

'There are four common Elements, and each has at its centre another deeper heavenly Element which makes it what it is.' - Michael Sendivogius
 

sapienza

kenny said:
Water is the lowest element and Fire the highest. Between them, and in order, are Earth and Air.

In this deck Place orders the suits Earth, Water, Air then Fire though.

Leisa said:
The Ace of Vessels shows that blood (from the heart) is the water of life. The heart bears fruit in its expression of love, shown as wine grapes. Wine is a universal symbol for blood. It is the blood of the vegetable kingdom, the downward pull on the human soul that connects us to our earthly roots. Wine is the blood of Christ in the mystery rite of the Eucharist, a symbol of spiritual rebirth. It is the symbol of the classical vegetation god Dionysus, who expresses the joy and ecstasy of nature. In alchemy, the "juice of grapes" refers to Mercury, who, in his role as Good Shepherd, provided a model for the earliest images of Christ.

This paragraph from the book explains why Place has used blood. I guess he's taken a different approach.

kenny said:
I have found that none of the cards are pure 'original' tarot meaning. They are similar but off-key.

What do you mean by 'original' tarot meaning? Do you mean Golden Dawn inspired/RWS style meanings? Because Place certainly varies from those interpretations in the minors. But to be honest I think he's possibly closer to 'original' meanings that perhaps the 'standard' RWS meanings that most people see as 'correct'. I love that this deck is not a slave to the Golden Dawn tradition. It means a bit more work in getting familiar with the different representations I guess, but so worth it. I love the way the minors have so much symbolism and many layers of meaning. Often I feel like Place combines elements in his cards within a suit - it's really interesting.

kenny said:
as this is the only Ace that has an important 'growth' aspect shown on the card

I'm not sure I agree with this. I see growth in the other Aces as well, but just in different ways. I'm starting to really love this card though. I need to spend more time with it though.
 

Kenny

sapienza said:
In this deck Place orders the suits Earth, Water, Air then Fire though.
He puts them in order of material -> spiritual if I recall correctly; however I'm placing them in a different order.

My reasoning behind my ordering of the elements is based upon the Square of Opposition. As water flows down it is placed at the bottom of the square. Fire rises--or at least its heat does--and so it gets placed at the top.

These two Elements are the 'pure'--or something like that--hence the downward triangle for Water and upward triangle for Fire. Between these two are the 'children'--again not the correct term--and these are Earth and Air. As Earth has the downwards triangle with line I placed that after Water. Air then follows as it has an upward triangle with line.

sapienza said:
What do you mean by 'original' tarot meaning? Do you mean Golden Dawn inspired/RWS style meanings? Because Place certainly varies from those interpretations in the minors. But to be honest I think he's possibly closer to 'original' meanings that perhaps the 'standard' RWS meanings that most people see as 'correct'. I love that this deck is not a slave to the Golden Dawn tradition. It means a bit more work in getting familiar with the different representations I guess, but so worth it. I love the way the minors have so much symbolism and many layers of meaning. Often I feel like Place combines elements in his cards within a suit - it's really interesting.
I do mean the GD inspired meanings, yes. Here I do fully, 100%, agree with you! ( ;) ) Saying that I do feel that some of the elements on the cards are the same if not similar because alchemy is part of the mystery school of the west and it is from that field that the GD took their source material. Both A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley both knew alchemy--A.E. translated an important alchemical text and Crowley refers to alchemy in his Thoth Tarot.
 

sapienza

Hi Kenny,

Thats an interesting way of looking at the elements, thanks for sharing. It makes the symbols (ie. the triangles with and without the lines) make a bit more sense actually.