1991 - 1998

All content & writing by Brad Jaeger © The NACHTKABARETT

Original Source of Image: Front cover of The Smashing Pumpkins: 1991 - 1998

Upon each of the slices are the astrological symbols for one of the seven classical planets. Moving clockwise from Adam we have: Mercury, Mars, Moon, Sun, Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter. The top square represents the culmination of "It is finished when seven are one", embodied in human form, the primeval man.

The union of the seven into one forges at the center a great rising phoenix, born within the trinity and reflecting our threefold connection with the divine (the physical, the mental, and the spiritual). The phoenix in alchemy usually denotes Rubedo, the final of the three (some would argue four) main stages in the great work, wherein the spirit transcends the limitations of the physical body. The alchemist has now achieved vitriol, the philosopher's stone. His work complete, his mind enlightened, his spirit freed, he transcends. The original man stands atop this symbol of the phoenix, ref lecting his potential to achieve a similar level of greatness.

In the top left hand corner of the image the sun appears with the word Sol (meaning 'Sun') above it. In the top right hand corner of the image the moon appears with the word Luna (meaning 'Moon') above it. The two in unison reflect the duality and bringing together of opposing elements into one.

In0Athe bottom left and right hand corners portions of flasks are visible, likely in various stages of decomposition, distillation, or calcination; themselves symbolic of the various stages of the alchemist's work.

Surrounding the entire circle are numerous alchemical symbols, particularly of various metals attributed to the seven classical planets, with a small brew of other symbols thrown in for good measure.

The "Seven are One" concept is reinforced by the hexagram under the phoenix, with a dot -- symbolic of Sol-- lying directly within the hexagram. Finally, it's also worth noting that the basic shape of the circle within a circle is also reminiscent of the symbol of Sol.

Original Source of Image: Back cover of The Smashing Pumpkins: 1991 - 1998

The image depicts two young children, each standing on one leg -- the child on the left is standing on his right, while the child on the right stands on his left - both children stand on the leaves of the rose flower. The snake ring serves as a barrier, and the children are separated by eternity, as they penetrate the negative space, meeting in the middle, wherein a great flame burns. The children, almost reflections of each other, also illuminate the concept of duality. To the far right lies the beacon of a light house.

The rose serves many purposes within the illustrious world of the occult; the white and red rose often adopt the symbolism of the tincture; a solution traditionally prepared by the alchemist, and known as the solution of the soul. The white and red roses represent lunar and solar tincture, respectively.

The Songs of Solomon were one of the earliest religious works to bestow the rose with its defining esoteric characteristic - wisdom (this is due, in part, to a line which reads "I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the field"). As such, the rose became a symbol of wisdom and gnosis to many great artists throughout the years, including Robert Fludd, from whose illustration this plate is derived. The rose would also be adopted by an esoteric order known as the Rosicrucians, a group dedicated to the path of the light, self realization, and providing insight in regards to nature, spirituality, and man's position within the cosmos.

Christian theology would often be superimposed, noting the parallel between the colour of the rose and the rose coloured blood which was split by Christ upon the Earth. Some depictions within alchemy have illustrated this concept by the blooming of the rose, surfacing wherever blood is spilt.

The image appears to be heavily referencing a drawing by Phillip Otto Runge:

"Two children in rose-flowers, separated by the snake ring of eternity", by Phillip Otto Runge, 1803. From Roob's, Alchemy and Mysticism: The Hermetic Museum

The connection, while undeniable, holds several minor alterations. In Runge's original drawing, the children are born of and presiding within the rose petals, whereas the SP depiction has them merely resting atop the leaves. In addition, Runge's drawing depicts them kneeling, almost piously, whereas the SP depiction has them standing on opposite legs, which suggests a level of duality, androgyny and connection. Perhaps the most notable difference though, is the inclusion of the light house in the SP depiction. The light house represents the light of human knowledge; a shining beacon which illuminates the darkness, dispelling the fog of human uncertainty and ignorance.