Thursday, January 6, 2011

Magic 2 -- The Rose


      Whilst religious wars incarnadined the world, secret illuministic associations, which were nothing but theurgic and magical schools, were incorporated in Germany. The most ancient of these seems to have been that of the  Rosicrucians, whose symbols go back to the times of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, as we see by the allegories in the poem of Dante and by the emblem in the Romance of the Rose.

      The rose, which from all times has been the type of beauty, life, love and pleasure, expressed mystically the secret thought of all protests manifested at the Renaissance.  It was the flesh in rebellion against the oppression of spirit; it was Nature testifying that, like grace, she was a daughter of God;  it was love refusing to be stifled by the celibate; it was life in revolt against sterility;  it was humanity aspiring towards natural religion, full of reason and love, founded on the revelations of the harmony of being, of which the rose, for initiates was the living floral symbol.  It is in truth a pantacle; the form is circular, the leaves of the corolla are heart-shaped and rest harmoniously on one another;  its tint offers the most harmonious shades of primitive colours; its calyx is of purple and gold.

From Eliphas Levi, The History of Magic, Chapter V, Some Famous Sorcerers and Magicians

Top:  Odilon Redon, Pegasus Captive, 1889, lithograph, Chicago Institute of Art
Center:  Blue Rose
Bottom: Paul Ranson, Nabis Landscape, 1890, oil on canvas, Private Collection

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