When it comes to the study of alchemy, the symbolism carries a lot of hidden meaning. In particular the symbols which represent both the astrological bodies and common metals can convey a lot of layered messaging.
Lets take a look at how the concept of transmutation of metals can be applied to the transmutation of human consciousness.
Dark, heavy and poisonous, lead is also an impenetrable substance when it comes to things like radiation. It protects through containment and is the ultimate shield.
In the same way Saturn is renowned as being a planet of restrictions and boundaries, but we all need parameters in our lives so that we understand what is possible and what is not. Saturn can feel like being held down and limited in a lot of ways, but can also teach us the art of timing.
After all, timing is everything.
Jupiter is the planet of expansion, abundance and material gain, but it can also be hedonistic and frivolous. It’s the planet of optimism, gumption and pluckiness required to forge ahead or throw caution to the wind.
Tin is a strong but light-weight material which is very useful, resistant to corrosion, and food-safe, but melts easily under heat and is highly malleable. It might be good for the short-term, but won’t be able to hack it over the long-term the way other metals can.
This energy will get you places, but it won’t necessarily keep you there.
Strong, uncompromising, masculine. Iron is synonymous with the will and so is Mars, the planet named after the god of war. The blood which flows in our veins is red from the oxidisation of iron in haemoglobin and the red planet reflect this hot, surging life-force within all of us.
As a metal it is rarely beaten and once smelted properly and alloyed with carbon, iron becomes steel. At times in life we need this steely resolve to give us the nerve to do things which are difficult and a lot of our braver aspects can be found in our Mars placement.
Shiny, feminine, rich and also conductive, copper is a metal we associate in modern times with both safe plumbing waters and electrical wiring.
The planet is known as both the evening star and the morning star, switching position in our night sky from one to the other after travelling close to the sun for a year and a half in between. Venus is our brightest star when it is visible and heralds either the beginning of the night, or its ending.
As a planet shrouded in mystery it has been likened to the feminine aspects which are part of the hidden realms. It has also been dismissed by Christians as an evil omen of wild and untamed magics.
It’s little wonder, then, that copper is so valued by the Fae, who also inhabit the liminal spaces between our waking and sleeping states, appearing on the edges of our consciousness. The hidden dimensions of the Otherworld are unlocked by this Key of Life, represented by the Ankh.
The only metal in this family known to exist in a liquid state at room-temperature, quicksilver is thus named for the speed at which it can move and it’s brilliant appearance.
Mercury is known as the planet of communication and is named after the messenger god who flew with winged feet to deliver news. It is also the planet known to affect technology, which is the modern equivalent of lightning-speed communication and information.
Being in such a fluid state is beneficial if you would like to makes moves outside of the box or if you don’t want to be constricted by impositions of others.
The moon rules our subconscious and emotional aspects and in it’s likeness silver is considered to be a medium of mystery. Here, the psychic realm opens up as the moon wanes from shining silver into the tarnished blackness of night. It does this in order to initiate a person into a deeper understanding of their own mind, wandering through the night in order to see what is not seen during the daylight.
Silver is the metal within our mirrors, reflecting back to us how we truly appear to others. When we understand this aspect of ourselves, we can form better relationships where we practice self-awareness instead of projecting our insecurities for others to see plainly while we ourselves remain oblivious.
Obviously, gold is considered the most precious metal and the main objective in alchemy. Gold is synonymous with wealth, power and beauty, but it can also be seen as the light which shines truth on a situation.
The sun provides us with warmth, maintains the seasons, gives life to plants and shines a light for us to go about in a flurry of activity. It also washes away the fears and insecurities so prevalent in the night.
The sun is our logical, philosophical self. It is the self that we can be when we’re at our best; operating from a place of kindness, patience, rational thought and calm demeanor. Our higher-self if you will. The self who knows intrinsically that they have a connection with the universe at large as well as the world in it’s micro form.
As the famed alchemist William Blake wrote, it is an ability to see beyond the mundane and appreciate the world in gratitude at how miraculous it can be;