“Alchemical Studies II (Where is Uncle Now)” is an alchemical study showing the distillation of the Essence from the physical body.
The painting was inspired by an image found in the three-volume Clavis Artis. The manuscript declares itself to be a translation of Zoroaster (or Zarathustra): the ancient Persian prophet. The alembic represents the container of spirit, i.e., the body. Found within the glass vase are two half-human/half-mermaid creatures, as an allegory to that part of us that has the capacity to swim in the depths of the ocean of spirit. This ocean of the Unconscious is our natural state and origin.
The duality of the two human-mermaid figures speaks to the alchemical task of marrying our masculine and feminine energies within ourselves. That is, to turn our outward tending energies inward towards spirit and the world beyond. This is the transmutation of base metal into gold by the fire of our adversities.
“Alchemical imagery is one way of telling this same story in terms of getting the gold out of the base matter. . . The operation of the mythic meditation is to bring out, elicit, the gold of your spiritual character. You have to move into this slowly, and that’s what ordeals are.” 1
1. The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on his Life and Work. Phill Coiseneau, 2003, p. 121