Jeremy Millar

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Solve et Coagula (Page: 1/2)

'Solve et Coagula' is a Latin phrase, used within alchemy, that can be translated as 'dissolve and coagulate', a process which is fundamental to alchemical transformation and, it might be argued, to the artistic process also. In his book Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1856) Éliphas Lévi both reproduces and describes an image of Baphomet, or 'The Sabbatical Goat', a monstrous figure, part human — both male and female — and part animal, complete with magical pentagram on his forehead, that is said to represent the entirety of the universe. Lévi refers to the figure as an alchemical device, representing an androgyne, and is inscribed with a familiar alchemical formula: 'The magical androgyne depicte in the frontispiece of the Ritual has SOLVE inscribed and COAGULA inscribed on the left arm.' More specifically, his picture grandly represents 'a monster throned upon the altar, mitred and horned, having a waomn's breasts and the generative organs of a man; a chimera, a malformed sphinx, a synthesis of deformities. Below this figure we read a frank and simple description: THE DEVIL.'
    The figure of the artist has traditionallly been represented

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