Rosary of the Philosophers - 18 The Green Lion devours the Sun
Type of Spiritual Experience
The following comment by Evelyn Underhill, who has a Christian background and an established Church as opposed to mystic Christian background, may or may not be helpful, it is another view of what is happening. I do not agree with her, but all views I think should be aired. I have put my comments in brackets.
Perhaps the quaintest and most celebrated of all these allegories is that which describes the quest of the Philosopher's Stone as the hunting of the Green Lion. The Green Lion, though few would divine it, is the First Matter of the Great Work: ...... He is called green because, ...., he is still unripe, his latent powers undeveloped; and a Lion, because of his strength, fierceness, and virility. Here the common opinion that a pious effeminacy, a diluted and amiable spirituality, is the proper raw material of the mystic life, is emphatically contradicted. It is not by the education of the lamb, but by the hunting and taming of the wild intractable lion, instinct with vitality, full of ardour and courage, exhibiting heroic qualities ... that the Great Work is achieved. .... [that is some people, and here I greatly differ with Evelyn because it is only some, need the qualities of a renewed and purified intellect - a green lion - to achieve their Destiny, in other words you do need reason and memory to succeed, but that intellect must be free of all the old beliefs and accumulated rubbish - fresh green, clean new growth ].
"Our lyon wanting maturitie
Is called greene for his unripeness trust me
And yet full quickly he can run,
And soon can overtake the Sun,"'
The Green Lion, then, in his strength and wholeness is the only creature potentially able to attain Perfection. It needs the adoption and purification of .... man's nature, [the masculine - the intellect - the Conscious self] not merely the encouragement of his transcendental tastes, if he is to "overtake the Sun" and achieve the Great Work.
The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence, not by amiable aspiration. "The Green Lion," says one alchemist, "is the priest by whom Sol and Luna are wed." In other words, the raw stuff of indomitable human nature is the means by which man is to attain union with the Absolute. The duty of the alchemist, the transmuting process, is therefore described as the hunting of the Green Lion ......
The lion, the whole man, Humanity in its strength, is as it were “slain to the world," and then resuscitated; but in a very different shape. By its passage through this mystic death the colour of unripeness is taken away. Its taming completed, it receives wings, wherewith it may fly up to Sol, the perfect or divine.
A description of the experience