Hermes Sacred Tree of Alchemi
This is a wonderful find! Hermes stands at the boundary between the sun and the crescent moon, psychopomp that he is. I would far rather have him escort me from this world to the next than that grumpy old ferryman Charon. Hermes (or Mercury, as the Romans knew him) is wearing his winged sandals and helmet, and holds his sigil. The caduceus is by his side. Is that also one of his symbols? It would be fitting, if he were the gatekeeper at the portal between life and death, the womb and birth.
The Tree of Alchemy (“Alchemi”) itself is numbered one through 12, then 14 and 15. The number 13 becomes conspicuous by its absence. I do not know the provenance of this image. It is an excerpt from Manley P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages, published in 1927. However, the image looks more like a drawing from 16th or 17th century Britain, Germany or France, however I’m no expert. Was the number 13 associated with misfortune, or worse, at that time and in those locales? If so, then why is Mercury positioned in the place of number 13?
Finally, I am curious about the significance, if any, of the 15-count. The number 12, for each month or astrological symbol would’ve been more intuitive, but I certainly don’t know everything. And I haven’t even begun to consider the meaning of the words written on each leaf. Organic chemistry?
Feel free to leave any guesses or insights!
* Manley Hall wrote another work which had a similar aura of the perpetually mysterious, or perceived to be mysterious, Society of Freemasons, Rosicrucians and others, but had a uniquely mystical American patriotism about it, entitled The Secret Destiny of America.