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Lead



Lead, in alchemical terms, definitely has an androgynous nature with qualities of cold and damp allowing it to be called an arcane substance representing the lusterless prime matter. For this reason it is similar to Adam and is said to be the counterpart of the planet Saturn. The alchemical symbol for lead is an old man with a wooden leg and a scythe.

This also is the symbol of Saturn, "'Take that white tree and build around it a round dark house covered with dew, and place in it a man of great age, a hundred years old,' etc. The old man is Saturn-lead as prima materia."

Lead being the equivalent of Saturn, having a definite androgynous nature, is both malefic, and the worst events can be expected, and a purifier. Lead represents the impurities of metals and humans. Some say these are the vexations and troubles which God puts on people to bring them back to repentance. Others say these are just the troubles of life which man has to overcome in order to perfect himself. But as lead burns it burns all of the impurities with it which is why Boethus the Arab called it the water of sulphur. The tribulations of life are metaphoric with lead as they cleanse people of the imperfections they incur.

The Babylonians knew lead as a powerful cumulative poison containing antimony. According to tradition some said transmutation was successfully achieved when bits of the Philosopher's Stone was sprinkled with lead. A.G.H.


Sources:

Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them. (Transl. by James Hulbert). New York. Facts On File, 1992. p. 203.
Fernando, Diana. The Dictionary of Alchemy. London. Vega. 2002. p. 106
jung, C. G. Alchemical Studies. (Transl. by R. F. C. Hull) Bollingen Series XX. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press. 1967. p. 305n.
Jung, C. G. Mysterium Coniunctions, (Transl. by R. F. C. Hull). "The Collected Works of Jung" Vol. 14. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press. 1970. pp. 335n, 404.