Alchemists have always taken great pains to obtain this magic agent, the Philosophers’ Stone, but they often failed in their quest because they did not understand that their work with the Sun and the Moon should not be restricted to the physical plane but should be carried on, also, on the spiritual plane, that it should be a work with the two principles of the will and the imagination.
This is what is meant by ‘taking the bull by the horns.’ For a disciple, to take the bull by the horns is to begin the interior work that will eventually give them the mastery of all the raw, anarchical, violent elements within themselves.
Bringing the imagination under the control of the will
Unfortunately, in our day, instead of taking the bull by the horns, people leave it free to trample everything underfoot. This is particularly so with young people and you are going to see how many things are destroyed by the bull.
To take the bull by the horns means to bring the imagination under the control of the will. Our imagination is always linked to our sensuality and people whose imagination is not kept in check tend to be lazy and sensual: the Moon and Venus always go hand in hand. But if the Sun intervenes by bringing its light to bear on the situation and steers these forces in the right direction, then the Moon becomes extraordinarily useful, because it has the power to give concrete form to things.
Sun and Moon – Solve and Coagula
I have already spoken to you about the different ages of the earth’s evolution, the Age of Saturn, of the Sun, of the Moon and so on, and I explained that the Age of the Sun was a period of expansion whereas the Age of the Moon, on the contrary, was characterized by a process of coagulation and materialization. The Sun and the Moon, therefore, are also symbols of the two alchemical Tprocesses, solve et coagula, dissolve and coagulate.
In the glyph that stands for Mercury, the Sun is represented by a circle and the Moon by a portion of that circle, as though it were a rib of the Sun. This, incidentally, is the explanation of that passage in Genesis which describes how God formed a woman from one of Adam’s ribs.
When the initiates represented Mercury by the circle of the Sun surmounted by the crescent of the Moon, combined with the plus sign (+), which, as we have seen, also stands for the earth, their intention was to show that it was this combination, this intelligent fusing of the two principles that produced Mercury.
To be continued…
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov,
Sèvres, December 27, 1970
Complete Works Volume 14. Love and Sexuality, Part 1
Chapter 2 Taking the bull by the horns – The Caduceus of Hermes