Stories > Splendor Solis > Plate 12 - Feeding the Dragon (Saturn)
The flask contains a naked child who pours liquid down the throat of, and uses a pair of bellows on, a pale yellow, winged dragon.The flask stands upon wreaths of leaves, but these probably should be tongues of flames. Saturn is associated with lead, but also with antimony.The chariot of Saturn is drawn by two winged griffons/dragons. The wheels represent Capricorn and Aquarius, astrological signs ruled by Saturn, who holds a sickle and caduceus. Saturnian scenes depicted: begging, commerce, drawing water, ploughing, and hanging.  (Stephen Skinner's Splendor Solis commentary)
Feeding The Dragon vs The Make Believer
Saturn, or Hermes, holds a sickle in his right hand and a caduceus in his left hand. The sickle refers to Hermes’s Saturnine aspect which is associated with Death or Limitation, and in life with resignation and with futile, useless repetition and suffering. Psychologically what is most leaden and fixed is the most valuable source for the work. The caduceus, according to myth, gave Hermes the power to touch others and put them into a dream state.
The caduceus is akin to a magician’s wand, and in my drawing of The Make Believer it induces the rabbit and raccoon into a dream state. Like Saturn, the god of time, this hidden magician makes us play the same stories over and over again, in one form or another until we finally notice.
The symbol in the alembic is a little dragon who appears to be submitting to a naked boy, meaning that the spirit of youth is working on it. He is pouring in the mouth of the dragon the prima material necessary to begin the alchemical opus. The dragon is a young one - threat of madness but also unchanneled vitality, symbolizing a return to the beginning, to a natural not-yet-developed or differentiated instinctual potential. This return corresponds to less differentiated states that are not to be confused with a return to a developmental experience of infancy.
The central image in the alembic symbolizes a resurgence of primitive libido - but libido that is contained and endured, not acted out.
The Make Believer also symbolizes someone who uses a childlike imagination (the magic of the Cheshire cat) to express the inner world.
In the Tarot the journey begins when the Fool meets the Magician - not a stage magician or a medieval mountebank, but a magus, a priest of sorts, who acts as an adviser and guide to the novice, the Fool (in my drawing, that would  be the bunny rabbit behind the left tree). The Magician is also the maturer form of the Fool because he too will take on the same role for others. It takes a believer as much as a magician to make magic.
Note: the quotes in italic are from the book by J.L. Henderson and D.N. Sherwood, Transformation of the Psyche: The Symbolic Alchemy of the Splendor Solis

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