Stories > Splendor Solis > Plate 16 - The Peacock (Venus)
Within a crowned flask, sealed and not heated, a peacock displays its tail. This stage in the alchemical process produces a very beautiful, rapidly changing colours on the walls of the flask.The chariot of Venus (with Eros and a heart transfixed by a golden arrow) is drawn by two doves. The wheels represent Taurus and Libra. Venusian scenes depicted: swimmers, lovers, drinking and eating, playing music, reading, dancing. Below there are three people dining with five musicians playing for them. (Stephen Skinner's Splendor Solis commentary)
The Peacock vs The Charmer and Discloser
The astrological signs ruled by Venus, shown on the red wheel, are Taurus, the Bull, associated with fecundity, and Libra, the Scales, symbolizing equilibrium. These signs are associated with partnership, reliability, productivity, tactfulness, creativity, and aesthetics satisfactions. Venus and Cupid represent the Greek idea of love. Translated into Jung’s terminology, it is the Eros principle, which is not just love or the sexual attraction but true relatedness, the human capacity for communication of discriminated feelings. This is the essence of relationship, the opposite of narcissistic self-love."
"The iridescence seen in the nigredo at the moment in the process just before it changes to the albedo was likened to a peacock’s tail. This stage represent the beginning of any real process of redemption of the shadow in a psychological sense. When people have fully accepted the shadow side of life, then they know that it enriches their experience of life and they feel ready to affirm a new and healthier attitude toward what was formally only painful and problematic."
"The people in the scene ruled over by Venus are eating, drinking, reading poetry, playing music, making love, dancing, and simply conversing with each other. The symbols surrounding the alembic are not longer in opposition. This is really a turning point, truly the dawn of a new day in the psyche where outer activity and the inner state are in harmony, neither opposing or compensating one another."
"As the obstacles and projections caused by personal complexes and cultural attitudes are diminished, genuine relating becomes possible. The peacock is a state often accompanied by joy and enthusiasm for the possibilities in life and relationship. However it can be an inflating image, because it does not represent the new day itself, only the dawn of the new day.
The magnolia tree in the Charmer represents beauty in a similar way to the peacock. It expresses is a desire for relatedness although it may or may not be sincere, as symbolized by the presence of the fox and the falling of magnolia flowers on the ground. The sparrow, also connected to Venus, is hiding behind a protective facade, the protection of the ego. Its insincerity and insecurity along with the fox causes the two sparrows to fly away, emphasizing the feeling of isolation created by the sparrow’s desire for perfection.
In the other drawing of The Discloser the magnolia changed into a birch tree, which symbolizes rebirth, flexibility, and truth. It is the first tree that grows after a fire, and its bark was often used as paper to write. The black knots in the bark also resemble eyes, meaning the bird is now truly seen. Some of the branches point up and some bend down, signifying a relaxed attitude.
The birds, now swallows, are associated with Aphrodite and symbolize guidance, strength, hope, and swift thinking. The many swallows in the tree are like the eyes of the peacock’s tail, and represent the many sides of the personality that are now visible. The dog the swallow sits on is a Jack Russell Terrier, a dog that was bred to chase foxes, who is vocal and will not tolerate abuse even if unintentional. The sky also shows the dawn of the new day.

In the Tarot the corresponding card of The Star shows a woman with one foot on the ground, representing her practical abilities and good common sense, and the other foot in the water, representing her intuition and inner resources and listening to her inner voice. She is naked, representing her vulnerability and purity under the vastness of the starry night sky. Behind her shines one large star, representing her core essences, and seven smaller stars, representing the chakras.
The nakedness of the woman points to the authenticity and vulnerability in the Discloser card. The constellation of swallows in the tree around the one on the dog’s head displays a similar arrangement to the stars in the Tarot card. It’s interesting to note that this card comes after the Tower card, which is the card that we associated earlier with the meeting of the shadow, the Dark Man, and the drawing of the goat. That experience helped break down the facade of the ego and bring true relatedness, and it’s also interesting to connect the fox in the Charmer and the one in the Performer. The fox in the Charmer has no clothes, so it’s a more natural undifferentiated state.
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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