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Putrefactio: The Crow and Skull

Posted by on January 7, 2010

The fifth stage of the alchemical process is Putrefactio.  It signifies the end of the blackening process where the imperfections of the material are removed by fire.  The crow and the skull are symbols of death, but similar to the death card in a tarot deck, in alchemy these are primarily interpreted as symbols of transition.  Putrefactio is a transitional stage from the end of the blackening process to the beginning of the whitening.  In addition to the crow and skull, the presence of the  black sun symbol signifies the importance of this stage, as the ultimate goal of the Projectio (symbolized by the phoenix) is present in its imperfect state.  It is the promise of the completion of the work.

The image is painted on Strathmore 500 bristol board using acrylic inks, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils, and metalic acrylic paint.  It measures 2.75 inches high, and is card number 5 in a series of 12.  More cards to follow.

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