Category Archives: Alchemy

Pfaueninsel

Ein Märchen

Von der Pfaueninsel-Projekt von Ann McCoy

Im Zeitalter des endlosen Winters war die Sonne eine blasse Erinnerung im Himmel und dunkle Wolken verschleierten die Paläste des Ostens und des Westens.

Die Kreuzzüge des Ostens hatten die Armen des Königreichs ausgelaugt. Im weißen Palast des Westens waren die Körper der Gefallenen an den Wänden gestapelt und über die weißen Marmortreppen goss das Blut. Fette schwarze Krähen blähten sich auf Leichen junger Männer und der Gestank wurde unerträglich. Der endlose Krieg hatte eine ebenso endlose Anzahl toter Soldaten erzeugt. Im Osten gingen die jungen Mohren in ihre Gräber: Ihrer Religion entsprechend wurden sie begraben, man sah nur die Haufen verschleierter Körper, begraben neben denen der alten Krieger in ummauerten Friedhöfen.

Die Offiziellen schenkten dem keine Aufmerksamkeit. Es waren die Menschen außerhalb der Mauern, deren Bedrückung mehr und mehr zunahm. Während die Söhne der Armen tot und entstellt von den Kreuzzügen zurück kamen, fiel das Königreich in eine düstere Stimmung. Der Gestank wurde schlimmer und schlimmer, die Geier und Krähen saßen auf den Mauern der Stadt, Mütter weinten um ihre toten Söhne, wie sie es seit Jahrhunderten taten.

Die Männer des Königs stapelten die Münzen in den Kontoren, Ölfässer und Gold füllten die Schatzkammern des Ostens. Sowohl die fernen Länder und das Königreich waren geplündert, König und Hof wurden jeden Tag reicher. Es ist die alte Geschichte: Ein alter König, zählt sein Geld im Palast, während sein Land ausblutet und die Bewohner verzweifeln. Es gab keine gute Königin, die in der Kapelle für die armen Seelen des Königreichs betete.

Der König war ein Feigling und hatte sich als junger Mann geweigert in den Kampf zu ziehen; er hatte immer andere in den Tot geschickt. Jedoch trug er militärische Kleidung und marschierte so auf den Planken königlicher Schiffe.

Am Tag als der König im Kampfanzug durch die Stadt marschieren sollte, fiel er zu Boden: Er schwoll an wie eine Laus, sein Kopf bekam die Grösse einer Melone und er konnte auf seinen dicken Beinen nicht länger stehen. Sein fiebernder Wahnsinn war allen offensichtlich. Ärzte aus allen Reichen wurden gerufen, den König zu heilen da seine königlichen Ärzte ihm nicht mehr helfen konnten. Nach dem jeder bekannte Arzt sein Können versuchte und versagte, wurde der Alchemist Johaan Kunckel und mit seiner Assistentin der Gräfin von den Kammerherren gerufen. Jener Alchemist und seine Partnerin heizten den Schmelzofen in betender Einsamkeit.

Kunckel hatte ein geheimes Labor auf der Pfaueninsel. Er war bekannt für seine Heilmittel und für das Erzeugen von Rubinglas. Seine Glaserei lag abgelegen, um das Verfahren geheim zu halten und keinem Besucher war es möglich an der Insel anzulegen. Das Labor war als Ort der Seelenheilung und der Rubinglaserzeugung von der Gräfin und Kunckel erbaut worden. Die Schmelzöfen brannten gleichmäßig dank ihrer großen Aufmerksamkeit. Die Insel war friedlich und im Garten streunten Hasen und Pfauen.

Der Körper des Königs wurde auf ein Schiff verladen und zu Kunckels Labor auf die Pfaueninsel gebracht. Eine lange Barke trug den geschwollenen Körper des Königs in einem bleiernen Sarg. Immer wieder schrie er: Jener, der mich rettet, wird mein Königreich erben. Seine Verzweiflung wuchs. Im Dunkel der Nacht landete sein Boot an der Insel. Kunckel begann seine Schmelze mit Buchenholz zu feuern. Gräfin blies Wind in die alchemistische Schmelze mit Blasebalken. Der König wurde auf einem Brett getragen und in die Schmelze gelegt.

Auch den Körper des Königs aus dem Osten brachte Kunckel herein. Der Mohrenkönig war in einen ähnlichen Zustand verfallen, er war schwarz wie Pech und musste in einem Bleisarg getragen werden. Die Mohren waren die Erbfeinde des Koenigreichs. Die königlichen Truppen waren im Osten gewesen, gegen die Mohren kämpfend, im großen endlosen Krieg. Auch der König der Mohren wurde von Kunckel in den Ofen gelegt. König und Mohr wurden drei Tage gebacken. Als die Öfen sich öffneten wurden zwei Haufen Asche in den Schmelzen gefunden. Kunckel nahm die Asche und vermischte sie im Mörser und zerrieb sie mit einem Stößel. Die Gräfin gab heiliges Wasser aus der Kapelle der Insel hinzu.

Die Asche wurde mit der schwarzen Flüssigkeit gemischt, die in die Pfanne am Boden der Schmelze gesickert war.

Kunckels Glaserei benutzte Gold in seiner kleinsten molekularen Struktur, um blutrotes Glas herzustellen. Diese Vereinigung von schwarzer Essenz und Asche wurde in einen roten Glasbecher gegossen und in die Sonne gestellt. Schwarze Krähen begannen aus der schwarzen Flüssigkeit in die Bäume zu fliegen. Die schwarze Flüssigkeit aus König und Mohr verdickte sich und wurde dann in eine Pfanne gegossen und in einen langsam brennenden Ofen aus Backstein gelegt. Die Flüssigkeit verdunstete und der Teig begann die Form eines zweiköpfigen Mannes anzunehmen. Kunckel und die Gräfin beteten Tage neben dem Ofen. Als der Ofen geöffnet wurde erschien ein Unipedes, ein Einfüßer, mit zwei Köpfen. Ein Kopf war der des Koenigs, einer war der des Mohren. Die beiden Köpfe sahen sich an und riefen: Wir sind eins. Der Unipedes ist wie eine Münze; der dunkle Bruder und ich, wir sind dieselbe Münze, aber die zwei verschiedenen Seiten. Wir projizieren unser Böses aufeinander. Diese Projektion muss weichen, sodass der Prozess weitergehen kann.

Das Unipedes kämpfte mit dem Gehen auf der Insel und setzte sich auf einen Stein, weinend auf das Ufer blickend. Die beiden Königlichen Schiffe lagen am Kai, aber jetzt würden sie nie zu den verschiedenen Koenigreichen zurück segeln können. Der Mohr und der König waren in ihrer Trauer verbunden. Kunckel kam und führte das Unipedes in sein Labor. In Kunckels Haus sahen sie einen Tisch mit einem großen roten Reagenzglas. Ihre Tränen wurden in diesem Reagenzglas gesammelt und über einer Flamme erhitzt. Im roten Licht begann eine kleine Frau im Reagenzglas zu wachsen. Das Unipedes weinte weiter bis all die Tränen das Glas füllten. Das Unipedes fiel zu Boden, eine leere Haut. Kunckel kehrte die leere Haut auf und warf sie in das Feuer.

Die Flüssigkeit der Tränen und die kleine Frau wurden neun Tage in einen hochkantigen Tonofen gelegt. Als der Ofen geöffnet wurde, erschien ein roter junger Mann. Er kroch aus dem Ofen und stand nackt dort, ein schöner Junge. Kunckel ließ die Gräfin für diesen jungen roten Prinzen ein königliches Kostüm aus Gold und roter Seide schaffen. Der Prinz spazierte über die Insel, das Schloss und die Gebäude erforschend. In einem Hain entdeckte er einen kleinen, der Venus gewidmeten Tempel. Ein roter Vogel ließ sich auf seiner Schulter nieder und forderte ihn auf den Tempel zu betreten. Drinnen fand er eine schlafende weiße Königin kalt wie Eis auf einem Stück Marmor. Sie hatte seit Jahrhunderten geschlafen und war in griechische Roben gehüllt. Als sie ihn küsste, erwachte sie und ihr Körper begann sich zu röten. Blut schoss durch ihre Venen und er erkannte sie als die kleine Frau aus dem Glas des Alchemisten. Auf dem Boden des Venustempels schliefen Priester und Ritter. Sie erwachten, stolperten aus der Gruft, ihre Augen vor dem Anblick der nackten, leuchtend roten Königin schützend.

Sie rannten in den Wald. Die Venuskönigin erzählte dem Prinz von ihrem langen Schlaf durch die Jahrhunderte. Sie war in einen tiefen Schlaf gefallen, als jene Männer, die ihn ihrer Gruft geschlafen hatten ihren Tempel zerstörten.

Die neuerwachte Königin und der Prinz gingen in den Wald der Insel bis sie an einen Brunnen kamen. Der rote Vogel hieß sie ein Bad zu nehmen. Nackt badeten sie im Brunnen und begannen rot ihm Sonnenlicht zu leuchten. Sie tauchten in das Wasser und tranken vom Brunnen. Ihre Körper waren jugendlich und glichen einander wie die von Bruder und Schwester. Der Prinz hielt ihre linke Hand in seiner Linken und bat sie ihn zu heiraten. Eine weiße Taube schwebte vom Himmel herab und flog um den Brunnen. Während sie vom Brunnen tranken wurden sie zueinander geführt, in einer im Königreich bislang unbekannten Leidenschaft. Es war eine Vereinigung, sogleich heilig und gewalttätig, gleich zwei Wölfen, die sich in zwei Pfauen verwandeln. Das Wasser des Brunnens floss rot und glitzernd im Sonnenlicht.

Prinz und Königin schlenderten über die Insel, Leitern erklimmend und Früchte von den Bäumen pflückend. Die Körbe voller Früchte wurden auf die zwei geankerten Schiffe der toten Könige geladen und nach Ost und West verschifft. Sie trugen Bottiche mit rotem Wasser des Brunnens zusammen und füllten es in rote Gläser als Fracht zu den Völkern, leidend im ständigen Krieg. Rote Vögel wurden geschickt um zu singen. Und auch Gebete des Alchemisten Kunckel und der Gräfin waren Teil der Ladung. Es ist diese rote Flüssigkeit, Vögel, Gebete und Frucht, die in den Zeiten des Krieges am nötigsten sind. Alte Könige müssen sterben und durch neue ersetzt werden, Tänze zu uralten Göttinnen aufgeführt werden, sodass die Felder neue Früchte hervorbringen.

Jetzt war es Zeit eine königliche Hochzeit zu planen. Zusammen mit Kunckel und der Gräfin trat das Paar in den Rosengarten. Nur ein wiedergeborener König der sich Tot und Verwandlung unterzogen hat, konnte wie er den Garten in Begleitung seiner Königin betreten. Die Königin übergab dem Prinzen die Schlüssel zum Garten und das königliche Paar und Kunckel und Gräfin traten ein. Sie gingen in den großen Kreis und saßen zwischen roten und weißen Rosen, während die Rosenbüsche goldene Münzen abwarfen. In der Mitte des großen Kreises zogen sie einen zweiten Kreis für ihren Hochzeitspavillion. Die Sonne fiel auf die Münzen und spiegelte die Strahlen zurück in die Himmel und die Münzen begannen sich zu vermehren.

Um einen Pavillon zu bauen würde man neue Architektur und einen neuen Architekten brauchen. Das Gebäude muss einer Vision entspringen, dem Traum eines Architekten. Boten wurden in die vier Himmelsrichtungen gesandt um solch einen Erbauer zu finden. Schließlich fand sich ein Architekt aus Indien. Ein Kreis wurde in einem Viereck gezogen und vom Schutt gereinigt. Goldene Münzen, Diamanten und Federn roter Vögel wurden mit Rosenblüten aus dem Garten in den Kreis gelegt. Die beiden Paare saßen auf dem Boden und Kunckel und die Gräfin beteten, um die roten Vögel aus dem Himmel herab zu holen. Weißer Schnee begann zu fallen und die Gärten wurden von sanften weißen Flocken bedeckt. Ruhe legte sich über die Insel und es herrschte eine friedliche Stille.

Der Architekt ging in Kunckels Glaserei. Hunderte Scheiben roten Glases wurden hergestellt. In der Mitte des Gartens wurde ein kreisrunder Pavillon erbaut mit Palmen und Rosen und hunderten von Pfauenpaaren. Vor dem Pavillon stand eine weiße Burg mit einem männlichen und weiblichen Turm. Die beiden Türme waren durch eine Brücke verbunden. Der rote Prinz und die Königin trafen sich auf der Brücke und von unten betrachteten die Besucher wie sie sich umarmten. Jene die den Gartenpavillon betraten mussten allen Hass, alle Angst und Eigensucht aufgeben und im Gebet und mit Vergebung kommen. Jeder Besucher wusch die Füße seines Bruders und seiner Schwester und trocknete sie mit Blütenblättern des Gartens. Danach grüsste jeder Gast das Göttliche im Anderen und verneigte sich. Jeder Anwesende machte ein Versprechen der Vergebung, Während sie in das Gebäude eintraten. Im roten Glashaus gab es weder Dunkel noch Licht, nur Wärme und Eros. Der rote Prinz erschien, die Königin zu heiraten, die Göttin des Himmels und der Erde. Kunckel und Gräfin bauten einen roten Pavillon um die Rückkehr erotischer Leidenschaft, göttlicher Liebe und mystischer Vereinigung zu loben.

Die Planer endloser Kriege können solch eine Insel nie besuchen. Sie müssten all ihr Wissen aufgeben. Denn die Insel ist ein Ort in dem Vögel und Hasen und kleine Waldgeschöpfe mit königlichen Paaren wandeln und Friede herrscht. Musik, erotisches Spiel, Gartenkunst, Alchemie und Gebete zu den Himmeln beschreiben den Weg der Seele. Die Männer des Krieges können nie solche Freuden kennen. Die Pfaueninsel ist keine gewöhnliche Utopie. Um zur Insel zu kommen wir verlangt, dass man stirbt und seine Form ändert. Die Seele, seit langem im Westen vergessen, erwächst hier im Rosengarten, von dem Alchemist Kunckel und seiner geliebten Gräfin gepflegt. Die roten Vögel umschließen jede Seele mit ihren Flügeln und setzen sie sanft in die Blütenblätter der wachsenden Rosen. Rotgefärbte Wasser ernähren zart die Wurzeln der Büsche und die Seele wächst in Frieden.

Ann McCoy
Translated by Martin Reckhaus

Pfaueninsel

A Fairy Tale

from the Pfaueninsel Project by Ann McCoy

In the reign of the endless winter the sun was a pale memory in the heavens and dark clouds covered the palaces of the East and the West. The Crusades in the East had depleted the kingdom’s army. At the White Palace in the West the bodies of the fallen were piled against the walls and blood poured down the steps staining the white marble.  Fat black crows grew bloated on the corpses of the young men, and the stench became unbearable. The endless war had produced an endless supply of dead soldiers.  In the East the young Moors were hurried to their graves in accordance with their religion; piles of shrouded bodies were buried along with those of the ancient warriors in walled cemeteries.

The officials in the White Palace seemed to take no notice; it was the people beyond the walls who grew more and more despondent. As the sons of the poor returned home from the Crusade dead and disfigured, the kingdom fell into a dark mood. The stench became worse and worse, the vultures and crows sat on the city walls.  Mothers wept for their dead sons, as they have for centuries.

In the counting houses, the king’s men kept piling up the coinage. Vats of oil and gold from the East filled the treasury. Both foreign lands and the kingdom had been looted as the king and court became richer with each passing day. This is an old tale; an isolated king in a palace counting his money while the land becomes depleted and the people despair.  There was no good queen to pray in the chapel for the soul of the kingdom.

The king had been a coward and had refused to go to battle as a young man; he had sent others out to die in his place.  Instead he wore military garb and paraded about the decks of the royal ships.  On the day the king was to parade about the city in his battle dress, he fell to the ground.  He was bloated like a tick, his head was enlarged like a melon, and he could not stand on his swollen legs. His feverish madness was apparent to all.  Doctors from every kingdom were called to cure the king because none of the royal physicians could help him.  Finally after every known doctor had been tried and failed, the alchemist Johaan Kunckel and his female assistant Grafin were called by the chamberlains.  This alchemist and his female partner kept the alchemical furnaces burning in their prayerful solitude.

Kunckel had a secret laboratory on the island Pfaueninsel.  He was known for cures and for making Ruby Glass. His glass works was isolated to keep his process secret, and no visitors could embark on the island.  The laboratory had been built by Graftin and Kunckel as a place to cure souls and make ruby glass.  The furnaces were tended with the most constant care burning with an even consistency. The island was peaceful and rabbits and peacocks roamed the island’s gardens.

The Kings body was placed on a ship, and he was taken to Kunckel’s laboratory on Pfaueninsel. A long barge carried the body of the swollen king in its lead coffin.  He kept crying out, “He who saves me will inherit my kingdom.”  His distress grew. In the darkness of night, his boat docked on the island.  Kunckel began to load the furnaces with beach wood and stoke the fires.  Grafin blew wind into the alchemical furnace with bellows. The king was carried on a plank and was placed in the furnace.

Kunckel also brought in the body of the King of the Moors from the East.  The Moor king had fallen into a similar state, he was black as pitch and had to be carried in a lead coffin.   The Moors were the archenemies of the Kingdom.  The royal troops had been in the East fighting the Moors in the Great Endless War. This Moor king was also placed in an oven by Kunckel.  The King and the Moor were baked for three days.  When the ovens opened two piles of ash were found in the two furnaces. Kunckel took the ash and combined it in a mortar and ground it with a pestle. Grafin added holy water from the chapel on the island.

The ash was combined with the dark liquid that had seeped into the pan at the bottom of each furnace place.  Kunckel’s glass works used gold in its smallest molecular structure to make the blood red glass. This merged black essence and ash mixture was poured into a red glass beaker and was placed in the sun.  Black crows began to fly out of the black liquid and into trees. The black liquid from the King and the Moor thickened and was then poured into a pan and placed in a slow oven made of brick.  More of the liquid was sweat out and the dough began to make the form of a two headed man.  Kunkel and his female apprentice prayed beside the oven for days.  When the oven was opened out came a uniped with two heads.  One head was the King and one was the Moor, the two heads looked at each other and shouted, “We are one.”  The Uniped is like a coin; the dark brother and we are of the same coin, only different sides.  We project our evil onto each other.  This projection must be withdrawn for the process to continue.

The Uniped struggled to walk about the island and sat on a rock, crying and looking out at the shore.  The two royal ships sat in the slips but now would never sail to their separate kingdoms.  The Moor and the King were united in their grief.  Kunckel came and led the Uniped to his laboratory.  In Kunckel’s stone house they saw a table with a large red vile. Their tears were collected in the vile and were heated over a flame.  In the red light a small woman began to grow in the vile.  The Uniped continued to cry until all of the liquid from the tears filled the vile.  The Uniped fell on the floor, an empty skin. Kunckel swept up the empty skin and threw it into the fire.

The liquid from the tears and the small woman were placed in an upright clay furnace for nine days.  When the furnace was opened out came a Red Man.  He crawled from the furnace and stood naked, a beautiful youth.  Kunckel had Grafin make a royal costume for this young red prince of gold and red silk.  The red prince wandered about the island exploring the castle and the buildings.  In a grove of trees he came across a small temple to Venus.  A red bird lit on his shoulder and told him to enter the temple. Inside he found a sleeping white queen cold as ice on a marble slab.  She had slept for centuries and was clad in Greek robes.  When he kissed her she awoke and her body began to turn red.  Blood rushed through her veins and he recognized her as the tiny woman from the alchemists vile.  On the floor of the Venus temple were sleeping priest and knights.  They awoke and stumbled from the tomb shielding their eyes from the sight of the naked glowing red queen.  They ran into the forest. The Venus queen told the prince of her long sleep through the centuries.  She had fallen into a deep sleep when the very men sleeping in her tomb had destroyed her temples.

The newly red queen and the prince walked into the island forest until they came to a fountain.  The red bird instructed them to bath in the water.  They bathed naked in the fountain and began to glow red in the sunlight.  They dipped into the waters and drank from the fountain.  Their bodies were adolescent and resembled one another like a brother sister pair.  The prince held her left hand in his left hand and proposed marriage.  A white dove descended from the heavens and flew about the fountain. As they drank from the fountain, they were thrown together in a passion not known in the realm. There was copulation at once holy and then violent like two wolves then changing into two fawns.  The waters of the fountain flowed red and sparkled in the sunlight.

The prince and the queen walked about the island climbing ladders and picking fruit from the trees.  The baskets of fruit were loaded onto the two docked ships of the dead kings and were shipped to the East and West.  They also collected vats of the red water from the fountain and placed it in red glass vials for shipment to the people suffering in the perpetual war.  Red birds were sent in cages to sing. Prayers from the alchemist Kunckle and Grafin were sent along with the cargo.  It is this red liquid, birds, prayers and fruit most needed in times of war.  Old kings must die and be replaced by new ones, dances to ancient goddesses be performed, if the fields are to bring forth new crops.

It was now time to plan a royal wedding.  The pair joined with Kunckle and Grafin to enter the island’s rose garden.  Only a re-born king who has undergone death and transformation may enter the garden accompanied by his queen.  The Queen handed the prince the garden key and the royal pair and Kunckel and Grafin entered.  They walked into the great circle and sat among the red and white roses as the rose bushes shed gold coins.  In the center of the great circle thy drew a second circle for a wedding pavilion.  The sun fell upon the coins and reflected their rays back up to the heavens.

The coins began to multiply.

To build a pavilion would require a new architecture and a new architect.  The building must spring from a vision, the dream of an architect.  Massagers were sent to the four corners of the earth to find such a builder.  At last an architect from India answered the call.  A circle was drawn inside a square and cleared of all debris.  Gold coins, diamonds and the feathers of red birds were placed in the circle with rose petals form the garden.  The two pairs sat on the ground and Kunckel and Grafin prayed to bring down the red birds down from the heavens. White snow began to fall and the gardens was covered in soft white flakes.  A calm descended on the island and there was a peaceful stillness.

The architect went to Kunckel’s glass works.  Hundreds of sheets or red glass were made.  A circular pavilion was constructed in the center of the garden with palm trees and roses and hundreds of pairs of peacocks. In front of the pavilion was a white castle with a male and female tower. The  two towers  were joined by a bridge. The red prince and the queen met on the bridge and the visitors below watched them embrace. Those entering the garden pavilion had to relinquish all hatred, fear, and selfishness and come in prayer and forgiveness.  Each guest washed the feet of his brother and sister and wiped them with petals from the garden.  Each guest then saluted the divinity found within each guest and bowed. Each participant made a vow of forgiveness as they entered into the structure.  In the red glass house there was no dark and no light, only warmth and Eros.   The red prince came forth to marry the queen, goddess heavens and earth.   Kunckel and Grafin built a red pavilion to praise the return of erotic passion, divine love, and mystical union.

The planners of endless war can never visit such an island.  They would have to relinquish all they know.  For the island is a place where birds and rabbits and small forest creatures roam with the royal pairs and peace pervades.  Music, erotic play, gardening, alchemy and prayers to the heavens chart the path of the soul. The men of war can never know such delights. Pfaueninsel is no ordinary Utopia. To come to the island requires that one must die and change form.  The soul, long forgotten in the West, grows here in the rose garden, tended by the alchemist Kunckel and his mistress Grafin. The red birds wrap each soul in their wings and place them carefully in the petals of the growing roses.  Red tinted waters gently feed the roots of the bushes, and the souls grow in peace.

Ann McCoy
A dark winter in New York 2007

The Death and Transformation of the Monkey King

An Alchemical Fairy Tale

KHOJ , New Delhi, 28 October 2005

Intro PortraitThe fairy tale takes place in the America of the American Indian, a play on Indian versus American Indian.  George Bush is the American Monkey King who through an alchemical process is turned into the Indian Monkey King, Lord Hanuman, one of the most popular Indian gods.

Part I
The Birth of the Monkey King in the Kingdom of Black Essence.

KHOJ Monkey King-01

(wall 1)  The People of the Magic Pipe, once inhabited by the land of the Monkey King. They worshiped the buffalo whose herds numbered in the thousands. They honoured the buffalo with songs and dances, and asked for the buffalo’s help, cooperation, and forgiveness, during the hunt. The buffalo sacrificed one of their members when the tribe needed food. The people of the Magic Pipe never killed without hunger or crossed a boundary of killing an extra animal. The White Buffalo carried the soul of the people of this land. One day dark clouds covered the land and white men in boats with guns and their armies slaughtered the People of the Magic Pipe. They built a great iron snake to take them to the west. The white men stood on the back of the iron snake and shot the millions of buffalo and left them to rot in the sun in great piles. No buffalo were left except a few who escaped to the north. When the buffalo was driven from the land, a dark demon entered the kingdom.

(wall 2)  The white men did not know that to kill too many animals goes against nature’s greatest taboo. The White Buffalo Woman wept and wrapped the souls of the dead in a buffalo robe. The white men did not know that the White Buffalo Woman, who lives in the sky, is the keeper of the land. The rulers and the white people began to need more and more of everything, bigger fields, cattle to kill, more firewood. Cattle were butchered at the rate of three per second. The white men grew fatter and fatter.  Banquets were held and the excess food fell from the table. Their hunger could never be satisfied. The quest for more gold, more grain, more carriages, and more warehouses, became an obsession. The poor in the land became invisible; they no longer mattered. The few remaining People of the Magic Pipe starved on small reservations with no buffalo, prisoners in their own land.

KHOJ Monkey King-02

(wall 3) The Monkey king was born into a wealthy, sinister household. His father, a past Minister of Secrets, had been a former king. They were merchants of death, making a fortune from guns and bombs, and the black essence. This black essence powered the kingdom. Soldiers died to procure it in faraway lands. Large iron birds drew the black essence from the ground. The mother of the Monkey King was the evil queen Barbara.  She said the poor deserved their lot. She did not want to “spoil her beautiful mind with thoughts of dead soldiers.”  Poor soldiers fought in her son’s place because he was afraid of battle. Barbara ruled the Monkey King and he remained a child, behaving like a child. Barbara stole his heart and ate it, and put a coal in its place. Queen Barbara taught the Monkey King to steal from the poor and give the money to their friends the arms merchants and sellers of the black essence. The Monkey King was surrounded by Tin Ministers. These ministers were made of tin, a base metal, and had no hearts. Their sole purpose was to conquer foreign land to steal the black essence and sell arms. Any country that refused was occupied.  By the time the Monkey King was placed on the throne by his father’s judges, 177 countries were occupied. People said the kingdom of the Monkey King most resembled ancient Rome. Arrogance has gone before a fall since ancient times; the sages were alarmed.

(wall 4) Using a pack of lies, The Monkey King invaded Mesopotamia to steal black essence.  He dropped firebombs killing thousands of women and children. His own soldiers also died.  Like his own mother he could not look at the dead, especially his own dead soldiers. He could only dress up in uniforms, and play pretend warrior like a child…landing on ships. He was too afraid to speak to the mother of a dead soldier who camped out at his gates, asking him for what “noble cause” had her son died. In the land the people were sad and had no dreams to comfort them. The White Buffalo Woman watched from a hole in the sky and wept. The ice and snow began to melt and the land became hotter and hotter. Storms and floods came washing away poor black people in the lowlands. The Monkey King retreated to his palace and played farmer and rode his bike from room to room like a spoiled child as people died. He lost all contact with his people, isolated in his protective bubble.

KHOJ Monkey King-03

(wall 5) The Monkey King had been given a very, very special mirror by his ministers, which allowed him to see himself as Jesus.  He looked in the mirror day and night and saw himself as perfect and good.  What he did not know was that the world saw his shadow, that part of himself he did not acknowledge, like a dark twin. All women, all men and all nations possess a Shadow. The Monkey King’s shadow was seen by the world, they saw him as the devil himself. The world tired of his arrogance, name-calling, greed and quest for the black essence. Each of us must see our shadow, that part of ourselves we do not claim. The more we ignore it, the more others see it. Only a person or a nation who owns and deals with their shadow can move forward in a positive way.

Part II
The Death and Dismemberment of the Monkey King.

(wall 1) This process began with Osiris in Egypt, and the Aztecs and was known in every land in ancient times. The king represents the ruling principle in the land.  When the land becomes sick and fallow, the king must die.  He is usually buried in the fields to insure a good harvest, and then his son (the new order) comes to the throne. This allows for a renewal in the land.  For the king and the land are linked. Both must be renewed. This is a very difficult process. The Alexandrian Alchemists understood this problem well, and created the best recipe for this task. The king was placed on a rack and the black bile was sweated out along with his greed, and arrogance.  Many times he would be boiled and roasted crying out at each step.

KHOJ Monkey King-04

(wall 2) Then the King was chopped up like Osiris and the pieces were ground up in a mortar with a pestle. These pieces were bleached and ground into a finer powder, and made into a dough king. He was made into a cake and was baked.   In the oven first he became black, then white then red. This process is circular and was repeated many times. This process, takes place in the dreams of all men and women, the inner and outer merge. As the dough king baked he was sprinkled with the green powder of Osiris.  Osiris the green god, the god of vegetation, must live in a king to connect him to all plant and animal life. For Osiris was also worshiped as the great Apis Bull. Every year each Egyptian made a mud form of Osiris containing wheat seeds, which sprouted when watered, ushering in another cycle of agricultural renewal.

Part III
The Introduction of the Anima, the feminine soul.

(wall 1) In the land of the Monkey King the Nature Goddess had been forgotten. She and White Buffalo Woman watch over all animals and plants.  She also presides over the inner life, the life of the soul.  She guides those who follow her footsteps through the darkness.

KHOJ Monkey King-05

(wall 2) The alchemists called her Nature and she presided over their arts. All men and all nations need her to navigate the darkness. The king must marry also her if he is to rule wisely. First he must seek her in the depths of the earth and then be united with her in the heavens realms.

Part IV
The Birth of the New King Hall of the Elders, Saints, Gods, Animal Spirits and Elders.

The marriage of the reconstituted King to the Nature Goddess produces the birth of a new king in a golden egg. A tiny piece of this egg can be found in all men, and women. Some call it the divine, the Self, Atman, the eternal spark. This is no ordinary egg and must be attended by all men as well as the heavenly hosts. To hatch such an egg requires constant attendance. We know the Jinas and Elders by their goodness, non-violence, wisdom, and kind deeds. They represent our highest possibilities.  We strive to mirror them on earth; we bow down low to them. In this realm also live the sacred animals. They are our guides and connect us to the Gods. To hatch this egg requires the breath of all, even the most common folk.  For the egg to hatch, all must breath in unison and offer up prayers of love, forgiveness, and gratitude, and respect all the different gods and goddesses and their points of view and traditions.  Anakantaved.  

KHOJ Monkey King-06

Ann McCoy
Oct. 28th 2005

The Pfaueninsel Project

The Transformation of the King and the Alchemist of the Pfaueninsel

Galerie Zero, Berlin, January 2008

http://www.zero-project.org/ann_mccoy.html

Ann with The Ruby Glass, Galerie Zero, Berlin 2008
Ann with The Ruby Glass, Galerie Zero, Berlin 2008

My fairy tale takes place on an island off Berlin called Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island).  The island was the home of Johaan Kunckel and alchemist who made red glass.  For me the Ruby Glass was a perfect symbol of the rubedo (the red stage if the alchemical process), when passion and pneuma, spirit and a devotion to the heart (feeling) enters the process.  My fairy tale takes place during a period like the Hundred Year War.  We are living in an age of perpetual war now.  In some way my fairy tale suggests an answer to this dilemma.

In 2005 I began writing fairy tales with alchemical themes similar to “The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkrantz”, written in 1459. For me, alchemical model is not antiquated and is much needed in our time.  In alchemy, the shadow, our dark partner we project onto others, must be acknowledged and integrated. The pairs of opposites are brought together and transformed into a new third element.  In our age of black and white thinking, with the shadow projected onto the Arab and others, this model provides a welcome change. Alchemy has to do with transformation, transmutation, and changes in the inner life which become manifest in the outer world.  Without the transformation of the individual, there can be no transformation in the collective. Alchemy connects the inner transformation process through fantasy to the outer world.

My first exhibition featuring alchemical fairy tale themes was “The Death and Transformation of the Monkey King” at KHOJ in New Delhi. George Bush as a monkey king was put through an alchemical process of death and dismemberment and was baked in an oven and reborn in a golden egg as Hanuman the Indian monkey king. I adapted a third century Alexandrian alchemical recipe to transform a sick head of state into a divinity. Mary Renault uses this motif in her novel “The King Must Die.”  An old king represents the ruling consciousness in a land.  When the land becomes arid and the crops fail, the king is killed and buried in the fields.  The new king (his son) represents a new perspective, which will bring fertility to the land.

After this exhibition I began writing fairy tales for our time, which included themes of both personal and collective transformation. The fairy tale is a powerful way to connect with the public and present alchemical models for change.  I was also able to combine my writing with my art in a new way.

In 1977 when I was on the D.A.A.D. in Berlin, I visited Pfaueninsel, an island inhabited by a 16th century alchemist named Johaan Kunckel, who made ‘ruby glass”. Werner Herzog made a film about this red glass called “Herz aus Glas.”  Kunckel chose the island with its limited access to insure secrecy for his alchemical process and also as a precaution against fire, glass works were notorious for starting fires and were put outside of city centers. Kunckel’s glass works did eventually burn down in 1693, but the island forever was associated with Kunckel’s alchemical mysteries.  When I visited the island in 1977, shards of the red glass could still be found.

Pfaueninsel, a hundred years later. became a retreat for Frederich Wilhelm II and the Potsdam Court.  His mistress Grafin Lichtenau supervised many of the plans for a castle, a game park, rose gardens and pavilions for musical and theatrical pleasures.  Thousands of plants including exotic palms for the Palm House and animals were brought in to create a South Sea fantasy for the court.  The island was created as a natural paradise on the model of Rousseau. A zoo with peacocks gave the island its name.

Photographs of Peacock Island

The various elements present in the history of the island fascinated me and I began to write a fantasy history of the island using these historical elements as a basis for my fairy tale. The rose garden, the peacock, the furnace, and the island appear in many alchemical texts.  These alchemical themes were also present on Pfaueninsel in structures developed by the court Rosicrucian Christoph von Wolner who was instrumental in the planning of the Neuer Garten, and Jacob’s Well, Temple of Serapus and placement of statues like Dianna of Ephesus on Pfaueninsel.  This Rosicrucian influence was prevalent in German courts such as Frederick and Elizabeth’s at Heidelberg in the Papatinate from 1613 onwards.

I have condensed several hundred years of the island’s history into a fairy tale about a King, his mistress, and an alchemist. Two important German fairy tales steeped in alchemical symbolism would be models for my tale: “The Chemical Wedding of Christan Rosenkreutz” by an unknown author, and Goethe’s “Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.”

The fairy tale will hopefully be performed either on the island or in a Baroque theatre like the theater at Potsdam this coming summer.  A video could also be shot of this performance.  Actors from New York’s THEATERLAB and the Berlin group OPENSPACE will perform the fairy tale.

I would use the Pfaueninsel Castle as a screen and project a series of images from my dreams on the castle façade.  I teach projection at Yale in the School of Drama.  The performance would combine my written fairy tale, my work in projection, and the talents of the actors.

I have spent thirty years reading alchemy both in Rome and in Zurich.  I worked with C.G. Jung’s main heir Dr. C. A. Maier in Zurich for twenty -five years doing studies in depth psychology and alchemy.  When I was on the Prix de Rome, I read alchemy at the Vatican Library and the Palazzo Corsini.  My main interest is late German alchemy, mainly Michael Meier, the founder of the Rosicrucian Order.  The island was a Rosicrucian and alchemical fantasy.  I want to use it like a stage set for my alchemical fairy tale.

Ruby Glass

The Ruby Glass
2008
Eight part series
Watercolor and pencil on paper
45” by 35”

Pfaueninsel Castle

Pfaueninsel Castle
2008
Watercolor and pencil on paper
60 by 42 inches

Pfaueninsel Drawings

First row from left to right:
The Uniped, King,  and the Moor
. 2008, 62 by 42 inches, watercolor and pencil on paper
The Black King Meets the Red Bird, 2008, 62 by 42 inches, pencil and watercolor on paper
The Queen and The Red Bird, 2010, 15 by 11 inches, pencil and watercolor on paper
Venus, 2008, 11 by 15 inches, pencil and water color on hand made paper

Second row from left to right:
Rubedo, Albedo, 2008, 11 by 7 inches, each, watercolor and pencil on hand made paper.
Alchemical Birth, 2008, 17 by 11 inches, watercolor on hand made paper
The Queen and the Red Bird, 2008, 9 by 7 inches

12) performanceruby glass3

Performance of the fairy tale at Galerie Zero, Ann and Philip Brehse

Fairy Tale in German

Fairy Tale in English

The Night Sea

The Night Sea series really began in Berlin in 1977.  In December the Northern darkness descends and one is reminded of a time when Medieval man stayed indoors for the month.  I found myself without a sun-filled landscape for the first time.  I spent the days in the Dahlem Museum looking at the dark Rembrandts and Goya’s; and was particularly struck by the late Goya etchings of the strange creatures flying through the night. A small stone relief of Jacob’s ladder with men going from the neither world to heaven to the neither world and back also caught my eye.  I though a lot about the descent of Orpheus, and Christ into the underworld.  I kept imagining myself at the bottom of the Bardo tankas, and wandering through the lower infernos of Bosch paintings.

There is a myth call the Night Sea Journey, the most popular being Jonah and the whale.  The hero is swallowed, and taken to the bottom of the sea.  He frees himself by lighting a fire, and emerges transformed by the experience.  I had a dream in which I was on an island and floating in a black sea in the dark.  Sea turtles and scientists were guiding me through the waters showing me the beauty of the sea at night.  The week I returned to New York from Berlin, I got a grant to go to Australia.  There I did my first night diving, and the Night Sea Series began.

Ach Realt

Ach Realte na Glanmhaighdine inaga ar an Uisge
(as the star of the pure Virgin glows on the waters)
1979
Pencil on paper on canvas
7’ 10” by 10’ 9”
The Night Sea JourneyThe Night Sea Journey
1979
Pencil on paper on canvas
108 by 165 ½ inches

Underworld

Night Sea
1979
Pencil on paper on canvas
7’6” by 4’ 8”
Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii
Hawaii State Collection

Night Sea Lithograph

The Night Sea
1978
Lithograph , hand colored with colored pencil
65 ¼ by 34 ¼ inches
Edition 30

The Red Sea

Berlin 1977

The Red Sea is a synonym for a process called tapas in alchemy: the heating of the waters. The marriage of fire and water may also produce a baptism by fire of sorts.

“It might be one of the paradoxes that the Red Sea, in contrast to the significance ordinarily attached to ‘mare”, is a term for the heating and transforming baptismal water and is thus an equivalent of the alchemical Aqua Pontica. St. Augustine says, “The Red Sea signifies baptism reddened by the blood of Christ, in which our enemies, namely our sins are drowned.”

“The recipe goes on to say hat this symbolic vehicle should be immersed in the sea of the unconscious for the purpose of heating and incubation, corresponding to the state of tapas, incubation by means of ‘self heating’,”

“The Red Sea is the water of death.”

C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis

Red Sea

The Red Sea
1977
Pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 19 ft.

The Red Sea has many symbolic components in alchemical literature:

Plants and coral

“In the lunar sea there is a sponge planted in the sea and moveth not from its place.  If thou wouldst handle the plant, take a sickle to cut it with, but have good care that the blood floweth not out, for it is the poison of the philosophers.”

Star Fish

Nicholas Caussin regarded the “fish” as a starfish ans describes it as such. This animal he says, generates so much heat that it only sets fire to everything it touches but also cooks its own food. Hence it signifies the ‘veri amoris vis inextinguibilis’ (the inextinguishable power of love).”

Jellyfish

“The round pool with the jelly-fish in it reprsents a three dimensional mandala, the self: wholeness as the goal to which points, the magnetic north which gives the traveler his bearings on the sea of the world.”

Les Pays Des Reves

Pays des Reves
1978
Pencil on paper on canvas
90 by 152”

Sulfersea for Michael Maier

Sulphur Sea for Michael Maier
1977
Pencil on paper on canvas
7 by 13 ft.

Resurrection Works

Resurrection has been a reoccurring theme in my work.  Osiris is the first resurrected god in mythology.  In the life of the individual we are always resurrecting the spiritual forces within ourselves, after periods of annihilation and defeat. The tomb is the first step; Christ is resurrected from the tomb as is Osiris. In 1980 I went to Egypt for the first time.  One night I had a dream about traveling to the end of the Nile Delta and decided to travel to Alexandria.  In Alexandrian I visited a tomb from the Coptic period with a mural of Osiris.  The dream and the experience ushered in a new period of creativity.  The Egyptian religion was an important prototype for the resurrection of a god, renewal, and the role of the feminine in the process.

Pyramid

Pyramid for Martin Hurson
1981
Pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

Osiris for Patsy O'Hara

Osiris for Patsy O’Hara
1981
Pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

Processional w-Resplendor

Lunar Birth and Processional with Resplendor, which are reproduced in the Mad Mother Series, show the theme of resurrection using the archetype of the child.  This archetype signals new beginnings, new possibilities, and new contents in the unconscious.

Hologram with White Butterflies

Hologram with White Butterflies
1991
25 by 12 inches

Coniunctio

The King and Queen, first fully clad and later naked, are the subject of many alchemical texts.  They are shown clasping left hands, showing their union to be an unconscious one. The partners then immerse themselves in the alchemical bath, thus allowing the force of love to engulf their conscious egos; in this state of passionate engulfment the psychosexual union (coniunctio) takes place.  This union brings forth a newly formed androgynous being, the Rebis.

Hermaphroditus

Hermaphroditus
1997
Colored pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

In Hermaphroditus the Veil of Veronica is held by the Rebis.  The Rebis represents  the product of a coniunctio; this hermaphroditic winged figure can represent a transitory state.  In the drawing the background is filled with a tower on fire, and a volcanic landscape. These hopefully also remind the viewer that the Rebis represents an unstable part of the process, with may go through many transformations.

Splender Solis

Splendor Solis
1995
Colored pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

My Splendor Solis is from a dream I had which closely resembled plate eight of the Splendor Solis, an alchemical manuscript.  In my dream there was a difference.  Instead of a black man (the Ethiopian) coming out of the foul smelling bog to marry the Queen of Heaven, in my dream it was a red man.  Here passionate love emerges from the bog, and the process becomes highly erotic.

Alchemical Doors

The Alchemical Doors for C. A. Meier
1991
Lithograph on Arches Paper, 350 gr, with metal leaf
4 Prints
180 cm X 91 cm
Edition 25

Alchemical Doors

C.A. Meier was Carl Jung’s right hand man and heir.  He was my teacher of alchemy for over twenty-five years in Zurich.   The Alchemical Doors represent four possible paths to the development of the soul.

  1. The Golden Child is not meant as a Christ figure, but is the divine child that exists as a potential in all people.  Sometimes this inner light is snuffed out through childhood trauma.  We all need to connect with this divine possibility which is part of us all.  the child represents possibility.
  2. The Silver Goddess is the divine feminine.  She is Aphrodite, positive Eros, positive human relationships and love.  Both men and women need to find this goddess within to help them develop their potential for love.  This silver goddess is surrounded by water, the flowing part of the psyche which breaks down our rigidity.
  3. The Copper Hand is our “hand we have been dealt”, out fate and our potential.  The lines on the hand represent our life.  Here we are presented with a meditation on how to take the fate we have been given and to transform it.  The copper tub is a symbol  of baptism. In ancient Rome, the “hand of the mysteries” was a bronze hand representing a person’s life in the mysteries.
  4. The Androgyne represents the union of the male and female half, called “the mystical marriage”.  Both men and women must find the counterpart, their other half within themselves before they can relate to the opposite sex in a profound way.

Solutio

The Solutio as a way of dislodging stuck complexes; the Soluto is linked to chemical liquefaction.  All that is stuck is put in solution to allow movement.  The personal ego is dissolved into its constituent psychic elements by the sulphurous waters of the collective unconscious.  Water is both an alchemical element, and a component in the process of the Solutio.  Dreams about the Solutio often involve waterfalls, tsunami waves, oceans, and being pulled into water.

Waterfall

Waterfall
1972
Pencil with gesso on paper
8 ½ ft. by 13 ½
The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The Waterfall Series

In 1972 my life went through a profound change.  After years of alcoholism I quit drinking and entered psychoanalysis.  My analyst showed me a series of 17 th century Chinese paintings of literati sitting by waterfalls, and told me the waterfall was symbolic of the phase of life in which I found myself. Flowing water, flowing emotion, tears in torrents, I cried every day, the tears became waterfalls. The water was also a symbol of the unconscious, and the first of the four elements. My first waterfall was sold to the National Gallery of Australia in 1973.  Two of the waterfalls were shown in the 1975 Whitney Annual, as women were emerging in the art world.

“Upon those who step into the same rivers different and again different waters flow.”

Hereclitus

The water changed, the waterfalls flowed into lakes, and the lakes into oceans.  Hereclitus’ doctrine of flux, is key to creativity.  I felt caught in this river and was and not sure where it was taking me in my early twenties.

In the therapeutic cycle solutio explores major transitions from one life period to another, and may come back at different times in the life of a person.  Images of the Solutio include swimming, baths, drowning, and baptism. One such dream produced the work, Bathing the Leprous Mother in the Waters of the Jordan River. This work is discussed in greater detail in the section on the Mad Mother Series.  By bathing in the Jordan river I was in the soup of my negative mother complex whish needed to be dissolved.

Leprous Mother

Washing the Leprous Mother in the Jordan River
2000
Pencil and watercolor and gold paint on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

Nigredo, Putrefactio & Mortificatio

When you see your matter going black, rejoice, you are at the beginning of the work.

Rosarium Philosophorum

Nigredo is the dark state, and is considered the most difficult and negative operation of the alchemical process.  It is the shadow of the sun.  Putrefactio, and Mortificatio are two different aspects of the NigredoPutreficatio means rotting, and Mortificatio means killing, hence it is associated with death.  In dreams figures like the dismembered Osiris usher in a rebirth.  In all religions associated with agricultural renewal, the rotting and death comes first.  The dead king may be buried in the fields to promote furtility.

Nigredo

Nigredo
1981
Colored pencil on paper on canvas
101 by 64 ½ inches

This series of work on the subject of the underworld was a breakthrough, and my first figurative work after the years of underwater landscapes.  It all began with a dream:

I was in the underworld in a land of the Bogomils, a Medieval Gnostic cult. The Bogomils were dualists in that they believed the world was created not by the God of Abraham, but by the Devil.  There were hanging corpses everywhere.  In the story The King and the Corpse, Heinrich Zimmer says corpses hanging around in dreams are complexes we must clear out, that have not decomposed.  In a long series of dreams, I was clearing out a veritable mortuary of complexes, and the like.  The Bogomils were heretics, this was for me a reference to my alchemical studies.

Nekyia

Nekyia
1980
Pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.

Moving these complex and corpses, became a major work of my unconscious and analytical work.  The work Daemon est Dues Inversus, comes from a line in Yeats which refers to this reverse side of God.

Daemon est Deus Inversus

Daemon est Deus Inversus
1980
Pencil on paper on canvas
8 ft. by 5 ft.

In my unconscious, underworld and underwater had merged.  I began a series of lithographs that terrified the collector who financed them.

Underworld

The Underworld
1980
Lithograph, hand colored
41 ½ by 30
Edition of 100

The Death of the King is a theme that I am still working with in my fairy tales. The king represents the ruling consciousness that must die and be replaced by the new, in the form of his son.  I first drew the king on a barque in the underworld as a rotting corpse. Here there is a movement out of the Nigredo and the Putrefactio, as the king begins a voyage through the underworld to be reborn like Osiris.

Vessel for Bobby Sans

Vessel for Bobby Sands
1981
Pencil on paper on canvas
101 ½ by 129 inches

Death of the KIng

The Death of the King
1998
Pencil on paper on canvas
9 by 14 ft.