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The mandrake - a supposedly human shaped root epitomises the doctrine of signatures, the way that by analogy plants or substances could heal parts of the body, or conditions, in this case thought of as a cure-all, resembling the whole body.
Imagery is from a Greek alchemical manuscript, from the earliest days of western alchemy. The snake eating it's own tail, know as "Ouroborous" is a widespread symbol, referring to the constant recycling of matter and energy.
The mirrored "inversage" branches (and the "butterfly" blots in the background throughout the series, not to mention a leaf in itself) refer to the brain's recognition of symmetry as associated with organic life.
Many of the diagrams within the figures are from a 17th century alchemical manuscript, the Sylva Philosophorum. The word 'anima' at the centre of one of these, coincides with the mouth of the figure referring to the placing of a sacred word written on a piece of paper in the mouth of the Golem, (the figure made of clay by Rabbi Loew of Prague) which animated it.
At the heart is a doorway (photographed in Prague) giving a way in to a sense of interiority in the body, also referring to the dream symbolism of buildings, which can stand for the body or the self and the exploration of this in moving around the building. Also an engraving of a building in the feet section, from a manuscript by Athanasius Kircher, drawn from a description of a Mexican pyramid temple as discovered by Cortez. This was associated with the sacrifice of the human body and the power of spilt blood to invoke spirits or demons.
Alchemical stage - Putrefaction - the basic matter used in the work had to be rotted down, "composted" in order to extract it's essence.
Hands throughout refer to touch, contact, also connection to greater forces through correspondence of the lines and fingers to planetary correspondences.
The landscape head, from Kircher, refers to the connection and participation of humans with the landscape, to the Green Man of mythology (contained also in the whole leaf figure concept) also to the artist Arcimboldo and his analogy games of paintings of heads made up of fruits, vegetation, etc.
A rabbit's skull is underfoot, at the root of everything, referring to death. I originally hoped to find some space for images from the ossuary at Kutna Hora in Czech Republic, a gigantic memento mori.