Nazari’s Genealogical Tree

March 28th, 2010

A woodcut diagram by Giovanni Battista Nazari from his 1599 Three Dreams on the Transmutation of Metals (McLean’s edition, translated by Doug Skinner).

Narrates the dreaming protagonist before Raymundus’s arch: “Although I looked over this construction with great delight, and reflected upon its occult secrets, my mind could not climb high enough to discover its meaning. Lost in these thoughts, I raised my eyes again toward the divine edifice; and saw, in the circular frieze of celestial lapis lazuli, these words, engraved and gilded: OUR SON THE KING HAS THREE FATHERS: THE FIRST CAUSES GENERATION, THE SECOND MULTIPLICATION, AND THE THIRD PERFECTION; AND OUR SON IS A POWERFUL KING, WHO FEARS NO OTHER KINGS.

“These words stimulated my desire to understand all of this; so that I could go no further. I gently asked the blessed Damsel to explain the structure, and she replied, ‘Pilgrim, follow me behind the locked door, and I will show you the explanation that you ask.’

“When we arrived, she opened the door with her occult secrets; we entered, and she showed me a large stone of  polished marble, on which I saw a description of the genealogical tree of the aforesaid king, with this diagram” (p119).

Nazari’s genealogical tree, p122. Click for larger version.

“The more this picture confounded me, the more I wanted to learn its meaning. Whereupon the gracious Damsel, seeing me so puzzled, said, ‘I know, my Pilgrim, that you would like to learn the meaning of the structure that you saw, and I find this desire of yours worthy of your request. Listen, then, and know that my explanation of it will also clarify the wonderful work that you saw in the middle of the flowering field; for those words engraved in the frieze of the circular lapis lazuli are the writings of our faithful compatriot N.; which concern the nature of those three fathers, who you can see inscribed on the tree, marked with the letters D, E, and F.’

“‘But come to the fundamental point of our argument: first you must know who engendered these fathers, who they are, and the nature of them. To begin with, then, let me tell you that our Chaos (B) begat the first father, and that this Chaos is the son of Nature (A). This first father was already mother of the second father of our king, Chaos (B) being the father. This mother (G) does not generate; the father does.’

“‘Let us proceed to the second father, who is the cause of the multiplication of the son, our king. And I tell you that he is the son of our Chaos (B). This son is the father and brother of the first father: thus, the first and second fathers are brothers; they are not, however, only two sons, two fathers, and two brothers to our king, but also one son, one father, and one brother. This father was also the mother of the third father, Chaos being the father: for this mother does not generate; the father does.’

“‘The third father is the cause of the perfection of our king, our son; this father is generated from the second father, by means of Chaos (B), his father and brother, but is still brother to the second father. Therefore, they are not only three fathers and three sons to Chaos (B), and three brothers, but a father to our king, a brother, and a son to Chaos (B). Our Chaos (C) has six sons, who are not only his sons, but brothers and sons.’

“On hearing the excellent Damsel’s obscure explanations, I felt as if I too had become a Chaos, from my confusion; for her words scaled the highest limits of the natural art of philosophy, to heights that reason can barely attain. Eager for a clearer explanation of all this, I humbly asked the gracious Damsel, who gently replied as follows.

“‘You will learn, Pilgrim, that these three Fathers, united with their wives (who are begotten by the fathers of our king, our son), and who are not only three, but one single wife, and one husband, beget this son, our most powerful king, who is very fertile in the begetting of countless offspring. And this divine mystery happens in this way: the first youthful father (D), united with his wife and daughter (G), who is white when hidden and black when revealed, is the cause of generation.’

“‘The second father, similarly united with his wife and daughter (H), who is red when hidden and white when revealed, is the cause of multiplication: that is, he is the reason that our king, our son, is so gifted in virtues, and so filled with good, that he can multiply the virtues and good of his other brothers, and destroy their every infirmity.’

“‘The third father, not unlike the others, united with his wife and daughter (I), who is citron when hidden and red when revealed, is the cause of perfection: that is, he is the reason that the king, our son, is born of such perfection that he can perfect his imperfect brothers by the power of his own perfection.’

“The Damsel pursues her explanation; for greater clarity she gives the meaning of each letter or number noted on the tree sculpted on the stone, as follows.

A. Nature generates our Chaos B and C. The former begets the three fathers D, E, and F; the latter generates six sons.
B. Our Chaos has three sons and three daughters, who are sisters and brothers.
C. This Chaos has six sons, who are brothers and sons.
D. The first young father, generating his wife, is the cause of generation.
E. The second father, generating his wife, is the cause of multiplication.
F. The third old father, generating his wife, is the cause of perfection.
G. The first young wife, to the first father.
H. The second middle-aged wife, to the second father.
I. The third old wife, to the third father.
K. Chaos, father of the daughters, fathers, and sons of our Chaos.
L. The third powerful king, contracting, multiplying, and perfecting his brothers.
1. The mother alone.
2. The father alone.
3. Because of them.
4. The first father, young and saffron.
5. The second father, virile and pure white.
6. The third father, old and white.
7. Chaos B and K: the same thing.
8. The first wife, born in Aries.
9. The second wife, born in Cancer.
10. The third wife, born in Libra.
11. Chaos B and C: the same thing.
12. Because of the fathers.
13. Because of the mothers.
14. The white brother.
15. The red brother.
16. The black bother.
17. The sparkling white brother.
18. The ashen brother.
19. The pure white brother.

“When the honest Damsel had finished speaking, I, unable to fully understand her explanation, asked for an example to clarify it. And she, willing to satisfy my request, replied:

“‘My Pilgrim, if you consider the profound secrets of nature, you will see that this king, our son, is generated by the first father (D), multiplied by the second (E), and brought to perfection by the third (F); although there is but one father, who generates, multiplies, and perfects. But let me offer an example.’

“‘Water and flour without yeast is not true bread; thus bread requires water, flour, and yeast. In like fashion, just as neither flour and yeast without water, nor water and flour without yeast, nor water and yeast without flour will generate bread; so too we cannot make our bread without our water, our flour, and our yeast, all first created together. We see, therefore, that our water is the cause of generation, our yeast of multiplication, and our flour of perfection; all of which bring our bread into being. And because our flour and water are created together, and our yeast with our flour and water, we can determine that our water is our flour, and that our flour and water are our yeast, except for their form…’

“‘It was not without some mystery that N. had the aforementioned sentence inscribed into the circular stone. Furthermore, you should know that Raymundus has put all of the science of my magistery into the aforesaid structure, in imitation of the alter to the god of Hermes, which you saw earlier. But this work of Raymundus’s explains that of Hermes, and vice versa; therefore, if you know the hidden secrets of the numen of Hermes, you need no further explanation. But let us move on'” (p119-124).