Known as the Seal of Cagliostro, this unusual symbol depicts a serpent with an apple in its mouth, impaled with an arrow. This was found amongst the personal effects of Count Cagliostro upon his death in 1795. While the symbol has obvious alchemical elements, its precise meaning is unknown. Nineteenth century occult writer Eliphas Levi has this to say regarding this emblem:
As explained by the cabalistic letters of the names Acharat and Althotas, it expresses the chief characteristics of the Great Arcanum and the Great Work. It is a serpent pierced by an arrow, thus representing the letter Aleph, an image of the union between active and passive, spirit and life, will and light. The arrow is that of the antique Apollo, while the serpent is the python of fable, the green dragon of Hermetic philosophy. The letter Aleph represents equilibrated unity. This pantacle is reproduced under various forms in the talismans of old magic. . . . The arrow signifies the active principle, will, magical action, the coagulation of the dissolvent, the fixation of the volatile by projection and the penetration of earth by fire. The union of the two is the universal balance, the Great Arcanum, the Great Work, the equilibrium of Jachin and Boaz. The initials L.P.D., which accompany this figure, signify Liberty, Power, Duty, and also Light, Proportion, Density; Law, Principle and Right. The Freemasons have changed the order of these initials, and in the form of L.’.D.’.P.: . they render them as Liberte de Penser, Liberty of Thought, inscribing these on a symbolical bridge, but for those who are not initiated they substitute Liberte de Passer, Liberty of Passage. In the records of the prosecution of Cagliostro it is said that his examination elicited another meaning as follows: Lilia destrue pedibus: Trample the lilies under foot; and in support of this version may be cited a Masonic medal of the sixteenth or seventeenth century, depicting a branch of lilies severed by sword, having these words on the exergue: Talem dabit ultio messem – Revenge shall give this harvest.
The image was later incorporated into the emblem of the Hermetic Brotherhod of Luxor, an early occult fraternity.
|The original Bronze Talisman|