Margarete Petersen Study - Father of Feathers - Transforming the Green Lion's Rage



  • I forsook the Green Lion's rage, as fiery breath, flying toward the sun. With leaden wings, I fell back down onto she who bore me. Mirrored in the black pupils of a toothless crone crouching between spitoon and spirits, I saw myself emprisoned in the Uterus of my ideologies. I saw the hypnosis of pictures. Pale, bloodless forms scampered through the twists and turns in my brain, and asked me questions whose answers they already knew. Endless word constructions, each one interlaced in another, could no longer confuse me. I feel the transformation of my identities. A theater of clouds, melodramatic and strange. I saw a rainbow-like shimmering on their fanned plumage.

    Come to silence amidst arrising and dying thoughts. Feel peace and relaxation in the square and the circle. Refined words sharp as swords wait for me in case of need.

    From my wife who penetrates everything, I came to know that the secret is to be discovered in clarity.

Link to image: Vater der Federn

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Rage of the Green Lion

What does Margarete Petersen mean by the "rage of the green lion?"

A google search reveals, the reference is to Alchemy. The Green Lion devouring the sun is vitriol -- conveniently not just a chemical substance, but also the word for corosive rage and fury. In Jungian symbology, (as explained on website, The Lions of Alchemy), "the alchemical "green lion" devouring the sun relates to the experience of consciousness being overwhelmed by violent, frustrated desires, often masked by depression."

Of course, alchemy cannot be discussed without also evoking the search for the secret of the "Philosopher's Stone", another kind of Holy Grail Quest. This on-line Article: Verdigris, Green Lion and Vitriol: The Basis of the Philosopher's Stone by Beat Krummenacher also explains that the Green Lion, and Vitriol are code for the original substance of the philosopher's stone
'Vitriolum' is a contraction of the initial letters of the following Latin sentence: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Inveniens Occultum Lapidem Veram Medicinam. Or in one of the possible translations: "See in the interior of the purified earth, and you will find the secret stone, the true medicine".

Perhaps this directive encoded in the symbol of the Green Lion - to "see in the interior of the purified earth" to find the secret of the philosophers stone, sheds light, on MP's reference to "the Secret" which will be found "in clarity". It also reminds us of the the work of freeing the Shadow.

In her blurb on the Ten of Coins, MP very nearly echoes this directive:
In the bowels of the earth, you will find what you are looking for, the treasure, the diamonds, radiant and pure, freed from dross and sediments.
--suggesting that delving into the innermost depths of the soul, (and facing the shadow), will reveal great treasures.

With the Father of Feathers (feathers/swords being more concerned with mental aspects) this delving within means quietly observing the ragings of the mind, to bring its fury to peace.

The Jungian idea of the psychological Shadow is further suggested from the Green Lion's association with the Red Lion --Green = shadow of Red -- the Green Lion is the beginning, from his blood will emerge the Red Lion -- the reddening and then the final transmutation -- (stages also symbolized by the Pelican of bleeding breast, then then Phoenix). Website Red pigments in Alchemy says:
There were many complicated and even magical steps to the preparation of this imaginary substance. The completion of this Opus Magnus (Great Work) was signalled by reddening of the mixture ("rubedo"). This being the reason for naming the Philosopher Stone "Red Lion" or "Great Red Water".

Through experiencing the vitriolic shadow, symbolized by the Green Lion, the treasure of the philosopher's stone --a higher, more integrated soul will be achieved.

I see no green or red lions depicted on this card. :( -- but there is a spray of green -- perhaps it is the green lions "breath"...

For more on red and green lions, see: Animal Symbolism in Alchemy


The Peacock's Tail

Using the "swiss cheese" method of deciphering this text...

MP poetically evokes the peacock's taill: "I saw a rainbow-like shimmering on their fanned plumage."

From the The Animal symbolism in Achemy website, I learned that the peacock refers to the midpoint in the cycle of color stages in the alchemical process, (each stage heralded by a particular animal.)

The website explains the different stages like this:
Blackening - Black Crow, Raven, Toad, Massa Confusa.
Whitening - White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton.
Greening - Green Lion.
Rapid cycling through iridescent colours - Peacock's Tail.
White Stone - Unicorn.
Reddening - Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel.
Final transmutation - Phoenix reborn from the fire.

The discussion (on the same site) of the stage of the peacock's tail sheds much light on its corollary meaning in the spirital journey:

At this point the alchemists would often encounter the Peacock's Tail, a sudden appearance of a rush of colours, an iridescence on the surface of the material in the flask, which made some think they had achieved their goal.

The dazzling beauty of this peacock stage suggests the temptation of succombing to the false Gods of pleasure and surface beauty, and failing pursue the richer, more ultimately nourishing depths of inner beauty.

It was a fleeting show of colour changes, that pointed to the fact that one was on the right path, and reabsorbed the energies released in initial emergence of the polarities. It was a midway point of the process, which could be seen as a false conclusion. Many people who have this experience in their inner life often falsely assume they have reached the end of the work, and attained inner transformation and enlightenment.

The inner vision of the Peacock's Tail, beautiful though it may be, is merely a digestion of the polarities of the black and white stage. These must be transformed further into spiritual tinctures, if we hope to have any permanent transformation within the soul.


Thank you for the fascinating and enlightening research, Firemaiden!

Traditionally, the Father/King/Knight of Swords has been elementally associated as "Fire of Air". Fire can be equated with the Will, and Air can be equated with Thought/Ideas. Thus the "fiery breath", as Margarete Petersen puts it. The active mind, constantly presenting / examining / inventing in a hypnotic stream of internal images, "each one interlaced in another" like dancing flames, like the fascinating iridescence of a peacock's tail / tale.

To get past the hypnotic enticement of the consuming fire, one may seek the silent center, the circle within the square, the infinite point at the center of each and all creation.

Much food/fuel for thought here... thanks again for fanning the spark!


Thank you joining in, Strange2. So glad to hear new voices! What you say about seeking the silent center, the circle within the square, reminds me of our discussion of the Wheel.

The fascinating irridescence of the peacock's tail can also be compared to the diamond of temptation on MP's Devil Card.


"See in the interior of the purified earth, and you will find the secret stone, the true medicine".

On the Polaris Qabalah website, under the section called "Powers of the Adept" [], it is said that the Philosopher's Stone is "Found in the body of the adept".

So the "earth" may symbolise the body, as indeed it traditionally does.

But this does not mean that we have to cut open our bodies in order to find the Stone; "the body" here is also symbolical.

Insight into the interior of the purified body will lead us to the secret stone.

"There are nine gates in the body: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, the mouth, the genital and the anus. In every gate, when the symptom of goodness is illuminated, it should be understood that one has developed the mode of goodness. In the mode of goodness, one can see things in the right position, one can hear things in the right position, and one can taste things in the right position. One becomes cleansed inside and outside. In every gate there is development of the symptoms of happiness, and that is the position of goodness."
[The Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 14, text 11, Purport.]

The "interior of the body" is, of course, the "soul". I believe, reflecting on personal experience, that the vision of the secret stone pertains to Chesed, which is the highest Sephira below the Abyss. It is the sphere of the Brahmin, even as Geburah is the sphere of the Warrior, and Netzach and Hod of the Vaisya and Sudra [peasant and servant] respectively. Note that sattva, goodness, binds to lower knowledge: I consider the vision of the secret stone to be a lower form of the Vision of Light, the inexhaustible Source of the Light that pertains to Kether.