A hermaphrodite is in Alchemy, the figure of a merged man and woman, symbolizing the conjunction or marriage of opposites. The hermaphrodite is also known by its Latin name, rebis, meaning “double thing.”

In Greek mythology, Hermaphrodite is an androgyne (man and woman) that was born to Hermes and Aphrodite. Alchemical emblems represent the hermaphrodite as the product of the union of the king and the queen, representing sulphur and mercury, who merge in a bath.

Sol and Luna (sun and moon) also are representations of alchemical opposites. The hermaphrodite is the culmination of the Great Work: the philosopher’s stone. The hermaphrodite combines all the characteristics of the opposites, spirit and matter, soul and body, masculine and feminine. It is whole and perfect, complete unto itself, and able to reproduce itself. It is the “one in all” and the “all in one.”

Carl G. Jung said the alchemical symbol of the crowned hermaphrodite represents the self, which transcends ego consciousness.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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