salamander A lizardlike amphibian that likes to live in moist places. In mythology the salamander is a poisonous creature that is able to live in fire. Pliny said that the salamander “seeks the hottest fire to breed in, but quenches it with the extreme frigidity of its body.” In Alchemy the salamander is a symbol of the Prima Materia. In the alchemical process, it plays the role of helping the substance under transformation to give up its secret fire, which will help the Philosopher's Stone claim its final power, as this alchemical verse describes: [The Salamander] is caught and pierced So that it dies and yields up its life with its blood. But this, too, happens for its good; For from its blood it wins immortal life, And then death has no more power over it. An emblem of the salamander in fire appears in Atalanta fugiens (1618) by MICHAEL MAIER. “As the Salamander lives in the Fire so does the Stone,” says Maier. The salamander symbolizes SULPHUR and the Secret of the Fire. The Secret Fire, corporified as SALT, is the hidden Sulphur that is the “Philosophick Tincture.”
The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written byRosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.