The Mind of the Raven is a photograph I made using some of the symbols gathered from alchemical texts. The raven is often symbolic of the nigredo stage in alchemy. The nigredo, or black stage, is the beginning when the old and vulgar material in which the Prima Materia lies hidden must die and rot away to make way for the next stages. The two fish in the head of the raven have a few meanings. First it is symbolic of the view that all this magick and myth come from the machinations of the mind. Consciousness is vast and teeming with all imaginable things. The fish are swimming in a circle or a spiral, a symbol of infinity. In Jungian analysis water and the ocean are symbolic of the unconscious mind and its unknowable depths.
The Book of Lambspring, another alchemical text, has a passage mentioning fish.
The Sea is the Body, the two Fishes are Soul and Spirit.
The Sages will tell you
That two fishes are in our sea
Without any flesh or bones.
Let them be cooked in their own water;
Then they also will become a vast sea,
The vastness of which no man can describe.
Moreover, the Sages say
That the two fishes are only one, not two;
They are two, and nevertheless they are one,
Body, Spirit, and Soul.
Now, I tell you most truly,
Cook these three together,
That there may be a very large sea.
Cook the sulphur well with the sulphur,
And hold your tongue about it:
Conceal your knowledge to your own advantage,
And you shall be free from poverty.
Only let your discovery remain a close secret.
The copy I’ve seen on the Alchemy Website has an illustration associated with it of two fish swimming in opposite directions in a river or inlet. The two fish are the soul and the spirit, that is consciousness, the connection to the divine, and the spark of animating life.
The raven as the beginning of the alchemical process of transformation already has in it the infinitude of the universe.