Jon Snow White: The Wet Path and the Dry Path of Alchemy

Once upon a time in midwinter, when the snowflakes were falling like feathers from heaven, a queen sat sewing at her window, which had a frame of black ebony wood. As she sewed she looked up at the snow and pricked her finger with her needle. Three drops of blood fell into the snow. The red on the white looked so beautiful that she thought to herself, "If only I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood in this frame."

Soon afterward she had a little daughter who was as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony wood, and therefore they called her Little Snow-White. And as soon as the child was born, the queen died.

Now that the last episode of season 5 has ended to much ballyhoo this leads us back to the discussion of Alchemy.  Alchemy is both the source of good things in this series and bad things.  The good things are that Alchemy has loads of fanciful imagery that lends itself to good storytelling.  The bad things are that the imagery is connected to an ironclad method that cannot be changed.  Not only can it not be changed certain stages of the great work can only be performed at certain times of the year at certain hours.  If you take that into account, it is no wonder the works based on this framework take forever.  I'm not jerking legs here.  When I tell you that I think the writers of these books are writing their stories according to procession of the stars.  It is required.

In my last post, I wrote about the riders.  And yes, I still do believe one will be Jon Snow or whoever he will be after he awakens from death.  Alchemy is filled with images of dead kings or queens being killed and reborn.  I've posted an illustrated picture example from an alchemical work called Atalanta Fugiens (notice the King being eaten by the wolf...ahem).  The death and rebirth process is a continual motif in the great work.  This is because, in the laboratory, the Alchemist would continually heat his/her material by either two formats breaking it down to its purest state. Then the Alchemist would reconstitute the purest prima materia into the stone.  

There were two paths to the stone according to alchemy called the wet path and the dry path.  The difference between the two was how the stone material was heated.  The wet path was used mostly for vegetative material but it can also be combined with mineral work.  The term "Secret Fire" in the wet path referred to the powers of chemical reaction during putrefaction of the plant material.  The dry path was for mineral work.  An iron mixed with an ore (stibnite) was heated at high levels of heat to force reactions at a faster rate.  The wet path took months, the dry path just days.  When alchemists spoke of the paths they referred to them as dragons.  The wet path was the way of the red dragon. According to this site, the path was also called the acetate path and/or vitriol path.  Vitriol was an oily substance, brilliant green in color.  The dry path was the way of the black dragon.

The reason why we are discussing these two paths is because in the Game of Thrones series, we are following two stones, Jon and Daenerys.  It is obvious which character is following the dry path of the black dragon.  Daenerys is following the quicker method.  Which is why her rebirth event occurred very early in the series and gave birth to her dragons.  It is said that the dry path is more dangerous to the alchemist not only in laboratory alchemy but in psychological/spiritual alchemy as well.  To force the ascendency to the stone too quickly can cause insanity.  In the lab, the dry path deals with hazardous substances that can cause instant death.

That leaves us the wet path which is being followed by Jon.  He is about to experience the end to the Nigredo.  His time with the Night Watch was equivalent to letting the secret fire chemically burn away his impurities.  The last would be purged with the stabbings.

Jon fell to his knees.  He found the dagger's hilt and wrenched it free.  In the cold night air the wound was smoking....
Martin, A Dance with Dragons, pg. 913

The Extraction of our Menstue, or Blood of our Green Dragon
Then increase your fire by little and little, till the fume which issueth be reddish; then continue the greater fire, until drops like blood come forth, and no more fume will issue forth; and when that leaveth bleeding, let it cool, or assuage the fire by little and little; and when all things are cold then take away the receiver, and close it fast suddenly, that the spirits vanish not away, for this liquor is called our blessed liquor: which liquor keep close stopped in a glass till hereafter. Then look into the neck of the retort, and therein you will find a white hard rime, as it were the congelation of a frosty vapour, or much like sublimate, which gather with diligence and keep it apart, for therein are contained great secrets which shall be showed hereafter, after the great work is ended.
Sir George Ripley

The creation of the green lion and drawing its blood is an important first process in the wet path as written by Ripley.  He later writes the Green Lion is mixed with a purified version of the Black Dragon called Dragon's blood.  The two will be allowed to sit in a flask for 14 days.  The material that results will then be separated into the 4 elements.

But what does this have to do with Jon?  Well he is a green lion at the moment.  His death occurs in the books at the time Tyrion is about to meet Daenerys (unlike the show which they have already formed a union).

Its the 14 days of lying in putrefaction that has me intrigued.  We have to take that into account when trying to foresee Jon's possible reawakening and by whom.  In regards to the television show, both actor and director have stated that Jon Snow is dead.  And there is no doubt that he is...for now.  Again Alchemy is all about death, rebirth and transformations.  This means, if we follow Ripley's cryptic instructions, Jon Snow will remain "dead" for awhile.

This brings me to why I've been quoting Snow White.  The fairy tale is an obvious Alchemical allegory from the red flags of three blood drops and Snow Whites colors of White, Red and Black.  Much like a Green Lion, Snow White eats an apple representing putrefaction and falls into a death trance.  The story indicates that she is "dead" for a long time.

They said, "We cannot bury her in the black earth," and they had a transparent glass coffin made, so she could be seen from all sides. They laid her inside, and with golden letters wrote on it her name, and that she was a princess. Then they put the coffin outside on a mountain, and one of them always stayed with it and watched over her. The animals too came and mourned for Snow-white, first an owl, then a raven, and finally a dove.

Snow-White lay there in the coffin a long, long time, and she did not decay, but looked like she was asleep, for she was still as white as snow and as red as blood, and as black-haired as ebony wood.

I think there have been conjecture on fan sites that are hitting close to the mark.  Jon's body will not burn in the fires set by the Night's Watch.  Nor will his body putrefy.  He will remain in a kind of living death and it will frighten the Night's Watch.  Will they protect his body out of superstition?

I do not think it is within Melisandre's power to raise him.  If she achieves anything it will be to induce into a living death...a coma.  Because again, the hint lies within Ripley's Alchemical allegory.  The green lion can only be raised with the blood of the black dragon.

Only Daenerys Stormborn will be able to awaken Jon Snow. Or whoever he may be when he awakens from death.  Just like the prince awakens Snow White in the alchemical fairy tale.

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