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Mercurial ramblings on a page less travelled

So I headed off on a tangent on another page and it made its way here. This information may interest you, it may not, but I've kept it all because I have some idea it's useful to someone somewhere.

Edit: in 2005, this page seems a little skew-wiff to me now but I think there's enough merit in it to leave it be, for the meantime at least.

Mercury, mythology, Marilyn - but nothing unravelled

During the 'Holy Wood' album era (2000 - 2001), Marilyn's concept character was called 'Mercury'. But because I arrived on the scene whilst the tour for Holy Wood was in full flow, I missed the build up to and main part of this era, including the fan discussion and speculation. So this page is me making notes on mercury and its references in various forms.

My notes

In alchemy, mercury was considered a catalyst for turning base metals into gold. I see Mr Manson's Mercury character, however, as a more literal catalyst of change, and Marilyn as the base material the catalyst worked upon. Were the sparks flying in the alchemy lab on those Holy Wood nights? And, as a gemini, should I be worried that my ruling planet is Mercury? The alchemical symbol for mercury, shown left, is comprised of the Venus/female symbol with an upwards pointing crescent moon sitting on top. In biology, the same symbol denotes hermaphrodite. Marilyn used a variation on this by placing a dot inside the circle and enclosing the whole symbol inside another circle (shown right). I know that a circle with a dot inside is an ancient representation of the sun but what did it mean to him?

In mythology, the Roman god Mercury is called Hermes by the Greeks. Mercury/Hermes was the gods' messenger and was also the god of commerce, travel, and thievery! Hermes and Aphrodite had a son, Hermaphroditus, who became joined in one body with a nymph. That story is the origin of the word 'hermaphrodite', meaning someone with the characteristics of both sexes.

Marilyn's previous persona - Omega - from the Mechanical Animals era, was pretty androgynous (another way of saying hermaphrodite) but is this also true of his Mercury one? Blurring the gender lines is a theme of his. Another little snippet is that Hermes, alias Mercury, is regarded in some ways as the founder of alchemy - hence a blurring of myth and reality.

More on mercury: here's a Manson quote from a broadcast on 15 December 1999, the day he introduced the mercury symbol. I came across this after I had written my own page:

"The symbol is most commonly used in alchemy. It represents both the androgyne and the prima materia, which has been associated with Adam (Kadmon), the first man. And all these things are major influences into the writing of the new album. I encourage you to do your own research on these,... "

You can do a little 'starter' research at the first four paragraphs of this offsite page: First Matter. Marilyn mentioned the prima materia - is this also the Fifth Element? - earth, air, fire and water being the first four. Does Bruce Willis know? The fifth element is also called the Quinta Essentia or quintessence. Can't remember where I got the next paragraph from but it's insightful:

To a theologian, Prima Materia is fundamental, ineffable God. To an alchemist, Prima Materia is the Philosopher's Stone, the magical substance which transmutes base metals into pure gold. To a philosopher, Prima Materia is the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

No matter what each individual considers to be Prima Materia, it is the figurative Holy Grail at the end of every human quest -- to learn the unknowable, to seek the unfindable, to do the impossible.

Another line I found is:

Prima Materia is said to be devine and filthy simultaneously.

Were they thinking 'Marilyn Manson' when they wrote that? I took it as a sign... surely synchronicity at its best.

I mentioned his (1998/99) Omega character earlier, who stemmed from the expression: 'from alpha to omega', which means: 'from beginning to end'. But there is a beginning and ending to each album as well as a beginning and ending over the three albums.

Manson has said the albums have a reverse order, meaning Mercury precedes Omega who precedes the Antichrist Superstar (ACSS). Which means ACSS is the end of the trilogy - or triptych as he calls it - rather than the beginning.

Incidentally, the traditional meanings of triptych are a writing tablet in three parts or a three-panelled picture or alterpiece, depicting a religious story.

Of course, each MM album has its own themes and is a thing in itself. Most of us could spend so long looking for connections across all three albums i.e. Antichrist Superstar (1996), Mechanical Animals (1998) and Holy Wood (2000) that we forget to enjoy the music. To interpret any or all of them, you'd need to gather up many building blocks and become absorbed with their assembly.

But don't get dizzy trying to make anything out of all this - like I did. Let it travel round by itself then select something as it goes by. Like a revolving virtual sushi bar of Manson-related thoughts.

For now, I'm content to know that the albums do share conceptual themes and reflect both the development of the band and the prevailing mindset of their leader. He has woven his own interests, philosophies and preoccupations into them.

I think Manson himself is still finding things to understand within it all. Any type of creative process leaves elements of mystery, even for the creator. Even more so for the audience.

Links to make you think

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fUSION Anomaly - Alchemy fUSION Anomaly is what they call themselves and they have a maddeningly interesting website. I think they are on something. Take a meander around the roots of alchemy with them.

Same people again. Another alchemical connection is that, in the UK, the Harry Potter book/film is called 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' (renamed 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' in America).
So read a little by fUSION Anomaly about 'the stone that transforms' - The Philosopher's Stone - because it's not really a stone at all. Unless you want it to be. has the biggest encyclopedia of graphic symbols on the Web.
sign for the planet Mercury

A link for mercury in the chemical/alchemical sense, from Chemsoc