MOLY AND MANDRAGORA IN PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN SYMBOLISM
THE Greek frequenter of the mystery cults was driven by a longing to rise from out of the darkness into the light. The Christian found this longing assuaged in "the brightness of the children of God". But this ascent is a weary one, for in it we are transformed. In the course of it there takes place a purifying process which I will deal with under the name, "The healing of the soul", and the symbols which cryptically designate this process are the "soul-healing" flowers moly and mandragora. Antiquity lisped of these flowers in its myths and the Christian saw in them an intimation of Christian truth. For in the contrast between the blackness of the root of these plants and the brightness of their blossoms, the ancients saw a symbol of the spiritual division in man -- and it is a division that must needs be healed.
Man is the strangest of all the products of earth, for a great part of his being roots in chthonic darkness and it is only by means of the powers of this black root, as they pass through him, that he can spread before heaven the white flower that is the light of his conscious mind. For this reason there are rhizotomists, root- gatherers or herbalists of the spiritual life who show us how to change ourselves from a black root into a white blossom, but who warn us that even in the flower which Helios has kissed awake that primal power still has dominion, which, in accordance with the mysterious law of the spirit, has ascended out of the root. Man is two things at once: he is both root and flower. He stands everlastingly between Uranos and Gaia, between Helios and Chthon, between Hermes and Circe. He is something of everything. That