Just another crazy LJ-er (inane_nana) wrote in hagaren_manga,
Just another crazy LJ-er
inane_nana
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Riza's tat.

Here be speculation on the meaning of her tatoo.



What if the tatoo could be understood by decomposing its parts? Like, you know, someone mentioned that Dies Irae is the text around the whole array and it is traditionally played for funerals. What if that could and the rest of the elements on her tatoo could be interpreted to understand the big picture of the array? I'm a terrible essayist so what follows is a lot of copy and paste (with links to the source when available online) and paraphrasing. I hope it doesn't turn out completely confusing. 


Decomposing Riza's array:

In the background, the intertwined snakes look suspiciously like the snakes in this Kundalinis ? image, just inverted and with a crown. I've read that these serpents in symbolize another variation of All is one One is All, (notably the interpretation of the nature of Ultimate reality) in which the masculine and the feminine (each represented by a snake) entertwine to become one and reach this 'ultimate reality'. The feminine is the first principle to activate the process (which would be why a non-alchemist, but strong woman like Hawkeye would be great 'recipient' for that tatoo, no?) but it is the conjunction of both the masculine and feminine that is the necessary step to 'unfolding of creation' (transmutation?). They also represent the sun and moon rotating around an axis (expressed as the all-importand spinal cord, which has crucial symbolic meaning on its own*.)
This pair of serpents are interesting because they cannot just 'reach the ultimate' on their own, and require meditation and the passage through different elemental stages in order to achieve/perform its goal/task.  Through meditation, the dormant serpents are said to awaken from their position at the base of the spinal cord and elevate several levels of conciousness until the male and female reach the Ultimate. In Riza's case, there seem to be only one or two lookps, both hidden under Roy's array, that may symbolize the levels of conciousness necessary.  The crowns on the snakes' heads seem to  re-inforce the idea of reaching the Ultimate at the end of the spiritual journey.

On top of these snakes, lies a cross, for which I cannot find a consistent meaning. The one symbol that could possibly make sense in the given context doesn't quite resemble our cross, is the this cross 0901which in astrological symbolism  is the graphic symbol for "matter, the earthly life, the plane of physical existence. Alchemists used the sign as one of the signs for the four elements represented by the four arms. Their point of intersection they perceived as coniunctio, quinta essentia, the fifth element, etc. In the philosophical theory of signs and symbol, the stem of the cross (the vertical beam) stands for the heavenly or spiritual (which, conveniently enough, follows the spinal cord), whereas the transverse beam represents the material plane of existence" (which in our case stretches to emcompass the array transversally). source

There are some of the meanings of 0901 in different systems: death, end and beginning (on coins and medals with reference to inscriptions), boundary (rows of crosses on maps), shoal (maps and nautical charts), church, chapel (maps, charts), north (astronomy). source   
There is also the Truth Cross that could  be a graphically sound image, but doesn't seem to bear much contextual meaning with alchemy (except the name. of course). Another symbolism of this cross that was closer to Arakawa's but do not seem to have any relevant meaning is St. George's cross  2832. In alchemy 2832 has sometimes been used to signify arsenic.source 1 source 2 If anyone can come up with different interpretations for the Truth Cross or St. George's cross, please speak up.


Roy's array has given me a headache, more than once. It's too complex to decompose, although I'm pretty sure someone successfully did so, either on fm_alchemist or right here. If someone can remember where it was, I'd reaaally like to read it again. To make it simple, and from what I could gather, we can make the safe assumption that his array's main task is to separate/control the (inflamable?) molecules from the environement and maintain fire for as long as the array is activated. It is located at the center of the array, right above the snakes  loops and at the center of the cross (see the meaning for both above).  If anything, it seems that the fire array is here to fuel to transformation by providing the fire necessary to reach the Ultimate. 
Fire is traditionally seen as an extremely important element in for religious purposes because it transfers earthly things to smoke that moves towards heaven. See Wikipedia's article on alchemical Calcination for more information on the process.
On an interesting note, at this stage we potentially have all the elements present with the cross (possibly the earth) and in Roy's array (which contain the elements for air3901, water2803 and fire2801).

Now you probably see what I'm trying to say here, but let's go even further, shall we?

The black sun at the bottom of the cross and marks the beginning of the final crossing between the snakes. I haven't seen anything regarding the Black sun specifically, but a fairly common interpretation of the sun in alchemic works is the element 'gold', the ultimate goal of the alchemist, who sought to transform base metals like lead into gold. I think it'the metaphorical meaning of Gold has been discussed many times, so I will refrain from beating your head over the thead with it, but yeah., this sort of transmutation can only be reached using the philosopher's stone.

The meaning of Dies Ireas is obscure to me, even though I feel that it should be obvious. I just don't get it. It litterally means Days of Wrath, and is a description of the Judgment and a prayer to Jesus for mercy. Not very cheery indeed. Then I thought of Envy's true form and how some of the souls inside of him cried for mercy (and seriously, all of them need mercy in order to finaly 'die' and reach wherever it is they should go). The gloomy nature of Dies Irae is not the only disturbin thing about the array. Everything about it seems used in the evil wrong way, from the snakes that descend instead of ascending, to the Sun that is black. I dunno, this doesn't look like the kind of thing good-guys would do.

So, is Riza the philosopher's stone? I doubt it. Is she like anime!David and does she (or will she) host the stone? I don't think so. Where did she get it, who damaged it and how did what it means in terms of Father's plans, Roy-tachi and what will happen next? I do not have a single clue. I admit that some of the sources mentionned seem a bit parital, but it was fun trying to understand the meaning of this tatoo, and I may be COMPLETELY OFF MY ROCKER and overthinking this whole matter. I guess we'll have to all wait and see, ne?
And to reward those who have read that far, here is an excerpt on the nature of the Stone for those who, like me,  would like to read more on the subject: 
Ok, Can't find a *single* excerpt that I think would be good. But here's the link to a very interesting work on the Philosopher's stone, for those who have time to waste  have no life want to know more. 



----
*I can explain the spiritual meaning of the spinal cord if someone asks, but y'all already prolly know what I mean. ;)

After writing all that, all I can think of is 'Oh boy, won't I look smart when Arakawa finally explains that the array has some sort of skin moisturizing properties? Darn


Thoughts, sugestions? Stones... anyone? I am sure typos abound, but I couldn't catch them all. Sorry about that. ._.


PS: eurogabby mentionned that the text around the  array may  not be Dies Irae. I  do not have a hard copy of the chapter myself, so I can't check, but  if someone could  check this fact and  let us know, that'd be great. For comparision purposes., the  text  goes as follows

Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla!
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.
Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus judicetur.
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit:
nil inultum remanebit.
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?
Rex tremendæ majestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.
Recordare, Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
ne me perdas illa die.
Quærens me, sedisti lassus:
redemisti Crucem passus:
tantus labor non sit cassus.
Juste judex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis
ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus:
supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meæ non sunt dignæ:
sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum præsta,
et ab hædis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis:
voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis:
gere curam mei finis.source
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