Death Alchemy Symbol

death alchemy symbol
The death alchemy symbol is meant to look like a human skull. It was used to show caput mortuum or "worthless remains" after a chemical process occured. 

What Does the Death Alchemy Symbol Mean?

The death alchemy symbol can be referred to as the nigredo, which refers to the time when the prima materia begins to decompose. This results in a useless product, the previously mentioned “worthless remains.” Worthless remains or caput mortumm is represented by a dead head, or a circle with three dots inside of it.

death alchemy symbol
The death alchemy symbol.

Alchemy Symbols And Their Meanings

Alchemy symbols have been a part of scientific and occult studies for centuries. Alchemy is an attempt to study different natural elements, and the study first appeared in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt.

But later, other parts of the world, including India, Europe, and the Middle East, also started alchemy studies. Alchemists use different symbols, and they have specific meanings. Here we’ll look into different alchemical symbols and what they mean.

What is Alchemy?

Alchemy is the study of metallurgy, which is associated with analyzing metals, especially gold. Alchemists studied the transmutation of different metals into newer elements. They primarily studied the magical formula of transforming Lead and other metals into gold.

Alchemy is also known as chemical science and has been practiced since Medieval times. During the process of alchemy, the practitioner gains special knowledge that gives them the ability to cure diseases.

People in ancient times tried to gain information about chemical compounds and their interactions. The primary purpose of alchemists was to discover ways to transmute low-value metals into gold.

The Mythical Philosopher’s Stone was one of the primary symbols of alchemy studies. It was believed that the stone could change base metals into precious metals and was also considered the elixir of life.

They created precious metals like gold by mixing different metals on the Philosopher’s Stone. And their ultimate purpose was to transform Lead into something extraordinary and find the secrets of eternal life for its user.

Additionally, alchemists also strove to discover the elixir of eternal youth.

While alchemy explored aspects of chemical science, it was also rooted in mythology.

Common Alchemical Symbols

There are different Alchemical symbols, and we can categorize them into different types. In the following section, I have segregated the symbols per their use.

Essential Alchemy Elements

Tria Prima

The Tria Prima, or the Three Primes, is one of the main symbols of alchemy. It represents the geometric triangle where two elements are combined to produce the third element.

In the alchemical knowledge, the three primes are- Mercury, Sulfur, and Salt. Alchemists worked with these three elements to thicken and produce new elements, and the process is known as Solve Et Coagula. 

The three elements- fire, water, and earth also represent the Tria Prima.

These three elements have a symbolic meaning of- human nature, the existential realm, and the aspects of the psyche. Let’s take a detailed look into these Three Primes separately.


Mercury is the air element. Additionally, it represents the ego, the Father of the Holy Trinity, and the mind. Mercury is a planetary metal that can change from liquid to solid.

The potential to change states represents the transcending state between life and death. Mercury is represented by the symbol of a serpent or snake. Moreover, it’s a sign of cosmic womb and feminine energy.


Sulfur is the fire element representing the holy spirit and the human spirit. It also symbolizes the superego of humans that reflects the inner conscience.

The people of China and Egypt have used sulfur since ancient times. And the smell of sulfur is described as Hell in the Bible and Torah.


The third element of the Tria Prima is salt. Salt represents- the ID of the human psyche, earth & water, the Son of the Holy Trinity, and the human body & the physical matter. Salt also represents condensation and crystallization.

death alchemy symbol
These are the alchemical symbols of the elements that make of the Tria Prima.

Seven Planetary Metals

The seven planetary base metals are- Lead, iron, tin, copper, gold, Mercury, and silver. Alchemists associated these seven planetary metals with seven planets, seven days of the week, an organ in the body, and celestial objects.

Even though our solar system has eight planets, alchemists studied the seven planets associated with their alchemical processes. This is because, back in the day, only seven planets were visible to the naked eye.

Here is what the symbols of seven planetary metals stand for-

  • Lead- Lead was associated with the planet Saturn and represented Saturday and the spleen in the human body. A cross with an underlaid crescent is the symbol of Lead.
  • Iron- Iron corresponds to Mars, Tuesday, and the gallbladder in the human body. It’s also considered a symbol for the male.
  • Gold- Gold represents the Sun, Sunday, and the heart in human organs. It was the most important alchemical symbol because gold represented ultimate perfection.
  • Silver- Silver corresponds to a crescent moon, Monday, and is the symbol for the human brain.
  • Mercury- Mercury represents Wednesday and the mind. This metal is also known as quicksilver because of its similarity with silver metal. Alchemists believed that Mercury was the center of all metals, and when combined with other metals with appropriate proportions, it led to the creation of gold. Mercury is also associated with the planet Mercury.
  • Tin- Tin represented the planet Jupiter, Thursday, and was related to the human liver. The symbol of tin looked pretty similar to the number 4.
  • Copper- Copper was considered a female symbol. It was associated with Venus, and it represented Friday and human kidneys. Copper’s symbol has a circle with a cross underneath.

Four Element Symbols

The four primary element symbols of alchemy are fire, water, earth, and air. People from ancient times considered that the planet is made up of these four elements, and they hold supreme powers. They even believed that these four elements can create new elements as well.

Fire Symbol

The upward triangle is the fire symbol. The symbol represents heat, anger, dryness, passion, hate, and masculinity. The symbol of fire is represented by the colors red and orange.

Water Symbol

The water symbol is the opposite of the fire symbol, an inverted triangle. The water symbol represents calmness and coldness, and also femininity. Blue is the color of the water symbol.

Earth Symbol

The earth and water symbols are similar. The inverted triangle also depicts the earth symbol, but the triangle is struck with a horizontal line. Green and brown colors represent the earth symbol. The symbol is associated with sensations, physical movements, coldness, and dryness.

Air Symbol

The symbol of air is represented with an upward triangle stuck by a horizontal line. The air symbol represents warmth and wetness.

In addition to the symbols I mentioned, there are a lot of alchemical symbols, for example:

  • Zinc Oxide- Alchemists used it to create a substance called white snow or Philosopher’s wool. They did so by burning zinc.
  • Arsenic- Arsenic is represented by the symbol of the swan. It was also a widely used metal to create different substances.
  • Phosphorus- It was considered a symbol of illumination by alchemists because of its ability to capture light. A triangle sitting on top of a double triangle symbolizes phosphorus.
  • Bismuth- The symbol of Bismuth looks similar to an eight. It was a similar metal to tin and Lead.
  • Magnesium- Magnesium was another essential element in Alchemy. It was a symbol for eternity.
  • Potash or Potassium Carbonate- There are different symbols for Potash, and the most common among them is a rectangle sitting on top of a cross. Potassium Carbonate was a pervasive substance used in alchemical processes.

If you found this article interesting, be sure to check out this article on the symbolism of the number 5.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

Recent Posts