Although the front cover illustration does not mean anything Derek Riggs said that it was simply a random collection of ideas that came to him and that he put on the canvas the album booklet contains some puzzling symbols. These symbols accompanying each song have been added to every format of the album releases throughout the years and cannot therefore have been placed there randomly for mere decorative purposes. Their association with the songs indicate that they complete their significance.
Moonchild - The OuroborosThe 7th son is not born yet andLucifer, knowing what powers the child will have, threatens the motherand tries to scare her into killing the unborn one. He obviously doesnot want the birth of a child who, as a man, will be able to tip thebalance between Good and Evil. In the book, the seventh son is born ina boat in the middle of a river, with his whole family aboard. Satantries to drown them to prevent the birth. The eldest brother falls inthe river. If he dies before the Seventh Son is born, the child will bevoid of his powers. The eldest son manages to hang on to life longenough for the child to be born, and then dies. One more dies, one morelives, one baby cries, one mother grieves. This might have something todo with the water element on the front cover.
'Moonchild'features the ouroboros ("tail eater" in Greek), a symbol that firstappeared in Egypt as early as 1600 BC (and independently inMesoamerica) and from where it moved to the Ph?nicians and then to theGreeks and other civilisations. The serpent biting its tail is found inother mythologies as well, including Norse myth, where the serpent'sname is Jormungandr, and in Hindu, where the dragon circles thetortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world.
Alternate spellings include: oroborus, uroboros, and oureboros
Infinite Dreams - The CaduceusIt is assumed that this songdeals with the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son's father, a seventh sonhimself, and with the nightmares that plague him before the birth ofhis powerful child. He is experiencing increasingly frightening dreamsas the birth approaches, resulting probably from the dawning of thepowers to come. The nature of the dreams fills him with anxiety andunanswered questions.
Thesymbol here is a caduceus (kerykeion), the legendary herald's wand ofthe Greek God Hermes (Roman, Mercury). This symbol is nearly universaland can be found in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, where it is always asymbol of harmony and balance. The caduceus has been mistakenly used asa symbol of the medical industry in the place of the wand of Asclepius(Asculapius), the Greek God of healing and medicine. The wand of Hermesis winged, and entwined with a pair of serpents; whereas the Asclepiuswand is not winged, and has only one serpent. The latter has been atraditional symbol of the medical profession for millennia.
The following link makes an interesting read about the Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius.
Inthe Hermetic Tradition, the caduceusis a symbol of spiritual awakening,and has been likened to the Kundalini serpents of Hindu mysticism'Revelations' here again!
Theonly caduceus in history depicted being held by a hand is that ofJohann Froben (14601527), who printed the first translation of the NewTestament into Latin from his friend Desiderius Erasmus. It alsofeatured a bird ontop of the caduceus. According to Erasmus, themeaning given to the symbol from Froben came from Jesus' warning to theapostles in Matthew: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst ofwolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves".
Itis interesting to note that, in the Seventh Son booklet, the snakes donot face each other as usual, but look in opposite directions. This ishow the caduceus is represented in the Kaballah, where the snakes resttheir heads on the spheres of Mercy and Severity of the Tree Of Life.
Accordingto the Zohar, Life is quite litterally a dream. The Kabbalah considersour physical world an illusion, a temporary residence, and not truereality 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' anyone? Our world is said to be just oneof many dream worlds and dimensions that separate us from the ultimatereality. These other dimensions are thought to be accessible in avariety of ways, one of which being through the dream state.
TheKabbalah further explains that when the body is in slumber, the chainsof physical existence are suddenly broken. The soul is now free toascend to a high place in the spiritual atmosphere where it receivesnourishment, power, and recharge. During this "metaphysical tune-up",the soul is supposed to be in a realm beyond time and space. Past,present, and future are unified into one and he panorama of a humanlife span is fully displayed from birth to death. Thus, in addition togetting a recharge, the soul often catches sight of events that arecoming our way, both positive and negative, these glimpses being thenfiltered down to the body, where they take the form of dreams. This isprobably what the dreamer is experiencing in 'Infinite Dreams'.
As the visions become harder to tackle, thecharacter who experiences them seeks advice and consults an oldprophet. The associated symbol is that of the moon, related both towisdom and to madness.
Can I play With Madness - The Moon
TheIndo-European root words for both "moon" and "mind" were manas, mana,or men, which represented the Great Mother's "wise blood" in women whowere thought to be governed by the moon. The pre-Roman Latin goddessMenrva (Minerva) is said to have come from mana or men, and it ispossible that we inherited such words as mentality, menstrual,menology, mensuration, mentor, menage (a matrilineal household), omen(a revelation from the moon), and amen (the moon of rebirth).
Theword "lunatic" is derived from the Middle English (ca.1290) wordlunatik, itself taking its roots from Old French lunatique, and fromLatin lunaticus (from luna, moon). Anglo-Saxon monandaeg, of course,stands for moons day and became Monday, while the Roman name for thisday was dies lun?, "moons day".
Inmonotheism the Lunar sphere is believed to be the domain of Satan, Jinnand Demons. The Solar sphere, on the other hand is the source of life,God. The solar association stems from very primitive religion, sunworship and the association with the night time, the moon, is thereforeas old as religion itself. The night time, the dark, has always beenassociated with the unwanted elements of religion: that which defeatsthe sun.
In alchemy, theaim has traditionally been to create a potion that would enable anyoneto live forever. The Moon, a symbol of death, is silver and the Sun,the symbol of life, is golden. The Moon then was also supposed torepresent the soul of the alchemist himself, to be worked on andtransformed by its union with the Sun.
Plutarchis quoted as saying, "The effects of the moon are similar to theeffects of reason and wisdom, whereas those of the sun appear to bebrought about by physical force and violence." We have with 'Can I PlayWith Madness' both a mention of the wisdom of the Moon (the Prophet)and a descent into lunacy.
The Evil That Men Do - The Pelican
This bird exemplifies thesacrificial love of a parent for its offspring. The mother pelican'shabit of reaching into her pouch to extract food for her young led tosome misunderstanding amongst early peoples. They believed that theparent bird was tearing open its breast to feed its babies on its ownblood.
Legendsabound in which the father pelican revives his deceased young bytearing open his heart and drenching them with his life's blood. Insome, the mother inadvertently smothers the children with her abundantcaresses. In others, the babies die of weakness, are killed by snakes,or treat the father so insolently that he murders them in a rage. Ineach case, the father, seeing that his children are dead, mourns themloudly for three days and then revives them at the cost of his ownlife. The resurrected young awake full of health and goodness. Theselegends serve as allegories for the resurrection of mankind in Christand the purifying sacrifice of blood and water which flowed from thewound in His side. During the Middle Ages, many artists placed apelican with its nest on top of the cross.
Untilthe 18th century, the Christ-pelican was almost always portrayedpiercing itself on the right side of its breast. This imagery was drawnfrom a vague interpretation of Ezekiel's prophecy, "...the water(Christ's blood and water) was flowing from under the right side of thetemple (Christ's body)... and it shall be that every living thing thatmoves, wherever the rivers go, will live..." [Ezek 47:1 & 9parenthesis added] Later, Freemasonry would use a pelican piercing itsleft side as a symbol of the self-sacrifice required of its members.Many artists and craftsmen were unaware of the significance of theright side of the breast and the pelican of the Free Masons beganappearing in Christian art and churches.
Thereare armorial terms which apply only to the pelican who is depicted withher wings raised, her neck embowed, pecking at her own breast, fromwhich drops of blood are falling. In this posture, the bird is blazonedas "vulning herself". But if she is standing on her nest and nourishingher babies with her blood she is described as being "in her piety".
Anotherpelican myth is that it would eat only the smallest amount of foodnecessary to maintain life. It therefore became symbolic of those whofast and/or strive for spiritual purification.
Whateverthe case may be, the symbol represented in the booklet does not showthe pelican's offsprings and she is therefore "vulning herself". Thiscould represent the final sacrifice of the Seventh Son's father whodies before the child is born.
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son - The Eight-Pointed Star
The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is born, surrounded by his family, and with the forces of Good and Evil looking on. The associated symbol is an eight-pointed star representing Venus. The name of Morning Star for Venus comes from the fact that this planet it is not actually a star is the first celestial object to appear at nightfall, as well as the last visible one at dawn. It symbolises the divine supervision upon the birth of night and day, of evil and good.
The eight-pointed star is a symbol of the Mesopotamian Goddess Inanna, also known as Ishtar. The eight points represent the movements of the planet Venus associated with this Goddess, a planet that is also a symbol of both death and rebirth.
Inanna is represented as a warrior-goddess, with bow and quiver, or as a fertility symbol, naked with a child in her arms. She is "all woman": warrior, lover, mother... and she's been to Hell and back! Often, she can also be seen holding a caduceus. She is thought to have been the inspiration for the Greek goddess Athena and for the Virgin Mary of the Christian mythology.
The occurrence of this symbol linked to the birth of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son seems to indicate that the forces of fertility are ensuring that the child is born with any problems, and also foretell of battles to come.
The Seventh Son has chosen the side of Goodversus Evil. Lucifer tries once again to win him over, this timethrough other means. Lucifer prepares a disaster to the village,knowing that the Seventh Son will foresee it and try to warn theothers. The Seventh Son tells everyone of his prediction it and triesto protect the villagers from the oncoming disaster. Lucifer made asuccessful educated bet on the nature of Mankind: the villagers do notbelieve the Prophet and mock him. After disaster has struck, they turnagainst the Seventh Son, accusing him of bringing a curse with hisfalse predictions. Lucifer now hopes that this ungratefulness will makethe Seventh Son realise the true nature of his fellow humans andrethink his decision on the side he has chosen
The Prophecy – The Winged Disc
Theaccompanying symbol is that of the winged disc, the All-Seeing Eye,symbol of the higher clairvoyance. In India this All Seeing Eye wascalled the Eye of Siva [a.k.a. Satan]. The Egyptians represented Osirisby the symbol of an open eye. It is the Eye that never sleeps, probablyalso representing, as in the Ancient Mysteries, the higher vision. Thissymbol was revered by the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptiansand other later empires for thousands of years. Its presence adornedthe temples and palaces of gods and kings, and is often depictedsymbolically hovering over ancient battle scenes. It is the most copiedsymbol in human history: anything from the american Eagle to theOrthodox Christian representation of the Ressurection stem from thisimage. Symbol of divine supervision, protection or reign, it was mostprobably inspired from the rings around the sun which were visibleduring solar eclipses..
The Clairvoyant - The Chalice with Snakes
Human ungratefulness and the futility of trying touse his powers for good have taken a great toll on the Seventh Son'sheart. As his courage is diminishing, he understands the futility offighting for the ungrateful humans and thus, having lost his cause, hisgreat powers are beginning to overcome him, the young boy has startedto be scared of them once again. he is scared that he will no longer beable to control them. It is a great test for the power of the SeventhSon.
The symbol here refersto the legend of St John the Evangelist the presumed author of thefourth gospel and, by tradition, of the Apocalypse who, while atEphesus, was given a cup of poisoned wine to drink. Before drinking, heblessed the cup and the poison departed the cup in the form ofserpents. This represents therefore a crucible of Faith and Power, atesting
Only The Good Die Young - The Alchemical Symbol for Sulphur
The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, in what seems likea suicide note, sides with the Devil and spits at humanity's hypocrisy,foretelling the doom of all and questioning the purpose of his ownlife. He somehow proves the prophet from 'Can I Play With Madness'right: he will burn in a lake of fire, in Hell, for taking his ownlife. He quite likely commits suicide, and the whole song gives a deepfeeling of bitterness.
Thereis here the alchemy symbol for sulphur, or soul, which was used tosymbolise purification through fire and damnation in Hell.Incidentally, sulphur is also linked to the kundalini and the SacredFire, which is both male and female, solar and lunar, fiery and wateryin nature
Information tkaen from The Iron Maiden Commentary