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«***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY AND THE OCCULT ARTS*** Hidden Symbolism of ALCHEMY and the OCCULT ARTS (Formerly ...»

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Everything that the reader is inclined to conceive in the passages above, as probably belonging merely to the other life, they as Mystics, sought to represent to themselves on earth, though without prejudice to the hope of a life beyond. I presume that they therefore speak of two stones, a celestial and a terrestrial.

Section III. The Hermetic Art. 127 The celestial stone is the eternal blessedness and, as far as the Christian world of ideas is considered, is Christ, who has aided [165] mankind to attain it. The terrestrial stone is the mystical Christ whom each may cause to be crucified and resurrected in himself, whereby he attains a kingdom of heaven on earth with those peculiar qualities that have been allegorically attributed to the philosopher's stone. Therefore the terrestrial stone is called a reflection of the celestial and so it is said that from lead, etc., the stone may be easily produced and “in a short time,” i.e., not only after death.

At any rate in primitive symbolism there seems to be a religious idea at the bottom of the recommendation to use the sputum lunæ (moon spittle) or sperm astrale (star semen), star mucus, in short of an efflux from the world of light above us, as first material for the work of our illumination. [In many alchemistic recipes such things are recommended. Misunderstanding led to a so-called shooting star substance being eagerly hunted for. What was found and thought to be star mucus was a gelatinous plant.] So it is in this passage from John IX, 5, ff.: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world. When he [Jesus] had thus spoken, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto

him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam [which is by interpretation:

Sent]. He went his way, therefore, washed, and came seeing.” The transference of a virtue by the receiving of a secretion is a quite common primitive idea.

As Michael Maier (Symbola Aureae Mensae Lib. XI) informs [166] us, Melchior Cibinensis, a Hungarian priest, expressed the secrets of the forbidden art in the holy form of the Mass. For as birth, life, exaltation, suffering in fire and then death were, as it were, ascribed to the Philosopher's Stone in black and gloomy colors, and finally resurrection and life in red and other beautiful colors, so he compared his preparation with the work of the salvation of man (and the “terrestrial” stone with the “celestial” stone), 128 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts namely, with the birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. (Höhler, Herm. Phil., p. 156.) The making of the Philosopher's Stone is, so to speak, the Imitation of Christ.

Hitchcock (H. A., p. 143) believes that Irenaeus Philaletha has clearly alluded in a passage of his writings to the two mental processes, analysis and synthesis, which lead to the same end.

“To seek the unity through Sol, I take it, is to employ the intellect upon the Idea of Unity, by analysis that terminates in the parts;

whereas to study upon Mercury, here used for nature at large, is to work synthetically, and by combining the parts, reach an idea of the unity. The two lead to the same thing, beginning as it were from opposite extremes; for the analysis of any one thing, completely made, must terminate in the parts, while the parts, upon a synthetical construction, must reproduce the unity. One of the two ways indicated by Irenaeus is spoken of as a herculean labor, which I suppose to be the second, the reconstruction of a unity by a recombination of the parts, which in respect to nature is undoubtedly a herculean undertaking. The more hopeful [167] method is by meditation, etc.” Some of the writers tell us to put “one of the bodies into the alembic,” that is to say, take the soul into the thought or study and apply the fire (of intellect) to it, until it “goes over” into spirit. Then, “putting this by for use,” put in “the other body,” which is to be subjected to a similar trial until it “goes over” also; after which the two may be united, being found essentially or substantially the same.

–  –  –

“Samkhya” and “Yoga” have later been elaborated into whole philosophical systems. Originally, however, they are merely “different methods of arriving at the same end, namely the attainment of the Atman [all spirit] which on the one hand is [168] spread out as the whole infinite universe and on the other is to be completely and wholly found in the inner life. In the first sense Atman can be gained by meditation on the multiplex phenomena of the universe and their essential unity, and this meditation is called Samkhya [from sam + khya, reflection, meditation]; on the other hand, Atman is attainable by retirement from the outer world and concentration upon one's own inner world and this concentration is called Yoga.” (Deussen, Allg. Gesch. d. Phil., I, 3, p. 15.) For the practice of alchemy a moral behavior is required, which is hardly necessary as a precondition of merely chemical work. The disciple of the art is to free his character, according to the directions of the masters from all bad habits, especially to abjure pride, is diligently to devote himself to prayer, perform works of love, etc.; no one is to direct his senses to this study if he has not previously purified his heart, renounced the love of worldly things, and surrendered himself completely to God.





(Höhler, Herm. Phil., pp. 62 ff.) The sloppers, who strive to make gold in a chemical laboratory often waste in it their entire estate. The adepts, however, assure 130 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts us that even a poor man can obtain the stone; many, indeed, say the poor have a better materia than the rich. Rom. II, 11: “For there is no respect of persons with God.” Matth. XIX, 24: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The alchemist [169] Khunrath says somewhere, the cost of making gold amounts to thirty dollars; we understand this when we remember that Jesus was sold for thirty pence.

Ruland (Lex., p. 26) defines alchemy very finely: [In reference to Tab. Smar., 9] “Alchemy is the separation of the impure from a purer substance.” This is quite as true of the chemical as of the spiritual alchemy.

Why the hermetic philosophers write not literally but in figures may be accounted for in several ways. We should first of all remember that because of their free doctrine, which was indeed not at variance with true Christianity but with the narrow-minded church, they had to fear the persecution of the latter, and that for this reason they veiled their teachings. Hitchcock notices also a further point. The alchemists often declare that the knowledge of their secret is dangerous (for the generality of people). It appears that they did not deem that the time was ripe for a religion that was based more on ideal requirements, on moral freedom, than on fear of hell fire, expectation of rewards and on externally visible marks and pledges. Besides we shall see later that a really clear language is in the nature of things neither possible nor from an educational point of view to be recommended.

Still the mystical purpose of the authors of those times when the precautionary measures were not necessary appears clearer under the alchemistic clothing, although no general rule applying to it can be set forth. Other reasons, e.g., intellectual and conventional ones, influenced them to retain the symbolism.

[170] Very clearly mystical are the writings of a number of hermetic artists, who are permeated by the spiritual doctrine of Jacob Boehme. This theosophist makes such full use of the alchemistic Section III. The Hermetic Art. 131 symbolism, that we find it wherever we open his writings. I will not even begin to quote him, but will only call the reader's attention to his brief and beautifully thoughtful description of the mystical process of moral perfection, which stands as “Processus” at the end of the 5th chapter of his book, “De Signatura Rerum.” (Ausg., Gichtel Col., 2218 f.) An anonymous author who has absorbed much of the “Philosophicus Teutonicus,” wrote the book, “Amor Proximi,” much valued by the amateurs of the high art. It does not require great penetration to recognize this pious manual, clothed throughout in alchemistic garments, as a mystical work. The same is true of the formerly famous “Wasserstein der Weisen” (1st ed. appeared 1619), and similar books. Here are some

illustrative pages from “Amor Proximi”:

“This [Symbol: water] [[Symbol: water] of life] is now the creature not foreign or external but most intimate in every one, although hidden.... See Christ is not outside of us, but intimately within us, although hidden.” (P. 32.) “Whoever is to work out a thing practically must first have a fundamental knowledge of a thing; in order that man shall macrocosmically and magically work out the image of God, all [171] God's kingdom, in himself; he must have its right knowledge in himself....” (P. 29.) “Christ is the great Universal; [The Grand Mastery is also called by the alchemists the ‘universal’; it tinctures all metals to gold and heals all diseases (universal medicine); there is a somewhat more circumscribed ‘particular,’ which tinctures only

a special metal and cures only single diseases.] who says:

‘Whoever will follow me and be my disciple (i.e., a particular or member of my body), let him take up his [Symbol: cross] and follow me.’ Thus one sees that all who desire to be members of the great universal must each partake according to the measure of his suffering and development as small specific remedies.” (Pp. 168 ff.) 132 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts “Paracelsus, the monarch of Arcana, says that the stars as well as the light of grace, nowhere work more willingly than in a fasting, pure, and free heart. As it is naturally true that the coarse sand and ashes cannot be illumined by the sun, so the SUN of righteousness cannot illumine the old Adam. It is then that

the sand and ashes [the old Adam] are melted in the [Symbol:

fire] [of the [Symbol: cross]] again and again, that a pure glass [a newborn man] is made of it; so the [Symbol: gold/sol] can easily shoot its rays into and through it and therefore illumine it and reveal the wonder of its wisdom. So man must be recast in [Symbol: cross] [Symbol: fire] [cross-fire], so that the rays of both lights can penetrate him; otherwise no one will become a wise man.” (P. 96 ff.) Beautiful expositions of alchemy that readily make manifest [172] the mystical content are found also in the English theosophists Pordage and his followers, in particular Jane Leade (both 17th century). Their language is clearer and more lucid than Jacob Boehme's. Many passages appropriate to this topic might be here cited; but as I shall later take up Leade more fully, I quote only

one passage from Pordage (Sophia, p. 23):

“Accordingly and so that I should arrive at a fundamental and complete cleansing from all tares and earthiness... I gave over my will entirely to its [wisdom's] fiery smelting furnace as to a fire of purification, till all my vain and chaff-like desires and the tares of earthly lust had been burnt away as by fire, and all my iron, tin and dross had been entirely melted in this furnace, so that I appeared in spirit as a pure gold, and could see a new heaven and a new earth created and formed within me.” Out of all this, taken in conjunction with the following chapter, it will be evident and beyond question that our Parable must also be interpreted as a mystical introduction.

–  –  –

Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry.

The previous chapter has shown that there was a higher alchemy—it was furthermore regarded as the true alchemy—which has the same relation to practical chemistry that freemasonry has to practical masonry. A prominent chemist who had entered into the history of chemistry and that of freemasonry once wrote to me: “Whoever desires to make a chemical preparation according to a hermetic recipe seems to me like a person who undertakes to build a house according to the ritual of Freemasonry.” The similarity is not a chance one. Both external and internal relations between alchemy and freemasonry are worthy of notice.

The connection is partly through rosicrucianism. Since the Parable, which shall still be the center of our study, belongs to rosicrucian literature (and indeed is probably a later development of it), it is fitting here to examine who and what the Rosicrucians really were. We cannot, of course, go into a thorough discussion of this unusually complex subject. We shall mention only what is necessary to our purpose. I shall not, however, be partial, but treat of both the parties which are diametrically opposed in their views of the problems of rosicrucian history. It will be shown [174] that this disagreement fortunately has but small influence upon our problem and that therefore we are relieved of the difficult task of reaching a conclusion and of bringing historical proof for a decision which experienced specialists—of whom I am not one—have so signally failed to reach.

Rosicrucians are divided into those of three periods, the old, who are connected by the two chief writings, “Fama” and “Confessio,” that appeared at the beginning of the 17th century;

134 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts the middle, which apparently represents a degeneration of the original idealistic league, and finally, the gold crossers and rose crossers, who for a time during the 18th century developed greater power. The last Rosicrucians broke into freemasonry for a while (in the second half of the eighteenth century) in a manner almost catastrophic for continental masonry, yet I observe in anticipation that this kind of rosicrucian expansion is not immediately concerned with the question as to the original relation of freemasonry and rosicrucianism. We must know how to distinguish the excrescence from the real idea. Rosicrucianism died out at the beginning of the 19th century. The rosicrucian degrees that still exist in many systems of freemasonry (as Knight of the Red Cross, etc.) are historical relics. Those who now parade as rosicrucians are imposters or imposed on, or societies that have used rosicrucian names as a label.



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