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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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[193] The attempt mentioned, to find a common name, did not permanently succeed. The visionaries and “heretics” decried as “Rosicrucians” and “alchymists” were considered as enemies and persecuted. It is irrelevant whether there was an organized fraternity of rosicrucians; it was enough to be known as a rosicrucian. (Keller, Z. Gesch. d. B., p. 21.) The great organization did not take place until a great European power spread over it its protecting hand, i.e., in 1717, when in England the new English system of “Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons” arose. (Keller, D. Soc. d. Hum., p. 18.) We see that Keller arrives by another and surer way than Katsch at the same result, and shows the continuity of the alchemists or rosicrucians and the later freemasons, if not in exactly the same way that Katsch has outlined it. In particular Keller gets along without the unproved statement that there were organized rosicrucians (outside of the later gold- and rose-crosses). He shows what is much more important, namely that there were societies that might have borne the name of rosicrucians (or any similar name).

Section IV. Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry. 149 Figure 1.

Several interesting peculiarities should not be omitted, as for instance, that Leibniz, about 1667, was secretary of an alchemist's society (of so-called rosicrucians) in Nuremberg. Leibniz describes alchemy as an “introduction to mystic theology” and identifies the concepts of “Arcana Naturae” and “Chymica.” (M. H. der C. G., 1903, p. 149; 1909, p. 169 ff.) In 150 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts the laws of the grand lodge “Indissolubilis” (17th and 18th [194] centuries) there are found as doctrinal symbols of the three grades, the alchemistic symbols of salt (rectification, clarification), of quicksilver (illumination), and of sulphur (unification, tincture), used in a way that corresponds to the stages of realization of the “Great Work.” The M. H. d. C. G., 1909, p. 173 ff. remarks that we should probably regard it only as an accident, if there are not found, in the famous hermetic chemical writings, similar signs with additions as would for experts, exclude all doubt as to their purport. In 1660 appeared at Paris an edition of a writing very celebrated among the followers of the art, “Twelve Keys of Philosophy,” which was ostensibly written by one Brother Basilius Valentinus. In this edition we see at the beginning a remarkable plate, whose relation to masonic symbolism is unmistakable (Figure 1). In addition to the lowest symbol of salt (represented as cubic stone) there is a significant reference to the earth and the earthly. [I should note that besides [Symbol: circle with diameter line] alchemy used [Symbol: square] for salt, in which there is a special reference to the earthly nature of salt. In Plato the smallest particles of the earth are cubical. Salt and earth alternate in the terminology, just as mercury [Symbol: female] and air [Symbol: air] or water [Symbol: water] do; as sulphur [Symbol: sulfur and fire [Symbol: fire]; only, however, where it is permitted by the context.] The Rectification of the subject (man) taken up by the Art, is achieved through the purification of the earthly elements according to the indication of the alchemists who call the beginning of the work “Vitriol,” and form an [195] acrostic from the initial letters of this word: “Visita Interiora Terrae, Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem” [= Visit the interior of the earth; by purifying you will find the hidden stone].

Half way up there floats the [Symbol: mercury] that has the value of a “union symbol” in the brotherhoods (as such, a symbol of fellowship) and left and right of it is found the moon and sun or the flaming star. Above is placed a triangle, in which is a Section IV. Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry. 151 phoenix rising from the flames; and on the triangle stands the crowned Saturn or Hermes (in masonry Hiram). On the left and right of this kingly form, on whose breast and stomach are placed planet symbols, we notice water in the shape of drops (tears) and flames that signify suffering and resurrection. “When we notice that not only the principles of the old ‘amateurs of the art’ correspond with those of the ‘royal art’ [freemasonry], but that the symbolism also is the same in all parts, we recognize that the later masonic societies are only a modern reshaping of the societies which dropped the depreciated names of the alchemists in order to appear in a new dress” (l. c., p. 175). That the assertion of the complete similarity of the symbolism is not mere fancy, the following considerations (and not those only in this section), will satisfactorily demonstrate. In the following examples the words showing it most clearly are italicized.

Alchemy was regarded by its disciples as a royal art. Old sources show that the art of making gold was revealed in Egypt only to the crown princes. Generally only the kings' sons [196] were informed by the priests concerning the magic sciences. The hermetics derived their art expressly from kings, Hermes, Geber, and the patriarchs of alchemy were represented as kings.

According to Khunrath (Amphitheatrum) prayer, work and perseverance lead to eternal wisdom by the mystical ladder of the seven theosophical steps. Perfect wisdom consists in the knowledge of God and his Son, in the understanding of the holy scriptures, in self knowledge and in knowledge of the great world and its Son, the Magnesia of the philosophers or the Philosopher's Stone. The mystical steps in general contain three activities, hearing (audire), persevering (perseverare), knowing (nosse et scire), that applies to five objects, so that we can distinguish seven steps in all. Only the pure may enter the temple of wisdom, only the worthy are intrusted with the secrets, the profane, however, must stay away.





In the fifth table of Khunrath's Amphitheatrum is pictured the 152 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts seven pillared citadel of Pallas (Prov. IX, 1). At the entrance is a table with the legend Opera bona (= good works). Behind sits a man with the staff of Mercury. On each side is a four sided pyramid, on the top of the left one is the sun, on the right the moon. On the former stands the word Fides (= faith), on the latter Taciturnitas (= silence). Behind the man we read the word Mysterion, over the inner entrance Non omnibus (= not for all).

[197] Alchemy frequently mentions two or three lights. By these

it understood [Symbol: Sol] and [Symbol: Luna], [Symbol:

Venus], [Symbol: Mercury], [Symbol: Jupiter], light of grace and light of nature, etc. The juxtaposition of [Symbol: Sol] [Symbol: Luna] and [Symbol: Hexagram] is interesting; no one can attain the desired end before, through the circular wheel of the elements, the fatness or the blood of the sun, and the dew of the moon are by the action of art and nature, united in one body in the image of the hexagram; and this can take place only by the will of the Most High, who alone imparts the unique boon of the Holy Ghost and priceless treasure according to his especial mercy. The above mentioned circular wheel is identical with the serpent that bites its own tail; it is a power that always consumes and always renews itself. This circle appears not to be lacking in the flaming star; it is the round eye or the likewise round fashioned “G,” which latter looks quite similar to the snake hieroglyph. The reference to Genesis has a good reason. Moreover, the hexagram represents in cabbalistic sense

the mystical union of the male with the female potence [Symbol:

Fire] with [Symbol: Water]. According to a rabbinical belief a picture is supposed to be placed in the ark of the covenant alongside of the tables of the laws, which shows a man and a woman in intimate embrace, in the form of a hexagram. In cabbalistic writings, as for instance, in those of H. C. Agrippa, we find the human form in a star, generally inscribed in the pentagram. The genitals fall exactly in the middle part and are often made prominent by an added [Symbol: Mercury] as Section IV. Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry. 153 male-female or androgyne procreative power. One of the snake shaped Egyptian hieroglyphs frequently turns into an Arabic [198] [Symbol: gimel], i.e., gimel. I do not know whether this fact has any significance here. With respect to the above passages that mention the “will of the Most High,” I refer to the dialogue which concerns the “G”; e.g., “Does it mean nothing else?” “Something that is greater than you.” “Who is greater than I?” etc. “It is Gott, whom the English call God. Consider this mysterious star; it is the symbol of the Spirit.... The image of the holy fire, etc.” 154 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts Section IV. Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry. 155

Figure 2.

REBIS is represented as an hermetic hermaphrodite. The already mentioned figure with the two heads (figure 2) is found (as Höhler relates) in a book that appeared in Frankfort in 1618, called “Joannes Danielis Mylii Tractatus III, seu Basilica Philosophica,” though it is to be seen also in other books on alchemy. The hermaphrodite stands on a dragon that lies on a globe. In the right hand he holds a pair of compasses, in the left a square. On the globe we see a square and a triangle. Around the figure are the signs of the seven planets, with [Symbol: Mercury] at the top. In a cut in the Discursus Nobilis of John of Munster

we see sun and moon, at the middle of the top the star [Symbol:

Hexagram], also denoted by Y = ³» (= matter) surrounded by rays. (Höhler, Herm. Phil., p. 105.) In the cabala, which has found admission into the idea of the alchemists and rosicrucians, no small part is played by three pillars and two pillars.

Tubal Cain was renowned as a great alchemist. He was [199] the patriarch of wisdom, a master of all kinds of brass and iron work. (Genesis IV, 22.) He had the knowledge not only of ordinary chemistry and of the fire required for it, but also of the higher chemistry and of the hidden elemental fire. After the flood there was no other man who knew the art but the righteous Noah, whom some call Hermogenes or Hermes, who possessed the knowledge of celestial and terrestrial things.

One devoted to art must be a free man (Höhler, l. c., p. 66).

The ordinale of Norton establishes it more or less as follows:

“The kings in the olden time have ordained that no one should learn the liberal sciences except the free and those of noble spirit, and any one who is devoted to them should devote his life most freely. Accordingly the ancients have called them the seven 156 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts liberal arts, for whoever desires to learn thoroughly and well must enjoy a certain freedom.”

–  –  –

Very frequently one finds in the alchemists images of death:

grave, coffin, skeleton, etc. Thus in Michael Maier's, Atalanta Fugiens, the Emblema XLIV shows how the king lies with his crown in the coffin which is just opened. On the right stands a man with a turban, on the left two who open the coffin and let his joyful countenance be seen. In the Practica of Basilius Valentinus the illustration of the fourth key shows a coffin, on which stands a skeleton, the illustration of the eighth key (see Fig. 3), a grave from which half emerges a man with upright body and raised hands. [This reproduction and figure I owe to the kindness of Dr.

[200] Ludwig Keller and the publications of the Comenius Society.] Two men are shooting at the well known mark, [Symbol: Sol], here represented as a target (a symbol much used in the old Section IV. Rosicrucianism And Freemasonry. 157 lodges), while a third is sowing. (Parable of the sower and the seeds.) The sign is a clever adaptation of the sulphur hieroglyph and is identical with the registry mark of the third degree of the Grand Lodge Indissolubilis. The mark [Symbol: Half circle] on the wall is also a symbol of the academy; it is the half circle, man, to whom the light is imparted and means, when occurring collectively, the fraternity. The evident idea is of representing the exclusive society as enclosing wall. The angel with the trumpet is the angel of the judgment day who awakes the dead.

With respect to the birds I refer to Matthew XIII, 4: “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside and the fowls came and devoured them up.” In the text of Basilius Valentinus, the fourth key, there is mention of the rotting and falling to pieces with which we are familiar. The idea of dismemberment is not infrequently clearly expressed, more clearly than in our parable.

Already in the oldest alchemistic manuals one operation is called the grave of Osiris. One of the manuscripts cited by Berthelot (Orig., p. 60) says: “The dragon is the guardian of the temple, sacrifice him, flay him, cut his flesh from his bones and thou wilt find what thou seekest.” The dragon is also called Osiris, with whose son Horus-Harpocrates, the skillful Hermes, is also identified. (Do we need reference to requirements in the 3d [201] degree? J... left his skin;... B... left his flesh...; M... B..., he lives in the Son.) Here more clearly than anywhere else we see the masonic symbolism combined with the myth of the first parents or creation myth. No matter where it acts, the myth-making power never seems willing to belie its laws. Also the tree growing out of the grave or the body of the dead ancestor is not wanting. (“...

at the graves of our fathers.” “I was accused of a terrible crime.”) It is the acacia whose presence is rationalized apparently for the purpose of forming a sign by which to find again the place of the hastily buried.

An Egyptian fable tells of two brothers. The younger, Bata, 158 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts was falsely accused by his sister-in-law (as was Joseph by Potiphar's wife). His brother Inpw (Anepu) consequently pursued him. The sun god made a mighty flood that separated the pursuer from the pursued. Bata castrated himself and threw his organ of generation into the water, where it was swallowed by a fish.



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