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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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Laboriously now, he toils forward in the darkness; the heights draw him on; escaping hell he will attain to heaven. His ascent up the holy mountain is hindered by a violent storm; he is thrown into the depths by the tempest: a symbol of circulation in the closed vessel of the alchemists, which vessel corresponds to the protected lodge. During the circulation the volatile parts rise and fall again like rain, which is symbolized by the tears upon the walls. To be sure, it is not here that the neophyte is subjected to the water test, and if a confusion is possible on this point it [409] comes from the fact that all the operations of the great work go on in one vessel, while the masonic initiation is completed in a suite of different rooms, so that the symbolic series here suffers disintegration. The circulating water, which soaks into the pores of the earthly parts of the subject, purifies it more and more, so that it goes from gray through a series of colors (peacock's tail) to white. In this stage the material corresponds to the wise man who knows how to resist all seduction. Yet we are not to be satisfied with this negative virtue; the fire test (we should remember that the four tests by the elements were to be found in the parable also) is still to be gone through, the calcination, which burns everything combustible. After the calcination there is a perfectly purified salt [Symbol: Salt] of absolute transparence. So long as the novice has not attained this moral clearness, the light cannot Section III. The Royal Art. 311 be vouchsafed to him. In brief, in the first degree, the main thing is the comprehensive purification. The salt layers must be made crystal clear, that surround the inner sulphur [Symbol: Sulphur] like a crust and hinder it from its free radiation. Sulphur is to be regarded as a symbol of the expansive power, as individual initiative, as will. Mercury stands opposite to it as woman does to man, as that which goes to the subject from without, or as absolute receptivity. Salt is midway between both; in it the equilibrium between [Symbol: Sulphur] and [Symbol: Mercury] is found. It is a symbol of what appears as the stable being of man. In the first degree the purification of the salt is worked out for the release of the sulphur. The red column J corresponds [410] to the red sulphur, by which symbolically the novices get their reward. For the rest, the first degree is satisfied with getting the novices to see the universal light (the blazing star). (W. S. H., pp. 88-92.) The fire test takes place in the second degree. The fiery sulphur must be worked out or rather sent out and used for work. The field of activity of the member proportions itself, as it were, according to the expansion or range of its sulphurous radiation. At this time the member enters into a relation of such intensified activity with the world that the intellectual grasp [which corresponds to the [Symbol: Mercury] = principal] acquires from it a new illumination [blazing star], and breaks away for a connection of the will, which was at first merely individual, with the collectivity. To me at least that appears to be the sense of the figurative but not quite clear exposition of W. S. H., pp. 952-962, which I have, for the sake of exactness, given in the original text.

[See Appendix, Note I.] As soon as the crude stone is cut and polished we have no longer to work inward but outward. What we are to accomplish so creatively would be insignificant if we did not know the secret of borrowing power from a power that apparently lies without us. Where do these mysterious powers work if not at the pillar B, whose name means: i. i. d. St.? In 312 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts the north directed on the contrary towards the moon, whose soft feminine light it reflects, it corresponds to [Symbol: Mercury], which unceasingly flows towards all being, in order to support [411] its central fire, [Symbol: Fire]. The exaltation of the latter leads to the fire test, the idea of which Wirth seems to take in strictly occult form, in the manner of Eliphas Levi. Finally, a circulation takes place, in that the individual will seeks like a magnet to draw the divine will, always falls down again, rises, however, and so on in cycles, till both meet in the “philosophical fire.” It is the cycle of which we read in the Smaragdine Tablet. The incombustible essence that comes forth from the fire test is the phœnix (a figure much used by the alchemists). The member has the task of changing himself into the phœnix. Not only [Symbol: Fire] belongs to the work, however, but also the act must be guided by intelligence; activity and receptivity must complement each other. Therefore the member has to know both pillars thoroughly. And therefore he becomes also the already mentioned androgynous material, Rebis. That is only to be attained when the elemental propensities are overcome, therefore the figure Rebis is represented as standing on the dragon. (W. S.

H., pp. 96-101.) What will the master do now? He will identify himself with the Master Builder of all worlds, in order to work in him and through him. When any one says that that is mysticism, he is not wrong. Being developed on the three successive ways of purgatio, illuminatio, and unio, this mysticism is no less logical than the religious mysticism that with its mortifications, if it were only rightly understood, would accomplish the same purpose. Mortification is, as the word itself says, the endeavor [412] for a certain kind of death. Twice is the mason enjoined to die; at the beginning in the preparation room and at the end at the final initiation into the inmost chamber. The second death corresponds to the perfection of the grand mastery. It signifies the complete sacrifice of his personality, the renunciation of every Section III. The Royal Art. 313 personal desire. It is the effacement of that radical egotism that caused the fall of Adam, in that he dragged down spirituality into corporeality. The narrow pusillanimous ego melts into nothing before the high impersonal self, symbolized by Hiram. The mythical sins of the eternal universal human Adam are thus expatiated. The architect of the temple is to the Grand Master Builder of All Worlds (G. B. a. W.) just what in Christian symbolism the Word become flesh is to the Eternal Father.





In order to carry on the work of the universal structure with advantage the Master must enter into the closest union of the will with God. No longer a slave in anything he is the more a master of all, the more his will works in harmony with the one that rules the universe. “Placed between the abstract and the concrete, between the creative intelligence and the objective creation, man thus conceived, appears like the mediator par excellence, or the veritable Demiurge of the gnostics.” Yet it is not enough that he gets light from its original source, he must also be bound by endless activity to those whom he is to lead. The necessary bond is sympathy, love. “The master must make himself loved and he can only succeed by himself loving with all the warmth of [413] a generosity extending even to absolute devotion, even to the sacrifice of himself.” The pelican [We are already acquainted with this hermetic bird.] is the hieroglyph for this loving sacrifice without which every effort remains vain. (W. S. H., p. 105.) The master's degree, this necessarily last degree, corresponds to an ideal that is set us as a task: we must strive towards it even if its realization is beyond our powers. Our temple will never be finished, and no one expects to see the true eternal Hiram arise in himself. (W. S. H., p. 94.) We find also in Wirth, how the work is divided into three main steps, which begin with the purifying, turn towards the inner soul, and end with the death-resembling Unio Mystica;

here we find, too, in the last degree the unattainable ideal, which like a star in heaven shall give a sure course to the voyage of 314 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts our life. The viewing of the exalted anagogic conception as a perspective vanishing point, makes allowance for the possible errors of superposition in the anagogic aspect of the elementary types.

The tripartite division, which we meet in the great work, shows the frequently doubted inner qualification of the three degrees of freemasonry. As they answer a need, they have again prevailed, although they were not existent in the masonic form of the royal art at the beginning (about two centuries ago); I say “again,” because similar needs have already earlier produced similar forms. (Cf. L. Keller's writings.) Whether we consider ethical education in general or the intensive (introversion) form [414] of it, mysticism, we have in either case a process of development, and degrees are necessary to express it symbolically. The effort, appearing from time to time, to multiply the degrees has been justified. We can divide what is divided into three sections into seven also (7 operations in alchemy, 7 levels of contemplation, 7 ordinations, etc.), although it is not really needed. But the idea of abolishing the three degrees can only arise from a misapprehension of the value of the existing symbolism. That masonry is a union of equal rights is not affected by the presence of the degrees, provided that their symbolic significance is not overstepped. The degrees form a constituent part of the symbolic custom itself and like it are to be intangible.

The symbols of all the lofty spiritual religious communities, for which the royal art presents itself as a paradigm or exemplar, put before us, as it were, types of truth. Single facts which the symbols may signify (or that could be read into the symbols) are not the most important, but rather the totality of all these meanings. The totality (which can be acquired only by a sort of integration) is something inexpressible; and if it also succeeded in expressing this inexpressible, the words of the expression would be incomprehensible to any finite spirit, as the individual facts are.

Section III. The Royal Art. 315 The symbols are the unchangeable, the individual meanings are the variegated and the changeable. [As for the masonic symbolism in particular, I am in agreement with Robert Fischer [415] (Kat. Erl., III, fin.). “Freemasonry rests on symbols and ceremonies; in that lies its superior title to continued existence.

They are created for eternal verities and peculiarly adapted thereto; they are fitted to every grade of culture, indeed to every time, and do not fall like other products of the time, a sacrifice to time itself.... Therefore a complete abolition of our symbols can meet with assent as little as an enfeeblement of them can be desired. Much more must we strive in order that a clear understanding may sift out the abstract, corresponding to our spiritual eye, from the concrete necessary for our physical eye, so that the combined pictures shall be resolved in the simple fundamental truths. By this means the symbols attain life and motion and cannot be put down for things that decay with time.”] Therefore the symbols should never be changed in favor of a particular meaning, which becomes the fashion (or be brought closer to it over and above the given relation). What is to be maintained through variations of meaning, is not the meanings but the symbols themselves.

To each person symbols represent his own truth. To every one they speak a different language. No one exhausts them. Every one seeks his ideal chiefly in the unknown. It matters not so much what ideal he seeks, but only that he does seek one. Effort itself, not the object of effort, forms the basis of development.

No seeker begins his journey with full knowledge of the goal.

Only after much circulation in the philosophic egg and only after [416] much passing through the prism of colors does that light dawn which gives us the faint intimation of the outline of the prototype of all lesser ideals. Whoever desires hope of a successful issue to this progress must not forget a certain gentle fire that must operate from the beginning to the end, namely Love.

316 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts

Whom these teachings cheer not, Deserves not to be a man.

[417] Notes.

Note A (80). I put here not merely those comparisons of motives which are alike at the beginning, but also those that are important for our further consideration. My rendering of them is partly abridged.

Signs of similarity are, as Stucken explains, not employed to express an absolute congruence, but predominantly in the sense of “belongs with” or “or is the alternate of.” Stucken's comparison I, A, goes: Moses in the ark = spark of fire in the ark = Pandora's books = Eve's apple; I, B:

Moses in the ark = the exposed = the fatherless = the persecuted = the deluge hero [the one floating in the ark]. II, A: Eve's apple = Moses in the ark = Onan's seed = fire = soma = draught of knowledge, etc. III, B: Tearing open of the womb = decapitation or dismemberment = exposure = separation of the first parents.

IV, B: The dismembered [man or woman] = the rejuvenated = the reborn [m. or w.]. VI, A: Potiphar motive = separation of first parents = Onan motive. VII, A: The wicked stepmother = Potiphar's wife = man eater. VII, B: Flight from the “man eater” = flight from Potiphar's wife = flight from the wicked stepmother = separation of the first parents = magic flight. IX, A: The first parents = magic flight. IX, A: The killed ram = Thor's ram = Thyestes' meal = soma. XIII, A: The exposed = the persecuted = the dismembered child = the slain ram—the helpful animal.

XIX: The Uriah letter = the changed letter = word violence [curse = blessing]. XX: Scapegoat = ark. XXVIII: Wrestling match = rape of women = rape of soma = opening of the chest [opening of the hole] = rape of the garments [of the bathing swan [418] ladies]. XXIX: Castration = tearing asunder [consuming] of the

mother's body = the final conflagration = the deluge. XXXIII, A:

Dragonfight = wrestling match = winning of the offered king's 318 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts

daughter = rape of the women = rape of fire = deluge. XL, A:



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