Most Holy Trinosophia, by Count St.Germain , at sacred-texts.com
p. 86 p. 87
St. Paul also refers to the "inner experience" by which we come to KNOW. He says, "We speak of wisdom among the perfect, not the wisdom of this world, nor of the Archons (Rulers) of this world, but divine wisdom in a mystery, secret, which none of the Archons of this world know." An initiation is an extension of consciousness toward an appreciation of universal realities. The mystical ceremonials of the pagans and early Christians were but the outward symbols of inward processes. By obscure rites and pageantries the precious arcana of perfection was transmitted from age to age. The profane were satisfied by the solemnity of the outward forms and rituals, but the Adepts, those who had received the keys, applied the wisdom which was locked within the allegories to perfecting their internal spiritual faculties. Origen, the most mystical of the
anti-Nicean fathers, in his preface to St. John, admits the twofold nature of all theological revelations: "To the literal minded [or exoterici] we teach the Gospel in the historic way, preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified; but to the proficient, fired with the love of Divine Wisdom [the esoterici] we impart the Logos [the Word].
Perfection is not bestowed: it is achieved. Men do not become wise merely through the witnessing of sacred dramas . . . rather, by the understanding of them. Symbolism is the language of divine truths, a writing by means of which may be intimated things which it is unlawful to actually reveal. "For the mystic symbols are well known to us who belong to the Brotherhood." (Plutarch). By initiation the rule of works is established. The divine man and the divine in man are brought to completeness by works alone. The adepts of the old schools were "wise Master Builders" with vision to see, with courage to do, and wisdom to remain silent. "There is a secrecy and silence observed in all Mysteries," wrote Tertullian, the creator of ecclesiastic Latinity.
During the ceremonials of initiation the neophyte was given the LAW. The great verities by which the universe moves towards its inevitable identity with God were revealed. It remained for the Initiate to apply this Law and through this application to achieve conscious immortality. There is a forking of the ways of knowledge at which practice diverges from theory. A man may either fulfill the Law and thus by enlightened action come finally to perfection, or he may accept the word of the Law and, ignoring the spirit of it, remain as he is . . . imperfect and unenlightened. He who receives the LOGOS and abides in the spirit thereof gradually increases in wisdom. The Nazarean theurgists said of such a one that "he had an oath." He was dedicated to the release of his inner part from the domination of his outer senses and appetites. Says Aretaeus, "Until the soul is set free it works within the body and is obscured by vapors and clay." By vapors is arcanely signified the appetites and excesses of the emotions which are as substanceless as a mist, and by the clay is meant the unresponsiveness of the corporeal form.
To increase in wisdom is to increase in enlightenment, for by enlightenment is inferred the illumining of the inner recesses of the reason by the light of the Logosthe spiritual sun. This development of the ability to know by philosophic discipline is accompanied by extensions of realization and appreciation. These extensions are the true growth of the soul which increases towards inclusiveness. Hence, in the sacred writings, this expansion of the souls sphere of action is called initiation. By initiation the indwelling divinity verges towards its own cause, the eternal Good. The chambers of
initiation are the "many mansions" through which the indwelling divinity must pass as through the tortuous windings of the Cretan labyrinth. Along its course are many doors, through each of which it is ushered into a larger and more luminous area of function and action. With each increase of our ability to appreciate the magnitudes of the divine plan, we are said to be reborn. Rebirth is the passing out from an old condition into a new state, from an old limitation to a new extension. As we grow in knowledge, our universe seems to enlarge with us, taking on the measure of our new constitution. Wisdom releases.
The academies of the old Mysteries invited the wisest and best of humanity to depart from the mortal shadow of worldliness and devote itself to those labors which are truly eternal. The perfection of Self is the Great Work, the beginning and end of wisdom: the perfected Self is the perfect offering and the consummation of the Great Work. He who is perfect is of the greatest use to others, the greatest good to himself and the most acceptable offering to the Most High.
With the collapse of the old pagan world and the corruption of the early Christian Church, the Mysteries ceased as great institutions. Their doctrines were lost, their priestcrafts were scattered, and their temples fell to ruin. New theories, for the most part superficial and insufficient, took the place of the earlier wisdom; and education, divorced from its spiritual part, laid the foundation for our present chaos. But the wise remained true to the ancient Rites. Those who had received the arcana could not, did not, forget. They gathered in secret, taught in secret and worshipped in secret. The temple fire burned in the hearts of its initiates. The outer forms crumbled away; but the inner spirit, strengthened by its participation in an everlasting truth, was immortal. Out of the darkness of a degenerate civilization, across the desert of sterile centuries, and finally through the Red Sea of the Inquisition the Mystics of the ancient wisdom carried triumphantly the Ark of their covenant.
The so-called Middle Ages were an era of fantastic symbolism. The Hermetists devised composite monsters borrowed from the gods of Egypt; the Cabbalists illuminated vellum with curious figures, seals, pentacles, and grotesque signatures of demons; the alchemists filled huge volumes with weird formulas telling of the mystic properties of toads and dragons blood. In the dark field of medieval superstition there also grew and blossomed the Mystic Rose, to be finally choked out by the weeds of bigotry. These were strange centuries when false faith had put wisdom to hazard. Yet who dares to deny that the mystical traditions endured, and, clothed
in the terms of Egyptian myths and chemistry, were still available to such as had eyes to perceive the tortured truth?
Against the background of dogmatic ignorance and purposeless pedantry stands out sharply and clearly the luminous personality of the Comte de St.-Germain. Master of the old wisdom, wise in forgotten truths, proficient in all the curious arts of antiquity, learned beyond any other man of the modern world, the mysterious Comte personified in his own incredible achievements the metaphysical traditions of fifty centuries. A thousand times the questions have been asked: where did St.-Germain secure his astonishing knowledge of natural law? How did he perpetuate himself from century to century, defying the natural corruption which brings prince, priest, and pauper alike to a common end? St.-Germain was the mouthpiece and representative of the brotherhood of philosophers which had descended in an unbroken line from the hierophants of Greece and Egypt. He had received the Logos. By his wisdom he confounded the elders. The life of this one man puts to naught the scholastic smugness of two thousand years.
La Très Sainte Trinosophie is supremely significant in that it sets forth the spiritual processes which finally result in adeptship. It is the diary of the souls coming of age. It may well be the actual record of St.-Germains own acceptance into the mystical brotherhood of which he finally became the Grand Master. As the purpose of the manuscript was the instruction of disciples already familiar with the secret terminology, the whole account is set forth symbolically in fragments of ritual and allegory derived from the ceremonials of the classical era. Though the first reading may serve only to perplex, a deep and careful analysis of the text will gradually enlighten. Each will discover in the writing that which he himself knows, he will interpret it according to that which he himself is, and he will apply it according to that which he himself desires. Symbols are all things to all men, yet beneath the wide diversity of interpretations of which they are susceptible is a wisdom simple and inevitable which can be comprehended only by the truly wise. Opinions, theories, and beliefs fall away; at the root of every emblem is a fact. Our manuscript is rich in these veiled facts and we are reminded by the author that no part of it is without hidden significance.
La Très Sainte Trinosophie is divided into twelve sections. Each is illuminated by an appropriate design. The early sections seem to derive their inspiration from the neo-Egyptian ritual called the Rite of Memphis, and the trials of the candidate are concerned directly with the four elementsearth, water, fire, and air. The grand
pattern for the whole document is the Zodiac, to the signs of which the twelve sections of the writing are related. The Zodiac is the great soul cycle and the suns passage through the zodiacal symbols is the original from which the ancient priestcrafts derived the authority for their sacred circumambulations. The ancients accepted the first sign of the zodiac as the beginning and the last sign as the end of all mundane activity. Similarly, Aries typified the beginning of regeneration or the entrance of the soul into light at the vernal equinox of the philosophic cycle, while Pisces signified the completion of the sacred pilgrimage and the accomplishment of the Magnum Opus.
St.-Germain chiefly employs alchemical symbols in this book of The Threefold Wisdom. This in no way infers that he is actually writing of chemical processes, for, as most of the great alchemists have agreed, the manufacturing of material gold is the least part of their science. That St.-Germains meaning may be clear and the correlations between the zodiacal signs and the alchemical processes become evident, the following table will prove useful:
Expulsion of the animal soul through heat. (Purification by the fire of aspiration.)
The union of parts; the achievement of one-pointedness or purpose.
The condition of becoming firm, the fixing of the will.
To dissolve or to suspend in a fluid state; the universalizing of the personality.
To soften by heat and moisture; to perfect the mind in wisdom (heat) and imagination (humidity).
The separation of the volatile principle from substance; the release of the soul from its involvement in bodily limitation.
The refining of elemental bodies; the increasing of the vibratory harmonies of the body.
Separation or Putrefaction
The philosophic death; an artificial decay by which the spiritual and material elements are separated from each other.
The burning away of dross; the soul fire comsumes the external body.
The conversion of organic susbtance into new compounds by a ferment; the building of the Golden Man.
The process of increasing; adeptship.
The process of transmuting base substance into Gold; the perfection of the Work; immortality; in the eastern tradition, Buddhahood.
The arrangement of these symbols and processes differs in minor degree among the various writers, but the principle is always the samethe tran mutation of the not-Self into the Self; the tincturing of the outer life with the inner grace; the projection of soul upon its physical environment; the sublimation of evil into good; the multiplication of beauty, love, and truth until finally the powder of projection (wisdom) shall tincture the whole world. The alchemists tell us that a minute particle of the "Red Lion" can transmute into the purest gold a hundred thousand times its own weight. Wisdomand wisdom alonecan accomplish this, for one wise man can perfect the ages, and a little truth will in time so greatly increase that the universe may not contain it.
A ritual not dissimilar to that contained in the present writing is set forth in the Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Quichi Indians of Central America. The neophyte, in his quest for wisdom, passes in succession through twelve tests: He crosses a river of blood (Aries) then a river of mud (Taurus), he detects a subterfuge (Gemini), he enters the house of darkness (Cancer), then the house of spears (Leo), the house of cold (Virgo), the house of tigers (Libra), the house of fire (Scorpio), and the house of bats (Sagittarius) where he dies (incineration). The picture at the head of the ninth section of St.Germains book depicts death. The body of the Indian neophyte is burned on a scaffold (Capricorn), the ashes scattered on the river (Aquarius), the ashes turn into a man-fish (Pisces), in which form the initiate, who has completed the cycle, destroys the evil genius who was his adversary through the initiatory ritual. The twelve
[paragraph continues] Princes of Xibalba who are the Keepers of the Mysteries are of course the zodiacal gods.
As we follow St.-Germain into the lava beds of Vesuvius we indeed "tread upon the threshold of Persephone." We follow him in his soul quest for truth. Now we read only the symbols and we understand only in part, but ultimately we must achieve as he achieved and face the universal course with the same high courage that pressed him on to mastership. His symbols are from the Book of Life, and although we do not see in daily incident and happening the tests of which he writes, still each in his own sphere of experience faces the same hazards herein defined. We wander in the caverns of uncertainty; the ghostly forms of doubt harass us; fear steals away our strength, selfishness our vision, and ignorance our courage. But we are all alchemists in the laboratory of life: each is distilling the elixir of experience. In due time each shall have accomplished the perfection of this mysterious alchemical fluid, and with it shall tincture his world and himself. Upon the base metals of this present age he shall sprinkle the magical powder which his soul has discovered; the ages of Iron, of Silver, of Copper, and of Lead shall vanish away, and the Golden Age of the philosophers shall shine forth.
INTERPRETATION OF FIGURES AND TEXT
(Figure I, page 34) The highly decorated title page of the manuscript is a valuable key to the interpretation of the entire work. De Givry describes the emblems thus: "This authors symbolism is Egyptianized in the fashion of the day. On the title page of the work * * * we find * * * the bird of Hermes, a tree with golden fruit, and a vase in which the work is achieved, the primitive material under the form of a ball embraced by two wings, and a luminous triangle containing the Divine Name." In another place he adds: "The Hebrew name El is on the right with another divine name lower down written in Arabic; the letters AB near the latter are indicative of the alphabet and represent the WordThe Divine Word. On the left is a Hebrew inscription taken from the first verses of the Book of Genesis: 'And the earth was without form, and void (HOhu-va-Bohu); and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim) moved upon the face of the waters'."
The letters in the golden triangle do not form the sacred name Jehovah but, when decoded, yield the cryptic words: "Breathe after this One." That the "soul breath" of the Cabbalists is to be inferred is evident from the wings behind the hawk of Ra in the upper left corner. The second square from the top at the right is of especial Freemasonic interest. A candidate for initiation into the Mysteries
stands in symbolic posture before an altarwith "one shoe off and one shoe on." The Hebrew letters AL (EL) in the small circle are one of the ten Cabbalistic names of God signifying "God, the Creator," and is associated with the Sephira Chesed or mercy. The letters AB are the mystical signature of the writer who was a "father" (abba) or master of the secret wisdom. The letters are also an abbreviation for an alchemical process. The Arabic "divine name" really consists of Hebrew words written in Arabic characters which read: "The Lord, the Most High, purifies." The Hebrew inscription in the lower left corner, while unquestionably the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis, does not read as in the Authorized Version. Characters have been changed and the sense altered to read in substance: "And the earth shall be a desolate waste. There shall be lamenting, and hate and consternation shall be upon the Face. And the Breath of El-him, because of the presence of the spirit, shall destroy those that have departed from God."
Analysis of the Text.
In the opening chapter of his manuscript, St.-Germain ingeniously depicts the "relapsed" state of the human soul. The dungeon of the Inquisition is the sphere of mans animal consciousness. The physical world, dominated by inquisitional impulses, constitutes the souls torture chamber and house of testing. To the sage the material universe is the antechamber where gather those who are awaiting acceptance into the sacred rites. When the Comte speaks of "this place of exile" and the "monarchs who rule" over it, he refers to the illusionary universe and "the princes of this world." Here is the Prometheus myth, the Titan bound to Caucasus for indiscretion, and Lucifer chained in the bottomless pit for pride.
Throughout the early pages is traceable the allegory of the Prodigal Son. First is depicted humanitys heroic state during the Golden Age before sin and death came into the world. St.-Germain describes himself as "showered with the blessings of heaven and surrounded by power such as the human mind cannot conceive." The Comte then writes that "one moment destroyed everything." The mystery of the Fall of Man has never been revealed to the profane. The great cyclic law which swept the hosts of fiery Sparks into the abyss is known only to the elect. In the darkness of chaos the rebel spirits established their world. They built the cosmos and were locked within each of the material elements which they had willed into being. When the lower earth had been completed, the great Father desired to draw back into Himself His prodigal creation. To accomplish this He caused to issue from His own being His WORDthe Sotar or Messiah. Descending from the Abode of Light this heavenly Archon diminished its splendor, and investing its glory in the dark robes of earth, took upon Itself the cross of the cycles.
To the Gnostics, the physical universe was compounded of the dregs of spirit. It was the abortion of space. Material existence was natures punishment for the rebellion of the angels. This was clearly set forth in the initiatory rituals which taught that men were reborn in earthly bodies as punishment for sin. Those who perfected themselves were born no more, but, like Buddha at the Great Release, passed on to the Nirvana of the wisea birthless, deathless state. From the dun,
geons of materiality the sages released themselves through the practice of their esoteric rites. Perfected in wisdom, these Initiates broke through the adamantine wall of the mortal sphere and emerged into the light of God.
The alchemical interpretation relates to the elementary spirits locked within the physical forms of the elements. It should be noted that in his procedure through the initiatory trials, St.-Germain identifies himself with the substance from which the Philosophers Stone is to be formed. He is the alchemical matter itself passing through twelve cycles of refinement. It thus becomes evident that the alchemists recognized that their Great Work consisted of the transmutation of themselves. The earth (the dungeon) is filled with the seed souls of precious metals; here they are locked awaiting Art and Wisdom. As gold exists within every grain of sand but is incapable of manifesting itself unless stimulated by alchemical processes, so the seeds of truth, beauty, and knowledge exist within the dark earth of mans animal organism. The growth and perfection of these precious virtues is stimulated by discipline and in the fullness of time all base impulses and purposes are transmuted into the gold of soul power.
(Figure II, page 40) In his notes on the Trinosophia, de Givry concerns himself solely with the alchemical import of the symbolism of this figure. He says of the second plate that it "represents a man gazing into a prophetic cup forming a magic mirror. The conjoined signs of the Sun and the Moon are seen against the pedestal of the table; at the top of the figure a super-position of differently colored rectangles indicates the phases of the Work; and the double sign of the lingam in a circle emblematically recalls the Hermetic male and female. An inscription in Greek letters and made-up characters gives a formula for the composition of Gold, or the Sun-King, by means of a mixture of gold and silver regenerated by vital mercury; linked to the blue rectangle giving this formula is a lower red rectangle inscribed with the rule for the furnace fire in Hebrew characters."
A careful analysis inclines us to suspect a more profound significance. The circle at the upper right, though possibly phallic in its superficial sense, is actually an occult monogram or seal containing two Greek letters. Translated these signify "the Light of God" or "the Light of Revelation." The rectangles at the upper left are the elements. The arrangement is Oriental. The lower four are crowned by the fifththe quintessence, the mysterious Æther of the sages. The inscription in the upper panel describes the quickening of the soul seed by the warmth of the eastern quarter. (Aries.) There is also reference to the Breath which moves in the vessel, or upon the waters. The number 62 appears, accompanied by the admonition to open the heavenly gate (clairvoyance) with the aid of the vessel or cup. Does the cup (ark) contain the Water of Lethe, by partaking of which souls descending into generation lose all memory of their heavenly origin? Or does it contain the Water of Mnemosyne which flows at the gateway of wisdom and of which
the adepts drink, the water of remembrance by which the soul remembers its own substance and origin?
The female figure is Isis in her role of Initiatrix. She is Nature, and her black skirt is the corporeal world by which part of her body is concealed. The naked man is the neophyte. Unclothed he came into the world and unclothed he must be born again. Bereft of all adornment, stripped of all insignia of rank and power, he may bring to the temple nothing that he hasonly that which he is.
The table upheld by the Sun and Moon and at the base of which burns the everlasting fire, is the world. The objects lying upon it, or held by Isis, are three of the suit symbols which appear upon Tarot cards. The whole design, in fact, is not dissimilar to that major Tarot trump which is called Le Bateleur, the Juggler. The cup is the symbol of water, the spearhead of fire and the wand of air. Fire, air, and water are the symbols of the great Magical Agent. Their names in Hebrew are Chamah, Ruach, and Majim, and by the Cabbala the first letter of each of these wordsCh, R, and Mconstitute Chiram, known to Freemasons as Hiram. This is the invisible essence which is the father of the four elements, and designates itself Chiram Telat MechasotChiram the Universal Agent, one in essence, three in aspect, in which is hidden the wisdom of the whole world.
The Hebrew characters in the panel above the head of Isis are translated: "On account of distress they shall cling to the Bestower," which means that those (the wise) who have become wearied with worldliness shall turn to wisdom, the bestower of all good things.
Analysis of the Text.
The account of the initiatory ritual now begins. The disciple has waited the appointed time in the dark material universe which is the womb of the Mysteries. The process of philosophical birth proceeds according to the ancient and immutable law. The neophyte, veiled and bearing the Golden Bough (the mistletoe), advances toward the iron altar.
The choice of Vesuvius as the scene for the initiation is exceedingly appropriate. The vent of the volcano leads downward into the subterranean strata of the earth where dwell the subterranean deities who must be first propitiated. The volcano is also the symbol of the alchemical furnace. The veil signifies that the neophyte has reached the state of the mystæone who perceives through a veil, or, in the Christian Mysteries, "as through a glass darkly." Pliny refers to the mistletoe as the "all-healer." It was presumably the Golden Bough given to Æneas as a passport to the infernal regions. Sir James Frazer thus comments upon the initiatory ceremony as set forth by Virgil:
"If the mistletoe, as a yellow withered bough in the sad autumn woods, was conceived to contain the seed of fire, what better companion could a forlorn wanderer in the nether shades take with him than a bough that would be a lamp to his feet as well as a rod and staff to his hands? Armed with it he might boldly confront
the dreadful spectres that would cross his path on his adventurous journey. Hence when Æneas, emerging from the forest, comes to the banks of Styx, winding slow with sluggish stream through the infernal marsh, and the surly ferryman refuses him passage in his boat, he has but to draw the Golden Bough from his bosom and hold it up, and straightway the blusterer quails at the sight and meekly receives the hero into his crazy bark, which sinks deep in the water under the unusual weight of the living man."
Mistletoe is a parasite, and as such symbolizes the heavenly man within the mortal body. The soul grows from the body and in it, but is not of it, for as the tree takes its nourishment from the earth even so the body receives its sustenance from material sources; but the mistletoe derives its vitality not from the dark loam but from the tree and the air. The mistletoe is said to be luminous in the darkness, and has been called the wise mans torch. Its luminosity is the light of the internal organsthe aura of the brain. He who bears the branch announces his fitness to receive the initiation.
The neophyte lays the branch upon the iron altar; he gives himself to the law, assuming the responsibilities of spiritual progress. The sacred Word is spoken. The hallowed Bough bursts into flame: the sacrifice is accepted. The earth opens. Down through the Royal Arches as into a great abyss passes the candidate. The mists clear, revealing a vast cavernthe dark mother from which all things must comesimilar in significance to Porphyrys cave of the nymphs. The long white robe is the seamless garment of the Nazarene woven from the endless thread of experience. The copper lamp is enlightened love, without which no man may follow the narrow path of wisdom. Robed in purity, illumined with compassion and understanding, the neophyte follows the black vaulted passage which leads to immortality.
After a great distance the passage ends in a square room from which lead four doors. This is the Hall of Choosing. The doors signify the courses which the soul can pursue. The black door is the path of asceticism and labor; the red door is that of faith; the blue door is that of purification, and the white door is that of adept-ship and of the highest Mysteries. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes these paths and those who follow them, and reveals that the last is the highest and the most perfect.
The neophyte enters through the black door of asceticism and labor and is about to pass through the red door of enlightened love when it closes upon him. He then turns to the door of purification and sacrifice but this will not receive him. Then the star, the symbol of his essential dæmon or genius, darts through the white door. Fate has decreed adeptship. The neophyte follows his star.
The alchemical significance of the account reveals that at the beginning of the Great Work the power of choice is given to the operator, that he may decide the end to which his labor shall be directed. The black door represents the making of material gold; the red door the Universal Medicine for the healing of the nations;
the blue door the Elixir of Life, and the white door the Philosophers Stone. From the door which is chosen we discover that aspect of the Great Work which our author contemplates.
(Figure III, page 44) Two lions, one red and the other black, guard the Crown. The Crown is Kether, the fountain of wisdom. The king of beasts symbolizes nobility and rulership. In ancient times, figures of lions adorned the thrones of princes. These animals were also guardians of gates, and in Egypt the Sphinx, the man-headed lioness guarded the entrance to the House of the Mysteries.
The inscription upon the flank of the lion is inverted. An inverted symbol signifies a perverted power: thus, nobility becomes tyranny and greatness leads to despotism. In the introduction to his writing, St.-Germain warns his disciples of two adversaries which the neophyte must overcome. One he terms the misuse of power and the other indiscretion. The black lion represents tyranny and the red lion, lust. Those who would accomplish wisdom must overcome these animals if they would reach the Crown which lies beyond. The black lion is the temptation of powerthe impulse to build temporal empire in a spiritual universe. The red lion is the temptation to possess. Its ministers in the human body are the sense perceptions which would deflect the aspiring candidate from his holy course and lead him into the fantastic sphere of appetite and desire. There can be no compromise with these monsters of perversion.
With the vision there appears suspended the strung bow of the will and two lance-pointed arrows. Quickly must the bow be drawn and to the heart of each beast a shaft be driven. "Kill out desire," decrees the eastern master. "Slay ambition," wrote the western sage. The clouds upon which the lions stand signify the unsubstantiality of the worlds pomp and circumstance, while in the clear sky above, the golden Crown floats unsupported. Wisdom is a sufficient foundation for itself, but all other bodies and conditions depend for their support upon the frail stuff "that dreams are made on."
The panel above the lions commands that man should bend the knee and worship the all-powerful God who sends forth His love in winged splendor from the first angle of the world. (Aries.) It also informs that the sixth sign, which is mighty and powerful, is the ending and completion of the ages. Virgo, the sixth sign of the zodiac, is the symbol of service and renunciation by which the lions may be overcome. He who gives up life for wisdom shall receive a fuller life.
Beneath the lions is a panel containing Greek characters which mean: "Each must sprinkle himself with his own wine from the mountain of Chios. He must drink to God before the wood. He must give himself in exchange for that for which he yearns." These words are from an old ritual. Wood was the symbol of Dionysius and it was in honor of this god of the wood and of the vine that the ritual of the Communion was first established. To drink of ones own blood or to sprinkle oneself with his own wine is to be immersed in or tinctured by the inner soul power.
[paragraph continues] Fermentation was the presence of Bacchus or the life in the juice of the grape, and the Greeks used the symbol of intoxication, as do the Sufis of Islam, to represent ecstacy. A man in an ecstatic state was described by them as being one "intoxicated with God."
Analysis of the Text.
The first initiation is that of earth, represented by the black marble passage, ways in the subterranean regions of the volcano. To pass this test the body must be subdued in all its parts and become a perfect instrument of the enlightened will. The bodily atoms and molecules must be vibrated anew until there is no part of the physical fabric which does not pulsate with spiritually directed energy.
The second mystery in the order of the Memphis Rite is that of water, and at the beginning of this section the candidate finds himself standing on the shore of a vast underground lake. This is the sea of ether which separates the two worlds. It is the humidic body of the earth, the sphere of generation. He who would reach the invisible world must cross this sea, that is, become master of the generative powers of nature. Led by the blazing star, the candidate throws himself into the midst of the waves. With his lamp upon the crown of his head (the spirit fire lifted into the pineal gland) he struggles for mastery over the currents of the etheric world. His strength fails, and he cries out to the Universal Cause for help. A boat appears, in it seated the king of the earth with a golden crown upon his forehead. But the boat is pointed back toward the shore from which the neophyte has come. The crowned man offers the kingdoms of the earth but the disciple of wisdom who has risen above these things cannot be thus easily tempted. Strengthened by the courage of righteous decision and aided by the invisible genii, the candidate fights his way to the distant shore. Before him rises the silvery wall of the moon, the lady of the sea, whose dominion he has passed.
The fire initiation awaits him. Having mastered the vital principle of nature by which growth and propagation are controlled, the candidate next faces ambition, the fire of pride and the flaming tyranny of emotional excess. He beholds the lions, the fire symbols. The key to the course of action is revealed by the hieroglyphics. The lions, the writing and the wall dissolve. The path stretches out through the sphere of eternal flame.
The alchemical aspect of the symbolism is one of purification or the passing of the elements of the Stone through a bath. In this process of purification they pass from an earthy state through a vaporous or watery condition, to a fiery or gaseous quality. The lunar humidity present in all bodies must be dried out, which led the Greek philosophers to declare that "a dry soul is a wise one." The Platonists interpreted this to mean that the mastery of the lunar principle brought to an end the reign of corruption by which all bodies are finally dissolved. The moon rules physical generation or the perpetuation of corruptible forms, but the sun has dominion over spiritual generation, the creation of incorruptible bodies. Man is the progeny of fire (the sun), water (the moon), and air (the bird of Thoth). The
temptation by the king with the golden crown suggests one of the most common difficulties of the alchemical tradition. Those who attempted the art in most cases failed in their quest for wisdom because they became fascinated with dreams of wealth. Material gold tempts the alchemist away from his spiritual quest for enlightenment and immortality.
(Figure IV, page 48) Upon an altar formed of the twelve whorls of a winged serpent twisted about a spear rests the cup of Everlastingness. The device is derived from the cyclic serpent so often used in the Rites of Serapis. The twelve coils of the snake are emblematic of the philosophic year and the spiral course of the Ain through the zodiacal constellations. In the preparation of the Wise Mans Stone the elements pass through twelve stages of augmentation. In each of these cycles the power of the matter is intensified, a fact which is suggested by the increasing size of the serpents spirals. The figure is also reminiscent of what the sages termed the philosophic vortexthe natural form of the soul power in the human body.
In Isis Unveiled, H. P. Blavatsky writes: "Before our globe had become egg-shaped or round it was a long trail of cosmic dust or fire-mist, moving and writhing like a serpent. This, say the explanations, was the Spirit of God moving on the Chaos until its breath had incubated cosmic matter and made it assume the annular shape * * *". In the Chaldean Oracles the Universal Fire is described as moving with a serpentine motion. The present symbol is the Universal Wisdom moving as a winged serpent upon the surface of the primitive chaosthat is, the unregenerated body of the neophyte. The ritual of the Sabazian Mysteries included the drawing of a live snake across the breast of the candidate. In the drawing, the serpent is twisted around the backbonethe spearand forms an appropriate support for the cup of immortality.
Beside this strange altar stands the jewelled sword. Faintly traceable upon its sheath are the ancient symbols of the eye, the heart, and the mouth, symbolic of the three persons of the Creative Triadlife in the heart, light in the eye, breath in the mouth. The life, the light, and the breath are the sources of all things and from their union in the cruciform symbol the candidate must fashion the weapon for his protection against the elemental darkness. The cycle symbol must be overcome by wisdom. This is "the sword of quick decision" with which the Oriental neophyte must cut low the snaky branches of the world banyan tree, the emblem of the self-replenishing cycles and the law of rebirth. The serpent is the spiral of evolution; the cup contains the shining Nirvanic sea into which the soul is finally merged; the sword is the illumined willthe same sword which solves the enigma of lifes Gordian Knot by cutting it with a single stroke.
The cryptic words on the upper panel carry out this thought. Translated, they are: "Reverence this vessel (the ark or cup) of Everlastingness; offer freely of yourself a portion unto IA (Iah or Jah, Jehovah) and to the corner (or angle) in
atonement." This is derived from the symbolism of the Chaldeans, who regarded the Universal Cause as the Lord of the Angles.
Analysis of the Text.
The candidate enters upon the place of fire. A great sea of flames (the astral world) stretches out in every direction, bubbling and seething with an infernal fury. The dæmon orders the candidate to advance. With his mind fixed upon Reality, the disciple obeys, only to discover that the fire has lost its heat, and he walks unharmed into the midst of the conflagration. He finds himself in the Temple of Sidereal Fire, in the midst of which is the greenish-gold form of a serpent with ruby eyes and diapered scales. The nature of the fire is clearly revealed, for we are told that one-half of it burns with a vivid light, while the other half is shadowed and blackish. Here is the serpent of the astral light, which, according to Eliphas Levi, is twined around every flower that grows in the garden of Kama, or desire. The yogi in his meditation knows well the meaning of the House of Fire and the serpent which guards it. Here the candidate discovers the significance of the Universal Fire-Spirit which, turned downward, is the root of all evil, but if it be lifted up, draws all men to wisdom. The serpent-fire must be overcome. The sword is at hand, and with it the candidate strikes at the brazen coils. Brass is the composite metal symbolic of the body of man, before it is reduced by philosophy to its simple elements.
The Lord of the Fire World is vanquished. The senses are controlled; the appetites are under the iron dominion of the will. Anger, hate, and pride have been exiled from the soul. The three fires of illusion have died out. The whole mirage of the astral light fades amidst a terrifying outburst of sound and color. The candidate is lifted through the Arches of the underworld. He passes quickly through the monsters that dwell on the boundaries of excess. The cruciform sword scatters the foul throng of darkness. Upward and upward, through the numerous layers of the globe (the orbits of the interior stars) the neophyte rises, after his three days (degrees) in the darkness of Hades. The stone is rolled away, and at last, with a burst of glory, he rises into the light of daythe air sphere where dwells the mind which must be conquered next.
The alchemical philosophy is evident. The circular space is a distilling vessel which stands in the midst of the furnace flame. The serpent represents elements within the retort, and the candidate portrays other elements which have the power to dissolve and corrode the serpent. The rising of the candidate upward through the walls of the globe here signifies the vapors which, ascending through the long neck of the distilling vessel, escape from the heated inferno below.
(Figure V, page 50) The strange bird hovering above the altar fire is the sacred Ibis, symbol of Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and letters, and the patron of alchemy. It is the volatile philosophical Mercury which can remain in a suspended state only "when in the midst of the flames." By the philosophical Mercury we
must understand the regenerated principle of intellectmind rendered truly luminous by the flame of inspiration. In its beak the bird carries a green branch, the acacia of Freemasonrythe symbol of rebirth and immortality through spiritual enlightenment. The black feet and wings signify the earth principle, the silvery body the water principle, the red head the fire principle, and the golden neck the airy principle. The spiritual bodies of the elements are thus united in a philosophical creature, the bird of the wise menthe phnix.
Beside the bird and the altar is an elaborate candlestick, its base formed of twisted serpents. (Ida and Pingala?) The upper end of the candlestick terminates in a lotus blossom from which rises a lighted taper.This is the soul light, the inner radiance which reveals the secret of the bird. As mans external existence is lighted by an external sun, by which he perceives all temporal concerns, so his internal existence is illuminated by the light of the soul, the radiance of which renders visible the workings of the divine mind within.
The inscription beneath reads: "To the strong is given the burden." This refers to the qualifications for adeptship. The great truths of life can be conferred only upon those who have been tested in the essentials of character and understanding. In the panel above, the reader is instructed to "Kindle a fire upon the high place, that the sacrifice may be borne upward to the Desired One." The symbolism is borrowed from the ceremonials of the old Jews. Upon the altar of burnt incense a fire was continually burning. This is the fire of holy aspiration which consumes the base elements of the body and transmutes them into soul qualities, symbolized by the incense fumes, and these ascend as evidence of the spiritual convenant between aspiring humanity and its Creator.
The panel to the right describes the ceremony which accompanies the building of the sacred fire. The one on the left is part of a ritual, in substance as follows: "When the years of this existence are done, and the soul, outbreathing at death, approaches the gate of immortality, may the bird bear it swiftly away to the abode of the wise." In the Egyptian rites, the soul of the Initiate departed in the form of a bird which is shown hovering over the couch on which the mummy lies. The soul-bird with the green branch refers to the Messianic Mystery as set forth in the Book of the Dead. Wisdom confers immortality upon the soul. Without wisdom, the soul must perish with the body. This is the secret of the ritual of the Coming Forth by Day or the Breathing Out of the Ka.
Analysis of the Text.
The candidate next experienced the mystery of the airy or intellectual principle. He is raised out of the subterranean depths by his guardian spirit and lifted into the higher atmosphere. Below him is the desert. Special attention is called to triangular massesthe pyramids. An early manuscript in our collection affirms that the Egyptians were able to manufacture the Philosophers Stone without artificial heat by burying the retort in the desert sand, which furnished the exact temperature for alchemical experiments. The desert is here a symbol for the aridity
and unproductivity of the unawakened consciousness. In the physical universe spiritual values languish, yet in the midst of this mortal sphere stand the pyramids, supreme symbols of spiritual alchemytemples of initiation in the desert of waiting. It is significant that the atmosphere of Egypt is peculiarly conducive to the perpetuation of ancient monuments of learning which, when moved from their old footings, rapidly crumble away. Thus material life, the desert, is a natural laboratory in which the supreme chemistry is accomplished through suffering and aspiration.
The account of the rising and falling of the candidate through space relates to the alternations of the substances in the retort by which they pass through a cycle of attenuation and precipitation, to be finally drawn off through the neck of the vessel. Hermes uses this figure to set forth the mystery of rebirth, the periodic alternation of the soul from a temporal to a sidereal condition, and its final liberation through initiation. Reaching the upper extremity of the intellectual sphere, the candidate is incapable of further function, and swoons.
Upon regaining consciousness he discovers himself to be invested with a starry garment, the same spoken of by Apuleius in his Metamorphosis, and also that worn by the adepts of the Mithraic Rite. By the starry garment is represented not only the auric body but the new universal aspect of beingthe sidereal consciousness bestowed by the experience of initiation. The candidate may return to the narrowness of his physical environment, but he can never again reduce his consciousness to the limitations of the material state. The starry body is his regenerated and illumined intellect.
The strange characters signifying the name of the bird with the green branch are decoded to mean "To be given the life"that is, immortality. The name of the altar reads: "The Crown, Kether"and is decoded, "When shall be the gate of entrance." Together, the two phrases mean: "Immortality shall be conferred at the gate of the House of Wisdom." The name of the torch is Light; but translated, the characters read: "The dernier shall be hidden away and forgotten." This coin of the prophet should be understood in the sense of the suit of Coins in the Tarot deck, for this suit represents the material body over which the symbol has rulership. The statement may then read: "The body of the wise man shall be concealed." This thought was faithfully followed by the old adepts. The tombs of the Initiates have never been discovered; and in the famous Rosicrucian cemetery the resting places of the Brothers are marked only by the Rose. During the initiation ceremonies, which took place in the invisible worlds, the physical body of the neophyte was hidden in a secret place where no disturbing forces could reach it while the soul was exploring the mysteries of Amenti. Body here also represents personality and the whole personal sphere of life which must be cast aside and forgotten; also the personal ego which must die or be buried that the Universal Self may be born from its seed.
(Figure VI, page 54) The altar which our author describes as being composed of
the four elements is triangular in shape. From this circumstance two sacred numbers are produced: the square (4) plus the triangle (3) equals 7; and the four elements of the altar multiplied by the triangle equals 12. From this the composition of the world is made apparent. Nature is a triangular arrangement of four elements; and the divine world, of which the zodiac is a proper symbol, consists of these elements multiplied three times, or in their three primary states. The altar is the human body; its material partsthe squareare arranged in the spiritual ordera triangle. Upon the altar are the three symbols from the previous diagram. They are so placed as to form a triangle, and we must understand them as salt, sulphur and Mercurybody, spirit, and soul.
In the air above the altar is the crux ansata, the symbol of generation and fecundity. This may be considered as copperthe metal of Venus, and a symbol of the reproductive energy of the soul. Venus is the Lucifer of the ancients, the light bearer, the star of self-knowledge. This symbol must remind the sage that the power to multiply is common to both the internal and external man. As bodies generate bodies, so the inner body, the soul, generates the archetypes of personalities. By alchemy, wisdom perpetuates itself by applying to its own peculiar purposes the same laws by which forms are perpetuated in the corporeal sphere.
The whole figure is a symbol of spiritual generation, the mystery of Melchisedek, who is his own father and his own mother and is above the law. It sets forth perpetual reenergization by the use of the Stone. It tells of the very power, which St.-Germain himself possessed, of continuing from century to century by means of the subtle Elixir, the secret of which was known only to himself and his Masters. First, the three parts of the composite man spirit, soul, and bodymust be brought into equilibrium, and from this equilibrium is born the Homunculi or Crystal Man. This Man is an immortally generating ego capable of precipitating personalities at will, yet itself unchanged by these personalities and unlimited by them. Instead of the soul living in the body and prisoned by its limitations, a new condition is established: the body lives in the soul. To the adept, the physical form is but an instrument for the expression of consciousness, intelligence, and actionrepresented by the candle, the bird, and the burning altar.
Analysis of the Text.
This part contains some of the most beautiful symbolism in the entire manuscript. The candidate, having transcended the four elements, now continues into the sphere of higher causations, where he is instructed in the great Cabbalistic principles by which the universal integrity is preserved. The palace is the archetypal spherePlatos world of Ideas. The simple geometric arrangement reveals the divine harmony.
The doors of the archetypal world swing open and the Hierophant of the Order comes forth. It is He who was called the Master of the Hidden House, the Initiator, the Keeper of the Keys of Thoth. Alchemy is a religion of fire, as is also Zarathustrism. The Magus therefore wears the insignias of Zoroaster and speaks in the
language of the Fire Prophet. The names which the Hierophant gives to the bird, the torch and the altar are the same as those given in the preceding section.
In company with the Initiator the candidate enters the immense temple, whose 360 columns leave no doubt as to its identity with the universe. The altar already described, being the threefold cause of the material sphere, is placed in the center of the great hall. The Hierophant next informs the disciple as to the new names which have been bestowed upon the sacred objects. The bird is called Ampheercha, which is interpreted to mean that a mother shall bear the likeness, or double. This is a reference to the Immaculate Conception and to the Secret Doctrine as the mother of the adepts. The name for the altar appears to be the word for priest but refers to the Initiator as the one through whom the disciple is born in the second or philosophic birth, a mystery more fully explained in the name of the torch. The hall is called Sky (the firmament) but involves in the formation of its characters the Cabbalistic admonition: "Worship the glory which is to come." The triangular altar is Athanor, a self-feeding digesting furnace used by the alchemists, but the word may be divided into two. The first part then means immortality and the second, the four quarters of the heavens.
The eighty-one Thrones placed within the palace of the Sky, each at the top of nine steps, are of great significance. The Rosicrucian Mysteries consisted of nine lesser and three greater rites or degreesa system which may be traced directly to the Cabbala. Out of Kether, the universal Crown, issue the nine Sephiroth and from each of these in turn issue nine others. Nine is the sacred number of Man, and in the old Cabbala, Adam (ADM) is the numerical equivalent of r, 4, and 40numbers whose sum is 9. The symbolism of the nine is continued throughout mystical literature. The Eleusinian Mysteries were given in nine nocturnal ceremonials to represent the months of the prenatal epoch. By Cabbalistic addition, eighty-one equals nine, and the Thrones signify the eighty-one branches growing upon the great World Tree. The schools of the Lesser Mysteries are patterned from the universal harmony and here we see set forth the arrangement of the secret Brotherhood.
The name for the great hall is repeated in the text at the point where the venerable members of the school enter and take their seats. The disciple receives his philosophical name. He is called the Wise Man and the words mean: "To be the Face or Manifestor of the Most High." The nine masters of the lodge then bestow their gifts. The first gives a cube of gray earth representing the element of earth; the second, three cylinders of black stonethe three phases of the Moon; the third, a rounded crystalMercury; the fourth a crest of blue plumesVenus; the fifth, a silver vasethe Sun; the sixth, a cluster of grapesMars; the seventh, a birdJupiter; the eighth, a small altarSaturn; and the ninth, a torchthe fixed stars. For the understanding of the significance of these gifts, consider the following fragments from the Pyamander of Hermes relative to the ascension of the soul through the nine spheres and its return to the Lords of each of these spheres the gifts or limitations which are imposed by the laws of generation:
"After the lower nature has returned to the brutishness (the elements) the higher struggles again to regain its spiritual estate. It ascends the seven Rings upon which sit the Seven Governors and returns to each their lower powers in this manner: Upon the first ring sits the Moon, and to it is returned the ability to increase and diminish. Upon the second ring sits Mercury, and to it are returned machinations, deceit, and craftiness. Upon the third ring sits Venus, and to it are returned the lusts and passions. Upon the fourth ring sits the Sun, and to this Lord are returned ambitions. Upon the fifth ring sits Mars, and to it are returned rashness and profane boldness. Upon the sixth ring sits Jupiter, and to it are returned the sense of accumulation and riches. And upon the seventh ring sits Saturn, at the Gate of Chaos, and to it are returned falsehood and evil plotting.
"Then, being naked of all the accumulations of the seven Rings, the soul comes to the Eighth Sphere, namely, the ring of the fixed stars. Here, freed of all illusion, it dwells in the Light and sings praises to the Father in a voice which only the pure of spirit may understand."
The name for the cube of gray earth relates to the mystery of the spiritual birth; that of the three black cylinders is selflessness; that of the rounded crystal signifies the end of the ages or the cycles; that of the blue plumes is Aquarius or the Leg of the Great Man; that of the silver vase is the birth of the spirit; that of the grapes is regeneration; that of the bird, they who live in the light or truth; that of the altar, the fruitage of virtue, or ultimate good; and that of the torch "the springing forth," the Egyptian Coming Forth by Daythe completion, the ninth mystery. That the torch is really a symbol of the sphere of the fixed stars and of the corresponding strata of the human soul is further proved by the fact that the manuscript tells us that it is composed of brilliant particles.
The mastery of the nine parts of the soul constitutes the completion of the Lesser Mysteries and the full control of all bodily faculties, functions, and powers. The three Greater Mysteries lie beyond and are still symbolized by the bird, the torch, and the light. The Lesser Mysteries are rituals of self control and purification; the Greater Mysteries are rituals of creation. In nine processes man purifies himself, but only to the few are given the keys of the threefold creative Mystery: the creation of form, the creation of thought, and the creation of consciousness. Before leaving the chamber of initiation, the candidate drinks of the Water of Life, the nectar of the gods, which is explained by the philosophers as representing the blood of the Logos or the Sunthe divine energy which sustains the elect, and which is constantly flowing in the Grail of the Mysteries. According to the Greeks, the gods partake of no mortal food, but are nourished from the fountains of Eternal Good which spring up in the midst of the worlds. Having given the secret sign to the adepts, the new Initiate departs from the chamber by the right-hand path.
(Figure VII, page 60) The key to the seventh plate is equilibrium, this being the
virtue bestowed by the seventh sign of the zodiac, Libra, the Balance. Our author tells us that the central motif, two small circles and a pendant cross, is a sacred seal. This may be interpreted as the celestial sulphur and saltthe Sun and Moon. The suspended cross is the Lapis Philosophorum, composed of the regenerated elementssalt (earth), sulphur (fire), Mercury (air), and Azoth the æther (water of the sages). The Sun and Moon are the father and mother of the Philosophers Stone. They represent heaven and earth, from which is generated the crossman, the progeny of the two immortal agents, spirit and matter. The cross also signifies the equilibrium of man suspended between his origin and destiny. The arrangement of the figures indicates the adept in whom the union of all opposites has been effected. The Initiate is the rational androgyne.
Surrounding the central part of the symbol are two circles of figures. The inner circle is composed of cuneiform characters; the outer, of hieroglyphics derived from several ancient languages, arranged in a manner entirely arbitrary, and undecipherable without the original key. The circle of cuneiform characters must be interpreted by discovering the Hebrew equivalents of the arrow-pointed letters. The text is apparently prophetic, and at first reading may seem to refer to the cosmic change which arises from the tipping of the celestial Balance. In reality, however, the material deals strictly with changes which are to take place in the soul of the Initiate. The cuneiformed-Hebrew reads as follows, probably continuing from the outer circle of hieroglyphic text:
"And is the outbreathing of Everlastingness. Know that place (sign or symbol, probably a zodiacal constellation) to be the end (of the ages). The Leg (Aquarius, probably referring to the Aquarian Age or cycle) is the beginning of the destruction." In the zodiacal cycle of adeptship, Aquarius is the symbol of the final disintegration of the personality, for beyond it lies only Pisces, the Nirvana.
St.-Germains manuscript also describes an axe, not shown in the illustration. This is the instrument of separation, and would agree exactly with the interpretation of the figure. This whole device is suspended between two pillars of green marble. These may well be the Jachin and Boaz of Freemasonry. Students of the Cabbala will remember the third column which united these two, and which, like the great seal in this figure, represented the adept whose perfected constitution united wisdom and generationthe law and the prophets.
Analysis of the Text.
The Initiate again assumes the attributes of the alchemical substance from which the Universal Stone is to be prepared. The entire section is devoted to processes of purification, consisting of three baths. As the result of the first bath, the water in the steel vessel becomes discolored with the impurities given off by the philosophical matter. In the second bath the elements of the Stone are impregnated with a mysterious reddish liquid of an extremely corrosive quality. In the third bath the corrosive principle is washed away. These three processes, which require
sixteen days, completely purify the matter, which then passes on to its next augmentation.
From a mystical viewpoint, the vessel filled with crystal-clear water is the laver of purification placed in the courtyard of the Tabernacle of the ancient Jews. The high priests who served the Lord must cleanse themselves with the water from the laver before they could perform the sacred duties of their office. The ceremony of baptism is but the outer symbol of the inner truth. The Absolute Cause of all things in its impersonal and utterly diffused condition was regarded as a vast ocean filling all space. The Schamayim, which is the divine fiery waterthe out-flowing of the Word of Goddescends from the divine Presence. Dividing in the middle distance between spirit and matter, it becomes solar fire and lunar water. This Schamayim was known to the alchemists as the Universal Mercury, and is called Azoth, the measureless Spirit of Life. This spiritual, fiery, original water passes through Eden (which in Hebrew means "vapor") and pours itself into four main riversthe elements which are the conditions of the Universal Mercury. This is the tincturing water by which the righteous are baptised. It is this water, the Universal Mercury, the solvent of the sages, by which the spiritual baptism is given. He who is immersed in this water, or who receives the heavenly Schamayim into himself, becomes cleansed and purified. This Schamayim contains within itself the twofold baptism. Its lunar power baptises with waterthe baptism given by John the Baptist; but its solar principle baptises with firethe Messianic baptism.
The Initiates of the ancient Mysteries being lifted up into an apotheistic condition, received the divine baptism. They were immersed in God, and by this immersion they were washed clean of the black spot of original sin, which, according to Mohammed, is in the heart of every mortal. The Schamayim of the alchemists is the Shining Sea of the Buddhists, the boundless Nirvanic ocean, the water of space constantly alight with God.
The silver axe with blue handle, attached to the column, is called the destroyer; but the translation is: "Lift the voice to its fullness in chant. (Or song.)" The axe is the ancient symbol of the Initiated Builders, the "hewers of wood." It is also the emblem of separation or division, and is an appropriate figure to represent separation through purification.
The sign of Libra, which rules the seventh operation of the philosophical mystery, divides the lower from the upper hemisphere of the zodiac. It is also the ancient sign of the Passover, a feast which signified the passing over of life from a material to an immaterial condition by the alchemical baptism. The gross particles of the soul are washed away and life is prepared for a supersubstantial existence.
(Figure VIII, page 62) In the sky blazes the philosophical sun, within it the face of the Logos. Its rays are concealed by the same clouds which must ever hide the Divine Light from the eyes of the profane. The Lion is now crowned, its coronet
having seven rays, symbolic of the seven energies of the will. This is no longer the despotic lion of the earlier illustration. Ambition has been transmuted into aspiration; and that impulse which, unregenerated, lures men on to temporal destruction, is now the force which bestows courage upon spiritual enterprise.
The bunch of grapes symbolizes illumination. A curious work on alchemy states that the grape has a special affinity for gold, and that when vineyards are planted in areas where gold is abundant, the roots of the vine absorb the minute particles of this precious metal and distribute them throughout its stalk, leaves, and fruit. In alchemy, gold is the symbol of the Supreme Principle. The Nazarene likened His disciples and Himself to a vine with its fruits. The grape cluster is an appropriate symbol for the school of the adepts, for the Initiates grow together upon a single branch. Here also is a subtle allusion to the blood, which carries within it the golden particles of the sun. The lion and the grapes restate the old formula wisdom and generation.
The panels of characters on either side of the brazier contain fragments from old rituals and mystery texts. The one upon the right reads: "Kindle a light at the appointed timethe seventh hour of the dawning." This is followed by an obscure reference to the coming forth of five at the full sun (noon) and the panel concludes with the admonition: "Dance in a circle and prophecy.-
The panel at the left is also descriptive of a ceremony: "Honor is paid to the Giver of life.- The Initiate is admonished to sacrifice his Ka or soul. The number q appears, and the symbol of the ark or coffin in which candidates are buried in the mystery. Then the full face of the sun appears, to represent resurrection. There is an allusion to the gate in the heavens and the ascension of the Ka. With the aid of Egyptian metaphysics, it is not difficult to decipher these symbols. The number
refers to the nine Lesser Mysteries associated with the box or coffinthe body. The sun-face is the resurrection, and the whole panel describes the passage of the soul (Ka) through the invisible worlds as set forth in the symbolism of the Pyramid Rites. This is appropriately placed in the eighth division of the manuscript, inasmuch as the eighth sign of the zodiac is Scorpio and it was in a certain degree of this sign that the high priest released the Ka of his disciple into the Amenti.
Analysis of the Text.
The eighth section of the manuscript is devoted largely to an understanding of the mystery of the alchemical salt. Of this mystery of alchemy Eliphas Levi writes: "To separate the subtile from the gross * * * is to liberate the soul from the prejudices and (from) all vice, which is accomplished by the use of Philosophical Salt, that is to say, Wisdom; of Mercury, that is, personal skill and application; finally, of Sulphur, representing vital energy and fire of will. By these are we enabled to change into spiritual gold things which are of all least precious, even the refuse of the earth." The Salt of the sages is wisdom derived from experience, for experience is the salt of earthiness, or the material state, and a wise man is the salt of the earth. In our manuscript the salt is called "the first among the regenerated." When the
[paragraph continues] Initiate impregnates himself with salt, it is equivalent to saying that he makes wisdom part of himself. Salt is a preservative of bodies, just as wisdom is a preservative of souls. Decay cannot affect that one who has discovered the wise mans salt.
Leaving the circular apartment and the mass of white and shining salt, the Initiate approaches the edge of a somber lake, and perceives at a distance a bridge called the strong to be subdued. The term also signifies a reflector or a shadow suspended over the lake, and betokens the Rainbow Bridge, the Bifrost of the Scandanaviansthe bridge which leads from earth upward to Asgard, the terrestrial paradise where dwell the twelve Ases, the Hierophants of the world.
The eighth sign of the zodiac is Scorpio, well represented by the dark and somber waters. The sign of Scorpio was especially venerated by the Rosicrucians, who performed certain of their rituals only when the sun was in this constellation. With great difficulty the Initiate forces his way through the morass of Scorpio to reach the great temple of Sagittarius which looms in front and above.
(Figure IX, p. 66) As this section signifies Sagittarius it is most appropriate that the figure of a horse should appear in the symbolism. The Trojan Horse, concealing within its body the army of conquering Greeks, represents the occult force of this constellation by which the Trojans (the material world) fighting to defend Helen (the lunar principle) were finally overcome. In astrology the ninth house, which corresponds to Sagittarius, is the house of the sacerdotal class, the priesthood, or the Mysteries. The hollow horse with the men inside is, therefore, the temple and its adepts.
In our figure, an unusual application is made of this symbolism. A corpse is falling from the horse. Beyond the ninth degree the physical body cannot go, therefore it must here be cast off. Form can go no furtherthe corpse is cast out of the temple.
The Arabic text at the top of the plate reads: "That which is hidden shall be brought to view" or "the hidden things (sins) are to be stripped off." The cuneiform consists of the following legend: "The gate of the end (completion or conclusion) when the Leg or the Waterman turns in the circle (the equinox in Aquarius)." In the boxlike frame is the following: "The select fewhow many are there? Forty who in brotherly love assemble together to the four quarters and the Bird. Here below (in the mortal sphere) to be held (gathering or assembly) until in its place is the coming in the fourth quarter (Aquarius)." The large characters MB refer to the alchemical process whereby the mortification and destruction of the body is accomplished. The floriate letters are words to be completed by the addition of other letters. When this has been done, the sentence reads: "Seek after the all-powerful Lord who is the guardian of the Tree of Life." In the lower half of the figure a red-robed man is attempting to restore life to the corpse. This is fire (or iron) striving to revivify the ashes, an alchemical emblem.
Analysis of the Text.
In the ninth step of the ritual, the Initiate comes face to face with the last great enemydeath, which must be experienced, understood, and overcome. In the gloom of the great chamber with its ebon walls he perceives the strange Horse of Troy. Here is putrefaction, the end of all ignorance and the gate of life. The Initiate spends nine days in the contemplation of this mystery, and is about to take up some of the foul and disintegrating substance lying piled in a corner, when he is warned by an invisible voice that the time has not yet come.
In Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the zodiac, the theory of philosophy is perfected, for the world was created in six days but Art is perfected in nine. Hermes writes thus: "But this multiplication (the augmentation of the Philosophers Stone) cannot be carried on ad infinitum, but it attains completeness in the ninth rotation; for when this tincture has been rotated nine times it cannot be exalted any further, because it will not permit any further separation." After theory comes practice, after operation follows use. The adept, realizing that he already possesses the power to tincture matter, would experiment with the black decaying earth in the ninth chamber, but is prevented from so doing. He must yet receive the three Greater Keys, for the power to accomplish transmutation is imperfect until spiritual vision reveals the proper ends which the adept must accomplish.
After leaving the house of putrefaction the Initiate observes that his rohe changes color, becoming at last a beautiful green. This is a direct allusion to the alchemical formula. We are told that during the processes of digestion the alchemical substance changes color, which has given rise to its being called the peacock because of its iridescence during one of the periods of its digestion. The various colored garments worn by the several degrees of the ancient priestcrafts represented stages of spiritual unfoldment. According to the same rule, in the preparation of the Wise Mans Stone the base substance passes through a philosophical spectrum, turning from one color to another according to the end which the operator desires to achieve.
The three cryptic words with which the section is concluded cause the last sentence to read: "The name of the hall is corruption. The name of the first lake is the beginning of corruption, and the name of the second lake the end of corruption." The three cypher words, when connected, give the meaning: "Corruption is the beginning of decay and corruption is followed by death." In the perfecting of the Stone of the Wise Man it was discovered that it is impossible to unite the various elements into new fundamental patterns until each has been reduced to its most simple and original condition. This reduction, or the destroying of the personality of the elements, is the philosophical corruption which, brought about by Art, destroys all the apparent differences in the alchemical materials, and renders possible a perfect mingling of their principles to eventuate in the formation of the divine Stone. Mystically, the philosophic death is the destruction of the numerous aspects of the personality, so that from the soul and its extensions (the divine elements) may be formed the Diamond Soul of the Rose Cross.
(Figure X, p. 70) A man robed in a green garment edged with gold, and bearing a lance, is arising amidst vaporous clouds from an open sarcophogus. Above the human figure is suspended a golden crown of light. The whole symbolizes the annual rebirth of the sun in the tenth zodiacal signthe winter solstice in Capricorn. As the tenth month of the philosophic year, this hieroglyph sets forth the first of the three Greater Mysteries which are presided over by the constellations of Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
The drawing depicts the final victory of the spiritualized soul over the limitations of the bodily tomb. The green garment reveals the adept to be clothed in his illumined soul, which is under the rulership of Venus. The breastplate bears upon it cryptic letters which mean LIFE. The Initiate has achieved immortality. For him the tomb will be forever empty. He has become one of that small band of the enlightened "whom death has forgotten."
The Arabic characters on the lid of the coffin admonish the Elect that they should seize upon a certain undesignated mystery "when the sixth sign or age is to be the breath." These words evidently refer to the parts of a ritual. That which is to be seized upon is the "master secret of alchemy." The tomb is also the burial place of the master of magic whose dernier (or body) was hidden, according to an earlier figure. In one of the early Rosicrucian books is described a curious practice of the Brethren. They are said to have periodically retired into their glass eggs, where they rested for a certain number of years, after which they broke through the walls and emerged again. This allegory in turn alludes to the periodic withdrawal of the Mysteries from society and their reappearance "after a certain time has passed." From the inscription we are led to infer that the periods during which the secret Brotherhood comes forth from its obscurity are regulated by the astronomical cycles of the zodiac. We may read from the symbols, "When the sixth sign is the life-giver I will come forth."
The hieroglyphics in the panel at the top of the page are descriptive of the philosophic resurrection. They read in substance: "To be freed with a shout of joy when the downpouring of the holy Spirit descends." There is also mention of a covenant of blood with the One at the time of the fourth quarter, that is, the Waterman with the Face. (Aquarius.)
Analysis of the Text.
Death is followed by resurrection. Man must die many times in order that he may finally achieve immortality. The butterfly which decorates the portals of the alabaster palace indicates clearly that the mystery of rebirth is the subject of the tenth initiation. "The three stages through which the butterfly passes in its unfoldment correspond to the three degrees of the Mystery School, which degrees are regarded as consummating the unfoldment of man by giving him emblematic wings by which he may soar to the skies. Unregenerated man, ignorant and helpless,
is symbolized by the stage between ovum and larva; the diciple, seeking truth and dwelling in meditation, by the second stage from larva to pupa, at which time the insect enters its chrysalis (the tomb of the Mysteries);the third stage from pupa to imago (wherein the perfect butterfly comes forth) typifies the unfolded and enlightened soul of the Initiate rising from the tomb of his baser nature." (See my Encyclopedic Outline of Symbolical Philosophy.) The threefold mystery of the butterfly is further suggested by the triple colonnade separated by aisles and passageways.
The cryptic name of the hail indicates that it symbolizes the life cycle and also the sphere of retribution. Translated, it reads: "At the outpouring of the Almighty (the persecutors or the adversaries) shall be shut up and overcome." Von Welling, in his Opus, describes how the rebel angelsthe elementary spiritswere locked in the dark elements of the material universe as punishment for their rebellion. Alchemy, then, is the art of purifying these malcontents and restoring them to their original celestial state.
(Figure XI, page 72) As the tenth illustration represents the final liberation of the Divine Man from his physical limitations, so the eleventh depicts the attempt of the intellect to break away from bondage to the animal soul. The powerful man with his girdle and helmet of iron, and his crest of red plumes, is the Demiurgus or Regent of the physical world, the governor of the senses and appetites. He is attempting to bind the spiritualized intellect to the rock of ignorance. The handsome youth bearing' the caduceus, is the philosophized intellect. The mastery of thought, which makes the mind a servant of the spiritual self, is the eleventh step of the old rite.
The whole phenomenal Universe against which the neophyte has struggled through his eleven strange and arduous adventures is personified in the red-plumed man. Here the world is making its last effort to hold the escaping superman. The effort is vain. No chains forged of earth can restrain or bind the Philosphical Mercury. We are told that in the alchemical processes this subtile essence can seep through an iron vessel (the warrior)or through glass or porcelainand vanish, in spite of every effort to capture its quintessence.
The eleventh figure contains numerous extraordinary and impressive hieroglyphics. The characters on the shield include a crossed scythe and sceptresignifying death and resurrection, or mortality and sovereignty. There is also the axe-blade, the hieroglyph of the hewer, the builder, or the geometrician. The smaller hieroglyphics mean egg and cave, and the lunar crescent may symbolize either a lunar quarter or a gateway. These symbols unquestionably refer to steps in the initiatory drama.
The words in the panel at the top of the figure may be translated: "To be the sign of the Leg with Everlastingness, to pour out and to be the herald of destruction." The thought is evidently prophetic, referring to the destruction of the
unrighteous in the sign of Aquarius, the constellation which rules the eleventh section of the work.
The writing below the figures is purely mystical: "It is given that the evil shall be trodden out in the sixth portico." The soul, in its spiritual cycle of regeneration, crosses from the lower to the upper hemisphere of the zodiac at the end of the sixth sign, Virgo, or the Virgin. This virgin is the mother of the Messiahs. As physical generation begins in Aries, so the generation of the wise begins with the Mother (the Mysteries) from whom they are born into the celestial hemisphere. The old order cannot proceed beyond the sixth gate, for the seventh is that of the new man or the second birtha mystery hinted at in our inscription.
Analysis of the Text.
The Initiate, departing from the palace of the resurrection, sees fluttering before him the mysterious bird Ampheercha which now, however, has the wings of the butterfly added to its own. The Cabbalistic meaning of the birds name is: "A mother shall bear the likeness." The intellectual energy of the Hermetic Ibis is now perfected by soul power, represented by the diaphanous wings of the butterfly. Apuleius created the Psyche myth as a method of setting forth the Hermetic Marriage or the union of the reason with the perfected soul. This is the second Greater Mystery: the accomplishment of the philosophic androgyne, in which the male and female principles of wisdomrepresented by the Ibis and the butterflyare united in one creature.
The Initiate is told to seize and affix the symbolic bird. For nine days (degrees) the adept pursues the bird, which he finally forces to enter the tower named corruption. The symbolism then continues, clothed in alchemical terms. The tower is the vessel for further digestion, through which the elements of the Stone must pass before their final perfection. The Initiate drives a steel nail through the wings of the bird. The name of the nail is an admonishment to make haste and complete the operation. The bird is therefore crucified to the wheel, as was the dove of Semiramis, or Ixion. The name of the hammer means to come forth and be manifest, an allusion to the strength of will with which this final operation must be accomplished.
Alchemically, the substance represented by the bird begins to gleam in the retort. The luminous quality intimates that the soul power of the Stone is beginning to shine triumphantly and that the arduous operations of the alchemist are about to be rewarded.
The Initiate departs. Having completed the eleventh Mystery and fixed the power of the soul-bird so that it can no more depart from him, he passes out between two great pillars, and finds himself once more in the Hall of Wisdom.
(Figure XII, page 76) The pilgrimage of the adept is at last completed. In the heavens
blazes the philosophic suna triangle surrounded by a circle and a square, representing the union of the diversified elements of nature into one divinely radiant and effulgent power. The female figure is Isisher body being no longer concealed by the black garment as in the second picture. She is Nature. With one hand she points upward towards the Divine Light which is her own Source, while with the other she carries three globes emblematic of the perfection of Art, the supreme Hermetic alchemy. The globes contain the three parts of the Philosophers Stone, bound together by gold rings.
The "large strong man" is the Initiate himself. Through the meshes of his golden armor protrudes the blue undergarment, his starry cloak. In his hand he carries a white wand ornamented with magical characters. This is the insignia of his rank, the baton of the adept.
The time for the twelfth and last step in the initiation is at hand. The crown which was previously in the heavens is now upon the Initiates helmet. Isis springs into the air, lifting with her the new Master. Nature, the heartless destroyer of the ignorant, is the gracious servant of the wise. Led by Nature herself, and lifted by her from an earthly state, the Wise Man ascends into the presence of the three Masters of the Universal Lodge whose radiant sun blazes in the sky.
In the twelfth zodiacal sign, Pisces, the Nirvana is accomplished, the Stone is projected, the secrets of Nature are revealed, and the Initiate soars upwards with the triumphant declaration of the Masters: "Consummatum Est."
Analysis of the Text.
The Initiate now identifies himself again with the alchemical matter and enters a crystal retort resting in a sand furnace which keeps it constantly at a gentle heat. The name of the hall is "A place where drops trickle." The basin sustaining it is "the desert of blazing fire," or "the agent which enables the drops to escape." From the bottom of the glass retort, vapors are constantly ascending. The adept is lifted up, and after thirty-six days is borne to the upper part of the globe. The heat being reduced, he descends, and discovers that the color of his garment has changed from green to brilliant red. "The solution in the alchemical retort, if digested a certain length of time, will turn into a red elixir, which is called the Universal Medicine. It resembles a fiery water, and is luminous in the dark." (See The True Way of Nature by Hermes.)
The adept himself is now the Universal Medicine. He is the very substance which is for the healing of the nations. His crimson garment is the vestment of the Red Elixir. He has become the Ruby-Diamond. After gazing upon a hieroglyphical picture, by which his instruction is perfected and completed, the new master of the Great Work finds himself again in the Hall of Thrones in the Wise Mans House.
He beholds the bird, the altar and the torch united into one spiritual body. Heaven, earth, and man have been united by the indissoluble bonds of Hermetic
wisdom. The projection of the Stone is the final testing of the completeness of the Work. The adept strikes the golden sun, shattering it into fragments. In his role of the Ruby-Diamond the Initiate then touches each of the broken parts and they too become suns as glorious as the original. The sun here represents the germ of the Universal Gold or the divinity present in all natures. This is broken into fragments, in agreement with the Bacchic tradition that the solar energy was distributed throughout nature. The philosopher then touches the fragments, and each becomes perfect. The alchemist is master of his Art, and by virtue of the Stone he releases and perfects the fragments of divinity locked within each mortal constitution.
The Supreme Judge of all works decrees that the adept has completed regeneration and that the Work is perfect. The children of lighthis brother Initiateshasten to join him. The gates of Universal Life are open, the veil of the mystae is lifted. The adept is now an epoptesone who sees clearly. The elemental spirits symbolizing bodily limitations acknowledge the mastery of the inner principles. The philosophic birth is complete. The ages acknowledge a new Master.