Saturday, May 15, 2010


From the book


by Manly P. Hall
[1928, copyright not renewed]

The text below is Part 2. Click here to start reading from Part 1.

The elementals who dwell in that attenuated body of the earth which is called the terreous ether are
grouped together under the general heading of gnomes. (The name is probably derived from the Greek
genomus, meaning earth dweller. See New English Dictionary.)
Just as there are many types of human beings evolving through the objective physical elements of
Nature, so there are many types of gnomes evolving through the subjective ethereal body of Nature.
These earth spirits work in an element so close in vibratory rate to the material earth that they have
immense power over its rocks and flora, and also over the mineral elements in the animal and human
kingdoms. Some, like the pygmies, work with the stones, gems, and metals, and are supposed to be the
guardians of hidden treasures. They live in caves, far down in what the Scandinavians called the Land of
the Nibelungen. In Wagner's wonderful opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelungen, Alberich makes
himself King of the Pygmies and forces these little creatures to gather for him the treasures concealed
beneath the surface of the earth.
Besides the pygmies there are other gnomes, who are called tree and forest sprites. To this group belong
the sylvestres, satyrs, pans, dryads, hamadryads, durdalis, elves, brownies, and little old men of the
woods. Paracelsus states that the gnomes build houses of substances resembling in their constituencies
alabaster, marble, and cement, but the true nature of these materials is unknown, having no counterpart
in physical nature. Some families of gnomes gather in communities, while others are indigenous to the
substances with and in which they work. For example, the hamadryads live and die with the plants or
trees of which they are a part. Every shrub and flower is said to have its own Nature spirit, which often
uses the physical body of the plant as its habitation. The ancient philosophers, recognizing the principle
of intelligence manifesting itself in every department of Nature alike, believed that the quality of natural
selection exhibited by creatures not possessing organized mentalities expressed in reality the decisions
of the Nature spirits themselves.
C. M. Gayley, in The Classic Myths, says: "It was a pleasing trait in the old paganism that it loved to
trace in every operation of nature the agency of deity. The imagination of the Greeks peopled the regions
of earth and sea with divinities, to whose agency it attributed the phenomena that our philosophy
ascribes to the operation of natural law." Thus, in behalf of the plant it worked with, the elemental
accepted and rejected food elements, deposited coloring matter therein, preserved and protected the
seed, and performed many other beneficent offices. Each species was served by a different but
appropriate type of Nature spirit. Those working with poisonous shrubs, for example, were offensive in
their appearance. It is said the Nature spirits of poison hemlock resemble closely tiny human skeletons,
thinly covered with a semi-transparent flesh. They live in and through the hemlock, and if it be cut down
remain with the broken shoots until both die, but while there is the slightest evidence of life in the shrub
it shows the presence of the elemental guardian.
Great trees also have their Nature spirits, but these are much larger than the elementals of smaller plants.
The labors of the pygmies include the cutting of the crystals in the rocks and the development of veins of
ore. When the gnomes are laboring with animals or human beings, their work is confined to the tissues
corresponding with their own natures. Hence they work with the bones, which belong to the mineral
kingdom, and the ancients believed the reconstruction of broken members to be impossible without the
cooperation of the elementals.
The gnomes are of various sizes--most of them much smaller than human beings, though some of them
have the power of changing their stature at will. This is the result of the extreme mobility of the element
in which they function. Concerning them the Abbé de Villars wrote: "The earth is filled well nigh to its
center with Gnomes, people of slight stature, who are the guardians of treasures, minerals and precious
stones. They are ingenious, friends of man, and easy to govern."
Not all authorities agree concerning the amiable disposition of the gnomes. Many state that they are of a
tricky and malicious nature, difficult to manage, and treacherous. Writers agree, however, that when
their confidence is won they are faithful and true. The philosophers and initiates of the ancient world
were instructed concerning these mysterious little people and were taught how to communicate with
them and gain their cooperation in undertakings of importance. The magi were always warned, however,
never to betray the trust of the elementals, for if they did, the invisible creatures, working through the
subjective nature of man, could cause them endless sorrow and probably ultimate destruction. So long as
the mystic served others, the gnomes would serve him, but if he sought to use their aid selfishly to gain
temporal power they would turn upon him with unrelenting fury. The same was true if he sought to
deceive them.
The earth spirits meet at certain times of the year in great conclaves, as Shakespeare suggests in his
Midsummer Night's Dream, where the elementals all gather to rejoice in the beauty and harmony of
Nature and the prospects of an excellent harvest. The gnomes are ruled over by a king, whom they
greatly love and revere. His name is Gob; hence his subjects are often called goblins. Mediæval mystics
gave a corner of creation (one of the cardinal points) to each of the four kingdoms of Nature spirits, and
because of their earthy character the gnomes were assigned to the North--the place recognized by the
ancients as the source of darkness and death. One of the four main divisions of human disposition was
also assigned to the gnomes, and because so many of them dwelt in the darkness of caves and the gloom
of forests their temperament was said to be melancholy, gloomy, and despondent. By this it is not meant
that they themselves are of such disposition, but rather that they have special control over elements of
similar consistency.
The gnomes marry and have families, and the female gnomes are called gnomides. Some wear clothing
woven of the element in which they live. In other instances their garments are part of themselves and
grow with them, like the fur of animals. The gnomes are said to have insatiable appetites, and to spend a
great part of the rime eating, but they earn their food by diligent and conscientious
Click to enlarge
From Gjellerup's Den Ældre Eddas Gudesange.
The type of gnome most frequently seen is the brownie, or elf, a mischievous and grotesque little creature from
twelve to eighteen inches high, usually dressed in green or russet brown. Most of them appear as very aged, often
with long white beards, and their figures are inclined to rotundity. They can be seen scampering out of holes in
the stumps of trees and sometimes they vanish by actually dissolving into the tree itself.
p. 107
labor. Most of them are of a miserly temperament, fond of storing things away in secret places. There is
abundant evidence of the fact that small children often see the gnomes, inasmuch as their contact with
the material side of Nature is not yet complete and they still function more or less consciously in the
invisible worlds.
According to Paracelsus, "Man lives in the exterior elements and the Elementals live in the interior
elements. The latter have dwellings and clothing, manners and customs, languages and governments of
their own, in the same sense as the bees have their queens and herds of animals their
leaders." (Philosophia Occulta, translated by Franz Hartmann.)
Paracelsus differs somewhat from the Greek mystics concerning the environmental limitations imposed
on the Nature spirits. The Swiss philosopher constitutes them of subtle invisible ethers. According to this
hypothesis they would be visible only at certain times and only to those en rapport with their ethereal
vibrations. The Greeks, on the other hand, apparently believed that many Nature spirits had material
constitutions capable of functioning in the physical world. Often the recollection of a dream is so vivid
that, upon awakening, a person actually believes that he has passed through a physical experience. The
difficulty of accurately judging as to the end of physical sight and the beginning of ethereal vision may
account for these differences of opinion.
Even this explanation, however, does not satisfactorily account for the satyr which, according to St.
Jerome, was captured alive during the reign of Constantine and exhibited to the people. It was of human
form with the horns and feet of a goat. After its death it was preserved in salt and taken to the Emperor
that he might testify to its reality. (It is within the bounds of probability that this curiosity was what
modern science knows as a monstrosity.)
As the gnomes were limited in their function to the elements of the earth, so the undines (a name given
to the family of water elementals) function in the invisible, spiritual essence called humid (or liquid)
ether. In its vibratory rate this is close to the element water, and so the undines are able to control, to a
great degree, the course and function of this fluid in Nature. Beauty seems to be the keynote of the water
spirits. Wherever we find them pictured in art or sculpture, they abound in symmetry and grace.
Controlling the water element--which has always been a feminine symbol--it is natural that the water
spirits should most often be symbolized as female.
There are many groups of undines. Some inhabit waterfalls, where they can be seen in the spray; others
are indigenous to swiftly moving rivers; some have their habitat in dripping, oozing fens or marshes;
while other groups dwell in clear mountain lakes. According to the philosophers of antiquity, every
fountain had its nymph; every ocean wave its oceanid. The water spirits were known under such names
as oreades, nereides, limoniades, naiades, water sprites, sea maids, mermaids, and potamides. Often the
water nymphs derived their names from the streams, lakes, or seas in which they dwelt.
In describing them, the ancients agreed on certain salient features. In general, nearly all the undines
closely resembled human beings in appearance and size, though the ones inhabiting small streams and
fountains were of correspondingly lesser proportions. It was believed that these water spirits were
occasionally capable of assuming the appearance of normal human beings and actually associating with
men and women. There are many legends about these spirits and their adoption by the families of
fishermen, but in nearly every case the undines heard the call of the waters and returned to the realm of
Neptune, the King of the Sea.
Practically nothing is known concerning the male undines. The water spirits did not establish homes in
the same way that the gnomes did, but lived in coral caves under the ocean or among the reeds growing
on the banks of rivers or the shores of lakes. Among the Celts there is a legend to the effect that Ireland
was peopled, before the coming of its present inhabitants, by a strange race of semi-divine creatures;
with the coming of the modem Celts they retired into the marshes and fens, where they remain even to
this day. Diminutive undines lived under lily pads and in little houses of moss sprayed by waterfalls. The
undines worked with the vital essences and liquids in plants, animals, and human beings, and were
present in everything containing water. When seen, the undines generally resembled the goddesses of
Greek statuary. They rose from the water draped in mist and could not exist very long apart from it.
There are many families of undines, each with its peculiar limitations, it is impossible to consider them
here in detail. Their ruler, Necksa, they love and honor, and serve untiringly. Their temperament is said
to be vital, and to them has been given as their throne the western corner of creation. They are rather
emotional beings, friendly to human life and fond of serving mankind. They are sometimes pictured
riding on dolphins or other great fish and seem to have a special love of flowers and plants, which they
serve almost as devotedly and intelligently as the gnomes. Ancient poets have said that the songs of the
undines were heard in the West Wind and that their lives were consecrated to the beautifying of the
material earth.
The third group of elementals is the salamanders, or spirits of fire, who live in that attenuated, spiritual
ether which is the invisible fire element of Nature. Without them material fire cannot exist; a match
cannot be struck nor will flint and steel give off their spark without the assistance of a salamander, who
immediately appears (so the mediæval mystics believed), evoked by friction. Man is unable to
communicate successfully with the salamanders, owing to the fiery element in which they dwell, for
everything is resolved to ashes that comes into their presence. By specially prepared compounds of
herbs and perfumes the philosophers of the ancient world manufactured many kinds of incense. When
incense was burned, the vapors which arose were especially suitable as a medium for the expression of
these elementals, who, by borrowing the ethereal effluvium from the incense smoke, were able to make
their presence felt.
The salamanders are as varied in their grouping and arrangement as either the undines or the gnomes.
There are many families of them, differing in appearance, size, and dignity. Sometimes the salamanders
were visible as small balls of light. Paracelsus says: "Salamanders have been seen in the shapes of fiery
balls, or tongues of fire, running over the fields or peering in houses." (Philosophia Occulta, translated
by Franz Hartmann.)
Mediæval investigators of the Nature spirits were of the opinion that the most common form of
salamander was lizard-like in shape, a foot or more in length, and visible as a glowing Urodela, twisting
and crawling in the midst of the fire. Another group was described as huge flaming giants in flowing
robes, protected with sheets of fiery armor. Certain mediæval authorities, among them the Abbé de
Villars, held that Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was the son of Vesta (believed to have been the wife of Noah)
and the great salamander Oromasis. Hence, from that time onward, undying fires have been maintained
upon the Persian altars in honor of Zarathustra's flaming father.
One most important subdivision of the salamanders was the Acthnici. These creatures appeared only as
indistinct globes. They were supposed to float over water at night and occasionally to appear as forks of
flame on the masts and rigging of ships (St. Elmo's fire). The salamanders were the strongest and most
powerful of the elementals, and had as their ruler a magnificent flaming spirit called Djin, terrible and
awe-inspiring in appearance. The salamanders were dangerous and the sages were warned to keep away
from them, as the benefits derived from studying them were often not commensurate with the price paid.
As the ancients associated heat with the South, this corner of creation was assigned to the salamanders
as their drone, and they exerted special influence over all beings of fiery or tempestuous temperament.
In both animals and men, the salamanders work through the emotional nature by means of the body heat,
the liver, and the blood stream. Without their assistance there would be no warmth.
While the sages said that the fourth class of elementals, or sylphs, lived in the element of air, they meant
by this not the natural atmosphere of the earth, but the invisible, intangible, spiritual medium--an
ethereal substance similar in composition to our atmosphere, but far more subtle. In the last: discourse of
Socrates, as preserved by Plato in his Phædo, the condemned philosopher says:
"And upon the earth are animals and men, some in a middle region, others (elementals] dwelling about
the air as we dwell about the sea; others in islands which the air flows round, near the continent; and in a
word, the air is used by them as the water and the sea are by us, and the ether is to them what the air is to
us. More over, the temperament of their seasons is such that they have no disease [Paracelsus disputes
this], and live much longer than we do,
Click to enlarge
From Lycosthenes' Prodigiorum ac Ostentorum Chronicon.
Probably the most famous of the undines were the mythological mermaids, with which early mariners peopled
the Seven Seas. Belief in the existence of these creatures, the upper half of their bodies human in form and the
lower half fishlike, may have been inspired by flocks of penguins seen at great distance, or possibly seals. In
mediæval descriptions of mermaids, it was also stated that their hair was green like seaweed and that they wore
wreaths twisted from the blossoms of subaqueous plants and sea anemones.
p. 108
and have sight and bearing and smell, and all the other senses, in far greater perfection, in the same
degree that air is purer than water or the ether than air. Also they have temples and sacred places in
which the gods really dwell, and they hear their voices and receive their answers, and are conscious of
them and hold converse with them, and they see the sun, moon, and stars as they really are, and their
other blessedness is of a piece with this." While the sylphs were believed to live among the clouds and in
the surrounding air, their true home was upon the tops of mountains.
In his editorial notes to the Occult Sciences of Salverte, Anthony Todd Thomson says: "The Fayes and
Fairies are evidently of Scandinavian origin, although the name of Fairy is supposed to be derived from,
or rather [is] a modification of the Persian Peri, an imaginary benevolent being, whose province it was to
guard men from the maledictions of evil spirits; but with more probability it may be referred to the
Gothic Fagur, as the term Elves is from Alfa, the general appellation for the whole tribe. If this
derivation of the name of Fairy be admitted, we may date the commencement of the popular belief in
British Fairies to the period of the Danish conquest. They were supposed to be diminutive aerial beings,
beautiful, lively, and beneficent in their intercourse with mortals, inhabiting a region called Fairy Land,
Alf-heinner; commonly appearing on earth at intervals--when they left traces of their visits, in beautiful
green-rings, where the dewy sward had been trodden in their moonlight dances."
To the sylphs the ancients gave the labor of modeling the snowflakes and gathering clouds. This latter
they accomplished with the cooperation of the undines who supplied the moisture. The winds were their
particular vehicle and the ancients referred to them as the spirits of the air. They are the highest of all the
elementals, their native element being the highest in vibratory rate. They live hundreds of years, often
attaining to a thousand years and never seeming to grow old. The leader of the sylphs is called Paralda,
who is said to dwell on the highest mountain of the earth. The female sylphs were called sylphids.
It is believed that the sylphs, salamanders, and nymphs had much to do with the oracles of the ancients;
that in fact they were the ones who spoke from the depths of the earth and from the air above.
The sylphs sometimes assume human form, but apparently for only short periods of time. Their size
varies, but in the majority of cases they are no larger than human beings and often considerably smaller.
It is said that the sylphs have accepted human beings into their communities and have permitted them to
live there for a considerable period; in fact, Paracelsus wrote of such an incident, but of course it could
not have occurred while the human stranger was in his physical body. By some, the Muses of the Greeks
are believed to have been sylphs, for these spirits are said to gather around the mind of the dreamer, the
poet, and the artist, and inspire him with their intimate knowledge of the beauties and workings of
Nature. To the sylphs were given the eastern corner of creation. Their temperament is mirthful,
changeable, and eccentric. The peculiar qualities common to men of genius are supposedly the result of
the cooperation of sylphs, whose aid also brings with it the sylphic inconsistency. The sylphs labor with
the gases of the human body and indirectly with the nervous system, where their inconstancy is again
apparent. They have no fixed domicile, but wander about from place to place--elemental nomads,
invisible but ever-present powers in the intelligent activity of the universe.
Certain of the ancients, differing with Paracelsus, shared the opinion that the elemental kingdoms were
capable of waging war upon one another, and they recognized in the battlings of the elements
disagreements among these kingdoms of Nature spirits. When lightning struck a rock and splintered it,
they believed that the salamanders were attacking the gnomes. As they could not attack one another on
the plane of their own peculiar etheric essences, owing to the fact that there was no vibratory
correspondence between the four ethers of which these kingdoms are composed, they had to attack
through a common denominator, namely, the material substance of the physical universe over which
they had a certain amount of power.
Wars were also fought within the groups themselves; one army of gnomes would attack another army,
and civil war would be rife among them. Philosophers of long ago solved the problems of Nature's
apparent inconsistencies by individualizing and personifying all its forces, crediting them with having
temperaments not unlike the human and then expecting them to exhibit typical human inconsistencies.
The four fixed signs of the zodiac were assigned to the four kingdoms of elementals. The gnomes were
said to be of the nature of Taurus; the undines, of the nature of Scorpio; the salamanders exemplified the
constitution of Leo; while the sylphs manipulated the emanations of Aquarius.
The Christian Church gathered all the elemental entities together under the title of demon. This is a
misnomer with far-reaching consequences, for to the average mind the word demon means an evil thing,
and the Nature spirits are essentially no more malevolent than are the minerals, plants, and animals.
Many of the early Church Fathers asserted that they had met and debated with the elementals.
As already stated, the Nature spirits are without hope of immortality, although some philosophers have
maintained that in isolated cases immortality was conferred upon them by adepts and initiates who
understood certain subtle principles of the invisible world. As disintegration takes place in the physical
world, so it takes place in the ethereal counterpart of physical substance. Under normal conditions at
death, a Nature spirit is merely resolved back into the transparent primary essence from which it was
originally individualized. Whatever evolutionary growth is made is recorded solely in the consciousness
of that primary essence, or element, and not in the temporarily individualized entity of the elemental.
Being without man's compound organism and lacking his spiritual and intellectual vehicles, the Nature
spirits are subhuman in their rational intelligence, but from their functions--limited to one element--has
resulted a specialized type of intelligence far ahead of man in those lines of research peculiar to the
element in which they exist.
The terms incubus and succubus have been applied indiscriminately by the Church Fathers to
elementals. The incubus and succubus, however, are evil and unnatural creations, whereas elementals is
a collective term for all the inhabitants of the four elemental essences. According to Paracelsus, the
incubus and succubus (which are male and female respectively) are parasitical creatures subsisting upon
the evil thoughts and emotions of the astral body. These terms are also applied to the superphysical
organisms of sorcerers and black magicians. While these larvæ are in no sense imaginary beings, they
are, nevertheless, the offspring of the imagination. By the ancient sages they were recognized as the
invisible cause of vice because they hover in the ethers surrounding the morally weak and continually
incite them to excesses of a degrading nature. For this reason they frequent the atmosphere of the dope
den, the dive, and the brothel, where they attach themselves to those unfortunates who have given
themselves up to iniquity. By permitting his senses to become deadened through indulgence in habit-
forming drugs or alcoholic stimulants, the individual becomes temporarily en rapport with these
denizens of the astral plane. The houris seen by the hasheesh or opium addict and the lurid monsters
which torment the victim of delirium tremens are examples of submundane beings, visible only to those
whose evil practices are the magnet for their attraction.
Differing widely from the elementals and also the incubus and succubus is the vampire, which is defined
by Paracelsus as the astral body of a person either living or dead (usually the latter state). The vampire
seeks to prolong existence upon the physical plane by robbing the living of their vital energies and
misappropriating such energies to its own ends.
In his De Ente Spirituali Paracelsus writes thus of these malignant beings: "A healthy and pure person
cannot become obsessed by them, because such Larvæ can only act upon men if the later make room for
them in their minds. A healthy mind is a castle that cannot be invaded without the will of its master; but
if they are allowed to enter, they excite the passions of men and women, they create cravings in them,
they produce bad thoughts which act injuriously upon the brain; they sharpen the animal intellect and
suffocate the moral sense. Evil spirits obsess only those human beings in whom the animal nature is
predominating. Minds that are illuminated by the spirit of truth cannot be possessed; only those who are
habitually guided by their own lower impulses may become subjected to their influences." (See
Paracelsus, by Franz Hartmann.)
A strange concept, and one somewhat at variance with the conventional, is that evolved by the Count de
Gabalis concerning the immaculate conception, namely, that it represents the union of a human being
with an elemental. Among the offspring of such unions he lists Hercules, Achilles, Æneas, Theseus,
Melchizedek, the divine Plato, Apollonius of Tyana, and Merlin the Magician.
Click to enlarge
From sketch by Howard Wookey.
The sylphs were changeable entities, passing to and fro with the rapidity of lightning. They work through the
gases and ethers of the earth and are kindly disposed toward human beings. They are nearly always represented
as winged, sometimes as tiny cherubs and at other times as delicate fairies.
Next: Hermetic Pharmacology, Chemistry, and Therapeutics
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 109
Hermetic Pharmacology, Chemistry, and
THE art of healing was originally one of the secret sciences of the priestcraft, and the mystery of its
source is obscured by the same veil which hides the genesis of religious belief. All higher forms of
knowledge were originally in the possession of the sacerdotal castes. The temple was the cradle of
civilization. The priests, exercising their divine prerogative, made the laws and enforced them;
appointed the rulers and controlled than; ministered to the needs of the living, and guided the destinies
of the dead. All branches of learning were monopolized by the priesthood, who admitted into their ranks
only those intellectually and morally qualified to perpetuate their arcanum. The following quotation
from Plato's Statesman is apropos of the subject: " * * * in Egypt, the King himself is not allowed to
reign, unless he have priestly powers; and if he should be one of another class, and have obtained the
throne by violence, he must get enrolled in the priestcraft."
Candidates aspiring to membership in the religious orders underwent severe tests to prove their
worthiness. These ordeals were called initiations. Those who passed them successfully were welcomed
as brothers by the priests and were instructed in the secret teachings. Among the ancients, philosophy,
science, and religion were never considered as separate units: each was regarded as an integral part of
the whole. Philosophy was scientific and religious; science was philosophic and religious I religion was
philosophic and scientific. Perfect wisdom was considered unattainable save as the result of harmonizing
all three of these expressions of mental and moral activity.
While modern physicians accredit Hippocrates with being the father of medicine, the ancient therapeutæ
ascribed to the immortal Hermes the distinction of being the founder of the art of healing. Clemens
Alexandrinus, in describing the books purported to be from the stylus of Hermes, divided the sacred
writings into six general classifications, one of which, the Pastophorus, was devoted to the science of
medicine. The Smaragdine, or Emerald Tablet found in the valley of Ebron and generally accredited to
Hermes, is in reality a chemical formula of a high and secret order.
Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, during the fifth century before Christ, dissociated the healing
art from the other sciences of the temple and thereby established a precedent for separateness. One of the
consequences is the present widespread crass scientific materialism. The ancients realized the
interdependence of the sciences. The moderns do not; and as a result, incomplete systems of learning are
attempting to maintain isolated individualism. The obstacles which confront present-day scientific
research are largely the result of prejudicial limitations imposed by those who are unwilling to accept
that which transcends the concrete perceptions of the five primary human senses.
During the Middle Ages the long-ignored axioms and formulæ of Hermetic wisdom were assembled
once more, and chronicled, and systematic attempts were made to test their accuracy. To Theophrastus
of Hohenheim, who called himself Paracelsus (a name meaning "greater than Celsus"), the world is
indebted for much of the knowledge it now possesses of the ancient systems of medicine. Paracelsus
devoted his entire life to the study and exposition of Hermetic philosophy. Every notion and theory was
grist to his mill, and, while members of the medical fraternity belittle his memory now as they opposed
his system then, the occult world knows that he will yet be recognized as the greatest physician of all
times. While the heterodox and exotic temperament of Paracelsus has been held against him by his
enemies, and his wanderlust has been called vagabondage, he was one of the few minds who
intelligently sought to reconcile the art of healing with the philosophic and religious systems of
paganism and Christianity.
In defending his right to seek knowledge in all parts of the earth, and among all classes of society,
Paracelsus wrote: "Therefore I consider that it is for me a matter of praise, not of blame, that I have
hitherto and worthily pursued my wanderings. For this will I bear witness respecting nature: he who will
investigate her ways must travel her books with his feet. That which is written is investigated through its
letters, but nature from land to land-as often a land so often a leaf. Thus is the Codex of Nature, thus
must its leaves be turned." (Paracelsus, by John Maxson Stillman.)
Paracelsus was a great observationalist, and those who knew him best have called him "The Second
Hermes" and "The Trismegistus of Switzerland." He traveled Europe from end to end, and may have
penetrated Eastern lands while running down superstitions and ferreting out supposedly lost doctrines.
From the gypsies he learned much concerning the uses of simples, and apparently from the Arabians
concerning the making of talismans and the influences of the heavenly bodies. Paracelsus felt that the
healing of the sick was of far greater importance than the maintaining of an orthodox medical standing,
so he sacrificed what might otherwise have been a dignified medical career and at the cost of lifelong
persecution bitterly attacked the therapeutic systems of his day.
Uppermost in his mind was the hypothesis that everything in the universe is good for something--which
accounts for his cutting fungus from tombstones and collecting dew on glass plates at midnight. He was
a true explorer of Nature's arcanum. Many authorities have held the opinion that he was the discoverer
of mesmerism, and that Mesmer evolved the art as the result of studying the writings of this great Swiss
The utter contempt which Paracelsus felt for the narrow systems of medicine in vogue during his
lifetime, and his conviction of their inadequacy, are best expressed in his own quaint way: "But the
number of diseases that originate from some unknown causes is far greater than those that come from
mechanical causes, and for such diseases our physicians know no cure because not knowing such causes
they cannot remove them. All they can prudently do is to observe the patient and make their guesses
about his condition; and the patient may rest satisfied if the medicines administered to him do no serious
harm, and do not prevent his recovery. The best of our popular physicians are the ones that do least
harm. But, unfortunately, some poison their patients with mercury, others purge them or bleed them to
death. There are some who have learned so much that their learning has driven out all their common
sense, and a there are others who care a great: deal more for their own profit than for the health of their
patients. A disease does not change its state to accommodate itself to the knowledge of the physician,
but the physician should understand the causes of the disease. A physician should be a servant of Nature,
and not her enemy; he should be able to guide and direct her in her struggle for life and not throw, by his
unreasonable interference, fresh obstacles in the way of recovery." (From the Paragranum, translated by
Franz Hartmann.)
The belief that nearly all diseases have their origin in the invisible nature of man (the Astrum) is a
fundamental precept of Hermetic medicine, for while Hermetists in no way disregarded the physical
body, they believed that man's material constitution was an emanation from, or an objectification of, his
invisible spiritual principles. A brief, but it is believed fairly comprehensive, résumé of the Hermetic
principles of Paracelsus follows.
Click to enlarge
From Musæum Hermeticum Reformatum et Amplificatum.
This title page is a further example of Hermetic and alchemical symbolism. The seven-pointed star of the sacred
metals is arranged that one black point is downward, thus symbolizing Saturn, the Destroyer. Beginning in the
space immediately to the left of the black point, reading clockwise discloses the cryptic word VITRIOL formed
by the capital letters of the seven Latin words in the outer circle.
p. 110
There is one vital substance in Nature upon which all things subsist. It is called archæus, or vital life
force, and is synonymous with the astral light or spiritual air of the ancients. In regard to this substance,
Eliphas Levi has written: "Light, that creative agent, the vibrations of which are the movement and life
of all things; light, latent in the universal ether, radiating about absorbing centres, which, being saturated
thereby, project movement and life in their turn, so forming creative currents; light, astralized in the
stars, animalized in animals, humanized in human beings; light, which vegetates all plants, glistens in
metals, produces all forms of Nature and equilibrates all by the laws of universal sympathy--this is the
light which exhibits the phenomena of magnetism, divined by Paracelsus, which tinctures the blood,
being released from the air as it is inhaled and discharged by the hermetic bellows of the lungs." (The
History of Magic.)
This vital energy has its origin in the spiritual body of the earth. Every created thing has two bodies, one
visible and substantial, the other invisible and transcendent. The latter consists of an ethereal counterpart
of the physical form; it constitutes the vehicle of archæus, and may be called a vital body. This etheric
shadow sheath is not dissipated by death, but remains until the physical form is entirely disintegrated.
These "etheric doubles, "seen around graveyards, have given rise to a belief in ghosts. Being much finer
in its substances than the earthly body, the etheric double is far more susceptible to impulses and
inharmonies. It is derangements of this astral light body that cause much disease. Paracelsus taught that
a person with a morbid mental attitude could poison his own etheric nature, and this infection, diverting
the natural flow of vital life force, would later appear as a physical ailment. All plants and minerals have
an invisible nature composed of this "archæus," but each manifests it in a different way.
Concerning the astral-light bodies of flowers, James Gaffarel, in 1650, wrote the following: "I answer,
that though they be chopt in pieces, brayed in a Mortar, and even burnt to Ashes; yet do they
neverthelesse retaine, (by a certaine Secret, and wonderfull Power of Nature), both in the Juyce, and in
the Ashes, the selfe same Forme, and Figure, that they had before: and though it be not there Visible, yet
it may by Art be drawne forth, and made Visible to the Eye, by an Artist. This perhaps will seem a
Ridiculous story to those, who reade only the Titles of Bookes: but, those that please, may see this truth
confirmed, if they but have recourse to the Workes of M. du Chesne, S. de la Violette, one of the best
Chymists that our Age hath produced; who affirmes, that himselfe saw an Excellent Polich Physician of
Cracovia, who kept, in Glasses, the Ashes of almost all the Hearbs that are knowne: so that, when any
one, out of Curiosity, had a desire to see any of them, as (for example) a Rose, in one of his Glasses, he
tooke That where the Ashes of a Rose were preserved; and holding it over a lighted Candle, so soone as
it ever began to feele the Heat, you should presently see the Ashes begin to Move; which afterwards
rising up, and dispersing themselves about the Glasse, you should immediately observe a kind of little
Dark Cloud; which dividing it selfe into many parts, it came at length to represent a Rose; but so Faire,
so Fresh, and so Perfect a one, that you would have thought it to have been as Substancial, & as
Odoriferous a Rose, as growes on the Rose-tree." (Unheard-of Curiosities Concerning Talismanical
Sculpture of the Persians.)
Paracelsus, recognizing derangements of the etheric double as the most important cause of disease,
sought to reharmonize its substances by bringing into contact with it other bodies whose vital energy
could supply elements needed, or were strong enough to overcome the diseased conditions existing in
the aura of the sufferer. Its invisible cause having been thus removed, the ailment speedily vanished.
The vehicle for the archæus, or vital life force, Paracelsus called the mumia. A good example of a
physical mumia is vaccine, which is the vehicle of a semi-astral virus. Anything which serves as a
medium for the transmission of the archæus, whether it be organic or inorganic, truly physical or partly
spiritualized, was termed a mumia. The most universal form of the mumia was ether, which modern
science has accepted as a hypothetical substance serving as a medium between the realm of vital energy
and that of organic and inorganic substance.
The control of universal energy is virtually impossible, save through one of its vehicles (the mumia). A
good example of this is food. Man does not secure nourishment from dead animal or plant organisms,
but when he incorporates their structures into his own body he first gains control over the mumia, or
etheric double, of the animal or plant. Having obtained this control, the human organism then diverts the
flow of the archæus to its own uses. Paracelsus says: "That which constitutes life is contained in the
Mumia, and by imparting the Mumia we impart life." This is the secret of the remedial properties of
talismans and amulets, for the mumia of the substances of which they are composed serves as a channel
to connect the person wearing them with certain manifestations of the universal vital life force.
According to Paracelsus, in the same way that plants purify the atmosphere by accepting into their
constitutions the carbon dioxid exhaled by animals and humans, so may plants and animals accept
disease elements transferred to them by human beings. These lower forms of life, having organisms and
needs different from man, are often able to assimilate these substances without ill effect. At other times,
the plant or animal dies, sacrificed in order that the more intelligent, and consequently more useful,
creature may survive. Paracelsus discovered that in either case the patient was gradually relieved of his
malady. When the lower life had either completely assimilated the foreign mumia from the patient, or
had itself died and disintegrated as the result of its inability to do so, complete recovery resulted. Many
years of investigation were necessary to determine which herb or animal most readily accepted the
mumia of each of various diseases.
Paracelsus discovered that in many cases plants revealed by their shape the particular organs of the
human body which they served most effectively. The medical system of Paracelsus was based on the
theory that by removing the diseased etheric mumia from the organism of the patient and causing it to be
accepted into the nature of some distant and disinterested thing of comparatively little value, it was
possible to divert from the patient the flow of the archæus which had been continually revitalizing and
nourishing the malady. Its vehicle of expression being transplanted, the archæus necessarily
accompanied its mumia, and the patient recovered.
According to the Hermetic philosophers, there were seven primary causes of disease. The first was evil
spirits. These were regarded as creatures born of degenerate actions, subsisting on the vital energies of
those to whom they attached themselves. The second cause was a derangement of the spiritual nature
and the material nature: these two, failing to coordinate, produced
Click to enlarge
From von Helmont's Ausgang der Artznen-Kunst.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century von Helmont, the Belgian alchemist (to whom incidentally, the world
is indebted for the common term gas, as distinguished from other kinds of air), while experimenting with the root
of A---, touched it to the tip of his tongue, without swallowing any of the substance. He himself describes the
result in the following manner:
"Immediately my head seemed tied tightly with a string, and soon after there happened to me a singular
circumstance such as I had never before experienced. I observed with astonishment that I no longer felt and
thought with the head, but with the region of the stomach, as if consciousness had now taken up its seat in the
stomach. Terrified by this unusual phenomenon, I asked myself and inquired into myself carefully; but I only
became the more convinced that my power of perception was became greater and more comprehensive. This
intellectual clearness was associated with great pleasure. I did not sleep, nor did I dream; I was perfectly sober;
and my health was perfect. I had occasionally had ecstasies, but these had nothing in common with this condition
of the stomach, in which it thought and felt, and almost excluded all cooperation of the head. In the meantime my
friends were troubled with the fear that I might go mad. But my faith to God, and my submission to His will,
soon dissipated this fear. This state continued for two hours, after which I had same dizziness. I afterwards
frequently tasted of the A---, but I never again could reproduce these sensations." (Van Helmont, Demens idea.
Reprinted by P. Davidson in The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy.)
Von Helmont is only one of many who have accidentally hit upon the secrets of the early priestcrafts, but none in
this age give evidence of an adequate comprehension of the ancient Hermetic secrets. From the description von
Helmont gives, it is probable that the herb mentioned by him paralyzed temporarily the cerebrospinal nervous
system, the result being that the consciousness was forced to function through the sympathetic nervous system
and its brain--the solar plexus.
p. 1111
mental and physical subnormality. The third was an unhealthy or abnormal mental attitude.
Melancholia, morbid emotions, excess of feeling, such as passions, lusts, greeds, and hates, affected the
mumia, from which they reacted into the physical body, where they resulted in ulcers, tumors, cancers,
fevers, and tuberculosis. The ancients viewed the disease germ as a unit of mumia which had been
impregnated with the emanations from evil influences which it had contacted. In other words, germs
were minute creatures born out of man's evil thoughts and actions.
The fourth cause of disease was what the Orientals called Karma, that is, the Law of Compensation,
which demanded that the individual pay in full for the indiscretions and delinquencies of the past. A
physician had to be very careful how he interfered with the workings of this law, lest he thwart the plan
of Eternal justice. The fifth cause was the motion and aspects of the heavenly bodies. The stars did not
compel the sickness but rather impelled it. The Hermetists taught that a strong and wise man ruled his
stars, but that a negative, weak person was ruled by them. These five causes of disease are all
superphysical in nature. They must be estimated by inductive and deductive reasoning and a careful
consideration of the life and temperament of the patient.
The sixth cause of disease was a misuse of faculty, organ, or function, such as overstraining a member or
overtaxing the nerves. The seventh cause was the presence in the system of foreign substances,
impurities, or obstructions. Under this heading must be considered diet, air, sunlight, and the presence of
foreign bodies. This list does not include accidental injuries; such do not belong under the heading of
disease. Frequently they are methods by which the Law of Karma expresses itself.
According to the Hermetists, disease could be prevented or successfully combated in seven ways. First,
by spells and invocations, in which the physician ordered the evil spirit causing the disease to depart
from the patient. This procedure was probably based on the Biblical account of the man possessed of
devils whom Jesus healed by commanding the devils to leave the man and enter into a herd of swine.
Sometimes the evil spirits entered a patient at the bidding of someone desiring to injure him. In these
cases the physician commanded the spirits to return to the one who sent them. It is recorded that in some
instances the evil spirits departed through the mouth in the form of clouds of smoke; sometimes from the
nostrils as flames. It is even averred that the spirits might depart in the form of birds and insects.
The second method of healing was by vibration. The inharmonies of the bodies were neutralized by
chanting spells and intoning the sacred names or by playing upon musical instruments and singing.
Sometimes articles of various colors were exposed to the sight of the sick, for the ancients recognized, at
least in part, the principle of color therapeutics, now in the process of rediscovery.
The third method was with the aid of talismans, charms, and amulets. The ancients believed that the
planets controlled the functions of the human body and that by making charms out of different metals
they could combat the malignant influences of the various stars. Thus, a person who is anæmic lacks
iron. Iron was believed to be under the control of Mars. Therefore, in order to bring the influence of
Mars to the sufferer, around his neck was hung a talisman made of iron and bearing upon it certain
secret instructions reputed to have the power of invoking the spirit of Mars. If there was too much iron
in the system, the patient was subjected to the influence of a talisman composed of the metal
corresponding to some planet having an antipathy to Mars. This influence would then offset the Mars
energy and thus aid in restoring normality.
The fourth method was by the aid of herbs and simples. While they used metal talismans, the majority of
the ancient physicians did not approve of mineral medicine in any form for internal use. Herbs were
their favorite remedies. Like the metals, each herb was assigned to one of the planets. Having diagnosed
by the stars the sickness and its cause, the doctors then administered the herbal antidote.
The fifth method of healing disease was by prayer. All ancient peoples believed in the compassionate
intercession of the Deity for the alleviation of human suffering. Paracelsus said that faith would cure all
disease. Few persons, however, possess a sufficient degree of faith.
The sixth method--which was prevention rather than cure--was regulation of the diet and daily habits of
life. The individual, by avoiding the things which caused illness, remained well. The ancients believed
that health was the normal state of man; disease was the result of man's disregard of the dictates of
The seventh method was "practical medicine," consisting chiefly of bleeding, purging, and similar lines
of treatment. These procedures, while useful in moderation, were dangerous in excess. Many a useful
citizen has died twenty-five or fifty years before his time as the result of drastic purging or of having all
the blood drained out of his body.
Paracelsus used all seven methods of treatment, and even his worst enemies admitted that he
accomplished results almost miraculous in character. Near his old estate in Hohenheim, the dew falls
very heavily at certain seasons of the year, and Paracelsus discovered that by gathering the dew under
certain configurations of the planets he obtained a water possessing marvelous medicinal virtue, for it
had absorbed the properties of the heavenly bodies.
The herbs of the fields were sacred to the early pagans, who believed that the gods had made plants for
the cure of human ills. When properly prepared and applied, each root and shrub could be used for the
alleviation of suffering, or for the development of spiritual, mental, moral, or physical powers. In The
Mistletoe and Its Philosophy, P. Davidson pays the following beautiful tribute to the plants: "Books have
been written on the language of flowers and herbs, the poet from the earliest ages has held the sweetest
and most loving converse with them, kings are even glad to obtain their essences at second hand to
perfume themselves; but to the true physician--Nature's High-Priest--they speak in a far higher and more
exalted strain. There is not a plant or mineral which has disclosed the last of its properties to the
scientists. How can they feel confident that for every one of the discovered properties there may not be
many powers concealed in the inner nature of the plant? Well have flowers been called the 'Stars of
Earth,' and why should they not be beautiful? Have they not from the time of their birth smiled in the
splendor of the sun by day, and slumbered under the brightness of the stars by night? Have they not
come from another and more spiritual world to our earth, seeing that God made 'every plant of the field
BEFORE it was in the earth, and every herb of the field BEFORE IT GREW'?"
Many primitive peoples used herbal remedies, with many remarkable cures. The Chinese, Egyptians,
and American Indians cured with herbs diseases for which modern science knows no remedy. Doctor
Nicholas Culpeper, whose useful life ended in 1654, was probably the most famous of herbalists.
Finding that the medical systems of his day were unsatisfactory in the extreme, Culpeper turned his
attention to the plants of the fields, and discovered a medium of healing which gained for him national
In Doctor Culpeper's correlation of astrology and herbalism, each plant was under the jurisdiction of one
of the planets or luminaries. He believed that disease was also controlled by celestial configurations. He
summed up his system of treatment as follows: "You may oppose diseases by Herbs of the planet
opposite to the planet that causes them: as diseases of Jupiter by Herbs of Mercury, and the contrary;
diseases of the Luminaries by the Herbs of Saturn, and the contrary; diseases of Mars by Herbs of Venus
and the contrary. * * * There is a way to cure diseases sometimes by Sympathy, and so every planet
cures his own disease; as the Sun and Moon by their Herbs cure the Eyes, Saturn the Spleen, Jupiter the
Liver, Mars the Gall and diseases of choler, and Venus diseases in the Instruments of Generation." (The
Complete Herbal.)
Mediæval European herbalists rediscovered only in part the ancient Hermetic secrets of Egypt and
Greece. These earlier nations evolved the fundamentals of nearly all modern arcs and sciences.
Click to enlarge
From Culpeper's Semeiotica Uranica.
This famous physician, herbalist, and astrologer spent the greater part of his useful life ranging the hills and
forests of England and cataloguing literally hundreds of medicinal herbs. Condemning the unnatural methods of
contemporaneous medicos, Culpeper wrote: "This not being pleasing, and less profitable tome, I consulted with
my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by
whose advice, together with the help of Dr. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR.
HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it." (From the Introduction to the 1835
Edition of The Complete Herbal.) Doctor Johnson said of Culpeper that he merited the gratitude of posterity.
p. 112
At that time the methods used in healing were among the secrets imparted to initiates
[paragraph continues]
of the Mysteries. Unctions, collyria, philters, and potions were concocted to the accompaniment of
strange rites. The effectiveness of these medicines is a matter of historical record. Incenses and perfumes
were also much used.
Barrett in his Magus describes the theory on which they worked, as follows: "For, because our spirit is
the pure, subtil, lucid, airy and unctuous vapour of the blood, nothing, therefore, is better adapted for
collyriums than the like vapours which are more suitable to our spirit in substance; for then, by reason of
their likeness, they do more stir up, attract and transform the spirit."
Poisons were thoroughly studied, and in some communities extracts of deadly herbs were administered
to persons sentenced to death--as in the case of Socrates. The infamous Borgias of Italy developed the
art of poisoning to its highest degree. Unnumbered brilliant men and women were quietly and efficiently
disposed of by the almost superhuman knowledge of chemistry which for many centuries was preserved
in the Borgia family.
Egyptian priests discovered herb extracts by means of which temporary clairvoyance could be induced,
and they made use of these during the initiatory rituals of their Mysteries. The drugs were sometimes
mixed with the food given to candidates, and at other times were presented in the form of sacred potions,
the nature of which was explained. Shortly after the drugs were administered to him, the neophyte was
attacked by a spell of dizziness. He found himself floating through space, and while his physical body
was absolutely insensible (being guarded by priests that no ill should befall it) the candidate passed
through a number of weird experiences, which he was able to relate after regaining consciousness. In the
light of present-day knowledge, it is difficult to appreciate an art so highly developed that by means of
draughts, perfumes, and incenses any mental attitude desired could be induced almost instantaneously,
yet such an art actually existed among the priestcraft of the early pagan world.
Concerning this subject, H. P. Blavatsky, the foremost occultist of the nineteenth century, has written:
'Plants also have like mystical properties in a most wonderful degree, and the secrets of the herbs of
dreams and enchantments are only lost to European science, and useless to say, too, are unknown to it,
except in a few marked instances, such as opium and hashish. Yet, the psychical effects of even these
few upon the human system are regarded as evidences of a temporary mental disorder. The women of
Thessaly and Epirus, the female hierophants of the rites of Sabazius, did not carry their secrets away
with the downfall of their sanctuaries. They are still preserved, and those who are aware of the nature of
Soma, know the properties of other plants as well." (Isis Unveiled.)
Herbal compounds were used to cause temporary clairvoyance in connection with the oracles, especially
the one at Delphi. Words spoken while in these imposed trances were regarded as prophetic. Modem
mediums, while under control as the result of partly self-imposed catalepsy, give messages somewhat
similar to those of the ancient prophets, but in the majority of cases their results are far less accurate, for
the soothsayers of today lack the knowledge of Nature's hidden forces.
The Mysteries taught that during the higher degrees of initiation the gods themselves took part in the
instruction of candidates or at least were present, which was in itself a benediction. As the deities dwelt
in the invisible worlds and came only in their spiritual bodies, it was impossible for the neophyte to
cognize them without the assistance of drugs which stimulated the clairvoyant center of his
consciousness (probably the pineal gland). Many initiates in the ancient Mysteries stated emphatically
that they had conversed with the immortals, and had beheld the gods.
When the standards of the pagans became corrupted, a division took place in the Mysteries. The band of
truly enlightened ones separated themselves from the rest and, preserving the most important of their
secrets, vanished without leaving a trace. The rest slowly drifted, like rudderless ships, on the rocks of
degeneracy and disintegration. Some of the less important of the secret formulæ fell into the hands of the
profane, who perverted them--as in the case of the Bacchanalia, during which drugs were mixed with
wine and became the real cause of the orgies.
In certain parts of the earth it was maintained that there were natural wells, springs, or fountains, in
which the water (because of the minerals through which it coursed) was tinctured with sacred properties.
Temples were often built near these spots, and in some cases natural caves which chanced to be in the
vicinity were sanctified to some deity.
"The aspirants to initiation, and those who came to request prophetic dreams of the Gods, were prepared
by a fast, more or less prolonged, after which they partook of meals expressly prepared; and also of
mysterious drinks, such as the water of Lethe, and the water of Mnemosyne in the grotto of Trophonius;
or of the Ciceion in the mysteries of the Eleusinia. Different drugs were easily mixed up with the meats
or introduced into the drinks, according to the state of mind or body into which it was necessary to throw
the recipient, and the nature of the visions he was desirous of procuring.'' (Salverte's The Occult
Sciences.) The same author states that certain sects of early Christianity were accused of using drugs for
the same general purposes as the pagans.
The sect of the Assassins, or the Yezidees as they are more generally known, demonstrated a rather
interesting aspect of the drug problem. In the eleventh century this order, by capturing the fortress of
Mount Alamont, established itself at Irak. Hassan Sabbah, the founder of the order, known as the "Old
Man of the Mountain, " is suspected of having controlled his followers by the use of narcotics. Hassan
made his followers believe that they were in Paradise, where they would be forever if they implicitly
obeyed him while they were alive. De Quincey, in his Confessions of an Opium Eater, describes the
peculiar psychological effects produced by this product of the poppy, and the use of a similar drug may
have given rise to the idea of Paradise which filled the minds of the Yezidees.
The philosophers of all ages have taught that the visible universe was but a fractional part of the whole,
and that by analogy the physical body of man is in reality the least important part of his composite
constitution. Most of the medical systems of today almost entirely ignore the superphysical man. They
pay but scant attention to causes, and concentrate their efforts on ameliorating effects. Paracelsus, noting
the same proclivity on the part of physicians during his day, aptly remarked: "There is a great difference
between the power that removes the invisible causes of disease, and which is Magic, and that which
causes merely external effects [to] disappear, and which is Physic, Sorcery, and Quackery." (Translated
by Franz Hartmann.)
Disease is unnatural, and is evidence that there is a maladjustment within or between organs or tissues.
Permanent health cannot be regained until harmony is restored. The outstanding virtue of Hermetic
medicine was its recognition of spiritual and psychophysical derangements as being largely responsible
for the condition which is called physical disease. Suggestive therapy was used with marked success by
the priest-physicians of the ancient world. Among the-American Indians, the Shamans--or "Medicine
Men"--dispelled sickness with the aid of mysterious dances, invocations, and charms. The fact that in
spite of their ignorance of modern methods of medical treatment these sorcerers effected innumerable
cures, is well worthy of consideration.
The magic rituals used by the Egyptian priests for the curing of disease were based upon a highly
developed comprehension of the complex workings of the human mind and its reactions upon the
physical constitution. The Egyptian and Brahmin worlds undoubtedly understood the fundamental
principle of vibrotherapeutics. By means of chants and mantras, which emphasized certain vowel and
consonant sounds, they set up vibratory reactions which dispelled congestions and assisted Nature in
reconstructing broken members and depleted organisms. They also applied their knowledge of the laws
governing vibration to the spiritual constitution of man; by their intonings, they stimulated latent centers
of consciousness and thereby vastly increased the sensitiveness of the subjective nature.
In the Book of Coming Forth by Day, many of the Egyptian secrets have been preserved to this
generation. While this ancient scroll has been well translated, only a few understand the secret:
significance of its magical passages. Oriental races have a keen realization of the dynamics of sound.
They know that every spoken word has tremendous power and that by certain arrangements of words
they can create vortices of force in the invisible universe about them and thereby profoundly influence
physical substance. The Sacred Word by which the world was established, the Lost Word which
Masonry is still seeking, and the threefold Divine Name symbolized by A. U. M.--the creative tone of the
Hindus--all are indicative of the veneration accorded the principle of sound.
The so-called "new discoveries" of modern science are often only rediscoveries of secrets well known to
the priests and philosophers of ancient pagandom. Man's inhumanity to man has resulted in the loss of
records and formula: which, had they been preserved, would have solved many of the greatest problems
of this civilization. With sword and firebrand, races obliterate the records of their predecessors, and then
inevitably meet with an untimely fate for need of the very wisdom they have destroyed.
Click to enlarge
From De Monte-Snyders' Metamorphosis Planetarum.
De Monte-Snyders declares that each of the above characters forms one syllables of a word having seven
syllables, the word itself representing the materia prima, or first substance of the universe. As all substance is
composed of seven powers combined according to certain cosmic laws, a great mystery is concealed within the
sevenfold constitution of man, and the universe. Of the above seven characters, De Monte-Snyder writes:
Whoever wants to know the true name and character of the materia prima shall know that out of the combination
of the above figures syllables are produced, and out of these the verbum significativum."
Next: The Qabbalah, the Secret Doctrine of Israel
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 113
The Qabbalah, the Secret Doctrine of Israel
ALBERT PIKE, quoting from Transcendental Magic, thus sums up the importance of Qabbalism as a
key to Masonic esotericism: "One is filled with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary of the
Kabalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the same time so absolute. The necessary
union of ideas and signs, the consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive characters;
the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite
as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology summed up by
counting on one's fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant's hand; ten ciphers and
twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square, and a circle,--these are all the elements of the Kabalah. These are
the elementary principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word that created the
world!" (Morals and Dogma.)
Hebrew theology was divided into three distinct parts. The first was the law, the second was the soul of
the law, and the third was the soul of the soul of the law. The law was taught to all the children of Israel;
the Mishna, or the soul of the law, was revealed to the Rabbins and teachers; but the Qabbalah, the soul
of the soul of the law, was cunningly concealed, and only the highest initiates among the Jews were
instructed in its secret principles.
According to certain Jewish mystics, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times, remaining in the
presence of God forty days each time. During the first forty days the tables of the written law were
delivered to the prophet; during the second forty days he received the soul of the law; and during the last
forty days God instructed him in the mysteries of the Qabbalah, the soul of the soul of the law. Moses
concealed in the first four books of the Pentateuch the secret instructions that God had given him, and
for centuries students of Qabbalism. have sought therein the secret doctrine of Israel. As the spiritual
nature of man is concealed in his physical body, so the unwritten law--the Mishna and the Qabbalah--is
concealed within the written teachings of the Mosaic code. Qabbalah means the secret or hidden
tradition, the unwritten law, and according to an early Rabbi, it was delivered to man in order that
through the aid of its abstruse principles he might learn to understand the mystery of both the universe
about him and the universe within him.
The origin of Qabbalism is a legitimate subject for controversy. Early initiates of the Qabbalistic
Mysteries believed that its principles were first taught by God to a school of His angels before the fall of
man. The angels later communicated the secrets to Adam, so that through the knowledge gained from an
understanding of its principles fallen humanity might regain its lost a estate. The Angel Raziel was
dispatched from heaven to instruct Adam in the mysteries of the Qabbalah. Different angels were
employed to initiate the succeeding patriarchs in this difficult science. Tophiel was the teacher of Shem,
Raphael of Isaac, Metatron of Moses, and Michael of David. (See Faiths of the World.)
Christian D. Ginsburg has written: "From Adam it passed over to Noah, and then to Abraham, the friend
of God, who emigrated with it to Egypt, where the patriarch allowed a portion of this mysterious
doctrine to ooze out. It was in this way that the Egyptians obtained some knowledge of it, and the other
Eastern nations could introduce it into their philosophical systems. Moses, who was learned in all the
wisdom of Egypt, was first initiated into it in the land of his birth, but became most proficient in it
during his wanderings in the wilderness, when he not only devoted to it the leisure hours of the whole
forty years, but received lessons in it from one of the angels. * * * Moses also initiated the seventy
Elders into the secrets of this doctrine and they again transmitted them from hand to hand. Of all who
formed the unbroken line of tradition, David and Solomon were most initiated into the Kabbalah." (See
The Kabbalah.)
According to Eliphas Levi, the three greatest books of Qabbalism are the Sepher Yetzirah, The Book of
Formation; the Sepher ha Zohar, The Book of Splendor; and the Apocalypse, The Book of Revelation.
The dates of the writing of these books are by no means thoroughly established. Qabbalists declare that
the Sepher Yetzirah was written by Abraham. Although it is by far the oldest of the Qabbalistic books, it
was probably from the pen of the Rabbi Akiba, A.D. 120.
The Sepher ha Zohar presumably was written by Simeon ben Jochai, a disciple of Akiba. Rabbi Simeon
was sentenced to death about A.D. 161 by Lucius Verus, co-regent of the Emperor Marc Aurelius
Antoninus. He escaped with his son and, hiding in a cave, transcribed the manuscript of the Zohar with
the assistance of Elias, who appeared to them at intervals. Simeon was twelve years in the cave, during
which time he evolved the complicated symbolism of the "Greater Face" and the "Lesser Face." While
discoursing with disciples Rabbi Simeon expired, and the "Lamp of Israel" was extinguished. His death
and burial were accompanied by many supernatural phenomena. The legend goes on to relate that the
secret doctrines of Qabbalism had been in existence since the beginning of the world, but that Rabbi
Simeon was the first man permitted to reduce them to writing. Twelve hundred years later the books
which he had compiled were discovered and published for the benefit of humanity by Moses de León.
The probability is that Moses de León himself compiled the Zohar about A.D. 1305, drawing his
material from the unwritten secrets of earlier Jewish mystics. The Apocalypse, accredited to St. John the
Divine, is also of uncertain date, and the identity of its author has never been satisfactorily proved.
Because of its brevity and because it is the key to Qabbalistic thought, the Sepher Yetzirah is reproduced
in full in this chapter. So far as is
Click to enlarge
From Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus.
This rare cut shows the name of God in seventy-two languages inscribed upon the petals of a symbolic
sunflower. Above the circle are the seventy-two powers of God according to the Hebrew Qabbalah. Below two
trees, that on the left bearing the symbols of the planets and that on the right the signs of the zodiac and the
names of the tribes of Israel. The esoteric doctrines of the Qabbalah are in alignment with the secret teachings of
all the schools of philosophy, but the method by which its secrets are revealed to the wise and concealed from the
ignorant is most unusual. As the religious world interprets its scriptures with twentieth-century educational
facilities, it becomes ever more apparent that the sacred books were not historical documents, but that the kings,
sages, prophets, and saviors whom Bible students ham revered for ages as once-existing personalities are in
reality only personified attributes of man himself.
p. 114
known, the Sepher ha Zohar has never been completely translated into English, but it can be obtained in
French. (S. L. MacGregor-Mathers translated three books of the Zohar into English.) The Zohar
contains a vast number of philosophical tenets, and a paraphrase of its salient points is embodied in this
Few realize the influence exerted by Qabbalism over mediæval thought, both Christian and Jewish. It
taught that there existed within the sacred writings a hidden doctrine which was the key to those
writings. This is symbolized by the crossed keys upon the papal crest. Scores of learned minds began to
search for those arcane truths by which the race should be redeemed; and that their labor was not
without its reward, their subsequent writings have demonstrated.
The theories of Qabbalism are inextricably interwoven with the tenets of alchemy, Hermeticism,
Rosicrucianism, and Freemasonry. The words Qabbalism and Hermeticism are now considered as
synonymous terms covering all the arcana and esotericism of antiquity. The simple Qabbalism of the
first centuries of the Christian Era gradually evolved into an elaborate theological system, which became
so involved that it was next to impossible to comprehend its dogma.
The Qabbalists divided the uses of their sacred science into five sections. The Natural Qabbalah was
used solely to assist the investigator in his study of Nature's mysteries. The Analogical Qabbalah was
formulated to exhibit the relationship which exists between all things in Nature, and it revealed to the
wise that all creatures and substances were one in essence, and that man--the Little Universe--was a
replica in miniature of God--the Great Universe. The Contemplative Qabbalah was evolved for the
purpose of revealing through the higher intellectual faculties the mysteries of the celestial spheres. By its
aid the abstract reasoning faculties cognized the measureless planes of infinity and learned to know the
creatures existing within them. The Astrological Qabbalah instructed those who studied its lore in the
power, magnitude, and actual substance of the sidereal bodies, and also revealed the mystical
constitution of the planet itself. The fifth, or Magical Qabbalah, was studied by such as desired to gain
control over the demons and subhuman intelligences of the invisible worlds. It was also highly valued as
a method of healing the sick by talismans, amulets, charms, and invocations.
The Sepher Yetzirah, according to Adolph Franck, differs from other sacred books in that it does not
explain the world and the phenomena of which it is the stage by leaning on the idea of God or by setting
itself up as the interpreter of the supreme will. This ancient work rather reveals God by estimating His
manifold handiwork. In preparing the Sepher Yetzirah for the consideration of the reader, five separate
English translations have been compared. The resulting form, while it embodies the salient features of
each, is not a direct translation from any one Hebrew or Latin text. Although the purpose was to convey
the spirit rather than the letter of the ancient document, there are no wide deviations from the original
rendition. So far as known, the first translation of the Sepher Yetzirah into English was made by the Rev.
Dr. Isidor Kalisch, in 1877. (See Arthur Edward Waite.) In this translation the Hebrew text accompanies
the English words. The work of Dr. Kalisch has been used as the foundation of the following
interpretation, but material from other authorities has been incorporated and many passages have been
rewritten to simplify the general theme.
At hand also was a manuscript copy in English of the Book of the Cabalistick Art, by Doctor John Pistor.
The document is undated; but judging from the general type of the writing, the copy was made during
the eighteenth century. The third volume used as a reference was the Sepher Yetzirah, by the late Win.
Wynn Westcott, Magus of the Rosicrucian Society of England. The fourth was the Sepher Yetzirah, or
The Book of Creation, according to the translation in the Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East,
edited by Prof. Charles F. Horne. The fifth was a recent publication, The Book of Formation, by Knut
Stenring, containing an introduction by Arthur Edward Waite. At hand also were four other copies--two
German, one Hebrew, and one Latin. Certain portions of the Sepher Yetzirah are considered older and
more authentic than the rest, bur the controversy regarding them is involved and nonproductive that it is
useless to add further comment. The doubtful passages are therefore included in the document at the
points where they would naturally fall.
Chapter One
1. YAH, the Lord of Hosts, the living Elohim, King of the Universe, Omnipotent, the Merciful and
Gracious God, Supreme and Extolled, Dweller in the Height whose habitation is Eternity, who is
Sublime and Most-Holy, engraved His name and ordained (formed) and created the Universe in thirty-
two mysterious paths (stages) of wisdom (science), by three Sepharim, namely, Numbers, Letters, and
Sounds, which are in Him one and the same.
2. Ten Sephiroth (ten properties from the Ineffable One) and twenty-two letters are the Foundation of all
things. Of these twenty-two letters three are called "Mothers," sewn "Double," and twelve "Simple."
3. The ten numbers (Sephiroth) out of Nothing are analogous to the ten fingers and the ten toes: five
over against five. In the center between them is the covenant with the Only One God. In the spiritual
world it is the covenant of the voice (the Word), and in the corporeal world the circumcision of the flesh
(the rite of Abraham).
4. Ten are the numbers (of the Sephiroth) out of Nothing, ten--not nine; ten--not eleven. Comprehend
this great, wisdom, understand this knowledge and be wise. Inquire into the mystery and ponder it.
Examine all things by means of the ten Sephiroth. Restore the Word to Its Creator and lead the Creator
back to His throne again. He is the only Formator and beside Him there is no other. His attributes are ten
and are without limit.
5. The ten ineffable Sephiroth have ten infinitudes, which are as follows:
The infinite beginning and the infinite end;
The infinite good and the infinite evil;
The infinite height and the infinite depth;
The infinite East and the infinite West;
The infinite North and the infinite South;
and over them is the Lord Superlatively One, the faithful King. He rules over all in all from His holy
habitation for ages of ages.
6. The appearance of the ten spheres (Sephiroth) out of Nothing is as a flash of lightning or a sparkling
flame, and they are without beginning or end. The Word of God is in them when they go forth and when
they return. They run by His order like a whirlwind and prostrate themselves before His throne.
7. The ten Sephiroth have their end linked to their beginning and their beginning linked to their end,
cojoined as the flame is wedded to the live coal, for the Lord is Superlatively One and to Him there is no
second. Before One what can you count?
8. Concerning the number (10) of the spheres of existence (Sephiroth) out of Nothing, seal up your lips
and guard your heart as you consider them, and if your month opens for utterance and your heart turns
towards thought, control them, returning to silence. So it is written: "And the living creatures ran and
returned." (Ezekiel i. 14.) And on this wise was the covenant made with us,
9. These are the ten emanations of number out of Nothing:
1st. The spirit of the living Elohim, blessed and more than blessed be the living Elohim of ages. His
Voice, His Spirit, and His Word are the Holy Spirit.
2nd. He produced air from the spirit and in the air. He formed and established twenty-two sounds--the
letters. Three of them were fundamental, or mothers; seven were double; and twelve were simple
(single); but the spirit is the first one and above all.
3rd. Primordial water He extracted from the air. He formed therein twenty-two letters and established
them out of mud and loam, making them like a border, putting them up like a wall, and surrounding
them as with a rampart. He poured snow upon them and it became earth, as it reads: "He said to the
snow be thou earth." (Job. xxxvii. 6.)
4th. Fire (ether) He drew forth from the water. He engraved and established by it the Throne of Glory.
He fashioned the Seraphim, the Ophanim, and the Holy Living Creatures (Cherubim?), as His
ministering angels; and with (of) these three He formed His habitation, as it reads: "Who made His
angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire." (Psalms civ. 4.)
Click to enlarge
By arranging the four letters of the Great Name, • • • •, (I H V H), in the form of the Pythagorean Tetractys, the
72 powers of the Great Name of God are manifested. The key to the problem is as follows:
. = I = 10 = 10
.. = HI = 5+10 = 15
... = VHI = 6+5+10 = 21
.... = HVHI = 5+6+5+10 = 26
The Great
= 72
Name of God
p. 115
5th. He selected three consonants (I, H, V) from the simple ones--a secret belonging to the three
mothers, or first elements; • • • (A, M, Sh), air, water, fire (ether). He sealed them with His spirit and
fashioned them into a Great Name and with this sealed the universe in six directions. He turned towards
the above and sealed the height with • • • (I, H, V).
6th. He turned towards the below and sealed the depth with• • • (H, I, V).
7th. He turned forward and sealed the East with • • • (V, I, H).
8th. He turned backward and sealed the West with • • • (V H, I).
9th. He turned to the right and sealed the South with • • • (I, V, H).
10th. He turned to the left and sealed the North with • • • (H, V, I).
NOTE. This arrangement of the letters of the Great Name is according to the Rev. Dr. Isidor Kalisch.
10. These are the ten ineffable existences out of nothing; From the spirit of the Living God emanated air;
from the air, water; from the water, fire (ether); from the fire, the height and the depth, the East and the
West, the North and the South.
Chapter Two
1. There are twenty-two basic (sounds and) letters. Three are the first elements (water, air, fire),
fundamentals, or mothers; seven are double letters; and twelve are simple letters. The three fundamental
letters • • • have as their basis the balance. At one end of the scale are the virtues and at the other the
vices, placed in equilibrium by the tongue. Of the fundamental letters • (M) is mute like the water, • (Sh)
hissing like fire, • (A) a reconciling breath between them. t
2. The twenty-two basic letters having been designed, appointed, and established by God, He combined,
weighed, and exchanged them (each with the others), and formed by them all beings which are in
existence, and all which will be formed in time to come.
3. He established twenty-two basic letters, formed by the voice and impressed upon the air by the breath.
He set them to be audibly uttered in five different parts of the human mouth: namely, Gutturals, • • • •;
Palatals, • • • •; Linguals, • • • • • Dentals, • • • • •; Labials, • • • •.
4. He fixed the twenty-two basic letters in a ring (sphere) like a wall with two hundred and thirty-one
gates, and turned the sphere forward and backward. Turned forward, the sphere signified good; when
reversed, evil. Three letters may serve for an illustration: There is nothing better than • • • (O, N, G),
pleasure (joy), and nothing worse than • • • (N, G, O), plague (sorrow).
5. How was it all accomplished? He combined, weighed, and changed: the • (A) with all the other letters
in succession, and all the others again with • (A), and all again with • (B); and so with the whole series
of letters. Hence it follows that there are two hundred and thirty-one formations, or gates, through which
the powers of the letters go forth; every creature and every language proceeded from One Name and the
combinations of its letters.
6. He created a reality out of Nothing. He called the nonentity into existence and hewed colossal pillars
from intangible air. This has been shown by the example of combining the letter • (A) with all the other
letters, and all the other letters with •. By speaking He created every creature and every word by the
power of One Name. As an illustration, consider the twenty-two elementary substances from the
primitive substance of •. The production of every creature from the twenty-two letters is proof that they
are in reality the twenty-two parts of one living body.
Chapter Three
1. The first three elements (the Mother letters, • • •) resemble a balance, in one scale virtue and in the
other vice, placed in equilibrium by the tongue.
2. The three Mothers, • • •, enclose a great, wonderful, and unknown mystery, and are sealed by six
wings (or elementary circles), namely, air, water, fire--each divided into an active and a passive power.
The Mothers, • • •, gave birth to the Fathers (the progenitors), and these gave birth to the generations.
3. God appointed and established three Mothers, • • •, combined, weighed, and exchanged them, forming
by them three Mothers, in the universe, in the year, and in man (male and female).
4. The three Mothers, • • •, in the universe are: air, water, and fire. Heaven was created from the
elementary fire (or ether) •, the earth, comprising sea and land, from the elementary water, •, and the
atmospheric air from the elementary air, or spirit, •, which establishes the balance among them. Thus
were all things produced.
5. The three Mothers, • • •, produce in the year heat, coldness, and the temperate state. Heat was created
from fire, coldness from water, and the temperate state from air, which equilibrates them.
6. The three Mothers, • • •, produce in man (male and female) breast, abdomen, and head. The head was
formed from the fire, •; the abdomen from the water, •; and the breast (thorax) from air, •, which places
them in equilibrium.
7. God let the letter • (A) predominate in primordial air, crowned it, combined it with the other two, and
sealed the air in the universe, the temperate state in the year, and the breast in man (male and female).
8. He let the letter • (M) predominate in primordial water, crowned it, combined it with the other two,
and sealed the earth in the universe (including land and sea), coldness in the year, and the abdomen in
man (male and female).
9. He let the letter • (Sh) predominate in primordial fire, crowned it, combined it with the other two, and
sealed heaven in the universe, heat in the year, and the head of man (male and female).
Chapter Four
1. The seven double letters, • • • • • • • (B, G, D, K, P, R, Th), have a duplicity of pronunciation (two
voices), aspirated and unaspirated, namely: •• •, •• •, •• •, •• •, •• •, •• •They serve as a model of softness
and hardness, strength and weakness.
2. The seven double letters symbolize wisdom, riches, fertility life, power, peace, and grace.
3. The seven double letters also signify the antitheses to which human life is exposed. The opposite of
wisdom is foolishness; of riches, poverty; of fertility, sterility; of life, death; of power, servitude; of
peace, war; and of beauty, deformity.
4. The seven double letters point out the six dimensions, height, depth, East and West, North and South,
and the Holy Temple in the center, which sustains them all.
5. The double letters are seven and not six, they are seven and not eight; reflect upon this fact, search
into it and reveal its hidden mystery and place the Creator on His throne again.
6. The seven double letters having been designed, established, purified, weighed, and exchanged by
God, He formed of them seven planets in the universe, seven days in the Year, and seven gateways of
the senses in man (male and female). From these seven He also produced seven heavens, seven earths,
and seven Sabbaths. Therefore He loved seven more than any other number beneath His throne.
7. The seven planets in the universe are: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Moon. The
seven days in the Year are the seven days of the week (possibly the seven creative days are meant). The
seven gateways in man (male and female) are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.
8. NOTE. Knut Stenring differs from other authorities in his arrangement of the planets and days of the
week in the following seven stanzas. Kircher has still a different order. Rev. Dr. Isidor Kalisch, Wm.
Wynn Westcott, and The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East adopt the following
Click to enlarge
In the central triangle are the three Mother Letters from which come forth the seven Double Letters--the planets
and the heavens. Surrounding the black star are the signs of the zodiac symbolized by the twelve Simple Letters.
In the midst of this star is the Invisible Throne of the Most Ancient of the Ancients--the Supreme Definitionless
p. 116
1st. He caused the letter. • (B) to predominate in wisdom, crowned it, combined each with the others,
and formed by them the Moon in the universe, the first day in the year, and the right eye in man (male
and female).
2nd. He caused the letter • (G) to predominate in riches, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them Mars in the universe, the second day in the year, and the right ear in man (male and
3rd. He caused the letter • (D) to predominate infertility, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them the Sun in the universe, the third day in the year, and the right nostril in man (male and
4th. He caused the letter• (K) to predominate in life, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them Venus in the universe, the fourth day in the year, and the left eye in man (male and
5th. He caused the letter • (P) to predominate in power, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them Mercury in the universe, the fifth day in the year, and the left ear in man (male and
6th. He caused the letter • (R) to predominate in peace, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them Saturn in the universe, the sixth day in the year, and the left nostril in man (male and
7th. He caused the letter • (Th) to predominate in grace, crowned it, combined each with the others, and
formed by them Jupiter in the universe, the seventh day in the year, and the mouth of man (male and
9. With the seven double letters He also designed seven earths, seven heavens, seven continents, seven
seas, seven rivers, seven deserts, seven days, seven weeks (from Passover to Pentecost), and in the midst
of them His Holy Palace. There is a cycle of seven years and the seventh is the release year, and after
seven release years is the Jubilee. For this reason God loves the number seven more than any other thing
under the heavens.
10. In this manner God joined the seven double letters together. Two stones build two houses, three
stones build six houses, four stones build twenty-four houses, five stones build 120 houses, six stones
build 720 houses, and seven stones build 5,040 houses. Make a beginning according to this arrangement
and reckon further than the mouth can express or the ear can hear.
Chapter Five
1. The twelve simple letters • • • • • • • • • • • • (H, V, Z, Ch, T, I, L, N, S, O, Tz, Q) symbolize the twelve
fundamental properties: speech, thought, movement, sight, hearing, work, coition, smell, sleep, anger,
taste (or swallowing), and mirth.
2. The simple letters correspond to twelve directions: east height, northeast, east depth; south height,
southeast, south depth; west height, southwest, west depth; north height, northwest, north depth. They
diverge to all eternity and are the arms of the universe.
3. The simple letters having been designed, established, weighed, and exchanged by God, He produced
by them twelve zodiacal signs in the universe, twelve months in the year, and twelve chief organs in `
human body (male and female).
4, The signs of the zodiac are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius,
Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. The months of the year are: Nisan, liar, Sivan, Tammuz, Ab, Elul,
Tisri, Marcheshvan, Kislev, Tebet, Sebat, and Adar. The organs of the human body are: two hands, two
feet, two kidneys, gall, small intestine, liver, esophagus, stomach, and spleen.
5. NOTE. In the following twelve stanzas, Knut Stenring again differs, this time as to the arrangement of
1st. God caused the letter • (H) to predominate in speech, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Aries (the Ram) in the universe, the month Nisan in the year, and the right foot of the
human body (male and female).
2nd. He caused the letter • (V) to predominate in thought, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Taurus (the Bull) in the universe, the month liar in the year, and the right kidney of
the human body (male and female).
3rd. He caused the letter • (Z) to predominate in movement, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Gemini (the Twins) in the universe, the month Sivan in the year, and the left foot of
the human body (male and female).
4th. He caused the letter • (Ch) to predominate in sight, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Cancer (the Crab) in the universe, the month Tammuz in the year, and the right hand
of the human body (male and female).
5th. He caused the letter • (T) to predominate in hearing, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Leo (the Lion) in the universe, the month Ab in the year, and the left kidney of the
human body (male and female).
6th. He caused the letter • (I) to predominate in work, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Virgo (the Virgin) in the universe, the month Elul in the year, and the left hand of the
human body (male and female).
7th. He caused the letter • (L) to predominate in coition, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Libra (the Balance) in the universe, the month Tisri in the year, and the gall of the
human body (male and female).
8th. He caused the letter • (N) to predominate in smell, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Scorpio (the Scorpion) in the universe, the month Marcheshvan in the year, and the
small intestine in the human body (male and female).
9th. He caused the letter • (S) to predominate in sleep, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Sagittarius (the Archer) in the universe, the month Kislev in the year, and the
stomach in the human body (male and female).
10th. He caused the letter • (O) to predominate in anger, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Capricorn (the Goat) in the universe, the month Tebet in the year, and the liver in the
human body (male and female).
11th. He caused the letter • (Tz) to predominate in taste (or swallowing), crowned it, combined it with
the others, and fashioned by them Aquarius (the Water Bearer) in the universe, the month Sebat in the
year, and the esophagus in the human body (male and female).
12th. He caused the letter • (Q) to predominate in mirth, crowned it, combined it with the others, and
fashioned by them Pisces (the Fishes) in the universe, the month Adar in the year, and the spleen in the
human body (male and female).
6. He made them as a conflict, He arranged them as provinces and drew them up like a wall. He armed
them and set one against another as in warfare. (The Elohim did likewise in the other spheres.)
Chapter Six
1. There are three Mothers or first elements, • • • (A, M, Sh), from which emanated three Fathers
(progenitors)--primordial (spiritual) air, water, and fire--from which issued the seven planets (heavens)
with their angels, and the twelve oblique points (zodiac).
2. To prove this there are three faithful witnesses: the universe, the year, and man. There are the twelve,
the balance, and the seven. Above is the Dragon, below is the world, and lastly the heart of man; and in
the midst is God who regulates them all.
3. The first elements are air, water, and fire; the fire is above, the water is below, and a breath of air
establishes balance between them. The token is: the fire carries the water. The letter• (M) is mute; • (Sh)
is hissing like fire; there is • (A) among them, a breath of air which reconciles the two.
4. The Dragon (Tali) is in the universe like a king upon his throne; the celestial sphere is in the year like
a king in his empire; and the heart is in the body of men like a king in warfare.
5. God also set the opposites against each other: the good against the evil, and the evil against the good.
Good proceeds from good, evil from evil; the good purifies the bad, the bad the good. The good is
reserved for the good, and the evil for the wicked.
6. There are three of which each stands by itself: one is in the affirmative (filled with good), one is in the
negative (filled with evil), and the third equilibrates them.
7. There are seven divided three against three, and one in the midst of them (balance). Twelve stand in
warfare: three produce love and three hatred; three are life-givers and three are destroyers.
8. The three that cause love are the heart and the two ears; the three that produce hatred are the liver, the
gall, and the tongues; the three life-givers are the two nostrils and the spleen; and the three destroyers are
the mouth and the two lower openings of the body. Over all these rules God, the faithful king, from His
holy habitation in all eternity. God is One above three, three are above seven, seven are above twelve,
yet all are linked together.
9. There are twenty-two letters by which the I AM (YAH), the Lord of Hosts, Almighty and Eternal,
designed and created by three Sepharim (Numbers, Letters, and Sounds) His universe, and formed by
them all creatures and all those things that are yet to come.
10. When the Patriarch Abraham had comprehended the great truths, meditated upon them, and
understood them perfectly, the Lord of the Universe (the Tetragrammaton) appeared to him, called him
His friend, kissed him upon the head, and made with him a covenant. First, the covenant was between
the ten fingers of his hands, which is the covenant of the tongue (spiritual); second, the covenant was
between the ten toes of his feet, which is the covenant of circumcision (material); and God said of him,
"Before Abraham bound the spirit of the twenty-two letters (the Thora) upon his tongue and God
disclosed to him their secrets. God permitted the letters to be immersed in water, He burned them in the
fire and imprinted them upon the winds. He distributed them among the seven planets and gave them to
the twelve zodiacal signs.
Next: Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 117
Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony
THE Qabbalists conceive of the Supreme Deity as an Incomprehensible Principle to be discovered only
through the process of eliminating, in order, all its cognizable attributes. That which remains--when
every knowable thing has been removed--is AIN SOPH, the eternal state of Being. Although indefinable,
the Absolute permeates all space. Abstract to the degree of inconceivability, AIN SOPH is the
unconditioned state of all things. Substances, essences, and intelligences are manifested out of the
inscrutability of AIN SOPH, but the Absolute itself is without substance, essence, or intelligence. AIN
SOPH may be likened to a great field of rich earth out of which rises a myriad of plants, each different
in color, formation, and fragrance, yet each with its roots in the same dark loam--which, however, is
unlike any of the forms nurtured by it. The "plants" are universes, gods, and man, all nourished by AIN
SOPH and all with their source in one definitionless essence; all with their spirits, souls, and bodies
fashioned from this essence, and doomed, like the plant, to return to the black ground--AIN SOPH, the
only Immortal--whence they came.
AIN SOPH was referred to by the Qabbalists as The Most Ancient of all the Ancients. It was always
considered as sexless. Its symbol was a closed eye. While it may be truly said of AIN SOPH that to
define It is to defile It, the Rabbis postulated certain theories regarding the manner in which AIN SOPH
projected creations out of Itself, and they also assigned to this Absolute Not-Being certain symbols as
being descriptive, in part at least, of Its powers. The nature of AIN SOPH they symbolize by a circle,
itself emblematic of eternity. This hypothetical circle encloses a dimensionless area of incomprehensible
life, and the circular boundary of this life is abstract and measureless infinity.
According to this concept, God is not only a Center but also Area. Centralization is the first step towards
limitation. Therefore, centers which form in the substances of AIN SOPH are finite because they are
predestined to dissolution back into the Cause of themselves, while AIN SOPH Itself is infinite because
It is the ultimate condition of all things. The circular shape given to AIN SOPH signifies that space is
hypothetically enclosed within a great crystal-like globe, outside of which there is nothing, not even a
vacuum. Within this globe--symbolic of AIN SOPH--creation and dissolution take place. Every element
and principle that will ever be used in the eternities of Kosmic birth, growth, and decay is within the
transparent substances of this intangible sphere. It is the Kosmic Egg which is not broken till the great
day "Be With Us," which is the end of the Cycle of Necessity, when all things return to their ultimate
In the process of creation the diffused life of AIN SOPH retires from the circumference to the center of
the circle and establishes a point, which is the first manifesting One--the primitive limitation of the all-
pervading O. When the Divine Essence thus retires from the circular boundary to the center, It leaves
behind the Abyss, or, as the Qabbalists term it, the Great Privation. Thus, in AIN SOPH is established a
twofold condition where previously had existed but one. The first condition is the central point--the
primitive objectified radiance of the eternal, subjectified life. About this radiance is darkness caused by
the deprivation of the life which is drawn to the center to create the first point, or universal germ. The
universal AIN SOPH, therefore, no longer shines through space, but rather upon space from an
established first point. Isaac Myer describes this process as follows: "The Ain Soph at first was filling
All and then made an absolute concentration into Itself which produced the Abyss, Deep, or Space, the
Aveer Qadmon or Primitive Air, the Azoth; but this is not considered in the Qabbalah as a perfect void
or vacuum, a perfectly empty Space, but is thought of as the Waters or Crystalline Chaotic Sea, in which
was a certain degree of Light inferior to that by which all the created [worlds and hierarchies] were
made." (See The Qabbalah.)
In the secret teachings of the Qabbalah it is taught that man's body is enveloped in an ovoid of bubble-
like iridescence, which is called the Auric Egg. This is the causal sphere of man. It bears the same
relationship to man's physical body that the globe of AIN SOPH bears to Its created universes. In fact,
this Auric Egg is the AIN SOPH sphere of the entity called man. In reality, therefore, the supreme
consciousness of man is in this aura, which extends in all directions and completely encircles his lower
bodies. As the consciousness in the Kosmic Egg is withdrawn into a central point, which is then called
God--the Supreme One--so the consciousness in the Auric Egg of man is concentrated, thereby causing
the establishment of a point of consciousness called the Ego. As the universes in Nature are formed from
powers latent in the Kosmic Egg, so everything used by man in all his incarnations throughout the
kingdoms of Nature is drawn from the latent powers within his Auric Egg. Man never passes from this
egg; it remains even after death. His births, deaths, and rebirths all take place within it, and it cannot be
broken until the lesser day "Be With Us," when mankind--like the universe--is liberated from the Wheel
of Necessity.
On the accompanying circular chart, the concentric rings represent diagrammatically the forty rates of
vibration (called by the Qabbalists Spheres) which emanate from AIN SOPH. The circle X 1 is the outer
boundary of space. It circumscribes the area of AIN SOPH. The nature of AIN SOPH Itself is divided
into three parts, represented by the spaces respectively between X 1 and X 2, X 2 and X 3, X 3 and A 1;
X 1 to X 2, •••, AIN, the vacuum of pure spirit.
X 2 to X 3, ••• •••, AIN SOPH, the Limitless and Boundless.
X 3 to A 1, ••• ••• •••, AIN SOPH AUR, the Limitless Light.
It should be borne in mind that in the beginning the Supreme Substance, AIN, alone permeated the area
of the circle; the inner rings had not yet come into manifestation. As the Divine Essence concentrated
Itself, the rings X 2 and X 3 became apprehensible, for AIN SOPH is a limitation of AIN, and AIN
SOPH AUR, or Light, is a still greater limitation. Thus the nature of the Supreme One is considered to
be threefold, and from this threefold nature the powers and elements of creation were reflected into the
Abyss left by the motion of AIN SOPH towards the center of Itself. The continual motion of AIN SOPH
towards the center of Itself resulted in the establishment of the dot in the circle. The dot was called God,
as being the supreme individualization of the Universal Essence. Concerning this the Zohar says:
"When the concealed of the Concealed wished to reveal Himself He first made a single point: the
Infinite was entirely unknown, and diffused no light before this luminous point violently broke through
into vision."
The name of this point is I AM, called by the Hebrews Eheieh. The Qabbalists gave many names to this
dot. On this subject Christian D. Ginsberg writes, in substance: The dot is called the first crown, because
it occupies the highest position. It is called the aged, because it is the first emanation. It is called the
primordial or smooth point. It is called the white head, the Long Face--Macroprosophus--and the
inscrutable height, because it controls and governs all the other emanations.
When the white shining point had appeared, it was called Kether, which means the Crown, and out of it
radiated nine great globes, which arranged themselves in the form of a tree. These nine together with the
first crown constituted the first system of Sephiroth. These ten were the first limitation of ten abstract
points within the nature of AIN SOPH Itself. The power of AIN SOPH did not descend into these globes
but rather was reflected upon them as the light of the sun is reflected upon the earth and planets. These
ten globes were called the shining sapphires, and it is believed by many Rabbins that the word sapphire
is the basis of the word Sephira (the singular of Sephiroth). The great area which had been privated by
the withdrawal of AIN SOPH into the central point, Kether, was now filled by four concentric globes
called worlds, or spheres, and the light of the ten Sephiroth was reflected down through each of these in
turn. This resulted in the establishment of four symbolical
Click to enlarge
The Qabbalists used the letter •, Shin, to signify the trinity of the first three Sephiroth. The central circle slightly
above the other two is the first Sephira--Kether, the White Head, the Crown. The other two circles represent
Chochmah, the Father, and Binah, the Mother. From the union of the Divine Father and the Divine Mother are
produced the worlds and the generations of living things. The three flame-like points of the letter • have long
been used to conceal this Creative Triad of the Qabbalists.
p. 118
trees, each hearing the reflections of the ten Sephirothic globes. The 40 spheres of creation out of AIN
SOPH are divided into four great world chains, as follows:
A 1 to A 10, Atziluth, the Boundless World of Divine Names.
B 1 to B 10, Briah, the Archangelic World of Creations.
C 1 to C 10, Yetzirah, the Hierarchal World of Formations.
D 1 to D 10, Assiah, the Elemental World of Substances.
Each of these worlds has ten powers, or spheres--a parent globe and nine others which conic out of it as
emanations, each globe born out of the one preceding. On the plane of Atziluth (A 1 to A 10), the highest
and most divine of all the created worlds, the unmanifested AIN SOPH established His first point or dot
in the Divine Sea--the three spheres of X. This dot--A 1--contains all creation within it, but in this first
divine and uncontaminated state the dot, or first manifested. God, was not considered as a personality by
the Qabbalists but rather as a divine establishment or foundation. It was called the First Crown and from
it issued the other circles of the Atziluthic World: A 2, A 3, A 4, A 5, A 6, A 7, A 8, A 9, and A 10. In
the three lower worlds these circles are intelligences, planers, and elements, but in this first divine world
they are called the Rings of the Sacred Names.
The first ten great circles (or globes) of light which were manifested out of AIN SOPH and the ten
names of God assigned to them by the Qabbalists are as follows:
From AIN SOPH came A 1, the First Crown, and the name of the first power of God was Eheieh, which
means I Am [That I Am].
From A 1 came A 2, the first Wisdom, and the name of the second power of God was Jehovah, which
means Essence of Being.
From A 2 came A 3, the first Understanding, and the name of the third power of God was Jehovah
Elohim, which means God of Gods.
From A 3 came A 4, the first Mercy, and the name of the fourth power of God was El, which means God
the Creator.
From A 4 came A 5, the first Severity, and the name of the fifth power of God was Elohim Gibor, which
means God the Potent.
From A 5 came A 6, the first Beauty, and the name of the sixth power of God was Eloah Vadaath,
which means God the Strong.
From A 6 came A 7, the first Victory, and the name of the seventh power of God was Jehovah Tzaboath,
which means God of Hosts.
From A 7 came A 8, the first Glory, and the name of the eighth power of God was Elohim Tzaboath,
which means Lord God of Hosts.
From A 8 came A 9, the first Foundation, and the name of the ninth power of God was Shaddai, El Chai,
which means Omnipotent.
From A 9 came A 10, the first Kingdom, and the name of the tenth power of God was Adonai Melekh,
which means God.
From A 10 came B 1, the Second Crown, and the World of Briah was established.
The ten emanations from A 1 to A 10 inclusive are called the foundations of all creations. The
Qabbalists designate them the ten roots of the Tree of Life. They are arranged in the form of a great
human figure called Adam Qadmon--the man made from the fire mist (red dirt), the prototypic Universal
Man. In the Atziluthic World, the powers of God are most purely manifested. These ten pure and perfect
radiations do not descend into the lower worlds and take upon themselves forms, but are reflected upon
the substances of the inferior spheres. From the first, or Atziluthic, World they are reflected into the
second, or Briatic, World. As the reflection always lacks some of the brilliancy of the original image, so
in the Briatic World the ten radiations lose part of their infinite power. A reflection is always like the
thing reflected, but smaller and fainter.
In the second world, B 1 to B 10, the order of the spheres is the Name as in the Atziluthic World, but the
ten circles of light are less brilliant and more tangible, and are here referred to as ten great Spirits--divine
creatures who assist in the establishment of order and intelligence in the universe. As already noted, B 1
is born out of A 10 and is included within all the spheres superior to itself. Out of B 1 are taken nine
globes--B 2, B 3, B 4, B 5, B 6, B 7, B 8, B 9, and B 10--which constitute the World of Briah. These ten
subdivisions, however, are really the ten Atziluthic powers reflected into the substance of the Briatic
World. B 1 is the ruler of this world, for it contains all the other rings of its own world and also the rings
of the third and fourth worlds, C and D. In the World of Briah the ten spheres of light are called the
Archangels of Briah. Their order and powers are as follows:
From A 10 came B 1, the Second Crown; it is called Metatron, the Angel of the Presence.
From B 1 came B 2, the second Wisdom; it is called Raziel, the Herald of Deity who revealed the
mysteries of Qabbalah to Adam.
From B 2 carne B 3, the second Understanding; it is called Tsaphkiel, the Contemplation of God.
From B 3 came B 4 ' the second Mercy; it is called Tsadkiel, the justice of God.
From B 4 came B 5, the second Severity; it is called Samael, the Severity of God.
From B 5 came B 6, the second Beauty; it is called Michael, Like Unto God.
From B 6 came B 7, the second Victory; it is called Haniel, the Grace of God.
From B 7 came B 8, the second Glory; it is called Raphael, the Divine Physician.
From B 8 came B 9, the second Foundation; it is called Gabriel, the Man-God.
From B 9 came B 10, the second Kingdom; it is called Sandalphon, the Messias.
From B 10 came C 1, the Third Crown, and the World of Yetzirah was established.
The ten Archangels of Briah are conceived to be ten great spiritual beings, whose duty is to manifest the
ten powers of the Great Name of God existent in the Atziluthic World, which surrounds and
interpenetrates the entire world of creation. All things manifesting in the lower worlds exist first in the
intangible rings of the upper spheres, so that creation is, in truth, the process of making tangible the
intangible by extending the intangible into various vibratory rates. The ten globes of Briatic power,
while themselves reflections, are mirrored downward into the third or Yetziratic World, where still more
limited in their expression they become the spiritual and invisible zodiac which is behind the visible
band of constellations. In this third world the ten globes of the original Atziluthic World are greatly
limited and dimmed, but they are still infinitely powerful in comparison with the state of substance in
which man dwells. In the third world, C 1 to C 10, the globes become hierarchies of celestial creatures,
called the Choirs of Yetzirah. Here again, all are included within the ring C 1, the power which controls
the Yetziratic World and which includes within itself and controls the entire world D. The order of the
globes and the names of the hierarchies composing them are as follows:
From B 10 came C 1, the Third Crown; the Hierarchy is the Cherubim, Chaioth Ha Kadosh, the Holy
From C 1 came C 2, the third Wisdom; the Hierarchy is the Cherubim, Orphanim, the Wheels.
From C 2 came C 3, the third Understanding; the Hierarchy is the Thrones, Aralim, the Mighty Ones.
From C 3 came C 4, the third Mercy; the Hierarchy is the Dominations, Chashmalim, the Brilliant Ones.
From C 4 came C 5, the third Severity; the Hierarchy is the Powers, Seraphim, the Flaming Serpents.
From C 5 came C 6, the third Beauty; the Hierarchy is the Virtues, Melachim, the Kings.
From C 6 came C 7, the third Victory; the Hierarchy is the Principalities, Elohim, the Gods.
From C 7 came C 8, the third Glory; the Hierarchy is the Archangels, Ben Elohim, the Sons of God.
From C 8 came C 9, the third Foundation; the Hierarchy is the Angels, Cherubim, the Scat of the Sons.
From C 9 came C 10, the third Kingdom; the Hierarchy is Humanity, the Ishim, the Souls of Just Men.
From C 10 came D 1, the Fourth Crown, and the World of Assiah was established.
From the Yetziratic World the light of the ten spheres is reflected into the World of Assiah, the lowest of
the four. The ten globes of the original Atziluthic World here take upon themselves forms of physical
matter and the sidereal system is the result. The World of Assiah, or the elemental world of substance, is
the one into which humanity descended at the time of Adam's fall. The Garden of Eden is the three
upper worlds, and for his sins man was forced into the sphere of substance and assumed coats of skin
(bodies). All of the spiritual forces of the upper worlds, A, B, C, when they strike against the elements of
the lower world, D, are distorted and perverted, resulting in the creation of hierarchies of demons to
correspond with the good spirits in each of the higher worlds. In all the ancient Mysteries, matter was
regarded as the source of all evil and spirit the source of all good, for matter inhibits and limits, often so
clogging the inner perceptions that man is unable to recognize his own divine potentialities. Since matter
thus prevents humanity from claiming its birthright, it is called the Adversary, the power of evil. The
fourth world, D, is the world of solar systems,
Click to enlarge
According to the Qabbalists, the life of the Supreme Creator permeates all substance, all space, and all time, but
for diagrammatic purposes the Supreme, All-Inclusive Life is limited by Circle 3, which may be called "the
boundary line of Divine existence." The Divine Life permeating the area bounded by Circle 3 is focused at Point
1, which thus becomes the personification of the impersonal life and is termed "the First Crown." The creative
forces pouring through Point 1 come into manifestation as the objective universe in the intermediate space, Circle
p. 119
comprising not only the one of which the earth is a part but all the solar systems in the universe.
Opinions differ as to the arrangement of the globes of this last world, D 1 to D 10 inclusive. The ruler of
the fourth world is D 1, called by some the Fiery Heaven; by others the Primum Mobile, or the First
Motion. From this whirling fire emanates the material starry zodiac, D 2, in contradistinction to the
invisible spiritual zodiac of the Yetziratic World. From the zodiac, D 2, are differentiated the spheres of
the planets in concatenate order. The ten spheres of the World of Assiah are as follows:
From C 10 came D 1, the Fourth Crown; Rashith Ha-Galagalum, the Primum Mobile, the fiery mist
which is the beginning of the material universe.
From D 1 came D 2, the fourth Wisdom; Masloth, the Zodiac, the Firmament of the Fixed Stars.
From D 2 came D 3, the fourth Understanding; Shabbathai, the sphere of Saturn.
From D 3 came D 4, the fourth Mercy; Tzedeg, the sphere of Jupiter.
From D 4 came D 5, the fourth Severity; Madim, the sphere of Mars.
From D 5 came D 6, the fourth Beauty; Shemesh, the sphere of the Sun.
From D 6 came D 7, the fourth Victory; Nogah, the sphere of Venus.
From D 7 came D 8, the fourth Glory; Kokab, the sphere of Mercury.
From D 8 came D 9, the fourth Foundation; Levanah, the sphere of the Moon.
From D 9 came D 10, the Fourth Kingdom; Cholom Yosodoth, the sphere of the Four Elements.
By inserting a sphere (which he calls the Empyrean) before the Primum Mobile, Kircher moves each of
the other spheres down one, resulting in the elimination of the sphere of the elements and making D 10
the sphere of the Moon.
In the World of Assiah are to be found the demons and tempters. These are likewise reflections of the
ten great globes of Atziluth, but because of the distortion of the images resulting from the base
substances of the World of Assiah upon which they are reflected, they become evil creatures, called
shells by the Qabbalists. There are ten hierarchies of these demons to correlate with the ten hierarchies
of good spirits composing the Yetziratic World. There are
Click to enlarge
In the above chart the dark line between X 3 and A 1 constitutes the boundary of the original dot, while the
concentric circles within this heavier line symbolize the emanations and the worlds which came forth from the
dot. As this dot is contained within the outer rings X 1, X 2, and X 3, and represents the first establishment of an
individualized existence, so the lower universe symbolized by the forty concentric circles within the dot
represents the lower creation evolved out of and yet contained within the nature of the first Crown, which may be
called God, within whom the divine powers, the celestial beings the sidereal worlds, and man, live and move and
have their being. It is highly important that all the rings within A 1 be considered as being enclosed by the
primitive dot, which is itself encircled by the great ring X 1, or the Auric Egg of AIN SOPH.
Each ring includes with in its own nature all the rings within itself and is included within the natures of all the
rings outside of itself. Thus, A 1--the primitive dot--controls and contains the thirty-nine rings which it encloses,
all of these partaking of its nature in varying degrees according to their respective dignities. Consequently, the
entire area from A 1 to D 10 inclusive is the original dot, and the rings symbolize the divisions which took place
with in it and the emanations which poured out from it after its establishment in the midst of the abstract nature
of AIN SOPH. The powers of the rings decrease towards the center of the diagram, for Power is measured by the
number of things controlled, and each ring controls the rings within it and is controlled by the rings outside of it.
Thus, while A 1 controls thirty-nine rings besides itself, B 1 controls only twenty-nine rings besides its own.
Therefore, A 1 is more powerful than B 1. As the greatest spiritual solidity, or permanence, is at the
circumference and the greatest material density, or impermanence, is at the center of the diagram, the rings as
they decrease in Power become more material and substantial until the center sphere, D 10, symbolizes the actual
chemical elements of the earth. The rates of vibration are also lower as the rings approach the center. Thus, the
vibration of A 2 is lower than A 1 but higher than A 3, and so on in decreasing scale towards the center, A 1
being the highest and D 10 the lowest sphere of creation. While A 1, the ruler of creation, controls the circles
marked A, B, C, and D, it is less than the three rings of AIN SOPH--X 1, X2, and X3--and therefore bows before
the throne of the ineffable Creator from whose substances it was individualized.
p. 120
also ten Archdemons, corresponding to the ten Archangels of Briah. The black magicians use these
inverted spirits in their efforts to attain their nefarious ends, but in time the demon destroys those who
bind themselves to it. The ten orders of demons and the ten Archdemons of the World of Assiah are as
D 1, the evil Crown; the hierarchy is called Thaumiel, the doubles of God, the Two-headed; the
Archdemons are Satan and Moloch.
From D 1 came D 2, the evil Wisdom; the hierarchy is called Chaigidiel, those who obstruct; the
Archdemon is Adam Belial.
From D 2 came D 3, the evil Understanding; the hierarchy is called Satharial, the concealment of God,
the Archdemon is Lucifuge.
From D 3 came D 4, the evil Mercy; the hierarchy is called Gamchicoth, the disturber of things; the
Archdemon is Astaroth.
From D 4 came D 5, the evil Severity; the hierarchy is called Golab, incendiarism and burning; the
Archdemon is Asmodeus.
From D 5 came D 6, the evil Beauty; the hierarchy is called Togarini, the wranglers; the Archdemon is
From D 6 came D 7, the evil Victory; the hierarchy is called Harab Serap, the dispensing Raven; the
Archdemon is Baal Chanan.
From D 7 came D 8, the evil Glory; the hierarchy is called Samael, the embroiler; the Archdemon is
From D 8 came D 9, the evil Foundation; the hierarchy is called Gamaliel, the obscene; the Archdemon
is Lilith.
From D 9 came D 10, the evil Kingdom; the hierarchy is called Nahemoth, the impure; the Archdemon
is Nahema.
The Qabbalists declare that the worlds, intelligences, and hierarchies were established according to the
vision of Ezekiel. By the man of Ezekiel's vision is symbolized the World of Atziluth; by the throne, the
World of Briah; by the firmament, the World of Yetzirah; and by the living creatures the World of
Assiah. These spheres are the wheels within wheels of the prophet. The Qabbalists next established a
human figure in each of the four worlds: A 1 was the head and A 10 the feet of the man of Atziluth; B 1
was the head and B 10 the feet of the man of Briah; C 1 was the head and C 10 the feet of the man of
Yetzirah; D 1 was the head and D 10 the feet of the man of Assiah. These four are called the World Men.
They are considered androgynous and are the prototypes of humanity.
The human body, like that of the universe, is considered to be a material expression of ten globes or
spheres of light. Therefore man is called the Microcosm--the little world, built in the image of the great
world of which he is a part. The Qabbalists also established a mysterious universal man with his head at
A 1 and his feet at D 10. This is probably the secret significance of the great figure of Nebuchadnezzar's
dream, with its head in the World of Atziluth, its arms and hands in the World of Briah, its generative
system in the World of Yetzirah, and its legs and feet in the World of Assiah. This is the Grand Man of
the Zohar, of whom Eliphas Levi writes:
"It is not less astonishing to observe at the beginning of the Zohar the profundity of its notions and the
sublime simplicity of its images. It is said as follows: 'The science of equilibrium is the key of occult
science. Unbalanced forces perish in the void. So passed the kings of the elder world, the princes of the
giants. They have fallen like trees without roots, and their place is found no more. Through the conflict
of unbalanced forces, the devastated earth was void and formless, until the Spirit of God made for itself
a place in heaven and reduced the mass of waters. All the aspirations of Nature were directed then
towards unity of form, towards the living synthesis (if equilibrated forces; the face of God, crowned with
light, rose over the vast sea and was reflected in the waters thereof. His two eyes were manifested,
radiating with splendour, darting two beams of light which crossed with those of the reflection. The
brow of God and His eyes formed a triangle in heaven, and its reflection formed a second triangle in the
waters. So was revealed the number six, being that of universal creation.' The text, which would be
unintelligible in a literal version, is translated here by way of interpretation. The author makes it plain
that the human form which he ascribes to Deity is only an image of his meaning and that God is beyond
expression by human thought or representation by any figure. Pascal said that God is a circle, of which
the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere. But how is one to imagine a circle apart from
its circumference? The Zohar adopts the antithesis of this paradoxical image and in respect of the circle
of Pascal would say rather that the circumference is everywhere, while that which is nowhere is the
center. It is however to a balance and not to a circle that it compares the universal equilibrium of things.
It affirms that equilibrium is everywhere and so also is the central point where the balance hangs in
suspension. We find that the Zohar is thus more forcible and more profound than Pascal. * * * The
Zohar is a genesis of light; the Sepher Yetzirah is a ladder of truth. Therein are expounded the two-and-
thirty absolute symbols of speech--being numbers and letters. Each letter produces a number, an idea
and a form, so that mathematics are applicable to forms and ideas, even as to numbers, in virtue of an
exact proportion, and a perfect correspondence. By the science of the Sepher Yetzirah, the human mind
is rooted in truth and in reason; it accounts for all progress possible to intelligence by means of the
evolution of numbers. Thus does the Zohar represent absolute truth, while the Sepher Yetzirah furnishes
the method of its acquisition, its discernment and application." (History of Magic.)
By placing man himself at the point D 10, his true constitution is revealed. He exists upon four worlds,
only one of which is visible. It is then made evident that his parts and members upon the material plane
are, by analogy, hierarchies and intelligences in the higher worlds. Here, again, the law of
interpenetration is evidenced. Although within man is the entire universe (the 43 spheres
interpenetrating D 10), he is ignorant of its existence because he cannot exercise control over that which
is superior to or greater than himself. Nevertheless, all these higher spheres exercise control over him, as
his functions and activities demonstrate. If they did not, he would be an inert mass of substance. Death is
merely the result of deflecting the life impulses of the higher rings away from the lower body.
The control of the transubstantial rings over their own material reflection is called life, and the spirit of
man is, in reality, a name given to this great host of intelligences, which are focused upon substance
through a point called the ego, established in the midst of themselves. X 1 is the outside boundary of the
human Auric Egg, and the entire diagram becomes a cross section of the constitution of man, or a cross
section of the Kosmic constitution, if correlated with the universe. By the secret culture of the
Qabbalistic School, man is taught how to climb the rings (unfold his consciousness) until at last he
returns to AIN SOPH. The process by which this is accomplished is called the Fifty Gates of Light.
Kircher, the Jesuit Qabbalist, declares that Moses passed through forty-nine of the gates, but that Christ
alone passed the fiftieth gate.
To the third edition of the Sepher Yetzirah translated from the Hebrew by Wm. Wynn Westcott are
appended the Fifty Gates of Intelligence emanating from Binah, the second Sephira. The source of this
information is Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus. The gates are divided into six orders, of which the first
four have each ten subdivisions, the fifth nine, and the sixth only one.
The first order of gates is termed Elementary and its divisions areas follows: (1) Chaos, Hyle, the First
Matter; (2) Formless, void, lifeless; (3) The Abyss; (4) Origin of the Elements; (5) Earth (no seed
germs); (6) Water;(7) Air;(8) Fire;(9) Differentiation of qualities; (10) Mixture and combination.
The second order of gates is termed Decad of Evolution and its divisions areas follows: (11) Minerals
differentiate; (12) Vegetable principles appear; (13) Seeds germinate in moisture; (14) Herbs and Trees;
(15) Fructification in vegetable life; (16) Origin of low forms of animal life; (17) Insects and Reptiles
appear; (18) Fishes, vertebrate life in the waters; (19) Birds, vertebrate life in the air; (20) Quadrupeds,
vertebrate earth animals.
The third order of gates is termed Decad of Humanity and its divisions are as follows: (21) Appearance
of Man; (22) Material human body; (23) Human Soul conferred; (24) Mystery of Adam and Eve; (25)
Complete Man as the Microcosm; (26) Gift of five human faces acting exteriorly; (27) Gift of five
powers to the soul; (28) Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man; (29) Angelic beings, (30) Man in the image
of God.
The fourth order of gates is termed World of Spheres and its divisions are as follows: (31) The Heaven
of the Moon; (32) The Heaven of Mercury, (33) The Heaven of Venus; (34) The Heaven of the Sun;
(35) The Heaven of Mars; (36) The Heaven of Jupiter; (37) The Heaven of Saturn; (38) The Firmament;
(39) The Primum Mobile; (40) The Empyrean Heaven.
The fifth order of gates is termed The Angelic World and its divisions are as follows: (41) Ishim--Sons of
Fire; (42) Orphanim--Cherubim; (43) Aralim--Thrones; (44) Chashmalim--Dominions; (45) Seraphim--
Virtues; (46) Melachim--Powers; (47) Elohim--Principalities; (48) Ben Elohim--Angels; (49) Cherubim--
Archangels. [The order of the Angels is a matter of controversy, the arrangement above differing from
that accepted in other sections of this volume. The Rabbins disagree fundamentally as to the proper
sequence of the Angelic names.]
The sixth order is termed The Archetype and consists of but one gate: (50) God, AIN SOPH, He whom
no mortal eye hath seen. The fiftieth gate leads from creation into the Creative Principle and he who
passes through it returns into the unlimited and undifferentiated condition of ALL. The fifty gates reveal
a certain evolutionary process and it was declared by the Rabbins that he who would attain to the highest
degree of understanding must pass sequentially through all of these orders of life, each of which
constituted a gate in that the spirit, passing from the lower to the higher, found in each more responsive
organism new avenues of self-expression.
Next: The Tree of the Sephiroth
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 121
The Tree of the Sephiroth
THE Tree of the Sephiroth may be considered an invaluable compendium of the secret philosophy
which originally was the spirit and soul of Chasidism. The Qabbalah is the priceless heritage of Israel,
but each year those who comprehend its true principles become fewer in number. The Jew of today, if he
lacks a realization of the profundity of his people's doctrines, is usually permeated with that most
dangerous form of ignorance, modernism, and is prone to regard the Qabbalah either as an evil to be
shunned like the plague or as a ridiculous superstition which has survived the black magic of the Dark
Ages. Yet without the key which the Qabbalah supplies, the spiritual mysteries of both the Old and the
New Testament must remain unsolved by Jew and Gentile alike.
The Sephirothic Tree consists of ten globes of luminous splendor arranged in three vertical columns and
connected by 22 channels or paths. The ten globes are called the Sephiroth and to them are assigned the
numbers i to 10. The three columns are called Mercy (on the right), Severity (on the left), and, between
them, Mildness, as the reconciling power. The columns may also be said to represent Wisdom, Strength,
and Beauty, which form the triune support of the universe, for it is written that the foundation of all
things is the Three. The 22 channels are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and to them are assigned the
major trumps of the Tarot deck of symbolic cards.
Eliphas Levi declared that by arranging the Tarot cards according to a definite order man could discover
all that is knowable concerning his God, his universe, and himself. When the ten numbers which pertain
to the globes (Sephiroth) are combined with the 22 letters relating to the channels, the resultant sum is
32--the number peculiar to the Qabbalistic Paths of Wisdom. These Paths, occasionally referred to as the
32 teeth in the mouth of the Vast Countenance or as the 32 nerves that branch out from the Divine Brain,
are analogous to the first 32 degrees of Freemasonry, which elevate the candidate to the dignity of a
Prince of the Royal Secret. Qabbalists also consider it extremely significant that in the original Hebrew
Scriptures the name of God should occur 32 times in the first chapter of Genesis. (In the English
translations of the Bible the name appears 33 times.) In the mystic analysis of the human body,
according to the Rabbins, 32 spinal segments lead upward to the Temple of Wisdom--the skull.
The four Qabbalistic Trees described in the preceding chapter were combined by later Jewish scholars
into one all-inclusive diagram and termed by them not only the Sephirothic but also the Archetypal, or
Heavenly, Adam. According to some authorities, it is this Heavenly Adam, and not a terrestrial man,
whose creation is described in the opening chapters of Genesis. Out of the substances of this divine man
the universe was formed; in him it remains and will continue even after dissolution shall resolve the
spheres back into their own primitive substance. The Deity is never conceived of as actually contained in
the Sephiroth, which are purely hypothetical vessels employed to define the limits of the Creative
Essence. Adolph Franck rather likens the Sephiroth to varicolored transparent glass bowls filled with
pure light, which apparently assumes the color of its containers but whose essential nature remains ever
unchanged and unchangeable.
The ten Sephiroth composing the body of the prototypic Adam, the numbers related to them, and the
parts of the universe to which they correspond are as follows:
1 Kether--the Crown Primum Mobile The Fiery Heavens
2 Chochmah--Wisdom The Zodiac The First Motion
3 Binah--Understanding Saturn The Zodiac
4 Chesed--Mercy Jupiter Saturn
5 Geburah--Severity Mars Jupiter
Tiphereth--Beauty Sun Mars
7 Netsah--Victory Venus Sun
8 Hod--Glory Mercury Venus
9 Jesod--the Foundation Moon Mercury
10 Malchuth--the Kingdom Elements Moon
It must continually be emphasized that the Sephiroth and the properties assigned to them, like the
tetractys of the Pythagoreans, are merely symbols of the cosmic system with its multitude of parts. The
truer and fuller meaning of these emblems may not be revealed by writing or by word of mouth, but
must be divined as the result of study and meditation. In the Sepher ha Zohar it is written that there is a
garment--the written doctrine-which every man may see. Those with understanding do not look upon the
garment but at the body beneath it--the intellectual and philosophical code. The wisest of all, however,
the servants of the Heavenly King, look at nothing save the soul--the spiritual doctrine--which is the
eternal and ever-springing root of the law. Of this great truth Eliphas Levi also writes declaring that
none can gain entrance to the secret House of Wisdom unless he wear the voluminous cape of
Apollonius of Tyana and carry in his hand the lamp of Hermes. The cape signifies the qualities of self-
possession and self-reliance which must envelope the seeker as a cloak of strength, while the ever-
burning lamp of the sage represents the illumined mind and perfectly balanced intellect without which
the mystery of the ages can never be solved.
The Sephirothic Tree is sometimes depicted as a human body, thus more definitely establishing the true
identity of the first, or Heavenly, Man--Adam Kadmon--the Idea of the Universe. The ten divine globes
(Sephiroth) are then considered as analogous to the ten sacred members and organs of the Protogonos,
according to the following arrangement. Kether is the crown of the Prototypic Head and perhaps refers
to the pineal gland; Chochmah and Binah are the right and left hemispheres respectively of the Great
Brain; Chesed and Geburah (Pechad) are the right and left arms respectively, signifying the active
creative members of the Grand Man; Tiphereth is the heart, or, according to some, the entire viscera;
Netsah and Hod are the right and left legs respectively, or the supports of the world; Jesod is the
generative system, or the foundation of form; and Malchuth represents the two feet, or the base of being.
Occasionally Jesod is considered as the male and Malchuth as the female generative power. The Grand
Man thus conceived is the gigantic image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, with head of gold, arms and chest
of silver, body of brass, legs of iron, and feet of clay. The mediæval Qabbalists also assigned one of the
Ten Commandments and a tenth part of the Lord's Prayer in sequential order to each of the ten Sephiroth.
Concerning the emanations from Kether which establish themselves as three triads of Creative Powers--
termed in the Sepher ha Zohar three heads each with three faces--H. P. Blavatsky writes: "This [Kether]
was the first Sephiroth, containing in herself the other nine ••••••• Sephiroth, or intelligences. In their
totality and unity they represent the archetypal man, Adam Kadmon, the πρωτ•γονος, who in his
individuality or unity is yet dual, or bisexual, the Greek Didumos, for he is the prototype of all humanity.
Thus we obtain three trinities, each contained in a 'head.' In the first head, or face (the three-faced Hindu
Click to enlarge
The forty concentric circles shown in the large circular cut in the preceding chapter are here arranged as four
trees, each consisting of ten circles. These trees disclose the organization of the hierarchies controlling the
destinies of all creation. The trees are the same in each of the four world but the powers vested in the globes
express themselves differently through the substances of each world, resulting in endless differentiation.
p. 123
we find Sephira [Kether], the first androgyne, at the apex of the upper triangle, emitting Hachama
[Chochmah], or Wisdom, a masculine and active potency--also called Jah, ••--and Binah, ••••, or
Intelligence, a female and passive potency, also represented by the name Jehovah ••••. These three form
the first trinity or 'face' of the Sephiroth. This triad emanated Hesed, •••, or Mercy, a masculine active
potency, also called El, from which emanated Geburah •••••, or justice, also called Eloha, a feminine
passive potency; from the union of these two was produced Tiphereth ••••••, Beauty, Clemency, the
Spiritual Sun, known by the divine name Elohim; and the second triad, 'face,' or 'head,' was formed.
These emanating, in their turn, the masculine potency Netzah, •••, Firmness, or Jehovah Sabaoth, who
issued the feminine passive potency Hod,•••, Splendor, or Elohim Sabaoth; the two produced Jesod, ••••,
Foundation, who is the mighty living one El-Chai, thus yielding the third trinity or 'head.' The tenth
Sephiroth is rather a duad, and is represented on the diagrams as the lowest circle. It is Malchuth or
Kingdom, •••••, and Shekinah, •••••, also called Adonai, and Cherubim among the angelic hosts. The
first 'Head' is called the Intellectual world; the second 'Head' is the Sensuous, or the world of Perception,
and the third is the material or Physical world." (See Isis Unveiled.)
Among the later Qabbalists there is also a division of the Sephirothic Tree into five parts, in which the
distribution of the globes is according to the following order:
(1) Macroprosophus, or the Great Face, is the term applied to Kether as the first and most exalted of the
Sephiroth and includes the nine potencies or Sephiroth issuing from Kether.
(2) Abba, the Great Father, is the term generally applied to Chochmah--Universal Wisdom--the first
emanation of Kether, but, according to Ibn Gebirol, Chochmah represents the Son, the Logos or the
Word born from the union of Kether and Binah.
(3) Aima, the Great Mother, is the name by which Binah, or the third Sephira, is generally known. This
is the Holy Ghost, from whose body the generations issue forth. Being the third person of the Creative
Triad, it corresponds to Jehovah, the Demiurgus.
(4) Microprosophus, or the Lesser Face, is composed of the six Sephiroth--Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth,
Netsah, Hod, and Jesod. The Microprosophus is commonly called the Lesser Adam, or Zauir Anpin,
whereas the Macroprosophus, or Superior Adam, is Arikh Anpin. The Lesser Face is properly
symbolized by the six-pointed star or interlaced triangles of Zion and also by the six faces of the cube. It
represents the directions north, east, south, west, up, and down, and also the first six days of Creation. In
his list of the parts of the Microprosophus, MacGregor-Mathers includes Binah as the first and superior
part of the Lesser Adam, thus making his constitution septenary. If Microprosophus be considered as
sexpartite, then his globes (Sephiroth) are analogous to the six days of Creation, and the tenth globe,
Malchuth, to the Sabbath of rest.
(5) The Bride of Microprosophus is Malchuth--the epitome of the Sephiroth, its quaternary constitution
being composed of blendings of the four elements. This is the divine Eve that is taken out
Click to enlarge
From Fludd's Collectio Operum.
The above diagram has been specially translated from the Latin as being of unique value to students of
Qabbalism and also as an example of Robert Fludd's unusual ability in assembling tables of correspondences.
Robert Fludd ranks among the most eminent Rosicrucians and Freemasons; in fact, he has often been called "the
first English Rosicrucian." He has written several valuable documents directly bearing upon the Rosicrucian
enigma. It is significant that the most important of his works should be published at the same time as those of
Bacon, Shakespeare, and the first Rosicrucian authors.
p. 123
Click to enlarge
Translated from Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus.
Having demonstrated that the Qabbalists divided the universe into four worlds, each consisting of ten spheres, it
is necessary to consider next how the ten spheres of each world were arranged into what is called the ''Sephirothic
Tree." This Tree is composed of ten circles, representing the numbers 1 to 20 and connected together by twenty-
two canals--the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The ten numbers plus the twenty-two letters result in
the occult number 32, which, according to the Mishna, signifies the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom. Letters and
numbers, according to the Qabbalists, are the keys to all knowledge, for by a secret system of arranging them the
mysteries of creation are revealed. For this reason they are called "the Paths of Wisdom." This occult fact is
carefully concealed in the 32nd degree of Freemasonry.
There are four trees, one in each of the four worlds established in the preceding chapter. The first is in the
Atziluthic World, the ten circles being the ten globes of light established in the midst of AIN SOPH. The powers
and attributes of this Tree are reflected into each of the three lower worlds, the form of the Tree remaining the
same but its power diminishing as it descends. To further complicate their doctrine, the Qabbalists created
another tree, which was a composite of all four of the world trees but consisted of only ten globes. In this single
tree were condensed all the arcana previously scattered through the voluminous archives of Qabbalistic literature.
p. 124
of the side of Microprosophus and combines the potencies of the entire Qabbalistic Tree in one sphere,
which may be termed man.
According to the mysteries of the Sephiroth, the order of the Creation, or the Divine Lightning Flash
which zigzags through the four worlds according to the order of the divine emanations, is thus described:
From AIN SOPH, the Nothing and All, the Eternal and Unconditioned Potency, issues Macroprosophus,
the Long Face, of whom it is written, "Within His skull exist daily thirteen thousand myriads of worlds
which draw their existence from Him and by Him are upheld." (See The Greater Holy Assembly.)
Macroprosophus, the directionalized will of AIN SOPH, corresponding to Kether, the Crown of the
Sephiroth, gives birth out of Himself to the nine lesser spheres of which He is the sum and the
overbrooding cause. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, by the various combinations of which the
laws of the universe are established, constitute the scepter of Macroprosophus which He wields from
His flaming throne in the Atziluthic World.
From this eternal and ancient androgyne--Kether--come forth Chochmah, the great Father, and Binah,
the great Mother. These two are usually referred to as Abba and Aima respectively--the first male and
the first female, the prototypes of sex. These correspond to the first two letters of the sacred name,
Jehovah, ••••, IHVH. The Father is the •, or I, and the Mother is the •, or H. Abba and Aima symbolize
the creative activities of the universe, and are established in the creative world of Briah. In the Sepher ha
Zohar it is written, "And therefore are all things established in the equality of male and female; for were
it not so, how could they subsist? This beginning is the Father of all things; the Father of all Fathers; and
both are mutually bound together, and the one path shineth into the other--Chochmah, Wisdom, as the
Father; Binah, Understanding, as the Mother."
There is a difference of opinion concerning certain of the relationships of the parts of the first triad.
Some Qabbalists, including Ibn Gebirol, consider Kether as the Father, Binah as the Mother, and
Chochmah as the Son. In this later arrangement, Wisdom, which is the attribute of the Son, becomes the
creator of the lower spheres. The symbol of Binah is the dove, a proper emblem for the brooding
maternal instinct of the Universal Mother.
Because of the close similarity of their creative triad to the Christian Trinity, the later Qabbalists
rearranged the first three Sephiroth and added a mysterious point called Daath--a hypothetical eleventh
Sephira. This is located where the horizontal line connecting Chochmah and Binah crosses the vertical
line joining Kether and Tiphereth. While Daath is not mentioned by the first Qabbalists, it is a highly
important element and its addition to the Sephirothic Tree was not made without full realization of the
significance of such action. If Chochmah be considered the active, intelligent energy of Kether, and
Binah the receptive capacity of Kether, then Daath becomes the thought which, created by Chochmah,
flows into Binah. The postulation of Daath clarifies the problem of the Creative Trinity, for here it is
diagrammatically represented as consisting of Chochmah (the Father), Binah (the Mother, or Holy
Ghost), and Daath, the Word by which the worlds were established. Isaac Myer discounts the
importance of Daath, declaring it a subterfuge to conceal the fact that Kether, and not Chochmah; is the
true Father of the Creative Triad. He makes no attempt to give a satisfactory explanation for the
symbolism of this hypothetical Sephira.
According to the original conception, from the union of the Divine Father and the Divine Mother is
produced Microprosophus--the Short Face or the Lesser Countenance, which is established in the
Yetziratic World of formation and corresponds to the letter •, or V, in the Great Name. The six powers of
Microprosophus flow from and are contained in their own source, which is Binah, the Mother of the
Lesser Adam. These constitute the spheres of the sacred planets; their name is Elohim, and they move
upon the face of the deep. The tenth Sephira--Malchuth, the Kingdom--is described as the Bride of the
Lesser Adam, created back to back with her lord, and to it is assigned the final, •, or H, the last letter of
the Sacred Name. The dwelling place of Malchuth is in the fourth world--Assiah--and it is composed of
all the superior powers reflected into the elements of the terrestrial sphere. Thus it will be seen that the
Qabbalistic Tree extends through four worlds, with its branches in matter and its roots in the Ancient of
Three vertical columns support the universal system as typified by the Sephirothic Tree. The central
pillar has its foundation in Kether, the Eternal One. It passes downward through the hypothetical
Sephira, Daath, and then through Tiphereth and Jesod, with its lower end resting upon the firm
foundation of Malchuth, the last of the globes. The true import of the central pillar is equilibrium. It
demonstrates how the Deity always manifests by emanating poles of expression from the midst of Itself
but remaining free from the illusion of polarity. If the numbers of the four Sephiroth connected by this
column be added together (1 +6 +9 + 10), the sum is 26, the number of Jehovah. (See chapter on
Pythagorean Mathematics.)
The column on the right, which is called Jachin, has its foundation on Chochmah, the outpouring
Wisdom of God; the three globes suspended from it are all masculine potencies. The column at the left is
called Boaz. The three globes upon it are feminine and receptive potencies, for it is founded in
Understanding, a receptive and maternal potency. Wisdom, it will be noted, is considered as radiant or
outpouring, and Understanding as receptive, or something which is filled by the flowing of Wisdom. The
three pillars are ultimately united in Malchuth, in which all the powers of the superior worlds are
The four globes upon the central column reveal the function of the creative power in the various worlds.
In the first world the creative power is Will--the one Divine Cause; in the second world, the hypothetical
Daath--the Word coming forth from the Divine Thought; in the third world, Tiphereth--the Sun, or focal
point between God and Nature; in the fourth world it is twofold, being the positive and negative poles of
the reproductive system, of which Jesod is the male and Malchuth the female.
In Kircher's Sephirothic Tree it should be especially noted that the ornaments of the Tabernacle appear
in the various parts of the diagram. These indicate a direct relationship between the sacred House of God
and the universe--a relationship which must always be considered as existing between the Deity through
whose activity the world is produced and the world itself, which must be the house or vehicle of that
Deity. Could the modern scientific world but sense the true profundity of these philosophical deductions
of the ancients, it would realize that those who fabricated the structure of the Qabbalah possessed a
knowledge of the celestial plan comparable in every respect with that of the modern savant.
The Tetragrammaton, or the four-lettered Name of God, written thus ••••, is pronounce Jehovah. The
first letter is •, Yod, the Germ, the Life, the Flame, the Cause, the One, and the most fundamental of the
Jewish phallic emblems. Its numerical value is 10, and it is to be considered as the 1 containing the 10.
In the Qabbalah it is declared that the a Yod is in reality three Yods, of which the first is the beginning,
the second is the center, and the third is the end. Its throne is the Sephira Chochmah (according to Ibn
Gebirol, Kether), from which it goes forth to impregnate Binah, which is the first •, He. The result of this
union is Tiphereth, which is the • Vau, whose power is 6 and which symbolizes the six members of the
Lesser Adam. The final •, He, is Malchuth, the Inferior Mother, partaking in part of the potencies of the
Divine Mother, the first He. By placing the four letters of the Tetragrammaton in a vertical column, a
figure closely resembling the human body is produced, with Yod for the head, the first He for the arms
and shoulders, Vau for the trunk of the body, and the final He for the hips and legs. If the Hebrew letters
be exchanged for their English equivalents, the form is not materially changed or the analogy altered. It
is also extremely significant that by inserting the letter •, Shin, in the middle of the name Jehovah, the
word Jehoshua, or Jesus, is formed thus:
In the Qabbalistic Mysteries, according to Eliphas Levi, the name Jehovah is occasionally written by
connecting together 24 dots--the 24 powers before the throne--and it is believed that the name of the
Power of Evil is the sign of Jehovah reversed or inverted. (See Transcendental Magic.) Of the Great
Word, Albert Pike writes: "The True Word of a Mason is to be found in the concealed and profound
meaning of the Ineffable Name of Deity, communicated by God to Moses; and which meaning was long
lost by the very precautions taken to conceal it. The true pronunciation of that name was in truth a secret,
in which, however, was involved the far more profound secret of its meaning. In that meaning is
included all the truth that can be known by us, in regard to the nature of God." (See Morals and Dogma.)
Click to enlarge
From Maurice's Indian Antiquities.
Thomas Maurice reproduces the above engraving, which is modification of the elaborate tree on the preceding
page. The Sephiroth are here superimposed, decreasing in size as they decrease in power and dignity. Thus, the
Crown is the greatest and the all-inclusive, and the Kingdom--which represents the physical universe--is the
smallest and of least importance.
Next: Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 125
Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man
HENRIE STEPHEN, in A World of Wonders, published in 1607, mentions a monk of St. Anthony who
declared that while in Jerusalem the patriarch of that city had shown him not only one of the ribs of the
Word made flesh and some rays from the Star of Bethlehem, but also the snout of a seraph, a finger nail
of a cherub, the horns of Moses, and a casket containing the breath of Christ! To a people believing
implicitly in a seraph sufficiently tangible to have its proboscis preserved, the more profound issues of
Judaistic philosophy must necessarily be incomprehensible. Nor is it difficult to imagine the reaction
taking place in the mind of some ancient sage should he hear that a cherub--which, according to St.
Augustine, signifies the Evangelists; according to Philo Judæus, the outermost circumference of the
entire heavens, and according to several of the Church Fathers, the wisdom of God--had sprouted finger
nails. The hopeless confusion of divine principles with the allegorical figures created to represent them
to the limited faculties of the uninitiated has resulted in the most atrocious misconceptions of spiritual
truths. Concepts well-nigh as preposterous as these, however, still stand as adamantine barriers to a true
understanding of Old and New Testament symbolism; for, until man disentangles his reasoning powers
from the web of venerated absurdities in which his mind has lain ensnared for centuries, how can Truth
ever be discovered?
The Old Testament--especially the Pentateuch--contains not only the traditional account of the creation
of the world and of man, but also, locked within it, the secrets of the Egyptian initiators of the Moses
concerning the genesis of the god-man (the initiate) and the mystery of his rebirth through philosophy.
While the Lawgiver of Israel is known to have compiled several works other than those generally
attributed to him, the writings now commonly circulated as the purported sixth and seventh books of
Moses are in reality spurious treatises on black magic foisted on the credulous during the Middle Ages.
Out of the hundreds of millions of pious and thoughtful students of Holy Writ, it is almost inconceivable
that but a mere handful have sensed the sublimity of the esoteric teachings of Sod (the Jewish Mysteries
of Adonai). Yet familiarity with the three Qabbalistical processes termed Gematria, Notarikon, and
Temurah makes possible the discovery of many of the profoundest truths of ancient Jewish superphysics.
By Gematria is meant not only the exchange of letters for their numerical equivalents but also the
method of determining by an analysis of its measurements the mystic purpose for which a building or
other object was constructed. S. L. MacGregor-Mathers, in The Kabbalah Unveiled, gives this example
of the application of Gematria: "Thus also the passage, Gen. xviii. 2 VHNH SHLSHH, Vehenna Shalisha,
'And lo, three men,' equals in numerical value 'ALV MIKAL GBRIAL VRPAL, Elo Mikhael Gabriel Ve-
Raphael,' These are Mikhael, Gabriel and Raphael; 'for each phrase = 701." Assuming the sides of a
scalene to be 11, 9, and 6 inches, a triangle of such dimensions would then be an appropriate symbol of
Jehovah, for the sum of its three sides would be 26, the numerical value of the Hebrew word IHVH.
Gematria also includes the system of discovering the arcane meaning of a word by analyzing the size
and arrangement of the strokes employed in the formation of its various letters. Gematria was employed
by the Greeks as well as the Jews. The books of the New Testament--particularly those attributed to St.
John--contain many examples of its use. Nicephorus Callistus declared the Gospel according to St. John
to have been discovered in a cavern under the Temple at Jerusalem, the volume having been secreted
"long anterior to the Christian æra." The existence of interpolated material in the fourth Gospel
substantiates the belief that the work was originally written without any specific reference to the man
Jesus, the statements therein accredited to Him being originally mystical discourses delivered by the
personification of the Universal Mind. The remaining Johannine writings--the Epistles and the
Apocalypse--are enshrouded by a similar veil of mystery.
By Notarikon each letter of a word may become the initial character of a new word. Thus from
BRASHITH, first word in the book of Genesis, are extracted six words which mean that "in the
beginning the Elohim saw that Israel would accept the law." Mr. MacGregor-Mathers also gives six
additional examples of Notarikon formed from the above word by Solomon Meir Ben Moses, a
mediæval Qabbalist. From the famous acrostic ascribed to the Erythræan Sibyl, St. Augustine derived
the word ΙΧΘΥΣ, which by Notarikon was expanded into the phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."
By another use of Notarikon, directly the reverse of the first, the initial, last, or middle letters of the
words of a sentence may be joined together to form a new word or words. For example, the name Amen,
•••ν, maybe extracted from •••••••••••, "the Lord is the faithful King." Because they had embodied these
cryptic devices in their sacred writings, the ancient priests admonished their disciples never to translate,
edit, or rewrite the contents of the sacred books. .
Under the general heading of Temurah several systems may be grouped and explained in which various
letters are substituted for other letters according to prearranged tables or certain mathematical
arrangements of letters, regular or irregular. Thus the alphabet may be broken into two equal parts and
written in horizontal lines so that the letters of the lower row can be exchanged for those of the upper
row, or vice versa. By this procedure the letters of the word Kuzu may be exchanged for those of IHVH,
the Tetragrammaton. In another form of Temurah the letters are merely rearranged., •••• is the stone
which is found in the center of the world, from which point the earth spread out on all sides.
Click to enlarge
From The "Bear" Bible.
This plate, which is from the first Protestant Bible published in Spanish, shows the Mercavah, or chariot of
Jehovah, which appeared to Ezekiel by the river Chebar. The prophet beheld four strange creatures (E), each
having four heads, four wings, and brazen hoofs like those of a calf. And there were four wheels (F) filled with
eyes. Where the cherubim went the wheels went also. The space between the cherubim and the wheels was filled
with coals of fire. Upon the top of the chariot was a throne, upon which sat the likeness of a man (H). Ezekiel fell
upon his knees when he beheld the Mercavah surrounded by a whirlwind of clouds and flames (A, B, C). A hand
(K) reached out from the clouds and the prophet was ordered to eat of a scroll which the hand held forth.
According to the mystics, the wheels supporting the throne of God represent the orbits of the planets, and the
entire solar system is properly the Mercavah, or chariot of God. One of the divisions of the Qabbalah--that
dealing with the arts and sciences of those planes which are under the heavens--is called the Mercavah. In the
Zohar it is written that the celestial throne or Ezekiel's vision signifies the traditional law; the appearance of a
man sitting upon the throne represents the written law, Philo Judæus in describing the cherubim upon the Ark of
the Covenant declares that the figures are an intimation of the revolutions of the whole heavens, one of the
cherubim representing the outer circumference and the other the inner sphere. Facing each other, they represent
the two hemispheres of the world. The flaming sword of the cherubim of Genesis is the central motion and
agitation of the heavenly bodies. In all probability it also represents the solar ray.
p. 126
When broken in two the stone is •• ••, which means "the placing of God."(See Pekudei
[paragraph continues]
Rakov, 71, 72.) Again, Temurah may consist of a simple anagram, as in the English word live, which
reversed becomes evil. The various systems of Temurah are among the most complicated and profound
devices of the ancient Rabbins.
Among theological scholars there is a growing conviction that the hitherto accepted translations of the
Scriptural writings do not adequately express the spirit of the original documents.
"After the first copy of the Book of God," writes H. P. Blavatsky, "has been edited and launched on the
world by Hilkiah, this copy disappears, and Ezra has to make a new Bible, which Judas Maccabeus
finishes; * * * when it was copied from the horned letters into square letters, it was corrupted beyond
recognition; * * * the Masorah completed the work of destruction; finally, we have a text, not 900 years
old, abounding with omissions, interpolations, and premeditated perversions." (See Isis Unveiled.)
Prof. Crawford Howell Toy of Harvard notes: "Manuscripts were copied and recopied by scribes who
not only sometimes made errors in letters and words, but permitted themselves to introduce new material
into the text, or to combine in one manuscript, without mark of division, writings composed by different
men; instances of these sorts of procedure are found especially in Micah and Jeremiah, and the groups of
prophecies which go under the names of Isaiah and Zachariah." (See Judaism and Christianity.)
Does the mutilated condition of the Holy Bible--in part accidental--represent none the less a definite
effort to confuse the uninitiated reader and thus better conceal the secrets of the Jewish Tannaim? Never
has the Christian world been in possession of those hidden scrolls which contain the secret doctrine of
Israel, and if the Qabbalists were correct in their assumption that the lost books of the Mosaic Mysteries
have been woven into the fabric of the Torah, then the Scriptures are veritably books within books. In
rabbinical circles the opinion is prevalent that Christendom never has understood the Old Testament and
probably never will. In fact, the feeling exists--in some quarters, at least--that the Old Testament is the
exclusive possession of the Jewish faith; also that Christianity, after its unrelenting persecution of the
Jew, takes unwarranted liberties when it includes strictly Jewish writings in its sacred canon. But, as
noted by one rabbi, if Christianity must use the Jewish Scriptures, it should at least strive to do so with
some degree of intelligence!
In the opening chapter of Genesis it is stated that after creating light and separating it from darkness, the
seven Elohim divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the
firmament. Having thus established the inferior universe in perfect accord with the esoteric teachings of
the Hindu, Egyptian, and Greek Mysteries, the Elohim next turned their attention to the production of
flora and fauna and lastly man. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. * * *
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he
them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,
* * *."
Consider in thoughtful silence the startling use of pronouns in the above extract from "the most perfect
example of English literature." When the plural and androgynous Hebrew word Elohim was translated
into the singular and sexless word God, the opening chapters of Genesis were rendered comparatively
meaningless. It may have been feared that had the word been correctly translated as "the male and
female creative agencies," the Christians would have been justly accused of worshiping a plurality of
gods in the face of their repeated claims to monotheism! The plural form of the pronouns us and our
reveals unmistakably, however, the pantheistic nature of Divinity. Further, the androgynous constitution
of the Elohim (God) is disclosed in the next verse, where he (referring to God) is said to have created
man in his own image, male and female; or, more properly, as the division of the sexes had not yet taken
place, male-female. This is a deathblow to the time-honored concept that God is a masculine potency as
portrayed by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Elohim then order these
androgynous beings to be fruitful. Note that neither the masculine nor the feminine principle as yet
existed in a separate state! And, lastly, note the word "replenish." The prefix re denotes "back to an
original or former state or position," or "repetition or restoration." (See Webster's International
Dictionary, 1926.) This definite reference to a humanity existing prior to the "creation of man" described
in Genesis must be evident to the most casual reader of Scripture.
An examination of Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries discloses the plural form of the
word Elohim to be beyond the comprehension of their respected authors and editors. The New Schaff-
Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge thus sums up the controversy over the plural form of the
word Elohim: "Does it now or did it originally signify plurality of divine being?" A Dictionary of the
Bible, edited by James Hastings, contains the following conclusion, which echoes the sentiments of
more critical etymologists of the Bible: "The use of the plur. Elohim is also difficult to explain." Dr.
Havernick considers the plural form Elohim to signify the abundance and super-richness existing in the
Divine Being. His statement, which appears in The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia, is
representative of the efforts made to circumvent this extremely damaging word. The International
Standard Bible Dictionary considers the explanations offered by modern theologians--of which Dr.
Havernick's is a fair example--to be too ingenious to have been conceived by the early Hebrews and
maintains that the word represents the survival of a polytheistic stage of Semitic thought. The Jewish
Encyclopedia supports the latter assumption with the following concise statement: "As far as epigraphic
material, traditions, and folk-lore throw light on the question, the Semites are shown to be of polytheistic
Various schools of philosophy, both Jewish and Gentile, have offered explanations erudite and otherwise
of the identity of Adam. In this primordial man the Neo-Platonists recognized the Platonic Idea of
humanity--the archetype or pattern of the genus homo. Philo Judæus considered Adam to represent the
human mind, which could understand (and hence give names to) the creatures about it, but could not
comprehend (and hence left nameless) the mystery of its own nature. Adam was also likened to the
Pythagorean monad which by virtue of its state of perfect unity could dwell in the Edenic sphere. When
through a process akin to fission the monad became the duad--the proper symbol of discord and
delusion--the creature thus formed was exiled from its celestial home. Thus the twofold man was driven
from the Paradise belonging to the undivided creation and cherubim and a flaming sword were placed on
guard at the gates of the Causal World. Consequently, only after the reestablishment of unity within
himself can man regain his primal spiritual state.
According to the Isarim, the secret doctrine of Israel taught the existence of four Adams, each dwelling
in one of the four Qabbalistic worlds. The first, or heavenly, Adam dwelt alone in the Atziluthic sphere
and within his nature existed all spiritual and material potentialities. The second Adam resided in the
sphere of Briah. Like the first Adam, this being was androgynous and the tenth division of its body (its
heel, Malchuth) corresponded to the church of Israel that shall bruise the serpent's head. The third
Adam--likewise androgynous--was clothed in a body of light and abode in the sphere of Yetzirah. The
fourth Adam was merely the third Adam after the fall into the sphere of Assiah, at which time the
spiritual man took upon himself the animal shell or coat of skins. The fourth Adam was still considered
as a single individual, though division had taken place within his nature and two shells or physical
bodies existed, in one of which was incarnated the masculine and in the other the feminine potency. (For
further details consult Isaac Myer.)
The universal nature of Adam is revealed in the various accounts concerning the substances of which he
was formed. It was originally ordained that the "dirt" to be used in fashioning him was to be derived
from the seven worlds. As these planes, however, refused to give of their substances, the Creator
wrenched from them by force the elements to be employed in the Adamic constitution. St. Augustine
discovered a Notarikon in the name of Adam. He showed that the four letters, A-D-A-M, are the first
letters of the four words Anatole Dysis Arktos Mesembria, the Greek names for the four corners of the
world. The same author also sees in Adam a prototype of Christ, for he writes: "Adam sleeps that Eve
may be formed: Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. While Adam sleeps, Eve is formed from his
side. When Christ is dead, His side is smitten with a spear, that there flow forth sacraments to form the
church. * * * Adam himself was the figure of Him that was to come."
In his recent work, Judaism, George Foote Moore thus describes the proportions of the Adamic man:
"He was a huge mass that filled the whole world to all the points of the compass. The dust of which his
body was formed was gathered from every part of the world, or from the site of the future altar. Of
greater interest is the notion that man was created androgynous, because it is probably a bit of foreign
lore adapted to the first pair in Genesis. R. Samuel bar Nahman (third century), said, when God created
Adam, He created him facing both ways (••• •••••••); then He sawed him in two and made two backs,
one for each figure.
The Zohar holds the concept of two Adams: the first a divine being who, stepping forth from the highest
original darkness, created the second, or earthly, Adam in His own image. The higher, or celestial, man
was the Causal sphere With its divine potencies and potentialities considered as a gigantic personality;
its members, according to the Gnostics, being the basic elements of existence. This Adam may have
been symbolized as facing both ways to signify that with one face it looked upon the proximate Cause of
itself and with the other face looked upon the vast sea of Cosmos into which it was to be immersed.
Philosophically, Adam may be regarded as representative of the full spiritual nature of man--
androgynous and nor subject to decay.
p. 127
Of this fuller nature the mortal man has little comprehension. Just as spirit contains
[paragraph continues]
matter within itself and is both the source and ultimate of the state denominated matter, so Eve
represents the lower, or mortal, portion that is taken out of, or has temporal existence in the greater and
fuller spiritual creation. Being representative of the inferior part of the individual, Eve is the temptress
who, conspiring with the serpent of mortal knowledge, caused Adam to sink into a trancelike condition
in which he was unconscious of his own higher Self. When Adam seemingly awoke, he actually sank
into sleep, for he no longer was in the spirit but in the body; division having taken place within him, the
true Adam rested in Paradise while his lesser part incarnated in a material organism (Eve) and wandered
in the darkness of mortal existence.
The followers of Mohammed apparently sensed more accurately than the uninitiated of other sects the
true mystic import of Paradise, for they realized that prior to his fall the dwelling place of man was not
in a physical garden in any particular part of the earth but rather in a higher sphere (the angelic world)
watered by four mystical streams of life. After his banishment from Paradise, Adam alighted on the
Island of Ceylon, and this spot is sacred to certain Hindu sects who recognize the old Island of Lanka--
once presumably connected with the mainland by a bridge--as the actual site of the Garden of Eden from
which the human race migrated. According to the Arabian Nights (Sir Richard Burton's translation),
Adam's footprint may still be seen on the top of a Ceylonese mountain. In the Islamic legends, Adam
was later reunited with his wife and after his death his body was brought to Jerusalem subsequent to the
Flood for burial by Melchizedek. (See the Koran.)
The word ADM signifies a species or race and only for lack of proper understanding has Adam been
considered as an individual. As the Macrocosm, Adam is the gigantic Androgyne, even the Demiurgus;
as the Microcosm, he is the chief production of the Demiurgus and within the nature of the Microcosm
the Demiurgus established all the qualities and powers which He Himself possessed. The Demiurgus,
however, did not possess immortality and, therefore, could not bestow it upon Adam. According to
legend, the Demiurgus strove to keep man from learning the incompleteness of his Maker. The Adamic
man consequently partook of the qualities and characteristics of the angels who were the ministers of the
Demiurgus. It was affirmed by the Gnostic Christians that the redemption of humanity was assured
through the descent of Nous (Universal Mind), who was a great spiritual being superior to the
Demiurgus and who, entering into the constitution of man, conferred conscious immortality upon the
Demiurgic fabrications.
That phallic symbolism occupies an important place in early Jewish mysticism is indisputable. Hargrave
Jennings sees in the figure of Adam a type of the lingam of Shiva, which was a stone representative of
the creative power of the World Generator. "In Gregorie's works * * *," writes Jennings, "is a passage to
the effect that 'Noah daily prayed in the Ark before the Body of Adam,' i.e., before the Phallus--Adam
being the primitive Phallus, great procreator of the human race. 'It may possibly seem strange,' he says,
'that this orison should be daily said before the body of Adam,' but 'it is a most confessed tradition
among the eastern men that Adam was commanded by God that his dead body should be kept above
ground till a fullness of time should come to commit it •••••••••to the middle of the earth by a priest of
the Most High God.' This means Mount Moriah, the Meru of India. 'This body of Adam was embalmed
and transmitted from father to son, till at last it was delivered up by Lamech into the hands of
Noah.'" (See Phallicism.)
This interpretation somewhat clarifies the Qabbalistic assertion that in the first Adam were contained all
the souls of the Israelites. (See Sod.) Though according to the Aurea Legenda Adam was buried with the
three seeds of the Tree of Knowledge in his mouth, it should be borne in mind that apparently
conflicting myths were often woven around a single individual. One of the profound mysteries of
Qabbalism is that set forth in the Notarikon based upon the letters of the name Adam (ADM). These
three letters form the initials of the names Adam, David, and the Messiah, and these three personalities
were said to contain one soul. As this soul represents the World Soul of humanity, Adam signifies the
involving soul, the Messiah the evolving soul, and David that condition of the soul termed epigenesis.
In common with certain philosophic institutions of Asia, the Jewish Mysteries contained a strange
doctrine concerning the shadows of the Gods. Gazing down into the Abyss, the Elohim beheld their own
shadows and from these shadows patterned the inferior creation. "In the dramatic representation of the
creation of man in the Mysteries," writes the anonymous Master of Balliol College, "the Aleim [Elohim]
were represented by men who, when sculpturing the form of an Adamite being, of a man, traced the
outline of it on their own shadow, or modelled it on their own shadow traced on the wall. This is how the
art of drawing originated in Egypt, and the hieroglyphic figures carved on the Egyptian monuments have
so little relief that they still resemble a shadow."
In the ritualism of the early Jewish Mysteries the pageantry of creation was enacted, the various actors
impersonating the Creative Agencies. The red dirt from which the Adamic man was fashioned may
signify fire, particularly since Adam is related to the Yod, or fire flame, which is the first letter of the
sacred name Jehovah. In John ii. 20 it is written that the Temple was forty and six years in the building,
a statement in which St. Augustine sees a secret and sacred Gematria; for, according to the Greek
philosophy of numbers, the numerical value of the name Adam is 46. Adam thus becomes the type of the
Temple, for the House of God-like primitive man--was a microcosm or epitome of the universe.
In the Mysteries, Adam is accredited with having the peculiar power of spiritual generation. Instead of
reproducing his kind by the physical generative processes, he caused to issue from himself--or, more
correctly, to be reflected upon substance--a shadow of
Click to enlarge
From Myer's Qabbalah.
The early Church Father--notably Tertullian, Firmilian, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, and St. Chrysostom--
recognized in the ark a type or symbol of the Holy Catholic Church. Bede the Venerable, declared that Noah in
all things typified Christ as Noah alone of his generation was just, so Christ alone was without sin. With Christ
there was a sevenfold spirit of grace: with Noah seven righteous Persons. Noah by water and wood saved his own
family Christ by baptism and the cross saves Christians. The ark was built of wood that did not decay. the church
is composed of men who will live forever, for this ark means the church which floats upon the waves of the
The diagram shown above is also reproduced in The Rosicrucians, by Hargrave Jennings. This author adds to the
original diagram appearing in Antiquitatum Judaicarum Libri IX the signs of the zodiac, placing Aries at the head
and continuing in sequential order to Leo, which occupies the fifth cross section of the ark. Jennings assigns the
panel containing the door to the undivided constellation of Virgo-Libra-Scorpio (which is continued into the first
subdivision of the second section) and the remaining four cress sections to the constellations of Sagittarius to
Pisces inclusive. A study of the plate discloses the ark to be divided into eleven main sections, and along the base
and roof of each section are shown three subdivisions, thus making in all the sacred number 33. Occupying the
position corresponding to the generative system of the human body will also be noted the cross upon the door of
the central section. Two openings are shown in the ark: one--the main door representing the orifice through
which the animal lives descend into physical existence; the other a small window proximate to the crown of the
head through which the spirit gains liberty according to the ancient rites.
"When the androgenic Scorpio-Virgo was separated and the Balance or Harmony made from Scorpio, and placed
between Scorpio, i.e., male, and Virgo, i.e., female, then appeared the 32 constellations or signs, as we now have
them. The ark is three stories high (perhaps to symbolize Heaven, Man, Earth). In the figure of the Man, notice
the parting of the hair in the middle of the forehead and the arrangement of the beard, whiskers, moustache and
the hair, on the back of the neck and shoulders." (See The Qabbalah by Isaac Myer.)
p. 128
himself. This shadow he then ensouled and it became a living creature. These shadows, however, remain
only as long as the original figure of which they are the reflections endures, for with the removal of the
original the host of likenesses vanish with it. Herein is the key to the allegorical creation of Eve out of
the side of Adam; for Adam, representative of the idea or pattern, is reflected into the material universe
as a multitude of ensouled images which collectively are designated Eve. According to another theory,
the division of the sexes took place in the archetypal sphere; hence the shadows in the lower world were
divided into two classes consistent with the orders established in the Archetype. In the apparently
incomprehensible attraction of one sex for the other Plato recognized a cosmic urge toward reunion of
the severed halves of this archetypal Being.
Exactly what is to be inferred by the division of the sexes as symbolically described in Genesis is a
much-debated question. That man was primarily androgynous is quite universally conceded and it is a
reasonable presumption that he will ultimately regain this bisexual state. As to the manner in which this
will be accomplished two opinions are advanced. One school of thought affirms that the human soul was
actually divided into two parts (male and female) and that man remains an unperfected creature until
these parts are reunited through the emotion which man calls love. From this concept has grown the
much-abused doctrine of "soul mates" who must quest through the ages until the complementary part of
each severed soul is discovered. The modern concept of marriage is to a certain degree founded upon
this ideal.
According to the other school, the so-called division of the sexes resulted from suppression of one pole
of the androgynous being in order that the vital energies manifesting through it might be diverted to
development of the rational faculties. From this point of view man is still actually androgynous and
spiritually complete, but in the material world the feminine part of man's nature and the masculine part
of woman's nature are quiescent. Through spiritual unfoldment and knowledge imparted by the
Mysteries, however, the latent element in each nature is gradually brought into activity and ultimately
the human being thus regains sexual equilibrium. By this theory woman is elevated from the position of
being man's errant part to one of complete equality. From this point of view, marriage is regarded as a
companionship in which two complete individualities manifesting opposite polarities are brought into
association that each may thereby awaken the qualities latent in the other and thus assist in the
attainment of individual completeness. The first theory may be said to regard marriage as an end; the
second as a means to an end. The deeper schools of philosophy have leaned toward the latter as more
adequately acknowledging the infinite potentialities of divine completeness in both aspects of creation.
The Christian Church is fundamentally opposed to the theory of marriage, claiming that the highest
degree of spirituality is achievable only by those preserving the virginal state. This concept seemingly
originated among certain sects of the early Gnostic Christians, who taught that to propagate the human
species was to increase and perpetuate the power of the Demiurgus; for the lower world was looked
upon as an evil fabrication created to ensnare the souls of all born into it--hence it was a crime to assist
in bringing souls to earth. When, therefore, the unfortunate father or mother shall stand before the Final
Tribunal, all their offspring will also appear and accuse them of being the cause of those miseries
attendant upon physical existence. This view is strengthened by the allegory of Adam and Eve, whose
sin through which humanity has been brought low is universally admitted to have been concerned with
the mystery of generation. Mankind, owing to Father Adam its physical existence, regards its progenitor
as the primary cause of its misery; and in the judgment Day, rising up as a mighty progeny, will accuse
its common paternal ancestor.
Those Gnostic sects maintaining a more rational attitude on the subject declared the very existence of
the lower worlds to signify that the Supreme Creator had a definite purpose in their creation; to doubt his
judgment was, therefore, a grievous error. The church, however, seemingly arrogated to itself the
astonishing prerogative of correcting God in this respect, for wherever possible it continued to impose
celibacy, a practice resulting in an alarming number of neurotics. In the Mysteries, celibacy is reserved
for those who have reached a certain degree of spiritual unfoldment. When advocated for the mass of
unenlightened humanity, however, it becomes a dangerous heresy, fatal alike to both religion and
philosophy. As Christendom in its fanaticism has blamed every individual Jew for the crucifixion of
Jesus, so with equal consistency it has maligned every member of the feminine sex. In vindication of
Eve philosophy claims that the allegory signifies merely that man is tempted by his emotions to depart
from the sure path of reason.
Many of the early Church Fathers sought to establish a direct relationship between Adam and Christ,
thereby obviously discounting the extremely sinful nature of man's common ancestor, since it is quite
certain that when St. Augustine likens Adam to Christ and Eve to the church he does not intend to brand
the latter institution as the direct cause of the fall of man. For some inexplicable reason, however,
religion has ever regarded intellectualism--in fact every form of knowledge--as fatal to man's spiritual
growth. The Ignaratitine Friars are an outstanding example of this attitude.
In this ritualistic drama--possibly derived from the Egyptians--Adam, banished from the Garden of
Eden, represents man philosophically exiled from the sphere of Truth. Through ignorance man falls;
through wisdom he redeems himself. The Garden of Eden represents the House of the Mysteries (see
The Vision of Enoch) in the midst of which grew both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil.
Man, the banished Adam, seeks to pass from the outer court of the Sanctuary (the exterior universe) into
the sanctum sanctorum, but before him rises a vast creature armed with a flashing sword that, moving
slowly but continually, sweeps clear a wide circle, and through this "Ring Pass Not" the Adamic man
cannot break.
The cherubim address the seeker thus: "Man, thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return. Thou wert
fashioned by the Builder of Forms; thou belongest to the sphere of form, and the breath that was
breathed into thy soul was the breath of form and like a flame it shall flicker out. More than thou art thou
canst not be. Thou art a denizen of the outer world and it is forbidden thee to enter this inner place."
And the Adam replies: "Many times have I stood within this courtyard and begged admission to my
Father's house and thou hast refused it me and sent me back to wander in darkness. True it is that I was
fashioned out of the dirt and that my Maker could not confer upon me the boon of immortality. But no
more shalt thou send me away; for, wandering in the darkness, I have discovered that the Almighty hath
decreed my salvation because He hath sent out of the most hidden Mystery His Only Begotten who didst
take upon Himself the world fashioned by the Demiurgus. Upon the elements of that world was He
crucified and from Him hath poured forth the blood of my salvation. And God, entering into His
creation, hath quickened it and established therein a road that leadeth to Himself. While my Maker could
not give me immortality, immortality was inherent in the very dust of which I was composed, for before
the world was fabricated and before the Demiurgus became the Regent of Nature the Eternal Life had
impressed itself upon the face of Cosmos. This is its sign--the Cross. Do you now deny me entrance, I
who have at last learned the mystery of myself?"
And the voice replies: "He who is aware, IS! Behold!"
Gazing about him, Adam finds himself in a radiant place, in the midst of which stands a tree with
flashing jewels for fruit and entwined about its trunk a flaming, winged serpent crowned with a diadem
of stars. It was the voice of the serpent that had spoken.
"Who art thou?" demands the Adam.
"I," the serpent answers, "am Satan who was stoned; I am the Adversary--the Lord who is against you,
the one who pleads for your destruction before the Eternal Tribunal. I was your enemy upon the day that
you were formed; I have led you into temptation; I have delivered you into the hands of evil; I have
maligned you; I have striven ever to achieve your undoing. I am the guardian of the Tree of Knowledge
and I have sworn that none whom I can lead astray shall partake of its fruits."
The Adam replies: "For uncounted ages have I been thy servant. In my ignorance I listened to thy words
and they led me into paths of sorrow. Thou hast placed in my mind dreams of power, and when I
struggled to realize those dreams they brought me naught but pain. Thou hast sowed in me the seeds of
desire, and when I lusted after the things of the flesh agony was my only recompense. Thou hast sent me
false prophets and false reasoning, and when I strove to grasp the magnitude of Truth I found thy laws
were false and only dismay rewarded my strivings. I am done with thee forever, O artful Spirit! I have
tired of thy world of illusions. No longer will I labor in thy vineyards of iniquity. Get thee behind me,
rempter, and the host of thy temptations. There is no happiness, no peace, no good, no future in the
doctrines of selfishness, hate, and passion preached by thee. All these things do I cast aside. Renounced
is thy rule forever!"
And the serpent makes answer: "Behold, O Adam, the nature of thy Adversary!" The serpent disappears
in a blinding sunburst of radiance and in its place stands an angel resplendent in shining, golden
garments with great scarlet wings that spread from one corner of the heavens to the other. Dismayed and
awestruck, the Adam falls before the divine creature.
"I am the Lord who is against thee and thus accomplishes thy salvation, " continues the voice. "Thou
hast hated me, but through the ages yet to be thou shalt bless me, for I have led thee our of the sphere of
the Demiurgus; I have turned thee against the illusion of worldliness; I have weaned thee of desire; I
have awakened in thy soul the immortality of which I myself partake. Follow me, O Adam, for I am the
Way, the Life, and the Truth!"
Next: An Analysis of Tarot Cards
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 129
An Analysis of Tarot Cards
OPINIONS of authorities differ widely concerning the origin of playing cards, the purpose for which
they were intended, and the time of their introduction into Europe. In his Researches into the History of
Playing Cards, Samuel Weller Singer advances the opinion that cards reached Southern Europe from
India by way of Arabia. It is probable that the Tarot cards were part of the magical and philosophical
lore secured by the Knights Templars from the Saracens or one of the mystical sects then flourishing in
Syria. Returning to Europe, the Templars, to avoid persecution, concealed the arcane meaning of the
symbols by introducing the leaves of their magical book ostensibly as a device for amusement and
gambling. In support of this contention, Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer states:
"That cards were brought by the home-returning warriors, who imported many of the newly acquired
customs and habits of the Orient to their own countries, seems to be a well-established fact; and it does
not contradict the statement made by some writers who declared that the gypsies--who about that time
began to wander over Europe--brought with them and introduced cards, which they used, as they do at
the present day, for divining the future." (See The Devil's Picture Books.)
Through the Gypsies the Tarot cards may be traced back to the religious symbolism of the ancient
Egyptians. In his remarkable work, The Gypsies, Samuel Roberts presents ample proof of their Egyptian
origin. In one place he writes: "When Gypsies originally arrived in England is very uncertain. They are
first noticed in our laws, by several statutes against them in the reign of Henry VIII.; in which they are
described as 'an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians,--who do not profess any craft or trade,
but go about in great numbers, * * *.'" A curious legend relates that after the destruction of the
Serapeum in Alexandria, the large body of attendant priests banded themselves together to preserve the
secrets of the rites of Serapis. Their descendants (Gypsies) carrying with them the most precious of the
volumes saved from the burning library--the Book of Enoch, or Thoth (the Tarot)--became wanderers
upon the face of the earth, remaining a people apart with an ancient language and a birthright of magic
and mystery.
Court de Gébelin believed the word Tarot itself to be derived from two Egyptian words, Tar, meaning
"road," and Ro, meaning "royal." Thus the Tarot constitutes the royal road to wisdom. (See Le Monde
Primitif.) In his History of Magic, P. Christian, the mouthpiece of a certain French secret society,
presents a fantastic account of a purported initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries wherein the 22 major
Tarots assume the proportions of trestleboards of immense size and line a great gallery. Stopping before
each card in turn, the initiator described its symbolism to the candidate. Edouard Schuré, whose source
of information was similar to that of Christian's, hints at the same ceremony in his chapter on initiation
into the Hermetic Mysteries. (See The Great Initiates.) While the Egyptians may well have employed
the Tarot cards in their rituals, these French mystics present no evidence other than their own assertions
to support this theory. The validity also of the so-called Egyptian Tarots now in circulation has never
been satisfactorily established. The drawings are not only quite modem but the symbolism itself savors
of French rather than Egyptian influence.
The Tarot is undoubtedly a vital element in Rosicrucian symbolism, possibly the very book of universal
knowledge which the members of the order claimed to possess. The Rota Mundi is a term frequently
occurring in the early manifestoes of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross. The word Rota by a
rearrangement of its letters becomes Taro, the ancient name of these mysterious cards. W. F. C. Wigston
has discovered evidence that Sir Francis Bacon employed the Tarot symbolism in his ciphers. The
numbers 21, 56, and 78, which are all directly related to the divisions of the Tarot deck, are frequently
involved in Bacon's cryptograms. In the great Shakespearian Folio of 1623 the Christian name of Lord
Bacon appears 21 times on page 56 of the Histories. (See The Columbus of Literature.)
Many symbols appearing upon the Tarot cards have definite Masonic interest. The Pythagorean
numerologist will also find an important relationship to exist between the numbers on the cards and the
designs accompanying the numbers. The Qabbalist will be immediately impressed by the significant
sequence of the cards, and the alchemist will discover certain emblems meaningless save to one versed
in the divine chemistry of transmutation and regeneration.' As the Greeks placed the letters of their
alphabet--with their corresponding numbers--upon the various parts of the body of their humanly
represented Logos, so the Tarot cards have an analogy not only in the parts and members of the universe
but also in the divisions of the human body.. They are in fact the key to the magical constitution of man.
The Tarot cards must be considered (1) as separate and complete hieroglyphs, each representing a
distinct principle, law, power, or element in Nature; (2) in relation to each other as the effect of one
agent operating upon another; and (3) as vowels and consonants of a philosophic alphabet. The laws
governing all phenomena are represented by the symbols upon the Tarot cards, whose numerical values
are equal to the numerical equivalents of the phenomena. As every structure consists of certain
elemental parts, so the Tarot cards represent the components of the structure of philosophy. Irrespective
of the science or philosophy with which the student is working, the Tarot cards can be identified with the
essential constituents of his subject, each card thus being related to a specific part according to
mathematical and philosophical laws. "An imprisoned person," writes Eliphas Levi, "with no other book
than the Tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a few years acquire universal knowledge, and would be
able to speak on all subjects with unequalled learning and inexhaustible eloquence. " (See
Transcendental Magic.)
The diverse opinions of eminent authorities on the Tarot symbolism are quite irreconcilable. The
conclusions of the scholarly Court de Gébelin and the bizarre Grand Etteila--the first authorities on the
subject--not only are at radical variance but both are equally discredited by Levi, whose arrangement of
the Tarot trumps was rejected in turn by Arthur Edward Waite and Paul Case as being an effort to
mislead students. The followers of Levi--especially Papus, Christian, Westcott, and Schuré-are regarded
by the "reformed Tarotists" as honest but benighted individuals who wandered in darkness for lack of
Pamela Coleman Smith's new deck of Tarot cards with revisions by Mr. Waite.
Most writers on the Tarot (Mr. Waite a notable exception) have proceeded upon the hypothesis that the
22 major trumps represent the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This supposition is based upon nothing
more substantial than the coincidence that both consist of 22 parts. That Postel, St. Martin, and Levi all
wrote books divided into sections corresponding to the major Tarots is an interesting sidelight on the
subject. The major trump cards portray incidents from the Book of Revelation; and the Apocalypse of
St. John is also divided into 22 chapters. Assuming the Qabbalah to hold the solution to the Tarot riddle,
seekers have often ignored other possible lines of research. The task, however, of discovering the proper
relationship sustained by the Tarot trumps to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the Paths of Wisdom
thus far has not met with any great
Click to enlarge
From Chatto's Origin and History of Playing Cards.
In writing of the deck from which the four cavaliers (jacks) here reproduced were taken, William Andrew Chatto
notes: "Some of the specimens of Portuguese cards given in the 'Jeux de Cartes, Tarots et de Cartes Numérales'
have very much the appearance of having been originally suggested by, if net copied from, an Oriental type;
more especially in the suits of Danari and Bastani,--Money and Clubs. In those cards the circular figure,
generally understood as representing Danari, or Money, is certainly much more like the Chakra, or quoit of
Vichnou [Vishnu], as seen in Hindostanic drawings, than a piece of coin; while on the top of the Club is a
diamond proper, which is another of the attributes of the same deity." Also worthy of note are the Rosicrucian
and Masonic emblems appearing on various mediæval decks. As the secrets of these organizations were often
concealed in cryptic engravings, it is very probable that the enigmatic diagrams upon various decks of cards were
used both to conceal and to perpetuate the political and philosophical arcana of these orders. The frontispiece of
Mr. Chatto's books shows a knave of hearts bearing a shield emblazoned with a crowned Rosicrucian rose.
p. 130
measure of success. The major trumps of the Tarot and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet cannot be
synchronized without first fixing the correct place of the unnumbered, or zero, card--Le Mat, the Fool.
Levi places this card between the 20th and 21st Tarots, assigning to it the Hebrew letter Shin (•). The
same order is followed by Papus, Christian, and Waite, the last, however, declaring this arrangement to
be incorrect. Westcott makes the zero card the 22nd of the Tarot major trumps. On the other hand, both
Court de Gébelin and Paul Case place the unnumbered card before the first numbered card of the major
trumps, for if the natural order of the numbers (according to either the Pythagorean or Qabbalistic
system) be adhered to, the zero card must naturally precede the number 1.
This does not dispose of the problem, however, for efforts to assign a Hebrew letter to each Tarot trump
in sequence produce an effect far from convincing. Mr. Waite, who reedited the Tarot, expresses himself
thus: "I am not to be included among those who are satisfied that there is a valid correspondence
between Hebrew letters and Tarot Trump symbols." (See introduction to The Book of Formation by
Knut Stenring.) The real explanation may be that the major Tarots no longer are in the same sequence as
when they formed the leaves of Hermes' sacred book, for the Egyptians--or even their Arabian
successors--could have purposely confused the cards so that their secrets might be better preserved. Mr.
Case has developed a system which, while superior to most, depends largely upon two debatable points,
namely, the accuracy of Mr. Waite's revised Tarot and the justification for assigning the first letter of the
Hebrew alphabet to the unnumbered, or zero, card. Since Aleph (the first Hebrew letter) has the
numerical value of 1, its assignment to the zero card is equivalent to the statement that zero is equal to
the letter Aleph and therefore synonymous with the number 1.
With rare insight, Court de Gébelin assigned the zero card to AIN SOPH, the Unknowable First Cause.
As the central panel of the Bembine Table represents the Creative Power surrounded by seven triads of
manifesting divinities, so may the zero card represent that Eternal Power of which the 21 surrounding or
manifesting aspects are but limited expressions. If the 21 major trumps be considered as limited forms
existing in the abstract substance of the zero card, it then becomes their common denominator. Which
letter, then, of the Hebrew alphabet is the origin of all the remaining letters? The answer is apparent:
Yod. In the presence of so many speculations, one more may not offend. The zero card--Le Mat, the
Fool--has been likened to the material universe because the mortal sphere is the world of unreality. The
lower universe, like the mortal body of man, is but a garment, a motley costume, well likened to cap and
bells. Beneath the garments of the fool is the divine substance, however, of which the jester is but a
shadow; this world is a Mardi Gras--a pageantry of divine sparks masked in the garb of fools. Was not
this zero card (the Fool) placed in the Tarot deck to deceive all who could not pierce the veil of illusion?
The Tarot cards were entrusted by the illumined hierophants of the Mysteries into the keeping of the
foolish and the ignorant, thus becoming playthings--in many instances even instruments of vice. Man's
evil habits therefore actually became the unconscious perpetuators of his philosophical precepts. "We
must admire the wisdom of the Initiates," writes Papus, "who utilized vice and made it produce more
beneficial results than virtue." Does not this act of the ancient priests itself afford proof that the entire
mystery of the Tarot is wrapped up in the symbolism of its zero card? If knowledge was thus entrusted
to fools, should it not be sought for in this card?
If Le Mat be placed before the first card of the Tarot deck and the others laid out in a horizontal line in
sequence from left to right, it will be found that the Fool is walking toward the other trumps as though
about to pass through the various cards. Like the spiritually hoodwinked and bound neophyte, Le Mat is
about to enter upon the supreme adventure--that of passage through the gates of the Divine Wisdom. If
the zero card be considered as extraneous to the major trumps, this destroys the numerical analogy
between these cards and the Hebrew letters by leaving one letter without a Tarot correspondent. In this
event it will be necessary to assign the missing letter to a hypothetical Tarot card called the elements,
assumed to have been broken up to form the 56 cards of the minor trumps. It is possible that each of the
major trumps may be subject to a similar division.
The first numbered major trump is called Le Bateleur, the juggler, and according to Court de Gébelin,
indicates the entire fabric of creation to be but a dream, existence a juggling of divine elements, and life
a perpetual game of hazard. The seeming miracles of Nature are but feats of cosmic legerdemain. Man is
like the little ball in the hands of the juggler, who waves his wand and, presto! the ball vanishes. The
world looking on does not realize that the vanished article is still cleverly concealed by the juggler in the
hollow of his hand. This is also the Adept whom Omar Khayyám calls "the master of the show." His
message is that the wise direct the phenomena of Nature and are never deceived thereby.
The magician stands behind a table on which are spread out a number of objects, prominent among them
a cup--the Holy Grail and the cup placed by Joseph in Benjamin's sack; a coin--the tribute money and
the wages of a Master Builder, and a sword, that of Goliath and also the mystic blade of the philosopher
which divides the false from the true. The magician's hat is in the form of the cosmic lemniscate,
signifying the first motion of creation. His right hand points to the earth, his left holds aloft the rod of
Jacob and also the staff that budded--the human spine crowned with the globe of creative intelligence. In
the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the magician wears an uræus or golden band around his forehead, the table
before him is in the form of a perfect cube, and his girdle is the serpent of eternity devouring its own tail.
The second numbered major trump is called La Papesse, the Female Pope, and has been associated with
a curious legend of the only woman who ever sat in the pontifical chair. Pope Joan is supposed to have
accomplished this by masquerading in malt attire, and was stoned to death when her subterfuge was
discovered. This card portrays a seated woman crowned with a tiara surmounted by a lunar crescent. In
her lap is the Tora, or book of the Law (usually partly closed), and in her left hand are the keys to the
secret doctrine, one gold and the other silver. Behind her rise two pillars (Jachin and Boaz) with a
multicolored veil stretched between. Her throne stands upon a checker-hoard floor. A figure called Juno
is occasionally substituted for La Papesse. like the female hierophant of the Mysteries of Cybele, this
symbolic figure personifies the Shekinah, or Divine Wisdom. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the priestess
is veiled, a reminder that the full countenance truth is not revealed to uninitiated man. A veil also covers
one-half of her book, thus intimating that but one-half of the mystery of being can be comprehended.
The third numbered major trump is called L'Impératrice, the Empress, and has been likened to the
"woman clothed with the sun" described in the Apocalypse. On this card appears the winged figure of a
woman seated upon a throne, supporting with her right hand a shield emblazoned with a phœnix and
holding in her left a scepter surmounted by an orb or trifoliate flower. Beneath her left foot is sometimes
shown the crescent. Either the Empress is crowned or her head is surrounded by a diadem of stars;
sometimes both. She is called Generation, and represents the threefold spiritual world out of which
proceeds the fourfold material world. To the graduate of the College of the Mysteries she is the Alma
Mater out of whose body the initiate has "born again." In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the Empress is
shown seated upon a cube filled with eyes and a bird is balanced upon the forefinger other left hand. The
upper part of her body is surrounded by a radiant golden nimbus. Being emblematic of the power from
which emanates the entire tangible universe, L'Impératrice is frequently symbolized as pregnant.
The fourth numbered major trump is called L'Empereur, the Emperor, and by its numerical value is
directly associated with the great Deity revered by the Pythagoreans under the form of the tetrad. His
symbols declare the Emperor to be the Demiurgus, the Great King of the inferior world. The Emperor is
dressed in armor and his throne is a cube stone, upon which a phœnix is also clearly visible. The king
has his legs crossed in a most significant manner and carries either a scepter surmounted by an orb or a
scepter in his right hand and an orb n his left. The orb itself is evidence that he is supreme ruler of the
world. Upon his right and left breasts respectively appear the symbols of the sun and moon, which in
symbolism are referred to as the eyes of the Great King. The position of the body and legs forms the
symbol of sulphur, the sign of the ancient alchemical monarch. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the figure
is in profile. He wears a Masonic apron and the skirt forms s right-angled triangle. Upon his head is the
Crown of the North and his forehead is adorned wit the coiled uræus.
The fifth numbered major trump is called Le Pape, the Pope, and represents the high priest of a pagan or
Christian Mystery school. In this card the hierophant wears the tiara and carries in his left hand the triple
cross surmounting the globe of the world. His right hand, bearing upon its back the stigmata, makes "the
ecclesiastic sign of esotericism," and before him kneel two suppliants or acolytes. The back of the papal
throne is in the form of a celestial and a terrestrial column. This card signifies the initiate or master of
the mystery of life and according to the Pythagoreans, the spiritual physician. The illusionary universe in
the form of the two figures (polarity) kneels before the throne upon which sits the initiate who has
elevated his consciousness to the plane of spiritual understanding and reality. In the pseudo-Egyptian
Tarot the Master wears the uræus. A white and a black figure--life and death, light and darkness, good
and evil--kneel before him. The initiate's mastery over unreality is indicated by the tiara and the triple
cross, emblems of rulership over the three worlds which have issued from the Unknowable First Cause.
The sixth numbered major trump is called L'Amoureux, the Lovers. There are two distinct forms of this
Tarot. One shows a marriage ceremony in which a priest is uniting a youth and a maiden (Adam and
Eve?) in holy wedlock. Sometimes a winged figure above transfixes the lovers with his dart. The second
form of the card portrays a youth with a female figure on either side. One of these figures wears a golden
crown and is winged, while the other is attired in the flowing robes of the bacchante and on her head is a
wreath of vine leaves. The maidens represent the twofold soul of man (spiritual and animal), the first his
guardian angel and the second his ever-present demon. The youth stands at the beginning of mature life,
"the Parting of the Ways," where he must choose between virtue and vice, the eternal and the temporal.
Above, in a halo of light, is the genius of Fate (his star), mistaken for Cupid by the uninformed. If youth
chooses unwisely, the arrow of blindfolded Fate will transfix him. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the
arrow of the genius points directly to the figure of vice, thereby signifying that the end of her path is
destruction. This card reminds man that the price of free will--or, more correctly, the power of choice--is
The seventh numbered major trump is called Le Chariot, the Chariot, and portrays a victorious warrior
crowned and riding in a chariot drawn by black and white sphinxes or horses. The starry canopy of the
chariot is upheld by four columns. This card signifies the Exalted One who rides in the chariot of
creation. The vehicle of the solar energy being numbered seven reveals the arcane truth that the seven
planers are the chariots of the solar power which rides victorious in their midst. The four columns
supporting the canopy represent the four Mighty Ones who uphold the worlds represented by the star-
strewn drapery. The figure carries the scepter of the solar energy and its shoulders are ornamented with
lunar crescents--the Urim. and Thummim. The sphinxes drawing the chariot resent the secret and
unknown power by which the victorious ruler is moved continuously through the various parts of his
universe. In certain Tarot decks the victor signifies the regenerated man, for the body of the chariot is a
cubic stone. The man in armor is not standing in the chariot but is rising out of the cube, thus typifying
the ascension of the 3 out of the 4--the turning upward of the flap of the Master Mason's apron. In the
pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the warrior carries the curved sword of Luna, is bearded to signify maturity, and
wears the collar of the planetary orbits. His scepter (emblematic of the threefold universe) is crowned
with a square upon which is a circle surmounted by a triangle.
p. 131
The eighth numbered major trump is called La Justice, Justice, and portrays a seated figure upon a
throne, the back of which rises in the form of two columns. Justice is crowned and carries in her right
hand a sword and in her left a pair of scales. This card is a reminder of the judgment of the soul in the
hall of Osiris. It teaches that only balanced forces can endure and that eternal justice destroys with the
sword that which is unbalanced. Sometimes justice is depicted with a braid of her own hair twisted
around her neck in a manner resembling a hangman's knot. This may subtly imply that man is the cause
of his own undoing, his actions (symbolized by his hair) being the instrument of his annihilation. In the
pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the figure of Justice is raised upon a dais of three steps, for justice can be fully
administered only by such as have been elevated to the third degree. Justice is blindfolded, that the
visible shall in no way influence its decision. (For reasons he considers beyond his readers' intelligence,
Mr. Waite reversed the eighth and eleventh major trumps.)
The ninth numbered major trump is called L'Hermite, the Hermit, and portrays an aged man, robed in a
monkish habit and cowl, leaning on a staff. This card was popularly supposed to represent Diogenes in
his quest for an honest man. In his right hand the recluse carries a lamp which he partly conceals within
the folds of his cape. The hermit thereby personifies the secret organizations which for uncounted
centuries have carefully concealed the light of the Ancient Wisdom from the profane. The staff of the
hermit is knowledge, which is man's main and only enduring support. Sometimes the mystic rod is
divided by knobs into seven sections, a subtle reference to the mystery of the seven sacred centers along
the human spine. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the hermit shields the lamp behind a rectangular cape to
emphasize the philosophic truth that wisdom, if exposed to the fury of ignorance, would be destroyed
like the tiny flame of a lamp unprotected from the storm. Man's bodies form a cloak through which his
divine nature is faintly visible like the flame of the partly covered lantern. Through renunciation--the
Hermetic life--man attains depth of character and tranquility of spirit.
The tenth numbered major trump is called La Roue de Fortune, the Wheel of Fortune, and portrays a
mysterious wheel with eight spokes--the familiar Buddhist symbol of the Cycle of Necessity. To its rim
cling Anubis and Typhon--the principles of good and evil. Above sits the immobile sphinx, carrying the
sword of Justice and signifying the perfect equilibrium of Universal Wisdom. Anubis is shown rising
and Typhon descending; but when Typhon reaches the bottom, evil ascends again, and when Anubis
reaches the top good wanes once more. The Wheel of Fortune represents the lower universe as a whole
with Divine Wisdom (the sphinx) as the eternal arbiter between good and evil. In India, the chakra, or
wheel, is associated with the life centers either of a world or of an individual. In the pseudo-Egyptian
Tarot the Sphinx is armed with a javelin, and Typhon is being thrown from the wheel. The vertical
columns, supporting the wheel and so placed that but one is visible, represent the axis of the world with
the inscrutable sphinx upon its northern pole. Sometimes the wheel with its supports is in a boat upon
the water. The water is the Ocean of Illusion, which is the sole foundation of the Cycle of Necessity.
The eleventh numbered major trump is called La Force, Strength, and portrays a girl wearing a hat in the
form of a lemniscate, with her hands upon the mouth of an apparently ferocious lion. Considerable
controversy exists as to whether the maid is dosing or opening the lion's mouth. Most writers declare her
to be closing the jaws of the beast, but a critical inspection conveys the opposite impression. The young
woman symbolizes spiritual strength and the lion either the animal world which the girl is mastering or
the Secret Wisdom over which she is mistress. The lion also signifies the summer solstice and the girl,
Virgo, for when the sun enters this constellation, the Virgin robs the lion of his strength. King Solomon's
throne was ornamented with lions and he himself was likened to the king of beasts with the key of
wisdom between its teeth. In this sense, the girl may be opening the lion's mouth to find the key
contained therein for courage is a prerequisite to the attainment of knowledge. In the pseudo-Egyptian
Tarot the symbolism is the same except that the maiden is represented as a priestess wearing an
elaborate crown in the form of a bird surmounted by serpents and an ibis.
The twelfth numbered major trump is called Le Pendu, the Hanged Man, an portrays a young man
hanging by his left leg from a horizontal beam, the latter supported by two tree trunks from each of
which six branches have been removed. The right leg of the youth is crossed in back of the left and his
arms are folded behind his back in such a way as to form a cross surmounting a downward pointing
triangle. The figure thus forms an inverted symbol of sulphur and, according to Levi, signifies the
accomplishment of the magnum opus. In some decks the figure carries under each arm a money bag
from which coins are escaping. Popular tradition associates this card with Judas Iscariot, who is said to
have gone forth and hanged himself, the money bags representing the payment he received for his crime.
Levi likens the hanged man to Prometheus, the Eternal Sufferer, further declaring that the upturned feet
signify the spiritualization of the lower nature. It is also possible that the inverted figure denotes the loss
of the spiritual faculties, for the head is below the level of the body. The stumps of the twelve branches
are the signs of the zodiac divided into two groups--positive and negative. The picture therefore depicts
polarity temporarily triumphant over the spiritual principle of equilibrium. To attain the heights of
philosophy, therefore, man must reverse (or invert) the order of his life. He then loses his sense of
personal possession because he renounces the rule of gold in favor of the golden rule. In the pseudo-
Egyptian Tarot the hanged man is suspended between two palm trees and signifies the Sun God who
dies perennially for his world.
The thirteenth numbered major trump is called La Mort, Death, and portrays a reaping skeleton with a
great scythe cutting off the heads, hands, and feet rising out of the earth about it. In the course of its
labors the skeleton has apparently cut off one of its own feet. Not all Tarot decks show this peculiarity,
but this point well emphasizes the philosophic truth that unbalance and destructiveness are synonymous.
The skeleton is the proper emblem of the first and supreme Deity because it is the foundation of the
body, as the Absolute is the foundation of creation. The reaping skeleton physically signifies death but
philosophically that irresistible impulse in Nature which causes every being to be ultimately absorbed
into the divine condition in which it existed before the illusionary universe had been manifested. The
blade of the scythe is the moon with its crystallizing power. The field in which death reaps is the
universe, and the card discloses that all things growing out of the earth shall be cut down and return to
earth again.
Kings, Queens, courtesans, and knaves are alike to death, the master of the visible and a parent parts of
all creatures. In some Tarot decks death is symbolized as a figure in armor mounted on a white horse
which tramples under foot old and young alike. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot a rainbow is seen behind
the figure of death, thus signifying that the mortality of the body of itself achieves the immortality of the
spirit. Death, though it destroys form, can never destroy life, which continually renews itself. This card
is the symbol of the constant renovation of the universe--disintegration that reintegration may follow
upon a higher level of expression.
The fourteenth numbered major trump is called La Temperance, Temperance, and portrays an angelic
figure with the sun upon her forehead. She carries two urns, one empty and the other full, and
continually pours the contents of the upper into the lower, In some Tarot decks the flowing water takes
the form of the symbol of Aquarius. Not one drop, however, of the living water is lost in this endless
transference between the superior vessel and the inferior. When the lower urn is filled the vases are
reversed, thus signifying that life pours first from the invisible into the visible, then from the visible back
into the invisible. The spirit controlling this flow is an emissary of the great Jehovah, Demiurgus of the
world. The sun, or light cluster, upon the woman's forehead controls the flow of water, which, being
drawn upward into the air by the solar rays, descends upon the earth as rain, to drawn up and fall again
ad infinitum. Herein is also shown the passage of the human life forces back and forth between positive
and negative poles of the creative system. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the symbolism is the same,
except that the winged figure is male instead of female. It is surrounded by a solar nimbus and pours
water from a golden urn into a silver one, typifying the descent of celestial forces into the sublunary
The fifteenth numbered major trump is called Le Diable, the Devil, and portrays a creature resembling
Pan with the horns of a ram or deer, the arms and body of a man, and the legs and feet of a goat or
dragon. The figure stands upon a cubic stone, to a ring in the front of which are chained two satyrs. For a
scepter this so-called demon carries a lighted torch or candle. The entire figure is symbolic of the magic
powers of the astral light, or universal mirror, in which the divine forces are reflected in an inverted, or
infernal, state. The demon is winged like a bar, showing that it pertains to the nocturnal, or shadow
inferior sphere. The animal natures of man, in the form of a male and a female elemental, are chained to
its footstool. The torch is the false light which guides unillumined souls to their own undoing. In the
pseudo-Egyptian Tarot appears Typhon--a winged creature composed of a hog, a man, a bat, a crocodile,
and a hippopotamus--standing in the midst of its own destructiveness and holding aloft the firebrand of
the incendiary. Typhon is created by man's own misdeeds, which, turning upon their maker, destroy him.
The sixteenth numbered major trump is called Le Feu du Ciel, the Fire of Heaven, and portrays a tower
the battlements of which, in the form of a crown, are being destroyed by a bolt of lightning issuing from
the sun. The crown, being considerably smaller than the tower which it surmounts, possibly indicates
that its destruction resulted from its insufficiency. The lighting bolt sometimes takes the form of the
zodiacal sign of Scorpio, and the tower may be considered a phallic emblem. Two figures are failing
from the tower, one in front and the other behind. This Tarot card is popularly associated with the
traditional fall of man. The divine nature of humanity is depicted as a tower. When his crown is
destroyed, man falls into the lower world and takes upon himself the illusion of materiality. Here also is
a key to the mystery of sex. The tower is supposedly filled with gold coins which, showering out in great
numbers from the rent made by the lightning bolt, suggesting potential powers. In the pseudo-Egyptian
Tarot the tower is a pyramid, its apex shattered by a lightning bolt. Here is a reference to the missing
capstone of the Universal House. In support of Levi's contention that this card is connected with the
Hebrew letter Ayin, the failing figure in the foreground is similar in general appearance to the sixteenth
letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The seventeenth numbered major trump is called Les Etoiles, the Stars, and portrays a young girl
kneeling with one foot in water and the other on and, her body somewhat suggesting the swastika. She
has two urns, the contents of which she pours upon the land and sea. Above the girl's head are eight
stars, one of which is exceptionally large and bright. Count de Gébelin considers the great star to be
Sothis or Sirius; the other seven are the sacred planets of the ancients. He believes the female figure to
be Isis in the act of causing the inundations of the Nile which accompanied the rising of the Dog Star.
The unclothed figure of Isis may well signify that Nature does not receive her garment of verdure until
the rising of the Nile waters releases the germinal life of plants and flowers. The bush and bird (or
butterfly) signify the growth and resurrection which accompany the rising of the waters. In the pseudo-
Egyptian Tarot the great star contains a diamond composed of a black and white triangle, and the
flowering bush is a tall plant with a trifoliate head upon which a butterfly alights. Here Isis is in the form
of an upright triangle and the vases have become shallow cups. The elements of water and earth under
her feet represent the opposites of Nature sharing impartially in the divine abundance.
The eighteenth numbered major trump is called La Lune, the Moon, and portrays Luna rising between
two towers--one light and the other dark. A dog and a wolf are baying at the rising moon, and in the
foreground is a pool of water from which emerges a crawfish. Between the towers a path
Click to enlarge
From Taylor's The History of Playing Cards.
Among the more curious examples of playing cards are those of the Mantegna deck. In 1820, a perfect deck of
fifty cards brought the then amazing price of eighty pounds. The fifty subjects composing the Mantegna deck,
each of which is represented by an appropriate figure, are: (1) A beggar; (2) A page; (3) A goldsmith; (4) A
merchant; (5) A gentleman; (6) A knight; (7) The Doge; (8) A king; (9) An emperor, (10) The Pope; (11)
Calliope; (12) Urania; (13) Terpsichore; (14) Erato; (15) Polyhymnia; (16) Thalia; (17) Melpomene; (18)
Euterpe; (19) Clio; (20) Apollo; (21) Grammar, (22) Logic; (23) Rhetoric; (24) Geometry; (25) Arithmetic; (26)
Music, (27) Poetry; (28) Philosophy; (29) Astrology; (30) Theology; (31) Astronomy; (32) Chronology (33)
Cosmogony; (34) Temperance; (35) Prudence; (36) Fortitude; (37) Justice; (38) Charity; (39) Fortitude, (40)
Faith; (41) the Moon; (42) Mercury; (43) Venus; (45) the Sun; (45) Mars; (46) Jupiter; (47) Saturn; (48) the
eighth Sphere; (49) the Primum Mobile; (50) the First Cause. The Qabbalistic significance of these cards is
apparent, and it is possible that they have a direct analogy to the fifty gates of light referred to in Qabbalistic
p. 132
winds, vanishing in the extreme background. Court de Gébelin sees in this card another reference to the
rising of the Nile and states on the authority of Pausanius that the Egyptians believed the inundations of
the Nile to result from the tears of the moon goddess which, falling into the river, swelled its flow. These
tears are seen dropping from the lunar face. Court de Gébelin also relates the towers to the Pillars of
Hercules, beyond which, according to the Egyptians, the luminaries never passed. He notes also that the
Egyptians represented the tropics as dogs who as faithful doorkeepers prevented the sun and moon from
penetrating too near the poles. The crab or crawfish signifies the retrograde motion of the moon.
This card also refers to the path of wisdom. Man in his quest of reality emerges from the pool of illusion.
After mastering the guardians of the gates of wisdom he passes between the fortresses of science and
theology and follows the winding path leading to spiritual liberation. His way is faintly lighted by
human reason (the moon), which is but a reflection of divine wisdom. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot the
towers are pyramids, the dogs are black and white respectively, and the moon is partly obscured by
clouds. The entire scene suggests the dreary and desolate place in which the Mystery dramas of the
Lesser Rites were enacted.
The nineteenth numbered major trump is called Le Soleil, the Sun, and portrays two children--probably
Gemini, the Twins--standing together in a garden surrounded by a magic ring of flowers. One of these
children should be shown as male and the other female. Behind them is a brick wall apparently
enclosing the garden. Above the wall the sun is rising, its rays alternately straight and curved. Thirteen
teardrops are falling from the solar face Levi, seeing in the two children Faith and Reason, which must
coexist as long as the temporal universe endures, writes: "Human equilibrium requires two feet, the
worlds gravitate by means of two forces, generation needs two sexes. Such is the meaning of the
arcanum of Solomon, represented by the two pillars of the temple, Jakin and Bohas." (See
Transcendental Magic.) The sun of Truth is shining into the garden of the world over which these two
children, as personifications of eternal powers reside. The harmony of the world depends upon the
coordination of two qualities symbolized throughout the ages as the mind and the heart. In the pseudo-
Egyptian Tarot the children give place to a youth and a maiden. Above them in a solar nimbus is the
phallic emblem of generation--a line piercing a circle. Gemini is ruled by Mercury and the two children
personify the serpents entwined around the caduceus.
The twentieth numbered major trump is called Le Jugement, the judgment, and portrays three figures
rising apparently from their tombs, though but one coffin is visible. Above them in a blaze of glory is a
winged figure (presumably the Angel Gabriel) blowing a trumpet. This Tarot represents the liberation of
man's threefold spiritual nature from the sepulcher of his material constitution. Since but one-third of the
spirit actually enters the physical body, the other two-thirds constituting the Hermetic anthropos or
overman, only one of the three figures is actually rising from the tomb. Court de Gébelin believes that
the coffin may have been an afterthought of the card makers and that the scene actually represents
creation rather than resurrection, In philosophy these two words are practically synonymous. The blast
of the trumpet represents the Creative Word, by the intoning of which man is liberated from his
terrestrial limitations. In the pseudo-Egyptian Tarot it is evident that the three figures signify the parts of
a single being, for three mummies are shown emerging from one mummy case.
The twenty-first numbered major trump is called Le Monde, the World, and portrays a female figure
draped with a scarf which the wind blows into the form of the Hebrew letter Kaph. Her extended hands--
each of which holds a wand--and her left leg, which crosses behind the right, cause the figure to assume
the form of the alchemical symbol of sulphur. The central figure is surrounded by a wreath in the form
of a vesica piscis which Levi likens to the Qabbalistic crown Kether. The Cherubim of Ezekiel's vision
occupy the corners of the card. This Tarot is called the Microcosm and the Macrocosm because in it are
summed up every agency contributing to the structure of creation. The figure in the form Of the emblem
of sulphur represents the divine fire and the heart of the Great Mystery. The wreath is Nature, which
surrounds the fiery center. The Cherubim represent the elements, worlds, forces, and planes issuing out
of the divine fiery center of life. The wreath signifies the crown of the initiate which is given to those
who master the four guardians and enter into the presence of unveiled Truth. In the pseudo-Egyptian
Tarot the Cherubim surround a wreath composed of twelve trifoliate flowers--the decanates of the
zodiac. A human figure kneels below this wreath, playing upon a harp of three strings, for the spirit must
create harmony in the triple constitution of its inferior nature before it can gain for itself the solar crown
of immortality.
The four suits of the minor trumps are considered as analogous to the four elements, the four corners of
creation, and the four worlds of Qabbalism. The key to the lesser Tarots is presumably the
Tetragrammaton, or the four-letter name of Jehovah, IHVH. The four suits of the minor trumps
represent also the major divisions of society: cups are the priesthood, swords the military, coins the
tradesmen, and rods the farming class. From the standpoint of what Court de Gébelin calls "political
geography," cups represent the northern countries, swords the Orient, coins the Occident, and rods the
southern countries. The ten pip cards of each suit represent the nations composing each of these grand
divisions. The kings are their governments, the queens their religions, the knights their histories and
national characteristics, and the pages their arts and sciences. Elaborate treatises have been written
concerning the use of the Tarot cards in divination, but as this practice is contrary to the primary purpose
of the Tarot no profit can result from its discussion.
Many interesting examples of early playing cards are found in the museums of Europe, and there are
also noteworthy specimens in the cabinets of various private collectors. A few hand-painted decks exist
which are extremely artistic. These depict various important personages contemporary with the artists. In
some instances, the court cards are portraitures of the reigning monarch and his family. In England
engraved cards became popular, and in the British Museum are also to be seen some extremely quaint
stenciled cards. Heraldic devices were employed; and Chatto, in his Origin and History of Playing
Cards, reproduces four heraldic cards in which the arms of Pope Clement IX adorn the king of clubs.
There have been philosophical decks with emblems chosen from Greek and Roman mythology, also
educational decks ornamented with maps or pictorial representations of famous historic places and
incidents. Many rare examples of playing-cards have been found bound into the covers of early books.
In Japan there are card games the successful playing of which requires familiarity with nearly all the
literary masterpieces of that nation. In India there are circular decks depicting episodes from Oriental
myths. There are also cards which in one sense of the word are not cards, for the designs are on wood,
ivory, and even metal. There are comic cards caricaturing disliked persons and places, and there are
cards commemorating various human achievements. During the American Civil War a patriotic deck
was circulated in which stars, eagles, anchors, and American flags were substituted for the suits and the
court cards were famous generals.
Modern playing cards are the minor trumps of the Tarot, from each suit of which the page, or valet, has
been eliminated, leaving 13 cards. Even in its abridged form, however, the modern deck is of profound
symbolic importance, for its arrangement is apparently in accord with the divisions of the year. The two
colors, red and black, represent the two grand divisions of the year--that during which the sun is north of
the equator and that during which it is south of the equator. The four suits represent the seasons, the ages
of the ancient Greeks, and the Yugas of the Hindus. The twelve court cards are the signs of the zodiac
arranged in triads of a Father, a Power, and a Mind according to the upper section of the Bembine Table.
The ten pip cards of each suit represent the Sephirothic trees existing in each of the four worlds (the
suits). The 13 cards of each suit are the 13 lunar months in each year, and the 52 cards of the deck are
the 52 weeks in the year. Counting the number of pips and reckoning the jacks, queens, and kings as 11,
12, and 13 respectively, the sum for the 52 cards is 364. If the joker be considered as one point, the
result is 365, or the number of days in the year. Milton Pottenger believed that the United States of
America was laid out according to the conventional deck of playing cards, and that the government will
ultimately consist of 52 States administered by a 53rd undenominated division, the District of Columbia.
The court cards contain a number of important Masonic symbols. Nine are full face and three are profile.
Here is the broken "Wheel of the Law," signifying the nine months of the prenatal epoch and the three
degrees of spiritual unfoldment necessary to produce the perfect man. The four armed kings are the
Egyptian Ammonian Architects who gouged out the universe with knives. They are also the cardinal
signs of the zodiac. The four queens, carrying eight-petaled flowers symbolic of the Christ, are the fixed
signs of the zodiac. The four jacks, two of whom bear acacia sprigs--the jack of hearts in his hand, the
jack of clubs in his hat-are the four common signs of the zodiac. It should be noted also that the court
cards of the spade suit will not look upon the pip in the corner of the card but face away from it as
though fearing this emblem of death. The Grand Master of the Order of the Cards is the king of clubs,
who carries the orb as emblematic of his dignity.
In its symbolism chess is the most significant of all games. It has been called "the royal game"--the
pastime of kings. Like the Tarot cards, the chessmen represent the elements of life and philosophy. The
game was played in India and China long before its introduction into Europe. East Indian princes were
wont to sit on the balconies of their palaces and play chess with living men standing upon a
checkerboard pavement of black and white marble in the courtyard below. It is popularly believed that
the Egyptian Pharaohs played chess, but an examination of their sculpture and illuminations has led to
the conclusion that the Egyptian game was a form of draughts. In China, chessmen are often carved to
represent warring dynasties, as the Manchu and the Ming. The chessboard consists of 64 squares
alternately black and white and symbolizes the floor of the House of the Mysteries. Upon this field of
existence or thought move a number of strangely carved figures, each according to fixed law. The white
king is Ormuzd; the black king, Ahriman; and upon the plains of Cosmos the great war between Light
and Darkness is fought through all the ages. Of the philosophical constitution of man, the kings
represent the spirit; the queens the mind; the bishops the emotions; the knights the vitality; the castles, or
rooks, the physical body. The pieces upon the kings' side are positive; those upon the queens' side,
negative. The pawns are the sensory impulses and perceptive faculties--the eight parts of the soul. The
white king and his suite symbolize the Self and its vehicles; the black king and his retinue, the not-self--
the false Ego and its legion. The game of chess thus sets forth the eternal struggle of each part of man's
compound nature against the shadow of itself. The nature of each of the chessmen is revealed by the way
in which it moves; geometry is the key to their interpretation. For example: The castle (the body) moves
on the square; the bishop (the emotions) moves on the slant; the king, being the spirit, cannot be
captured, but loses the battle when so surrounded that it cannot escape.
Next: The Tabernacle in the Wilderness
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 133
The Tabernacle in the Wilderness
THERE is no doubt that much of the material recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament is
derived from the initiatory rituals of the Egyptian Mysteries. The priests of Isis were deeply versed in
occult lore, and the Israelites during their captivity in Egypt learned from them many things concerning
the significance of Divinity and the manner of worshiping It. The authorship of the first five books of the
Old Testament is generally attributed to Moses, but whether or not he was the actual writer of them is a
matter of controversy. There is considerable evidence to substantiate the hypothesis that the Pentateuch
was compiled at a much later date, from oral traditions. Concerning the authorship of these books,
Thomas Inman makes a rather startling statement: "It is true that we have books which purport to be the
books of Moses; so there are, or have been, books purporting to be written by Homer, Orpheus, Enoch,
Mormon, and Junius; yet the existence of the writings, and the belief that they were written by those
whose name they bear, are no real evidences of the men or the genuineness of the works called by their
names. It is true also that Moses is spoken of occasionally in the time of the early Kings of Jerusalem;
but it is clear that these passages are written by a late hand, and have been introduced into the places
where they are found, with the definite intention of making it appear that the lawgiver was known to
David and Solomon." (See Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names.)
While this noted scholar undoubtedly had much evidence to support his belief, it seems that this
statement is somewhat too sweeping in character. It is apparently based upon the fact that Thomas
Inman doubted the historical existence of Moses. This doubt was based upon the etymological
resemblance of the word Moses to an ancient name for the sun. As the result of these deductions, Inman
sought to prove that the Lawgiver of Israel was merely another form of the omnipresent solar myth.
While Inman demonstrated that by transposing two of the ancient letters the word Moses (•••) became
Shemmah (•••), an appellation of the celestial globe, he seems to have overlooked the fact that in the
ancient Mysteries the initiates were often given names synonymous with the sun, to symbolize the fact
that the redemption and regeneration of the solar power had been achieved within their own natures. It is
far more probable that the man whom we know as Moses was an accredited representative of the secret
schools, laboring--as many other emissaries have labored--to instruct primitive races in the mysteries of
their immortal souls.
The true name of the Grand Old Man of Israel who is known to history as Moses will probably never be
ascertained. The word Moses, when understood in its esoteric Egyptian sense, means one who has been
admitted into the Mystery Schools of Wisdom and ~as gone forth to teach the ignorant concerning the
will of the gods and the mysteries of life, as these mysteries were explained within the temples of Isis,
Osiris, and Serapis. There is much controversy concerning the nationality of Moses. Some assert that he
was a Jew, adopted and educated by the ruling house of Egypt; others hold the opinion that he was a full-
blooded Egyptian. A few even believe him to be identical with the immortal Hermes, for both these
illustrious founders of religious systems received tablets from heaven supposedly written by the finger
of God. The stories told concerning Moses, his discovery in the ark of bulrushes by Pharaoh's daughter,
his adoption into the royal family of Egypt, and his later revolt against Egyptian autocracy coincide
exactly with certain ceremonies through which the candidates of the Egyptian Mysteries passed in their
ritualistic wanderings in search of truth and understanding. The analogy can also be traced in the
movements of the heavenly bodies.
It is not strange that the erudite Moses, initiated in Egypt, should teach the Jews a philosophy containing
the more important principles of Egyptian esotericism. The religions of Egypt at the time of the Israelitic
captivity were far older than even the Egyptians themselves realized. Histories were difficult to compile
in those days, and the Egyptians were satisfied to trace their race back to a mythological period when the
gods themselves walked the earth and with their own power established the Double Empire of the Nile.
The Egyptians did not dream that these divine progenitors were the Atlanteans, who, forced to abandon
their seven islands because of volcanic cataclysms, had immigrated into Egypt--then an Atlantean
colony--where they established a great philosophic and literary center of civilization which was later to
influence profoundly the religions and science of unnumbered races and peoples. Today Egypt is
forgotten, but things Egyptian will always be remembered and revered. Egypt is dead--yet it lives
immortal in its philosophy, and architectonics.
As Odin founded his Mysteries in Scandinavia, and Quexalcoatl in Mexico, so Moses, laboring with the
then nomadic people of Israel's twelve tribes, established in the midst of them his secret and symbolic
school, which has came to be known as The Tabernacle Mysteries. The Tabernacle of: the Jews was
merely a temple patterned after the temples of Egypt, and transportable to meet the needs of that roving
disposition which the Israelites were famous. Every part of the Tabernacle and the enclosure which
surrounded it was symbolic of some great natural or philosophic truth. To the ignorant it was but a place
to which to bring offerings and in which to make sacrifice; to the wise it was a temple of learning, sacred
to the Universal Spirit of Wisdom.
While the greatest, minds of the Jewish and Christian worlds have realized that the Bible is a book of
allegories, few seem to have taken the trouble to investigate its symbols and parables. When Moses
instituted his Mysteries, he is said to have given to a chosen few initiates certain oral teachings which
could never be written but were to be preserved from one generation to the next by word-of-mouth
transmission. Those instructions were in the form of philosophical keys, by means of which the
allegories were made to reveal their hidden significance. These mystic keys to their sacred writings were
called by the Jews the Qabbalah (Cabala, Kaballah).
The modern world seems to have forgotten the existence of those unwritten teachings which explained
satisfactorily the apparent contradictions of the written Scriptures, nor does it remember that the pagans
appointed their two-faced Janus as custodian of the key to the Temple of Wisdom. Janus has been
metamorphosed into St. Peter, so often symbolized as holding in his hand the key to the gate of heaven.
The gold and silver keys of "God's Vicar on Earth," the Pope, symbolizes this "secret doctrine" which,
when properly understood, unlocks the treasure chest of the Christian and Jewish Qabbalah.
The temples of Egyptian mysticism (from which the Tabernacle was copied) were--according to their
own priests--miniature representations of the universe. The solar system was always regarded as a great
temple of initiation, which candidates entered through the gates of birth; after threading the tortuous
passageways of earthly existence, they finally approached the veil of the Great Mystery--Death--through
whose gate they vanished back into the invisible world. Socrates subtly reminded his disciples that
Death was, in reality, the great initiation, for his last words were: "Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will
you remember to pay the debt?" (As the rooster was sacred to the gods and the sacrifice of this bird
accompanied a candidate's introduction into the Mysteries, Socrates implied that he was about to take his
great initiation.)
Life is the great mystery, and only those who pass successfully through its tests and trials, interpreting
them aright and extracting the essence of experience therefrom, achieve true understanding. Thus, the
temples were built in the form of the world and their rituals were based upon life and its multitudinous
problems. Nor only was the Tabernacle itself patterned according to Egyptian mysticism; its utensils
were also of ancient and accepted form. The Ark
Click to enlarge
From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
It is in this form that Jehovah is generally pictured by the Qabbalists. The drawing is intended to represent the
Demiurgus of the Greeks and Gnostics, called by the Greeks "Zeus," the Immortal Mortal, and by the Hebrews
p. 134
of the Covenant itself was an adaptation of the Egyptian Ark, even to the kneeling figures upon its lid.
Bas-reliefs on the Temple of Philæ show Egyptian priests carrying their Ark--which closely resembled
the Ark of the Jews--upon their shoulders by means of staves like those described in Exodus.
The following description of the Tabernacle and its priests is based upon the account of its construction
and ceremonies recorded by Josephus in the Third Book of his Antiquities of the Jews. The Bible
references are from a "Breeches" Bible (famous for its rendering of the seventh verse of the third chapter
of Genesis), printed in London in 1599, and the quotations are reproduced in their original spelling and
Moses, speaking for Jehovah, the God of Israel, appointed two architects to superintend the building of
the Tabernacle. They were Besaleel, the son of Uri, of the tribe of Judah, and Aholiab, the son of
Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Their popularity was so great that they were also the unanimous choice
of the people. When Jacob upon his deathbed blessed his sons (see Genesis xlix), he assigned to each a
symbol. The symbol of Judah was a lion; that of Dan a serpent or a bird (possibly an eagle). The lion and
the eagle are two of the four beasts of the Cherubim (the fixed signs of the zodiac); and the Rosicrucian
alchemists maintained that the mysterious Stone of the Wise (the Soul) was compounded with the aid of
the Blood of the Red Lion and the Gluten of the White Eagle. It seems probable that there is a hidden
mystic relationship between fire (the Red Lion), water (the White Eagle), as they were used in occult
chemistry, and the representatives of these two tribes whose symbols were identical with these
alchemical elements.
As the Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God among men, likewise the soul body in man is the
dwelling place of his divine nature, round which gathers a twelvefold material constitution in the same
manner that the tribes of Israel camped about the enclosure sacred to Jehovah. The idea that the
Tabernacle was really symbolic of an invisible spiritual truth outside the comprehension of the Israelites
is substantiated by a statement made in the eighth chapter of Hebrews: "Who serve unto the paterne and
shadowe of heavenly things, as Moses was warned by God, when he was about to finish the
Tabernacle." Here we find the material physical place of worship called a "shadow" or symbol of a
spiritual institution, invisible but omnipotent.
The specifications of the Tabernacle are described in the book of Exodus, twenty-fifth chapter: "Then
the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speake unto the children of Israel that they receive an offering for
me: of every man, whose heart giveth it freely, yee shall take the offering for me. And this is the offering
which ye shall take of them, gold and silver, and brass, and blue silke, and purple, and scarlet, and fine
linnen and goats haire. And rammes skinnes coloured red, and the skinnes of badgers, and the wood
Shittim, oyle for the light, spices for anoynting oyle, and for the perfume of sweet favour, onix stones,
and stories to be set in the Ephod, and in the breastplate. Also they shall make me a Sanctuary, that I
may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, even so shall ye make the forme of the
Tabernacle, and the fashion of all the instruments thereof."
The court of the Tabernacle was an enclosed area, fifty cubits wide and one hundred cubits long,
circumscribed by a wall of linen curtains hung from brazen pillars five cubits apart. (The cubit is an
ancient standard of measurement, its length being equal to the distance between the elbow and the
extreme end of the index finger, approximately eighteen inches.) There were twenty of these pillars on
each of the longer sides and ten on the shorter. Each pillar had a base of brass and a capital of silver. The
Tabernacle was always laid out with the long sides facing north and south and the short sides facing east
and west, with the entrance to the east, thus showing the influence of primitive sun worship.
The outer court served the principal purpose of isolating the tent of the Tabernacle proper, which stood
in the midst of the enclosure. At the entrance to the courtyard, which was in the eastern face of the
rectangle, stood the Altar of Burnt Offerings, made of brass plates over wood and ornamented with the
horns of bulls and rams. Farther in, but on a line with this altar, stood the Laver of Purification, a great
vessel containing water for priestly ablutions. The Laver was twofold in its construction, the upper part
being a large bowl, probably covered, which served as a source of supply for a lower basin in which the
priests bathed themselves before participating in the various ceremonials. It is supposed that this Laver
was encrusted with the metal mirrors of the women of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The dimensions of the Tabernacle proper were as follows: "Its length, when it was set up, was thirty
cubits, and its breadth was ten cubits. The one of its walls was on the south, and the other was exposed
to the north, and on the back part of it remained the west. It was necessary that its height should be equal
to its breadth (ten cubits)." (Josephus.)
It is the custom of bibliologists to divide the interior of the Tabernacle into two rooms: one room ten
cubits wide, ten cubits high, and twenty cubits long, which was called the Holy Place and contained
three special articles of furniture, namely, the Seven-Branched Candlestick, the Table of the Shewbread,
and the Altar of Burnt Incense; the other room ten cubits wide, ten cubits high, and ten cubits long,
which was called the Holy of Holies and contained but one article of furniture--the Ark of the Covenant.
The two rooms were separated from each other by an ornamental veil upon which were embroidered
many kinds of flowers, but no animal or human figures.
Josephus hints that there was a third compartment which was formed by subdividing the Holy Place, at
least hypothetically, into two chambers. The Jewish historian is not very explicit in his description of
this third room, and the majority of writers seem to have entirely overlooked and neglected this point,
although Josephus emphatically states that Moses himself divided the inner tent into three sections. The
veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was hung across four pillars, which probably
indicated in a subtle way the four elements, while at the entrance to the tent proper the Jews placed
seven pillars, referring to the seven senses and the seven vowels of the Sacred Name. That later only five
pillars are mentioned may be accounted for by the fact that at the present time man has only five
developed senses and five active vowels. The early Jewish writer of The Baraitha treats of the curtains
as follows:
"There were provided ten curtains of blue, of purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen. As is said,
'Moreover thou shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine-twined linen, and blue, and purple,
and scarlet.' * * * There were provided eleven curtains of goats' hair, and the length of every one of them
was thirty cubits, * * *. Rabbi Judah said, 'There were two covers-the lower one of rams' skins dyed red,
and the upper one of badgers' skins. '"
Calmet is of the opinion that the Hebrew word translated "badger" really means "dark purple" and
therefore did not refer to any particular animal, but probably to a heavily woven waterproof fabric of
dark and inconspicuous color. During the time of Israel's wanderings through the wilderness, it is
supposed that a pillar of fire hovered over the Tabernacle at night, while a column of smoke traveled
with it by day. This cloud was called by the Jews the Shechinah and was symbolic of the presence of the
Lord. In one of the early Jewish books rejected at the time of the compiling of the Talmud the following
description of the Shechinah appears:
"Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. And
that was one of the clouds of glory, which served the Israelites in the wilderness forty years. One on the
right hand, and one on the left, and one before them, and one behind them. And one over them, and a
cloud dwelling in their midst (and the cloud, the Shechinah which was in the tent), and the pillar of
cloud which moved before them, making low before them the high places, and making high before them
the low places, and killing serpents and scorpions, and burning thorns and briars, and guiding them in
the straight way." (From The Baraitha, the Book of the Tabernacle.)
There is no doubt that the Tabernacle, its furnishings and ceremonials, when considered esoterically, are
analogous to the structure, organs, and functions of the human body. At the entrance to the outer court of
the Tabernacle stood the Altar of Burnt Offerings, five cubits long and five cubits wide but only three
cubits high. Its upper surface was a brazen grill upon which the sacrifice was placed, while beneath was
a space for the fire. This altar signified
Click to enlarge
From Calmet's Dictionary of the Holy Bible.
The order of the stones and the tribe over which each administered were, according to Calmet, as in the above
diagram. These gems, according to the Rosicrucians, were symbolic of the twelve great qualities and virtues:
Illumination, Love, Wisdom, Truth, Justice, Peace, Equilibrium, Humility, Faith, Strength, Joy, Victory.
p. 135
that a candidate, when first entering the precincts of sanctuary, must offer upon the brazen altar not a
poor unoffending bull or ram but its correspondence within his own nature. The bull, being symbolic of
earthiness, represented his own gross constitution which must be burned up by the fire of his Divinity.
(The sacrificing of beasts, and in some cases human beings, upon the altars of the pagans was the result
of their ignorance concerning the fundamental principle underlying sacrifice. They did not realize that
their offerings must come from within their own natures in order to be acceptable.)
Farther westward, in line with the Brazen Altar, was the Laver of Purification already described. It
signified to the priest that he should cleanse not only his body but also his soul from all stains of
impurity, for none who is not clean in both body and mind can enter into the presence of Divinity and
live. Beyond the Laver of Purification was the entrance to the Tabernacle proper, facing the east, so that
the first rays of the rising sun might enter and light the chamber. Between the encrusted pillars could be
seen the Holy Place, a mysterious chamber, its walls hung with magnificent drapes embroidered with the
faces of Cherubs.
Against the wall on the southern side of the Holy Place stood the great Candlestick, or lampstand, of cast
gold, which was believed to weigh about a hundred pounds. From its central shaft branched out six
arms, each ending in a cup-shaped depression in which stood an oil lamp. There were seven lamps, three
on the arms at each side and one on the central stem. The Candlestick was ornamented with seventy-two
almonds, knops, and flowers. Josephus says seventy, but wherever this round number is used by the
Hebrews it really means seventy-two. Opposite the Candlestick, against the northern wall, was a table
bearing twelve loaves of Shewbread in two stacks of six loaves each. (Calmet is of the opinion that the
bread was not stacked up but spread out on the table in two rows, each containing six loaves.) On this
table also stood two lighted incensories, which were placed upon the tops of the stacks of Shewbread so
that the smoke of the incense might be an acceptable aroma to the Lord, bearing with it in its ascent the
soul of the Shewbread.
In the center of the room, almost against the partition leading into the Holy of Holies, stood the Altar of
Burnt Incense, made of wood overlaid with golden plates. Its width and length were each a cubit and its
height was two cubits. This altar was symbolic of the human larynx, from which the words of man's
mouth ascend as an acceptable offering unto the Lord, for the larynx occupies the position in the
constitution of man between the Holy Place, which is the trunk of his body, and the Holy of Holies,
which is the head with its contents.
Into the Holy of Holies none might pass save the High Priest, and he only at certain prescribed times,
The room contained no furnishings save the Ark of the Covenant, which stood against the western wall,
opposite the entrance. In Exodus the dimensions of the Ark are given as two and a half cubits for its
length, one cubit and a half its breadth and one cubit and a half its height. It was made of shittim-wood,
gold plated within and without, and contained the sacred tablets of the Law delivered to Moses upon
Sinai. The lid of the Ark was in the form of a golden plate upon which knelt two mysterious creatures
called Cherubim, facing each other, with wings arched overhead. It was upon this mercy seat between
the wings of the celestials that the Lord of Israel descended when He desired to communicate with His
High Priest.
The furnishings of the Tabernacle were made conveniently portable. Each altar and implement of any
size was supplied with staves which could be put: through rings; by this means it could be picked up and
carried by four or more bearers. The staves were never removed from the Ark of the Covenant until it
was finally placed in the Holy of Holies of the Everlasting House, King Solomon's Temple.
There is no doubt that the Jews in early times realized, at least in part, that their Tabernacle was a
symbolic edifice. Josephus realized this and while he has been severely criticized because he interpreted
the Tabernacle symbolism according to Egyptian and Grecian paganism, his description of the secret
meanings of its drapes and furnishings is well worthy of consideration. He says:
"When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests, as a
place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but
he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered
twelve loaves to be set on a table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. By
branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the Decani, or seventy divisions of
the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of
which that is the number. The veils too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four
elements; for the plain linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the
purple signified the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish; the blue is fit to
signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire.
"Now the vestment of the high-priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky,
being like lightning in its pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the
Ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four (elements); and as for the gold interwoven, * *
* it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be
placed in the middle of the Ephod, to resemble the earth, for that has the very middle place of the world.
And the girdle which encompassed the high-priest round signified the ocean, for that goes round about
and includes the universe. Each of the sardonyxes declares to us the sun and the moon, those, I mean,
that were in the nature of buttons on the high-priest's shoulders. And for the twelve stones, whether we
understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle
which the Greeks call the Zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. And for the mitre, which
was of a blue colour, it seems to me to mean heaven; for how otherwise could the name of God be
inscribed upon it? That it was also illustrated with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that
splendour with which God is pleased." It is also symbolically significant that the Tabernacle was built in
seven months and dedicated to God at the time of the new moon.
The metals used in the building of the Tabernacle were all emblematic. Gold represents spirituality, and
the golden plates laid over the shittim-wood were emblems of the spiritual nature which glorifies the
human nature symbolized by the wood. Mystics have taught that man's physical body is surrounded by a
series of invisible bodies of diverse colors and great splendor. In the majority of people the spiritual
nature is concealed and imprisoned in the material nature, but in a few this internal constitution has been
objectified and the spiritual nature is outside, so that it surrounds man's personality with a great radiance.
Silver, used as the capitals for the pillars, has its reference to the moon, which was sacred to the Jews
and the Egyptians alike. The priests held secret ritualistic ceremonies at the time of the new and the full
moon, both of which periods were sacred to Jehovah. Silver, so the ancients taught, was gold with its
sun-ray turned inward instead of objectified. While gold symbolized the spiritual soul, silver represented
the purified and regenerated human nature of man.
The brass used in the outer altars was a composite substance consisting of an alloy of precious and base
metals. Thus, it represented the constitution of the average individual, who is a combination of both the
higher and the lower elements.
The three divisions of the Tabernacle should have a special interest to Freemasons, for they represent the
three degrees of the Blue Lodge, while the three orders of priests who served the Tabernacle are
preserved to modern Masonry as the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craftsman, and the Master Mason.
The Hawaiian Islanders built a Tabernacle not unlike that of the Jews, except that their rooms were one
above another and not one behind another, as in the case of the Tabernacle of the Israelites. The three
rooms are also the three important chambers of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh.
As explained in the quotation from Josephus, the robes and adornments of the Jewish priests had a secret
significance, and even to this day there is a religious cipher language concealed in the colors, forms, and
uses of sacred garments, not only among the Christian and Jewish priests but also among pagan
religions. The vestments of the Tabernacle priests were called Cahanææ; those of the High Priest were
termed Cahanææ Rabbæ. Over the Machanese, an undergarment resembling short trousers, they wore
the Chethone, a finely woven linen robe, which reached to the ground and had long sleeves tied to the
arms of the wearer. A brightly embroidered sash, twisted several times around the waist (a little higher
than is customary), with one end pendent in front, and a closely fitting linen cap, designated
Masnaemphthes, completed the costume of the ordinary priest.
Click to enlarge
From Mosaize Historie der Hebreeuwse Kerke.
Th. robe of the High Priest of Israel were often called "The Garments of Glory", for they resembled the
regenerated and spiritualized nature of man, symbolized by a vestment which all must weave from the threads of
character and virtue before they can become High Priests after the Order of Melchizedek.
p. 136
The vestments of the High Priest were the same as those of the lesser degrees, except that certain
garments and adornments were added. Over the specially woven white linen robe the High Priest wore a
seamless and sleeveless habit, sky-blue in color and reaching nearly to his feet. This was called the
Meeir and was ornamented with a fringe of alternated golden bells and pomegranates. In Ecclesiasticus
(one of the books rejected from the modern Bible), these bells and their purpose are described in the
following words: "And he compassed him with pomegranates, and with many golden bells round about,
that as he went, there might be a sound and a noise that might be heard in the temple, for a memorial to
the children of his people." The Meeir was also bound in with a variegated girdle finely embroidered and
with gold wire inserted through the embroidery.
The Ephod, a short vestment described by Josephus as resembling a coat or jacket, was worn over the
upper part of the Meeir. The threads of which the Ephod was woven were of many colors, probably red,
blue, purple, and white, like the curtains and coverings of the Tabernacle. Fine gold wires were also
woven into the fabric. The Ephod was fastened at each shoulder with a large onyx in the form of a
button, and the names of the twelve sons of Jacob were engraven upon these two stones, six on each.
These onyx buttons were supposed to have oracular powers, and when the High Priest asked certain
questions, they emitted a celestial radiance. When the onyx on the right shoulder was illuminated, it
signified that Jehovah answered the question of the High Priest: in the affirmative, and when the one on
the left gleamed, it indicated a negative answer to the query.
In the middle of the front surface of the Ephod was a space to accommodate the Essen, or Breastplate of
Righteousness and Prophecy, which, as its name signifies, was also an oracle of great power. This
pectoral was roughly square in shape and consisted of a frame of embroidery into which were set twelve
stones, each held in a socket of gold. Because of the great weight of its stones, each of which was of
considerable size and immense value, the breastplate was held in position by special golden chains and
ribbons. The twelve stones of the breastplate, like the onyx stones at the shoulders of the Ephod, had the
mysterious power of lighting up with Divine glory and so serving as oracles. Concerning the strange
power of these flashing symbols of Israel's twelve tribes, Josephus writes:
"Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this: For God declared beforehand, by those twelve
stones which the High Priest bare upon his breast and which were inserted into his breastplate, when
they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began
to march, that all the people were sensible of God's being present for their assistance. Whence it came to
pass that those Greeks, who had a veneration for our laws, because they could not possibly contradict
this, called the breastplate, 'the Oracle'." The writer then adds that the stones ceased to light up and
gleam some two hundred years before he wrote his history, because the Jews had broken the laws of
Jehovah and the God of Israel was no longer pleased with His chosen people.
The Jews learned astronomy from the Egyptians, and it is not unlikely that the twelve jewels of the
breastplate were symbolic of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. These twelve celestial hierarchies
were looked upon as jewels adorning the breastplate of the Universal Man, the Macroprosophus, who is
referred to in the Zohar as The Ancient of Days. The number twelve frequently occurs among ancient
peoples, who in nearly every case had a pantheon consisting of twelve demigods and goddesses presided
over by The Invincible One, who was Himself subject to the Incomprehensible All-Father. This use of
the number twelve is especially noted in the Jewish and Christian writings. The twelve prophets, the
twelve patriarchs, the twelve tribes, and the twelve Apostles--each group has a certain occult
significance, for each refers to the Divine Duodecimo, or Twelvefold Deity, whose emanations are
manifested in the tangible created Universe through twelve individualized channels. The secret doctrine
also caught the priests that the jewels represented centers of life within their own constitutions, which
when unfolded according to the esoteric instructions of the Temple, were capable of absorbing into
themselves and radiating forth again the Divine light of the Deity. (The East Indian lotus blossoms have
a similar meaning.) The Rabbis have taught that each twisted linen thread used in weaving the
Tabernacle curtains and ornamentations consisted of twenty-four separate strands, reminding the
discerning that the experience, gained during the twenty-four hours of the day (symbolized in Masonry
by the twenty-four-inch rule) becomes the threads from which are woven the Garments of Glory.
In the reverse side of the Essen, or breastplate, was a pocket containing mysterious objects--the Urim
and Thummim. Aside from the fact that they were used in divination, little is now known about these
objects. Some writers contend that they were small stones (resembling the fetishes still revered by
certain aboriginal peoples) which the Israelites had brought with them out of Egypt because of their
belief that they possessed divine power. Others believe that the Urim and Thummim were in the form of
dice, used for deciding events by being cast upon the ground. A few have maintained that they were
merely sacred names, written on plates of gold and carried as talismans. "According to some, the Urim
and the Thummim signify 'lights and perfections,' or 'light and truth' which last present a striking analogy
to the. two figures of Re (Ra) and Themi in the breastplate worn by the Egyptians." (Gardner's The
Faiths of the World.)
Not the least remarkable of the vestments of the High Priest was his bonnet, or headdress. Over the plain
white cap of the ordinary priest this dignitary wore an outer cloth of blue and a crown of gold, the crown
consisting of three bands, one above the other like the triple miter of the Persian Magi. This crown
symbolized that the High Priest was ruler not only over the three worlds which the ancients had
differentiated (heaven, earth, and hell), but also over the threefold divisions of man and the universe--the
spiritual, intellectual, and material worlds. These divisions were also symbolized by the three apartments
of the Tabernacle itself.
At the peak of the headdress was a tiny cup of gold, made in the form of a flower. This signified that the
nature of the priest was receptive and that he had a vessel in his own soul which, cuplike, was capable of
catching the eternal waters of life pouring upon him from the heavens above. This flower over the crown
of his head is similar in its esoteric meaning to the rose growing out of a skull, so famous in Templar
symbology. The ancients believed that the spiritual nature escaping from the body passed upward
through the crown of the head; therefore, the flowerlike calyx, or cup, symbolized also the spiritual
consciousness. On the front of the golden crown were inscribed in Hebrew, Holiness unto the Lord.
Though robes and ornaments augmented the respect and veneration of the Israelites for their High Priest,
such trappings meant nothing to Jehovah. Therefore, before entering the Holy of Holies, the High Priest
removed his earthly finery and entered into the presence of the Lord God of Israel unclothed. There he
could be robed only in his own virtues, and his spirituality must adorn him as a garment.
There is a legend to the effect that any who chanced to enter the Holy of Holies unclean were destroyed
by a bolt of Divine fire from the Mercy Seat. If the High Priest had but one selfish thought, he would be
struck dead. As no man knows when an unworthy thought may flash through his mind, precautions had
to be taken in case the High Priest should be struck dead while in the presence of Jehovah. The other
priests could not enter the sanctuary therefore, when their leader was about to go in and receive the
commands of the Lord, they tied a chain around one of his feet so that if he were struck down while
behind the veil they could drag the body out.
Click to enlarge
From Mosaize Historie der Hebreeuwse Kerke.
Over the plain white cap of the ordinary priests the High Priest wore an overcloth of blue and a band of gold. On
the front of the golden band were inscribed the Hebrew words "Holiness unto the Lord." This illustration shows
the arrangement of the bonnet both with and without the golden crown.
Click to enlarge
From Calmet's Dictionary of the Holy Bible.
Josephus tells its that the Cherubim were flying creatures but different in appearance, from anything to be seen
on earth; therefore impossible to describe. Moses is supposed to have seen these beings kneeling at the footstool
of God when he was picked up and brought into the Presence of Jehovah. It is probable that they resembled, at
least in general appearance, the famous Cherubim of Ezekiel.
Next: The Fraternity of the Rose Cross
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 137
The Fraternity of the Rose Cross
WHO were the Rosicrucians? Were they an organization of profound thinkers rebelling against the
inquisitional religious and philosophical limitations of their time or were they isolated transcendentalists
united only by the similarity of their viewpoints and deductions? Where was the "House of the Holy
Spirit, " in which, according to their manifestoes, they met once a year to plan the future activities of
their Order? Who was the mysterious person referred to as "Our Illustrious Father and Brother C.R.C."?
Did those three letters actually stand for the words "Christian Rosie Cross"? Was Christian Rosencreutz,
the supposed author of the Chymical Nuptials, the same person who with three others founded "The
Society of the Rose Cross"?
What relationship existed between Rosicrucianism and mediæval Freemasonry? Why were the destinies
of these two organizations so closely interwoven? Is the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" the much-
sought-after link connecting the Freemasonry of the Middle Ages with the symbolism and mysticism of
antiquity, and are its secrets being perpetuated by modern Masonry? Did the original Rosicrucian Order
disintegrate in the latter part of the eighteenth century, or does the Society still exist as an organization,
maintaining the same secrecy for which it was originally famous? What was the true purpose for which
the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" was formed? Were the Rosicrucians a religious and philosophic
brotherhood, as they claimed to be, or were their avowed tenets a blind to conceal the true object of the
Fraternity, which possibly was the political control of Europe? These are some of the problems involved
in the study of Rosicrucianism.
There are four distinct theories regarding the Rosicrucian enigma. Each is the result of a careful
consideration of the evidence by scholars who have spent their lives ransacking the archives of Hermetic
lore. The conclusions reached demonstrate clearly the inadequacy of the records available concerning
the genesis and early activities of the "Brethren of the Rose Cross."
It is assumed that the Rosicrucian Order existed historically in accordance with the description of its
foundation and subsequent activities published in its manifesto, the Fama Fraternitatis, which is
believed to have been written in the year 1610, but apparently did not appear in print until 1614,
although an earlier edition is suspected by some authorities. Intelligent consideration of the origin of
Rosicrucianism requires a familiarity with the contents of the first and most important of its documents.
The Fama Fraternitatis begins with a reminder to all the world of God's goodness and mercy, and it
warns the intelligentsia that their egotism and covetousness cause them to follow after false prophets and
to ignore the true knowledge which God in His goodness has revealed to them. Hence, a reformation is
necessary, and God has raised up philosophers and sages for this purpose.
In order to assist in bringing about the reformation, a mysterious person called "The Highly Illuminated
Father C.R.C.," a German by birth, descended of a noble family, but himself a poor man, instituted the
"Secret Society of the Rose Cross." C.R.C. was placed in a cloister when only five years of age, but later
becoming dissatisfied with its educational system, he associated himself with a brother of Holy Orders
who was setting forth on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They started out together, but the brother died
at Cyprus and C.R.C! continued alone to Damascus. Poor health prevented him from reaching
Jerusalem, so he remained at Damascus, studying with the philosophers who dwelt there.
While pursuing his studies, he heard of a group of mystics and Qabbalists abiding in the mystic Arabian
city of Damcar. Giving up his desire to visit Jerusalem, he arranged with the Arabians for his
transportation to Damcar. C.R.C. was but sixteen years of age when he arrived at Damcar. He was
received as one who had been long expected, a comrade and a friend in philosophy, and was instructed
in the secrets of the Arabian adepts. While there, C.R.C. learned the Arabic tongue and translated the
sacred book M into Latin; and upon returning to Europe he brought this important volume with him.
After studying three years in Damcar, C.R.C. departed for the city of Fez, where the Arabian magicians
declared further information would be given him. At Fez he was instructed how to communicate with
the Elementary inhabitants [probably the Nature spirits], and these disclosed to him many other great
secrets of Nature. While the philosophers in Fez were not so great as those in Damcar, the previous
experiences of C.R.C. enabled him to distinguish the true from the false and thus add greatly to his store
of knowledge.
After two years in Fez, C.R.C. sailed for Spain, carrying with him many treasures, among them rare
plants and animals accumulated during his wanderings. He fondly hoped that the learned men of Europe
would receive with gratitude the rare intellectual and material treasures which he had brought for their
consideration. Instead he encountered only ridicule, for the so-called wise were afraid to admit their
previous ignorance lest their prestige be impaired. At this point in the narrative is an interpolation stating
that Paracelsus, while not a member of the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross," had read the book M and from
a consideration of its contents had secured information which made him the foremost physician of
mediæval Europe.
Tired, but not discouraged, as the result of the fruitlessness of his efforts, C.R.C. returned to Germany,
where he built a house in which he could quietly carry on his study and research. He also manufactured
a number of rare scientific instruments for research purposes. While he could have made himself famous
had he cared to commercialize his knowledge, he preferred the companionship of God to the esteem of
After five years of retirement he decided to renew his struggle for a reformation of the arts and sciences
of his day, this time with the aid of a few trusted friends. He sent to the cloister where his early training
had been received and called to himself three brethren, whom he bound by an oath to preserve inviolate
the secrets he should impart and to write down for the sake of posterity the information
Click to enlarge
From Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer.
It is said of this cross that it is made of spiritual gold and that each Brother wears it upon his breast. It bears the
alchemical symbols of salt, sulphur, and mercury; also a star of the planets; and around it are the four words
FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, and PATIENCE. The double-headed eagle, or Phœnix, subtly foreshadows the ultimate
androgynous state of the human creature. Rosicrucian alchemy was not concerned with metals alone. Man's own
body was the alchemical laboratory, and none could reach Rosicrucian adeptship until he had performed the
supreme experiment of transmutation by changing the base metals of ignorance into the pure gold of wisdom and
p. 138
he should dictate. These four founded the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross." They prepared its secret cipher
language and, according to the Fama, a great dictionary in which all forms of wisdom were classified to
the glorification of God. They also began the work of transcribing the book M, but found the task too
difficult because of the demands of the great numbers of sick who came to them for healing.
Having completed a newer and larger building, which they called the "House of the Holy Spirit," they
decided to include four new members in the Fraternity, thus increasing the number to eight, seven of
whom were German. All were unmarried. Working industriously together, they speedily completed the
arduous labor of preparing the documents, instructions, and arcana of the Order. They also put the house
called "Sancti Spiritus" in order.
They then decided to separate and visit the other countries of the earth, not only that their wisdom might
be given to others who deserved it but also that they might check and correct any mistakes existing in
their own system. Before separating, the Brethren prepared six rules, or by-laws, and each bound himself
to obey them. The first rule was that they should take to themselves no other dignity or credit than that
they were willing to heal the sick without charge. The second was that from that time on forever they
should wear no special robe or garment, but should dress according to the custom of the country wherein
they dwelt. The third stated that every year upon a certain day they should meet in the "House of the
Holy Spirit," or, if unable to do so, should be represented by an epistle. The fourth decreed that each
member should search for a worthy person to succeed him at his own demise. The fifth stated that the
letters "R.C." should be their seal, mark, and character from that time onward. The sixth specified that
the Fraternity should remain unknown to the world for a period of one hundred years.
After they had sworn to this code five of the Brothers departed to distant lands, and a year later two of
the others also went their way, leaving Father C.R. C. alone in the "House of the Holy Spirit." Year after
year they met with great joy, for they had quietly and sincerely promulgated their doctrines among the
wise of the earth.
When the first of the Order died in England, it was decided that the burial places of the members should
be secret. Soon afterward Father C.R.C. called the remaining six together, and it is supposed that then he
prepared his own symbolic tomb. The Fama records that none of the Brothers alive at the time of its
writing knew when Father C.R.C. died or where he was buried. His body was accidentally discovered
120 years after his death when one of the Brothers, who possessed considerable architectural skill,
decided to make some alterations in the "House of the Holy Spirit." [It is only suspected that the tomb
was in this building.]
While making his alterations, the Brother discovered a memorial tablet upon which were inscribed the
names of the early members of the Order. This he decided to transfer to a more imposing chapel, for at
that time no one knew in what country Father C.R.C. had died, this information having been concealed
by the original members. In attempting to remove the memorial tablet, which was held in place by a
large nail, some stones and plastering were broken from the wall, disclosing a door concealed in the
masonry. The members of the Order immediately cleared away the rest of the débris and uncovered the
entrance to a vault. Upon the door in large letters were the words: POST CXX ANNOS PATEBO. This,
according to the mystic interpretation of the Brethren, meant, "In 120 years I shall come forth."
The following morning the door was opened and the members entered a vault with seven sides and
seven corners, each side five feet broad and eight feet high. Although the sun never penetrated this tomb,
it was brilliantly illuminated by a mysterious light in the ceiling. In the center was a circular altar, upon
which were brass plates engraved with strange characters. In each of the seven sides was a small door
which, upon being opened, revealed a number of boxes filled with books, secret instructions, and the
supposedly lost arcanum of the Fraternity.
Upon moving the altar to one side a brass cover was disclosed. Lifting this revealed a body, presumedly
that of C.R.C., which, although it had lain there 120 years, was as well preserved as though it had just
been interred. It was ornamented and attired in the robes of the Order, and in one hand was clasped a
mysterious parchment which, next to the Bible, was the most valued possession of the Society. After
thoroughly investigating the contents of the secret chamber, the brass plate and altar were put back in
place, the door of the vault was again sealed, and the Brothers went their respective ways, their spirits
raised and their faith increased by the miraculous spectacle which they had beheld.
The document ends by saying in effect, "In accordance with the will of Father C.R.C., the Fama has
been prepared and sent forth to the wise and learned of all Europe in five languages, that all may know
and understand the secrets of the august Fraternity. All of sincere soul who labor for the glory of God
are invited to communicate with the Brethren and are promised that their appeal shall be heard,
regardless of where they are or how the messages are sent. At the same time, those of selfish and ulterior
motives are warned that only sorrow and misery will attend any who attempt to discover the Fraternity
without a clean heart and a pure mind."
Such, in brief, is the story of the Fama Fraternitatis. Those who accept it literally regard Father C.R.C.
as the actual founder of the Brotherhood, which he is believed to have organized about 1400. The fact
that historical corroboration of the important points of the Fama has never been discovered is held
against this theory. There is no proof that Father C.R.C. ever approached the learned men of Spain. The
mysterious city of Damcar cannot be found, and there is no record that anywhere in Germany there
existed a place where great numbers of the halt and sick came and were mysteriously healed. A. E.
Waite's The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry contains a picture of Father C.R.C. showing him with a
long beard upon his breast, sitting before a table upon which burns a candle. One hand is supporting his
head and the other is resting the tip of its index finger on the temple of a human skull. The picture,
however (see plate at head of chapter), proves nothing. Father C.R.C. was never seen by other than
members of his own Order, and they did not preserve a description of him. That his name was Christian
Rosencreutz is most improbable, as the two were not even associated until the writing of the Chymical
Those Masonic brethren who have investigated the subject accept the historical existence of the
"Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" but are divided concerning the origin of the Order. One group holds the
society originated in mediæval Europe as an outgrowth of alchemical speculation. Robert Macoy, 33°,
believes that Johann Valentin Andreæ, a German theologian, was the true founder, and he also believes
it possible that this divine merely reformed and amplified an existing society which had been founded by
Sir Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Some believe that Rosicrucianism represented the first European invasion
of Buddhist and Brahmin culture. Still others hold the opinion that the "Society of the Rose Cross" was
founded in Egypt during n the philosophic supremacy of that empire, and that it also perpetuated the
Mysteries of ancient Persia and Chaldea.
In his Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins writes: "The Rosicrucians of Germany are quite ignorant of their
origin; but, by tradition, they suppose themselves descendants of the ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans,
Magi, and Gymnosophists." (The last was a name given by the followers of Alexander the Great to a
caste of naked Wise Men whom they found meditating along the river banks in India.) The consensus
among these factions is that the story of Father C.R.C., like the Masonic legend of Hiram Abiff, is an
allegory and should not be considered literally. A similar problem has confronted students of the Bible,
who have found not only difficult, but in the majority of cases impossible, their efforts to substantiate
the historical interpretation of the Scriptures.
Admitting the existence of the Rosicrucians as a secret society with both philosophic and political ends,
it is remarkable that an organization with members in all parts of Europe could maintain absolute
secrecy throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, the "Brothers of the Rose Cross" were apparently able to
accomplish this. A great number of scholars and philosophers, among them Sir Francis Bacon and
Wolfgang von Goethe, have been suspected of affiliation with the Order, but their connection has not
been established to the satisfaction of prosaic historians. Pseudo-Rosicrucians abounded, but the true
members of the "Ancient and Secret Order of The Unknown Philosophers" have successfully lived up to
their name; to this day they remain unknown.
During the Middle Ages a number of tracts appeared, purporting to be from the pens of Rosicrucians.
Many of them, however, were spurious, being issued for their self-aggrandizement by unscrupulous
persons who used the revered and magic name Rosicrucian in the hope of gaining religious or political
power. This has greatly complicated
Click to enlarge
The original symbol of the Rosicrucian Fraternity was a hieroglyphic rose crucified upon a cross. The cross was
often raised upon a three-stepped Calvary. Occasionally the symbol of a cross rising from a rose was used in
connection with their activities. The Rosicrucian rose was drawn upon the Round Table of King Arthur, and is
the central motif for the links forming the chain from which the "Great George" is suspended among the jewels of
The Order of the Garter. Hargrave Jennings suspects this Order of having some connection with the Rosicrucians.
p. 139
the work of investigating the Society. One group of pseudo-Rosicrucians went so far as to supply its
members with a black cord by which they were to know each other, and warned them that if they broke
their vow of secrecy the cord would be used to strangle them. Few of the principles of Rosicrucianism
have been preserved in literature, for the original Fraternity published only fragmentary accounts of its
principles and activities.
In his Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians, Dr. Franz Hartmann describes the Fraternity as "A secret
society of men possessing superhuman--if not supernatural--powers; they were said to be able to
prophesy future events, to penetrate into the deepest mysteries of Nature, to transform Iron, Copper,
Lead, or Mercury into Gold, to prepare an Elixir of Life, or Universal Panacea, by the use of which they
could preserve their youth and manhood; and moreover it was believed that they could command the
Elemental Spirits of Nature, and knew the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, a substance which rendered
him who possessed it all-powerful, immortal, and supremely wise."
The same author further defines a Rosicrucian as "A person who by the process of spiritual awakening
has attained a practical knowledge of the secret significance of the Rose and the Cross. * * * To call a
person a Rosicrucian does not make him one, nor does the act of calling a person a Christian make him a
Christ. The real Rosicrucian or Mason cannot be made; he must grow to be one by the expansion and
unfoldment of the divine power within his own heart. The inattention to this truth is the cause that many
churches and secret societies are far from being that which their names express."
The symbolic principles of Rosicrucianism are so profound that even today they are little appreciated.
Their charts and diagrams are concerned with weighty cosmic principles which they treat with a
philosophic understanding decidedly refreshing when compared with the orthodox narrowness prevalent
in their day. According to the available records, the Rosicrucians were bound together by mutual
aspirations rather than by the laws of a fraternity. The "Brothers of the Rose Cross" are believed to have
lived unobtrusively, laboring industriously in trades and professions, disclosing their secret affiliation to
no one--in many cases not even to their own families. After the death of C.R.C., most of the Brethren
apparently had no central meeting place. Whatever initiatory ritual the Order possessed was so closely
guarded that it has never been revealed. Doubtless it was couched in chemical terminology.
Efforts to join the Order were apparently futile, for the Rosicrucians always chose their disciples.
Having agreed on one who they believed would do honor to their illustrious fraternity, they
communicated with him in one of many mysterious ways. He might receive a letter, either anonymous
or with a peculiar seal, usually bearing the letters "C.R.C. "or "R.C. "upon it. He would be instructed to
go to a certain place at an appointed time. What was disclosed to him he never revealed, although in
many cases his later writings showed that a new influence had come into his life, deepening his
understanding and broadening his intellect. A few have written allegorically concerning what they
beheld when in the august presence of the "Brethren of the Rose Cross."
Alchemists were sometimes visited in their laboratories by mysterious strangers, who delivered learned
discourses concerning the secret processes of the Hermetic arts and, after disclosing certain processes,
departed, leaving no trace. Others declared that the "Brothers of the Rose Cross" communicated with
them through dreams and visions, revealing the secrets of Hermetic wisdom to them while they were
asleep. Having been instructed, the candidate was bound to secrecy not only concerning the chemical
formulæ which had been disclosed to him but also concerning the method by which he had secured
them. While these nameless adepts were suspected of being ''Brothers of the Rose Cross," it could never
be proved who they were, and those visited could only conjecture.
Many suspect the Rosicrucian rose to be a conventionalization of the Egyptian and Hindu lotus blossom,
with the same symbolic meaning as this more ancient symbol. The Divine Comedy stamps Dante
Alighieri as being familiar with the theory of Rosicrucianism. Concerning this point, Albert Pike in his
Morals and Dogma makes this significant statement: "His Hell is but a negative Purgatory. His heaven
is composed of a series of Kabalistic circles, divided by a cross, like the Pantacle of Ezekiel. In the
center of this cross blooms a rose, and we see the symbol of the Adepts of the Rose-Croix for the first
time publicly expounded and almost categorically explained."
Doubt has always existed as to whether the name Rosicrucian came from the symbol of the rose and
cross, or whether this was merely a blind to deceive the uninformed and further conceal the true
meaning of the Order. Godfrey Higgins believes that the word Rosicrucian is not derived from the
flower but from the word Ros, which means dew. It is also interesting to note that the word Ras means
wisdom, while Rus is translated concealment. Doubtless all of these meanings have contributed to
Rosicrucian symbolism.
A. E. Waite holds with Godfrey Higgins that the process of forming the Philosopher's Stone with the aid
of dew is the secret concealed within the name Rosicrucian. It is possible that the dew referred to is a
mysterious substance within the human brain, closely resembling the description given by alchemists of
the dew which, falling from heaven, redeemed the earth. The cross is symbolic of the human body, and
the two symbols together--the rose on the cross--signify that the soul of man is crucified upon the body,
where it is held by three nails.
It is probable that Rosicrucian symbolism is a perpetuation of the secret tenets of the Egyptian Hermes,
and that the Society of Unknown Philosophers is the true link connecting modern Masonry, with its
mass of symbols, to ancient Egyptian Hermeticism, the source of that symbolism. In his Doctrine and
Literature of the Kabalah, A. E. Waite makes this important observation: "There are certain indications
which point to a possible connection between Masonry and Rosicrucianism, and this, if admitted, would
constitute the first link in its connection with the past. The evidence is, however, inconclusive, or at least
unextricated. Freemasonry per se, in spite of the affinity with mysticism which I have just mentioned,
has never exhibited any mystic character, nor has it a clear notion how it came by its symbols."
Many of those connected with the development of Freemasonry were suspected of being Rosicrucians;
some, as in the case of Robert Fludd, even wrote defenses of this organization. Frank C. Higgins, a
modern Masonic symbolist, writes: "Doctor Ashmole, a member of this fraternity [Rosicrucian], is
revered by Masons as one of the founders of the first Grand Lodge in London." (See Ancient
Freemasonry.) Elias Ashmole is but one of many intellectual links connecting Rosicrucianism with the
genesis of Freemasonry. The Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Elias Ashmole was initiated into the
Freemasonic Order in 1646, and further states that he was "the first gentleman, or amateur, to be
On this same subject, Papus, in his Tarot of the Bohemians, has written: "We must not forger that the
Rosicrucians were the Initiators of Leibnitz, and the founders of actual Freemasonry through Ashmole."
If the founders of Freemasonry were initiated into the Great Arcanum of Egypt--and the symbolism of
modern Masonry would indicate that such was the case--then it is reasonable to suppose that they
secured their information from a society whose existence they admitted and which was duly qualified to
teach them these symbols and allegories.
One theory concerning the two Orders is to the effect that Freemasonry was an outgrowth of
Rosicrucianism; in other words, that the "Unknown Philosophers" became known through an
organization which they created to serve them in the material world. The story goes on to relate that the
Rosicrucian adepts became dissatisfied with their progeny and silently withdrew from the Masonic
hierarchy, leaving behind their symbolism and allegories, but carrying away the keys by which the
locked symbols could be made to give tip their secret meanings. Speculators have gone so far as to state
that, in their opinion, modern Freemasonry has completely absorbed Rosicrucianism and succeeded it as
the world's greatest secret society. Other minds of equal learning declare that the Rosicrucian
Brotherhood still exists, preserving its individuality as the result of having withdrawn from the Masonic
According to a widely accepted tradition, the headquarters of the Rosicrucian Order is near Carlsbad, in
Austria (see Doctor Franz Hartmann). Another version has it that a mysterious school, resembling in
general principles the Rosicrucian Fraternity, which calls itself "The Bohemian Brothers," still maintains
its individuality in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) of Germany. One thing is certain: with the rise of
Freemasonry, the Rosicrucian Order in Europe practically disappeared, and notwithstanding existing
statements to the contrary, it is certain that the 18th degree (commonly known as the Rose-Croix)
perpetuates many of the symbols of the Rosicrucian Fire Alchemists.
In an anonymous unpublished manuscript of the eighteenth century bearing the earmarks of Rosicrucian
Qabbalism appears this
Click to enlarge
From Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer.
The rose is a yonic symbol associated with generation, fecundity, and purity. The fact that flowers blossom by
unfolding has caused them to be chosen as symbolic of spiritual unfoldment. The red color of the rose refers to
the blood of Christ, and the golden heart concealed within the midst of the flower corresponds to the spiritual
gold concealed within the human nature. The number of its petals being ten is also a subtle reminder of the
perfect Pythagorean number. The rose symbolizes the heart, and the heart has always been accepted by Christians
as emblematic of the virtues of love and compassion, as well as of the nature of Christ--the personification of
these virtues. The rose as a religious emblem is of great antiquity. It was accepted by the Greeks as the symbol of
the sunrise, or of the coming of dawn. In his Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, Apuleius, turned into a donkey
because of his foolishness, regained his human shape by eating a sacred rose given to him by the Egyptian priests.
The presence of a hieroglyphic rose upon the escutcheon of Martin Luther has been the basis of much speculation
as to whether any connection existed between his Reformation and the secret activities of the Rose Cross.
p. 140
statement: "Yet will I now give the over-wise world a paradox to be solved, namely, that some
illuminated men have undertaken to found Schools of Wisdom in Europe and these for some peculiar
reason have called themselves Fratres Rosa: Crucis. But soon afterwards came false schools into
existence and corrupted the good intentions of these wise men. Therefore, the Order no longer exists as
most people would understand existence, and as this Fraternity of the Seculo Fili call themselves
Brothers of the Rosie Cross, so also will they in the Seculo Spiritus Sancti call themselves Brothers of
the Lily Cross and the Knights of the White Lion. Then will the Schools of Wisdom begin again to
blossom, but why the first one chose their name and why the others shall also choose theirs, only those
can solve who have understanding grounded in Nature."
Political aspirations of the Rosicrucians were expressed through the activities of Sir Francis Bacon, the
Comte de St.-Germain, and the Comte di Cagliostro. The last named is suspected of having been an
emissary of the Knights Templars, a society deeply involved in transcendentalism, as Eliphas Levi has
noted. There is a popular supposition to the effect that the Rosicrucians were at least partial instigators
of the French Revolution. (Note particularly the introduction to Lord Bulwer-Lytton's Rosicrucian novel
The third theory takes the form of a sweeping denial of Rosicrucianism, asserting that the so-called
original Order never had any foundation in fact but was entirely a product of imagination. This
viewpoint is best expressed by a number of questions which are still being asked by investigators of this
elusive group of metaphysicians. Was the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" merely a mythical institution
created in the fertile mind of some literary cynic for the purpose of deriding the alchemical and Hermetic
sciences? Did the "House of the Holy Spirit" ever exist outside the imagination of some mediæval
mystic? Was the whole Rosicrucian story a satire to ridicule the gullibility of scholastic Europe? Was
the mysterious Father C.R.C. a product of the literary genius of Johann Valentin Andreæ, or another of
similar mind, who, attempting to score alchemical and Hermetic philosophy, unwittingly became a great
power in furthering the cause of its promulgation? That at least one of the early documents of the
Rosicrucians was from the pen of Andreæ there is little doubt, but for just what purpose he compiled it
still remains a matter of speculation. Did Andreæ himself receive from some unknown person, or
persons, instructions to be carried out? If he wrote the Chymical Nuptials of Christian Rosencreutz when
only fifteen years old, was he overshadowed in the preparation of that book?
To these vital questions no answers are forthcoming. A number of persons accepted the magnificent
imposture of Andreæ as absolute truth. It is maintained by many that, as a consequence, numerous
pseudo-societies sprang up, each asserting that it was the organization concerning which the Fama
Fraternitatis and the Confessio Fraternitatis were written. Beyond doubt there are many spurious orders
in existence today; but few of them can offer valid claims that their history dates back farther than the
beginning of the nineteenth century.
The mystery associated with the Rosicrucian Fraternity has resulted in endless controversy. Many able
minds, notable among them Eugenius Philalethes, Michael Maier, John Heydon, and Robert Fludd,
defended the concrete existence of "The Society of Unknown Philosophers." Others equally qualified
have asserted it to be of fraudulent origin and doubtful existence. Eugenius Philalethes, while dedicating
books to the Order, and himself writing an extended exposition of its principles, disclaims all personal
connection with it. Many others have done likewise.
Some are of the opinion that Sir Francis Bacon had a hand in the writing of the Fama and Confessio
Fraternitatis, on the basis that the rhetorical style of these works is similar to that of Bacon's New
Atlantis. They also contend that certain statements in the latter work point to an acquaintance with
Rosicrucian symbology. The elusiveness of the Rosicrucians has caused them to be favorite subject's for
literary works. Outstanding among the romances which have been woven around them is Zanoni. The
author, Lord Bulwer-Lytton, is regarded by some as a member of the Order, while others assert that he
applied for membership but was rejected. Pope's Rape of the Lock, &c. Comte de Gabalis by Abbé de
Villars, and essays by De Quincy, Hartmann, Jennings, Mackenzie, and others, are examples of
Rosicrucian literature. Although the existence of these mediæval Rosicrucians is difficult to prove,
sufficient evidence is at hand to make it extremely probable that there existed in Germany, and
afterwards in France, Italy, England, and other European countries, a secret society of illuminated
savants who made contributions of great import to the sum of human knowledge, while maintaining
absolute secrecy concerning their personalities and their organization.
The apparent incongruities of the Rosicrucian controversy have also been accounted for by a purely
transcendental explanation. There is evidence that early writers were acquainted with such a
supposition--which, however, was popularized only after it had been espoused by Theosophy. This
theory asserts that the Rosicrucians actually possessed all the supernatural powers with which they were
credited; that they were in reality citizens of two worlds: that, while they had physical bodies for
expression on the material plane, they were also capable, through the instructions they received from the
Brotherhood, of functioning in a mysterious ethereal body not subject to the limitations of time or
distance. By means of this "astral form" they were able to function in the invisible realm of Nature, and
in this realm, beyond reach of the profane, their temple was located.
According to this viewpoint, the true Rosicrucian Brotherhood consisted of a limited number of highly
developed adepts, or initiates, those of the higher degrees being no longer subject to the laws of
mortality; candidates were accepted into the Order only after long periods of probation; adepts possessed
the secret of the Philosopher's Stone and knew the process of transmuting the base metals into gold, but
taught that these were only allegorical terms concealing the true mystery of human regeneration through
the transmutation of the "base elements" of man's lower nature into the "gold" of intellectual and
spiritual realization. According to this theory, those who have sought to record the events of importance
in connection with the Rosicrucian controversy have invariably failed because they approached their
subject from a purely physical or materialistic angle.
These adepts were believed to have been able to teach man how to function away from his physical body
at will by assisting him to remove the "rose from the cross." They taught that the spiritual nature was
attached to the material form at certain points, symbolized by the "nails" of the crucifixion; but by three
alchemical initiations which took place in the spiritual world, in the true Temple of the Rose Cross, they
were able to "draw" these nails and permit the divine nature of man to come down from its cross. They
concealed the processes by which this was accomplished under three alchemical metaphoric
expressions: "The Casting of the Molten Sea," "The Making of the Rose Diamond," and "The Achieving
of the Philosopher's Stone."
While the intellectualist flounders among contradictory theories, the mystic treats the problem in an
entirely different manner. He believes that the true Rosicrucian Fraternity, consisting of a school of
supermen (not unlike the fabled Mahatmas of India), is an institution existing not in the visible world
bur in its spiritual counterpart, which he sees fit to call the "inner planes of Nature"; that the Brothers
can be reached only by those who are capable of transcending the limitations of the material world. To
substantiate their viewpoint, these mystics cite the following significant statement from the Confessio
Fraternitatis: "A thousand times the unworthy may clamour, a thousand times may present themselves,
yet God hath commanded our ears that they should hear none of them, and hath so compassed us about
with His clouds that unto us, His servants, no violence can be done; wherefore now no longer are we
beheld by human eyes, unless they have received strength borrowed from the eagle." In mysticism the
eagle is a symbol of initiation (the spinal Spirit Fire), and by this is explained the inability of the
unregenerated world to understand the Secret Order of the Rose Cross.
Those professing this theory regard the Comte de St.-Germain as their highest adept and assert that he
and Christian Rosencreutz were one and the same individual. They accept fire as their universal symbol
because it was the one element by means of which they could control the metals. They declared
themselves the descendants of Tubal-cain and Hiram Abiff, and that the purpose of their existence was
to preserve the spiritual nature of man through ages of materiality. "The Gnostic sects, the Arabs,
Alchemists, Templars, Rosicrucians, and lastly the Freemasons, form the Western chain in the
transmission of occult science." (See The Tarot of the Bohemians translated by A. E. Waite from the
French of Papus.)
Max Heindel, the Christian mystic, described the Rosicrucian Temple as an "etheric structure" located in
and around the home of a European country gentleman. He believed that this invisible building would
ultimately be moved to the American continent. Mr. Heindel referred to the Rosicrucian Initiates as so
advanced in the science of life that "death had forgotten them."
Click to enlarge
From Chymische Hochzeit.
The reference to four red roses and a white cross in the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz identified
Johann Valentin Andreæ as its author, for his family crest, shown above, consisted of four red roses and a white
Next: Rosicrucian Doctrines and Tenets
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 141
Rosicrucian Doctrines and Tenets
TRUSTWORTHY information is unavailable concerning the actual philosophical beliefs, political
aspirations, and humanitarian activities of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Today, as of old, the mysteries of
the Society are preserved inviolate by virtue of their essential nature; and attempts to interpret
Rosicrucian philosophy are but speculations, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Evidence points to the probable existence of two distinct Rosicrucian bodies: an inner organization
whose members never revealed their identity or teachings to the world, and an outer body under the
supervision of the inner group. In all probability, the symbolic tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, Knight of
the Golden Stone, was in reality this outer body, the spirit of which is in a more exalted sphere. For a
period of more than a century subsequent to 1614, the outer body circulated tracts and manifestoes under
either its own name or the names of various initiated members. The purpose of these writings was
apparently to confuse and mislead investigators, and thus effectively to conceal the actual designs of the
When Rosicrucianism became the philosophical "fad" of the seventeenth century, numerous documents
on the subject were also circulated for purely commercial purposes by impostors desirous of capitalizing
its popularity. The cunningly contrived artifices of the Fraternity itself and the blundering literary
impostures of charlatans formed a double veil behind which the inner organization carried on its
activities in a manner totally dissimilar to its purposes and principles as publicly disseminated. The
Fratres Rosa Crucis naively refer to the misunderstandings which they have for obvious reasons
permitted to exist concerning themselves as being "clouds" within which they labor and behind which
they are concealed.
An inkling of the substance of Rosicrucianism--its esoteric doctrines--can be gleaned from an analysis of
its shadow--its exoteric writings. In one of the most important of their "clouds," the Confessio
Fraternitatis, the Brethren of the Fraternity of R.C. seek to justify their existence and explain (?) the
purposes and activities of their Order. In its original form the Confessio is divided into fourteen chapters,
which are here epitomized.
Chapter I. Do not through hasty judgment or prejudice misinterpret the statements concerning our
Fraternity published in our previous manifesto--the Fama Fraternitatis. Jehovah, beholding the
decadence of civilization, seeks to redeem humanity by revealing to the willing and by thrusting upon
the reluctant those secrets which previously He had reserved for His elect. By this wisdom the godly
shall be saved, but the sorrows of the ungodly shall be multiplied. While the true purpose of our Order
was set forth in the Fama Fraternitatis, misunderstandings have arisen through which we have been
falsely accused of heresy and treason. In this document we hope so to clarify our position that the
learned of Europe will be moved to join with us in the dissemination of divine knowledge according to
the will of our illustrious founder.
Chapter II. While it is alleged by many that the philosophic cide (sic. JBH) of our day is sound, we
declare it to be false and soon to die of its own inherent weakness. just as Nature, however, provides a
remedy for each new disease that manifests itself, so our Fraternity has provided a remedy for the
infirmities of the world's philosophic system. The secret philosophy of the R.C. is founded upon that
knowledge which is the sum and head of all faculties, sciences, and arts. By our divinely revealed
system--which partakes much of theology and medicine but little of jurisprudence--we analyze the
heavens and the earth; but mostly we study man himself, within whose nature is concealed the supreme
secret. If the learned of out day will accept our invitation and join themselves to our Fraternity, we will
reveal to them undreamed-of secrets and wonders concerning the hidden workings of Nature.
Chapter III. Do not believe that the secrets discussed in this brief document are lightly esteemed by us.
We cannot describe fully the marvels of our Fraternity lest the uninformed be overwhelmed by our
astonishing declarations and the vulgar ridicule the mysteries which they do not comprehend. We also
fear that many will be confused by the unexpected generosity of our proclamation, for not understanding
the wonders of this sixth age they do nor realize the great changes which are to come. Like blind men
living in a world full of light, they discern only through the sense of feeling. [By sight is implied
spiritual cognition: by feeling, the material senses.]
Chapter IV. We firmly believe that through deep meditation on the inventions of the human mind and
the mysteries of life, through the cooperation of the angels and spirits, and through experience and long
observation, our loving Christian Father C.R.C. was so fully illumined with God's wisdom that were all
the books and writings of the world lost and the foundations of science overturned, the Fraternity of R.C.
could reestablish the structure of world thought upon the foundation of divine truth and integrity.
Because of the great depth and perfection of our knowledge, those desiring to understand the mysteries
of the Fraternity of R. C. cannot attain to that wisdom immediately, but must grow in understanding and
knowledge. Therefore, our Fraternity is divided into grades through which each must ascend step by step
to the Great Arcanum. Now that it has pleased God to lighten unto us His sixth candelabrum, is it not
better to seek truth in this way than to wander through the labyrinths of worldly ignorance?
Furthermore, those who receive this knowledge shall become masters of all arts and crafts; no secret
shall be hidden from them; and all good works of the past, present, and future shall be accessible to
them. The whole world shall become as one book and the contradictions of science and theology shall be
reconciled. Rejoice, O humanity! for the time has come when God has decreed that the number of our
Fraternity shall be increased, a labor that we have joyously undertaken. The doors of wisdom are now
open to the world, but only to those who have earned the privilege may the Brothers present themselves,
for it is forbidden to reveal our knowledge even to our own children. The right to receive spiritual truth
cannot be inherited: it must be evolved within the soul of man himself.
Chapter V. Though we may be accused of indiscretion in offering our treasures so freely and
promiscuously--without discriminating between the godly, the wise, the prince, the peasant--we affirm
that we have not betrayed our trust; for although we have published our Fama in five languages, only
those understand it who have that right. Our Society is not to be discovered by curiosity
Click to enlarge
From a rare print.
In certain esoteric circles there are vague rumors which intimate that the humble personality of Johann Valentin
Andreæ masked an exalted emissary of the Rose Cross. While there is sufficient evidence at hand to establish the
actual existence of a German theologian by the name of Andreæ, there are many discrepancies in his biography
which have net been cleared up to the satisfaction of critical investigators. A comparison of the face shown above
with that of Sir Francis Bacon discloses striking resemblances in spite of the differences due to age. If Lord
Bacon borrowed the name and identity of William Shakspere, he could also assume, after his mock funeral in
England, the personality of Johann Valentin Andreæ. The crescent below the bust is significant, as it also appears
upon the crest of Lord Bacon; to denote that he was the second son of Sir Nicholas Bacon. Further, the four
letters (O MDC) in the frame at the lower right corner of the plate, by a very simple Baconian cipher, can be
changed into number whose sum gives 33--the numerical equivalent of the name Bacon. These several points of
interest, when considered together, go far towards clearing up the mystery surrounding the authorship of the first
Rosicrucian manifestoes.
p. 142
seekers, but only by serious and consecrated thinkers; nevertheless we have circulated our Fama in five
mother tongues so that the righteous of all nations may have an opportunity to know of us, even though
they be not scholars. A thousand times the unworthy may present themselves and clamor at the gates,
but God has forbidden us of the Fraternity of R.C. to hear their voices, and He has surrounded us with
His clouds and His protection so that no harm may come to us, and God has decreed that we of the
Order of R.C. can no longer be seen by mortal eyes unless they have received strength borrowed from
the eagle. We further affirm that we shall reform the governments of Europe and pattern them according
to the system applied by the philosophers of Damcar. All men desirous of securing knowledge shall
receive as much as they are capable of understanding. The rule of false theology shall be overthrown and
God shall make His will known through His chosen philosophers.
Chapter VII. Because of the need of brevity, it is enough to say that our Father C.R.C. was born in the
year 1378 and departed at the age of 106, leaving to us the labor of spreading die doctrine of philosophic
religion to the entire world. Our Fraternity is open to all who sincerely seek for truth; but we publicly
warn the false and impious that they cannot betray or injure us, for God has protected our Fraternity, and
all who seek to do it harm shall have their evil designs return and destroy them, while the treasures of
our Fraternity shall remain untouched, to be used by the Lion in the establishment of his kingdom.
Chapter VII. We declare that God, before the end of the world, shall create a great flood of spiritual light
to alleviate the sufferings of humankind. Falsehood and darkness which have crept into the arts,
sciences, religions, and governments of humanity--making it difficult for even the wise to discover the
path of reality--shall be forever removed and a single standard established, so that all may enjoy the
fruitage of truth. We shall not be recognized as those responsible for this change, for people shall say
that it is the result of the progressiveness of the age. Great are the reforms about to take place; but we of
the Fraternity of R.C. do not arrogate to ourselves the glory for this divine reformation, since many there
are, not members of our Fraternity but honest, true and wise men, who by their intelligence and their
writings shall hasten its coming. We testify that sooner the stones shall rise up and offer their services
than that there shall be any lack of righteous persons to execute the will of God upon earth.
Chapter VIII. That no one may doubt, we declare that God has sent messengers and signs in the heavens,
namely, the i new stars in Serpentarius and Cygnus, to show that a great Council of the Elect is to take
place. This proves that God reveals in visible nature--for the discerning few--signs and symbols of all
things that are coming to pass. God has given man two eyes, two nostrils, and two ears, but only one
tongue. Whereas the eyes, the nostrils, and the ears admit the wisdom of Nature into the mind, the
tongue alone may give it forth. In various ages there have been illumined ones who have seen, smelt,
tasted, or heard the will of God, but it will shortly come to pass that those who have seen, smelt, tasted,
or heard shall speak, and truth shall be revealed. Before this revelation of righteousness is possible,
however, the world must sleep away the intoxication of her poisoned chalice (filled with the false life of
the theological vine) and, opening her heart to virtue and understanding, welcome the rising sun of Truth.
Chapter IX. We have a magic writing, copied from that divine alphabet with which God writes His will
upon the face of celestial and terrestrial Nature. With this new language we read God's will for all His
creatures, and just as astronomers predict eclipses so we prognosticate the obscurations of the church
and how long they shall last. Our language is like unto that of Adam and Enoch before the Fall, and
though we understand and can explain our mysteries in this our sacred language, we cannot do so in
Latin, a tongue contaminated by the confusion of Babylon.
Chapter X. Although there are still certain powerful persons who oppose and hinder us--because of
which we must remain concealed--we exhort those who would become of our Fraternity to study
unceasingly the Sacred Scriptures, for such as do this cannot be far from us. We do not mean that the
Bible should be continually in the mouth of man, but that he should search for its true and eternal
meaning, which is seldom discovered by theologians, scientists, or mathematicians because they are
blinded by the opinions of their sects. We bear witness that never since the beginning of the world has
there been given to man a more excellent book than the Holy Bible. Blessed is he who possesses it, more
blessed he who reads it, most blessed he who understands it, and most godlike he who obeys it.
Chapter XI. We wish the statements we made in the Fama Fraternitatis concerning the transmutation of
metals and the universal medicine to be lightly understood. While we realize that both these works are
attainable by man, we fear that many really great minds may be led away from the true quest of
knowledge and understanding if they permit themselves to limit their investigation to the transmutation
of metals. When to a man is given power to heal disease, to overcome poverty, and to reach a position of
worldly dignity, that man is beset by numerous temptations and unless he possess true knowledge and
full understanding he will become a terrible menace to mankind. The alchemist who attains to the art of
transmuting base metals can do all manner of evil unless his understanding be as great as his self-created
wealth. We therefore affirm that man must first gain knowledge, virtue, and understanding; then all
other things may be added unto him. We accuse the Christian Church of the great sin of possessing
power and using it unwisely; therefore we prophesy that it shall fall by the weight of its own iniquities
and its crown shall be brought to naught.
Chapter XII. In concluding our Confessio, we earnestly admonish you to cast aside the worthless books
of pseudo-alchemists and philosophers (of whom there are many in our age), who make light of the Holy
Trinity and deceive the credulous with meaningless enigmas. One of the greatest of these is a stage
player, a man with
Click to enlarge
From Fludd's Collectio Operum.
This plate, engraved by de Bry, is the most famous of the diagrams illustrating the philosophic principles of
Robert Fludd (Robertus de Fluctibus). Three figures are outstanding links between Rosicrucianism and
Freemasonry: Michael Maier, Elias Ashmole, and Robert Fludd. De Quincey considers Robert Fludd to be the
immediate father of Freemasonry. (See The Rosicrucians and Freemasons.) Edward Waite considers Robert
Fludd as second to none of the disciples of Paracelsus, even going as far as to declare that Fludd far surpassed his
master. He further adds, "The central figure of Rosicrucian literature, towering as an intellectual giant above the
crowd of souffleurs, theosophists, and charlatanic Professors of the magnum opus, who, directly or otherwise,
were connected with the mysterious Brotherhood, is Robertus de Fluctibus, the great English mystical
philosopher of the seventeenth century, a man of immense erudition, of exalted mind, and, to judge by his
writings, of extreme personal sanctity. " (See The Real History of the Rosicrucians.) Robert Fludd was born in
1574 and died in 1637.
The de Bry diagram shown above is almost self-explanatory. Outside the circle of the starry heavens are the three
fiery rings of the empyreum--the triple fire of the Supreme Creator--in which dwell the celestial creatures. Within
he, of the stars are the circles of the planets and elements. After the element of air comes the circle of the world
(earth). The circle of animals is followed by the circle of plants, which, in turn is followed by the circle of he
minerals. Then come various industries and in the center is a terrestrial globe with an ape-man sitting upon it,
measuring a sphere with a pair of compasses. This little figure represents the animal creation. In the outer ring of
fire, above is the sacred name of Jehovah surrounded by clouds. From these clouds issues a hand holding a chain.
Between the divine sphere and the lower world personified by the ape is the figure of a woman. It is to be
specially noted that the female figure is merely holding the chain connecting her with the lower world, but the
chain connecting her with the higher world ends in a shackle about her wrist. This female figure is capable of
several interpretations: she may represent humanity suspended between divinity and the beast; she may represent
Nature as the link between God and the lower world; or she may represent the human soul--the common
denominator between the superior and the inferior.
p. 143
sufficient ingenuity for imposition. Such men are mingled by the Enemy of human welfare among those
who seek to do good, thus making Truth more difficult of discovery. Believe us, Truth is simple and
unconcealed, while falsehood is complex, deeply hidden, proud, and its fictitious worldly knowledge,
seemingly a glitter with godly luster, is often mistaken for divine wisdom. You that are wise will turn
from these false teachings and come to us, who seek not your money but freely offer you our greater
treasure. We desire not your goods, but that you should become partakers of our goods. We do not
deride parables, but invite you to understand all parables and all secrets. We do not ask you to receive
us, but invite you to come unto our kingly houses and palaces, not because of ourselves but because we
are so ordered by the Spirit of God, the desire of our most excellent Father C.R.C., and the need of the
present moment, which is very great.
Chapter XIII. Now that we have made our position clear that we sincerely confess Christ; disavow the
Papacy; devote our lives to true philosophy and worthy living; and daily invite and admit into our
Fraternity the worthy of all nations, who thereafter share with us the Light of God: will you not join
yourselves with us to the perfection of yourselves, the development of all the arts, and the service of the
world? If you will take this step, the treasures of every part of the earth shall be at one time given unto
you, and the darkness which envelopes human knowledge and which results in the vanities of material
arts and sciences shall be forever dispelled.
Chapter XIV. Again we warn those who are dazzled by the glitter of gold or those who, now upright,
might be turned by great riches to a life of idleness and pomp, not to disturb our sacred silence with their
clamorings; for though there be a medicine which will cure all diseases and give unto all men wisdom,
yet it is against the will of God that men should attain to understanding by any means other than virtue,
labor, and integrity. We are not permitted to manifest ourselves to any man except it be by the will of
God. Those who believe that they can partake of our spiritual wealth against the will of God or without
His sanction will find that they shall sooner lose their lives in seeking us than attain happiness by finding
Johann Valentin Andreæ is generally reputed to be the author of the Confessio. It is a much-mooted
question, however, whether Andreæ did not permit his name to be used as a pseudonym by Sir Francis
Bacon. Apropos of this subject are two extremely significant references occurring in the introduction to
that remarkable potpourri, The Anatomy of Melancholy. This volume first appeared in 1621 from the pen
of Democritus junior, who was afterwards identified as Robert Burton, who, in turn, was a suspected
intimate of Sir Francis Bacon. One reference archly suggests that at the time of publishing The Anatomy
of Melancholy in 1621 the founder of the Fraternity of R.C. was still alive. This statement--concealed
from general recognition by its textual involvement--has escaped the notice of most students of
Rosicrucianism. In the same work there also appears a short footnote of stupendous import. It contains
merely the words: "Job. Valent. Andreas, Lord Verulam." This single line definitely relates Johann
Valentin Andreæ to Sir Francis Bacon, who was Lord Verulam, and by its punctuation intimates that
they are one and the same individual.
Prominent among Rosicrucian apologists was John Heydon, who inscribes himself "A Servant of God,
and a Secretary of Nature." In his curious work, The Rosie Cross Uncovered, he gives an enigmatic but
valuable description of the Fraternity of R.C. in the following language:
"Now there are a kind of men, as they themselves report, named Rosie Crucians, a divine fraternity that
inhabit the suburbs of heaven, and these are the officers of the Generalissimo of the world, that are as
the eyes and ears of the great King, seeing and hearing all things: they say these Rosie Crucians are
seraphically illuminated, as Moses was, according to this order of the elements, earth refin'd to water,
water to air, air to fire." He further declares that these mysterious Brethren possessed polymorphous
powers, appearing in any desired form at will. In the preface of the same work, he enumerates the
strange powers of the Rosicrucian adepts:
"I shall here tell you what Rosie Crucians are, and that Moses was their Father, and he was Θεο• πα•ς;
some say they were of the order of Elias, some say the Disciples of Ezekiel; * * * For it should seem
Rosie Crucians were not only initiated into the Mosaical Theory, but have arrived also to the power of
working miracles, as Moses, Elias, Ezekiel, and the succeeding Prophets did, as being transported where
they please, as Habakkuk was from Jewry to Babylon, or as Philip, after he had baptized the Eunuch to
Azorus, and one of these went from me to a friend of mine in Devonshire, and came and brought me an
answer to London the some day, which is four days journey; they caught me excellent predictions of
Astrology and Earthquakes; they slack the Plague in Cities; they silence the violent Winds and
Tempests; they calm the rage of the Sea and Rivers; they walk in the Air, they frustrate the malicious
aspects of Witches; they cure all Diseases."
The writings of John Heydon are considered a most important contribution to Rosicrucian literature.
John Heydon was probably related to Sir Christopher Heydon, "a Seraphically Illuminated Rosie
Crucian, " whom the late F. Leigh Gardner, Hon. Secretary Sec. Ros. in Anglia, believes to have been
the source of his Rosicrucian knowledge. In his Bibliotheca Rosicruciana he makes the following
statement concerning John Heydon: "On the whole, from the internal evidence of his writings, he
appears to have gone through the lower grade of the R. C. Order and to have given out much of this to
the world." John Heydon traveled extensively, visiting Arabia, Egypt, Persia, and various parts of
Europe, as related in a biographical introduction to his work, The Wise-Mans Crown, Set with Angels,
Planets, Metals, etc., or The Glory of the Rosie Cross--a work declared by him to be a translation into
English of the mysterious book M brought from Arabia by Christian Rosencreutz.
Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes), another champion of the Order, corroborates the statement of
John Heydon concerning the ability of the Rosicrucian initiates to make themselves invisible at will:
"The Fraternity of R.C. can move in this white mist. 'Whosoever would communicate with us must be
able to see in this light, or us he will never see unless by our own will.'"
The Fraternity of R.C. is an august and sovereign body, arbitrarily manipulating the symbols of alchemy,
Qabbalism, astrology, and magic to the attainment of its own peculiar purposes, but entirely independent
of the cults whose terminology it employs. The three major objects of the Fraternity are:
1. The abolition of all monarchical forms of government and the substitution therefor of the rulership of
the philosophic elect. The present democracies are the direct outgrowth of Rosicrucian efforts to liberate
the maws from the domination of despotism. In the early part of the eighteenth century the Rosicrucians
turned their attention to the new American Colonies, then forming the nucleus of a great nation in the
New World. The American War of Independence represents their first great political experiment and
resulted in the establishment of a national government founded upon the fundamental principles of
divine and natural law. As an imperishable reminder of their
Click to enlarge
From the Turbæ Philosophorum.
The Turbæ Philosophorum is one of the earliest known documents on alchemy in the Latin tongue. Its exact
origin is unknown. It is sometimes referred to as The Third Pythagorical Synod. As its name implies, it is an
assembly of the sages and sets forth the alchemical viewpoints of many of the early Greek philosophers. The
symbol reproduced above is from a rare edition of the Turbæ Philosophorum published in Germany in 1750, and
represents by a hermaphroditic figure the accomplishment of the magnum opus. The active and passive principles
of Nature were often depicted by male and female figures, and when these two principle, were harmoniously
conjoined in any one nature or body it was customary to symbolize this state of perfect equilibrium by the
composite figure above shown.
Click to enlarge
From Maier's Viatorium.
Count Michael Maier, physician to Rudolph II., was an outstanding figure in the Rosicrucian controversy. There
is little doubt that he was an initiated member of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, empowered by the Order to
promulgate its secrets among the philosophic elect of Europe. The above title page shows the seven planets
represented by appropriate figures. Behind the central figure in each case is a smaller emblem, signifying the
zodiacal sign in which the planet is enthroned. In the arch over the title itself is a portrait of the learned Maier.
The volume of which this is the title page is devoted to an analysis of the nature and effect of the seven planets,
and is couched in alchemical terminology throughout. Michael Maier concealed his knowledge so cunningly that
it is exceedingly difficult to tract from his writings the secrets which he possessed. He was profuse in his use of
emblems and the greater part of his philosophical lore is concealed in the engravings which illustrate his books.
p. 144
sub rosa activities, the Rosicrucians left the Great Seal of the United States. The Rosicrucians were also
the instigators of the French Revolution, but in this instance were not wholly successful, owing to the
fact that the fanaticism of the revolutionists could not be controlled and the Reign of Terror ensued.
2. The reformation of science, philosophy, and ethics. The Rosicrucians declared that the material arts
and sciences were but shadows of the divine wisdom, and that only by penetrating the innermost
recesses of Nature could man attain to reality and understanding. Though calling themselves Christians,
the Rosicrucians were evidently Platonists and also profoundly versed in the deepest mysteries of early
Hebrew and Hindu theology. There is undeniable evidence that the Rosicrucians desired to reestablish
the institutions of the ancient Mysteries as the foremost method of instructing humanity in the secret and
eternal doctrine. Indeed, being in all probability the perpetuators of the ancient Mysteries, the
Rosicrucians were able to maintain themselves against the obliterating forces of dogmatic Christianity
only by absolute secrecy and the subtlety of their subterfuges. They so carefully guarded and preserved
the Supreme Mystery--the identity and interrelationship of the Three Selves--that no one to whom they
did not of their own accord reveal themselves has ever secured any satisfactory information regarding
either the existence or the purpose of the Order. The Fraternity of R.C., through its outer organization, is
gradually creating an environment or body in which the Illustrious Brother C.R.C. may ultimately
incarnate and consummate for humanity the vast spiritual and material labors of the Fraternity.
3. The discovery of the Universal Medicine, or panacea, for all forms of disease. There is ample
evidence that the Rosicrucians were successful in their quest for the Elixir of Life. In his Theatrum
Chemicum Britannicum, Elias Ashmole states that the Rosicrucians were not appreciated in England, but
were welcomed on the Continent. He also states that Queen Elizabeth was twice cured of the smallpox
by the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, and that the Earl of Norfolk was healed of leprosy by a Rosicrucian
physician. In the quotations that follow it is .hinted by John Heydon that the Brothers of the Fraternity
possessed the secret of prolonging human existence indefinitely, but not beyond the time appointed by
the will of God:
"And at last they could restore by the same course every Brother that died to life again, and so continue
many ages; the rules you find in the fourth book. * * * After this manner began the Fraternity of the
Rosie Cross, first by four persons, who died and rose again until Christ, and then they came to worship
as the Star guided them to Bethlehem of Judea, where lay our Saviour in his mother's arms; and then
they opened their treasure and presented unto him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and by the
commandment of God went home to their habitation. These four waxing young again successively many
hundreds of years, made a magical language and writing, with a large dictionary, which we yet daily use
to God's praise and glory, and do find great wisdom therein. * * * Now whilst Brother C.R. was in a
proper womb quickening, they concluded to draw and receive yet others more into their Fraternity."
The womb herein referred to was apparently the glass casket, or container, in which the Brothers were
buried. This was also called the philosophical egg. After a certain period of time the philosopher,
breaking the shell of his egg, came forth and functioned for a prescribed period, after which he retired
again into his shell of glass, The Rosicrucian medicine for the healing of all human infirmities may be
interpreted either as a chemical substance which produces the physical effects described or as spiritual
understanding--the true healing power which, whet a man has partaken of it, reveals truth to him.
Ignorance is the worst form of disease, and that: which heals ignorance is therefore the most potent of all
medicines. The perfect Rosicrucian medicine was for the healing of nations, races, and individuals.
In an early unpublished manuscript, an unknown philosopher declares alchemy, Qabbalism, astrology,
and magic to have been divine sciences originally, but that through perversion they had become false
doctrines, leading seekers after wisdom ever farther from their goal. The same author gives a valuable
key to esoteric Rosicrucianism by dividing the path of spiritual attainment into three steps, or schools,
which he calls mountains. The first and lowest of these mountains is Mount Sophia; the second, Mount
Qabbalah; and the third, Mount Magia. These three mountains are sequential stages of spiritual growth.
The unknown author then states:
"By philosophy is to be understood the knowledge of the workings of Nature, by which knowledge man
learns to climb to those higher mountains above the limitations of sense. By Qabbalism is to be
understood the language of the angelic or celestial beings, and he who masters it is able to converse with
the messengers of God. On the highest of the mountains is the School of Magia (Divine Magic, which is
the language of God) wherein man is taught the true nature of all things by God Himself."
There is a growing conviction that if the true nature of Rosicrucianism were divulged, it would cause
consternation, to say the least. Rosicrucian symbols have many meanings, but the Rosicrucian meaning
has not yet been revealed. The mount upon which stands the House of the Rosy Cross is still concealed
by clouds, in which the Brethren hide both themselves and their secrets. Michael Maier writes: "What is
contained in the Fama and Confessio is true. It is a very childish objection that the brotherhood have
promised so much and performed so little. With them, as elsewhere, many are called but few are chosen.
The masters of the order hold out the rose as the remote prize, but they impose the cross on those who
are entering." (See Silentium post Clamores, by Maier, and The Rosicrucians and the Freemasons, by
De Quincey.)
The rose and the cross appear upon the stained glass windows of Lichfield Chapter House, where Walter
Conrad Arensberg believes Lord Bacon and his mother to have been buried. A crucified rose within a
heart is watermarked into the dedication page of the 1628 edition of Robert Burton's Anatomy of
The fundamental symbols of the Rosicrucians were the rose and the cross; the rose female and the cross
male, both universal phallic emblems. While such learned gentlemen as Thomas Inman, Hargrave
Jennings, and Richard Payne Knight have truly observed that the rose and the cross typify the generative
processes, these scholars seem unable to pierce the veil of symbolism; they do not realize that the
creative mystery in the material world is merely a shadow of the divine creative mystery in the spiritual
world. Because of the phallic significance of their symbols, both the Rosicrucians and the Templars have
been falsely accused of practicing obscene rites in their secret ceremonials. While it is quite true that the
alchemical retort symbolizes the womb, it also has a far more significant meaning concealed under the
allegory of the second birth. As generation is the key to material existence, it is natural that the
Fraternity of R.C. should adopt as its characteristic symbols those exemplifying the reproductive
processes. As regeneration is the key to spiritual existence, they therefore founded their symbolism upon
the rose and the cross, which typify the redemption of man through the union of his lower temporal
nature with his higher eternal nature. The rosy cross is also a hieroglyphic figure representing the
formula of the Universal Medicine.
Click to enlarge
From Musæum Hermeticum Reformatum et Amplificatum.
The outer circle contains the figures of the Zodiac; the second, their signs and that part of the human body which
they rule; the third, the months of the year, with brief notes concerning temperaments, etc. The fourth circle
contains the elements accompanied by their appropriate symbols, and the following seven circles mark the orbits
of the planets; also the planetary angels, the seven major members of the Universal Man, and the seven metals,
each division appearing under its appropriate element according to the elemental names in the fourth circle. In the
twelfth circle appear the words: "There are Three Principles, Three Worlds, Three Ages, and Three Kingdoms."
In the thirteenth circle appear the names of the twelve arts and sciences which are considered essential to spiritual
growth. In the fourteenth circle is the word Nature. The fifteenth circle contains the following words. "It is the
great honour of faithful souls, that from their very birth an angel is appointed to preserve and keep each of
them." (See first English translation, London, 1893.)
Next: Fifteen Rosicrucian and Qabbalistic Diagrams
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 145
Fifteen Rosicrucian and Qabbalistic Diagrams
IN his well-known work, The Rosicrucians, Their Rites and Mysteries, Hargrave Jennings reproduces
five Qabbalistic charts which he declares to be genuine Rosicrucian drawings. He gives no information
concerning their origin nor does he attempt an elucidation of their symbolism. A recent writer who
reproduced one of these charts correlated it to the emblematic tomb of Father C.R.C., thus exposing the
true nature of Christian Rosencreutz.
The five plates reproduced in Hargrave Jennings' book are part of a series of fifteen diagrams which
appear in The Magical, Qabbalistical, and Theosophical Writings of Georgius von Welling, on the
Subject of Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury. This extremely rare volume was published at Frankfort and
Leipzig in 1735 and 1760. The numbers and figures on the charts refer to the chapters and sections of
the Writings. These fifteen charts constitute a remarkable and invaluable addition to the few other
known admittedly authentic Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian diagrams.
Lucifer is the greatest mystery of symbolism. The secret knowledge of the Rosicrucians concerning
Lucifer is nowhere so plainly set forth as in these plates, which virtually reveal his true identity, a
carefully guarded secret about which little has been written. Lucifer is represented by the number 741.
Von Welling does not give a complete exposition of the fifteen charts; to have done so would have been
contrary to the principles of Qabbalistic philosophy. The deeper significance of the symbols is revealed
only by profound study and contemplation.
TABLE I, Figures 1-11. Figure 1 is a Ptolemaic chart showing the true relationship existing between the
primordial elements. Its secret significance is as follows: The outer ring enclosed by the lines A and B is
the region of Schamayim, a Qabbalistic name for the Supreme Deity, signifying the expanse of the
heavens, or a spiritual fiery water. Schamayim is "The Ocean of Spirit, " within which all created and
uncreated things exist and by the life of which they are animated. In the lower worlds Schamayim
becomes the astral light.
The space between B and C marks the orbits or planes of the seven Spiritual Intelligences called the
Divine Planets (not the visible planets). According to the Mysteries, the souls of men enter the lower
worlds through ring B, the fixed stars. All creation reflects the glory of Schamayim, the energy that
filters into the spheres of the elements through the windows of the stars and planets. Between C and D
lies the region of the subtle, spiritual air, a subdivision of ether. D to E marks the surface of the earth and
sea, by which are also meant grades of ether. E to F marks the lower region, called "The Gathering of
the Waters and the Production of the Virgin Earth, " or "Ares. " The alchemists called this "quicksand,"
the true mystic foundation of the solid earth. F to G marks the circle of the subterranean air, which is
more dense and coarse than that in the outer space, C to D. In this denser atmosphere the stellar
influences and celestial impulses are crystallized into corporeal spirits, thus forming the multitude of
forms which exist without knowledge of their own fiery source. G is the region of the central fire of the
element earth, a coarse fire in contradistinction to the divine fiery Schamayim. The sphere of the starry
heavens likewise has its opposite in the sphere of the subterranean air; and the sphere of the upper air (or
subtle vaporous water) has its opposite in the sphere E to F. The focal point, D to E, between the three
higher and the three lower spheres, is called "The Reservoir." It receives impressions from both the
superior and the inferior regions and is common to both.
Figure 2 is the Qabbalistic symbol of elemental water; Figure 9 represents the spiritual invisible water.
Figure 3 is the Qabbalistic symbol of elemental air; Figure 7 represents the spiritual and invisible air.
Figure 4 is the Qabbalistic sign of the elemental earth; Figure 8 represents the spiritual and invisible
earth. Figure 5 is the Qabbalistic sign of the elemental fire; Figure 6 represents the spiritual and invisible
fire. Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9 symbolize the four elements before the descent of Lucifer. They are the four
rivers spoken of in Genesis, having their source in the one river, Figure W, which represents the
elements superimposed on one another. The golden ball in the center is Schamayim, the fiery source of
all elements. Figure 11 is the emblem of the beginning and the end of all creatures. From it all things
proceed and to it all must return again, to become one with the fiery water of divine understanding.
TABLE II, Figures 12-51. Figures 12, 13, 14 demonstrate the sphere as a symbol of motion to be
emblematic of fire, water, and air; and the cube as a symbol of weight to be emblematic of earth. The
sphere rests upon a point, the cube upon a surface; the sphere is therefore used to symbolize spirit, and
the cube, matter. Figure 14 demonstrates that atmosphere rushing in behind a falling object increases its
velocity and apparently adds to its weight. The essential nature of each element is occultly signified by
the peculiar symbol and character assigned to it.
Of Figure 15, the symbol of salt, von Welling writes, in substance: The cube has six sides,
corresponding to the six days of creation, with the point of rest (the seventh day) in the center of the
cube. On each surface of the cube appear the signs of the four elements [triangles]. The alchemists
declared that salt was the first created substance produced by the fire (Schamayim) which flowed out of
God. In salt all creation is concentrated; in salt are the beginning and end of all things. The cube,
furthermore, is composed of twelve bodies, each of which has six sides. These bodies are the twelve
fundamental pillars of the true invisible church, and when these twelve bodies are multiplied by their six
sides the magical number 72 results. The wise have said that nothing is perfect until it has been
dissolved, separated, and again united so that it becomes a body composed of twelve bodies, like the
cube. The cube also consists of six pyramids with the six surfaces of the cube as their bases. The points
of these six pyramids meet at the center of the cube. These six pyramids, each consisting of four
triangles, signify the elements, and produce the magical number 24, which refers to the Elders before the
Throne. The six surfaces and the point constitute the magical number 7. If 7 be multiplied by 7 again,
and so on 7 times, the answer will reveal the method used by the ancients for measuring the periods of
eternity; thus: (1) 7 X 7 = 49; (2) 49 X 7 = 343; (3) 343 X 7 = 2,401; (4) 2,401 X 7 = 16,807; (5):16,807
X 7 = 117,649; (6) 117,649 X 7 = 823,543; (7) 823,543 X 7 = 5,764,801. (This is not to be taken as earth
years or times.) The 5,000, 000 represents the great hall year; the 700,000 the great Sabbath year,
wherein all human beings gradually gain true understanding and become heirs to their original and
eternal inheritance, which was lost when they were enmeshed in the lower elements. The 64,800 is the
number of the fallen angels, and the last one year signifies the liberation of Lucifer and return to his
original estate.
Figure 16 is another symbol of salt, while Figure 17 (the dot) is the sign of spirit, gold, the sun, or the
germ of life. If the dot be moved before itself it becomes a line, Figure 18. This motion of the dot is the
first motion. The beginning and end of every line is a dot. Figure 19 is the circle. It is the second motion
and the most perfect of all lines. Out of it are formed all figures and bodies
Click to enlarge
TABLE I, Figures 1-11.
Click to enlarge
TABLE II, Figures 12-51.
p. 146
imaginable. Figure 20 represents the outpouring of the upper and spiritual life into manifestation. Figure
21 represents darkness, for it is the loosening of the subterrene destructive principle. Figure 20 is also
the symbol of day, and Figure 21 of night.
Figure 22 is a symbol of water; Figure 23 is the complete universal character of light and darkness. The
upright triangle represents Schamayim; the inverted triangle the dark earth which imprisons the infernal
subterranean fire. It is "The First Day of Creation," or the time of the separation of Schamayim and
Ares. Figure 24 represents the six days of creation and proves that the elements are an outflow of the
Divine Fire which, breaking up, becomes the substances of the tangible universe, as signified in Figure
Figure 26 is the character of the air, showing that air is born out of the Eternal Light and the ethereal
water. Figure 27 is the character of water. It is the inversion of Figure 26, indicating that its origin is
from the lower fire and not the higher. Its upper part signifies that water does not lack the Divine
element, but as a universal mirror reflects the heavenly influences. Figures 28 and 29 are symbols of
salt, showing that it is both fire and water in one. Figure 30 is the character of fire in all its attributes,
and Figure M (the same inverted), water in all its powers. Figure 32 is the character of salt in all its
attributes. Figure 33 represents both gold and the sun. Their essential natures are identical, being formed
from the first fire out of Schamayim. They are perfect, as can be seen from their symbol, for no more
perfect form can be produced out of the dot than the circle.
Figure 34 is the character of the greater and lesser worlds; as the dot is surrounded by its circumference,
this world is surrounded by Schamayim. Man (the Little World) is included in this symbol because his
inner nature is potential gold (Aphar Min Haadamah), which gold is his eternal indestructible spiritual
body. Gold is the masculine principle of the universe.
Figure 35 is the character of silver and the moon. It signifies that silver (like gold) is a perfect metal,
except that the red part of its nature is turned inward. Silver is the feminine principle of the universe.
Figure 36 is the character of copper and Venus; Figure 37, of iron and Mars; Figure 38, of tin and
Jupiter; Figure 39, of lead and Saturn; Figure 40, of Mercury (both the planet and the element); Figure
41, of antimony, the key metal of the earth itself; Figure 42, of arsenic; Figure 43, of sulphur; Figure 44,
of cinnabar; Figure 45, of quicklime; Figure 46, of nitre; and Figure 47, of vitriol. Figure 48 is the
character of sal ammoniac, which element derives its name from the Temple of Jupiter Ammon in an
Egyptian desert, where it was found. Figure 49 is the character of alum; Figure 50, of alkali, a name of
Arabian origin; and Figure 51, of sal tartar, a substance possessing great occult virtue.
TABLE Ill, Figure 52. The eight globes and the central square represent the seven days of creation. The
three worlds wherein creation occurs are symbolized by three concentric rings. The German words in the
outer ring are extracts from the first chapter of Genesis. The words around the outside of the outer ring
are The First Day. The four small globes inside the outer ring deal with the abstract phases of creation.
The upper globe containing the triangle encloses the words Heaven and Earth. The globe to the right
contains the word Light, and the one to the left, Jehovah Elohim in the upper part and Darkness in the
lower part. The globe at the bottom contains the word Day in the upper half and Night in the lower.
The four globes within the second ring depict the second, third, fourth, and fifth days of creation. The
white globe above divided by a dotted line is designated The Second Day; the globe to the left with the
mountains, The Third Day; the globe to the right with the planetary rings, The Fourth Day; and the globe
below bisected by a dotted line, The Fifth Day. The square in the central ring containing the human form
is marked The Sixth Day. This chart is a diagrammatic exposition of the three layers of the macrocosmic
and microcosmic auric eggs, showing the forces active within them.
TABLE IV, Figure. 53. Figure 53 has been designated the symbolic tomb of Christian Rosencreutz. The
upper circle is the first world--the Divine Sphere of God. The triangle in the center is the throne of God.
The small circles at the points of the star symbolize the seven great Spirits before the throne, mentioned
in the Book of Revelation, in the midst of which walks the Alpha and Omega--the Son of God. The
central triangle contains three flames--the Divine Trinity. From the lowest of these flames proceeds the
first divine outflow, shown by two parallel lines descending through the throne of Saturn (the Spirit
Orifelis, through whom God manifested Himself). Passing through the boundary of the celestial universe
and the 22 spheres of the lower system, the lines end at point B, the throne of Lucifer, in whom the
divine outpouring is concentrated and reflected. From him the divine light irradiates in succession to d
(Capricorn), e (Gemini), f (Libra), g (Taurus), h (Pisces), i (Aquarius), k (Cancer), l (Virgo), m (Aries), n
(Leo), o (Scorpio), p (Sagittarius), thence back to d. The zodiacal circles represent twelve orders of great
and beneficent Spirits, and the smaller circles within the ring of fixed stars mark the orbits of the sacred
TABLE V, Figure 54. Figure 54 is similar to Figure 53, but represents the universe at the time God
manifested Himself through the character of Jupiter, the Spirit Sachasiel. Von Welling gives no reason
for the change in the order of influx into the twelve orders of spirits, for the third world, for the adding
of another circle and the interlaced triangles in the upper world, or for the letters Y and Z. In the upper
Click to enlarge
Table III, Figure 52
Click to enlarge
Table IV, Figure 53
Click to enlarge
Table V, Figure 54
Click to enlarge
Table VII, Figures 1-5, 7 and 8
p. 147
A represents the Father Principle, F the divine outflow, G the point of influx into the
[paragraph continues]
twelve orders of spirits (probably Sagittarius). The letters H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, S, and T denote
the sequential points of irradiations to each other; W and X, the World of the Sons of God; and B, C, D,
and E, the World of Lucifer. This plate shows the universe after the descent of Lucifer into matter.
According to von Welling, when Lucifer wanted to control power, the influx of the divine light instantly
ceased. Lucifer's world (which later became the solar system), with all its legions of spirits (who in their
essence were Schamayim) reflecting his ideas and inverting the divine light, was turned into darkness.
Lucifer's Schamayim thereupon became a contracted disc, a tangible substance; and Chaos came into
TABLE VI, Figures 55-59. Figure 55 symbolizes the Chaos of Lucifer; Figure 56, the separation of light
from darkness; Figure 57, the light in the midst of the darkness; and Figure 58, the regions of the
elements and their inhabitants. The four A's signify the Abyss surrounding all things. The A B is the fiery
throne of Lucifer. The plane of g is the subterranean air; f, the subterranean water; c, the earth region; d,
the outer water; e, the outer air, W and X the region of Schamayim. The elemental inhabitants of the
planes differ in goodness according to their proximity to the center of wickedness (A B). The earth's
surface (c) divides the subterranean elementals from those of the outer water, air, and fire (d, c, and X).
The elementals of the upper strata (the upper half of c, and all of d, e, and X) represent an ascending
scale of virtue, while those of the lower strata (the lower half of c, and all of f, g, and A B) represent a
descending scale of depravity.
The region of air (e) is a partial exception to this order. While air is close to the light and filled with
beautiful spirits, it is also the habitation of Beelzebub, the Evil Spirit of the air, with his legion of
elemental demons. Upon the subtle element of air are impressed the influences of the stars; the thoughts,
words, and deeds of man; and a myriad of mysterious influences from the various planes of Nature. Man
inhales these impressions, and they produce diverse effects upon his mind. In air are suspended also the
seed germs by which water is impregnated and made capable of bringing forth forms of organic and
inorganic life. The grotesque figures seen in crystal caves and frost pictures upon windows are caused by
these aerial impressions. While the air elementals are great and wise, they are treacherous and confused
because amenable to both good and evil impressions. The mighty elemental beings who inhabit the
watery light fire of the region X cannot be deceived by the spirits of darkness. They love the creatures of
the waters, for the watery element (d) proceeded from the fiery water (X). Mortal man cannot endure the
society of these fiery spirits, but gains wisdom from them through the creatures of the waters in which
they continually mirror themselves. Figure 59 represents this solar system, with W and X as the locality
of the Garden of Eden.
TABLE VII, Figures 1-5, 7, 8. (Table VIII has Figure 6.) Figure 1 is the triune divine sulphur, the All-
Perfect out of the All-Perfect, the Soul of creatures. The threefold Divine One is symbolized by three
interlaced circles designated alchemically salt, sulphur, and mercury. In the central triangle is the divine
name Ehieh. Geist means spirit. The other words require no translation. Figure 2 is common destructive
sulphur. A bar placed in the triangle makes it the character of earth. Figure 3 is true oil of vitriol,
composed of a circle with two diameters and two reversed half-circles hanging below. In this are hidden
the characters of all metals. Tin is symbolized by Figure 4 and iron by Figure 5. Figure 7 is the solar
system according to Copernicus. Figure 8 is the last judgment. The sun is removed from the center of the
solar system and replaced by the earth. This changes the respective positions of all the other planets
except Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, which retain their respective circles. The letter a signifies the circle of
the sun; b, that of Mercury; c, that of Venus; d, (sic) that of the moon; and E, that of the earth. Inward
from the sphere h are the great circles of damnation.
TABLE VII., Figure 6. In Figure 6 the letter a marks the center of eternity. The motion of the rays
toward b, d, and c was the first divine manifestation and is symbolized by the equilateral triangle, b, d, c.
The eternal world within the inner circle became manifest in the water (salt), the light (mercury), and the
fire (sulphur) of the archetypal world, represented by the three circles (f, e, g) within the triangle of
complete equality (h, i, k), which is in turn surrounded by the circle of the high throne. The circle f is
named understanding; e, wisdom; g, reason. In circle i is the word Father; in circle h, Son; in circle k,
Spirit. The seven outer circles are the seven spirits before the throne. The lower part of the figure is
similar to Figures 53 and 54. The outer circles are the angelic world ending in the cognizable world of
the Sons of God. Then comes the circle of the visible constellations and fixed stars; within this is the
solar system with the sun as the center (l). Ungrund means the Abyss.
TABLE IX, Figure 9. Figure 9 is a synthesis of the Old and New Testaments and represents the
interblending planes of being. In the right margin the seven outer circles contain the names of the
planetary angels. The words in the graduated circles from the top triangle downward read: (1) Abyss of
Compassion; (2) Zion; (3) The New Heaven and the New Earth; (4) The New Jerusalem; (5) Paradise;
(6) The Bosom of Abraham; (7) The Outer Courts of the Lord. From below the circles of darkness reach
upward, each divine principle being opposed by an infernal opposite. The small circle on the left
containing a triangle and cross is named The Tree of Life, and that on the right The Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the center of the diagram is the Trinity, joined with the superior and
inferior planes by lines of activity.
TABLE X, Figures 10-15. Figure 10 shows the New Jerusalem in form of a cube, with the names of the
twelve tribes of Israel written on the twelve lines of the cube. In the center is the eye of God. The words
round the outer circle are from the Book of Revelation. Figures 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 possibly are
cipher symbols of the angels of the plagues, the name of the Antichrist, the signature of the beast of
Babylon, and the name of the woman riding on the beast of blasphemy.
Click to enlarge
Table VIII, Figure 6.
Click to enlarge
Table X, Figures 10-15.
Click to enlarge
Table IX, Figure 9.
Click to enlarge
Table XI, Figures 1-11
p. 148
TABLE XI, Figures 1.-11. Figure 1 is the solar system according to Genesis. The o on top of the radius
of the circle is the dot of Eternity--the Beginning of Beginnings. The whole diameter is the outflow of
God, manifesting first in the heaven of heavens--the Schamayim, in which region human understanding
cannot function. The space from k to i contains the heavens of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars; l to m, the
heavens of Venus and Mercury; m to h, the heavens of the sun. The letter e is the moon, the circle of the
Figure 2 is the globe of the earth, showing the houses and signs of the zodiac. Figure 3 is the character of
the Universal Mercury (Divine Life) in its triune aspect of mercury, sulphur, and salt. Figure 4 is true
saltpetre purified with quicklime and alkali. Figure 5 shows the exact degree or angle of the planets'
places as well as the individual fixed stars in the zodiac. The letter a is the sun and b is the earth. From k
to i are the circles of Mercury and Venus; g to h, the circles of earth and moon; f to e and e to c, of
Jupiter and Saturn; c to d, the starry belt or zodiac. Figure 6 is the Microcosm, with the planets and signs
of the zodiac corresponding to the different parts of its form. The words upon the figure read: Know
thyself. In words, herbs, and stones lies a great power. Figure 7 is the universal character from which all
characters have been taken. Figures 8, 9, and 10 are left to the solution of the reader. Figure 11 is the
radiating Universal Mercury.
TABLE XII, Figures 12-19. Figure 12 is called A Mirror of Astrological Aspects. Below it is an
astrologer's wheel. Figure 13 is similar to Figure 12. Figure 14 is a secret alchemical formula. The words
around the circle read: Out of one in all is all. Figure 15 is an unsatisfactory attempt to show the
comparative sizes of the suns and planets and their distances from each other. Figure 16 is the solar
system with its internal and spiritual heavens. A B is the solar system; C is the sphere of fixed stars; D,
E, F, G are the systems of the spiritual worlds; H is the throne of the living God; J, K, L, M, and N are
the Great Beyond, unmeasurable.
Figure 17 shows the creation of the solar system out of the ring of the Divine Eternity. The four A's are
the Abyss, B is the first revelation of God out of the Abyss, and from this revelation C, D, E, F, and G
were created. C and D represent the spiritual hierarchies; D and E, the upper worlds, or constellations; E
and F, the distance from Jupiter to the upper worlds; F and G, the solar system with its planets and their
heavens; B and C the throne of Christ.
Figure 18 describes the division according to Genesis of the waters above the heavens (D) from the
waters below (A, B, and C). Figure 19 is the mercury of the philosophers, essential to material existence.
TABLE XIII, Figures 1-4. Figure 1 is Ain Soph, the Incomprehensible Abyss of Divine Majesty, an
endless welling up, limitless in time and space. Figure 2 symbolizes the three Divine Principles--Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost. Around the triangle is written: I Shall Be That I Shall Be. At the apex of the
triangle is the word Crown; in the left point, Wisdom; in the right point, Understanding. Figure 3
represents the Trinity with its outflow. The words above the upper sphere are Revelation of the Divine
Majesty in Jehovah Elohim. The lower circles contain the names of the Hierarchies controlling the lower
worlds. The words within the circle of stars read: Lucifer the Son of the Aurora of the morning. The
letter C represents the Universal Mercury. The words within the circle read: The first beginning of all
creatures. Figure 4 represents the abode of Lucifer and his angels, the Chaos spoken of in Genesis.
TABLE XIV, Figures 5, 7, 8. Figure 5 shows the triangle of triune Divinity in the midst of a cross. At the
left is a small triangle containing the words The Secrets of Elohim, and at the right is another inscribed
The Secrets of Nature. On the horizontal arms of the cross are the words The Tree of Life and The Tree
of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The plate explains the interblending of the spiritual and infernal
powers in the creation of the universe. Figure 7 is called The Road to Paradise. It probably indicates the
positions of the sun, moon, and planets at the moment of their genesis. Figure 8 is the earth before the
flood, when it was watered by a mist or vapor. The words at the left are The Tree of Life; those at the
right, The Tree of the Knowledge of good and Evil. The diagram with the symbol of Mars is devoted to
a consideration of the rainbow.
TABLE XV, Figures 6, 9, 10. Figure 6 is similar to Figure 5 and is called The Secret of Nature. An
interesting diagram is shown on either side of the central figure, each consisting of a triangle with circles
radiating from its points. The diagram on the left is called The Secrets of the Upper World, and the one
on right The Secrets of the Underworld.
Figure 9 is the solar system. Around the central part are the words The Place of the Damned. Figure 10
shows the dot, or point of rest, surrounded by a triangle enclosing a circle containing the names of the
twelve tribes of Israel. It represents completion of the process of regeneration and the consummation of
the Great Work.
Click to enlarge
Table XII, Figures 12-19
Click to enlarge
Table XIII, Figures 1-4
Click to enlarge
Table XIV, Figures 5, 7, and 8
Click to enlarge
Table XV, Figures 6, 9, and 10
Next: Alchemy and Its Exponents
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 149
Alchemy and Its Exponents
IS the transmutation of base metals into gold possible? Is the idea one at which the learned of the
modern world can afford to scoff? Alchemy was more than a speculative art: it was also an operative art.
Since the time of the immortal Hermes, alchemists have asserted (and not without substantiating
evidence) that they could manufacture gold from tin, silver, lead, and mercury. That the galaxy of
brilliant philosophic and scientific minds who, over a period of two thousand years, affirmed the
actuality of metallic transmutation and multiplication, could be completely sane and rational on all other
problems of philosophy and science, yet hopelessly mistaken on this one point, is untenable. Nor is it
reasonable that the hundreds declaring to have seen and performed transmutations of metals could all
have been dupes, imbeciles, or liars.
Those assuming that all alchemists were of unsound mentality would be forced to put in this category
nearly all the philosophers and scientists of the ancient and mediæval worlds. Emperors, princes, priests,
and common townsfolk have witnessed the apparent miracle of metallic metamorphosis. In the face of
existing testimony, anyone is privileged to remain unconvinced, but the scoffer elects to ignore evidence
worthy of respectful consideration. Many great alchemists and Hermetic philosophers occupy an
honored niche in the Hall of Fame, while their multitudinous critics remain obscure. To list all these
sincere seekers after Nature's great arcanum is impossible, but a few will suffice to acquaint the reader
with the superior types of intellect who interested themselves in this abstruse subject.
Among the more prominent names are those of Thomas Norton, Isaac of Holland, Basil Valentine (the
supposed discoverer of antimony), Jean de Meung, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Quercetanus Gerber
(the Arabian who brought the knowledge of alchemy to Europe through his writings), Paracelsus,
Nicholas Flarnmel, John Frederick Helvetius, Raymond Lully, Alexander Sethon, Michael Sendivogius,
Count Bernard of Treviso, Sir George Ripley, Picus de Mirandola, John Dee, Henry Khunrath, Michael
Maier, Thomas Vaughan, J. B. von Helmont, John Heydon, Lascaris, Thomas Charnock, Synesius
(Bishop of Ptolemais), Morieu, the Comte di Cagliostro, and the Comte de St.-Germain. There are
legends to the effect that King Solomon and Pythagoras were alchemists and that the former
manufactured by alchemical means the gold used in his temple.
Albert Pike takes sides with the alchemical philosophers by declaring that the gold of the Hermetists was
a reality. He says: "The Hermetic science, like all the real sciences, is mathematically demonstrable. Its
results, even material, are as rigorous as that of a correct equation. The Hermetic Gold is not only a true
dogma, a light without Shadow, a Truth without alloy of falsehood; it is also a material gold, real, pure,
the most precious that can be found in the mines of the earth." So much for the Masonic angle.
William and Mary jointly ascended the throne of England in 1689, at which time alchemists must have
abounded in the kingdom, for during the first year of their reign they repealed an Act made by King
Henry IV in which that sovereign declared the multiplying of metals to be a crime against the crown. In
Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom's Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts is a handwritten copy of the Act passed
by William and Mary, copied from Chapter 30 of Statutes at Large for the first year of their reign. The
Act reads as follows: "An Act to repeal the Statute made in the 5th year of King Henry IV, late king of
England, [wherein] it was enacted, among other things, in these words, or to this effect, namely: 'that
none from henceforth should use to multiply Gold or Silver or use the craft of multiplication, and if any
the same do they shall incur the pain of felony.' And whereas, since the making of the said statute, divers
persons have by their study, industry and learning, arrived to great skill & perfection in the art of
melting and refining of metals, and otherwise improving and multiplying them and their ores, which
very much abound in this realm, and extracting gold and silver our of the same, but dare not to exercise
their said skill within this realm, for fear of falling under the penalty of the said statute, but exercise the
said art in foreign parts, to the great loss and detriment of this realm: Be it therefore enacted by the
King's and Queen's most excellent Majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual
and temporal and Commons in this present parliament assembled, that from henceforth the aforesaid
branch, article, or sentence, contained in the said act, and every word, matter and thing contained in the
said branch or sentence, shall be repealed, annulled, revoked, and for ever made void, any thing in the
said act to the contrary in any wise whatsoever notwithstanding. Provided always, and be it enacted by
the authority aforesaid, that all the gold and silver that shall be extracted by the aforesaid art of melting
or refining of metals, and otherwise improving and multiplying of them and their ores, as before set
forth, be from henceforth employed for no other use or uses whatsoever but for the increase of monies;
and that the place hereby appointed for the disposal thereof shall be their Majesties mint, within the
Tower of London, at which place they are to receive the full and true value of their gold and silver, so
procured, from time to time, according to the assay and fineness thereof, and so for any greater or less
weight, and that none of that metal of gold and silver so refined and procured be permitted to be used or
disposed of in any other place or places within their Majesties dominions." After this repealing measure
had become effective, William and Mary encouraged the further study of alchemy.
Dr. Franz Hartmann has collected reliable evidence concerning four different: alchemists who
transmuted base metals into gold not once but many times. One of these accounts concerns a monk of
the Order of St. Augustine named Wenzel Seiler, who discovered a small amount of mysterious red
powder in his convent. In the presence of Emperor Leopold I, King of Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia,
he transmuted quantities of tin into gold. Among other things which he dipped into his mysterious
essence was a large silver medal. That part of the medal which came in contact with the gold-producing
substance was transmuted into the purest quality of the more precious metal. The rest remained silver.
With regard to this medal, Dr. Hartmann writes:
"The most indisputable proof (if appearances can prove anything) of the possibility of transmuting base
metals into gold, may be seen by everyone who visits Vienna; it being a medal preserved in the Imperial
treasury chamber, and it is stated that this medal, consisting originally of silver, has been partly
transformed into gold, by alchemical means, by the same Wenzel Seiler who was afterwards made a
knight by the Emperor Leopold I. and given the title Wenzeslaus Ritter von Reinburg. "(In the Pronaos
of the Temple of Wisdom.)
Space limitations preclude a lengthy discussion of the alchemists. A brief sketch of the lives of four
should serve to show the general principles on which they worked, the method by which they obtained
their knowledge, and the use which they made of it. These four were Grand Masters of this secret
science; and the stories of
Click to enlarge
From The Complete Writings of Paracelsus, of Hohenheim.
In his Biographia Antiqua, Francis Barrett appends to the name of Paracelsus the following titles of distinction:
"The Prince of Physicians and Philosophers by Fire; Grand Paradoxical Physician; The Trismegistus of
Switzerland; First Reformer of Chymical Philosophy; Adept in Alchymy, Cabala, and Magic; Nature's Faithful
Secretary; Master of the Elixir of Life and The Philosopher's Stone," and the "Great Monarch of Chymical
p. 150
their wanderings and strivings, as recorded by their own pens and by contemporaneous disciples of the
Hermetic art, are as fascinating as any romance of fiction.
The most famous of alchemical and Hermetic philosophers was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus
Bombastus von Hohenheim. This man, who called himself Paracelsus, declared that some day all the
doctors of Europe would turn from the other schools and, following him, revere him above every other
physician. The accepted date of the birth of Paracelsus is December 17, 1493. He was an only child.
Both his father and mother were interested in medicine and chemistry. His father was a physician and
his mother the superintendent of a hospital. While still a youth, Paracelsus became greatly interested in
the writings of Isaac of Holland, and determined to reform the medical science of his day.
When twenty years old he began a series of travels which continued for about twelve years. He visited
many European countries, including Russia. It is possible that he penetrated into Asia. It was in
Constantinople that the great secret of the Hermetic arts was bestowed upon him by Arabian adepts. His
knowledge of the Nature spirits and the inhabitants of the invisible worlds he probably secured from the
Brahmins of India with whom he came in contact either directly or through their disciples. He became
an army physician, and his understanding and skill brought him great success.
Upon his return to Germany, he began his long-dreamed-of reformation of the medical arts and sciences.
He was opposed on every hand and criticized unmercifully. His violent temper and tremendously strong
personality undoubtedly precipitated many storms upon his head which might have been avoided had he
been of a less caustic disposition. He flayed the apothecaries, asserting that they did not use the proper
ingredients in their prescriptions and did not consider the needs of their patients, desiring only to collect
exorbitant fees for their concoctions.
The remarkable cures which Paracelsus effected only made his enemies hate him more bitterly, for they
could not duplicate the apparent miracles which he wrought. He not only treated the more common
diseases of his day but is said to have actually cured leprosy, cholera, and cancer. His friends claimed for
him that he all but raised the dead. His systems of healing were so heterodox, however, that slowly but
surely his enemies overwhelmed him and again and again forced him to leave the fields of his labors and
seek refuge where he was not known.
There is much controversy concerning the personality of Paracelsus. That he had an irascible disposition
there is no doubt. His barred for physicians and for women amounted to a mania; for them he had
nothing but abuse. As far as can be learned, there was never a love affair in his life. His peculiar
appearance and immoderate system of living were always held against him by his adversaries. It is
believed that his physical abnormalities may have been responsible for much of the bitterness against
society which he carried with him throughout all his intolerant and tempestuous life.
His reputed intemperance brought upon him still more persecution, for it was asserted that even during
the time of his professorship in the University of Basel he was seldom sober. Such an accusation is
difficult to understand in view of the marvelous mental clarity for which he was noted at all times. The
vast amount of writing which he accomplished (the Strassburg Edition of his collected works is in three
large volumes, each containing several hundred pages) is a monumental contradiction of the tales
regarding his excessive use of alcoholics.
No doubt many of the vices of which he is accused were sheer inventions by his enemies, who, not
satisfied with hiring assassins to murder him, sought to besmirch his memory after they had revengefully
ended his life. The manner in which Paracelsus met his death is uncertain, but: the most credible account
is that he died as the indirect result of a scuffle with a number of assassins who had been hired by some
of his professional enemies to make away with the one who had exposed their chicanery.
Few manuscripts are extant in the handwriting of Paracelsus, for he dictated the majority of his works to
his disciples, who wrote them down. Professor John Maxson Stillman, of Stanford University, pays the
following tribute to his memory: "Whatever be the final judgment as to the relative importance of
Paracelsus in the upbuilding of medical science and practice, it must be recognized that he entered upon
his career at Basel with the zeal and the self-assurance of one who believed himself inspired with a great
truth, and destined to effect a great advance in the science and practice of medicine. By nature he was a
keen and open-minded observer of whatever came under his observation, though probably also not a
very critical analyst of the observed phenomena. He was evidently an unusually self-reliant and
independent thinker, though the degree of originality in his thought may be a matter of legitimate
differences of opinion. Certainly once having, from whatever combination of influences, made up his
mind to reject the sacredness of the authority of Aristotle, Galen and Avicenna, and having found what
to his mind was a satisfactory substitute for the ancient dogmas in his own modification of the neo-
Platonic philosophy, he did not hesitate to burn his ships behind him.
"Having cut loose from the dominant Galenism of his time, he determined to preach and teach that the
basis of the medical science of the future should be the study of nature, observation of the patient,
experiment and experience, and not the infallible dogmas of authors long dead. Doubtless in the pride
and self-confidence of his youthful enthusiasm he did not rightly estimate the tremendous force of
conservatism against which he directed his assaults. If so, his experience in Basel surely undeceived
him. From that time on he was to be a wanderer again, sometimes in great poverty, sometimes in
moderate comfort, but manifestly disillusioned as to the immediate success of his campaign though
never in doubt as to its ultimate success--for to his mind his new theories and practice of medicine were
at one with the forces of nature, which were the expression of God's will, and eventually they must
This strange man, his nature a mass of contradictions, his stupendous genius shining like a star through
the philosophic and scientific darkness of mediæval Europe, struggling against the jealousy of his
colleagues as well as against the irascibility of his own nature, fought for the good of the many against
the domination of the few. He was the first man to write scientific books in the language of the common
people so that all could read them.
Even in death Paracelsus found no rest. Again and again his bones were dug up and reinterred in another
place. The slab of marble over his grave bears the following inscription: "Here lies buried Philip
Theophrastus the famous Doctor of Medicine who cured Wounds, Leprosy, Gout, Dropsy and other
incurable Maladies of the Body, with wonderful Knowledge and gave his Goods to be divided and
distributed to the Poor. In the Year 1541 on the 24th day of September he exchanged Life for Death. To
the Living Peace, to the Sepulchred Eternal Rest."
A. M. Stoddart, in her Life of Paracelsus, gives a remarkable testimonial of the love which the masses
had for the great physician. Referring to his tomb, she writes: "To this day the poor pray there.
Hohenheim's memory has 'blossomed in the dust' to sainthood, for the poor have canonized him. When
cholera threatened Salzburg in 1830, the people made a pilgrimage to his monument and prayed him to
avert it from their homes. The dreaded scourge passed away from them and raged in Germany and the
rest of Austria."
Click to enlarge
From Jovius' Vitae Illustrium Virorum.
Albert de Groot was born about 1206 and died at the age of 74. It has been said of him that he was "magnus in
magia, major in philosophia, maximus in theologia." He was a member of the Dominican order and the mentor of
St. Thomas Aquinas in alchemy and philosophy. Among other positions of dignity occupied by Albertus Magnus
was that of Bishop of Regensburg. He was beatified in 1622. Albertus was an Aristotelian philosopher, an
astrologer, and a profound student of medicine and physics. During his youth, he was considered of deficient
mentality, but his since service and devotion were rewarded by a vision in which the Virgin Mary appeared to
him and bestowed upon him great philosophical and intellectual powers. Having become master of the magical
sciences, Albertus began the construction of a curious automaton, which he invested with the powers of speech
and thought. The Android, as it was called, was composed of metals and unknown substances chosen according
to the stars and endued with spiritual qualities by magical formulæ and invocations, and the labor upon it
consumed over thirty years. St. Thomas Aquinas, thinking the device to be a diabolical mechanism, destroyed it,
thus frustrating the labor of a lifetime. In spite of this act, Albertus Magnus left to St. Thomas Aquinas his
alchemical formulæ, including (according to legend) the secret of the Philosopher's Stone.
On one occasion Albertus Magnus invited William II, Count of Holland and King of the Romans, to a garden
party in midwinter. The ground was covered with snow, but Albertus, had prepare a sumptuous banquet in the
open grounds of his monastery at Cologne. The guests were amazed at the imprudence of the philosopher, but as
they sat down to eat Albertus, uttered a few words, the snow disappeared, the garden was filled with flowers and
singing birds, and the air was warm with the breezes of summer. As soon as the feast was over, the snow
returned, much to the amazement of the assembled nobles. (For details, see The Lives of Alchemystical
p. 151
It was supposed that one early teacher of Paracelsus was a mysterious alchemist who
[paragraph continues]
called himself Solomon Trismosin. Concerning this person nothing is known save that after some years
of wandering he secured the formula of transmutation and claimed to have made vast amounts of gold.
A beautifully illuminated manuscript of this author, dated 1582 and called Splendor Solis, is in the
British Museum. Trismosin claimed to have lived to the age of 150 as the result of his knowledge of
alchemy. One very significant statement appears in his Alchemical Wanderings, which work is supposed
to narrate his search for the Philosopher's Scone: "Study what thou art, whereof thou art a part, what
thou knowest of this art, this is really what thou art. All that is without thee also is within, thus wrote
This most famous of all the Spanish alchemists was born about the year 1235. His father was seneschal
to James the First of Aragon, and young Raymond was brought up in the court surrounded by the
temptations and profligacy abounding in such places. He was later appointed to the position which his
father had occupied. A wealthy marriage ensured Raymond's financial position, and he lived the life of a
One of the most beautiful women at: the court of Aragon was Donna Ambrosia Eleanora Di Castello,
whose virtue and beauty had brought her great renown. She was at that time married and was not
particularly pleased to discover that young Lully was rapidly developing a passion for her. Wherever she
went Raymond followed, and at last over a trivial incident he wrote some very amorous verses to her,
which produced an effect quite different from what he had expected. He received a message inviting him
to visit the lady. He responded with alacrity. She told him that it was only fair that he should behold
more of the beauty concerning which he wrote such appealing poems and, drawing aside part of her
garments, disclosed that one side of her body was nearly eaten away by a cancer. Raymond never
recovered from the shock. It turned the entire course of his life. He renounced the frivolities of the court
and became a recluse.
Sometime afterwards while doing penance for his worldly sins a vision appeared to him in which Christ
told him to follow in the direction in which He should lead. Later the vision was repeated. Hesitating no
longer, Raymond divided his property among his family and retired to a hut on the side of a hill, where
he devoted himself to the study of Arabic, that he might go forth and convert the infidels. After six years
in this retreat he set out with a Mohammedan servant, who, when he learned that Raymond was about to
attack the faith of his people, buried his knife in his master's back. Raymond refused to allow his would-
be assassin to be executed, but later the man strangled himself in prison.
When Raymond regained his health he became a teacher of the Arabic language to those who intended
traveling in the Holy Land. It was while so engaged that he came in contact: with Arnold of Villa Nova,
who taught him the principles or alchemy. As a result of this training, Raymond learned the secret of the
transmutation and multiplication of metals. His life of wandering continued, and during the course of it
he arrived at Tunis, where he began to debate with the Mohammedan teachers, and nearly lost his life as
the result of his fanatical attacks upon their religion. He was ordered to leave the country and never to
return again upon pain of death. Notwithstanding their threats he made a second visit to Tunis, but the
inhabitants instead of killing him merely deported him to Italy.
An unsigned article appearing in Household Words, No. 273, a magazine conducted by Charles Dickens,
throws considerable light on Lully's alchemical ability. "Whilst at Vienna he [Lully] received flattering
letters from Edward the Second, King of England, and from Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, entreating
him to visit them. He had also, in the course of his travels, met with John Cremer, Abbot of
Westminster, with whom he formed a strong friendship; and it was more to please him than the king,
that Raymond consented to go to England. [A tract by John Cremer appears in the Hermetic Museum,
but there is no record in the annals of Westminster of anyone by that name.] Cremer had an intense
desire to learn the last great secret of alchemy--to make the powder of transmutation--and Raymond,
with all his friendship, had never disclosed it. Cremer, however, set to work very cunningly; he was not
long in discovering the object that was nearest to Raymond's heart--the conversion of the infidels. He
told the king wonderful stories of the gold Lully had the art to make; and he worked upon Raymond by
the hope that King Edward would be easily induced to raise a crusade against the Mahommedans, if he
had the means.
"Raymond had appealed so often to popes and kings that he had lost all faith in them; nevertheless, as a
last hope, he accompanied his friend Cremer to England. Cremer lodged him in his abbey, treating him
with distinction; and there Lully at last instructed him in the powder, the secret of which Cremer had so
long desired to know. When the powder was perfected, Cremer presented him to the king, who received
him as a man may be supposed to receive one who could give him boundless riches. Raymond made
only one condition; that the gold he made should not be expended upon the luxuries of the court or upon
a war with any Christian king; and that Edward himself should go in person with an army against the
infidels. Edward promised everything and anything.
"Raymond had apartments assigned him in the Tower, and there he tells us he transmuted fifty thousand
pounds weight of quicksilver, lead, and tin into pure gold, which was coined at the mint into six million
of nobles, each worth about three pounds sterling at the present day. Some of the pieces said to have
been coined out of this gold are still to be found in antiquarian collections. [While desperate attempts
have been made to disprove these statements, the evidence is still about equally divided.] To Robert
Bruce he sent a little work entitled Of the Art of Transmuting Metals. Dr. Edmund Dickenson relates that
when the cloister which Raymond occupied at Westminster was removed, the workmen found some of
the powder, with which they enriched themselves.
"During Lully's residence in England, he became the friend of Roger Bacon. Nothing, of course, could
be further from King Edward's thoughts than to go on a crusade. Raymond's apartments in the Tower
were only an honorable prison; and he soon perceived how matters were. He declared that Edward
would meet with nothing but misfortune and misery for his breach of faith. He made his escape from
England in 1315, and set off once more to preach to the infidels. He was now a very old man, and none
of his friends could ever hope to see his face again.
"He went first to Egypt, then to Jerusalem, and thence to Tunis a third time. There he at last met with the
martyrdom he had so often braved. The people fell upon him and stoned him. Some Genoese merchants
carried away his body, in which they discerned some feeble signs of life. They carried him on board
their vessel; but, though he lingered awhile, he died as they came in sight of Majorca, on the 28th of
June, 1315, at the age of eighty-one. He was buried with great honour in his family chapel at St. Ulma,
the viceroy and all the principal nobility attending."
In the latter part of the fourteenth century there lived in Paris one whose business was that of
illuminating manuscripts and preparing deeds and documents. To Nicholas Flammel the world is
indebted for its knowledge of a most remarkable volume, which he bought for a paltry sum from some
bookdealer with whom his profession of scrivener brought him in contact. The story of this curious
document, called the Book of Abraham the Jew, is best narrated
Click to enlarge
From Musæum Hermeticum Reformatum et Amplificatum.
John Cremer, the mythical Abbot of Westminster, is an interesting personality in the alchemical imbroglio of the
fourteenth century. As it is not reasonably certain that m abbot by such a name ever occupied the See of
Westminster, the question naturally arises, "Who was the person concealing his identity under the Pseudonym of
John Cremer?" Fictitious characters such as John Cremer illustrate two important practices of mediæval
alchemists: (1) many persons of high political or religious rank were secretly engaged in Hermetic chemical
research but, fearing persecution and ridicule, published their findings under various pseudonyms; (2) for
thousands of years it was the practice of those initiates who possessed the true key to the great Hermetic arcanum
to perpetuate their wisdom by creating imaginary persons, involving them in episodes of contemporaneous
history and thus establishing these beings as prominent members of society--in some cases even fabricating
complete genealogies to attain that end. The names by which these fictitious characters were known revealed
nothing to the uniformed. To the initiated, however, they signified that the personality to which they were
assigned had no existence other than a symbolic one. These initiated chroniclers carefully concealed their
arcanum in the lives, thoughts, words. and acts ascribed to these imaginary persons and thus safely transmitted
through the ages the deepest secrets of occultism as writings which to the unconversant were nothing more than
p. 152
in his own words as preserved in his Hieroglyphical Figures: "Whilst therefore, I Nicholas Flammel,
Notary, after the decease of my parents, got my living at our art of writing, by making inventories,
dressing accounts, and summing up the expenses of tutors and pupils, there fell into my hands for the
sum of two florins, a guilded book, very old and large. It was not of paper, nor of parchment, as other
books be, but was only made of delicate rinds (as it seemed to me) of tender young trees. The cover of it
was of brass, well bound, all engraven with letters, or strange figures; and for my part I think they might
well be Greek characters, or some such like ancient language. Sure I am. I could not read them, and I
know well they were not notes nor letters of the Latin nor of the Gaul, for of them we understand a little.
"As for that which was within it, the leaves of bark or rind, were engraven and with admirable diligence
written, with a point of iron, in fair and neat Latin letters colored. It contained thrice seven leaves, for so
were they counted in the top of the leaves, and always every seventh leaf there was painted a virgin and
serpent swallowing her up. In the second seventh, a cross where a serpent was crucified; and the last
seventh, there were painted deserts, or wildernesse, in the midst whereof ran many fair fountains, from
whence there issued out a number of serpents, which ran up and down here and there. Upon the first of
the leaves, was written in great capital letters of gold, Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite,
Astrologer, and Philosopher, to the Nation of the Jews, by the Wrath of God dispersed among the Gauls,
sendeth Health. After this it was filled with great execrations and curses (with this word Maranatha,
which was often repeated there) against every person that should cast his eyes upon it, if he were not
Sacrificer or Scribe.
"He that sold me this book knew not what it was worth nor more than I when I bought it; I believe it had
been stolen or taken from the miserable Jews, or found in some part of the ancient place of their abode.
Within the book, in the second leaf, he comforted his nation, counselling them to fly vices, and above all
idolatry, attending with sweet patience the coming of the Messias, Who should vanquish all the kings of
the earth and should reign with His people in glory eternally. Without doubt this had been some very
wise and understanding man.
"In the third leaf, and in all the other writings that followed, to help his captive nation to pay their
tributes unto the Roman emperors, and to do other things, which I will not speak of, he taught them in
common words the transmutation of metals; he painted the vessels by the sides, and he advertised them
of the colors, and of all the rest, saving of the first agent, of the which he spake not a word, but only (as
he said) in the fourth and fifth leaves entire he painted it, and figured it with very great cunning and
workman ship: for although it was well and intelligibly figured and painted, yet no man could ever have
been able to understand it, without being well skilled in their Cabala, which goeth by tradition, and
without having well studied their books.
"The fourth and fifth leaves therefore, were without any writing, all full of fair figures enlightened, or as
it were enlightened, for the work was very exquisite. First he painted a young man with wings at his
ancles, having in his hand a Caducean rod, writhen about with two serpents, wherewith he struck upon a
helmet which covered his head. He seemed to my small judgment, to be the God Mercury of the pagans:
against him there came running and flying with open wings, a great old man, who upon his head had an
hour glass fastened, and in his hand a book (or syrhe) like death, with the which, in terrible and furious
manner, he would have cut off the feet of Mercury. On the other side of the fourth leaf, he painted a fair
flower on the top of a very high mountain which was sore shaken with the North wind; it had the foot
blue, the flowers white and red, the leaves shining like fine gold: and round about it the dragons and
griffons of the North made their nests and abode.
"On the fifth leaf there was a fair rose tree flowered in the midst of a sweet garden, climbing up against a
hollow oak; at the foot whereof boiled a fountain of most white water, which ran headlong down into the
depths, notwithstanding it first passed among the hands of infinite people, who digged in the earth
seeking for it; but because they were blind, none of them knew it, except here and there one who
considered the weight. On the last side of the fifth leaf there was a king with a great fauchion, who made
to be killed in his presence by some soldiers a great multitude of little infants, whose mothers wept at the
feet of the unpitiful soldiers: the blood of which infants was afterwards by other soldiers gathered up,
and put in a great vessel, wherein the sun and the moon came to bathe themselves.
"And because that this history did represent the more part of that of the innocents slain by Herod, and
that in this book I learned the greatest part of the art, this was one of the causes why I placed in their
church-yard these Hieroglyphic Symbols of this secret science. And thus you see that which was in the
first five leaves.
"I will not represent unto you that which was written in good and intelligible Latin in all the other
written leaves, for God would punish me, because I should commit a greater wickedness, than he who
(as it is said) wished that all the men of the World had but one head that he might cut it off with one
blow. Having with me therefore this fair book, I did nothing else day nor night, but study upon it,
understanding very well all the operations that it showed, but not knowing with what matter I should
begin, which made me very heavy and solitary, and caused me to fetch many a sigh. My wife Perrenella,
whom I loved as myself, and had lately married was much astonished at this, comforting me, and
earnestly demanding, if she could by any means deliver me from this trouble. I could not possibly hold
my tongue, but told her all, and showed this fair book, whereof at the same instant that she saw it, she
became as much enamoured as myself, taking extreme pleasure to behold the fair cover, gravings,
images, and portraits, whereof notwithstanding she understood as little as I: yet it was a great comfort to
me to talk with her, and to entertain myself, what we should do to have the interpretation of them."
Nicholas Flammel spent many years studying the mysterious book. He even painted the pictures from it
all over the walls of his house and made numerous copies which he showed to the learned men with
whom he came in contact, but none could explain their secret significance. At last he determined to go
forth in quest of an adept, or wise man, and after many wanderings he met a physician--by name Master
Canches--who was immediately interested in the diagrams and asked to see the original book. They
started forth together for Paris, and or, the way the physician adept explained many of the principles of
the hieroglyphics to Flammel, but before they reached their journey's end Master Canches was taken ill
and died. Flammel buried him at Orleans, but having meditated deeply on the information he had
secured during their brief acquaintance, he was able, with the assistance of his wife, to work out the
formula for transmuting base metals into gold. He performed the experiment several times with perfect
success, and before his death caused a number of hieroglyphic figures to be painted upon an arch of St.
Innocent's churchyard in Paris, wherein he concealed the entire formula as it had been revealed to him
from the Book of Abraham the Jew.
Of all those who sought for the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Scone, few passed through the chain
of disappointments that beset Count Bernard of Treviso, who was born in Padua in 1406 and died in
1490. His search for the Philosopher's Stone and the secret of the transmutation of metals began when he
was but fourteen years of age. He spent not only a lifetime but also a fortune in his quest. Count Bernard
went from one alchemist and philosopher to another, each of whom unfolded some pet theorem which
he eagerly accepted and experimented with but always without the desired result. His family believed
him to be mad and declared that he was disgracing his house by his experiments, which were rapidly
reducing him to a state of penury. He traveled in many countries, hoping that in distant places he would
find wise men capable of assisting him. At last as he was approaching his seventy-sixth year, he was
rewarded with success. The great secrets of the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher's Stone, and the
transmutation of metals were revealed to him. He wrote a little book describing the results of his labors,
and while he lived only a few years to enjoy the fruitage of his discovery he was thoroughly satisfied
that the treasure he had found was worth the lifetime spent in search of it. An example of the industry
and perseverance displayed by him is to be found in one of the processes which some foolish pretender
coaxed him to attempt and which resulted in his spending twenty years calcining egg shells and nearly
an equal period distilling alcohol and other substances. In the history of alchemical research there never
was a more patient and persevering disciple of the Great Arcanum.
Bernard declared the process of dissolution, accomplished not with fire but with mercury, to be the
supreme secret of alchemy,
Click to enlarge
From Flammel's Hieroglyphical Figures.
Robert H. Fryar, in a footnote to his reprint of the Hieroglyphical Figures by Nicholas Flammel, says: "One thing
which seems to prove the reality of this story beyond dispute, is, that this very book of Abraham the Jew, with the
annotations of 'Flammel,' who wrote from the instructions he received from this physician, was actually in the
hands of Cardinal Richelieu, as Borel was told by the Count de Cabrines, who saw and examined it."
Next: The Theory and Practice of Alchemy: Part One Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 153
The Theory and Practice of Alchemy
Part One
ALCHEMY, the secret art of the land of Khem, is one of the two oldest sciences known to the world.
The other is astrology. The beginnings of both extend back into the obscurity of prehistoric times.
According to the earliest records extant, alchemy and astrology were considered as divinely revealed to
man so that by their aid he might regain his lost estate. According to old legends preserved by the
Rabbins, the angel at the gate of Eden instructed Adam in the mysteries of Qabbalah and of alchemy,
promising that when the human race had thoroughly mastered the secret wisdom concealed within these
inspired arts, the curse of the forbidden fruit would be removed and man might again enter into the
Garden of the Lord. As man took upon himself "coats of skins" (physical bodies) at the time of his fall,
so these sacred sciences were brought by him into the lower worlds incarnated in dense vehicles,
through which their spiritual transcendental natures could no longer manifest themselves. Therefore they
were considered as being dead or lost.
The earthly body of alchemy is chemistry, for chemists do not realize that half of The Book of Torah is
forever concealed behind the veil of Isis (see the Tarot), and that so long as they study only material
elements they can at best discover but half of the mystery. Astrology has crystallized into astronomy,
whose votaries ridicule the dreams of ancient seers and sages, deriding their symbols as meaningless
products of superstition. Nevertheless, the intelligentsia of the modern world can never pass behind the
veil which divides the seen from the unseen except in the way appointed--the Mysteries.
What is life? What is intelligence? What is force? These are the problems to the solution of which the
ancients consecrated their temples of learning. Who shall say that they did not answer those questions?
Who would recognize the answers if given? Is it possible that under the symbols of alchemy and
astrology lies concealed a wisdom so abstruse that the mind of this race is not qualified to conceive its
The Chaldeans, Phœnicians, and Babylonians were familiar with the principles of alchemy, as were
many early Oriental races. It was practiced in Greece and Rome; was the master science of the
Egyptians. Khem was an ancient name for the land of Egypt; and both the words alchemy and chemistry
are a perpetual reminder of the priority of Egypt's scientific knowledge. According to the fragmentary
writings of those early peoples, alchemy was to them no speculative art. They implicitly believed in the
multiplication of metals; and in the face of their reiterations both the scholar and the materialist should
be more kindly in their consideration of alchemical theorems. Evolutionists trace the unfoldment of the
arts and sciences up through the growing intelligence of the prehistoric man, while others, of a
transcendental point of view, like to consider them as being direct revelations from God.
Many interesting solutions to the riddle of alchemy's origin have been advanced. One is that alchemy
was revealed to man by the mysterious Egyptian demigod Hermes Trismegistus. This sublime figure,
looming through the mists of time and bearing in his hand the immortal Emerald, is credited by the
Egyptians as being the author of all the arts and sciences. In honor of him all scientific knowledge was
gathered under the general title of The Hermetic Arts. When the body of Hermes was interred in the
Valley of Ebron (or Hebron), the divine Emerald was buried with it. Many centuries afterward the
Emerald was discovered--according to one version, by an Arabian initiate; according to another, by
Alexander the Great, King of Macedon. By means of the power of this Emerald, upon which were the
mysterious inscriptions of the Thrice Great Hermes--thirteen sentences in all--Alexander conquered all
the then known world. Not having conquered himself, however, he ultimately failed. Regardless of his
glory and power, the prophecies of the talking trees were fulfilled, and Alexander was cut down in the
midst of his triumph. (There are persistent rumors to the effect that Alexander was an initiate of high
order who failed because of his inability to withstand the temptations of power.)
E. Y. Kenealy, quoting from the Cosmodromium of Doctor Gobelin Persona, describes the incident of
Alexander and the talking trees, into the presence of which the King of Macedon is said to have been
brought while on his campaign in India: "And now Alexander marched into other quarters equally
dangerous; at one time over the tops of mountains, at another through dark valleys, in which his army
was attacked by serpents and wild beasts, until after three hundred days he came into a most pleasant
mountain, on whose sides hung chains or ropes of gold. This mountain had two thousand and fifty steps
all of purest sapphire, by which one could ascend to the summit, and near this Alexander encamped.
And on a day, Alexander with his Twelve Princes, ascended by the aforenamed steps to the top of the
Mountain, and found there a Palace marvellously beautiful, having Twelve Gates, and seventy windows
of the purest gold, and it was called the Palace of the Sun, and there was in it a Temple all of gold,
before whose gates were vine trees bearing bunches of carbuncles and pearls, and Alexander and his
Princes having entered the Palace, found there a Man lying on a golden bedstead; he was very stately
and beautiful in appearance, and his head and beard were white as snow. Then Alexander and his princes
bent the knee to the Sage who spake thus: 'Alexander, thou shalt now see what no earthly man hath ever
before seen or heard.' To whom Alexander made answer: 'O, Sage, most happy, how dost thou know
me?' He replied: 'Before the wave of the Deluge covered the face of the earth I knew thy works.' He
added: 'Wouldst thou behold the most hallowed Trees of the Sun and Moon, which announce all future
things?' Alexander made answer: 'It is well, my lord; greatly do we long to see them.' * * *
"Then the Sage said: 'Put away your rings and ornaments, and take off your shoes, and follow me.' And
Alexander did so, and choosing out three from the Princes, and leaving the rest to await his return, he
followed the Sage, and came to the Trees of the Sun and Moon. The Tree of the Sun has leaves of red
gold, the Tree of the Moon has leaves of silver, and they are very great, and Alexander, at the suggestion
of the Sage questioned the Trees, asking if he should return in triumph to Macedon? to which the Trees
gave answer, No, but that he should live yet another year and eight months, after which he should die by
a poisoned cup. And when he inquired, Who was he who should give him that poison? he received no
reply, and the Tree of the Moon said to him, that his Mother, after a most shameful and unhappy death,
should lie long unburied, but that happiness was in store for his sisters." (See The Book of Enoch, The
Second Messenger of God.)
In all probability, the so-called talking trees were merely strips of wood with tables of letters upon them,
by means of which oracles were evoked. At one time books written upon wood were called "talking
trees." The difficulty in deciding the origin of alchemy is directly due to ignoring the lost continent of
Atlantis. The Great Arcanum was the most prized of the secrets of the Atlantean priestcraft. When the
land of Atlas sank, hierophants of the Fire Mystery brought the formula to Egypt, where it remained for
centuries in the possession of the sages and philosophers. It gradually moved into Europe, where its
secrets are still preserved intact.
Click to enlarge
Redrawn from an original manuscript dated 1577.
In his Key to Alchemy, Samuel Norton divides into fourteen parts the processes or states through which the
alchemical substances pass from the time they are first placed in the test tube until ready as medicine for plants,
minerals, or men:
1. Solution, the act of passing from a gaseous or solid condition, into one of liquidity.
2. Filtration, the mechanical separation of a liquid from the undissolved particles suspended in it.
3. Evaporation, the changing or converting from a liquid or solid state into a vaporous state with the aid of heat.
4. Distillation, an operation by which a volatile liquid may be separated from substances which it holds in
5. Separation, the operation of disuniting or decomposing substances.
6. Rectification, the process of refining or purifying any substance by repeated distillation.
7. Calcination, the conversion into a powder or calx by the action of heat; expulsion of the volatile substance
from a matter.
8. Commixtion, the blending of different ingredients into new compounds or mass.
9. Purification (through putrefaction), disintegration by spontaneous decomposition; decay by artificial means.
10. Inhibition, the process of holding back or restraining.
11. Fermentation, the conversion of organic substances into new compounds in the presence of a ferment.
12. Fixation, the act or process of ceasing to be a fluid and becoming firm; state of being fixed.
13. Multiplication, the act or process of multiplying or increasing in number, the state of being multiplied.
14. Projection, the process of turning the base Metals into gold.
p. 154
Those disagreeing with the legend of Hermes and his Emerald Tablet see in the two hundred angels who
descended upon the mountains, as described by the Prophet: Enoch, the first instructors in the alchemical
art. Regardless of its originator, it was left to the Egyptian priests to preserve alchemy for the modern
world. Egypt, because of the color of its earth, was called "the black empire" and is referred to in the Old
Testament as "the land of darkness." By reason of its possible origin there, alchemy has long been
known as "the black art, " not in the sense of evil but in the sense of that darkness which has always
enshrouded its secret processes.
During the Middle Ages, alchemy was not only a philosophy and a science but also a religion. Those
who rebelled against the religious limitations of their day concealed their philosophic teachings under
the allegory of gold-making. In this way they preserved their personal liberty and were ridiculed rather
than persecuted. Alchemy is a threefold art, its mystery well symbolized by a triangle. Its symbol is 3
times 3--three elements or processes in three worlds or spheres. The 3 times 3 is part of the mystery of
the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, for 33 is 3 times 3, which is 9, the number of esoteric man and the
number of emanations from the root of the Divine Tree. It is the number of worlds nourished by the four
rivers that pour out of the Divine Mouth as the verbum fiat. Beneath the so-called symbolism of alchemy
is concealed a magnificent concept, for this ridiculed and despised craft still preserves intact the triple
key to the gates of eternal life. Realizing, therefore, that alchemy is a mystery in three worlds--the
divine, the human, and the elemental--it can easily be appreciated why the sages and philosophers
created and evolved an intricate allegory to conceal their wisdom.
Alchemy is the science of multiplication and is based upon the natural phenomenon of growth. "Nothing
from nothing comes," is an extremely ancient adage. Alchemy is not the process of making something
from nothing; it is the process of increasing and improving that which already exists. If a philosopher
were to state that a living man could be made from a stone, the unenlightened would probably exclaim,
"Impossible!" Thus would they reveal their ignorance, for to the wise it is known that in every stone is
the seed of man. A philosopher might declare that a universe could be made out of a man, but the foolish
would regard this as an impossibility, not realizing that a man is a seed from which a universe may be
brought forth.
God is the "within" and the "without" of all things. The Supreme One manifests Himself through
growth, which is an urge from within outward, a struggle for expression and manifestation. There is no
greater miracle in the growing and multiplication of gold by the alchemist than in a tiny mustard seed
producing a bush many thousands of times the size of the seed. If a mustard seed produces a hundred
thousand times its own size and weight when planted in an entirely different substance (the earth), why
should not the seed of gold be multiplied a hundred thousand times by art when that seed is planted in its
earth (the base metals) and nourished artificially by the secret process of alchemy?
Alchemy teaches that God is in everything; that He is One Universal Spirit, manifesting through an
infinity of forms. God, therefore, is the spiritual seed planted in the dark earth (the material universe).
By arc it is possible so to grow and expand this seed that the entire universe of substance is tinctured
thereby and becomes like unto the seed--pure gold. In the spiritual nature of man this is termed
regeneration; in the material body of the elements it is called transmutation. As it is in the spiritual and
material universes, so it is in the intellectual world. Wisdom cannot be imparted to an idiot because the
seed of wisdom is not within him, but wisdom may be imparted to an ignorant person, however ignorant
he may be, because the seed of wisdom exists in him and can be developed by art and culture. Hence a
philosopher is only an ignorant man within whose nature a projection has taken place.
Through art (the process of learning) the whole mass of base metals (the mental body of ignorance) was
transmuted into pure gold (wisdom), for it was tinctured with understanding. If, then, through faith and
proximity to God the consciousness of man may be transmuted from base animal desires (represented by
the masses of the planetary metals) into a pure, golden, and godly consciousness, illumined and
redeemed, and the manifesting God within that one increased from a tiny spark to a great and glorious
Being; if also the base metals of mental ignorance can, through proper endeavor and training, be
transmuted into transcendent genius and wisdom, why is the process in two worlds or spheres of
application not equally true in the third? If both the spiritual and mental elements of the universe can be
multiplied in their expression, then by the law of analogy the material elements of the universe can also
be multiplied, if the necessary process can be ascertained.
That which is true in the superior is true in the inferior. If alchemy be a great spiritual fact, then it is also
a great material fact. If it can take place in the universe, it can take place in man; if it can take place in
man, it can take place in the plants and minerals. If one thing in the universe grows, then everything in
the universe grows. If one thing can be multiplied, then all things can be multiplied, "for the superior
agrees with the inferior and the inferior agrees with the superior." But as the way for the redemption of
the soul is concealed by the Mysteries, so the secrets for the redemption of the metals are also concealed,
that they may not fall into the hands of the profane and thereby become perverted.
If any would grow metals, he must first learn the secrets of the metals: he must realize that all metals--
like all stones, plants, animals, and universes--grow from seeds, and that these seeds are already in the
body of Substance (the womb of the World Virgin); for the seed of man is in the universe before he is
born (or grows), and as the seed of the plant exists for all time though the plant live but a part of that
time, so the seeds of spiritual gold and material gold are ever present in all things. The metals grow
throughout the ages, because life is imparted to them from the sun. They grow imperceptibly, in form
like tiny shrubs, for everything grows in some way. Only the methods of growth differ, according to
kind and magnitude.
One of the great axioms is, "Within everything is the seed of everything," although by the simple
processes of Nature it may remain latent for many centuries, or its growth may be exceedingly slow.
Therefore, every grain of sand contains not only the seed of the precious metals as well as the seed of the
priceless gems, but also the seeds of sun, moon, and stars. As within the nature of man is reflected the
entire universe in miniature, so in each grain of sand, each drop of water, each tiny particle of cosmic
dust, are concealed all the parts and elements of cosmos in the form of tiny seed germs so minute that
even the most powerful microscope cannot detect them. Trillions of times smaller than the ion or
electron, these seeds--unrecognizable and incomprehensible--await the time assigned them for growth
and expression. (Consider the monads of Leibnitz.)
There are two methods whereby growth may be accomplished. The first is by Nature, for Nature is an
alchemist forever achieving the apparently impossible. The second is by art, and through art is produced
in a comparatively short time that which requires Nature almost endless periods to duplicate. The true
philosopher, desiring to accomplish the Magnum Opus, patterns his conduct according to the laws of
Nature, recognizing that the art of alchemy is merely a method copied from Nature but with the aid of
certain secret formulæ greatly shortened by being correspondingly intensified. Nature, in order to
achieve her miracles, must work through either extensiveness; or intensiveness. The extensive processes
of Nature are such as are used in the transmutation of the pitch of black carbon into diamonds, requiring
millions of years of natural hardening. The intensive process is art, which is ever the faithful servant of
Nature (as Dr. A. Dee says), supplementing her every step and cooperating with her in all her ways. "So,
in this philosophical work, Nature and Art ought so lovingly to embrace each other, as that Art may not
require what Nature denies, nor Nature deny what may be perfected by Art. For Nature assenting, she
demeans herself obediently to every artist, whilst by their industry she is helped, not hindered. " (Dr. A.
Dee in his Chemical Collections.)
By means of this art the seed which is within the soul of a stone may be made to germinate so
intensively that in a few moments a diamond is grown from the seed of itself. If the seed of the diamond
were not in the marble, granite, and sand, a diamond could not be grown therefrom. But as the seed is
within all these things, a diamond may be grown out of any other substance in the universe. In some
substances, however, it is easier to perform this miracle because in them these germs have already been
long fertilized and are thus more nearly prepared for the vivifying process of the art. Likewise, to teach
some men wisdom is easier than to teach others, for some already have a foundation upon which to
work, while in others the thinking faculties are entirely dormant. Alchemy, therefore, should be regarded
as the art of increasing and bringing into perfect flower with the greatest possible expedition. Nature
may accomplish her desired end or, because of the destructiveness exercised by one element over
another, she may not; but with the aid of the true art, Nature always accomplishes her end, for this art is
not subject either to the wastings of time or to the vandalism of elemental reactions.
In his History of Chemistry, James Campbell Brown, late professor of chemistry in the University of
Liverpool, sums up the ends which alchemists sought to achieve, in the following paragraphs:
"This, therefore, was the general aim of the alchemists--to carry out in the laboratory, as far as possible,
the processes which Nature carried out in the interior of the earth. Seven leading problems occupied
their attention:--
"1. The preparation of a compound named elixir, magisterium medicine, or philosopher's stone, which
possessed the property of transmuting the baser metals into gold and silver, and of performing many
other marvelous operations. * * *
p. 155
"2. The creation of homunculi, or living. beings, of which many wonderful but incredible tales are told.
"3. The preparation of the alcahest or universal solvent, which dissolved every substance which was
immersed in it. * * *
"4. Palingenesis, or the restoration of a plant from its ashes. Had they succeeded in this, they would have
hoped to be able to raise the dead. [Professor Brown takes a great deal for granted.]
"5. The preparation of spiritus mundi, a mystic substance possessing many powers, the principal of
which was its capacity of dissolving gold.
"6. The extraction of the quintessence or active principle of all substances.
"7. The preparation of aurum potabile, liquid gold, a sovereign remedy, because gold being itself perfect
could produce perfection in the human frame."
In alchemy there are three symbolic substances: mercury, sulphur, and salt. To these was added a fourth
mysterious life principle called Azoth. Concerning the first three, Herr von Welling has written: "There
are three basic chemical substances which are called by the philosophers salt, sulphur, and mercury, but
which are not to be confounded in any way with the crude salt, sulphur, and mercury taken from the
earth or secured from the apothecary. Salt, sulphur, and mercury each has a triune nature, for each of
these substances contains, in reality, also the other two substances, according to the secret arcanum of
the wise. The body of salt is, therefore, threefold, namely salt, sulphur, and mercury; but in the body of
salt one of the three (salt) predominates. Mercury is likewise composed of salt, sulphur, and mercury
with the latter element predominating. Sulphur, similarly, is actually salt, sulphur, and mercury, with
sulphur predominating. These nine divisions--3 times 3, plus Azoth (the mysterious universal life force),
equals 10, the sacred decad of Pythagoras. Concerning the nature of Azoth there is much controversy.
Some view it as the invisible, eternal fire; others as electricity; still others as magnetism.
Transcendentalism refer to it as the astral light.
"The universe is surrounded by the sphere of the stars. Beyond that sphere is the sphere of Schamayim,
which is the Divine fiery water, the first outflow of the Word of God, the flaming river pouring from the
presence of the Eternal. Schamayim, the fiery androgynous water, divides. The fire becomes the solar
fire and the water becomes the lunar water. Schamayim is the universal mercury--sometimes called
Azoth--the measureless spirit of life. The spiritual fiery original water--Schamayim--comes through Eden
(in Hebrew, vapor) and pours itself into four main rivers [the elements]. This is the river of living water--
Azoth [the fiery mercurial essence] that flows out from the throne of God and the Lamb. In this Eden
[vaporous essence or mist] is the spiritual earth [incomprehensible and intangible], or the dust Aphar,
out of which God formed Adam min Haadamah, the spiritual body of man, which body must sometime
become revealed."
In another part of his writings von Welling also says that there was no material universe until Lucifer,
attempting to perform the cosmic alchemy, misused the Schamayim, or the Divine Fire. In order to
reestablish the Schamayim which Lucifer had perverted, this universe was formed as a means of
liberating it from the dark cloud within which it was locked by the failure of Lucifer's attempt to control
it. These statements clearly emphasize the fact that the early philosophers recognized in the Bible a book
of chemical and alchemical formulæ. It is essential that this point be kept in mind at all times. Woe to
that seeker who accepts as literal the rambling allegories of the alchemists. Such a one can never enter
the inner sanctuary of truth. Elias Ashmole in his Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum thus describes the
methods employed by the alchemists to conceal their true doctrines: "Their chiefest study was to wrap
up their Secrets in Fables, and spin out their Fancies in Vailes and shadows, whose Radii seems to
extend every way, yet so, that they meet in a Common Center, and point onely at One thing."
The fact that the Scriptures reveal a hidden knowledge, if considered allegorically, is clearly
demonstrated by a parable describing King Solomon, his wives, concubines, and virgins, which parable
occurs in Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, published in Ultona in 1785. Dr. Hartmann, who
translated part of this work into English, declared that the wives of Solomon represented the arts, the
concubines the sciences, and the virgins the still unrevealed secrets of Nature. By order of the King the
virgins were forced to remove their veils, thus signifying that by means of wisdom (Solomon) the mystic
arts were forced to disclose their hidden parts to the philosopher, while to the uninitiated world only the
outside garments were visible. (Such is the mystery of the veil of Isis.)
As the alchemist must do his work in four worlds simultaneously if he would achieve the Magnum
Opus, a table showing the analogies of the three principles in the four worlds may clarify the
relationship which the various parts bear to each other. The early masters of the art of alchemical
symbolism did not standardize either their symbols or their terms. Thus it required great familiarity with
the subject combined with considerable intuitive power to unravel some of their enigmatical statements.
The third and fourth divisions of the following table are given alternative renderings, owing to the fact
that some authors did not draw a clear line between spirit and soul. According to the Scriptures, spirit is
indestructible, but soul is destructible. Obviously, then, they are not synonymous. It is clearly stated that
"the soul that sinneth, it shall die," but "the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." The table of
analogies, as nearly as they can be established, is as follows:
The Triune Power in Four Worlds
WORLD OF Father Son Mother
1. God Father Son Holy Ghost
2. Man Spirit Soul Body
3. Elements Air Fire Water
4. Chemicals Mercury Sulphur Salt
The alternative renderings of 3 and 4 are:
WORLD OF Father Son Mother
3. Elements Fire Air Water
4. Chemicals Sulphur Mercury Salt
Paracelsus made a different arrangement, somewhat Aristotelian, in which the three phases of the Triune
God are omitted, combining only the elements of the second, third, and fourth worlds:
WORLD OF Father Son Mother
2. Man Spirit Soul Body
3. Elements Air Water Earth
4. Chemicals Sulphur Mercury Salt
The main point, however, is proved: the alchemical philosophers used the symbols of salt, sulphur, and
mercury to represent not only chemicals but the spiritual and invisible principles of God, man, and the
universe. The three substances (salt, sulphur, and mercury) existing in four worlds, as shown in the table,
sum up to the sacred number 12. As these 12 are the foundations of the Great Work, they are called in
Revelation the twelve foundation stones of the sacred city. In line with the same idea Pythagoras
asserted that the dodecahedron, or twelve-faced symmetrical geometric solid, was the foundation of the
universe. May there not be a relation also between this mysterious 3 times 4 and the four parties of three
which in the legend of the third degree of Freemasonry go forth to the four angles of the cherubim, the
composite creature of four parts?
Click to enlarge
From Valentine's The Last Will and Testament.
Hermetists used the curious symbols shown in this rare table to represent various chemical elements and
alchemical processes. The full meaning of these strange characters has never been revealed, the characters
concealing effectually within their own forms the occult secrets regarding the spiritual nature of the metals and
elements which they represent.
In their allegories the alchemists also wed human, animal, and plant emblems; sometimes weird composite
figures, such as the dragon, the winged serpent, the unicorn, and the phœnix. In almost every case they
symbolized gold as a king with a crown on his head and often with a scepter in his hand. Sometimes they
depicted him with the ace of the solar disc surrounded by rays. Silver was personified as a woman who they
called the queen. She wore no crown but often stood upon a lunar crescent: much after the fashion of the
Madonna. Mercury was typified as a youth with wings, often with two heads, carrying serpents or sometimes the
caduceus. Lead they symbolized by an old man with a scythe in his hand; iron by a soldier dressed in armor. To
aqua fortis was given the curious name "the ostrich's stomach," and to the attainment of the "Great Work" they
assigned the symbol of the phœnix sitting upon a nest of fire. The union of elements they symbolized by a
marriage, the Process of putrefaction by a skull, antimony by a dragon.
p. 156
The following table shows the angles to which the parties of three (salt, sulphur, and mercury) go in
search of CHiram:
The Four "Corners" of Creation East South West North
The Fixed Signs of the Zodiac Aquarius Leo Scorpio Taurus
The Parts of the Cherubim Man Lion Eagle Bull
The Four Seasons Spring Summer Autumn Winter
The Ages of Man Childhood Youth Maturity Age
The Stages of Existence Birth Growth Maturity Decay
The Parts of Man's Constitution Spirit Soul Mind Body
The Four Elements Air Fire Water Earth
One more table should prove of interest to Masonic scholars: one showing the relationship existing
between the three substances, salt, sulphur, and mercury, and certain symbols with which Masons are
familiar. This table also has an alternative rendering, based on the interblending of philosophic
principles, which are difficult--if not impossible--to separate into chronological order.
1. The Three Lights Stellar Fire Solar Fire Lunar Fire
2. The Three Grand Masters Hiram Solomon Hiram of Tyre
3. The Geometric Solids Sphere Pyramid Cube
4. Alchemical Substances Mercury Sulphur Salt
The alternative rendering of No. 2 is:
2. The Three Grand Masters Solomon Hiram Hiram of Tyre
In alchemy is found again the perpetuation of the Universal Mystery; for as surely as Jesus died upon the
cross, Hiram (CHiram) at the west gate of the Temple, Orpheus on the banks of the river Hebros,
Christna on the banks of the Ganges, and Osiris in the coffin prepared by Typhon, so in alchemy, unless
the elements first die, the Great Work cannot be achieved. The stages of the alchemical processes can be
traced in the lives and activities of nearly all the world Saviors and teachers, and also among the
mythologies of several nations. It is said in the Bible that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God." In alchemy it is declared that without putrefaction the Great Work cannot be
accomplished. What is it that dies on the cross, is buried in the tomb of the Mysteries, and that dies also
in the retort and becomes black with putrefaction? Also, what is it that does this same thing in the nature
of man, that he may rise again, phœnix-like, from his own ashes (caput mortuum)?
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. During the
process of digestion it passes through many colors which has given rise to its being called the peacock
because of its iridescence during one of the periods of its digestion. If the augmentations of its power be
carried too far, the test tube containing the substance will explode and vanish as dust. This commonly
occurs and is the greatest danger involved in the preparation of the medicine for men and metals. If
developed too far, it will also seep through the glass, for there is no physical container sufficiently strong
to hold it, The reason for this is that it is no longer a substance but a divine essence partaking of the
interpenetrative power of Divinity. When it is properly developed, this universal solvent in liquid form
will dissolve into itself all other metals. In this high state the universal salt is a liquid fire. This salt
dissolved with the proper amount of any metal and run through the different stages of digestion and
rotations; of augmentations will eventually become a medicine for the transmuting of inferior metals.
The True Way of Nature by Hermes Trismegistus, given out by a genuine Freemason, I.C.H., describes
the danger of over-augmenting the universal salt: "But this multiplication 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. For as soon as it
perceives only the smallest degree of material fire it goes instantly into a flux and passes through the
glass like hot oil through paper."
In classifying the processes through which the chemical elements must pass before the Hermetic
medicine is produced, lack of uniformity in terminology is evidenced, for in The True Way of Nature
seven stages are given, while in the Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique twelve are noted. These twelve are
linked with the signs of the zodiac in a manner worthy of consideration.
1. Aries, Calcination 5. Leo, Digestion 9. Sagittarius, Incineration
2. Taurus, Congelation 6. Virgo, Distillation 10. Capricorn, Fermentation
3. Gemini, Fixation 7. Libra, Sublimation 11. Aquarius, Multiplication
4. Cancer, Dissolution 8. Scorpio, Separation 12. Pisces, Projection
This arrangement opens an interesting field of speculation which may be of great service if intelligently
carried out. These twelve "steps" leading up to the accomplishment of the Magnum Opus are a reminder
of the twelve degrees of the ancient Rosicrucian Mysteries. To a certain degree, Rosicrucianism was
chemistry theologized and alchemy philosophized. According to the Mysteries, man was redeemed as
the result of his passage in rotation through the twelve mansions of the heavens. The twelve processes
by means of which the "secret essence" may be discovered remind the student forcibly of the twelve
Fellow Craftsmen who are sent forth in search of the murdered Builder of the Universe, the Universal
According to Solomon Trismosin, the stages through which matter passes in its journey towards
perfection are divided into twenty-two parts, each of which is represented by an appropriate drawing.
There is an important connection between the twenty-two emblems of Trismosin, the twenty-two major
cards of the Tarot, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These mysterious Tarot cards are
themselves an alchemical formula, if properly interpreted. As if to substantiate the claims of mediæval
philosophers that King Solomon was a master of alchemy, Dr. Franz Hartmann has noted that the much-
abused and misunderstood Song of Solomon is in reality an alchemical formula. The student of natural
philosophy will immediately recognize the "dark maid of Jerusalem," not as a person but as a material
sacred to the sages. Dr. Hartmann writes: "The 'Song of Solomon,' in the Old Testament, is a description
of the processes of Alchemy. In this Song the Subjectum is described in Cant. i., 5; the Lilium artis in C.
ii., 1; the Preparation and Purification in C. ii., 4; the Fire in C. ii., 7, and C. iv., 16, the Putrefaction in
C. iii., 1; Sublimation and Distillation in C. iii., 6, Coagulation and Change of Colors, C. v., 9 to 14;
Fixation, C. ii., 12, and C. viii., 4; Multiplication, C. vi., 7; Augmentation and Projection, C. viii., 8, etc.,
A tiny particle of the Philosopher's Scone, if cast upon the surface of water, will, according to an
appendix to the work on the universal salt by Herr von Welling, immediately begin a process of
recapitulating in miniature the history of the universe, for instantly the tincture--like the Spirits of
Elohim--moves upon the face of the waters. A miniature universe is formed which the philosophers have
affirmed actually rises out of the water and floats in the air, where it passes through all the stages of
cosmic unfoldment and finally disintegrates into dust again. Not only is it possible to prepare a medicine
for metals; it is also possible to prepare a tincture for minerals by means of which pieces of granite and
marble can be turned into precious stones; also stones of inferior quality may be improved.
As one of the great alchemists fittingly observed, man's quest for gold is often his undoing, for he
mistakes the alchemical processes, believing them to be purely material. He does not realize that the
Philosopher's Gold, the Philosopher's Stone, and the Philosopher's Medicine exist in each of the four
worlds and that the consummation of the experiment cannot be realized until it is successfully carried on
in four worlds simultaneously according to one formula. Furthermore, one of the constituents of the
alchemical formula exists only within the nature of man himself, without which his chemicals will not
combine, and though he spend his life and fortune in chemical experimentation, he will not produce the
desired end. The paramount reason why the material scientist is incapable of duplicating the
achievements of the mediæval alchemists--although he follow every step carefully and accurately--is
that the subtle element which comes out of the nature of the illuminated and regenerated alchemical
philosopher is missing in his experimentation.
On this subject Dr. Franz Hartmann in a footnote to his translation of extracts from Paracelsus clearly
expresses the conclusions of a modern investigator of alchemical lore: "I wish to warn the reader, who
might be inclined to try any of the alchemical prescriptions * * *, not to do so unless he is an alchemist,
because, although I know from personal experience that these prescriptions are not only allegorically but
literally true, and will prove successful in the hands of an alchemist, they would only cause a waste of
time and money in the hands of one who has not the necessary qualifications. A person who wants to be
an alchemist must have in himself the 'magnesia', which means, the magnetic power to attract and
'coagulate' invisible astral elements."
In considering the formulæ on the following pages, it must be recognized that the experiments cannot be
successfully conducted unless the one who performs them be himself a Magus. If two persons, one an
initiate and the other unilluminated in the supreme art, were to set to work, side by side, using the same
vessels, the same substances, and exactly the same modus operandi, the initiate would produce his
"gold" and the uninitiated would not. Unless the greater alchemy has first taken place within the soul of
man, he cannot perform the lesser alchemy in the retort. This is an invariable rule, although it is
cunningly hidden in the allegories and emblems of Hermetic philosophy. Unless a man be "born again"
he cannot accomplish the Great Work, and if the student of alchemical formulæ will remember this, it
will save him much sorrow and disappointment. To speak of that part of the mystery which is concerned
with the secret life principle within the actual nature of man, is forbidden, for it is decreed by the
Masters of the art that each shall discover that for himself and on this subject it is unlawful to speak at
greater length.
Next: The Theory and Practice of Alchemy: Part Two
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 157
The Theory and Practice of Alchemy
Part Two
All true Philosophers of the natural or Hermetic sciences begin their labors with a prayer to the Supreme
Alchemist of the Universe, beseeching His assistance in the consummation of the Magnum Opus. The
prayer that follows, written in a provincial German centuries ago by an adept now unknown, is
representative: "O holy and hallowed Trinity, Thou undivided and triple Unity! Cause me to sink into
the abyss of Thy limitless eternal Fire, for only in that Fire can the mortal nature of man be changed into
humble dust, while the new body of the salt union lies in the light. Oh, melt me and transmute me in this
Thy holy Fire, so that on the day at Thy command the fiery waters of the Holy Spirit draw me out from
the dark dust, giving me new birth and making me alive with His breath. May I also be exalted through
the humble humility of Thy Son, rising through His assistance out of the dust and ashes and changing
into a pure spiritual body of rainbow colors like unto the transparent, crystal-like, paradisiacal gold, that
my own nature may be redeemed and purified like the elements before me in these glasses and bottles.
Diffuse me in the waters of life as though I were in the wine cellar of the eternal Solomon. Here the fire
of Thy love will receive new fuel and will blaze forth so that no streams can extinguish it. Through the
aid of this divine fire, may I in the end be found worthy to be called into the illumination of the
righteous. May I then be sealed up with the light of the new world that I may also attain unto the
immortality and glory where there shall be no more alternation of light and darkness. Amen."
Apparently but few of the mediæval alchemists discovered the Great Arcanum without aid, some authors
declaring that none of them attained the desired end without the assistance of a Master or Teacher. In
every instance the identity of these Masters has been carefully concealed, and even during the Middle
Ages speculation ran rife concerning them. It was customary to call such illuminated sages adepts, a title
which indicated that they possessed the true secrets of transmutation and multiplication. These adepts
were polyonymous individuals who unexpectedly appeared and disappeared again, leaving no trace of
their whereabouts. There are indications that a certain degree of organization existed among them. The
most powerful of the alchemical organizations were the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, and certain Arabian
and Syrian sects.
I n the documents which follow, references are made to the "Brethren "or "Brothers. " These are to
signify that those who had actually accomplished the Magnum Opus were banded together and known to
each other by cipher codes and secret signs or symbols. Apparently a number of these illuminated adepts
dwelt in Arabia, for several of the great European alchemists were initiated in Asia Minor. When a
disciple of the alchemical arts had learned the supreme secret, he guarded it jealously, revealing to no
man his priceless treasure. He was not permitted to disclose it even to the members of his immediate
As the years passed, one who had discovered the secret--or, more properly, one to whom it had been
revealed--sought for some younger man worthy to be entrusted with the formulæ. To this one, and to this
one only, as a rule, the philosopher was permitted to disclose the arcanum. The younger man then
became the "philosophical son" of the old sage, and to him the latter bequeathed his secrets.
Occasionally, however, an adept, on finding a sincere and earnest seeker, would instruct him in the
fundamental principles of the art, and if the disciple persisted, he was quietly initiated into the august
fraternity of the Brethren. In such manner the alchemical processes were preserved, but the number of
those who knew them did not increase rapidly.
During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries a considerable number of alchemical adepts
made their way from place to place throughout Europe, appearing and disappearing apparently at will.
According to popular tradition, these adepts were immortal, and kept themselves alive by means of the
mysterious medicine that was one of the goals of alchemical aspiration. It is asserted that some lived
hundreds of years, taking no food except this elixir, a few drops of which would preserve their youth for
a long period of time. That such mysterious men did exist there can be little doubt, as their presence is
attested by scores of reliable witnesses.
It is further asserted that they are still to be found by those who have qualified themselves to contact
them. The philosophers taught that like attracts like, and that when the disciple has developed a virtue
and integrity acceptable to the adepts they will appear to him and reveal those parts of the secret
processes which cannot be discovered without such help. "Wisdom is as a flower from which the bee its
honey makes and the spider poison, each according to its own nature." (By an unknown adept.)
The reader must bear in mind at all times that the formulæ and emblems of alchemy are to be taken
primarily as allegorical symbols; for until their esoteric significance has been comprehended, their literal
interpretation is valueless. Nearly every alchemical formula has one element purposely omitted, it being
decided by the mediæval philosophers that those who could not with their own intelligence discover that
missing substance or process were not qualified to be entrusted with secrets which could give them
control over great masses of humanity and likewise subject to their will the elemental forces of Nature.
The oldest and most revered of all the alchemical formulæ is the sacred Emerald Tablet of Hermes.
Authorities do not agree as to the genuineness of this Table, some declaring it to be a post-Christian
fraud, but there is much evidence that, regardless of its author, the Table is of great antiquity. While the
symbol of the Emerald Table is of special Masonic import--relating as it does to the personality of
CHiram (Hiram)--it is first and fundamentally an alchemical formula, relating both to the alchemy of the
base metals and the divine alchemy of human regeneration.
In Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom's collection of alchemical manuscripts is a section devoted to the translations
and interpretations of this remarkable Tablet, which was known to the ancients as the Tabula
Smaragdina. Dr. Bacstrom was initiated into the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross on the island of
Mauritius by one of those unknown adepts who at that time called himself Comte de Chazal. Dr.
Bacstrom's translations and notes on the Emerald Tablet are, in part, as follows, the actual text being
reproduced in capital letters:
"The Emerald Table, the Most Ancient Monument of the Chaldeans concerning the Lapis
Philosophorum (the stone of the philosophers).
"The Emerald Table furnishes the origin of the allegorical history of King Hiram (rather Chiram). The
Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Hebrews in what concerns Chiram have taken their knowledge from one and
the same fountain; Homerus, who relates this history in a different manner, followed that original, and
Virgil followed
Click to enlarge
From Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus.
The priests of Egypt not only used the scarab as a symbol of regeneration but also discovered in its habits many
analogies to the secret process whereby base metals could be transmuted into gold. They saw in the egg of the
scarab the seed of the metals, and the above figure shows the path of this seed through the various planetary
bodies until, finally reaching the center, it is perfected and then returns again to its source. The words in the mall
spiral at the top read: "The spiral Progress of the mundane spirit." After the scarab has wound its way around the
spiral to the center of the lower part of the figure, it returns to the upper world along the path bearing the words:
"Return of the spirit to the center of unity."
p. 158
Homerus, as Hesiodus took the subject for his Theogony likewise from thence, which
[paragraph continues]
Ovidius took afterwards for a pattern for his Metamorphosis. The knowledge of Nature's secret
operations constitutes the principal sense of all these ancient writings, but ignorance framed out of it that
external or veiled mythology and the lower class of people turned it into idolatry.
"The Genuine Translation from the Original Very Ancient Chaldee is as Follows:
"(The two first large words mean the Secret Work.)
"(The second line in large letters, reads: Chiram Telat Machasot, i.e. Chiram the Universal Agent, One
in Essence but three in aspect.)
ARE INCREASED IN POWER. The Azoth ascends from the Earth, from the bottom of the Glass, and
redescends in Veins and drops into the Earth and by this continual circulation the Azoth is more and
more subtilized, Volatilizes Sol and carries the volatilized Solar atoms along with it and thereby becomes
a Solar Azoth, i.e. our third, and genuine Sophic Mercury, and this circulation of the Solar Azoth must
continue until it ceases of itself, and the Earth has sucked it all in, when it muse become the black pitchy
matter, the Toad [the substances in the alchemical retort and also the lower elements in the body of
man], which denotes complete putrefaction or Death of the Compound.
as the black, pitchy matter will and must of necessity become White and Red, and the Red having been
carried to perfection, medicinally and for Metals, is then fully capable to preserve mentem sanam in
corpore sano until the natural period of Life and promise us ample means, in infinitum multipliable, to
be benevolent and charitable without any diminution of our inexhaustible resources, therefore well may
it be called the Glory [Honours] of the Whole World, as truly the study and contemplation of the L. P.
[Lapis Philosophorum], harmonising with Divine Truths, elevates the mind to God our Creator and
merciful Father, and if He should permit us to possess it practically must eradicate the very principle of
Avarice, Envy, and Evil Inclinations, and cause our hearts to melt in gratitude toward Him that has been
so kind to us! Therefore the Philosophers say with great Truth, that the L. P. either finds a good man or
makes one.
"AND DARKNESS WILL FLY FROM THEE. By invigorating the Organs the Soul makes use of for
communicating with exterior objects, the Soul must acquire greater powers not only for conception but
also for retention, and therefore if we wish to obtain still more knowledge, the organs and secret springs
of physical life being wonderfully strengthened and invigorated, the Soul must acquire new powers for
conceiving and retaining, especially if we pray to God for knowledge, and confirm our prayers by faith,
all Obscurity must vanish of course. That this has not been the case with all possessors, was their own
fault, as they contented themselves merely with the Transmutation of Metals.
"(Use.) THIS IS THE STRENGTH OF ALL POWERS. This is a very strong figure, to indicate that the
L. P. positively does possess all the Powers concealed in Nature, not for destruction but for exaltation
and regeneration of matter, in the three Departments of Nature.
WHAT IS FINE (••) AND WHAT IS COARSE (•• • • • ). It will conquer every subtil Thing, of
course, as it refixes the most subtil Oxygen into its own fiery Nature and that with more power,
penetration and virtue, in a tenfold ratio, at every multiplication, and each time in a much shorter period,
until its power becomes incalculable, which multiplied power also penetrates [overcomes] every Solid
Thing, such as unconquerable Gold and Silver, the otherwise unalterable Mercury, Crystals and Glass
Fluxes, to which it is able to give natural hardness and fixity, as Philaletha does attest, and is proved by
an artificial Diamond, in my father's time, in possession of Prince Lichtenstein in Vienna, valued at Five
Hundred Thousand Ducats, fixed by the Lapis [Philosopher's Stone].
WHOLE WORLD (i.e., in Chiram and its Use). It is thought that Hermes was Moses or Zoroaster,
otherwise Hermes signifies a Serpent, and the Serpent used to be an Emblem of Knowledge or Wisdom.
The Serpent is met with everywhere amongst the Hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians, so is the Globe
with Wings, the Sun and Moon, Dragons and Griffins, whereby the Egyptians denoted their sublime
knowledge of the Lapis Philosophorum, according to Suidas, the hints in the Scriptures, and even De
Non where he speaks of the sanctuaries of the ancient Egyptian Temples.
OF THE TABULA SMARAGDINA. What I have said or taught of the Solar Work, is now finished. The
perfect Seed, fit for multiplication.
"This I know is acknowledged to be the genuine Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis."
Although Eugenius Philalethes disclaimed membership in the Rosicrucian Fraternity, it is believed that
for a number of years he was the head of that Order. In a little work called Lumen de Lumine, or A New
Magical Light Discovered and Communicated to the World, published in London in 1651, Eugenius
Philalethes gives a remarkable letter, presumably from the Rosicrucian Order. Accompanying the letter
is an emblematic figure setting forth in symbolic form the processes and formulæ of the Philosopher's
Stone. This epistle is an excellent example of the Rosicrucian system of combining abstract theological
speculations with concrete chemical formulæ. With the aid of the material contained in various parts of
this present book the student would do well to set himself the task of solving the riddle contained in this
"A Letter from the Brothers of R. C. Concerning the Invisible, Magical Mountain, And the Treasure
therein Contained.
"Every man naturally desires a superiority, to have treasures of Gold and Silver [intellect and soul], and
to seem great in the eyes of the world. God indeed created all things for the use of man, that he might
rule over them, and acknowledge therein the singular goodness and omnipotence of God, give Him
thanks for His benefits, honor Him and praise Him. But there is no man looks after these things,
otherwise than by spending his days idly; they would enjoy them without any previous labor and danger;
neither do they look them out of that place where God hath treasured them up, Who expects also that
man should seek for them there, and to those that seek will He give them. But there is not any that labors
for a possession in that place, and therefore these riches are not found: For the way to this place, and the
place itself hath been unknown for a long time, and it is hidden from the greatest part of the world. But
notwithstanding it be difficult and laborious to find Out this way and place, yet the place should be
sought after.
"But it is not the will of God to conceal anything from those that are His, and therefore in this last age,
before the final judgment comes, all these things shall be manifested to those that are worthy: As He
Himself (though obscurely, lest it should be manifested to, the unworthy) hath spoken in a certain place:
There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hidden that shall not be known. We therefore
being moved by the Spirit of God, do declare the will of God to the world, which we have also already
performed and published in several languages. But most men either revile, or contemne that, our
Manifesto, (the Fama and Confessio Fraternitatis) or else waiving the Spirit of God, they expect the
proposals thereof from us, supposing we will straightway teach them how to make gold by Art, or
furnish them with ample treasures, whereby they may live pompously in the face of the world, swagger,
and make wars, turn usurers, gluttons, and drunkards, live unchastely, and defile their whole life With
several other sins, all which things are contrary to the blessed will of God. These men should have learnt
from those Ten Virgins (whereof five that were foolish demanded oil for their lamps, from those five
that were wise) how that the case is much otherwise.
p. 159
"It is expedient that every man should labor for this treasure by the assistance of God, and his own
particular search and industry. But the perverse intentions of these fellows we understand out of their
own writings, by the singular grace and revelation of God. We do stop our ears, and wrap ourselves as it
were in clouds, to avoid the bellowings and howlings of those men, who in vain cry out for gold. And
hence indeed it comes to pass that they brand us with infinite calumnies and slanders, which
notwithstanding we do not resent but God in His good time will judge them for it. But after that we had
well known (though unknown to you) and perceived also by your writing how diligently you are to
peruse the Holy Scripture, and seek the true knowledge of God: we have also above many thousands,
thought you worthy of some answer, and we signify this much to you by the will of God and the
admonition of the Holy Ghost.
"There is a mountain situated in the midst of the earth, or center of the world, which is both small and
great. It is soft, also above measure hard and stony. It is far off, and near at hand, but by the providence
of God, invisible. In it are hidden most ample treasures, which the world is not able to value. This
mountain by envy of the devil, who always opposeth the glory of God and the happiness of man, is
compassed about with very cruel beasts and other [sic] ravenous birds, which make the way thither both
difficult and dangerous; and therefore hitherto, because the time is not yet come, the way thither could
not be sought after nor found out. But now at last the way is to be found by those that are worthy, but
notwithstanding by every man's self-labor and endeavors.
"To this mountain you shall go in a certain night (when it: comes) most long and most dark, and see that
you prepare yourselves by prayer. Insist upon the way that: leads to the mountain, but ask not of any
man where the way lies: only follow your Guide, who will offer himself to you, and will meet you in the
way but you shall not know him. This Guide will bring you to the mountain at midnight, when all things
are silent and dark. It is necessary that you arm yourselves with a resolute heroic courage, lest you fear
those things that will happen, and so fall back. You need no sword, nor any other bodily weapons, only
call upon God sincerely and heartily.
"When you have discovered the mountain, the first miracle that will appear is this. A most vehement and
very great wind, that will shake the mountain and shatter the rocks to pieces. You shall be encountered
also by lions and dragons and other terrible beasts, but fear not any of these things. Be resolute and rake
heed that you return not, for your Guide who brought you thither will not suffer any evil to befall you.
As for the treasure, it is not yet discovered but it is very near. After this wind will come an earthquake,
that will overthrow those things which the wind hath left and make all flat. But be sure that you fall not
"The earthquake being past, there shall follow afire, that will consume the earthly rubbish, and discover
the treasure, but as yet you cannot see it. After all these things and near the daybreak there shall be a
great calm, and you shall see the Day-Star arise and the dawning will appear, and you shall perceive a
great treasure. The chiefest thing in it, and the most perfect, is a certain exalted tincture, with which the
world (if it served God and were worthy of such gifts) might be tinged and turned into most pure gold.
"This tincture being used, as your Guide shall reach you, will make you young when you are old, and
you shall perceive no disease in any part of your bodies. By means of this tincture also you shall find
pearls of that excellency which cannot be imagined. But do not you arrogate anything to yourselves
because of your present power, but be contented with that which your Guide shall communicate to you.
Praise God perpetually for this His gift, and have a special care that you use it not for worldly pride, but
employ it in such works which are contrary to the world. Use it rightly and enjoy it so, as if you had it
not. Live a temperate life, and beware of all sin, otherwise your Guide will forsake you, and you shall be
deprived of this happiness. For know this of a truth, whosoever abuseth this tincture and lives not
exemplarly, purely, and devoutly before men he shall lose this benefit, and scarce any hope will there be
left ever to recover it afterwards."
If, as transcendentalists believe, the initiations into the Fraternity of the Rose Cross were given in the
invisible worlds which surround and interpenetrate the visible universe, it is not beyond the range of
possibility that this allegory is to be considered in the light of an initiatory ritual as well as an alchemical
As has been noted, it is difficult to secure a complete formula for any of the alchemical operations. The
one presented here is the most nearly complete of any available. The collecting of the rays and energies
of the celestial bodies as precipitated in dew is a process which Paracelsus used with great success. Bear
constantly in mind that these processes are only for those who have been properly instructed in the secret
COMMONLY CALLED 'THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE.' By the celebrated philosopher of Leyden, as
attested upon his deathbed with his own Blood, Anno Domini 1662. To my Loving Cousin and Son, the
True Hermetic Philosopher--
"Dear Loving Cousin and Son:
"Although I had resolved never to give in writing to any person the secret of the Ancient Sages, yet
notwithstanding out of peculiar affection and love to you, I have taken it upon me, to which the nearness
of our relation obliges me, and especially because this temporal life is short, and Art is very dark and
you may therefore not attain the wished for end;--but my Son because so precious a jewel belongs not to
swine; and also this so great a gift of God may be treated carefully and Christianlike, in consideration
thereof I do so largely declare myself to thee.
"I conjure thee with hand and mouth sacredly;
"1st. That most especially thou faithfully keep the same from all wicked, lustful and criminal persons.
"2dly. That thou exalt not thyself in any way.
"3dly. That thou seek to advance the honor of thy Creator of all things and the good of thy neighbor,
preserve it sacredly that thy Lord may not have cause to complain of thee at the last day. I have written
here in this treatise such a part of the Kingdom of Heaven, just as I myself have worked this treasure and
finished it with my fingers, therefore I have subscribed all this work with my blood, lying on my
deathbed in Leyden.
"THE PROCESS--In the Name of God, take of the purest and cleanest salt, sea salt, so as it is made by
the sun itself, such as is brought by shipping from Spain, (I used salt that came from St. Uber) let it be
dried in a warm stove, grind it in a stone mortar, as fine as possible to a powder that it may be so much
the easier dissolve and taken up by our Dew-water, which is thus to be had in the months of May or
June: When the Moon is at the full, observe when the dew falls with an East or South East wind. Then
you must have sticks about one and a half feet high above the ground when driven in the Earth. Upon
two or three such sticks, lay some four square plates of glass, and as the dew falls it easily fastens on the
glass like a vapour, then have glass Vessels in readiness, let the dew drain from the sides of the glasses
into your vessels. Do this until you have enough. The full of the Moon is a good season, afterwards it
will be hard."
The solar rays descending from the sun carry with them solar sulphur--the Divine Fire. These rays are
crystallized by contact with
Click to enlarge
From Phililethales' Lumen de Lumine.
On Page 24 of Lumen de Lumine, Eugenius Philalethes describes the magical mountain as follows:
"This is that emblematical magical type, which Thalia delivered to me in the invisible Guiana. The first and
superior Part of it represents the Mountains of the Moon. The philosophers commonly call them the Mountains of
India, on whose tops grows their secret and famous Lunaria. It is an Herb easy to be found, but [for the fact] that
men are blind discovers itself and shines after night like pearl. The earth of these mountains is very red and soft
beyond all expression. It is full of crystalline rocks, which the philosophers call their glass and their stone: birds
and fish (say they) bring it to them. Of these mountains speaks Hali the Arabian, a most excellent judicious
author: 'Go, my son, to the Mountains of India, and to their quarries or caverns, and take thence our precious
stones which dissolve or melt in water, when they are mingled therewith. Much indeed might be spoken of these
mountains, if it were lawful to publish their mysteries, but one thing I shall not forbear to tell you. They are very
dangerous places after night, for they are haunted with fires and other strange apparitions, (as a I am told by the
Magi) by certain spirits, which dabble lasciviously with the sperm of the world and imprint their imaginations in,
producing many times fantastic and monstrous generations. The access and pilgrimage to this place, with the
difficulties which attend them, are faithfully and magisterially described by the Brothers of R.C." (Set
accompanying letter.)
p. 160
the lunar rays. The solar rays are also met by the emanations pouring upward from the earth's surface
and are thus still further crystallized into a partly tangible substance, which is soluble in pure water. This
substance is the "Magical Mountain of the Moon" referred to in the R. C. letter. The crystallization of
the solar and lunar rays in water (dew) produces the virgin earth--a pure, invisible substance,
uncontaminated by material matter. When the virgin earth crystals are wet, they appear green; when dry,
Von Welling makes a suggestion for the extraction of the solar life from stagnant water, but is reticent
both as to naming the essence extracted and also as to the various processes through which it must pass
to be refined and increased in power. His hint, however, is both valuable and unusual:
"Take sweet clean water and seal it in a large bottle, leaving about one-fourth empty. Place the bottle in
the sun for some weeks until it rots, showing a precipitation in the bottom. This precipitation, when
properly manipulated by distillation, will produce a clear, fiery, burning oil, the constituents and use of
which are only known to the wise."
The philosopher of Leyden continues: "Now when you have enough of your dew close your glasses
exactly, and keep it till you use it, that none of its spirits may evaporate, which may easily happen. Set it
therefore in a cool place, that no warmth may come to it, or else the subtle spirit will rise and be gone;
which will not so happen if after you have filled your glasses with Dew quite full, you close them very
well with wax.
"Now in the Name of God, take of this Dew-water as much as thou wilt, put in a clean dissolving glass,
then cast a little of your forementioned powdered salt into it to be dissolved, and continue to put it in till
your Dew-water will dissolve no more or till the salt lies in it four days without being dissolved, then it
has enough, and unto your Dew is given its proper powder. Of this compounded water, take as much as
thou wilt, I took about a pound and a half, and put it into a round vial with a short neck, fill it with out
water and lute it with a good lute, a cover and stopple that fits it well, that the subtle and living spirit of
the dew may not fume away, for if they should the soul of the salt will never be stirred up, nor the work
ever brought to a right end. Let the lute dry very well of itself, and set it in the furnace of B. M. to
putrefy. Make a slow fire and let it digest for forty days or fifty, and that the fume of the water be
continually round about it, and you will see your matter grow black, which is a token of its putrefaction.
"As soon as you have taken it out, have your dry furnace ready. Set your glass with the matter into an
inner globe to coagulate, give it a slow degree of fire, continue it equally for twelve or fifteen days, and
your matter will begin to coagulate and to fasten round about your glass like a gray salt, which as soon
as you see and before it be two days, slacken the fire that it may cool leisurely. Then have in readiness
your putrefying furnace as before. Set your glass therein and give the same degree of fire as before. Let
it stand twelve days, and again you will see the matter resolve and open as before, and open itself, but
you must every time see that the lute and your glass is not hurt. When you set your glass in the
putrefying furnace, take care that the neck of your glass is covered with a wooden or glass stopper that
fits it exactly, that the moisture of the water may not come at it.
"When you see it black set your glass as before to coagulate and when it begins to be of a grayish color
and whitish, set it in a third time to putrefy, and coagulate to the fifth time, until you see that your water
in its dissolution is clean, pellucid and clear, and that it appears in its Calcination of a fine white like
Snow. Then it is prepared and becomes a Salt fixed which will melt on hot Silver plate like wax; but
before you set this your Salt out, set it again [in] the furnace of putrefaction that it may dissolve of itself,
then let it cool, open your Glass and you will find your Matter lessened a third part. But instead of your
former Salt Water you will have a fine Sweet and very penetrating Water which the Philosophers have
hid under very wonderful Names--It is the Mercury of all true Philosophers, the Water out of which
comes Gold and Silver, for they say its Father is Gold and its Mother is Silver. Thus hast thou the
strength of both these Luminaries conjoined in this Water, most true, in its right Pondus.
"Prescription. 5 Drops of this Water taken inwardly strengthens the understanding and memory, and
opens to us most wonderful and sweet things, of which no man hath heard, and of which I dare not
further write, because of the Oath I made God to the contrary. Time and the holy use of this blessed
Water will teach us, as soon as you have taken it inwardly such influence will happen to thee as if the
whole heavens and all the stars with their powers are working in thee. All Knowledge and secret Arts
will be opened to thee as in a dream, but the most excellent of all is, you will perfectly learn rightly to
know all creatures in their Nature, and by means thereof, the true understanding of God, the Creator of
us, Heaven and Earth, like David and Moses and all the Saints of God, for the wisdom of our fountain of
living Water will instruct thee as it did Solomon and the Brethren of our fraternity."
In his rare treatise on Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, von Welling discloses a secret: not generally revealed
in alchemical writings, namely, that the alchemists were concerned not only with the transmutation of
metals but had a complete cosmological and philosophical system based upon the Qabbalah.
According to von Welling, the universal salt (in watery form) is a positive cure for all the physical
ailments of mankind; it is in every living thing, but from some things it is more easily secured than from
others: especially is this true of virgin earth; it is the universal solvent, the alkahest. The same writer also
states that in the first stages of its preparation this salt will cure any and all diseases of the heart. The
anonymous philosopher of Leyden continues:
"Would you now proceed further with our blessed Water to the forementioned intention of preparing a
Tincture for Metals, hearken my Son--
"Take in the NAME of the Lord, of thy Paradisiacal Water, of heavenly Water of Mercury, as much as
thou wilt, put it into a glass to dissolve, and set it in a slow heat of Ashes, that it may just feel the
warmth, then have ready well purified Gold for the Red, or Silver for the White Elixir, for in both the
Processes are the same. Let your Gold or Silver be beaten as thin as leaf Gold, cast it by degrees into
your dissolving Glass, that contains your blessed Water, as you did in the beginning with your Salt, and
it will melt like Ice in Warm Water, and continue so to do till your Gold or Silver lie therein four days
without dissolving, then it has received its due Pondus. Then put this dissolution as before into a round
Glass, fill it two thirds parts full, seal it hermetically as before, let your Sigillum be well dried. Set it in
the furnace of Balneum Vapori, make a fire and let it remain forty days, as before, then will the Gold or
Silver be dissolved radically and will turn of the deepest black in the world, which as soon as you see,
have your other drying furnace in readiness."
Continuing: "Philosophers say there is no true solution of the body without a proceeding coagulation of
the spirit, for they are interchangeably mixed in a due proportion, whereby the bodily essence becomes
of a spiritual penetrating nature. On the other hand, the incomprehensible spiritual essential virtue is also
made corporeal by the fire, because there is made between them so near a relation or friendship, like as
the heavens operate to the very Depth of Earth, and producing from thence all the treasures and riches of
the whole World.
"Admirandum Naturæ Operationem in Archidoxes Cognitam.
"With this Powder--You may as follows project on metals. Take five parts of fine Gold or Silver
according as you work, and melt it in a Crucible. Wrap up your Medicine in Wax, cast it therein, give a
strong fire for an hour, then take the Crucible out, as it were, calcined, then cast one part on ten parts of
imperfect metals, be it what it will, and the same will be immediately changed into purer Metal, than
what is brought out of the Mines and produced by Melting; and when you augment it in strength and
virtue by resolving and coagulating, the fifth time it will resolve itself in three days and be coagulated in
twenty-four hours time, to an incredible and most highly pellucid Stone or Red Shining burning Coal.
For the white work it will become like a white stream of Lightning.
"Of this last coagulation take one part, cast it upon five thousand of melted Gold or Silver as before. It
changes the same into perfect Medicine, one part whereof will tinge one hundred thousand parts of
melted imperfect Metals into the very finest Gold or Silver. So far I have brought and further I would
not come, for as I would set in the matter [to distill] six times in twelve hours, it subtilized so highly that
the most part (like somewhat most wonderful to behold) past through the Glass causing an inexpressible
odoriferous Smell. Take heed that it happens not to you.
"Many more wonders of this holy Art might be added, namely how to prepare therewith all sorts of
precious Stones, and other most admirable things, but it would require too great a book to express the
whole as it ought to be, especially as the Art is endless and not to be apprehended with one view, and my
purpose has been, Loving Cousin and Son, devoutly to lead thee into the Mysteries of Nature and this
holy Science, and I have faithfully performed it."
In conclusion, the letter states: "Go thou to work as I have done before thee, fear God, Love thy
neighbour from the bottom of thy Soul sincerely. So will in the Manual operation, everything to thee,
and when thou art at work therein many of our brethren will reveal themselves to thee, of our holy order,
privately; For I have on my part by the Eternal God wrote the truth which I found out by prayer and
searching into Nature, which work I have seen with my eyes, and with my hands extracted. Therefore
also I have subscribed this Testament with my own blood, the last day of my Life on my deathbed.
Actum Leyden, 27 March 1662."
Next: The Hermetic And Alchemical Figures of Claudius De Dominico Celentano Vallis Novi
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. A1
No better way can be found of introducing to the "Royal Art" a seeker after the mysteries of symbolical
philosophy than to place at his disposal an actual example of alchemical writing. The text of this
manuscript is as enigmatic as are its diagrams; but to him who will meditate upon the profound
significance of both, the deeper issues of mysticism in due time will be made clear. An unknown person
through whose hands this manuscript passed wrote thus of it:
"Because of its drawings and illustrated expositions, the manuscript is of preeminent importance to the
Rosicrucians and the contemporary order of Freemasons. The first, and larger, part of the illustrations
deals with the Hermetic philosophy, explaining its teachings and doctrines. Interspersed among these are
portraits of great teachers and satirical representations of bunglers and their mistaken views. The
systematically arranged part shows with wonderful clearness the color development of the alchemical
processes from blue-gold over black to white and rose. Throughout it treats of the change in human
beings and not of the making of gold. Ever upon the Grade of Black (the return into Chaos from which
new creations are possible) follows the Grade of the Neophytes, the New Birth, which is often repeated
with impressive lucidity. The black stage occurs as usual through fire. This unopened and unpublished
manuscript belongs to the order of the most important Precepts and Documents of the Rosicrucians, and
Freemasons. A search through the museums and library collections of Germany has failed to reveal any
item of even a similar character."
In addition to the 26 leaves here reproduced there are ten bottles or retorts, each half filled with
varicolored substances. These bottles can be so easily described that it is unnecessary to reproduce them.
The first bottle (from the mouth of which issues a golden shrub with three blossoms) contains a bluish-
gray liquid, the entire figure being called "Our Quicksilver." Under the vessel is a verse containing the
significant words: "He will have white garments for black and then red." The second bottle (from the
neck of which rise four golden flowers) also contains the bluish-gray substance termed quicksilver.
Below the bottle is the admonition to "make spirit of the body and grace of the gross, that the corporeal
may become incorporeal."
The third bottle is entirely black save for a golden tree trunk having six lopped-off branches and
terminating in five branches which end in knobs and protrude from the neck of the bottle. The state of
the substance is termed "Blackness showing through the Head of the Raven." Under the bottle occurs the
statement that "the tincture of the Philosophers is hidden in the air like the soul in the human body." The
fourth bottle is of the deepest blackness and is called "The Head of the Raven." Nothing rises from the
neck of the vessel, for the earth (its contents) is described as "submerged in Chaos." The bottom of the
fifth bottle contains a bluish-gray, spotted liquid, the upper part being filled with a brick-colored
substance. Above are the words: "Sixth Raven's Head"; below is added: "At the bottom of the vessel
worms are born."
The lower half of the sixth bottle is of a bluish-gray, the u per half black, the entire figure being termed
"Seventh Raven's Head." A child is seated beside the bottle, concerning whom it is written: "This newly-
born, black son is called Elixir and will be made perfectly white." The seventh bottle is black below and
black spotted with red above. The process is thus described: "Black blacker than black, for many divers
colors will appear. Those black clouds will [descend] to the body whence they came, and the junction of
body, soul, and spirit has been completed and turned to ashes."
The eighth bottle is divided horizontally by a golden band, from which rises a golden stem ending in five
leaves protruding from the neck of the bottle. The contents of the vessel are transparent, and it is written
that "the black clouds are past and the great whiteness has been completed." The ninth bottle (from the
neck of which rises a golden white rose) is also partly filled with a transparent liquid. The rose is made
to say: "He who blanches me makes me red." The tenth and last bottle represents the consummation of
the Great Work. The lower half of the vessel is filled with the blood-red Elixir and from the neck rises a
red rose with many petals and of extreme beauty. After declaring all the planets to have been present at
the consummation of the Great Work, the author of the document concludes: "I gave to the Master
[spirit] so much silver and gold that be can never be poor."
In his dedication the author and illustrator of the manuscript declares that he has set forth all the
operations of the Great Work. He prays to the Holy Spirit that he may be included in the number of
those who have pursued this most noble of the sciences and that he may be set always in the path of
righteousness. Exclusive of his own researches, the main sources of his information are said to be the
writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Raymond Lully, and Arnold of Villa Nova.
To protect themselves from the persecution of despotic theology the mediæval alchemists couched their
philosophy in Christian terminology, although the great secrets of the Art were derived largely from
Egyptian or Arabian adepts. The Mohammedans were masters of the Hermetic secrets and even the great
Paracelsus secured from them the major part of his knowledge. In their manifestoes the Rosicrucians
also disclose the Arabian source of their secret doctrine. Hence it should be borne in mind that the
relating of the alchemical teachings to Biblical symbolism was a gesture of expediency. In their search
of the Scriptures for the arcana of Israel, the Qabbalists substantiated in great measure the alchemical
interpretations of the Bible, for the soul of alchemy is one with that of Qabbalism. Both schools have a
common end, being who concerned with the mystery of human regeneration, despite apparent
discrepancies in their symbolism.
The publication of this manuscript places at the student's disposal the most profound secrets of the
Hermetic Art. At first the task of decipherment may seem hopeless and the superficially-minded will be
tempted to scoff at the possibility of real knowledge being perpetuated in such unconventional fashion.
The scoffer will not realize that one of the purposes of the document is to awaken ridicule and thus
preserve more effectually its arcana from the profane. A few sheets (such as those here reproduced)
represent the life work of one who has consecrated himself to the task of tearing aside the veil of the
World Virgin. Years of research and experimentation, days of incessant labor, nights of prayer and
meditation, and at last comes the realization of accomplishment! This is the real story told by the
grotesque figures drawn so painstakingly upon the faded, worm-eaten pages. Those who have glimpsed
the greater realities of being realize that the fundamental verities of life find at best only imperfect
expression through physical symbols. Only those who have passed through the travail of spiritual birth
can adequately comprehend and properly reverence the pathetic efforts to portray for others that
knowledge necessarily locked within the heart of the one who knows.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 1. The top line reads: "Our earliest medicine was made of natural objects." About the king and
queen appears the statement that to them a son shall be born "in two trees of the vine," resembling his
father and without equal in all the world. About the vase is written: "Green and white." "The vase flame
color, the flowers green." "Our water, our silver." The lines below read: "The material of the
Philosopher's Stone is that thick, viscous water, which either heat or cold congeals. It is Mercury boiled
down and thickened, cooked in neutral earth with sulphurous heat and is called the Prime Material of the
metals. In caverns yet dark, and forbidding mountains, if a Stone be found which a thousand years ago
Nature made out of her fruits, it will bring him that has it out of trouble. * * * Listen carefully to all my
verses; I speak them without veil and without deception.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 2. At the top is a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas concerning the composition of the
Philosopher's Stone, which is described as of the purest transparency; in it all the forms of the elements
and their contrarieties were visible. Beneath the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas is a short paragraph
praising the excellence of the Philosophic Stone, declaring that from the one substance can be derived
three and from the three, two. To the right of St. Thomas Aquinas is a likeness of Raymond Lully seated
in the door of his hermitage. Under his feet appears a quotation from this celebrated alchemist,
beginning with the question, "What is the Philosopher's Stone?" After declaring it to be a reddish, fixed
mercury, Lully swears to the Almighty that he has told the truth and that it is not permissible to say
more. (The original manuscript is mutilated at this point.)
p. A2
Click to enlarge
Leaf 3. The writing at the top of the page reads: "Death of Saturn; life of Mercury." After describing the
use of the saturnine substances, the key to the process is declared to be depicted below. The verse reads
"This [the stone] is made of four elements. This is the truth in all Nature. Take it in hand, bright and
shining, with all diligence and great care and then try to bind all securely together side by side, so the
fire may cause alarm." Above the human figure is written: "Saturn is almost dead." To the right if the
devouring serpent is a statement of Albertus Magnus that Saturn and Mercury are the first principles of
the Stone. It also declares that Nature wisely provided a mixture of elements so that earth can
communicate its dryness to fire, fire its heat to air, air its moisture to water, and water its coldness to
earth. (Text about the vase is illegible in original.)
Click to enlarge
Leaf 4. At the top: "Let them believe that . everything is possible. The art is fleeting, bright and rare, and
not believed by the foolish." The words between the sun and crescent read "It is hidden," and on the
panel across the body "The Book of life and true Treasury of the World." The panel to the left of the
figure says "Moving almost all, and the soul of its body returns to the place from which it had fled, and
ripens seven months or nine, and the King crowned with his diadem appears." The right panel states:
"There are three Mercuries: animal, vegetable, and mineral." The text below is of such a cryptic nature
that to translate it is well nigh impossible. It declares that by putting fire beneath the feet of the symbolic
figure it is possible to extract therefrom the sun and the moon which the human body is shown elevating
to a position of dignity above its head.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 5. In the upper panel it is declared that the sun-bird battles with the earth-serpent, who, tearing out
his own entrails, gives them to the bird. The spirit is vivified and Lazarus with joy is raised from the
dead. Above the bird is written: "This is the sun in the form of a bird," and above the dragon "This is the
dragon devouring the bird. The first operation." The panel of text at the lower left reads in substance:
"When our sperm (quicksilver) is mixed with the mother of elements (earth), the action is called coitus.
The detention by the earth of a bit of quicksilver is called conception. The earth grows and multiplies
and the operation is called impregnation. When earth is whitened with water and made of uniform color
and appearance, it is called birth and the King is born out of fire." The text at lower right was
deliberately mutilated to conceal a too evident secret.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 6. This plate shows all the secrets of the great Stone. In the center stands the Paschal Virgin, in her
hair the prime virtue which is described as an herb flourishing in wells. The hands hold the symbols of
the spiritual and material elements. The statement at the upper left is to the effect that there are four
spirits with two faces, which are called the elements. At the upper right it is written that fire lives on air,
air on water, water on earth, and thus the Stone lives Peacefully on all the pure elements. Under the sun
appears the word Summer; under the moon, Autumn. About the tree on the left with its attendant eyes are
the words: "Turn away your eyes to [from?] the fire. There is space [?]." About the tree to the right.
"Open your eyes to the fire. There is time." The lower panel opens with this sentence "I am exalted
above the circles of world."
p. A3
Click to enlarge
Leaf 7. The verse at the top reads:," This Stone is so noble and worthy that Nature has hidden it in her
recesses. Its soul is all fair, and pure, for it is the true sun. I inform you of this. Keep it removed, apart
and separated. Whatever boon you crave, it will come to you bounteously. without sin, with pleasure and
delight." The seated figure on the left holding aloft the hammer is described as breaking hard stone,
while the words beside the man with the retort read: "Breaking of stone our replenishment." Between the
standing figures below is the exclamation; "O Sages, seek and ye shall find my Stone!" Under the
outstretched hand of the man with a basket appear the words: "Draw out sorerem [?] in the bottom."
Below the pool which the man on the left is stirring appears the simple statement: "Our healing water."
The faces of the four men are extremely well drawn.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 8. Under the sun, moon, and Mercury are the words Three and One, an inference that the three are
one. The words under the flower stems read: "Whiteness forty days after ashes." Under the blossoms is
written: (left) "Minor time of the Stone"; (right) "The selected red." Between the arms of the central
figure appears: "Let one pound of Mercury be placed." To the left is written: "If you who read shall have
known this figure, you will possess the whole science of the Stone"; to the right: "And if you do not
acknowledge it, you will be stiff-necked and dull." Above the sun is the word Father; above the satyr,
"Ferment of the work." Beside the child is the sentence: "The son of the moon would threw the Stone
into the fire--his mother." Above the flaming basket is written: "I am the true Stone." Under the central
figure are the words: "A moderate fire is the master of the work."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 9. In the upper left it is written that without the light of the Moon the Sun does not heat the earth
and that into the Moon the Sun emits its fruits. In the upper right the true herb of the philosophers is
described, and it is declared that whoever believes in and it shall be [spiritually] rich. The panel
concludes thus: "Understand thoroughly what it is that the man has in either hand if you wish to be
enlightened." The text to the left above the sun reads: "Entirely without the Sun and Moon, make dye;
dissolve, congeal, and like produces for itself like." The words to the right of the man holding the
Philosopher's herb declare sublimation to be the beginning, the middle and the end of the Great Work.
The last sentence reads: "Out of the Sun and Moon make a thing of equal parts, and by their union, God
willing, let the Philosopher's Stone be made."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 10. The two short lines of text at upper left read: "Some take a recent stone." The lines to the right
of the symbol of Mars (iron) admonish the student to control his appetites and apply his mind to the
accumulation of knowledge. No satisfactory translation can be found for the words under the
outstretched arm of the man holding the upper part of the tree. The lower panel reads thus: "After the
Stone has been well refined it will appear to penetrate thoroughly. It should be put into its vessel with its
water. Close it well with a little fire, and await the wonders of Nature." The large red oval filling the
lower half of the leaf is evidently the egg or vessel of the Sages. The tree is a symbol of the growth of
the sacred metals, for the alchemists affirmed that the metals are like plants and grow in the rocks,
spreading their branches (veins) through the interstices.
p. A4
Click to enlarge
Leaf 11. The fount is described as that from which the two Mercuries of the Philosophers are extracted.
At the upper left is described the white Mercury and at the right the red Mercury. The text about the
fountain declares that Saturn collects the white Mercury, which is called the Water of Earth; and the
Earth collects the red Mercury, which is called the Water of Heaven. The text to the left of the frog
reads: "Through Him who created the Heavens and the Earth I am the Philosopher's Stone, and in my
body I carry something the wise seek. If such a charm be extracted from me, it will be a sweet
refreshment for you. I am an animal having father and mother, and father and mother were created; and
in my body are contained the four elements, and I am before father and mother and I am a poisonous
animal." The lines at the right describe distilling and calcining processes.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 12. The three words at the top read: "This is Nature." The lines above the donkey read: "This is the
Philosophers' donkey who wished to rise to the practice of the Philosopher's Some." The three lines
below the animal are translated: "Frogs gather in multitudes but science consists of clear water made
from the Sun and Moon." The text under the symbolic bird is as follows: "This is fortune with two
wings. Whosoever has it knows that fruit will in such away be produced. A great philosopher has shown
that the stone is a certain white sun, to see which needs a telescope. To dissolve it in water requires the
Sun and Moon, and here one must open 200 telescopes, putting body and soul in one mass. And here is
lost the mass; other sages cook the frogs and add nothing, if the juice of the Wise you wish to enjoy." To
the Greeks the frog symbolized both metempsychosis and earthly humidity.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 13. This Page contains but two figures. At the left stands Morienus, the philosopher, pointing
towards the salamander who "lives and grows in fire." Morienus, who was born in the twelfth century,
became the disciple of the great Arabian alchemist Adfar, from whom he learned the Hermetic arts.
Morienus prepared the Philosophical Elixir for the Sultan of Egypt, inscribing upon the vase in which he
placed the precious substance the words: "He who possesses all has no need of others." He spent many
years as a hermit near Jerusalem. The lines below the salamander are: "Let the fire be of a perfect red
color; the earth white, the water clear. Then compound them by philosophical means and calcine them as
many times with the water which the body had as to turn it white by its kindness. Having done this, you
will have the greatest treasure in the world."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 14. The three words at the top of the left page are translated: "The man that digs." Above the birds
it is declared that none but the cocks of Hermes, the two Mercuries, shall put hand to the plow, and only
after irrigation will the earth bring forth her fruits. The seated man is Count Bernard of Treviso, who
says: "Work the earth with Mercury." (See chapter on Alchemy and Its Exponents.) The three sentences
to the Count's left read: "Go to the fire and with Mercury, thy brother, await me for a month. Crumble
the stone I gave thee and I shall go to the fire. Thy death, my life. I shall net die but, living, tell of the
works of this, my master." Bernard of Treviso in his alchemical speculation emphasized the necessity of
meditation upon the philosophical writings of the great adepts rather than chemical experimentation. He
ultimately discovered the "Stone."
p. A5
Click to enlarge
Leaf 15. The first sentence reads: "The fruit of plants by virtue of the Sun, our Stone." The boy holding
the dish is made to say: "Drink here all ye that are athirst. Come unto me, run to the waters. Here drink,
without price, and drink your fill. Open your eyes and see the wonders of the earth. They learn, my
thirsty twenty and four." Beneath the boy are the words: "In the beginning God created the Heavens and
the Earth, and divided the waters from the waters. Bless the waters which are above the Heavens." The
circle contains this statement: "The earth without form and void. Out of the stars come the rains." The
lower left panel continues the alchemical process, ending with admonition to renounce the misery of
worldly existence. Above is a prayer to the Virgin Mary which opens thus: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the
Lord be with thee. Blessed thou among women."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 16. The first sentence reads: "The dead bodies remain; the spirits are freed by the death in the
bodies. You will ride with that death with a scythe, and the light of the Sun, the Moon, and the fixed
stars." Over the scythe is written: "Subject to the Sun, the Moon and Azoth, complete the Work." The
four words in the curve of the scythe blade say: "Man's head, head of raven." The three lines to the right
are interpreted thus: "This figure is called Laton, for it looks black in a vessel, and is the beginning of
corruption." The text below the ladder states: "This is the ladder of primitive matter which when placed
in a vessel turns black, the gradually changes to white by the scale [ladder] of digestion, according to the
degree of heat." Here a ladder is used to signify the natural steps up which matter must ascend before it
can attain to a truly spiritual state.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 17. The verse at the top of the page reads: "Not only must this material be fixed, but it must be
allowed to enter into everything so that this material may be well completed and have infinite virtue.
Then by making it thick, it becomes at once all white, sublimation from white it becomes shining."
Above the sun are the words: "God and Nature do nothing in vain." The man on the left is a mediæval
conception of Hermes, the great Egyptian philosopher; the one on the right is Christopher, the
philosopher of Paris. Above the latter is written: "If the Stone is black, it is not useless." The words over
the retort are: "There is air, fire, water, and earth." Below is added: "A dissolution of the body is the first
step. " The curious chemical apparatus must be considered purely symbolic in this work and, as its
author himself says, is intended to give only a hint of the "Art."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 18. At the left holding a book stands Aristotle, who is described as the most learned of all the
Greeks. The tree surmounted by the Sun and Mon. is accompanied by the wards: "When the Stone is
dead, that is changed to water, in this it will produce flowers." Beneath Aristotle and the prostrate human
figure from which rises the flowering tree are these statements: "He who makes everything descend
from heaven to earth, and then ascend from earth to heaven, has information about the Stone. For in
Mercury there is something the wise seek, not invoked except by white or red ferment." The first part of
this quotation is based upon the Emerald Tablet of Hermes (which see). In ordinary man, the spirit is
figuratively absorbed by the body; but in the true philosopher, the spirit is so greatly increased in power
that it absorbs into itself and is nourished by man's corporeal body.
p. A6
Click to enlarge
Leaf 19. At the top it reads: "He that comes to know this figure will have knowledge of the Stone." The
seated man probably represents Paracelsus. To his right are the words: "I am neither tree nor animal, nor
stone nor vegetable, but the Philosopher's Stone, trampled on by men, cast into the fire by my father, and
in fire I rejoice." The four words to the left say "In dryness is the Stone." Below the man is the
Philosophic Egg containing the words: "It is the end in which the beginning rests." The capital T stands
for "Tincture." The text to the right states: "In Stone it is formed, as Gerber writes in his book very
learnedly, and possessing so much of its nature that it changes into clear, living water; and it has the
power to make folks rich, satisfied, and free from all cares, so they will be always happy if they attain by
their wit to the secret."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 20. At the top is written: "Rains are made by six stars." Under the inverted man it reads: "Receive
new spirit. Arise, for you are asleep." The two sentences about the large figure read: "Remember
Mercury, for ashes thou art and unto ashes thou shalt return. I thirst and am dead." Above the seven
globes at the left is the admonition: "If he thirst, give him a drink and he shall live." Over the small man
is written: "Hermes, the father of philosophers." The curved line of writing to which Hermes points says:
"The measure of the drink." Under the central pedestal appears: "The light of my eyes is a lantern to my
feet." Below is added: "If the beginning is unknown, the rest is unknown." Above the figure rising from
the flames on the right is the statement: "He was resurrected after new Moon," and under the eagle:
"Thou shalt not fly further with me."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 21. The upper line reads: "Two things and double, but finally one is dissolved into the first and they
make sperm." The four capitals. I A A T, are the initial letters of the names of the elements: Ignis, Aer,
Aqua, and Terra. The writing under them reads: "Our fire is water; if you can give fire to fire, fire and
Mercury will suffice." Along the arm appear the words: "The Art of the Stone is," and on the ribbon:
"Swift, brief, bright, and rare." The two lines under the ribbon read: "Every hand is a key, because it was
called the herb celandine"; under the Sun: "I am the gift of God " The verse reads: "So that you remain
contented in all matters, I must listen attentively. My body [is] naked, clean, and shining, and I run like
oil ready to drop, resplendent like bright gold, and then succumb to the plague in its bright and cheerful
little chamber [retort]."
Click to enlarge
Leaf 22. The verse in the upper left is as follows: "This group is composed of three stones: lunar, solar,
and mercurial. In the lunar is white sulphur; in the solar, red sulphur, in the mercurial, both; i.e. white
and red, and this is the strength of all instruction." In the bottle at the left are the words: "Dissolving,
calcination, sublimation complete the instruction"; and at the base: "Wash, congeal, and coagulate. "
Under the central tower is written: "Metallic salts, however, are hidden by one letter"; around the bottom
of the red circle: "Dryness, coldness, humidity, heat, and dryness." On the points below are the names of
the four elements. The initial, I A A T appear four times with the same meaning as that already given.
The three powers of the Philosopher's Stone are symbolized by the heads of the cherubs in the circle in
the upper left corner.
p. A7
Click to enlarge
Leaf 23. The writing at the upper left is, in substance, the Lord's Prayer, with the addition of the words
Jesus and Mary at the end. The inverted words in the banner read: "Ye can do nothing without me, for
God has so promised, saying 'So be it.'" The text under the angel reads: "By this plague he will be
damned who knows he is dead, all cold in a black body. And let this be thy first comfort: then he will
burn unto calcination. When I have reduced him within this door, know for certain that I shall be blessed
if I shall know how to cultivate the garden." The main part of the leaf is devoted to an elaborate
symbolic drawing of alchemical equipment, under which are the words: "The furnace of distillation,
congealing, rectification, perfection, fixation: quintessence of the Philosophers." By "quintessence"
should be understood the "fifth essence" of the most wise.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 24. The words at the top read: "I, the bird [the adept], speak into thine ears from the Sun, Moon and
Azoth. The work is perfected with little labor." The panel to the left describes the nature of primordial
matter and the drink of the Philosophers. The text to the right reads: "This is my beloved Son whom I
saw and loved. If he be resurrected, He will remain at home, and in that house the spirit will be the soul
and the body; for Mercury may be called the son of the Sun and the Moon." Under the child's figure is
added: "If he were not dead, I should not have been his mother. I bore him after death before he was
born in the world; under my feet I have what was his, and out of me and my Son and the foundation of
my feet the Philosopher's Stone is made." At the lower left the three constituents of the Stone are shown
elevated upon a pedestal to signify their dignity.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 25. Above the figure of the Queen are three lines stating, in substance, that in the beginning of the
book it was written of her that from her maternal breasts she nourished the Sun, and that he who was
capable of converting her into Primal matter possessed rare skill. Opposite the Queen's head are the
words: "In the highest mountains this water" and "I am the light of the Philosophers." To the left of the
Queen is an admonition to strike the sons whom she bears. She calls herself "The mother of the Sun, the
sister of the Moon, and the servant and spouse of Mercury." On the right she is made to exclaim: "I
cannot be crowned unless these sons of mine become ashes. " The sons are shown directly below. The
verse under the Queen continues the alchemical processes, describing the method in which the
exudations from the substance should be preserved.
Click to enlarge
Leaf 26. This page, which concludes that part of the Hermetic manuscript bearing the symbols of the
Secret Work, contains a number of emblems not directly correlated. At the top is the head of the King--
the most common of alchemical figures. To the right of the King is an alchemical vessel designated the
Hermetic Seal. Below is the head of a ferocious bird, here designated a griffon. To the left of the King is
a headless figure elevating a Sun, or spiritual face. This figure is the world, which must be headless,
since its spiritual and rational part is not material and consequently, is invisible. Below is a circle
unaccompanied by descriptive matter. Directly under the King's head is a vase of flowers, in which rises
the golden plant of the Philosophers. At the bottom of the page is additional alchemical equipment, this
also being termed a Hermetic Seal.
Next: The Chemical Marriage
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 161
The Chemical Marriage
THE self-admitted author of The Chemical Marriage, Johann Valentin Andreæ, born in Württemberg in
1586, was twenty-eight years of age when that work was first published. It was presumably written
about twelve years prior to its publication--or when the author was fifteen or sixteen years old. The fact
is almost incredible that one so young could produce a volume containing the wealth of symbolic
thought and philosophy hidden between the lines of The Chemical Marriage. This book makes the
earliest known reference to Christian Rosencreutz, and is generally regarded as the third of the series of
original Rosicrucian manifestoes. As a symbolic work, the book itself is hopelessly irreconcilable with
the statements made by Andreæ concerning it. The story of The Chemical Marriage relates in detail a
series of incidents occurring to an aged man, presumably the Father C.R.C. of the Fama and Confessio.
If Father C.R.C. was born in 1378, as stated in the Confessio, and is identical with the Christian
Rosencreutz of The Chemical Marriage, he was elevated to the dignity of a Knight of the Golden Stone
in the eighty-first year of his life (1459). In the light of his own statements, it is inconceivable that
Andreæ could have been Father Rosy Cross.
Many figures found in the various books on symbolism published in the early part of the seventeenth
century bear a striking resemblance to the characters and episodes in The Chemical Marriage. The
alchemical wedding may prove to be the key to the riddle of Baconian Rosicrucianism. The presence in
the German text of The Chemical Marriage of some words in English indicates its author to have been
conversant also with that language. The following summary of the main episodes of the seven days of
The Chemical Marriage will give the reader a fairly comprehensive idea of the profundity of its
Christian Rosencreutz, having prepared in his heart the Paschal Lamb together with a small unleavened
loaf, was disturbed while at prayer one evening before Easter by a violent storm which threatened to
demolish not only his little house but the very hill on which it stood. In the midst of the tempest he was
touched on the back and, turning, he beheld a glorious woman with wings filled with eyes, and robed in
sky-colored garments spangled with stars. In one hand she held a trumpet and in the other a bundle of
letters in every language. Handing a letter to C.R.C., she immediately ascended into the air, at the same
time blowing upon her trumpet a blast which shook the house. Upon the seal of the letter was a curious
cross and the words In hoc signo vinces. Within, traced in letters of gold on an azure field, was an
invitation to a royal wedding.
C.R.C. was deeply moved by the invitation because it was the fulfillment of a prophecy which he had
received seven years before, but so unworthy did he feel that he was paralyzed with fear. At length, after
resorting to prayer, he sought sleep. In his dreams he found himself in a loathsome dungeon with a
multitude of other men, all bound and fettered with great chains. The grievousness of their sufferings
was increased as they stumbled over each other in the darkness. Suddenly from above came the sound of
trumpets; the cover of the dungeon was lifted, and a ray of light pierced the gloom. Framed in the light
stood a hoary-headed man who announced that a rope would be lowered seven times and whoever could
cling to the rope would be drawn up to freedom.
Great confusion ensued. All sought to grasp the rope and many were pulled away from it by others. C.R.
C. despaired of being saved, but suddenly the rope swung towards him and, grasping it, he was raised
from the dungeon. An aged woman called the "Ancient Matron" wrote in a golden yellow book the
names of those drawn forth, and each of the redeemed was given for remembrance a piece of gold
bearing the symbol of the sun and the letters D L S. C.R.C., who had been injured while clinging to the
rope, found it difficult to walk. The aged woman bade him not to worry, but to thank God who had
permitted him to come into so high a light. Thereupon trumpets sounded and C.R.C. awoke, but so vivid
was the dream that he was still sensible of the wounds received while asleep.
With renewed faith C. R. C. arose and prepared himself for the Hermetic Marriage. He donned a white
linen coat and bound a red ribbon crosswise over his shoulders. In his hat he stuck four roses and for
food he carried bread, water, and salt. Before leaving his cottage, he knelt and vowed that whatever
knowledge was revealed to him he would devote to the service of his neighbor. He then departed from
his house with joy.
As he entered the forest surrounding his little house, it seemed to C.R.C. that all Nature had joyously
prepared for the wedding. As he proceeded singing merrily, he came to a green heath in which stood
three great cedars, one bearing a tablet with an inscription describing the four paths that led to the palace
of the King: the first short and dangerous, the second circuitous, the third a pleasant and royal road, and
the fourth suitable only for incorruptible bodies. Weary and perplexed, C.R.C. decided to rest and,
cutting a slice of bread, was about to partake thereof when a white dove begged it from him. The dove
was at once attacked by a raven, and in his efforts to separate the birds C.R.C. unknowingly ran a
considerable distance along one of the four paths--that leading southward. A terrific wind preventing
him from retracing his steps, the wedding guest resigned himself to the loss of his bread and continued
along the road until he espied in the distance a great gate. The sun being low, he hastened towards the
portal, upon which, among other figures, was a tablet bearing the words Procul hinc procul ite profani.
A gatekeeper in sky-colored habit immediately asked C.R.C. for his letter of invitation and, on receiving
it, bade him enter and requested that he purchase a token. After describing himself as a Brother of the
Red Rosie Cross, C.R.C. received in exchange for his water bottle a golden disk bearing the letters S C.
Night drawing near, the wanderer hastened on to a second gate, guarded by a lion, and to which was
affixed a tablet with the words Date et dabitur volis, where he presented a letter given him by the first
gatekeeper. Being urged to purchase a token bearing the letters S M, he gave his little package of salt and
then hastened on to reach the palace gates before they were locked for the night.
A beautiful virgin called Virgo Lucifera was extinguishing the castle lights as C.R.C. approached, and he
was barely able to squeeze through the closing gates. As they closed they caught part of his coat, which
he was forced to leave behind. Here his name was written in the Lord Bridegroom's little vellum book
and he was presented with a new pair of shoes and also a token bearing the letters S P N. He was then
conducted by pages to a small chamber where the "ice-grey locks" were cut from the crown of his head
by invisible barbers, after which he was ushered into a spacious hall where a goodly number of kings,
princes, and commoners were assembled. At the sound of trumpets each seated himself at the table,
taking a position corresponding to his dignity, so that C.R.C. received a very humble seat. Most of the
pseudo-philosophers present being vain pretenders, the banquet became an orgy, which, however,
suddenly ceased at the sound of
Click to enlarge
From Rosencreutz' Chemical Marriage.
The most remarkable of all the publications involved in the Rosicrucian controversy is that of The Chemical
Marriage, published in Strasbourg. This work, which is very rare, should be reproduced in exact facsimile to
provide students with the opportunity of examining the actual text for the various forms of cipher employed.
Probably no other volume in the history or literature created such a profound disturbance as this unpretentious
little book. Immediately following its publication the purpose for which the volume was intended became the
subject of popular speculation. It was both attacked and defended by theologians and philosophers alike, but
when the various contending elements are simmered down the mysteries surrounding the book remain unsolved.
That its author was a man of exceptional learning was admitted, and it is noteworthy that those minds which
possessed the deepest understanding of Nature's mysteries were among those profoundly impressed by the
contents of The Chemical Marriage.
p. 162
stately and inspired music. For nearly half an hour no one spoke. Then amidst a great sound the door of
the dining hall swung open and thousands of lighted tapers held by invisible hands entered. These were
followed by the two pages lighting the beautiful Virgo Lucifera seated on a self-moving throne. The
white-and-gold-robed Virgin then rose and announced that to prevent the admission of unworthy persons
to the mystical wedding a set of scales would be erected the following day upon which each guest would
be weighed to determine his integrity. Those unwilling to undergo this ordeal she stated should remain
in the dining hall. She then withdrew, but many of the tapers stayed to accompany the guests to their
quarters for the night.
Most of those present were presumptuous enough to believe that they could be safety weighed, but nine--
including C.R.C.--felt their shortcomings so deeply that they feared the outcome and remained in the
hall while the others were led away to their sleeping chambers. These nine were bound with ropes and
left alone in darkness. C.R.C. then dreamed that he saw many men suspended over the earth by threads,
and among them flew an aged man who, cutting here and there a thread, caused many to fall to earth.
Those who in arrogance had soared to lofty heights accordingly fell a greater distance and sustained
more serious injury than the more humble ones who, falling but a short distance, often landed without
mishap. Considering this dream to be a good omen, C.R.C. related it to a companion, continuing in
discourse with him until dawn.
Soon after dawn the trumpets sounded and the Virgo Lucifera, arrayed in red velvet, girded with a white
sash, and crowned with a laurel wreath, entered accompanied by two hundred men in red-and-white
livery. She intimated to C.R.C. and his eight companions that they might fare better than the other, self-
satisfied guests. Golden scales were then hung in the midst of the hall and near them were placed seven
weights, one good-sized, four small, and two very large. The men in livery, each carrying a naked sword
and a strong rope, were divided into seven groups and from each group was chosen a captain, who was
given charge of one of the weights. Having remounted her high throne, Virgo Lucifera ordered the
ceremony to begin. The first to step on the scales was an emperor so virtuous that the balances did not
tip until six weights had been placed upon the opposite end. He was therefore turned over to the sixth
group. The rich and poor alike stood upon the scales, but only a few passed the test successfully. To
these were given velvet robes and wreaths of laurel, after which they were seated upon the steps of Virgo
Lucifera's throne. Those who failed were ridiculed and scourged.
The "inquisition" being finished, one of the captains begged Virgo Lucifera to permit the nine men who
had declared themselves unworthy also to be weighed, and this caused C.R.C. anguish and fear. Of the
first seven one succeeded and was greeted with joy. C.R.C. was the eighth and he not only withstood all
the weights but even when three men hung on the opposite end of the beam he could not be moved. A
page cried out: "THAT IS HE!" C.R.C. was quickly set at liberty and permitted to release one of the
captives. He chose the first emperor. Virgo Lucifera then requested the red roses that C.R.C. carried,
which he immediately gave her. The ceremony of the scales ended about ten o'clock in the forenoon.
After agreeing upon the penalties to be imposed upon those whose shortcomings had been thus exposed,
a dinner was served to all. The few successful "artists," including C.R.C., were given the chief seats,
after which the Golden Fleece and a Flying Lion were bestowed upon them in the name of the
Bridegroom. Virgo Lucifera then presented a magnificent goblet to the guests, stating that the King had
requested all to share its contents, Following this, C.R.C. and his companions were taken out upon a
scaffolding where they beheld the various penalties suffered by those who failed. Before leaving the
palace, each of the rejected guests was given a draught of forgetfulness. The elect then returned to the
castle, where to each was assigned a learned page, who conducted them through the various parts of the
edifice. C.R.C. saw many things his companions were not privileged to behold, including the Royal
Sepulcher, where he learned "more than is extant in all books." He also visited a magnificent library and
an observatory containing a great globe thirty feet in diameter and with all the countries of the world
marked upon it.
At supper the various guests propounded enigmas and C.R.C. solved the riddle which Virgo Lucifera
asked concerning her own identity. Then entered the dining hall two youths and six virgins beautifully
robed, followed by a seventh virgin wearing a coronet. The latter was called the Duchess, and was
mistaken for the Hermetic Bride. The Duchess told C.R.C. that he had received more than the others,
therefore should make a greater return. The Duchess then asked each of the virgins to pick up one of the
seven weights which still remained in the great room. To Virgo Lucifera was given the heaviest weight,
which was hung in the Queen's chamber during the singing of a hymn. In the second chamber the first
virgin hung her weight during a similar ceremony; thus they proceeded from room to room until the
weights had been disposed of. The Duchess then presented her hand to C. R. C. and his companions and,
followed by her virgins, withdrew. Pages then conducted the guests to their sleeping chambers. The one
assigned to C.R.C. was hung with rare tapestries and with beautiful paintings.
After washing and drinking in the garden from a fountain which bore several inscriptions--among them
one reading, "Drink, brothers, and live"--the guests, led by Virgo Lucifera, ascended the 365 steps of the
royal winding stairs. The guests were given wreaths of laurel and, a curtain being raised, found
themselves in the presence of the King and Queen. C.R.C. was awestruck by the glory of the throne
room and especially by the magnificence of the Queen's robes, which were so dazzling that he could not
gaze upon them. Each guest was presented to the King by one of the virgins and after this ceremony the
Virgo Lucifera made a short speech in which she recited the achievements of the honest "artists" and
begged that each be questioned as to whether she had properly fulfilled her duty. Old Atlas then stepped
forward and in the name of their Royal Majesties greeted the intrepid band of philosophers and assured
Virgo Lucifera that she should receive a royal reward.
The length of the throne room was five times its width. To the west was a great porch in which stood
three thrones, the central one elevated. On each throne sat two persons: on the first an ancient king with
a young consort; on the third a black king with a veiled matron beside him; and on the central throne two
young persons over whose heads hung a large and costly crown, about which hovered a little Cupid who
shot his arrows first at the two lovers and then about the hall. Before the Queen a book bound in black
velvet lay on a small altar, on which were golden decorations. Beside this were a burning candle, a
celestial globe, a small striking-watch, a little crystal pipe from which ran a stream of clear blood-red
liquor, and a skull with a white serpent crawling in and out of the orbits. After their presentations, the
guests retired down the winding stairs to the great hall.
Click to enlarge
From Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum.
This plate, which is the key to mystic Christian alchemy, is missing from almost every copy of the Theatrum
Chemicum Britannicum, a work compiled by Elias Ashmole and containing about a score of pieces by English
poets treating of the Philosopher's Stone and the Hermetic mysteries. In view of the consistent manner in which
the plate disappeared, it is possible that the diagram was purposely removed because it revealed too plainly the
Rosicrucian arcana. Worthy of notice also is the care with which owners' names have been effaced from early
books pertaining to alchemy and Hermeticism. The original names are usually rendered illegible being covered
with heavy ink lines, the procedure often seriously defacing the volume, While an occasional exception is found,
in practically every instance the mutilated books either deal with Rosicrucianism or contain cryptic writings of
suspected Rosicrucian origin. It is presumed that this Practice of obliterating the owners names was to prevent the
early Rosicrucians and Hermetists from being discovered through the volumes composing their libraries. Elias
Ashmole's plate shows the analogies between the life of Christ and the four grand divisions of the alchemical
process. Herein is also revealed the teaching that the Philosopher's Stone itself is a macrocosm and a microcosm,
embodying the principles of astronomy and cosmogony, both universal and human.
p. 163
Later the Virgo Lucifera announced that a comedy was to be performed for the benefit of the six royal
guests in a building called the House of the Sun. C.R.C. and his companions formed part of the royal
procession, which after a considerable walk arrived at the theater. The play was in seven acts, and after
its happy ending all returned through the garden and up the winding stairs to the throne room. C.R.C.
noticed the young King was very sad and that at the banquet following he often sent meat to the white
serpent in the skull. The feast over, the young King, holding in his hand the little black book from the
altar, asked the guests if they would all be true to him through prosperity and adversity, and when they
tremblingly agreed he asked that each should sign his name in the little black book as proof of his fealty.
The royal persons then drank from the little crystal fountain, the others afterwards doing likewise. This
was called the "Draught of Silence." The royal persons then sadly shook hands with all present.
Suddenly a little bell tinkled and immediately the kings and queens took off their white garments and
donned black ones, the room was hung in sable draperies, and the tables were removed. The eyes of the
royal persons were bound with six black taffeta scarfs and six coffins were placed in the center of the
room. An executioner, a Moor, robed in black and bearing an axe, entered, and beheaded in turn each of
the six royal persons. The blood of each was caught in a golden goblet, which was placed in the coffins
with the body. The executioner was also decapitated and his head placed in a small chest.
The Virgo Lucifera, after assuring C.R.C. and his companions that all should be well if they were
faithful and true, ordered the pages to conduct them to their rooms for the night while she remained to
watch with the dead. About midnight C.R.C. awakened suddenly and, looking from his window, beheld
seven ships sailing upon a lake. Above each hovered a flame; these he believed to be the spirits of the
beheaded. When the ships reached shore, the Virgo Lucifera met them and on each of six of the vessels
was placed a covered coffin. As soon as the coffins had been thus disposed of, the lights were
extinguished and the flames passed back over the lake so that there remained but one light for a watch in
each ship. After beholding this strange ceremony, C.R.C. returned to his bed and slept till morning.
Rising at daybreak and entreating his page to show him other treasures of the palace, C.R.C. was
conducted down many steps to a great iron door bearing a curious inscription, which he carefully copied.
Passing through, he found himself in the royal treasury, the light in which came entirely from some huge
carbuncles. In the center stood the triangular sepulcher of Lady Venus. Lifting a copper door in the
pavement, the page ushered C.R.C. into a crypt where stood a great bed upon which, when his guide had
raised the coverlets, C.R.C. beheld the body of Venus. Led by his page, C.R.C. then rejoined his
companions, saying nothing to them of his experience.
Virgo Lucifera, robed in black velvet and accompanied by her virgins, then led the guests out into the
courtyard where stood six coffins, each with eight pallbearers. C.R.C. was the only one of the group of
"artists" who suspected the royal bodies were no longer in these coffins. The coffins were lowered into
graves and great stones rolled over them. The Virgo Lucifera then made a short oration in which she
exhorted each to assist in restoring the royal persons to life, declaring that they should journey with her
to the Tower of Olympus, where the medicines necessary to the resurrection of the six royal persons
could alone be found. C.R.C. and his companions followed Virgo Lucifera to the seashore, where all
embarked on seven ships disposed according to a certain strange order. As the ships sailed across the
lake and through a narrow channel into the open sea, they were attended by sirens, nymphs, and sea
goddesses, who in honor of the wedding presented a great and beautiful pearl to the royal couple. When
the ships came in sight of the Tower of Olympus, Virgo Lucifera ordered the discharge of cannon to
signal their approach. Immediately a white flag appeared upon the tower and a small gilded pinnace,
containing an ancient man--the warden of the tower--with his white-clad guards came out to meet the
The Tower of Olympus stood upon an island which was exactly square and was surrounded by a great
wall. Entering the gate, the group was led to the bottom of the central tower, which contained an
excellent laboratory where the guests were fain to beat and wash plants, precious stones, and all sorts of
things, extract their juice and essence, and put these latter into glasses. Virgo Lucifera set the "artists" to
work so arduously that they felt they were mere drudges. When the day's work was finished, each was
assigned a mattress on the stone floor. Being unable to sleep, C.R.C. wandered about contemplating the
stars. Chancing upon a flight of steps leading to the top of the wall, he climbed up and looked out upon
the sea. Remaining here for some time, about midnight he beheld seven flames which, passing over the
sea towards him, gathered themselves on the top of the spire of the central tower. Simultaneously the
winds arose, the sea became tempestuous, and the moon was covered with clouds. With some fear C.R.
C. ran down the stairs and returned to the tower and, lying down on his mattress, was lulled to sleep by
the sound of a gently flowing fountain in the laboratory.
The next morning the aged warden of the tower, after examining the work performed by the wedding
guests in the laboratory and finding it satisfactory, caused ladders, ropes, and large wings to be brought
forth, and addressed the assembled "artists" thus: "My dear sons, one of these three things must each of
you this day constantly bear about with him." Lots were cast and to C.R.C., much to his chagrin, fell a
heavy ladder. Those who secured wings had them fastened to their backs so cunningly that it was
impossible to detect that they were artificial. The aged warden then locked the "artists" in the lower
room of the tower, but in a short time a round hole was uncovered in the ceiling and Virgo Lucifera
invited all to ascend. Those with wings flew at once through the opening, those with ropes had many
difficulties, while C.R.C. with his ladder made reasonable speed. On the second floor the wedding
guests, musicians, and Virgo Lucifera gathered about a fountain-like contrivance containing the bodies
of the six royal persons.
Virgo Lucifera then placed the if Moor's head in a kettle-like receptacle in the upper part of the fountain
and poured upon it the substances prepared on the previous day in the laboratory. The virgins placed
lamps beneath. These substances when they boiled passed out through holes in the sides of the kettle
and, falling upon the bodies in the fountain below, dissolved them. The six royal bodies having been
reduced thus to a liquid state, a tap was opened in the lower end of the fountain and the fluid drained
into an immense golden globe, which, when filled, was of great weight. All but the wedding guests then
retired and shortly a hole in the ceiling opened as before and the guests ascended pell-mell to the third
floor. Here the globe were suspended by a strong chain. The walls of the apartment were of glass, and
mirrors were so arranged that the sun's rays were concentrated upon the central globe, thus causing it to
become very hot. Later the sun's rays were deflected and the globe permitted to cool, after which it was
cut open with a diamond, revealing a beautiful white egg. Carrying this with her, Virgo Lucifera
The guests, having ascended through another trap door, found
Click to enlarge
From Fludd's Philosophia Mosaica.
The Supreme Deity is symbolized by the small globe at the top, which is divided into two hemispheres, the dark
half representing the divine darkness with which the Deity surround Himself and which serves as His hiding
place. The radiant hemisphere signifies the divine light which is in God and which, pouring forth, manifests as
the objective creative power. The large dark globe to the left and beneath the dark half of the upper sphere
signifies the potential darkness which was upon the face of the primordial deep and within which moved the
Spirit of God. The light globe to the right is the Deity who is revealed out of the darkness. Here the shining Word
has dissipated the shadows and a glorious universe has been formed. The divine power of this radiant globe is
cognizable to man as the sun. The large light and a dark section represents the created universes partaking of the
light and darkness which are in the nature of the Creator. The dark half represents the Deep, or Chaos, the Eternal
Waters pouring forth out of the Deity; the light half-circle containing the figure of Apollo represents the diurnal
hemisphere of the world, which in the ancient Mysteries was ruled over by Apollo. The dark half-circle is the
nocturnal hemisphere ruled over by Dionysius (Dionysos), whose figure is faintly visible in the gloom.
p. 164
themselves upon the fourth floor, where stood a square kettle filled with silver sand warmed by a gentle
fire. The great white egg was placed upon the warm sand to mature. In a short time it cracked and there
emerged an ugly, ill-tempered bird, which was fed with the blood of the beheaded royal persons diluted
with prepared water. At each feeding its feathers changed color; from black they turned to white and at
last they became varicolored, the disposition of the bird improving the while. Dinner was then served,
after which Virgo Lucifera departed with the bird. The guests ascended with ropes, ladders, and wings to
the fifth floor, where a bath colored with fine white powder had been prepared for the bird, which
enjoyed bathing in it until the lamps placed beneath the bath caused the water to become uncomfortably
warm. When the heat had removed all the bird's feathers it was taken out, but the fire continued until
nothing remained in the bath save a sediment in the form of a blue stone. This was later pounded up and
made into a pigment; with this, all of the bird except the head was painted.
The guests thereupon ascended to the sixth floor, where stood a small altar resembling that in the King's
throne room. The bird drank from the little fountain and was fed with the blood of the white serpent
which crawled through the openings in the skull. The sphere by the altar revolved continuously. The
watch struck one, two, and then three, at which time the bird, laying its neck upon the book, suffered
itself to be decapitated. Its body was burned to ashes, which were placed in a box of cypress wood.
Virgo Lucifera told C.R.C. and three of his comrades that they were lazy and sluggish "labourators" and
would therefore be excluded from the seventh room. Musicians were sent for, who with cornets were to
"blow" the four in ridicule from the chamber. C.R.C. and his three companions were disheartened until
the musicians told them to be of good cheer and led them up a winding stair to the eighth floor of the
tower directly beneath the roof. Here the old warden, standing upon a little round furnace, welcomed
them and congratulated them upon being chosen by Virgo Lucifera, for this greater work. Virgo Lucifera
then entered, and after laughing at the perplexity of her guests, emptied the ashes of the bird into another
vessel, filling the cypress box with useless matter. She thereupon returned to the seventh floor,
presumably to mislead those assembled there by setting them to work upon the false ashes in the box.
C.R.C. and his three friends were set to work moistening the bird's ashes with specially prepared water
until the mixture became of doughlike consistency, after which it was heated and molded into two
miniature forms. Later these were opened, disclosing two bright and almost transparent human images
about four inches high (homunculi), one male and the other female. These tiny forms were laid upon
satin cushions and fed drop by drop with the blood of the bird until they grew to normal size and of great
beauty. Though the bodies had the consistency of flesh, they showed no signs of life, for the soul was
not in them. The bodies were next surrounded with torches and their faces covered with silk. Virgo
Lucifera then appeared, bearing two curious white garments. The virgins also entered, among them six
bearing great trumpets. A trumpet was placed upon the mouth of one of the two figures and C.R.C. saw
a tiny hole open in the dome of the tower and a ray of light descend through the tube of the trumpet and
enter the body. This process was repeated three times on each body. The two newly ensouled forms were
then removed upon a traveling couch. In about half an hour the young King and Queen awakened and
the Virgo Lucifera presented them with the white garments. These they donned and the King in his own
person most graciously returned thanks to C.R.C. and his companions, after which the royal persons
departed upon a ship. C.R.C. and his three privileged friends then rejoined the other "artists," making no
mention of that which they had seen. Later the entire party were assigned handsome chambers, where
they rested till morning.
In the morning Virgo Lucifera announced that each of the wedding guests had become a "Knight of the
Golden Stone. " The aged warden then presented each man with a gold medal, bearing on one side the
inscription "At. Nat. Mi. " and on the other, "Tem. Na. F." The entire company returned in twelve ships
to the King's palace. The flags on the vessels bore the signs of the zodiac, and C.R.C. sat under that of
Libra. As they entered the lake, many ships met them and the King and Queen, together with their lords,
ladies, and virgins, rode forth on a golden barge to greet the returning guests. Atlas then made a short
oration in the King's behalf, also asking for the royal presents. In reply the aged warden delivered to
Cupid, who hovered about the royal pair, a small, curious-shaped casket. C.R.C. and the old lord, each
bearing a snow-white ensign with a red cross on it, rode in the carriage with the King. At the first gate
stood the porter with blue clothes, who, upon seeing C.R.C., begged him to intercede with the King to
release him from that post of servitude. The King replied that the porter was a famous astrologer who
was forced to keep the gate as a punishment for the crime of having gazed upon Lady Venus reposing
upon her couch. The King further declared that the porter could be released only when another was
found who had committed the same crime. Upon hearing this, C.R.C.'s heart sank, for he realized
himself to be the culprit, but he remained silent at that time.
The newly created Knights of the Golden Stone were obliged to subscribe to five articles drawn up by
His Royal Highness: (1) That they would ascribe their Order only to God and His handmaid, Nature. (2)
That they should abominate all uncleanness and vice. (3) That they should always be ready to assist the
worthy and needy. (4) That they should not use their knowledge and power for the attainment of worldly
dignity. (5) That they should not desire to live longer than God had decreed. They were then duly
installed as Knights, which ceremony was ratified in a little chapel where C. R. C. hung up his Golden
Fleece and his hat for an eternal memorial, and here he inscribed the following: Summa Scientia nihil
Scire, Fr. Christianus Rosencreutz. Eques aurei Lapidis. Anno 1459.
After the ceremony, C.R.C. admitted that he was the one who had beheld Venus and consequently must
become the porter of the gate. The King embraced him fondly and he was assigned to a great room
containing three beds--one for himself, one for the aged lord of the tower, and the third for old Atlas.
The Chemical Marriage here comes to an abrupt end, leaving the impression that C.R.C. was to assume
his duties as porter on the following morning. The book ends in the middle of a sentence, with a note in
italics presumably by the editor.
Under the symbolism of an alchemical marriage, mediæval philosophers concealed the secret system of
spiritual culture whereby they hoped to coordinate the disjecta membra of both the human and social
organisms. Society, they maintained, was a threefold structure and had its analogy in the triune
constitution of man, for as man consists of spirit, mind, and body, so society is made up of the church,
the state, and the populace. The bigotry of the church, the tyranny of the state, and the fury of the mob
are the three murderous agencies of society which seek to destroy Truth as recounted in the Masonic
legend of Hiram Abiff. The first six days of The Chemical Marriage set forth the processes of
philosophical "creation" through which every organism must pass. The three kings are the threefold
spirit of man and their consorts the corresponding vehicles of their expression in the lower world. The
executioner is the mind, the higher part of which--symbolized by the head--is necessary to the
achievement of the philosophical labor. Thus the parts of man--by the alchemists symbolized as planets
and elements--when blended together according to a certain Divine formula result in the creation of two
philosophic "babes" which, fed upon the blood of the alchemical bird, become rulers of the world.
From an ethical standpoint, the young King and Queen resurrected at the summit of the tower and
ensouled by Divine Life represent the forces of Intelligence and Love which must ultimately guide
society. Intelligence and Love are the two great ethical luminaries of the world and correspond to
enlightened spirit and regenerated body. The bridegroom is reality and the bride the regenerated being
who attains perfection by becoming one with reality through a cosmic marriage wherein the mortal part
attains immortality by being united with its own immortal Source. In the Hermetic Marriage divine and
human consciousness are united in holy wedlock and he in whom this sacred ceremony takes place is
designated as "Knight of the Golden Stone"; he thereby becomes a divine philosophic diamond
composed of the quintessence of his own sevenfold constitution.
Such is the true interpretation of the mystical process of becoming "a bride of the Lamb." The Lamb of
God is signified by the Golden Fleece that Jason was forced to win before he could assume his kingship.
The Flying Lion is illumined will, an absolute prerequisite to the achievement of the Great Work. The
episode of weighing the souls of men has its parallel in the ceremony described in the Egyptian Book of
the Dead. The walled city entered by C.R.C. represents the sanctuary of wisdom wherein dwell the real
rulers of the world--the initiated philosophers.
Like the ancient Mysteries after which it was patterned, the Order of the Rose Cross possessed a secret
ritual which was lived by the candidate for a prescribed number of years before he was eligible to the
inner degrees of the society. The various floors of the Tower of Olympus represent the orbits of the
planets. The ascent of the philosophers from one floor to another also parallels certain rituals of the
Eleusinian Mysteries and the rites of Mithras wherein the candidate ascended the seven rungs of a ladder
or climbed the seven steps of a pyramid in order to signify release from the influences of the Planetary
Governors. Man becomes master of the seven spheres only when he transmutes the impulses received
from them. He who masters the seven worlds and is reunited with the Divine Source of his own nature
consummates the Hermetic Marriage.
Next: Bacon, Shakspere, and the Rosicrucians
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 165
Bacon, Shakspere, and the Rosicrucians
THE present consideration of the Bacon--Shakspere--Rosicrucian controversy is undertaken not for the
vain purpose of digging up dead men's bones but rather in the hope that a critical analysis will aid in the
rediscovery of that knowledge lost to the world since the oracles were silenced. It was W. F. C. Wigston
who called the Bard of Avon "phantom Captain Shakespeare, the Rosicrucian mask." This constitutes
one of the most significant statements relating to the Bacon-Shakspere controversy.
It is quite evident that William Shakspere could not, unaided, have produced the immortal writings
bearing his name. He did not possess the necessary literary culture, for the town of Stratford where he
was reared contained no school capable of imparting the higher forms of learning reflected in the
writings ascribed to him. His parents were illiterate, and in his early life he evinced a total disregard for
study. There are in existence but six known examples of Shakspere's handwriting. All are signatures, and
three of them are in his will. The scrawling, uncertain method of their execution stamps Shakspere as
unfamiliar with the use of a pen, and it is obvious either that he copied a signature prepared for him or
that his hand was guided while he wrote. No autograph manuscripts of the "Shakespearian" plays or
sonnets have been discovered, nor is there even a tradition concerning them other than the fantastic and
impossible statement appearing in the foreword of the Great Folio.
A well-stocked library would be an essential part of the equipment of an author whose literary
productions demonstrate him to be familiar with the literature of all ages, yet there is no record that
Shakspere ever possessed a library, nor does he make any mention of books in his will. Commenting on
the known illiteracy of Shakspere's daughter Judith, who at twenty-seven could only make her mark,
Ignatius Donnelly declares it to be unbelievable that William Shakspere if he wrote the plays bearing his
name would have permitted his own daughter to reach womanhood and marry without being able to read
one line of the writings that made her father wealthy and locally famous.
The query also has been raised, "Where did William Shakspere secure his knowledge of modern French,
Italian, Spanish, and Danish, to say nothing of classical Latin and Greek?" For, in spite of the rare
discrimination with which Latin is used by the author of the Shakespearian plays, Ben Jonson, who
knew Shakspere intimately, declared that the Stratford actor understood "small Latin and less Greek"! Is
it not also more than strange that no record exists of William Shakspere's having ever played a leading
rôle in the famous dramas he is supposed to have written or in others produced by the company of which
he was a member? True, he may have owned a small interest in the Globe Theatre or Blackfriars, but
apparently the height of his thespian achievements was the Ghost in Hamlet!
In spite of his admitted avarice, Shakspere seemingly made no effort during his lifetime to control or
secure remuneration from the plays bearing his name, many of which were first published anonymously.
As far as can be ascertained, none of his heirs were involved in any manner whatsoever in the printing of
the First Folio after his death, nor did they benefit financially therefrom. Had he been their author,
Shakspere's manuscripts and unpublished plays would certainly have constituted his most valued
possessions, yet his will--while making special disposition of his second-best bed and his "broad silver
gilt bowl" neither mentions nor intimates that he possessed any literary productions whatsoever.
While the Folios and Quartos usually are signed "William Shakespeare," all the known autographs of the
Stratford actor read "William Shakspere." Does this change in spelling contain any significance
heretofore generally overlooked? Furthermore, if the publishers of the First Shakespearian Folio revered
their fellow actor as much as their claims in that volume would indicate, why did they, as if in ironical
allusion to a hoax which they were perpetrating, place an evident caricature of him on the title page?
Certain absurdities also in Shakspere's private life are irreconcilable. While supposedly at the zenith of
his literary career, he was actually engaged in buying malt, presumably for a brewing business! Also
picture the immortal Shakspere--the reputed author of The Merchant of Venice--as a moneylender! Yet
among those against whom Shakspere brought action to collect petty sums was a fellow townsman--one
Philip Rogers--whom he sued for an unpaid loan of two shillings, or about forty-eight cents! In short,
there is nothing known in the life of Shakspere that would justify the literary excellence imputed to him.
The philosophic ideals promulgated throughout the Shakespearian plays distinctly demonstrate their
author to have been thoroughly familiar with certain doctrines and tenets peculiar to Rosicrucianism; in
fact the profundity of the Shakespearian productions stamps their creator as one of the illuminati of the
ages. Most of those seeking a solution for the Bacon-Shakspere controversy have been intellectualists.
Notwithstanding their scholarly attainments, they have overlooked the important part played by
transcendentalism in the philosophic achievements of the ages. The mysteries of superphysics are
inexplicable to the materialist, whose training does not equip him to estimate the extent of their
ramifications and complexities. Yet who but a Platonist, a Qabbalist, or a Pythagorean could have
written The Tempest, Macbeth, Hamlet, or The Tragedy of Cymbeline? Who but one deeply versed in
Paracelsian lore could have conceived, A Midsummer Night's Dream?
Father of modern science, remodeler
Click to enlarge
From Shakespeare's King Richard The Second, Quarto of 1597.
The ornamental headpiece shown above has long been considered a Baconian or Rosicrucian signature. The light
and the dark A's appear in several volumes published by emissaries of the Rosicrucians. If the above figure be
compared with that from the Alciati Emblemata on the following pages, the cryptic use of the two A's will be
further demonstrated.
Click to enlarge
From Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.
Baconian experts declare Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy to be in reality Francis Bacon's scrapbook in which
he gathered strange and rare bits of knowledge during the many years of eventful life. This title page has long
been supposed to contain a cryptic message. The key to this cipher is the pointing figure of the maniac in the
lower right-hand corner of the design. According to Mrs. Elizabeth Wells Gallup, the celestial globe at which the
maniac is pointing is a cryptic symbol of Sir Francis Bacon. The planetary signs which appear in the clouds
opposite the marginal figures 4, 5;, 6, and 7 signify the planetary configurations, which produce the forms of
mania depicted. The seated man, with his head resting upon his hand. is declared by Baconian enthusiasts to
represent Sir Francis Bacon.
p. 166
of modern law, editor of the modem Bible, patron of modem democracy, and one of the founders of
modern Freemasonry, Sir Francis Bacon was a man of many aims and purposes. He was a Rosicrucian,
some have intimated the Rosicrucian. If not actually the Illustrious Father C.R.C. referred to in the
Rosicrucian manifestoes, he was certainly a high initiate of the Rosicrucian Order, and it is his activities
in connection with this secret body that are of prime importance to students of symbolism, philosophy,
and literature.
Scores of volumes have been written to establish Sir Francis Bacon as the real author of the plays and
sonnets popularly ascribed to William Shakspere. An impartial consideration of these documents cannot
but convince the open-minded of the verisimilitude of the Baconian theory. In fact those enthusiasts who
for years have struggled to identify Sir Francis Bacon as the true "Bard of Avon" might long since have
won their case had they emphasized its most important angle, namely, that Sir Francis Bacon, the
Rosicrucian initiate, wrote into the Shakespearian plays the secret teachings of the Fraternity of R.C. and
the true rituals of the Freemasonic Order, of which order it may yet be discovered that he was the actual
founder. A sentimental world, however, dislikes to give up a traditional hero, either to solve a
controversy or to right a wrong. Nevertheless, if it can be proved that by raveling out the riddle there can
be discovered information of practical value to mankind, then the best minds of the world will cooperate
in the enterprise. The Bacon-Shakspere controversy, as its most able advocates realize, involves the most
profound aspects of science, religion, and ethics; he who solves its mystery may yet find therein the key
to the supposedly lost wisdom of antiquity.
It was in recognition of Bacon's intellectual accomplishments that King James turned over to him the
translators' manuscripts of what is now known as the King James Bible for the presumable purpose of
checking, editing, and revising them. The documents remained in his hands for nearly a year, but no
information is to be had concerning what occurred in that time. Regarding this work, William T.
Smedley writes: " It will eventually be proved that the whole scheme of the Authorised Version of the
Bible was Francis Bacon's." (See The Mystery of Francis Bacon.) The first edition of the King James
Bible contains a cryptic Baconian headpiece. Did Bacon cryptographically conceal in the Authorized
Bible that which he dared not literally reveal in the text--the secret Rosicrucian key to mystic and
Masonic Christianity?
Sir Francis Bacon unquestionably possessed the range of general and philosophical knowledge
necessary to write the Shakespearian plays and sonnets, for it is usually conceded that he was a
composer, lawyer, and linguist. His chaplain, Doctor William Rawley, and Ben Jonson both attest his
philosophic and poetic accomplishments. The former pays Bacon this remarkable tribute: "I have been
enduced to think that if there were a beame of knowledge derived from God upon any man in these
modern times, it was upon him. For though he was a great reader of books; yet he had not his knowledge
from books but from some grounds and notions from within himself. " (See Introduction to the
Sir Francis Bacon, being not only an able barrister but also a polished courtier, also possessed that
intimate knowledge of parliamentary law and the etiquette of the royal court revealed in the
Shakespearian plays which could scarcely have been acquired by a man in the humble station of the
Stratford actor. Lord Verulam furthermore visited many of the foreign countries forming the background
for the plays and was therefore in a position to create the authentic local atmosphere contained therein,
but there is no record of William Shakspere's ever having traveled outside of England.
The magnificent library amassed by Sir Francis Bacon contained the very volumes necessary to supply
the quotations and anecdotes incorporated into the Shakespearian plays. Many of the plays, in fact, were
taken from plots in earlier writings of which there was no English translation at that time. Because of his
scholastic acquirements, Lord Verulam could have read the original books; it is most unlikely that
William Shakspere could have done so.
Abundant cryptographic proof exists that Bacon was concerned in the production of the Shakespearian
plays. Sir Francis Bacon's cipher number was 33. In the First Part of King Henry the Fourth, the word
"Francis" appears 33 times upon one page. To attain this end, obviously awkward sentences were
required, as: "Anon Francis? No Francis, but tomorrow Francis: or Francis, on Thursday: or indeed
Francis when thou wilt. But Francis."
Throughout the Shakespearian Folios and Quartos occur scores of acrostic signatures. The simplest
form of the acrostic is that whereby a name--in these instances Bacon's--was hidden in the first few
letters of lines. In The Tempest, Act I, Scene 2, appears a striking example of the Baconian acrostic:
"Begun to tell me what I am, but stopt
And left me to a bootelesse Inquisition,
Concluding, stay: not yet.
The first letters of the first and second lines together with the first three letters of the third line form the
word BACon. Similar acrostics appear frequently in Bacon's acknowledged writings.
The tenor of the Shakespearian dramas politically is in harmony with the recognized viewpoints of Sir
Francis Bacon, whose enemies are frequently caricatured in the plays. Likewise their religious,
philosophic, and educational undercurrents all reflect his personal opinions. Not only do these marked
similarities of style and terminology exist in Bacon's writings and the Shakespearian plays, but there are
also certain historical and philosophical inaccuracies common to both, such as identical misquotations
from Aristotle.
"Evidently realizing that futurity would unveil his full genius, Lord Verulam in his will bequeathed his
soul to God above by the oblations of his Savior, his body to be buried obscurely, his name and memory
to men's charitable speeches, to foreign nations, to succeeding ages, and to his own countrymen after
some time had elapsed. That portion appearing in italics Bacon deleted from his will, apparently fearing
that he had said too much.
That Sir Francis Bacon's subterfuge was known to a limited few during his lifetime is quite evident.
Accordingly, stray hints regarding the true author of the Shakespearian plays may be found in many
seventeenth century volumes. On page 33 (Bacon's cipher number) of the 1609 edition of Robert
Cawdry's Treasurie or Storehouse
Click to enlarge
From Alciati Emblemata.
The curious volume from which this figure is taken was published in Paris in r618. The attention of the Baconian
student is immediately attracted by the form of the hog in the foreground. Bacon often used this animal as a play
upon his own name, especially because the name Bacon was derived from he word beech and the nut of this tree
was used to fatten hogs. The two pillars in the background have considerable Masonic interest. The two A's
nearly in the center of the picture--one light and one shaded--are alone almost conclusive proof of Baconian
influence. The most convincing evidence, however, is the fact that 17 is the numerical equivalent of the letters of
the Latin farm of Bacon's name (F. Baco) and there are 17 letters in the three words appearing in the illustration.
Click to enlarge
From Bacon's Advancement of Learning.
Lord Bacon was born in 1561 and history records his death in 1626. There are records in existence, however,
which would indicate the probability that his funeral was a mock funeral and that, leaving England, he lived for
many years under another name in Germany, there faithfully serving the secret society to the promulgation of
whose doctrines he had consecrate his life. Little doubt seems to exist in the minds of impartial investigators that
Lord Bacon was the legitimate son of Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester.
p. 167
of Similes appears the following significant allusion: "Like as men would laugh at a poore man, if having
precious garments lent him to act and play the part of some honourable personage upon a stage, when
the play were at an ende he should keepe them as his owne, and bragge up and downe in them."
Repeated references to the word hog and the presence of cryptographic statements on page 33 of various
contemporary writings demonstrate that the keys to Bacon's ciphers were his own name, words playing
upon it, or its numerical equivalent. Notable examples are the famous statement of Mistress Quickly in
The Merry Wives of Windsor: "Hang-hog is latten for Bacon, I warrant you"; the title pages of The
Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene; and the emblems appearing in
the works of Alciatus and Wither. Furthermore, the word honorificabilitudinitatibus appearing in the
fifth act of Love's Labour's Lost is a Rosicrucian signature, as its numerical equivalent (287) indicates.
Again, on the title page of the first edition of Sir Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, Father Time is depicted
bringing a female figure out of the darkness of a cave. Around the device is a Latin inscription: "In time
the secret truth shall be revealed." The catchwords and printer's devices appearing in volumes published
especially during the first half of the seventeenth century were designed, arranged, and in some cases
mutilated according to a definite plan.
It is evident also that the mispaginations in the Shakespearian Folios and other volumes are keys to
Baconian ciphers, for re-editions--often from new type and by different printers--contain the same
mistakes. For example, the First and Second Folios of Shakespeare are printed from entirely different
type and by different printers nine years apart, but in both editions page 153 of the Comedies is
numbered 151, and pages 249 and 250 are numbered 250 and 251 respectively. Also in the 1640 edition
of Bacon's The Advancement and Proficience of Learning, pages 353 and 354 are numbered 351 and 352
respectively, and in the 1641 edition of Du Bartas' Divine Weeks pages 346 to 350 inclusive are entirely
missing, while page 450 is numbered 442. The frequency with which pages ending in numbers 50, 51,
52,53, and 54 are involved will he noted.
The requirements of Lord Verulam's biliteral cipher are fully met in scores of volumes printed between
1590 and 1650 and in some printed at other times. An examination of the verses by L. Digges, dedicated
to the memory of the deceased "Authour Maister W. Shakespeare," reveals the use of two fonts of type
for both capital and small letters, the differences being most marked in the capital T's, N's, and A's,
(Seethe First Folio.) The cipher has been deleted from subsequent editions.
The presence of hidden material in the text is often indicated by needless involvement of words. On the
sixteenth unnumbered page of the 1641 edition of Du Bartas' Divine Weeks is a boar surmounting a
pyramidal text. The text is meaningless jargon, evidently inserted for cryptographic reasons and marked
with Bacon's signature--the hog. The year following publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare's
plays in 1623, there was printed in "Lunæburg" a remarkable volume on cryptography, avowedly by
Gustavus Selenus. It is considered extremely probable that this volume constitutes the cryptographic key
to the Great Shakespearian Folio.
Peculiar symbolical head- and tail-pieces also mark the presence of cryptograms. While such ornaments
are found in many early printed books, certain emblems are peculiar to volumes containing Baconian
Rosicrucian ciphers. The light and dark shaded A is an interesting example. Bearing in mind the frequent
recurrence in Baconian symbolism of the light and dark shaded A and the hog, the following statement
by Bacon in his Interpretation of Nature is highly significant: "If the sow with her snout should happen
to imprint the letter A upon the ground, wouldst thou therefore imagine that she could write out a whole
tragedy as one letter?"
The Rosicrucians and other secret societies of the seventeenth century used watermarks as mediums for
the conveyance of cryptographic references, and books presumably containing Baconian ciphers are
usually printed upon paper bearing Rosicrucian or Masonic watermarks; often there are several symbols
in one book, such as the Rose Cross, urns, bunches of grapes, and others.
At hand is a document which may prove a remarkable key to a cipher beginning in The Tragedy of
Cymbeline. So far as known it has never been published and is applicable only to the 1623 Folio of the
Shakespearian plays. The cipher is a line-and-word count involving punctuation, especially the long and
short exclamation points and the straight and slanting interrogation points. This code was discovered by
Henry William Bearse in 1900, and after it has been thoroughly checked its exact nature will be made
No reasonable doubt remains that the Masonic Order is the direct outgrowth of the secret societies of the
Middle Ages, nor can it be denied that Freemasonry is permeated by the symbolism and mysticism of
the ancient and mediæval worlds. Sir Francis Bacon knew the true secret of Masonic origin and there is
reason to suspect that he concealed this knowledge in cipher and cryptogram. Bacon is not to be
regarded solely as a man but rather as the focal point between an invisible institution and a world which
was never able to distinguish between the messenger and the message which he promulgated. This secret
society, having rediscovered the lost wisdom of the ages and fearing that the knowledge might be lost
again, perpetuated it in two ways: (1) by an organization (Freemasonry)
Click to enlarge
From Ralegh's History of the World.
Many documents influenced by Baconian philosophy--or intended m conceal Baconian or Rosicrucian
cryptograms--use certain conventional designs at the beginning and end of chapters, which reveal to the initiated
the presence of concealed information. The above ornamental has long been accepted as of the presence of
Baconian influence and is to be found only in a certain number of rare volumes, all of which contain Baconian
cryptograms. These cipher messages were placed in the books either by Bacon himself or by contemporaneous
and subsequent authors belonging to the same secret society which Bacon served with his remarkable knowledge
of ciphers and enigmas. Variants of this headpiece adorn the Great Shakespearian Folio (1623); Bacon's Novum
Organum (1620); the St. James Bible (1611); Spencer's Faerie Queene (1611); and Sir Walter Ralegh's History of
the World (1614) (See American Baconiana.)
Click to enlarge
From Shakespeare's Great Folio of 1623.
There are no authentic portraits of Shakspere in existence. The dissimilarities the Droeshout, Chandos, Janssen,
Hunt, Ashbourne, Soest, and Dunford portraits prove conclusively that the artists were unaware of Shakspere's
actual features. An examination of the Droeshout portrait discloses several peculiarities. Baconian enthusiasts are
convinced that the face is only a caricature, possibly the death mask of Francis Bacon. A comparison of the
Droeshout Shakspere with portraits and engravings of Francis Bacon demonstrates the identity of the structure of
the two faces, the difference in expression being caused by lines of shading. Not also the peculiar line running
from the ear down to the chin. Does this line subtly signify that the face itself a mask, ending at the ear? Notice
also that the head is not connected with the body, but is resting on the collar. Most strange of all is the coat: one-
half is on backwards. In drawing the jacket, the artist has made the left arm correctly, but the right arm has the
back of the shoulder to the front. Frank Woodward has noted that there are 157 letters on the title page. This is a
Rosicrucian signature of first importance. The date, 1623, Plus the two letters "ON" from the word "LONDON,"
gives the cryptic signature of Francis Bacon, by a simple numerical cipher. By merely exchanging the 26 letters
of the alphabet for numbers, 1 became A, 6 becomes F, 2 becomes B, and 3 becomes C, giving AFBC. To this is
added the ON from LONDON, resulting in AFBCON, which rearranged forms F. BACON.
p. 168
to the initiates of which it revealed its wisdom in the form of symbols; (2) by embodying its arcana in
the literature of the day by means of cunningly contrived ciphers and enigmas.
Evidence points to the existence of a group of wise and illustrious Fratres who assumed the
responsibility of publishing and preserving for future generations the choicest of the secret books of the
ancients, together with certain other documents which they themselves had prepared. That future
members of their fraternity might not only identify these volumes bur also immediately note the
significant passages, words, chapters, or sections therein, they created a symbolic alphabet of
hieroglyphic designs. By means of a certain key and order, the discerning few were thus enabled to find
that wisdom by which a man is "raised" to an illumined life.
The tremendous import of the Baconian mystery is daily becoming more apparent. Sir Francis Bacon
was a link in that great chain of minds which has perpetuated the secret doctrine of antiquity from its
beginning. This secret doctrine is concealed in his cryptic writings. The search for this divine wisdom is
the only legitimate motive for the effort to decode his cryptograms.
Masonic research might discover much of value if it would turn its attention to certain volumes
published during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which bear the stamp and signet of that secret
society whose members first established modern Freemasonry but themselves remained as an intangible
group controlling and directing the activities of the outer body. The unknown history and lost rituals of
Freemasonry may be rediscovered in the symbolism and cryptograms of the Middle Ages. Freemasonry
is the bright and glorious son of a mysterious and hidden father. It cannot trace its parentage because that
origin is obscured by the veil of the superphysical and the mystical. The Great Folio of 1623 is a
veritable treasure house of Masonic lore and symbolism, and the time is at hand when that Great Work
should be accorded the consideration which is its due.
Though Christianity shattered the material organization of the pagan Mysteries, it could not destroy the
knowledge of supernatural power which the pagans possessed. Therefore it is known that the Mysteries
of Greece and Egypt were secretly perpetuated through the early centuries of the church, and later, by
being clothed in the symbolism of Christianity, were accepted as elements of that faith. Sir Francis
Bacon was one of those who had been entrusted with the perpetuation and dissemination of s the arcana
of the superphysical originally in the possession of the pagan hierophants, and to attain that end either
formulated the Fraternity of R.C. or was admitted into an organization already existing under that name
and became one of its principal representatives.
For some reason not apparent to the uninitiated there has been a continued and consistent effort to
prevent the unraveling of the Baconian skein. Whatever the power may be which continually blocks the
efforts of investigators, it is as unremitting now as it was immediately following Bacon's death, and
those attempting to solve the enigma still feel the weight of its resentment.
A misunderstanding world has ever persecuted those who understood the secret workings of Nature,
seeking in every conceivable manner to exterminate the custodians of this divine wisdom. Sir Francis
Bacon's political prestige was finally undermined and Sir Walter Ralegh met a shameful fate because
their transcendental knowledge was considered dangerous.
The forging of Shakspere's handwriting; the foisting of fraudulent portraits and death masks upon a
gullible public; the fabrication of spurious biographies; the mutilation of books and documents; the
destruction or rendering illegible of tablets and inscriptions containing cryptographic messages, have all
compounded the difficulties attendant upon the solution of the Bacon-Shakspere-Rosicrucian riddle. The
Ireland forgeries deceived experts for years.
According to material available, the supreme council of the Fraternity of R.C. was composed of a certain
number of individuals who had died what is known as the "philosophic death." When the time came for
an initiate to enter upon his labors for the Order, he conveniently "died" under somewhat mysterious
circumstances. In reality he changed his name and place of residence, and a box of rocks or a body
secured for the purpose was buried in his stead. It is believed that this happened in the case of Sir
Francis Bacon who, like all servants of the Mysteries, renounced all personal credit and permitted others
to be considered as the authors of the documents which he wrote or inspired.
The cryptic writings of Francis Bacon constitute one of the most powerful tangible elements in the
mysteries of transcendentalism and symbolic philosophy. Apparently many years must yet pass before
an uncomprehending world will appreciate the transcending genius of that mysterious man who wrote
the Novum Organum, who sailed his little ship far out into the unexplored sea of learning through the
Pillars of Hercules, and whose ideals for a new civilization are magnificently expressed in the Utopian
dream of The New Atlantis. Was Sir Francis Bacon a second Prometheus? Did his great love for the
people of the world and his pity for their ignorance cause him to bring the divine fire from heaven
concealed within the contents of a printed page?
In all probability, the keys to the Baconian riddle will be found in classical mythology. He who
understands the secret of the Seven-Rayed God will comprehend the method employed by Bacon to
accomplish his monumental labor. Aliases were assumed by him in accordance with the attributes and
order of the members of the planetary system. One of the least known--but most important--keys to the
Baconian enigma is the Third, or 1637, Edition, published in Paris, of Les Images ou Tableaux de platte
peinture des deux Philostrates sophistes grecs et les statues de Callistrate, by Blaise de Vigenere. The
title page of this volume--which, as the name of the author when properly deciphered indicates, was
written by or under the direction of Bacon or his secret society--is one mass of important Masonic or
Rosicrucian symbols. On page 486 appears a plate entitled "Hercules Furieux," showing a gigantic
figure shaking a spear, the ground before him strewn with curious emblems. In his curious work, Das
Bild des Speershüttlers die Lösung des Shakespeare-Rätsels, Alfred Freund attempts to explain the
Baconian symbolism in the Philostrates. Bacon he reveals as the philosophical Hercules, whom time
will establish as the true "Spear-Shaker" (Shakespeare).
Click to enlarge
From Ralegh's History of the World.
What was the mysterious knowledge which Sir Walter Ralegh possessed and which was declared to be
detrimental to the British government? Why was he executed when the charges against him could not be proved?
Was he a member of me of those feared and hated secret societies which nearly overthrew political and religious
Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? Was Sir Walter Ralegh an important factor in the Bacon-
Shakspere-Rosicrucian-Masonic enigma? By those seeking the keys to this great controversy, he seems to have
been almost entirely overlooked. His contemporaries are unanimous in their praise of his remarkable intellect,
and he has long been considered me of Britain's most brilliant sons.
Sir Walter Ralegh--soldier, courtier, statesman, writer, poet, philosopher, and explorer--was a scintillating figure
at the court of Queen Elizabeth. Upon this same man, King James--after the death of Elizabeth--heaped every
indignity within his power. The cowardly James, who shuddered at the mention of weapons and cried like a child
when he was crossed, was insanely jealous of the brilliant courtier. Ralegh's enemies, Playing upon the king's
weakness, did not cease their relentless persecution until Ralegh had been hanged and his decapitated, quartered,
and disemboweled body lay at their feet.
The title page reproduced above was used by Ralegh's political foes as a powerful weapon against him. They
convinced James I that the face of the central figure upholding the globe was a caricature of his own, and the
enraged king ordered every copy of the engraving destroyed. But a few copies escaped the royal wrath;
consequently the plate is extremely rare. The engraving is a mass Rosicrucian and Masonic symbols, and the
figures on the columns in all probability conceal a cryptogram. More significant still is the fact that the page
facing this plate is a headpiece identical with that used in the 1623 Folio of "Shakespeare" and also in Bacon's
Novum Organum.
Next: The Cryptogram as a factor in Symbolic Philosophy
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 169
The Cryptogram as a factor in Symbolic
NO treatise which deals with symbolism would be complete without a section devoted to the
consideration of cryptograms. The use of ciphers has long been recognized as indispensable in military
and diplomatic circles, but the modern world has overlooked the important rôle played by cryptography
in literature and philosophy. If the art of deciphering cryptograms could be made popular, it would result
in the discovery of much hitherto unsuspected wisdom possessed by both ancient and mediæval
philosophers. It would prove that many apparently verbose and rambling authors were wordy for the
sake of concealing words. Ciphers are hidden in the most subtle manner: they may be concealed in the
watermark of the paper upon which a book is printed; they may be bound into the covers of ancient
books; they may be hidden under imperfect pagination; they may be extracted from the first letters of
words or the first words of sentences; they may be artfully concealed in mathematical equations or in
apparently unintelligible characters; they may be extracted from the jargon of clowns or revealed by heat
as having been written in sympathetic ink; they may be word ciphers, letter ciphers, or apparently
ambiguous statements whose meaning could be understood only by repeated careful readings; they may
he discovered in the elaborately illuminated initial letters of early books or they may be revealed by a
process of counting words or letters. If those interested in Freemasonic research would give serious
consideration to this subject, they might find in books and manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries the information necessary to bridge the gap in Masonic history that now exists between the
Mysteries of the ancient world and the Craft Masonry of the last three centuries.
The arcana of the ancient Mysteries were never revealed to the profane except through the media of
symbols. Symbolism fulfilled the dual office of concealing the sacred truths from the uninitiated and
revealing them to those qualified to understand the symbols. Forms are the symbols of formless divine
principles; symbolism is the language of Nature. With reverence the wise pierce the veil and with clearer
vision contemplate the reality; but the ignorant, unable to distinguish between the false and the true,
behold a universe of symbols. It may well be said of Nature--the Great Mother--that she is ever tracing
strange characters upon the surface of things, but only to her eldest and wisest sons as a reward for their
faith and devotion does she reveal the cryptic alphabet which is the key to the import of these tracings.
The temples of the ancient Mysteries evolved their own sacred languages, known only to their initiates
and never spoken save in the sanctuary. The illumined priests considered it sacrilege to discuss the
sacred truths of the higher worlds or the divine verities of eternal Nature in the same tongue as that used
by the vulgar for wrangling and dissension. A sacred science must needs be couched in a sacred
language. Secret alphabets also were invented, and whenever the secrets of the wise were committed to
writing, characters meaningless to the uninformed were employed. Such forms of writing were called
sacred or Hermetic alphabets. Some--such as the famous angelic writing--are still retained in the higher
degrees of Masonry.
Secret alphabets were not entirely satisfactory, however, for although they rendered unintelligible the
true nature of the writings, their very presence disclosed the fact of concealed information--which the
priests also sought to conceal. Through patience or persecution, the keys to these alphabets were
eventually acquired and the contents of the documents revealed to the unworthy. This necessitated
employment of more subtle methods for concealing the divine truths. The result was the appearance of
cryptic systems of writing designed to conceal the presence of both the message and the cryptogram.
Having thus devised a method of transmitting their secrets to posterity, the illuminati encouraged the
circulation of certain documents specially prepared through incorporating into them ciphers containing
the deepest secrets of mysticism and philosophy. Thus mediæval philosophers disseminated their
theories throughout Europe without evoking suspicion, since volumes containing these cryptograms
could be subjected to the closest scrutiny without revealing the presence of the hidden message.
During the Middle Ages scores of writers--members of secret political or religious organizations--
published books containing ciphers. Secret writing became a fad; every European court had its own
diplomatic cipher, and the intelligentsia vied with one another in devising curious and complicated
cryptograms. The literature of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries is permeated with
ciphers, few of which have ever been decoded. Many of the magnificent scientific and philosophic
intellects of this period dared not publish their findings, because of the religious intolerance of their day.
In order to preserve the fruitage of their intellectual labors for mankind, these pioneers of progress
concealed their discoveries in ciphers, trusting that future generations, more kindly than their own,
would discover and appreciate their learning.
Many churchmen, it is interesting to note, used cryptograms, fearing excommunication or a worse fate
should their scientific researches be suspected. Only recently an intricate cipher of Roger Bacon's has
been unraveled, revealing the fact that this early scientist was well versed in the cellular theory.
Lecturing before the American Philosophical Society, Dr. William Romaine Newbold,
Click to enlarge
From Selenus' Cryptomenytices et Cryptographiæ.
One year after the publication of the first Great "Shakespearian" Folio, a remarkable volume on cryptogram, and
ciphers was published. The title page of the work is reproduced above. The year of its publication (1624) was
during the Rosicrucian controversy. The translation of the title page is as follows:
"The Cryptomenysis and Cryptography of Gustavus Selenus in nine books, to which is added a clear explanation
of the System of Steganography of John Trithemius, Abbot of Spanheim and Herbipolis, a man of admirable
genius. Interspersed with worthy inventions of the Author and others, 1624." The author of this volume was
believed to be Augustus, Duke of Brunswick. The symbols and emblems ornamenting the title page, however, are
conclusive evidence that the fine hand of the Rosicrucians was behind its publication. At the bottom of the
picture is a nobleman (Bacon?) placing his hat on another man's head. In the oval at the top of the plate, it is
possible that the lights are beacons, or a play upon the name Bacon. In the two side panels are striking and subtle
"Shakespearian" allusions. On the left is a nobleman (possibly Bacon) handing a paper to another man of mean
appearance who carries in his hand a spear. At the right, the man who previously carried the spear is shown in the
costume of an actor, wearing spurs and blowing a horn. The allusion to the actor blowing his horn and the figure
carrying the spear suggest much, especially as spear is the last syllable of the name "Shakespeare."
p. 170
who translated the cipher manuscript of the friar, declared: "There are drawings which so accurately
portray the actual appearance of certain objects that it is difficult to resist the inference that Bacon had
seen them with the microscope. * * * These are spermatozoa, the body cells and the seminiferous tubes,
the ova, with their nuclei distinctly indicated. There are nine large drawings, of which one at least bears
considerable resemblance to a certain stage of development of a fertilized cell." (See Review of Reviews,
July, 1921.) Had Roger Bacon failed to conceal this discovery under a complicated cipher, he would
have been persecuted as a heretic and would probably have met the fate of other early liberal thinkers. In
spite of the rapid progress made by science in the last two hundred and fifty years, it still remains
ignorant concerning many of the original discoveries made by mediæval investigators. The only record
of these important findings is that contained in the cryptograms of the volumes which they published.
While many authors have written on the subject of cryptography, the books most valuable to students of
philosophy and religion are: Polygraphia and Steganographia, by Trithemius, Abbot of Spanheim;
Mercury, or The Secret and Swift Messenger, by John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester; Œdipus Ægyptiacus
and other works by Athanasius Kircher, Society of Jesus; and Cryptomenytices et Cryptographiæ, by
Gustavus Selenus.
To illustrate the basic differences in their construction and use, the various forms of ciphers are here
grouped under seven general headings:
1. The literal cipher. The most famous of all literal cryptograms is the famous biliteral cipher described
by Sir Francis Bacon in his De Augmentis Scientiarum. Lord Bacon originated the system while still a
young man residing in Paris. The biliteral cipher requires the use of two styles of type, one an ordinary
face and the other specially cut. The differences between the two fonts are in many case so minute that it
requires a powerful magnifying glass to detect them. Originally, the cipher messages were concealed
only in the italicized words, sentences, or paragraphs, because the italic letters, being more ornate than
the Roman letters, offered greater opportunity for concealing the slight but necessary variations.
Sometimes the letters vary a trifle in size; at other times in thickness or in their ornamental flourishes.
Later, Lord Bacon is believed to have had two Roman alphabets specially prepared in which the
differences were so trivial that it is almost impossible for experts to distinguish them.
A careful inspection of the first four "Shakespeare" folios discloses the use throughout the volumes of
several styles of type differing in minute but distinguishable details. It is possible that all the
"Shakespeare" folios contain ciphers running through the text. These ciphers may have been added to the
original plays, which are much longer in the folios than in the original quartos, full scenes having been
added in some instances.
The biliteral cipher was not confined to the writings of Bacon and "Shakespeare," however, but appears
in many books published during Lord Bacon's lifetime and for nearly a century after his b death. In
referring to the biliteral cipher, Lord Bacon terms it omnia per omnia. The cipher may run through an
entire book and be placed therein at the time of printing without the knowledge of the original author,
for it does not necessitate the changing of either words or punctuation. It is possible that this cipher was
inserted for political purposes into many documents and volumes published during the seventeenth
century. It is well known that ciphers were used for the same reason as early as the Council of Nicæa.
The Baconian biliteral cipher is difficult to use today, owing to the present exact standardization of type
and the fact that so few books are now hand set. Accompanying this chapter are facsimiles of Lord
Bacon's biliteral alphabet as it appeared in the 1640 English translation of De Augmentis Scientiarum.
There are four alphabets, two for the capital and two for the small letters. Consider carefully the
differences between these four and note that each alphabet has the power of either the letter a or the
letter b, and that when reading a word its letters are divisible into one of two groups: those which
correspond to the letter a and those which correspond to the letter b. In order to employ the biliteral
cipher, a document must contain five times as many letters as there are in the cipher message to be
concealed, for it requires five letters to conceal one. The biliteral cipher somewhat resembles a telegraph
code in which letters are changed into dots and dashes; according to the biliteral system, however, the
dots and dashes are represented respectively by a's and b's. The word biliteral is derived from the fact
that all letters of the alphabet may be reduced to either a or b. An example of biliteral writing is shown
in one of the accompanying diagrams. In order to demonstrate the working of this cipher, the message
concealed within the words "Wisdom and understanding are more to be desired than riches" will now be
The first step is to discover [he letters of each alphabet and replace them by their equivalent a or b in
accordance with the key given by Lord Bacon in his biliteral alphabet (q.v.). In the word wisdom, the W
is from the b alphabet; therefore it is replaced by a b. The i is from the a alphabet; therefore an a is put in
its place. The s is also from the a alphabet, but the d belongs to the b alphabet. The o and the m both
belong to the a alphabet is replaced by a. By this process the word WISDOM become baabaa. Treating
the remaining words of the sentence in a similar manner, AND becomes aba; UNDERSTANDING,
aaabaaaaaabab; ARE, aba; MORE, abbb; TO, ab; BE, ab; DESIRED, abaabaa; THAN, aaba;
RICHES, aaaaaa.
The next step is to run all the letters together; thus:
baabaaabaaaabaaaaaabababaabbbabababaabaaaabaaaaaaa. All the combinations used in the
Baconian biliteral cipher consist of groups containing five letters each. Therefore the solid line of letters
must be broken into groups of five in the following manner: baaba aabaa aabaa aaaab ababa abbba
babab aabaa aabaa aaaaa. Each of these groups of five letters now represents one letter of the cipher,
and the actual letter can now be determined by comparing the groups with the alphabetical table, The
Key to the Biliteral Cipher, from De Augmentis Scientiarum (q.v.): baaba = T, aabaa = E, aabaa = E;
aaaab = B; ababa = L; abbba = P; babab = X; aabaa = E, aabaa = E; aaaaa = A; but the last five letters
of the word riches being set off by a period from the initial r, the last five a's do not count in the cipher.
The letters thus extracted are now brought together in order, resulting in TEEBLPXEE.
At this point the inquirer might reasonably expect the letters to make intelligible words; but he will very
likely be disappointed, for, as in the case above, the letters thus extracted are themselves a cryptogram,
doubly involved to discourage those who might have a casual acquaintance with the biliteral system.
The next step is to apply the nine letters to what is commonly called a wheel (or disc) cipher (q.v.),
which consists of two alphabets, one revolving around the other in such a manner that numerous
transpositions of letters are possible. In the accompanying cut the A of the inner alphabet
Click to enlarge
In the above sentence note carefully the formation of the letters. Compare each letter with the two types of letters
in the biliteral alphabet table reproduced from Lord Bacon's De Augmentis Scientiarum. A comparison of the "d"
in "wisdom" with the "d" in "and" discloses a large loop at the top of the first, while the second shows practically
no loop at all. Contrast the "i" in "wisdom" with the "i" in "understanding." In the former, the lines are curved
and in the latter angular. A similar analysis of the two "r's" in "desired" reveals obvious differences. The "o" in
"more" differs only from the "o" in "wisdom" in that it a tiny line continues from the top over towards the "r."
The "a" in "than" is thinner and more angular than the "a" in "are," while the "r" in "riches" differs from that in
"desired" in that the final upright stroke terminates in a ball instead of a sharp point. These minor differences
disclose the presence of the two alphabets employed in writing the sentence.
Click to enlarge
From Bacon's De Augmentis Scientiarum.
After the document to be deciphered has been reduced to its "a" and "b" equivalents, it is then broken up into five-
letter groups and the message read with the aid of the above table.
Click to enlarge
The above diagram shows a wheel cipher. The smaller, or inner, alphabet moves around so that any one of its
letters may be brought opposite any me of he letters on the larger, or outer, alphabet. In some, cases the inner
alphabet is written backwards, but in the present example, both alphabets read the same way.
Click to enlarge
From Bacon's De Augmentis Scientiarum.
This Plate is reproduced from Bacon's De Augmentis Scientiarum, and shows the two alphabets as designed by
him for the purpose of his cipher. Each capital and small letter has two distinct forms which are designated "a"
and "b". The biliteral system did not in every instance make use of two alphabets in which the differences were as
perceptible as in the example here given, but the two alphabets were always used; sometimes variations are so
minute that it requires a powerful magnifying glass to distinguish the difference between the "a" and "b" types of
p. 171
is opposite the H of the outer alphabet, so that for cipher purposes these letters are interchangeable. The
F and M, the P, and Y, the W and D, in fact all the letters, may be transposed as shown by the two
circles. The nine letters extracted by the biliteral cipher may thus be exchanged for nine others by the
wheel cipher. The nine letters are considered as being on the inner circle of the wheel and are exchanged
for the nine letters on the outer circle which are opposite the inner letters. By this process the T becomes
A; the two E's become two L's; the B becomes I, the L becomes S; the P becomes W; the X becomes E;
and the two E's become two L's. The result is ALLISWELL, which, broken up into words, reads: "All is
Of course, by moving the inner disc of the wheel cipher, many different combinations in addition to the
one given above can be made of the letters, but this is the only one which will produce sense, and the
cryptogrammatist must keep on experimenting until he discovers a logical and intelligible message. He
may then feel reasonably sure that he has deciphered the system. Lord Bacon involved the biliteral
cipher in many different ways. There are probably a score of different systems used in the "Shakespeare"
folio alone, some so intricate that they may forever baffle all attempts at their decipherment. In those
susceptible of solution, sometimes the a's and b's have to be exchanged; at other times the concealed
message is written backwards; again only every other letter is counted; and so on.
There are several other forms of the literal cipher in which letters are substituted for each other by a
prearranged sequence. The simplest form is that in which two alphabets are written thus:
By substituting the letters of the lower alphabet for their equivalents in the upper one, a meaningless
conglomeration results, the hidden message being decoded by reversing the process. There is also a form
of the literal cipher in which the actual cryptogram is written in the body of the document, but
unimportant words are inserted between important ones according to a prearranged order. The literal
cipher also includes what are called acrostic signatures--that is, words written down the column by the
use of the first letter of each line and also more complicated acrostics in which the important letters are
scattered through entire paragraphs or chapters. The two accompanying alchemical cryptograms
illustrate another form of the literal cipher involving the first letter of each word. Every cryptogram
based upon the arrangement or combination of the letters of the alphabet is called a literal cipher.
2. The pictorial cipher. Any picture or drawing with other than its obvious meaning may be considered a
pictorial cryptogram. Instances of pictorial cipher are frequently found in Egyptian symbolism and early
religious art. The diagrams of alchemists and Hermetic philosophers are invariably pictorial ciphers. In
addition to the simple pictorial cipher, there is a more technical form in which words or letters are
concealed by the number of stones in a wall, by the spread of birds' wings in flight, by ripples on the
surface of water, or by the length and order of lines used in shading. Such cryptograms are not obvious,
and must be decoded with the aid of an arbitrary measuring scale, the length of the lines determining the
letter or word concealed. The shape and proportion of a building, the height of a tower, the number of
bars in a window, the folds of a man's garments--even the proportions or attitude of the human body--
were used to conceal definite figures or characters which could be exchanged for letters or words by a
person acquainted with the code.
Initial letters of names were secreted in architectural arches and spans. A notable example of this
practice is found on the title page of Montaigue's Essays, third edition, where an initial B is formed by
two arches and an F by a broken arch. Pictorial cryptograms are sometimes accompanied by the key
necessary for their decipherment. A figure may point toward the starting point of the cipher or carry in
its hand some implement disclosing the system of measurement used. There are also frequent instances
in which the cryptographer purposely distorted or improperly clothed some figure in his drawing by
placing the hat on backwards, the sword on the wrong side, or the shield on the wrong arm, or by
employing some similar artifice. The much-discussed fifth finger on the Pope's hand in Raphael's Sistine
Madonna and the sixth toe on Joseph's foot in the same artist's Marriage of the Virgin are cunningly
concealed cryptograms.
3. The acroamatic cipher. The religious and philosophical writings of all nations abound with
acroamatic cryptograms, that is, parables and allegories. The acroamatic is unique in that the document
containing it may be translated or reprinted without affecting the cryptogram. Parables and allegories
have been used since remote antiquity to present moral truths in an attractive and understandable
manner. The acroamatic cryptogram is a pictorial cipher drawn in words and its symbolism must be so
interpreted. The Old and New Testaments of the Jews, the writings of Plato and Aristotle, Homer's
Odyssey and Iliad, Virgil's Æneid, The Metamorphosis of Apuleius, and Æsop's Fables are outstanding
examples of acroamatic cryptography in which are concealed the deepest and most sublime truths of
ancient mystical philosophy.
The acroamatic cipher is the most subtle of all, for the parable or allegory is susceptible of several
interpretations. Bible students for centuries have been confronted by this difficultly. They are satisfied
with the moral interpretation of the parable and forget that each parable and allegory is capable of seven
interpretations, of which the seventh--the highest--is complete and all-inclusive, whereas the other six
(and lesser) interpretations are fragmentary, revealing but part of the mystery. The creation myths of the
world are acroamatic cryptograms, and the deities of the various pantheons are only cryptic characters
which, if properly understood, become the constituents of a divine alphabet. The initiated few
comprehend the true nature of this alphabet, but the uninitiated many worship the letters of it as gods.
Click to enlarge
From Brown's History of Chemistry.
James Campbell Brown reprints a curious cipher from Kircher. The capital letters of the seven words in the outer
circle read clockwise, form the word SVLPHVR. From the words in the second circle, when read in a similar
manner, is derived FIXVM. The capitals of the six words in the inner circle, when properly arranged, also read
ESTSOL. The following cipher is thus extracted: "Sulphur Fixum Est Sol," which when translated is: "Fixed
sulphur is gold."
Click to enlarge
From Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer.
Beginning with the word VISITA and reading clockwise, the seven initial letters of the seven words inscribed in
the outer circle read: VITRIOL. This is a very simple alchemical enigma, but is a reminder that those studying
works on Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, and Freemasonry should always be on the lookout for
concealed meanings hidden either in Parables and allegories or in cryptic arrangements of numbers, letters, and
Click to enlarge
From Selenus' Cryptomenytices et Cryptographiæ.
The first circle portrays the divine antecedents of justice, the second the universal scope of justice, and the third
the results of human application of justice. Hence, the first circle deals with divine principles, the second circle
with mundane affairs, and the third circle with man. On the at the top of the picture sits Themis, the presiding
spirit of law, and at her feet three other queens--Juno, Minerva, and Venus--their robes ornamented with
geometric figures. The axis of law connects the throne, of divine justice above with the throne of human
judgment at the bottom of the picture. Upon the latter throne is seated a queen with a scepter in her hand, before
whom stands the winged goddess Nemesis--the angel of judgment.
The second Circle is divided into three parts by two sets of two horizontal lines. The upper and light section is
called the Supreme Region and is the abode of the gods, the good spirits, and the heroes. The lower and dark
section is the abode of lust, sin, and ignorance. Between these two extremes is the larger section in which are
blended the powers and impulses of both the superior and the inferior regions.
In the third or inner circle is man, a tenfold creature, consisting of nine parts--three of spirit, three of intellect, and
three of soul--enclosed within one constitution. According to Selenus, man's three spiritual qualities are thought,
speech, and action; his three intellectual qualities are memory, intelligence, and will; and his three qualities of
soul are understanding, courage, and desire. The third circle is further divided into three parts called ages: the
Golden Age of spiritual truth in the upper right section, the Iron Age of spiritual darkness in the lower right
section and the Bronze Age--a composite of the two occupying the entire left half of the inner circle and itself
divided into three parts. The lowest division of the Bronze Age depicts ignorant man controlled by force, the
central the partly awakened man controlled by jurisprudence, and the upper the spiritually illuminated man
controlled by love. Both the second and third circles revolve upon the axis of law, but the divine source, of law--
Heavenly Justice--is concealed by clouds. All of the symbols and figures ornamenting the plate are devoted to a
detailed amplification of the principles here outlined.
p. 172
4. The numerical cipher. Many cryptograms have been produced in which numbers in various sequences
are substituted for letters, words, or even complete thoughts. The reading of numerical ciphers usually
depends upon the possession of specially arranged tables of correspondences. The numerical
cryptograms of the Old Testament are so complicated that only a few scholars versed in rabbinical lore
have ever sought to unravel their mysteries. In his Œdipus Ægyptiacus, Athanasius Kircher describes
several Arabian Qabbalistic theorems, and a great part of the Pythagorean mystery was concealed in a
secret method in vogue among Greek mystics of substituting letters for numbers.
The most simple numerical cipher is that in which the letters of the alphabet are exchanged for numbers
in ordinary sequence. Thus A becomes 1, B 2, C 3, and so on, counting both I and J as 9 and both U and
V as 20. The word yes by this system would be written 23-5-18. This cipher can be made more difficult
by reversing the alphabet so that Z becomes 1, Y 2, X 3, and so on. By inserting a non-significant, or
uncounted, number after each of the significant numbers the cipher is still more effectively concealed,
thus: 23-16-5-9-18. The word yes is found by eliminating the second and fourth numbers. By adding 23,
5, and 18 together the sum 46 results. Therefore 46 is the numerical equivalent of the word yes.
According to the simple numerical cipher, the sum 138 is equal to the words Note carefully. Therefore in
a book using this method, line 138, page 138, or paragraph 138 may contain the concealed message. In
addition to this simple numerical cipher there are scores of others so complicated that no one without the
key can hope to solve them.
Authors sometimes based their cryptograms upon the numerical value of their own names; for example,
Sir Francis Bacon repeatedly used the cryptic number 33--the numerical equivalent of his name.
Numerical ciphers often involve the pagination of a book. Imperfect pagination, though generally
attributed to carelessness, often conceals important secrets. The mispaginations found in the 1623 folio
of "Shakespeare" and the consistent recurrence of similar errors in various volumes printed about the
same period have occasioned considerable thought among scholars and cryptogrammatists. In Baconian
cryptograms, all page numbers ending in 89 seem to have a special significance. The 89th page of the
Comedies in the 1623 folio of "Shakespeare" shows an error of type in the pagination, the "9" being
from a considerably smaller font than the "8." The 189th page is entirely missing, there being two pages
numbered 187; and page 188 shows the second " 8 " scarcely more than half the size of the first one.
Page 289 is correctly numbered and has no unusual features, but page 89 of the Histories is missing.
Several volumes published by Bacon show similar errors, page 89 being often involved.
There are also numerical ciphers from which the cryptic message may be extracted by counting every
tenth word, every twentieth word, or every fiftieth word. In some cases the count is irregular. The first
important word may be found by counting 100, the second by counting 90, the third by counting 80, and
so on until the count of 10 is reached. The count then returns to 100 and the process is repeated.
5. The musical cipher. John Wilkins, afterwards Bishop of Chester, in 1641 circulated an anonymous
essay entitled Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger. In this little volume, which was largely
derived from the more voluminous treatises of Trithemius and Selenus, the author sets forth a method
whereby musicians can converse with each other by substituting musical notes for the letters of the
alphabet. Two persons understanding the code could converse with each other by merely playing certain
notes upon a piano or other instrument. Musical cryptograms can be involved to an inconceivable point;
by certain systems it is possible to take an already existing musical theme and conceal in it a cryptogram
without actually changing the composition in any way. The pennants upon the notes may conceal the
cipher, or the actual sounds of the notes may be exchanged for syllables of similar sound. This latter
method is effective but its scope is somewhat limited. Several musical compositions by Sir Francis
Bacon are still in existence. An examination of them might reveal musical cryptograms, for it is quite
certain that Lord Bacon was well acquainted with the manner of their construction.
6. The arbitrary cipher. The system of exchanging letters of the alphabet for hieroglyphic figures is too
easily decoded to be popular. Albert: Pike describes an arbitrary cipher based upon the various parts of
the Knights Templars' cross, each angle representing a letter. The many curious alphabets that have been
devised are rendered worthless, however, by the table of recurrence. According to Edgar Allan Poe, a
great cryptogrammatist, the most common letter of the English language is E, the other letters in their
order of frequency are as follows: A, O, I, D, H, N, R, S, T, V, Y, C, F, Q L, M, W, B, K, P, Q, X, Z. Other
authorities declare the table of frequency to be: E, T, A, O, N, I, R, S, H, D, L, C, W, U, M, F, Y, G, P, B,
V, K, X, Q, J, Z. By merely counting the number of times each character appears in the message, the law
of recurrence discloses the English letter for which the arbitrary character stands. Further help is also
rendered by the fact that if the cryptogram be split up into words there are only three single letters which
may form words: A, I, O. Thus any single character set off from the rest of the text must be one of these
three letters. For details of this System see The Gold Bug, by Edgar Allan Poe.
To render more difficult the decoding of arbitrary ciphers, however, the characters are seldom broken up
into words, and, further, the table of recurrence is partly nullified by assigning two or more different
characters to each letter, thereby making it impossible to estimate accurately the frequency of
recurrence. Therefore, the greater the number of arbitrary characters used to represent any single letter of
the alphabet, the more difficult it is to decipher an arbitrary cryptogram. The secret alphabets of the
ancients are comparatively easy to decode, the only requisites being a table of frequency, a knowledge
of the language in which the cryptogram was originally written, a moderate amount of patience, and a
little ingenuity.
7. The code cipher. The most modem form of cryptogram is the code system. Its most familiar form is
the Morse code for use in telegraphic and wireless communication. This form of cipher may be
complicated somewhat by embodying dots and dashes into a document in which periods and colons are
dots, while commas and semicolons are dashes. There are also codes used by the business world which
can be solved only by the use of a private code book. Because they furnish an economical and efficient
method of transmitting confidential information, the use of such codes is far more prevalent than the
average person has any suspicion.
In addition to the foregoing classifications there are a number of miscellaneous systems of secret
writing, some employing mechanical devices, others colors. A few make use of sundry miscellaneous
objects to represent words and even complete thoughts. But as these more elaborate devices were
seldom employed by the ancients or by the mediæval philosophers and alchemists, they have no direct
bearing upon religion and philosophy. The mystics of the Middle Ages, borrowing the terminology of
the various arts and sciences, evolved a system of cryptography which concealed the secrets of the
human soul under terms generally applied to chemistry, biology, astronomy, botany, and physiology.
Ciphers of this nature can only be decoded by individuals versed in the deep philosophic principles upon
which these mediæval mystics based their theories of life. Much information relating to the invisible
nature of man is concealed under what seem to be chemical experiments or scientific speculations.
Every student of symbolism and philosophy, therefore, should be reasonably well acquainted with the
underlying principles of cryptography; in addition to serving him well in his researches, this art
furnishes a fascinating method of developing the acuteness of the mental faculties. Discrimination and
observation are indispensable to the seeker after knowledge, and no study is equal to cryptography as a
means of stimulating these powers.
Click to enlarge
From Barrett's Magus.
Curious alphabets were invented by the early and mediæval philosophers to conceal their doctrines and tenets
from the profane. Some of these alphabets are still used to a limited extent in the higher degrees of Freemasonry.
Probably the most famous is the angelic writing, termed in the above plate "The Writing called Malachim." Its
figures are supposedly derived from the constellations. Advanced students of occult philosophy will come upon
many valuable documents in which these figures are used. Under each letter of the first alphabet above is its
equivalent in English. Above each letter of the other three alphabets is its Hebrew letter equivalent.
Next: Freemasonic Symbolism
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 173
Freemasonic Symbolism
IN several early Masonic manuscripts--for example, the Harleian, Sloane, Lansdowne, and Edinburgh-
Kilwinning--it is stated that the craft of initiated builders existed before the Deluge, and that its members
were employed in the building of the Tower of Babel. A Masonic Constitution dated 1701 gives the
following naive account of the origin of the sciences, arts, and crafts from which the major part of
Masonic symbolism is derived:
"How this worthy Science was first begunne, I shall tell. Before Noah's Flood, there was a man called
Lameck as it is written in the 4 Chap. of Gen.: and this Lameck had two Wives. The one was called
Adah, and the other Zillah; by the first wife Adah he gott two Sons, the one called Jaball, and the other
Juball, and by the other wife Zillah he got a Son and Daughter, and the four children found the
beginning of all Crafts in the world. This Jaball was the elder Son, and he found the Craft of Geometric,
and he parted flocks, as of Sheep and Lambs in the fields, and first wrought Houses of Stone and Tree,
as it is noted in the Chap, aforesaid, and his Brother Juball found the crafte of Musick, of Songs, Organs
and Harp. The Third Brother [Tubal-cain] found out Smith's craft to work Iron and steel, and their sister
Naamah found out the art of Weaving. These children did know thatt God would take Vengeance for
Sinne, either by fire or water, wherefor they wrote these Sciences which they had found in Two Pillars
of stone, thatt they might be found after the Flood. The one stone was called Marbell--cannott burn with
Fire, and the other was called Laturus [brass?], thatt cannott drown in the Water." The author of this
Constitution there upon declares that one of these pillars was later discovered by Hermes, who
communicated to mankind the secrets thereon inscribed.
In his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus writes that Adam had forewarned his descendants that sinful
humanity would be destroyed by a deluge. In order to preserve their science and philosophy, the children
of Seth there fore raised two pillars, one of brick and the other of stone, on which were inscribed the
keys to their knowledge. The Patriarch Enoch--whose name means the Initiator--is evidently a
personification of the sun, since he lived 365 years. He also constructed an underground temple
consisting of nine vaults, one beneath the other, placing in the deepest vault a triangular tablet of gold
bearing upon it the absolute and ineffable Name of Deity. According to some accounts, Enoch made two
golden deltas. The larger he placed upon the white cubical altar in the lowest vault and the smaller he
gave into the keeping of his son, Methuseleh, who did the actual construction work of the brick
chambers according to the pattern revealed to his father by the Most High. In the form and arrangement
of these vaults Enoch epitomized the nine spheres of the ancient Mysteries and the nine sacred strata of
the earth through which the initiate must pass to reach the flaming Spirit dwelling in its central core.
According to Freemasonic symbolism, Enoch, fearing that all knowledge of the sacred Mysteries would
be lost at the time of the Deluge, erected the two columns mentioned in the quotation. Upon the metal
column in appropriate allegorical symbols he engraved the secret reaching and upon the marble column
placed an inscription stating that a short distance away a priceless treasure would be discovered in a
subterranean vault. After having thus faithfully completed his labors, Enoch was translated from the
brow Of Mount Moriah. In time the location of the secret vaults was lost, but after the lapse of ages
there came another builder--an initiate after the order of Enoch--and he, while laying the foundations for
another temple to the Great Architect of the Universe, discovered the long-lost vaults and the secrets
contained within.
John Leylande was appointed by King Henry VIII to go through the archives of the various religious
institutions dissolved by the king and remove for preservation any books or manuscripts of an important
character. Among the documents copied by Leylande was a series of questions and answers concerning
the mystery of Masonry written by King Henry VI. In answer to the question, "How came Masonry into
England?" the document States that Peter Gower, a Grecian, traveled for knowledge in Egypt, Syria, and
every land where the Phœnicians had planted Masonry; winning entrance in all lodges of Masons, he
learned much, and returning, dwelt in Greater Greece. He became renowned for his wisdom, formed a
great lodge at Groton, and made many Masons, some of whom journeyed in France, spreading Masonry
there; from France in the course of time the order passed into England.
To even the superficial student of the subject it must be evident that the name of Peter Gower, the
Grecian, is merely an Anglicized form of Pythagoras; consequently Groton, where he formed his lodge,
is easily identified with Crotona. A link is thus established between the philosophic Mysteries of Greece
and mediæval Freemasonry. In his notes on King Henry's questions and answers, William Preston
enlarges upon the vow of secrecy as it was practiced by the ancient initiates. On the authority of Pliny he
describes how Anaxarchus, having been imprisoned in order to extort from him some of the secrets with
which he had been entrusted, bit out his own tongue and threw it in the face of Nicocreon, the tyrant of
Cyprus. Preston adds that the Athenians revered a brazen statue that was represented without a tongue to
denote the sanctity with which they regarded their oath-bound secrets. It is also noteworthy that,
according to King Henry's manuscript, Masonry had its origin in the East and was the carrier of the arts
and sciences of civilization to the primitive humanity of the western nations.
Conspicuous among the symbols of Freemasonry are the seven liberal arts and sciences. By grammar
man is taught to express in noble and adequate language his innermost thoughts and ideals; by rhetoric
he is enabled to conceal his ideals under the protecting cover of ambiguous language and figures of
speech; by logic he is trained
Click to enlarge
Redrawn from Cesariano's Edition of Vitruvius.
Summarizing the relationship between the human body and the theory of architectonics, Vitruvius writes:
"Since nature has designed the human body so that its members are duly proportioned to the frame as a whole, it
appears that the ancients had good reason for their rule, that in perfect building the different members must be in
exact symmetrical relations to the whole general scheme. Hence, while transmitting to us the proper
arrangements for buildings of all kinds, they were particularly careful to do so in the case of temples of the gods,
buildings in which merits and faults usually last forever. * * * Therefore, if it is agreed that number was found
out from the human fingers, and that there is a symmetrical correspondent between the members separately and
the entire form of the body, in accordance with a certain part selected as standard, we can have nothing but
respect for those who, in constructing temples of the immortal gods, have so arranged the members of the works
that both the separate parts and the whole design may harmonize in their proportions and symmetry." (See The
Ten Books on Architecture)
By some it is believed that St. Paul was initiated into the Dionysiac Mysteries, for in the tenth verse of the third
chapter of First Corinthians he calls himself a "master-builder" or adept: "According to the grace of God which is
given into me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation and another buildeth thereon. " As survivals of
the ancient Dionysiac rites, the two diagrams of Cesariano, accompanying this chapter are of incalculable value
to the modern mystic architect.
p. 174
in the organization of the intellectual faculties with which he has been endowed; by arithmetic he not
only is instructed in the mystery of universal order but also gains the key to multitude, magnitude, and
proportion; by geometry he is inducted into the mathematics of form, the harmony and rhythm of angles,
and the philosophy of organization; by music he is reminded that the universe is founded upon the laws
of celestial harmonics and that harmony and rhythm are all-pervading; by astronomy he gains an
understanding of the immensities of time and space, of the proper relationship between himself and the
universe, and of the awesomeness of that Unknown Power which is driving the countless stars of the
firmament through illimitable space. Equipped with the knowledge conferred by familiarity with the
liberal arts and sciences, the studious Freemason therefore finds himself confronted by few problems
with which he cannot cope.
The most celebrated of the ancient fraternities of artisans was that of the Dionysiac Architects. This
organization was composed exclusively of initiates of the Bacchus-Dionysos cult and was peculiarly
consecrated to the science of building and the art of decoration. Acclaimed as being the custodians of a
secret and sacred knowledge of architectonics, its members were entrusted with the design and erection
of public buildings and monuments. The superlative excellence of their handiwork elevated the members
of the guild to a position of surpassing dignity; they were regarded as the master craftsmen of the earth.
Because of the first dances held in honor of Dionysos, he was considered the founder and patron of the
theater, and the Dionysians specialized in the construction of buildings adapted for the presentation of
dramatic performances. In the circular or semicircular orchestra they invariably erected an altar to
Æschylus, the famous Greek poet, that while appearing in one of his own plays he was suspected by a
mob of angry spectators of revealing one of the profound secrets of the Mysteries and was forced to seek
refuge at the altar of Dionysos.
So carefully did the Dionysiac Architects safeguard the secrets of their craft that only fragmentary
records exist of their esoteric teachings. John A. Weisse thus sums up the meager data available
concerning the order:
"They made their appearance certainly not later than 1000 B.C., and appear to have enjoyed particular
privileges and immunities. They also possessed secret means of recognition, and were bound together by
special ties only known to themselves. The richer of this fraternity were bound to provide for their
poorer brethren. They were divided into communities, governed by a Master and Wardens, and called
γυνοικιαι (connected houses). They held a grand festival annually, and were held in high esteem. Their
ceremonials were regarded as sacred. It has been claimed that Solomon, at the instance of Hiram, King
of Tyre, employed them at his temple and palaces. They were also employed at the construction of the
Temple of Diana at Ephesus. They had means of intercommunication all over the then known world, and
from them, doubtless, sprang the guilds of the Traveling Masons known in the Middle Ages." (See The
Obelisk and Freemasonry.)
The fraternity of the Dionysiac Architects spread throughout all of Asia Minor, even reaching Egypt and
India. They established themselves in nearly all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and with
the rise of the Roman Empire found their way into Central Europe and even into England. The most
stately and enduring buildings in Constantinople, Rhodes, Athens, and Rome were erected by these
inspired craftsmen. One of the most illustrious of their number was Vitruvius, the great architect,
renowned as the author of De Architectura Libri Decem. In the various sections of his book Vitruvius
gives several hints as to the philosophy underlying the Dionysiac concept of the principle of symmetry
applied to the science of architecture, as derived from a consideration of the proportions established by
Nature between the parts and members of the human body. The following extract from Vitruvius on the
subject of symmetry is representative:
"The design of a temple depends on symmetry, the principles of which must be most carefully observed
by the architect. They are due to proportion, in •ναλογ•α. Proportion is a correspondence among the
measures of the members of an entire work, and of the whole to a certain part selected as standard. From
this result the principles of symmetry. Without symmetry and proportion there can be no principles in
the design of any temple; that is, if there is no precise relation between its members, as in the case of
those of a well shaped man. For the human body is so designed by nature that the face, from the chin to
the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height; the open hand
from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same; the head from the chin to the crown is an
eighth, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth;
from the middle of the breast to the summit of the crown is a fourth. If we take the height of the face
itself, the distance from the bottom of the chin to the under side of the nostrils [and from that point] to a
line between the eyebrows is the same; from there to the lowest roots of the hair is also a third,
comprising the forehead. The length of the foot is one sixth of the height of the body; of the forearm,
one fourth; and the breadth of the breast is also one fourth. The other members, too, have their own
symmetrical proportions, and it was by employing them that the famous painters and sculptors of
antiquity attained to great and endless renown."
The edifices raised by the Dionysiac Builders were indeed "sermons in stone." Though unable to
comprehend fully the cosmic principles thus embodied in these masterpieces of human ingenuity and
industry, even the uninitiated were invariably overwhelmed by the sense of majesty and symmetry
resulting from the perfect coordination of pillars, spans, arches, and domes. By variations in the details
of size, material, type, arrangement, ornamentation, and color, these inspired builders believed it
possible to provoke in the nature of the onlooker certain distinct mental or emotional reactions.
Vitruvius, for example, describes the disposition of bronze vases about a room so as to produce certain
definite changes in the tone and quality of the human voice. In like manner, each chamber in the
Mysteries through which the candidate passed had its own peculiar acoustics. Thus in one chamber the
voice of the priest was amplified until his words caused the very room to vibrate, while in another the
voice was diminished and softened to such a degree that it sounded like the distant tinkling of silver
bells. Again, in some of the underground passageways the candidate was apparently bereft of the power
of speech, for though he shouted at the top of his voice not even a whisper was audible to his ears. After
progressing a few feet, however, he would discover that his softest sigh would be reechoed a hundred
The supreme ambition of the Dionysiac Architects was the construction of buildings which would create
distinct impressions consistent with the purpose for which the structure itself was designed. In common
with the Pythagoreans, they believed it possible by combinations of straight lines and curves to induce
any desired mental attitude or emotion. They labored, therefore, to the end of producing a building
perfectly harmonious with the structure of the universe itself. They may have even believed that an
edifice so constructed because it was in no respect at variance with any existing reality would not be
subject to dissolution but would endure throughout the span of mortal time. As a logical deduction from
their philosophic trend of thought, such a building--en rapport with Cosmos--would also have become
an oracle. Certain early works on magical philosophy hint that the Ark of the Covenant was oracular in
character because of specially prepared chambers in its interior. These by their shape and arrangement
were so attuned to the vibrations of the invisible world that they caught and amplified the voices of the
ages imprinted upon and eternally existent in the substance of the astral light.
Unskilled in these ancient subtleties of their profession, modern architects often create architectural
absurdities which would cause their creators to blush with shame did they comprehend their actual
symbolic import. Thus, phallic emblems are strewn in profusion among the adornments of banks, office
buildings, and department stores. Christian churches also may be surmounted with Brahmin or
Mohammedan domes or be designed in a style suitable for a Jewish synagogue or a Greek temple to
Pluto. These incongruities may be considered trivial in importance by the modern designer, but to the
trained psychologist the purpose for which a building was erected is frustrated in large measure by the
presence of such architectural discordances. Vitruvius thus defines the principle of propriety as
conceived and applied by the Dionysians:
"Propriety is that: perfection of style which comes when a work is authoritatively constructed on
approved principles. It arises from prescription (Greek θε•ατισ••), from usage, or from nature. From
prescription, in the case of hypæthral edifices, open to the sky, in honour of Jupiter Lightning, the
Heaven, the Sun, or the Moon: for these are gods whose semblances and manifestations we behold
before our very eyes in the sky when it is cloudless and bright. The temples of Minerva, Mars, and
Hercules will be Doric, since the virile strength of these gods makes daintiness entirely inappropriate to
their houses. In temples to Venus, Flora, Proserpine, Spring-Water, and the Nymphs, the Corinthian
order will be found to have peculiar significance, because these are delicate divinities and so its rather
slender outlines, its flowers, leaves, and ornamental volutes will lend propriety where it is due. The
construction of temples of the Ionic order to Juno, Diana, Father Bacchus, and the other gods of that
kind, will be in keeping with the middle position which they hold; for the building of such will be an
appropriate combination of the severity of the Doric and the delicacy of the Corinthian."
p. 175
In describing the societies of Ionian artificers, Joseph Da Costa declares the Dionysiac rites to have been
founded upon the science of astronomy, which by the initiates of this order was correlated to the
builder's art. In various documents dealing with the origin of architecture are found hints to the effect
that the great buildings erected by these initiated craftsmen were based upon geometrical patterns
derived from the constellations. Thus, a temple might be planned according to the constellation of
Pegasus or a court of judgment modeled after the constellation of the Scales. The Dionysians evolved a
peculiar code by which they were able to communicate with one another in the dark and both the
symbols and the terminology of their guild were derived, in the main, from the elements of architecture.
While stigmatized as pagans by reason of their philosophic principles, it is noteworthy that these
Dionysiac craftsmen were almost universally employed in the erection of early Christian abbeys and
cathedrals, whose stones even to this very day bear distinguishing marks and symbols cut into their
surfaces by these illustrious builders. Among the ornate carvings upon the fronts of great churches of the
Old World are frequently found representations of compasses, squares, rules, mallets, and clusters of
builders' tools skillfully incorporated into mural decorations and even placed in the hands of the effigies
of saints and prophets standing in exalted niches. A great mystery was contained in the ancient portals of
the Cathedral Of Notre Dame which were destroyed during the French Revolution, for among their
carvings were numerous Rosicrucian and Masonic emblems; and according to the records preserved by
alchemists who studied their bas-reliefs, the secret processes for metallic transmutation were set forth in
their grotesque yet most significant figures.
The checkerboard floor upon which the modern Freemasonic lodge stands is the old tracing board of the
Dionysiac Architects, and while the modern organization is no longer limited to workmen's guilds it still
preserves in its symbols the metaphysical doctrines of the ancient society of which it is presumably the
outgrowth. The investigator of the origin of Freemasonic symbolism who desires to trace the
development of the order through the ages will find a practical suggestion in the following statement of
Charles W. Heckethorn:
"But considering that Freemasonry is a tree the roots of which spread through so many soils, it follows
that traces thereof must be found in its fruit; that its language and ritual should retain much of the
various sects and institutions it has passed through before arriving at their present state, and in Masonry
we meet with Indian, Egyptian, Jewish, and Christian ideas, terms therefrom the supreme ambition of
their craft and symbols." (See The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries.)
The Roman Collegia of skilled architects were apparently a subdivision of the greater Ionian body, their
principles and organization being practically identical with the older Ionian institution. It has been
suspected that the Dionysians also profoundly influenced early Islamic culture, for part of their
symbolism found its way into the Mysteries of the dervishes. At one time the Dionysians referred to
themselves as Sons of Solomon, and one of the most important of their symbols was the Seal of
Solomon--two interlaced triangles. This motif is frequently seen in conspicuous parts of Mohammedan
mosques. The Knights Templars--who were suspected of anything and everything--are believed to have
contacted these Dionysiac artificers and to have introduced many of their symbols and doctrines into
mediæval Europe. But Freemasonry most of all owes to the Dionysiac cult the great mass of its symbols
and rituals which are related to the science of architecture. From these ancient and illustrious artisans it
also received the legacy of the unfinished Temple of Civilization-that vast, invisible structure upon
which these initiated builders have labored continuously since the inception of their fraternity. This
mighty edifice, which has fallen and been rebuilt time after time but whose foundations remain
unmoved, is the true Everlasting House of which the temple on the brow of Mount Moriah was but an
impermanent symbol.
Aside from the operative aspect of their order, the Dionysiac Architects had a speculative philosophic
code. Human society they considered as a rough and untrued ashlar but lately chiseled from the quarry
of elemental Nature. This crude block was the true object upon which these skilled craftsmen labored--
polishing it, squaring it, and with the aid of fine carvings transforming it into a miracle of beauty. While
mystics released their souls from the bondage of matter by meditation and philosophers found their
keenest joy in the profundities of thought, these master workmen achieved liberation from the Wheel of
Life and Death by learning to swing their hammers with the same rhythm that moves the swirling forces
of Cosmos. They venerated the Deity under the guise of a Great Architect and Master Craftsman who
was ever gouging rough ashlars from the fields of space and truing them into universes. The Dionysians
affirmed constructiveness to be the supreme expression of the soul, and attuning themselves with the
ever-visible constructive natural processes going on around them, believed immortality could be
achieved by thus becoming a part of the creative agencies of Nature.
The name Solomon may be divided into three syllables, SOL-OM-ON, symbolizing light, glory, and
truth collectively and respectively. The Temple of Solomon is, therefore, first of all "the House of
Everlasting Light," its earthly symbol being the temple of stone on the brow of Mount Moriah.
According to the Mystery teachings, there are three Temples of Solomon--as there are three Grand
Masters, three Witnesses, and three Tabernacles of the Transfiguration. The first temple is the Grand
House of the Universe, in the midst of which sits the sun (SOL) upon his golden throne. The twelve
signs of the zodiac as Fellow-Craftsmen gather around their shining lord. Three lights--the stellar, the
solar, and the lunar--illuminate this Cosmic Temple. Accompanied by his retinue of planets, moons, and
asteroids, this Divine King (SOLomon), whose glory no earthly monarch shall ever equal, passes in
stately pomp down the avenues of space. Whereas CHiram represents the active physical light of the
sun, SOLomon signifies its invisible but all-powerful, spiritual and intellectual effulgency.
The second symbolic temple is the human body-the Little House made in the image of the Great
Universal House. "Know ye not," asked the Apostle Paul, "that ye are the temple of God, and that the
Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Freemasonry within a temple of stone cannot be other than speculative,
but Freemasonry within the living temple of the body is operative. The third symbolic temple is the
Soular House, an invisible structure, the comprehension of which is a supreme Freemasonic arcanum.
The mystery of this intangible edifice is concealed under the allegory of the Soma Psuchicon, or
Wedding Garment described by St. Paul, the Robes of Glory of the High Priest of Israel, the Yellow
Robe of the Buddhist monk, and the Robe of Blue and Gold to which Albert Pike refers in his
Symbolism. The soul, constructed from an invisible fiery substance, a flaming golden metal, is cast by
the Master Workman, CHiram Abiff, into the mold of clay (the physical body) and is called the Molten
Sea. The temple of the human soul is built by three Master Masons personifying Wisdom, Love, and
Service, and when constructed according to the Law of Life the spirit of God dwells in the Holy Place
thereof. The Soular Temple is the true Everlasting House, and he who can raise
Click to enlarge
Redrawn from Cesariano's Edition of Vitruvius.
Herein is depicted the mysterious Word of Plato which was crucified in space before the foundation of the world.
The anonymous author of The Canon writes:
"The Logos or soul of the world, according to Plato, the Greek Hermes, and the Christ, according to the Christian
Gnostics, are all one and the same as the Hebrew Adam Kadmon, who is the second person of the cabalistic triad.
The Cyllenian Hermes, described by Hippolytus, so exactly resembles the lesser man found in Cesariano's edition
of Vitruvius, that they may be justifiably considered to be identical."
After relating the figure to Dionysus because of the vine leaves wound in the hair, the same writer concludes:
"Here we have clearly and distinctly a curious survival of the cosmic deity of Greece, copied and disfigured by
the crude draughtsmen of the Middle Ages, but faithfully preserved, and recognizable to the last." Similar figures
are to be found in Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia. Like Cesariano's diagrams, however, the key given for their
interpretation is most inadequate. Agrippa declares that, being a type of the lesser world, man contains in himself
all numbers, measures, weights, motions, and elements. The secret doctrine of Freemasonry, like that of the
Dionysiac Architects, is concerned primarily with the effort to measure or estimate philosophically the parts and
proportions of the microcosm, so that by the knowledge derived therefrom the supreme ambition of their craft
might be realized--the creation of a perfect man.
p. 176
or cast it is a Master Mason indeed! The best-informed Masonic writers have realized that Solomon's
Temple is a representation in miniature of the Universal Temple. Concerning this point, A. E. Waite, in
A New Encyclopædia of Freemasonry, writes: "It is macrocosmic in character, so that the Temple is a
symbol of the universe, a type of manifestation itself."
Solomon, the Spirit of Universal Illumination--mental, spiritual, moral, and physical--is personified in
the king of an earthly nation. While a great ruler by that name may have built a temple, he who
considers the story solely from its historical angle will never clear away the rubbish that covers the
secret vaults. The rubbish is interpolated matter in the form of superficial symbols, allegories, and
degrees which have no legitimate part in the original Freemasonic Mysteries. Concerning the loss of the
true esoteric key to Masonic secrets, Albert Pike writes:
"No one journeys now 'from the high place of Cabaon to the threshing floor of Oman the Yebusite,' nor
has seen, 'his Master, clothed in blue and gold;' nor are apprentices and Fellow-crafts any longer paid at
their respective Columns; nor is the Master's working tool the Tracing Board, nor does he use in his
work 'Chalk, Charcoal, and an Earthen Vessel,' nor does the Apprentice, becoming a Fellow Craft, pass
from the square to the compass; for the meanings of these phrases as symbols have long been lost."
According to the ancient Rabbins, Solomon was an initiate of the Mystery schools and the temple which
he built was actually a house of initiation containing amass of pagan philosophic and phallic emblems.
The pomegranates, the palm-headed columns, the Pillars before the door, the Babylonian cherubim, and
the arrangement of the chambers and draperies all indicate the temple to have been patterned after the
sanctuaries of Egypt and Atlantis. Isaac Myer, in The Qabbalah, makes the following observation:
"The pseudo-Clement of Rome, writes: 'God made man male and female. The male is Christ: the female,
the Church.' The Qabbalists called the Holy Spirit, the mother, and the Church of Israel, the Daughter.
Solomon engraved on the walls of his Temple, likenesses of the male and female principles, to
adumbrate this mystery; such, it is said, were the figures of the cherubim. This was, however, not in
obedience to the words of the Thorah. They were symbolical of the Upper, the spiritual, the former or
maker, positive or male, and the Lower, the passive, the negative or female, formed or made by the first."
Masonry came to Northern Africa and Asia Minor from the lost continent of Atlantis, not under its
present name but rather under the general designation Sun and Fire Worship. The ancient Mysteries did
not cease to exist when Christianity became the world's most powerful religion. Great Pan did not die!
Freemasonry is the proof of his survival. The pre-Christian Mysteries simply assumed the symbolism of
the new faith, perpetuating through its emblems and allegories the same truths which had been the
property of the wise since the beginning of the world. There is no true explanation, therefore, for
Christian symbols save that which is concealed within pagan philosophy. Without the mysterious keys
carried by the hierophants of the Egyptian, Brahmin, and Persian cults the gates of Wisdom cannot be
opened. Consider with reverent spirit, therefore, the sublime allegory of the Temple and its Builders,
realizing that beneath its literal interpretation lies hidden a Royal Secret.
According to the Talmudic legends, Solomon understood the mysteries of the Qabbalah. He was also an
alchemist and a necromancer, being able to control the dæmons, and from them and other inhabitants of
the invisible worlds he secured much of his wisdom. In his translation of Clavicula Salomonis, or The
Key of Solomon the King, a work presumably setting forth the magical secrets gathered by Solomon and
used by him in the conjuration of spirits and which, according to Frank C. Higgins, contains many
sidelights on Masonic initiatory rituals, S. L. MacGregor-Mathers recognizes the probability that King
Solomon was a magician in the fullest sense of that word. "I see no reason to doubt," he affirms, "the
tradition which assigns the authorship of the 'Key' to King Solomon, for among others Josephus, the
Jewish historian, especially mentions the magical works attributed to that monarch; this is confirmed by
many Eastern traditions, and his magical skill is frequently mentioned in the Arabian Nights."
Concerning Solomon's supernatural powers, Josephus writes in his Eighth Book of the Antiquities of the
"Now the sagacity and wisdom which God had bestowed on Solomon was so great that he exceeded the
ancients, in so much that he was no way inferior to the Egyptians, who are said to have been beyond all
men in understanding; * * * God also enabled him to learn that skill which expelled demons, which is a
science useful and sanative to him. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are
alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so
that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day."
The mediæval alchemists were convinced that King Solomon understood the secret processes of Hermes
by means of which it was possible to multiply metals. Dr. Bacstrom writes that the Universal Spirit
(CHiram) assisted King Solomon to build his temple, because Solomon being wise in the wisdom of
alchemy knew how to control this incorporeal essence and, setting it to work for him, caused the
invisible universe to supply him with vast amounts of gold and silver which most people believed were
mined by natural methods.
The mysteries of the Islamic faith are now in the keeping of the dervishes--men who, renouncing
worldliness, have withstood the test of a thousand and one days of temptation. Jelal-ud-din, the great
Persian Sufic poet and philosopher, is accredited with having founded the Order of Mevlevi, or the
"dancing dervishes," whose movements exoterically signify the motions of the celestial bodies and
esoterically result in the establishment of a rhythm which stimulates the centers of spiritual
consciousness within the dancer's body.
"According to the mystical canon, there are always on earth a certain number of holy men who are
admitted to intimate communion with the Deity. The one who occupies the highest position among his
contemporaries is called the 'Axis' (Q•tb) or 'Pole' of his time. * * * Subordinate to the Q•tb are two holy
beings who bear the title of 'The Faithful Ones,' and are assigned places on his right and left
respectively. Below these is a quartette of 'Intermediate Ones' (Evt•d); and on successively lower planes
ate five 'Lights' (Env•r), and seven 'Very Good' (Akhy•r). The next rank is filled by forty 'Absent
Ones' (Rijal-i-ghaib), also termed 'Martyrs' (Shuheda). When an 'Axis' quits this earthly existence, he is
succeeded by the 'Faithful One' who has occupied the place at his right hand. * * * For to these holy
men, who also bear the collective titles of 'Lords of Souls,' and 'Directors,' is committed a spiritual
supremacy over mankind far exceeding the temporal authority of earthly rulers." (See Mysticism and
Magic in Turkey, by L. M. J. Garnett.)
The Axis is a mysterious individual who, unknown and unsuspected, mingles with mankind and who,
according to tradition, has his favorite seat upon the roof of the Caaba. J. P. Brown, in The Dervishes,
gives a description of these "Master Souls."
The sanctum sanctorum of Freemasonry is ornamented with the gnostic jewels of a thousand ages; its
rituals ring with the divinely inspired words of seers and sages. A hundred religious have brought their
gifts of wisdom to its altar; arts and sciences unnumbered have contributed to its symbolism.
Freemasonry is a world-wide university, teaching the liberal arts and sciences of the soul to all who will
hearken to its words. Its chairs are seats of learning and its pillars uphold an arch of universal education.
Its trestleboards are inscribed with the eternal verities of all ages and upon those who comprehend its
sacred depths has dawned the realization that within the Freemasonic Mysteries lie hidden the long-lost
arcana sought by all peoples since the genesis of human reason.
The philosophic power of Freemasonry lies in its symbols--its priceless heritage from the Mystery
schools of antiquity. In a letter to Robert Freke Gould, Albert Pike writes:
"It began to shape itself to my intellectual vision into something more imposing and majestic, solemnly
mysterious and grand. It seemed to me like the Pyramids in their loneliness, in whose yet undiscovered
chambers may be hidden, for the enlightenment of coming generations, the sacred books of the
Egyptians, so long lost to the world; like the Sphynx half buried in the desert. In its symbolism, which
and its spirit of brotherhood are its essence, Freemasonry is more ancient than any of the world's living
religions. It has the symbols and doctrines which, older than himself, Zarathustra inculcated; and ii
seemed to me a spectacle sublime, yet pitiful--the ancient Faith of our ancestors holding out to the world
its symbols once so eloquent, and mutely and in vain asking for an interpreter. And so I came at last to
see that the true greatness and majesty of Freemasonry consist in its proprietorship of these and its other
symbols; and that its symbolism is its soul."
Though the temples of Thebes and Karnak be now but majestic heaps of broken and time-battered stone,
the spirit: of Egyptian philosophy still marches triumphant through the centuries. Though the rock-hewn
sanctuaries of the ancient Brahmins be now deserted and their carvings crumbled into dust, still the
wisdom of the Vedas endures. Though the oracles be silenced and the House of the Mysteries be now
but rows of ghostly columns, still shines the spiritual glory of Hellas with luster undiminished. Though
Zoroaster, Hermes, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle are now but dim memories in a world once rocked
by the transcendency of their intellectual genius, still in the mystic temple of Freemasonry these god-
men live again in their words and symbols; and the candidate, passing through the initiations, feels
himself face to face with these illumined hierophants of days long past.
Next: Mystic Christianity
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 177
Mystic Christianity
THE true story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth has never been unfolded to the world, either in the
accepted Gospels or in the Apocrypha, although a few stray hints may be found in some of the
commentaries written by the ante-Nicene Fathers. The facts concerning His identity and mission are
among the priceless mysteries preserved to this day in the secret vaults beneath the "Houses of the
Brethren." To a few of the Knights Templars, who were initiated into the arcana of the Druses,
Nazarenes, Essenes, Johannites, and other sects still inhabiting the remote and inaccessible fastnesses of
the Holy Land, part of the strange story was told. The knowledge of the Templars concerning the early
history of Christianity was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for their persecution and final
annihilation. The discrepancies in the writings of the early Church Fathers not only are irreconcilable,
but demonstrate beyond question that even during the first five centuries after Christ these learned men
had for the basis of their writings little more substantial than folklore and hearsay. To the easy believer
everything is possible and there are no problems. The unemotional person in search of facts, however, is
confronted by a host of problems with uncertain factors, of which the following are typical:
According to popular conception, Jesus was crucified during the thirty-third year of His life and in the
third year of His ministry following His baptism. About A.D. 180, St. Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, one of
the most eminent of the ante-Nicene theologians, wrote Against Heresies, an attack on the doctrines of
the Gnostics. In this work Irenæus declared upon the authority of the Apostles themselves that Jesus
lived to old age. To quote: "They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that
which is written, 'to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,' maintain that He preached for one year
only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus], they are forgetful of their own
disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary
and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He
excelled all others. For how could He have had His disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He
have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptised, He had not
yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who
has mentioned His years, has expressed it: 'Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old,'
when He came to receive baptism); and, (according to these men,) He preached only one year reckoning
from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who
had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years,
and that this extends onward to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth
year a man begins to decline towards old age, which Our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office
of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John,
the disciple of the Lord, (affirming) that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained
among them up to the time of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles
also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the'(validity of) the
statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemæus, who never
saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?"
Commenting on the foregoing passage, Godfrey Higgins remarks that it has fortunately escaped the
hands of those destroyers who have attempted to render the Gospel narratives consistent by deleting all
such statements. He also notes that the doctrine of the crucifixion was a vexata questio among Christians
even during the second century. "The evidence of Irenæus," he says, "cannot be touched. On every
principle of sound criticism, and of the doctrine of probabilities, it is unimpeachable."
It should further be noted that Irenæus prepared this statement to contradict another apparently current in
his time to the effect that the ministry of Jesus lasted but one year. Of all the early Fathers, Irenæus,
writing within eighty years after the death of St. John the Evangelist, should have had reasonably
accurate information. If the disciples themselves related that Jesus lived to advanced age in the body,
why has the mysterious number 33 been arbitrarily chosen to symbolize the duration of His life? Were
the incidents in the life of Jesus purposely altered so that His actions would fit more closely into the
pattern established by the numerous Savior-Gods who preceded Him? That these analogies were
recognized and used as a leverage in converting the Greeks and Romans is evident from a perusal of the
writings of Justin Martyr, another second-century authority. In his Apology, Justin addresses the pagans
"And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union,
and that He, Jesus Christ, Our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into
heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of
Jupiter. * * * And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different
from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury
is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with
those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated."
From this it is evident that the first missionaries of the Christian Church were far more willing to admit
the similarities between their faith and the faiths of the pagans than were their successors in later
In an effort to solve some of the problems arising from any attempt to chronicle accurately the life of
Jesus, it has been suggested that there may have lived in Syria at that time two or more religious teachers
bearing the name Jesus, Jehoshua or Joshua, and that the lives of these men may have been confused in
the Gospel stories. In his Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Bernard H. Springett, a Masonic author,
quotes from an early book, the name of which he was not at liberty to disclose because of its connection
with the ritual of a sect. The last part of his quotation is germane to the subject at hand:
"But Jehovah prospered the seed of the Essenians, in holiness and love, for many generations. Then
came the chief of the angels, according to the commandment of GOD, to raise up an heir to the Voice of
Jehovah. And, in four generations more, an heir was born, and named Joshua, and he was the child of
Joseph and Mara, devout worshippers of Jehovah, who stood aloof from all other people save the
Essenians. And this Joshua, in Nazareth, reestablished Jehovah, and restored many of the lost rites and
ceremonies. In the thirty-sixth year of his age he was stoned to death in Jerusalem * * *"
Click to enlarge
From Jennings' The Rosicrucians, Their Rites and Mysteries.
According to tradition, Arthur, when a boy of fifteen, was crowned King of Britain, in A.D. 516. Soon after his
ascension to the throne he founded the Order of the Knights of the Round Table at Windsor. Thereafter the
Knights met annually at Carleon, Winchester, or at Camelot, to celebrate Pentecost. From all parts of Europe
came the brave and the bold, seeking admission into this noble order of British knighthood. Nobility, virtue, and
valor were its requirements, and those possessing these qualities to a marked degree were welcomed to King
Arthur's court at Camelot. Having gathered the bravest and noblest Knights of Europe about him, King Arthur
chose twenty-four who excelled all the others in daring and integrity and formed of them his Circle of the Round
Table. According to legend, each of these Knights was so great in dignity and power that none could occupy a
more exalted seat than another, so when they gathered at the table to celebrate the anniversary of their foundation
it was necessary to use a round table that all might occupy chairs of equal importance.
While it is probable that the Order of the Round Table had its distinctive rituals and symbols, the knowledge of
them has not survived the ages. Elias Ashmole, in his volume on the Order of the Garter, inserted a double-page
plate showing the insignia of all the orders of knighthood, the block set aside for the symbol of the Round Table
being left blank. The chief reason for the loss of the symbolism of the Round Table was the untimely death of
King Arthur upon the field of Kamblan (A.D. 542) in the forty-first year of his life. While he destroyed his bitter
enemy, Mordred, in this famous battle, it cast him not only his own life but the lives of nearly all his Knights of
the Round Table, who died defending their commander.
p. 178
Within the last century several books have been published to supplement the meager descriptions in the
Gospels of Jesus and His ministry. In some instances these narratives claim to be founded upon early
manuscripts recently discovered; in others, upon direct spiritual revelation. Some of these writings are
highly plausible, while others are incredible. There are persistent rumors that Jesus visited and studied in
both Greece and India, and that a coin struck in His honor in India during the first century has been
discovered. Early Christian records are known to exist in Tibet, and the monks of a Buddhist monastery
in Ceylon still preserve a record which indicates that Jesus sojourned with them and became conversant
with their philosophy.
Although early Christianity shows every evidence of Oriental influence, this is a subject the modern
church declines to discuss. If it is ever established beyond question that Jesus was an initiate of the
pagan Greek or Asiatic Mysteries, the effect upon the more conservative members of the Christian faith
is likely to be cataclysmic. If Jesus was God incarnate, as the solemn councils of the church discovered,
why is He referred to in the New Testament as "called of God an high prim after the order of
Melchizedek"? The words "after the order" make Jesus one of a line or order of which there must have
been others of equal or even superior dignity. If the "Melchizedeks" were the divine or priestly rulers of
the nations of the earth before the inauguration of the system of temporal rulers, then the statements
attributed to St. Paul would indicate that Jesus either was one of these "philosophic elect" or was
attempting to reestablish their system of government. It will be remembered that Melchizedek also
performed the same ceremony of the drinking of wine and the breaking of bread as did Jesus at the Last
George Faber declares the original name of Jesus was Jescua Hammassiah. Godfrey Higgins has
discovered two references, one in the Midrashjoholeth and the other in the Abodazara (early Jewish
commentaries on the Scriptures), to the effect that the surname of Joseph's family was Panther, for in
both of these works it is stated that a man was healed "in the name of Jesus ben Panther." The name
Panther establishes a direct connection between Jesus and Bacchus--who was nursed by panthers and is
sometimes depicted riding either on one of these animals or in a chariot drawn by them. The skin of the
panther was also sacred in certain of the Egyptian initiatory ceremonials. The monogram IHS, now
interpreted to mean Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus Savior of Men), is another direct link between the
Christian and the Bacchic rites. IHS is derived from the Greek ΥΗΣ, which, as its numerical value (608)
signifies, is emblematic of the sun and constituted the sacred and concealed name of Bacchus. (See The
Celtic Druids by Godfrey Higgins.) The question arises, Was early Roman Christianity confused with
the worship of Bacchus because of the numerous parallelisms in the two faiths? If the affirmative can be
proved, many hitherto incomprehensible enigmas of the New Testament will be solved.
It is by no means improbable that Jesus Himself originally propounded as allegories the cosmic activities
which were later con fused with His own life. That the Χριστ•ς, Christos, represents the solar power
reverenced by every nation of antiquity cannot be controverted. If Jesus revealed the nature and purpose
of this solar power under the name and personality of Christos, thereby giving to this abstract power the
attributes of a god-man, He but followed a precedent set by all previous World-Teachers. This god-man,
thus endowed with all the qualities of Deity, signifies the latent divinity in every man. Mortal man
achieves deification only through at-one-ment with this divine Self. Union with the immortal Self
constitutes immortality, and he who finds his true Self is therefore "saved." This Christos, or divine man
in man, is man's real hope of salvation--the living Mediator between abstract Deity and mortal
humankind. As Atys, Adonis, Bacchus, and Orpheus in all likelihood were originally illumined men
who later were confused with the symbolic personages whom they created as personifications of this
divine power, so Jesus has been confused with the Christos, or god-man, whose wonders He preached.
Since the Christos was the god-man imprisoned in every creature, it was the first duty of the initiate to
liberate, or "resurrect, " this Eternal One within himself. He who attained reunion with his Christos was
consequently termed a Christian, or Christened, man.
One of the most profound doctrines of the pagan philosophers concerned the Universal Savior-God who
lifted the souls of regenerated men to heaven through His own nature. This concept was unquestionably
the inspiration for the words attributed to Jesus: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh
unto the Father but by me." In an effort to make a single person out of Jesus and His Christos, Christian
writers have patched together a doctrine which must be resolved back into its original constituents if the
true meaning of Christianity is to be rediscovered. In the Gospel narratives the Christos represents the
perfect man who, having passed through the various stages of the "World Mystery" symbolized by the
thirty-three years, ascends to the heaven sphere where he is reunited with his Eternal Father. The story of
Jesus as now preserved is--like the Masonic story of Hiram Abiff--part of a secret initiatory ritualism
belonging to the early Christian and pagan Mysteries.
During the centuries just prior to the Christian Era, the secrets of the pagan Mysteries had gradually
fallen into the hands of the profane. To the student of comparative religion it is evident that these
secrets, gathered by a small group of faithful philosophers and mystics, were reclothed in new
symbolical garments and thus preserved for several centuries under the name of Mystic Christianity. It is
generally supposed that the Essenes were the custodians of this knowledge and also the initiators and
educators of Jesus. If so, Jesus was undoubtedly initiated in the same temple of Melchizedek where
Pythagoras had studied six centuries before.
The Essenes--the most prominent of the early Syrian sects--were an order of pious men and women who
lived lives of asceticism, spending their days in simple labor and their evenings in prayer. Josephus, the
great Jewish historian, speaks of them in the highest terms. "They teach the immortality of the soul," he
says, "and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for." In another place he
adds, "Yet is their course of life better than that of other men and they entirely addict themselves to
husbandry. " The name Essenes is supposed to be derived from an ancient Syrian word meaning
"physician," and these kindly folk are believed to have held as their purpose of existence the healing of
the sick in mind, soul, and body. According to Edouard Schuré, they had two principal communities, or
centers, one in Egypt on the banks of Lake Maoris, the other in Palestine at Engaddi, near the Dead Sea.
Some authorities trace the Essenes back to the schools of Samuel the Prophet, but most agree on either
an Egyptian or Oriental origin. Their methods of prayer, meditation, and fasting were not unlike those of
the holy men of the Far East. Membership in the Essene Order was possible only after a year of
probation. This Mystery school, like so many others, had three degrees, and only a few candidates
passed successfully through all. The Essenes were divided into two distinct communities, one consisting
of celibates and the other of members who were married.
The Essenes never became merchants or entered into the commercial life of cities, but maintained
themselves by agriculture and the raising of sheep for wool; also by such crafts as pottery and carpentry.
In the Gospels and Apocrypha, Joseph, the father of Jesus, is referred to as both a carpenter and a potter.
In the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and also that of Pseudo-Matthew, the child Jesus is described as
making sparrows out of clay which came to life and flew away when he clapped his hands. The Essenes
were regarded as among the better educated class of Jews and there are accounts of their having been
chosen as tutors for the children of Roman officers stationed in Syria. The fact that so many artificers
were listed among their number is responsible for the order's being considered as a progenitor of modern
Freemasonry. The symbols of the Essenes include a number of builders' tools, and they were secretly
Click to enlarge
From Ashmole's Order of the Garter.
The Order of the Garter was probably formed by Edward III in imitation of King Arthur's Knights of the Round
Table, which institution was hopelessly scattered after the battle of Kamblan. The popular story to the effect that
the Countess of Salisbury's garter was the original inspiration for the foundation of the order is untenable. The
motto of the Order of the Carter is "Honi soit qui mal y pense" (Shamed be he who thinks evil of it). St. George is
looked upon as the Patron of the order, for he typifies the higher nature of man overcoming the dragon of his own
lower nature. While St. George is supposed to have lived during the third century, it is probable that he was a
mythological personage borrowed from pagan mythology.
p. 179
in the erection of a spiritual and philosophical temple to serve as a dwelling place for the living God.
Like the Gnostics, the Essenes were emanationists. One of their chief objects was the reinterpretation of
the Mosaic Law according to certain secret spiritual keys preserved by them from the time of the
founding of their order. It would thus follow that the Essenes were Qabbalists and, like several other
contemporary sects flourishing in Syria, were awaiting the advent of the Messiah promised in the early
Biblical writings. Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, are believed to have been members of the
Essene Order. Joseph was many years the senior of Mary. According to The Protevangelium, he was a
widower with grown sons, and in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew he refers to Mary as a little child less in
age than his own grandchildren. In her infancy Mary was dedicated to the Lord, and the Apocryphal
writings contain many accounts of miracles associated with her early childhood. When she was twelve
years old, the priests held counsel as to the future of this child who had dedicated herself to the Lord,
and the Jewish high priest, bearing the breastplate, entered into the Holy of Holies, where an angel
appeared to him, saying, "Zacharias, go forth and summon the widowers of the people and let them take
a rod apiece and she shall be the wife of him to whom the Lord shall show a sign." Going forth to meet
the priests at the head of the widowers, Joseph collected the rods of all the other men and gave them into
the keeping of the priests. Now Joseph's rod was but half as long as the others, and the priests on
returning the rods to the widowers paid no attention to Joseph's but left it behind in the Holy of Holies.
When all the other widowers had received back their wands, the priests awaited a sign from heaven, but
none came. Joseph, because of his advanced age, did not: ask for the return of his rod, for to him it was
inconceivable that he should be chosen. But an angel appeared to the high priest, ordering him to give
back the short rod which lay unnoticed in the Holy of Holies. As the high priest handed the rod to
Joseph, a white dove flew from the end of it and rested upon the head of the aged carpenter, and to him
was given the child.
The editor of The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East calls attention to the peculiar spirit with
which the childhood of Jesus is treated in most of the Apocryphal books of the New Testament,
particularly in one work attributed to the doubting Thomas, the earliest known Greek version of which
dates from about A.D. 200: "The child Christ is represented almost as an imp, cursing and destroying
those who annoy him." This Apocryphal work, calculated to inspire its readers with fear and trembling,
was popular during the Middle Ages because it was in full accord with the cruel and persecuting spirit of
mediæval Christianity. Like many other early sacred books, the book of Thomas was fabricated for two
closely allied purposes: first, to outshine the pagans in miracle working; second, to inspire all
unbelievers with the "fear of the Lord." Apocryphal writings of this sort have no possible basis in fact.
At one time an asset, the "miracles" of Christianity have become its greatest liability. Supernatural
phenomena, in a credulous age interpolated to impress the ignorant, in this century have only achieved
the alienation of the intelligent.
In The Greek Gospel of Nicodemus it is declared that when Jesus was brought into the presence of Pilate
the standards borne by the Roman guards bowed their tops in homage to him in spite of every effort
made by the soldiers to prevent it. In The Letters of Pilate the statement also appears that Cæsar, being
wroth at Pilate for executing a just man, ordered him to be decapitated. Praying for forgiveness, Pilate
was visited by an angel of the Lord, who reassured the Roman governor by promising him that all
Christendom should remember his name and that when Christ came the second time to judge His people
he (Pilate) should come before Him as His witness.
Stories like the foregoing represent the incrustations that have attached themselves to the body of
Christianity during the centuries. The popular mind itself has been the self-appointed guardian and
perpetuator of these legends, bitterly opposing every effort to divest the faith of these questionable
accumulations. While popular tradition often contains certain basic elements of truth, these elements are
usually distorted out of all proportion. Thus, while the generalities of the story may be fundamentally
true, the details are hopelessly erroneous. Of truth as of beauty it may be said that it is most adorned
when unadorned. Through the mist of fantastic accounts which obscure the true foundation of the
Christian faith is faintly visible to the discerning few a great and noble doctrine communicated to the
world by a great and noble soul. Joseph and Mary, two devout and holy-minded souls, consecrated to the
service of God and dreaming of the coming of a Messiah to serve Israel, obeyed the injunctions of the
high priest of the Essenes to prepare a body for the coming of a great soul. Thus of an immaculate
conception Jesus was born. By immaculate is meant clean, rather than supernatural.
Jesus was reared and educated by the Essenes and later initiated into the most profound of their
Mysteries. Like all great initiates, He must travel in an easterly direction, and the silent years of His life
no doubt were spent in familiarizing Himself with that secret teaching later to be communicated by Him
to the world. Having consummated the ascetic practices of His order, He attained to the Christening.
Having thus reunited Himself with His own spiritual source, He then went forth in the name of the One
who has been crucified since before the worlds were and, gathering about Him disciples and apostles,
He instructed them in that secret teaching which had been lost--in part, at least--from the doctrines of
Israel. His fate is unknown, but in all probability He suffered that persecution which is the lot of those
who seek to reconstruct the ethical, philosophical, or religious systems of their day.
To the multitudes Jesus spoke in parables; to His disciples He also spoke in parables, though of a more
exalted and philosophic nature. Voltaire said that Plato should have been canonized by the Christian
Church, for, being the first propounder of the Christos mystery, he contributed more to its fundamental
doctrines than any other single individual. Jesus disclosed to His disciples that the lower world is under
the control of a great spiritual being which had fashioned it according to the will of the Eternal Father.
The mind of this great angel was both the mind of the world and also the worldly mind. So that men
should not die of worldliness the Eternal Father sent unto creation the eldest and most exalted of His
powers--the Divine Mind. This Divine Mind offered Itself as a living sacrifice and was broken up and
eaten by the world. Having given Its spirit and Its body at a secret and sacred supper to the twelve
manners of rational creatures, this Divine Mind became a part of every living thing. Man was thereby
enabled to use this power as a bridge across which he might pass and attain immortality. He who lifted
up his soul to this Divine Mind and served It was righteous and, having attained righteousness, liberated
this Divine Mind, which thereupon returned again in glory to Its own divine source. And because He had
brought to them this knowledge, the disciples said one to another: "Lo, He is Himself this Mind
According to legend, the body of the Christos (the Spiritual Law) was given into the keeping of two
men, of whom the Gospels make
Click to enlarge
From William Law's Translation of The Works of Jakob Böhme.
Jakob Böhme was born in the year 1575 in a village near Gorlitz, and died in Silesia in 1624. He had but little
schooling and was apprenticed at an early age to a shoemaker. He later became a journeyman shoemaker,
married and had four children One day while tending his master's shoe shop, a mysterious stranger entered who
while he seemed to possess but little of this world's goods, appeared to be most wise and noble in spiritual
attainment. The stranger asked the price of a pair of shoes, but young Böhme did not dare to name a figure, for
fear that he would displease his master. The stranger insisted and Böhme finally placed a valuation which he was
all that his master possibly could hope to secure for the shoes. The stranger immediately bought them and
departed. A short distance down the street the mysterious stranger stopped and cried out in a loud voice, "Jakob,
Jakob come forth." In amazement and fright, Böhme ran out of the house. The strange man fixed his yes upon the
youth--great eyes which sparkled and seemed filled with divine light. He took the boy's right hand and addressed
him as follows--"Jakob, thou art little, but shalt be great, and become another Man, such a one as at whom the
World shall wonder. Therefore be pious, fear God, and reverence His Word. Read diligently the Holy Scriptures,
wherein you have Comfort and Instruction. For thou ust endure much Misery and Poverty, and suffer
Persecution, but be courageous and persevere, far God loves, and is gracious to thee." Deeply impressed by the
prediction, Böhme became ever more intense in his search for truth. At last his labors were reworded. For seven
days he remained in a mysterious condition during which time the mysteries of the invisible world were revealed
to him. It has been said of Jakob Böhme that he revealed to all mankind the deepest secrets of alchemy. He died
surrounded by his family, his last words being "Now I go hence into Paradise."
p. 180
but brief mention. These were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both devout men who, though not
listed among the disciples or apostles of the Christos, were of all men chosen to be custodians of His
sacred remains. Joseph of Arimathea was one of the initiated brethren and is called by A. E. Waite, in
his A New Encyclopædia of Freemasonry, "the first bishop of Christendom." just as the temporal (or
visible) power of the Holy See was established by St. Peter(?), so the spiritual (or invisible) body of the
faith was entrusted to the "Secret Church of the Holy Grail" through apostolic succession from Joseph of
Arimathea, into whose keeping had been given the perpetual symbols of the covenant--the ever-flowing
cup and the bleeding spear.
Presumably obeying instructions of St. Philip, Joseph of Arimathea, carrying the sacred relics, reached
Britain after passing through many and varied hardships. Here a site was allotted to him for the erection
of a church, and in this manner Glastonbury Abbey was founded. Joseph planted his staff in the earth
and it took root, becoming a miraculous thorn bush which blossomed twice a year and which is now
called the Glastonbury thorn. The end of the life of Joseph of Arimathea is unknown. By some it is
believed that, like Enoch, he was translated; by others, that he was buried in Glastonbury Abbey.
Repeated attempts have been made to find the Holy Grail, which many believe to have been hidden in a
crypt beneath the ancient abbey. The Glastonbury chalice recently discovered and by the devout
supposed to be the original Sangreal can scarcely be accepted as genuine by the critical investigator.
Beyond its inherent interest as a relic, like the famous Antioch chalice it actually proves nothing when it
is realized that practically little more was known about the Christian Mysteries eighteen centuries ago
than can be discovered today.
The origin of the Grail myth, as of nearly every other element in the great drama, is curiously elusive.
Sufficient foundation for it may be found in the folklore of the British Isles, which contains many
accounts of magic cauldrons, kettles, cups, and drinking horns. The earliest Grail legends describe the
cup as a veritable horn of plenty. Its contents were inexhaustible and those who served it never hungered
or thirsted. One account states that no matter how desperately ill a person might be he could not die
within eight days of beholding the cup. Some authorities believe the Holy Grail to be the perpetuation of
the holy cup used in the rites of Adonis and Atys. A communion cup or chalice was used in several of
the ancient Mysteries, and the god Bacchus is frequently symbolized in the form of a vase, cup, or urn.
In Nature worship the ever-flowing Grail signifies the bounty of the harvest by which the life of man is
sustained; like Mercury's bottomless pitcher, it is the inexhaustible fountain of natural re source. From
the evidence at hand it would indeed be erroneous to ascribe a purely Christian origin to the Grail
In the Arthurian Cycle appears a strange and mysterious figure--Merlin, the magician. In one of the
legends concerning him it is declared that when Jesus was sent to liberate the world from the bondage of
evil, the Adversary determined to send an Antichrist to undo His labors. The Devil therefore in the form
of a horrible dragon overshadowed a young woman who had taken refuge in sanctuary to escape the evil
which had dcstroyed her family. When Merlin, her child, was born he partook of the characteristics of
his human mother and demon father. Merlin, however, did not serve the powers of darkness but, being
converted to the true light, retained only two of the supernatural powers inherited from his father:
prophecy and miracle working. The story of Merlin's infernal father must really be considered as an
allegorical allusion to the fact that he was a "philosophical son" of the serpent or dragon, a title applied
to all initiates of the Mysteries, who thus acknowledge Nature as their mortal mother and wisdom in the
form of the serpent or dragon as their immortal Father. Confusion of the dragon and serpent with the
powers of evil has resulted as an inevitable consequence from misinterpretation of the early chapters of
Arthur while an infant was given into the keeping of Merlin, the Mage, and in his youth instructed by
him in the secret doctrine and probably initiated into the deepest secrets of natural magic. With Merlin's
assistance, Arthur became the leading general of Britain, a degree of dignity which has been confused
with kingship. After Arthur had drawn the sword of Branstock from the anvil and thus established his
divine right to leadership, Merlin further assisted him to secure from the Lady of the Lake the sacred
sword Excalibur. After the establishment of the Round Table, having fulfilled his duty, Merlin
disappeared, according to one account vanishing into the air, where he still exists as a shadow
communicating at will with mortals; according to another, retiring of his own accord into a great stone
vault which he sealed from within.
It is reasonably certain that many legends regarding Charlemagne were later associated with Arthur, who
is most famous for establishing the Order of the Round Table at Winchester. Reliable information is not
to be had concerning the ceremonies and initiatory rituals of the "Table Round." In one story the Table
was endowed with the powers of expansion and contraction so that fifteen or fifteen hundred could be
seated around it, according to whatever need might arise. The most common accounts fix the number of
knights who could be seated at one time at the Round Table at either twelve or twenty-four. The twelve
signified the signs of the zodiac and also the apostles of Jesus. The knights' names and also their heraldic
arms were emblazoned upon their chairs. When twenty-four are shown seated at the Table, each of the
twelve signs of the zodiac is divided into two parts--a light and a dark half--to signify the nocturnal and
diurnal phases of each sign. As each sign of the zodiac is ascending for two hours every day, so the
twenty-four knights represent the hours, the twenty-four elders before the throne in Revelation, and
twenty-four Persian deities who represent the spirits of the divisions of the day. In the center of the
Table was the symbolic rose of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the symbol of resurrection in that
He "rose" from the dead. There was also a mysterious empty seat called the Siege Perilous in which
none might sit except he who was successful in his quest for the Holy Grad.
In the personality of Arthur is to be found a new form of the ever-recurrent cosmic myth. The prince of
Britain is the sun, his knights are the zodiac, and his flashing sword may be the sun's ray with which he
fights and vanquishes the dragons of darkness or it may represent the earth's axis. Arthur's Round Table
is the universe; the Siege Perilous the throne of the perfect man. In its terrestrial sense, Arthur was the
Grand Master of a secret Christian-Masonic brotherhood of philosophic mystics who termed themselves
Knights. Arthur received the exalted position of Grand Master of these Knights because he had faithfully
accomplished the withdrawal of the sword (spirit) from the anvil of the base metals (his lower nature).
As invariably happens, the historical Arthur soon was confused with the allegories and myths of his
order until now the two are inseparable. After Arthur's death on the field of Kamblan his Mysteries
ceased, and esoterically he was borne away on a black barge, as is so beautifully described by Tennyson
in his Morte d'Arthur. The great sword Excalibur was also cast back into the waters of eternity--all of
which is a vivid portrayal of the descent of cosmic night at the end of the Day of Universal
Manifestation. The body of the historical Arthur was probably interred at Glastonbury Abbey, a building
closely identified with the mystic rites of both the Grail and the Arthurian Cycle.
The mediæval Rosicrucians were undoubtedly in possession of the true secret of the Arthurian Cycle and
the Grail legend, much of their symbolism having been incorporated into that order. Though the most
obvious of all keys to the Christos mystery, the Grail legend has received the least consideration.
Click to enlarge
From Audsley's Handbook of Christian Symbolism.
The golden halos around the heads of pagan gods and Christian saints refer both to their being bathed in the glory
of the sun and also to the fact that a spiritual sun within their own natures is radiating its glow-ray and
surrounding them with celestial splendor. Whenever the nimbus is composed of straight radiant lines, it is solar in
significance; whenever curved lines are used for beams, it partakes lunar nature; whenever they are united, it
symbolizes a, harmonious blending of both principles. The circular nimbus is solar and masculine, while the
lozenge-shaped nimbus, or vesica piscis, is lunar and feminine. The same symbolism is preserved in the circular
and lozenge-shaped windows of cathedrals. There is a complete science contained in the shape, color, and
adornments of the halos of saints and martyrs. A plain golden ring usually surrounds the head of a canonized
saint, while God the Father and God the Son have a far more ornate aureole, usually adorned with a St. George
Cross, a flowered cross, or a lilied cross, with only three of the arms visible.
Next: The Cross and the Crucifixion
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 181
The Cross and the Crucifixion
ONE of the most interesting legends concerning the cross is that preserved in Aurea Legenda, by
Jacobus de Vorgaine. The Story is to the effect that Adam, feeling the end of his life was near, entreated
his son Seth to make a pilgrimage to the Garden of Eden and secure from the angel on guard at the
entrance the Oil of Mercy which God had promised mankind. Seth did not know the way; but his father
told him it was in an eastward direction, and the path would be easy to follow, for when Adam and Eve
were banished from the Garden of the Lord, upon the path which their feet had trod the grass had never
Seth, following the directions of his father, discovered the Garden of Eden without difficulty. The angel
who guarded the gate permitted him to enter, and in the midst of the garden Seth beheld a great tree, the
branches of which reached up to heaven. The tree was in the form of a cross, and stood on the brink of a
precipice which led downward into the depths of hell. Among the roots of the tree he saw the body of his
brother Cain, held prisoner by the entwining limbs. The angel refused to give Seth the Oil of Mercy, but
presented him instead with three seeds from the Tree of Life (some say the Tree of Knowledge). With
these Seth returned to his father, who was so overjoyed that he did not desire to live longer. Three days
later he died, and the three seeds were buried in his mouth, as the angel had instructed. The seeds
became a sapling with three trunks in one, which absorbed into itself the blood of Adam, so that the life
of Adam was in the tree. Noah dug up this tree by the roots and took it with him into the Ark. After the
waters subsided, he buried the skull of Adam under Mount Calvary, and planted the tree on the summit
of Mount Lebanon.
Moses beheld a visionary being in the midst of this tree (the burning bush) and from it cut the magical
rod with which he was able to bring water out of a stone. But because he failed to call upon the Lord the
second time he struck the rock, he was not permitted to carry the sacred staff into the Promised Land; so
he planted it in the hills of Moab. After much searching, King David discovered the tree; and his son,
Solomon, tried to use it for a pillar in his Temple, but his carpenters could not cut it so that it would fit;
it was always either too long or too short. At last, disgusted, they cast it aside and used it for a bridge to
connect Jerusalem with the surrounding hills. When the Queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon she
was expected to walk across this bridge. Instead, when she beheld the tree, she refused to put her foot
upon it, but, after kneeling and praying, removed her sandals and forded the stream. This so impressed
King Solomon that he ordered the log to be overlaid with golden places and placed above the door of his
Temple. There it remained until his covetous grandson stole the gold, and buried the tree so that the
crime would not be discovered.
From the ground where the tree was buried there immediately bubbled forth a spring of water, which
became known as Bethesda. To it the sick from all Syria came to be healed. The angel of the pool
became the guardian of the tree, and it remained undisturbed for many years. Eventually the log floated
to the surface and was used as a bridge again, this time between Calvary and Jerusalem; and over it
Jesus passed to be crucified. There was no wood on Calvary; so the tree was cut into two parts to serve
as the cross upon which the Son of Man was crucified. The cross was set up at the very spot where the
skull of Adam had been buried. Later, when the cross was discovered by the Empress Helena, the wood
was found to be of four different varieties contained in one tree (representing the elements), and
thereafter the cross continued to heal all the sick who were permitted to touch it.
The prevalent idea that the reverence for the cross is limited to the Christian world is disproved by even
the most superficial investigation of its place in religious symbolism. The early Christians used every
means possible to conceal the pagan origin of their symbols, doctrines, and rituals. They either destroyed
the sacred books of other peoples among whom they settled, or made them inaccessible to students of
comparative philosophy, apparently believing that in this way they could stamp out all record of the pre-
Christian origin of their doctrines. In some cases the writings of various ancient authors were tampered
with, passages of a compromising nature being removed or foreign material interpolated. The
supposedly spurious passage in Josephus concerning Jesus is an example adduced to illustrate this
Prior to the Christian Era seven hundred thousand of the most valuable books, written upon parchment,
papyrus, vellum, and wax, and also tablets of stone, terra cotta, and wood, were gathered from all parts
of the ancient world and housed in Alexandria, in buildings specially prepared for the purpose. This
magnificent repository of knowledge was destroyed by a series of three fires. The parts that escaped the
conflagration lighted by Cæsar to destroy the fleet in the harbor were destroyed about A.D. 389 by the
Christians in obedience to the edict of Theodosius, who had ordered the destruction of the Serapeum, a
building sacred to Serapis in which the volumes were kept. This conflagration is supposed to have
destroyed the library that Marcus Antonius had presented to Cleopatra to compensate in part for that
burned in the fire of the year 51.
Concerning this, H. P. Blavatsky, in Isis Unveiled, has written: "They [the Rabbis of Palestine and the
wise men] say that not all the rolls and manuscripts, reported in history to have been burned by Cæsar,
by the Christian mob, in 389, and by the Arab General Amru, perished as it is commonly believed; and
the story they tell is the following: At the time of the contest for the throne, in 51 B. C., between
Cleopatra and her brother Dionysius Ptolemy, the Bruckion, which contained over seven hundred
thousand rolls all bound in wood and fire-proof parchment, was undergoing repairs and a great portion
of the original manuscripts, considered among the most precious, and which were not duplicated, were
stored away in the house of one of the librarians. * * *Several hours passed between the burning of the
fleet, set on fire by Cæsar's order, and the moment when the first buildings situated near the harbor
caught fire in their turn; and * * * the librarians, aided by several hundred slaves attached to the
museum, succeeded in saving the most precious of the rolls." In all probability, the books which were
saved lie buried either in Egypt or in India, and until they are discovered the modern world must remain
in ignorance concerning many great philosophical and mystical truths. The ancient world more clearly
understood these missing links--the continuity of the pagan Mysteries in Christianity.
In his article on the Cross and Crucifixion in the Encyclopædia Britannica, Thomas Macall Fallow casts
much light on the antiquity of this ideograph. "The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-
Christian times, and among non-Christian peoples, may
Click to enlarge
From Berjeau's History of the Holy Cross.
(1) Adam directing Seth how to reach the Garden of Eden. (2) Seth placing the three seeds from the Tree of Life
under the tongue of the dead Adam. (3) The Queen of Sheba, refusing to place her feet upon the sacred tree,
forded the stream. (4) Placing the sacred tree over the door of Solomon's Temple. (5) The crucifixion of Christ
upon a cross made from the wood of the holy tree. (6) Distinguishing the true cross from the other two by testing
its power to raise a corpse to life.
p. 182
probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of
nature worship."
Not only is the cross itself a familiar object in the art of all nations, but the veneration for it is an
essential part of the religious life of the greater part of humanity. It is a common symbol among the
American Indians--North, Central, and South. William W. Seymour states: "The Aztec goddess of rain
bore a cross in her hand, and the Toltecs claimed that their deity, Quetzalcoatl, taught them the sign and
ritual of the cross, hence his staff, or sceptre of power, resembled a crosier, and his mantle was covered
with red crosses." (The Cross in Tradition, History and Art.)
The cross is also highly revered by the Japanese and Chinese. To the Pythagoreans the most sacred of all
numbers was the 10, the symbol of which is an X, or cross. In both the Japanese and Chinese languages
the character of the number 10 is a cross. The Buddhist wheel of life is composed of two crosses
superimposed, and its eight points are still preserved to Christendom in the peculiarly formed cross of
the Knights Templars, which is essentially Buddhistic. India has preserved the cross, not only in its
carvings and paintings, but also in its architectonics; a great number of its temples--like the churches and
cathedrals of Christendom--are raised from cruciform foundations.
On the mandalas of the Tibetans, heaven is laid out in the form of a cross, with a demon king at each of
the four gates. A remarkable cross of great antiquity was discovered in the island caves of Elephanta in
the harbor of Bombay. Crosses of various kinds were favorite motifs in the art of Chaldea, Phœnicia,
Egypt, and Assyria. The initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece were given a cross which they
suspended about their necks on a chain, or cord, at the time of initiation. To the Rosicrucians,
Alchemists, and Illuminati, the cross was the symbol of light, because each of the three letters L V X is
derived from some part of the cross.
There are three distinct forms of the cross. The first is called the TAU (more correctly the TAV). It
closely resembles the modern letter T, consisting of a horizontal bar resting on a vertical column, the
two arms being of equal length. An oak tree cut off some feet above the ground and its upper part laid
across the lower in this form was the symbol of the Druid god Hu. It is suspected that this symbol
originated among the Egyptians from the spread of the horns of a bull or ram (Taurus or Aries) and the
vertical line of its face. This is sometimes designated as the hammer cross, because if held by its vertical
base it is not unlike a mallet or gavel. In one of the Qabbalistic Masonic legends, CHiram Abiff is given
a hammer in the form of a TAU by his ancestor, Tubal-cain. The TAU cross is preserved to modern
Masonry under the symbol of the T square. This appears to be the oldest form of the cross extant.
The TAU cross was inscribed on the forehead of every person admitted into the Mysteries of Mithras.
When a king was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries, the TAU was placed against his lips. It was
tattooed upon the bodies of the candidates in some of the American Indian Mysteries. To the Qabbalist,
the TAU stood for heaven and the Pythagorean tetractys. The Caduceus of Hermes was an outgrowth of
the TAU cross. (See Albert Pike.)
The second type was that of a T, or TAU, cross surmounted by a circle, often foreshortened to the form
of an upright oval. This was called by the ancients the Crux Ansata, or the cross of life . It was the key to
the Mysteries of antiquity and it probably gave rise to the more modern story of St. Peter's golden key to
heaven. In the Mysteries of Egypt the candidate passed through all forms of actual and imaginary
dangers, holding above his head the Crux Ansata, before which the powers of darkness fell back
abashed. The student is reminded of the words In hoc signo vinces. The TAU form of the cross is not
unlike the seal of Venus, as Richard Payne Knight has noted. He states: "The cross in this form is
sometimes observable on coins, and several of them were found in a temple of Serapis [the Serapeum],
demolished at the general destruction of those edifices by the Emperor Theodosius, and were said by the
Christian antiquaries of that time to signify the future life."
Augustus Le Plongeon, in his Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayas and Quiches, notes that the Crux
Ansata, which he calls The Key to the Nile and the Symbol of Symbols, either in its complete form or as
a simple TAU, was to be seen adorning the breasts of statues and bas-reliefs at Palenque, Copan, and
throughout Central America. He notes that it was always associated with water; that among the
Babylonians it was the emblem of the water gods; among the Scandinavians, of heaven and immortality;
and among the Mayas, of rejuvenation and freedom from physical suffering.
Concerning the association of this symbol with the waters of life, Count Goblet d'Alviella, in his
Migration of Symbols, calls attention to the fact that an instrument resembling the Crux Ansata and
called the Nilometer was used by the ancient Egyptians for measuring and regulating the inundations of
the river Nile. It is probable that this relationship to the Nile caused it to be considered the symbol of
life, for Egypt depended entirely upon the inundations of this river for the irrigation necessary to insure
sufficient crops. In the papyrus scrolls the Crux Ansata is shown issuing from the mouths of Egyptian
kings when they pardoned enemies, and it was buried with them to signify the immortality of the soul. It
was carried by many of the gods and goddesses and apparently signified their divine benevolence and
life-giving power. The Cairo Museum contains a magnificent collection of crosses of many shapes,
sizes, and designs, proving that they were a common symbol among the Egyptians.
The third form of the cross is the familiar Roman or Greek type, which is closely associated with the
crucifixion of Jesus Christ, although it is improbable that the cross used resembled its more familiar
modern form. There are unlimited sub-varieties of crosses, differing in the relative proportions of their
vertical and horizontal sections. Among the secret orders of different generations we find compounded
crosses, such as the triple TAU in the Royal Arch of Freemasonry and the double and triple crosses of
both Masonic and Roman Catholic symbolism.
To the Christian the cross has a twofold significance. First, it is the symbol of the death of his Redeemer,
through whose martyrdom he feels that he partakes of the glory of God; secondly, it is the symbol of
humility, patience, and the burden of life. It is interesting that the cross should be both a symbol of life
and a symbol of death. Many nations deeply considered the astronomical aspect of religion, and it is
probable that the Persians, Greeks, and Hindus looked upon the cross as a symbol of the equinoxes and
the solstices, in the belief that at certain seasons of the year the sun was symbolically crucified upon
these imaginary celestial angles.
The fact that so many nations have regarded their Savior as a personification of the sun globe is
convincing evidence that the cross must exist as an astronomical element in pagan allegory. Augustus Le
Plongeon believed that the veneration for the cross was partly due to the rising of a constellation called
the Southern Cross, which immediately preceded the annual rains, and as the natives of those latitudes
relied wholly upon these rains to raise their crops, they viewed the cross as an annual promise of the
approaching storms, which to them meant life.
There are four basic elements (according to both ancient philosophy and modern science), and the
ancients represented them by the four arms of the cross, placing at the end of each arm a mysterious
Qabbalistic creature to symbolize the power of one of these elements. Thus, they symbolized the
element of earth by a bull; water by a scorpion, a serpent, or an eagle; fire by a lion; and air by a human
head surrounded by wings. It is significant that the four letters inscribed upon parchment (some say
wood) and fastened to the top of the cross at the time of the crucifixion should be the first letters of four
Hebrew words which stand for the four elements: "Iammin, the sea or water; Nour, fire; Rouach, the air;
and Iebeschah, the dry earth." (See Morals and Dogma, by Albeit Pike.)
That a cross can be formed by opening or unfolding the surfaces of a cube has caused that symbol to be
associated with the earth. Though a cross within a circle has long been regarded as a sign of the planet
Earth, it should really be considered as the symbol of the composite element earth, since it is composed
of the four triangles of the elements. For thousands of years the cross has been identified with the plan of
salvation for humanity. The elements--salt, sulphur, mercury, and Azoth--used in making the
Philosopher's Scone in Alchemy, were often symbolized by a cross. The cross of the four cardinal angles
also had its secret significance, and Masonic parties of three still go forth to the four cardinal points of
the compass in search of the Lost Word.
The material of which the cross was formed was looked upon as being an essential element in its
symbolism. Thus, a golden cross symbolized illumination; a silver cross, purification; a cross of base
metals, humiliation; a cross of wood, aspiration. The fact that
Click to enlarge
That the Crux Ansata migrated to many parts of the earth is proved by the fact that it was sculptured upon the
back of at least one of the mysterious stone figures found on Easter Island in the south Pacific. The statue in
question--one of the smallest in the group--was brought to London by a sailing ship, and is now in the British
Museum; the Crux Ansata on the reverse side is plainly visible.
p. 183
among many nations it was customary to spread the arms in prayer has influenced the symbolism of the
cross, which, because of its shape, has come to be regarded as emblematic of the human body. The four
major divisions of the human structure--bones, muscles, nerves, and arteries--are considered to have
contributed to the symbolism of the cross. This is especially due to the fact that the spinal nerves cross at
the base of the spine, and is a reminder that "Our Lord was crucified also in Egypt."
Man has four vehicles (or mediums) of expression by means of which the spiritual Ego contacts the
external universe: the physical nature, the vital nature, the emotional nature, and the mental nature. Each
of these partakes in principle of one of the primary elements, and the four creatures assigned to them by
the Qabbalists caused the cross to be symbolic of the compound nature of man.
Saviors unnumbered have died for the sins of man and by the hands of man, and through their deaths
have interceded in heaven for the souls of their executioners. The martyrdom of the God-Man and the
redemption of the world through His blood has been an essential tenet of many great religions. Nearly
all these stories can be traced to sun worship, for the glorious orb of day is the Savior who dies annually
for every creature within his universe, but year after year rises again victorious from the tomb of winter.
Without doubt the doctrine of the crucifixion is based upon the secret traditions of the Ancient Wisdom;
it is a constant reminder that the divine nature of man is perpetually crucified upon the animal organism.
Certain of the pagan Mysteries included in the ceremony of initiation the crucifixion of the candidate
upon a cross, or the laying of his body upon a cruciform altar. It has been claimed that Apollonius of
Tyana (the Antichrist) was initiated into the Arcanum of Egypt in the Great Pyramid, where he hung
upon a cross until unconscious and was then laid in the tomb (the coffer) for three days. While his body
was unconscious, his soul was thought to pass into the realms of the immortals (the place of death) After
it had vanquished death (by recognizing that life is eternal) it returned again to the body, which then rose
from the coffer, after which he was hailed as a brother by the priests, who believed that he had returned
from the land of the dead. This concept was, in substance, the teaching of the Mysteries.
The list of the deathless mortals who suffered for man that he might receive the boon of eternal life is an
imposing one. Among those connected historically or allegorically with a crucifixion are Prometheus,
Adonis, Apollo, Arys, Bacchus, Buddha, Christna, Horus, Indra, Ixion, Mithras, Osiris, Pythagoras,
Quetzalcoatl, Semiramis, and Jupiter. According to the fragmentary accounts extant, all these heroes
gave their lives to the service of humanity and, with one or two exceptions, died as martyrs for the cause
of human progress. In many mysterious ways the manner of their death has been designedly concealed,
but it is possible that most of them were crucified upon a cross or tree. The first friend of man, the
immortal Prometheus, was crucified on the pinnacle of Mount Caucasus, and a vulture was placed over
his liver to torment him throughout eternity by clawing and rending his flesh with its talons. Prometheus
disobeyed the edict of Zeus by bringing fire and immortality to man, so for man he suffered until the
coming of Hercules released him from his ages of torment.
Concerning the crucifixion of the Persian Mithras, J. P. Lundy has written: "Dupuis tells us that Mithra
was put to death by crucifixion, and rose again on the 25th of March. In the Persian Mysteries the body
of a young man, apparently dead, was exhibited, which was feigned to be restored to life. By his
sufferings he was believed to have worked their salvation, and on this account he was called their
Savior. His priests watched his tomb to the midnight of the vigil of the 25th of March, with loud cries,
and in darkness; when all at once the light burst forth from all parts, the priest cried, Rejoice, O sacred
initiated, your God is risen. His death, his pains, and sufferings, have worked your salvation." (See
Monumental Christianity.)
In some cases, as in that of the Buddha, the crucifixion mythos must be taken in an allegorical rather
than a literal sense, for the manner of his death has been recorded by his own disciples in the Book of the
Great Decease. However, the mere fact that the symbolic reference to death upon a tree has been
associated with these heroes is sufficient to prove the universality of the crucifixion story.
The East Indian equivalent of Christ is the immortal Christna, who, sitting in the forest playing his flute,
charmed the birds and beasts by his music. It is supposed that this divinely inspired Savior of humanity
was crucified upon a tree by his enemies, but great care has been taken to destroy any evidence pointing
in that direction. Louis Jacolliot, in his book The Bible in India, thus describes the death of Christna:
"Christna understood that the hour had come for him to quit the earth, and return to the bosom of him
who had sent him. Forbidding his disciples to follow him, he went, one day, to make his ablutions on the
banks of the Ganges * * *. Arriving at the sacred river, he plunged himself three times therein, then,
kneeling, and looking to heaven, he prayed, expecting death. In this position he was pierced with arrows
by one of those whose crimes he had unveiled, and who, hearing of his journey to the Ganges, had, with
generation. a strong troop, followed with the design of assassinating him * * *. The body of the God-
man was suspended to the branches of a tree by his murderer, that it might become the prey of vultures.
News of the death having spread, the people came in a crowd conducted by Ardjouna, the dearest of the
disciples of Christna, to recover his sacred remains. But the mortal frame of the redeemer had
disappeared--no doubt it had regained the celestial abodes * * * and the tree to which it had been
attached had become suddenly covered with great red flowers and diffused around it the sweetest
perfume." Other accounts of the death of Christna declare that he was tied to a cross-shaped tree before
the arrows were aimed at him.
The existence in Moor's The Hindu Pantheon of a plate of Christna with nail wounds in his hands and
feet, and a plate in Inman's Ancient Faiths showing an Oriental deity with what might well be a nail hole
in one of his feet, should be sufficient motive for further investigation of this subject by those of
unbiased minds. Concerning the startling discoveries which can be made along these lines, J. P. Lundy
in his Monumental Christianity presents the following information: "Where did the Persians get their
notion of this prophecy as thus interpreted respecting Christ, and His saving mercy and love displayed
on the cross? Both by symbol and actual crucifix we see it on all their monuments. If it came from India,
how did it get there, except from the one common and original centre of all primitive and pure religion?
There is a most extraordinary plate, illustrative of the whole subject, which representation I believe to be
anterior to Christianity. It is copied from Moor's Hindu Pantheon, not as a curiosity, but as a most
singular monument of the crucifixion. I do not venture to give it a name, other than that of a crucifixion
in space. * * * Can it be the Victim-Man, or the Priest and Victim both in one, of the Hindu mythology,
who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were? Can it be Plato's second God who impressed
himself on the universe in the form of the cross? Or is it his divine man who would be scourged,
tormented, fettered, have his eyes burnt out; and lastly, having suffered all manner of evils, would be
crucified? Plato learned his theology in Egypt and the East, and must have known of the crucifixion of
Krishna, Buddha, Mithra [et al]. At any rate, the religion of India had its mythical crucified victim long
anterior to Christianity,
Click to enlarge
The TAU Cross was the sign which the Lord told the people of Jerusalem to mark on their foreheads, as related
by the Prophet Ezekiel. It was also placed as a symbol of liberation upon those charged with crimes but acquitted.
Click to enlarge
Both the cross and the circle were phallic symbols, for the ancient world venerated the generative powers of
Nature as being expressive of the creative attributes of the Deity. The Crux Ansata, by combining the masculine
TAU with the feminine oval, exemplified the principles of generation.
Click to enlarge
From Historia Deorum Fatidicorum.
Concerning Apollonius and his remarkable Powers, Francis Barrett, in his Biographia Antiqua, after describing
how Apollonius quelled a riot without speaking a word, continues: "He traveled much, professed himself a
legislator; understood all languages, without having learned them; he had the surprising faculty of knowing what
was transacted at an immense distance, and at the time the Emperor Domitian was stabbed, Apollonius being at a
vast distance and standing in the market-place of the city, exclaimed, 'Strike! strike!--'tis time, the tyrant is no
more.' He understood the language of birds; he condemned dancing and other diversions of that sort. he
recommended charity and piety; he traveled over almost all the countries of the world; and he died at a very great
p. 184
as a type of the real one [Pro Deo et Ecclesia!], and I am inclined to think that we have it in this
remarkable plate."
The modern world has been misled in its attitude towards the so-called pagan deities, and has come to
view them in a light entirely different from their true characters and meanings. The ridicule and slander
heaped by Christendom upon Christna and Bacchus are excellent examples of the persecution of
immortal principles by those who have utterly failed to sense the secret meaning of the allegories. Who
was the crucified man of Greece, concerning whom vague rumors have been afloat? Higgins thinks it
was Pythagoras, the true story of whose death was suppressed by early Christian authors because it
conflicted with their teachings. Was it true also that the Roman legionaries carried on the field of battle
standards upon which were crosses bearing the crucified Sun Man?
One of the most remarkable of the crucified World Saviors is the Central American god of the winds, or
the Sun, Quetzalcoatl, concerning whose activities great secrecy was maintained by the Indian priests of
Mexico and Central America. This strange immortal, whose name means feathered snake, appears to
have come out of the sea, bringing with him a mysterious cross. On his garments were embellished
clouds and red crosses. In his honor, great serpents carved from stone were placed in different parts of
The cross of Quetzalcoatl became a sacred symbol among the Mayas, and according to available records
the Maya Indian angels had crosses of various pigments painted on their foreheads. Similar crosses were
placed over the eyes of those initiated into their Mysteries. When Cortez arrived in Mexico, he brought
with him the cross. Recognizing this, the natives believed that he was Quetzalcoatl returned, for the
latter had promised to come back in the infinite future and redeem his people.
In Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins throws some light on the cross and its symbolism in America: "The
Incas had a cross of very fine marble, or beautiful jasper, highly polished, of one piece, three-fourths of
an ell in length, and three fingers in width and thickness. It was kept in a sacred chamber of a palace,
and held in great veneration. The Spaniards enriched this cross with gold and jewels, and placed it in the
cathedral of Cuzco. Mexican temples are in the form of a cross, and face the four cardinal points.
Quexalcoatl is represented in the paintings of the Codex Borgianus nailed to the cross. Sometimes even
the two thieves are there crucified with him. In Vol. II. plate 75, the God is crucified in the Heavens, in a
circle of nineteen figures, the number of the Metonic cycle. A serpent is depriving him of the organs of
generation. In the Codex Borgianus, (pp. 4, 72, 73, 75,) the Mexican God is represented crucified and
nailed to the cross, and in another place hanging to it, with a cross in his hands. And in one instance,
where the figure is not merely outlined, the cross is red, the clothes are coloured, and the face and hands
quite black. If this was the Christianity of the German Nestorius, how came he to teach that the crucified
Savior was black? The name of the God who was crucified was Quexalcoatl.
The crucifixion of the Word in space, the crucifixion of the dove often seen in religious symbolism--
both of these are reminders of pagan overshadowing. The fact that a cross is formed by the spread wings
of a bird in relation to its body is no doubt one of the reasons why the Egyptians used a bird to
symbolize the immortal nature of man, and often show it hovering over the mummified body of the dead
and carrying in one of its claws the sign of life and in the other the sign of breath.
The three nails of the Passion have found their way into the symbolism of many races and faiths. There
are many legends concerning these nails. One of these is to the effect that originally there were four
nails, but one was dematerialized by a Hebrew Qabbalist and magician just as they were about to drive it
through the foot of the Master. Hence it was necessary to cross the feet. Another legend relates that one
of the nails was hammered into a crown and that it still exists as the imperial diadem of a European
house. Still another story has it that the bit on the bridle of Constantine's horse was a Passion nail. It is
improbable, however, that the nails were made of iron, for at that time it was customary to use sharpened
wooden pegs. Hargrave Jennings, in his Rosicrucians, Their Rites and Mysteries, calls attention to the
fact that the mark or sign used in England to designate royal property and called the broad arrow is
nothing more nor less than the three nails of the crucifixion grouped together, and that by placing them
point to point the ancient symbol of the Egyptian TAU cross is formed.
In his Ancient Freemasonry, Frank C. Higgins reproduces the Masonic apron of a colossal stone figure
at Quirigua, Guatemala. The central ornament of the apron is the three Passion nails, arranged exactly
like the British broad arrow. That three nails should be used to crucify the Christ, three murderers to kill
CHiram Abiff, and three wounds to slay Prince Coh, the Mexican Indian Osiris, is significant.
C. W. King, in his Gnostics and Their Remains, thus describes a Gnostic gem: "The Gnostic Pleroma, or
combination of all the Æons [is] expressed by the outline of a man holding a scroll * * *. The left hand
is formed like three bent spikes or nails; unmistakably the same symbol that Belus often holds in his
extended hand on the Babylonian cylinders, afterwards discovered by the Jewish Cabalists in the points
of the letter Shin, and by the mediæval mystics in o the Three Nails of the Cross." From this point
Hargrave Jennings continues King's speculations, noting the resemblance of the nail to an obelisk, or
pillar, and that the Qabbalistic value of the Hebrew letter Shin, or Sin, is 300, namely, 100 for each spike.
The Passion nails are highly important symbols, especially when it is realized that, according to the
esoteric systems of culture, there are certain secret centers of force in the palms of the hands and in the
soles of the feet.
The driving of the nails and the flow of blood and water from the wounds were symbolic of certain
secret philosophic practices of the Temple. Many of the Oriental deities have mysterious symbols on the
hands and feet. The so-called footprints of Buddha are usually embellished with a magnificent sunburst
at the point where the nail pierced the foot of Christ.
In his notes on the theology of Jakob Böhme, Dr. Franz Hartmann thus sums up the mystic symbolism
of the crucifixion: "The cross represents terrestrial life, and the crown of thorns the sufferings of the soul
within the elementary body, but also the victory of the spirit over the elements of darkness. The body is
naked, to indicate that the candidate for immortality must divest himself of all desires for terrestrial
things. The figure is nailed to the cross, which symbolizes the death and surrender of the self-will, and
that it should not attempt to accomplish anything by its own power, but merely serve as an instrument
wherein the Divine will is executed. Above the head are inscribed the letters: I. N. R. J. whose most
important meaning is: In Nobis Regnat Jesus (Within ourselves reigns Jesus). But this signification of
this inscription can be practically known only to those who have actually died relatively to the world of
desires, and risen above the temptation for personal existence; or, to express it in other words, those who
have become alive in Christ, and in whom thus the kingdom of Jesus (the holy love-will issuing from the
heart of God) has been established." One of the most interesting interpretations of the crucifixion
allegory is that which identifies the man Jesus with the personal consciousness of the individual. It is
this personal consciousness that conceives of and dwells in the sense of separateness, and before the
aspiring soul can be reunited with the ever-present and all-pervading Father this personality must be
sacrificed that the Universal Consciousness may be liberated.
Click to enlarge
(From the Codex Borgianus.)
From Kingsborough's Antiquities of Mexico.
Lord Kingsborough writes: "May we not refer to the seventy-third page of the Borgian MS., which represents
Quexalcoatl both crucified, and as it were cut in pieces for the cauldron, and with equal reason demand, whether
anyone can help thinking that the Jews of the New World (Lord Kingsborough sought to prove that the Mexicans
were descendants of the Jews] applied to their Messiah not only all the prophecies contained in the Old
Testament relating to Christ, but likewise many of the incidents recorded of him in the Gospels."
Click to enlarge
From Higgins' Anacalypsis.
Of this remarkable Oriental drawing, J. P. Lundy has written:----It looks like a Christian crucifix in many
respects, and in some others it does not. The drawing, attitude, and the nail-marks in hands and feet, indicate a
Christian origin; while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood and of the usual inscription,
and the rays of glory above seem to point to some Christian origin. Can it be the Victim, Man, or the Priest and
Victim both in one, of the Hindu mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were?"
Next: The Mystery of the Apocalypse
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 185
The Mystery of the Apocalypse
THE presence of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus marked that city as sacred to the Mystery religion, for
the Seven Wonders of the ancient world were erected to indicate the repositories of recondite
knowledge. Of Ephesus, H. P. Blavatsky writes:
"It was a focus of the universal 'secret' doctrines; the weird laboratory whence, fashioned in elegant
Grecian phraseology, sprang the quintessence of Buddhistic, Zoroastrian, and Chaldean philosophy.
Artemis, the gigantic concrete symbol of theosophico-pantheistic abstractions, the great mother
Multimamma, androgyne and patroness of the 'Ephesian writings,' was conquered by Paul; but although
the zealous converts of the apostles pretended to burn all their books on 'curious arts, τα περιεργα,
enough of these remained for them to study when their first zeal had cooled off." (See Isis Unveiled.)
Being a great center of pagan learning, Ephesus has been the locale for many early Christian myths. The
assertion has been made that it was the last domicile of the Virgin Mary; also that the tomb of St. John
the Divine was located there. According to legend, St. John did not depart from this life in the usual
manner but, selecting his vault, entered it while still alive, and closing the entrance behind him, vanished
forever from mortal sight. A rumor was current in ancient Ephesus that St. John would sleep in his tomb
until the return of the Savior, and that when the apostle turned over on his sepulchral couch the earth
above moved like the coverlets of a bed.
Subjected to more criticism than any other book now incorporated in the New Testament, the
Apocalypse--popularly accredited to St. John the Divine--is by far the most important but least
understood of the Gnostic Christian writings. Though Justin Martyr declared the Book of Revelation to
have been written by "John, one of Christ's apostles," its authorship was disputed as early as the second
century after Christ. In the third century these contentions became acute and even Dionysius of
Alexandria and Eusebius attacked the Johannine theory, declaring that both the Book of Revelation and
the Gospel according to St. John were written by one Cerinthus, who borrowed the name of the great
apostle the better to foist his own doctrines upon the Christians. Later Jerome questioned the authorship
of the Apocalypse and during the Reformation his objections were revived by Luther and Erasmus. The
once generally accepted notion that the Book of Revelation was the actual record of a "mystical
experience" occurring to St. John while that seer was an exile in the Isle of Parmos is now regarded with
disfavor by more critical scholars. Other explanations have therefore been advanced to account for the
symbolism permeating the volume and the original motive for its writing. The more reasonable of these
theories may be summed up as follows:
First, upon the weight of evidence furnished by its own contents the Book of Revelation may well be
pronounced a pagan writing--one of the sacred books of the Eleusinian or Phrygian Mysteries. As a
corollary, the real author of a work setting forth the profundities of Egyptian and Greek mysticism must
have been an initiate himself and consequently obligated to write only in the symbolic language of the
Second, it is possible that the Book of Revelation was written to reconcile the seeming discrepancies
between the early Christian and pagan religious philosophies. When the zealots of the primitive
Christian Church sought to Christianize pagandom, the pagan initiates retorted with a powerful effort to
paganize Christianity. The Christians failed but the pagans succeeded. With the decline of paganism the
initiated pagan hierophants transferred their base of operations to the new vehicle of primitive
Christianity, adopting the symbols of the new cult to conceal those eternal verities which are ever the
priceless possession of the wise. The Apocalypse shows clearly the resultant fusion of pagan and
Christian symbolism and thus bears irrefutable evidence of the activities of these initiated minds
operating through early Christianity.
Third, the theory has been advanced that the Book of Revelation represents the attempt made by the
unscrupulous members of a certain religious order to undermine the Christian Mysteries by satirizing
their philosophy. This nefarious end they hoped to attain by showing the new faith to be merely a
restatement of the ancient pagan doctrines, by heaping ridicule upon Christianity, and by using its own
symbols toward its disparagement. For example, the star which fell to earth (Rev. viii. 10-11) could be
construed to mean the Star of Bethlehem, and the bitterness of that star (called Wormwood and which
poisoned mankind) could signify the "false" teachings of the Christian Church. While the last theory has
gained a certain measure of popularity, the profundity of the Apocalypse leads the discerning reader to
the inevitable conclusion that this is the least plausible of the three hypotheses. To those able to pierce
the veil of its symbolism, the inspired source of the document requires no further corroborative evidence.
In the final analysis, true philosophy can be limited by neither creed nor faction; in fact it is
incompatible with every artificial limitation of human thought. The question of the pagan or Christian
origin of the Book of Revelation is, consequently, of little importance. The intrinsic value of the book
lies in its magnificent epitome of the Universal Mystery--an observation which led St. Jerome to declare
that it is susceptible of seven entirely different interpretations. Untrained in the reaches of ancient
thought, the modem theologian cannot possibly cope with the complexities of the Apocalypse, for to him
this mystic writing is but a phantasmagoria the divine inspiration of which he is sorely tempted to
question. In the limited space here available it is possible to sketch but briefly a few of the salient
features of the vision of the seer of Patmos. A careful consideration of the various pagan Mysteries will
assist materially also in filling the inevitable gaps in this abridgment.
In the opening chapter of the Apocalypse, St. John describes the Alpha and Omega who stood in the
midst of the seven golden candlesticks. Surrounded by his flaming planetary regents, this Sublime One
thus epitomizes in one impressive and mysterious figure the entire sweep of humanity's evolutionary
growth--past, present, and future.
"The first stages of man's earthly development," writes Dr. Rudolph Steiner, "ran their course at a period
when the earth was still 'fiery'; and the first human incarnations were formed out of the element of fire;
at the end of his earthly career man will himself radiate his inner being outwards creatively by the force
of the element of fire. This continuous development from the beginning to the end of the earth reveals
itself to the 'seer,' when he sees on the astral plane the archetype of evolving man. * * * The beginning
of earthly evolution stands forth in the fiery feet, its end in the fiery countenance, and the complete
power of the 'creative word,' to be finally won, is seen in the fiery source coming out of the mouth." (See
Occult Seals and Columns.)
In his Restored New Testament, James Morgan Pryse traces the
Click to enlarge
From Jacob Behmen's Works.
Before the throne of God was the crystal sea representing the Schamayim, or the living waters which are above
the heavens. Before the throne also were four creatures--a bull, a lion, an eagle, and a man. These represented the
four corners of creation and the multitude of eyes with which they were covered are the stars of the firmament.
The twenty-four elders have the same significance as the priests gathered around the statue of Ceres in the
Greater Eleusinian Rite and also the Persian Genii, or gods of the hours of the day, who, casting away their
crowns, glorify the Holy One. As symbolic of the divisions of time, the elders adore the timeless and enduring
Spirit in the midst of them.
p. 186
relationship of the various parts of the Alpha and Omega to the seven sacred planets of the ancients. To
"The Logos-figure described is a composite picture of the seven sacred planets: he has the snowy-white
hair of Kronos ('Father Time'), the blazing eyes of 'wide-seeing' Zeus, the sword of Arcs, the shining
face of Helios, and the chiton and girdle of Aphrodite; his feet are of mercury, the metal sacred to
Hermes, and his voice is like the murmur of the ocean's waves (the 'many waters'), alluding to Selene,
the Moon-Goddess of the four seasons and of the waters."
The seven stars carried by this immense Being in his right hand are the Governors of the world; the
flaming sword issuing from his mouth is the Creative Fiat, or Word of Power, by which the illusion of
material permanence is slain. Here also is represented, in all his symbolic splendor, the hierophant of the
Phrygian Mysteries, his various insignia emblematic of his divine attributes. Seven priests bearing lamps
are his attendants and the stars carried in his hand are the seven schools of the Mysteries whose power
he administers. As one born again out of spiritual darkness, into perfect wisdom, this archimagus is
made to say: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever more, Amen; and have
the keys of hell and of death."
In the second and third chapters St. John delivers to the "seven churches which are in Asia" the
injunctions received by him from the Alpha and Omega. The churches are here analogous to the rungs of
a Mithraic ladder, and John, being "in the spirit," ascended through the orbits of the seven sacred planets
until he reached the inner surface of the Empyrean.
"After the soul of the prophet," writes the anonymous author of Mankind: Their Origin and Destiny, "in
his ecstatic state has passed in its rapid flight through the seven spheres, from the sphere of the moon to
that of Saturn, or from the planet which corresponds to Cancer, the gate of men, to that of Capricorn,
which is the gate of the gods, a new gate opens to him in the highest heaven, and in the zodiac, beneath
which the seven planets revolve; in a word, in the firmament, or that which the ancients called
crystallinum primum, or the crystal heaven."
When related to the Eastern system of metaphysics, these churches represent the chakras, or nerve
ganglia, along the human spine, the "door in heaven" being the brahmarandra, or point in the crown of
the skull (Golgotha), through which the spinal spirit fire passes to liberation. The church of Ephesus
corresponds to the muladhara, or sacral ganglion, and the other churches to the higher ganglia according
to the order given in Revelation. Dr. Steiner discovers a relationship between the seven churches and the
divisions of the Aryan race. Thus, the church of Ephesus stands for the Arch-Indian branch; the church
of Smyrna, the Arch-Persians; the church of Pergamos, the Chaldean-Egyptian-Semitic; the church of
Thyatira, the Grecian-Latin-Roman; the church of Sardis, the Teuton-Anglo-Saxon; the church of
Philadelphia, the Slavic; and the church of Laodicea, the Manichæan. The seven churches also signify
the Greek vowels, of which Alpha and Omega are the first and the last. A difference of opinion exists as
to the order in which the seven planers should be related to the churches. Some proceed from the
hypothesis that Saturn represents the church of Ephesus; but from the fact that this city was sacred to the
moon goddess and also that the sphere of the moon is the first above that of the earth, the planets
obviously should ascend in their ancient order from the moon to Saturn. From Saturn the soul would
naturally ascend through the door in the Empyrean.
In the fourth and fifth chapters St. John describes the throne of God upon which sat the Holy One
"which was and is, and is to come." About the throne were twenty-four lesser seats upon which sat
twenty-four elders arrayed in white garments and wearing crowns of gold. "And out of the throne
proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the
throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." He who sat upon the throne held in His right hand a book
sealed with seven seals which no man in heaven or earth had been found worthy to open. Then appeared
a Lamb (Aries, the first and chief of the zodiacal signs) which had been slain, having seven horns (rays)
and seven eyes (lights). The Lamb took the book from the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne and
the four beasts and all the elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb. During the early centuries
of the Christian Church the lamb was universally recognized as the symbol of Christ, and not until after
the fifth synod of Constantinople (the "Quinisext Synod," A.D. 692) was the figure of the crucified man
substituted for that of Agnus Dei. As shrewdly noted by one writer on the subject, the use of a lamb is
indicative of the Persian origin of Christianity, for the Persians were the only people to symbolize the
first sign of the zodiac by a lamb.
Because a lamb was the sin offering of the ancient pagans, the early mystic Christians considered this
animal as an appropriate emblem of Christ, whom they regarded as the sin offering of the world. The
Greeks and the Egyptians highly venerated the lamb or ram, often placing its horns upon the foreheads
of their gods. The Scandinavian god Thor carried a hammer made from a pair of ram's horns. The lamb
is used in preference to the ram apparently because of its purity and gentleness; also, since the Creator
Himself was symbolized by Aries, His Son would consequently be the little Ram or Lamb. The
lambskin apron worn by the Freemasons over that part of the body symbolized by Typhon or Judas
represents that purification
Click to enlarge
From Klauber's Historiae Biblicae Veteris et Novi Testamenti.
In the central foreground, St. John the Divine is kneeling before the apparition of the Alpha and Omega standing
in the midst of the seven lights and surrounded by an aureole of flames and smoke. In the heavens above the
twenty-four elders with their harps and censers bow before the throne of the Ancient One, from whose hand the
Lamb is taking the book sealed with seven seals. The seven spirit, of God, in the form of cups from which issue
tongues of fire, surround the head of the Ancient One, and the four beasts (the cherubim) kneel at the corners of
His throne. In the upper left-hand corner are shown the seven angels bearing the trumpets and also the altar of
God and the angel with the censer. In the upper right are the spirits of the winds; below them is the virgin clothed
wit h the sun, to whom wings were given that she might fly into the wilderness. To her right is a scene
representing the spirits of God hurling the evil serpent into the bottomless pit. At the lower left St. John is shown
receiving from the angelic figure, whose legs are pillars of fire and whose face is a shining sun, the little book
which he is told to eat if he would understand the mysteries of the spiritual life.
The plate also contains a number of other symbols, including episodes from the destruction of the world and the
crystal sea pouring forth from the throne of God. By the presentation of such symbolic conceptions in the form of
rituals and dramatic episodes the secrets of the Phrygian Mysteries were perpetuated. When these sacred
pageantries were thus revealed to all mankind indiscriminately and each human soul was appointed it own
initiator into the holy rite, of the philosophic life, a boon was conferred upon humanity which cannot be fully
appreciated until men and women have grown more responsive to those mysteries which are of the spirit.
p. 187
of the generative processes which is a prerequisite to true spirituality. In this allegory the Lamb signifies
the purified candidate, its seven horns representing the divisions of illuminated reason and its seven eyes
the chakras, or perfected sense-perceptions.
The sixth to eleventh chapters inclusive are devoted to an account of the opening of the seven seals on
the book held by the Lamb. When the first seal was broken, there rode forth a man on a white horse
wearing a crown and holding in his hand a bow. When the second seal was broken, there rode forth a
man upon a red horse and in his hand was a great sword. When the third seal was broken there rode forth
a man upon a black horse and with a pair of balances in his hand. And when the fourth seal was broken
there rode forth Death upon a pale horse and hell followed after him. The four horsemen of the
Apocalypse may be interpreted to signify the four main divisions of human life. Birth is represented by
the rider on the white horse who comes forth conquering and to conquer; the impetuosity of youth by the
rider on the red horse who took peace from the earth; maturity by the rider on the black horse who
weighs all things in the scales of reason; and death by the rider on the pale horse who was given power
over a fourth part of the earth. In the Eastern philosophy these horsemen signify the four yugas, or ages,
of the world which, riding forth at: their appointed times, become for a certain span the rulers of creation.
Commenting on the twenty-fourth allocution of Chrysostom, in The Origin of all Religious Worship,
Dupuis notes that each of the four elements was represented by a horse bearing the name of the god
"who is set over the element." The first horse, signifying the fire ether, was called Jupiter and occupied
the highest place in the order of the elements. This horse was winged, very fleet, and, describing the
largest circle, encompassed all the others. It shone with the purest light, and on its body were the images
of the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the bodies in the ethereal regions. The second horse, signifying
the element of air, was Juno. It was inferior to the horse of Jupiter and described a smaller circle; its
color was black but that part exposed to the sun became luminous, thus signifying the diurnal and
nocturnal conditions of air. The third horse, symbolizing the element of water, was sacred to Neptune. It
was of heavy gait and described a very small circle. The fourth horse, signifying the static element of
earth, described as immovable and champing its bit, was the steed of Vesta. Despite their differences in
temperature, these four horses lived harmoniously together, which is in accord with the principles of the
philosophers, who declared the world to be preserved by the concord and harmony of its elements. In
time, however, the racing horse of Jupiter burned the mane of the horse of earth; the thundering steed of
Neptune also became covered with sweat, which overflowed the immovable horse of Vesta and resulted
in the deluge of Deucalion. At last the fiery horse of Jupiter will consume the rest, when the three
inferior elements--purified by reabsorption in the fiery ether--will come forth renewed, constituting "a
new heaven and a new earth."
When the fifth seal was opened St. John beheld those who had died for the word of God. When the sixth
seal was broken there was a great earthquake, the sun being darkened and the moon becoming like
blood. The angels of the winds came forth and also another angel, who sealed upon their foreheads
144,000 of the children of Israel that they should be preserved against the awful day of tribulation. By
adding the digits together according to the Pythagorean system of numerical philosophy, the number
144,000 is reduced to 9, the mystic symbol of man and also the number of initiation, for he who passes
through the nine degrees of the Mysteries receives the sign of the cross as emblematic of his
regeneration and liberation from the bondage of his own infernal, or inferior, nature. The addition of the
three ciphers to the original sacred number 1.44 indicates the elevation of the mystery to the third sphere.
When the seventh seal was broken there was silence for the space of half an hour. Then came forth
seven angels and to each was given a trumpet. When the seven angels sounded their trumpets--intoned
the seven-lettered Name of the Logos--great catastrophes ensued. A star, which was called Wormwood,
fell from heaven, thereby signifying that the secret doctrine of the ancients had been given to men who
had profaned it and caused the wisdom of God to become a destructive agency. And another star--
symbolizing the false light of human reason as distinguished from the divine reason of the initiate--fell
from heaven and to it (materialistic reason) was given the key to the bottomless pit (Nature), which it
opened, causing all manner of evil creatures to issue forth. And there came also a mighty angel who was
clothed in a cloud, whose face was as the sun and his feet and legs as pillars of fire, and one foot was
upon the waters and the other upon the land (the Hermetic Anthropos). This celestial being gave St. John
a little book, bidding him eat it, which the seer did. The book is representative of the secret doctrine--
that spiritual food which is the nourishment of the spirit. And St. John, being "in the spirit," ate his fill of
the wisdom of God and the hunger of his soul was appeased.
The twelfth chapter treats of a great wonder appearing in the heavens: a woman clothed with the sun, the
moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. This woman represents the
constellation of Virgo and also the Egyptian Isis, who, about to be delivered of her son Horus, is
attacked by Typhon, the latter attempting to destroy the child predestined by the gods to slay the
Click to enlarge
From Klauber's Historiae Biblicae Veteris et Novi Testamenti.
In the upper left-hand corner is shown the destruction of Babylon, also the angel which cast the great
millstone into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down and
shall be found no more at all." Below is the horseman, called Faithful and True, casting the beast into the
bottomless pit. At the lower right is the angel with the key to the bottomless pit, who with a great chain
binds Satan for a thousand years. In the heavens above is represented one like unto the Son of Man, who
carries a great sickle with which he reaps the harvest of the world. In the center is the Holy City, the
New Jerusalem, with its twelve gates and the mountain of the Lamb rising in the midst thereof. From the
throne of the Lamb pours the great river of crystal, or living water, signifying the spiritual doctrine: upon
all who discover and drink of its waters are conferred immortality. Kneeling upon a high cliff, St. John
gazes down upon the mystic city, the archetype of the perfect civilization yet to be. Above the New
Jerusalem, in a great sunburst of glory, is the throne of the Ancient One, which is the light of those who
dwell in the matchless empire of the spirit. Beyond the recognition of the uninitiated world is an ever-
increasing aggregation composed of the spiritual elect. Though they walk the earth as ordinary mortals,
they are of a world apart and through their ceaseless efforts the kingdom of God is being slowly but
surely established upon earth. These illumined souls are the builders of the New Jerusalem, and their
bodies are the living stones in its walls. Lighted by the torch of truth they carry on their work, through
their activities the golden age will return to the earth and the power of sin and death will be destroyed.
For this reason the declare that virtuous and illumined men, instead of ascending to heaven, will bring
heaven down and establish it in the midst of earth itself.
p. 188
Spirit of Evil. The war in heaven relates to the destruction of the planet Ragnarok and to the fall of the
angels. The virgin can be interpreted to signify the secret doctrine itself and her son the initiate born out
of the "womb of the Mysteries." The Spirit of Evil thus personified in the great dragon attempted to
control mankind by destroying the mother of those illumined souls who have labored unceasingly for the
salvation of the world. Wings were given to the Mysteries (the virgin) and they flew into the wilderness;
and the evil dragon tried to destroy them with a flood (of false doctrine) but the earth (oblivion)
swallowed up the false doctrines and the Mysteries endured.
The thirteenth chapter describes a great beast which rose out of the sea, having seven heads and ten
horns. Faber sees in this amphibious monster the Demiurgus, or Creator of the world, rising out of the
Ocean of Chaos. While most interpreters of the Apocalypse consider the various beasts described therein
as typical of evil agencies, this viewpoint is the inevitable result of unfamiliarity with the ancient
doctrines from which the symbolism of the book is derived. Astronomically, the great monster rising out
of the sea is the constellation of Cetus (the whale). Because religious ascetics looked upon the universe
itself as an evil and ensnaring fabrication, they also came to regard its very Creator as a weaver of
delusions. Thus the great sea monster (the world) and its Maker (the Demiurgus), whose strength is
derived from the Dragon of Cosmic Power, came to be personified as a beast of horror and destruction,
seeking to swallow up the immortal part: of human nature. The seven heads of the monster represent the
seven stars (spirits) composing the constellation of the Great Dipper, called by the Hindus Rishis, or
Cosmic Creative Spirits. The ten horns Faber relates to the ten primordial patriarchs. These may also
denote the ancient zodiac of ten signs.
The number of the beast (666) is an interesting example of the use of Qabbalism in the New Testament
and among early Christian mystics. In the following table Kircher shows that the names of Antichrist as
given by Iranæus all have 666 as their numerical equivalent.
300 30 1 30
ε α ν α
5 1 50 1
ι τ τ
10 • 40 300 300
τ π ε ε
300 80 5 5
ε ι
α 1 5 • 40 10
ν τ ο ν
50 300 70 50
ι ς ο
10 200 70
ς ς
200 200
666 666 666 666
James Morgan Pryse also notes that according to this method of figuring, the Greek term • φρην, which
signifies the lower mind, has 666 as its numerical equivalent. It is also well known to Qabbalists that
•ησους, Jesus, has for its numerical value another sacred and secret number--888. Adding the digits of
the number 666 and again adding the digits of the sum gives the sacred number--9 the symbol of man in
his unregenerate state and also the path of his resurrection.
The fourteenth chapter opens with the Lamb standing on Mount Zion (the eastern horizon), about Him
gathered the 144,000 with the name of God written in their foreheads. An angel thereupon announces
the fall of Babylon--the city of confusion or worldliness. Those perish who do not overcome worldliness
and enter into the realization that spirit--and not matter--is enduring; for, having no interests other than
those which are material, they are swept to destruction with the material world. And St. John beheld One
like unto the Son of Man (Perseus) riding upon a cloud (the substances of the invisible world) and
bearing in his hand a sharp sickle, and with the sickle the Shining One reaped the earth. This is a symbol
of the Initiator releasing into the sphere of reality the higher natures of those who, symbolized by
ripened grain, have reached the point of liberation. And there came another angel (Boötes)--Death--also
with a sickle (Karma), who reaped the vines of the earth (those who have lived by the false light) and
cast them into the winepress of the wrath of God (the purgatorial spheres).
The fifteenth to eighteenth chapters inclusive contain an account of seven angels (the Pleiades) who pour
their vials upon the earth. The contents of their vials (the loosened energy of the Cosmic Bull) are called
the seven last plagues. Here also is introduced a symbolic figure, termed "the harlot of Babylon, "which
is described as a woman seated upon a scarlet-colored beast having seven heads and ten horns. The
woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, having in
her hand a golden cup full of abominations. This figure may be an effort (probably interpolated) to vilify
Cybele, or Artemis, the Great Mother goddess of antiquity. Because the pagans venerated the Mater
Deorum through symbols appropriate to the feminine generative principle they were accused by the
early Christians of worshiping a courtesan. As nearly all the ancient Mysteries included a test of the
neophyte's moral character, the temptress (the animal soul) is here portrayed as a pagan goddess.
In the nineteenth and twentieth chapters is set forth the preparation of that mystical sacrament called the
marriage of the Lamb. The bride is the soul of the neophyte, which attains conscious immortality by
uniting itself to its own spiritual source. The heavens opened once more and St. John saw a white horse,
and the rider (the illumined mind) which sat upon it was called Faithful and True. Out of his mouth
issued a sharp sword and the armies of heaven followed after him. Upon the plains of heaven was fought
the mystic Armageddon--the last great war between light and darkness. The forces of evil under the
Persian Ahriman battled against the forces of good under Ahura-Mazda. Evil was vanquished and the
beast and the false prophet cast into a lake of fiery brimstone. Satan was bound for a thousand years.
Then followed the last judgment; the books were opened, including the book of life. The dead were
judged according to their works and those whose names were not in the book of life were cast into a sea
of fire. To the neophyte, Armageddon represents the last struggle between the flesh and the spirit when,
finally overcoming the world, the illumined soul rises to union with its spiritual Self. The judgment
signifies the weighing of the soul and was borrowed from the Mysteries of Osiris. The rising of the dead
from their graves and from the sea of illusion represents the consummation of the process of human
regeneration. The sea of fire into which those are cast who fail in the ordeal of initiation signifies the
fiery sphere of the animal world.
In the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters are pictured the new heaven and the new earth to be
established at the close of Ahriman's reign. St. John, carried in the spirit to a great and high mountain
(the brain), beheld the New Jerusalem descending as a bride adorned for her husband. The Holy City
represents the regenerated and perfected world, the trued ashlar of the Mason, for the city was a perfect
cube, it being written, "the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." The foundation of the
Holy City consisted of a hundred and forty-four stones in twelve rows, from which it is evident that the
New Jerusalem represents the microcosm, patterned after the greater universe in which it: stands. The
twelve gates of this symbolic dodecahedron are the signs of the zodiac through which the celestial
impulses descend into the inferior world; the jewels are the precious stones of the zodiacal signs; and the
transparent golden streets are the streams of spiritual light along which the initiate passes on his path
towards the sun. There is no material temple in that city, for God and the Lamb are the temple; and there
is neither sun nor moon, for God and the Lamb are the light. The glorified and spiritualized initiate is
here depicted as a city. This city will ultimately be united with the spirit of God and absorbed into the
Divine Effulgency.
And St. John beheld a river, the Water of Life, which proceeded out of the throne of the Lamb. The river
represents the stream pouring from the First Logos, which is the life of all things and the active cause of
all creation. There also was the Tree of Life (the spirit) bearing twelve manner of fruit, whose leaves
were for the healing of the nations. By the tree is also represented the year, which every month yields
some good for the maintenance of existing creatures. Jesus then tells St. John that He is the root and the
offspring of David and the bright and morning star (Venus). St. John concludes with the words, "The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
Click to enlarge
From Solis' Biblische Figuren.
In the allegory of the four horsemen--according to the mysteries of philosophy--is set forth the condition of man
during the stages of his existence. In his first and spiritual state he is crowed. As he descend into the realm of
experience he carries the sword. Reaching physical expression--which is his least spiritual state--he carries the
scales, and by the "philosophic death" is released again into the highest spheres. In the ancient Roman games the
chariot of the sun was drawn by four horses of different colors and the horsemen of the Apocalypse may be
interpreted to represent the solar energy riding upon the four elements which serve as media for its expression.
Next: The Faith of Islam
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 189
The Faith of Islam
REPRESENTATIVE of the attitude of Christendom toward Islam, till recent years at least, is Alexander
Ross's postscript to the Anglicized version, published in 1649, of Sieur Du Ryer's French translation of
the Koran. The author of the postscript directs the following invective against Mohammed and the
"Good Reader, the great Arabian Impostor now at last after a thousand years, is by the way of France
arrived in England, and his Alcoran, or gallimaufry of errors, (a brat as deformed as the parent, and as
full of heresies as his scald head was of scurvy) hath learned to speak English. * * * If you will take a
brief view of the Alcoran, you shall find it a hodgepodge made up of these four ingredients: 1. Of
Contradictions. 2. Of Blasphemy. 3. Of ridiculous Fables. 4. Of Lies."
The accusation of blasphemy is emphasized against Mohammed because he affirmed that God, being
unmarried, was incapable of having a Son! The fallacious argument, however, is apparent from the
Prophet's own views of the nature of God as contained in the second sura of the Koran:
"To Allah [God] belongeth the east and the west; therefore, whithersoever ye turn yourselves to pray,
there is the face of Allah; for Allah is omnipresent and omniscient. They say, Allah hath begotten
children: Allah forbid! To him belongeth whatever is in heaven, and on earth; all is possessed by him,
the Creator of heaven and earth; and when he decreeth a thing, he only saith unto it, Be, and it is." In
other words, the God of Islam has but to desire and the object of that desire at once comes into being,
whereas the God of Alexander Ross must proceed in accord with the laws of human generation!
Mohammed, Prophet of Islam, "the desired of all nations," was born in Mecca, A.D. 570 (?) and died in
Medina, A.D. 632, or in the eleventh ),ear after the Hegira. Washington Irving thus describes the signs
and wonders accompanying the birth of the Prophet:
"His mother suffered none of the pangs of travail. At the moment of his coming into the world a celestial
light illumined the surrounding country, and the new born child, raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed:
'God is great! There is no God bur God, and I am his prophet!' Heaven and earth, we are assured, were
agitated at his advent. The Lake Sawa shrank back to its secret springs, leaving its borders dry; while the
Tigris, bursting its bounds, overflowed the neighboring lands. The palace of Khosru the king of Persia
shook t on its foundations, and several of its towers were toppled to the earth. * * * In the same eventful
night the sacred fire of Zoroaster, which, guarded by the Magi, had burned without interruption for
upward of a thousand years, was suddenly extinguished, and all the idols in the world fell down." (See
Mahomet and His Successors.)
While the Prophet was still but a toddling babe, the Angel Gabriel with seventy wings came to him, and
cutting open the child, withdrew the heart. This Gabriel cleansed of the black drop of original sin which
is in every human heart because of the perfidy of Adam and then returned the organ to its proper place in
the Prophet's body. (See footnote in E. H. Palmer's translation of the Qur'an.)
In his youth Mohammed traveled with the Meccan caravans, on one occasion acted as armor-bearer for
his uncle, and spent a considerable time among the Bedouins, from whom he learned many of the
religious and philosophic traditions of ancient Arabia. While traveling with his uncle, Abu Taleb,
Mohammed contacted the Nestorian Christians, having encamped on a certain night near one of their
monasteries. Here the young Prophet-to-be secured much of his information concerning the origin and
doctrines of the Christian faith.
With the passing years Mohammed attained marked success in business and when about twenty-six
years old married one of his employers, a wealthy widow nearly fifteen years his senior. The widow,
Khadijah by name, was apparently somewhat mercenary, for, finding her young business manager most
efficient, she resolved to retain him in that capacity for life! Khadijah was a woman of exceptional
mentality and to her integrity and devotion must be ascribed the early success of the Islamic cause. By
his marriage Mohammed was elevated from a position of comparative poverty to one of great wealth
and power, and so exemplary was his conduct that he became known throughout Mecca as "the faithful
and true."
Mohammed would have lived and died an honored and respected Meccan had he not unhesitatingly
sacrificed both his wealth and social position in the service of the God whose voice he heard while
meditating in the cavern on Mount Hira in the month of Ramadan. Year after year Mohammed climbed
the rocky and desolate slopes of Mount Hira (since called Jebel Nur, "the Mountain of light") and here in
his loneliness cried out to God to reveal anew the pure religion of Adam, that spiritual doctrine lost to
mankind through the dissensions of religious factions. Khadijah, solicitous over her husband's ascetic
practices which were impairing his physical health, sometimes accompanied him in his weary vigil, and
with womanly intuition sensed the travail of his soul. At last one night in his fortieth year as he lay upon
the floor of the cavern, enveloped in his cloak, a great light burst upon him. Overcome with a sense of
perfect peace and understanding in the blessedness of the celestial presence, he lost consciousness.
When he came to himself again the Angel Gabriel stood before him, exhibiting a silken shawl with
mysterious characters traced upon it. From these characters Mohammed gained the basic doctrines later
embodied in the Koran. Then Gabriel spoke in a clear and wonderful voice, declaring Mohammed to be
the Prophet of the living God.
In awe and trembling, Mohammed hastened to Khadijah, fearing the vision to have been inspired by the
same evil spirits who served the pagan magicians so greatly despised by him, Khadijah
Click to enlarge
From D'Ohsson's Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman.
In the seventeenth sura of the Koran it is written that upon a certain night Mohammed was transported from the
temple at Mecca to that of Jerusalem, but no details are given of the strange journey. In the Mishk•teu ’l-
Masabih, Mohammed is made to describe his ascent through the seven heavens into the icy presence of the may-
veiled God and his subsequent return to his own bed, all in a single night. Mohammed was awakened in the night
by the Angel Gabriel, who, after removing the Prophet's heart, washed the cavity with Zamzam water, and filled
the heart itself with faith and science. A strange creature, called Alborak, or the lightning bolt, was brought for
the conveyance of the Prophet. Alborak is described as white animal of the shape and size of a mule, with the
head of a woman and the tail of a peacock. According to some versions, Mohammed merely rode Alborak to
Jerusalem, where, dismounting upon Mount Moriah, he caught hold of the lower rung of a golden ladder lowered
from heaven and, accompanied by Gabriel, ascended through the seven spheres separating he earth from the inner
surface of the empyrean. At the gate of each sphere stood me of the Patriarchs, whom Mohammed saluted as he
entered the various planes. At the gate of the first heaven stood Adam; at the gate of the second, John and Jesus
(sisters' sons); at the third, Joseph; at the fourth, Enoch; at the fifth, Aaron; at the sixth, Moses; and at the
seventh, Abraham. Another order of the Patriarchs and prophets is given which places Jesus at the gate of the
seventh heaven, and upon reaching this Point Mohammed is said to have requested Jesus to intercede for him
before the throne of God.
p. 190
assured him that his own virtuous life would be his protection and that he need fear no evil. Thus
reassured, the Prophet awaited further visitations from Gabriel. When these did not come, however, such
a despair filled his soul that he attempted self-destruction, only to be stopped in the very act of casting
himself over a cliff by the sudden reappearance of Gabriel, who again assured the Prophet that the
revelations needed by his people would be given to him as necessity arose.
Possibly as a result of his lonely periods of meditation, Mohammed seemingly was subject to ecstatic
swoons. On the occasions when the various suras of the Koran were dictated he is said to have fallen
unconscious, and, regardless of the chill of the surrounding air, to have been covered with beads of
perspiration. Often these attacks came without warning; at other times he would sit wrapped in a blanket
to prevent a chill from the copious perspiration, and while apparently unconscious would dictate the
various passages which a small circle of trusted friends would either commit to memory or reduce to
writing. On one occasion in later life when Abu Bekr referred to the gray hairs in his beard, Mohammed,
lifting the end of his beard and looking at it, declared its whiteness to be due to the physical agony
attendant upon his periods of inspiration.
If the writings attributed to Mohammed be considered as merely the hallucinations of an epileptic--and
for that reason discounted--his Christian detractors should beware lest with the doctrines of the Prophet
they also undermine the very teachings which they themselves affirm, for many of the disciples,
apostles, and saints of the early church are known to have been subject to nervous disorders.
Mohammed's first convert was his own wife, Khadijah, who was followed by other members of his
immediate family, a circumstance which moved Sir William Muir to note:
"It is strongly corroborative of Mohammed's sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were not only of
upright character, but his own bosom friends and people of his household; who, intimately acquainted
with his private life, could not fail otherwise to have detected those discrepancies which ever more or
less exist between the professions of the hypocritical deceiver abroad and his actions at: home." (See
The Life of Mohammad.)
Among the first to accept the faith of Islam was Abu Bekr, who became Mohammed's closest and most
faithful friend, in fact his alter ego. Abu Bekr, a man of brilliant attainments, contributed materially to
the success of the Prophet's enterprise, and in accord with the express wish of the Prophet became the
leader of the faithful after Mohammed's death. A’isha, the daughter of Abu Bekr, later became the wife
of Mohammed, thus still further cementing the bond of fraternity between the two men. Quietly, but
industriously, Mohammed promulgated his doctrines among a small circle of powerful friends. When
the enthusiasm of his followers finally forced his hand and he publicly announced his mission, he was
already the leader of a strong and well-organized faction. Fearing Mohammed's growing prestige, the
people of Mecca, waiving the time-honored tradition that blood could not be spilt within the holy city,
decided to exterminate Islam by assassinating the Prophet. All the different groups combined in this
undertaking so that the guilt for the crime might thereby be more evenly distributed. Discovering the
danger in time, Mohammed left his friend Ali in his bed and fled with Abu Bekr from the city, and after
adroitly eluding the Meccans, joined the main body of his followers that had preceded him to Yathrib
(afterwards called Medina). Upon this incident-called the Hegira or "flight"--is based the Islamic
chronological system.
Dating from the Hegira the power of the Prophet steadily grew until in the eighth year Mohammed
entered Mecca after practically a bloodless victory and established it as the spiritual center of his faith.
Planting his standard to the north of Mecca, he rode into the city, and after circling seven times the
sacred Caaba, ordered the 360 images within its precincts to be hewn down. He then entered the Caaba
itself, cleansed it of its idolatrous associations, and rededicated the structure to Allah, the monotheistic
God of Islam. Mohammed next granted amnesty to all his enemies for their attempts to destroy him.
Under his protection Mecca increased in power and glory, becoming the focal point of a great annual
pilgrimage, which even to this day winds across the desert in the months of pilgrimage and numbers
over threescore thousand in its train.
In the tenth year after the Hegira, Mohammed led the valedictory pilgrimage and for the last time rode at
the head of the faithful along the sacred way leading to Mecca and the Black Stone. As the premonition
of death was strong upon him, he desired this pilgrimage to be the perfect model for all the thousands
that would follow.
"Conscious that life was waning away within him," writes Washington Irving, "Mahomet, during this
last sojourn in the sacred city of his faith, sought to engrave his doctrines deeply in the minds and hearts
of his followers. For this purpose he preached frequently in the Caaba from the pulpit, or in the open air
from the back of his camel. 'Listen to my words,' would he say, 'for I know not whether, after this year,
we shall ever meet here again. Oh, my hearers, I am but a man like yourselves; the angel of death may at
any time appear, and I must obey his summons."' While thus preaching, the very heavens are said to
have opened and the voice of God spoke, saying: "This day I have perfected your religion, and
accomplished in you my grace." When these words were uttered the multitude fell down in adoration
and even Mohammed's camel knelt. (See Mahomet and His Successors.) Having completed the
valedictory pilgrimage, Mohammed returned to Medina.
In the seventh year after the Hegira (A.H. 7) an attempt was made at Kheibar to poison the Prophet. As
Mohammed took the first mouthful of the poisoned food, the evil design was revealed to him either by
the taste of the meat or, as the faithful believe, by divine intercession. He had already swallowed a small
portion of the food, however, and for the remainder of his life he suffered almost constantly from the
effects of the poison. In A.H. 11, when his final illness came upon him, Mohammed insisted that the
subtle effects of the poison were the indirect cause of his approaching end. It is related that during his
last sickness he rose one night and visited a burial ground on the outskirts of Medina, evidently
believing that he, too, would soon be numbered with the dead. At this time he told an attendant that the
choice had been offered him of continuing his physical life or going to his Lord, and that he had chosen
to meet his Maker.
Mohammed suffered greatly with his head and side and also from fever, but on June 8th seemed
convalescent. He joined his followers in prayer and, seating himself in the courtyard, delivered a lecture
to the faithful in a clear and powerful voice. Apparently he overtaxed his strength, for it was necessary
to assist him into the house of A’isha, which opened into the court of the mosque. Here upon a tough
pallet laid on the bare floor the prophet of Islam spent his last two hours on earth. When she saw that her
aged husband was suffering intense pain, A’isha--then but a girl of twenty--lifting the gray head of the
man she had known from infancy and who must have seemed more like a father than a husband,
supported him in her arms until the end. Feeling that death was upon him, Mohammed prayed: "O Lord,
I beseech Thee, assist me in the agonies of death." Then almost in a whisper he repeated three times:
"Gabriel, come close unto me." (For details consult The Life of Mohammad by Sir William Muir.) In The
Hero as Prophet, Thomas Carlyle writes thus of the death of Mohammed: "His last words were a prayer,
broken ejaculations of a heart struggling-up in trembling hope towards its Maker."
Mohammed was buried under the floor of the apartment in which he died. The present condition of the
grave is thus described:
"Above the Hujrah is a green dome, surmounted by a large gilt crescent, springing from a series of
globes. Within the building are the tombs of Muhammad, Ab• Bakr, and ’Umar, with a space reserved
for the grave of our Lord Jesus Christ, who Muslims say will again visit the earth, and die and be buried
at al-Mad•nah. The grave of F•timah, the Prophet's daughter, is supposed to be in a separate part of the
building, although some say she was buried in Baq•’. The Prophet's body is said to be stretched full
length on the right side, with the right palm supporting the right check, the face fronting Makkah. Close
behind him is placed Ab• Bakr, whose face fronts Muhammad's shoulder, and then ’Umar, who occupies
the same position with respect to his predecessor. Amongst Christian historians there is a popular story
to the effect that Muhammadans believed the coffin of their Prophet to be suspended in the air, which
has no foundation whatever in Muslim literature, and Niebuhr thinks the story must have arisen from the
rude pictures sold to strangers. (See A Dictionary of Islam.)
Concerning the character of Mohammed there have been the grossest misconceptions. No evidence
exists to support the charges of extreme cruelty and licentiousness laid at his door. On the other hand,
the more closely the life of Mohammed is scrutinized by dispassionate investigators, the more apparent
become the finer qualities of his nature. In the words of Carlyle:
"Mahomet himself, after all that can be said about him, was nor, a sensual man. We so err widely if we
consider this man as a common voluptuary, intent mainly on base enjoyments--nay, on enjoyments of
any kind. His household was of the frugalest, his common diet barley bread and water. Sometimes for
months there was not a fire once lighted on his hearth. * * * A poor, hard-working, ill-provided man;
careless of what vulgar man toiled for. * * * They called him a Prophet, you say? Why, he stood there
face to face with them; there, not enshrined in any mystery, visibly clouting his own cloak, cobbling his
own shoes, fighting, counselling, ordering in the midst of them, they must have seen what kind of a man
he was, let him be called what you like! No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak of
his own clouting."
Confused by the apparently hopeless task of reconciling the life of the Prophet with the absurd
statements long accepted as authentic, Washington Irving weighs him in the scales of fairness.
p. 191
"His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vainglory, as they would have done had they been
effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power, he maintained the same simplicity of
manners and appearances as in the days of his adversity. * * * It is this perfect abnegation of self,
connected with this apparent heartfelt piety, running throughout the various phases of his fortune, which
perplex one in forming a just estimate of Mahomet's character. * * * When he hung over the death-bed
of his infant son Ibrahim, resignation to the will of God was exhibited in his conduct under this keenest
of afflictions; and the hope of soon rejoining his child in Paradise was his consolation." (See Mahomet
and His Successors.)
A'isha, questioned after the death of the Prophet concerning his habits, replied that he mended his own
clothes, cobbled his own shoes, and helped her in the household duties. How far removed from Western
concepts of Mohammed's sanguinary character is A’isha's simple admission that he loved most of all to
sew! He also accepted the invitations of slaves and sat at meals with servants, declaring himself to be a
servant. Of all vices he hated lying the most. Before his death he freed all his slaves. He never permitted
his family to use for personal ends any of the alms or tithe money given by his people. He was fond of
sweetmeats and used rain water for drinking purposes. His time he divided into three parts, namely: the
first he gave to God, the second to his family, and the third to himself. The latter portion, however, he
later sacrificed to the service of his people. He dressed chiefly in white but also wore red, yellow, and
green. Mohammed entered Mecca wearing a black turban and
bearing a black standard. He wore only the plainest of garments, declaring that rich and conspicuous
raiment did not become the pious, and did not remove his shoes at prayer. He was particularly concerned
with the cleanliness of his teeth and at the time of his death, when too weak to speak, indicated his desire
for a toothpick. When fearful of forgetting something, the Prophet tied a thread to his ring. He once had
a very fine gold ring but, noting that his followers had taken to wearing similar rings in emulation of
him, he removed his own and threw it away lest his followers form an evil habit. (See The Life of
The most frequent, and apparently the most damaging, accusation brought against Mohammed is that of
polygamy. Those who sincerely believe the harem to be irreconcilable with spirituality should with
consistency move for the expurgation of the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon from the list
of inspired writings, for the harem of Islam's Prophet was insignificant compared with that maintained
by Israel's wisest king and the reputed favorite of the Most High! The popular conception that
Mohammed taught that woman had no soul and could attain heaven only through marriage is not
substantiated by the words and attitude of the Prophet during his lifetime. In a paper entitled The
Influence of Islam on Social Conditions, read at the World's Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, in
1893, Mohammed Webb states the charge and answers it thus:
"it has been said that Mohammed and the Koran denied a soul to woman and ranked her with the
animals. The Koran places her
Click to enlarge
Section from panorama of Mecca in D'Ohsson's Tableau Général de l'Empire Othman.
The Caaba, or cube-shaped building in the midst of the great court of the mosque at Mecca, is the most holy spot
in the Islamic world. Toward it the followers of the Prophet must face five times a day at the appointed hours of
prayer. Like the devotees of nearly all other faiths, the Mussulman originally faced the East while in prayer, but
by a later decree he was ordered to turn his face toward Mecca.
Little is known of the history of the Caaba prior to its rededication as a Mohammedan mosque, other than that the
building was a pagan temple. At the time the Prophet captured Mecca, the Caaba and surrounding court
contained 360 idols, which were destroyed by Mohammed before he actually gained access to the shrine itself.
The "Ancient House," as the Caaba is called, is an irregular cube measuring about 38 feet in length, 35 feet in
height, and 30 feet in width. The length of each side wall varies slightly and that of the end walls over a foot. In
the southeast corner of the wall at a convenient distance above the ground (about five feet) is embedded the
sacred and mysterious black stone or aerolite of Abraham. When first given to that patriarch by the Angel Gabriel
this stone was of such strong whiteness as to be visible from every part of the earth, but late, it became black
because of the sins of man. This black stone, oval in shape and about seven inches in diameter, was broken in the
seventh century and is now held together by a silver mounting.
According to tradition, 2,000 years before the creation of the world the Caaba was first constructed in heaven,
where a model of it still remains. Adam erected the Caaba on earth exactly below the spot in heaven occupied by
the original, and selected the stones from the five sacred mountains Sinai, al-Jud•, Hir•, Olivet, and Lebanon. Ten
thousand angels were appointed to guard the structure. At the time of the Deluge the sacred house was destroyed,
but afterward was rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael. (For details see A Dictionary of Islam). It is probable
that the site of the Caaba was originally occupied by a prehistoric stone altar or ring of uncut monoliths similar to
those of Stonehenge. Like the temple at Jerusalem, the Caaba has undergone many vicissitudes, and the present
structure does not antedate the seventeenth century of the Christian Era. When Mecca was sacked in A.D. 930,
the famous black stone was captured by the Carmathians, in whose possession it remained over twenty years and
it is a moot question whether the stone finally returned by them in exchange far a princely ransom was actually
the original block or a substitute.
The side of the Caaba are the supposed graves of Hagar and Ishmael, and near the door (which is about seven feet
above the ground) is the stone upon which Abraham stood while rebuilding the Caaba. Various coverings have
always been thrown over the cube-shaped structure; the present drape, which is replaced annually, is a black
brocade embroidered in a gold. Small pieces a the old drape are cherished by pilgrims as holy relics.
Entrance to the Caaba is effected by a movable flight of steps. The interior is lined with varicolored marble,
silver, and gilt. Although the building is generally conceived to be windowless, this point is disputed. Access to
the roof is had through a silver-plated door. In addition to the sacred books the Caaba contains thirteen lamps.
The great courtyard around the building contains a number of holy objects, and is bounded by a colonnade which
originally consisted of 360 pillars. Opening into the courtyard are nineteen gates, the sacred and significant
number of the Metonic Cycle and also the number of stones in the inner ring of Stonehenge. Seven great minarets
tower above the Caaba, and one of the sacred ceremonials in connection with the building includes seven
circumambulations about the central Caaba in an apparent effort to portray the motion of the celestial bodies.
p. 192
on a perfect and complete equality with man, and the Prophet's teachings often place her in a position
superior to the male in some respects." Mr. Webb justifies his stand by quoting from the thirty-fifth
verse of the thirty-third sura of the Koran:
"Verily the Moslems of either sex, and the true believers of either sex, and the devout men, and the
devout women, and the men of veracity, and the women of veracity, and the patient men, and the patient
women, and the humble men, and the humble women, and the alms-givers of either sex, and the men
who fast, and the women who fast, and the chaste men, and the chaste women, and those of either sex
who remember Allah frequently: for them hath Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward." Here the
attainment of heaven is clearly set forth as a problem whose only solution is that of individual merit.
On the day of his death Mohammed told Fatima, his beloved daughter, and Safiya, his aunt: "Work ye
out that which shall gain acceptance for you with the Lord: for I verily have no power with Him to save
you in any wise." The Prophet did not advise either woman to rely upon the virtues of her husband nor
in any manner did he indicate woman's salvation to be dependent upon the human frailty of her spouse.
Everything to the contrary notwithstanding, Mohammed is not responsible for the contradictions and
inconsistencies in the Koran, for the volume was not compiled and did not assume its present form until
over twenty years after his death. In its present state the Koran is, for the major part, a jumble of hearsay
through which occasionally shines forth an example of true inspiration. From what is known of the man
Mohammed, it is reasonable to suppose that these nobler and finer portions represent the actual doctrines
of the Prophet; the remainder are obvious interpolations, some arising from misunderstanding and others
direct forgeries calculated to satisfy the temporal ambitions of conquering Islam. On this subject,
Godfrey Higgins speaks with his usual perspicacity:
"Here we have the Koran of Mohammed and the first four sincere and zealous patriarchs, and the Koran
of the conquering and magnificent Saracens--puffed up with pride and vanity. The Koran of the eclectic
philosopher was not likely to suit the conquerors of Asia. A new one must be grafted on the old, to find a
justification for their enormities." (See Anacalypsis.)
To the discerning few it is evident that Mohammed had a knowledge of that secret doctrine which must
needs constitute the core of every great philosophical, religious, or ethical institution. Through one of
four possible avenues Mohammed may have contacted the ancient Mystery teachings: (1) through direct
contact with the Great School in the invisible world; (2) through the Nestorian Christian monks; (3)
through the mysterious holy man who appeared and disappeared at frequent intervals during the period
in which the suras of the Koran were revealed; (4) through a decadent school already existing in Arabia,
which school in spite of its lapse into idolatry still retained the secrets of the Ancient Wisdom cult. The
arcana of Islam may yet be demonstrated to have been directly founded upon the ancient pagan
Mysteries performed at the Caaba centuries before the birth of the Prophet; in fact it is generally
admitted that many of the ceremonials now embodied in the Islamic Mysteries are survivals of pagan
The feminine principle is repeatedly emphasized in Islamic symbolism. For example, Friday, which is
sacred to the planer Venus, is the Moslem's holy day; green is the color of the Prophet and, being
symbolic of verdure, is inevitably associated with the World Mother; and both the Islamic crescent and
the scimitar may be interpreted to signify the crescent shape of either the moon or Venus.
"The famous 'Stone of Cabar,' Kaaba, Cabir, or Kebir, at Mecca," says Jennings, "which is so devoutly
kissed by the Faithful, is a Talisman. It is said that the figure of Venus is seen to this day engraved upon
it with a crescent. This very Caaba itself was at first an idolatrous temple, where the Arabians
worshipped Al-Uzza (God and Issa), that is Venus." (See Kenealy's Enoch, The Second Messenger of
"The Mussulmans," writes Sir William Jones, "are already a sort of heterodox Christians: they are
Christians, if Locke reasons justly, because they firmly believe the immaculate conception, divine
character, and miracles of the MESSIAH; but they are heterodox, in denying vehemently his character of
Son, and his equality, as God, with the Father, of whose unity and attributes they entertain and express
the most awful ideas; while they consider our doctrine as perfect blasphemy, and insist that our copies of
the Scriptures have been corrupted both by Jews and Christians."
The following lines are declared by the followers of the Prophet to have been deleted from the Christian
Gospels: "And when Jesus, the Son of Mary, said, O children of Israel, verily I am the apostle of God
sent unto you, confirming the law which was delivered before me, and bringing good tidings of an
apostle who shall come after me, and whose name shall be AHMED." In the present text containing the
prophecy of Jesus concerning a comforter to come after Him, it is further claimed that the word
comforter should be translated illustrious and that it had a direct reference to Mohammed; also that the
tongues of flame that descended upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost in no way could be
interpreted as signifying the promised comforter. When asked, however, for definite proof that the
original Gospels contained these so-called expurgated references to Mohammed, the Moslems make a
counter-demand for production of the original documents upon which Christianity is founded. Until such
writings are discovered, the point under dispute must remain a source of controversy.
To ignore the heritage of culture received from Islam would be an unpardonable oversight, for when the
crescent triumphed over the cross in Southern Europe it was the harbinger of a civilization which had no
equal in its day. In Studies in a Mosque, Stanley Lane-Poole writes:
"For nearly eight centuries under her Mohammedan rulers Spain set to all Europe a shining example of a
civilized and enlightened state. * * * Art, literature and science prospered as they then prospered
nowhere else in Europe. Students flocked from France and Germany and England to drink from the
fountains of learning which flowed only in the cities of the Moors. The surgeons and doctors of
Andalusia were in the van of science; women were encouraged to devote themselves to serious study,
and a lady doctor was not unknown among the people of Cordova. Mathematics, astronomy and botany,
history, philosophy and jurisprudence, were to he mastered in Spain and in Spain alone."
The Library of Original Sources thus sums up the effects of Islam:
"The results of Mohammedism have been greatly underestimated. In the century after Mohammed's
death it wrested Asia Minor, Africa, and Spain from Christianity, more than half of the civilized world,
and established a civilization, the highest in the world during the Dark Ages. It brought the Arabian race
to their highest development, raised the position of women in the East, though it retained polygamy, was
intensively monotheistic, and until the Turks gained control for the most part encouraged progress."
In the same work, among the great Islamic scientists and philosophers who have made substantial
contributions to human knowledge are listed Gerber, or Djafer, who in the ninth century laid the
foundations for modern chemistry; Ben Musa, who in the tenth century introduced the theory of algebra;
Alhaze, who in the eleventh century made a profound study of optics and discovered the magnifying
power of convex lenses; and in the eleventh century also, both Avicenna, or Ibn Sina, whose medical
encyclopedia was the standard of his age, and the great Qabbalist Avicebron, or Ibn Gebirol.
"Looking back upon the science of the Mohammedans," resumes the authority just quoted, "it will be
seen that they laid the first foundations of chemistry, and made important advances in mathematics and
optics. Their discoveries never had the influence they should have had upon the course of European
civilization, but this was because Europe itself was not enlightened enough to grasp and make use of
them. Gerber's observation that oxidized iron weighs heavier than before oxidation had to be made over
again. So had some of their work in optics, and many of their geographical discoveries. They had
rounded Africa long before Vasco da Gama. The composition of gunpowder came into Northern Europe
from them. We must never forget that the dark ages in Christian Europe were the bright ones of the
Mohammedan world. In the field of philosophy the Arabs started by adopting the neo-Platonism they
found in Europe, and gradually working back to Aristotle."
What means the subtle mystery of the phœnix reborn every six hundred years? Faintly from within the
sanctuary of the World Mysteries is whispered the answer. Six hundred years before Christ the phœnix
of wisdom (Pythagoras?) spread its wings and died upon the altar of humanity, consumed by the
sacrificial fire. In Nazareth the bird was again reborn from its own ashes, only to die upon the tree which
had its roots in Adam's skull. In A.D. 600 appeared Ahmed (Mohammed). Again the phœnix suffered,
this time from the poison of Kheibar, and from its charred ashes rose to spread its wings across the face
of Mongolia, where in the twelfth century Genghis Khan established the rule of wisdom. Circling the
mighty desert of Gobi, the phœnix again gave up its form, which now lies buried in a glass sarcophagus
under a pyramid bearing upon it the ineffable figures of the Mysteries. After the lapse of six hundred
years from the death of Genghis Khan, did Napoleon Bonaparte--who believed himself to be the man of
destiny--contact in his wanderings this strange legend of the continual periodic rebirth of wisdom? Did
he feel the spreading wings of the phœnix within himself and did he believe the hope of the world had
taken flesh in him? The eagle on his standard may well have been the phœnix. This would explain why
he was moved to believe himself predestined to establish the kingdom of Christ on earth and is, perhaps,
the clue to his little-understood friendliness toward the Moslem.
Next: American Indian Symbolism
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 193
American Indian Symbolism
THE North American Indian is by nature a symbolist, a mystic, and a philosopher. Like most: aboriginal
peoples, his soul was en rapport with the cosmic agencies manifesting about him. Not only did his
Manidos control creation from their exalted seats above the clouds, but they also descended into the
world of men and mingled with their red children. The gray clouds hanging over the horizon were the
smoke from the calumets of the gods, who could build fires of petrified wood and use a comet for a
flame. The American Indian peopled the forests, rivers, and sky with myriads of superphysical and
invisible beings. There are legends of entire tribes of Indians who lived in lake bottoms; of races who
were never seen in the daytime but who, coming forth from their hidden caves, roamed the earth at night
and waylaid unwary travelers; also of Bat Indians, with human bodies and batlike wings, who lived in
gloomy forests and inaccessible cliffs and who slept hanging head downward from great branches and
outcroppings of rock. The red man's philosophy of elemental creatures is apparently the outcome of his
intimate contact with Nature, whose inexplicable wonders become the generating cause of such
metaphysical speculations.
In common with the early Scandinavians, the Indians of North America considered the earth (the Great
Mother) to be an intermediate plane, bounded above by a heavenly sphere (the dwelling place of the
Great Spirit) and below by a dark and terrifying subterranean world (the abode of shadows and of
submundane powers). Like the Chaldeans, they divided the interval between the surface of earth and
heaven into various strata, one consisting of clouds, another of the paths of the heavenly bodies, and so
on. The underworld was similarly divided and like the Greek system represented to the initiated the
House of the Lesser Mysteries. Those creatures capable of functioning in two or more elements were
considered as messengers between the spirits of these various planes. The abode of the dead was
presumed to be in a distant place: in the heavens above, the earth below, the distant corners of the world,
or across wide seas. Sometimes a river flows between the world of the dead and that of the living, in this
respect paralleling Egyptian, Greek, and Christian theology. To the Indian the number four has a
peculiar sanctity, presumably because the Great Spirit created His universe in a square frame. This is
suggestive of the veneration accorded the tetrad by the Pythagoreans, who held it to be a fitting symbol
of the Creator. The legendary narratives of the strange adventures of intrepid heroes who while in the
physical body penetrated the realms of the dead prove beyond question the presence of Mystery cults
among the North American red men. Wherever the Mysteries were established they were recognized as
the philosophic equivalents of death, for those passing through the rituals experienced all after-death
conditions while still in the physical body. At the consummation of the ritual the initiate actually gained
the ability to pass in and out of his physical body at will. This is the philosophic foundation for the
allegories of adventures in the Indian Shadow Land, or World of Ghosts.
"From coast to coast," writes Hartley Burr Alexander, "the sacred Calumet is the Indian's altar, and its
smoke is the proper offering to Heaven." (See Mythology of All Paces.) In the Notes on the same work is
given the following description of the pipe ceremony:
"The master of ceremonies, again rising to his feet, filled and lighted the pipe of peace from his own fire.
Drawing three whiffs, one after the other, he blew the first towards the zenith, the second towards the
ground, and the third towards the Sun. By the first act he returned thanks to the Great Spirit for the
preservation of his life during the past year, and for being permitted to be present at this council. By the
second, he returned thanks to his Mother, the Earth, for her various productions which had ministered to
his sustenance. And by the third, he returned thanks to the Sun for his never-failing light, ever shining
upon all."
It was necessary for the Indian to secure the red stone for his calumet from the pipestone quarry where in
some remote past the Great Spirit had come and, after fashioning with His own hands a great pipe, had
smoked it toward the four corners of creation and thus instituted this most sacred ceremony. Scores of
Indian tribes--some of them traveling thousands of miles--secured the sacred stone from this single
quarry, where the mandate of the Great Spirit had decreed that eternal peace should reign.
The Indian does not worship the sun; he rather regards this shining orb as an appropriate symbol of the
Great and Good Spirit who forever radiates life to his red children. In Indian symbolism the serpent--
especially the Great Serpent--corroborates other evidence pointing to the presence of the Mysteries on
the North American Continent. The flying serpent is the Atlantean token of the initiate; the seven-
headed snake represents the seven great Atlantean islands (the cities of Chibola?) and also the seven
great prehistoric schools of esoteric philosophy. Moreover, who can doubt the presence of the secret
doctrine in the Americas when he gazes upon the great serpent mound in Adams County, Ohio, where
the huge reptile is represented as disgorging the Egg of Existence? Many American Indian tribes are
reincarnationists, some are transmigrationists. They even called their children by the names supposed to
have been borne by them in a former life. There is an account of an instance where a parent by
inadvertence had given his infant the wrong name, whereupon the babe cried incessantly until the
mistake had been rectified! The belief in reincarnation is also prevalent among the Eskimos. Aged
Eskimos not infrequently kill themselves in order to reincarnate in the family of some newly married
loved one.
The American Indians recognize the difference between the ghost and the actual soul of a dead person, a
knowledge restricted to initiates of the Mysteries. In common with the Platonists they also understood
the principles of an archetypal sphere wherein exist the
Click to enlarge
From an original drawing by Hasteen Klah.
The Navaho dry or sand paintings are made by sprinkling varicolored ground pigment upon a base of smooth
sand. The one here reproduced is encircled by the rainbow goddess, and portrays an episode from the Navaho
cosmogony myth. According to Hasteen Klah, the Navaho sand priest who designed this painting, the Navahos
do not believe in idolatry, hence they make no images of their gods, but perpetuate only the mental concept of
them. Just as the gods draw pictures upon the moving clouds, so the priests make paintings on the sand, and when
the purpose of the drawing has been fulfilled it is effaced by a sweep of the hand. According to this informant,
the Zuni, Hopi, and Navaho nations had a common genesis; they all came out of the earth and then separated into
three nations.
The Navahos first emerged about 3,000 years ago at a point now called La Platte Mountain in Colorado. The four
mountains sacred to the Navahos are La Platte Mountain, Mount Taylor, Navaho Mountain, and San Francisco
Mountain. While these three nations were under the earth four mountain ranges were below with them. The
eastern mountains were white, the southern blue, the western yellow, and the northern black. The rise and fall of
these mountains caused the alternation of day and night. When the white mountains rose it was day under the
earth; when the yellow ones rose, twilight; the black mountains brought night, and the blue, dawn. Seven major
deities were recognized by the Navahos, but Hasteen Klah was unable to say whether the Indians related these
deities to the planets. Bakochiddy, one of these seven major gods, was white in color with light reddish hair and
gray eyes. His father was the sun ray and his mother the daylight. He ascended to heaven and in some respects
his life parallels that of Christ. To avenge the kidnapping of his child, Kahothsode, a fish god, caused a great
flood to arise. To escape destruction, the Zunis, Hopis, and Navahos ascended to the surface of the earth.
The sand painting here reproduced is part of the medicine series prepared far the healing of disease. In the
healing ceremony the patient is placed upon the drawing, which is made in a consecrated hogan, and all outsiders
excluded. The sacred swastika in the center of the drawing is perhaps the most nearly universal of religious
emblems and represents the four corners of the world. The two hunchback god, at the right and left assume their
appearance by reason of the great clouds borne upon their backs. In Navaho religious art, male divinities are
always shown with circular heads and female divinities with square heads.
p. 194
patterns of all forms manifesting in the earth plane, The theory of Group, or Elder, Souls having
supervision over the animal species is also shared by them. The red man's belief in guardian spirits
would have warmed the heart of Paracelsus. When they attain the importance of being protectors of
entire clans or tribes, these guardians are called totems. In some tribes impressive ceremonies mark the
occasion when the young men are sent out into the forest to fast and pray and there remain until their
guardian spirit manifests to them. Whatever creature appears thereupon becomes their peculiar genius, to
whom they appeal in time of trouble.
The outstanding hero of North American Indian folklore is Hiawatha, a name which, according to Lewis
Spence, signifies "he who seeks the wampum-belt." Hiawatha enjoys the distinction of anticipating by
several centuries the late Woodrow Wilson's cherished dream of a League of Nations. Following in the
footsteps of Schoolcraft, Longfellow confused the historical Hiawatha of the Iroquois with Manabozho,
a mythological hero of the Algonquins and Ojibwas. Hiawatha, a chief of the Iroquois, after many
reverses and disappointments, succeeded in uniting the five great nations of the Iroquois into the
"League of the Five Nations." The original purpose of the league--to abolish war by substituting councils
of arbitration--was not wholly successful, but the power of the "Silver Chain" conferred upon the
Iroquois a solidarity attained by no other confederacy of North American Indians. Hiawatha, however,
met the same opposition which has confronted every great idealist, irrespective of time or race. The
shamans turned their magic against him and, according to one legend, created an evil bird which,
swooping down from heaven, tore his only daughter to pieces before his eyes. When Hiawatha, after
accomplishing his mission, had sailed away in his self-propelled canoe along the path of the sunset, his
people realized the true greatness of their benefactor and elevated him to the dignity of a demigod. In
Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha the poet has cast the great Indian statesman in a charming setting of
magic and enchantment; yet through the maze of symbol and allegory is ever faintly visible the figure of
Hiawatha the initiate--the very personification of the red man and his philosophy.
No other sacred book sets forth so completely as the Popol Vuh the initiatory rituals of a great school of
mystical philosophy. This volume alone is sufficient to establish incontestably the philosophical
excellence of the red race.
"The Red 'Children of the Sun,'" writes James Morgan Pryse, "do not worship the One God. For them
that One God is absolutely impersonal, and all the Forces emanated from that One God are personal.
This is the exact reverse of the popular western conception of a personal God and impersonal working
forces in nature. Decide for yourself which of these beliefs is the more philosophical. These Children of
the Sun adore the Plumèd Serpent, who is the messenger of the Sun. He was the God Quetzalcoatl in
Mexico, Gucumatz in Quiché; and in Peru he was called Amaru. From the latter name comes our word
America. Amaruca is, literally translated, 'Land of the Plumèd Serpent.' The priests of this God of Peace,
from their chief centre in the Cordilleras, once ruled both Americas. All the Red men who have
remained true to the ancient religion are still under their sway. One of their strong centres was in
Guatemala, and of their Order was the author of the book called Popol Vuh. In the Quiché tongue
Gucumatz is the exact equivalent of Quetzalcoatl in the Nahuatl language; quetzal, the bird of Paradise;
coatl, serpent--'the Serpent veiled in plumes of the paradise-bird'!"
The Popol Vuh was discovered by Father Ximinez in the seventeenth century. It was translated into
French by Brasseur de Bourbourg and published in 1861. The only complete English translation is that
by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, which ran through the early files of The Word magazine and which is used
as the basis of this article. A portion of the Popol Vuh was translated into English, with extremely
valuable commentaries, by James Morgan Pryse, but unfortunately his translation was never completed.
The second book of the Popol Vuh is largely devoted to the initiatory rituals of the Quiché nation. These
ceremonials are of first importance to students of Masonic symbolism and mystical philosophy, since
they establish beyond doubt the existence of ancient and divinely instituted Mystery schools on the
American Continent.
Lewis Spence, in describing the Popol Vuh, gives a number of translations of the title of the manuscript
itself. Passing over the renditions, "The Book of the Mat" and "The Record of the Community," he
considers it likely that the correct title is "The Collection of Written Leaves," Popol signifying the
"prepared bark" and Vuh, "paper" or "book" from the verb uoch, to write. Dr. Guthrie interprets the
words Popol Vuh to mean "The Senate Book," or "The Book of the Holy Assembly"; Brasseur de
Bourbourg calls it "The Sacred Book"; and Father Ximinez designates the volume "The National Book."
In his articles on the Popol Vuh appearing in the fifteenth volume of Lucifer, James Morgan Pryse,
approaching the subject from the standpoint of the mystic, calls this work "The Book of the Azure Veil."
In the Popol Vuh itself the ancient records from which the Christianized Indian who compiled it derived
his material are referred to as "The Tale of Human Existence in the Land of Shadows, and, How Man
Saw Light and Life."
The meager available native records contain abundant evidence that the later civilizations of Central and
South America were hopelessly dominated by the black arts of their priestcrafts. In the convexities of
their magnetized mirrors the Indian sorcerers captured the intelligences of elemental beings and, gazing
into the depths of these abominable devices, eventually made the scepter subservient to the wand. Robed
in garments of sable hue, the neophytes in their search for truth were led by their sinister guides through
the confused passageways of necromancy. By the left-hand path they descended into the somber depths
of the infernal world, where they learned to endow stones with the power of speech and to subtly
ensnare the minds of men with their chants and fetishes. As typical of the perversion which prevailed,
none could achieve to the greater Mysteries until a human being had suffered immolation at his hand and
the bleeding heart of the victim had been elevated before the leering face of the stone idol fabricated by
a priestcraft the members of which realized more fully than they dared to admit the true nature of the
man-made demon. The sanguinary and indescribable rites practiced by many of the Central American
Indians may represent remnants of the later Atlantean perversion of the ancient sun Mysteries.
According to the secret tradition, it was during the later Atlantean epoch that black magic and sorcery
dominated the esoteric schools, resulting in the bloody sacrificial rites and gruesome idolatry which
ultimately overthrew the Atlantean empire and even penetrated the Aryan religious world.
The princes of Xibalba (so the Popol Vuh recounts) sent their four owl messengers to Hunhun-ahpu and
Vukub-hunhun-ahpu, ordering them to come at once to the place of initiation in the fastnesses of the
Guatemalan mountains. Failing in the tests imposed by the princes of Xibalba, the two brothers--
according to the ancient custom--paid with their lives for their shortcomings. Hunhun-ahpu and Vukub-
hunhun-ahpu were buried together, but the head of Hunhun-ahpu was placed among the branches of the
sacred calabash tree which grew in the middle of the road leading to the awful Mysteries of Xibalba.
Immediately the calabash tree covered itself with fruit and the head of Hunhun-ahpu "showed itself no
more; for it reunited itself with the other fruits of the calabash tree." Now Xquiq was the virgin daughter
of prince Cuchumaquiq. From her father she had learned of the marvelous calabash tree, and desiring to
possess some of its fruit, she journeyed alone to the somber place where it grew. When Xquiq put forth
her hand to pick the fruit of the tree, some saliva from the mouth of Hunhun-ahpu fell into it and the
head spoke to Xquiq, saying: "This saliva and froth is my posterity which I have just given you. Now
my head will cease to speak, for it is only the head of a corpse, which has no more flesh."
Following the admonitions of Hunhun-ahpu, the young girl returned to her home. Her father,
Cuchumaquiq, later discovering that she was about to become a mother, questioned her concerning the
father of her child. Xquiq replied that the child was begotten while she was gazing upon the head of
Hunhun-ahpu in the calabash tree and that she had known no man. Cuchumaquiq, refusing to believe her
story, at the instigation of the princes of Xibalba, demanded her heart in an urn. Led away by her
executioners, Xquiq pleaded with them to spare her life, which they agreed to do, substituting for her
heart the fruit of a certain tree (rubber) whose sap was red and of the consistency of blood. When the
princes of Xibalba placed the supposed heart upon the coals of the altar to be consumed, they were all
amazed by the perfume which rose therefrom, for they did not know that they were burning the fruit of a
fragrant plant.
Xquiq gave birth to twin sons, who were named Hunahpu and Xbalanque and whose lives were
dedicated to avenging the deaths of Hunhun-ahpu and Vukub-hunhun-ahpu. The years passed, and the
two boys grew up to manhood and great were their deeds. Especially did they excel in a certain game
called tennis but somewhat resembling hockey. Hearing of the prowess of the youths, the princes of
Xibalba asked: "Who, then, are those who now begin again to play over our heads, and who do not
scruple to shake (the earth)? Are not Hunhun-ahpu and Vukub-hunhun-ahpu dead, who wished
Click to enlarge
Courtesy of Alice Palmer Henderson
This curious fragment was found four feet under the ground beneath a trash pile of broken early Indian
pottery not far from the Casa Grande ruins in Arizona. It is significant because of its striking to the
Masonic compass and square. Indian baskets pottery, and blankets frequently bear ornamental designs of
especial Masonic and philosophic interest.
p. 195
to exalt themselves before our face?" So the princes of Xibalba sent for the two youths, Hunahpu and
Xbalanque, that they might destroy them also in the seven days of the Mysteries. Before departing, the
two brothers bade farewell to their grandmother, each planting in the midst of the house a cane plant,
saying that as long as the cane lived she would know that they were alive. "O, our grandmother, O, our
mother, do not weep; behold the sign of our word which remains with you. " Hunahpu and Xbalanque
then departed, each with his sabarcan (blowpipe), and for many days they journeyed along the perilous
trail, descending through tortuous ravines and along precipitous cliffs, past strange birds and boiling
springs, cowards the sanctuary of Xibalba.
The actual ordeals of the Xibalbian Mysteries were seven in number. As a preliminary the two
adventurers crossed a river of mud and then a stream of blood, accomplishing these difficult feats by
using their sabarcans as bridges. Continuing on their way, they reached a point where four roads
converged--a black road, a white road, a red road, and a green road. Now Hunahpu and Xbalanque knew
that their first test would consist of being able to discriminate between the princes of Xibalba and the
wooden effigies robed to resemble them; also that they must call each of the princes by his correct name
without having been given the information. To secure this information, Hunahpu pulled a hair from his
leg, which hair then became a strange insect called Xan; buzzing along the black road, the Xan entered
the council chamber of the princes of Xibalba and stung the leg of the figure nearest the door, which it
discovered to be a manikin. By the same artifice the second figure was proved to be of wood, but upon
stinging the third, there was an immediate response. By stinging each of the twelve assembled princes in
turn the insect thus discovered each one's name, for the princes called each other by name in discussing
the cause of the mysterious bites. Having secured the desired information in this novel manner, the
insect then flew back to Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who thus fortified, fearlessly approached the threshold
of Xibalba and presented themselves to the twelve assembled princes.
When told to adore the king, Hunahpu and Xbalanque laughed, for they knew that the figure pointed out
to them was the lifeless manikin. The young adventurers thereupon addressed the twelve princes by
name thus: "Hail, Hun-came; hail, Vukub-came; hail, Xiquiripat; hail, Cuchumaquiq; hail, Ahalpuh;
hail, Ahalcana; hail, Chamiabak; hail, Chamiaholona; hail, Quiqxic; hail, Patan; hail, Quiqre; hail,
Quiqrixqaq." When invited by the Xibalbians to seat themselves upon a great stone bench, Hunahpu and
Xbalanque declined to do so, declaring that they well knew the stone to be heated so that they would he
burned to death if they sat upon it. The princes of Xibalba then ordered Hunahpu and Xbalanque to rest
for the night in the House of Shadows. This completed the first degree of the Xibalbian Mysteries.
The second trial was given in the House of Shadows, where to each of the candidates was brought a pine
torch and a cigar, with the injunction that both must be kept alight throughout the entire night and yet
each must be returned the next morning unconsumed. Knowing that death was the alternative to failure
in the test, the young men burnt aras-feathers in place of the pine splinters (which they closely resemble)
and also put fireflies on the tips of the cigars. Seeing the lights, those who watched felt certain that
Hunahpu and Xbalanque had fallen into the trap, but when morning came the torches and cigars were
returned to the guards unconsumed and still burning. In amazement and awe, the princes of Xibalba
gazed upon the unconsumed splinters and cigars, for never before had these been returned intact.
The third ordeal took place presumably in a cavern called the House of Spears. Here hour after hour the
youths were forced to defend themselves against the strongest and most skillful warriors armed with
spears. Hunahpu and Xbalanque pacified the spearmen, who thereupon ceased attacking them. They
then turned their attention to the second and most difficult part of the test: the production of four vases
of the rarest flowers but which they were not permitted to leave the temple to gather. Unable to pass the
guards, the two young men secured the assistance of the ants. These tiny creatures, crawling into the
gardens of the temple, brought back the blossoms so that by morning the vases were filled. When
Hunahpu and Xbalanque presented the flowers to the twelve princes, the latter, in amazement,
recognized the blossoms as having been filched from their own private gardens. In consternation, the
princes of Xibalba then counseled together how they could destroy the intrepid neophytes and forthwith
prepared for them the next ordeal.
For their fourth test, the two brothers were made to enter the House of Cold, where they remained for an
entire night. The princes of Xibalba considered the chill of the icy cavern to be unbearable and it is
described as "the abode of the frozen winds of the North." Hunahpu and Xbalanque, however, protected
themselves from the deadening influence of the frozen air by building fires of pine cones, whose warmth
caused the spirit of cold to leave the cavern so that the youths were not dead but full of life when day
dawned. Even greater than before was the amazement of the princes of Xibalba when Hunahpu and
Xbalanque again entered the Hall of Assembly in the custody of their guardians.
The fifth ordeal was also of a nocturnal nature. Hunahpu and Xbalanque were ushered into a great
chamber which was immediately filled with ferocious tigers. Here they were forced to remain
throughout the night. The young men tossed bones to the tigers, which they ground to pieces with their
strong jaws. Gazing into the House of the Tigers, the princes of Xibalba beheld the animals chewing the
bones and said one to the other: "They have at last learned (to know the power of Xibalba), and they
have given themselves up to the beasts. " But when at dawn Hunahpu and Xbalanque emerged from the
House of the Tigers unharmed, the Xibalbians
Click to enlarge
Courtesy of Alice Palmer Henderson.
The birch-bark roll is one of the most sacred possessions of an initiate of the Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine
Society, of the Ojibwas. Concerning these rolls, Colonel Carrick Mallery writes: "To persons acquainted with
secret societies, a good comparison for the Midewiwin charts would be what is called a trestleboard of a Masonic
order, which is printed and published and publicly exposed without exhibiting any secrets of the order; yet it is
net only significant, but useful to the esoteric in assistance to their memory as to the details of ceremony." A
most complete and trustworthy account of the Midewiwin is that given by W. J. Hoffman in the Seventh Annual
Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. He writes:
The Midewiwin--Society of the Mide or Shaman--consists of an indefinite number of Mide of both sexes. The
society is graded into four separate and distinct degrees, although there is a general impression prevailing even
among certain members that any degree beyond the first is practically a mere repetition. The greater power
attained by one in making advancement depends upon the fact of his having submitted to 'being shot at with the
medicine sacks' in the hands of the officiating priests. * * * It has always been customary for the Mide priests to
preserve birch-bark records, bearing delicate incised lines to represent pictorially the ground plan of the number
of degrees to which the owner is entitled. Such records or charts are sacred and are never exposed to the public
The two rectangular diagrams represent two degrees of the Mide lodge and the straight line through the center the
spiritual path, or "straight and narrow way," running through the degrees. The lines running tangent to the central
Path signify temptations, and the faces at the termini of the lines are manidos, or powerful spirits. Writing of the
Midewiwin, Schoolcraft, the great authority on the American Indian, says: "In the society of the Midewiwin the
object is to teach the higher doctrines of spiritual existence, its nature and mode of existence, and the influence it
exercises among men. It is an association of men who profess the highest knowledge known to the tribes."
According to legend, Manabozho, the great Rabbit, who was a servant of Dzhe Manido, the Good Spirit, gazing
down upon the progenitors of the Ojibwas and perceiving them to be without spiritual knowledge, instructed an
otter in the mysteries of Midewiwin. Manabozho built a Midewigan and initiated the otter, shooting the sacred
Migis (a small shell, the sacred symbol of the Mide) into the body of the otter. He then conferred immortality
upon the animal, and entrusted to it the secrets of the Grand Medicine Society. The ceremony of initiation is
preceded by sweat baths and consists chiefly of overcoming the influences of evil manidos. The initiate is also
instructed in the art of healing and (judging from Plate III of Mr. Hoffman's article) a knowledge of
directionalizing the forces moving through the vital centers of the human body. Though the cross is an important
symbol in the Midewiwin rites, it is noteworthy that the Mide Priests steadfastly refused to give up their religion
and be converted to Christianity.
p. 196
cried: "Of what race are those?" for they could not understand how any man could escape the tigers'
fury. Then the princes of Xibalba prepared for the two brothers a new ordeal.
The sixth test consisted of remaining from sunset to sunrise in the House of Fire. Hunahpu and
Xbalanque entered a large apartment arranged like a furnace. On every side the flames arose and the air
was stifling; so great was the heat that those who entered this chamber could survive only a few
moments. But at sunrise when the doors of the furnace were opened, Hunahpu and Xbalanque came
forth unscorched by the fury of the flames. The princes of Xibalba, perceiving how the two intrepid
youths had survived every ordeal prepared for their destruction, were filled with fear lest all the secrets
of Xibalba should fall into the hands of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. So they prepared the last ordeal, an
ordeal yet more terrible than any which had gone before, certain that the youths could not withstand this
crucial test.
The seventh ordeal took place in the House of the Bats. Here in a dark subterranean labyrinth lurked
many strange and odious creatures of destruction. Huge bars fluttered dismally through the corridors and
hung with folded wings from the carvings on the walls and ceilings. Here also dwelt Camazotz, the God
of Bats, a hideous monster with the body of a man and the wings and head of a bat. Camazotz carried a
great sword and, soaring through the gloom, decapitated with a single sweep of his blade any unwary
wanderers seeking to find their way through the terror-filled chambers. Xbalanque passed successfully
through this horrifying test, but Hunahpu, caught off his guard, was beheaded by Camazotz.
Later, Hunahpu was restored to life by magic, and the two brothers, having thus foiled every attempt
against their lives by the Xibalbians, in order to better avenge the murder of Hunhun-ahpu and Vukub-
hunhun-ahpu, permitted themselves to be burned upon a funeral pyre. Their powdered bones were then
cast into a river and immediately became two great man-fishes. Later taking upon themselves the forms
of aged wanderers, they danced for the Xibalbians and wrought strange miracles. Thus one would cut
the other to pieces and with a single word resurrect him, or they would burn houses by magic and then
instantly rebuild them. The fame of the two dancers--who were in reality Hunahpu and Xbalanque--
finally came to the notice of the twelve princes of Xibalba, who thereupon desired these two miracle-
workers to perform their strange fears before them. After Hunahpu and Xbalanque had slain the dog of
the princes and restored it to life, had burned the royal palace and instantly rebuilt it, and given other
demonstrations of their magical powers, the monarch of the Xibalbians asked the magicians to destroy
him and restore him also to life. So Hunahpu and Xbalanque slew the princes of Xibalba but did not
return them to life, thereby avenging the murder of Hunhun-ahpu and Vukub-hunhun-ahpu. These
heroes later ascended to heaven, where they became the celestial lights.
"Do not these initiations," writes Le Plongeon, "vividly recall to mind what Henoch said he saw in his
visions? That blazing house of crystal, burning hot and icy cold--that place where were the bow of fire,
the quiver of arrows, the sword of fire--that other where he had to cross the babbling stream, and the
river of fire-and those extremities of the Earth full of all kinds of huge beasts and birds--or the habitation
where appeared one of great glory sitting upon the orb of the sun--and, lastly, does not the tamarind tree
in the midst of the earth, that he was cold was the Tree of Knowledge, find its simile in the calabash tree,
in the middle of the road where those of Xibalba placed the head of Hunhun Ahpu, after sacrificing him
for having failed to support the first trial of the initiation? * * * These were the awful ordeals that the
candidates for initiation into the sacred mysteries had to pass through in Xibalba. Do they not seem an
exact counterpart of what happened in a milder form at the initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries? and
also the greater mysteries of Egypt, from which these were copied? Does not the recital of what the
candidates to the mysteries in Xibalba were required to know, before being admitted, * * * recall to
mind the wonderful similar feats said to be performed by the Mahatmas, the Brothers in India, and of
several of the passages of the book of Daniel, who had been initiated to the mysteries of the Chaldeans
or Magi which, according to Eubulus, were divided into three classes or genera, the highest being the
most learned?" (See Sacred Mysteries among the Mayas and the Quiches.)
In his introductory notes to the Popol Vuh, Dr. Guthrie presents a number of important parallelisms
between this sacred book of the Quichés and the sacred writings of other great civilizations. In the tests
through which Hunahpu and Xbalanque are forced to pass he finds the following analogy with the signs
of the zodiac as employed in the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks:
"Aries, crossing the river of mud. Taurus, crossing the river of blood. Gemini, detecting the two dummy
kings. Cancer, the House of Darkness. Leo, the House of Spears. Virgo, the House of Cold (the usual
trip to Hell). Libra, the House of Tigers (feline poise). Scorpio, the House of Fire. Sagittarius, the House
of Bats, where the God Camazotz decapitates one of the heroes. Capricorn, the burning on the scaffold
(the dual Phœnix). Aquarius, their ashes being scattered in a river. Pisces, their ashes turning into man-
fishes, and later back into human form."
It would seem more appropriate to assign the river of blood to Aries and that of mud to Taurus, and it is
not at all improbable that in the ancient form of the legend the order of the rivers was reversed. Dr.
Guthrie's most astonishing conclusion is his effort to identify Xibalba with the ancient continent of
Atlantis. He sees in the twelve princes of Xibalba the rulers of the Atlantean empire, and in the
destruction of these princes by the magic of Hunahpu and Xbalanque an allegorical depiction of the
tragic end of Atlantis. To the initiated, however, it is evident that Atlantis is simply a symbolic figure in
which is set forth the mystery of origins.
Concerned primarily with the problems of mystical anatomy, Mr. Pryse relates the various symbols
described in the Popol Vuh to the occult centers of consciousness in the human body. Accordingly, he
sees in the elastic ball the pineal gland and in Hunahpu and Xbalanque the dual electric current directed
along the spinal column. Unfortunately, Mr. Pryse did not translate that portion of the Popol Vuh dealing
directly with the initiatory ceremonial. Xibalba he considers to be the shadowy or etheric sphere which,
according to the Mystery teachings, was located within the body of the planet itself. The fourth book of
the Popol Vuh concludes with an account of the erection of a majestic temple, all white, where was
preserved a secret black divining stone, cubical in shape. Gucumatz (or Quetzalcoatl) partakes of many
of the attributes of King Solomon: the account of the temple building in the Popol Vuh is a reminder of
the story of Solomon's Temple, and undoubtedly has a similar significance. Brasseur de Bourbourg was
first attracted to the study of religious parallelisms in the Popol Vuh by the fact that the temple together
with the black stone which it contained, was named the Caabaha, a name astonishingly similar to that of
the Temple, or Caaba, which contains the sacred black stone of Islam.
The exploits of Hunahpu and Xbalanque take place before the actual creation of the human race and
therefore are to be considered essentially as spiritual mysteries. Xibalba doubtless signifies the inferior
universe of Chaldean and Pythagorean philosophy; the princes of Xibalba are the twelve Governors of
the lower universe; and the two dummies or manikins in their midst may be interpreted as the two false
signs of the ancient zodiac inserted in the heavens to make the astronomical Mysteries incomprehensible
to the profane. The descent of Hunahpu and Xbalanque into the subterranean kingdom of Xibalba by
crossing over the rivers on bridges made from their blowguns has a subtle analogy to the descent of the
spiritual nature of man into the physical body through certain superphysical channels that may be
likened to the blowguns or tubes. The sabarcan is also an appropriate emblem of the spinal cord and the
power resident within its tiny central opening. The two youths are invited to play the "Game of Life"
with the Gods of Death, and only with the aid of supernatural power imparted to them by the "Sages"
can they triumph over these gloomy lords. The tests represent the soul wandering through the sub-
zodiacal realms of the created universe; their final victory over the Lords of Death represents the
ascension of the spiritual and illumined consciousness from the tower nature which has been wholly
consumed by the fire of spiritual purification.
That the Quichés possessed the keys to the mystery of regeneration is evident from an analysis of the
symbols appearing upon the images of their priests and gods. In Vol. II of the Anales del Museo
Nacional de México is reproduced the head of an image generally considered to represent Quetzalcoatl.
The sculpturing is distinctly Oriental in character and on the crown of the head appear both the thousand-
petaled sunburst of spiritual illumination and the serpent of the liberated spinal fire. The Hindu chakra is
unmistakable and it frequently appears in the religious art of the three Americas. One of the carved
monoliths of Central America is adorned with the heads of two elephants with their drivers. No such
animals have existed in the Western Hemisphere since prehistoric times and it is evident that the
carvings are the result of contact with the distant continent of Asia. Among the Mysteries of the Central
American Indians is a remarkable doctrine concerning the consecrated mantles or, as they were called in
Europe, magic capes. Because their glory was fatal to mortal vision, the gods, when appearing to the
initiated priests, robed themselves in these mantles, Allegory and fable likewise are the mantles with
which the secret doctrine is ever enveloped. Such a magic cape of concealment is the Popol Vuh, and
deep within its folds sits the god of Quiché philosophy. The massive pyramids, temples, and monoliths
of Central America may be likened also to the feet of gods, whose upper parts are enshrouded in magic
mantles of invisibility.
Next: The Mysteries and Their Emissaries
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous Next
p. 197
The Mysteries and Their Emissaries
DID that divine knowledge which constituted the supreme possession of the pagan priestcrafts survive
the destruction of their temples? Is it yet accessible to mankind, or does it lie buried beneath the rubbish
of ages, entombed within the very sanctuaries that were once illuminated by its splendor? "In Egypt,"
writes Origen, "the philosophers have a sublime and secret knowledge respecting the nature of God.
What did Julian imply when he spoke of the secret initiations into the sacred Mysteries of the Seven-
Rayed God who lifted souls to salvation through His own nature? Who were the blessed theurgists who
understood them profundities concerning which Julian dared not speak? If this inner doctrine were
always concealed from the masses, for whom a simpler code had been devised, is it not highly probable
that the exponents of every aspect of modern civilization--philosophic, ethical, religious, and scientific-
are ignorant of the true meaning of the very theories and tenets on which their beliefs are founded? Do
the arts and sciences that the race has inherited from older nations conceal beneath their fair exterior a
mystery so great that only the most illumined intellect can grasp its import? Such is undoubtedly the case.
Albert Pike, who has gathered ample evidence of the excellence of the doctrines promulgated by the
Mysteries, supports his assertions by quoting from the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Plato,
Epictetus, Proclus, Aristophanes, and Cicero, all of whom unite in lauding the high ideals of these
institutions. From the unqualified testimony of such reputable authorities no reasonable doubt can exist
that the initiates of Greece, Egypt, and other ancient countries possessed the correct solution to those
great cultural, intellectual, moral, and social problems which in an unsolved state confront the humanity
of the twentieth century. The reader must not interpret this statement to mean that antiquity had foreseen
and analyzed every complexity of this generation, but rather that the Mysteries had evolved a method
whereby the mind was so trained in the fundamental verities of life that it was able to cope intelligently
with any emergency which might arise. Thus the reasoning faculties were organized by a simple process
of mental culture, for it was asserted that where reason reigns supreme, inconsistency cannot exist.
Wisdom, it was maintained, lifts man to the condition of Godhood, a fact which explains the enigmatical
statement that the Mysteries transformed "roaring beasts into divinities."
The preeminence of any philosophical system can be determined only by the excellence of its products.
The Mysteries have demonstrated the superiority of their culture by giving to the world minds of such
overwhelming greatness, souls of such beatific vision, and lives of such outstanding impeccability that
even after the lapse of ages the teachings of these individuals constitute the present spiritual, intellectual,
and ethical standards of the race. The initiates of the various Mystery schools of past ages form a
veritable golden chain of supermen and superwomen connecting heaven and earth. They are the links of
that Homeric "golden chain" with which Zeus boasted he could bind the several parts of the universe to
the pinnacle of Olympus. The sons and daughters of Isis are indeed an illustrious line--founders of
sciences and philosophies, patrons of arts and crafts, supporting by the transcendency of their divinely
given power the structures of world religions erected to do them homage. Founders of doctrines which
have molded the lives of uncounted generations, these Initiate-Teachers bear witness to that spiritual
culture which has always existed--and always will exist--as a divine institution in the world of men.
Those who represent an ideal beyond the comprehension of the masses must face the persecution of the
unthinking multitude who are without that divine idealism which inspires progress and those rational
faculties which unerringly sift truth from falsehood. The lot of the Initiate-Teacher is therefore almost
invariably an unhappy one. Pythagoras, crucified and his university burned; Hypatia, torn from her
chariot and rended limb from limb; Jacques de Molay, whose memory survives the consuming flame;
Savonarola, burned in the square of Florence; Galileo, forced to recant upon bended knee; Giordano
Bruno, burned by the Inquisition; Roger Bacon, compelled to carry on his experiments in the secrecy of
his cell and leave his knowledge hidden under cipher; Dante Alighieri, dying in exile from his beloved
city; Francis Bacon, patient. under the burden of persecution; Cagliostro, the most vilified man of
modern times--all this illustrious line bear unending witness of man's inhumanity to man. The world has
ever been prone to heap plaudits upon its fools and calumny upon its thinkers. Here and there notable
exceptions occur, as in the case of the Comte de St.-Germain, a philosopher who survived his inquisitors
and through the sheer transcendency of his genius won a position of comparative immunity. But even
the illustrious Comte--whose illumined intellect merited the homage of the world--could not escape
being branded an impostor, a charlatan, and an adventurer. From this long fist of immortal men and
women who have represented the Ancient Wisdom before the world, three have been chosen as
outstanding examples for more detailed consideration: the first the most eminent woman philosopher of
all ages; the second the most maligned and persecuted man since the beginning of Christian Era; the
third the most brilliant and the most successful modern exponent of this Ancient Wisdom.
Sitting in the chair of philosophy previously occupied by her father, Theon the mathematician, the
immortal Hypatia was for many years the central figure in the Alexandrian School of Neo-Platonism.
Famed alike for the depth of her learning and the charm of her person, beloved by the citizens of
Alexandria, and frequently consulted by the magistrates of that city, this noble woman stands out from
Click to enlarge
From Vænius' Theatro Moral de la Vida Humana.
There is legend to the effect that the Tablet of Cebes, a dialogue between Cebes and Gerundio, was based upon
an ancient table set up in the Temple of Kronos at Athens or Thebes which depicted the entire progress of human
life. The author of the Tablet of Cebes was a disciple of Socrates, and lived about 390 B.C. The world is
represented as a great mountain. Out of the earth at the base of it come he myriads of human creatures who climb
upward in search of truth and immortality. Above the clouds which conceal the summit of the mountain is the
goal of human attainment--true happiness. The figures and groups are arranged as follows: (1) the door of the
wall of life; (2) the Genius or Intelligence; (3) deceit (4) opinions, desires, and pleasures; (5) fortune; (6) the
strong; (7) venery, insatiability, flattery; (8) sorrow; (9) sadness; (10) misery; (11) grief, (12) rage or despair; (13)
the house of misfortune; (14) penitence; (15) true opinion; (16) false opinion; (17) false doctrine; (18) poets,
orators, geometers, et. al.; (19) incontinence, sexual indulgence, and opinion; (20) the road of the true doctrine
(21) continence and patience; (22) the true doctrine; (23) truth and persuasion; (24) science and the virtues; (25)
happiness, (26) the highest (first) pleasure of the wise man; (27) the lazy and the strays.
p. 198
pages of history as the greatest of the pagan martyrs. A personal disciple of the magician Plutarch, and
versed in the profundities of the Platonic School, Hypatia eclipsed in argument and public esteem every
proponent of the Christian doctrines in Northern Egypt. While her writings perished at the time of the
burning of the library of Alexandria by the Mohammedans, some hint of their nature may be gleaned
from the statements of contemporaneous authors. Hypatia evidently wrote a commentary on the
Arithmetic of Diophantus, another on the Astronomical Canon of Ptolemy, and a third on the Conics of
Apollonius of Perga. Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais, her devoted friend, wrote to Hypatia for assistance
in the construction of an astrolabe and a hydroscope. Recognizing the transcendency of her intellect, the
learned of many nations flocked to the academy where she lectured.
A number of writers have credited the teachings of Hypatia with being Christian in spirit; in fact she
removed the veil of mystery in which the new cult had enshrouded itself, discoursing with such clarity
upon its most involved principles that many newly converted to the Christian faith deserted it to become
her disciples. Hypatia not only proved conclusively the pagan origin of the Christian faith but also
exposed the purported miracles then advanced by the Christians as tokens of divine preference by
demonstrating the natural laws controlling the phenomena.
At this time Cyril--later to be renowned as the founder of the doctrine of the Christian Trinity and
canonized for his zeal--was Bishop of Alexandria. Seeing in Hypatia a continual menace to the
promulgation of the Christian faith, Cyril--indirectly at least--was the cause of her tragic end. Despite
every later effort to exonerate him from the stigma of her murder, the incontrovertible fact remains that
he made no effort to avert the foul and brutal crime. The only shred of excuse which might be offered in
his defense is that, blinded by the spell of fanaticism, Cyril considered Hypatia to be a sorceress in
league with the Devil. In contrast to the otherwise general excellence of the literary works of Charles
Kingsley maybe noted his puerile delineation of character of Hypatia in his book by that name. Without
exception, the meager historical references to this virgin philosopher attest her virtue, integrity, and
absolute devotion to the principles of Truth and Right.
While it is true that the best minds of the Christianity of that period may readily be absolved from the
charge of participes criminis, the implacable hatred of Cyril unquestionably communicated itself to the
more fanatical members of his faith, particularly to a group of monks from the Nitrian desert. Led by
Peter the Reader, a savage and illiterate man, they attacked Hypatia on the open street as she was
passing from the academy to her home. Dragging the defenseless woman from her chariot, they took her
to the Cæsarean Church. Tearing away her garments, they pounded her to death with clubs, after which
they scraped the flesh from her bones with oyster shells and carried the mutilated remains to a place
called Cindron, where they burned them to ashes.
Thus perished in A.D. 415 the greatest woman initiate of the ancient world, and with her fell also the
Neo-Platonic School of Alexandria. The memory of Hypatia has probably been perpetuated in the
hagiolatry of the Roman Catholic Church in the person of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
The "divine" Cagliostro, one moment the idol of Paris, the next a lonely prisoner in a dungeon of the
Inquisition, passed like a meteor across the face of France. According to his memoirs written by him
during his confinement in the Bastille, Alessandro Cagliostro was born in Malta of a noble but unknown
family. He was reared and educated in Arabia under the tutelage of Altotas, a man well versed in several
branches of philosophy and science and also a master of the transcendental arts. While Cagliostro's
biographers generally ridicule this account, they utterly fail to advance in its stead any logical solution
for the source of his magnificent store of arcane knowledge.
Branded as an impostor and a charlatan, his miracles declared to be legerdemain, and his very generosity
suspected of an ulterior motive, the Comte di Cagliostro is undoubtedly the most calumniated man in
modem history. "The mistrust," writes W. H. K. Trowbridge, "that mystery and magic always inspire
made Cagliostro with his fantastic personality an easy target for calumny. After having been riddled
with abuse till he was unrecognizable, prejudice, the foster child of calumny, proceeded to lynch him, so
to speak. For over one hundred years his character has dangled on the gibbet of infamy, upon which the
sbirri of tradition have inscribed a curse on any one who shall attempt to cut him down. His fate has
been his fame. He is remembered in history, not so much for anything he did, as for what was done to
him." (See Cagliostro, the Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic.)
According to popular belief Cagliostro's real name was Giuseppe Balsamo, and he was a Sicilian by
birth. Within recent years, however, doubts have arisen as to whether this belief is in accord with the
facts. It may yet be proved that in part, at least, the tirades of abuse heaped upon the unfortunate Comte
have been directed against the wrong man. Giuseppe Balsamo was born in 1743 of honest but humble
parentage. From boyhood he exhibited selfish, worthless, and even criminal tendencies, and after a
series of escapades disappeared. Trowbridge(loc. cit.) presents ample proof that Cagliostro was not
Giuseppe Balsamo, thus disposing of the worst accusation against him. After six months' imprisonment
in the Bastille, on his trial Cagliostro was exonerated from any implication in the theft of the famous
"Queen's Necklace," and later the fact was established that he had actually warned Cardinal de Rohan of
the intended crime. Despite the fact, however, that he was discharged as innocent by the French trial
court, a deliberate effort to vilify Cagliostro was made by an artist--more talented than intelligent--who
painted a picture showing him holding the fatal necklace in his hand. The trial of Cagliostro has been
called the prologue of the French Revolution. The smoldering animosity against Marie Antoinette and
Louis XVI engendered by this trial later burst forth as the holocaust of the Reign of Terror. In his
brochure, Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry, Henry R. Evans also ably defends this
much persecuted man against the infamies so unjustly linked with his name.
Sincere investigators of the facts surrounding the life and mysterious "death" of Cagliostro are of the
opinion that the stories circulated against him may be traced to the machinations of the Inquisition,
which in this manner sought to justify his persecution. The basic charge against Cagliostro was that he
had attempted to found a Masonic lodge in Rome--nothing more. All other accusations are of subsequent
date. For some reason undisclosed, the Pope commuted Cagliostro's sentence of death to perpetual
imprisonment. This act in itself showed the regard in which Cagliostro was held even by his enemies.
While his death is believed to have occurred several years later in an Inquisitional dungeon in the castle
of San Leo, it is highly improbable that such was the case. There are rumors that he escaped, and
according to one very significant story Cagliostro fled to India, where his talents received the
appreciation denied them in politics-ridden Europe.
After creating his Egyptian Rite, Cagliostro declared that since women had been admitted into the
ancient Mysteries there was no reason why they should be excluded from the modem orders. The
Princesse de Lamballe graciously accepted the dignity of Mistress of Honor in his secret society, and on
the evening of her initiation the most important members of the French court were present. The
brilliance of the affair attracted the attention of the Masonic lodges in Paris. Their representatives, in a
sincere desire to understand the Masonic Mysteries, chose the learned orientalist Court de Gébelin as
their spokesman, and invited Comte di Cagliostro to attend a conference to assist in clearing up a
number of important questions concerning Masonic philosophy. The Comte accepted the invitation.
On May 10, 1785, Cagliostro attended the conference called for that purpose, and his power and
simplicity immediately won for him the favorable opinion of the entire gathering. It took but a few
words for the Court de Gébelin to discover that he was talking nor only to a fellow scholar but to a man
infinitely his superior. Cagliostro immediately presented an address, which was so unexpected, so totally
different from anything ever heard before by those assembled, that all were speechless with amazement.
Cagliostro declared the Rose-Cross to be the ancient and true symbol of the Mysteries and, after a brief
description of its original symbolism, branched out into a consideration of the symbolic meaning of
letters, predicting to the assembly the future of France in a graphic manner that left no room for doubt
that the speaker was a man of insight and supernatural power. With a curious arrangement of the letters
of the alphabet, Cagliostro foretold in detail the horrors of the coming revolution and the fall of the
monarchy, describing minutely the fate of the various members of the royal family. He also prophesied
the advent of Napoleon and the rise of the First Empire. All this he did to demonstrate that which can be
accomplished by superior knowledge.
Later when arrested and sent to the Bastille, Cagliostro wrote on the wall of his cell the following cryptic
message which, when interpreted, reads: "In 1789 the besieged Bastille will on July 14th be pulled down
by you from top to bottom." Cagliostro was the mysterious agent of the Knights Templars, the
Rosicrucian initiate whose magnificent store of learning is attested by the profundity of the Egyptian
Rite of Freemasonry. Thus Comte di Cagliostro remains one of the strangest characters in history--
believed by his friends to have lived forever and to have taken part in the marriage feast of Cana, and
accused by his enemies of being the Devil incarnate! His powers of prophecy are ably described by
Alexandre Dumas in The Queen's Necklace. The world he sought to serve in his own
p. 199
strange way received him not, but has followed with relentless persecution down through the centuries
even the very memory of this illustrious adept who, unable to accomplish the great labor at hand,
stepped aside in favor of his more successful compatriot, the Comte de St-Germain.
During the early part of the eighteenth century there appeared in the diplomatic circles of Europe the
most baffling personality of history--a man whose life was so near a synonym of mystery that the
enigma of his true identity was as insolvable to his contemporaries as it has been to later investigators.
The Comte de St.-Germain was recognized as the outstanding scholar and linguist of his day. His
versatile accomplishments extended from chemistry and history to poetry and music. He played several
musical instruments with great skill and among his numerous compositions was a short opera. He was
also an artist of rare ability and the remarkably luminous effects which he created on canvas are believed
to have been the result of his mixing powdered mother-of-pearl with his pigments. He gained worldwide
distinction for his ability to reproduce in his paintings the original luster of the precious stones appearing
upon the costumes of his subjects. His linguistic proficiency verged on the supernatural. He spoke
German, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French with a Piedmontese accent, Greek, Latin,
Sanskrit, Arabic, and Chinese with such fluency that in every land he visited he was accepted as a
native. He was ambidextrous to such a degree that: he could write the same article with both hands
simultaneously. When the two pieces of paper were afterwards placed together with a light behind them,
the writing on one sheet exactly covered, letter for letter, the writing on the other.
As a historian, the Comte de St.-Germain possessed uncanny knowledge of every occurrence of the
preceding two thousand years, and in his reminiscences he described in intimate detail events of
previous centuries in which he had played important rôles. He assisted Mesmer in developing the theory
of mesmerism, and in all probability was the actual discoverer of that science. His knowledge of
chemistry was so profound that he could remove flaws from diamonds and other precious stones--a feat
which he actually performed at the request of Louis XV in 1757. He was also recognized as an art critic
without a peer and was often consulted regarding paintings accredited to the great masters. His claim to
the possession of the fabled elixir of life was home witness to by Madame de Pompadour, who
discovered, she declared, that he had presented a lady of the court with a certain priceless liquid which
had had the effect of preserving her youthful vivacity and beauty for over twenty-five years beyond the
normal term.
The startling accuracy of his prophetic utterances gained for him no small degree of fame. To Marie
Antoinette he predicted the fall of the French monarchy, and he was also aware of the unhappy fate of
the royal family years before the Revolution actually took place. The crowning evidence, however, of
the Comte's genius was his penetrating grasp of the political situation of Europe and the consummate
skill with which he parried the thrusts of his diplomatic adversaries. He was employed by a number of
European governments, including the French, as a secret agent, and at all times bore credentials which
gave him entrée to the most exclusive circles.
In her excellent monograph, The Comte de St.-Germain, the Secret of Kings, Mrs. Cooper-Oakley lists
the most important names under which this amazing person masqueraded between the years 1710 and
1822. "During this time," she writes, "we have M. de St.-Germain as the Marquis de Montferrat, Comte
Bellamarre or Aymar at Venice, Chevalier Schoening at Pisa, Chevalier Weldon at Milan and Leipzig,
Comte Soltikoff at Genoa and Leghorn, Graf Tzarogy at Schwalbach and Triesdorf, Prinz Ragoczy at
Dresden, and Comte de St.-Germain at Paris, The Hague, London, and St. Petersburg." It is evident that
M. de St.-Germain adopted these various names in the interests of the political secret service work
which historians have presumed to be the major mission of his life.
The Comte de St.-Germain has been described as of medium height, well proportioned in body, and of
regular and pleasing features. His complexion was somewhat swarthy and his hair dark, though often
shown powdered. He dressed simply, usually in black, but his clothes were well fitting and of the best
quality. He had apparently a mania for diamonds, which he wore not only in rings but also in his watch
and chain, his snuff box, and upon his buckles. A jeweler once estimated the value of his shoe buckles at
200,000 francs. The Comte is generally depicted as a man in middle life, entirely devoid of wrinkles and
free from any physical infirmity. He ate no meat and drank no wine, in fact seldom dined in the presence
of any second person. Although he was looked upon as a charlatan and impostor by a few nobles at the
French court, Louis XV severely reprimanded a courtier who made a disparaging remark concerning
him. The grace and dignity that characterized his conduct, together with his perfect control of every
situation, attested the innate refinement and culture of one "to the manner born." This remarkable person
also had the surprising and impressive ability to divine, even to the most minute details, the questions of
his inquisitors before they were asked. By something akin to telepathy he was also able to feel when his
presence was needed in some distant city or state, and it has even been recorded of him that he had the
astonishing habit not only of appearing in his own apartment and in those of friends without resorting to
the conventionality of the door but also of departing therefrom in a similar manner.
M. de St.-Germain's travels covered many countries. During the reign of Peter III he was in Russia and
between the years 1737 and 1742 in the court of the Shah of Persia as an honored guest. On the subject:
of his wanderings Una Birch writes: "The travels of the Comte de Saint-Germain covered a long period
of years and a great range of countries. From Persia to France and from Calcutta to Rome he was known
and respected. Horace Walpole spoke with him in London in 1745; Clive knew him in India in 1756;
Madame d'Adhémar alleges that she met him in Paris in 1789, five years after his supposed death; while
other persons pretend to have held conversations with him in the early nineteenth century. He was on
familiar and intimate terms with the crowned heads of Europe and the honoured friend of many
distinguished persons of all nationalities. He is even mentioned in the memoirs and letters of the day,
and always as a man of mystery. Frederick the Great, Voltaire, Madame de Pompadour, Rousseau,
Chatham, and Walpole, all of whom knew him personally, rivalled each other in curiosity as to his
origin. During the many decades in which he was before the world, however, no one succeeded in
discovering why he appeared as a Jacobite agent in London, as a conspirator in Petersburg, as an
alchemist and connoisseur of pictures in Paris, or as a Russian general at Naples. * * * Now and again
the curtain which shrouds his actions is drawn aside, and we are permitted to see him fiddling in the
music room at Versailles, gossiping with Horace Walpole in London, sitting in Frederick the Great's
library at Berlin, or conducting illuminist meetings in caverns by the Rhine." (See The Nineteenth
Century, January, 1908.)
The Comte de St.-Germain has been generally regarded as an important figure in early activities of the
Freemasons. Repeated efforts, however, probably with an ulterior motive, have been made to discredit
his Masonic affiliations. An example of this is the account appearing in The Secret Tradition in
Freemasonry, by Arthur Edward
Click to enlarge
From Houdon's Bust of Cagliostro.
The Comte di Cagliostro is described as a man not overly tall, but square shouldered and deep of chest. His head,
which was large, was abundantly covered with black hair combed back from his broad and noble forehead. His
eyes were black and very brilliant, and when he spoke with great feeling upon some profound subject the pupils
dilated, his eyebrows rose, and he shook his head like a maned lion. His hands and feet were small--an indication
of noble birth--and his whole bearing was one of dignity and studiousness. He was filled with energy, and could
accomplish a prodigious amount of work. He dressed somewhat fantastically, gave so freely from an
inexhaustible purse that he received the title of "Father of the Poor," accepted nothing from anyone, and
maintained himself in magnificence in a combined temple and palace in the Rue d, la Sourdière. According to his
own statement he was initiated into the Mysteries by none other than the Comte de St.-Germain. He had traveled
through all parts of the world, and in the ruins of ancient Babylon and Nineveh had discovered wise men who
understood all the secrets of human life.
p. 200
Waite. This author, after making several rather disparaging remarks on the subject,
[paragraph continues]
amplifies his article by reproducing an engraving of the wrong Comte de St.-Germain, apparently being
unable to distinguish between the great illuminist and the French general. It will yet be established
beyond all doubt that the Comte de St.-Germain was both a Mason and a Templar; in fact the memoirs
of Cagliostro contain a direct statement of his initiation into the order of the Knights Templars at the
hands of St.-Germain. Many of the illustrious personages with whom the Comte de St.-Germain
associated were high Masons, and sufficient memoranda have been preserved concerning the discussions
which they held to prove that he was a master of Freemasonic lore. It is also reasonably certain that he
was connected with the Rosicrucians--possibly having been the actual head of that order.
The Comte de St.-Germain was thoroughly conversant with the principles of Oriental esotericism. He
practiced the Eastern system of meditation and concentration, upon several occasions having been seen
seated with his feet crossed and hands folded in the posture of a Hindu Buddha. He had a retreat in the
heart of the Himalayas to which he retired periodically from the world. On one occasion he declared that
he would remain in India for eighty-five years and then would return to the scene of his European labors.
At various times he admitted that he was obeying the orders of a power higher and greater than himself.
What he did not say was that this superior power was the Mystery school which had sent him into the
world to accomplish a definite mission. The Comte de St.-Germain and Sir Francis Bacon are the two
greatest emissaries sent into the world by the Secret Brotherhood in the last thousand years.
E. Francis Udny, a Theosophical writer, is of the belief that the Comte de St.-Germain was not the son of
Prince Rákóczy of Transylvania, but because of his age could have been none other than the prince
himself, who was known to be of a deep philosophic and mystic nature. The same writer believes the
Comte de St.-Germain passed through the "philosophic death" as Francis Bacon in 1626, as François
Rákóczy in 1735, and as Comte de St.-Germain in 1784. He also feels that the Comte de St.-Germain
was the famous Comte de Gabalis, and as Count Hompesch was the last Grand Master of the Knights of
Malta. It is well known that many members of the European secret societies have feigned death for
various purposes. Marshal Ney, a member of the Society of Unknown Philosophers, escaped the firing
squad and under the name of Peter Stuart Ney lived and taught school for over thirty years in North
Carolina. On his deathbed, P. S. Ney told Doctor Locke, the attending physician, that he was Marshal
Ney of France.
In concluding an article on the identity of the inscrutable Comte de St.-Germain, Andrew Lang writes:
"Did Saint-Germain really die in the palace of Prince Charles of Hesse about 1780-85? Did he, on the
other hand, escape from the French prison where Grosley thought he saw him, during the French
Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? * * * Is he the mysterious Muscovite adviser of
the Dalai Lama? Who knows? He is a will-o'-the-wisp of the memoir-writers of the eighteenth century.
" (See Historical Mysteries.)
Many times the question has been asked, Was Francis Bacon's vision of the "New Atlantis" a prophetic
dream of the great civilization which was so soon to rise upon the soil of the New World? It cannot be
doubted that the secret societies of Europe conspired to establish upon the American continent "a new
nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Two
incidents in the early history of the United States evidence the influence of that silent body which has so
long guided the destinies of peoples and religions. By them nations are created as vehicles for the
promulgation of ideals, and while nations are true to these ideals they survive; when they vary from
them they vanish like the Atlantis of old which had ceased to "know the gods."
In his admirable little treatise, Our Flag, Robert Allen Campbell revives the details of an obscure, but
most important, episode of American history--the designing of the Colonial flag of 1775. The account
involves a mysterious man concerning whom no information is available other than that he was on
familiar terms with both General George Washington and Dr. Benjamin Franklin. The following
description of him is taken from Campbell's treatise:
"Little seems to have been known concerning this old gentleman; and in the materials from which this
account is compiled his name is not even once mentioned, for he is uniformly spoken of or referred to as
'the Professor.' He was evidently far beyond his threescore and ten years; and he often referred to
historical events of more than a century previous just as if he had been a living witness of their
occurrence; still he was erect, vigorous and active--hale, hearty, and clear-minded--as strong and
energetic every way as in the prime of his life He was tall, of fine figure, perfectly easy, and very
dignified in his manners; being at once courteous, gracious and commanding. He was, for those times
and considering the customs of the Colonists, very peculiar in his method of living; for he ate no flesh,
fowl or fish; he never used for food any 'green thing,' any roots or anything unripe; he drank no liquor,
wine or ale; but confined his diet to cereals and their products, fruits that were ripened on the stem in the
sun, nuts, mild tea and the sweets of honey, sugar or molasses.
"He was well educated, highly cultivated, of extensive as well as varied information, and very studious.
He spent considerable of his time in the patient and persistent conning of a number of very rare old
books and ancient manuscripts which he seemed to be deciphering, translating or rewriting. These books
and manuscripts, together with his own writings, he never showed to anyone; and he did not even
mention them in his conversations with the family, except in the most casual way; and he always locked
them up carefully in a large, old-fashioned, cubically shaped, iron-bound, heavy, oaken chest, whenever
he left his room, even for his meals. He took long and frequent walks alone, sat on the brows of the
neighboring hills, or mused in the midst of the green and flower-gemmed meadows. He was fairly
liberal--but in no way lavish--in spending his money, with which he was well supplied. He was a quiet,
though a very genial and very interesting, member of the family; and be was seemingly at home upon
any and every topic coming up in conversation. He was, in short, one whom everyone would notice and
respect, whom few would feel well acquainted with, and whom no one would presume to question
concerning himself--as to whence he came, why he tarried, or whither he journeyed. "
By something more than a mere coincidence the committee appointed by the Colonial Congress to
design a flag accepted an invitation to be guests, while in Cambridge, of the same family with which the
Professor was staying. It was here that General Washington joined them for the purpose of deciding
upon a fitting emblem. By the signs which passed between them it was evident that both General
Washington and Doctor Franklin recognized the Professor, and by unanimous approval he was invited to
become an active member of the committee. During the proceedings which followed, the Professor was
treated with the most profound respect and all of his suggestions immediately acted upon. He submitted
a pattern which he considered symbolically appropriate for the new flag, and this was unhesitatingly
accepted by the other six members of the committee, who voted that the arrangement suggested by the
Professor be forthwith adopted. After the episode of the flag the Professor quietly vanished, and nothing
further is known concerning him.
Did General Washington and Doctor Franklin recognize the Professor as an emissary of the Mystery
school which has so long controlled the political destinies of this planet? Benjamin Franklin was a
philosopher and a Freemason--possibly a Rosicrucian initiate. He and the Marquis de Lafayette--also a
man of mystery--constitute two of the most important links in the chain of circumstance that culminated
in the establishment of the original thirteen American Colonies as a free and independent nation. Doctor
Franklin's philosophic attainments are well attested in Poor Richard's Almanac, published by him for
many years under the name of Richard Saunders. His interest in the cause of Freemasonry is also shown
by his republication of Anderson's Constitutions of Freemasonry, a rare and much disputed work on the
It was during the evening of July 4, 1776, that the second of these mysterious episodes occurred. In the
old State House in Philadelphia a group of men were gathered for the momentous task of severing the
last tie between the old country and the new. It was a grave moment and not a few of those present
feared that their lives would be the forfeit for their audacity. In the midst of the debate a fierce voice
rang out. The debaters stopped and turned to look upon the stranger. Who was this man who had
suddenly appeared in their midst and transfixed them with his oratory? They had never seen him before,
none knew when he had entered, but his tall form and pale face filled them with awe. His voice ringing
with a holy zeal, the stranger stirred them to their very souls. His closing words rang through the
building: "God has given America to be free!" As the stranger sank into a chair exhausted, a wild
enthusiasm burst forth. Name after name was placed upon the parchment: the Declaration of
Independence was signed. But where was the man who had precipitated the accomplishment of this
immortal task--who had lifted for a moment the veil from the eyes of the assemblage and revealed to
them a part at least of the great purpose for which the new nation was conceived? He had disappeared,
nor was he ever seen again or his identity established. This episode parallels others of a similar kind
recorded by ancient historians attendant upon the founding of every new nation. Are they coincidences,
or do they demonstrate that the divine wisdom of the ancient Mysteries still is present in the world,
serving mankind as it did of old?
Next: Conclusion
Sacred Texts Esoteric Index Previous
p. 201
PHILIP, King of Macedon, ambitious to obtain the teacher who would be most capable of imparting the
higher branches of learning to his fourteen-year-old son, Alexander, and wishing the prince to have for
his mentor the most famous and learned of the great philosophers, decided to communicate with
Aristotle. He dispatched the following letter to the Greek sage: "PHILIP TO ARISTOTLE, HEALTH:
Know that I have a son. I render the gods many thanks; not so much for his birth, as that he was born in
your time, for I hope that being educated and instructed by you, he will become worthy of us both and
the kingdom which he shall inherit." Accepting Philip's invitation, Aristotle journeyed to Macedon in the
fourth year of the 108th Olympiad, and remained for eight years as the tutor of Alexander. The young
prince's affection for his instructor became as great as that which he felt for his father. He said that his
father had given him being, but that Aristotle had given him well-being.
The basic principles of the Ancient Wisdom were imparted to Alexander the Great by Aristotle, and at
the philosopher's feet the Macedonian youth came to realize the transcendency of Greek learning as it
was personified in Plato's immortal disciple. Elevated by his illumined teacher to the threshold of the
philosophic sphere, he beheld the world of the sages--the world that fate and the limitations of his own
soul decreed he should not conquer.
Aristotle in his leisure hours edited and annotated the Iliad of Horner and presented the finished volume
to Alexander. This book the young conqueror so highly prized that he carried it with him on all his
campaigns. At the time of his triumph over Darius, discovering among the spoils a magnificent, gem-
studded casket of unguents, he dumped its contents upon the ground, declaring that at last he had found
a case worthy of Aristotle's edition of the Iliad!
While on his Asiatic campaign, Alexander learned that Aristotle had published one of his most prized
discourses, an occurrence which deeply grieved the young king. So to Aristotle, Conqueror of the
Unknown, Alexander, Conqueror of the Known, sent this reproachful and pathetic and admission of the
insufficiency of worldly pomp and power: "ALEXANDER TO ARISTOTLE, HEALTH: You were
wrong in publishing those branches of science hitherto not to be acquired except from oral instruction. In
what shall I excel others if the more profound knowledge I gained from you be communicated to all?
For my part I had rather surpass the majority of mankind in the sublimer branches of learning, than in
extent of power and dominion. Farewell." The receipt of this amazing letter caused no ripple in the
placid life of Aristotle, who replied that although the discourse had been communicated to the
multitudes, none who had not heard him deliver the lecture (who lacked spiritual comprehension) could
understand its true import.
A few short years and Alexander the Great went the way of all flesh, and with his body crumbled the
structure of empire erected upon his personality. One year later Aristotle also passed into that greater
world concerning whose mysteries he had so often discoursed with his disciples in the Lyceum. But, as
Aristotle excelled Alexander in life, so he excelled him in death; for though his body moldered in an
obscure tomb, the great philosopher continued to live in his intellectual achievements. Age after age paid
him grateful tribute, generation after generation pondered over his theorems until by the sheer
transcendency of his rational faculties Aristotle--"the master of those who know," as Dante has called
him--became the actual conqueror of the very world which Alexander had sought to subdue with the
Thus it is demonstrated that to capture a man it is not sufficient to enslave his body--it is necessary to
enlist his reason; that to free a man it is not enough to strike the shackles from his limbs--his mind must
be liberated from bondage to his own ignorance. Physical conquest must ever fail, for, generating hatred
and dissension, it spurs the mind to the avenging of an outraged body; but all men are bound whether
willingly or unwillingly to obey that intellect in which they recognize qualities and virtues superior to
their own.
That the philosophic culture of ancient Greece, Egypt, and India excelled that of the modern, world must
be admitted by all, even by the most confirmed of modernists. The golden era of Greek æsthetics,
intellectualism, and ethics has never since been equaled. The true philosopher belongs to the most noble
order of men: the nation or race which is blessed by possession of illumined thinkers is fortunate indeed,
and its name shall be remembered for their sake. In the famous Pythagorean school at Crotona,
philosophy was regarded as indispensable to the life of man. He who did not comprehend the dignity of
the reasoning power could not properly be said to live. Therefore, when through innate perverseness a
member either voluntarily withdrew or was forcibly ejected from the philosophic fraternity, a headstone
was set up for him in the community graveyard; for he who had forsaken intellectual and ethical pursuits
to reenter the material sphere with its illusions of sense and false ambition was regarded as one dead to
the sphere of Reality. The life represented by the thraldom of the senses the Pythagoreans conceived to
be spiritual death, while they regarded death to the sense-world as spiritual life.
Philosophy bestows life in that it reveals the dignity and purpose of living. Materiality bestows death in
that it benumbs or clouds those faculties of the human soul which should be responsive to the enlivening
impulses of creative thought and ennobling virtue. How inferior to these standards of remote days are
the laws by which men live in the twentieth century! Today man, a sublime creature with infinite
capacity for self-improvement, in an effort to be true to false standards, turns from his birthright of
understanding--without realizing the consequences--and plunges into the maelstrom of material illusion.
The precious span of his earthly years he devotes to the pathetically futile effort to establish himself as
an enduring power in a realm of unenduring things. Gradually the memory of his life as a spiritual being
vanishes from his objective mind and he focuses all his partly awakened faculties upon
Click to enlarge
From an engraving by Jean Duvet.
Jean Duvet of Langres (who was born in 1485 and presumably died sometime after 1561, the year in which his
illustrations to the Apocalypse were printed in book form) was the oldest and greatest of French Renaissance
engravers. Little is known concerning Duvet beyond the fact that he was the goldsmith to the King of France. His
engravings for the Book of Revelation, executed after he had passed his seventieth year, were his masterpiece.
(For further information regarding this obscure master, consult article by William M. Ivins, Jr., in The Arts, May,
1926.) The face of John is an actual portrait of Duvet. This plate, like many others cut by Duvet, is rich in
philosophical symbolism.
p. 202
the seething beehive of industry which he has come to consider the sole actuality. From the lofty heights
of his Selfhood he slowly sinks into the gloomy depths of ephemerality. He falls to the level of the beast,
and in brutish fashion mumbles the problems arising from his all too insufficient knowledge of the
Divine Plan. Here in the lurid turmoil of a great industrial, political, commercial inferno, men writhe in
self-inflicted agony and, reaching out into the swirling mists, strive to clutch and hold the grotesque
phantoms of success and power.
Ignorant of the cause of life, ignorant of the purpose of life, ignorant of what lies beyond the mystery of
death, yet possessing within himself the answer to it all, man is willing to sacrifice the beautiful, the
true, and the good within and without upon the blood-stained altar of worldly ambition. The world of
philosophy--that beautiful garden of thought wherein the sages dwell in the bond of fraternity--fades
from view. In its place rises an empire of stone, steel, smoke, and hate-a world in which millions of
creatures potentially human scurry to and fro in the desperate effort to exist and at the same time
maintain the vast institution which they have erected and which, like some mighty, juggernaut, is
rumbling inevitably towards an unknown end. In this physical empire, which man erects in the vain
belief that he can outshine the kingdom of the celestials, everything is changed to stone, Fascinated by
the glitter of gain, man gazes at the Medusa-like face of greed and stands petrified.
In this commercial age science is concerned solely with the classification of physical knowledge and
investigation of the temporal and illusionary parts of Nature. Its so-called practical discoveries bind man
but more tightly with the bonds of physical limitation, Religion, too, has become materialistic: the
beauty and dignity of faith is measured by huge piles of masonry, by tracts of real estate, or by the
balance sheet. Philosophy which connects heaven and earth like a mighty ladder, up the rungs of which
the illumined of all ages have climbed into the living presence of Reality--even philosophy has become a
prosaic and heterogeneous mass of conflicting notions. Its beauty, its dignity, its transcendency are no
more. Like other branches of human thought, it has been made materialistic--"practical"--and its
activities so directionalized that they may also contribute their part to the erection of this modern world
of stone and steel.
In the ranks of the so-called learned there is rising up a new order of thinkers, which may best be termed
the School of the Worldly Wise Men. After arriving at the astounding conclusion that they are the
intellectual salt of the earth, these gentlemen of letters have appointed themselves the final judges of all
knowledge, both human and divine. This group affirms that all mystics must have been epileptic and
most of the saints neurotic! It declares God to be a fabrication of primitive superstition; the universe to
be intended for no particular purpose; immortality to be a figment of the imagination; and an outstanding
individuality to be but a fortuitous combination of cells! Pythagoras is asserted to have suffered from a
"bean complex"; Socrates was a notorious inebriate; St. Paul was subject to fits; Paracelsus was an
infamous quack, the Comte di Cagliostro a mountebank, and the Comte de St.-Germain the outstanding
crook of history!
What do the lofty concepts of the world's illumined saviors and sages have in common with these
stunted, distorted products of the "realism" of this century? All over the world men and women ground
down by the soulless cultural systems of today are crying out for the return of the banished age of beauty
and enlightenment--for something practical in the highest sense of the word. A few are beginning to
realize that so-called civilization in its present form is at the vanishing point; that coldness,
heartlessness, commercialism, and material efficiency are impractical, and only that which offers
opportunity for the expression of love and ideality is truly worth while. All the world is seeking
happiness, but knows not in what direction to search. Men must learn that happiness crowns the soul's
quest for understanding. Only through the realization of infinite goodness and infinite accomplishment
can the peace of the inner Self be assured. In spite of man's geocentricism, there is something in the
human mind that is reaching out to philosophy--not to this or that philosophic code, but simply to
philosophy in the broadest and fullest sense.
The great philosophic institutions of the past must rise again, for these alone can tend the veil which
divides the world of causes from that of effects. Only the Mysteries--those sacred Colleges of Wisdom--
can reveal to struggling humanity that greater and more glorious universe which is the true home of the
spiritual being called man. Modern philosophy has failed in that it has come to regard thinking as simply
an intellectual process. Materialistic thought is as hopeless a code of life as commercialism itself. The
power to think true is the savior of humanity. The mythological and historical Redeemers of every age
were all personifications of that power. He who has a little more rationality than his neighbor is a little
better than his neighbor. He who functions on a higher plane of rationality than the rest of the world is
termed the greatest thinker. He who functions on a lower plane is regarded as a barbarian. Thus
comparative rational development is the true gauge of the individual's evolutionary status.
Briefly stated, the true purpose of ancient philosophy was to discover a method whereby development of
the rational nature could be accelerated instead of awaiting the slower processes of Nature, This supreme
source of power, this attainment of knowledge, this unfolding of the god within, is concealed under the
epigrammatic statement of the philosophic life. This was the key to the Great Work, the mystery of the
Philosopher's Stone, for it meant that alchemical transmutation had been accomplished. Thus ancient
philosophy was primarily the living of a life; secondarily, an intellectual method. He alone can become a
philosopher in the highest sense who lives the philosophic life. What man lives he comes to know.
Consequently, a great philosopher is one whose threefold life--physical, mental, and spiritual--is wholly
devoted to and completely permeated by his rationality.
Man's physical, emotional, and mental natures provide environments of reciprocal benefit or detriment
to each other. Since the physical nature is the immediate environment of the mental, only that mind is
capable of rational thinking which is enthroned in a harmonious and highly refined material constitution.
Hence right action, right feeling, and right thinking are prerequisites of right knowing, and the
attainment of philosophic power is possible only to such as have harmonized their thinking with their
living. The wise have therefore declared that none can attain to the highest in the science of knowing
until first he has attained to the highest in the science of living. Philosophic power is the natural
outgrowth of the philosophic life. Just as an intense physical existence emphasizes the importance of
physical things, or just as the monastic metaphysical asceticism establishes the desirability of the ecstatic
state, so complete philosophic absorption ushers the consciousness of the thinker into the most elevated
and noble of all spheres--the pure philosophic, or rational, world.
In a civilization primarily concerned with the accomplishment of the extremes of temporal activity, the
philosopher represents an equilibrating intellect capable of estimating and guiding the cultural growth.
The establishment of the philosophic rhythm in the nature of an individual ordinarily requires from
fifteen to twenty years. During that entire period the disciples of old were constantly subjected to the
most severe discipline. Every activity of life was gradually disengaged from other interests and focalized
upon the reasoning part. In the ancient world there was another and most vital factor which entered into
the production of rational intellects and which is entirely beyond the comprehension of modern thinkers:
namely, initiation into the philosophic Mysteries. A man who had demonstrated his peculiar mental and
spiritual fitness was accepted into the body of the learned and to him was revealed that priceless heritage
of arcane lore preserved from generation to generation. This heritage of philosophic truth is the
matchless treasure of all ages, and each disciple admitted into these brotherhoods of the wise made, in
turn, his individual contribution to this store of classified knowledge.
The one hope of the world is philosophy, for all the sorrows of modern life result from the lack of a
proper philosophic code. Those who sense even in part the dignity of life cannot but realize the
shallowness apparent in the activities of this age. Well has it been said that no individual can succeed
until he has developed his philosophy of life. Neither can a race or nation attain true greatness until it
has formulated an adequate philosophy and has dedicated its existence to a policy consistent with that
philosophy. During the World War, when so-called civilization hurled one half of itself against the other
in a frenzy of hate, men ruthlessly destroyed something more precious even than human life: they
obliterated those records of human thought by which life can be intelligently directionalized. Truly did
Mohammed declare the ink of philosophers to be more precious than the blood of martyrs. Priceless
documents, invaluable records of achievement, knowledge founded on ages of patient observation and
experimentation by the elect of the earth--all were destroyed with scarcely a qualm of regret. What was
knowledge, what was truth, beauty, love, idealism, philosophy, or religion when compared to man's
desire to control an infinitesimal spot in the fields of Cosmos for an inestimably minute fragment of
time? Merely to satisfy some whim or urge of ambition man would uproot the universe, though well he
knows that in a few short years he must depart, leaving all that he has seized to posterity as an old cause
for fresh contention.
War--the irrefutable evidence of irrationality--still smolders in the hearts of men; it cannot die until
human selfishness is overcome. Armed with multifarious inventions and destructive agencies,
civilization will continue its fratricidal strife through future ages, But upon the mind of man there is
dawning a great fear--the fear that
p. 203
Click to enlarge
From Khunrath's Amphitheatrum Sapientiæ, etc.
This symbolic figure, representing the way to everlasting life, is described by Khunrath in substance as follows:
"This is the Portal of the amphitheatre of the only true and eternal Wisdom--a narrow one, indeed, but
sufficiently august, and consecrated to Jehovah. To this portal ascent is made by a mystic, indisputably
prologetic, flight of steps, set before it as shown in the picture. It consists of seven theosophic, or, rather,
philosophic steps of the Doctrine of the Faithful Sons. After ascending the steps, the path is along the way of God
the Father, either directly by inspiration or by various mediate means. According to the seven oracular laws
shining at the portal, those who are inspired divinely have the power to enter and with the eyes of the body and of
the mind, of seeing, contemplating and investigating in a Christiano-Kabalistic, divino-magical, physico-
chemical manner, the nature of the Wisdom: Goodness, and Power of the Creator; to the end that they die not
sophistically but live theosophically, and that the orthodox philosophers so created may with sincere philosophy
expound the works of the Lord, and worthily praise God who has thus blessed these friend, of God." The above
figure and description constitute one of the most remarkable expositions ever made of the appearance of the Wise
Man's House and the way by which it must be entered.
eventually civilization will destroy itself in one great cataclysmic struggle. Then must be reenacted the
eternal drama of reconstruction. Out of the ruins of the civilization which died when its idealism died,
some primitive people yet in the womb of destiny must build a new world. Foreseeing the needs of that
day, the philosophers of the ages have desired that into the structure of this new world shall be
incorporated the truest and finest of all that has gone before. It is a divine law that the sum of previous
accomplishment shall be the foundation of each new order of things. The great philosophic treasures of
humanity must be preserved. That which is superficial may he allowed to perish; that which is
fundamental and essential must remain, regardless of cost.
Two fundamental forms of ignorance were recognized by the Platonists: simple ignorance and complex
ignorance. Simple ignorance is merely lack of knowledge and is common to all creatures existing
posterior to the First Cause, which alone has perfection of knowledge. Simple ignorance is an ever-
active agent, urging the soul onward to the acquisition of knowledge. From this virginal state of
unawareness grows the desire to become aware with its resultant improvement in the mental condition.
The human intellect is ever surrounded by forms of existence beyond the estimation of its partly
developed faculties. In this realm of objects not understood is a never-failing source of mental stimuli.
Thus wisdom eventually results from the effort to cope rationally with the problem of the unknown.
In the last analysis, the Ultimate Cause alone can be denominated wise; in simpler words, only God is
good. Socrates declared knowledge, virtue, and utility to be one with the innate nature of good.
Knowledge is a condition of knowing; virtue a condition of being; utility a condition of doing.
Considering wisdom as synonymous with mental completeness, it is evident that such a state can exist
only in the Whole, for that which is less than the Whole cannot possess the fullness of the All. No part of
creation is complete; hence each part is imperfect to the extent that it falls short of entirety. Where
incompleteness is, it also follows that ignorance must be coexistent; for every part, while capable of
knowing its own Self, cannot become aware of the Self in the other parts. Philosophically considered,
growth from the standpoint of human evolution is a process proceeding from heterogeneity to
homogeneity. In time, therefore, the isolated consciousness of the individual fragments is reunited to
become the complete consciousness of the Whole. Then, and then only, is the condition of all-knowing
an absolute reality.
Thus all creatures are relatively ignorant yet relatively wise; comparatively nothing yet comparatively
all. The microscope reveals to man his significance; the telescope, his insignificance. Through the
eternities of existence man is gradually increasing in both wisdom and understanding; his ever-
expanding consciousness is including more of the external within the area of itself. Even in man's
present state of imperfection it is dawning upon his realization that he can never be truly happy until he
is perfect, and that of all the faculties contributing to his self-perfection none is equal in importance to
the rational intellect. Through the labyrinth of diversity only the illumined mind can, and must, lead the
soul into the perfect light of unity.
In addition to the simple ignorance which is the most potent factor in mental growth there exists another,
which is of a far more dangerous and subtle type. This second form, called twofold or complex
ignorance, may be briefly defined as ignorance of ignorance. Worshiping the sun, moon, and stars, and
offering sacrifices to the winds, the primitive savage sought with crude fetishes to propitiate his
unknown gods. He dwelt in a world filled with wonders which he did not understand. Now great cities
stand where once roamed the Crookboned men. Humanity no longer regards itself as primitive or
aboriginal. The spirit of wonder and awe has been succeeded by one of sophistication. Today man
worships his own accomplishments, and either relegates the immensities of time and space to the
background of his consciousness or disregards them entirely.
The twentieth century makes a fetish of civilization and is overwhelmed by its own fabrications; its gods
are of its own fashioning. Humanity has forgotten how infinitesimal, how impermanent and how
ignorant it actually is. Ptolemy has been ridiculed for conceiving the earth to be the center of the
universe, yet modern civilization is seemingly founded upon the hypothesis that the planet earth is the
most permanent and important of all the heavenly spheres,
p. 204
and that the gods from their starry thrones are fascinated by the monumental and epochal events taking
place upon this spherical ant-hill in Chaos.
From age to age men ceaselessly toil to build cities that they may rule over them with pomp and power--
as though a fillet of gold or ten million vassals could elevate man above the dignity of his own thoughts
and make the glitter of his scepter visible to the distant stars. As this tiny planet rolls along its orbit in
space, it carries with it some two billion human beings who live and die oblivious to that immeasurable
existence lying beyond the lump on which they dwell. Measured by the infinities of time and space,
what are the captains of industry or the lords of finance? If one of these plutocrats should rise until he
ruled the earth itself, what would he be but a petty despot seated on a grain of Cosmic dust?
Philosophy reveals to man his kinship with the All. It shows him that he is a brother to the suns which
dot the firmament; it lifts him from a taxpayer on a whirling atom to a citizen of Cosmos. It teaches him
that while physically bound to earth (of which his blood and bones are part), there is nevertheless within
him a spiritual power, a diviner Self, through which he is one with the symphony of the Whole.
Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing
outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He
who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-
important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality--such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance.
If the Infinite had not desired man to become wise, He would not have bestowed upon him the faculty of
knowing. If He had not intended man to become virtuous, He would not have sown within the human
heart the seeds of virtue. If He had predestined man to be limited to his narrow physical life, He would
not have equipped him with perceptions and sensibilities capable of grasping, in part at least, the
immensity of the outer universe. The criers of philosophy call all men to a comradeship of the spirit: to a
fraternity of thought: to a convocation of Selves. Philosophy invites man out of the vainness of
selfishness; out of the sorrow of ignorance and the despair of worldliness; out of the travesty of ambition
and the cruel clutches of greed; out of the red hell of hate and the cold tomb of dead idealism.
Philosophy would lead all men into the broad, calm vistas of truth, for the world of philosophy is a land
of peace where those finer qualities pent up within each human soul are given opportunity for
expression. Here men are taught the wonders of the blades of grass; each stick and stone is endowed
with speech and tells the secret of its being. All life, bathed in the radiance of understanding, becomes a
wonderful and beautiful reality. From the four corners of creation swells a mighty anthem of rejoicing,
for here in the light of philosophy is revealed the purpose of existence; the wisdom and goodness
permeating the Whole become evident to even man's imperfect intellect. Here the yearning heart of
humanity finds that companionship which draws forth from the innermost recesses of the soul that great
store of good which lies there like precious metal in some deep hidden vein.
Following the path pointed out by the wise, the seeker after truth ultimately attains to the summit of
wisdom's mount, and gazing down, beholds the panorama of life spread out before him. The cities of the
plains are but tiny specks and the horizon on every hand is obscured by the gray haze of the Unknown.
Then the soul realizes that wisdom lies in breadth of vision; that it increases in comparison to the vista.
Then as man's thoughts lift him heavenward, streets are lost in cities, cities in nations, nations in
continents, continents in the earth, the earth in space, and space in an infinite eternity, until at last but
two things remain: the Self and the goodness of God.
While man's physical body resides with him and mingles with the heedless throng, it is difficult to
conceive of man as actually inhabiting a world of his own-a world which he has discovered by lifting
himself into communion with the profundities of his own internal nature. Man may live two lives. One is
a struggle from the womb to the tomb. Its span is measured by man's own creation--time. Well may it be
called the unheeding life. The other life is from realization to infinity. It begins with understanding, its
duration is forever, and upon the plane of eternity it is consummated. This is called the philosophic life.
Philosophers are nor born nor do they die; for once having achieved the realization of immortality, they
are immortal. Having once communed with Self, they realize that within there is an immortal foundation
that will not pass away. Upon this living, vibrant base--Self--they erect a civilization which will endure
after the sun, the moon, and the stars have ceased to be. The fool lives but for today; the philosopher
lives forever.
When once the rational consciousness of man rolls away the stone and comes forth from its sepulcher, it
dies no more; for to this second or philosophic birth there is no dissolution. By this should not be
inferred physical immortality, but rather that the philosopher has learned that his physical body is no
more his true Self than the physical earth is his true world. In the realization that he and his body are
dissimilar--that though the form must perish the life will not fail--he achieves conscious immortality.
This was the immortality to which Socrates referred when he said: "Anytus and Melitus may indeed put
me to death, but they cannot injure me." To the wise, physical existence is but the outer room of the hall
of life. Swinging open the doors of this antechamber, the illumined pass into the greater and more
perfect existence. The ignorant dwell in a world bounded by time and space. To those, however, who
grasp the import and dignity of Being, these are but phantom shapes, illusions of the senses-arbitrary
limits imposed by man's ignorance upon the duration of Deity. The philosopher lives and thrills with the
realization of this duration, for to him this infinite period has been designed by the All-Wise Cause as
the time of all accomplishment.
Man is not the insignificant creature that he appears to be; his physical body is not the true measure of
his real self. The invisible nature of man is as vast as his comprehension and as measureless as his
thoughts. The fingers of his mind reach out and grasp the stars; his spirit mingles with the throbbing life
of Cosmos itself. He who has attained to the state of understanding thereby has so increased his capacity
to know that he gradually incorporates within himself the various elements of the universe. The
unknown is merely that which is yet to be included within the consciousness of the seeker. Philosophy
assists man to develop the sense of appreciation; for as it reveals the glory and the sufficiency of
knowledge, it also unfolds those latent powers and faculties whereby man is enabled to master the
secrets of the seven spheres.
From the world of physical pursuits the initiates of old called their disciples into the life of the mind and
the spirit. Throughout the ages, the Mysteries have stood at the threshold of Reality--that hypothetical
spot between noumenon and phenomenon, the Substance and the shadow. The gates of the Mysteries
stand ever ajar and those who will may pass through into the spacious domicile of spirit. The world of
philosophy lies neither to the right nor to the left, neither above nor below. Like a subtle essence
permeating all space and all substance, it is everywhere; it penetrates the innermost and the outermost
parts of all being. In every man and woman these two spheres are connected by a gate which leads from
the not-self and its concerns to the Self and its realizations. In the mystic this gate is the heart, and
through spiritualization of his emotions he contacts that more elevated plane which, once felt and
known, becomes the sum of the worth-while. In the philosopher, reason is the gate between the outer
and the inner worlds, the illumined mind bridging the chasm between the corporeal and the incorporeal.
Thus godhood is born within the one who sees, and from the concerns of men he rises to the concerns of
In this era of "practical" things men ridicule even the existence of God. They scoff at goodness while
they ponder with befuddled minds the phantasmagoria of materiality. They have forgotten the path
which leads beyond the stars. The great mystical institutions of antiquity which invited man to enter into
his divine inheritance have crumbled, and institutions of human scheming now stand where once the
ancient houses of learning rose a mystery of fluted columns and polished marble. The white-robed sages
who gave to the world its ideals of culture and beauty have gathered their robes about them and departed
from the sight of men. Nevertheless, this little earth is bathed as of old in the sunlight of its Providential
Generator. Wide-eyed babes still face the mysteries of physical existence. Men continue to laugh and
cry, to love and hate; Some still dream of a nobler world, a fuller life, a more perfect realization. In both
the heart and mind of man the gates which lead from mortality to immortality are still ajar. Virtue, love,
and idealism are yet the regenerators of humanity. God continues to love and guide the destinies of His
creation. The path still winds upward to accomplishment. The soul of man has not been deprived of its
wings; they are merely folded under its garment of flesh. Philosophy is ever that magic power which,
sundering the vessel of clay, releases the soul from its bondage to habit and perversion. Still as of old,
the soul released can spread its wings and soar to the very source of itself.
The criers of the Mysteries speak again, bidding all men welcome to the House of Light. The great
institution of materiality has failed. The false civilization built by man has turned, and like the monster
of Frankenstein, is destroying its creator. Religion wanders aimlessly in the maze of theological
speculation. Science batters itself impotently against the barriers of the unknown. Only transcendental
philosophy knows the path. Only the illumined reason can carry the understanding part of man upward
to the light. Only philosophy can teach man to be born well, to live well, to die well, and in perfect
measure be born again. Into this band of the elect--those who have chosen the life of knowledge, of
virtue, and of utility--the philosophers of the ages invite YOU.

From the book
by Manly P. Hall
[1928, copyright not renewed]



At 13:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been searching in google for some ideas and occasionally found your website. You truly can write and teach and inspire. Keep writing - I'll keep reading.


Post a Comment

<< Home