Did you ever wonder about the goat’s head and its association to Freemasonry? Well, I have! Here we see Pike breaking down this association, “Hieroglyphically to express this law of prudence, they gave their Mercury, personified in Egypt as Hermanubis, a dog’s head; and to their Sulphur, represented by the Baphomet of the Temple, that goat’s head which brought into such disrepute the occult Mediæval associations.” In short, the god Mercury was often accompanied by a goat. There is far too much information regarding this topic to discuss here; however, if interested in reading more about Baphomet and it’s alternative meanings, click here. A fascinating play on words to confuse the profane!
But the living gold, the living sulphur, or the true fire of the philosophers, is to be sought for in the house of Mercury. This fire is fed by the air: to express its attractive and expansive power, no better comparison can be used than that of the lightning, which is at first only a dry and earthly exhalation, united to the moist vapor, but which, by self-exhalation, takes a fiery nature, acts on the humidity inherent in it, which it attracts to itself and transmutes in its nature; after which it precipitates itself rapidly toward the earth, whither it is attracted by a fixed nature like unto its own.
These words, in form enigmatic, but clear at bottom, distinctly express what the philosophers mean by their Mercury, fecundated by Sulphur, and which becomes the Master and regenerator of the Salt. It is the AZOTH, the universal magnetic force, the grand magical agent, the Astral light, the light of life, fecundated by the mental force, the intellectual energy, which they compare to sulphur, on account of its affinities with the Divine fire.
As to the Salt, it is Absolute Matter. Whatever is matter contains salt; and all salt [nitre] may be converted into pure gold by the combined action of Sulphur and Mercury, which sometimes act so rapidly, that the transmutation may be effected in an instant, in an hour, without fatigue to the operator, and almost without expense. At other times, and according to the more refractory temper of the atmospheric media, the operation requires several days, several months, and sometimes even several years.
Two primary laws exist in nature, two essential laws, which produce, by counterbalancing each other, the universal equilibrium of things. These are fixedness and movement, analogous, in philosophy, to Truth and Fiction, and, in Absolute Conception, to Necessity and Liberty, which are the very essence of Deity. The Hermetic philosophers gave the name fixed to everything ponder-able, to everything that tends by its natural to central repose and immobility; they term volatile everything that more naturally and more readily obeys the law of movement; and they form their stone by analysis, that is to say, by the volatilization of the Fixed, and then by synthesis, that is, by fixing the volatile, which they effect by applying to the fixed, which they call their salt, the sulphurated Mercury, or the light of life, directed and made omnipotent by a Sovereign Will. Thus they master entire Nature, and their stone is found wherever there is salt, which is the reason for saying that no substance is foreign to the Great Work, and that even the most despicable and apparently vile matters may be changed into gold, which is true in this sense, that they all contain the original salt-principle, represented in our emblems by the cubical stone.
To know how to extract from all matter the pure salt concealed in it, is to have the Secret of the Stone. Wherefore this is a Saline stone, which the Od or universal astral light decomposes or re-compounds: it is single and manifold; for it may be dissolved like ordinary salt, and incorporated with other substances. Obtained by analysis, we might term it the Universal Sublimate: found by way of synthesis, it is the true panacea of the ancients, for it cures all maladies of soul and body, and has been styled, par-excellence, the medicine of all nature. When one, by absolute initiation, comes to control the forces of the universal agent, he always has this stone at his disposal, for its extraction is then a simple and easy operation, very distinct from the metallic projection or realization. This stone, when in a state of sublimation, must not be exposed to contact with the atmospheric air, which might partially dissolve it and deprive it of its virtue; nor could its emanations be inhaled without danger. The Sage prefers to preserve it in its natural envelopes, assured as he is of extracting it by a single effort of his will, and a single application of the Universal Agent to the envelopes, which the Kabalists call cortices, the shells, bark, or integuments.
Hieroglyphically to express this law of prudence, they gave their Mercury, personified in Egypt as Hermanubis, a dog’s head; and to their Sulphur, represented by the Baphomet of the Temple, that goat’s head which brought into such disrepute the occult Mediæval associations (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 778-779).
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