Pike now relates the Degree of the True Mason to ancient alchemist thinking, like when he wrote, “The Triangle,” says the Ritual, “represents one God in three Persons; and the great Yōd is the initial letter of the last word... There are Sciences specially connected with each of these. The one is ordinary and common; the other, mystic and secret. The World cognizable by the Intellect has the Hermetic Theology and the Kabalah; the Celestial Astrology; and that of the Elements, Chemistry, which by its decompositions and separations, effected by fire, reveals all the most hidden secrets of Nature, in the three kinds of Compound Substances. This last science is styled ‘Hermetic,’ or ‘The operating of the Great Work.‘” Enjoy my friends:
In the Degree of The True Mason [Le Vrai Maçon], styled in the title-page of its Ritual the 23d Degree of Masonry, or the 12th of the 5th class, the Tracing-board displays a luminous Triangle, with a great Yōd in the centre.
“The Triangle,” says the Ritual, “represents one God in three Persons; and the great Yōd is the initial letter of the last word.
“The Dark Circle represents the Chaos, which in the beginning God created.
“The Cross within the Circle, the Light by means whereof He developed the Chaos.
“The Square, the four Elements into which it was resolved.
“The Triangle, again, the three Principles [Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury], which the intermingling of the elements produced.
“God creates; Nature produces; Art multiplies. God created Chaos; Nature produced it; God, Nature, and Art, have perfected it.
“The Altar of Perfumes indicates the Fire that is to be applied to Nature. The two towers are the two furnaces, moist and dry, in which it is to be worked. The bowl is the mould of oak that is to inclose the philosophal egg.
“The two figures surmounted by a Cross are the two vases, Nature and Art, in which is to be consummated the double marriage of the white woman with the red Servitor, from which marriage will spring a most Potent King.
“Chaos means universal matter, formless, but susceptible of all forms. Form is the Light inclosed in the seeds of all species; and its home is in the Universal Spirit.
“To work on universal matter, use the internal and external fire: the four elements result, the Principia Principiorum and Inmediata; Fire, Air, Water, Earth. There are four qualities of these elements–the warm and dry, the cold and moist. Two appertain to each element: The dry and cold, to the Earth; the cold and moist, to Water; the moist and warm, to the Air; and the warm and dry, to Fire: whereby the Fire connects with the Earth; all the elements, as Hermes said, moving in circles.
“From the mixture of the four Elements and of their four qualities, result the three Principles,–Mercury, Sulphur, and Salt. These are the philosophical, not the vulgar.
“The philosophical Mercury is a Water and SPIRIT, which dissolves and sublimates the Sun; the philosophical Sulphur, a fire and a SOUL, which mollifies and colors it; the philosophical Salt, an Earth and a BODY, which coagulates and fixes it; and the whole is done in the bosom of the Air.
“From these three-Principles result the four Elements duplicated, or the Grand Elements, Mercury, Sulphur, Salt, and Glass; two of which are volatile,–the Water [Mercury] and the Air [Sulphur], which is oil; for all substances liquid in their nature avoid fire, which takes from the one [water] and burns the other [oil]; but the other two are dry and solid, to wit, the Salt, wherein Fire is contained, and the pure Earth, which is the Glass; on both of which the Fire has no other action than to melt and refine them, unless one makes use of the liquid alkali; for, just as each element consists of two qualities, so these great duplicated Elements partake, each of two of the simple elements, or, more properly speaking, of all the four, according to the greater or less degree of each,–the Mercury partaking more of the Water, to which it is assigned; the Oil or Sulphur, more of the Air; the Salt, of the Fire; and the Glass, of the Earth; which is found, pure and clear, in the centre of all the elementary composites, and is the last to disengage itself from the others.
“The four Elements and three Principles reside in all the Compounds, Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral; but more potently in some than in others.
“The Fire gives them Movement; the Air, Sensation; the Water, Nutriment; and the Earth, Subsistence.
“The four duplicated Elements engender THE STONE, if one is careful enough to supply them with the proper quantity of fire, and to combine them according to their natural weight. Ten parts of Air make one of Water; ten of Water, one of Earth; and ten of Earth, one of Fire; the whole by the Active Symbol of the one, and the Passive Symbol of the other, whereby the conversion of the Elements is effected.”
The Allusion of the Ritual, here, is obviously to the four Worlds of the Kabalah. The ten Sephiroth of the world Briah proceed from Malakoth, the last of the ten Emanations of the world Aziluth; the ten Sephiroth of the world Yezirah, from Malakoth of Brian; and the ten of the world Asiah, from Malakoth of Yezirah. The Pass-word of the Degree is given as Metralon, which is a corruption of METATRON, the Cherub, who and Sandalphon are in the Kabalah the Chief of the Angels. The Active and Passive Symbols are the Male and Female.
The Ritual continues:
“It is thereby evident that, in the Great Work, we must employ ten parts of philosophical Mercury to one of Sun or Moon.
“This is attained by Solution and Coagulation. These words mean that we must dissolve the body and coagulate the spirit; which operations are effected by the moist and dry bath.
“Of colors, black is the Earth; white, the Water; blue, the Air; and red, the Fire; wherein also are involved very great secrets and mysteries.
“The apparatus employed in ‘The Great Work‘ consists of the Moist bath, the Dry bath, the Vases of Nature and Art, the bowl of oak, lutum sapientiæ, the Seal of Hermes, the tube, the physical lamp, and the iron rod.
“The work is perfected in seventeen philosophical months, according to the mixture of ingredients. The benefits reaped from it are of two kinds–one affecting the soul, and the other the body. The former consist in knowing God, Nature, and ourself; and those to the body are wealth and health.
“The Initiate traverses Heaven and Earth. Heaven is the World manifest to the Intelligence, subdivided into Paradise and Hell; Earth is the World manifest to the Senses, also subdivided into the Celestial and that of the Elements.
“There are Sciences specially connected with each of these. The one is ordinary and common; the other, mystic and secret. The World cognizable by the Intellect has the Hermetic Theology and the Kabalah; the Celestial Astrology; and that of the Elements, Chemistry, which by its decompositions and separations, effected by fire, reveals all the most hidden secrets of Nature, in the three kinds of Compound Substances. This last science is styled ‘Hermetic,’ or ‘The operating of the Great Work‘” (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 782-785).
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