Pike really throws the reader for a loop. Remember our previous lessons, where he wrote about the Great Work? Well what is the Great Work? In short, it is the philosophal stone or elixir of life if you will. Just remember, philosophal is French for the philosopher’s stone, which is the Great Work, or Magnum Opus. And the elixir of life is a “mythical potion that, when drunk from a certain cup at a certain time, supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. This elixir was also said to be able to create life. Related to the myths of Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus, both of whom in various tales are said to have drunk ‘the white drops’ (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality, it is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.”Just remember, “If you would understand the true secrets of Alchemy, you must study the works of the Masters with patience and assiduity. Every word is often an enigma; and to him who reads in haste, the whole will seem absurd. Even when they seem to teach that the Great Work is the purification of the Soul, and so to deal only with morals, they most conceal their meaning, and deceive all but the Initiates.” I will not go into graphic detail other than to say that the Great Work has also been associated with semen; you can take it from there. Enjoy this most fascinating lesson from our Master sage Albert Pike:
To fix the volatile, in the Hermetic language, means to materialize the spirit; to volatilize the fixed is to spiritualize matter.
To separate the subtile from the gross, in the first operation, which is wholly internal, is to free our soul from all prejudice and all vice. This is effected by the use of the philosophical SALT, that is to say, of WISDOM; of MERCURY, that is to say, of personal aptitude and labor; and of SULPHUR, which represents the vital energy, and the ardor of the will. Thus we succeed in changing into spiritual gold such things even as are of least value, and even the foul things of the earth.
It is in this sense we are to understand the parables of the Hermetic philosophers and the prophets of Alchemy; but in their works, as in the Great Work, we must skillfully separate the subtile from the gross, the mystic from the positive, allegory from theory. If you would read them with pleasure and understandingly, you must first understand them allegorically in their entirety and then descend from allegories to realities by way of the correspondences or analogies indicated in the single dogma:
“What is above is like what is below; and what is below is like what is above.”
The treatise “Minerva Mundi,” attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, contains, under the most poetical and profound allegories, the dogma of the self-creation of beings, or of the law of creation that results from the accord of two forces, these which the Alchemists called the Fixed and the Volatile, and which are, in the Absolute, Necessity and Liberty.
When the Masters in Alchemy say that it needs but little time and expense to accomplish the works of Science. when they affirm, above all, that but a single vessel is necessary, when they speak of the Great and Single furnace, which all can use, which is within the reach of all the world, and which men possess without knowing it, they allude to the philosophical and moral Alchemy. In fact, a strong and determined will can, in a little while, attain complete independence; and we all possess that chemical instrument, the great and single athanor or furnace, which serves to separate the subtile from the gross, and the fixed from the volatile. This instrument, complete as the world, and accurate as the mathematics themselves, is designated by the Sages under the emblem of the Pentagram or Star with five points, the absolute sign of human intelligence.
The end and perfection of the Great Work is expressed, in alchemy, by a triangle surmounted by a cross: and the letter Tau, ת, the last of the Sacred alphabet, has the same meaning.
The “elementary fire,” that comes primarily by attraction, is evidently Electricity or the Electric Force, primarily developed as magnetism, and in which is perhaps the secret of life or the vital force.
Paracelsus, the great Reformer in medicine, discovered magnetism long before Mesmer, and pushed to its last consequences this luminous discovery, or rather this initiation into the magic of the ancients, who understood the grand magical agent better than we do, and did not regard the Astral Light, Azoth, the universal magnetism of the Sages, as an animal and particular fluid, emanating only from certain special beings.
The four Elements, the four symbolic animals, and the re-duplicated Principles correspond with each other, and are thus arranged by the Hermetic Masons:
The Air and Earth represent the Male Principle; and the Fire and Water belong to the Female Principle. To these four forms correspond the four following philosophical ideas.
Spirit: Matter: Movement: Repose.
Alchemy reduces these four things to three:
The Absolute: the Fixed: the Volatile.
Reason: Necessity; Liberty: are the synonyms of these three words.
As all the great Mysteries of God and the Universe are thus hidden in the Ternary, it everywhere appears in Masonry and in the Hermetic Philosophy under its mask of Alchemy. It even appears where Masons do not suspect it; to teach the doctrine of the equilibrium of Contraries, and the resultant Harmony.
The double triangle of Solomon is explained by Saint John in a remarkable manner: There are, he says, three witnesses in Heaven,–the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and three witnesses on earth,–the breath, water, and blood. He thus agrees with the Masters of the Hermetic Philosophy, who give to their Sulphur the name of Ether, to their Mercury the name of philosophical water, to their Salt that of blood of the dragon, or menstruum of the earth. The blood, or Salt, corresponds by opposition with the Father; the Azothic, or Mercurial water, with the Word, or Logos; and the breath, with the Holy Spirit. But the things of High Symbolism can be well understood only by the true children of Science.
Alchemy has its Symbolic Triad of Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury,–man consisting, according to the Hermetic philosophers, of Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Dove, the Raven, and the Phœnix are striking Symbols of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, and the Beauty resulting from the equilibrium of the two.
If you would understand the true secrets of Alchemy, you must study the works of the Masters with patience and assiduity. Every word is often an enigma; and to him who reads in haste, the whole will seem absurd. Even when they seem to teach that the Great Work is the purification of the Soul, and so to deal only with morals, they most conceal their meaning, and deceive all but the Initiates (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 790-792).
Also, if you enjoyed this blog, you might want to take a look at my other blogs, Masonry and the Three Little Pigs and Gnosismasonry, which have a variety of other Masonic topics to discover. Moreover, to get regular updates from this blog, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter. I will accept your friend request if asked.