What is the Philosopher’s Stone? Is it a real object? Is it just a concept?
The exact historical date of the origin of the Philosopher’s Stone is not known. However, it is thought to date back as far as ancient Egypt. It is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament and is a key ingredient to many of the Western Mystery Traditions.
Despite what we do know about it, it still remains one of the great mysteries of all time. It is thought to be a white, powdery, flaky substance, similar to silica in texture and to have magical powers and properties. It is believed to be the key to turning base-metals into gold as referred to in the tradition of alchemy. It is also thought to have healing and even anti-gravitational properties! What it truly is, is still up to interpretation and conjecture, and may very-well remain that way for eternity.
It is referred to in the Bible as “manna“,”bread” or the “white stone”, and is one of the objects said to have been carried within the Ark of the Covenant. It is the food that was given to the Israelites by God during their travels and gave them the strength to endure. It may also be the substance that the Golden Calf that Moses burnt turned into. There are mentions of manna in Exodus, and Numbers from the Old Testament. The Philosopher’s Stone may also be what is referred to as “the stone the builders rejected” found in several of the Canonical Gospels (See Parable of Matthew for example), for it is said to look like a white powder and could easily be mistaken for rubbish by the unknowing.
The search for the Philosopher’s Stone is referred to as “The Great Work”. It is not only a physical substance, but a metaphorical idea as well. Like the tradition of Freemasonry, Alchemy teaches a system of self-improvement through a process. This process is as important as the end result in that works in a linear progression. The individual, or substance being transmuted goes through important changes through the entire process and arrives at perfection at the completion. In Freemasonry, this process is exemplified by two stones. The Rough Ashlar and the Perfect Ashlar. It is explained that the Rough Ashlar is a stone in it’s rudimentary state, before any work has been done on it. The Perfect Ashlar is the perfected stone, ready for use in the building process. It has been perfected by the workman’s tools, or through a process of learning. Just as the symbolic Philosopher’s Stone is said to be made in the Alchemical tradition.
The fact that the Stone finds it’s way into so many mystical traditions is really quite intriguing. In “The Shadow of Solomon” by Laurence Gardner, he discusses some of the Philosopher’s Stones mythological powers. He believes that the Philosopher’s Stone is what is known to modern science as “orbitally rearranged monatomic elements“. This would explain some of the magical properties that it was said to have had. In “The Shadow of Solomon” It is stated that the amount of gold used in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant would weigh so much (2,714 lbs) that it would have been physically impossible for several men to carry it. His hypothesis (p.378-379 of The Shadow of Solomon) is that the gold used in the construction of the Ark may have been used as a superconductor and created an electrical field around itself (a Meissner field) on which it could essentially levitate and be transported. Of course, the people chosen to be the care-takers, and transporters of the Ark, were the Levites (where the word levitate originated). There are some clues throughout the Bible about the electrical properties of the Ark. It is said to have emitted bolts of lightning and sparks. Perhaps the Manna held within the Ark, reacted in some way with the gold of the Ark, or was used in the gold-making process for the lid, and gave the Ark it’s special powers!
The search for the Philosopher’s Stone is the true goal of the Western Mystery traditions both physically and allegorically. As we strive toward personal perfection of morality, we too are becoming elevated. Just like the Philosopher’s Stone was thought to be able to heal and transform, so can we transform our consciousness as we go through life. Just as the Philosopher’s Stone was though to be able to aid levitation, so can we rise up above the mundane and the animal passions of this world through our own “Great Work”. This is the real key to enlightenment. The ancient cultures knew this and were constantly moving toward it. We must now do the same if we hope to get ourselves out of the predicament that we are in. We too can find the Philosopher’s Stone. It is within everyone of us!