Alchemy and Freemasonry: Is there a Connection?

alchemical pillars

 

Both Alchemy and Freemasonry are ancient arts that relay a certain philosophy and method of personal growth, but do the similarities end there? There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether or not, Freemasonry and Alchemy are formerly linked together. However, as a student of Freemasonry and other esoteric traditions, the similarities are striking.

Alchemy is thought to have originated in Hellenistic Egypt, especially in Alexandria. It’s very possible that it goes back even further, although there is no definitive proof of this. Hermes Trismegistus is thought to be the father of alchemy and translations of The Emerald Tablet that are attributed to Hermes Trismegistus describe the alchemical process in veiled language. Most historians believe that alchemy was simply an early version of chemistry and that the ultimate goal of the alchemical process was to change lead into gold. Despite the fact that this was a procedure in alchemy that is thought to have been possible, true alchemists had a much greater work that they would strive for. The true alchemical process was to help connect the alchemist both physically and spiritually with the universe in which they resided. The process itself was not only to achieve a physical transmutation, but to also produce a mental and spiritual transformation as well. With each step of the process, the alchemist was shedding the superfluidities of life and learning to temper emotions in a pursuit of the betterment of self. The end result of this “Great Work“, was not only to extract the physical Philosopher’s Stone from the materials with which they worked, but also to extract the spiritual Philosopher’s Stone that was within their own being. This “Stone” being the perfected self, or illuminated soul. This process, like all other mystery traditions, required deep introspection of the individual and the coming to terms with inner demons and vices that keep one from their true potential.

Freemasonry has some obvious similarities with Alchemy, but may have some much deeper, symbolic connections as well. Though there is nothing definitive that ties modern Freemasonry to ancient Egypt, most Masons believe that the connection is there. Freemasonry uses many of the same systems that can be found in other Western Mystery Traditions that have their origins in ancient Egypt, and it could be said that the builders of the temples and pyramids in Egypt, may have been the first Master Masons. Like Alchemy, Freemasonry uses a series of steps, or processes to get the initiate from one point to another. The ultimate goal in Masonic Philosophy is the betterment of self, through introspection and acknowledgement of  immortality. The masonic initiate is encouraged to temper their emotions and control their vices. In this regard, the philosophy of the two traditions are on equal footing. As I have mentioned in the past, there is a strong correspondence of the Hermetic Tradition with Freemasonry as well. The Hermetic tradition being derived directly from the writings of the original alchemist, Hermes Trismegistus. Both traditions are searching for that which is hidden or lost as well. In Alchemy, it is the search for the hidden stone, or Philosopher’s Stone. In Freemasonry, it is the search for the lost word, or the Divine Name. It seems logical, on the surface, that the two traditions are similar, but does the similarity go even deeper?

As with all ancient mystery traditions, there is an exoteric aspect, and an esoteric aspect. The exoteric aspects become obvious rather quickly to the observer, but the esoteric aspects may take decades, or even lifetimes to come to light for the initiate. Alchemist and Freemason, Timothy Hogan has written extensively on alchemical symbolism that is hidden within free-masonic ritual. In his work The Alchemical Keys to Masonic Ritual, Brother Hogan goes into great detail regarding these symbolic connections. One of the key connections between Freemasonry and Alchemy is the use of metals. Metal’s importance in Alchemy is easily understood within the context. The Alchemist is made aware of the correspondence between the Seven Planets (Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun and Moon), the human body, and the Seven Metals (lead, tin, iron, copper, quicksilver/mercury, silver, and gold). Each metal is thought to have intimate connection to the planet of it’s origin and is also said to have a connection to certain essential organs in the human body.

How does this figure into Freemasonry though? Isn’t masonry about building with stone? Mysteriously, metallurgy and metal substances factor heavily in Masonic ritual and literature. Right off the bat, prior to initiation, the new candidate for masonry is divested of all metals. This is not only to remind him of the impermanence of material wealth, but more importantly it is to teach the student the concept of superfluidities and that which is lost and can be gained through trial and spiritual growth. Even though Freemasonry primarily uses the allegory of stonework, metals and metallurgy continually pop up throughout the various Masonic degrees, as well as masonic-related works.

The most intriguing connection is that of the importance of the Sun and the Moon in both Alchemy and Freemasonry. The Sun and the Moon allegorically represent the masculine and feminine principle. The Sun being the masculine and the Moon being the feminine. In Alchemy, as previously stated, the Moon is equated to silver and the Sun is equated to gold. These are the two most powerful metals in the alchemical hierarchy.  It should be no big surprise then, that the Sun and Moon (silver and gold) feature prominently in Freemasonry as well. The two Deacons (junior and senior) in the lodge setting carry wooden rods that are topped with symbols. The Junior Deacon’s rod is topped with a Moon symbol and the Senior Deacon’s rod is topped with a Sun symbol. References to the sun and moon also figure prominently into the Masonic ritual and come up time and time again.

Since both Freemasonry and Alchemy are veiled traditions that are illustrated with symbols, it is up to the individual student of these varying disciplines to explore their connections further. If you would like to know more, take a look at some of the links that I have posted below. Best of luck on your own Magnum Opus!

 

Alchemy and the Transmutation of a Freemason

Is there any connection between Alchemy and Freemasonry?

Scottish Chemistry

Alchemy in the Entered Apprentice Degree

Advertisements

The Masonic Apron

The Masonic apron is one of the most iconic symbols in Freemasonry. It is the first gift that a Brother Mason is presented with after taking their obligation. We are taught that the apron was used by our ancient, operative Brothers who labored in the quarry and served a practical use at that time. In modern Speculative Masonry, it serves a different, symbolic purpose and is to be worn in the lodge setting and is to be placed upon our lifeless physical body as we prepare to move into the next stage of our existence.

We are taught that it is the most noble badge of a Mason and that it should never become soiled or impure and is made of white lambskin. The color and substance of the apron is symbolic of the purity and innocence that we are expected to live in harmony with as a Mason.  Much of the symbolism of the apron is explained to the new Brother Mason in the form of a lecture. However, as with all Masonic symbolism, there is more to it than is originally explained.

The apron is worn in a different manors, depending on which degree the candidate is receiving. Each one is distinct and different and is explained as such in the lectures. One of the more esoteric aspects of apron symbolism is the shapes that the apron consists of. The apron has gone through various incarnation over time, but has mostly consisted of a square with a triangular flap. This is significant in itself as the apron consists of two of the most simplistic, yet important geometric shapes that are used by operative builders. These shapes are also incredibly important in all Masonic teaching. The triangle and square appear time and time again throughout all Masonic symbolism and philosophy.

The serious student of esotericism will also note that the apron is representative of the Pythagorean theorem, which Masons (both operative and speculative) hold dear to their hearts. The triangular flap has three points, the square of the main covering has four points, and when combined, there are five points. These are the four corner points of the square and the point of the triangle as it lays upon the square. This is 3, 4, 5 of the Pythagorean theorem.

The apron is also used to subdue our passions. As the apron is worn at the waist and extends downward over the sex organs, it is a reminder that we must control our lower, sexual nature and not let it rule over us in our daily lives. It is imperative to the spiritual seeker to learn to subdue this lower, animal nature to purify the soul. It is also the location of the Root Chakra that we must all learn to overcome to advance on our spiritual path.

There are many more aspects to the Masonic Apron that can be studied and meditated upon. Check out the following links for further information, and while you’re there, check out some of the other great articles that they each have to offer. Enjoy!

Masonic Apron Symbolism by Greg Stewart of masonicinformation.com

The Symbolism and Design of the Masonic Apron by phoenixmasonry.org

Entered_Apprentice_Freemason_apron

Taking the “Con” out of Conspiracy

Conspiracy_Theory

What is really going on in the world? As we all know, there are some crazy events going on in the world right now. Bombings, paranoia of terrorism, zombie apocalypses, loss of constitutional rights, chemtrails, the list goes on and on. All of the worries that an individual takes on in daily life is astronomical. Fear is the enemy of freedom and will perpetually keep us from the truth. We must cut through the muck of the various conspiracies and get to the truth within.

There is a bizarre dual-edged sword dividing two different factions of conspiracy theorists. On one side of the coin you have the religious fundamentalists, who think that anything outside of their small church community bubble is evil and sinful. Then, you have the freedom fighting, liberal contingent attempting to stand up to the evils of society. Both groups have their pros and cons and hold pertinent belief systems in one way or the other.

Though I would definitely describe myself as one of the free thinking types, I can see the points of some of the religious extremists as well. With these two sides of the coin, there is also an edge. On this edge lies the truth elements that are held within these belief systems. What that leaves is the two broad sides of the coin which hold the bulk of these systems. It is up to us as individual truth-seekers, to see through the extremist beliefs and find the truth in all of this. As a Freemason and activist, I am caught up in the undertow of the conspiracy theory. On one hand, the fundamentalist Christian sees me as a Satan-worshiping heretic. On the other, the freedom movement sees me as a part of the evil, Illuminati-fed, world domination machine.

All of this aside, I joined the Masonic fraternity out of curiosity and my hunger for the truth. I myself used to believe that Freemasonry was evil and that Masons were the scourge of the earth. However, as I grew older and wiser, I learned that to see the whole picture you must experience things. It was a leap of faith that I had to take. In Masonry, I have found a new drive to connect with my spiritual side. In seeking the Mysteries, I have found a path to truth. This is a feeling that I have never experienced before. I have realized that my place in the universe was as important as it is insignificant. I learned that the only way to find the answer is to seek it out.

This is not to say that all things about the Craft are perfect. There are and have been bad people involved in Masonry, along with all other walks of life. The Craft is not today, what it was originally intended to be. It has been watered down like all other paths to truth. This is done to turn off would-be truth seekers. This is the case with most great paths to spirituality and enlightenment. This is a defense mechanism used to ward off those who don’t have the drive to find out for themselves what is really going on. The biblical lessons taught in church are done with dry, emotionless, and dogmatic overtones. This is done to take the life out of truly inspired teachings. These teachings that were meant to liberate and show the path to peace are portrayed as rules that are enforced by a vengeful God. This is all part of the War on Human Consciousness that is taking place and has been taking place ever since the rise of the European nations and their quest for power. All of this aside, you can learn to see through the lies by gaining first-hand experience and by taking chances.

Conspiracy theories exist for a reason. They exist because there are many unanswered questions that we deal with everyday. Trusting our government gets harder to do by the day. Why are so many people out there suffering while the corporations keep raking in the bucks? Why is our economy in shambles, yet we keep going to war over and over and over again? Why is our food being tampered with? Why are our rights being taken away every single day? I don’t have the answers for these questions. No one really does. All that we can do is continue to listen to different points of view, read books, and try to avoid buying the lies. We can continue to seek the real answers. There is a “con” in every conspiracy, but there is also truth. It is up to us as truth-seekers to find our own answers. The answer is within and without everyone and everything.