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

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What do the five senses mean in a Masonic context?

In the Fellowcraft degree of Freemasonry, there is a lecture that follows that includes discussion of the five senses. They are so described as to their pertinence to Masonry and Masonic recognition, but have a much deeper meaning.

The five senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. These faculties assist the person in experiencing and understanding the world around them. They frame our experience of the world in a way that our brains can interpret our surroundings and make sense of all that we experience. These five senses, along with the reasoning of our minds helps us to receive data and produce feedback to our surroundings.

The five senses is only one point of many made during the lecture, but it may be the most important. As the student of the Craft learns, as they move along, the Three Degrees are a progressive science. It is this point in the Masonic education that the student becomes aware of the importance of letting go of the strong grasp of the material world and embracing the importance of the spiritual world. Our five senses are the bridge between the known of the material world, and the unknown of the spiritual world.

It is these five senses that are our bodies Graphic User Interface with reality, but just like a computer, the GUI is only part of the equation. The GUI is how the person interacts with the whole of the computer and is able to navigate usage of the machine. This is what our five senses are for our body. As materialism has a strong hold on our bodies, senses and therefore our minds, there is much more to the world and universe that cannot be understood by these five senses. This “beyond” is what the student of the Craft is tasked to explore.

The lecture of Fellowcraft degree uses a winding staircase to represent the ascent of our minds and spirits as we advance in knowledge. The five senses are explained as part of these steps. The part that may not be evident to the casual observer, is that these steps are discussed, but then passed on by. It is not so much the importance of the five senses that is the key, but the overcoming of their grasp on our consciousness. Just like our body is tethered to the earth, our minds are on in the highest point in our physical body. Like an antenna between the earth and the heavens. If we are continually held down by our attachment to the material, it is impossible to advance spiritually.

Check out the following excerpt from the book Symbolic Masonry, by H.L. Haywood for more:

The Five Senses

 

Five Senses in Freemasonry

Freemasonry and the Nazi’s

Among the many different types of victims of the Holocaust, there were many non-Jewish people that met their demise. Among them were many Freemasons. Why were the Freemasons a target of the Nazi’s? It comes down to bizarre conspiracy theories. Hitler believed that the Jews and the Freemasons owned the media and were plotting against him. Hitler also thought that Masons were secretly training men to be “Jews”. The Nazi’s used the book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as propaganda and as supposed proof of the Jewish plot to conquer the world. This work has been proven time and time again to be a hoax, but it is still being propagated by antisemitic groups to this very day. Freemasons were rounded up and put into concentration camps. They were tagged with an inverted red triangle  , the Nazi symbol for “political enemy”, which was also bestowed upon social democrats, socialists, trade unionists, communists, and anarchists.  In the linked article from The Laudable Pursuit, the history of this persecution is examined. Many good men were murdered for simply taking part in a fraternal organization. This is a tragedy that not many are aware of. Make sure to read some of the other great articles that The Laudable Pursuit has to offer as well.

Freemasonry and the Holocaust

 

inverted red triange freemason holocaust

The Philosophical Background for Masonic Symbolism

The best and most commonly used description of what Freemasonry is, is that it is  “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. The reason that this is the most popular descriptions, is because it is the most accurate description that can be given for it. What does this mean, exactly? There is no simple way to describe the degree system that the initiate goes through as part of the Masonic system. The reason for this is that the experience is meant to be trans-formative for the individual and no one person will find the same path to illumination. Freemasonry holds the keys in it’s ritual, but it is up to the individual to truly find the “light”. In the following lecture, distinguished Brother W. Kirk MacNulty discusses the philosophy in Masonic symbolism and it’s connection to other philosophical systems, such as Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism.

 

Freemasonry and Youtube

As most of you probably know, searching on Youtube for esoteric related videos can be quite the adventure. Especially when it comes to searching for Freemasonry.

A typical Youtube search for keyword “Freemasonry” or “Freemason” comes up with a bevvy of garbage. You can fall into the dark recesses of Youtube within a matter of minutes if you start watching the video links that come up. Before you know it, you are learning that Freemasons are reptilian aliens from Saturn that have infected the mind of humanity through brainwashing with their symbolism, and run everything from the film and entertainment industries, to our monetary systems and of course, all of the powerful governments of the world. You will also learn that Masons are Satanists and pedophiles and that they eat babies.

Anyone in their right mind, especially those who have studied any occult philosophies will see that these are the blind delusions of the horribly misinformed and under-educated. The sad part is, many people believe these theories and it has caused lasting damage to The Craft. Many prospective Masons may never join if they start their search by watching these videos.

This being said, I thought that I would list a few Youtube channels and videos that are actually truthful and well-made. These are primarily made by actual Masons who know and understand Freemasonry’s true meaning.

“Seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you…”

 

Three Distinct Knocks

Masonic Books

Phoenixmasonry

LewisMasonic

Masonic Roundtable

 

The following are not strictly Masonic channels, but contain a lot of Masonic content and their producers are Brother Masons.

Occult of Personality

The Hermetic Hour

 

 

MasonicSlides31

Are 3, 6, and 9 the Keys to Creation?

Are 3, 6, and 9 the keys to our creation? Nikolai Tesla thought that they were. These numbers are everywhere in the Masonic tradition, as well as other mystic traditions from antiquity. There are three degrees to the Masonic Blue Lodge. The number three is mentioned time and time again in Masonic ritual. In the York Rite, the number nine is found repeatedly through the ritual. The six sided hexagram is not specifically a Masonic symbol, but is present in many lodges and is one of the most ancient mystical and magical symbols that is found all over the world. As I have discussed in earlier blog posts, the hexagram is the polarized version of the triangle. The triangle (or tetrahedron in 3D) is the most simple geometric shape and is the point at which form emerges from the linear. So are these numbers holding a deeper secret than we currently understand? The following article delves into some of the deeper symbolism and talks about how they relate to the creation process in our world. Check it out and see what you think.

 

The Secret Behind the Numbers 3, 6, and 9 Is Finally Revealed!

 

Vortex Math

Memento Mori-Death and the Mysteries

From dust we came and to dust we all must return…

Masonic symbolism and ritual is riddled with images and symbols of our mortality. Why is this? Is it because the fraternity is morbid, or is there a deeper, philosophical reason behind it?

There are very few things that we can all be certain of in this world, but our mortality is not one of them. We all will inevitably come to an end and thus continue the infinite cycle of life. We have always been taught to fear death, ever since we were old enough to understand what it is. But do we really know what it is? The simple answer is “no”. Many mystical traditions teach that death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. This concept caries through nearly every religious tradition up to the current day.

Death as a symbol is very powerful. It reminds us of the short time that we have here. When we face our mortality it has a profound effect on our consciousness. Not only does it remind us that we should make the most of our short time on earth and to do good in the world, but it also helps us accept that change is inevitable and that we should embrace the unknown. It is also symbolic of the endless cycle of the universe. The universe is constantly dying and being born again. It is this concept that brings us to symbolic death and rebirth.

We see this concept of death and rebirth in the majority of, if not all ancient religious traditions. We see this in the slaying of Osiris by Set and his Resurrection, by Jesus’s death and Resurrection, etc. It is the death of the material and the birth of the spiritual.   It is symbolic of a new start that an individual has after becoming enlightened, or saved. It also serves the reminder that we must do our best to live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted. With this rebirth, after a symbolic death, we are encouraged to start anew, with a new sense of obligation to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures.

The symbolism of Freemasonry contains many references to death, or Momento Mori. As previously discussed in my blog, the Chamber of Reflection is a perfect example of Masonic symbolism in which the individual is brought face to face with their own mortality. The Chamber consists of a dark room, lit only by candlelight, a table with various symbolic items including a skull, and an ink well and quill for writing a last will and testament. There is also a bible, or holy book that the candidate must read certain passages from that remind them of the importance of living a virtuous life.

Another instance of death symbolism in masonry is in the Legend of Hiram Abiff. Hiram Abiff is the craftsman that is brought in by King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre to adorn Solomon’s Temple. Hiram Abiff is given the keys to the mysteries by King Solomon and is the Master Craftsman of the Temple. He is later accosted by three ruffians who hope to obtain the secrets from him, but he refuses, as they are not ready to receive them yet. They end up taking his life. Hiram Abiff is eventually raised by King Solomon and resurrected, bringing the legend full-circle. It is through this legend as told in the Third Degree that the candidate is taught not to be greedy and to seek what is not entitled to them, but to also understand the virtue in secrecy. They are also taught that they must die a symbolic death, to be reborn as a new, spiritual being.

The trestle board or tracing board (a wooden board with symbols on it) that is used for the Third Degree has a coffin and a skull on it. These symbols are representative of Momento Mori, and of the death of the material that the initiate is to go through on their path to finding Light.

To the casual observer these symbols may be grim, or even frightening, but to the initiate they take on much more positive and reaffirming concepts that can be a constant reminder of the impermanence of life and the importance of living with fervency and zeal and being constantly ready to alleviate the suffering of others in any way possible. In doing so, our existence can be etched into the fabric of time as our charity extends beyond the grave.

3rd Degree Tracing Board

 

Here is another article that I found that relates. Hope you enjoy!

The Skull and Crossbones and it’s Masonic Application