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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Meditation in the Woods

As we strive for a greater connection with the whole, we must learn to control our passions. This is not easy to do in modern society! One thing that has stood the test of time is the art of meditation.

This past weekend, my wife and I made a trip into the woods with the goal of communing with nature. The stresses of the past week were behind us and it was time to place ourselves into a proper frequency. We found a beautiful clearing with a fallen tree that had created a natural bridge over what was now a dry creek-bed. We sat side by side on the tree and let the sun warm our faces. There was little, to no wind and it was incredibly mild for a December day. We had both brought crystals with us to meditate with and we got them out. My wife laid down on the ground on a blanket and placed her crystal on her Third Eye chakra point. I sat on the fallen tree and held my crystal between my thumb and fingers. We soon fell into deep meditation. I could feel my surroundings dissolve and my body lose it’s tension. I saw images as I attempted to clear my mind, but these images pulled me in. I saw a warm green light emanating from my heart. It went skyward and some of the light penetrated the earth. I could sense the connection between my body, my spirit and the Heavens and Earth. I saw fractal-like light vibrations surrounding me. I could see deep into Space and deep into the Earth. This connection was strong and real. My soul’s vibration had transformed. I stayed in this realm for as long as I could. When I finally came out of the meditation, my crystal was really warm, almost hot to the touch, and my breathing was soft and even. My wife looked more beautiful than ever, and the forest felt alive, despite the fact that it was mostly dormant due to the season.

We connected with the whole that day. Our vibratory energy was transmuted and our lives transformed. This is just what we needed. It’s what we all need. The power we need is within our hearts. Let your heart energy connect with the whole, and you will understand this like my wife and I now do.

for a December day.

Heavy Mental Transmutation

I have mentioned the practice of Alchemy as a concept in previous posts, but have not talked about how every single one of us can practice Spiritual Alchemy. The process of Spiritual Alchemy does not involve an athanor (alchemical furnace), a mortar and pestle, or even a crucible. It is a practice that we can all take part in every day.

Spiritual enlightenment begins with the self and is refined through self-improvement. As we work to come closer to Christ Consciousness, we must strive to improve ourselves and to live a life that is defined by love and virtues. Our world is full of negativity and hatred and a duality that is unrelenting. Fighting this negativity is an uphill battle, but it’s an essential one. It is easy to let our anger get the best of us. It is easy to let our depression rule our actions and call the shots in our lives. What’s hard is overcoming these things. This is where Spiritual Alchemy comes in.

When you find yourself in a bad place in life, this is the perfect point to begin the practice of Spiritual Alchemy. The first step in the alchemical process is Calcination. This process involves burning a substance into ashes in order to begin anew. We should take the anger, self-doubt, and negative emotions that we are feeling and burn them to ashes. The calcination stage is a cleansing process. Once we have burnt off the toxicity of our anger and self-doubt, we have a completely new substance. One that we can work with and make some progress with. When this negativity tries to take you over, you must grab it and throw it into the fires of your mental athanor.

When our negativity is destroyed, we are left with a neutral element to work with. We can further our mental transmutation with the second stage: Dissolution. During the dissolution stage, we must take the remnants of our anger and self doubt and break them down even further. This can be done by embracing our inner creativity. If we take the emotions that are stirred up within us and turn them into something constructive, we have achieved spiritual dissolution. We are now fully engaged in a mental transmutation.

When we have conquered this part of our problem, it is time to move to the next stage: Separation. During this stage of the process, we must seek out the left over particles of self-doubt and negativity and separate them from the particles of self-love and self-respect that have begun to surface. This is the final weeding-out process. As these particles are then discarded, we can see an end in sight.

The final stage of Spiritual Alchemy is that of Conjunction. During this stage, the saved elements are then combined to form alchemical gold. We can see ourselves for what we truly are: spiritual beings having a human experience. We are Beacons of light in the darkness.

Change Begins with the Self

The truth and freedom movement is so quick to point the finger and blame someone else for the problems that we face in the world today. It is so much easier to blame someone else. What is difficult is admitting that we are all part of the problem. Sure, the government is corrupt. The police are abusing their authority. The Federal Reserve is destroying the economy. The presidential candidates are just corporate puppets. The war on terror is a war for oil and heroin. These are all problems that we are not directly responsible for. However, real change begins from within. We are responsible our thoughts and our actions. We can sit back and continue to blame others for our misery, or we can work on changing ourselves. The strongest action we can take is non-compliance with the system.

The oppressors wants us to hate each other. We need to work on loving one another. The oppressors wants us to feel segregated. We need to join together. We need to work on talking to one another and listening to what others have to say. The oppressors want us to feel powerless. We are NOT powerless. We outnumber the oppressors.

We need to work on eliminating fear, which is a tool of mind control. This can be done by shutting off the TV. Ignore the commercials and all of the capitalist propaganda. We need to re-assess the importance of things. Self-worth should outweigh material possessions. Knowledge and love are the only things worth fighting for. Take the finger that is pointed outward blaming others for your troubles and turn it inward. Take a long look at your life and your actions. This is the first step in your own Heavy Mental Transmutation.