Alchemy And Masonry

Alchemy And Masonry Cover Many of you may have familiarity with the term “Alchemist”. For most this term conjures images of early experimenters attempting to chemically convert lead or base metals into gold, and the search for the chemical elixir of life. These experimenters did indeed exist, their work being the forerunner of modern chemistry. As there were “operative” alchemists, so there were also “speculative” alchemists. Speculative alchemists are often associated with Hermetic philosophy, and employ symbols of metals, elements, the planets, and chemical processes to describe and understand the spiritual process of personal improvement. The founder of Hermetic philosophy was an Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegisus. To the Egyptians he was credited as the author of all the arts and sciences. Deified by different cultures, he was known as Thoth by the Egyptians, Mercury by the Romans and Hermes to the Greeks. While in all probability there actually existed a great sage by the name of Hermes, it is impossible to extricate the historical man from the mass of legendary accounts of him[1]. One of the famous writings of Hermes was the Emerald Table, which contains thirteen sentences summarizing Hermetic thought.

In the Sixteenth through Eighteenth century, Hermeticism became connected with Alchemy; and by what seemed mere chemical jargon and meaningless symbols, their true explanations were concealed from the masses and from the church, who would have likely pronounced many Alchemists as heretics.

Unbeknownst to most Masons, many of the symbols found in symbolic, or “Blue Lodge” Masonry came to us from Alchemy. In his book, “Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry” , Albert Pike describes these relationships and states that “By this and many other proofs we know that the symbols of Freemasonry were introduced into it by the Hermetic philosophers of England…”. Manly P. Hall in his work, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, states, “…he [Hermes] was the author of the Masonic initiatory rituals…Nearly all of the Masonic symbols are Hermetic in character”. In spite of this, I was surprised to find a dearth of research regarding the relationship between Alchemy and Masonry.

Since Albert Pike informs us of the strong connection in Blue Lodge Masonry with that of Alchemy, I wondered if that connection continued into the Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection, which in many ways is a continuation and completion of the Blue Lodge degrees. In this paper we will survey the symbols of the Scottish Rite degrees from the 4th through the 14th to see if we can find any connection with the symbols of Alchemy. My goal is twofold in doing this: first, to expose the reader to the connection between Alchemy and Freemasonry, and second to encourage other Masonic researchers to explore this very interesting and largely untapped area of study. It should be noted that I am a Masonic researcher and not an Alchemist. This paper is written from the viewpoint of that of a Masonic researcher. Let us know explore the Lodge of Perfection in a hunt for Scottish Chemistry!

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