Freemasonry as the Hermetic Art 2
Part 2. Synthesis
W. Bro. J. R. Cleland, P.P.A.G.Chap., (Kent).
Wonders are many and none is more wonderful than man.
— Sophocles. Antigone 302
Progress is The law of life, man is not man as yet.
— Browning. Paracelsus.
Love Virtue, she alone is free. She can teach ye how to climb Higher than the Sphery chime Or, if virtue feeble were, Heaven itself might stoop to her.
— Milton. Comus 1019.
All progress is based upon the universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
— Samuel Butler. Note Books. Life, xvi.
The world will, in the end, follow only those who have despised it, as well as served it.
— Samuel Butler. ibid. Life of the world to come.
It is necessary that the soul, when purified, should associate with its generator.
Man is the measure of all things.
Protagoras. (Quoted by Plato in Theaetatus.
All is flux; nothing is stationary.
— Heraclitus. (Quoted by Aristotle in De Caelo.)
HO BIOS BRACHUS HE DE TECHNE MARKE. ("The Life so short, the Craft so long to learn.")
— Hippocrates. Aphorisms. (Motto of the Royal College of Surgeons.)
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear, With thrice great Hermes, or inspire The spirit of Plato.
— Milton. Il Penseroso, 87.
If I stoop Into the dark tremendous sea of cloud, It is but for a time I press God's lamp Close to my breast its splendour, soon or late, Will pierce the gloom; I shall emerge one day.
— Browning. Paracelsus.
"Love Life, for he is the Great Teacher; but love Death also, for he is the other self of Life, who alone can teach nothing.
— Hermetic Maxim
Knowledge of a thing engenders love of it: The more exact the knowledge, the more fervent the love.
— Leonardo Da Vinci
The perfect knowledge of the Universe and the perfect love of God are one and the same.
— Leonardo Da Vinci
"In order to seek truth, it is necessary, once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, all things.
— Rene Descartes. Discours de la Methode.
We have analysed the evidence of the Hermetic Tradition through the ages to the Alchemists and have considered much of that which concerns the more material side of the Art, in respect of such matters as the Transmutation of Metals, adducing several well-authenticated cases in support of the contention that such transmutation has been possible, and has, indeed, been accomplished in times past. We have noted, in passing, some points, in which this evidence and the traditions associated with it make contact with Freemasonry, and have seen that those who have claimed to have succeeded in the performance of the physical transmutation have all been men of noted piety and good name.
I, for my part, implicitly believe that the transmutation of metals is possible and that it has been accomplished by the use of the methods recorded, veiled though these records may be, by the actual practitioners of the Hermetic Art. I believe also that these methods, although finally physical in the means used, are only one approach to the subject, the approach which we may label as "the approach from above," and that other approaches are possible. These the Science of to-day is beginning to investigate from a purely physical standpoint. This may be labelled as "the approach from below." Finally, I believe that the Great Work is on the eve of being accomplished once again, and that, most probably, by both these methods.
So, now, I propose to attempt to bring together the various threads which we have been following and to try to show that in Freemasonry we have the very synthesis of the teachings ; that in our Craft is enshrined all that is necessary for the Great Work of the Hermetic Art and Alchemy.
If, however, there is any among you who expects to be given any simple formula for the production of metallic gold from the base metals, I fear that he will be disappointed, although a full appreciation of all that I propose to outline will place in his hands the clues, which, if followed up carefully and correctly, could naturally lead to that result, if he himself is "properly prepared."
The Alchemy, as an Hermetic Art, with which I propose to deal to-day, is that which applies to the transmutation of the man himself, the changing of his whole Animal Nature into the Fine Gold of the Spiritual Man.
"As above, so below," the ancient Hermetic maxim remains true always and, by putting first things first and thus arriving at the accomplishment of Transmutation of the Self on the highest levels, man can learn to control Nature on all levels and, thus, can have no difficulty in moulding all types of matter to his will, by which means he will, necessarily, gain the power to perform the lesser transmutations.
One can only trust and pray that, should the science of the day succeed in its approach from the material angle, the accomplishment of that approach will bring with it the higher accomplishment which will certainly be necessary, if mankind is not to finish himself off. The approach from above of the Alchemist is, obviously, less likely to do harm in the arousing of the lower acquisitive and predatory instincts of the less developed among men.
The recognition that the manifested Universe is inherently a duality is by no means a new thing. The fact was recognised and recorded by some among the ancient Greeks, and even earlier. But the point which must be of most interest to us to-day is the fact that this same duality is being put forward in recent years as a scientific fact of recent discovery. It is coming to be generally recognised that the two components — ENERGY and MATTER — are interchangeable, that they are constantly changing, or being changed, the one into the other.
Each is a different form of the other; so that, if there were no such thing as Energy, there could be no such thing as Matter, and vice versa. The relative amounts of these two components of the universe are constantly changing, but it would seem that the sum total of matter and energy in the universe may be a constant.
Let us take a simple example of such changes: Plants absorb energy from the Sun, in the forms of heat and light, which they transform into material substance, so that the total weight of the plant at any moment is greater than the total weight of its elementary material constituents, which consist chiefly of water and carbon-dioxide. When the material of the plant is broken up by burning, the residual ash and gases weigh less than the original material of the plant, by the amount of the weight of matter which has been transformed into heat and light.
All the Energy of which we can be aware shows itself in motion or in a physical or chemical change of state of the matter involved, or in both. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of about 2000 B.C., as I have quoted above, noted that all is in a state of flux, and that nothing can remain static. Elsewhere he remarks, "You cannot step twice in the same river, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you."
If we wish to obtain energy for our use, we must have : —
- Matter in a state of motion or changing its physical state. We call this physical energy; or
- chemical modification of the state of matter giving rise to, or resulting from, chemical energy; or
- a combination of these two energies. And we find that physical and chemical energy are interchangeable, as we have experienced in the case of heat and light.
The mechanism in plants which we denote by the term photosynthesis uses the heat and light of the sun to manufacture complexes such as sugars, starches and cellulose from carbon-dioxide and water, converting physical energy, actuated by heat and light, into chemical energy to hold the constituents together. Ultimately these constituents may be chemically converted into coal and oil, from which, by oxidisation, we may recover the heat and light and use the stored energy to meet our needs.
Water power and wind power are also ultimately dependent upon the energy of the sun, but these use, not the direct energy from the sun but, the dependent forms of energy which we call gravity and magnetism. Once again the original energy comes from the sun and is stored. The stored energy is transformed by chemical action to give heat and light, and by mechanical means to give electricity, which, again, can be transmuted into heat and light.
In this Universe, emanations reach us, of course, from other sources as well as from the sun, but all have their origins in the transmutations of natural elements, whether in the sun, in nebulae or elsewhere. In chemical transmutations the matter lost in the emission of energy is not nuclear, but electronic, and so its weight is quite negligible. Energy released in nuclear changes is millions of times greater than that released by chemical action. Each atom of matter has been likened to a miniature solar system, the nucleus taking the place of the sun and the electrons those of the planets circling round it. I would remind you that here we are dealing with bodies which, to us, are almost infinitely small. If, for instance, a single drop of water were enlarged to the size of this earth, the atoms which compose it would then have grown only to the size of oranges, and each of these oranges would contain a nucleus with electrons circling round it at distances proportional to the distances of the planets in our system from the sun. The Ultimate Physical Atoms, with which our Science has not yet made acquaintance, probably bear somewhat the same relation to the scientific atom as that atom bears to the Earth.
All manifestation in this Universe of ours being based upon the number THREE, we find, as we would naturally expect, three basic types of energy:-
- Physical energy, manifesting as Electricity or power and Strength.
- Chemical energy, manifesting as Magnetism, attraction and repulsion or Love-Wisdom and
- Atomic energy, manifesting as what is now known as Nuclear Energy, corresponding to our Beauty. The analogies are tentative.
These three energies are, of course, in close correspondence with all the other triads, such as Body, Soul and Spirit in man and, as noted above, our masonic Wisdom, Strength and Beauty or Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, and so on.
In accordance with our Hermetic Axiom "As above, so below," everything manifests in threeness and the relation between the three aspects of each unit remains constant upon all levels. Before Synthesis can take place there must be full Analysis. In any religion, such as Christianity, there must necessarily be a fall before there can be any thought of a redemption. Now, we find full confirmation of this in the latest investigations in that newest of our sciences, Nuclear Physics, especially obvious in the case which is probably most often in our thoughts, the case of the Hydrogen Bomb. The principle underlying the Hydrogen Bomb was recognised before there was any thought of the possibility of the Atom Bomb, which is now so much an established fact with which we have to reckon. It was known, theoretically at least, that the vast energy and influence emitted from the Sun was not diminishing, as had for so long been assumed and envisaged, but that its strength was being kept up-might even be increasing-by the energy released by the combination of four hydrogen atoms to form one atom of helium, the gas first discovered in the Solar Spectrum and named from the Greek word for the Sun-HELIOS (the theory being fully expounded by Bethe in 1938). But it was later calculated that this fusion was only possible at temperatures quite outside the apparent range of scientific possibility of attainment on this Earth. Fusion — or, to use our more general term as applied to these papers, Synthesis — was apparently possible only at a temperature somewhere in the region of 50 million degrees Centigrade; and this temperature would have to be maintained over a perfectly definite period of time, although that period might be comparatively short. The process of bringing about the necessary interaction has been compared to the lighting of an ordinary household fire, the fuel, in this case, being the Hydrogen, and the match the source of heat to set the process of combustion in action. But, whereas there was no difficulty in finding a match with sufficient heat, and retaining that heat for a sufficient time, to start the ordinary fire, there seemed to be no possibility whatever of even approaching the temperature necessary to start the process of hydrogen fusion, and far less possibility of maintaining that temperature for the time necessary for the conversion of the hydrogen into helium. No such match was available, nor could Science conceive the possibility of its attainment, at any rate in the near future.
That was roughly the position, theoretically, when Atomic Energy — or, more accurately, Nuclear Energy — began to be taken really seriously and to be closely studied. With the isolation of Radium and the recognition of the radio-active elements, the aspect of things had begun to change. Things began to happen, and, with the isolation of Uranium 238 from the mass of ordinary Uranium, with its great preponderance of Uranium 235, and the study of Nuclear Fission, analogous to our Analysis, came the possibility of the Atom Bomb, with its tremendous release of energy taking place automatically wherever the necessary critical mass of such a fissile element was brought into being, when the whole mass would immediately and instantaneously break up, by fission of its nuclei, into equivalent masses of other and lighter elements, this fission being accompanied by the release of energy unprecedented in the history of physical science. And, with the explosion of the first so-called Atom Bomb, came the realisation that such a temperature as that required for nuclear fusion was now a practical possibility. Thus, there came about the immediate and renewed interest in the Hydrogen Bomb, as at least a potentiality, for, at the moment of fission in the Atom Bomb, the temperature reached was 50,000,000 degrees Centigrade, or, just the temperature required for the match for which Science had been searching.
But the researchers had by no means reached the end of the difficulties in the way of producing the Hydrogen Bomb, for, although the required temperature had been reached instantaneously, it was only instantaneously, and you are all aware of how often your lighters produce perfectly good sparks which do not keep their heat long enough to ignite the fuel. So the high temperature produced in the Atom Bomb was too evanescent to act as match for ordinary hydrogen. There was, however, another hydrogen known. In the normal hydrogen atom there is one Proton only in the Nucleus and its positive charge is balanced by a single negative charge or electron circling round it. Interspersed with these ordinary hydrogen atoms were found a few that were different. They were still hydrogen, giving all the reactions of that element, but they were just double the weight. Their nuclei were the same as those of ordinary hydrogen, but with the addition of a neutron, carrying no charge, in the nucleus. This heavy hydrogen is called Deuterium, and is that which, combined with oxygen, gives us the famous — or should one say, notorious — heavy water used in nuclear research. The atoms of this heavy hydrogen can be brought to the point of fusion much more quickly than those of ordinary hydrogen, so that our match would be required to persist for a much shorter period. But heavy hydrogen is fairly expensive and the atomic bomb match still keeps up the necessary heat for too short a time to produce the required result. The next step was that the Atomic Researchers found that it was possible to produce a yet heavier hydrogen artificially. This has two neutrons in each of its atoms, making it three times as heavy as ordinary hydrogen and it can be brought to the point of fusion still more quickly, so that the flash from the Atomic Bomb would be sufficient to set up the reaction, but Tritium, as it is called, is so expensive to produce that its price would be quite prohibitive for it to be used as the fuel in the Hydrogen Bomb. So, now, so far as one can gather, what is happening in Nuclear Circles is that the researchers are trying to establish the minimum possible requirement of Tritium that can be used to set in motion the fusion reaction in Deuterium. Unlike the case of the Atom Bomb, in which the critical mass of the fissionable element limits the size of the bomb, there need be no limit to the size of the Hydrogen Bomb, if only the necessary temperature conditions can be met, except the lifting capacity of the aircraft destined to deliver the bomb and, of course, the question of finance.
I am afraid that this has been rather a long diversion, but it seemed best to try to give a comprehensive view of the matter, since it is such an excellent illustration of the law which we are considering. Here we have something which looms very large in our world of to-day, the Hydrogen Bomb, a thing which functions wholly through fusion or, to use our more general term, Synthesis; and we find that it cannot be brought into use unless it is set off by an Atomic Bomb, which functions through fission, or Analysis. This is the Hermetic teaching, the teaching of religion in general and of Christianity, the essential teaching of Freemasonry which, with the Synthesis or Brotherhood in view, as the final goal of its present efforts, commences, in the symbolism of the Lodge and its Officers, to make full Analysis of man himself, in the person of the Candidate. He must learn, so to speak, to take himself to pieces ; he must learn not only to know the function of each part, but how to function as each part, in the process of passing through the various offices, so that in time he may himself become the Perfect Lodge. He must learn that he is not only the septenary represented by the seven officers but also the Triunity which rules the Universe, Trinity manifesting in Unity — the Lodge: He himself is the Salt, Sulphur and Mercury of the Divine Alchemist, the Three Aspects of Deity, manifest in the Three Fellowcraft Lodges, composed of the "Fifteen Fellowcrafts of that superior class appointed to rule over the rest": He is Creative in the Three who Rule his Lodge, Preservative in the Five who hold his Lodge, and Transmutative in the Seven who make his Lodge perfect. These are summed up once more in the fifteen steps, which, according to tradition, led to the Temple and which it is necessary should be trodden and ascended to reach the Middle Chamber on the Path of Return. I might perhaps remind you at this point of the three, five and seven Psalms appropriate to the three Craft degrees and which are numbered from CXX to CXXXIV inclusive and each labelled "A Song of Degrees." The fifteen reminds us of that body of conspirators as a result of whose plotting the Master, representing the Spiritual Man, made the descent into the Tomb of Transgression, but it also refers to those making up the three Fellowcraft Lodges, who set out in search of him and whose work we hear recorded in the Traditional History of the path of return.
Every known religion contains references to this return journey which must be undertaken in the search for perfection and each one implies that this journey is a retracing of one's steps over a road which has already been trodden in the opposite direction, a climb to regain a height from which one has previously fallen. As Heraclitus remarks, "The way up and the way down is one and the same."
Freemasonry, as we are constantly being told, is not a religion, and, of course, for the majority of brethren it is not a religion. But, to some, it can be a religion and there is no valid reason why it should not be adopted as such by any brother whose immediate spiritual needs it can satisfy. It contains the pure essence, and covers all the fundamentals of that universal Religion, of which all the religions of men are partial statements, each emphasising some particular aspect of the whole, which required such emphasis to meet the needs of its times. Hence it is a truism that "Freemasonry does not ask a man to leave his religion, but it does ask him to live it." When men say that Freemasonry is not a religion, what they really mean to convey is that it is not a Creed. This, of course, is true for again it has been said, "Freemasonry is a life to be lived and not a creed to be taught."
The whole aim and object of those who were ultimately responsible for the revival of the Craft of Speculative Masonry, as we have it to-day, appears to have been to give to those who were in a position to benefit, having eyes to see and ears to hear, the broadest possible statement of universal religious principle, without limitation to any particular credal form or belief. The point stressed by those who appear to have been able to judge of the lasting reality of masonic teaching is just this fact of masonry being a life rather than a creed. It cannot conflict with any creed which is based upon truth, for truth cannot contradict itself, however paradoxical it may appear when viewed in the dim light of human consciousness. Faith and belief should, in the opinion of these founders, be based upon experience, and not wholly upon authority.
In these fundamental facts lies the reason, or one of the chief reasons, why the Mystery Teachings, the Secret Doctrine, the Hermetic Philosophy or the Craft of Freemasonry has always been, and must, of necessity, always be, incomprehensible to the man-in-the-street, to all who are not "properly prepared," no matter how anxious they may be to share in it and join its ranks. Should these unprepared ones succeed in becoming members of the Order, its teachings will still remain incomprehensible, however far they may progress exoterically, however high their attainment of external status. A Brother may be a first-class ritualist, may perform our ceremonies with dignity and even with complete perfection of wording, he may be a Grand Lodge Officer of high rank and of long standing, and yet he may still have not the remotest idea of the meaning, the implications and the powers involved in the ceremonies he performs. He may have no knowledge of the realities of Freemasonry nor of the Grand Transmutation which it exists to bring about. He may even Initiate and consolidate this transmutation in others and yet have no intention of so-doing, just as a Christian Bishop may confer valid Orders upon his candidates and may transfer to them the powers which go with Holy Orders, not only without intention of so doing but even firmly disbelieving in the possibility of performing the act of Transubstantiation involved in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is here that we come up against the paramount difficulty with regard to the validity of any such Orders, for the only proof of validity lies in the cultivation of the ability to see the change taking place in the Elements. No chemical test can show any difference, yet he who has developed the required faculty can say immediately, at a glance, whether or not actual consecration has taken place. All men have this faculty as a potentiality, but few have developed it so that they can use it at will.
We have come from a divine world of light and bliss, as potential selves, and our ultimate inheritance lies therein. We have the power within us to become self-conscious entities. The object of our standing out — our existence — is that we may reach definition, that we may find ourselves and obey the ancient maxim, "Man, know thyself."
This was impossible of accomplishment so long as we remained static on those high levels of light and bliss. We lived in that light and we shared in that bliss, certainly ; but we were incapable of being conscious of so doing and it required neither effort nor knowledge on our part. We were incapable of knowing and of being known; so, down through the Planes of Being we came, into our self-created world, this hand-made prison of our own limitations, with its four great Kingdoms of Manifestation, culmination in our humanity. In these various kingdoms, from the moment of leaving the Elemental to journey through the Mineral, the Vegetable and the Animal Kingdoms to reach individualisation in the Human, we find the only possible environment wherein to build up that individuality and reach self-consciousness. In this sense only is humanity a culmination and a goal. Man is the culmination and goal of the state of "properly-preparedness," that the Spirit within him may begin to hold sway as the goal advances from the material world of man and as, in the higher levels of spirit, it becomes God.
During the successive phases of learning to master the conditions and limitations imposed by matter, man forgets the God within him and loses touch with his birthright of light and bliss, because, only when shut away in his self-made prison of banishment can he learn to build himself up upon a sure foundation. For the time being, God and all reality is shut out and remains beyond his ken.
In the opening of the Phaedo, Plato, by the mouth of Socrates, asserts that it is the business of all who would aspire to be Philosophers to study how to be dead. Plotinus, in reprobating suicide, yet enunciates the same doctrine. Porphyry, in his "Auxiliaries to the perception of intelligible nature," explains that there is a two-fold death; the one, universally known, in which the body is liberated from the soul, and the other, peculiar to philosophers, in which the soul is liberated from the body. Nor does one necessarily nor entirely follow upon the other. That which nature binds, that also she dissolves; that which the soul binds, that also it dissolves. Nature, he says, indeed binds the body to the soul, but the soul binds herself to the body. For so long as we are in the flesh, we must be, to some extent, spiritually dead, for full spiritual life can only be known when the body is dead.
The entrance upon the Path of Return is the opening phase of the final Transmutation. History and Myth, Legend and Folk-lore, Prophetic vision and Apocalypsis all bear witness to the Path, in some cases quite openly but sometimes by veiled hints and allusions.
That which the Alchemist symbolises in his Salt, Sulphur and Mercury is symbolised likewise in our Craft in the Sun, the Moon and the Master of the Lodge. The symbols used to express these three items in the Tracing Board of the First Degree are, the Solar Circle, the Lunar Crescent and the Greek, equal-armed cross of Mastership. This Tracing Board contains the complete map to guide us on our way to perfection and union with this Trinity, mirrored, as it is, in the three pillars, which are shown surmounted by the human emblems of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty in the persons of Solomon, king of Israel, Hiram, king of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff. The pillars rest upon the pavement of manifested life, with its balance of forces, of pairs of opposites. In the centre, surrounded by the implements of morality, is the Altar, the gateway of the Sun upon the pathway of Light. On the frontal we have the Sun-circle, source of all energy, contained between the parallels, the boundaries between which we must walk if we are to attain to the Volume of the Sacred Lore, and the Ladder which rests upon it. In the older alphabets, I, J and Y were all the same letter in Hebrew the Jod, and short O, V and U likewise, the Hebrew Vau, so the symbols have several interpretations. For example, in some Christian Sunday schools, I have heard it said to the children, " J stands for Jesus and Y stands for You and, if you have nothing (O) in between, you have pure JOY," That is a simple illustration of such readings. In another aspect the I0I spells IVY, and the ivy or fig leaf is the veil used for the genitals in ancient art, It is also the pentalpha or five-pointed star, with the single point down, the symbol of the goat and mirror image of the Blazing Star above, emblem of human perfection. We have already found this symbol on the pavement at the entrance to Freemasons' Hall in London and have studied some of its implications. In Hebrew, I0I or Jod Vau Jod is 10, 6, 10 = 26, and, as such, is a Tri-grammaton equivalent to the Sacred Tetragrammaton or four-lettered name of God, Jod He Vau He or 10, 5, 6, 5 = 26, which we meet in the Fellowcraft Tracing Board as equivalent of the Sacred Symbol found in that degree. The I0I illustrates also the symbolism of the three pillars of the Sephiroth and of the Serpent Fire. It is the gateway to the commencement of the Ladder. Between lies the foundation upon which the ladder rests, the Volume of the Sacred Law, or, better, of the Sacred Lore. The term Law is apt to be misleading, as implying obligation or enforcement. No man is forced to enter upon the Path. He must come to it of his own volition, "of his own freewill and accord" as being "free and of good report." Volume here implies something more than a mere book, and perhaps a better word would be "content." The accumulated mass or content of the Sacred Lore is something far more widespread and all-embracing than any one book of rules or guidance. No written word could contain or comprehend it in its fullness. The most that any Scripture can do is to demonstrate certain preliminaries for the guidance of its readers, since so much of the Sacred Lore can be contacted and assimilated only by individual contact and personal experience.
Upon the sure foundation of the Sacred Lore rests the ladder which we must learn to ascend, rung by rung. (W. Bro. G. E. W. Bridge dealt with this ladder and its symbols a few years ago in his Prestonian Lecture.) We are told of three principal rungs which we must surmount or make our own. In most of the Tracing Boards in use to-day, five rungs are shown clearly, but the whole are seven, the first of which is the Sacred Lore itself, its full volume. From this, as a starting point, we pass to the first of the three principal rungs. This is marked with the cross-symbol of the Master of the Lodge and this Master-Cross we are told is representative of Faith. Astrologically it is the part of Fortune, Pars Fortunae, and represents the testing ground of this Earth. In manifestation it is matter and the physical vehicle of Life ; in man it is the physical body. The next rung is an intermediate step and, upon it, in some Boards, we find hanging a Key. This is symbolically composed of the Sun-Circle surmounting the Master-Cross. Astrologically it is the planet Venus and, in manifestation, the Emotional Body or vehicle of Desire. The next step takes us to the second principal rung, and on it we find the anchor of Hope. But the anchor is made up of the Master-Cross over the Moon- Crescent. Astrologically it is the planet Saturn and, in manifestation it is the Soul. In man it is the dual Mental Vehicle, Passing on, we come next to another intermediate step. In our Tracing Boards this step is, normally, unmarked, but it has its appropriate symbol, which appears in other contexts. It is the sign of Mars and consists of the Master-Cross surmounting the Sun-Circle and denotes rulership. It appears as such in our Coronation Rite, in the form of the Orb. In man it denotes the level of Intuition or Buddhi. Personally, I am inclined to think that its omission from our Tracing Boards was, originally, intentional, since, in one sense, it is symbolic of that to which we refer as the " lost word," the restoration of which is one of the avowed objects of the Craft. The next step is the third of the principal steps or rungs. It is marked by the Chalice of Charity and this is made up of the Master-Cross surmounted by the Moon-Crescent. Astrologically this is the symbol of Jupiter, the Father of the Gods. In Manifestation it is the Spirit and, in man, the highest vehicle of spirit, Atma. From this point we take the seventh step upwards to reach the Blazing Star, sometimes, as we have seen, represented by the upright pentagram, symbol of "man made perfect."
Under some Masonic Constitutions, this five-pointed star is the jewel worn by the Past Masters, symbolic of passing to Immediate Past Master, as we in England use the Theorem of Pythagoras (Euclid 1, 47). It is the symbol of final attainment in this particular phase and we now find it flanked by the basic symbols of Sun and Moon. In ancient times the Moon was traditionally the Mother, the source of material manifestation and she is often represented as accompanied by seven stars. These are not the seven planets and, although they have been referred to as the seven stars of the Pleiades, their real function would appear to have been to represent the seven planes or vestures governed by the Moon. It should be noted here that the ancient tradition which makes the Moon the material planet of the last Round, from whose disintegration was built up the nucleus of this Earth, the most material planet of this present Round, appears to be gaining ground in certain scientific circles.
Faithful Service is the Key-note by the practice of which the aspirant can hope to gain the commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the JOY of thy Lord!" Thus, entering upon the Path, he may aspire to reach that culmination where the three symbols come together, giving the Sun-Circle, surmounted by the Moon-Crescent and surmounting the Master-Cross to form that great Hermetic symbol, the symbol of Mercury. Neither the Sun nor the Moon are, as we know, planets; but each, when treated as such, covers the existence and working of a hidden planet, not physically existent. These have strong influence in astrological workings. There are three principal steps in our ladder, which itself holds five steps, but the seven, making it perfect, comes from the addition of the first and last steps, each the opening or apprentice step of an evolutionary phase.
We reach a further development of the same teaching in the Fellowcraft Tracing Board, which again covers the whole Craft system. Here, the two pillars are, of course, the parallels or Jods and the stairs represent the developments in the three degrees, as indicated by their key numbers 3, 5 and 7, but we are told that they "consist of 3, 5, 7 or more steps." This "or more" veils the most important number, the 9, or 3 multiplied by 3. This is the linking of the material, evanescent trinity with the Absolute, the Eternal. The number nine is paramount in symbolism, part and parcel of the great harmony of the Universe itself. The nine digits form the basis of all number. Time, space, proportion and relationship cannot be expressed except in terms of numbers. All number symbolism is based upon the nine, and in Geometry it is also fundamental. It sounds the key-note in every system, wherever situated or emplanted on this earth, through all the ages of man's existence. The fact that any number, whether great or small, multiplied by 9, will give a number whose digits, when reduced by successive additions, become 9, was likened to the activity of fire, so that 9 became the number of Vulcan, Tubal Cain, the Semitic "Spirit of Fire." I cannot go into the full implications here, but must leave it at that for the present.
The stairs lead to the Middle Chamber, above the door of which we find the Tetragrammaton, the divine number, 26. In the First Board we met it as Jod Vau Jod, which now we find to be Jod He Vau He. As Entered Apprentices we reached a point at which we were "restored to light;" now we are enabled to develop that light in interior illumination in our middle chamber, and the payment of our wages consists no longer of mere sustenance of corn, wine and oil, but of an "earned increment" which we may use as we will, as it is paid in specie, that metal which, properly prepared and transmuted by the Artificer, Vulcan, will produce the "potable gold" of the spiritual man.
And so, in the Third Tracing Board we come to the point at which we must apply that which is, literally, the crucial test, the test of the cross itself, "that last and greatest trial," wherein the aspirant learns for himself that reliance upon the lower vehicles, the Bodies, cannot but "prove a slip;" that, equally, reliance upon the Spirit alone must "prove a slip, likewise;" that it is only by the full cooperation of these two, in conjunction with the ruling link, the Soul, that he can be "raised from the Tomb of Transgression, to a reunion with these former companions of his toil." Thus only can his base metal be cleared and dispelled in the Alembic of the Tomb, to rise as the pure gold of perfection.
I have already, on several previous occasions, shown how the Third Degree Steps take the aspirant on to the arms of the Cross and thence into the cruciform sarcophagus, before entry into the Sanctum Sanctorum of his inner being, the centre in which he can know all that seems hidden and incomprehensible to him in the idea of God. It is here that he finds the DORMER from which our Circle takes its name, that window which can only convey light to the innermost self when we learn to live therein, out of the body in sleep at first, until custom shall enlarge our capacity. This is the light of real knowledge, for the attainment of which it is necessary to be able to function independently of the lower vehicles which cannot find resting place within the Sanctum Sanctorum. This knowledge is permanent, in contrast to the impermanence of that which we gain through the senses. It has been written that, "Knowledge differs much from sense, for sense is of things that surround it, but knowledge is the end of sense," that is to say, it is the end of the illusion of the physical brain and of the intellect, of which the brain is the channel. This explains the perpetual conflict between the laboriously acquired knowledge of the senses and lower mind, and that which can be attained by raising the higher mind to the limit to contact the intuitive wisdom of the spirit.
The Third Tracing Board, intimately associated as it is with the Traditional History, should make it clear that the Ritual is correct when it declares that "the immoveable jewels are so called because they lie open and exposed for the brethren to moralize upon." The word moralize is here used in its older significance. We would now probably say meditate or contemplate, just as the older use of morality would now be designated meditation or contemplation, although neither completely fulfils requirements. The obvious discrepancies between the Traditional History and the historical evidence, and, indeed, the discrepancies and contradictions within the Traditional History itself are clear indications that it was never intended nor expected that anyone would take it at its face value. If anyone does so, he does it at his own risk, and that risk is the under- mining of his faith. The whole story carries a blatant challenge to acceptance and insists that one asks questions. The same sort of challenge appears clearly in most of the religions of the world and their Scriptures, and it is from the too material and historical interpretation, and the too ready acceptance of such as the only interpretation of such Scriptures that the common heresy-hunt comes into play. At the moment of writing there is just such a heresy-hunt in full blast against Freemasonry, sponsored by a priest, nominally Catholic, of the Church of England, who is not a Mason, and who appears to have made a rehash of the old arguments advanced by previous heresy hunters along the same lines. Now every heresy-hunt that is, or ever was, has the immediate effect of convicting its authors of instability in their own faith and of inherent doubt of its validity. If any man is in possession of any portion of truth and is firmly convinced of its truth and fully established in it, then he can have no fear that any heresy can undermine it or endanger it in his eyes. If he is not fundamentally and completely convinced of its truth, then, and then only, can it be open to successful attack. In taking open steps to counter the assumed danger, he tacitly assumes that his beliefs are open to attack and proves to the world that their foundations are uncertain and, to his own inner consciousness, unsafe. Freemasonry is put forward in such a manner that, if any brother thinks about it and meditates upon its precepts, he builds up an attitude of questioning which leads to a state of mind which can be satisfied only with "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." If he has anything less, he remains in a state of QUEST. The heresy hunter, on the other hand, is generally completely self-satisfied and is prone to have reached final decisions upon subjects which, on the face of things, cannot be finally decided. I am reminded of an old story, recently revived by John Bouverie in the "News Chronicle," and re-quoted in the June number of the "Old Contemptible."
"A negro preacher was telling some children the story of the creation. 'When God created the world there was nothin' and nobody in it. So He took some loam and some mud and he made a man and a woman and put them up against a fence to dry.' 'But, massa,' said his smallest pupil, 'if there was nobody in the world before Adam and Eve, who made the fence?' 'Boy,' said the preacher, 'it's questions like that that's just ruining religion.' "
This is the true attitude of the heresy hunter. He dislikes questions, because, as a rule, he is afraid that his faith will not stand up to questioning. Freemasonry asks one to moralize upon its allegories and symbols and moralize is here used in its older sense which covers both meditation and contemplation. The ritual is, in the oldest and best sense of the word, a Morality, a dramatic representation of fundamentals inexpressible in words. Thus, the basis of Freemasonry is so firm that such attacks as we are considering can only make their authors ridiculous and, in the long run, do harm to their own cause. If, for a moment, I may again bring in my own experience, when I left Christianity for a time, because, go where I would, I could get no reasonable answers to my questions, all those whom I had questioned, and they covered a field which embraced most of the leading denominations and sects, came to a point where they gave me the same answer couched in many different forms of words. It might be summed up as "We are not intended to enquire too closely into such matters" and was generally followed by the injunction "We must have faith!" I came away with the feeling that they were afraid to ask questions and that they had not begun to understand the meaning of faith. Freemasonry brought the answers to my questionings and pointed the way to the answers to which my own state of development formed the barrier. It had one message for me; it said clearly "God placed you in a Christian environment in this life because it was the best environment to promote your growth. So you have got to get back to Christianity." But for Freemasonry I would not be a Christian by profession to-day, far less an ordained Priest in the Church of Christ. I bow in gratitude to the Craft.
But, now, let us get back to the Hermetic Art.
Matter is eternal; it is the UPADHI, we have no one word in the West that covers the concept but might describe it as the physical basis upon which the Infinite Universal Mind can build its ideations. Thus it is that the esoteric worker maintains that there is no such thing as matter which is wholly inorganic or dead to be found in nature. The distinction made between organic and inorganic, made by Science, is unfounded, unreasonable and wholly arbitrary. This is the occult teaching, tracing back to time immemorial, through Manu and Hermes and throughout the ages to Paracelsus and his successors. Thus, Hermes the Thrice-Great, Trismegistus, teaches:-
"Oh, my son, matter becomes; formerly it was, for matter is the vehicle of becoming. Becoming is the mode of activity of the universe and foreseeing God. Having been endowed with the germ of becoming, objective matter is brought to birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms ; matter, not yet engendered, had no form : it becomes when it is put into operation."
Dr. Anna Kingsford points out that, in Greek, the same word denotes to be born and to become, the idea being that the material of the world is eternal in its essence but that, before Creation or becoming, it is in a passive, static, or motionless condition. Thus it was before it was put into operation, but now it becomes, that is to say it is mobile, dynamic and progressive. To this she adds that Creation covers the whole period of the activity of God, the MANVANTARA, and God, according to Hermetic thought, has two modes of expression :-
- Activity or existence, God evolved or DEUS Explicatus, close to the theological idea of God Immanent, and
- Passivity or Being, the Eastern PRALAYA or period of rest, God involved or DEUS lmplicatus, God Transcendent,
Each, in itself, is perfect and complete, as is the case with the sleeping and waking states in man. Fichte, the German philosopher, explained being (sein) as one which we can only know through existence (dasein) as manifold. This is a thoroughly Hermetic view.
The ideal forms are the archetypal or formative ideas of the Neo-Platonists, the eternal and subjective concepts of things subsisting in the Divine Mind prior to Creation or becoming.
"Everything is the product of one universal creative effort ... there is nothing dead in nature. Everything is organic and living and, consequently, the whole world appears to be a living organism."
In all such matters it is always difficult to pin-point the teaching but the general trend appears to be clear, and it is certain that, for those who claimed to have interpreted it properly, results followed, by which the transmutation became an observed fact on both the physical and spiritual levels. The chief difficulty lies in some apparent contradictions which, as has been pointed out, seem to show that, first, Hermes was a nom-de-plume adopted by a whole series of generations of mystics and occultists of every shade of outlook and, second, it is necessary to exercise the greatest care and discernment before accepting any fragment as authoritative, however obviously correct, merely on account of its age and traditional source.
Throughout the ages attempts have been made to limit and organise the Hermetic truths, but, as Krishnamurti once remarked, "Truth knows no limit and cannot be organised." There is a verse from The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold, which expresses this
"OM, AMITAYA! Measure not with words Th' Immeasurable; nor sink the string of thought Into the fathomless. Who asks doth err, Who answers, errs. Say nought."
In the consideration of such a subject as this which I have tried to put before you, I am up against one outstanding difficulty. Any man who sets out to impart teaching of the realms of the Absolute can do so only within the limits of his own absolute, which, of course, is a variable quantity, growing as he himself grows. He cannot avoid a certain apparent intolerance of outlook, both in his conduct and in the doctrine which he sets out to impart, unless he is to leave the value of the teachings open to doubt in the minds of his hearers. He is forced, by the very circumstances of the case, to be didactic and personal in his presentation of such a subject. The Lord Buddha, for instance, does not teach that "the Law is the law of grace for all" but that "My Law is the law of grace for all." Similarly, the Master, Jesus of Nazareth, does not say "I am a way, a truth and a life," but "I am the way, the truth and the life." Thus the teacher, if he has a message which embodies some portion of truth itself, is compelled to appear as an autocrat and to speak, as though in terms of finality, of the absolute. He must travel a straight path, leaving aside much which lies beyond the limits or confines of the particular path, things, good in themselves, but, apparently, contradictory to his teaching or parallel to it, yet which all lead towards the same goal. These other teachings may be equally true but may be of such a nature that they can remain only theoretical to the majority of listeners, until such time as there is forth-coming inner proof of their truth. If all lines of approach are attempted together at one and the same time, only utmost chaos and confusion can result. No man can accept as other than mere speculation that which lies completely outside his own experience.
For us, as Freemasons, this Universe, in which we live and move and have our being, must become one living vibrant unity. In our studies it is necessary that we aim to get beyond the mere intellectual outlook and make ourselves sensitive to the meaning hidden in each fact and in each group of facts. Herein we will find the source of that creative faculty which we find developed in the great poets, the great painters, the great composers; in all creative art. It is, therefore, fundamentally important that Freemasonry, if it is to remain a true guide, pointing the way to God, by whatsoever road the individual aspirant may approach, should not commit itself in any way to any single line of action, to any one opinion upon any debatable subject, nor, indeed, to any one uniform and set way of carrying out the ceremonies and ordinances of the Craft. Latitude in interpretation is essential to individual growth and fruition. Freemasonry, then, asks the individual brother to live his religion, to make it, whatever outer form it may take, the central fact of his being: it does not ask him to leave it. If a brother comes to Freemasonry having no credal attachments, it provides the fundamental basis upon which he can either build up a religion for himself or find one to suit his needs among the multitude of creeds offered by the religions of mankind. Only by the practice of this all-embracing and universal outlook can Freemasonry become and remain a living influence for good in all such bodies as profess and embody the divine virtues of Tolerance, Compassion, Service and True Brotherhood.
The ultimate aim of Freemasonry, as of all Hermetic Art, is UNITY, the recognition of the Universal Brotherhood of all that share in the One Life of God. All the great religions, even the highest expression of Religion which I, personally, believe to be that true Christianity which is enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount — all, without exception, have their origins and their goals in TRUTH, and any limitation of outlook must prevent the living to the full of any one of them.
One of the great ones of our humanity once said:- Universal Brotherhood is no idle phrase; humanity as a whole has a paramount claim upon us. . . . It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a notable one for mankind; and it is the aspiration of the true adept."
The influence of Freemasonry, as also of some other bodies with the same ends and objects in view, is making itself felt in the world of to-day. Gradually — all too gradually, owing to the tough opposition set up by established "closed shops" (if one may apply a modern phrase) in the churches and by the self-centredness of individuals — gradually, but surely, there is being built up an atmosphere in which true brotherhood can germinate and grow and those of us who have been privileged to live through the last half century have seen real, if largely abortive, attempts to bring it about. Do you remember the words of Lord Tennyson, in Locksley Hall:-
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;
Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
Later in the same poem, he expresses his profound belief in the growth of the thinking principle in man.
"Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns."
President Wilson of the United States of America dreamed the same dream and tried to put it into effect. It came to life in the League of Nations, but his influence was not sufficiently strong to keep his country upon the road to safety and brotherhood, and the League, in all except some minor details which happily survived, was a failure. Greed, self-seeking and selfishness were momentarily triumphant.
But the Elder Brethren, who work behind the scenes to influence humanity for its own good, carried on their good work and, through travail and bloodshed, the ideal came to life again with a new name, the United Nations Organisation, UNO, with new, and still unwitting, instruments of the Great Ones, as its sponsors, in the persons of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Spencer Churchill. They also were tuned in to the vision of the Great Plan by which alone can come the Unity of all the peoples of mankind and the reign of Peace on earth. The laying of the foundations of the Great Work lies, partially at least, in our hands, it is part and parcel of our Masonic heritage.
To bring it into being, it is necessary that each unit, whether it be Brother, Lodge, Province or even Constitution, should learn to stand firmly upon its own feet, in order that it may give full attention and all its energy to the furtherance of the plan as it affects Freemasonry as a whole, and mankind as a whole. Each unit can learn only through its own mistakes and, so long as there is any trace of self-interest in its attitude, it can never fully gain that peace and happiness which it seeks. Always the normal tendency for the human being is to "sell his birthright for a mess of pottage." Herein lies the eternal paradox, the great tug-of-war, for the greater the effort he puts into the furtherance of his own ends, the more strength he gives to the forces which oppose those ends.
Each human being, gross metal though he be, is an embodiment of the pure gold of the Divine. Each is capable of such a transformation as will enable that pure gold to shine through him in all its splendour. The lowest and most degraded, the most savage and uncultured of men, have still, behind their outer coarse and even repellant features, the lineaments of God, in whose true image they are made. Man has this mysterious attribute of divinity, the attribute of that life in which every living thing has its share. Differently expressed although it may be, this same idea is formulated in every religion and philosophy worthy of the name. In Christianity we speak of "Christ in you, the hope of glory"; in Buddhism there is the Buddha-principle in all that has existence; in Islam, although there would seem, at first sight, to be an unbridgeable gulf set between Man and Allah, yet there are sects which express the close link of union spanning that gulf. The Shiah sect, for instance, which has some 30 millions of followers in Persia and India, gave birth to the Sufi teaching of God as the beloved and the soul of man as the lover and this led to the realisation that, to be able to know God to the fullest possible extent, Man must have the very nature of God within himself.
The Christian Master expressed the brotherhood which exists in the apparent diversity very clearly, although, alas, so many of His followers either ignore the teaching or deliberately narrow it down or misrepresent it to meet their own requirements. You will find it in the parable of the sheepfold where He makes the position quite clear (St. John, x, 16). "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
The key-note of the coming age, the Aquarian Age, from the birth-pangs of which we are suffering to-day, has been beautifully condensed into two words by Dr. G.S. Arundale, who took as his slogan "Together Differently," and, if you think of it carefully, this is a very useful paraphrase of the old Hermetic Axiom "Solve Coagula," which sums up the situation very well, telling us that we must dissolve to coagulate, analyse to reach synthesis, fall as a prerequisite to redemption, differentiate to unify, accomplish fission in order to bring about fusion, put it how you will. The stone must be rejected by the builders before it is fit to become the headstone of the corner. The lesson which Freemasonry, as the Hermetic Art, has to teach is the same, that, before we can hope to reach synthesis, true brotherhood, we must first practice analysis, in each one learning to know himself ; the part must come before the whole to reach full understanding. When the aspirant has mastered to the full all the most intimate details of his own make up, when he really knows his own potentialities, gaining control of his vehicles of consciousness on all levels, then, and then only, can he bring all together into the complete synthesis, knowing himself as ONE with all his brethren, uniting in the consciousness of brotherhood in the common fatherhood of God. Then can he say, with full appreciation of the implications of the words :-
"God is All, and In all, and, before all things were, by Him they all consist. He Is all of me. I am an individualised part of Him. The real self, the 'I AM' within me, is not only made In the image of God, but is a veritable part of Him, therefore I and the Father are ONE. The Spirit of God is omnipresent and pervades every atom of my being as well as every atom of the Universe. Hence, I am at one with the all, in touch with all that lives. All that lives, being permeated by the Spirit of the living God, is working for my good, aids me in doing good. My environment and the things that come to me are required for my assistance, for the purification of my character. Nothing comes into my life that is useless. All men and all circumstances are my teachers, for all are in God, and God is In all."
I do not know who wrote those words but, to me, they sum up the idea I want to express, better than I could do it in words of my own.
Self-knowledge has been defined as the first contact of consciousness in the ground of life. "We are all," says Mrs. Atwood, "compounded in a certain petrifaction, i.e., life in each is as a stone in its first being : therefore they (the Alchemists) say 'take that stone,' meaning life as it is, I and ferment it,' that is by another life, which will dissolve and kill it as well as itself both will be reproduced in a third."
The Vulcan of the Alchemists is Motion. He is represented in the Greek myths as a lame god, because all motion and action in life is of a halting character; it is always chasing something that it never catches ; it runs on a line without return, circumbending into its own principle, but nothing here contains its own principle in itself. So Vulcan is not the fire, Ignis Philosophorum, but that which stirs up that fire: he is the agent of mind by which motion may be created in the spirit in terms of the Hermetic Philosophy. The key-note here is the Light, and that to which the E.A. is restored is but a substitute for the real thing. Something of the reality is apparently reached in the F.C. degree, but when the F.C. presents himself to face that last and greatest trial which culminates in his raising, he finds that even the light of a M.M. is but barely sufficient to make darkness visible. This may, at first sight, appear as disappointing, but, in reality, it is a tremendous step forward. Sophocles went about proclaiming the fact that he was but an ignorant man, his only claim to be fitted to teach lying in the fact that he knew that he was ignorant, whereas others, being also ignorant, were unaware of the fact. Similarly, it is absolutely necessary for us, as Freemasons and students of the Mysteries that our own state of darkness should become visible to us. Until and unless we reach this state of realisation of "darkness visible," there can be no real incentive to seek the light. Yet all progress must be made decently and in due order. Festina lente, make haste slowly, and Ne Quid Nimis, nothing in excess, are watch-words always applicable in the great work and of the utmost importance in its conduct, whether on the lowest or on the highest levels. " For, had you rashly attempted to rush forward, you would have been accessory to your own death by stabbing, whilst the brother who held the poignard would have remained firm and done his duty" and the C.T. "about your neck would have rendered any attempt at retreat equally fatal." Before entering upon the process of transmutation to which Freemasonry furnishes the key, it is required of the aspirant that he should be desirous of being completely purified, that he should already have made such progress towards purification that he is free from the allure of all baser lusts and desires, symbolised by "all metals and valuables." He must be at least symbolically pure, for only then can the pure gold of the Spirit be distilled in the alembic of physical incarnation, as represented by the Lodge, opening up the way for the descent upon him of the Spirit of the Living God, to rest upon him as it were in tongues of fire, purifying and refining the basic metallic substance that the pure gold from within may shine out with all the beauty and radiance of true godliness and divinity. Herein lies the goal of perfection, the Hermetic transmutation, towards which we are all, in our own particular and diverse ways, pursuing our journeys. And with the attainment of that goal will come also the full realisation within ourselves of all the powers of the Divine Life, giving complete control on all levels, so that the goal of the material Alchemist, the transmutation of the base metals into material gold, being no longer of any interest save in so far as it can be of service to humanity as a whole, becomes completely easy of attainment. The great experiment becomes as child's-play to perform. "If the salt have lost its savour wherewith shall it be salted?" The answer is now clear, for the salt itself will be so changed that it will distil and bring forth its own savour, in true fullness of the spiritual attainment. Therein is the goal attained, the lost word is found and man returns whence he came, now clothed in the power of the Sun, able and willing to sacrifice himself that new worlds may come into being that the work may go on unto the perfecting of Eternity. Of such is the essence of Brotherly Love and, as Robbie Burns says :-
"It's coming yet, for a' that,
That man to man, the world o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that"
For a' that and a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the goud for a' that "
Yes, brethren, man himself is the pure gold for the finding of which he set out upon his long pilgrimage through the planes of manifestation.
The real difference between orthodox religion, whichever you may choose of its multitudinous manifestations — and the Craft of Freemasonry lies in this. While each is a quest, the orthodoxy chosen will emphasise the highest point or conception which it has reached and is, normally, satisfied to rest there in a settled finality, but Freemasonry, and kindred movements, attempt to explain and lay emphasis upon the unfinished quest itself.
Brethren, if we are really in earnest and if our desire is sufficiently strong to support us through the arduous experience that lies ahead of the true aspirant, the secret of transmutation can be ours and we, individually, can perform the "miracle of the one thing," by virtue of our own inherent divinity,
You yourselves are the Alembic, The "potable gold of the Alchemists is potentially yours, for the base metals are ever your own and in Freemasonry you have the complete guide to their transmuting.
Brethren! Together differently, the Quest is yours.
Peace to All Beings. So mote it be.