“These extracts from St-Germain’s Most Holy Trinosofia – a path of Initiation –
accompany my series of posts on Master R.”
It was night. The moon, veiled by dark clouds, cast but an uncertain light on the crags of lava that hemmed in the Solfatura. My head covered with the linen veil, holding in my hands the golden bough, I advanced without fear toward the spot where I had been ordered to pass the night. I was groping over hot sand which I felt give way under every step. The clouds gathered overhead. Lightning flashed through the night and gave to the flames of the volcano a bloodlike appearance.
At last I arrived, and found an iron altar where I placed the mysterious bough … I pronounce the formidable words … instantly the earth trembles under my feet, thunder peals … Vesuvius roars in answer to the repeated strokes; its fires join the fires of lightning … the choirs of the genii rise into the air and make the echoes repeat the praises of the Creator … The hallowed bough which I had placed on the triangular altar suddenly is ablaze. A thick smoke envelops me. I cease to see. Wrapped in darkness, I seemed to descend into an abyss.
I know not how long I remained in that situation. When I opened my eyes, I vainly looked for the objects which had surrounded me a little time ago. The altar, Vesuvius, the country round Naples had vanished far from my sight. I was in a vast cavern, far away from the whole world … Near by me lay a long, white robe; its loosely woven tissue seemed to me to be of linen. On a granite boulder stood a copper lamp upon a black table covered with Greek words indicating the way I was to follow.
I took the lamp, and after having put on the robe, I entered a narrow passage the walls of which were covered with black marble … it was three miles long, and my steps resounded fearfully under its silent vault. At last I found a door that opened on a flight of steps which I descended. After having walked a long time, I seemed to see a wandering light before me. I hid my lamp and fixed my eyes on the object which I beheld. It dissipated, vanishing like a shadow.
Without reproach of the past, without fear of the future, I went on. The way became increasingly difficult … always confined within galleries composed of black stone blocks … I did not dare to guess at the length of my underground travel.
At last, after a long, long march I came to a square chamber. A door in the middle of each of its four sides opened; they were of different colours, and each door was placed at one of the four cardinal points. I entered through the north door which was black; the opposite one was red; the door to the east was blue and the one facing it was of dazzling white. In the middle of this chamber was a square mass; on its centre shone a crystal star.
On the north side was a painting representing a woman naked to the waist; a black drapery fell over her knees and two silver bands adorned her garment. In her hand was a rod which she placed against the forehead of a man facing her across a table which stood on a single support, and bore a cup and a lance-head. A sudden flame rose from the ground and seemed to turn toward the man. An inscription explained this picture; another indicated the means I was to employ in order to leave this chamber. After having contemplated the picture and the star, I was about to pass through the red door when, turning on its hinges with terrific noise, it closed before me. I made the same attempt with the door of sky-blue colour; it did not close, but a sudden noise induced me to turn my head. I saw the star flicker, rise from its place, revolve, then dart rapidly through the opening of the white door. I followed it at once.
A strong wind arose, and I had difficulty in keeping my lamp alight.
At last I saw a white marble platform to which I mounted by nine steps. Arrived at the last one, I beheld a vast expanse of water. To my right, I heard the impetuous tumbling of torrents; to my left a cold rain mixed with masses of hail fell near me.
I was contemplating this majestic scene, when the star which had guided me to the platform, and which was slowly swinging overhead, plunged into the gulf. Believing that I was reading the commands of the Most High, I threw myself into the midst of the waves. An invisible hand seized my lamp and placed it on the crown of my head. I breasted the foamy wave, and struggled to reach the side opposite the one which I had left.
At last I saw on the horizon a feeble gleam, and hastened forward. Perspiration streamed down my face, and I exhausted myself in vain efforts. The shore which I could scarcely discern seemed to recede to the degree that I advanced. My strength was ebbing. I feared not to die, but to die without illumination …
I lost courage, and lifting to the vault my tear-streaming eyes I cried out, “JUDICA JUDICIUM MEUM ET REDIME ME, PROPTER ELOQUIUM TUUM VIVICA ME.” (Judge thou my judgment and redeem me, by thy eloquence make me live.)
I could hardly move my tired limbs, and was sinking more and more, when near me I saw a boat. A richly dressed man guided it. I noticed that the prow was turned toward the shore which I had left. He drew near. A golden crown shone on his forehead. “VADE ME CUM,” said he, “MECUM PRINCIPIUM IN TERRIS, INSTRUAM TE IN VIA HAC QUA GRADUERIS.” (Come with me, with me, the foremost in the world; I will show thee the way thou must follow.) I instantly answered him: “BONUM EST SPERARE IN DOMINO QUAM CONSIERE IN PRINCIPIUS.” (It is better to trust in the Lord than to die among the mighty.” Whereupon, the boat sank and the monarch with it.
Fresh energy seemed to course through my veins, and I gained the goal of my efforts. I found myself on a shore covered with green sand. A silver wall was before me, inlaid with two panels of red marble.
Approaching, I noticed on one of them sacred script, the other being engraved with a line of Greek letters; between the two plates was an iron circle. Two Lions, one red and the other black, rested on clouds and appeared to guard a golden crown above them. Also near the circle were to be seen a bow and two arrows. I read several characters, written on the flanks of one of the lions. I had barely observed these different emblems when they vanished, together with the wall which contained them.
In its place, a lake of fire presented itself to my sight. Sulphur and bitumen rolled in flaming waves. I trembled. A loud voice commanded me to pass through the flames. I obeyed, and the flames seemed to have lost their power. For a long time I walked within the conflagration. Arrived at a circular space, I contemplated the gorgeous spectacle which by the grace of heaven it was given me to enjoy.
Forty columns of fire ornamented the hall in which I found myself. One side of the columns shone with a white and vivid fire, the other side seemed to be in shadow; a blackish flame covered it. In the centre of this place stood an altar in the form of a serpent. A greenish gold embellished its diapered scales in which the surrounding flames were reflected. Its eyes looked like rubies. A silvery inscription was placed near it and a rich sword had been driven into the ground near the serpent on whose head rested a cup …
I heard the choir of the celestial spirits, and a voice said to me; “The end of thy labours draws near. Take the sword and smite the serpent.“
I drew the sword from its sheath, and approaching the altar I took the cup with one hand, and with the other I struck a terrific blow upon the neck of the serpent. The sword rebounded and the blow re-echoed as if I had struck on a brass bell. No sooner had I obeyed the voice, than the altar disappeared and the columns vanished in boundless space. The sound which I had heard when striking the altar repeated itself as if a thousand blows had been struck at the same time.
A hand seized me by the hair and lifted me toward the vault which opened to let me through. Shadowy phantoms appeared before me – Hydras, Lamias and serpents surrounded me. The sight of the sword in my hand scattered the foul throng even as the first rays of light dissipate the frail dream-children of the night.
After mounting straight upward through the layers that composed the walls of the globe, I saw again the light of day.
Scarcely had I risen to the surface of the earth, when my unseen guide led me still more swiftly. The velocity with which we sped through space can be compared with naught but itself. In an instant I had lost sight of the plains below. I noticed with astonishment that I had emerged from the bowels of the earth far from the country about Naples. A desert and some triangular masses were the only objects I could see.
Soon, in spite of the trials I had undergone, a new terror assailed me. The earth seemed to me only a vague cloud. I had been lifted to a tremendous height.
My invisible guide left me, and I descended again. For quite a long time I rolled through space; already the earth spread out before my confused vision … I could estimate how many minutes would pass until I would be crushed on the rocks. But quick as thought, my guide darts down beside me, takes hold of me, lifts me up again, and again lets me fall. Finally he raises me with him to an immeasurable distance. I saw globes revolves around me, and earths gravitate at my feet. Suddenly the genius who bore me touched my eyes and I swooned.
I know not how long I remained in this condition. When I awoke, I was lying on a luxurious cushion; the air I breathed was saturated with the fragrance of flowers …
A blue robe spangled with golden stars had replaced my linen garment. A yellow altar stood opposite me, from which a pure flame ascended, having no other substance for its alimentation than the altar itself. Letters in black were engraved at the foot of the altar.
A lighted torch stood beside it, shining like the sun; hovering above it was a bird with black feet, silvery body, a red head, black wings and a golden neck. It was in constant motion without however using its wings. It could only fly when in the midst of the flames. In its beak was a green branch; its name is
I turned aside and noticed an immense palace, the base of which rested on clouds. Its mass was composed of marble and its form was triangular. Four tiers of columns were raised one above the other. A golden ball topped the edifice. The first tier of columns was white, the second black, the third green and the last one a brilliant red.
I intended, after having admired this work of immortal artists, to return to the palace of the altar, the bird and the torch; I desired to study them further. They had disappeared, and with my eyes I was searching for them when the doors of the palace opened. ]
A venerable old man came forth clad in a robe like mine, except that a golden sun shone on his breast. His right hand held a green branch, the other upheld a censer. A wooden chain was about his neck, and a pointed tiara like that of Zoroaster covered his white head.
He came toward me, a benevolent smile on his lips. “Adore God,” said he to me in Persian. “It is He who sustained you in your trials; His spirit was with you. My son, you let slip by the opportunity.
“Thou couldst have seized instantly the bird,
“You could have become altar, bird and torch at one and the same time. Now, in order to arrive at the most secret place of the Palace of sublime sciences, it will be necessary for you to pass though all by-ways. Come … I must first of all present you to my brothers.”
He took me by the hand and led me into a vast hall.
The eyes of the vulgar cannot conceive the form and richness of the ornaments which embellished it. Three hundred and sixty columns enclosed it on all sides. Suspended from a golden ring in the ceiling was a cross of red, white, blue and black. In the centre of the hall was a triangular altar composed of he four elements; on its three points were placed the bird, the altar and the torch.
Around the altar were placed eighty-one thrones, to each of which one mounted by nine steps of unequal height the treads being covered with red carpets.
While I was examining the thrones, a trumpet sounded whereupon the doors of the hall swung on their hinges to let pass seventy-nine persons, all attired like my guide. Slowly they came near and seated themselves on the thrones while my guide stood beside me.
An old man, distinguished from his brothers by a purple mantle the hem of which was covered with embroidered characters, arose, and my guide, addressing them in the sacred tongue said, “Behold one of our children whom it is the will of God to make as great as his fathers.”
“May the will of the Lord be done,” responded the old man, and turning to me he added, “My son, the time of your physical trials is now ended. There remain long journeys for you to undertake. Henceforth your name shall be –
of brilliant particles; however, it was not lighted. “It is for thee,” he added, “like those that have preceded it to give it the same virtues.”
“Reflect on these gifts,” then said the chief sage. “They all lead equally to perfection, but none of them is perfect in itself. It is from their admixture that the divine product must come. Know also that all of them are null if you employ them not in the order in which you received them. The second, which serves for the use of the first, remains merely crude matter without warmth and without usefulness unless in its turn it is aided by that which comes after it. Guard carefully the gifts you have received, and set out upon your journeys after you have drunk from the cup of life.”
Hereupon he handed me in a crystal cup a shining liquor of saffron hue; its taste was delicious and it emitted an exquisite aroma. I was about to hand the cup back to him after moistening my lips in the liquor, when the old man said, “Drink it all; it will be thy only nourishment during thy journeys.“
I obeyed, and felt a divine fire course through all the fibres of my body. I was stronger, braver; even my intellectual powers seemed doubled.
I hastened to give the greeting of the wise men to the august assembly I was about to leave, and at my guide’s command I entered a long gallery on my right hand.
Manly P Hall’s Commentary on Chapter Six (slightly abridged)
“The altar composed of the four elements, is triangular in shape. From this circumstance, two sacred numbers are produced: the square 4 plus the triangle 3 equals 11; and the four elements of the altar multiplied by the triangle, equals 12.
“From this, the composition of the world is made apparent. Nature is a triangular arrangement of four elements; and the divine world, of which the zodiac is a proper symbol, consists of these elements multiplied three times, or in their three primary states. The altar is the human body; its material parts – the square – are arranged in the spiritual order: a triangle. Upon the altar are the previous altar, bird and torch. We must understand them as salt, sulphur and mercury – body, spirit and soul.
“In the air above the altar is the crux ansata, the symbol of generation and fertility. Copper is the metal of Venus – a symbol of the reproductive energy of the soul. Venus is lucifer of the ancients – the light bearer, the star of self-knowledge. The power to multiply is common to both the internal and external man. As bodies generate bodies, so the inner body, the soul, generates the archetypes of personalities.
“By alchemy, wisdom perpetuates itself by applying to its own peculiar purposes the same laws by which forms are perpetuated in the corporeal sphere.
“The whole figure is a symbol of spiritual regeneration, the mystery of Melchisedek, who is his own father and his own mother, and is above the law. It sets forth perpetual re-energization by the use of the Stone. It tells of the very power which St-Germain (Master R) himself possessed, of continuing from century to century by means of the subtle Elixir, whose secret was known only to himself and his Masters. First the three parts of the composite man – spirit, soul, body – must be brought into equilibrium, and from this equilibrium is born the Homunculi or Crystal Man.
“This Man is an immortally generating Self capable of precipitating personalities at will, yet itself unchanged and unlimited by these personalities. Instead of the soul living in the body and prisoned by its limitations, the body lives in the soul. To the adept the physical form is an instrument for the expression of consciousness, intelligence and action – the candle, the bird and the burning altar.”
Analysis of the Text – Manly P Hall’s Commentary on Chapter 6
“The candidate, having transcended the four elements, now continues into the sphere of higher causations, where he is instructed in the great Kabbalistic principles by which the universal integrity is preserved. The palace is the archetypal sphere – Plato’s world of Ideas. The simple geometric arrangement reveals the divine harmony.
“The doors of the archetypal world swing open and the Hierophant of the Order comes forth. He is the Master of the Hidden House, the Initiator, the Keeper of the Keys of Thoth. Alchemy is a religion of fire, as is also Zarathustra. The Magus therefore wears the insignia of Zoroaster, and speaks in the language of the Fire prophet. The names he gives to the bird, the torch and the altar, are the same as in Chapter Five.
“In company with the Initiator, the candidate enters the immense temple, whose 360 columns are the universe. The altar, being the three fold cause of the material sphere, is placed in the centre of the great hall. The Hierophant tells the disciple the new names bestowed on the sacred objects. The bird is called ‘Ampheercha’ – ‘a Mother shall bear the likeness, or double’ – a reference to the immaculate Conception and to the Secret Doctrine as the mother of the adepts.
“The name for altar appears to be the word for priest, but refers to the Initiator as one through whom the disciple is born in the second or philosophic birth, a mystery more fully explained in the name of torch.
“The hall is called Sky (firmament) but its characters also form the Kabbalistic admonition – ‘Worship the glory which is to come.’
“The triangular altar is Athanor, a self-feeding digesting furnace used by the alchemists. The first part of the word means immortality, and the second, the four quarters of the heavens.
“The eighty one Thrones placed within the palace of the Sky, each at the top of nine steps are of great significance. The Rosicrucean Mysteries consisted of nine lesser and three greater rites or degrees – a system which may be traced directly to the Kabbalah. Out of Kether the universal Crown, issue the nine Sefiroth, and from each of these in turn issue nine others. Nine is the sacred number of Man, and in the old Kabbalah, the Hebrew letters ADM (Adam) are the numerical equivalent of 1, 4, 40 – whose sum is 9.
“The symbolism of the 9 is continued throughout mystical literature. The Eleusinian Mysteries were given in 9 nocturnal ceremonials to represent the prenatal months. By Kabbalistic addition, 81 is 9, and the Thrones signify the 81 branches growing upon the great World Tree. The schools of the Lesser Mysteries are patterned from the universal harmony, and here we see set forth the arrangement of the secret Brotherhood.
“The name for the great Hall is repeated in the text as the point where the venerable members of the School enter and take their seats. The disciple receives his philosophical name: the Wise Man, and the words mean: ‘To be the Face of the Most High.’ The nine masters of the lodge then bestow their gifts. The first gives a cube of grey earth: the second, three cylinders of black stone – the three phases of the Moon: the third, a rounded crystal – Mercury: the fourth, a crest of blue plumes – Venus: the fifth, a silver vase – the Sun: the sixth, a cluster of grapes – Mars.
“The seventh gives a BIRD – Jupiter: the eighth, a small ALTAR – Saturn: and the ninth, a TORCH – the fixed stars.
“For the understanding of the significance of these gifts, consider the following fragments from the Pymander of Hermes relative to the ascension of the soul through the nine spheres, and its return to the Lords of each of these spheres the gifts or limitations which are imposed by the laws of generation:
After the lower nature has returned to the brutishness (elements), the higher struggles again to regain its spiritual estate. It ascends the seven Rings upon which sit the Seven Governors, and returns to each their lower powers in this manner: Upon the first ring sits the Moon, and to it is returned the ability to increase and diminish. Upon the second ring sits Mercury, and to it are returned machinations, deceit and craftiness. Upon the third ring sits Venus, and to it are returned the lusts and passions. Upon the fourth ring sits the Sun, and to this Lord are returned ambitions. Upon the fifth ring sits Mars, and to it are returned rashness and profane boldness. Upon the sixth ring sits Jupiter, and to it are returned the sense of accumulation and riches. And upon the seventh ring sits Saturn, at the gate of Chaos, and to it are returned falsehood and evil plotting. Then, being naked of all the accumulations of the seven Rings, the soul comes to the Eighth Sphere, the ring of the fixed stars. Here, freed of all illusion, it sits in the Light and sings praises to the Father in a voice which only the pure of spirit may understand.
“The name for the cube of grey earth relates to the mystery of the spiritual birth; that of the three cylinders is selflessness; that of the rounded crystal signifies the end of the ages or the cycles; that of the blue plumes is Aquarius or the Leg of the Great Man; that of the silver vase is the birth of the spirit; that of the grapes is regeneration; that of the bird, they who live in the light of truth; that of the altar, the fruitage of virtue or common good; and that of the torch “the springing forth”, the Egyptian Coming Forth by Day – the completion, the ninth mystery.
“That the torch is really a symbol of the sphere of the fixed stars, and of the corresponding strata of the human soul, is further proved by the fact that the manuscript tells us that it is composed of brilliant particles.
“The mystery of the nine parts of the soul constitutes the completion of the Lesser Mysteries, and the full control of all bodily faculties, functions and powers. The Greater Mysteries lie beyond, and are still symbolized by the bird, the torch and the light. The Lesser Mysteries are rituals of self control and purification; the Greater Mysteries are rituals of creation.
“In nine processes, man purifies himself, but only to the few are given the keys of the threefold Creative Mystery: the creation of form, the creation of thought, and the creation of consciousness.
“Before leaving the chamber of initiation, the candidate drinks of the Water of Life, nectar of the gods, which the philosophers call the blood of the Logos or Sun – the divine energy which sustains the elect and constantly flows in the Grail of the Mysteries. According to the Greeks, the gods partake of no mortal food, but are nourished from the fountains of eternal Good which spring up in the midst of the worlds.
“Having given the secret sign to the adepts, the new Initiate departs from the chamber by the right-hand path.”
At the entrance of this gallery stood an oval steel vessel which upon my approach filled with crystal-clear water, purified by fine white sand. The vessel rested on three brass feet. A black panel had engraved on it several characters on the side facing the door.
Near the vessel was a linen veil, and above the vessel two green marble columns supported a round marble plaque. One saw there, surrounded by two inscriptions, the figure of the sacred seal formed of a cross in four colours, attached to a golden crosspiece which upheld two other concentric circles – circles which surround – the larger one being black, the other red. To one of the columns was attached a silver ax with a blue handle; it is called –
After reading the inscriptions, I went up to the vessel and washed, first my hands, but finished by plunging in bodily. I stayed there three days, and on coming out of the water I saw that it had lost transparency. Its sand had become greyish and rust-coloured particles stirred in the fluid.
I tried to dry myself with the linen veil, but fresh drops of water kept taking the place of those the linen absorbed. I gave up trying to dry myself with the veil and, keeping in the shade, I remained there motionless for six whole days. At the end of this time the source of these waters was exhausted. I found that I was dry and lighter though my strength seemed to be increased.
After walking about for a little while, I returned to the vessel. The water which had been in it was gone. In its place was a reddish liquid; the sand was grey and metallic. I again bathed in it, being careful however to remain there only a few moments. When stepping out of it I noticed that I had absorbed part of the liquid. This time I did not try to dry myself with the cloth, for the liquor with which I was saturated, was so strong and corrosive that it would have instantly destroyed the fabric.
I found myself at the other end of the gallery stretched out on a bed of warm sand where I spent seven days. After this time I returned to the vessel. The water was as it had first appeared. Once more I plunged into it and after having washed myself carefully, came out. This time I had no difficulty in drying myself.
Finally, after having purified myself according to the instructions I had received, I prepared to leave the gallery in which I had spent sixteen days.
Manly P Hall’s Commentary on the Text:
“The Initiate again assumes the attributes of the alchemical substance from which the Universal Stone is to be prepared. The entire section is devoted to processes of purification, consisting of three baths. As the result of the first bath, the water in the steel vessel becomes discoloured with the impurities given off by the philosophical matter. In the second bath the elements of the Stone are impregnated with a mysterious reddish liquid of an extremely corrosive variety. In the third bath the corrosive principle is washed away. These three processes, which require sixteen days, completely purify the matter, which then passes on to its next augmentation.
“From a mystical viewpoint, the vessel filled with crystal clear water is the laver of purification placed in the courtyard of the Tabernacle of the ancient Jews. The high priests who served the Lord must cleanse themselves with the water from the laver before they could perform the sacred duties of their office. The ceremony of baptism is but the outer symbol of the inner truth. The Absolute Cause of all things in its impersonal and utterly diffused condition was regarded as a vast ocean filling all space. The SChMAIM which is the divine fiery water – the out flowing of the Word of God – descends from the divine Presence. Dividing in the middle distance between spirit and matter, it becomes solar fire and lunar water. This SChMAIM was known to the alchemists as the Universal Mercury, and is called Azoth the measureless Spirit of Life. This spiritual fiery original water passes through Eden (which in Hebrew means ‘vapour’) and pours itself into four main rivers – the elements are the conditions of the Universal Mercury.
“This is the tincturing water, by which the righteous are baptised. It is this water, the Universal Mercury, the solvent of the sages, by which the spiritual baptism is given. He who is immersed in this water, or who receives the heavenly SChMAIM into himself, becomes cleansed and purified. This SChMAIM contains within itself the twofold baptism. Its lunar power baptises with water – the baptism given by John the Baptist; but its solar principle baptises with fire – the Messianic baptism.
“The Initiates of the ancient Mysteries being lifted up into an apotheistic condition, received the divine baptism. They were immersed in God and by this immersion they were washed clean of the black spot of original sin which, according to Mohammed, is in the heart of every mortal. The SChMAIM of the alchemists is the Shining Sea of the Buddhists, the boundless Nirvana ocean, the water of space constantly alight with God.
“The silver axe with blue handle, attached to the column, is called the Destroyer; but the translation is, ‘Lift the voice to its fullness in chant’ (Or song). The axe is the ancient symbol of the initiated Builders, the ‘hewers of wood’. It is also the emblem of separation or division, and is an appropriate figure to represent separation through purification.
“The sign Libra which rules the seventh operation of the philosophical mystery, divides the lower from the upper hemisphere of the zodiac. It is also the ancient sign of the Passover, a feast which signified the passing over of life from a material to an immaterial condition by the alchemical baptism. The gross particles of the soul are washed away, and life is prepared for a supersubstantial existence.”
Manly P Hall’s Commentary on the Illustration (abridged)
“The central motif is a sacred seal … the celestial sulphur and salt – the Sun and Moon. The suspended cross is the Lapis Philosophorum of the regenerated elements – salt(earth), sulphur(fire), Mercury(air) and Azoth(aether, the water of the sages). The Sun and Moon are father and mother of the Philosophers’ Stone. They represent heaven and earth, from which is generated the cross – man the progeny of the two immortal agents, spirit and matter.
“The cross also signifies the equilibrium of man suspended between his origin and destiny. The arrangement of the figures indicates the adept in whom the union of all opposites has been effected. The Initiate is the rational androgyne.
(For the main points in MPH’s description of the main symbol, see Mysteries of Master R, Part Twelve.)
“St-Germain’s manuscript also describes an axe, not shown in the illustration. This is the instrument of separation … This whole device is suspended between two pillars of green marble – Jachin and Boaz of Freemasonry. Students of Kabbalah will remember the third column which unites these two, and which, like the Great Seal in this figure, represented the adept whose perfected constitution united wisdom and generation – the law and the prophets.”
I left the gallery by a low and narrow door and entered a circular apartment, the panelling of which was made of ash and sandal wood.
At the further end of the apartment on a pedestal composed of the trunk of a vine, lay a mass of white and shining salt. Above was a picture showing a crowned white lion and a cluster of grapes; both rested on a salver sustained in the air by the smoke of a lighted brazier.
To my right and left, two doors opened, one giving unto an arid plain. A dry and scorching wind blew over it continually. The other door opened on a lake at the extreme end of which a black marble facade could be seen.
I approached the altar and took into my hands some of the white and shining salt which the sages call –
To reach it, I would have been obliged to follow the windings of a shore covered with rocks, and I preferred to cross the lake. I entered the water which was as thick as cement. I noticed that it was useless for me to swim, since my feet touched bottom everywhere. I walked in the lake for thirteen days. At last I came to the other shore.
(ALLUSION TO KEY 13, SCORPIO, NUN: see below)
From Manly P Hall’s commentary:
“Eliphas Levi writes, ‘To separate the subtle from the gross is to liberate the soul from the prejudices and from all vice, which is accomplished by the use of Philosophical Salt (wisdom); Mercury (personal skill and application); and finally, Sulphur (vital energy and fire of will). By these we may change into spiritual Gold … the refuse of the earth.’
(NB – these three qualities Salt, Sulphur, Mercury, relate also to the three Gunas (tamas, rajas, sattva) in Vedanta: also to Binah, Hokhmah, Keter on the Tree.)
“The Salt of the sages is wisdom derived from experience, for experience is the salt of earthiness or the material state, and a wise man is the salt of the earth. .. When the Initiate impregnates himself with salt, it is equivalent to saying he makes wisdom part of himself. Salt is a preservative of bodies, just as wisdom is a preservative of souls. Decay cannot affect that one who has discovered the wise man’s salt.
“Leaving the circular apartment and the mass of white shining salt, the Initiate approaches the edge of a sombre lake, and perceives at a distance a bridge called ‘the strong to be subdued’. The term also signifies a reflector or shadow suspended over the lake, and betokens the Rainbow Bridge, the Bifrost of the Scandinavians which leads from earth upward to Asgard …
“The eighth sign of the Zodiac, Scorpio, is well represented by the dark sombre waters. The sign of Scorpio was especially venerated by the Rosicruceans, who performed certain rituals only when the sun was in this constellation. With great difficulty the Initiate forces his way through the morass of Scorpio to reach the great temple of Sagittarius, which looms in front and above.”
A NOTE ON THE SCORPIO FORCE from The Book of Tokens:
“… In fact, the imagination of man is the universal imagination at work in a particular localised centre. The same power works through all animate and inanimate creation … Its essential nature is shown by the root-meaning of the verb NUN, N V N – to sprout, to propagate by sprouting. The same idea is to be found in the familiar parable of the leaven. Leaven is yeast, a one-celled plant that propagates by budding or emanation. The universal imagination effects all its transformations by a like process, for every new form is as it were, sprouted from something pre-existing.
“The Imaginative Intelligence is of course, especially active in the reproductive centres of the body, and hence NUN through its correspondence to Scorpio, is attributed to those centres. Here be careful to observe that the reproductive organism includes certain ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system. These are the Hindu chakras at the base of the spine, a little below the navel and at the solar plexus. It is by imagination that the serpent force in these centres is raised so that the poisonous Scorpion becomes the Eagle of aspiration … …
“You must wholly alter your conception of sex in order to comprehend the Ancient Wisdom … Not until after the Fall were Adam and Eve ashamed, and all our false sex modesty is the fruit of our remembrance of sex evils. We cannot too strongly insist that sex is sacred, and that it must be so regarded, for all the great symbols of the Ancient Wisdom have a decidedly phallic aspect … … It is the interior nervous organism, not the external organs, that is always meant by phallic symbolism, and the force that works through these interior centres is the Great Magical Agent, the divine serpent-fire.
“We have the almost superhuman task of creating a new set of associations with the word ‘sex’ … … false modesty must be replaced by a high and reverential attitude of respect for the centres where the fire of life is most active in the human body.”
Paul Foster Case, from The Book of Tokens, 1934
The earth was as dark as the water through which I had come.
A hardly perceptible slope led me to the base of the building which I had seen from afar. On its long square front several characters were engraved like those used by the priests of ancient Persia. The entire building was made of rough black basalt; the doors, of cypress wood, opened to let me pass. A warm, moist wind arose suddenly and pushed me rapidly to the middle of the chamber, at the same time closing the doors upon me …
I was in darkness, but gradually my eyes grew accustomed to the meagre light which reigned in this enclosure, and I was able to discern the surrounding objects. The vaulting, the walls and the floor of the chamber were as black as ebony. Two mural paintings arrested my attention; one represented a horse such as our poets describe as having caused the downfall of Troy. From its gaping flanks a human corpse protruded. The other image showed a man long dead. Vile insects bred by putrefaction swarmed over his face and devoured the substance which had given them birth. One of the arms of the dead man, stripped of its flesh, already showed the bones.
A man, dressed in red, standing by the corpse, endeavoured to lift it. A star shone on his forehead; his legs were enclosed in black buskins. Above, between and below the picture were three black panels bearing silver characters. I read them, and then occupied the time by making the rounds of the hall where I was to spend nine days.
In a dark corner I found a pile of black earth which was fat and saturated with animal particles. I was about to take some of it, when a thundering voice, like the sound of a trumpet, forbade me to do so, saying: “This earth has lain in this hall only eighty-seven years; when thirteen more years have elapsed, thou and the other children of God may use it.”
The voice fell silent, but its last ringing sounds continued to vibrate a long time in that temple of silence and death.
After remaining in it the time prescribed, I departed by the door opposite to the one through which I had entered. I again saw the light, but it was not so strong around the black hall as to tire my eyes habituated to darkness.
I saw with surprise that in order to reach the other buildings I should have to cross a wider lake than the first one. For eighteen days I walked in the water. I recalled that when crossing the first lake, its waters became darker and thicker as I advanced. My robe, which had in the palace become as black as the walls, seemed to me to be of a grayish hue; gradually it resumed its colours; however it did not become entirely blue but was nearer to a beautiful green.
Manly P Hall comments:
“The name of the hall is Corruption. The name of the first lake is the Beginning of Corruption, and the name of the second lake is the End of Corruption. The three cipher words when connected, give the meaning, ‘Corruption is the beginning of decay, and corruption is followed by death.’
“In the perfecting of the Stone of the Wise Man, it was discovered that it is impossible to unite the various elements into new fundamental patterns until each has been reduced to its most simple and original condition. This reduction, or the destroying of the personality of the elements, is the philosophical Corruption which, brought about by the Art, destroys all apparent differences in the alchemical materials, and renders possible a perfect mingling of their principles, to eventuate in the formation of the divine Stone.
“Mystically, the philosophic death is the destruction of the numerous aspects of the personality, so that from the soul and its extensions (the divine elements) may be formed the Diamond Soul of the Rose Cross.”