ROSICRUCIAN ALCHEMY AND THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE
by Jean-Pascal Ruggiu
(present Imperator of Ahathöor Temple No. 7, Paris,
Copyright © 1996, Jean-Pascal Ruggiu. All rights
Many people, when they think of the Hermetic Order
of the Golden Dawn, immediately think of "Magic" or
"Magick." Others would be surprised to learn that the
Golden Dawn is not, nor has it ever been a "Magical"
Order. It is rather the Inner Order behind the Golden Dawn, the
Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (R. R. et A. C.) which has
been from the very beginning a depository of the Rosicrucian spiritual
tradition. Furthermore, that which today has popularly become
known as "Magic" or "Magick" is actually a
development of that aspect of the Rosicrucian tradition known
Prior to the founding of the Inner Order behind the
Golden Dawn, Theurgy had never before been the primary focus of
the Rosicrucian spiritual tradition, but rather Alchemy instead.
Indeed, the Rosicrucian tradition itself grew out of the Alchemical
tradition. The true place of Theurgy within the Rosicrucian tradition
has always been as a complementary discipline to Alchemy.
Alchemy was a part of the curriculum studied by the
members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; but, excepted
some very concise definitions given in the "Knowledge Lectures"
about several terms used in Alchemy, very little was really taught
about Alchemy in the Outer Order. In the Second Order of R.R.&.A.C.
there was just a short study titled "Alchemy" written
in 1890 by Frater Sapere Aude (Dr. Wynn Westcott) and registered
as "Flying Roll N° VII". The only document concerning
practical Alchemy was a Z.2 Mss available to advanced Inner Order
members. This Z.2 document on Alchemy is quite valuable and extremely
interesting, so I shall try to analyze it in the second part of
Now, in the curriculum studied by members of the old
Golden Dawn, we must also include all the books edited by Wynn
Westcott in his Collectanea Hermetica because it was considered
in fact as the true curriculum of study for all the dedicated
members of the Outer Order. Indeed, this collection of books constituted
very valuable sources of information concerning the rituals of
the Outer Order. Among the treatises published in the Collectanea
Hermetica, there were several on Alchemy; these were the following
The notes and commentaries of Frater S.A. and Soror
S.S.D.D. about these alchemical treatises reflect a deep knowledge
of the subject. We must not forget also that members of the Golden
Dawn could consult the famous "Westcott Hermetic Library"
founded in 1891 for the convenience of their esoteric research.
This Hermetic Library contained many very rare books on Alchemy
(in Latin, in German, in French and in English) of which I give
here the complete list :
- Vol I. Hermetic Arcanum by Jean d'Espagnet with notes by
- Vol III. A short Enquiry concerning the Hermetic Art by
"A Lover of Philalethes" (with an introduction to alchemy
and notes by S.S.D.D. Florence Farr).
- Vol IV. AEsch-Metzareph or Purifying Fire from the Kabbalah
of Rosenroth (translated by "A Lover of Philalethe"
- 1714 - with notes by S.A.)
- Vol VII. Euphrates or the Waters of the East by Eugenius
Philalethes (Thomas Vaughan) with a commentary by S.S.D.D. (Florence
As this list demonstrates, Dr. Westcott was deeply
interested in Alchemy; indeed, the examination of his Map of the
Heavens shows several Egyptian symbolical degrees connected with
alchemy and medicine. The members of the Order could also read
with profit all the articles written by the scholar Arthur E.
Waite (Frater Sacramentum Regis) about alchemy, for instance :
- Abraham Eleazar : An ancient alchymic Work, translated in
English by W.S. Hunter from a German Mss" (Frankfort, 1774).
- Alchemy - 25 alchemic tracts in Latin.
- Alchemy - An account on some experiments on Mercury, silver
and gold in 1782 by J. Price (Oxford, 1782).
- Alchemy - The Science of Spiritual and Material, by Sapere
Aude (W.Wynn Westcott) - London, 1893.
- Becher - Tripus Hermeticus Fatidicus (three tracts on Alchemy)
- Borrichius - Hermetis Aegyptiorum et chemicorum sapientia
- Bourguet - Lettres philosophiques sur la formation des sels
et des cristaux (Amsterdam, 1729).
- Chambon - Traité des métaux et des minéraux
- Combachius - Sal Lumen et Spiritus Mundi Philosophici or
the dawning of the discovered (London, 1651).
- Flamel Nicolas - The Hieroglyphical Figures of 1624 (edited
by Wynn Westcott).
- Geber - His treatises on Alchemy in Latin illustrated (1682).
- Hitchcock - Remarks upon Alchemy and the Alchemists (New
- Kendall - An appendix to the unlearned Alchemist.
- Kirwan - Elements of mineralogy (London, 1784).
- Maier Michael-Arcana Arcanissima -Cantilene Intellectuales
de Phoenice redivivo -Scrutinum Chymicum (1687) - Symbolica Aureae
- Museum Hermeticum (21 alchemical treatises).
- Paracelsus - Compendium (1567).
- Philalethes Eirénée - Kern der Alchemie -
- Philalethes Eugenius - Lumen de Lumine or a New Magical
Light and The Second Wash - (London, 1651).
- Rosenkreuz Christian -Chymische Hochzeit (1616, Strasburg)
- Salmon Guillaume - Dictionnaire Hermétique (Paris,
- Salmon - Polygraphics (contains valuable articles on Alchemy).
- Stuart de Chevalier - Discours philosophiques sur les 3
Principes Alchimiques - (Paris, 1781).
- Valentine Basile - Triumphant Chariot of Antimony.
All theses articles were edited once again by R. A.
Gilbert in his book "Hermetic Papers of A. E. Waite, the
unknown writings of a modern mystic" (Roots of the Golden
Dawn Series - Aquarian Press 1987). Moreover, Waite wrote several
interesting studies about alchemy, such as :
- "What is alchemy ?" (in The Unknown World review
- "Thomas Vaughan and his Lumen de Lumine" (an introduction
to the edition of Lumen de Lumine or A New Magical Light by Thomas
Vaughan - 1910).
- "A Hermetic Apocalypse" (in the Occult Review,
Vol 17, 1913)
- "Kabbalistic Alchemy" (in Journal of the Alchemical
Society, Vol 2, 1914).
- Lives of Alchemystical Philosophers (1888)
- The Secret Tradition in Alchemy (1926)
- Raymond Lully (1922)
Waite edited and translated also many classical alchemical
Among the GOLDEN DAWN. members, Westcott and Waite
were not alone twith their interest in Alchemy: there were also
Mathers, Florence Farr, William Alexander Ayton, Frederick Leigh
Gardner, Dr. Felkin, Dr. Bullock, Allan Bennett and Julian Baker.
Among them, we know that Westcott, Ayton, Felkin, Bennett and
Baker could practise alchemy because they had the necessary knowledge
on chemistry due to their professions (they were chemists or phycisians).
- The Magical writings of Thomas Vaughan (1888)
- A Lexicon of Alchemy or Alchemical Dictionary by Martinus
- The Hermetic Museum Restored and Enlarged (1893)
- A Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels by Benedictus
- The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony by Basilus Valentinus
- Collectanea Chemica (1893)
- The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly (1893)
- The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus (1894)
- The Turba Philosophorum, or Assembly of the Sages (1896)
- The Works of Thomas Vaughan (1919)
THE SECRET ALCHEMICAL TRADITION OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
Was there really a secret alchemical tradition inside
the Golden Dawn and does this secret tradition still survive to
day ? I can testify that alchemical GOLDEN DAWN. tradition existed
and is still alive, because I had the privilege to receive it
as Imperator of Ahathöor Temple. I shall explain later how
it was transmitted in France, where we possess a strong alchemical
tradition, but before, it is useful to explain the origin of the
GOLDEN DAWN. Alchemy.
THE ROOTS OF THE GOLDEN DAWN ALCHEMICAL TRADITION
What is the origin of the GOLDEN DAWN. Alchemical tradition?
Curiously, the answer to this question is connected with the mysteries
of the Order's origins. Indeed, the main part of GOLDEN DAWN alchemical
tradition comes from the so-called "Hermanubis Temple N°
2" founded by Kenneth MacKenzie and Frederick Hockley. According
to the research of A. E. Waite, MacKenzie and Hockley were the
authors of the famous GOLDEN DAWN. Cypher Mss; this thesis seems
to be confirmed by several modern scholars and actual members
of the GOLDEN DAWN., such as R.A. Gilbert.
My own historical research on this subject validates
their conclusions; despite Westcott's claims about the so-called
Woodford's Cypher Mss transmission, he probably received these
manuscripts from Mrs. Alexandrina MacKenzie after the death of
her husband (Mrs. MacKenzie was indeed among the first initiates
received into the Golden Dawn under the significant motto Cryptonyma).
Frederick Hockley seems to have been the main source
of alchemical knowledge transmitted to the first members of the
Golden Dawn. Among the thousands books he possessed in his private
library, there were a lot of old alchemical treatises; but his
practical knowledge about Alchemy certainly came from Sigismund
Bacstrom. It is well-known that Hockley possessed the alchemical
diary and the certificate of admission of Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom
into the Societas Rosae+Crucis by the Earl Louis de Chazal at
the island of Mauritius on 12 September 1794. Hockley made several
copies of this document under the title A Journal of a Rosicrucian
Philosopher, which he published in the S.R.I.A. review The Rosicrucian
(Hockley belonged to the S.R.I.A). Dr. Percy Bullock (who was
one of the first Golden Dawn's members) bought a copy of this
document after Hockley's death and showed it to A. E. Waite.
It is highly significant that Bullock was more interested
by the alchemical process of the Philosophers' Stone described
in the Bacstrom diary than by his Rosicrucian Certificate; but
Waite was more interested, as a historian, by the certificate.
Indeed, this certificate proves that a genuine Rosicrucian transmission
still existed at the end of 18th century in a French dominion
(in the island of Mauritius). In a letter written to Alexander
Tilloch, dated 16th March 1804, Bacstrom explained that Louis
de Chazal was initiated into a Rosicrucian Lodge in Paris in 1740,
possibly by the famous Count de Saint-Germain himself. According
to the traditional rules of the Rosy+Cross, the Earl of Chazal
gave complete instructions about the Great Work to Sigismud Bacstrom
because it was his duty to form at least one apprentice before
the end of his life (he was aged 97 when he did this).
It is interesting to note that Dr. Bacstrom had also
several pupils (for instance, a certain Dr. Ford) when he was
living in the London district of Mary-le-Bone toward 1805. Curiously,
it was also at Mary-le-Bone that Francis Barrett was living at
the same time. Barrett wrote a famous book on Magic titled The
Magus or the Celestial Intelligence and claimed to be also a Frater
Rosae Crucis. Towards 1801, he founded an Academy of Magic at
Mary-le-Bone composed of no more than 12 pupils. Hockley knew
Barrett through his friend, John Denley who was a bookseller specialized
in occult books (Hockley worked for Denley and was involved in
copying many occult manuscripts for sale); according to Hockley,
Denley gave much information to Barrett for his book, The Magus.
It is interesting also to underline that it was in
Denley's bookshop that Lord Bulwer-Lytton claimed to have met
the mysterious Brother of the Rosy+Cross who gave him the cypher
Mss which he used for writing his famous novel "Zanoni".
Lytton's Rosicrucian novel is quite autobiographical; for instance,
when Glyndon asks Zanoni (his Rosicrucian Master) why he wanted
to teach him the mysteries of Alchemy, Zanoni answered that he
knew that one of Glyndon's ancestors belonged to the Fraternity,
and therefore, according to the rules of the brotherhood, it was
his duty to instruct him. In fact, this story is that of Lord
Bulwer-Lytton himself, because one of his ancestors, John Bulwer,
was an alchemist in the Sixteen Century and allegedly belonged
to the Rosy Cross Fellowship...
Now, to come back to Dr. Bacstrom, we are informed
through a letter Hockley addressed to Irwin, that Bacstrom pursued
the Great Work until the end of his life, but died very poor.
So, probably, he did not succeed in making the Philosopher's Stone
according to the instructions that he received from the Earl Louis
de Chazal and that he transcribed in his Essay on Alchemy (reprinted
under the title of Bacstrom's Alchemical Anthology by Kessinger
Publishing Company). It is to be noted that the alchemical way
followed by de Chazal and Bacstrom was an Antimony Way. A quite
valuable information about Bacstrom's process is given by the
famous French alchemist Fulcanelli in his book Les Demeures Philosophales.
Fulcanelli wrote that this process was not really Alchemy but
"Archimie", i.e. a kind of particular process obtained
from the exaltation of gold. Fulcanelli gave a strange information
about Bacstrom and Hockley : he wrote that "Among the archimists
having used gold for increasing it, with the help of successful
formulae, we shall quote (...) Yardley, an English inventor of
a process transmitted to Mr. Garden, a London glover, in 1716,
then communicated by Mr. F. Hockley to Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom
(who was affiliated to the Hermetic society founded by the Adept
de Chazal, who was living in the Mauritian island in the Indian
ocean, during the French Revolution). This process was the subject
of a Bacstrom's letter to Mr. L. Sand, in 1804."
So, if Fulcanelli's information is correct, Hockley
transmitted also an alchemical process to Bacstrom. Therefore,
it is not impossible that Hockley was also a practicing alchemist.
In any case, if Bacstrom died very poor, this was not the case
for Hockley. When he died, he left a great fortune : over £
3.500 (it was a quite substantial amount in 1885). Of course,
Hockley was an accountant and quite wealthy, but it is not impossible
that he obtained a part of his fortune through his alchemical
works. If he did not obtain the true Philosopher's Stone (he died
very ill at the age of 77), he could have succeeded in making
gold by a particular Archemical process. It seems that Bacstrom
received only the communication of a particular alchemical process
from the Earl of Chazal, but not the true Philosopher's Stone.
According to a letter that Bacstrom wrote to Alexander
Tilloch, we know that the Earl of Chazal "had obtained the
Lapis Philosophorum and the "Pierre Animale" (Animal
Stone). By the first he acquired what he possessed and by the
second, he had preserved his health to the age of 97."
This information is very valuable and proves that the
Earl of Chazal was really initiated into the genuine brotherhood
of the Rosy+Cross because there are only very few people who know
what the Animal Stone is. Indeed, the communication of the secret
of the "Animal Stone" is only given to the members belonging
to the "Internal College" (or Inner Order) of the genuine
and ancient Fraternity of Aureae Roseae+Crucis and still constitutes
the main secret of "internal alchemy". According to
the documents which are in my possession, this fraternity was
founded in 1580 in Germany and was reorganized in 1666 and 1777
under the name of the Masonic Order of the Gold und Rosenkreuz
Orden. It is interesting to note that the process of making the
"Animal Stone" described in the alchemical operative
corpus of the English Societas Rosae+Crucis of Dr. Bacstrom is
very similar to that of the German Aureae+Crucis Fraternitatis.
In fact, Dr. Bacstrom was in touch with German brethren of the
Golden Rosicrucian lodges and translated in English many secrets
documents written by German Fratres & Sorores, as Mathadanus,
Anton Kircheweger, Dorothea Wallachin, etc.
In France, a Rosicrucian lodge of Aureae Crucis Fraternitatis
was founded in 1624. The Hermetic Tradition survived mainly through
the Masonic French Illuminist Lodges during the 18th century and
through the "Egyptian Free-Masonry" during the 19th
Indeed, Egyptian Freemasonry (which was founded by
Cagliostro) was prominent in the development of Alchemy in the
19th century. For instance, we know that Fulcanelli was in relationship
with De Lesseps family involved with the Suez Canal building in
Egypt. Ferdinand de Lesseps belonged to the high degrees of Egyptian
Freemasonry and also to a very Secret Egyptian Society. Moreover,
we know than Fulcanelli was a close friend of Dujols, a Paris
bookseller who was deeply involved in the study of Alchemy and
Hermeticism. Dujols was associated with Alberic Thomas who was
an astrologer and chief of an Egyptian Masonic Lodge of Paris
named The Rainbow. According to Volguine (a French astrologer
who wrote some years ago an extremely interesting article about
"Astrology and Secrets Societies"), Alberic Thomas was
in touch with certain members of Ahathoör Temple N° 7
(founded by MacGregor Mathers in Paris in 1894); Alberic Thomas
was effectively a close friend of Frater Ely Star (Eugène
Jacob), a famous French astrologer and also Hierophant of Ahathöor
Temple...It is also important to underline that certain rituals
of the high degrees of the Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis are
very similar to those of the Golden Dawn (for instance, the names
of the officers are the same).
But these rituals are older than those of the GOLDEN
DAWN.! So, they could be the main source of the Cypher GOLDEN
DAWN. rituals. In any case, it could explain why Hockley and MacKenzie
were so fascinated by Cagliostro, founder of Egyptian Masonry,
and why they considered him as their chief Spirit in the Brotherhood
of Fratres Lucis which they founded together in England. According
to MacKenzie and Hockley's claims, they were initiated into the
Fratres Lucis in France at Paris, possibly by Eliphas Levi who
is alleged to be a member of this Brotherhood.
In fact, the original Fratres Lucis or "Brotherhood
of Light" was founded in Germany by the baron Ecker Von Eckhoffen,
a past member of the Golden Rosy+Cross and also founder of Asiatic
Brethren. All these German fraternities were deeply involved with
the practice of alchemy. My historical researches into these topics
proved that many members belonging to the Asiatic Brethren or
Fratres Lucis became members of a German masonic lodge called
L'Aurore Naissante (or "the Nascent Dawn") founded in
Frankfurt-on-Main in 1807. Westcott wrote that this lodge was
a "very ancient Rosicrucian Lodge of Frankfurt-on-Main where
Lord Bulwer Lytton was received into Adeptship". It is true
that Bulwer-Lytton went to Germany on a long visit during the
years 1841-1843 (his novel "Zanoni" was first published
in 1842), so he could have been initiated in the lodge of the
Nascent Dawn which still existed at the time. But before this
event, Lytton did also sojourn in Italy, at Naples, during the
years 1833-34, where he received some occult instructions probably
from the prince San Severo, who was a member of the Golden Rosy+Cross.
Both Bulwer-Lytton and Kenneth MacKenzie knew quite
well the famous French Magus Eliphas Lévi who was a practicing
alchemist. Just before his second visit to England in 1861, Eliphas
Lévi carried out some alchemical experiments with one of
his pupil, Dr. Fernand Rozier (1839-1922), who became later a
friend of the famous Papus. Moreover, one of Lévi's close
friends was Louis Lucas, a leading alchemist and author of a novel
entitled Roman Alchimique. Eliphas Lévi did claim to know
the secret of transmutation. "I possess", he stated
in an letter, "some very curious manuscripts of the hermetic
art, and I have a profound knowledge of the mysteries of that
science. I have seen the secret fire produced, I have seen how
two metallic sperms are formed, the white which resembles mercury,
and the red which is a viscous oil resembling molten sulphur.
I know what can be done with gold, but believe me when I say that
I will never do it." Among the curious manuscripts about
hermetic art which E. Lévi was referring to, the more important
seems to have been the Æsch Mezareph which he published
in 1861 as an appendix to his book La Clef des Grands Mystères
("The Key of Great Mysteries" which was later translated
by A. E. Waite). Dr. Westcott published also the Æsch Mezareph
according to an old english translation (dated 1714) from the
Latin version of Rosenroth.
So it is not impossible that Eliphas Lévi knew
the Æsch Mezareph from the English Adepts, but he wrote
that he discovered this text hidden in a church. It must be underlined
also that Eliphas Lévi visited London again in 1861, just
after his initiation into Free-Masonry, in the company of his
pupil and protector, the Count Alexander Braszynsky, a practicing
alchemist who had a laboratory in the castle of Beauregard at
Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, Mme de Balzac's home. The Count Braszynsky
was, like Lévi, a friend of Lord Bulwer-Lytton, and the
two men went to stay at his castle, Knebworth, in Hertfordshire.
It was also the same year (1861) that Kenneth MacKenzie visited
Eliphas Lévi in Paris. Alexander Ayton, the alchemist of
the Golden Dawn, told W.B. Yeats that he made an elixir of life
that he shewed to "a French alchemist", probably Eliphas
Lévi himself when the latter visited England in 1861.
Now, the relationship between all these men is made
clear by knowing that they belonged to the Internal College of
the Rosy+Cross, which was always dedicated to the study and the
practice of alchemy, the most secret occult science. Indeed, according
to the tradition of F.A.R+C (Frères Ainés de la
Rose+Croix or Elder Brethren of the Rosy Cross), a very secretive
Order still existing in France, Lord Bulwer-Lytton was elected
in 1849 as the 51st Imperator of their Order, until 1865; the
52d Imperator was Alphonse Louis Constant (Eliphas Lévi)
from 1865 to 1874; the 53rd Imperator was William Wynn Westcott
(1874-1892), the 54th Imperator was Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
(1892-1898), then Rudolf Steiner (1898-1900). An internal document
about the Order history, Legenda of F.A.R.+C., could explain the
relationship between French and English Adepts. Indeed, the fraternity
was created in 1316 after the persecutions of Knights Templar
by Philippe le Bel, King of France. Several Knights Templar escaped
to England, then to Scotland. One of them, the baron Guidon de
Montanor, who had been initiated in the Middle-East into the mysteries
of Alchemy, instructed Gaston de la Pierre Phoebus in this Art.
Both together they decided to found a new Order, the Elder Brethren
of the Rosy+Cross, and to return to France with 25 others Knights
Templar, under the secret protection of the Pope Jean XXII, who
was residing at this time in the south of France at Avignon.
So, if Westcott & Mathers were really elected as
Imperator of F.A.R+C., we could understand better why MacGregor
Mathers considered that his "Secret Masters" were living
in France at Paris; it is to be underlined that the mysterious
French alchemist Fulcanelli was living there during that time
and had many acquaintances among the French occultists surrounding
Papus (Dr. Gerard Encausse) who was also initiated in Ahathöor
Temple on Saturday March 23rd 1895. Anyway, Mathers could not
forget that he was from Scottish lineage and that the MacGregor's
clan originated from the Argylle County, just near Mull island
where the French Knights Templar took refuge. According to Mathers'
claims, one of his masters was a Scottish Adept living in Paris,
Frater Ex Lux Septentriones.
THE GOLDEN DAWN ALCHEMICAL TRADITIONS'S SURVIVAL
After the 1903 schism, it seems that a great part of
the Alchemical Golden Dawn tradition survived both inside the
Stella Matutina and the Alpha Omega.
STELLA MATUTINA ALCHEMY
Dr. Felkin's contacts with the German occultist Rudolf
Steiner, who was closely connected with an old branch of the German
Rosy+Cross (the Illuminati) and Imperator of F.A.R.+C., were very
fruitful. It seems that several spiritual alchemical practices
were taught to Dr. Felkin by Steiner (for instance, the development
of the Middle Pillar Ritual and the introduction to the Rosy Cross
Ritual, which were Stella Matutina practices). The famous Z. 2
document on Alchemy was certainly written by Felkin, and not by
Mathers. By the way, it must be underlined that the Rituals of
R.R.&.A.C. were not entirely created by MacGregor Mathers,
but that he was inspired by those of the German Golden Rosy+Cross,
which I am quite sure he received by regular transmission. Indeed,
I have the proof that the GOLDEN DAWN. wands' patterns were inspired
by the Moses' Wand described in a very secret and old German document
of the Golden Rosy Cross (dated 1514), a copy of which is in my
possession and that I received from the Internal college of this
Order. It is quite interesting to note that this document contains
strong Polish Jewish Cabalistic influences, and especially those
coming from the school of Shabbathai Zévi, who proclaimed
himself in 1666 to be the Messiah awaited by all the Jews. This
date (1666) is very interesting, because it is in accordance with
a solar cycle of 111 years. Indeed, the German Golden Rosy+Cross
Order was linked to this 111 years cycle; for instance, it was
in 1777 that this Order was reformed with a new scale of grades,
which was also adopted both by the S.R.I.A. and the Golden Dawn
founded 111 years latter in 1888. Now, the Golden Rosy+Cross document
which I referred to above, contains also many rituals which we
find once again in the Golden Dawn (for instance several versions
in Latin and in Hebrew of the Cabalistic Cross Ritual and the
Middle Pillar Ritual). So, this document constitutes the proof
that the Golden Dawn magical rituals are in fact the developments
of those of the German Golden Rosy Cross; but as these latter
rituals are still very secrets, it is also the proof that the
founders of the GOLDEN DAWN. received a genuine German Rosicrucian
Now to come back to the Alchemical tradition of the
Stella Matutina, it seems to be well preserved in New-Zealand,
where Dr. Felkin went to live. Pat Zalewski, Chief of Thoth-Hermès
Temple in Wellington, wrote to me and gave me very interesting
information about his alchemical works; he underlined in his letter
that he considered the practice of alchemy necessary in the R.R.
et A.C. However, he wrote that the real practice of alchemy was
revealed to advanced members of the Inner Order only. It was also
the case in the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega where practical
alchemy was revealed only to Adepti Exempti.
ALPHA OMEGA ALCHEMY
In England, the Golden Dawn Alchemical tradition was
well preserved in the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega, especially
through the action of Frater Animo Et Fide (Edward Langford Garstin),
Cancellarius of the London A.O. Temple. Garstin received from
Moïna Mathers some very valuable alchemical treatises which
her husband praised very much, especially Jacob Boehme's Mysterium
Magnum and Kirchweger's Aurea Catena Homeri (1722). MacGregor
Mathers valued also very much Salomon Trismosin's Splendor Solis
because this treatise included 22 beautiful colored plates which
Mathers correlated of course with the 22 Paths of the Tree of
Life. But there is another alchemical treatise of this kind that
Garstin knew very well : Le Livre des 22 Feuillets Hermétiques
("The Book of 22 Hermetic Leaves") of Kerdanek de Pornic
which describes twenty-two hermetic Arcanes, a number recalling
the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot. It is possible that it was MacGregor
Mathers who discovered this very rare French booklet in France
which Garstin received from Moïna. This booklet, which is
in my possession, is very valuable because it is a very clear
description of the 22 steps of the Great Work including many laboratory
drawings. Strangely, the alchemical way which is described in
the Book of 22 Hermetic Leaves is an Antimonial Way very similar
to the Bacstrom's one.
Langford Garstin wrote two unpublished essays about
alchemy : Alchemy and Astrology and A Glossary of Alchemical Terms.
He published also two others books titled Theurgy (1930) and Secret
Fire (1932). As an Englishman, Garstin was naturally more interested
by the works of past alchemists in Britain, like Vaughan, Philalethes,
Norton, Ripley, John Dee and Kelley. In fact, Garstin was not
really involved with operative alchemy, but rather he practiced
"spiritual alchemy" (I believe that a great part of
this spiritual alchemy was given to B.O.T.A. through the Alpha
Omega's American Temples).
Now, Edward Garstin was also the secretary of the Quest
Society, to which belonged also Gerard Heym, one of his best friends.
Gerard Heym was a French alchemist living sometimes at London.
He was a close friend of S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Moïna
Bergson-Mathers. However, he was never initiated in Ahathöor
Temple because his name does not appear on the old Minutes Books
of our Temple, but Gerard Heym was a founder-member of the Society
for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry and of its famous
journal, Ambix. He was also member of a French literary society
called Les Amants de la Licorne (The Lovers of the Unicorn) which
was deeply involved in the study of alchemical symbolism. This
society was founded by Claude d'Ygé who published an Anthologie
de la Poésie Hermétique. This French Literary Society
is still surviving to day in Paris, under the name of L'Orbe de
la Licorne , of which I am a member.
In his introduction to the French translation of Gustav
Meyrinck's novel, Le Dominicain Blanc, Gerard Heym shows his insight
into the theory of Taoist Alchemy. It is possible that he belonged
to the F.A.R.+C., because this French Rosicrucian Brotherhood
is the only one in Europe to be involved with the survival of
Chinese Alchemy and to practice the Way of the "Red Dragon".
Both Gerard Heym and Langford Garstin were friends
of Archibald Cockren, who was the greatest British alchemist of
this century. Cockren was a genuine adept living in London in
the 1930's and seems to have been a member of Alpha Oméga.
He wrote Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored (1940). Ithell Colqhoun
wrote that when Garstin visited his wonderful laboratory, Cockren
showed him "the Philosophers' Egg, a glass vessel of ovoid
shape containing layer upon layer of basic matter in the traditional
colors of black, gray, white and yellow. At the top these had
blossomed into a flower-like form, a pattern arranged like petals
around a center, all of a glowing orange-scarlet. By keeping his
basic matter for a long time at a constant gentle heat, Cockren
had caused it to grow; it had branches like a tree."
It is to be noted that Garstin's description about
this philosophic flower is quite the same as that of the Red Flower
described in the Book of the 22 Hermetic Leaves; indeed, Cockren
worked along the way of the "Lead of the Wisemen". He
followed directions he found also in the writings of Sir George
Ripley - probably in the Bosom Book - which gives a method for
preparing the philosopher's stone. According to Garstin, Cockren
used always an "open Pentagram" during his alchemical
experiments, which is the proof that he followed the instructions
given in the Z.2 Golden Dawn Alchemical Rituals.
Archibald Cockren prepared oils extracted from metals,
and especially oil of gold, the most powerful for healing diseases.
He cured Mrs. Maiya Tranchell-Hayes (Soror Ex Fide Fortis, Imperatrix
of an Alpha Omega Temple) of a nervous break-down by giving her
three drops of oil-of-silver. Cockren saved also the life of Gerard
Heym at the beginning of the Second World Ward, by giving him
a balsam when the latter was injured in the Fire Service. During
the year 1965, Gerard Heym told Miss Colquhoun than one of his
friend, aged 95, had taken potable gold given by Cockren with
great benefit; its effect was to prolong his life and his youth.
According to Miss Colquhoun, Archibald Cockren was killed during
the Second World War when a bomb destroyed his laboratory; but
according to C. R. Cammell, Cockren survived the wartime 'hit'
on his laboratory which was protected. Cammell says that "when
his laboratory was wrecked by the nearby explosion of a bomb,
the glass retorts, containing the elixirs, in all states of transmutation,
were unharmed - which seemed to be a miracle, as indeed it was".
According to Cammell, Cokren moved to Brighton "where on
the threshold of final triumph (to discover the Philosophical
Stone), he died some years since - about 1950".
Cammell claims that "Cockren gave him at different
times two phials of an elixir of gold, the dose being a few drops
taken in wine". Cammell says: "The benefit to me was
astonishing. At the most dreadful period of the Germain air-attack
in 1940, when I was constantly engaged in Air Raid Precaution
work, this elixir so exalted me that, when taking it, I experienced
little fatigue or nervous depression, required little sleep or
food, and both felt and looked healthful and invigorated".
This description about the effects of the gold tincture
is quite accurate, as I can testify by my own experience after
I had taken some drops of potable gold given to me by the brother
who initiated me into the F.A.R+C.
But the main part of the alchemical tradition of Alpha
Oméga is preserved in the archives of our Ahathöor
Temple which contains very valuable and rare papers, especially
the famous Ancient Chymical Work of Abraham Eleazar, whose true
name is Sepher Ha-Iorah (in Hebrew), published in German in 1735
and translated in English by Frater In Cornu Salutem Spero (William
Sutherland Hunter) and in French by Soror Semper Ascendere (Mme
Voronof), Praemonstratrix of Ahathöor Temple in 1925. The
alchemical process described in the Sepher Ha Iorah is similar
to the way described in the Second Book of the Thesaurus Thesaurorum
a Fraternitate Rosae et Aureae Crucis Testamento and also in the
Sigillum Secretorum or Magnalia Dei Optimi Maximi translated from
the Latin in English by Frater Deo Duce Comite Ferro (S. L. MacGregor
Mathers), which is also preserved in our archives.
I had the good fortune to discover one another very
rare and beautiful French copy of the Sepher Ha Iorah copied and
illustrated in colors with the master's hand of Eliphas Lévi
himself. According a note from Eliphas Lévi, his copy of
this book was made from the original (alleged to have been the
famous book of Abraham the Jew that Nicolas Flamel discovered!).
Eliphas Lévi wrote that the original book belonged in the
past to the famous French alchemist Duchanteau (a member of the
Golden Rosy+Cross). The original seems to have been written in
Hebrew; in any case the copy of Eliphas Lévi is full of
Hebrew words... Eliphas Lévi offered and dedicated his
copy to his protector the Earl of Mniszech, who was also an alchemist
and a friend of Lord Bulwer Lytton. Actually, this wonderful copy
of Eliphas Lévi belongs to a private collector who is also
a member of a very closed Hermetic Society of Paris.
Among the other valuable papers preserved in the archives
of Ahathöor Temple, I must quote also :
- The Golden Age Revived by Mathadanus (Count Adrian
Mynsicht - 1621) a Mss translated and written with the hand of
Frater D.D.C.F. Mathers added at the end of his translation the
following significant note :
"This latter work is partly reproduced from the
manuscript Book given by the Secret Chiefs of the Inner Ring of
the Rosicrucians to the Supreme Magus of the Order of the Rose
and Golden Cross in the Outer, and de novo in safe keeping. Rosicrucians
of the higher grades of the Outer will know what book I refer
and it is for their benefit alone that I make this allusion."
- "Le Trésor des Trésors ou comment
on peut ramener les corps à leur matière première
dans le but d'obtenir leur génération ou leur multiplication".
This Mss. has been accredited to François Borri, an Italian
Alchemist who was the Master of Queen Christine of Sweden. This
Mss was translated and transcribed by Soror Semper Ascendere on
July 20, 1926. According to a note written by the Queen Christine
at the end of the Mss, she succeeded in the Great Work. The way
practiced is similar to that of Synesius.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE Z.2 MSS ON ALCHEMY
Now, I should try to analyze this quite remarkable
Z. 2 document because it is one of the very few writings on Alchemy
explaining from a practical point of view the relationship between
Magic, Alchemy and Astrology. The operative alchemical process
explained in this Z. 2 Mss is rather theoretical.
Indeed, in real practical Alchemy the choice of the
Materia Prima often determines the kind of way to be followed
: dry or wet. For instance, very hard metals such as iron could
not be treated in the same way as very soft one's, such as mercury
: that is just a question concerning the melting point of metals.
So, the technical operations of the dry way possess some analogy
with metallurgy; those of wet way use glass vessels as in chemistry.
Moreover, there are many different processes in the dry way or
the wet way, not only according to the kind of the First Matter
chosen, but also when using a specific matter. For instance, in
the "Antimonial Way" (which is a dry way) there are
a lot of various processes. Even more complicated is the "Magnesia
Way", usually rather a Wet Way, but which it is possible
to work also according to the Dry Way process !
It is interesting to know that the alchemical process
described in the famous Z. 2 document belongs essentially to the
Wet Way. This way is longer than the dry one, but easier to practice
and also safer : the dry way is very short, but quite dangerous.
The Wet Way uses distillations and sublimations in a cucurbite
of liquid substances at low temperatures; the Dry Way uses crucibles,
dry substances and high temperatures. Nevertheless, the Z. 2 document
begins by the Wet Way, and finishes by the Dry way. It is to be
noted that the Bacstrom process is just the opposite : it begins
by the Dry Way (with the crucible) and finishes by a coction made
the Wet Way (in a glass vessel). Indeed, there is sometimes a
bridge between the two ways, which is one of the main difficulties
for someone wishing to study Alchemy.
Now, the examination of the different alchemical steps
described in the Z.2 shows certain errors, especially concerning
the "Regimen of Planets" which is not correct; indeed,
the order described in the Mss is the following : Saturn - Moon
- Sun - Mars - Mercury - Jupiter - Venus. The traditional planetary
succession described in all Alchemical treatises is : Mercury
- Saturn - Jupiter - Moon - Venus - Mars - Sun. In fact, this
is the order of the color succession during the coction, which
is always the end point of the Great Work. The Ancients described
the colors changing of the Matter according to the old astrological
color attributions of the planets. So, Mercury is symbolized by
several various colors; Saturn, black; Jupiter, gray; Moon, white;
Venus, green; Mars, red; and Sun, gold. But we must not forget
than the GOLDEN DAWN. planetary color scale, the "Rainbow
Scale", is different; so, if we take the planetary order
described in the Z. 2. document, we obtain the following color
succession : indigo - blue - orange - red - yellow - purple -
green. This is not at all the usual color succession of the great
Another discrepancy of the Z. 2 document with other
secret operative alchemical works concerns the exposure of the
matter to sunlight and moonlight, the sequences which are not
correct. However, the mere fact that this process is given proves
that the author of the Z. 2 document was really well instructed
in the mysteries of Alchemy, because this indication was never
revealed in published texts (although it was often shown in many
plates). Indeed, the action of light upon the matter, and above
all, how and when it has to be applied, is one of the main secrets
that the Philosophers reveal only to their pupils after due initiation
and under oath. Fulcanelli gave a very good definition of Alchemy
as being "the art of transmutation of the matter by the power
At last, we could observe that in the process described
in the Z. 2 document, the alchemist finally obtains a powder and
an oil; but in the Great Work, oil and powder are always united
through a long process called "imbibitions" until a
red powder or tincture ("the Red Lion") is obtained.
So, we have to conclude that the process described
in Z.2 does not concern the making of the Philosopher's Stone,
but is rather a "particular process", for instance such
as the extraction of the salt and oil (or "sulfur")
of a metal or a plant.
One of the more interesting characteristic of the Z.
2 on Alchemy is that the magical rituals are connected with the
alchemical process. Indeed, this kind of information is always
missing in classical alchemical texts. However, one of the only
magical instructions concerning alchemy that I could find (excepted
the Z.2 Mss) are contained in a very secret text communicated
to me by the Internal College of the Golden Rosy+Cross Fraternity,
which is titled : "Testamenti Fraternitatis Roseae et Aureae
Crucis - Liber II: "De Magia Divina et Naturali cum Chymico-Magicae
The process described in this document is an internal
alchemical practice using "Potable Gold" linked with
the evocation of the seven Planetary Intelligences and of the
Artist's Guardian Angel. It is to be underlined that all these
magical, or rather theurgical, practices were always possible
after the achievement of the Philosopher's Stone, which was used
as a kind of "astral magnet" for attracting spiritual
The Adepts who gave me these secret instructions emphasized
the fact that nobody could really practice Magic safely before
having obtained the Philosopher's Stone and having been regenerated
by its powers. Indeed, an English Adept told me that according
to his own experiments, the Philosopher's Stone could awaken greatly
the faculties of precognition, which could be very useful for
communicating with spiritual beings during a magical evocation.
Now, it must be known that the ingestion of the Philosopher's
Stone or of the Potable Gold could be dangerous to unprepared
people, because these substances awake what the old Rosicrucians
Adepts called "the subtle fires of the body" (the kundalini
), and cause a great enhancement of the sexual power which is
very difficult to control. If the pupil is not correctly prepared,
the elixir could cause all kind of disturbances in his private
life : he could be enslaved by his passions and unable to control
and manage this new energy. If he does not know how to sublimate
the power of the "secret fire" of his kundalini, this
energy will be wasted on purely sexual activities or thoughts.
In other cases, this "fire" could rise up to his brain
and cause many hallucinations. If the pupil's mind is not enough
purified, he could see monsters like Glyndon in Zanoni, the famous
Bulwer Lytton novel. Generally, the elixir causes a great "karmic"
elimination, especially concerning the pupil's love life.
This is the reason why the Adepts never give the Elixir,
or Drinkable Gold, to unprepared pupils and to young people, but
only to experienced pupils, aged at least 40 years old and only
after 7 years of training. This training concerns in a certain
way some "tantric" practices (far away from the so-called
"sexual magic" of Aleister Crowley!). Indeed, the Internal
College of the Golden Rosy+Cross knew this kind of practices,
but they were always kept very secret because the Adepts feared
that they could be misused. Another part of this magical training
is a kind of "yoga" involving meditation on moon and
sun light with magical mirrors. Of course, MacGregor Mathers knew
something about theses secrets practices (which are only unveiled
to the grade of Exempts) because he received the operative corpus
of the Golden Rosy+Cross and especially the secrets commentaries
about the Salomonic et Mosaic Magical Claviculae.
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