Rosicruciana in Anglia
Third Grade - Practicus
The Convocation ts held in a
Rosicrucian Temple; a White Altar stands in the East, and the Cross of the Grade
stands upon it; upon the Altar are also five candles, two in front of three. The
Celebrant is seated in the East at the South side of the Altar, the Exponent in
the West, the Secretary in the North-East, the Conductor in the South-West and
the Guardian near the Portal. The Four Ancients are seated as in the Grade of
Theoricus. The Acolyte is without the Portal in the ante-chamber.
The Candidate must be supplied
with an Admission Badge, a Swastika Cross, the arms to be coloured red, blue,
black and yellow, the central
square alone being white.
The Candidate is not blindfolded;
he must carry the Swastika in his right hand. The Candidate will knock as a
Theoricus, four and one, when he seeks admission at the Portal of the Temple.
The knocks of a Practicus are two
The College is adjourned in the
Grade of Zelator (or closed zn the Grade of Philosophus), all Fratres below the
Grade of Practicus, including the Candidates, are asked to withdraw: the
Ancients move to their new positions, and the Altar candles are changed (also
the Cross of Grade IV has been worked immediately before Grade III).
Celebrant: Fratres, assist me to open the Temple in the Grade of Practicus.
Celebrant gives one knock. All
rise, and the Guardian stands beside the Portal.
Celebrant: Frater Guardian, you,will take care that the Acolyte is without, and that
the Portal of the Temple is duly closed.
Guardian does this and reports: The Portal is closed, and the Temple is safely guarded.
Celebrant: I declare that the Temple is now duly opened in the Grade of Practicus.
Celebrant gives two and three
Celebrant or Chaplain: May peace and harmony dwell among us, and may our exertions to achieve
success in the practice of our Rosicrucian duties lead us to the solution of the
great problems of our Science, the transmutation of the Elements, the fixing of
the Volatile, and volatilization of the Fixed.
All: Amen. Amen. Amen.
Celebrant: Be seated, Fratres.
Ceremony of Reception
Celebrant: Fratres, we are assembled to carry on the work of our Society in the
Grade of Practicus, to receive a Theoricus among us, and to confer upon him the
rights and privileges as well as the secret knowledge of the Third Grade.
Exponent: Right (or Very) Worthy Celebrant, we rejoice to hear that another Frater
has deserved to be received as a Practicus; and we will assist in his reception,
and will give him, to the best of our ability, all the help he may need to
ensure his further progress.
Conductor: Right (or Very) Worthy Celebrant, Frater ..., having worthily performed
his duty as a Theoricus in the Second Grade, and having been chosen for
reception into the Third Grade, is in attendance without the Portal. He seeks
admission in order to proceed to the practical and experimental work of the
Society of the Rose and Cross.
Celebrant: Frater Conductor, you will leave the Temple and receive from our Frater
the Secret Words of a Theoricus, hand to him (if more
han one Candidate, to the leading Candidate) the Swastika Cross of
Admission, and instruct him to knock on the Portal as a Theoricus.
Conductor complies, knocks are
Celebrant: Frater Guardian, you will admit the Conductor and the Theoricus whom he
brings with him.
This is done, and both stand
within the Portal.
Conductor: Right (or Very) Worthy Celebrant, I present to you Frater ...; a
Theoricus of our Society who, having been duly attentive to the studies of that
Grade, now seeks to obtain a practical knowledge of our secret work.
Celebrant: Frater Conductor, you will lead the Theoricus once around the Temple, and
then place him in the West before the Exponent who desires to put certain
This is done.
Exponent: Give me the Sign and Word of a Theoricus.
Candidate does so.
Exponent: You have been selected for advancement because you have shown zeal and
ability in the Theoretic studies of our Society. Do you make a solemn promise to
continue with unabated fervour to pursue your researches into the Mysteries of
Candidate: I do.
Exponent: Will you endeavour to discover the secrets of the Material World by
Candidate: I will.
The Conductor turns Candidate to
face the Celebrant.
Celebrant: Do you solemnly promise on the honour of a Rosicrucian to preserve and
keep secret from every Zelator, and from every Theoricus until his reception
into a College of Practici, and from every other person who is not a Rosicrucian,
the hidden knowledge of the Grade, and also the Concealed Word of a Practicus,
and any other sign or secret that may be made known to you?
Candidate: I do promise.
Celebrant: Fratres, shall we trust this Theoricus with our Secret Knowledge?
We put our trust in his faith and in his abilities.
Celebrant: Frater Conduclor, you will place our Frater before me in the East.
Celebrant: Hand to me the Cross you bear.
This is done by the Candidate.
Celebrant: The form of the Cross of especial symbolism in the Grade of Practicus is
the Swastika, called also the Fylfot Cross. It is an emblem of very ancient
date, and has been found in countries widely separated; it is the Cross of the
Jains of India, and was the Hammer of Thor of Scandinavian myths. This Grade is
chiefly concerned with the study of the material Universe, and the arms of this
figure are referred to the Four Elements of the Ancient Philosophers. The
colours Red, Blue, Yellow and Black refer to Fire, Water, Air and Earth, on the
lower plane; and on the higher plane, to the Hebrew letters, Yod, Heh, Vau, Heh
of the Great Name Jehovah; and again to I N R I, who is Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judæorum;
and these initials I N R I again refer to Jammim, Nour, Ruach, and Yabeshah,
which were the Chaldean names for the Four Elements. The central square is
White, to represent the blending of all colours into a Unity.
The Celebrant places the Cross on
the Altar, below the Calvary Cross.
Celebrant: I will now reveal to you the Secret Word of the Grade, which is Alchemia.
The Sign is given thus; point down with the left hand to your material work,
while you look up as for help from above.
The Conductor places the
Candidate in the North, facing South.
Celebrant: Know then, Frater Practicus, that your new study is Alchymy, the Science
of the composition of the Material World; in this study Practice and Experiment
alone can lead to success, and these require to be preceded by the Theoretical
knowledge of the former Grade.
Exponent: Learn then, O Practicus, to separate the Subtle from the Gross, gently
and with judgment, for such is the true process of Transmutation on the
Spiritual plane as well as in the Material World.
Celebrant: We can but point you the Way; you yourself must follow out the path. We
can check you when you wander from the narrow way of progress to the goal; but
you yourself must perform the steps of the process.
Exponent: Solve et Coagula; Time and Heat and Moisture act upon the First Matter of
the Philosophers, and you will be led to the Queen and to the King. Through the
Black Dragon of Putrefaction and the White Eagle of Sublimation you may at
length attain to the Red Stone, the Quintessence, the Son of the Sun, and so
become possessed of the Key to the Constitution of Malkuth.
Celebrant: Know then, O Practicus, that there is a Physical Alchymy, and a possible
Transmutation of Elementary Matter; and there is a Spiritual Alchymy reserved
for your enlightenment in the Grade of Philosophus.
Exponent: Learn then to preserve our Secret Wisdom. The Alchymists have ever used
the language of Metaphor; and when we describe the Physical processes we veil
our ideas in Spiritual language; and when we write down the secrets of the
Spiritual World, we use the language of Physical Alchymy.
Celebrant: Ever so, my Frater, have the boasters and ignorant of the outside World
been deceived, and have been hoodwinked and led astray by their own conceits.
Celebrant stands, and, holding
out his right hand, says: Swear then with me, O Practicus,
swear by your good right hand,
May it perish and wither away if it write our
secrets without Emblem, Metaphor, and Symbol.
The Candidate holds out his right
hand and repeats the Pledge.
Celebrant resumes seat.
Celebrant: We accept your pledge and will no longer detain you from your duties. You
should continue to wear the jewel of the Society suspended by a plain green
ribbon, as before. I present you with a copy of the Ritual of this Grade. You
may now take your seat among the Practici, and attend to a Lecture on Alchymy.
Note: If the Lecture is not going
to be given in full, the Celebrant will say, instead of the last sentence above:
You may now take your seat among the Practici.
The subject of Alchymy is one of great interest and
it is well to approach the consideration of the science from the standpoint of
Western Occult Philosophy, handed down to us from the Sages of Medieval Europe,
and obtained by them from three principal sources. Firstly, from the Arabs, who
almost alone preserved the ancient sciences through the dark ages. Secondly,
from Rabbis of Hebrew culture, who possessed the traditional lore now identified
by the name ‘Kabalah’, that tradition to which ancient Chaldea and Babylon
so largely contributed. Lastly, from the ancient Egypt of the Pharaohs, ruled by
mighty pnest-kings, who were initiates in the Mysteries of Isis, Osiris and
Alchymy has two aspects: the material and the
spiritual. The opinion that Alchymy was only a form of Chemistry is untenable by
anyone who has read the works of its chief professors. The doctrine that
Alchymic writings were only religious teachings, and that the chemical
references were all foolish allegories, is equally untenable in the face of
history which shows that many of its most noted professors were men who had made
important discoveries in the domain of chemistry, and were in no way notable as
teachers either of ethics or of religion.
Chemistry, the modern science which investigates
the construction of material substances, is the lineal descendant of Medieval
and Ancient Al-Chymy. The syllable Al is the Arabic definite article, meaning
‘The’, and so Alchymy was The Higher Chemistry. It treated of the essential
nature of Matter of the Elements, of metals, of minerals, and of Transmutation.
Modern Chemistry is a science devoted chiefly to utilitarian and commercial uses.
The earliest use of the word ‘Alchymy’ is
believed to be found in the works of Julius Firmicus Maternus, an Astronomer,
who lived in the time of the Emperor Constantine. The oldest Alchymic Volume
known is by Zosimus of Panopolis, in Greek, and is entitled, ‘The Divine Art
of making Gold and Silver’; it was written about AD 400. The Medieval authors
often call Alchymy the ‘Hermetic Art’, implying an origin from Hermes
Trismegistus of Egypt, the prehistoric teacher, to whom was attributed the
‘Emerald Tablet’, which has been not inaptly described as being a resume of
all Alchymic science on a single page.
Amongst the most famous names of European Alchymy
we note that several were of men who rose to high dignity in the Church; such
were Pelagius; Synesius, a Bishop; Heliodorus, a Bishop; Cremer; Ripley, a
Canon; Albertus Magnus, a Dominican; Thomas Aquinas; Basil Valentine, a
Benedictine; Raymond Lully, a Franciscan; Trithemius, an Abbot of Spanheim; and
Pope John XXII.
The science of Alchymy taught that all material
substances were primordially derived from the basic ‘hyle’ or foundation.
From this basis differentiation arose, and by myriad steps the immense variety
of material substances, such as we now see around us, originated by progression.
From the common Minerals were developed the Metals, also in gradation of purity
and excellence, until an acme was reached in the two so-called Perfect Metals,
Silver and Gold. Hence arose the Art of Transmutation, by which it was sought to
produce Silver and Gold from other metals below them in the series, notably from
Mercury, Antimony and Lead. Many, indeed, were the processes devised, but there
was a general concensus of opinion that the last three stages of the chemical
process were marked by a series of colour changes, from Black through White to
Red; this red matter was the Philosopher’s Stone, or Red Elixir, which could
transmute Silver into Gold. The Alchymists also endeavoured to produce from
certain herbs an Elixir Vitæ, which should have power to prolong life and
restore health to the sick.
The discovery of Elements has been the grand
achievement of relatively Modern Chemistry, and certain renown has for a century
been granted to any chemist who has added a new element to the existing
catalogue. The future may change this system, and a niche in the Temple of Fame
may be allotted to one who succeeds in dividing one of our present elements into
its constituents. The Chemistry of the future may seek to gain the power of
reducing all compounds, and all the elements to one primordial matter, named
PROTYLE. In other words, the ancient chemical doctrine of the
πρωτη ‘υλη [protee hulee] , or FIRST
MATTER, may become paramount in the years to come, as it was in the distant
If the modern doctrine of Elements be laid aside,
the discoveries of the Primordial Matter, the Transmutation of Metals, and the
Elixir of Life reappear and once more enter the range of possible achievements.
Ancient Alchymy recognised no Elements, in our
modern sense; an element being now defined as ‘a body which cannot be
decomposed’, or ‘something to which we can add, but from which we can take
away nothing’, or ‘a body which increases in weight with every chemical
change’, or ‘a body different from all others, yet having constant
characters itself, and indivisible except into parts of itself’. The Elements
of the Alchymists were Fire, Air, Earth and Water. A close study of the oldest
authors shows that these were types of four modes of force or matter, and
further that they are four correlative terms, implying states mutually related
and dependent, and in no way independent and opposed entities. They were names
of four states:
Heat and Dryness
Heat and Moistness
Cold and Dryness
This was demonstrated even by Aristotle, who showed
that matter, simple, or combined with its developments, may exist in each of
The Alchymists affirmed the existence of the Primum
Ens or First Matter; two Opposites or Contranes; three Principles; and four
Beyond these came Minerals, and lastly the Seven
Metals, as forms of matter, essentially stable, except in the hands of the
skilled operator, who might acquire the power of Transmutation, or of changing
one of them into another. Gold, as the most perfect metal, was the effect of the
greatest transmutation, which process, once known, rendered all others of little
importance. Hence all the efforts of the Alchymists on the material plane were
directed to this, the crowning achievement of the work.
For this process of Transmutation, one substance
was requisite, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Quintessence, or Son of the Sun.
This was to be derived from the Philosophical Mercury, Salt and Sulphur, and had
to pass in the process through the colours Black and White to the Red. This
Stone was by some expected to be also one means for the production of the Elixir
Historical proof may be wanting that the ‘Stone
of the Philosophers’ was ever found and used, but no candid student can doubt
that the life-long labours of the Alchymists, their modes of chemical
manipulation, and their utensils, laid the foundation of our Modern Chemistry.
The number of elements known to the modern chemist
is increasing every year. The statement of a fixed number of elements was only a
temporary dogma, which the Alchymists wisely abstained from propounding. Crookes
and Faraday have said: ‘To decompose the metals, to re-form them, to change
one into another, and to realize the once absurd notion of transmutation, are
the problems given to the chemist of the future for solution.’
The strongest evidence of the want of elementary
characters in our modern elements is provided by the spec troscope, and the
intense heat and light obtainable from electricity. Several so-called elements,
when exposed to the latter, show in the spectroscope that they are not simple
bodies. Spectroscopic examinations of rays of light from the Sun and Stars point
out that while some of our elements are by their spectra shown to exist in them,
other elements are certainly broken up in those regions of intense heat, and
their constituents are disseminated and otherwise associated, thereby proving
that in the Solar regions at any rate, such elements are compound bodies.
Some examples of Alchymic descriptions of processes
on the Material Plane are here given
From the Open Entrance to the Shut Palace of the
King, by Eirenaeus Philalethes, is this clearly chemical passage:
Take four parts of the perfected Stone, either red
or white; melt them in a clear crucible.
Take one part of this to ten parts of purified
Mercury; heat the Mercury until it begins to crackle, then throw in your
mixture, which will pierce it in the twinkling of an eye: increase your fire
until all be melted, and you will have a medicine of an inferior order.
The following is from Jean d’Espagnet, and shows
the use of Alchymic imagery:
Take a red dragon, courageous and warlike to whom
no natural strength is wanting: take also seven or nine noble virgin eagles,
whose eyes will not wax dull in the rays of the Sun: cast the Birds in with the
Beast into a clear prison, shut them up strongly: under which let a bath be
placed, that they might be incensed to fight by the warm vapour: in a short time
they will enter upon a hard contention; until about the fiftieth day the eagles
begin to tear the beast in pieces; this one, dying, will infect the whole prison
with black poison, whereby the eagles also being injured, they also will be soon
constrained to give up the ghost.
It may be easily perceived that this Allegory is
convertible into a description of chemical processes, thus:
Take one part of a red powder a, and add seven or
nine parts of the liquid b, which is volatile, ie able to fly; mix them, put the
mixture into a glass retort — the clear prison — hermetically seal the
opening, that is, shut them up strongly; set the vessel on a water bath, and
then the heat will make the liquid attack the solid powder and dissolve it, and
the result will be the production of a black substance, and both the red powder
and the liquid will have lost their previous chemical characters.
In the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary of A J Pernety,
1758, an explanation of Alchymic terms upon the material plane is supplied.
The ritual of the Grade of Practicus alludes to
several terms of Alchymic Art ; as to which the
following remarks may be useful to students.
Solve et Coagula: these words meant either Dissolve
and precipitate from solution, or Melt and solidify: time and heat would melt
substances; time, heat and moisture would dissolve them. The King and Queen
usually referred to Sol or Gold, and to Luna or Silver respectively; but some
Alchymists refer the title King to the Sulphur, and Queen to the Mercury of the
Philosophers. Gold is, of course, often called the King of Metals.
The whole difficulty of carrying out today the
processes of the Alchymists, consists in the uncertainty as to what actual
solids and liquids, metals, acids and alkalis are to be taken when Mercury,
Sulphur and Salt, or Sun and Moon, or King, Queen, and Son are alluded to.
The sublimation or volatilization of a substance
was called the White Eagle; the Black Eagle referred to putrefaction, by which
was meant conversion by heat of dissolved substances or liquids into a sediment
or precipitate, or of melted substances into slag or form of ashes.
The Quintessence, or Son of the Sun, was the
‘Philosopher’s Stone’, which was made from the Salt, Sulphur, and
Mercury of the Philosophers, which by putrefaction or calcination, became Black,
and then by further processes White, and finally the Redness of Perfection was
This ‘Stone of the Wise’ was the Key to
Transmutation; the Alchymists declared that by its power one form of matter
could be changed into another; Lead became raised into Silver, while Silver
could be ehanged into Gold, called by them Sol, the Sun or the King.
Malkuth is the Kabalistic name for the material
world, and for Matter in its multiform states, hence the Stone of the
Philosophers was called the ‘Key to the Constitution of Malkuth’.
The old Alchymic books, then, have been shown to be
definitely of a chemical nature. Let us now turn to quotations from the works of
eminent Alchymists, which illustrate their religious attitude.
Geber, the Arabian, wrote:
Our Stone has been described by me in a way
agreeable to the Most High, the Blessed Sublime and Glorious God, as it has been
infused by the grace of His goodness, who gives and withholds as it pleases Him.
Study with great industry and labour and by continued deep meditation; be sons
of Truth and you shall have most excellent gifts of God.
Nicholas Flamel wrote:
God reserves to Himself to reveal to a select few
as such as fear and love Him certain things to knowledge which therefore ought
not to be written.
In the book Aureus, attributed to Hermes, is the
My Son, before all things I admonish thee to fear
God, in Whom is thy strength; whatsoever thou hearest consider it rationally. It
behoves thee to give thanks to God, Who has bestowed liberally of His bounty to
the wise, and Who delivers us from misery. I am proven by the fulness of His
substance and His wonders, and humbly pray that while we live we may come unto
The Water Stone of the Wise, an anonymous tractate
In the first place the practice of Alchymy enables us to understand, not merely
the marvels of nature, but the nature of the Great Divine One Himself in His
unspeakable glory. It shadows forth in a wonderful manner how Man is an Image of
a Divine Trinity; he represents the Union of Substances, as well as the
difference of Persons. It illustrates our purification from sin, and in brief
all the Christian faith, and the reasons why Man must pass through much
tribulation and anguish and fall a prey to death before he can rise again to a
new and higher life. All this we see in our Art as in a Mirror.
And then in the next sentence the author reverts to
the practical chemical part, adding:
Secondly, its earthly use consists in changing all
imperfect metals, by means of a Tincture, into pure Gold, as I shall try to
show. From about the year 1650 the work of the Alchymists ceased to be given to
the world by printed works. Private traditions have, however, always affirmed
the permanence of both the theory and art of transmutation.
The silence has been at last broken by the
appearance of a new school of philosophers, who have espoused almost entirely
the principle of demonstrating the reality of Alchymy upon the higher or
Dr Kopp, in his History of Chemistry, takes this
view; and there is a masterly volume by E A Hitchcock, entitled Remarks upon
Alchemy, where he shows that Man was the ‘Matter’ of some of the Alchymists.
Another work entitled A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery takes the
The moral and spiritual aspects of the so-called
Higher Alchymy were illustrated also by the late Anna Kingsford and her
co-worker Edward Maitland. They succeeded in many cases in drawing explanations
of Alchymic language by means of Hermetic allegory, and also in demonstrating an
Alchymic mode of thought and allusions to transmutation on the ethical and
higher planes from some of the narratives found in the early books of the Old
The keynote of Alchymy upon this basis is, of
course, the implied possibility of the material once again taking on the
spiritual aspect by successive purifications, which process may be suitably
described by terms allied to the art of chemistry.
Similar terms of Alchymic art may be used, to
describe those schemes of moral, ethical, and spiritual purification which we
call Religion. For Religion should mean the processes which may reunite us
fallible and erring creatures to our God, the Divine Spirit illuminating us.
The Higher Alchymy then is almost identical with
Religion, as distinct from Theology. The function of Religion, like the Great
Work of the Alchymist, is Spiritualization, the separation of the subtle from
the gross; the redemption of spirit, while still dwelling in matter, from the
taint inevitable to the lowest planes of manifestation. Or again, the
transmutation of the animal forces which are in man — in excess of the bodily
needs of subsistence — into the more human and refined emotions, the more
delicate shades of feeling, the purer and higher manifestations of which even
the human personality is plainly susceptible.
From another point of view, and by the use again of
other but allied terms, is perceived that aspect of mental purification and that
form of transmutation into higher powers which is expressed by the ideal of
Atonement, At-one-ment, the reunion of the spark to the flame, of the offspring
to the parent, of the ray to the sun, of the personal thinker to the divine type
of the Christos, of the overshadowing Divine Spirit, from which each one of us
has emerged and must remain separate until we shall be again reunited by
personal effort, enthusiasm and self-sacrifice to the Divine Source of all good.
The Alchymic expression of Solve et Coagula meaning ‘volatilize and fix’ as
two contrasted processes seen alike in chemistry, physics, and human development,
are traceable in the Biblical allegories of the descent of the Soul into Man, by
the putting on of ‘coats of skin’. The human Ego or Monad becomes fixed in
matter, and suffers the consequent loss of the power of direct spiritual
communion with the source Divine. On the other hand we have the allegory of the
Resurrection of the Son of the Divine One, who obtains reunion with the Godhead
by casting off the cloak of matter and returning to His Father, and to our Father;
and this resurrection is promised to all who truly seek it. By birth upon earth
man is fixed, coagulated and fettered by his environment. By death, and by the
throwing off of his material body and its animal passions, man is released from
his bondage, and passes at once to a Higher Plane, even if his final absorption
into Paradise be delayed.
Besides the important analogies already alluded to,
the terms Sol and Luna, which in chemistry refer to Gold and Silver, may be well
understood as referring on the spiritual plane to the soul and the Body of Man.
The three terms, Mercury, Salt and Sulphur, have also been used as synonyms of
the three persons of the Trinity: the Divine Father — Mercury; the Divine
Mother, passive principle or the Holy Ghost — Salt; and the Son of God, the
Christ Divine Power in human manifestation —Sulphur.
As a last example, the Black Dragon of
putrefaction, which by time and force can become fashioned into the White Swan
of purity, is a beautiful symbol of the change in man, from a life of sin to a
reformed personality, to the man purified by suffering, chastened by humility,
and fit to commune with the Holy Ones whom God has created.
To conclude, it seems manifest that the writings of
many mediæval European Alchymists enshrine a doctrine at once exalted,
fascinating in formulation, eloquent in language, and worthy of serious study.
Celebrant: Fratres, before we close this Convocation, let us
return our thanks to the Creator and Preserver for His past care of our Society
and of our ourselves. Let us pray and give thanks.
Celebrant or Chaplain: Thanks be to Thee, O Creator,
Honour be to Thee, O Preserver. Almighty and Merciful God, we offer our grateful
hearts to Thee. May the Supernal Triad be with us, and may each and every
attribute of the Divine Sephiroth assist us in our exertions, and may we
continue to preserve our lives pure and unpolluted. Amen.
Celebrant: Our duties being concluded, I call upon you all to
give the Sign and speak the Word.
This ts done.
Celebrant: Our Thanksgiving is performed. I close this
College of Practici by giving two and three knocks.
Exponent repeats knocks.
Exponent: And it remains closed until re-formed by the RW (or
VW) Celebrant or his successor.
Celebrant: Pax Domini vobiscum.
All: Amen. Amen. Amen.
If no other Grades are to be worked, or only Grade I, the Ancients resume
their positions in line from West to East, the Altar candles are changed, the
swastika cross is removed, and the College is resumed in Grade I. All Zelatores
are then readmitted.