In “Chapter XXXV: The Theory and Practice of Alchemy, Part I,” Manly P. Hall states:
One of the great axioms is, “Within everything is the seed of everything,” although by the simple processes of Nature it may remain latent for many centuries, or its growth may be exceedingly slow. Therefore, every grain of sand contains not only the seed of the precious metals as well as the seed of the priceless gems, but also the seeds of sun, moon, and stars. As within the nature of man is reflected the entire universe in miniature, so in each grain of sand, each drop of water, each tiny particle of cosmic dust, are concealed all the parts and elements of the cosmos in the form of tiny seed germs so minute that even the most powerful microscope cannot detect them. Trillions of times smaller than the ion or electron, these seeds—unrecognizable and incomprehensible—await the time assigned them for growth and expression.
(pp. 499 – 501)
As I read this, I was reminded of the opening lines from William Blake’s poem, “Auguries of Innocence”:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour
What I find so fascinating about this is that both Hall and Blake expressed this concept long before modern physics would bring us chaos theory, the idea of a holographic universe, or the ability to view particles at the sub-quantum level. It almost seems like modern science is in the process of validating ideas that existed within the realm of metaphysical thought for centuries. For me, this is exciting. For too long, spirituality and science have existed in opposition to each other. I genuinely believe that humanity’s future lies in the possibility of uniting science and spirituality; essentially, an alchemical marriage of sorts.
That was all I had to share about this. I hope you found the quotes as inspiring and thought-provoking as I did. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Stay safe.
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In “Chapter XXXII: Rosicrucian Doctrines and Tenets,” Manly P. Hall states:
The Rosicrucian medicine for the healing of all human infirmities may be interpreted as a chemical substance which produces the physical effects described or as spiritual understanding—the true healing power which, when a man has partaken of it, reveals truth to him. Ignorance is the worst form of disease, and that which heals ignorance is therefore the most potent of all medicines. The perfect Rosicrucian medicine was for the healing of nations, races, and individuals.
At first pass, this might seem like a harsh statement, especially when one considers the plethora of physical ailments and the devastating effects they have on individuals. But if we step back and reflect, the veracity of this assertion becomes evident. The fact is, we do not know about that which we do not know. In other words, we are ignorant of our own ignorance. If you don’t recognize and acknowledge that there is a problem, then it is almost certain that you will not take any steps to rectify that problem. For example, an alcoholic who does not see that he or she has a problem with drinking will never take the first step toward recovery. Ignorance, therefore, like addiction, is one of the most insidious of diseases, and often individuals fail to become aware of the problem until the damage is done.
We see validation of this claim in our current world. Social media, biased news sources, and “smart web search” technologies have created information silos that keep people ignorant about the broader spectrum of views and ideas, the result being the fractured, angry, and mistrusting society in which we all live. Never, it seems, have we been in greater need for the “perfect Rosicrucian medicine” that would provide for “the healing of nations, races, and individuals.”
I challenge everyone to keep an open mind in these strange days. Things are changing, and they are changing rapidly, and it is in our best interest to be as thoughtful and reflective as possible. It is certainly OK to adhere to a belief, but at least validate it by considering an opposing idea.
Thanks for reading and thinking. Have a great day.
In “Chapter XXVIII: Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man,” Manly P. Hall cites the following:
Prof. Crawford Howell Toy of Harvard notes: “Manuscripts were copied and recopied by scribes who not only sometimes made errors in letters and words, but permitted themselves to introduce new material into the text, or to combine in one manuscript, without mark or division, writings composed by different men; instances of these sorts of procedure are found especially in Micah and Jeremiah, and the groups of prophecies which go under the names of Isaiah and Zachariah.” (See Judaism and Christianity.)
The importance of this statement cannot be overstressed. Many ancient texts are considered to be absolute truths, either the exact words of the author, or sometimes, the exact words of the Divine. Add to that the fact that translations of text in ancient languages do not capture the details of the original words, and it becomes evident that what we read today in English translation may be vastly different from an original scroll that appeared on the desk of a scribe for copying over a thousand years ago.
Now, this does not mean that we should reject ancient texts, or dismiss reading them because they are in translation. We should of course read these texts. But, we should do so with the understanding that we may need to work a little harder to get to the essence of what the original author was trying to convey. In other words, we must always read critically.
I think that is all I have to share on this topic. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading interesting stuff.
In “Chapter XXIII: The Elements and Their Inhabitants,” Manly P. Hall discusses the beings that are said to inhabit invisible realms associated with the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water.
Just as visible Nature is populated by an infinite number of living creatures, so, according to Paracelsus, the invisible, spiritual counterpart of visible Nature (composed of the tenuous principles of the visible elements) is inhabited by a host of peculiar beings, to whom he has given the name elementals, and which have later been termed the Nature spirits. Paracelsus divided these people of the elements into four distinct groups, which he called gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. He taught that they were really living entities, many resembling human beings in shape, and inhabiting worlds of their own, unknown to man because his undeveloped senses were incapable of functioning beyond the limitations of the grosser elements.
The association of the beings to the elements are as follows:
Gnomes inhabit the elemental sphere of earth
Undines inhabit the elemental sphere of water
Sylphs inhabit the elemental sphere of air
Salamanders inhabit the elemental sphere of fire
It is important to note that these elemental spheres are not the elements we find in our physical world, but exist beyond our perceived reality. This is why elementals can only be perceived when humans are in states of heightened or altered consciousness.
Many of us have been introduced to these elementals through literature and the arts. Hall mentions a few examples.
Literature has also perpetuated the concept of Nature spirits. The mischievous Puck of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream; the elementals of Alexander Pope’s Rosicrucian poem, The Rape of the Lock; the mysterious creatures of Lord Lytton’s Zanoni; James Barrie’s immortal Tinker Bell; and the famous bowlers that Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains, are well-known characters to students of literature. The folklore and mythology of all peoples abound in legends concerning these mysterious little figures who haunt old castles, guard treasures in the depths of the earth, and build their homes under the spreading protection of toadstools. Fairies are the delight of childhood, and most children give them up with reluctance. Not so very long ago the greatest minds of the world believed in the existence of fairies, and it is still an open question as to whether Plato, Socrates, and Iamblichus were wrong when they avowed their reality.
It would be about 25 years later than when Manly P. Hall wrote this text that J.R.R. Tolkien would publish his famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. This would become the quintessential example of elementals in modern literature and a source of inspiration for generations. It would appear that interest in elemental beings has not waned, but increased.
I suppose the best way to end this post is to quote Gandalf from The Fellowship of the Ring as he describes how astounding he finds the earth elementals: “Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”
In “Chapter XX: Flowers, Plants, Fruits, and Trees,” Manly P. Hall discusses the symbolism of the lotus.
In the Hindu system of philosophy, each petal of the form bears a certain symbol which gives an added clue to the meaning of the flower. The Orientals also used the lotus plant to signify the growth of man through the three periods of human consciousness—ignorance, endeavor, and understanding. As the lotus exists in three elements (earth, water, and air) so man lives in three worlds—material, intellectual, and spiritual. As the plant, with its roots in the mud and the slime, grows upward through the water and finally blossoms forth in the light and air, so the spiritual growth of man is upward from the darkness of base action and desire into the light of truth and understanding, the water serving as a symbol of the ever-changing world of illusion through which the soul must pass in its struggle to reach the state of spiritual illumination. The rose and its Eastern equivalent, the lotus, like all beautiful flowers, represent spiritual unfoldment and attainment: hence, the Eastern deities are often seated upon the open petals of the lotus blossoms.
(pp. 293 – 294)
The comparison between the lotus and the spiritual growth of an individual is clear from Hall’s explanation, but what I think is interesting is applying the lotus symbolism to the cycles of human development as a whole. If we take a step back and look at historical cycles, they seem to mirror the growth of the lotus. Collectively, humanity begins in a state of materialism, which gives rise to increased intellectualism. This in turn leads to state of collective spirituality which, unable to sustain itself for a prolonged period of time, ultimately reverts back to materialism and the cycle begins anew.
What is worth considering is that these cycles seem to be increasing in speed. It used to be that one stage of the cycle would last hundreds of years (consider the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Age, just to name a few). In our modern world culture, we are seeing these cycles in terms of decades and not centuries, and it almost feels like we are spinning toward annual stages in the cycle. What this means and what the end result for humanity will be is anyone’s guess. Personally, I see us nearing the center of a Yeatsean gyre. What will happen when we reach the point that the center can no longer hold? That will be a question for future historians.
That’s all for today. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. I hope you have a blessed day.
In “Chapter XIII: The Life and Philosophy of Pythagoras,” Manly P. Hall states:
Pythagoras taught that friendship was the truest and nearest perfect of all relationships. He declared that in Nature there was a friendship of all for all; of gods for men; of doctrines one for another; of the soul for the body; of the rational part for the irrational part; of philosophy for its theory; of men for one another; of countrymen for one another; that friendship also existed between strangers, between a man and his wife, his children, and his servants. All bonds without friendship were shackles, and there was no virtue in their maintenance. Pythagoras believed that relationships were essentially mental rather than physical, and that a stranger of sympathetic intellect was closer to him than a blood relation whose viewpoint was at variance with his own.
(pp. 196 – 197)
This passage struck multiple nerves when I read it. I completely agree that friendship is based upon sympathetic interests, and I have long accepted that “bonds without friendship were shackles, and there was no virtue in their maintenance.” Throughout my life, friends have come and gone, usually the result of changes of interests and ideas, resulting in the sympathetic connection dissolving over the course of time. Generally, I have been OK with this, although, at this stage in my life, it seems easier to lose friends in this divisive society than it is to make new friends. Which leads me to the next point.
Pythagoras asserted that “a stranger of sympathetic intellect was closer to him than a blood relation whose viewpoint was at variance with his own.” As much as I want to dig my heels in and rail against this statement, I must concede the veracity of it. One need only look around and note the family members who are alienated because of different views, be they political, social, religious, or whatever. I know people who refuse to speak with their parents, and parents who refuse to speak to their children, all because of what I would consider trivial differences of opinion. And while I personally would never alienate myself from my family because of a difference of ideology, there are clearly many who would. So, it appears that Pythagoras recognized that this is a tendency of human behavior. Anyway, it gave me reason to pause and think.
I think that is all I have to say about this passage. I will conclude by saying that reading the several chapters on Pythagoras in this book gave me a whole new perspective on him as a thinker and philosopher. Previously, all I could tell you about Pythagoras was that there was a mathematical theorem named after him, but could not tell you anything else. He was fascinating.
Thanks for stopping by, and have an amazing day.
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In “Chapter IX: The Sun, A Universal Deity,” Manly P. Hall states:
The purpose of alchemy was not to make something out of nothing but rather to fertilize and nurture the seed which was already present. Its processes did not actually create gold but rather made the ever-present seed of gold grow and flourish. Everything which exists has a spirit—the seed of Divinity within itself—and regeneration is not the process of attempting to place something where it previously had not existed. Regeneration actually means the unfolding of the omnipresent Divinity in man, that this Divinity may shine forth as a sun and illumine all with whom it comes in contact.
For me, this sums up perfectly the practice of alchemy. It is essentially a symbolic system designed to teach individuals how to accomplish inner transformation, so that the divine light within shines forth like the purest of gold. Everything that exists has the spark of Divine energy within. The goal of alchemical transformation is to allow the alchemist to see the pure aspect of God within everything. Therefore, the secret of the philosopher’s stone is not that it grants the alchemist life everlasting, instead it reveals that the alchemist’s essence is a part of the Divine, and therefore, eternal.
There is an important lesson in the last line of the aforementioned quote. Once you have tapped into the Divine within you, you begin to shine in a way that others notice. In art, this is depicted as the aura or halo surrounding saints and sages. Additionally, with this enlightenment comes responsibility. The successful alchemist must, after inner transformation, work toward the transformation of all humanity, helping lift the collective consciousness closer to God consciousness.
Thanks for stopping by and reading. Have a transformative day.
Since my first post on this book, I read four chapters in this text (Chapters V through VIII), and these were dense chapters overflowing with information. So rather than attempting to summarize everything, I thought it would be best to pick a single passage and talk about it.
In “Chapter VIII: Isis, The Virgin of the World,” Hall discusses the symbolism of the Egyptian deity Typhon.
Typhon, the Egyptian Demon or Spirit of the Adversary, was born upon the third day. Typhon is often symbolized by a crocodile; sometimes his body is a combination of crocodile and hog. Isis stands for knowledge and wisdom, and according to Plutarch the word Typhon means insolence and pride. Egotism, self-centeredness, and pride are the deadly enemies of understanding and truth. This part of the allegory is revealed.
So my initial reaction upon reading this was to relate the image of Typhon with certain political figures whom, to me, seem to embody egotism, self-centeredness, and pride while attacking truth and wisdom. But I had to stop myself, because it dawned upon me that I too am guilty of allowing the energy of Typhon to influence my thoughts. The fact that I can quickly pass judgement and point out the defects in others is really nothing more than my own personal pride and egotism. And then I examined myself more closely, seeking out the ways in which I act from a place of self-centeredness and hubris. If I am honest with myself, I still have work to do, and this is the key. If you are blinded by pride and ego, it is impossible to be truthful with yourself, and when you are not truthful with yourself, it becomes impossible to progress along the spiritual path. Our inner Typhon is indeed the most deadly enemy of ourselves and our journey toward spiritual growth and enlightenment. I am reminded of the words of Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”
Self-honesty is really hard. It is easy to either ignore the aspects of ourselves that cause us discomfort, or to exaggerate our flaws and become our own harshest critic. Neither of these approaches are healthy. The difficult path of honest self-appraisal is crucial for all of us, but must be tempered with self-compassion.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Wishing you joy and light on your path, and a blessed 2022.
I have been thinking about reading this book for a while, since Manly P. Hall is often cited in other texts I have read. So I finally decided to tackle this hefty tome. I am reading it along with a good friend of mine, and after each block (about 4 or 5 chapters) we get on a call to discuss our thoughts. That said, my blog posts will follow the same pattern. After reading a bit and taking notes, I will talk a little about something that has stood out for me. This first post in the series will focus on Hall’s explanation of the use of symbolism employed by the ancient mystery traditions.
Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries; in fact it is the language not only of mysticism and philosophy but of all Nature, for every law and power active in the universal procedure is manifested to the limited sense perceptions of man through the medium of symbol. Every form existing in the diversified sphere of being is symbolic of the divine activity by which it is produced. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language. Rejecting man-conceived dialects as inadequate and unworthy to perpetuate divine ideas, the Mysteries thus chose symbolism as a far more ingenious and ideal method of preserving their transcendental knowledge. In a single figure a symbol may both reveal and conceal, for to the wise the subject of the symbol is obvious, while to the ignorant the figure remains inscrutable. Hence, he who seeks to unveil the secret doctrine of antiquity must search for that doctrine not upon the open pages of books which might fall into the hands of the unworthy but in the place where it was originally concealed.
That symbols are employed to express the ineffable is common knowledge, but I really like the way Hall explains it in this passage. And Hall brings up a very important point, which is any symbolic representation of hidden knowledge must be considered within the context of when, where, and how the symbol was created. When examining symbols from antiquity, we need to consider what they would have meant to the initiates of those times, not what they mean to us today. As an example, let’s take the Bible. The symbolism incorporated into a book from the Bible, written in Aramaic two thousand years ago by someone living in the Middle East, is not going to mean the same thing as an English translation of those words read by a twenty-first century American. We just do not have the same context. So does that mean we should not attempt to tap into these ancient secrets? No – we must certainly try. But when we approach any form of expression that is symbolic in nature, we need to keep it foremost in our mind that we are dealing with symbols, and by nature they are going to be difficult to understand, and we may get them wrong initially and have to reassess their meaning in light of other information. It is a process of unfolding. I think the lotus would be an appropriate symbol here.
I think that is all I have to say about this topic, for now anyway. Thanks for stopping by, and remember to always read critically. Cheers!
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