The Seal
IMG 01: Order of Secret Chiefs - Nobles Mystic Shrine.
Original seal drawn by Trey Spruance, themed upon IMG 02.
From Page 02 of 1stGC&BL & Official Document.
IMG 02: Ancient Arabic Order - Imperial Council - Nobles Mystic Shrine. A seal of the Shriners. Image Source: Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam by Peter Lamborn Wilson


The Logo
IMG 01: Photograph by Mari Kono Layout and Image design by Margaret Murray.
IMG 02: Generic Shriner Logo


The Crown
IMG 01: The head of the 'Perfect Man' (Insan-i Kamil, انسانِ كامل).
Drawn by Trey Spruance and themed upon a calligram of the Bektashi Sufi Order.

From Page 02 of 1stGC&BL.
IMG 02: A shriner fez.
IMG 03: Shriner member wearing fez.


IMAGE: Front Cover - 02 - The Sphinx

FRONT COVER: Photograph by Mari Kono

BACK COVER: Shriner Logo. Photograph by Mari Kono, Layout and Image design by Margaret Murray.

The Sphinx is a creature that evades the cycle of the nychthemeron through a correction of the animality in man. The animal self (nafs al-haywaniyya) is the lowest incarnation of man in the hierarchy of creation. Stripped of his reverence for God, man is nothing but an animal obedient to the base natural impulses. The raison d’etre for man is to become the locus of God’s manifestation. When man falls below this hierarchical level he is a mere animal.

The Sphinx is the proto-type synthesis of Holy Animality. It is for fallen man to re-establish the divine instinctivety of the 'Principle of Spontaneous Obedience to God' represented by the Arcanum of the Sphinx.

There is an automatic reflex inherent to the psychic nature of the animalized man. This is caused by the mobility of the wheel of animality through which the base desires afflict man for the duration of the nychthemeron; whether in his waking or sleeping states. The Sphinx who is beyond such temporal rotations lies at the hub of this wheel and it is the animalised man which proceeds away from the center.

There are many variations on the sphinx, two of which will concern us here. The first is known as the Androsphinx, for it is the unison of the human & animal. It is usually depicted with the upper-torso and head of man and the lower body of a lion. In Egypt this Sphinx was the emblem of Divine sovereignty as its human half was always represented the vicar of God on earth. The incarnation of the Solar deity Ra was the God-Man (theandros) Pharoah who govern the spiritual and material worlds with a two-fold sovereignty. The Great Sphinx of Giza is the most famous image of this royal beast. It faces directly towards the eastern horizon, where the sun rises at the spring and autumn equinoxes and became known as the Harmakhis which means 'Lord of Two Horizons', a concept directly linked to the cycle of the nychthemeron and the image of man’s life.

The second variant on the Sphinx is an amalgamation of four different animal forms: the hind quarters of a bull, the forepart of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the upper torso and head of a man thus evoking the bestiary of the Tetramorph, the form of 'Holy Animality' (Chayot). This creature is the vitality that provides the animative qualities of life, whether biological life in the state of fallen animality (βίος) or the Life of 'Holy Animality' (ζωή).

As the animal is the synthesis of the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, man is the resolution and goal of the animal kingdom and the Sphinx is the final enigma where Holy Animality is achieved through man. This Divine beast is the protector of the mystery of Life.

The two Androsphinx upon the cover of First Grand Constitution & Bylaws depict the following ratio: What the animal is to the human, the human is to the Divine. The animal aspect of the Sphinx represents the incarnational aspect of the human: 'Man who lives on Earth'. The Sphinx’s human part speaks of man’s Divinity: 'Man made in the image of God'. It is for this reason that the Sphinx is called the animal with two hearts. The heart of the beast inclined towards the passions and the human heart striving towards the Intelligence of the noble faculties. What must be remembered here is that genuine animality is a natura naturans and is considered as the archetypal form which provides organisms with their élan vital and makes them living creatures (ζωή); whereas the wild beast (θηρίον) is a natura naturata which is inclined towards degeneration. Thus, the cryptozoology of the Sphinx suggests that it is not merely a beast but rather a Holy Animal.

The Lion’s mane is a well known symbolic icon of the sun’s corona depicted in much heraldry as a sovereign halo indicating heroism and victory of the 'unconquered sun' (sol invictus). When the sun passes through the constellation of Leo, the northern hemisphere experiences the longest and hottest days of the year, thus the Sun's domicile is within Leo, whose astrological properties signify strength and courage. It is courage only as courage is derived from conscious knowledge of the law typified by the symbolism. Strength or Force, alludes to the fiery Life-Power (ζωή) which moves the fluidic circulatory system of physical life (βίος) indicating a double-force whose symbol is a dual-lion.

The first aspect of the lion is that it is the king of all beasts (pan-therion) ruling over all subhuman forces innate in bio-electrical vitals, the second aspect is that it symbolizes the instinct that can be designated as 'courageous moral conscience'. The first lion is the king of beasts, whose ferociousness strikes fear into the hearts of its prey. When the bestial lion is restrained, moral courage is elevated. Ferociousness is to moral courage as the bestial lion is to the 'Lion of Divine Instinctivity', and these are the two tendencies that make the double-force distinct. A contra-versing current that combats and annihilates and a con-versing trait ever-seeking to participate and unite through co-operation.

Both these forces are contained in the one body with two different orientations, but the double-force only arises when the lion of bestial nature is tamed. In Egyptian lore this co-operation itself is also worked through the Ruti (double-lion) in the saying from the texts: "I am the twin Lions"

Force is the breath of wind that "moved upon the face of the waters'' in the Genesis of creation. This power is divinized in the Egyptian aspect of the Lion Shu and his sister lioness Tefnut who are born from the breath of Atum. Shu's name means 'drynesss'– rising upwards' and thus personifying air, the element audible in the howling wind, but apprehended as the roaring Lion. Shu was also equated with the ascending trait of the Sun. Tefnut’s name means 'moisture-dripped' (tef) from 'sky' (nut) with the downward tendency of the sunset. As a pair Shu is the male Lion of Divine Instinct and Tefnut is the lioness of ferociousness.

It is no surprise to us that the term Σφίγξ (sphinx) is derived from the verb σφίγγω meaning 'to strangle', for it was the lionesses would kill their prey by a strangulation bite to the throat and it is also the throat which offers passage to the voice and breath. The whole concept of the Sphinx relates to passageway, of the Sun entering the underworld (Duat).

Positioned back to back, the Ruti face the horizons of East & West and represent the movement of the Sun from yesterday (safre) into tomorrow (tua). Together they balance the autumnal and vernal equinox through the two solstitial doors to the underworld (Duat)...

To Be Continued!


Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous

Chapters: Wheel of Fortune & Force

Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World by Gerald Massey

Chapters: Horus of the Double Horizon

The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung

IMAGE: Front Cover - 01 - Cycle of the Nychthemeron

"…and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night". GEN I: 4-5

The imagery of this cover situates our initial orientation in the cosmology underlying the Secret Chiefs 3 and so to begin we must establish our surrounding with the four cardinal points, North, East, South & West. These are not objects encountered but directions, which expresses human acclimatization to the world in order to maintain a familiarity with it. To have this sense is to orient oneself in the world. These ideal lines running across the horizon between the cardinal points form a system of a priori spatial evidences without which there would be neither geographic nor anthropological orientation. When seeking the light of the orient we naturally turn towards the geographical east. For, when we speak of the sun rising in the east, this refers to the light of the day as it succeeds the night. Day alternates with night, as two opposites, which by their very nature cannot coexist. They can only alternate in the state of light ascending in the east and descending in the west.

Our orientation here is put into a twofold arrangement of planes: When the sun shines on upon the Earth it is known as the 'light of day' because it illuminates the Earth and makes the inhabitants apparent under the phosphorous radiation. This plane is the geographical east; the daylight of consciousness with its criteria of ready-made notions accepted as the norm and put into action. When the sun does not shine, it is called the 'darkness of night' for it blackens and hides things with a shadow that intercepts the light and holds it captive. This plane is the geographical west; the night-time of sub-consciousness with its silent obscurity and its insatiable passions. Our very history is governed by the mysterious acts 'of night' operating behind the façade of history 'by day'. These are two impotencies to which occidental has succumbed throughout history; trapped between light & darkness.From this natural fact is shown that the day reveals and is therefore given over to that which is exoteric (zahir) and the night conceals and so governs all that is esoteric (batin). The dual nature of the nychthemeron is distributed in such a way that as there is an alternation of day and night in the creatural realm there also corresponds a 'Day & Night of the Lord'.

The 'Day of Union' (rūz-i wasl) is a 'Cycle of Unveiling' (dawr al-kashf) which marks a state of beatitude and contemplative perfection when the face of the Creator is revealed and Providence is seen in the form of benevolence. For the human beings living in such a cycle, Gnosis is proclaimed directly and openly. The 'Night of Separation' (shab-i hijrān) is a 'Cycle of Occultation' (dawr al-satr) which is caused by the evil desire of individual souls, who renounce their state of angelic individuality (ashkhās hānīyah) through an aberrant tendency which leads them to conceal the face of the Creator by eclipsing it with a mask of incarnated individuality.What immediately concerns us here is the twofold twilight on the borderland between night and day: the evening twilight (crepusculum vespertinum) which is no longer day but not yet night; and the morning twilight (crepusculum matutinum) which is no longer night but not yet day. Usually this is a time when the sun itself is not actually visible because it has not yet risen over the horizon (sunrise) or it has fallen below the horizon (sunset). There is an important difference between the electromagnetic information transmitted at sunrise and sunset. Dawn awakens the psyche to activity while dusk composes it for rest. This information seems to be associated as much with the direction from which the sun appears as with its angle to the horizon, and these directions are associated not only with geography but also with cultures; as it is said “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet”. In the East spiritual traditions are galvanized by the sunrise while Western traditions emphasize the relaxed time of sunset. The Abrahamic traditions generally follow late afternoon and early evening hours for spiritual devotions. At this time the horns are sounded from minaret towers, vesper bells chime from churches and synagogues fill for the afternoon prayer (minchah) and evening prayer (ma’ariv).

The borderland (barzakh) of East & West are concerned with the migration of the sun through its 'arc of descent' (qaws-i nuzūlī) and 'arc of ascent' (qaws-i ‘urūjī). The descent symbolizes the ceaseless influx of the Being of creation in a recurrent effusion of eternity a parte ante and the ascent symbolizes the return movement of the Resurrection of beings in eternity a parte post. With regard to the eternity of the Divine itself, the pre-eternal (azal) and post-eternal (abad) have no meaning, since in its Essence, pre- and post- coincide in the indeterminacy of the divine Ipseity. They become coherent symbols only in relation to the revelation within the occultation. God and man are the poles of creation and it is between the eternity without beginning in regards to the origin; and the eternity without end in regard to the return, that all direction is orientated in a visionary topography whose co-ordinates are not ordered in the quantitative time of chronological events, and which consequently is neither historical, nor linear, nor progressive, but a world in the interior of which every event is presence, and every duration an instant of this presence.

Each instant of life is a negation and affirmation 'at the same time'. We can, by extension, speak of a duration as being a present hour or epoch, but each moment of this hour or epoch is a collision between the impulsion of the past and the obstacle of the future. It is a perpetual oscillation between self-revelation of the Divine in its self-concealment, and the concealment of the Divine in its self-revelation; between a Beauty (jamāl) that attracts as it repels and a Majesty (jalāl) that repels as it attracts. The oscillation between Beauty’s occultation and self-revelation and its self-revelation and occultation, is conveyed by the 'Night of Separation' (shab-i hijrān) and the 'Day of Union' (rūz-i wasl); for every separation is great with an imminent union, and every union potentially conceals a separation. This succession of repulsion and attraction, which mutually provoke each other, engenders the dialectic movement of Love, and the ascent of nostalgia marked by the 'Eternal Present' situated in the space between the two arcs forming pre-eternity (azal) and post-eternity (abad). It is to this visionary time-space we oppose a horizontal, linear time which runs between the two shores of time. It could be said, for the objective intelligence, there is a past and a future but never a present and that, in reality, there is an invariable 'Eternal Present', outside of time. Time is measured by movement. At each instant a movement can only be completed or about to start. It cannot be otherwise, as it cannot be past and future simultaneously'. The present moment cannot therefore be situated: it is outside of time, because it is outside of measurable movement. It presents the conditions of an Absolute. It is only by locating ourselves outside of time that we can speak of an 'Eternal Presence'. A given person is present: he is not elsewhere; he is here, in a specific space—that is, a movement arrested in time. Thus, presence belongs to the past and not to the future and the 'Eternal Present' belongs to symbolical act within the given moment.


Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous

Chapters: The Hermit & The Sun

Man of Light in Iranian Sufism by Henry Corbin

Chapter: Orientation

The Green Sea of Heaven by Elizabeth T. Gray

Chapter: The Visionary Topography of Hafiz by Daryush Shayegan

Shamati (I Heard) by by Rabbi Yechuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) PDF!

Chapter: What is the Day of the Lord and the Night of the Lord in the Work

Symbol and the Symbolic: Ancient Egypt, Science, and the Evolution of Consciousness by Rene Schwaller deLubicz

Chapter: The Principle of the Present Moment

IMAGE: V.I.T.R.I.O.L & Ta'wil

IMG 01: Original image drawn by Trey Spruance, themed upon IMG 02

IMG 02: Taken from a Moorish Orthodox Science Temple brochure. The brochure seems to be synonymous with the renown concept of ‘Miracle Healing’ potions, as sold by many a conman. Sold as Moorish Health Products (herbal preparations). Image source: Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam by Peter Lamborn Wilson


The Latin phrase, VISITA INTERIORA TERRA RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM, when translated to English is ‘Visit the interior of the Earth and in rectifying (purifying) you shall discover the hidden Stone’. This has been interpreted as a message inciting the initiate to delve into his own being in order to find arcane wisdom. A visit is a two-way journey, like the course followed on a labyrinth, which ends by returning to the starting point. The initiate must not seek to remain inside. He goes and comes back. He visits the interior, the inside. 'As above so below' and 'What is inside is also outside'. The Earth element corresponds to an 'outside' and a 'below' in a cosmic & suprasensible sense. By purifying our Earth, through the Work upon our Earth, we perfect the body in conjunction with the soul. And in doing so the dense body merges with the subtle aspects, whence we discover the 'hidden stone'. Stone is of the Earth, but when discerned under the Hermetic scrutiny a profound insight is awoken. The same Latin phrase also brings to our attention the acronym: V.I.T.R.I.O.L

As a chemical element, vitriol is the hydrous sulphate of a metal. Blue vitriol is copper (Cu), green vitriol is iron (Fe), and white vitriol is zinc (Zn). Sulphuric acid (known as 'oil of vitriol') is formerly prepared from green vitriol and is the highly corrosive liquid that attacks and dissolves many metals and other intractable substances via release of acids from their salts (sulphates). Its production is the most important and fundamental of all the chemical industries. It is used in the creation of hydrochloric and nitric acids, in car batteries & petroleum refining, the fabrication of ether and of nitro-glycerine, etching iron & removing iron scale from forgings, fertilisers, explosives, detergents, dyes. It is also a powerful dehydrating agent, having a strong affinity for water, and eating through paper, wood, clothing and human tissue. However, it has no effect on gold. Alchemically, vitriol was a prominent liquid where all subsequent reactions were effected. Green vitriol is symbolized by the green lion in Hermetic etchings & woodblock prints. After green vitriol is collected, it is heated and broken down into iron compounds and sulphuric acid. A heavy, corrosive, oily liquid, colourless when pure but brown when the acid is separated by distillation; the sulphur being the more electronegative of the two elements, thus producing an odour similar to rotten eggs (hydrogen sulphide). Further distillation produces the combined action of sulphur dioxide, oxygen, steam, and nitric fumes yielding a nearly odourless yellow oil. Due to its corrosive qualities, vitriol is used as a descriptive expressions such as 'bitterly abusive' or 'intense animosity' and, in addition, the phrase 'To injure with vitriol'. The word vitriol is derived from the Latin 'vitrum' meaning glass. This should invoke the notion of featureless, empty, diaphanous etc. and to draw upon Traditional parallels, the Bardo Th
ödol emphasises the importance of the 'Clear Light' that must be realized through gnosis.


Trey Spruance: There's this thing in Shi'ism called ta'wil, it's this idea where you take anything back to its root significance its original self. So say you have a ball point pen, and you start looking at it, you start peeling away the layers of what it's made of, what it's molecular components are, what its history is. Until you've dissected it back to its void-ness, and back to its original spring, what organized it into itself. And then you realize of course, ultimately it came from God. It has to do with the burning of surfaces or appearances, sort of corroding them until a stronger or deeper reality presents itself. Its a process of decay. Intentional sort of melting.

Definitively; ta'wil is mystical hermeneutics or spiritual exegesis. Ta'wil, conversely, means 'to cause to return,  that is, to ascend or lead back (restore to its origin). It does not consist in bringing down to a lower level; it must carry sensible forms back to imaginative forms and then rise to still higher meanings; to proceed in the opposite direction (to carry imaginative forms back to the sensible forms in which they originate) is to destroy the virtualities of the imagination. Ta'wil is what saves appearances by symbolizing them with their original form. It is the soul's own conversion, because it is precisely the soul and not anything else that has 'descended'. It is essential symbolic understanding, the transmutation of everything visible into symbols, the intuition of an essence or person in an Image which partakes neither of universal logic nor of sense perception, and which is the only means of signifying what is to be signified. Rational thought must be carried through the irrational until it becomes supra-rational. Allegory is a rational operation, implying no transition either to a new plane of being or to a new depth of consciousness; it is a figuration at an identical level of consciousness, of what might very well be known in a different way. The symbol announces a plane of consciousness distinct from that of rational evidence; it is the 'cipher' of a mystery, the only means of saying something that cannot be apprehended in any other way; a symbol is never 'explained' once and for all, but must be deciphered over and over again, just as a musical score is never deciphered once and for all, but calls for ever new execution.

The ta'wil presupposes a flowing of symbols and hence the active Imagination, the organ which at once produces symbols and apprehends them; it presupposes the angelic world intermediate between the pure Cherubic intelligences and the universe of sensory, historical, and juridical facts. By its very essence the ta'wil cannot inhabit the realm of everyday fact; it postulates an esoterism. The ta'wil of texts presupposes the ta'wil of the soul: the soul cannot restore, return the text to its truth, unless it too returns to its truth. Ta'wil is, then, initiatory and Gnostic by definition: it is a practice conferring saving or sacramental gnosis. As initiation, it implies a new or spiritual birth, the Gnostic being resurrected from one state of being into another, while as knowledge, it is mystical. But more than that, and most importantly, it is ontologically determined knowledge, knowledge made different by virtue of a different state of being, of being a different 'person'. According to this view, it is the soul's mode of being (modus essendi) that determines its mode of knowing (modus cognoscenti). That is to say, our knowing is being, and these states or worlds are states or worlds of being. Indeed, there is a hierarchy of such states or worlds, and it is this ontological hierarchy that ta'wil symbolizes, binds together, realizes, indeed, enhances, in its practice. Moreover, since all the states of being (which are states of knowing also) express or mirror themselves in states that are correlative to them and of which they are functions (exoteric and esoteric being ontologically primordial), ta'wil develops through a spiritual 'typology' or, better stated, by a continuous unveiling or revelation of the spiritual beings to which the hermeneutical levels, spiritual organs and worlds, correspond.

Ta'wil is bringing something back to its archetypal donor. This is not an allegorical process, as has sometimes been claimed. It returns something, not to its historical origin, but to its transcendental origin. Because it goes beyond the letter (that is, the past without possibility), this textual exegesis becomes a true eduction, an exegesis of the human being. There is a systematic development of the correspondences between earthly and heavenly hierarchies, thereby revealing the real agents in humanity's hidden history. This hierohistory, as it were, is that of an incantation, da'wat, which begins 'in Heaven', continuing from prophet to prophet, and consummating itself only with our Aion in the guise of external events, Qur'anic passages leading us back to hidden events which are entirely real, but of an order which is other than that of visible events before the big bang, before time, therefore; outside of time. For those besotted with 'historical trend', latitudinal (horizontal) expansion, or the notion of a linear and irreversible progression; the 'transgressive' vigour of symbolism will inevitably wither away into inoffensive allegory. What we have learned about the 'disciples of Khidr', the trans-historical meaning of the affiliation which unites them vertically with the invisible celestial assembly, implies the idea of a Tradition whose line is vertical, longitudinal (form Heaven to Earth), a tradition whose moments are independent of the causality of continuous physical time but relate to what Ibn 'Arabi calls the tajdīd al-khalq, the recurrence of the creative act, or the renewal of creation at each instant or breath. This is the Theophany.

With the symbols of alchemical vitriol, Islamic ta'wil and the Moorish antiseptic healing potion invoked simultaneously we can refer further to what in Hermetism are called Corrosive Waters (or poison), in the special sense of substances capable of artificially provoking the dissociation between different elements of the human composition. The texts, nevertheless, either advise against the use of these waters and 'violent Fires' or recommend the utmost precaution because, they say, they burn rather than wash; they dissolve bodies but cannot save spirits; they work not with the 'slow fire of nature' but with the 'impatient haste that proceeds from the Devil'. Their action is abrupt and discontinuous; so the difficulty of keeping them active in the changing state is all the greater.

Since the bottle of vitriol is related to the 'sacred' or 'immortality-conferring' drinks, like the soma of the Vedas, the haoma of the Iranians, the mead of the Eddas and even wine itself. Originally it was a question of symbols: the holy drink was the Ether of Life, the principle of exaltation and inner regeneration, which to come into contact with was for man a much likelier possibility in the beginning that it was in later times. For the tradition maintains that at a certain point in time, such a drink ceased to be 'known' and something else was substituted for it, which was no longer just a symbol, but a real drink composed of substances adapted to produce a psychophysical state constituting a favorable condition for the spirit to be able to realize the true and immaterial soma, haoma, etc. One of these artificial means to reach an exaltation or inebriation was probably thought to be a means of arriving at an effective ecstasy. The same can be said of that which, in more disconcerting jargon in some alchemical texts, goes by the name of urina vini, meaning 'urine of a drunken man'. 'Urine' is explained by the root UR, which in Chaldean designated fire (Latin, urere, 'to burn') and with the anagram UR inferioris naturae ('Fire of the lower nature'), which is precisely the humid Fire agent in these methods. Specifically, 'urine of a drunken man' alludes to the state of exaltation, 'inebriation', or 'enthusiasm' (mania), which is linked to one of the manifestations of such Fire.

Corrosive Flames
(Burning Surfaces)

The hermetic fire is a fire that does not burn, it is a magic fire, an interior fire, subtle and occult. "The Opus is accomplished neither by (vulgar) Fire nor by the hands, but only by means of the inner heat," as with a 'rising fever'. The hermetic Philosophers recognize various fires, which are to be brought together in the work so that one may help the other. There are three Fires; the first 'Fire of the Lamp' - that is, Light-Fire, illuminated Fire 'continuous, humid, airy, proportioned; the second is the 'Fire of the ashes', that is, a fire that is sheltered in the interior, analogous to the so-called natural Fire, on which the athanor is placed; finally there is the Fire against nature, 'Our Water', which is related to the Fountain, and destroys, dissolves, calcinates. But often these three fires are used in the texts as symbols to mean the three phases of the Magnum Opus (work).

The main difference lies between 'natural Fire' and 'Fire against nature'. Unnatural Fire is the Fire of the hermetic Art referring to the aspect of the 'one thing' as the basis on which it is 'Nature that dominates itself, that kills itself' and thus is capable of reacting against the fact of being in order to infuse in it a higher discipline that sustains the fallen and erring natures, 'rectifying' them. After which, the two fires - that of the Art, directed by the operator's will, and that of Nature, which is the vital fire, that is to say, the heart and the blood (in alchemical symbol) - are united and, as has been said, the one increases, fortifies, and develops the action in the inner depths of the other. Besides the fire called intermediate, unnatural, and composite, a third is mentioned, the 'Fire that kills', which recalls the primordial 'fixations', that is to say, the absolute individualization of the force. The philosophical Fire is that with which the philosophers was the material, that is, purify the Mercury"; and the 'unnatural Fire', or 'intermediate', is the 'result of the union of the natural Fire and the Fire of the philosophers which is against nature'. This unnatural Fire is the cause of the putrefaction and death of the composition and of the perfect and true philosophical solution - and to this Fire 'against nature' remains the task of reanimating the hidden Fire in the other, liberating it from the prison in which it has been locked. This is a dense icy prison that contains a forgotten heat. When the heat is awoken it melts the density that contains it. Imagine that fire could be diluted with water and then frozen, this is a paradox. The fire's role is to melt the ice and be flowing with the water again. Whence, the water must evaporate so the fire can burn in solitude. Yet the fire dissolves, corrodes, burns, destroys and c
ooks primary material until it is transformed into it's original state.

This is the caustic method in which ta'wil and vitriol operate in order to resurrect the primordial essence. Ta'wil's inquiry that 'leads back' through the motive, the 'why?' and vitriol's sulphuric, acidic penetration of concrete matters.

William Blake: The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell: The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true, as I have heard from Hell. For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the Tree of Life, and when he does the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite and holy, whereas it now appears finite and corrupt. This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment. But first the notion that Man has a body distinct form his soul is to be expunged. This I shall do by printing in the infernal method by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid. If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to Man as it is: infinite. For Man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.


IMAGE: Secret Handshake

IMG 01: Page 01 of First Grand Constitution & Bylaws.
IMG 02: From Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam by Peter Lamborn Wilson. Described as Moorish Freemasonry symbols.
IMG 03: From the First Grand Constitution & Bylaws official document.
IMG 04: From the Book M official document.

In its oldest form the handshake signified the handing of power from a god to an early ruler. This is reflected in the Egyptian verb 'to give', the hieroglyph for which is an extended hand. One of the most peaceful and trustworthy gestures we have today is the firm clasp of hands between two people. It acknowledges friendships new and old, and confirms business agreements between people of honourable intent. Once upon a time, before we became so enmeshed in our webs of legal red tape, no written contract could bind a man more firmly to his commitment than giving his own hand on it, and family and heirs would honour that 'gentlemen's agreement' long after he had passed away.

When two strangers offer their hands towards one another it is the yielding to peace and an agreement to communicate. Having a grasp on one another's palms renders them non-combative and is thus a surrendering to co-operation. The greeting of the European settlers and the North American Indians consisted of the flat palm raised with fingers pointed to the sky, showing the absence of concealed weapons, followed by a clasping of the hands. Today, the handshake has become so universally a sign of mutual respect, that it is considered a personal insult to refuse an extended hand when greeted or introduced. It is also considered a sign of ignorance if the handshake is not given with firmness, warmth, smile, and most important, with eye contact and never with a limp hand. It is common knowledge that there is many secret handshakes amongst the Freemasons indicating a 'secret liaisons' amongst their companionship as 'Friends of God' expressed as Divine Unity.

During the early part of the 14th century in Basel, a medieval Christian fellowship emerged, known as Gottesfreunde (Friends of God) it then spread to Germany and the Netherlands. The Friends of God included men and women representing all social classes and states of life, clerical, religious, and lay. They sought as a community to cultivate a life of interior devotion and intense prayer because they felt a need to draw together in love, piety, and holiness, the Friends of God presaged the 16th-century Reformation. Some of its leaders, attacking corruption in the Western church and expecting a subsequent intervention of God, were tried and executed for heresy.

This idea of 'Friends of God' is not unfamiliar to the Muslims in the term
walā (plural awliyā) which has most commonly, and totally inadequately, been translated by the term 'saint', a translation that opens the door to endless confusion and ambiguity, so much so that when the word is applied to God it is frequently translated as 'protector'. In fact, as is indicated by the Persian term dāst which is its translation in current usage, it always bears the sense of 'Friend'. The idea originates in the verb form tawallā, which means 'to take as a friend'. Hence the definition of walā is 'he whose case God takes up in friendship'. The Arabic root besides meaning 'friend' also possesses the meaning of initiatic dominion or power in the term walāyah. The word walāyah has a Latin equivalent in the word affinitas. The link of spiritual affinity denoted by the walāyah corresponds in Shi'ism to the Christian notion of communio sanctorum. The handshake symbolizes this archetypal idea of 'bond' and 'alliance'.


IMAGE: Crows & Skulls

IMG 01: Page 01 of First Grand Constitution & Bylaws. Original image by Trey Spruance based on alchemical concepts.

IMG 02: From an out-dated version of the Web Of Mimicry website. Original image by Trey Spruance.

IMG 03: From a diagram outlining seven stages of alchemical process in The Glory Of The World or Table Of Paradise, in The Hermetic Museum edited by Arthur Edward Waite.

IMG 04: From a Secret Chiefs 3 merchandise shirt. Image by Trey Spruance based on Image 05.

IMG 05: Plate 09 of Philosophia Reformata by Johann Daniel Mylius.

Let it be known that birds are the flight of thought. Not only bird however, but winged creatures in general such as angels. The wings often denote intuition, spiritual potentiality and the consciousness-transcending goal of the self. This visual impression is rather like a snapshot of an evolving process as it ascends the quintessential hierarchy. The initial stage of alchemy is the blackening, nigredo, which the alchemists called 'a black, blacker than black', antimony, pitch, coal, lead burnt copper, scorched ivory, grand confusion, calcination, nox, melanosis, etc. Its ontological status is likened to an existential void, an abyss. The key symbols that augment the melanosis are the raven and the skeleton/skull. The skull is the vessel of alchemical transformation, wherein one undergoes a living death, identified only with the vacuousness of the ego's relative position; a suffering of spiritual poverty. The skull soliloquies of Faust and of Hamlet are reminders of the appalling senselessness of human life when 'sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought'. C.G. Jung says that in some cases the human skull, was considered to be the actual vessel of transmutation and was used in the work because the brain is the lodging house of the divine part. 'The Cranium Of Death', caput mortuum, is the head of the black Osiris; the mercurius philosophorum who undergoes death, resurrection and transformation into an incorruptible state. Thus the anonymous author of the Novum Lumen Chemicum exclaims: "Our heaven! O Our water and Our Mercurius! O dead head or dregs of our sea!... And these are the epithets of the bird of Hermes, which never rests".  This bird of Hermes is the raven, of which it is said: "And know that the head of the art is the raven, who flies without wings in the blackness of the night and the brightness of the day". He is a restless, unsleeping spirit, "Our aerial and volatile stone, a being of contradictory nature". So, too, is E.A. Poe's raven, which has been "wandering from the night's Plutonian shore," and which becomes the capital or dominating principle of the narrator's thoughts by perching upon the bust of Pallas. Once again, an alchemical approach would seem to indicate that Poe's raven is not simply a symbol for melancholy, but carries many other connotations as well. In other literature the raven is akin to the Moor, Ethiopian, and Negro, niger, due to his passé image as black, sinful man. The name of the Ethiopians signifies, literally, 'burnt faces' (aithi-ops). It is from the same root, aith, that the word aither derives; and the æther can be considered as a kind of higher fire, that of the 'Empyrean Heaven'. The Raven's Headâ, caput corvi, is directly related to the skull via decapitation. Beheading is significant symbolically as the separation of the 'understanding' from the 'anguish' which nature inflicts on the soul. It is an emancipation of the cognitio which is situated in the head, a freeing of the soul from the limitations of nature.

This great liberation is the death of the commanding self, nafs amara, known as the ego. The black substance of our own shadow must be met and reconciled before a healing commences: "With the death of the lion the raven is born", meaning, when the desire dies, the blackness of death sets in. The birth of a healing power, from the blackening, belongs to the archetype of the wounded healer. It reflects the psychological capacity as stated by Karl Kerenyi; 'to be at home in the darkness of suffering and there to find the germs of recovery with which as though by enchantment, to bring forth Asklepios, the sun-like healer. This healer's mother is named Coronis, meaning 'crow maiden'. Also, there were three champions known as Raven Kings. Odin the Norse God who had two raven prophet-messengers (winged black mercuries), Huginn and Munin. The second was King Arthur, who in Wales and Cornwall was believed to inhabit the raven's body, while his half-sister Morgan le Faye was the Raven Queen Morrigan, a death-goddess who took the form of a raven. The third king particularly connected with the raven was Bran the Blessed, the Irish cult-hero, whose very name 'Bran' means 'raven'. Bran was also connected with Saturn, the 'black' Planet, which symbolized alchemical lead. Mythologically, Bran and Saturn were both eaters of flesh, the corrosion of substance. Through the Calcination, a lighter condition can emerge, accordingly, in Northwest native lore, the raven carries a ball of light into the sky, so we no longer live in darkness. In Vedic texts, Saturn is described as riding a crow and carrying a skull. The raven is also a widespread icon of superstition. In the Middle East, this dark bird was known as 'Father Of Omens', abu zajir. As eaters of carrion, ravens were messengers of death, pestilence, and battle. It was believed that these flesh-hungry birds could smell the scent of death upon a person before they died. In paintings, the raven is depicted flying over battlefields, eager to feast on cadaver.

ISA 32:11: After the Battle of Armageddon, ravens will descend upon the lands of the wicked.

Putrefaction must do its work before the body can be joined to the soul, for solution and putrefaction begin with a fetid smell, and the processes gradually develops, and therefore the caput corvi is known as a deadly poison. The odour is rather intellectually than sensuously perceptible. The blackness precedes the whiteness, for, all things that are to grow and receive life must first putrefy. However, the putrefaction is the unification of the white (dove) and the black (raven), the latter being the spirit that dwells in the tombstone. The ravens that gather up the seed (or the product of the union) and then fly with it to the tops of the mountains represents the helpful spirits of familiars who complete the work when the skill of the artifex has failed him. They are not, as in Faust, beautiful angels, but dark messenger of heaven, who at this point themselves become white. The raven is the black soul of the king and queen, which must purify through their alchemical wedlock.