Alchemy is and isn’t Freemasonry. Think of it like this: a long time ago, well before the Enlightenment, possibly even all the way back before the beginnings of civilization itself, Man had been perfecting a singular craft. This Ancient Craft, even and Art or a Science if you will, was called “Believe Everything I Tell You To, Or I’ll Poke You With This Pokey Thing.”
And for most people this worked out pretty well. The people who liked poking got to poke people, usually to death. And the vast majority of people who didn’t care to be poked opted to believe what they were told. There were a small group of folks, however, who didn’t much like being poked, but still wanted to believe other things, or at least have the freedom to explore other things. And so, to avoid heat from the Man, they tried doing things in sneaky ways.
Some of them started hanging around the Trade Guilds, learned their lingo, used it to talk about heretical morality (like maybe not poking each other so much) and became Freemasons.
Others decided to experiment with dangerous chemicals, and speak so cryptically that literally no one knew what the frick they were talking about, and these people became the Alchemists.
Alchemy was science, theology, and philosophy back in a time when those weren’t considered separate things, but rather a holistic attempt to understand their world, and like Freemasonry, is was largely symbolic, and one of the preeminent symbols of Alchemy was Gold. Gold was considered a perfect substance, and the lifelong attempts to transmute lead, and other base metals, into Gold, was a metaphor for transmuting oneself into a perfect being. What changes in ourselves are required to turn our base human character into a divine being?
But what is Alchemical Gold in philosophical terms?
The Freemasons use the term “Perfect Ashlar” for the same concept, which is a perfectly shaped block of stone, fit to be placed in the wall of their Creator’s divine plan. In practical terms a perfect ashlar would plumb, square, and level. Three measures that make it perfectly shaped. But what does gold signify?
One possible interpretation has been hidden in our common culture for generations.
If we were to play The Match Game, what answers would you give for the following:
“The Golden ____________.”(and you can’t ask Richard Dawson)
Three responses that may have come to your mind are: The Golden Rule, The Golden Mean, and The Golden Ratio….and I guess The Golden Girls, but let’s ignore that last one.
The Golden Rule is, of course, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and is essentially the backbone of every major religion on the planet.
The Golden Mean is taken from Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, and defined as the virtue that lays between two vices (Example: Bravery is the Golden Mean between the vices of cowardice and foolhardiness).
The Golden Ratio is a mathematical and architectural concept defining perfect proportions, which is signified by the formula of A+B is to A as A is to B.
These three concepts are premiere distillations of Theology (the Rule), Philosophy (the Mean), and the Arts & Sciences (the Ratio), which are the three modern branches that were once all explored from that singular root of Alchemy.
But to further show Alchemy’s relationship to Freemasonry, what is a Rule? It’s a concept of morality that governs each man equally, and a good rule applies to both rich and poor, man and woman, black and white, and this is the very same lesson Freemasons embody in the symbol of the Level.
A mean, mathematically, is the middle point of a series of numbers or a line. In geometry the middle point of a line is discovered by the same proof for finding a perpendicular, which is represented by the Plumb.
Ratios are another way of explaining algebraic equations, the most famous of which is the Pythagorean Theorem, which explains the ratio of the sides of a right triangle to its hypotenuse. This theorem, which Masons call “The 47th Problem of Euclid” is the mathematical representation of the Square. While the 47th Problem can take many shapes, the masonic symbol is pretty standard.
Further, a triangle constructed by the Golden Ratio is called a Golden Triangle. When a triangle is both Golden and Right, it is called a Kepler Triangle.
Want to see something cool?
So in a sense it can be said that Alchemists and Freemasons came to the same conclusion: Man is perfected by being morally upright, fair, and square.
Bonus Light: A pyramid made with Kepler Triangles is called a, you guessed it, Golden Pyramid. The Pyramids at Giza are Golden Pyramids. Alchemy gets its name from its purported place of origination, the Land of Khem, also known as…Egypt.
Super Bonus LIght: I suppose when you think about it The Golden Girls fit the same pattern. Rose was the most morally upright, Dorothy was the voice of secular reason, and Blanche was frequently laid horizontal!