Contents[ edit ] In a self-published translation featuring parallel French and English texts, Manly P. The work is of no great length, consisting of ninety-six leaves written upon one side only. The calligraphy is excellent. Although somewhat irregular in spelling and accenting, the French is scholarly and dramatic, and the text is embellished with numerous figures, well drawn and brilliantly colored. In addition to the full-page drawings there are small symbols at the beginning and end of each of the sections. Throughout the French text there are scattered letters, words, and phrases in several ancient languages.
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Scorpio Separation or Putrefaction The philosophic death; an artificial decay by which the spiritual and material elements are separated from each other. Sagittarius The burning away of dross; the soul fire comsumes the external body. Capricorn Fermentation The conversion of organic susbtance into new compounds by a ferment; the building of the Golden Man.
Aquarius The process of increasing; adeptship. Pisces Projection The process of transmuting base substance into Gold; the perfection of the Work; immortality; in the eastern tradition, Buddhahood.
The alchemists tell us that a minute particle of the "Red Lion" can transmute into the purest gold a hundred thousand times its own weight. A ritual not dissimilar to that contained in the present writing is set forth in the Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Quichi Indians of Central America. The neophyte, in his quest for wisdom, passes in succession through twelve tests: He crosses a river of blood Aries then a river of mud Taurus , he detects a subterfuge Gemini , he enters the house of darkness Cancer , then the house of spears Leo , the house of cold Virgo , the house of tigers Libra , the house of fire Scorpio , and the house of bats Sagittarius where he dies incineration.
The picture at the head of the ninth section of St. The body of the Indian neophyte is burned on a scaffold Capricorn , the ashes scattered on the river Aquarius , the ashes turn into a man-fish Pisces , in which form the initiate, who has completed the cycle, destroys the evil genius who was his adversary through the initiatory ritual. The twelve p. As we follow St. Now we read only the symbols and we understand only in part, but ultimately we must achieve as he achieved and face the universal course with the same high courage that pressed him on to mastership.
His symbols are from the Book of Life, and although we do not see in daily incident and happening the tests of which he writes, still each in his own sphere of experience faces the same hazards herein defined. We wander in the caverns of uncertainty; the ghostly forms of doubt harass us; fear steals away our strength, selfishness our vision, and ignorance our courage.
But we are all alchemists in the laboratory of life: each is distilling the elixir of experience. In due time each shall have accomplished the perfection of this mysterious alchemical fluid, and with it shall tincture his world and himself.
Upon the base metals of this present age he shall sprinkle the magical powder which his soul has discovered; the ages of Iron, of Silver, of Copper, and of Lead shall vanish away, and the Golden Age of the philosophers shall shine forth.
Figure I, page 34 The highly decorated title page of the manuscript is a valuable key to the interpretation of the entire work. The second square from the top at the right is of especial Freemasonic interest. A candidate for initiation into the Mysteries p. The letters AB are the mystical signature of the writer who was a "father" abba or master of the secret wisdom.
The letters are also an abbreviation for an alchemical process. Characters have been changed and the sense altered to read in substance: "And the earth shall be a desolate waste. There shall be lamenting, and hate and consternation shall be upon the Face. And the Breath of El-him, because of the presence of the spirit, shall destroy those that have departed from God. In the opening chapter of his manuscript, St. To the sage the material universe is the antechamber where gather those who are awaiting acceptance into the sacred rites.
When the Comte speaks of "this place of exile" and the "monarchs who rule" over it, he refers to the illusionary universe and "the princes of this world. Throughout the early pages is traceable the allegory of the Prodigal Son. The great cyclic law which swept the hosts of fiery Sparks into the abyss is known only to the elect. In the darkness of chaos the rebel spirits established their world.
They built the cosmos and were locked within each of the material elements which they had willed into being. When the lower earth had been completed, the great Father desired to draw back into Himself His prodigal creation. Descending from the Abode of Light this heavenly Archon diminished its splendor, and investing its glory in the dark robes of earth, took upon Itself the cross of the cycles.
To the Gnostics, the physical universe was compounded of the dregs of spirit. It was the abortion of space. This was clearly set forth in the initiatory rituals which taught that men were reborn in earthly bodies as punishment for sin. From the dun, p. Perfected in wisdom, these Initiates broke through the adamantine wall of the mortal sphere and emerged into the light of God. The alchemical interpretation relates to the elementary spirits locked within the physical forms of the elements.
It should be noted that in his procedure through the initiatory trials, St. He is the alchemical matter itself passing through twelve cycles of refinement. It thus becomes evident that the alchemists recognized that their Great Work consisted of the transmutation of themselves. The earth the dungeon is filled with the seed souls of precious metals; here they are locked awaiting Art and Wisdom. The growth and perfection of these precious virtues is stimulated by discipline and in the fullness of time all base impulses and purposes are transmuted into the gold of soul power.
Figure II, page 40 In his notes on the Trinosophia, de Givry concerns himself solely with the alchemical import of the symbolism of this figure. He says of the second plate that it "represents a man gazing into a prophetic cup forming a magic mirror. The conjoined signs of the Sun and the Moon are seen against the pedestal of the table; at the top of the figure a super-position of differently colored rectangles indicates the phases of the Work; and the double sign of the lingam in a circle emblematically recalls the Hermetic male and female.
An inscription in Greek letters and made-up characters gives a formula for the composition of Gold, or the Sun-King, by means of a mixture of gold and silver regenerated by vital mercury; linked to the blue rectangle giving this formula is a lower red rectangle inscribed with the rule for the furnace fire in Hebrew characters. The circle at the upper right, though possibly phallic in its superficial sense, is actually an occult monogram or seal containing two Greek letters.
Translated these signify "the Light of God" or "the Light of Revelation. The arrangement is Oriental. The inscription in the upper panel describes the quickening of the soul seed by the warmth of the eastern quarter.
There is also reference to the Breath which moves in the vessel, or upon the waters. The number 62 appears, accompanied by the admonition to open the heavenly gate clairvoyance with the aid of the vessel or cup. Does the cup ark contain the Water of Lethe, by partaking of which souls descending into generation lose all memory of their heavenly origin?
Or does it contain the Water of Mnemosyne which flows at the gateway of wisdom and of which p. The female figure is Isis in her role of Initiatrix. She is Nature, and her black skirt is the corporeal world by which part of her body is concealed. The naked man is the neophyte. Unclothed he came into the world and unclothed he must be born again. The table upheld by the Sun and Moon and at the base of which burns the everlasting fire, is the world.
The objects lying upon it, or held by Isis, are three of the suit symbols which appear upon Tarot cards. The whole design, in fact, is not dissimilar to that major Tarot trump which is called Le Bateleur, the Juggler. The cup is the symbol of water, the spearhead of fire and the wand of air. Fire, air, and water are the symbols of the great Magical Agent. The Hebrew characters in the panel above the head of Isis are translated: "On account of distress they shall cling to the Bestower," which means that those the wise who have become wearied with worldliness shall turn to wisdom, the bestower of all good things.
Analysis of the Text. The account of the initiatory ritual now begins. The disciple has waited the appointed time in the dark material universe which is the womb of the Mysteries. The process of philosophical birth proceeds according to the ancient and immutable law. The neophyte, veiled and bearing the Golden Bough the mistletoe , advances toward the iron altar.
The choice of Vesuvius as the scene for the initiation is exceedingly appropriate. The vent of the volcano leads downward into the subterranean strata of the earth where dwell the subterranean deities who must be first propitiated. The volcano is also the symbol of the alchemical furnace. Sir James Frazer thus comments upon the initiatory ceremony as set forth by Virgil: "If the mistletoe, as a yellow withered bough in the sad autumn woods, was conceived to contain the seed of fire, what better companion could a forlorn wanderer in the nether shades take with him than a bough that would be a lamp to his feet as well as a rod and staff to his hands?
Armed with it he might boldly confront p. The soul grows from the body and in it, but is not of it, for as the tree takes its nourishment from the earth even so the body receives its sustenance from material sources; but the mistletoe derives its vitality not from the dark loam but from the tree and the air. He who bears the branch announces his fitness to receive the initiation.
The neophyte lays the branch upon the iron altar; he gives himself to the law, assuming the responsibilities of spiritual progress. The sacred Word is spoken.
The hallowed Bough bursts into flame: the sacrifice is accepted. The earth opens. Down through the Royal Arches as into a great abyss passes the candidate. The long white robe is the seamless garment of the Nazarene woven from the endless thread of experience. The copper lamp is enlightened love, without which no man may follow the narrow path of wisdom. Robed in purity, illumined with compassion and understanding, the neophyte follows the black vaulted passage which leads to immortality.
After a great distance the passage ends in a square room from which lead four doors. This is the Hall of Choosing. The doors signify the courses which the soul can pursue. The black door is the path of asceticism and labor; the red door is that of faith; the blue door is that of purification, and the white door is that of adept-ship and of the highest Mysteries. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes these paths and those who follow them, and reveals that the last is the highest and the most perfect.
The neophyte enters through the black door of asceticism and labor and is about to pass through the red door of enlightened love when it closes upon him. He then turns to the door of purification and sacrifice but this will not receive him. Fate has decreed adeptship. The neophyte follows his star. The alchemical significance of the account reveals that at the beginning of the Great Work the power of choice is given to the operator, that he may decide the end to which his labor shall be directed.
From the door which is chosen we discover that aspect of the Great Work which our author contemplates.
The Most Holy Trinosophia