Societas 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 and three.
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 knocks.
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 heard.
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 questions.
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 Nature?
Candidate: I do.
Exponent: Will you endeavour to discover the secrets of the Material World by practical Work?
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?
All: 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 Serapis.
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 past.
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:
Fire      Heat and Dryness
Air       Heat and Moistness
Earth    Cold and Dryness
Water  Cold and Moistness
This was demonstrated even by Aristotle, who showed that matter, simple, or combined with its developments, may exist in each of these states.
The Alchymists affirmed the existence of the Primum Ens or First Matter; two Opposites or Contranes; three Principles; and four Elementary states.
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 of Life.
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 achieved.
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 following passage:
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 Him.
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 spiritual planes.
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 same view.
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 Testament.
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.
All rise
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.