The Philosophers Stone and Related Symbolism

philosophers stone

The Philosophers Stone and Related Symbolism

The Real Philosophers Stone

By Harold Boulette

“The ancients adored the Sun under the figure of a black stone, which they named Elagabalus or Heliogabalus. What did this stone signify, and how came it to be the image of the most brilliant of luminaries? The disciples of Hermes, before promising their adepts the elixir of long life, or the powder of projection, counseled them to seek for the Philosophers Stone. What is this stone, and why is it so called? ..
“The Sun and Moon of the alchemists correspond to the same symbol and concur in the perfection and stability of the Philosophers Stone. The Sun is the heiroglyphic sign of truth, because it is the visible source of light, and the rough stone is the symbol of stability. This is why the ancient Magi regarded the stone Elagabalus as the actual type of the sun.” ~Eliphas Levi

Most young people today know of the Philosophers Stone from the Harry potter novels and movies, even though the name was changed to the Sorcerers Stone in The U.S.A. In that tale, the stone is a very real physical stone able to give the owner eternal life. While the true Philosophers “stone” isn’t a chunk of rock at all, it is important in gaining eternal life.

When Levi asks what the stone signified, he is telling us something important: that the stone was symbolic. Relating it back to the Hermetic schools gives another hint. We now know that it is symbolic and related to the Sun which was so important in the Hermetic teachings. He then tells us it is related to the Sun and moon of the Alchemists. Now we are getting somewhere. The alchemists—the real ones, at least—were not interested in changing one metal into another. The real alchemists were interested in changing people: in changing the materialistic lower consciousness of lead into the higher cosmic consciousness of gold.

Philosophers Stone

Making a Philosophers Stone

The legend of the golden city of Eldorado is related to this as well. The story became twisted over time, as they almost always do. Many have hunted for this city where the buildings were supposedly covered with gold. They haven’t found it and never will because it is a false story, but created from a very real one. The real Eldorado was the city of golden men, not gold buildings. The men were not golden because they had gold skin, or because they covered themselves with gold powder as some wealthy Romans did during the height of that empire. They were golden men because they had achieved the golden state of Christ Consciousness or Cosmic consciousness, or Gnosis if you prefer.

So we know have enough facts to put together what the Philosophers Stone really was. The Hermetic students, the true Alchemists, the Gnostics, the Pythagoreans, and many other mystics gazed upon the sun for enlightenment. They didn’t gaze at the physical sun, of course, but the spiritual one. Gazing at the physical sun may have some physical benefits, but no spiritual ones and it can harm the eyes if you don’t know what you are doing (so don’t do it!). But if you have the necessary training by a good spiritual school, you can look upon the sun and see beyond it to the Spiritual Sun that awakens the Soul and brings enlightenment. It is that spiritual sun which many ancient schools represented as the Philosophers Stone. Why? One reason was to keep the knowledge only to those who had been through a period of initiation. Another was because some ancient governments, fearing the power of such people to change the world, banned all forms of sun gazing. Another is simply because people often remembered things better when symbols were used and myths and tall-tales built around them. Whatever the reason, we can now reveal the truth of the Philosophers Stone and what it really is.

The image at the beginning of this article shows a depiction of the Philosophers stone with a phoenix within it. Very appropriates since the Phonic is another symbol related to the spiritual sun. The other image is supposed to illustrate an alchemist making such a stone, but actually illustrates it’s relationship to the sun.

This post previous appeared in the blog Solar Wind.


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