New Book! ‘The Grand Communication: Freemasonry’s Alchemical Quest for Divine Communion’
Editor’s note: Tria Prima is excited to bring you Nathan Schick’s new book The Grand Communication with a forward written by our very own Jaime Paul Lamb. Cover art by our talented brother Travis Lawrence of Infinity Prints. We believe this book will be an instant classic for any Mason with an interest in Alchemy and Hermeticism.
I teach a range of religious studies classes including thematic courses like “Religion & Pop Culture” and “Magic, Witchcraft, & Healing”. One semester, my class was discussing magic in the context of religion and popular culture, and the conversation turned to the Harry Potter franchise. A student asked: “Why was the 1st Harry Potter book called ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ in England, but changed to ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in the US?” Other students enthusiastically responded, providing details about everything from the publisher to cultural considerations to film editing, reciting facts they knew from memory.
But when I asked them what they knew about the history of the concept of the “Philosopher’s Stone”, they were dumbfounded. When I went on a tangent to give some context about the connection to alchemy, Hermes, and secret societies, I could tell I had their full attention. Without any prompting, they came to class over the next few weeks reporting new facts and details about the Philosopher’s Stone they had discovered and new questions about the history of how magic and science had diverged. My students are often undertaking rigorous training for careers in hard sciences. Yet they are clearly in tune with an enchanted view of the universe and the natural world. They love pop culture which contains an element of magic and they are curious about the unknown and methods by which to investigate.
The Hiramic Legend of Freemasonry sets the death and resurrection of the hero as Hiram Abiff and the location at the building of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Certain key features are emphasized, such as the exchange between two distinct and autonomous kingdoms, between whom envy, discord, and confusion might naturally exist, are found to establish good relations through exchange and the strength and harmony created by paying each fairly and justly. These conditions allow for the building of the Temple to the Almighty God, by whichever name used – Israelite and Tyrian alike could approach the altar and worship in peace and good fellowship. In the aftermath of the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War, these ecumenical values were highly attractive. They helped soften the bitter edges of division in societies exhausted from years of bloody religious and political conflicts.
The choice of Hiram and the attached Hebrew term of “Abi” as both “my father” and “my master” ties directly into the description Elias Ashmole gives in the commentary at the end of his personal manuscript copy of Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum about how he was “adopted” by his Alchemical “father”. The alchemical notion being that the adoption allows for an apprenticeship over an extended period with a more experienced paternal figure overseeing the work as the skills of mastery are slowly developed and the deeper secrets revealed. The secrets are then passed down over the generations to “adoptees” who are found worthy seekers.