There is still yet a third possibility, one that is considerably more complicated – as well as bizarre. The following solution has been found in a fascinating and indeed the most curious of places: on the luminous surface of a crystal ball.
Amidst the second half of the nineteenth century, during a time that has come to be known as the occult revival, the curious practice of spirit communication was spreading like ectoplasm. From séances and psychic channelings to magic mirrors and table tippings, Spiritualism and communications with the dead became all the rage on both sides of the pond, greatly influencing the thought and occupying the minds of those who would contribute largely to the esoteric literature of the era. One of the primary modes of spirit communication that was widely practiced at the time was crystal or mirror gazing, known as catoptromancy or skrying. This was accomplished with the use of prayers, invocations, and the burning of psychotropic incenses, as well as the consumption of a number of narcotic, hypnagogic, and entheogenic plants and substances. These include but are not limited to cannabis, opium, nitrous oxide, and even psychedelic fungi. It is believed by practitioners of the art that the spirits of all manner of deceased and disincarnate figures may be called into the crystal or mirror, and thereafter petitioned for the knowledge, favors, etc., that the querent requires or desires. Some of the key players during this creative period include visionary Rosicrucian P.B. Randolph, psychic Spiritualist Emma Hardinge Britten, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society, and especially Freemasons Frederick Hockley and his students Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie and F.G. and Herbert Irwin.
Concerning these last, John Yarker, in his paper The Society of the Rosy Cross, provides a description of what he considers to be the various stages of true occult progress, the third of which includes “the use of the ‘Crystal Stone’ or magical mirror.” The association of crystal balls, seeing stones, and magical mirrors with Rosicrucianism goes at least as far back as the publication of the ﬁrst Rosicrucian manifesto Fama Fraternitatis in the early 17th century, wherein is described a ‘Vault’ having seven sides or walls, and each wall being a door that opens to a chest in which contained among other things “looking glasses of diverse virtues.” Yarker claims in the same paper that he knew of only three Fratres who possessed any competent and practical knowledge of Rosicrucianism: Frederick Hockley, Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie, and Capt. F.G. Irwin, all three of whom are known to have been avid crystal and mirror gazers.
Frederick Hockley was a highly influential British occultist who divided his time between transcribing magical manuscripts and practicing ‘crystallomancy,’ as he called it, which is described by him as the art of “invocating by magic crystals or mirrors.” Hockley was a pupil of Francis Barrett, author of the celebrated grimoire The Magus, and himself the author of at least one book on the subject of magic crystal or mirror gazing. Hockley’s Rosicrucian ties went unquestioned to such an extent that he was admitted to the Grade of Adeptus Exemptus in Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia by Capt. Irwin, even without Hockley’s ever having attended a single meeting. The extent to which he experimented with entheogens is unclear, but we do know that he had in his possession at the time of his death a recipe for a mirror-gazing incense, borrowed from The Book of Oberon, which contained hashish as an ingredient.
Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie was a hedonistic student of Hockley and a correspondent of French occultist Eliphas Levi. Mackenzie believed to such a degree in the truth of ‘crystallomancy’ that the source which he used for the entry on the mysterious Fratres Lucis in his Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia was none other than the disembodied spirit of Cagliostro which had been ‘called’ into the crystal and subsequently interrogated by Capt. F.G. Irwin’s son, Herbert!
Regarding Mackenzie, in 1873 Hockley wrote the following:
“I have the utmost reluctance even to refer to Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie. I made his acquaintance about 15 or 16 years since. I found him then a very young man who having been educated in Germany possessed a thorough knowledge of German and French and his translations having been highly praised by the press, exceedingly desirous of investigating the Occult Sciences, and when sober one of the most companionable persons I ever met.”
Very little is known about Capt. F.G. Irwin, but what can be gathered from his correspondence with Hockley, Mackenzie, and others is that he was apparently very active in his Mother Lodge as well as the SRIA College to which he belonged. But, following the death of his son Herbert, who died of a laudanum overdose during a ‘crystallomancy’ session, F.G. Irwin spent much of his time attempting to contact the spirit of his deceased son. Unfortunately, F.G. Irwin’s efforts to contact his deceased son were in vain.
Directly involved in the formation of the SRIA, Hockley, Mackenzie, and the Irwins, are known to have preoccupied themselves with all things Rosicrucian, central to which, they believed, based on a passage in the Rosicrucian manifestos regarding “looking glasses of diverse virtues,” was the use of the magic mirror and/or crystal ball. Furthermore, of particular interest to them was the elusive Fratres Lucis, an alleged splinter group of Der Ordens des Gold und Rosenkreuzer, the first Rosicrucian Order to surface following the initial publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestos. Keen to acquire information of the mysterious Fratres Lucis, the same of which was wanting for them on the physical plane, the Irwins put to use their master Hockley's teachings and turned to the crystal ball in order to petition the great mystic Count Cagliostro for assistance. For, it was believed by them that Cagliostro was a bona fide member of the Fraternity. As F.G. Irwin’s magical diaries of the time clearly reflect, the operations were a great success, and the extended results can be found in Herbert Irwin's Book of Magic, the purported astral grimoire of the Fratres Lucis.
Among the alleged Cagliostro crystallomancy transmissions is one of particular interest to us for our present purposes; one which potentially provides a solution to the problem of the oral activity of the concoction of acacia given to candidates by Cagliostro in his Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry. As we explained earlier, acacia would not normally be orally active. In order for it to become so, the acacia would necessitate being paired with an MAOI-containing plant such as Peganum harmala, aka Syrian rue. Remarkably, “Herb Rue” is precisely what Herbert Irwin has recorded in his Book of Magic as being an important tool in the Fratres Lucis’ pharmacopeia, according to the Cagliostro crystallomancy transmissions. The Irwins’ master Hockley himself was even fascinated by the “Herb Rue,” as can be ascertained from the following excerpt from a letter from Hockley to the Irwins wherein the former pressed the latter for information pertaining to the mysterious “Herb Rue.”
“There is a recipe on the properties of the plant Rue I know you will allow Herbert to copy out for me as I wish…to try it.”
“As I mentioned in my note I read your MSS with very great interest. ...When you are in town bring the [ Book of Magic ] MSS up and we will compare notes...by the bye I asked you for a copy of the recipe on the herb Rue. It is only a few lines.”
That fact that Hockley requested a recipe, and not a single herb, is very interesting. But, was Syrian rue truly the plant intended by the Cagliostro transmissions? According to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, the only difference between Syrian rue and traditional rue is that the latter is the cultivated form of the former. Complicating matters considerably, in Pliny's time no real distinction was made between the two beyond the belief that Syrian rue (or Peganum harmala) was the wild manifestation of the cultivated traditional rue (or Ruta graveolens). Traditional rue would certainly have been well known to Cagliostro and to the Irwins, the same having extensive and well-documented medicinal as well as religious applications. However, provided that the other botanicals itemized by Herbert Irwin in the astral Fratres Lucis pharmacopeia are either psychoactive or are commonly used as substitutes for psychoactive plants, e.g. saffron, opium poppy, vervain, etc., all of which have a long history of use as additives to magical incenses, love philtres, flying ointments, etc., traditional rue would appear completely out of place. Syrian rue, on the other hand, would seem to us to be a perfectly natural, comfortable addition. Further, the effects of “Herb Rue” provided in Herbert's Book of Magic are consistent with those of Syrian rue, which include sweating, mental clarity, and mood enhancement. According to the Book of Magic,
“[Herb Rue] is most strengthening and health giving, it imparts life and strength to the body – it opens the pores of the skin and inclines the body to sweat – it is well for diseases of the brain for it imparts strength of all desirable parts.”
The portion regarding “diseases of the brain” is especially interesting as MAOIs are commonly used in psychiatry to treat mental health disorders including clinical depression and bipolar disorder. The same cannot be said of traditional rue, however.
Regardless of one's attitude concerning crystal balls, magic mirrors, and the obtaining of knowledge from deceased or disincarnate sources, the remarkable consistencies surrounding these transmissions and their content cannot be easily disregarded.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05-Jan-18 17:53 by P.D. Newman.
|Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||795||P.D. Newman||05-Jan-18 17:52|
|Re: Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||145||michael seabrook||05-Jan-18 20:25|
|Re: Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||151||P.D. Newman||05-Jan-18 22:53|
|Re: Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||128||MDaines||06-Jan-18 10:04|
|Re: Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||177||P.D. Newman||06-Jan-18 15:03|
|Re: Count Cagliostro's Libation of Acacia II: The Herb Rue of the Irwins||238||Poster Boy||18-Jan-18 16:37|