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In the earliest versions of the Master Mason degree there is no mention made anywhere of a sprig of acacia. Rather, the references are to a sprig of cassia, a different plant altogether possessed of no real psychotropic value. Cassia, botanically labeled Cinnamonum cassia, is a cinnamon-like evergreen originating in southern China, whereas acacia, which can be either evergreen or deciduous, is a genus of nearly one thousand species, with all but ten or so of those having their origin in Australia. Sometime between the 1730s and 1745, a change was made across the board, and cassia would forever become acacia in Masonic ritual. Masonic scholar Albert G. Mackey argued in his Encyclopedia that the original inclusion of cassia in the Master Mason degree was but an error that likely arose “from the very common habit among illiterate people of sinking the sound of the letter a in the pronunciation of any word of which it constitutes the initial syllable.” Acacia would therefore have become cassia. However, we are not so convinced. There is absolutely no evidence supporting the supposition that the switch from cassia to acacia was not a deliberate one. Furthermore, even William Preston, who is largely responsible for the degrees as we have come to know them, provided cassia in his draft of the Master Mason degree. One would be hard pressed to explain how a man of Preston’s caliber and literacy would fail to be able to pronounce a word as mere and common as is acacia. While we do not know who is responsible for implementing this change, we may have discovered the reason why the switch was made. Our solution is at once Alchemical and entheogenic.

The convergence of Freemasonry with Alchemy goes at least as far back as the early 1720s, when John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744) served as the third Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge in London. Desaguliers acted as research assistant to Sir Isaac Newton in the Royal Society, each of whom are known to have been Alchemically inclined, if not actual practicing Alchemists. In fact, in early 2016 a recipe for the production of the legendary philosopher’s stone, taken from Starkey and written in Newton’s own hand, was discovered in a private collection. If anyone was indeed behind the widespread switch from cassia to acacia in the Master Mason degree, Desaguliers, powerful in Masonry and knowledgeable in matters of Alchemy, is perhaps the best candidate. After all, he is suspected of having been instrumental in the very development of the Master Mason degree. Moreover, research by Audrey T. Carpenter has uncovered a letter wherein the Duke of Chandos urged Desaguliers to persuade the alchemist Baron Silburghe, who claimed to have been successful in the transmutation of base metals into gold via quicksilver, into giving up some of his alchemical secrets. At the very least, these associations demonstrate that Desaguliers harbored more than a passing interest in the Royal Art.

The principle goal of the Alchemists was the production of the lapis philosophorum or philosopher's stone, the stone of the wise, from the secret prima materia or primal matter. As the Alchemical axiom states, the lapis is made “not of stone, not of bone, not of metal.” That is to say, it comes not from the mineral kingdom and not from the animal kingdom. It must therefore be deduced that this stone is only to be found in the vegetable kingdom; namely, within the acacia, Masonry's prima materia. Many present day Alchemists are content to produce stones from virtually any mineral, metal, plant, or animal, ascribing the value of those stones solely to their attributed planetary signatures. However, for a stone to meet the criteria of the true stone of the wise, imagined planetary signatures will not suffice. It must first satisfy specific requirements, chief among them being the conferral upon its possessor of the gift of immortality.

Let it here be said that the Alchemical vocation is no vain search for physical immortality. Bodily longevity is not the variety of immortality here described. The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell explains rightly that

“the search for physical immortality proceeds from a misunderstanding of the traditional teaching. On the contrary, the basic problem is: to enlarge the pupil of the eye, so that the body with its attendant personality will no longer obstruct the view. Immortality is then experienced as a present fact.”

Indeed, the Alchemists purport that the stone of the wise has the power to provide its possessor with the knowledge of his very immortal soul. Hence it also being called the stone of projection. For, the soul of its possessor is the very thing that appears to be projected upon the stone’s proper application. Liberated from its bodily frame, the stone-projected soul is free to roam the so-called astral plane, loosed from the limitations of its corporeal container – a concept that has come to be known as an out of body experience or OBE.

Conveniently, there exists a special class of truly magical plants that actually satisfies the above listed criteria. We speak here of entheogens. As the word implies, entheogenic plants are those which generate an experience of one’s divinity within; that is, entheogens have the potential to facilitate what appears to be the direct experience of one's own immortal soul; of the continuity of consciousness independent of the mortal frame. And, certain species of acacia – a symbol which Masonic ritual plainly tells us is emblematical of “our faith in the immortality of the soul” – naturally constitute a portion of these plant entheogens.

As was explained, acacia is a genus of nearly one thousand species of tree, some one hundred of which are known to contain concentrated amounts of the powerful psychedelic compound DMT. DMT has been used in a ceremonial context among a number of indigenous groups, most notably the ayahuasca-drinking tribes of Amazonia and the yopo-snuffing peoples in the Caribbean.

Ayahuasca, also known as yage, depending on the dialect, is a ceremonial beverage prepared by combining DMT-containing plants such as Psychotria viridis and/or Diplopterys cabrerana with the monoamine oxidase inhibitor-containing liana Banisteriopsis cappi. DMT is not normally orally active due to the presence of monoamine oxidase in the gut; however, when combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (or MAOI), it becomes so. The effects are profoundly psychedelic and last for up to six hours after drinking. Yopo, on the other hand, also known as epena, is a ritualistic snuff that is prepared by combining the DMT-rich seeds of Anadenanthera colubrina or Anadenanthera peregrina with calcium carbonate that has been created from the calcinated shells of crustaceans, thereby rendering the snuff absorbable by the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity. Unlike ayahuasca, the effects of yopo last only a few minutes after each insufflation.

While neither ayahuasca nor yopo are prepared from a species acacia, the latter has certainly been known to have been used in a multitude of entheogenic and inebriating contexts. In Mexico, for example, the roots of Acacia angustifolia are added to pulque, a fermented beverage prepared from the agave cactus. In West Africa, the leaves and bark of Acacia campylacantha are added to dolo, a brew prepared from sorghum, pennisetum, and honey. Dolo is said to impart strength in its drinker and lift the mood. In India, Indonesia, and Malaysia can be found Acacia catechu, from which is concocted a substance used as an additive to betel quids. Betal quids are consumed by putting a small amount in the mouth between the gum and cheek, similar to how chewing tobacco is consumed, and depending on the mixture acts as either a stimulant or a sedative. In India, too, are two more species of acacia – nilotica and farnesiana – from which are prepared traditional aphrodisiacs and muscle relaxants. In South America a brew called balche is prepared from the bark of Acacia cornigera. And, in Australia a wide variety of acacia leaves are burned as a medicinal smoke. Even here in America, the root bark of a species of acacia, albeit not a psychoactive variety, is a key ingredient in some soft drinks, including the Biloxi, Mississippi-based Barq’s Root Beer®.

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Acacia vs Cassia 146 P.D. Newman 11-Jan-18 01:09
Re: Acacia vs Cassia 19 Poster Boy 18-Jan-18 16:35

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