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33rd degree freemason Manly P. Hall discusses the esoteric meaning of alchemy and how it is applied in everyday life.
It is important to remember that alchemy did not take on the overtones of the World Mystery until it became the vehicle of that Society of Unknown Philosophers which set up the Invisible Empire, to perpetuate in the modern world the great Mystery Schools of antiquity.
Alchemy was one of the earliest appearances of the Mystery Schools in early Christian Europe. The contrivance was most adroit. It appealed to the ideals of the idealists, and to the avarice of the avaricious.
Consequently, though the mind is ever the link between consciousness and unconsciousness, it too must be ultimately sacrificed in order that the Great Work be accomplished.
Manly P. Hall
The Masonic, New Age "Great Architect" has been described by Masonic Scholar Manly P. Hall:
THE PRESENCE OF THE MASTER
The Mason believes in the Great Architect, the living keystone of creation's plan, the Master of all Lodges, without whose spirit there is no work. Let him never forget that the Master is near. Day and night let him feel the presence of the Supreme or Overshadowing One. The All-Seeing Eye is upon him.
Day and night this great Orb measures his depths, seeing into his innermost soul of souls, judging his life, reading his thoughts, measuring his aspirations, and rewarding his sincerity. To this All-Seeing One he is accountable; to none other must he account. This Spirit passes with him out of the Lodge and measures the Mason in the world.
p. 62 The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, Manly P. Hall., 1923, 1976