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Alchemical Symbolism of the Jerusalem Cross

By: H. Frater A.S.G.
Jerusalem CrossThe alchemical symbol of the Jerusalem Cross is one triangle containing five crosses. There is one greater cross, and four lesser crosses. The greater cross has in its center a great rose.

The triangle is colored in white at the base, and becomes deep red at the very apex. The four lesser crosses are in the colors of the four sections of Malkuth in the queen scale.

This symbol is alchemical in nature. The triangle is a fire triangle, representative of the hidden fire of the alchemist, the latent heat that forms the Stone, that changes it from a work of Nature to a work of Art. This hidden fire whitens or ablutes matters, then reddens or reduces them. These two processes of ablution and reduction are reflected in the transitory colors from white to red in the triangle.

The white greater cross and the red rose in the center of the triangle reflect the colorful symbolism of the triangle itself. However, the rose and cross differ in an important way: instead of being shown as a transition from one color to the next, as is done in the triangle, these symbols of the rose and cross are unified with each other. I believe that, instead of the whitening and reddening that the triangle symbolizes, the rose and cross together instead signify the fixation, the transformation of the red matter from common matter into transmuting Stone.

The four lesser crosses refer to the four elements, all of which must be present in the matter undergoing Transfiguration. Taken as a whole, then, this new symbol of our Order is one that refers to the making of the Philosophical Stone.

However, it also signifies the spiritual process that the aspirant goes through in the path to become an Adept, a person of Tiphareth. In each of the grades in the Outer, the elements are systematically separated and purified. This is the preparation of the spiritual matter of ourselves, and is shown by the four lesser crosses.

Once prepared, the putrefaction, ablution and reduction occur. This threefold alchemical process occurs in Portal, the probationary grade of Spirit. This Portal grade is reflected in the greater cross.

The greater cross is completed and the rose bloomed in the grade of Adept. Once the aspirant has been purified in the whitening process from every blemish that holds them back (the establishment of the greater cross), and when the aspirant has become strong in the ways of the new personality that they are slowly given in the reddening process (the blooming of the rose), they are ready to put their new selves to work on the macrocosm, on the world, in the fixation represented by the conjunction of the cross and the rose. Thus, the new symbol of our Order at once reflects the process to form the Stone and also the completed Great Work of the Adept.

Lastly, there is an important piece of symbolism regarding the four lesser crosses, and their relation to Malkuth. Though the symbol of our Order is representative of the Great Work, the inclusion of the colors of Malkuth shows that this Order is concerned with bringing into manifestation this beautiful process; while others may be concerned with the study of hermetism and its many facets, this Order actively practices in the material what it learns in spiritual worlds. Though this may make for a more volatile, intense environment,the practice of this natural acceleration is seen by some as the ultimate purpose of humanity, and is certainly the entire purpose of hermetism and the western mysteries in general.

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