Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Neil Armstrong: Astronaut . . . or Alchemist?


Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012, attained worldwide celebrity as commander of the Apollo 11 lunar rocket expedition of July 1969 that landed him and Edwin Aldrin on the moon while Michael Collins orbited overhead. Neil Armstrong’s image as a nearly superhuman master of then radically new space technology would endure, even as he himself gradually faded from view, avoiding significant comment on his career and lunar adventure until death. His last rites and cremation, with burial of his ashes at sea, suggest a strange desire for personal oblivion. Some have seen this as the burden of a man who had secrets he dared not risk revealing by opening himself to questions. 
Life Commemorative issue on Neil Armstrong, Autumn 2012. On sea burial, see here.

So, what was the real deal with Apollo 11? 

or ... 

Armstrong (top, left) and Aldrin on the moon, establishing a U.S. presence in advance of the Russians in “space race” competition, along with its unsung hymn to American technological prowess, are unknowingly accepted by the public as the rather mundane purpose for the gigantic undertaking. But that is because, for more than forty years, we have been told absolutely nothing about the vast occultic process behind the scenes of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration from its earliest days. 

What was the ultimate purpose of Apollo 11? Could it have been a ceremonial linking of sun and moon, male and female, as shown in the dramatic 17th century engraving reproduced above? According to writer Norman Mailer, NASA’s official reporter for the project, after Armstrong and Aldrin prepared to leave the moon and the Lunar Module “…lifted off Tranquility Base…the astronauts passed back into the Command Module and Eagle was jettisoned on a trajectory to the sun” – instead of back to the moon, as would seem to have happened naturally, or simply abandoned in space. 

Coincidence? A whim? Either would seem to be highly implausible in anything as rigorously planned as a major space flight. So, if intentional, where does that leave us? On the face of it, this must have been the most stupendous symbolical transaction of all time – on the interplanetary level, after all – for which its controlling secret-society adepts can only be marveled at by us. Was there anything else? Could this have been the preliminary ritualistic step – by those who practice such things – preceding a transformation to some undisclosed fate planned for all Americans that is only now beginning to be visible? If so, I would think that the adepts would be proud of their accomplishments, shouting them from the rooftops. But such, strangely, has not been the case. 
Armstrong & Aldrin on moon – from Life Commemorative, p 74. Engraving from Johann Barchusen, Elementa Chemiӕ (1718), in C. G. Jung, Psychology & Alchemy, Princeton: 1968, p. 360. On the Masonic role in NASA (among many sources online), here and here. Norman Mailer, "A Dream of the Future's Face, LIFE (Magazine), Vol. 68, No. 1, Jan 9, 1970, p. 60.

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Reprising Mr. Downard’s Travels in America Mystica

By Jim Brandon

Part I – Apollo Visits Luna


Jim Brandon's pioneering Downard-linked rarities

A FEW YEARS after Apollo 11, a man named James Shelby Downard started a slow ascent to an unusual sort of renown when he made my acquaintance as a journalist and investigator of unusual phenomena. My book, Weird America, was published by a major house in 1978, receiving acclaim from the New York Times and other élite media. In the book and in an oral interview recording that was titled Sirius Rising, I introduced Mr. Downard’s astonishing theory that a process employing the strange principles of medieval alchemy was being enacted behind the scenes of America’s most momentous events. Detonation of the first nuclear-fission atomic bomb or “destruction of primordial matter,” the “sacrificial killing of the king” in the ritualistic murder of President John F. Kennedy and of course the densely symbolical Apollo 11 flight followed basic alchemical patterns, in the revolutionary view of Mr. Downard. 
J. S. Downard portrait from his The Carnivals of Life and Death, Los Angeles: Feral House  Press, 2006, p xxiii. For general background on J.S.D., this Wikipedia article is generally correct, if incomplete and now dated.

“Moonshine! Horse s—t!” it has been objected. “Alchemy was nothing but primitive chemistry with charlatans claiming to create gold but it has nothing at all to do with our heroic astronauts.” Let’s look at that. We will review abundant evidence of the major role of occultist personalities at the highest levels of NASA, including Edwin Aldrin himself. The channel by which this process was applied is Freemasonry – which has been self-defined as “the science of symbolism” – and especially by the higher-level and extravagantly mystical Scottish Rite (SR).

Its 32nd-degree emblem features the twin heads of the mythical phoenix bird, a primary symbol in alchemy. The motto translates “My Hope Is in God,” raising the question of “which god?” when we consider the SR’s rather dark rituals which were inspired by the Kabbalah. I had long been aware of the Masonic order, of course, but it was not until I learned Mr. Downard’s insights on its activity in applying these enigmatic patterns to events all around us that I saw how wide the influence has been. It all circles back to alchemy – and to a certain Albert Pike
On Scottish Rite rituals and aura, see Charles T. McClenachan, The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1867, and numerous reprints). The 32nd-degree emblem is from Adam Parfrey & Craig Heimbichner, Ritual America, Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2012, p. 4.


No doubt the best-known American Masonic personality of all time would be the portly magus of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, Albert Pike (1809-1891). He was the author of a similarly hefty tome, Morals and Dogma (M&D), long revered through many editions as the bible of the SR, despite being unstructured, bereft of documentation and occasionally plagiaristic. More importantly for his memory, however, Albert Pike also restored the Scottish Rite’s largest division to a successful organizational basis after its parlous years in the South after the Civil War. Beyond that, Pike constructed SR rituals and liturgy along deeply mystical lines far beyond basic three-degree “Blue Lodge” lore.

And uppermost in Pike’s thought were the twin objectives of alchemy and bisexuality. On alchemy, M&D’s 1079 pages contain countless affirmative references, and one extended disquisition in the 28th degree (“Knight of the Sun”) chapter disparaging the “gold-making quack” charge still heard today. Instead, Pike contends, alchemy was a useful shield behind which the ancient mystery religions were perpetuated during the burn-at-the-stake Christian heresy era. Pike makes it abundantly clear that the Scottish Rite will continue to channel “Hermetic” alchemy in all its aspects into our world today.

This may not be an entirely symbolical or ritualistic endeavor, however. Fascinating developments on the scientific front followed the sensational 1989 announcement of a successful experiment in what is called “cold” nuclear fusion. Continuing progress on that line led the spokesman of the movement, the ebullient Dr. Eugene Mallove, to proclaim a “Triumph of Alchemy” in his magazine, to the chagrin of old-style scientists. 
Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Richmond, Va.: L. H. Jenkins, 1947, frontispiece. On alchemy, see numerous index references and esp. pp. 772-792. Eugene Mallove (D.Sc., Mass. Inst. of Technology), “The Triumph of Alchemy,” Infinite Energy, No. 32, July 2000.

Opening his chapter on the 32nd SR degree, modestly entitled “Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret,” Albert Pike displays the above engraving ascribed to the legendary German alchemist, Basil Valentine. As Pike enthusiastically explains in the text, few images better summarize the identity and ideals of his organization, with a compass and square displayed in either hand – a century before Freemasonry’s official start, in England.

Along with male and female heads the figure bears the label REBIS, from Latin res bina, “dual thing,” attesting to its bisexuality. The implication of this strangely profound image would be: the Masonic androgyne controls the terrestrial dragon force and the world, demarked under triangle and square. Above, the sun and moon, male and female, are thus symbolically linked – as they would be much later by Apollo 11.

As many M&D index listings show, Albert Pike was preoccupied with the concepts of hermaphrodism or androgyny which, as Mr. Downard observed, has become highly  prevalent today when homosexual marriage is endorsed by a major political party. And indeed in a curious passage, Pike explains how even the name of God itself, YHVH, can be made “bi-sexual” by transposing its letters.

Rather more surprising, considering his Victorian milieu, are Pike’s passages seeming to condone homosexuality and sacred “orgies.” Today it is customary for SR people to smile and shrug when asked about Albert Pike’s less conventional notions. Although Morals and Dogma has now been replaced by a more concise governing text, by Rex Hutchens, the latter still harkens back to M&D as the ultimate SR authority. Most significantly, this did not occur until 1974 – long after Apollo 11 planning had begun.
Basil Valentine, “Azoth,” Woodcut 6, from his Twelve Keys of Philosophy (1599); in Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, 372. In Pike, Morals and Dogma: see Hermaphroditic and Phallus index entries; God as “bi-sexual,” 849; Homosexuality, 393, 403.  On Rex Hutchens, A Bridge to Light, see Parfrey & Heimbichner, Ritual America, 72-3. On “bisexuality” and occultism, see: Jim Brandon, “Sirius Rising,” part 1 and Judith A. Reisman, Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences, Arlington, VA: Institute for Media Education, 1998.

The final result of the alchemical process: the bisexual androgyne being purified by fire. While not astronomical, the theme here is evocative of what must have happened to the Eagle lunar landing module – now symbolically converted to a moon / sun, female / male hermaphrodite – when it reached the solar inferno. Such images from the classic period of alchemical publishing are strangely haunting in their direct appeal to deeper levels of consciousness, as was extensively studied by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung on the archetypes or underlying patterns of mental processes. This engraving is from the 17th-century alchemical masterpiece Atalanta Fugiens, by Michael Meier.

C. G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy; see index, “Archetypes.” Meier’s Atalanta, emblem 33: in S. K. de Rola, The Golden Game, New York: Thames & Hudson, 1997, p. 87. For more on the alchemical hermaphrodite and androgyne, see here .

While working in Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s and doing research in the library at the Scottish Rite Supreme Temple, I had what I’m tempted to call a life-changing experience, journalistically speaking. It was there that I saw on display the richly embroidered SR flag that astronaut Aldrin had worn inside his space suit during the Apollo 11 expedition. While I was quite familiar with Freemasonry in the conventional sense, seeing this kind of high talisman that had been totally ignored in the long avalanche of media coverage of the Apollo event quickly raised Masonry to a much higher level on what I call my “crypto-political radar scope.”

It was only a short time later and along a highly coincidental – or synchromystic, in the current terminology – pathway that I met Shelby Downard and communicated to him the information on the flag, along with a photo of its presentation to the Scottish Rite by Aldrin. This was welcomed by Mr. Downard as confirmation of high-level participation of secret societies in the Apollo series that he had previously only intuited from alchemical parallels and personal insight. 

Aldrin’s moon flag source.  On synchromysticism, Downard and other tangents, see Loren Coleman here. For more on Freemasonry and NASA, see here.

Texas Masons with a lunar landing module – in 1966.

The flag reportedly carried by astronaut Gordon Cooper.

If anyone has lingering doubts of the overwhelming influence of the Masonic order in planning, staffing, engineering, navigating and finally piloting of NASA’s immensely complex interplanetary expeditions of Apollo 11 and other flights, these images should provide confirmation. The official magazine of the Grand Lodge of Texas published this issue in August, 1966, three years before Apollo 11, showing on the cover what appears to be something quite similar to the Eagle lunar landing module. In front are Masonic astronaut Gordon Cooper (right), who the magazine says “carried a flag bearing the Square and Compasses into outer space.” Also shown are the Texas grand master of Masons, H. W. Fullingim (center), and an unidentified official at left.

In a quite surprising corollary activity, it has been reported that the Texas Grand Lodge demanded and got a claim to part of the moon itself which was enacted there on the Sea of Tranquility with establishment of something called Tranquility Lodge No. 2000 and duly conveyed  to the Texas Grand Lodge by the astronauts on their return.

Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417 was “set to work” by Grand Master Fullingim on July 30, 1966, in the Space Center auditorium, “scene of historic press conferences,” as the article notes. Functioning Freemasonry was therefore only a few steps away from the critically important mission-control center where the suspenseful coordination of the dangerous rocket flights was made, with the famous countdowns and dramatic narrations that were broadcast to rapt international audiences. Yet, when have we taxpayers who paid the bills heard word one of all this? And again, why the secrecy?

The Texas Freemason, Aug. 1966: cover photo, p. 2. Published by Grand Lodge of Texas (715 Columbus Ave., Waco, Tex. 76701)  whose current magazine, The Texas Mason, is $6.00 yearly. Gordon Cooper’s Masonic flag accessed here. On Tranquility Lodge and lunar claim, see Masonic commentator Chris Hodapp here.

Kenneth Kleinknecht (left) dining with Apollo 7 crew members.

C. Fred Kleinknecht as a high official of the Scottish Rite.

Among the key NASA personnel playing an inestimably important role in the design and deployment of the monster 33-foot Saturn V rockets from Launch Pad 33 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was one of the chief engineers, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht. Another member of this multigenerational Masonic family, brother C. Fred Kleinknecht, was at the time on a parallel track rising in leadership of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. He eventually rose to the rank of Sovereign Grand Commander and both he and Kenneth received the ultimate honor of the “33rd and Last Degree.” But – dare we ask, what coordination might there have been between the two on key NASA affairs?

We owe the knowledge of the Apollo 7 breakfast photograph to Richard Sauder, Kundalini Tales (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited P., 1998, p. 16); cf. Linda Moulton Howe, “Secret American Military Space Program?” Interview with Richard Sauder, 7 Dec. 2007, Accessed Fall 2012. But the source for the photograph reproduced above is here. C. Fred Kleinknecht image source.

Edwin Aldrin (right), generally known by his odd nickname of “Buzz,” and another “33” Freemason, visited the Scottish Rite Supreme Temple in Washington after his return and presented the flag that he had carried to Sovereign Grand Commander Luther A. Smith (left). Looking on from left were Edwin Aldrin Sr., C. Fred Kleinknecht Jr. and C. F. Kleinknecht Sr. It’s amusing and more than a little intriguing that Aldrin was reported in 2009 by Internet journalist Alex Jones to have denied that any of this took place and to have answered “As far as I can tell, zero” when asked by Jones “What is the Masonic influence on NASA?”

This apparent falsehood was in direct contradiction to the Scottish Rite’s then official magazine, The New Age for December 1969, where the above photographs appeared. What is perplexing now, however, is – why the continuing secrecy decades after the event? And do such constraints on these people help to explain Neil Armstrong’s puzzling reticence that he carried to a watery grave?

Aldrin flag presentation source. “Buzz Aldrin Lies About His Masonic Activities on the Moon”: see here.  For related information, see here. 

This ends Part 1 of Jim Brandon’s recollections and updating of the ongoing Apollo 11 saga, in the synchromystic perspective pioneered by James Shelby Downard.

Future Studies of America  Alchemica:  Part 2 – The Atomic Bomb: Destruction of Primordial Matter.  Part 3 – JFK: The Ritualistic Killing of the King. Part 4 – Black Power: The Nigredo Process. 

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Launch of Apollo (the Sun deity) via Saturn (rocket) towards the Moon - “It ascends...”

 “...it descends...” (Source

 “...the glory of the whole world...” (Source


"...The Sun is its father; the Moon its mother... It ascends from the Earth to the Heavens and again it descends to the Earth... By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. ...That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended."
~ Excerpted from the Tabula Smaragdina [the "Emerald Tablet] (Trans. Isaac Newton, qtd. in: D.W. Hauck, "Newton the Alchemist," Source

“[T]he one point was a symbol of the Active Principle or Creator, the two points of the Passive Principle or Matter, the three of the world proceeding from their union, and the four of the liberal arts and sciences, which may be said to complete and perfect that world.” (Image Source)

"In the symbols of Freemasonry, we will find the sacred Delta bearing the nearest analogy to the tectractys of the Pythagoreans.” (Image Source)

When one approaches NASA's programs of space exploration with open eyes, particularly (although not exclusively) in its manned missions, one is struck by the myriad mythological allusions and references. Names like “Apollo” and “Mercury” have robust meanings that, conservatively, extend back hundreds of years in human history. And the names are conjoined with a rich array of visual symbolism that ought to provoke percipients to ask a very simple question. Was the intentional employment, by our National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), of hermetic and pagan signs merely window-dressing? Or was it something more? 

Indeed, it is tempting to dismiss such questions as wild flights of fancy. However, as we have seen above, such a move becomes far less justifiable when one notes the involvement, at very high levels of NASA, of numerous members of the Brotherhood of Freemasons. Hence, our question is rightly framed by certain facts on the ground. For instance, it is simply a matter of historical record that institutional Freemasonry was intimately connected with NASA. Additionally, that Freemasonry is centered around symbolism is apparent through even the most cursory of investigations. As Albert G. Mackey wrote: 

Of the various modes of communicating instruction to the uninformed, the masonic student is particularly interested in two; namely, the instruction by legends and that by symbols. ...No science is more ancient than that of symbolism. ...To study the symbolism of Masonry is the only way to investigate its philosophy. This is the portal of its temple, through which alone we can gain access to the sacellum [“shrines”] where its aporrheta [“secret doctrines”] are concealed. Its philosophy is engaged in the consideration of propositions relating to God and man, to the present and the future life. Its science is the symbolism by which these propositions are presented to the mind.

Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (Chicago: The Masonic History Co., 1956), Vol. II, p. 1033. Albert G. Mackey, The Symbolism of Freemasonry (1882). 

Double-Headed Mercury (Source)

Representation of the Gemini "Twins" (Source

 View inside a Gemini space capsule (Source) 

Amongst the symbols connectable to Freemasonry and, by extension, NASA's Apollo mission, we have already encountered the alchemical “Rebis,”  also called the Monstrum hermaphroditus. Interestingly, “rebis” - the curious double-whatsit – has associations with both Mercury and Gemini – which, in turn, have connection with each other, since Gemini “is the principal sign of Mercury.” Of course, "Mercury" and "Gemini" also name NASA's two predecessor programs to Apollo. And, as it happens, there were "six manned Mercury missions" and within the Gnostic cosmological conception of the "Pleroma" there were sometimes said to be "six androgynous beings" revealed by the Savior. Furthermore, the "[t]en manned Gemini missions" are paralleled (even if superficially) in the ordering of the "lower heavens...in androgynous pairs" in which "powers of ten" figure importantly. Finally, even the three male participants of Apollo 11 are evocative of the Sethian (Gnostic-Hermetic) concept of the "Triple Male" – i.e., the "true male" or Savior - who, "reflect[ing] upon himself[,]...reflects upon Protophanes" (the First-light). NASA's entire project history is replete with gnostic-Hermetic allusions. 

Juan E. Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols, p. 208; Carl G. Jung, "Religious Ideas in Alchemy," Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. XII (Princeton UP: 1968), pp. 432ff. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (London: Penguin, 1996), p. 427. "MERCURY AND GEMINI," URL; John M. Dillon, “Pleroma and Noetic Cosmos: A Comparative Study,” Richard T. Wallis, ed., Neoplatonism and Gnosticism (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1992), p. 107; Pheme Perkins, "Beauty, Number and Loss of Order in the Gnostic Cosmos,” Wallis, Op. Cit., p. 284; John D. Turner, "Gnosticism and Platonism," Wallis, Op. Cit., pp. 445ff.

Gemini: Castor and Pollux (Source)

In Greek myth, Gemini and Apollo have numerous parallels that are particularly interesting in the present context. For example, “Gemini” is of course another name for the Dioscuri, or “Sons of Zeus” (“boys,” kouroi, of the “divine”, “Zeus”, dios). The individual names were Castor and Pollux (Polydueces). Their mother was Leda, which name Robert Graves gives as meaning “lady.” Castor and Pollux were supposedly twins, although they had two different fathers (Tyndareus and Zeus-Jupiter, respectively), which actually resulted in the former being mortal and the latter immortal.  In one variant of the story, Leda was brought an egg by a shepherd. 

Twins: Apollo and Artemis (Source)

Apollo's mother, on the other hand, was Leto (Latona). Robert Graves considers the meaning of “Leto” somewhat obscure (he prefaces his speculations with a question mark), but gives two possibilities: “lady,” the same as he gave for Leda, and “stone.” Turner and Coulter report that “Leto was...called the personification of darkness” (akin to the “Melancholy” figures depicted in the art surveyed by Francis Yates). Additionally, Apollo was born on a floating island sometimes called “Delos” but also sometimes termed “Asteria” (i.e., star, or of the star/sun). Interestingly, the Minotaur (“Minos' Bull”) was named “Asterius.” Now Apollo also had a twin, in his case, an equally divine sister named Artemis (Diana).  However, fitting in with our theme of androgyny, it was said (e.g., by the ill-fated Niobe) that Leto's “...female child, Artemis, was masculine and her male child, Apollo, was feminine.” After Apollo killed the Cyclopes, he was forced by Zeus to act as a shepherd (or cattle herd) for King Admetus, and Hermes (Mercury) takes his herd. 
Deva,” Online Etymology Dictionary.  “Dioscuri,”  Supra. In Latin, “castor” designates the beaver; and Robert Graves gives “Polydeuces” as “much sweet wine,” The Greek Myths (London: Penguin, 1992), p. 776. Alternatively, “Pollux” cashes out to “Latin, from Gk. Polydeukes, lit. 'very sweet,' from polys 'much' ...deukes 'sweet',” “Pollux,” Ibid. The Online Etymology Dictionary also notes that “Kastor 'he who excels,' [is] one of the divine twins (with Pollux), [who was] worshipped by women in ancient Greece as a healer and preserver from disease. His name was given to secretions of the animal [the beaver], [which were] used medicinally in ancient times”, “Castor,” Ibid. T. H. White connects the castor-beaver with castration, noting that legends surrounding the beaver in medieval times held that the animal, “when he notices that he is being pursued...removes his own testicles with a bite...”, The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts (New York: Capricorn, 1960), pp. 28-29. Hence, in this tangled complex, we have twin brothers with sub rosa sexualized names meaning, essentially, “sweet beaver juice.” Robert Graves, supra., p. 768. Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Coulter, Dictionary of Ancient Deities (Oxford: OUP, 2000), pp. 288-290, 323. Lucia Impelluso, Myths: Tales of the Greek and Roman Gods (NY: Abrams, 2008), pp. 38 & 122. Finally, another curiosity attaches to the names “Asterias” and “Asterius.” Again, the Online Etymology Dictionary helpfully informs us that: “In ancient Greek, aster typically was 'a star' and astron mostly in plural, 'the stars.' In singular it mostly meant 'Sirius' (the brightest star).” For related information, see: Robert K. G. Temple, The Sirius Mystery (Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1987) as well as Jim Brandon, The Rebirth of Pan (Dunlap, IL: Firebird P, 1983) and Jim Brandon, “Sirius Rising,” op. cit.

Shepard (Source)

Pan of Arcadia, the god of the shepherd, here depicted with a sun face and moon horns, the symbol of Mercury (Source)

It is remarkable, then, that NASA selected as names for it's manned missions “Mercury,” “Gemini,” and “Apollo.” Mercury, as his Greek counterpart Hermes, lends his name to the word Herm-Aphrodite (with the goddess Venus-Aphrodite providing the remainder). Mercury's wand or staff, the Caduceus, is an emblem of gender transformation. Gemini, as a twin-symbol, is also linkable to the allied concept of the Androgyne (in the Platonic sense – in this case, the association of two males).  And Apollo, as we have seen, is also a part of a pair of twins. Additionally, Mercury is both the messenger god as well as a god of shepherds. In this capacity, he is similar to Apollo and Pan. Of course, NASA too had assigned a prominent role to a “shepherd” - specifically, Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. "'[S]hepherd,' also 'spiritual guide, shepherd of souls,' ... 'herdsman, shepherd' (... from L. pastorem (nom. pastor) 'shepherd,' from pastus, pp. of pascere 'to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat...'” Perhaps, the shepard might lead his sheep down into a glen(n) – the “valley of the shadow of death?” One of Mercury's titles is “Psychopompos” - guide (shepherd) of souls.

Turner and Coulter, Op. Cit., p. 214. “Shepherd,” Online Etymology Dictionary. 

Creation (in the beaker) of an homunculus, “little man” (Source)

Alchemical print used as an illustration by Jung, with the caption: “Mercurius in the 'philosopher's egg' (the alchemical vessel). As filius he stands on the sun and moon, tokens of his dual nature...while the scorching rays of the sun ripen the homunculus in the vessel.” The egg is reminiscent of Valentine's Rebis as well as the story of Leda (Gemini). Mercury symbolically unites sun (Apollo-Helios-Sol, etc.) and moon (Artemis-Diana-Hecate, etc.; Image Source)

The rebis is also connected to the homunculus. This intriguing link immediately recalls Downard's numerous comments about the curious “Jumbo” bottle that was a mysterious party to the atomic bomb detonation at the “Trinity Site” in New Mexico. In part one of the audio series “Sirius Rising,” Jim Brandon perspicuously mentioned rocket scientist and OTO occultist Jack Parson in the context of a discussion of homunculi and “mannikins.” For Parsons is alleged to have conducted a ritual (or “magickal working”) with the aim of producing one such creature, apparently inspired by (if not modeled around) Aleister Crowley's novel “Moon Child.”

C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, R.F.C. Hull, trans., The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Herbert Read, et. al., eds. Vol. 12 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1980), p. 66. Seymour Howard, "William Blake: The Antique, Nudity, and Nakedness: A Study in Idealism and Regression, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3., No. 6 (1982), p. 132-3.). Jim Brandon, “Sirius Rising,” Audio Series, ca. 1974. John Carter, Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (Venice, CA: Feral House, 1999).
Depiction of Plato's (Aristophanes') Androgyne (Symposium 190a ff), with sun and moon (Image Source)

Now the Rebis is a straightforward representation of the Androgyne and Hermaphrodite. However, to be more precise, the androgyne and hermaphrodite are sometimes distinguished. For instance, the aformentioned Howard differentiates two sorts of "hermaphroditic image": "a positive sense (when balanced, as in the Androgyne) and...a negative sense (when one gender dominates the character, as in Hermaphrodite)...". Robert Graves equates “the androgyne” with the “bearded woman” and distinguishes this creature/concept from the hermaphrodite, about whom (Hermaphroditus) he writes that such is “Aphrodite’s son...a youth with womanish breasts and long hair.” (As an aside, I note that Apollo is also known for his long hair. Additionally, “Dionysus was usually portrayed as a long-haired, effeminate youth...”) Marian Rothstein qualifies this somewhat, remarking that "[a] hermaphrodite is always a mixture of male and female", whereas, "[e]tymology to the contrary notwithstanding, Plato's Androgyne, from which we take the term, was divisible into two males, two females, or one of each."

Seymour Howard, "William Blake: The Antique, Nudity, and Nakedness: A Study in Idealism and Regression, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3., No. 6 (1982), p. 136; Robert Graves, The Greek Myths (London: Penguin, 1992), p. 73 (& 263). On Apollo with long hair, see: “Apollon,” Theoi. Marian Rothstein, "Mutations of the Androgyne: Its functions in Early Modern French Literature," The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2, Marriage in Early Modern Europe [Summer, 2003], p. 410). 

The Magen David interwoven with a depiction of the Kabbalistic Adam Kadmon. A similar concept is found in the writings of William Blake whose “cosmos appears to begin with the benign and balanced androgynic state of the original man, Adam-Albion” (Image Source)

Magen David (i.e., the “Star of David,” a.k.a., the “Seal of Solomon”) with Masonic Compass and Square overlay (Image Source)

Illustrated: The overtly sexual esoteric symbolism of the “Star of David” - the union of male and female in the Hermaphrodite, Mercurius (Image Source)

Albert Pike maintained that one such “Hermaphroditic figure is the Symbol of the double nature anciently assigned to the Deity, as Generator and Producer.” This, he says, is also a combination of Sun (male) and Moon (female) and is represented by two of the primary emblems of the Scottish Rite: “The Compass...is the Hermetic Symbol of the Creative Deity, and the Square of the productive Earth or Universe.”

We direct the reader's attention back up to the Basilius Valentinus (Basil Valentine) “Rebis” woodcut, created many years before the date (1717) oft cited for the official advent of Freemasonry, that displays both the Compass and Square in the clutches of a “Hermaphroditic Figure.” Additionally, the 1558 painting Melancolia by Gerung shows, in Yates' words: “...melancholy Night...and her attendant...a philosopher measuring with compasses the globe of the world and surrounded by darkness.” She claims that these are “Saturnian melancholics...carrying on the Dee science and magic in the obscurity of...night.”

An allied symbol in this complex is the Solomonic symbol, the Magen David. Raphael Patai states:

The close association between Solomon and the philosopher's stone is shown by the fact that the materia prima of the stone was sometimes represented as the two interlaced triangles of “Solomon's Seal,” which survives to this day as the Jewish national emblem known as the Magen David, David's Shield. For the alchemists this seal or star was the symbol of wisdom, and also the sign of the “fiery water,” since it consists of a combination of two symbols: that of fire, which rises upward and hence is symbolized by the upward pointing triangle, and that of water, which descends from the sky and is represented by the downward pointing triangle.

Observe that Patai's description of the Magen David, with its symbols of fiery ascent and watery descent, is strictly paralleled both in the wording of the Emerald Tablet (Tabula Smaragdina) and in the Apollo 11 ritual, which later included the fiery ascent of the Saturn-V and the watery descent of Columbia.

Seymour Howard, “William Blake: The Antique, Nudity, and Nakedness: A Study in Idealism and Regression,” Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3, No. 6 (1982), p. 146. Published Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 851. Yates, Op. Cit., pp. 161, 169 & 179. Raphael Patai, The Jewish Alchemists (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1994), p. 28. On the dating of Freemasonry, there is controversy. For a brief overview, see: “History of Freemasonry,” Grand Lodge of Washington, URLCuriously, claims range from the 14th to the 18th centuries, paralleling, to a close degree, the dating of Basil Valentine. On dating Basil Valentine see: Archibald Cockren, Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored (Philadelphia, 1941), p. 40 (14th century); Arthur Edward Waite, Secret Tradition in Alchemy (Kessinger, 1992), pp. 164ff (Waite notes a mention of the name in the 16th Century); John Maxson Stillman, “Basil Valentine: A Seventeeth Century Hoax”, Popular Science, Dec. 1912, pp. 591-600 (17th century, and a hoax.)

Saturn V(Source)

The Sun (Source)

We must bear in mind that these are Alchemical ensigns. They represent, on one level, the so-called "Operation of the Sun" – a transformation of Saturn (lead) into the Sun (gold). Now NASA's manned mission to the moon was called "Apollo" after the Greek god of the sun. It was, therefore, an operation of the sun. Moreover, the launch vehicle for the Apollo missions was a powerful rocket named the "Saturn V."

Saturn/Apollo image projected onto the Al(lied)Chemical tower, July 14, 1969 (Image Source)

Projectio (Source)

The image of “Apollo 11's Saturn V rocket” was literally “projected onto the Allied Chemical Tower”. The Al-chemical tower is “now known as 1 Times Square” - a very mathematical (Pythagorean?) and Saturnian (the sickle-wielding god of time) sounding name. Apollo was said to have been born on the Island of Delos. The “Delian problem [was to] 'find the length of the side of a cube having double the volume of a given cube...'.” And the Apollo missions were first launched during the “psyche-delic” 196os (from “psyche,” soul, mind, and “delic,” visible, from Delos).

Bill Quinn, “Neil Armstrong lands on the moon: Apollo 11 moon landing,”  New York Daily News, 07/23/2012 10:20:58, URL. “Delian,” Online Etymology Dictionary. “Psychedelic,” Ibid. 

Detail from Mutus Liber print focusing upon the “tower furnace” or athanor (Image Source)

Another representation of the towering – and very rocket-like – athanor (Image Source)

Saturn/Apollo, mobile athanor (Image Source)

The notion of fire-carrying and light-bringing has connections with Prometheus (Pyrphoros), Lucifer, Venus-Aphrodite (as the morning and evening stars – Eosphoros-Aurora, Phosphorus, Hesperus), Apollo-Helios-Sol, etc. (Image Source)

The comparison of the Saturn-Apollo rockets to alchemical devices may not be as outrageous as it may appear. For one thing, as mentioned elsewhere, Jack Parsons, who contributed a great deal to what become U.S. “space science,” was a member of Aleister Crowley's OTO. To be more specific, according to former Caltech professor, Theodore von Kármán, Jack “Parsons was the third most important person in the development of rocketry in the United States – behind only himself and Frank Malina.” And yet, “Aerojet employee Fritz Zwicky related that Parsons invoked Pan, the wild, horned god of fertility, before each rocket test.”

John Carter,  Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (Venice, CA: Feral House, 1999), pp. 8-9.  Incidentally, “von Kármán was descended from Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel of Prague” which Rabbi had allegedly created a “golem,” that is, a gentile-killing homunculus, Ibid. 

Is it a stretch to attach religious significance to the Apollo missions? (Image from The Texas Freemason)

For another thing, several of the Apollo 11 astronauts described their experiences in very peculiarly religious tones. As Jim Brandon related in part three of his “Sirius Rising” series, Michael Collins had the following to say about his period alone in the Columbia Command Module (while Aldrin and Armstrong were on the moon):

As I scurry about, blocking off the windows with metal plates and dousing the lights, I have almost the same feeling I used to have years ago when, as an altar boy, I snuffed the candles one by one at the end of a long service. Come to think of it, with the center couch removed, Columbia’s floor plan is not unlike that of the National Cathedral, where I used to serve. Certainly it is cruciform, with the tunnel up above where the bell tower would be, and the navigation instruments at the altar. The main instrument panels span the north and south transepts, while the nave is where the center couch used to be. If not a miniature cathedral, then at least it is a happy home, and I have no hesitation about leaving its care to God and Houston as I fade away into a comfortable snooze.

Jim Brandon, “Sirius Rising,” Part 3, Audio Recording, ca. 1974. Cf.: Michael Collins, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys (Ballantine 1975/Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2009). For more on fire-bringing, see Loren Coleman's post here. 

One of the many banners associated with the Knight's Templar (Image Source)

The conjunction of opposites is sometimes designated as the union of the "black and white." However, the conjunction may also be termed the union of the red and white. In this context, we observe that Downard pointed to the banner of the Knight's Templar, fabled predecessors of the Scottish Rite Freemasons. Isaac Newton linked this process to Apollo (god of the sun) and Artemis/Diana (goddess of the moon) and the red and white tinctures.

Brandon, “Sirius Rising,” op. cit. Isaac Newton, “The Commentary on the Emerald Tablet,” Stanton J. Linden, ed., The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton (Cambridge: CUP, 2003), p. 247. Newton also mentions “the Egyptians” (Aegyptij pro Dianae et Appolinis id est tincturae albae et rubrae nutrice habuere.). It may or may not be relevant in this regard that King Narmer, successor to the fabled “Scorpion King,” unified the so-called “Red” and “White” Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. Incidentally, in the “Narmer Palette” (reverse), King Narmer is depicted with a club, apparently ready to split open the skull of a kneeling man while above and to the right is perched a falcon holding a hook-like device in the nose of a disembodied head. Cf.: “The Narmer Palette. 

“Know Thyself”: The Oracle of Apollo (Image Source)

Amongst the plausible (and supposed) goals of these alchemical processes is  something like the awakening of a "divine consciousness." In many streams of hermetic-gnostic occultism, this sort of talk really comes down to this: Realize who you really are – unleash your “inner star” and become a(n androgynous?) deity. The entrance to the Temple at Delphi was adorned with a plaque bidding visitors to "Know Thyself" (Gnothi Seauton). And the Delphic Temple was the domain of none other than Apollo, the keeper of the sun – hence, something of a light-bringer or Lucifer. In the words of Albert Pike: “LUCIFER, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? Doubt it not!” Pike elsewhere maintains that “In Saturn, [the soul] acquires the power of reasoning and intelligence, or what is termed the logical and contemplative faculty.” 

If one peaks beneath the complicated tapestry of this symbolism, one may be able to trace the "Apollonian thread" a bit farther. In Shakespeare's play, "Love's Labour's Lost," the character Berowne, about whom Francis Yates writes that he "was clearly a good Saturnian," is said to "hear the universal harmony 'as sweet and musical as bright Apollo's lute...'." We therefore see again the juxtaposition of Saturn and Apollo so obvious in the NASA moon rituals. Yates has quite a bit to say regarding these "Saturnians," of the so-called "School of Night," which she links with utopianism and Kabbalah.

Albert Pike, op. cit., pp. 321 (italics in original) & 439. Francis Yates, The Occult Philosophy of the Elizabethan Age, esp., pp. 157-178.) 

Print: Ben Jonson's “Apollo Club” at the Devil Tavern (Image Source)

Temple Bar

The Elizabethan poet and playwright Ben Jonson (who wrote, among other works, The Alchemist [ca. 1610]) started the "Apollo Club" at the "Devil Tavern" in London. This was near a locale with the very Solomonic moniker, "Temple-Bar." It has been said that the Apollo Club had a similar structure to the Freemasonic Scottish Rite, not least because both groups had a rebis-like "dual constitution" - being as they were, admixtures of religion and politics (or, in contemporary jargon, "church and state"). According to Pike, the Pythagoreans were “Sons of Apollo” who nevertheless sometimes “took themselves into the Orphic Service of Dionusus”.

David S. Shields, "Anglo-American Clubs: Their Wit, Their Heterodoxy, Their Sedition," The William and Mary Quarterly, Series 3, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Apr., 1994), p. 299; "Sons of Ben (literary group)," URL; "Devil Tavern," URL. Pike, op. cit., p. 586. 

“...The Eagle has landed." ~ Neil Armstrong (Image Source)

Besides the fabled “Philosopher's Stone” (one representation of which, we learned, is the Magen David), we have also noted that “Leto” possibly translates to “stone” and Apollo's Temple had a “navel-stone” (omphalos) as a central fixture. Above, we see a correlations both between the moon and stones as well as a dual similarity between the shape of the depicted structures and both the rockets at which we have looked and the layout of Masonic temples (Image Source)

Additionally, recalling that the Apollo 11 lunar module was termed "The Eagle," we note that, as a symbol, the eagle is known as a "bird of the sun." "[T]he Ancient Greeks...held that eagles, setting out from the ends of the Earth, wheeled directly over the navel stone (...omphalos) at Delphi" - Apollo's temple. Robert K. G. Temple collected a fair amount of information about "navel stones" in his book, The Sirius Mystery. Moreover, French poet Bonaventure Des Periers drew from Marsilio Ficino's commentary on Plato's Symposium for his poem "Le Nombril" ("The Navel"), in which Des Periers represents "Apollo ...turn[ing] the newly separated Androgyne's head 180 degrees and pull[ing] together the wound of separation, creating the navel...". Francois Rabelais puts the symbol of an Androgyne on the hat of his character Gargantua, along "with the motto AGAPE OU ZETEI TA EAUTES, 'Charity seeks not its own advantage,' I. Cor. 13:5" which motto hearkens back to Love's Labour's Lost wherein it is remarked that "...charity itself fulfils the law: And who can sever love from charity?" These aphorisms are suggestive of the Ordo Templi Orientis maxim "Love is the Law" which maxim would have doubtless been familiar to rocket pioneer and Crowley disciple, Jack Parsons.

Robert Moore, “The Rollright Stones,” Weaving and Magic, Blog, 21 Dec. 2010, Accessed Fall 2012. Chevalier, Op. Cit., p. 324; Marian Rothstein, “Mutations of the Androgyne: Its Functions in Early Modern French Literature,” The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2, Marriage in Early Modern Europe (Summer, 2003), p. 415; Florence M. Weinberg, "Platonic and Pauline Ideals in Comic Dress: 'Comment on Vestit Gargantua'," Illinois Classical Studies, IX.2 [1984], p. 186; Yates, op. cit., p. 178.)

~ Matthew J. Bell

For more information, see:

NASA's 33-Degree Kline-Konnektion

"Armstrong" (Symbolically-Ostensively Defined)

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1 comment:

  1. I know this is way back from 2012 but WOW I hope to see more Jim Brandon installments especially parts 2 3 & 4. Will we ever have a listen to those elusive Sirius Rising tapes? Well I hope Jim Brandon Grimstad reprints his books too it's all really great stuff. CHEERS