Manly P. Hall is one of my favorites writers. During my study of his writings, I found some very interesting plates, full of occult symbols, with description and interpretation by him. I thought that every occult student must have the opportunity to take advantage of these, and I decided to collect and present them in a blog post. Here are 4 of them.
Plate No 1
This plate is taken from the rare and unobtainable writings of Robert Fludd the medieval English alchemist and Rosicrucian who is said to have brought the teachings of C. R. C. from Germany and to have been closely connected with the early development of both Masonry and Rosicrucianism.
The plate represents the hierarchies of nature and its great lesson to the student of occult philosophy lies in the analogy between elements, chemicals, planets, gods and celestial hierarchies. The plate is divided into two grand divisions like the horoscope of astrology. That which is below the central horizontal line represents the inferior creation while that which is above symbolizes the superior creation. As the superior creation is the cause all world there is laid out in this chart the superphysical hierarchies and the various intelligent powers behind manifestation.
The upper half of the diagram is symbolical of the Masonic Lodge and the body of the enlightened Mason while the lower part symbolizes the unilluminated negation of being. In the concentric rings are placed the names of the Powers of the universe as they are found in the various sacred arts and sciences. The sacred Hebrew names and the Sephira of the Hebrew Qabballah are found in the spaces between A and B. The superphysical hierarchies of divine beings and the leading angels and rulers of the hierarchies pass through the sphere marked by the line of B. Under C. we have the astrological worlds and under D. the natural, chemical, alchemical, mineral and animal kingdoms laid out as they are found in nature.
In the outside rings beyond A., we find the primitive principles of creation with the part they play in the unfolding of a universe, an individual, or a protoplasmic cell. This is one of the most complicated of the alchemical plates and can never be satisfactorily explained until the individual has unfolded a very high degree of spiritual sight and insight. The passage of man through the spiritual worlds of nature and the twelvefold constitution of his own globe and chain is the result of conscious initiation which, until it takes place, conceals from man – because of his own consciousness limitation – the mysteries which are the heritage of the wise. There are really no mysteries in nature for those who have earned the right to know; neither is there anything concealed that shall not be revealed. But the only way that the unseen can be brought into conscious manifestation is when man removes the veils of limitation from his own eyes by growth and unfoldment. Thus these plates which we have been issuing in our magazine have a very great meaning but like the sacred scriptures of the Illumined are sealed forever from the ignorant by their own ignorance.
No mere intellectual power is capable of unveiling the divine mysteries. Only soul qualities, the highest of the spiritual reflective powers, the co-joining of spiritual reason and mystical intuition is capable of producing true illumination. The first step to the study of these plates is neither reading nor meditating but practical self-regeneration which will give the higher power in man an opportunity of expressing its own omnipotent knowledge. This plate contains the entire secret of spiritual rulership and analogy; but no more may be said about it than that each individual must file from his own organisms the key which shall unlock its mysteries for the wise designed these things for the use of the wise and the price of understanding the words of the Illuminated is to become illuminated yourself. This is done when the light of spirit shines forth to bring out the colors on the printed page through the regenerated lantern of the philosopher-his own sevenfold body organism. (Further reading: Occult Q&A By Manly P. Hall)
Plate No 2
This plate is taken from the rare and unobtainable work of Kunrath, the great alchemist, represents symbolically human regeneration and 1s also the key to the Philosopher’s Stone.
As before, the translating of it shall be left to you, because it is only in that way you can really learn its message. But we will briefly consider some of its most important symbols: The figure rising out of the globe symbolizes spirit rising out of matter and consciousness freeing itself from the encircling and enslaving bonds of form. The two-headed figure represents the Hermetic union and the creation of Azoth the Philosopher’s Stone. In this plate we have the answer to the problem of soul-mates as only the ancient alchemist could explain it, for the male-female creature here shown symbolizes the occult constitution of man who is the male-female creation. The male figure has the sun halo or the positive ray while the female figure has the moon crown or the mother ray, representing spirit and matter, which matter being regenerated becomes the soul or bride of spirit.
This figure rises out of the globe of elements and from the heads arises a wondrous bird with the sign of Leo around its head. This blackened bird represents the unknowable secret of the phoenix or the bird of eternal life that is born out of the union of the sun and moon in the brain of man. Its tail, which is filled with eyes, represents the unfolded sense centers of human consciousness while the great circle containing all the other symbols is made to represent nature within whose protecting aura all growth is carried on.
The fire of the philosopher which rises upward and partly surrounds the central globe is the purification process in which the flame in the lower centers of the body rises upward and awakens Kundalini, the spinal spirit-fire in man, which is asleep in the egg of Brahma located in the solar plexus. This passing upward creates the figure with the two heads for these faces undoubtedly represent the pituitary body and the pineal gland which are the positive and negative poles of the spinal canal fire. In India the god-man lshwari is shown as a male-female Diety and in the ancient languages the name of God signified that He was also a male-female Divinity, for He is not only the Creator but the Creation. In a similar way man, following in the footsteps of God, is slowly arousing the latent qualities within himself and building to the day when he too shall be both creator and the creation.
The entire diagram is symbolical of the evolution of the human soul and spirit. Starting from the top downward it is involution; working from the bottom upward it is evolution. Two streams pour from the breasts of the creature and these represent the outpourings of fire and water or salt and sulphur which are two of the three elements of perfection while mercury forms the third element. The band around the neck of the figure, which unites the heads, is the wedding ring of modem theology for it ties or unites as a band of spiritual gold the two extremes of human life.
The upright triangle above, pointing up to the Sacred Name, is once more a symbol of human regeneration. Taking the plate generally it refers to the cosmic scheme of things and later the individual scheme of things. The reading tells of how through the union of the universal Earth Mother and Fiery and Airy Father there is created a wondrous stone which is the answer to all the problems of life.
The student recognizes that the union of the spiritual elements within himself will turn him allegorically into a two-headed creature male-female and self-reproductive through the positive pole of the brain.
Plate No 3
This picture is a companion piece to the previous one and is taken from the writings of Henry Kunrath the great medieval alchemist and kabbalist and supposed member of the ancient Rosicrucian brotherhood.
The figure represents Hercules the androgenous Man Christ strangling the serpent of evil and exalting the serpent of wisdom. At the top of the drawing is represented the divine name Jehovah, the male-female third aspect of the Logos and the God of material growth. From him pour out the archetypes of the ten Sephira or the original ten signs of the Zodiac and powers of cosmic impetus.
All things first exist in archetype or cosmic plan before they are concreted in matter. Material substance is poured like molten metal into the superphysical mold in the creation of bodies. In this diagram is concealed the Sacred Name. The upright triangle is an A. and means Adonai the Fireflame. The broken circle of the border forms the U. of the Universe, while the cube of matter crystallized within it is the M. of the Manus worlds. Again the drawing is that of man with the spiritual triangle, the mental hook or U. and the bodily cube of M.
The ability to alchemically combine these three superior elements is the key to occultism and the philosopher’s stone. The book sealed with seven seals represents wisdom unlocked by the seven keys of’ the occult schools each one of which is a musical note, a color, a sound, an internal body chrakra, and a cosmic God. The passing of the consciousness of man through the seven worlds of nature constitutes the breaking of tile seals in which he learns to connect himself consciously with the plan of his own being. By means of this slow evolutionary development, man ascends the endless spiral of the Wisdom School.
The little figure in the center has two heads like the previous plate. These two represent the bride and the groom in the spiritual marriage and the completion of the eternal romance in the soul of man. The male head represents the spirit, the female head the soul; in other words, the sun and moon or the blood of the red lion and the gluten of the white eagle.
The ancients said that their immortal stone was made of moonstone and gold in certain proportions, absorbed by the universal vinegar of the prepared mercury. This alchemical process of transmuting the base qualities and perversions of power into spiritual attributes, accomplishments, and qualities is the key to the sacred wisdom of the ancients. This is attained through the upright triangle, symbolizing the upturned flame of the spinal fire which performs in the marrow of the bone the mystery of alchemy.
Among the Masons, Mahabone has been given as a substitute for the unspeakable and unknowable Word. Mahabone means the marrow in the bone and the secret of alchemy lies in the marrow of the spinal canal which contains within itself all mystery and is the staff of Brahma which supports the universe and all that it contains. (Further reading: Vocabulary of Occult Terms (A to J))
Plate No 4
Thiplate isis the frontispiece of a rare and unobtainable work by Robert Fludd, the great English freemason, alchemist and Rosicrucian. The original folio was printed in 1619 in Latin and is really two books in one. The first book deals with the metaphysical creation of the heavens and earth and is a work of a student of Rosicrucian lore. It is now generally admitted that Robert Fludd was connected with that sacred order. He is said to be the first English exponent of cosmological alchemy and the philosophy of the Phoenicians and Chaldeans and is known all over the world as one of the deepest occultists of any generation known to man.
Technically the plate is astrological, dealing especially with the planetary centers in the human body and also the centers of the twelve signs of the zodiac. You can easily trace the position of the twelve signs by following the dotted line on the human figure, starting with Aries which governs the head and ending with Pisces which governs the feet.
The power which is turning the wheel of eternity and unwinding the cord of human destiny is the threefold beast which has since become a part of the Royal Arch banner of freemasonry. This creature is the most outstanding feature of the plate. It represents the three great principles of nature, manifesting through the three grand divisions or kingdoms of his own body.
The feet belong to the animal world, the human body belongs to the human world, while the wings belong to the celestial or divine world. The wings represent the creative power of God the Father, the human body represents the preservative power of God the Son, while the legs and feet represent the procreative and disintegrative power of God the Holy Spirit. On his head, the creature carries an hourglass which shows the passing of time and illustrates the principle that the spirit of Time is eternally unwinding the cord, which unwinding causes the universe to twist on its central axis.
The whole diagram is surrounded by clouds which represent Chaos and the great sphere is Cosmos in Chaos. The human body represents the five-pointed star of Masonry and also shows the position of the various centers of the human body in relation to the threefold world of nature. This is the microcosmic and macrocosmic man; in other words, the evolving human consciousness and also the cosmic consciousness of nature.
The twelve concentric circles of the outer sphere represent the twelve spiritual hierarchies or the worlds of the external heaven. The seven spheres in the secondary circle represent the home of the seven Elohim or planetary deities while the three inner worlds represent water, fire, and air, and the solid globe behind the figure the principle of earth.
The five points where the human body touches the sphere of the seven planes represent the sense perceptions of the human consciousness, while the little figure of Saturn over the head of the figure is the key of source. Above the figure is the terrestrial sun and moon, while still higher are the celestial sun and moon, much greater and more brilliant. The heart and mind are the sun and moon of the human system and in their union lies the power of an Initiate. Time is turning the Wheel of Life round and round; sometimes man stands upright as he is shown here, later he is inverted and assumes the position which you can study by inverting the picture. And this endless going round and round, first up and then down, is the Wheel of Life to which the threefold deity of concrete creation chains the spirit of man.
Only when he releases himself from the wheel of creation is he capable of releasing himself from the wheel of destruction, for as the ancients said, “Sure is death for the living, and sure is birth for the dead.” The wisdom of the ancients lay not in combatting the principles of nature but in freeing themselves by their knowledge and understanding from the Wheel of Life and Death. This is the tenth card of the Taro, the Wheel of Fortune.
Finally, as the author suggests, “Save these pictures for you will find it nearly impossible to get them again, and while you may not understand them now, as time goes on you will be grateful that you possess them.”
Check our Archive With Articles By Manly P. Hall
♦ If this article resonates with you, please join our newsletter by using the forms on this website so we can stay in touch.
Source: “The All-seeing Eye” Magazine By Manly P. Hall
Feature Image By “The All-seeing Eye” Magazine 1923