Knowledge of the Symbol by Pietro Negri

Part 7

We have seen that we are dealing with a lapis niger (black stone). We could make further observations and comparisons concerning the importance of black stones in ancient Rome, in the Muslim tradition and in the tradition of Agartha, the subterranean world mentioned by Saint-Yves d’Alveydre in his Mission de l’Inde, by Ossendowski in his famous Beasts, Men and Gods, and by Guénon in his Roi du monde. The fact that this hidden stone, which can be found by descending to the “infernals” or in the “dark kingdoms” underneath and within the “earth,” is necessarily black may simply seem the logical consequence in the development of this symbolism. However, if we recall how much it may be connected to the full flowering and fruitfulness of the symbolism, it seems to us that even this symbol may have a specific reference to the sensation of the Hermetic black, blacker than black. We should not forget that the “hidden stone” is the Stone of the Philosophers and not the philosophic stone: in other words, it is the matter employed in the work, and not the matter of the work’s perfection; when the stone is found , the sensation of “petrification” goes together with the sensation of utter blackness.

Once this condition has been attained, the understanding of the symbol becomes effective; from it the sense of the further symbolism is illuminated, thus being able to suggest what needs to be done and to lead a further phase of the work. The identification of the references and the determination of the symbol, besides, are not left only to the mind’s eye. As one proceeds, the inner voice (the “voice of the heart”) and the inner ear (the “ears of the heart”) are activated. Thus, hermetically and literally, the transmission of the symbolism takes place. At certain times this voice answers a question that the mind asks about a given state or sensation; at other times it directly intervenes at the right moment and reveals a secret. Let us be clear about it: this is not the “voice of conscience,” the “categorical imperative,” or similar eruptions of what Nietzsche called “petty morality,” nor mediumistic voices or phenomena. These are inner senses to which people usually pay no attention, since they are deafened by external noises and unable to perceive and to distinguish the subtle inner impressions. We can truly say with Jesus: “oculos habent et non vident, aures et non audiunt” (They have eyes and see not, ears and hear not). This inner voice and hearing can work during both the waking state and sleep, as well as in the various stages of consciousness attained during the practice of the rite. Simultaneously with their action, sometimes real, tangible phenomena occur, such as to dispel any skepticism. These phenomena often possess a manifest symbolic character, and sometimes display an incomparable beauty and nobility. We could relate some examples, but we have hinted at this topic only in order to mention facts that are impossible to confuse with ideas or hallucinations, as one might be inclined to believe in the case of inner voices and perceptions; we have also hinted at this topic in order to suggest that the symbolic character extends to these manifestations as well. The symbolism is innate in them, too, so as to become a sort of universal or initiatic language, which finds one correspondence and expression in the initiatic language (through signs, gestures, or “universal words”) employed by some organization more or less connected to the initiatic tradition.

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  • Lowest and unhappiest must be judged those who have closed their eyes to the rays of the highest good shining everywhere so that they cannot see in that very light, outside of which nothing good is seen. How great an evil it is always to be without that thing without which any visible thing is evil.


    - Marsilio Ficino