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Article # 183
V.I.T.R.I.O.L

Author: R.W..Bro. Leon Zeldis A.G.M    Posted on: Saturday, January 7, 2006
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[ The Learned Author has in his article “Esotericism and Freemasonry”, posted in this website as Article No.181, has referred to the inscription V.I.T.R.I.O.L in the Chamber of Reflections, in which the candidate is required to meditate for some time prior to his introduction in the Lodges in some of  the Masonic Jurisdictions and  that, the word represents the initials of the words in the Latin sentence Visita Interiora Terra Rectificando Inventies Occultum Lapidem. A detailed elucidation of the significance of those words has been provided in this short article, in order to make the earlier Article complete. Please read on . . .  ]

 

Reflections On The Word “ V.I.T.R.I.O.L.”

By R.W.Bro.Leon Zeldis A.G.M

 The word VITRIOL is displayed in the Chamber of Reflection, used in some masonic rituals as the first contact of the candidate with the Lodge. Its meaning is not always apparent, although its alchemical origin is well known.  The word is actually composed of the initials of a Latin sentence:

“VISITA  INTERIORA  TERRA  RECTIFICANDO  INVENIES  OCCULTUM  LAPIDEM” 

Visit the interior of the earth and rectifying (i.e. purifying), you will find the hidden stone. This has been interpreted as a message inciting the initiate to delve into his own soul in order to find wisdom. However, let us examine closely each of the words.

 VISITA. A visit. This means that the initiate journey into his soul must be a two-way journey, like the course followed on a labyrinth, which ends by returning to the starting point. The initiate must not seek to remain inside. He goes and comes back. He visits.

INTERIORA. The interior, the inside. As The Gospel of Phillip, quoted in A Gnostic Book of Hours states: ‘The revealed one they call “the one who is below”, and the hidden one is supposed to be above him. It would be better for them to say, “The Inner and the Outer”, and “What is outside of the outer.” This means that the usual Gnostic principle “what is above is also below” can be transformed into “what is inside is also outside”.

TERRA. Earth, one of the alchemical elements. The ground, the basis, and also the material, terrestrial (as opposite to spiritual or ethereal). The body.

RECTIFICANDO. Like rectified alcohol. This means at the same time an act of purification and of straightening. Whatever is bent must be straightened. The straight path must be followed. By rectifying our thoughts and our actions we shall find the hidden truth.

INVENIES. Literally: “shall find”. The same root of “invention”. Coming upon something (previously unknown). Karl Popper maintained that scientific truth must be invented.

OCCULTUM. Here we find a connection with “occulum”, the eye. The T may refer to Templum, the temple. This can be intepreted as the All-Seeing Eye that dwells within the Temple.

 LAPIDEM. The stone. Stone has many  connection with the sacred. Altars are made of stone. Kings are crowned seated on a stone. The symbolism of the stone is extensive.

By displaying VITRIOL to the eyes of the candidate, the intention is to teach him to search within his own soul and spirit in order to find the philosopher’s stone, that is, the key to understanding and eternal life.

Vitriol is also the name of a chemical compound: a caustic sulfate of various metals, such as copper, iron or zinc. The demonic aspect of sulfur and the yellow color is well known, this, together with the red of copper and the black of iron, are the basic colors of alchemical symbolism.

The rituals of the first degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite are strongly influenced by the symbolism of alchemy, and the decoration of the Chamber of Reflection is just one of the examples of this connection.

 

 

 

 

R.W.Bro.Leon Zeldis was born on June 20 th in 1930 in Buenos Aires. He was the fifth child of his parents, who were Russian Immigrants. His family moved to Chile in 1931. He grew up and was educated in Valparaiso, Chile. He graduated as a Textile Engineer from Philadelphia University in 1952. He also graduated in Linguistics, History and Business Administration. He married Luisa Drapkin in 1956. They have four children and ten grandchildren. The family immigrated to Israel in 1962. He retired as Quality Control Engineer. As an Academician, he has been the Professor of Philosophic and Masonic Studies in La Republica University, Santiago in Chile from 1996, Visiting Professor Universidad Complutense, Madrid and Professor of Textile History and Technology, State Technical University, Santiago up to 1962. The Chilean Government has appointed him as Honorary Consul of Chile in Tel Aviv from 1963 and awarded the Order Bernardo O’Higgins.He was initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry in America Lodge (No.86) Chile. He was a Founder member of "La Fraternidad, Lodge( No 62 )of Tel Aviv (1970),which was the first Spanish-speaking lodge in Israel, working in the AASR.and of which he became the W.M in 1971. He had held various offices in the Grand Lodge of Israel, of which he is the Honorary Assistant Grand Master from 1995. In Royal Arch, he was installed as the First Principal of Har Sinai Chapter in1985. He held various offices in R. A. Grand Chapter, including that of Grand Chaplain. He has taken the Degrees of Captivity, Royal Select and Super-Excellent Master Degrees and Royal Ark Mariner. . In Scottish Rite , he was elevated to 4th Degree AASR in 1969, Coroneted Active Sovereign Grand Inspector General 33° in 1991.He has served as Grand Secretary General in 1993-1995 and elected as Sovereign Grand Commander in1996-1998. He is an active member of various Masonic Research bodies as follows. Founder Member, Chair of Philosophical and Masonic Studies "Dr. René García Valenzuela", Universidad La República, Santiago, Chile., Fellow, Philalethes Society, Contributing Member, Scottish Rite Research Society (USA), Member, Society of Blue Friars and Correspondence member, Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, England. Honorary Member of "Rey Salomón" Lodge No 105, Lima, Perú (1982), Supreme Council for Italy (1996), Academia Maçónica de Letras de Pernambuco, Brazil (1997), "Salem" Lodge of Perfection N° 12, Haifa, Israel (1997),Supreme Council for France (1998) ,"King Solomon" Lodge of Perfection N° 13, Ra'anana, Israel (1998), "Montefiore" Lodge N° 753, Glasgow, Scotland (1999). "Hermes" Lodge N° 13, Madrid, (2000), "Max Polliack" Rose-Croix Chapter N° 4, Ra'anana, Israel (2002), and "Lázaro Cárdenas del Río" Lodge N° 57, México City (2002), "Mount Moriah" Rose-Croix Chapter N° 2, Jerusalem, Israel (1975), "Ramat Gan" N° 6 Lodge of Perfection, Ramat Gan, Israel (1978), "La Esperanza" N° 72 Lodge, Haifa, Israel (1978), "France" Lodge N° 77, Jerusalem, Israel (1993), "Jerusalem" Lodge N° 909, Paris, France (1995), "Jerusalem" Lodge N° 91, Roma, Italy (1996),"Igualdad" Rose-Croix Chapter N° 3, Tel Aviv, Israel (1998) and "Galilee" Lodge N° 31, Nazareth, Israel (2003) He was the Representative of the Grand Lodge of Chile near the Grand Lodge of Israel (1976-1993), Representative of Grand Chapter of South Carolina near the Grand Chapter of Israel (1983), Representative of the Supreme Council of Ecuador near the Supreme Council of Israel (1991). Representative of Grand Lodge of Spain near the Grand Lodge of Israel, He was awarded Tiradentes Medal, by the Supreme Council of the Federal Republic of Brazil (1992).Besides all those distinctions, he enjoys the unique reputation of an erudite Masonic scholar and a prolific writer and has presented many papers in the Research Lodges. Many of his articles have been posted in the premier Masonic website Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry. He maintains the website www.freemasonry.org/leonzeldis/ in which his articles have been posted. Visits to that website is earnestly recommended for acquiring great Masonic knowledge.He has presented the following papers in International Conferences.1. “Spanish-speaking lodges in Israel” in International Symposium on the History of Spanish Masonry, Cבceres, Spain, June 1991.2. “Education as the Key to Tolerance” in European Conference of Sovereign Grand Commanders, Berlin, May 1994.3. “Freemasonry in the 21st Century”in First World Reunion of Grand Masters, Mexico City, March 1995.4. “Masonic Blue” in International Congress of Masonic History and Geography, Goiania, Brazil, June 1995.5. “Projection of the Values of Freemasonry in its Actions for the Benefit of Society”, Inaugural lecture at the foundation of the Chair of Philosophical and Masonic Studies “Dr. Rene Garcia Valenzuela, University La Repתblica, Santiago, Chile, September 1996.6. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in International Seminary on Anti-Freemasonry, Santiago, Chile, October 1997.7. “The Scottish Rite Tradition and its Present Actuality”in European Conference of Sovereign Grand Commanders, Paris, May 1998.8. “Presence and Evolution of Freemasonry in the 21st Century”in International Seminar “Masonry: Myth and Reality”, University La Repתblica, Santiago, Chile, October 1999.9. “Antisemitism and Freemasonry”in International Conference on The Historiography and Methodology in the Study of Freemasonry, Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, London, November 1999.10. “Freemasonry and Society in the Middle East”in Summer Colloquium, Grand Lodge of Chile, Santiago, January 2000.11. “Looking back - Moving forward”in Philalethes Annual Conference, Washington, February 2000.12. “Facing the Future of Freemasonry”in Academy of Masonic Knowledge, Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, October, 2000.13. “Anti-Masonry and Anti-Semitism”, 9th Symposium on the History of Spanish Masonry, Segovia, Spain, October 2000.14. “Iconography of the Tracing Boards” in The Visual Arts and Freemasonry, Third International Conference, Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, November 2001.15. “Freemasonry in the Middle East”in Grand Lodge Valle de Mיxico, Mexico City, February 2002.His illuminating articles have been posted in his website http://www.freemasonry.org/leonzeldis/Please visit that site to peruse his articles.We are very thankful to this great Masonic Scholar for kindly permitting us to post this article in our website.


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