Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 8, Vol. 1, Vernal Equinox 2005

The Coming of Elias Artist
Chains of Transmission : Forge of Tubalcain, Phoenix of the Nephilim

by Frater L.

Part I - Awakening Pansophia Hermaphrodite, Spiritus Mundi

(Part II will appear with the Autumnal Equinox issue, concerned with Alchemy)

Elias Artist, Logos
As the ordered world of the High Middle Ages decayed, bringing forth the seeds of Reform and Revolution, a new sense of Prophecy emerged also. From the early expressions of Joachim de Flore, in Calabria (land of exile of the Thebaid therapeutic tradition) under the first Hermetick Emperor Frederick, “Stupor Mundi” of Hohenstaufen, to the publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestos as Europe was gearing up for the Apocalypse of the Thirty Years’ War, this prophetical corpus centred around the figure of the “Elias Artist”, a reflection of the Old Testament and Apocryphal figure of Elijah, the victorious magician ; as expressed, for example, by Sir Thomas Browne in "Religio Medici", XLVI : "How can we interpret the 6000 years of Elijah?"

The origin of the prophecy is in the Book of Malachi 4, 5-6:

Ecce ego mittam vobis Heliam prophetam antequam veniat dies Domini magnus et horribilis et convertet cor patrum ad filios et cor filiorum ad patres eorum ne forte veniam et percutiam terram anathemate.

In the apocryphal "Apocalypse of Elijah" (citations from which are in I Corinthians II, 9, and Ephesians V, 14), the prophet struggles with Enoch against “the evil” for seven days ; they are killed but revive after four days.

St. Augustine of Hippo, in the "Contra Julianum" (P.L. 45, 1581), expressly contrasts the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Earthly Paradise at the admittance, in the same place, of Enoch and Elijah, the "gemini victores".

But the full expression of this prophecy can be ascribed to Pico della Mirandola, "Heptaplus", the cabalistic interpretation of Genesis, in the chapter on "Blissfulness which is the eternal life". It begins: "And there is the completion of the Time. If in fact the number Four is the perfection of the world of Number ... See therefore that it brings us the Fourth Day". Later Pico wrote: "Ancient Jewish wisdom said that in the six days of Genesis are symbolised the 6000 years of the World... [...] ... In "Abodazara" there are these words: "The Son of Elias said : the world has 6000 years. For 2000 the Creation, for 2000 the Light, for 2000 the Messiah's Day.." ".

After Pico, Guillaume Postel restated the prophecy in "La clef des choses secrets" (XV, XIII: in Ed. De Monte, Amsterdam, 1646): "Elias, the second Peter, when he will come..."; (see VIII, VI; X, IV; and above all XIV, VI: "And, to complete all this, the Eternal Life will begin in the eighth day after the Sabbath... because Enoch and Elias will die with Christ...")

Paracelsus (1493-1541) prophesied in the "Theatrum chemicum" (Strassburg, 1613), concerning the birth or appearance of Francis Bacon, whom he referred to as "Elias the Artist," a "great Light" who would give to the world a method by which all things might be known. Francis Bacon referred to himself as being the "herald of the new age"—a Golden Age—synonymous with John the Baptist who heralded the coming of Christ. Rosicrucians in Bacon's time and in later years equated Bacon with both Elias the Artist and Brother C.R.C., the "father" or head of the Rosicrucian Order, whose scientific and cultural programme would eventually cleanse the world of vice and ignorance, and inaugurate a golden age of beauty, joy and enlightenment.

Nothing is concealed that shall not be revealed. There are many more secrets concerning the transmutation, though they are little known, for if they are revealed to someone their fame is not immediately common. With this art, the Lord bestows the wisdom to keep it secret until the advent of Elias Artist. Then shall be revealed what has been concealed.— Paracelsus, “Book Concerning the Tincture of Philosophers”

The meaning of the prophecy is connected with the eternal life, the regeneration of Man, and the world : the "long livers" of Philalethes Jr. - "Introitus...", XIII, 28; XIII, 33. “My book is the precursor of Elias, designed to prepare the Royal way of the Master..." — Irenaeus Philalethes, "An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King."

The name of the prophet Elias is akin to the Greek word for the sun. And his ascent to Paradise takes place on a chariot of fire, like the Merkavah. Elias is one of the three elements in Christ's Transfiguration, the keystone of the world. The Elias coming is the completion of the work. Elias is the Lord of Dew (I Kings); he is a 'sundew". Elias is the Lord of Fire ("And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob... And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed... And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood... Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench"). Elias is the Lord of Life ("And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth").

The French novelist and occultist, Charles Nodier, would “delegate to him (Elia-sin) the guard of the temple and the altar” of Mount Carmel.

Lines of descent ; el-Khidr, Idris, Enoch
Paracelsus, who travelled in the East and received his Sufic training in Turkey, introduced several Sufi terms into Western thought. His “Azoth” is identical with the Sufi al-dhat (Pronounced in Persian and hence in most Sufi poetry as az-zaut).... meaning essence or inner reality. The stone, the hidden thing, so powerful, is also called the Azoth in the West, which is so powerful that it can transform whatever comes into contact with it. It is the essence of man, which partakes of what people call the divine. It is “sunshine,” capable of uplifting humanity to the next stage....

Sidi el-Khidr, who “drank of the source of life and thus was exempt from death” was, according to Jafar the Lord of Ages, the Hidden Imam, who is to be the “Roi du Monde”. The Sufis equated Elias, or Elijah, the powerful magician-prophet of Tishpeh, with Khidr, or Idris, the green man.

Elias is thus the Human Saviour, working on the Divine Universal Soul (Ourobouros) which sleeps in matter and awaits deliverance : he symbolises the boundless ambition of the Adept, Saviour of Divinity itself by the exertion of Telesma, Will, as expressed in the fundamental equation of Alchemy, thus :

Telesma (Fire) –› Fiat Lux (Art) –› Matter
Sulpher Salt Mercury
Red King Quint Essence (Initiation)
Elias Hierophant
White Queen

Philosophic Egg –› regenerates the World

Births the Hermaphrodite, Spiritus Mundi, Azoth, Phoenix

Concerning the origins of alchemy, it is ascribed to the Nephilim, chased from heaven, who coupled with the daughters of men ; “born in the workshops of Tubalcain” (Olaeus Borrichius). The Apocryphal Book of Enoch says that God had sent a legion of angels to earth in order to watch over and subtly assist man during the beginning of civilisation. However, as Enoch tells, these angels were not well suited for the task. They taught man forbidden sciences such as herbcraft, astrology, divination and sorcery.

The Sufi Shiet Chahabeddine Yahya Schraverdi (executed at Aleppo in 1191 for heresy), in his book “Secrets of the Rose”, speaks of the Beings of Light from between the worlds, the Angels of the Flower ; the Rose of Jericho, a symbol much favoured by the Templars, can flower again after being dried completely.

This fabled Centre of the Brotherhood of Light, most usually placed in Central Asia, is often portrayed as a sobernost, a free community of love (eros) and faith, the Mystical Person, the “host of sunbearers who will erect a hundred story house of fire to match together Abyss and Zenith” : this again refers to alchemy. And the other Russian notion of the staretz, the Old One : symbolising the unseen forces which guide events on earth, the political revolutions reflecting a realignment of the cosmic sphere, in whom the new world is imminent : here are the origins of Illuminism.

We can follow the development of this corpus of prophetical hermetic Illuminism through the following periods :

1. The early period of the 11th-14th centuries in which documents are transmitted from Arabic sources and translated into Latin. This is the period of the "Turba philosophorum", and the scholars. Nicolas Flamel (1330-1418), architect, who travels to Spain, and collects Jewish MS.

2. The period in the 15th century when original western hermetic works are created in manuscript, often anonymously. The "Mystical Arithmetic" of Nicholas of Cusa, (1401-1464). The flight of the Greek scholars from Byzantium in 1453, to Venice and Florence (René of Anjou), and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, to the Netherlands (Burgundy, to the courts of the Anjou Guise/Lorraine dynasty). This dynasty has a crucial role in the emergence of the Rosicrucian movement of the early 17th century.

3. The Paracelsian phase which extended from the mid-16th century to the early decades of the 17th Century. Studion and Dee, the Luneburg conference. The Tubingen Circle. The Marburg Academy of the Palatinate-Sulzbach dynasty.

4. The "Rosicrucian phase" in the early part of the 17th century. Heidelberg, Rudolf II, Maier etc. Robert Fludd arrives on the Continent, he is an “Unknown Superior”, Preceptor to the Anjou Duke of Guise and his brother ; James VI and I of Great Britain inherits the Guise protectorate of the RC via his grandmother, Mary of Guise, Queen of Scots.

5. The English alchemists of the mid-17th century, encompassing Elias Ashmole, Thomas Vaughan, Robert Boyle, William Cooper, Ireneus Philalethes, Newton etc.

6. The "Golden and Rosy Cross" and related masonic-alchemical groups in the German speaking world in the mid to late 18th Century, leading to the Asiatic Brethren (with Sabbatean / Martinist input), St Germain 1775 and the Fratres Lucis / Holy Brotherhood of Light.

Simon Studion (1543- ), who founded the Militia Crucifera Evangelica in 1598 at Nuremberg, continued the work of Joachim de Flore and Paracelsus ; and the "Chemical Wedding" of Andreae continued the thread from the thoughts and work of Studion. It was out of the work of Studion and his Societas Cruce Signati (those marked by the cross), that the Tubingen Circle with Andreae and his friends, the renewed Order of the Rosicrucians grew and evolved.

This core group (which included John Dee) held an Evangelical Convent on July 17, 1586 in the town of Luneburg, Germany. Simon Studion in his Naometria of 1604 gave a first-hand account of the meeting. The meeting included some evangelical Princes, some Church-appointed Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, and representatives of Henry of Navarre, leader of the Protestant Huguenots (he later became Henry IV of France), also the King of Denmark, and Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Studion was looking for the three "witnesses", one of whom he may have thought of as being himself. It has been speculated that Martin Luther was the first, Studion the second. An Elias Artist was expected to arrive after 1593. The group regarded Johann Valentin Andreae as being the third "witness".

The work of the particular evangelical confederation activated in 1586 came to be known as "the Rosicrucian movement." There is no doubt that John Dee's hand was in the writing of the manifestos, nor doubt that Dee's influence privately continued to dominate the movement long after its beginning with the Luneburg meeting.

Thus we have seen that gradually the Jewish and Sufic prophetic figure of the “Hidden One”, the “Awaited One”, with roots in the far distant past of the “coming of the Nephilim”, became more and more identified with first, a particular figure (the “Artist”), and then with a particular area (the central German region centred around the Palatinate), and finally with a particular time (the beginning of the 17th century). In the second part of this article we shall examine these three identifications, in the context of the flowering of the alchemical Rosy Cross, the apocalypse of the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, and the creation of speculative Freemasonry under the hermetic Stuart monarchy in Britain.

For is it not most curious that the central figure in this final flowering is an “Elias”, Elias Ashmole (1617-92) "the greatest virtuoso and curioso that ever was known or read of in England before his time", first Englishman to compile the alchemical writings of the English chemists, friend & patron of Sir George Wharton, jacobite, astrologer, alchemist, and father of the Lord Wharton, first jacobite Grand Master of continental Free Masonry ; friend of Arthur Dee (son of John – from whom he inherited the Dee papers) ; and one of the original Fellows of the Royal Society (Robert Fludd’s “Invisible College”). He corresponded with many of the leading antiquarians and scholars of his day, including Sir Thomas Browne who wrote to him of his friendship with Arthur Dee, and his plans to write a biography of the great magician.