3901 – Alpha Omega Alchemy Tracing Board Diagram

Physical description:
Cream coloured card with black handwritten ink text and a red ink diagram of the tree of life. On the back is more handwritten writing in black, red and rust coloured ink and some damage where the label has been removed.
Museum classification:
Ritual Magic
Size:
24cm x 30cm
Information:

These tracing board diagrams were used as a way to test the knowledge of the members of the order of Alpha et Omega (initially called The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) and allow them to progress further up into higher levels (grades) in the order. It appears that some, if not all, of the boards were hung in the temple during rituals of the inner order. See the Alpha Omega tag for more tracing board diagrams. 

The front side has a red ink linear diagram of the tree of life, with ten focal points marked with a Hebrew title, a chemical element and a planetary symbol. The left pillar, known as the Pillar of Severity, consists of Binah (meaning 'understanding'), Geburah (meaning 'strength'), and Hod (meaning 'glory'). Binah is paired with Tin and the symbol for Jupiter. Geburah has Gold and the symbol for Sun. The parallel components of the Hod and Netzach are Brass, as well as unidentifiable symbols represented as a mirror image of each other. This symbol looks like a combination of Mercury (the messenger or communicator) and Venus (the planet of love), but does not appear to be a commonly used motif, and is not in Fred Gettings's 'Dictionary Of Occult Hermetic Alchemical Sigils Symbols'. The right pillar, the Pillar of Mercy, also consists of Chocmah, for which the element is Lead and the symbol is Saturn, and Chesed, whose element is Silver and symbol is Moon. The focal point in the centre of the tree of life, the Pillar of Equilibrium, is Tiphareth for which the element is iron and the symbol is Mars. The penultimate point on the diagram is Yesod, whose symbol and element are both Mercury, There seems to be an interesting parallel between Hod, Netzach and Yesod, as they all are strongly related to Mercury, but it is not yet clear what this means. The final, bottom point of the tree of life, Malkuth, under which it is inscribed 'Medicina Metallorum', which literally translate to medicine with metals - alchemy. The balance aspect is not present in some other alchemy tracing boards owned by the museum. The mirrored symbols adhere with the concept of 'as above, so below' and can be compared to concepts of inversion (to understand God, one must understand Satan etc.) as well as the Neo-Platonic idea of 'the good' as a parallel reflection of the earthly world, which is not real.

The position of the small circles represents the Sepiroth - The Tree of Life, this is explained in a handwritten manuscript (object 3921) as shown below. 

 

The back of the document reads in black ink 'Grade of Theoricus. 2=9', which is underlined twice and has the 2 encircled and the 9 in a square frame. Below this, it says (also underlined but only once this time) 'Alchemical Sephiroth: 2nd form'. In rust coloured ink underneath this, it reads '14. Second Point. West'. Below this, there is a mark where the label has been removed (pictured).

 

 

Alpha-Omega Collection

These items came from a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.  She inherited them from Dorothy May Cox, who was probably a member of Alpha Omega, and perhaps a relative of Donald W. Cox, who was initiated into AO around 1920.

Resource:
Object
Materials:
Card and ink
Copyright ownership:
MWM

These tracing board diagrams were used as a way to test the knowledge of the members of the order of Alpha et Omega (initially called The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) and allow them to progress further up into higher levels (grades) in the order. It appears that some, if not all, of the boards were hung in the temple during rituals of the inner order. See the Alpha Omega tag for more tracing board diagrams. 

The front side has a red ink linear diagram of the tree of life, with ten focal points marked with a Hebrew title, a chemical element and a planetary symbol. The left pillar, known as the Pillar of Severity, consists of Binah (meaning 'understanding'), Geburah (meaning 'strength'), and Hod (meaning 'glory'). Binah is paired with Tin and the symbol for Jupiter. Geburah has Gold and the symbol for Sun. The parallel components of the Hod and Netzach are Brass, as well as unidentifiable symbols represented as a mirror image of each other. This symbol looks like a combination of Mercury (the messenger or communicator) and Venus (the planet of love), but does not appear to be a commonly used motif, and is not in Fred Gettings's 'Dictionary Of Occult Hermetic Alchemical Sigils Symbols'. The right pillar, the Pillar of Mercy, also consists of Chocmah, for which the element is Lead and the symbol is Saturn, and Chesed, whose element is Silver and symbol is Moon. The focal point in the centre of the tree of life, the Pillar of Equilibrium, is Tiphareth for which the element is iron and the symbol is Mars. The penultimate point on the diagram is Yesod, whose symbol and element are both Mercury, There seems to be an interesting parallel between Hod, Netzach and Yesod, as they all are strongly related to Mercury, but it is not yet clear what this means. The final, bottom point of the tree of life, Malkuth, under which it is inscribed 'Medicina Metallorum', which literally translate to medicine with metals - alchemy. The balance aspect is not present in some other alchemy tracing boards owned by the museum. The mirrored symbols adhere with the concept of 'as above, so below' and can be compared to concepts of inversion (to understand God, one must understand Satan etc.) as well as the Neo-Platonic idea of 'the good' as a parallel reflection of the earthly world, which is not real.

The position of the small circles represents the Sepiroth - The Tree of Life, this is explained in a handwritten manuscript (object 3921) as shown below. 

 

The back of the document reads in black ink 'Grade of Theoricus. 2=9', which is underlined twice and has the 2 encircled and the 9 in a square frame. Below this, it says (also underlined but only once this time) 'Alchemical Sephiroth: 2nd form'. In rust coloured ink underneath this, it reads '14. Second Point. West'. Below this, there is a mark where the label has been removed (pictured).

 

 

Alpha-Omega Collection

These items came from a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.  She inherited them from Dorothy May Cox, who was probably a member of Alpha Omega, and perhaps a relative of Donald W. Cox, who was initiated into AO around 1920.