Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) was the first to record a personal account of initiation into Accepted Freemasonry. His writings help solve the debate between operative and "speculative" origins of Accepted Freemasonry, demonstrating that symbolic Freemasonry existed within the Masonic trade bodies. Ashmole was one of the leading intellectual luminaries of his time: a founding member of the Royal Society, a fellowship and later academy of natural philosophers and scientists; alchemist; astrological advisor to the king; and the creator of the world's first public museum. While Isaac Newton regarded him as an inspiration, Ashmole has been ignored by many conventional historians. Tobias Churton's compelling portrait of Ashmole offers a perfect illustration of the true Renaissance figure--the magus. As opposed to the alienated position of his post-Cartesian successors, the magus occupied a place at the heart of Renaissance spiritual, intellectual, and scientific life. Churton shows Ashmole to be part of the ferment of the birth of modern science, a missing link between operative and symbolic Freemasonry, and a vital transmitter of esoteric thought when the laws of science were first taking hold. He was a man who moved with facility between the powers of earth and the active symbols of heaven.
Tobias Churton is an Honorary Fellow of Exeter University where he is a course lecturer on Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism and teaches in England's first master's program in Western Esotericism. He studied theology at Oxford University and created the award-winning documentary series and accompanying book The Gnostics as well as several other films on Christian doctrine, mysticism, and magical folklore. He is the founding editor of Freemasonry Today magazine and author of Gnostic Philosophy. He lives in England.
Acknowledgements Introduction: Ex Uno Omnia The Great Man The Magus The Hermetic Magus Alchemy Lichfield C.H. Josten One: The Coming One The Ashmoles Formative Influences Mother Two: Lichfield--the Hidden Light of England St. Chad and the Origins of Lichfield Gaia Childhood Three: London Calling Four: War Astrology The Intelligencer Ashmole's Persona Defending Oxford Dreams and Spires Women Worcester Five: Defeat and Rebirth: Freemasonry Free Masonry Secret Signs Six: Return to London Women Again Lady Mainwaring Seven: The 1650s (I): The Philosopher's Stone Ex Uno Omnia Fasciculus Chemicus One Hieroglyph--New Being The Theatre of British Chemistry Ashmole and the Rosicrucians The Rose Cross Fraternity A Gathering Reputation The Way to Bliss Eight: The 1650s (ii): Study to Be Quiet Secret Work A Journey to Staffordshire Contemplative Men and Antiquarian Recreation The Tradescant Deed of Gift Nine: The Windsor Herald The Royal Society The Antiquarian The Masterpiece Astro-Politics Ten: Lichfield--the Reconstruction Restaurator The Loving Cup Our Magus Ashmole's Politics Bills, Bills, and More Bills Ashmole and the Mason's Company The Origins of Freemasonry Eleven: The Museum The Tradescant Rarities The Ashmolean "Those Fatall Flames" Twelve: Coming Home Saving Dee Sendivogius, Kelley, and Dee Toward Home Postscript Notes Bibliography Index