The Angelical Stone of Elias Ashmole
Matthew D. Rogers, Aries, Volume 5, Number 1, 2005 , pp. 61-90(30)
I have just been reading this article and must say I found it rather strange. The first part of this begins by drawing to our attention the idea of a “lapis angelicus” (a kind of sub-species of the Philosophers’ Stone) found in a 1660 alchemical manuscript in the circles around Samuel Hartlib. Rogers then goes on to explore the appearance of this idea in Ashmole’s writings and draws parallels with Edward Kelly and also echoes of this Robert Boyle’s works. He then looks at the manuscripts of Robert Plot and the writings of John Pordage.
This article is rather interesting and follows the usual scholarly methodology, so it is with an enormous surprise to read the closing section of the article which suddenly goes off into what can best be described as a flight of fantasy. Here Rogers introduces the idea that this Angelical Stone may have been some sort of psychedelic substance. He gives no evidence and instead cites as sources such unlikely writers as Terrance McKenna and even the totally speculative book by Clark Heinrich Strange Fruit. The article is a weird hybrid of a scholarly opening section with an esoteric speculative coda. I must say I found this approach unsettling. It seems likely that unscholarly people, not being able to see the segue from scholarly to speculative will take this entirely as a work of scholarship. I hope this is not an approach that others will emulate.
Last edited on Sat Oct 25th, 2008 04:29 pm by adammclean
I have not seen the article, but recall Ashmole's comments on the Angelical Stone, which take up a paragraph or two in the Prolegomena to his Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652). Ashmole does say that the stone must be tasted and makes it possible to converse with angels by dreams and revelations, but that's as far as he goes.
The article Adam describes reminds me of John Allegro on magic mushrooms at the Qumran community. Allegro was a great scholar, but people started to talk.
Ashmole says he is following "S. Dunstans Worke De Occulta Philosophia (a Booke which E.G.A.I. made much use of)." Now since E.G.A.I. is Edwardus Generosus Anglicus Innominatus, in a manuscript dated twenty years before Edward Kelly said he found the manuscript of the tenth-century abbot of Glastonbury, it seems possible that Ashmole in 1651 is drawing from information or manuscript provided by the late Arthur Dee -- and that the angels in question may be somehow related to those of Dr. John Dee.
The Crowning of Nature, in the Opus Hermetic series, has brief a reference to the same information on the Angelical Stone. Meanwhile, Lauren Kassell discusses the Dunstan's book in her contribution to Books and the Sciences in History (Cambridge UP, 2000).