VISITING THE MYSTIC TEMPLE WHERE IMPERATOR LEWIS
(FORMERLY OF P.S. 16) PERFORMED AS AN ALCHEMIST.
As the June convocation of the supreme Council of
the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, held in
the back parlor of the dwelling at No. 70 West
Eighty-seventh Street, which is fitted up as a temple,
H. Spencer Lewis, Imperator of the Order, performed
the mystical transmutation ceremony. He placed fifteen
ingredients in a crucible, stirred them with his
fingers and at the end of eighteen minutes withdrew a
bit of yellow metal. Everybody present was profoundly
impressed, believing he had produced a piece of gold.
By Charles Welton
It will surprise some of the boys who were in
Principal John Burke's graduating class in P.S. 16 a
dozen or so years ago to learn that "Fat" Lewis, as
some of them used to call him, is now a high
muck-a-muck in the occult business and a Grand Master
General and Imperator. It may also surprise some of
the people who ten years ago worked with Lewis in the
Psychic Investigatin League and helped him round up
spooks and experiment with hypnotism and telepathy.
But there's no going back of the words. Lewis is in
the mystic line for fair. He says he isn't out to make
money and has nothing to sell.
There are strange goings-on at No.70 west
Eighty-seventh Street - goings-on full of mysticism
and the purgent aroma of Eastern spices. Students of
the occult, clad in the robes of the Rosaecrucian
Order, are as busy as an alarm o'clock trying to get
results in science, electricity and other things by
following wheresoever the symbols of the ancients
Lewis is a short person, with a big, round head, a
big round face, a big, round body and a very stouts
arms and legs. He is thirty-three years old and talks
regular New York. His office is in the front parlor.
He and Thor Kiimalehto, Secretary General, sit back to
back at rolltop desks, Kiimalehto is a printer by
trade, Lewis used to go to him with an occasional job
and in that way they became acquainted.
I called at the temple on Wednesday. Mr.Roth, who
is a student of hieroglyphics, and Mr. Callahan, who
once explored an Egyptian tomb with me, went along.
Two glad hands were extended to us.
"Will you be good enough, Mr. Lewis," I asked, "to
tell us just how you do the alchemy stunt by which you
transmute odds and ends into gold?"
"Stunt is good," replied the Imperator. "Now, to
begin remember we may be nuts or bugs, but we don't
pretend to have wings growing on our shoulders. On the
night of our convocation, which was attended by
Torch-bearer and the Vestal Virgin, the twelve other
officers and others of the advanced order to the
number of thirty seven, I delivered an address saying
that for the first time in America I would demonstrate
the secret process of transmutation.
"For hundred of years the Elder Brothers of our
order in Egypt worked at their crucibles and wrestled
with the problems of alchemy in an attempt to apply
the fundamental laws of our philosophy and science. At
last they succeeded in transmutation on the material
plane. The members of the Fourth Degree being the most
advanced, I felt the call to make the demonstration
for the first time in this country.
"I had directed each of fifteen members to bring a
certain ingredient, and I may say that these
ingredients were such as might be found in any kitchen
- say, saleratus, ginger, etc., but these were not
among them. Salt was one. A rose in full bloom was
another, although you would not pick a rose in a
"Then we had a bottle full of distilled water and a
cube of zinc. As accessories, we were provided with a
crucible, fire and a pair of pinchers - all the
"Well, when everything was ready I asked the
fifteen brothers and sisters to come forward with
their offerings. No one knew what the others had. The
various ingredients were plated in the crucible with
the lump of zinc, which had been tested with nitric
acid and carefully weighted. This I stirred with my
fingers for several minutes and I might add that I
scorched my fingers in the process. At the proper
moment I stopped stirring, and with a pair of pincers
took from the crucible a bit of yellow metal - the
transmuted metal which stood the acid test and was
found to be a trifle heavier than the zinc. Every one
present saw it. I might add that there is no money in
making gold that way. You get only a little bit for
all your pains."
"Was it the regular goods - the real stuff - gold?"
"Gold transmuted from other metals," said Lewisss,
making a statement instead of a reply, "is the purest
of gold. Now about the order. It was established way
back in the dynasty of Thutmose III, who was the
husband of Isis. The obelisk in Central Park, one of
the two erected in Egypt by Rhutmose III, and intended
to stand some day in 'the country where the eagle
spreads its wings, bears the cartouche or seal of the
order as well as many other authentic and Rosaecrucian
I told Lewis that, while I was not familiar with
all the symbols and cartoons on the obelisk, his word
that they were there was good enough for me.
"When I went to Toulouse, France, in 1909 to secure
permission to found the order in this country, I was
informed that it sould be not until 1915, and so I
waited and studied and fitted myself for the work, and
on April 1, 1915, the charter was drawn up and signed,
and the order took its place in the country where the
eagle spreads its wings."
At my suggestion we were permitted to enter the
temple proper, which is the third room back on the
parlor floor. The room was heavely curtained. The
crucible stands in front of the Imperator's desd. An
electric bulb is inside the bowl, and when the current
is turned on lights of several colors show. The
crucible has a circular pan around its edge.
This was filled with what looked like powdered
Kiimalehto stepped into a closet, and, returning
with a bottle, pour some of its contents into the pan
and touched a match to it. Immediately the temple was
filled with an odor like a combination of cayenne
pepper, myrrh, sweet marjoram, terebinth and other
The thick smoke rose from the pan, spread out over
our heads and formed in a thin cloud which floated to
the ceiling and dispelled some of the darkness.
There was disclosed the presence of a very tall and
straight figure, garbed from neck to heels in a bright
red garment and topped with a turban. He stood at the
curtained window before an electrician's desk.
"May I ask what you are doing?" I inquired, and the
figure turned and looked at me through big, round
"I am a studen," he replied, "and I am busy with
I asked his name and he said he was Harry Koenig, a
theatrical electrician. He used to work at Cohan's
Theatre and also at the Winter Garden, but was out of
a job at present.
While he was telling me these things the faint
click of the instrument could be heard.
"We do not do any sending here," said Koenig, "but
we cut in and pick up bits of news. It is rather dull
While Roth and Callahan were breathing the fumes of
the burning incense at the other end of the room I
slipped the wireless receivers over my ears. Koenig
was right. It was a dull day.
The instrument was not adjusted properly, so
student Koenig turned a thumbscrew on a keyboard
arrangement and, what to my untrained ears, sounded
like a High School of Commerce boy communicating a
baseball result to a friend in a Manual Training,
clicked down the wire.
Koenig was not the only student at his task. There
is an average of dozen men and women - at work. It
isn't absolutely necessary that they all wear robes,
but most of them do. The different degrees have
different robes - some red and others blue or white.
The chemical laboratory is just back of the temple,
in what used to be the butler's pantry before the
Imperator moved in. The vibration and philosophy
departments are in another part of the building.
Getting back to that yellow bit of metal that the
Imperator said he had transmuted, it can be said with
authority that all suggestions that it might be sent
to the laboratory of Columbia University for
examination or assayed will be turned down. The metal
will be kept in the Eighty seventh Street Temple as a
prized jewel of the order.
The Imperator will not again give a demonstration
of transmutation. Following the long established
custom, the fifteen members who delivered the raw
material to him are to keep their individual shares of
the secret. No one individual knows the mixture, but
collectively they own the formula. In the event of the
passing of the Imperator the fifteen may come together
three years thereafter and repeat the ceremony.
Probably the next function of real importance in
the temple will be the christening of little Earle
Cromwell Lewis. The date of this ceremony has not been
fixed, but the Grand Lodge will be present. Earle
Cromwell is the youngest of the Imperator's three