IK. I will be the first to admit it. I’m old and music stopped for me in 1989 but it always does me good to see how younger men who have achieved fame on the lookout for something bigger than theirselves and just the fame and fortune they acheived.
James Callahan the writer of the article who is with the artisitc collective “Camp Rattler” Asked Brother Bell about becoming a Freemason:
CAMP RATTLER: How long have you been a mason? Where did you start?
TJ BELL: Before I had any knowledge of what freemasonry was, I was intrigued by the symbol of the square and compass, which I had first noticed on a ring that a teacher in high school was wearing. The symbolism is what sparked a desire to know what lies behind the mystique of freemasonry. It wasn’t until 2016 that I had actually met and spoke with a freemason.
I was living in North Hollywood at the time, and it was at a Father’s Day dinner when I was introduced to a family friend and master mason called Bill Grey. The topic of freemasonry was brought up at the table, and he could immediately see my interest and curiosity on the subject and ended up connecting me with a lodge that he thought would be a good fit. It was only a week later when he called and told me to check out North Hollywood Lodge No. 542. I showed up at their next stated meeting and met all the guys from the lodge. I was eager to hand in my petition right away but was told to come to the meetings to really get to know the guys and wait about a year before I handed in my petition. I went to every meeting and eventually got to know every member very well. I received my entered apprentice degree June 8, 2017, Fellowcraft degree March 15, 2018, and became a Master Mason May 25, 2018. A year later, I moved back to the East Coast and I received the 32° Master of the Royal Secret on April 13, 2019 at the Valley of Washington of the Southern Jurisdiction Scottish Rite.
Callahan Then quizzed Bell about his interests in alchemy:
RATTLER: How did you become interested in alchemy?
BELL: In the three degrees of blue lodge masonry, information is presented to you, and for those truly interested and listening, there are many wonderful “secrets” built within the framework. Needless to say, I was one of those who wanted to know as much as possible. I wanted to understand the meaning in all of the symbolism. The rituals of freemasonry are layered. As you uncover and understand one layer, there is even more new information that lies underneath, and you continue to discover more and gain new understanding as you go. The words “alchemy” and “Kabbalah” were mentioned a lot in many of the books that I was reading, so that led me into learning about them.
I discovered that what’s called “the penalties” of each degree in freemasonry actually correspond to the three main processes of alchemy (fermentation, distillation, and calcination). This is what left me wondering why alchemy has been hidden within these “secret societies.” Besides the fact that the church persecuted anyone practicing the alchemical arts or members in secret societies, I felt there was more to it than that. That’s when I began actively studying and eventually practicing operative alchemy.
RATTLER: Who are your teachers?
BELL: While in the beginning of my studies, I discovered an alchemist from Taos, New Mexico that was creating medicines from metals. It was when I started taking what’s called the oil of gold, and actively practicing alchemy that I began to notice synchronicities and patterns and it seemed that the universe was literally placing mentors right before me. I borrowed a book from the West Pittston library called “The Path of Alchemy” written by an author by the name of Mark Stavish. Mark is the director of what is called The Institute for Hermetic Studies. The librarian informed me that Mark actually lives just a few miles from where I live! I desperately wanted some guidance on all of this new information, so I figured why not try to get in touch with him and see what happens? I ended up meeting him at a diner soon after, and not only did he become a great friend, but my greatest mentor. I also learned a great deal from other teachers that I had stumbled upon along the way, including Kalin Rogers (Tabū), Robert Bartlett (Spagyricus), and Benjamin Turtle (Temple of Mercury).
Bell also told Camp Rattler about how his inerests in alchemy lead him into his new business of creating wines. You can check out his wines at their website Black Earth Alchemy