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Okay, maybe not. But for alchemists and saints interested in contemplation, the skull was a very powerful symbol. Alchemists did not keep skulls around because they were enamored with dying. Not for the most part anyway, though some of the experiments may have dispatched a few of them early. After all, they were prototypical chemists and full of the usual disregard for dangerous substances.
Dan Brown’s latest bestseller, The Lost Symbol, leaves much to be desired. However, there is an interesting scene under the Capitol that involves a Masonic reflection chamber. Inside the chamber are numerous objects: hourglass, scythe and skull among them. Masons of high degree routinely contemplated Death, the great equalizer. (See chapters 36 and 38.)
As Goethe put it, “A useless life is an early death.” Here’s to a life of purpose!