One fully skilled or well versed in any art; from the Latin word Adeptus, meaning having obtained, because the Adept claimed to be in the possession of all the secrets of his peculiar mystery.
The Alchemists or Hermetic philosophers assumed the title of Adepts (see Alchemy). Of the Hermetic Adepts, who were also sometimes called Rosicruzians, Spence thus writes, in 1740, to his Mother: "Have you ever heard of the people called Adepts? They are a set of philosophers superior to whatever appeared among the Greeks and Romans. The three great points they drive at, are, to be free from poverty, distempers, and death; and, if you believe them, they have found out one secret that is capable of freeing them from all three. There are never more than twelve of these men in the whole world at a time ; and we have the happiness of having one of the twelve at this time in Turin. I am very well acquainted with him, and have often talked with him of their secrets, as far as he is allowed to talk to a common mortal of them" (Spence's Letter to his Mother, in Singer's Anecdotes, page 403).
In a similar allusion to the possession of abstruse knowledge, the word is applied to some of the advanced degrees of Freemasonry.
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