THE RIGHT ANGLE
BLAVATSKY ON MASONRY
in her Theosophical Writings
by Geoffrey Farthing
Farthing has authorized the reproduction of this document
for purely non-commercial purposes only.
|II||Origins - Ancient|
|III||Origins - Modern|
|V||Hiram Abiff, Solomon and his Temple|
|VIII||Symbols and Order|
|X||Opposition, Enemies, the Jesuits|
|XI||H.P.B. and Masonry|
These extracts from H.P. Blavatsky’s (H.P.B.’s) voluminous works are intended to give some information about Masonry and the flavour of her thinking on the subject as she dealt with it over the period of her writing from 1875 to 1891.
H.P.B. was exposed to Masonry via relatives and friends in her formative years, and later many of her associates were Masons. Among them were some, including Col. Olcott who helped in the founding of the Theosophical Society and became its first President,. At the time of the founding of the Society, however, there had been no public exposition of Theosophy. Later there were intimations of it in Isis Unveiled and in many of H.P.B.’s early writings. The great comprehensive teaching only came out in The Secret Doctrine published in 1888.
The significance of this in the matter of Masonry vis-à-vis Theosophy is that with the publication of the Theosophical teachings some hitherto closely guarded occult secrets were made public for the first time. Against this, as the reader of the extracts will perceive, the really significant secrets of Masonry, relating to the nature and processes of Nature herself, had been lost from early times.
The committing of so much of the Secret Doctrine to writing by H.P.B. under the supervision of the Masters of the Wisdom, was unique in the world’s history. It was in effect a direct statement from them. No previous teachers of the Masters’ stature, including the founders of religions, had themselves committed their teachings to writing. Even though much of this original material was later largely ignored and even altered, the original is still available to students. The importance and urgency that the Masters attached to the completion of The Secret Doctrine was such that they kept Mme Blavatsky alive for a few years after two otherwise fatal illnesses.
There is no evidence to show that, in spite of her many Masonic associations, H.P.B. was ever formally initiated into the Craft and was ever a regular attender of any Lodge. Her involvement was incidental to her exposition of the teaching and practices of Eastern Occultism (Trans-Himalayan). It was from this, and to an extent directly from her Masters, that she possessed a knowledge of the secrets and usages of Masonry and not so much from any literature which, having been published, could not have contained the real secrets of Occultism. H.P.B. learned her Occultism, the ancient Ageless Wisdom, which included the Masonic secrets, directly from her Master.
It is noteworthy that the bulk of the information about Masonry in the theosophical classical literature is in Isis Unveiled which, according to Col. Olcott’s account of the writing of that book and some of H.P.B.’s own statements, was either written directly or from material otherwise provided by the Masters themselves. There is some more information in the Collected Writings, but only comparatively little in The Secret Doctrine.
If asked how a profane can know it [Masonry] the answer comes, ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist. [C.W.XI, 71]
What of truth is there in this Theology [Christian]? Through what sects has it been transmitted? Whence was it primarily derived? To answer, we must trace the history of the World Religions, alike through the secret Christian sects as through those of other great religious subdivisions of the race; for the Secret Doctrine is the Truth, and that religion is nearest divine that has contained it with least adulteration. [I.U.II, 292]
– – – – –The books by H.P. Blavatsky from which passages have been extracted are:–
book which readers might care to read for much information
about the craft from a Masonic point of view is:–
This work puts Masonry into an historical setting and against a background of the Ancient Wisdom Religion tradition. The advance guard of the human race, in the course of evolutionary development, has become possessed of the secrets of this Ancient Wisdom, and of the structure and processes of Nature. The occult view of evolution has regard to time scales far beyond those allotted even to the age of our physical Earth.
According to this view, everything is on a long journey of development, first of form, and then spiritually. This vast process is by cycles, measured by the duration of entities comprising them, for example the kingdoms of Nature, wherein every single thing has a finite life span. Groups of such lives constitute by aggregation larger entities higher in the evolutionary scale. This applies right up to the human stage, where there are also aggregates in families, tribes, nations and races. In these groups man’s progress is by waves, cycles of ebb and flow like the oceanic tides.
At any time on the Earth there are primitive men occupying lowly places in the scale of human evolution. On the other hand there are advanced human beings who have nearly finished their journey as physical beings. Their faculties of perception and understanding have reached the stage where they seem as gods of wisdom and power to men lower down the scale. These advanced men – by the process of many reincarnations – have discovered the secrets of Nature’s operations and have become possessed of some of her powers.
To those of their companions fitted to receive it they have imparted some of this knowledge, but under vows of strictest secrecy. This constituted the ‘knowledge’ of the Initiates of the Mystery Schools. These ‘Schools’ constituted an enduring chain of teaching and training from time immemorial right up to the present day. The mainstream teaching spawned a number of movements, more or less public, but all shadowing in their degree something of the original and enduring Ancient Wisdom.
These schools and their evolutionary process are of interest to the present day students of Theosophy, for whom this work is principally written. It may, however, be of wider interest and start a process in other readers leading on to ever-widening horizons. Theosophy paints a broad picture, from universals down to the smallest details, and all in between. It covers both the cosmic structure and process. The structure is according to the cosmic planes, and the processes involve universal dynamism. This dynamism, manifesting throughout the whole of Cosmos, is synonymous with ‘life’. The structure has two principal aspects, an upper one, the Universal Spiritual Essence, relating to what are called the formless worlds; the other to the worlds of form and objective manifestation. Man’s total constitution has two corresponding aspects: an upper one referred to as his Ego or Individuality, comprising three immortal spiritual principles, and a lower one, his psychic and physical principles, which when combined during earth life comprise his Personality.
The cosmic process proceeds by cycles and alternation. Things of all magnitudes come and go everlastingly. During the genesis period of a cosmic cycle Spiritual Essence is descending into matter, becoming more and more immersed in it until at the bottom of the cycle it, as an operating principle, is almost totally eclipsed by its material counterpart. After this nadir the process reverses and matter becomes more and more spiritualised, regenerated, so that the potentialities of spirit manifest more fully as the ascent proceeds.
By the law of analogy this process applies to everything, including man who has his spiritual principles, immortal, invisible, and his objective physical body. The latter, however, is animated by the invisible energies of Nature and these manifest in the inner worlds as his faculties of mind and emotion; when considered together with their vehicles of expression in the inner levels of being they are referred to as his psyche, soul, which is mortal as opposed to his immortal Ego.
As in the case of everything else, necessarily a living entity, there is a point in its descending arc, as a spiritual entity, when it is virtually totally immersed in matter. It is then largely motivated by selfish animalistic urges and very little influenced by its upper spiritual nature. The universal process, however, demands that by the mechanisms of evolution it must and will ascend through innumerable, increasingly spiritual experiences during many ‘incarnations’ until, at the end of its very long evolutionary journey, it becomes redeemed. It then manifests its full spiritual nature. In man it has acquired immense knowledge and experience. When this process is really complete he is ready to pass on into superhuman kingdoms as a developed post-human spiritual entity.
This process has been known from time immemorial. During ages past some aspirants after knowledge have made the necessary efforts and sacrifices and have achieved these high states of spiritual development. Historically there have been very few of them but, it is said, the world has never been without their guidance. They have achieved the heights of spirituality, knowledge and power, and remained in contact with the physical and psychic realms to help their less developed brothers along the long road to spiritual maturity.
There have been institutions, centres or schools where some of the mysteries of life and being have been imparted to students to guide them in their evolutionary development up to a point where they too have become possessed of some of the knowledge of Nature’s inner secrets and powers. The teaching in these schools constitutes what has become known as the Ancient Wisdom tradition. In relatively recent times, apart from what may have gone on in the ‘Ashrams’ of competent teachers in the East, some of these teachings has been reflected in the West into the religious institutions in ancient Egypt, Persia, the Chaldees, and eventually Greece and Rome. There were the Mystery schools, all transmitting the common thread of knowledge of the secrets of Nature to their neophytes and Initiates. This knowledge has had many presentations; the chief of these is the Kabala, which is referred to as “the root of Masonry”. More recently there have been other presentations in Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, Hermeticism, Astrology, and Masonry.
With time all these various presentations lost their purity. The Hierophants or Initiates died and were not replaced; gradually their secrets were lost and the schools virtually disappeared.
In some cases, however, remnants of them persisted and continued to impart the knowledge insofar as it had been preserved. Personal training, often in the form of ceremonial, was undertaken. This latter was particularly the case with Masonry but other movements also possessed their ceremonial. The object was, and is, the regeneration of man by aiding or hastening the long evolutionary process, which would otherwise involve many reincarnations. For any aspiring individual a start has to be made at a lowly level which will depend entirely on the Karma of the individual concerned, i.e., his present state of spiritual development.
Except for the Preface, Introduction and some explanatory editorial matter at the start of each chapter, no attempt has been made to produce a running narrative. The extracts are directly from the literature; they are not connected with each other which makes for a disjointed text, even though some rough grouping by subject has been attempted, in the chapters. It is important therefore to mark the content of each extract carefully. A story then emerges which becomes more and more significant. An attempt to draw some of the numerous threads together has been made in the Summary.
Something of the story as it relates particularly to Masonry is given us by H.P. Blavatsky in her voluminous writings, extracts from which constitute the bulk of the content of this work.
Because of the importance of its material to students in the matter of Masonry, the information about the Kabala given by H.P. Blavatsky has been extracted from her extensive literature. The compilation forms a companion work to this one.
One reference takes us back to the third Root Race. Another reference is to the Atlanteans. It is, however, difficult to know what is being referred to. Masonry was obviously the Ageless Ancient Wisdom, constituting “The Mysteries”.
According to H.P.B., from the first ages of man the fundamental truths of the nature and workings of Cosmos were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the Sanctuary, bonded together by “a universal Freemasonry”. Here, however, the word “Freemasonry” may be used in a general rather than a specific way. Nevertheless, it does appear that in some form or another what is now Freemasonry or just Masonry has been known and practised from the remotest ages. H.P.B. says:
Modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry of the teaching of those Divine Masons who established the Mysteries of prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders.
According to the Belgian Mason, Ragon, a Francmaçon (not maçon-libre) was initiated into the ancient Mysteries. In English maçon is translated into Mason.
The following extracts speak for themselves and require no further comment.
Establishment of a doctrine
In his Orthodoxie Maçonnique, rightly or wrongly, Ragon, an illustrious and learned Belgian Mason, reproaches the English Masons with having materialized and dishonoured Masonry, once based upon the Ancient Mysteries, by adopting, owing to a mistaken notion of the origin of the craft, the name of Freemasonry and Free Masons. The mistake is due, he says, to those who connect Masonry with the building of Solomon’s Temple, deriving its origin from it. He derides the idea, and says:
The Frenchman knew well, when he adopted the title of francmaçon [which is not maçon-libre, or freemasonry], that it was no question of building the smallest wall, but that of being initiated into the ancient Mysteries veiled under the name of Francmaçonnerie, which could only be the continuation or the renovation of the ancient mysteries; he was to become a mason after the manner of Apollo or Amphion. And do we not know that the ancient initiated poets, when speaking of the foundation of a city, meant thereby the establishment of a doctrine? Thus Neptune, the god of reasoning, and Apollo, the god of the hidden things, presented themselves as masons before Laomedon, Priam’s father, to help him to build the city of Troy – that is to say, to establish the Trojan religion. [S.D.II, 795-6]
Mysteries – Atlanteans
The Mysteries were carried into South and Central America, Northern Mexico and Peru by the Atlanteans in those days when
A pedestrian from the North [of what was once upon a time also India] might have reached – hardly wetting his feet – the Alaskan Peninsula, through Manchooria, across the future Gulf of Tartary, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands; when another traveller furnished with a canoe and starting from the South, could have walked over from Siam, crossed the Polynesian Islands and trudged into any part of the continent of South America.
They continued to exist down to the day of the Spanish invaders. These destroyed the Mexican and Peruvian records, but were prevented from laying their desecrating hands upon the many Pyramids -- the lodges of an ancient Initiation -- whose ruins are scattered over Puente Nacional, Cholula, and Teotihuacan. The ruins of Palenque, of Ococimgo in Chiapas, and others in Central America are known to all. If the pyramids and temples of Guiengola and Mitla ever betray their secrets, the present Doctrine will then be shown to have been a forerunner of the grandest truths in Nature. Meanwhile, they have all a claim to be called Mitla, “the place of sadness” and “the abode of the (desecrated) dead.” [C.W.XIV, 279-80]
Gnosticism and Esoteric Christianity
Masonry was, in its origin, simply archaic Gnosticism, or early esoteric Christianity; Church Ritualism was, and is, exoteric paganism, pure and simple – remodelled, we do not say reformed. Read the works of Ragon, a Mason who forgot more than the Masons of today know. Study, collating them together, the casual but numerous statements made by Greek and Latin writers, many of whom were Initiates, most learned Neophytes and partakers of the Mysteries. Read finally the elaborate and venomous slanders of the Church Fathers against the Gnostics, the Mysteries and their Initiates – and you may end by unravelling the truth. It is a few philosophers who, driven by the political evens of the day, tracked and persecuted by the fanatical Bishops of early Christianity – who had yet neither fixed ritual nor dogmas nor Church – it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the exoteric fictions so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who laid the first foundations of ritualistic Churches and of the Lodges of modern Masonry. The latter fact was demonstrated by Ragon in his Ante-Omniae of the modern Liturgy compared with the ancient Mysteries, and showing the rituals conducted by the early Masons; the former may be ascertained by a like comparison of the Church canonicals, the sacred vessels, and the festivals of the Latin and other Churches and Masonry have widely diverged since the days when both were one. If asked how a profane can know it, the answer comes: ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist. [C.W.XI, 71]
... Ten ciphers, 22 alphabetical letters, one triangle, a square and a circle. Such are the elements of the Cabala, from whose mysterious bosom sprang all the religions of the past and present; which endowed all the Free Masonic associations with their symbols and secrets, which alone can reconcile human reason with God and Faith, Power with Freedom, Science with Mystery, and which has alone the keys of the present, past and future. [C.W.I, 130-1]
Guardians, primitive divine revelation
Yet, if the students of the dead languages know anything, they ought to know that the method of extreme necessitarianism was practised in ancient as well as in modern Philosophy: that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the sanctuary; that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe. It is for philology and the Orientalists to endeavour to find the end of the thread. But if they will persist in seeking it in one direction only, and that the wrong one, truth and fact will never be discovered. It thus remains the duty of psychology and Theosophy to help the world to arrive at them. [C.W.XIII, 264]
Primitive oral records
The Secret Doctrine teaches us that the arts, sciences, theology, and especially the philosophy of every nation which preceded the last universally known, but not universal Deluge, has been recorded ideographically from the primitive oral records of the Fourth Race, and that these were the inheritance of the latter from the early Third Root-Race before the allegorical Fall. Hence, also, the Egyptian pillars, the tablets and even the “white Oriental porphyry stone” of the Masonic legend – which Enoch, fearing that the real and precious secrets would be lost, concealed before the Deluge in the bowels of the Earth – were simply the more or less symbolical and allegorical copies from the primitive Records. [S.D.II, 530]
foundation by Cyclops (Initiators)
They [the Cyclops] are called “Builders”, and Occultism calls them the INITIATORS, who, initiating some Pelasgians, thus laid the foundation stone of true MASONRY. [S.D.II, 345 fn]
Kabala – its basis
... the substance of the Kabalah is the basis upon which masonry is built, since modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry, of the teaching of those divine Masons who established the Mysteries of the prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders. [C.W.XIV, 168]
Modern is taken here to mean roughly from the time approaching and into the present Christian era (a.d.)
H.P.B. gives us some interesting information about early ‘modern’ Masonry. She associates it closely with Greek and Latin writers, some Initiates. She says that these Pagans, according to her, founded the rituals and dogmas of early Christianity, laying the foundation of ritualistic Churches and of the Lodges of modern Masonry. But she adds that the Churches and Masonry have widely diverged since the days when both were one. In another place H.P.B. refers to the “lost word” and says it was possessed by Paracelsus.
We are given a specific date, 1646, when Ashmole was admitted “to the freedom of the Operative Masons’ Company in London. She says that at that time Masonry was a true secret organization.
Later she speaks of the connection of Freemasonry with other speculative rites of antiquity including the purity of the old English Templar-Rite of seven degrees.
In the same paragraph she refers to the eighteenth century founders of speculative Freemasonry. Then significantly she says, “There are no longer any secrets left unpublished.”
Then there was the great Masonic Revolution of 1717 and the Constitution of 1723 and 1738 when the first Grand Lodge was founded. The “ceremonies and passwords” of Masonry are travestied copies of pure Paganism and of New Platonism. Lastly we have the categorical statement that modern Masonry was born on the 24th June 1717 in Covent Garden, London.
The extracts which follow indicate periods, some dates even, of events in the development of Masonry.
Who was first operative Mason?
Who was, in fact, the first operative Mason of any consequence? Elias Ashmole, the last of the Rosicrucians and alchemists. Admitted to the freedom of the Operative Masons’ company in London, in 1646, he died in 1692. At that time Masonry was not what it became later; it was neither a political nor a Christian institution, but a true secret organization, which admitted into the ties of fellowship all men anxious to obtain the priceless boon of liberty of conscience, and avoid clerical persecution. [I.U.349]
“We think we have sufficiently established the fact of the connection of Freemasonry with other speculative rites of antiquity, as well as the antiquity and purity of the old English Templar-Rite of seven degrees, and the spurious derivation of many of the other rites therefrom”. Such high Masons need not be told, though Craftsmen in general do, that the time has come to remodel Masonry, and restore those ancient landmarks, borrowed from the early sodalities , which the eighteenth century founders of speculative Freemasonry meant to have incorporated in the fraternity. There are no longer any secrets left unpublished; the Order is degenerating into a convenience for selfish men to use, and bad men to debase. [I.U.II, 377]
Other speculative rites
The entrance of such men as Elias Ashmole into the Operative Fraternity paved the way for the great ‘Masonic Revolution of 1717', when SPECULATIVE Masonry came into existence. The Constitutions of 1723 and 1738, by the Masonic impostor Anderson, were written up for the newly-fledged and first Grand Lodge of ‘Free and Accepted Masons’ of England, from which body all others over the world hail today. [I.U.II, 389]
Epopteia – Master Mason
In the Mysteries, the third part of the sacred rites was called epopteia, or revelation, reception into the secrets ....
The word epopteia is a compound one,... - “upon”, and ... - “to look” or be an overseer, an inspector – also used for a master-builder. The title of master-mason in Freemasonry, is derived from this, in the sense used in the Mysteries. [C.W.XIV, 123]
First Foundation Stone, Christianity
It is the former [the Epoptae], the “set apart,”who have preserved the true secrets; it is the Mystae, those who knew them only superficially, who laid the first foundation stone of modern Masonry; and it is from this half-pagan, half-converted primitive fraternity of Masons that Christian ritualism and most of dogmas were born. [C.W.XI, 88]
Hebrew MS (AD 1106)
No Hebrew MS is known to be older than Kennicott’s No. 154, which belongs to A.D.1106 (Donaldson). “The Masorah was committed to writing in 506 A.D.” [C.W.III, 453]
Freemasonry and Church descended from Gnostics & Neo-Platonists
It may thus be shown that both modern Freemasonry and Church ritualism descended in direct line from initiated Gnostics, Neo-Platonists and renegade Hierophants of the Pagan Mysteries, the secrets of which they have lost, but which have been nevertheless preserved by those who could not compromise. If both Church and Masons are willing to forget the history of their true origin, the theosophists are not. They repeat: Masonry and the three great Christian religions are all inherited goods. The “ceremonies and passwords” of the former, and the prayers, dogmas, and rites of the latter, are travestied copies of pure Paganism (copied and borrowed as diligently by the Jews), and of Neo-Platonic Theosophy. [C.W.XI, 75]
Builders of Higher Temple
We yield willingly to the modern Fraternity of Masons the title of “Builders of the higher Temple”, as the a priori superiority of the comparative adjective is as illusionary as the blaze of the burning bush of Moses itself in the Templars’ Lodges. [C.W.XI, 89]
Compromise – Christianity and Gnosticism
In Masonic Lodges the Tyler demands the sacramental words (or precepts) from the apprentice or candidate, thus repeating the ancient formulae. As Ragon, following the occult tradition, has well proved, Masonry was a forced product of the Gnostic mysteries, born of a compromise between Political Christianity and Gnosticism. [C.W.XIII, 8]
Start – 1717 – in London
Not until about thirty years after his [Elias Ashmole’s] death did what is now termed modern Freemasonry see the light. It was born on the 24th day of June, 1717, in the Apple-tree Tavern, Charles Street, Covent Garden, London. And it was then, as we are told in Anderson’s Constitutions, that the only four lodges in the south of England elected Anthony Sayer first Grand Master of Masons. Notwithstanding its great youth, this grand lodge has ever claimed the acknowledgment of its supremacy by the whole body of the fraternity throughout the whole world, as the Latin inscription on the plate put beneath the cornerstone of Freemasons’ Hall, London, in 1775, would tell to those who could see it. [I.U.350]
Communication with “Brothers”
But we will return to these Lectures of Robertson and his charges against Masonry. The greatest accusation brought against the latter is that Masons reject a personal God (this on the authority of Barruel and Robison), and that they claim to be in possession of a “secret to make men better and happier than Christ, his apostles and his Church have made them”. Were the latter accusation but half true, it might yet allow the consoling hope that they had really found that secret by breaking off entirely from the mythical Christ of the Church and the official Jehovah. But both the accusations are simply as malicious as they are absurd and untrue; as we shall presently see. [I.U.II, 375]
Protestant and R.C. Masonry
Since the origin of Masonry, the split between the British and American Masons and the French “Grand Orient” of the “Widow’s Sons” is the first one that has ever occurred. It bids fair to make of these two sections of Masonry a Masonic Protestant and a Roman Catholic Church, as far as regards ritualism and brotherly love, at all events. [C.W.XI, 72fn]
Attempt to identify Enoch with Thoth
Some of the writers interested in the subject – especially Masons – have tried to identify Enoch with Thoth of Memphis, the Greek Hermes, and even with the Latin Mercury. [S.D.II, 529]
In several places there is reference to the Kabala being the root or basis of Masonry. The Kabala is a comprehensive expression of the Ancient Wisdom, or the Archaic Wisdom-Religion. This has been in the possession of Adepts or Initiates in the Arcane Science since there were minds on Earth to apprehend it.
The Kabala extends back into remote antiquity but up until the beginning of this present Christian era it was only transmitted orally from Master to student. It is generally accepted that it was not written down until the first century a.d. by Rabbi Shimon ben-Yohai, and by his son and his secretary. This was an enormous work which schematically and diagrammatically portrayed in some detail the nature and workings of Cosmos, with particular reference to Man.
H.P.B. was a student of the System and wrote much about it. This has been extracted and collated into a booklet as a companion to this one.
By reason of its close relationship to the Kabala, Masonry becomes heir to the vast traditional Ancient Wisdom, but according to H.P.B. both Masonry and the Kabala has become altered to make it fit Christian Church doctrine, and further the real secrets of both the Kabala and Masonry have been lost.
Essence of Masonry
The Kabalah is indeed “of the essence of Masonry,” but it is dependent on Metrology only in one of its aspects, the less Esoteric, as even Plato made no secret that the Deity was ever geometrizing. For the uninitiated, however, learned and endowed with genius they may be, the Kabalah, which treats only of the “garment of God”, or the veil and cloak of truth, is built from the ground upward with a practical application to present uses. [C.W.XIV, 66]
Language - Universal Truths
Some believe – perchance with more reason than the rest – that the substance of the Kabalah is the basis upon which masonry is built, since modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry, of the teaching of those divine Masons who established the Mysteries of the prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders. Others declare that the tenets expounded in the Zohar relate merely to mysteries terrestrial and profane, having no more concern with metaphysical speculations – such as the soul, or the post-mortem life of man – than have the Mosaic books. Others, again – and these are the real, genuine Kabalists, who had their instructions from initiated Jewish Rabbis – affirm that if the two most learned Kabalists of the mediaeval period, John Reuchlin and Paracelsus, differed in their religious professions – the former being the Father of the Reformation and the latter a Roman Catholic, at least in appearance – the Zohar cannot contain much of Christian dogma or tenet, one way or the other. In other words, they maintain that the numerical language of the kabalistic works teaches universal truths – and not only one Religion in particular. Those who make this statement are perfectly right in saying that the Mystery-language used in the Zohar and in other Kabalistic literature was once, in a time of unfathomable antiquity, the universal language of Humanity. But they become entirely wrong if to this fact they add the untenable theory that this language was invented by, or was the original property of, the Hebrews, from whom all the other nations borrowed it.
They are wrong, because, although the Zohar (...), The Book of Splendour of Rabbi Shimon ben-Yohai, did indeed originate with him – his son, Rabbi Eleazar, helped by his secretary, Rabbi Abba, compiling the Kabalistic teachings of his deceased father into a work called the Zohar – those teachings were not Rabbi Shimon’s, as the Gupta-Vidya shows. They are as old as the Jewish nation itself, and far older. In short, the writings which pass at present under the title of the Zohar of Rabbi Shimon are about as original as were the Egyptian synchronistic Tables after being handled by Eusebius, or as St Paul’s Epistles after their revision and correction by the “Holy Church.” [C.W.XIV, 168-9]
... for the Keys of the Golden Gate leading to the Infinite Truth, lie buried deep, and the gate itself is enclosed in a mist which clears up only before the ardent rays of implicit Faith. Faith alone, one grain of which as large as a mustard-seed, according to the words of Christ, can lift a mountain, is able to find out how simple becomes the Cabala to the initiate, once that he has succeeded in conquering the first abstruse difficulties. The dogma of it is logical, easy and absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs; the trinity of words, letters, numbers, and theorems; the religion of it can be compressed into a few words: “It is the Infinite condensed in the hand of an infant,” says Eliphas Lévi. The ciphers, 22 alphabetical letters, one triangle, a square and a circle. Such are the elements of the Cabala, from whose mysterious bosom sprang all the religions of the past and present; which endowed all the Free Masonic associations with their symbols and secrets, which alone can reconcile human reason with God and Faith, Power with Freedom, Science with Mystery, and which has alone the keys of the present, past and future.
The first difficulty for the aspirant lies in the utter impossibility of his comprehending, as I said before, the meaning of the best books written by Hermetic Philosophers. The latter who mainly lived in the mediaeval ages, prompted on the one hand by their duty towards their brethren, and by their desire to impart to them and their successors only, the glorious truths, and on the other very naturally desirous to avoid the clutches of the blood-thirsty Christian Inquisition, enveloped themselves more than ever in mystery. They invented new signs and hieroglyphs, renovated the ancient symbolical language of the high-priests of antiquity, who had used it as a sacred barrier between their holy rites and the ignorance of the profane, and created a veritable Cabalistic slang. This latter, which continually blinded the false neophyte, attracted towards the science only by his greediness for wealth and power which he would have surely misused were he to succeed, is a living eloquent, clear language; but it is and can become such, only to the true disciple of Hermes. [C.W.I, 130-1]
Word - from “to receive”
But let us limit our present research to the Kabalah, and chiefly to the Zohar – called also the Midrash. This book, whose teachings were edited for the first time between 70 and 110 a.d., is known to have been lost, and its contents to have been scattered throughout a number of minor manuscripts, until the thirteenth century. The idea that it was the composition of Moses de León of Valladolid, in Spain, who passed it off as a pseudograph of Shimon ben-Yohai, is ridiculous, and was well disposed of by Munk – though he does point to more than one modern interpolation in the Zohar. At the same time it is more than certain that the present Book of Zohar was written by Moses de León, and, owing to joint editorship, is more Christian in its colouring than is many a genuine Christian volume. Munk gives the reason why, saying that it appears evident that the author “made use of ancient documents, and among these of certain Midraschim, or collections of traditions and Biblical expositions, which we do not now possess.”
As a proof, also, that the knowledge of the Esoteric system taught in the Zohar came to the Jews very late indeed – at any rate, that they had so far forgotten it that the innovations and additions made by de León provoked no criticism, but were thankfully received – Munk quotes from Tholuck, a Jewish authority, the following information: Haya Gaon, who died in 1038, is to our knowledge the first author who developed [and perfected] the theory of the Sephiroth, and he gave to them the names which we find again among the Kabalistic names used by Dr. Jellinek. Moses ben Shem-Tob de León, who held intimate intercourse with the Syrian and Chaldaean Christian learned scribes, was enabled through the latter to acquire a knowledge of some of the Gnostic writings.
Again, the Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Creation) – though attributed to Abraham and though very archaic as to its contents – is first mentioned in the eleventh century by Yehuda-ha-Levi (in his Khozari). And these two, the Zohar and Yetzirah, are the storehouse of all the subsequent Kabalistic works. Now let us see how far the Hebrew sacred canon itself is to be trusted.
The word Kabalah comes from the root “to receive” and has a meaning identical with the Sanskrit Smriti (“received by tradition”) – a system of oral teaching, passing from one generation of priests to another, as was the case with the Brahmanical books before they were embodied in manuscript. The Kabalistic tenets came to the Jews from the Chaldaeans; and if Moses knew the primitive and universal language of the Initiates, as did every Egyptian priest, and was thus acquainted with the numerical system on which it was based, he may have – and we say he has – written Genesis and other “scrolls”. [C.W.XIV, 170-2]
HIRAM, SOLOMON AND HIS TEMPLE
Hiram in the legend is associated with the building of Solomon’s Temple, being a Master-builder. A solar myth (S.D.I, 314), he procured the cedar and the gold for it. He is also associated closely with the sun as the following passages show.
It is worth noting that one “Chiram”, or King Hiram in the Kabalah, is mentioned in S.D.II, 113. It is not clear whether King Hiram is the same as Hiram Abiff but the passage mentioning him includes the significant words, “The Culmination of the Secret Work is Spiritual Perfect Man” (see Chap.I)
To a lay reader coming across him for the first time Solomon is an enigma. In several places he is referred to by H.P.B. as a myth; he was never a living man. Elsewhere, even by H.P.B., he has been given a birth date, about 974 b.c. and his death as 937 b.c. (according to Hutchinson’s encyclopaedia). According to H.P.B. like Hiram he is a solar myth, but she does quote one of his sayings, “There is nothing new under the sun”, as indicative of his supposed wisdom. There is of course much about him in the Bible.
According to H.P.B. Solomon’s Temple is another myth, and has never existed. She argues that, if it was of such grandeur as reported, there must be something remaining of it, but even historians of the time do not mention it. It is curious, however, that its measures, as numbers and ratios, are supposed to correspond with those of the Great Pyramid and with the Ark of the Covenant.
Hiram, Solomon and his Temple figure largely in Masonic lore and ritual. Hiram was believed to have been murdered and Masons know themselves as the “Widow’s Sons”.
The literature of Freemasonry indicates that, latterly at any rate, did refer to Hiram as a myth.
Cedars of Lebanon - Ophir gold
Eliphas Lévi points out the great resemblance which exists between King Iarchus and the fabulous Hiram, from whom Solomon procured the cedars of Lebanon and the gold of Ophir. We would like to know whether modern Masons, even “Grand Lecturers” and the most intelligent craftsmen belonging to important lodges, understand who the Hiram is whose death they combine together to avenge? [C.W.XIV, 128]
Hierophants and Initiates
All these Hierophants and Initiates were types of the Sun and of the Creative Principle (spiritual potency) as were Visvakarman and Vikartana, from the origin of the Mysteries. Ragon, the famous Mason, gives curious details and explanations with regard to the Sun rites. He shows that the biblical Hiram, the great hero of Masonry (the “widow’s son”), a type taken from Osiris, is the sun-God, the inventor of arts, and the “architect,” the name Hiram, meaning the “elevated,”, a title belonging to the Sun. Every Occultist knows how closely related to Osiris and the Pyramids are the narratives in Kings concerning Solomon, his Temple and its construction; he knows also that the whole of the Masonic rite of Initiation is based upon the Biblical allegory of the construction of that Temple, Masons conveniently forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, the fact that the latter narrative is modelled upon Egyptian and still earlier symbolisms. Ragon explains it by showing that the three companions of Hiram, the “three murderers,” typify the three last months of the year; and that Hiram stands for the Sun – from its summer solstice downwards, when it begins decreasing – the whole rite being an astronomical allegory.
During the summer solstice, the Sun provokes songs of gratitude from all that breathes; hence Hiram, who represents it, can give to whomsoever has the right to it, the sacred Word, that is to say life. When the Sun descends to the inferior signs all Nature becomes mute, and Hiram can no longer give the sacred Word to the companions, who represent the three inert months of the year. The first companion strikes Hiram feebly with a rule twenty-four inches long, symbol of the twenty-four hours which make up each diurnal revolution; it is the first distribution of time, which after the exaltation of the mighty star, feebly assails his existence, giving him the first blow. The second companion strikes him with an iron square, symbol of the last season, figured by the intersections of two right lines, which would divide into four equal parts the Zodiacal circle, whose centre symbolises Hiram’s heart, where it touches the point of the four squares representing the four seasons; second distribution of time, which at that period strikes a heavier blow at the solar existence. The third companion strikes him mortally on his forehead with a heavy blow of his mallet, whose cylindrical form symbolises the year, the ring or circle; third distribution of time, the accomplishment of which deals the last blow to the existence of the expiring Sun. From this interpretation it has been inferred that Hiram, a founder of metals, the hero of the new legend with the title of architect, is Osiris (the Sun) of modern initiation; that Isis, his widow, is the Lodge, the emblem of the Earth (loka in Sanskrit, the world) and that Horus, son of Osiris (or of light) and the widow’s son, is the free Mason, that is to say, the Initiate who inhabits the terrestrial lodge (the child of the Widow, and of Light.)
And here again, our friends the Jesuits have to be mentioned, for the above rite is of their making. [C.W.XIV, p 264-5]
Altars in churches
Up to the IV th century the churches knew of no altars. Up to that date the altar was a table raised in the middle of the temple, for purposes of Communion, or fraternal repasts (the Caena, as mass was originally said in the evening). In the same way now the table is raised in the “Lodge”, and at which the resurrected Hiram Abifs, the “Widow’s Sons,” honour their toasts by firing, a Masonic mode of transubstantiation. Shall we call their banquet tables altars, also? Why not? C.W.XI, 79-80]
Solomon and David – Kabalists
... of all the most renowned Cabalists, King Solomon and his bigoted parent David, notwithstanding his penitential psalms, were the most powerful. [C.W.I, 111]
Nothing new under Sun
Many thousand years ago the wise King Solomon declared that “There is nothing new under the Sun,” and the words of this very wise man ought to be repeated till the farthest ends of time. [C.W.I, 115]
700 wives etc. – never living man
Whose 700 wives and 300 concubines, by the bye, are merely the personations of man’s attributes, feelings, passions and his various occult powers: the Kabalistic numbers 7and 3 showing it plainly. Solomon himself, moreover, being, simply, the emblem of SOL – the “Solar Initiate” or the Christ-Sun, is a variant of the Indian “Vikarttana” (the Sun) shorn of his beams by Visvakarman, his Hierophant-Initiator, who thus shears the Chrestos-candidate for initiation of his golden radiance and crowns him with a dark, blackened aureole – the “crown of thorns.” (See The Secret Doctrine for full explanation.) Solomon was never a living man. As described in Kings, his life and works are an allegory on the trials and glory of Initiation. [C.W.X, 162 fn]
Key to “Raising Spirits”
The possibility of “raising spirits” according to the Key of Solomon, is the height of superstition and ignorance. Purity of deed and thought can alone raise us to an intercourse “with the gods” and attain for us the goal we desire. Alchemy, believed by so many to have been a spiritual philosophy as well as a physical science, belonged to the teachings of the theosophical school. [C.W.II, 96]
Even Masons must know
Surely even Masons would never claim the actual existence of Solomon? As Kenealy shows, he is not noticed by Herodotus, nor by Plato, nor by any writer of standing. It is most extraordinary, he says, “that the Jewish nation, over whom but a few years before the mighty Solomon had reigned in all his glory, with a magnificence scarcely equalled by the greatest monarchs, spending nearly eight thousand millions of gold on a temple, was overlooked by the historian Herodotus, writing of Egypt on the one hand, and of Babylon on the other – visiting both places, and of course passing almost necessarily within a few miles of the splendid capital of the national Jerusalem? How can this be accounted for?” he asks (p. 457). Nay, not only are there no proofs of the twelve tribes of Israel having ever existed, but Herodotus, the most accurate of historians, who was in Assyria when Ezra flourished, never mentions the Israelites at all; and Herodotus was born in 484 B.C. How is this? [C.W.XIV, 177-8 fn]
There are a sufficient number of stray bits in the Elohistic portions of the Bible to warrant the inference that the Hebrews who wrote it were Initiates; hence the mathematical coordinations and the perfect harmony between the measures of the Great Pyramid and the numerals of the Biblical glyphs. But surely if one borrowed from the other, it cannot be the architects of the Pyramid who borrowed from Solomon’s Temple, if only because the former exists to this day as a stupendous living monument of Esoteric records, while the famous temple has never existed outside of the far later Hebrew scrolls. [C.W.XIV, 195]
Measurements: Temple, Pyramid
The measurements of the Great Pyramid being those of the temple of Solomon, of the Ark of the Covenant, etc., according to the Piazzi Smythe and the author of The Source of Measures, and the Pyramid of Gizeh being shown on astronomical calculations to have been built 4950 B.C., and Moses have written his books – for the sake of argument – not even half that time before our era, how can this be? Surely if any one borrowed from the other, it is not the Pharaohs from Moses, even philology shows not only the Egyptian, but even the Mongolian, older than the Hebrew. [C.W.XIV, 183 fn]
Measurement of Pyramids
Having discovered that the Pyramid of Cheops with all its measurements is to be found contained in its minutest details in the structure of Solomon’s Temple; and having ascertained that the biblical names Shem, Ham and Japhet are determinative of pyramid measures, in connection with the 600 year period of Noah and the 500-year period of Shem, Ham and Japhet, . . . the terms “sons of Elohim” and “daughters of H-Adam,” [are] for one thing astronomical terms. [C.W.XIV, 65]
Quadrature – perfect measure
Parker’s quadrature is “that identical measure which was used anciently as the perfect measure, by the Egyptians, in the construction of the Great Pyramid, which was built to monument it and its uses,” and that “from it the sacred cubit-value was derived, which was the cubit-value used in the construction of the Temple of Solomon, the Ark of Noah and the Ark of the Covenant” (The Source of Measures, p. 22). [C.W.XIV, 195 fn]
How general must have been that geometrical figure in the world-symbols, may be inferred from the fact that there is a Masonic tradition that Solomon’s temple was built on three foundations, forming the “triple Tau” or three crosses. [C.W.XIV, 152]
Theosophy – Temple of Solomon’s Wisdom
In this respect, as it is duty and the task of every genuine theosophist to accept and carry out these principles [Buddhist tenets], Theosophy is RELIGION, and the Society its one Universal Church; the temple of Solomon’s wisdom, in building which “there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (I Kings, vi, 7); for this “temple” is made by no human hand, nor built in any locality on earth – but, verily, is raised only in the inner sanctuary of man’s heart wherein reigns alone the awakened soul. [C.W.X, 162]
Hence the most important secret yet yielded by her in our modern day is the identity of the old Roman measures and the present British measures, of the Hebrew-Egyptian cubit and the Masonic inch. [C.W.XIV, 67]
Initiation – Construction of Temple
... the whole of the Masonic rite of Initiation is based upon the Biblical allegory of the construction of that Temple [of Solomon], Masons conveniently forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, the fact that the latter narrative is modelled upon Egyptian and still earlier symbolisms. Ragon explains it by showing that the three companions of Hiram stands for the Sun – from its summer solstice downwards, when it begins decreasing – the whole rite being an astronomical allegory. [C.W.XIV, 264]
The Temple, a Symbol
The building of the Temple of Solomon is the symbolic representation of the gradual acquirement of the secret wisdom, or magic; the erection and development of the spiritual from the earthly; the manifestation of the power and splendour of the spirit in the physical world, through the wisdom and genius of the builder. The latter, when he has become an adept, is a mightier king than Solomon himself, the emblem of the sun or Light himself – the light of the real subjective world, shining in the darkness of the objective universe. This is the “Temple” which can be reared without the sound of the hammer, or any tool of iron being heard in the house while it is “in building” ....
Throughout the counties of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders, while the students, or neophytes are classed as speculative or theoretical. The former exemplify in works their control over the forces of inanimate as well as animate nature; the latter are but perfecting themselves in the rudiments of the sacred science. These terms were evidently borrowed at the beginning by the unknown founders of the first Masonic guilds.
In the now popular jargon, “Operative Masons” are understood to be the bricklayers and the handicraftsmen, who composed the Craft down to Sir Christopher Wren’s time; and “Speculative Masons,” all members of the Order, as now understood. The sentence attributed to Jesus, “Thou are Peter . . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” disfigured, as it is, by mistranslation and misinterpretation, plainly indicates its real meaning. We have shown the significance of Pater and Petra, with the hierophants – the interpretation traced on the tables of stone of the final initiation, was handed by the initiator to the chosen future interpreter. Having acquainted himself with its mysterious contents, which revealed to him the mysteries of creation, the initiated became a builder himself, for he was made acquainted with the dodecahedron, or the geometrical figure on which the universe was built. To what he had learned in previous initiations of the use of the rule and of architectural principles, was added a cross, the perpendicular and horizontal lines of which were supposed to form the foundation of the spiritual temple, by placing them across the junction, or central primordial point, the element of all existences, representing the first concrete idea of deity. Henceforth he could, as a Master builder (see i Corinthians, iii. 10), erect a temple of wisdom on that rock of Petra, for himself; and having laid a sure foundation, let “another build thereon”. [I.U.II, 391-2]
Royal Arch Masonry
Had Moses Michael Hayes, the Israelite Brother who introduced Royal Arch Masonry into this country (in December 1778) , had a prophetic presentiment of future treasons, he might have instituted more efficacious obligations than he has. [I.U.II, 393]
Truly, the grand omnific Royal Arch word, “long
lost but now found,” has fulfilled its prophetic promise. The password of that degree is no more “I am that I am”. It is now simply “I was but am no more!”
The Knights Templar are inextricably associated with both ancient and more recent Masonry. Early in their history some of the Knights were Initiates into the Mysteries. The true Knights lived very sparsely. To avoid persecution they had to perform their ceremonies in the greatest secrecy.
The Knights were founded in 1118 which was just prior to the time Moses de Léon was compiling his version of the Kabala from what material he could find from that originally produced by Shimon ben Yohai at the start of the Christian era. Although this foundation date of the Knights was well into the Christian era the Knights Templar are said to have had a pure version of the Ancient Wisdom, which was preserved into the later years of the order.
It will be noticed that the date of the founding of the Knights was some 600 years before that of the formal beginnings of Freemasonry in London in the 18th century. It was therefore a transitional link from the ancient to the modern forms of Masonry, indicating that whereas the reintroduced version of the Kabala by Moses de Léon was immediately Christianized, the Knights were able to preserve the true doctrines. They constituted an important step in the long process of the development of modern Masonry. As one of the extracts says, they performed their own ceremonies in the greatest secrecy while the ecclesiastical form of worship was carried on publicly.
According to H.P.B., as for the Masons so for the Knights; they have both lost their secrets and now still look for the “lost word”. The Knights latterly suffered the same fate as the Masons at the hands of the Jesuits.
How many of our inveterate skeptics belong, notwithstanding their materialism, to Masonic Lodges? The brothers of the Rosie-Cross, mysterious practitioners of the mediaeval ages, still live – but in name only. They may “shed tears at the grave of their respectable Master, Hiram Abiff;” but vainly will they search for the true locality, “where the sprig of myrtle was placed.” The dead letter remains alone, the spirit has fled. They are like the English or German chorus of the Italian opera, who descend in the fourth act of Ernani into the crypt of Charlemagne, singing their conspiracy in a tongue utterly unknown to them. So, our modern knights of the Sacred Arch may descend every night if they choose “through the nine arches into the bowels of the earth,” – they “will never discover the sacred Delta of Enoch.” The “Sir Knights in the South Valley” and those in “the North Valley” may try to assure themselves that “enlightenment dawns upon their minds”, and that as they progress in Masonry “the veil of superstition, despotism, tyranny” and so on, no longer obscures the visions of their minds. But these are all empty words so long as they neglect their mother Magic, and turn their backs upon its twin sister, Spiritualism. Verily, “Sir Knights of the Orient,” you may “leave your stations and sit upon the floor in attitudes of grief, with your heads resting upon your hands,” for you have cause to bewail and mourn your fate. Since Phillipe le Bel destroyed the Knights-Templars, not one has appeared to clear up your doubts notwithstanding all claims to the contrary. Truly, you are “wanderers from Jerusalem seeking the lost treasure of the holy place.” Have you found it? Alas, no! for the holy place is profaned; the pillars of wisdom, strength and beauty are destroyed. Henceforth, “you must wander in darkness,” and “travel in humility,”among the woods and mountains in search of the “lost word.” “Pass on!” – you will never find it so long as you limit your journeys to seven or even seven times seven; because you are “travelling in darkness”, and this darkness can only be dispelled by the light of the blazing torch of truth which alone the right descendants of Ormasd carry. They alone can teach you the true pronunciation of the name revealed to Enoch, Jacob and Moses. “Pass on!” Till your R.S.W. shall learn to multiply 333, and strike instead 666 – the number of the Apocalyptic Beast, you may just as well observe prudence and act “sub rosa.” [I.U.I, 29-30]
Templars of Paris
Writing upon this subject, we must hear what Wilcke has to say of these pretensions:
“The present Knight Templars of Paris will have it, that they are direct descendants from the ancient Knights, and endeavour to prove this by documents, interior regulations, and secret doctrines. Foraisse says the Fraternity of Freemasons was founded in Egypt, Moses communicating the secret teaching to the Israelites, Jesus to the Apostles, and thence it found its way to the Knight Templars. Such inventions are necessary . . . to the assertion that the Parisian Templars are the offspring of the ancient order. All these asseverations, unsupported by history, were fabricated in the High Chapter of Clermont (Jesuits), and preserved by the Parisian Templars as a legacy left them by those political revolutionaries, the Stuarts and the Jesuits” Hence we find the Bishops Gregoir and Münter supporting them. [I.U.II, 381]
French Order of Knights
Turning to Clavel, one of the best Masonic authorities, we read:
“It is clear that the erection of the French Order of the Knight Templars is not more ancient than the year 1804, and that it cannot lay any legitimate claim to being the continuation of the so-called society of ‘la petite Resurrection des Templiers’, nor this latter, either, extend back to the ancient Order of the Knights Templars.” therefore, we see these pseudo-Templars, under the guidance of the worthy Father Jesuits, forging in Paris, 1806, the famous charter of Larmenius. Twenty years later, this nefast and subterranean body, guiding the hand of assassins, directed it towards one of the best and greatest princes in Europe, whose mysterious death, unfortunately for the interests of truth and justice, has never been – for political reasons – investigated and proclaimed to the world as it ought to have been. It is this prince, a Freemason himself, who was the last depository of the secrets of the true Knights Templar. [I.U.II, 385]
Connecting the modern with the ancient Templars, we can at best, therefore, allow them an adoption of certain rites and ceremonies of purely ecclesiastical character after they had been cunningly inoculated into that grand and antique Order by the clergy. Since this desecration, it gradually lost its primitive and simple character, and went fast to its final ruin. Founded in 1118 by the Knights Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St.Omer, nominally for the protection of the pilgrims, its true aim was the restoration of the primitive secret worship. The true version of the history of Jesus, and the early Christianity was imparted to Hugh de Payens, by the Grand-Pontiff of the Order of the Temple (of the Nazarene or Johanite sect), one named Theocletes, after which it was learned by some Knights in Palestine, from the higher and more intellectual members of the St. John sect, who were initiated into its mysteries. Freedom of intellectual thought and the restoration of one and universal religion was their secret object. Sworn to the vow of obedience, poverty, and chastity, they were at first the true Knights of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness and living on wild honey and locusts. Such is the tradition and the true kabalistic version.
It is a mistake to state that the Order became only later anti-Catholic. It was so from the beginning, and the red cross on the white mantle, the vestment of the Order, had the same significance as with the initiates in every other country. It pointed to the four quarters of the compass, and was the emblem of the universe. When, later, the Brotherhood was transformed into a Lodge, the Templars had, in order to avoid persecution, to perform their own ceremonies in the greatest secrecy, generally in the hall of the chapter, more frequently in isolated caves or country houses built amidst woods, while the ecclesiastical form of worship was carried on publicly in the chapels belonging to the Order. [I.U.II, 381-2]
Like Christianity, Freemasonry is a corpse from which the spirit long ago fled. [I.U.II, 388]
N.B. Following this quotation there is a long letter from Charles Sotheran, a Mason of many degrees, from New York, which all interested in Masonry should read. It contains much of interest to the student of Masonry. The following extract is self explanatory:
We both [Sotheran and H.P.B.] say that all the ancient priesthoods had their esoteric doctrines and secret ceremonies. From the Essenic brotherhood, an evolution of the Hindu Gymnosophists, doubtless proceeded the Solidarities of Greece and Rome as described by so-called ‘Pagan’ writers. Founded on these and copying them in the matter of ritual, signs, grips, passwords, etc., were developed the mediaeval guilds. Like the present livery companies of London, the relics of the English trade-guilds, the operative Masons were but a guild of workmen with higher pretensions. From the French name ‘Maçon’, derived from ‘Mas’, an old Norman noun meaning a house’, comes our English ‘Mason’, a house builder. As the London companies alluded to present now and again the Freedom of the ‘Liveries’ to outsiders, so we find the trade-guilds of Masons doing the same. Thus the founder of the Ashmolean Museum was made free of the Masons at Warrington, in Lancashire, England, on the 16thOctober, 1646. The entrance of such men as Elias Ashmole into the Operative Fraternity paved the way for the great ‘Masonic Revolution of 1717', when Speculative Masonry came into existence. The Constitutions of 1723 and 1738, by the Masonic impostor Anderson, were written up for the newly-fledged and first Grand Lodge of ‘Free and Accepted Masons’ of England, from which body al other over the world hail today.
“These bogus constitutions, written by Anderson, were compiled about then, and in order to palm off his miserable rubbish yclept history, on the Craft, he had the audacity to state that nearly all the documents relating to Masonry in England has been destroyed by the 1717 reformers. Happily, in the British Museum, Bodleian Library, and other public institutions, Rebold, Hughan and others have discovered sufficient evidence in the shape of old Operative Masonic charges to disprove this statement.
The same writers, I think, have conclusively upset the tenability of two other documents palmed upon Masonry, namely, the spurious charter of Cologne of 1535, and the forged questions, supposed to have been written by Leylands, the antiquary, from a MS. of King Henry VI. Of England. In the last named, Pythagoras is referred to as having – ‘formed a great lodge, at Crotona, and made many Masons, some of whom travelled into France, and there made many, from whence, in process of time, the art passed into England’. Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, often called the ‘Grand Master of Freemasons’, was simply the Master or President of the London Operative Masons Company. If such a tissue of fable could interweave itself into the history of the Grand Lodge which now have charge of the first three symbolical degrees, it is hardly astonishing that the same fate should befall nearly all of the High Masonic Degrees which have been aptly termed ‘an incoherent medley of opposite principles’. [I.U.II, 389-90]
We have permitted ourselves to say that many French kabbalists have often expressed the opinion that the Oriental School will never be worth much, no matter how it may pride itself on possessing secrets unknown to European occultists, because it admits women into its ranks.
To this we might answer by repeating the fable told by brother Joseph N. Nutt, “Grand Master” of the Masonic Lodge for Women in the United States, to show what women can do if not shackled by males – whether as men or as God:
“A lion passing a monument representing an athletic and powerful figure of a man tearing the jaws of a lion said: ‘If the scene which this represents had been executed by a lion the two figures would have changed places!’”
The same remark holds good for woman. If only she were allowed to represent
the scenes of human life, she would distribute the parts in reverse order.
She it was who first took man to the Tree of Knowledge, and made him know Good
and Evil; and, if she had been let alone and allowed to do what she wished,
she would have led him to the Tree of Life and thus rendered him immortal. [C.W.XI, 550]
Although it is apparent that H.P.B. was well versed in the “theory” and practices of masonry but had not taken their vows, she nevertheless kept their secrets, particularly those relating to their ceremonial, very largely to herself. The information she does give us, apart from some contained in the other chapters, is of a very general and wide-ranging nature.
She raises the question of a personal God, which also comes up in what she has to say about the Kabalah. The idea of such an Entity is completely at variance with anything in Occultism or Theosophy. The very evolutionary scheme itself would prohibit the idea, simply because the entities on the ladder of life who have progressed beyond the human stage, have long since shed the limitations of a “Personality”. There is nothing left in their nature to form earthly attachments, to feel anger or be offended, and certainly praying to them would be meaningless, as far as they are concerned. In their aggregate they form what could be seen as Deity, a Divine Principle. It is to this that H.P.B. relates Universal Law, the way the Cosmos works. One gathers that it is the nature of Nature and her processes that in their several aspects are depicted in the Masonic ceremonies. This can be deduced from the Kabalah upon which it is said that Masonry is based.
H.P.B. repeatedly says that Masonry has been spoiled. It has been adulterated by spurious teaching, rites and degrees, but always she avows that that from which it stems is inviolable. The arcane Ancient Wisdom-Religion is its source, preserved intact always by the Adept Initiates of the Great Mysteries.
Some extracts feature the Compte de Cagliostro who since his death has been regarded as an impostor, but H.P.B. tells us that in his youth he lived with, and was instructed by, a man named, as is supposed, Althotas, a great Hermetic Eastern Sage, or in other words an Adept. It is not too difficult to accept the tradition that it was the latter who gave him his symbolic name. What is known with still more certainty is the extreme esteem Cagliostro was accorded in his day. Much notice is taken of him here because of his close association with, and position in, Masonry. He fell foul of the Jesuits who imprisoned him. He was, however, an Occultist and Mason which stamped him as a heretic.
Other extracts indicate a degree of degeneracy entering into the Craft.
The Bible, the “Great Light”
“You are correct in saying that the Bible is the ‘great light’ of European and American Masonry. In consequence of this the theistic conception of God and the biblical cosmogony have been ever considered two of its great corner-stones. Its chronology seems also to have been based upon the same pseudo-revelation. [I.U.II, 389]
Rite - whole drama of Life
But if Masonry has been spoiled, none is able to crush the real, invisible Rosicrucian and the Eastern Initiate. The symbolism of Visvakarman and Surya-Vikartana has survived, where Hiram Abiff was indeed murdered, and we will now return to it. It is not simply an astronomical, but is the most solemn rite, an inheritance from the Archaic Mysteries that has crossed the ages and is used to this day. It typifies a whole drama of the Cycle of Life, of progressive incarnations, and of psychic as well as of physiological secrets, of which neither the Church nor Science knows anything , though it is this rite that has led the former to the greatest of its Christian Mysteries. [. . . . The newest Initiate, the proud Rome of the Catacombs, has given the death-blow to her HIEROPHANT-INITIATOR, indeed – but only in Europe. Only, she has done it so too hastily! The Hierophant died, before he had been given the time to pass his would-be Successor the WORD. The sacrifice has thus proved useless and the initiation but too “incomplete”. The Hierophant of the Sapta Sindham (seven rivers) and of the SAPTARSHI (the seven great Rishis) is not killed and may have something to say to the modern Initiates of the “Seven Hills”. It is only a question of time and patience; more details will be found in “Some Reasons for Secrecy” (pp. 47-59 of C.W.XIV)] [C.W.XIV, 267-8]
Solus – Blazing Star
For the secret of the fires of SOLUS, the spirit of which radiates in the “Blazing Star”, is a Hermetic secret which, unless a Mason studies true Theosophy, is lost to him forever. [C.W.XI, 76]
Ritualism – Primitive Christianity
The ritualism of primitive Christianity – as now sufficiently shown – sprang from ancient Masonry. The latter was, in its turn, the offspring of the, then, almost dead Mysteries. Of these we have now a few words to say.
It is well known that throughout antiquity, besides the popular worship composed of the dead-letter forms and empty exoteric ceremonies, every nation had its secret cult known to the world as the mysteries. Strabo, one among many others, warrants for this assertion (See Geographica, lib.X, ch.iii, Sect.9). No one received admittance into them save those prepared for it by special training. The neophytes instructed in the upper temples were initiated into the final Mysteries in the crypts. These instructions were the last surviving heirloom of archaic wisdom, and it is under the guidance of high Initiates that they were enacted. We use the word “enacted” purposely; for the oral instructions low breath were given only in the crypts, in solemn silences and secrecy. During the public classes and general teachings, the lessons in cosmogony and theogony were delivered in allegorical representation, the modus operandi of the gradual evolution of Kosmos, worlds, and finally of our earth, of gods and men, all was imparted in a symbolical way. The great public performances during the festivals of the Mysteries, were witnessed by the masses and the personified truths worshipped by the multitudes – blindly. Alone the high Initiates, the Epoptae, understood their language and real meaning. All this, and so far, is well known to the world of scholars. [C.W.XI, 84-5]
The Martinists were Mystics and Theosophists who claimed to have the secret of communicating with (Elemental and Planetary) spirits of the ultramundane Spheres. Some of them were practical Occultists. [C.W.XII, 82fn]
Their sacred scribes and hierophants [of Egypt] were wanderers upon the face of the earth. Obliged ... to seek refuge among the Hermetic fraternities – known later as the Essenes – their esoteric knowledge was buried deeper than ever. [I.U.I, 16]
... the ignorant rudeness of certain critics who pronounce Cagliostro an “impostor” and his desire of engrafting Eastern Philosophy upon Western Masonry “charlatanism”. Without such a union Western Masonry is a corpse without a soul. As Yarker observes, in his Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity [p. 157]:
“. . . As the Masonic fraternity is now governed, the Craft is fast becoming the paradise of the bon vivant . . . the manufacturer of paltry masonic tinsel . . . and the masonic ‘Emperor’ and other charlatans who make power or money out of the aristocratic pretensions which they have tacked on to our institutions – ad captandum vulgus . . .” [C.W.I, 310]
... Cagliostro [is] even today accused of having served the Jesuits as their spy; and this by Masons who ought to be the last to bring such a charge against a learned Brother who was persecuted by the Vatican even more as a Mason than as an Occultist. [C.W.XII, 80]
In the Occult phraseology of certain Occultists “Father, son and Angels” stood for the compound symbol of physical, and astro-Spiritual Man. John G. Gichtel (end of xviith cent.), the ardent lover of Böhme, the Seer of whom de Saint-Martin relates that he was married “to the heavenly Sophia”, the Divine Wisdom – made use of this term. Therefore, it is easy to see what Cagliostro meant by proving to the Philalethes on the testimony of their “senses,” “God, man and the intermediary Spiritual beings,” that exist between God (Atma), and Man (the Ego). Nor is it more difficult to understand his true meaning when he reproaches the Brethren in his parting letter which says: “We have offered you the truth; you have disdained it. We have offered it for the sake of itself, and you have refused it in consequence of a love of forms . . . Can you elevate yourselves to (your) God and the knowledge of yourselves by the assistance of a Secretary and a Convocation?” etc. [C.W.XII, 83-4]
The statement on the authority of Beswick that Cagliostro was connected with the Loge des Amis Réunis under the name of Count Grabiano is not proven. [C.W.XII, 84 fn]
Masonic Lodges – descent from Ancient Templars
As to the modern Knights Templar and those Masonic Lodges which now claim a direct descent from the ancient Templars, their persecution by the Church was a farce from the beginning. They have not, nor have they ever had any secrets, dangerous to the Church. Quite the contrary; for we find J.G. Findel saying that the Scottish degrees, or the Templar system, only dates from 1735-1740, and “following its Catholic tendency, took up its chief residence in the Jesuit College of Clermont, in Paris, and hence was called the Clermont system.” The present Swedish system has also something of the Templar element in it, but free from Jesuits and interference with politics; however,, it asserts that it has Molay’s Testament in the original, for a Count Beaujeu, a nephew of Molay, never heard of elsewhere – says Findel – transplanted Templarism into Freemasonry, and thus procured for his uncle’s ashes a mysterious sepulchre. It is sufficient to prove this a Masonic fable that on this pretended monument the day of Molay’s funeral is represented as March 11, 1313, while the day of his death was March 19, 1313. This spurious production, which is neither genuine Templarism, nor genuine Freemasonry, has never taken firm root in Germany. But the case is otherwise in France. [I.U.II, 381]
No personal God?
It is but recently that a majority of the Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Rite assembled at Lausanne, justly revolting against such a blasphemous belief as that in a personal Deity, invested with all human attributes, pronounced the following words: “Freemasonry proclaims, as it has proclaimed from its origin, the existence of a creative principle, under the name of the great Architect of the universe.” Against this, a small minority has protested, urging that “belief in a creative principle is not the belief in God, which Freemasonry requires of every candidate before he can pass its very threshold.”
This confession does not sound like the rejection of a personal God. Could we have had the slightest doubt upon the subject, it would be thoroughly dispelled by the words of General Albert Pike, perhaps the greatest authority of the day, among American Masons, who raises himself most violently against this innovation. We cannot do better than quote his words:
“The Principe Createur is no new phrase – it is but an old term revived. Our adversaries, numerous and formidable, will say, and will have the right to say, that our Principe Createur is identical with the Principe Generateur of the Indians and Egyptians, and may fitly be symbolized as it was symbolized anciently, by the Lingae . . . To accept this, in lieu of a personal God, is TO ABANDON CHRISTIANITY, and the worship of Jehovah, and return to wallow in the styes of Paganism”. [I.U.II, 377]
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
While Americans, including Masons, are now warned to prepare themselves to join the Holy Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church, we are glad to know that there are some as loyal and respected as any in Masonry who support our views. Conspicuous among them is our venerable friend, Mr. Leon Hyneman, P.M., and a member of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. For eight or nine years he was editor of the Masonic Mirror and Keystone, and is an author of repute. He assures us personally that for over thirty years he has combated the design to erect into a Masonic dogma, belief in a personal God. In his work, Ancient York and London Grand Lodges, he says (p. 169): “Masonry, instead of unfolding professionally with the intellectual advancement of scientific knowledge and general intelligence, has departed from the original aims of the fraternity, and is apparently inclining towards a sectarian society. That is plainly to be seen . . . in the persistent determination not to expunge the sectarian innovations interpolated in the Ritual . . . It would appear that the Masonic fraternity of this country are as indifferent to ancient landmarks and usages of Masonry, as the Masons of the past century, under the London Grand Lodge were.” It was this conviction which prompted him, in 1856, when Jaques Etienne Marconis de Nègre, Grand Hierophant of the Rite of Memphis, came to America and tendered him the Grand Mastership of the Rite in the United States, and the Ancient and Accepted Rite offered him an Honorary 33d – to refuse both. [I.U.II, 379]
Standard of Membership
John Yarker, Junior, of England; Past Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Greece; Grand Master of the Rite of Swedenborg; also Grand Master of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry, and Heaven only knows what else, says that Masonry could lose nothing by “the adoption of a higher (not pecuniary) standard of membership and morality, with exclusion from the ‘purple’ of all who inculcate frauds, sham, historical degrees, and other immoral abuses (page 158). [I.U.II, 376]
SYMBOLS AND ORDERS
The first extract of this Section is important in that it distinguishes ‘real’ Masonry from the Scottish Lodge, but says that some of its rites are still presented in the Grand Orient of France. Then there is the authoritative statement that Masonry rests on three degrees reflecting the triple duty of a Mason, i.e., to study whence he comes, what he is and whither he goes. These of course constitute an epitome of the teachings of Theosophy.
There follows a description of the third degree rite, as far as the resurrection from the coffin. Perhaps the whole doctrine of Devachan and some of the information given in the Mahatma Letters was some of the information which was given to us in The Secret Doctrine as never having been made public before.
Other extracts in this Section indicate much teaching by symbol and number, e.g., the Cross and Solomon’s Temple, and numbers as combinations of 3, 5, 7, 10, etc., which relate back particularly to Pythagoras (who seemingly inherited the system from the East). Geometrical figures also evinced these numbers in triangles, squares and cubes. In the Secret Doctrine these are related to the principles of man and the Cosmic Planes, with more explanations not made public before.
There are significant hints to the effect that there are some Rosicrucians who have remained in possession of the true teachings – as indeed we are told a number of times have the Eastern Adepts in the Arcane Science.
Three fundamental degrees
Masonry – not the political institution known as the Scottish Lodge, but real Masonry, some rites of which are still preserved in the Grand Orient of France, and that Elias Ashmole, a celebrated English Occult Philosopher of the XVIIth century, tried in vain to remodel, after the manner of the Indian and Egyptian Mysteries – Masonry rests, according to Ragon, the great authority upon the subject, upon three fundamental degrees: the triple duty of a Mason is to study whence he comes, what he is, and whither he goes; the study that is, of God, of himself, and of the future transformation. Masonic Initiation was modelled on that in the lesser Mysteries. The third degree was one used in both Egypt and India from time immemorial, and the remembrance of it lingers to this day in every Lodge, under the name of the death and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, the “Widow’s Son”. In Egypt the latter was called “Osiris”; in India “Loka-chakshu” (Eye of the World), and “Dinakara” (day-maker) or the Sun – and the rite itself was everywhere named the “gate of death”. The coffin, or sarcophagus, of Osiris, killed by Typhon, was brought in and placed in the middle of the Hall of the Dead, with the Initiates all around it and the candidate near by. The latter was asked whether he had participated in the murder, and not withstanding his denial, and after sundry and very hard trials, the initiator feigned to strike him on the head with a hatchet; he was thrown down, swathed in bandages like a mummy and wept over. Then came lightning and thunder, the supposed corpse was surrounded with fire, and was finally raised.
Ragon speaks of a rumour that charged the Emperor Commodus – when he was at one time enacting th part of the Initiator – with having played this part in the initiatory drama so seriously that he actually killed the postulant when dealing him the blow with the hatchet. This shows that the lesser Mystries had not quite died out in the second century A.D. [C.W.XIV, 279]
The Three Lights
If the Masonic temples are lighted with three astral lights, the sun, the moon, and the geometrical star, and with three vital lights, the Hierophant and his two Episcopes [Wardens, in French Surveillants], it is because one of the Fathers of Masonry, the learned Pythagoras, ingenuously suggests that we should not speak of divine things without a light ....
Such passages prove to us that in those days the primitive Church worshipped the great architect of the universe in its image the sun, sole of its kind ..... [C.W.XI, 82]
Square - Deity - the Decad
Ten, or the Decad, brings all these digits back to unity and ends the Pythagorean table. Hence this figure, ... – unity, within zero – was the symbol of Deity, of the Universe, and of man. Such is the secret meaning of “the strong grip of the Lion’s paw of the tribe of Judah” between two hands (the “master mason’s grip”), the joint number of whose fingers is ten. [S.D.II, 581]
Swastika - Ishmael Masons
And, by adding to the cross proper + the symbol of the four cardinal points and infinity at the same time, thus + , the arms pointing above, below and right, and left, making six in the circle – the Archaic sign of the Yomas – it would make of it the Swastika, the “sacred sign” used by the order of “Ishmael masons”, which they call the Universal Hermetic Cross, and do not understand its real wisdom, nor know its origin. [C.W.VII, 294 fn]
Nos 3, 5 and 7 - Triangle, Deity
The numbers 3, 5, and 7 are prominent in speculative Masonry, as shown in Isis Unveiled. A Mason writes:– “There are the 3, 5, and 7 steps to show a circular walk. The three faces of 3, 3; 5, 3; and 7, 3; etc., etc. Sometimes it comes in this form 753/2 = 376.5 and 9635/2 = 3817.5 and the ratio 20612/6561 feet for cubit measure gives the Great Pyramid measures,” etc., etc. Three, five and seven are mystical numbers, and the last and the first are as greatly honoured by Masons as by the Parsis - the triangle being the symbol of Deity everywhere. [S.D.I, 113 fn]
Jennings - the Rosicrucians
The ablest book that was ever written on Symbols and Mystic Orders, is most certainly Hargrave Jennings’ The Rosicrucians, and yet it has been repeatedly called “obscure trash” in my presence, and that too, by individuals who were most decidedly well-versed in the rites and mysteries of modern Freemasonry. [C.W.I, 126]
Moses, religious mysteries
Moses, an Initiate into the Egyptian Mystagogy, based the religious mysteries of the new nation which he created upon the same abstract formula derived from this sidereal cycle, which he symbolized under the form and measurements of the tabernacle, that he is supposed to have constructed in the wilderness. On these data, the later Jewish High Priests constructed the allegory of Solomon’s Temple – a building which never had a real existence, any more than had King Solomon himself, who is simply a solar myth, as much as the still later Hiram Abif of the Masons, as Ragon has well demonstrated. Thus, if the measurements of this allegorical temple, the symbol of the cycle of Initiation, coincide with those of the Great Pyramid, it is due to the fact that the former were derived from the latter through the Tabernacle of Moses. [S.D.I, 314]
Royal Arch - Triple Tau
In Masonry the Royal Arch degree retains the cross as the triple Egyptian Tau. It is the mundane circle with the astronomical cross upon it rapidly revolving; the perfect square of the Pythagorean mathematics in the scale of numbers, as its occult meaning is interpreted by Cornelius Agrippa. Fire is heat – the central point; the perpendicular ray represents the male element or spirit; and the horizontal one the female element – or matter. Spirit vivifies and fructifies the matter, and everything proceeds from the central Point, the focus of Life, and Light and Heat, represented by the terrestrial fire. [C.W.II, 145-6]
Masons, Monad and T G A O T U
... Masons, have, in their arbitrary interpretations, fathered upon the ancient sages the queer idea that “the Monad represented [with them] the throne of the Omnipotent Deity, placed in the centre of the Empyrean to indicate T.G.A.O.T.U.” – read “the Great Architect of the Universe”. [S.D.I, 613]
Weird symbols and glyphs
Modern Kabalistic speculation is on a par now with modern “speculative Masonry”, for as the latter tries vainly to link itself with the ancient – or rather the archaic – Masonry of the Temples, failing to make the link because all its claims have been shown to be inaccurate from an archaeological standpoint, so fares it also with Kabalistic speculation. As no mystery of Nature worth running after can be revealed to humanity by settling whether Hiram Abif was a living Sidonian builder, or a solar myth, so no fresh information will be added to Occult Lore by the details of the exoteric privileges conferred on the Collegia Fabrorum by Numa Pompilius . Rather must the symbols used in it be studied in the Aryan light, since all the Symbolism of the ancient Initiations came to the West with the light of the Eastern Sun.
Nevertheless, we find the most learned Masons and Symbologists declaring that all these weird symbols and glyphs, that run back to a common origin of immense antiquity, were nothing more than a display of cunning natural phallicism, or emblems of primitive typology. [C.W.XIV, 192]
The Svastika is certainly one of the oldest symbols of the Ancient Races. In our century, says Kenneth R.H. MacKenzie (Royal Masonic Cyclopeadia), the Svastika “has survived in the form of the mallet” in the Masonic Fraternity. Among the many “meanings” the author gives of it, we do not find, however, the most important one, Masons evidently not knowing it. [S.D.II, 556 fn]
Says the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, ... In all times, the sun has necessarily played an important part as a symbol, and especially in Freemasonry ....
Freemasonry derives her rites from the East ... And if it be true to say of the modern Rosicrucians that “they are invested with a knowledge of chaos, not perhaps a very desirable acquisition”, the remark is still more true when applied to all the other branches of Masonry, since the knowledge of their members about the full signification of their symbols is nil. [C.W.XIV, 281]
Theological time, 000,000,000
... “it is at present, and perhaps always will be, IMPOSSIBLE to reduce, even approximately, geological time into years, or even into millenniums.” A wise word of advice from the Occultists to the gentlemen geologists: they ought to imitate the cautious example of Masons. As chronology, they say, cannot measure the era of the creation, therefore, their “Ancient and Primitive Rite” uses 000,000,000 as the nearest approach to reality. [S.D.II, 696]
Society of Trinosophists
It is on the occult properties of the three equal lines or sides of the Triangle that Ragon based his studies and founded the famous Masonic Society of the Trinosophists (those who study three sciences; an improvement upon the ordinary three Masonic degrees, given to those who study nothing except eating and drinking at the meetings of their Lodges)....
.... The third side is left to the master mason, who has to complete his education by the study of the animal kingdom. It is symbolized by Mac-benah ∴ (son of putrefaction). [S.D.II, 575]
Besides these signs, the French Masons, evidently under the tuition of their accomplished masters – the Jesuits, have perfected this cipher in all its details. So they have signs even for commas, diphthongs accents, dots, etc. [I.U.II, 397]
No one could ever lay hands on the Rosicrucians, and notwithstanding the alleged discoveries of “secret chambers,” vellums called “T”, and of fossil knights with ever-burning lamps, this ancient association and its true aims are to this day a mystery. Pretended Templars and sham Rose-Croix, with a few genuine kabalists, were occasionally burned and some unlucky Theosophists and alchemists sought and put to the torture; delusive confessions even were wrung from them by the most ferocious means, but yet, the true Society remains to-day as it has ever been, unknown to all, especially to its cruellest enemy – the Church. [I.U.II, 380]
The real secrets of Masonry, as indeed of the grand ever-persisting Arcane Science, have never, according to H.P.B., been written down. They are not in any book, however, ancient, descriptive, explanatory or erudite. Our first extract uses the phrase “mouth to ear and the word at low breath”, indicating the process of the transmission of arcane secrets from an Initiate, a knower, to his qualified pupil or successor.
It seems that the real secrets of Occultism are not like those of modern magic. The accomplished conjuror, by being accepted into the Magic Circle, can be shown how the most baffling tricks are performed. Nature is not like that. Her secrets are only for him who “infiltrates” her by not only becoming wholly receptive to her and discovering her modus operandi but becoming possessed actively of her powers. This entails acquiring mastery over and perfecting all our human principles, faculties and powers, until our comprehension of, and attunement to, Nature is fully operative.
As is said in the literature, the secrets are not communicable until the would-be magician, or adept, can fully respond. At another level this is what was meant by Jesus saying, “He that has ears to hear let him hear”or “he who has eyes to see let him see”.
In the enactment of the rites of the Mysteries – and real Masonry – these faculties were developed. Now, according to H.P.B.’s and the Masters’ statements in Isis Unveiled, these secrets and what is termed the “lost word” are in fact lost, at least to modern Masonry. A few chosen brethren are apparently exceptions to this even now but it seems they are of the East, not the West.
Then other statements are made in the extracts. The Eastern Brothers have access by psychic means to many secrets. Ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist.
An interesting example of the way the Eastern Adepts know the Masonic secrets is the publication in Isis Unveiled of several of the ciphers of the Jesuits and others.
Mouth to ear
This Masonic commandment, “mouth to ear, and the word at low breath”, is an inheritance from the Tanaïm and the old Pagan Mysteries. Its modern use must certainly be due to the indiscretion of some renegade kabalist, though the “word” itself is but a “substitute” for the “lost word”, and is a comparatively modern invention, as we will further show. The real sentence has remained forever in the sole possession of the adepts of various countries of the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Only a limited number among the chiefs of the Templars, and some Rosicrucians of the seventeenth century, always in close relations with Arabian alchemists and initiates, could really boast of its possession. From the seventh to the fifteenth centuries there was no one who could claim it in Europe; and although there had been alchemists before the days of Paracelsus, he was the first who had passed through the true initiation, that last ceremony which conferred on the adept the power of travelling toward the “burning bush” over holy ground, and to “burn the golden calf in the fire, grind it to powder, and strow it upon the water.” verily, then, this magic water, and the “lost word”, resuscitated more than one of the pre-Mosaic Adonirams, Gedaliahs, and Hiram Abiffs. The real word now substituted by Mac Benac and Mah was used ages before its pseudo-magical effect was tried on the “widow’s sons” of the last two centuries. [I.U.II, 349]
So many secrets divulged
But now that so many of the most important secrets of Masonry have been divulged by friend and foe, may we not say, without suspicion of malice or ill-feeling, that since the sad catastrophe of the Templars, no “Lodge” in Europe, still less in America, has ever known anything worth concealing. Reluctant to be misunderstood, we say no Lodge, leaving a few chosen brethren entirely out of question. The frantic denunciations of the Craft by Catholic and Protestant writers appear simply ridiculous, as also the affirmation of the Abbé Barruel that everything “betrays our Freemasons as the descendants of those proscribed Knights” Templars of 1314. The Memoirs of Jacobinism by this Abbé, an eye-witness to the horrors of the first Revolution, is devoted in great measure to the Rosicrucians and other Masonic fraternities. The fact alone that he traces the modern Masons to the Templars, and points them out as secret assassins, trained to political murder, shows how little he knew of them but how ardently he desired, at the same time, to find in these societies convenient scape-goats for the crimes and sins of another secret society which, since its existence, has harbored more than one dangerous political assassin – the Society of Jesus. [I.U.II, 371-2]
Keys to Ciphers - boasting
That we may not be accused of vain boasting, we shall give the keys to several of the secret ciphers of the most exclusive and important of the so-called higher Masonic degrees. If we mistake not, these have never before been revealed to the outside world (except that of the Royal Arch Masons, in 1830), but have been most jealously guarded within the various orders. We are under neither promise, obligation, nor oath, and therefore violate no confidence. Our purpose is not to gratify an idle curiosity; we wish merely to show Masons and the affiliates of all other Western societies – the Company of Jesus included – that it is impossible for them to be secure in the possession of any secrets that it is worth an Eastern Brotherhood’s while to discover. Inferentially, it may also show them that if the latter can lift the masks of European societies, they are nevertheless successful in wearing their own visors; for, if any one thing is universally acknowledged, it is that the real secrets of not a single surviving ancient brotherhood are in possession of the profane.
Some of these ciphers were used by the Jesuits in their secret correspondence at the time of the Jacobin conspiracy, and when Masonry (the alleged successor to the Temple) was employed by the Church for political purposes. [I.U.II, 394]
We might, if we chose, give the cipher alphabets with their keys, of another method of the Royal Arch Masons, strongly resembling a certain Hindu character; of the G ∴ El ∴ of the Mystic City; of a well-known form of the Devanagari script of the (French) Sages of the Pyramids; and of the Sublime Master of the Great Work, and others. But we refrain; only, be it understood, for the reason that some of these alone of all the side branches of the original Blue Lodge Freemasonry, contain the promise of a useful future. As for the rest, they may and will go to the ash-heap of time. High Masons will understand what we mean. [I.U.II, 398]
Such high Masons need not be told, though Craftsmen in general do, that the time has come to remodel Masonry, and restore those ancient landmarks, borrowed from the early sodalities, which the eighteenth century founders of speculative Freemasonry meant to have incorporated in the fraternity. There are no longer any secrets left unpublished; the Order is degenerating into a convenience for selfish men to use, and bad men to debase. [I.U.II, 377]
The real secrets of symbolic Masonry are lost, as Ragon, by the way, proves very well. [C.W.XI, 181]
Communication with “Brothers”
But, if there are a few Masons who, from study of kabalistic and other rare works, and coming in personal communication with “Brothers from the far-away East, have learned something of esoteric Masonry, it is not the case with the hundreds of American Lodges. [I.U.II, 375-6]
“Brothers” and secrets
The Temple was the last European secret organization which, as a body, had in its possession some of the mysteries of the East. True, there were in the past century (and perhaps still are) isolated “Brothers” faithfully and secretly working under the direction of Eastern Brotherhoods. But these, when they did belong to European societies, invariably joined them for objects unknown to the Fraternity, though at the same time for the benefit of the latter. It is through them that modern Masons have all they know of importance; and the similarity now found between the Speculative Rites of antiquity, the mysteries of the Essenes, Gnostics, and the Hindus, and the highest and oldest of the Masonic degrees well prove the fact. If these mysterious brothers became possessed of the secrets of the societies, they could never reciprocate the confidence, though in their hands these secrets were safer, perhaps, than in the keeping of European Masons. When certain of the latter were found worthy of becoming affiliates of the Orient, they were secretly instructed and initiated, but the others were none the wiser for that. [I.U.II, 380]
Comte St. Germain documents
Certain brethren in England have said from mouth to ear that the destruction was the result of a shameful pact between certain Masons and the Church. An aged “brother,” a great Kabbalist, has just died here, whose grandfather, a renowned Mason, was an intimate friend of Count Saint-Germain, when the latter was sent, it is said, by Louis XV, to England, in 1760, to negotiate peace between the two countries. The Count Saint-Germain left in the hands of this Mason certain documents relating to the history of Masonry, and containing the key to more than one misunderstood mystery. He did so on the conditions that these documents would become the secret heritage of all those descendants of the Kabbalists who became Masons. These papers, however, were of value to but two Masons: the father and the son who has just died, and they will be of no use to anyone else in Europe. Before his death, the previous documents were left with an Oriental (a Hindu) who was commissioned to transmit them to a certain person who would come to Amritsar, City of Immortality, to claim them. It is also told, confidentially, that the famous founder of the Lodge of Trinosophists, J.M. Ragon, was also initiated into many secrets by an Oriental, in Belgium, and some say that he knew Saint-Germain in his youth. This might perhaps explain why the author of the Tuileur général de la Franc-Maçonnerie, or Manuel de l’Initié, affirmed that Elias Ashmole was the real founder of modern Masonry. No one knew better than Ragon the extent of the loss of Masonic secrets, as he himself says:
“It is of the very essence and nature of the Mason to seek light wherever he thinks he can find it,” proclaims the circular of the Grand Orient of France. “In the meanwhile,” he adds, “they give the Masons the glorious title of children of light, and they leave them enveloped in darkness!” [C.W.XI, 184]
American and English Creative principle
So long as the American and English Masons will reject the “Creative Principle” of the “Grand Orient” of France they will remain in the dark. [C.W.XIV, 40 fn]
Ragon - Orientalists
J.M. Ragon, a Belgian by birth, and a Mason, knew more about Occultism than any other non-initiated writer. For fifty years he studied the ancient Mysteries wherever he could find accounts of them. In 1805, he founded at Paris the Brotherhood of Les Trinosophes, in which lodge he delivered for years lectures on Ancient and Modern Initiation (in 1818 and again in 1841), which were published, and now are lost. Then he became the writer-in-chief of Hermes, a masonic paper. His best works were La Maçonnerie Occulte and the Fastes Initiatiques. After his death, in 1862, a number of his MSS. remained in the possession of the Grand Orient of France. A high Mason told the writer that Ragon had corresponded for years with two Orientalists in Syria and Egypt, one of whom is a Kopt gentleman. [C.W.XIV, 296 fn]
Exposure of Secrets
We have no wish to make a pretence of exposing secrets long since hawked about the world by perjured Masons. Everything vital, whether in symbolical representations, rites, or passwords, as used in modern Freemasonry, is known in the Eastern fraternities; though there seems to be no intercourse or connection between them. If Medea is described by Ovid as having “arm, breast, and knee made bare, left foot slipshod;” and Virgil, speaking of Dido, show this “Queen herself . . . now resolute on death, having one foot bare, etc.,” why doubt that there are in the East real “Patriarchs of the sacred Vedas”, explaining the esotericism of pure Hindu theology and Brahmanism quite as thoroughly as European “Patriarchs”. [I.U.II, 376]
Secrets of Zohar
Rabbi Shimon ben-Yohai, the compiler of the Zohar, never imparted the most important points of his doctrine otherwise than orally, and to a very limited number of disciples. Therefore, without the final initiation into the Merkabah, the study of the Kabalah will be ever incomplete, and the Merkabah can be taught only “in darkness, in a deserted place, and after many and terrific trials.” Since the death of that great Jewish Initiate this hidden doctrine has remained, for the outside world, an inviolate secret. [C.W.XIV, 38]
OPPOSITION, ENEMIES, JESUITS
The universe is a system in balance proceeding by cycles and alternations. For every progressive movement there will be a retrograde one. An outpouring of truth is soon followed by obstruction, a natural inertia, resisting change. Many movements like the present theosophical one have tried to advance human knowledge along the road to appreciation of the processes of Nature which include the spiritual growth of humankind. There is, so to speak, an outflow followed immediately by an ebb.
In the case of the Ancient Wisdom, the ebb has always been represented by entrenched ideas: an attempt to preserve the status quo of dogma; the awful inertia of real ignorance and superstition; false belief systems and so on.
In our story of the origins and the coming into being of the modern Masonic movement whose roots were in the pristine truths of Nature’s working where these became known outside the confines of truly secret brotherhoods, the knowledge was immediately desecrated by subtraction and substitution.
In our present era the reactive element has been established religion, particularly the Christian and its representatives, some of whom have become very powerful, as for example the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).
Whenever their doctrines, for the most part superstitious, were in jeopardy at the hands of any organization with sufficient recognition by the general public, the opposition had to and did move in to render ineffective the activities and teachings of the new body. Wherever possible such a movement was infiltrated and offending doctrines removed or changed to make them agreeable to the established ones of the Church.
In Masonry initially the teachings regarding the origins of the universe rested first in the indefinable, unthinkable Absolute, and secondly in the impersonal but manifest One All from which all that was to be came forth in due season according to the universal processes. This cut across completely the Church’s dogmatic view of a creator God, an entity to whom prayers and supplications could be offered. Such a personal God became an obligatory belief for all Masons by the machinations of the Church and the Jesuits.
Another area of attack was that of freedom, especially freedom of thought. All real truths require freedom in which to flourish and they are directly opposed to the belief systems of dogma. The one represents real knowledge of the processes of Nature and the other the knowledge of scriptural authority.
Prevent the seeing of truth
And here again, our friends the Jesuits have to be mentioned, for the above rite [of Initiation] is of their making. To give one instance of their success in throwing dust into the eyes of ordinary individuals to prevent their seeing the truths of Occultism, we will point out what they did in what is now called Freemasonry.
This Brotherhood does possess a considerable portion of the symbolism, formulae, and ritual of Occultism, handed down from time immemorial from the primitive Initiations. To render this Brotherhood a mere harmless negation, the Jesuits sent some of their most able emissaries into the Order, who first made the simple brethren believe that the true secret was lost with Hiram Abiff; and then induced them to put this belief into their formularies. They then invented specious but spurious higher degrees, pretending to give further light upon this lost secret, to lead the candidate on and amuse him with forms borrowed from the real thing, but containing no substance, and all artfully contrived to lead the aspiring Neophyte to nowhere. And yet men of good sense and abilities, in other respects, will meet at intervals, and with solemn face, zeal and earnestness, go through the mockery of revealing “substituted secrets” instead of the real things.
If the reader turns to a very remarkable and very useful work called The Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, art. “Rosicrucianism”, he will find its author, a high and learned Mason, showing what the Jesuits have done to destroy Masonry. Speaking of the period when the existence of this mysterious Brotherhood (of which many pretend to know “something” if not a good deal, and know in fact nothing) was first made known, he says:
There was a dread among the great masses of society in byegone days of the unseen – a dread, as recent events and phenomena show very clearly, not yet overcome in its entirety. Hence students of Nature and mind were forced into an obscurity not altogether unwelcome. . . . The Kabalistic reveries of a Johann Reuchlin led to the fiery action of a Luther, and the patient labours of Trittenheim produced the modern system of diplomatic cipher writing. . . . It is very worthy of remark, that one particular century, and that in which the Rosicrucians first showed themselves, is distinguished in history as the era in which most of these efforts at throwing off the trammels of the past (Popery and Ecclesiasticism) occurred. Hence the opposition of the losing party, and their virulence against anything mysterious or unknown. They freely organised pseudo-Rosicrucian and Masonic societies in return, . . . and these societies were instructed to irregularly entrap the weaker brethren of the True and Invisible Order, and then triumphantly betray anything they might be so inconsiderate as to communicate to the superiors of these transitory and unmeaning associations. Every wile was adopted by the authorities fighting in self-defence against the progress of truth, to engage, by persuasion, interest or terror, such as might be cajoled into receiving the Pope as Master – when gained, as many converts to that faith know, but dare not own, they are treated with neglect, and left to fight the battle of life as best they may, not even being admitted to the knowledge of such miserable aporrheta as the Romish faith considers itself entitled to withhold.
It would be as well perhaps, if the Jesuits contented themselves with making dupes of Freemasons, and converting that order into a mere convivial Benefit-Club, which allures members by the prospect of refined Banquets in the Societies of Princes, statesmen and eloquent orators in speech and song. Their lethal plottings, however, have a much wider scope, and embrace a minuteness of detail and care of which the world in general has no idea. Everything must be done by them to bring the mass of mankind again to the state of passive ignorance and superstition which, they well know is the only one which can help them to the consummation of their purpose of Universal Despotism. [C.W.XIV, 265-6]
In India, opponents
Our Masonic readers, of whom very respectable numbers are scattered throughout India, ought to be on the lookout for recent publications against their Fraternity. We find quite an interesting little libel upon their organization quietly running through the columns of the Roman Catholic Tablet in its November issue of 1881.... [C.W.IV, 55-60]
Masons, detached from truth
As far as we are concerned, disciples of the Masters of the Orient as we are, we have nothing to do with modern Masonry. The real secrets of symbolic Masonry are lost, as Ragon, by the way, proves very well. The keystone, the central stone of the arch built by the first royal dynasties of Initiates – ten times prehistoric – has been shaken loose since the closing of the latest mysteries. The task of destruction, or rather of strangulation and suffocation begun by the Caesars, has finally been completed, in Europe, by the Fathers of the Church. Imported again, since those days, from the sanctuaries of the Far East, the sacred stone was cracked and finally broken into a thousand pieces.
Upon whom shall we lay the blame for this crime?
Is it upon the Freemasons, especially the Templars, persecuted, assassinated, violently despoiled of their annals and their written statutes? Is it upon the Church which, after appropriating to itself the dogma and rituals of primitive Masonry, was bent upon making its travestied rites pass for the only TRUTH, and decided to stifle the latter?
Whichever it may be, it is no longer the Masons who have the whole truth, whether we cast the blame on Rome or the insect Shermah of Solomon’s famous temple, which modern Masonry claims as the basis and origin of the Order.
For tens of thousands of years, the genealogical tree of the sacred Science which all races had in common, remained identical, as the temple of this science is ONE and is built on the unshakable rock of primeval truth. But the Masons of the last two centuries have preferred to detach themselves from it. Once more, and this time in practice, rather than in theory, they shattered the cube, which then broke into twelve parts. They rejected the real stone for the false, and whatever they did with the former one – their corner-stone – it was not according to the spirit which quickens, but according to the dead letter which kills.
Is it again the Worm Samis (alias “insect Shermah”) – whose traces on the rejected stone led the “builders of the Temple” into error – which gnawed at the same structure? What was done then, was done knowingly. The builders surely knew the sum total by heart, i.e., the thirteen lines of five faces.
What does it matter? As for ourselves – faithful disciples of the Orient – we prefer, instead of all these stories, one that has nothing to do with any of the other mummeries of masonic degrees.
We will keep to the eben Shetiyyah (which has a different name in Sanskrit), the perfect cube which, while containing the delta or triangle, replaces the name of the Kabbalistic Tetragrammaton by the symbol of the incommunicable name.
We willingly leave to the Masons their “insect”, hoping meanwhile for their sake that modern symbology, which advances with such rapid strides, does not discover the identity of the Worm Shermah-Sami with Hiram-Abif – which would be rather embarrassing.
However, on second thoughts, this discovery would not be without its useful side, nor would it be without great charm. The idea of a worm being at the head of Masonic genealogy, and the Architect of the first Masonic temple, would also make of this worm the “father Adam” of the Masons, and would endear the “Widow’s Sons” even more to Darwinists. This would bring them closer to modern Science which seeks natural proofs to strengthen the theory of Haekelian evolution. What would it matter to them, once that they have lost the secret of their true origin? [C.W.XI, 181-3]
Jesuits – efforts doomed
There never was an Occult Society, however open and sincere, that has not felt the hand of the Jesuit trying to pull it down by every secret means ....
But all efforts of the greatest craft are doomed to failure on the day they are discovered. [C.W.XIV, 267]
And are those of Jesuitism, then, so much cleaner? “Our adversaries, numerous and formidable.” that sentence says all. Who these so formidable enemies are, is useless to inquire. They are the Roman Catholics, and some of the Reformed Presbyterians. To read what the two factions respectively write, we may well ask which adversary is the more afraid of the other. But, what shall it profit any one to organize against a fraternity that does not even dare to have a belief of its own for fear of giving offense? And pray, how, if Masonic oaths mean anything and Masonic penalties are regarded as more than burlesque, can any adversaries, numerous or few, feeble or strong, know what goes on inside the lodge, or penetrate beyond that “brother terrible, or the tiler, who guards, with a drawn sword, the portals of the lodge? Is, then, this “brother terrible” no more formidable than Offenbach’s General Boum, with his smoking pistol, jingling spurs, and towering panache? Of what use the millions of men that make up this great fraternity, the world over, if they cannot be so cemented together as to bid defiance to all adversaries? Can it be that the “mystic tie” is but a rope of sand, and Masonry but a toy to feed the vanity of a few leaders who rejoice in ribbons and regalia? Is its authority as false as its antiquity? It seems so, indeed; and yet, as “even the fleas have smaller fleas to bite ‘em,” there are Catholic alarmists, even here, who pretend to fear Masonry! [I.U.II, 377-8]
H.P.B. AND MASONRY
Some Masonic members of the Theosophical Society have concluded that H.P.B. was herself a Mason because she received in 1877 a certificate of membership of the Ancient and Primitive Rite conferring degrees and titles of the Rite of Adoption. These, however, were not recognized as being Masonry by the Masonic bodies of France, Great Britain or America.
She wrote the words quoted above: “As far as we are concerned, disciples of the Masters of the Orient as we are, we have nothing to do with modern Masonry”. And again, “As for ourselves – faithful disciples of the Orient – we prefer instead of all the stories, one that has nothing to do with any of the other mummeries of masonic degrees.”
There is no record of H.P.B. having been initiated into a Lodge or of her attending lodge meetings. She did, however, preserve secrecy on what went on at lodge meetings. She further said that all students of the Eastern esoteric knowledge were required to study the procedures of Masonry.
A note left by H.P.B. is interesting, to the effect that members of the E.S. may become Masons or Oddfellows.
... I have received from the Sovereign Grand Master General of the A. and P. Rite of England and Wales a diploma of 32nd Degree. [C.W.I, 281]
The circumstances under which H.P.B. received her Masonic Patent are described as follows by John Yarker who issued it:
“In the year 1872 I printed, at my own cost, a small book entitled, Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity; the Gnosis and Secret Schools of the Middle Ages; Modern Rosicrucianism; and the various Rites and Degrees of Free and Accepted Masonry. At this time I was Grand Master of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis, 95º; and before that of the combined Scottish Rite of 33º, and Mizraim of 90º; and among our initiates, 32º-94º, was Brother Charles Sotheran who left England and settled in New York. This brother lent a copy of the book just named to Madame Blavatsky, and she was good enough to refer to it in her Isis Unveiled, with some complimentary remarks . . .
“However, at the request of Bro. Sotheran I sent Madame Blavatsky the certificate of the female branch of the Sat Bhai (Seven Brothers, or seven birds of a species, which always fly by sevens); it was a system organized at Benares in India by the Pundit of the 43rd Rifles, and brought to England by Major J.H. Lawrence-Archer, 32º-94º. This led to a letter from Col. H.S. Olcott, setting forth the very superior qualities of Madame to the certificate sent, and vouching that she was proficient in all masonic sciences. On the 20th of August, 1877, the then newly established Theosophical Society of New York sent me by the hands of Co. Cobb a certificate of the Honorary membership accompanied by a pretty gold Jewel of the Crux Ansata of Egypt entwined with a serpent in green enamel.
“Both the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim as well as the Grand Orient of France possessed a branch of Adoptive Masonry, popular in France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and of which, in later years, the Duchess of Bourbon held the rank of Grand Mistress. We accordingly sent H.P.B. on the 24th of November, 1877, a certificate of the highest rank, that of a Crowned Princess 12º, said to have been instituted at Saxe, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The publication of this certificate led to newspaper questions and attack. The Franklin Register of 1st of February, 1878, contained an article by Bro. Leon Hynemann vouching for the reality of my signature, and another by Bro. Charles Sotheran who vouched for the possession by H.P.B. of Masonic initiation, and this was followed the next week (8th of February) by a slashing article from the pen of Madame herself against her calumniators . . .”
The facsimile of the Diploma [C.W.I, opp. p 305] shows it to be the standard ornate form of the Ancient and Primitive Rite, the name and degrees being filled in in pen and ink. The Diploma states, however, that the degrees and titles conferred upon H.P.B. are those of the Rite of Adoption. The various Rites of Adoption were not recognized as being Masonry by the Masonic bodies of France, Great Britain, and America. C.W.I, 311-2]
No member of this Section [E.S.] shall belong to any other body, association,
or organization for the purpose of mystic study or occult training, except
Masonry and the Odd Fellows, if they so desire. But they must be as careful
to guard the secrecy of this Section from Masons as they are to preserve the
secrets of Masonry from Theosophists. [C.W.XII, 486-7]
In reading of the ancient origins of Masonry we are puzzled to find references to the Third Root Race. This takes us back millions of years. Then there are the references to a deluge during the Fourth Race, then to Atlanteans, but in the form of the Mysteries. Then came Ancient Egypt, the Cyclops, etc. All these are creating a setting in time - but what form did Masonry then take?
Running like a thread through all these epochs to our present time is the tradition of an Archaic Wisdom-Religion – original, based on a knowledge of the processes of nature of which much was kept secret. Only the Hierophants and high-degree Initiates knew of the essential inner Truths.
There were institutions – for one the Mystery Schools – where this knowledge was studied. Proficiency in it conferred power, notably the psychic ones, but major Adepts became co-workers with nature and able to work so-called miracles. Whereas this knowledge obviously related to Nature universally, the centre for this learning was in the East.
From the time of Plato (and others) it spread to the West, again via the Mysteries, e.g. Eleusinian, but other expressions of the Wisdom sprang up, as for example the Kabalah, the Rosicrucians, the Alchemists, the Hermeticists and latterly Masonry as we know it today. There are two specific dates mentioned: one 1646 when the Operative Masons were functioning in London, and the other 1717 when Speculative Masonry came into existence, presumably in its present form.
What form Masonry took in ancient times we do not know but there is the indicating that every Centre or Lodge was itself a Brotherhood, the movement itself constituting a wider Brotherhood.
We have several statements that Masonry is rooted in the Kabalah. This is also a systematic representation of the nature and processes of Nature herself, starting from the highest conceivable notions of Deity (excluding the “absolute” of Theosophy) down through intermediate realms to our mundane physical earth. Until about the beginning of the Christian era the Kabalah had not been written down. This occurred in about the first century a.d. This was a massive work requiring virtually the life time of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, and then later of his son and his secretary. It is said, however, that Shimon retained the most important secrets unwritten.
Most of this previous pristine literature was lost. An attempt was made in the 13th century to reconstruct it from what could be found by Moses de Léon.
By this time, however, the Roman Church had become very powerful and they recognized that many basic concepts of the Kabalah (and later of Masonry) were inimical to Church doctrine, particularly that relating to “God”. As will be seen from the extracts, the Jesuits were successful in introducing into Masonry a belief in a personal God, which did not accord with its “occult” origins.
H.P.B. has some interesting material on Hiram Abiff, Solomon and his Temple. They were both mythical figures and in spite of dates being widely attached to them, did not exist as living men. The Temple itself was also a myth, with no establishable historic existence.
It is not difficult, however, to discern an allegory in the story where Solomon is the Wisdom, and the Temple its magnificent and perfect vehicle on earth (Know ye not ye are the temple of God? - Cor.3.16)
Our story of Masonry indicates clearly the continuing tradition of the Ancient Wisdom from the remotest times up to the present day which constituted a main stream of thought with many tributaries, each of which has been an individual representation of the main ideas. These representations have always in time suffered various fortunes but the purity of the original teachings has either become lost or delayed. The knowledge has been replaced by belief and as that belief has not been based on scripture it has been superstitious. Truth has gradually been lost.
One of the tributary movements was that of the Templars who began their existence as an Order a thousand years into the Christian era. They were initially possessed of the prime truths. By the time of their foundation Christianity had become a powerful force. They escaped infiltration by establishing close cadres of secrecy while at the same time parading in public as conformers to the Jesuitical dogmas. They were, however, a link in the chain leading up to modern Masonry.
We have used specific dates for the start of modern Masonry, one in the 17th and the other in the 18th centuries, but H.P.B. gives several indications that Masonry as such, particularly in its close relationship to the Mysteries, is of very ancient origin. For instance, she says, “The ritualism of Christianity sprang from ancient Masonry”. This leads us to conjecture that, like the teachings, the ritualism has also been spoiled. In the light of what H.P.B. says in The Key to Theosophy, this spoilation could have been by way of the introduction of a personal God, by the idea of supplicatory prayer, and the forgiveness of sins by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We can only guess what the ritualism was like before these ideas were added to it.
In her general remarks about Masonry H.P.B. does indicate that the true teachings of the Ancient Wisdom have been preserved right up to the present day in the Mysteries kept strictly secret and divulged only to those who had proved themselves worthy and who had otherwise been trained to receive them.
She instances Cagliostro, commonly regarded as an impostor, as one who knew the true Eastern Philosophy. Perhaps her defence of Cagliosto ought to be taken more seriously.
Elsewhere we have said that the Knights Templar were precursors of the Masons and H.P.B. specifically supports this view.
In her general remarks about Masonry she reiterates the view that there is no ‘personal God’.
H.P.B. several times refers to the gradual secularisation of Masonry, leading to the eventual oblivion of its true nature founded in the Mysteries.
In her dissertation on symbols, degrees and orders, she makes some statements to the effect that ‘real’ Masonry is still alive, adding that this is the case amongst some Rosicrucians. Again in a number of places she tells us that the real Ancient Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine, on which all the Mysteries and the later movements which led up to Masonry are based, is still in the possession of the Eastern Adepts in Arcane Science.
Although H.P.B. in her passages on Masonry mentions the importance of numbers, she does not enlarge on the subject. She does, however, considerably enlarge on it in The Secret Doctrine. In Chapter VIII she mentions the relationship between the form and measurements of the tabernacle built by Moses and the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple and the Great Pyramid.
In one paragraph she specifically refers to the archaic Masonry of the Temples and the claims that speculative Kabala and Masonry try vainly to link themselves with it. She says that they cannot do this because all their claims are shown to be inaccurate from an archaeological standpoint.
She also makes a very significant statement that, “All Symbolism of the ancient Initiations came to the west with the light of the eastern sun”. Later she says that Freemasonry derives her rites from the east. She adds too that “The knowledge of the members of Masonry now about the full signification of their symbols is nil”.
She makes reference to the cyphers given in Isis Unveiled, saying that one of them used by the Jesuits had been elaborated to include commas, diphthongs, accents, dots, etc. The cyphers have not been reproduced here but can be see on pp 395-7 of the second volume. The purpose of printing them was to show that these secret cyphers were known to the Adept Brotherhoods of the east.
Our story of modern masonry indicates clearly that, via the Kabala, it had its origins in the east where the Initiates of the Mysteries are possessed of the secrets of the Ancient Wisdom. As the story progresses we see how these secrets were not only lost to Masonry but to the other tributaries of the Ancient Wisdom. There are, however, clear statements that the Eastern Initiates are still in possession of these secrets. The inference that we can draw from this is that in the massive literature produced by H.P.B. at the end of the 19th century, some of the secrets of this Ancient Wisdom were made known by those Initiates.
Whereas such information could only have been available to Initiates into the Mysteries, it was now publicly available, at least to the extent that it had been given out. Importantly, however, this literature is first hand from the Masters of the Wisdom. No literature emanating from the teachings of World Teachers had up till then been written down during the lifetime of those teachers. It had therefore been subject to many defects and deficiencies of those who undertook to commit it to writing. Not only would there have been mistakes but deliberate alterations. Such cannot happen with the theosophical literature as given by H.P.B. and some of her Teachers because the original versions of this literature are extant in many copies. Even so, significant changes were made as soon as she was dead. This reaction is in line with what has happened in every case when some of the truths of existence have been made public before.
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