Arcane School 1
In the following pages I have sought to satisfy a request, often made to me, to give a short but comprehensive view of the whole fabric of the Arcane mysteries, and affinity with the Masonic System; and I here take the opportunity of recording my protest against the sceptical tendencies of the present generation of the Moderns who are Masons, and against the efforts that are made, in season and out of season, to underrate the indubitable antiquity of the Masonic ceremonies. These efforts, which tend to lower the prestige of our ancient Craft, are not altogether without good results, as they have led to a more careful examination of our Masonic legends and of ancient documents, and I have therefore added, to a general History of the Arcane Schools, a view, sufficiently explicit, of the ancient rites of the Masons, leaving the intelligent Freemason of our day to trace the relative bearing of these. It is no compliment to the Masons who founded the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, and who, however ill informed they may have been in London, yet, as is amply proved, accepted old customs of the Guilds with discrimination, to suppose that they unanimously undertook to impose upon the public, a system as ancient which they themselves were engaged in concocting. Nor is it any compliment to the intelligence of their imagined victims. Whether or not I succeed in convincing the candid reader of the great antiquity of the Institution must be left to time; those of my readers who are pledged to the views of these Moderns will no doubt adhere through life to the ideas in which they have indoctrinated themselves, but enquiry is progressing and there is still a very large substratum of the Craft whose belief is yet strong in the good-faith of their predecessors, whether, in what was last century, termed Ancients or Moderns, and it is to such that I more particularly address myself. The best reward for my labours would be to find that the study of our Craft and analogous societies was making progress, and that others are supplying new facts from old books, that may aid in bridging over any chasms that may be noticed in the following pages. My endeavour has been to print well authenticated matter only, in order that the information supplied may be reliable. Every paragraph is a fact or deduction from facts, and however much condensed nothing of moment, known to the present time and having a bearing upon Freemasonry, has been omitted. The works of the learned Brother George Oliver, D.D., lack critical cohesion, and have consequently fallen into undeserved neglect, but sufficient will be found in these pages to show that his theories are not devoid of method, and will admit of an authentic construction being put upon those claims which he advances for the antiquity of the Masonic Institution.
Those who obstinately deny the existence of anything which is outside their own comprehension are fully as credulous as those who accept everything without discrimination. There are certain intellects which lack intuition and the ability to take in and assimilate abstruse truths, just as much as there are people who are colour-blind, or deaf to the more delicate notes of music; this was well known to the ancient theologians and mystics, and the reasons which they assigned for the mental incapacity will appear in the following pages.
I cannot allow the opportunity to pass, in closing my labours, without thanking my publisher for his invariable kindness, courtesy, and general care; and the reader is also much indebted to him for the compilation of the Index. We have considerably exceeded the 500 pages with which we made the announcement to the public, hence the slight delay in publication.
I have also to thank our subscribers for their unwearied patience in waiting for the appearance of this work, which, except for modern revisions, has lain dormant for 10 years.
WEST DIDSBURY, MANCHESTER, JOHN YARKER.
The object of the following chapters is to give a broad but condensed view of the various traces which are to be found amongst the ancients, in their religion, in their Art, and in their buildings — civil, sacred, and military — of a speculative system, such as is now professed under the designation of Freemasonry. The work is necessarily a compilation of suitable information gathered from books upon history, mystery, mysticism, and Freemasonry; but it embraces the most recent views upon these subjects which have been evolved by a close critical examination, and generally accepted by the learned.
In the “first and second chapters” will be found the proofs of a system of most ancient sacerdotal grades and mysteries which in the earliest or proto- Aryan, civilisation added to their ceremonies those emblems of geometry and art which have been transmitted by Freemasonry.
In the “third and fourth chapters” we see more clearly the advance which the Aryan civilisation introduced into the primitive association; the development of a caste organisation, and the reduction of the more ancient civilisation, by invasions, to a subject state, which in time created an independent system of Art-Mysteries, combined with natural religion, or what we now term Freemasonry.
In the “fifth and sixth chapters” we have attempted the elucidation of the doctrine and symbolism of the Ancient Mysteries and their relationship with the minor schools of Philosophy which sprang from them, as for instance the Pythagorean and Platonic schools, proving that all these possessed much in common — in doctrine, rites, and symbols, not only with each other but with Free Masonry of our own days, without the distinguishing features of the latter as an operative art; whilst, side by side, the Arcane schools of Philosophy passed onwards through the centuries of Christianity, in numerous branches, with the old rites and symbols.
In the “seventh and eighth chapters” we have, for convenience, a recapitulation of proofs of the existence and transmission of Art Mysteries and symbols from the most ancient times to our own days, with details of the Constitutions of a Fraternity, speculative in its teaching and operative in its application, for the conservation of Arts and Sciences in their tripartite application to houses, churches, and fortications, and which entering this country in British and Roman times from Egypt was modified by Culdee monks and learned clerics, and so continued as Folc-motes or Guilds in the time of the Anglo-Saxons.
In the “ninth and tenth chapters” some space is devoted to an enquiry as to the origin of the Semitic legends of Free Masonry which entering this country in Anglo-Norman times, with an Eastern system of work, of marks, and symbols, were engrafted upon the older Constitutions; together with some account of the esoteric marks, emblems, and rites of the organised Building- brotherhood who erected our noble Gothic edices, and references are made to many of these edifices in illustration of Free Masonry. We see the end of the Gothic and revival of the Classic Arcanum.
The remaining “eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth chapters” give a short account of the principal points in the history of Modern Freemasonry from 1717 to our own days; and which includes a chapter upon the design, origin and history of what has come to be termed high-grade Free-masonry, and out of which sprung the distinction between Ancient and Modern Masonry, a dissension which continued until the union of these two sects of Masons in 1813.
Lastly in the “Appendix” we have added a full series of Constitutional Charges which continued in force from Saxon times until the year 1717 and even much later; these we have slightly modernised for the ease of the reader.
I – ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE ARCANE SCHOOLS. CHAPTER
IT may reasonably be supposed that the advancement of mankind which we term civilisation had made great progress in hot climates before the Arts, science, and more especially the mystery of building temples and houses of stone, brick, or wood was developed. Religious mysteries, the rudiments of science, and open and secret worship, if not innate, which we believe them to be, would arise, and as the erection, first of temples, and then of houses, indicates a knowledge of geometry and constructive tools, it implies a more advanced culture.
The tradition which has reached us through the ages is that mankind contracted very slowly the protoplasm which forms our natural body, after which a variety of wants became apparent that were in earlier ages unfelt. Whether we accept or reject this view, we can realise that the united intellect of thousands of years has been unable to supply any better idea of the creation and progress of humanity upon earth than that handed down to us from the ancient sages. As man s material nature increased his spirituality decreased, and as his intuition tended to become dormant means were sought which might restore his ancient status. The discipline necessary for this purpose was
neither suitable nor agreeable to the majority, and this led to the establishment of secret or esoteric schools for those who sought the higher spiritual development. Of an unpretentious nature at first and possessing but moral trials or proofs, these schools gradually assumed a magnificent exterior under State control, with even proofs dangerous to life, and were designated THE MYSTERIES. The natural wants had now come to be provided for; the Arts and Sciences were developed: Architecture, Metallurgy, Ship-building, Astronomy, Agriculture, etc., were added to Theosophia, and religious ritual. This is the tradition of the Mysteries.
There are certain ancient legends in regard to a lost or sunken continent and a deluge which, though not absolutely accepted as history, are too probable to be passed over in silence. It is admitted by scientists that the surface of our earth is continually wasting away, with the result that the bed of the ocean is being slowly raised, and the geographical position of the land is changing: we see in one locality that the ocean is washing the land away, whilst in another the sea is receding. Equally great climatic changes are slowly developing; thus Greenland was at one time a torrid clime, which at a later age, to be reckoned only by tens of thousands of years, was succeeded by intense cold, and when our own island was depopulated by a deluge of ice and frost.
These changes are attendant upon what astronomers term the “Precession of the Equinoxes”; there is a gradual displacement of the poles of the earth, occurring in cycles or periods of 25,000 years, and the last of which reached its extreme point about 12,500 years ago, when it is held that a great cataclysm occurred which changed the face of the entire globe. It follows of necessity that men s habits must change with climatic changes. The Hindu priests have a complicated series of cycles within cycles, which are not altogether imaginary but are grounded upon recondite astronomical calculations. When we remember that there is a great central sun round which the entire galaxy of planets and suns revolve, we may draw the analogy that in immense cycles what we may term seasonal changes or states are produced, even on these planets and suns, similar to those which occur on our earth. ( Vide “Notes and Queries” (S. C. and L. M. Gould, Manchester, N.H.), xi, p. 203.)
There exists in Thibet and India a “Secret Doctrine” which is of unquestioned antiquity, and of which analogical confirmation may be found in the writings of the ancient Philosophers. This doctrine allows for the existence in extreme antiquity of a sunken continent in the Pacific ocean, of which the present islands are mountain tops, and in the Atlantic ocean of seven islands, the last of which sank beneath the waters about the period which we have assigned for a great cataclysm, or 12,500 years ago.
Behind this account, which in the East is considered historical, lies the cyclical doctrine of a Day and Night of Brahm, or by whatever other word the impersonal Deity is designated. These cycles are the Outbreathing and Inbreathing of the Unknowable deity, or everliving Spirit and primal Matter; the gradual progress of all created matter is the divine Day which proceeds from the etherial or cometary to the concrete by means of the Tatwas, which will correspond with the Genetic Days of Moses, and these again with the gestation of the ordinary foetus; in the divine Night everything again reverts to the etherial state, to be again followed, in immense cycles, by a reversed action.
The mythological account of the Hindu Paradise places Mount Meru at the North-pole, or the imperishable land ; a circular island upon which is the “City of the Gods,” which is supposed to be a perfect square guarded by a wall protected by eight circular towers, and the holy mount, which is of conical shape, rises in the centre of the city (“Anacalypsis,” i. p. 507) .
Temples have been designed to represent this legendary Meru, and it has also formed the basic plan of cities, which we may mention later. It is also noteworthy that the Egyptian legend of the Mystery God, Osiris or Heseri, is applicable to 68 Degrees north latitude, or where the sun dies for 40 days, and which was then a hot climate, according to the legends. We know that the Mammoth existed there and fed on tropical herbage. The north they consider to have been torrid owing to the then nebulous or cometary state of our globe, which had neither cooled down nor hardened. Humanity, of a sort, existed in that land, but was moon-bred, etherial, globular, gigantic, sexless, generated as are atoms by self-multiplication. To these succeeded a second race, giants, of whom the later and more material were inspired by the Solar gods, these were dual-sexed or hermaphrodite, as many forms of life yet are, and more compact than the first race.
The Arabs and Persians have legends of such a race, and represent that it was ruled by 72 kings of the name of Suleiman, of whom the three last reigned one thousand years each. It does not seem that these Suleimans, who are, par-excellence, the rulers of all Djins, Afreets, and other elemental spirits, bear any relationship to the Israelite King, that being a more modern application. We find the name as one of the gods of the ancient Babylonians, and the late Doctor Kenealey, who as a Persian scholar translated the poems of Hafiz, asserts that the earliest Aryan teachers were named Maha-Bodhs or Solymi, and that Suleiman was an ancient title of regal power, synonymous with Sultan in Asia, Pharaoh in Egypt, Khan in Tartary, Tsar in Russia. There is also a Persian legend which alleges that in the mountains of Kaf, which can only be reached by a magic ring (that of Suleiman), there is a gallery built by the giant Arzeak where the statues of the ancient men are preserved who were ruled by the Suleimans, or wise Kings of the East. Many an Eastern storyteller laments the departed glories of the throne of Suleiman, located near the present Aden in Arabia, which it has been suggested may have been populated by Kushites from the Hindu Kush. There is a very wonderful structure hewin out of solid rock on the confiness of Afghanistan and India called the Takht-i-Suleiman, or throne of Solomon, its ancient Aryan name being Shanker Acharya, fabled to have been erected by supernatural means, and known to have been a great rendezvous for two thousand years of merchants caravans. It is on the western side of the Suleiman Mountains.
Leaving this slight digression we return to the Secret Doctrine, which goes on to relate that in course of time a third race of men were produced with bones and divided into sexes, and who are practically the first race of Adamic men, for the rib of Adam is a euphemism alluding to the division of sex. These are said, after developing a monosyllabic language, now represented by Chinese, to have spread over the long lost Pacific continent; here they became great builders, developed the religious Mysteries, and spread from north to south, populating the Atlantic continent, who are considered a fourth race, after the Pacific continent had disappeared. Here was the home of the proto-Aryan race of a brown-white complexion. A colony of these settled in Egypt in remote ages, where they introduced the astronomy and zodiac of Asura-Maya of Romakapura, and the pupil of Narida, of whose books the Indians claim to have some fragments. Another colony of educated priests settled upon an island, where the desert of Gobi now exists, but then an inland lake, which held in its bosom 12 smaller islands. These priests, or at least some of them, allied themselves with a red-yellow Mongoloid race possessing great intuitive powers, a race of which the Chinese are a branch, for it is claimed that there were seven sub-races in each of the 3rd and 4th races.
The intermarriage of these two races, which we may compare with that of the sons of God with the daughters of men, gave rise to a fifth race of Aryans, who sent out civilising missions over the world, and it is asserted that there are records which show that these priests travelled into Europe to superintend the erection of religious structures such as existed amongst the British Druids, and it is not impossible, as the Eastern civilisation had a lengthy precedence over that of Europe.
When the island of Atlantis sank a pass was reft which drained the Desert of Gobi, and caused the Aryans to take refuge in the mountains and high table- lands, and the change of climate may have sent out others to seek a warmer home; others being forced outwards by the increase in population, and thus compelled to colonise new regions. Thibet has preserved many details of the wars of this lost Atlantis, charging the cause of its destruction to the cultivation, by a portion of its tribes of black magic, or the left-hand path. It may be mentioned that there yet remains between Cabul and Balkh, or the ancient Bactria, some five immense statues from 120 to 60 feet high, said to symbolise this doctrine of these successive races (The Secret Doctrine, of H. P. Blavatsky.) . It is curious that on Easter Island there are some similar statues, ranging from 70 to 3 feet high, mentioned by Cooke as equal to our best masonry, and of which investigation has been made by the Smithsonian Institute, and which are said to have been wrought in lava with iron tools.
The Egyptian priests had a chronology vastly in excess of the ordinary computation, and the accounts dovetail with what we have already related. Herodotus, who visited Egypt about 450 B.C., states that the following were careful records of time preserved by the priests. Before any King, a dynasty of gods ruled in Egypt; the First of these were the 8 great gods, sometimes enumerated as 7; then followed the 12, who were produced from the eight, of which the Egyptian and Tyrian Heracles was one, and who ruled 17,000 years before the historian s time; Horus, the son of Osiris, who the historian tells us is identical with Bacchus and his son with the Grecian Apollo, ruled 15,000 years before his own visit. From the time of Menes, the first human king and founder of Memphis, the priests read over to him the names of 330 kings, and also showed him the statues of 34I hierophants, which the historian estimates, at 3 to a century, as representing 11,340 years from the foundation of Memphis. Herodotus was prohibited from giving any esoteric information, but we may point out that there is an affinity between the twelve zodiacal signs and the labours of the Grecian Heracles whom Herodotus considers to be much more modern than the Heracles of Egypt and Tyre, and whose labours were applied to the Hercules of the Latins. The great gods may refer to the Cabiric culte, the lesser gods to the Aryan, but we shall see more of this as we proceed.
The former are represented by the planets, and the latter by the zodiacal signs. The birth of the gods may indicate the introduction of their worship into a country or district, their marriage the era when one worship was associated with another, whilst their death may be explained on the doctrine of an alleged reincarnation. The Egyptians, Herodotus says, were the first who erected altars, shrines, and temples, and who engraved the figures of animals in stone; the first to divide the year into twelve months, and to give names to the 12 gods; the first to defend the doctrine of the souls immortality; the first to develop geometry.
It is worthy of note that 3, 7, and 12 are prominently represented in Hebrew. There are 3 mother letters, 7 double, and 12 simple characters, which actually bear a planetary and zodiacal signification. The Hebrew alphabet is but an adaptation from an older one, but the arrangement proves that the inventor was an Initiate of the Mysteries, of which this alphabet is the synthesis. It is asserted that in the most ancient times there were two secret zodiacal signs and ten that were known as also 10 simple characters. It is now impossible to fix with mathematical precision the dates of such zodiacs as exist. Of the Egyptian that at Dendara might refer to 13,000 B.C., but there is one at Esne which might refer to 15,000 B.C. Without doubt the ancient Hierophant who designed these figures embodied therein a secret doctrine, and it has been supposed that the system was intended to symbolise the destinies of humanity for the 2,500 years which each sign represents, or for the period which the sun occupies in over-running a sign. The chronology here set forth is much in excess of that allowed by the more extravagant archaeologists, but, in some confirmation of it, Baron Bunsen admits traces of buried pottery which may be 20,000 years old, estimated upon the deposit which the Nile leaves at each annual flow.
The Aryan legend of the sunken Atlantis is said to have been recorded in Egypt. Plato indirectly informs us in the “Timaeus” that when his ancestor Solon visited Egypt the priests of Neith at Sais informed him that many catastrophes had occurred to mankind in remote times, the most remarkable of which was one contained in the records of the temple. That some 9,000 years before this visit, which took place about 600 B.C., a large continent and some adjacent islands had perished in one night by earthquakes, and that from these islands was the way to the true continent; that the inhabitants of this Atlantis were a race who recognised that great advantages sprang from a just and righteous commerce; that they had conquered and colonised Greece, and extended themselves on one side as far as Lybia, and on the other to Tyrrhenia. But a part of the islands inhabitants had given themselves up to selfish aggrandizement, and had made war upon the well disposed people, and to subvert the good regulations which had been established by Poseidon and his son Atlas. Whereupon the incensed gods, in one night, sank the country of Atlantis beneath the waves of the ocean. It is further stated that the country had temples of black and white stones, decorated within and without with precious metals. The shrine of Poseidon and the palace of the King was surrounded with three sheets of water, forming three parallel concentric circles, and a temple existed roofed with gilded copper. Theopompus in his “Meropis” attributes a similar account to the priests of Phrygia, and tells us that the island contained a fighting and a contemplative race; the former knew how to make themselves invulnerable to iron, so that they could only be wounded by stone or wood. Proclus quotes Marcellus on the subject. Blavatsky says that they had a written character and used it with the tanned skins of monstrous animals now extinct. Professor Bowdler Sharpe thinks that allied forms of birds point to a lost continent which stretched from South America to Australia with an arm extending to Madagascar, and this would meet the account of Plato.
We have another account, similar in its essentials to that recorded. “The Popul-Vul,” or “Book of the Azure Veil” of the Mexicans, tells us that these Atlantians were a race that “knew all things by intuition,” and repeat the charge of sorcery, or black magic, as the cause of the destruction of their country by the gods. This book allegorises and personifies the forces of nature. The “Troano MS.” records the same matter with special mention of the geological changes which the catastrophe caused. Dr. le Plongeon translates a passage thu: — “In the year 6 Kan, on the 11th Muluc, in the month Zac, there occurred terrible earthquakes which continued without interruption until the 13th Chuen.” The MS. goes on to say that the land of Mu disapeared and that ten countries were scattered, and that this occurred 8,060 years before the book was written. This writer advances still more extraordinary matter confirmative of the statements of the book.
We find in the grave-mounds of a prehistoric race (See “Ars Quatuor Coronatorum,” v, part II.) , as well as in the architectural sculptures of the Mayaux, the cross in its various forms; the tau cross (T) of Egypt, on the breast of numerous statues throughout America, the equilimbed cross (+), and the so- called Latin cross (symbol: a Latin cross), a form equally found in Egypt in pre- Christian times. There is the winged-egg with a symbolic explanation same as was given to it in Egypt (“Sacred Mysteries of the Mayas and Quiches 11,500 Years Ago.”) .
Brother George Oliver, D.D., asserts that these races used a cube of pure crystal in their temples, and Dr. le Plongeon, who spent twelve years in overhauling the ruins of Yucatan, has found cubical dice upon which is engraved a human hand, as well as crystals of a globular form, arrows of jade, the hardest of stones, etc. The hand, as a symbol, held an important place amongst these people, as it is found stamped on the inside of buildings as if it was done with the actual hand of the architect as a mark of approval, or as a modern Indian Rajah stamps his own hand on the standard given to one of his troops; the same custom appears in the Temples of India. Le Plongeon further found an altar which is a facsimile of one at Anger-thom in Cambogia, and he also claims that he has discovered the tomb, statue, and cremated body of Prince Cay Canchi, the High-priest; in the centre of his mausoleum was represented 12 serpent heads, and the statue which he disinterred at Chichen Itza, the city of the Sages, possesses a carved apron on which is figured an open human hand. The number seven is an important factor in their secret symbolism.
The Doctor, who found a difficulty in getting into print because the publishers saw no money in the subject, claims that the following account is sculptured upon the ruined temple of Uxmal, and confirmed by the “Troano MS.” as the veritable history of the country, but which has become mythologised in the old world: the history of an Empire more ancient than Atlantis, embracing three continents peopled by a red and black race, that is including North and South America and Atlantis; that this empire was symbolised by the trident, and the three-peaked crown of its kings, and alluded to in mythology as the kingdom of Poseidon, Kronos, or Saturn.
There was, says the author, a deified king named Can, whose totem or emblem was the serpent, and a rule of his kingdom, as in some Asiatic countries, was that the eldest son should marry his youngest sister. This Can had 3 sons and 2 daughters, thus making a famly of 7, each of whom ruled one of seven cities. Following the rule already mentioned, one of the brothers named Coh, chacmol or leopard, took to wife his sister Moo, but their brother Aac, whose TOTEM was the turtle, out of love for his sister slew her husband treacherously. According to the custom of the country he is represented as offering her fruit, whilst she is seated under a tree upon which is perched a macaw as the “totem” of Moo; the serpent, or her husband s emblem, is twined in the branches of the tree, whilst a monkey stands by as if representing a councillor. The tree is the emblem of the country, and the representation is in close conformity with the legend of Genesis as to the temptation of Eve. Moo refuses to accept this symbol of the love of Aac, and he puts her to death, as well as her elder brother Cay Canchi, or Hunacay, the wise-fish, the high- priest.
It is noteworthy that in the sculptured representations of this legend, or history, whichever it may be, the murderer Aac is represented as a Sun- worshipper, whilst Coh and his sister Moo venerate the serpent. A curious analogy to this is to be found in Egypt, it is in a statue of Typhon or Set as described by Plutarch. It is the representation of a hippopotamus, which corresponds to the turtle of Aac, and on the back of the animal is a hawk and a serpent in the act of fighting. Le Plongeon again affords another correspondence with Egypt in the description of the 12 kings descended from the 7 of the race of Can, who ruled before the destruction of Atlantis; for we have here the 12 minor gods and the zodiac, and the 7 greater gods or planets. The account may be veritable history, as Le Plongeon maintains that it is, but it is possible that the author may have mistaken for history a still older mythology carried from Atlantis to Pucatan.
The temple of Chichen Itza is itself an interesting study. It is built on a ground plan of three apartments which (Symbol on two lines of text: A Greek cross with a short horizontal bar at the top and bottom of the vertical arm) make a triple cross. In one peculiarity it corresponds 1 with some ancient temples in Egypt and Cambodia where a keyed arch was then not known. It has a triangular arch constructed by the overlapping of large stones, in which the three sons of Can are symbolised; by taking in the sides we have five to include the two sister; and adding the ends we have seven or the whole family; numbers which are sacred both in Central America and in the East. Over the door of the sanctuary is represented both the cross-bones and a skeleton holding up its two fleshless arms in the form of two squares, a position which is sometimes represented in Egypt as that in which the soul appears before Osiris. Here again it is singular that a corresponding doctrine is found in India as to the symbolism of the walls and floors of their temples. There are other temples in Yucatan which were intended for sun-worship, the ground plan being three concentric circles, like the lakes we have mentioned as surrounding a palace in Atlantis
But the most extraordinary part of the claims of Le Plongeon is that he has discovered the interpretation of the hieroglyphical inscriptions and finds that the character used, with the exception of a very few letters, is absolutely identical with the hieratic alphabet of Egypt, whilst the language which these characters bespeak is yet found in almost pristine purity in the dialect of Patan, a language which is perfectly constructed and strikingly resembles the Coptic. As in Egypt and Chaldea the ground plan of a temple was the oblong square (symbol of a horizontal rectangle), which was again the symbol both in Yucatan and Egypt of the letter M or “Ma”, which implies the earth, and the word Maya. In the names of the Greek alphabet Le Plongeon finds a poem, the Patan words of which gives the history of the great catastrophe.
The Mayaux had their religious Mysteries which were governed by 12 priests, with initiations and carefully guarded sacred rites, of which some account may be gathered in the writings of the Quiches, a neighbouring race at Xibalba: in passing through these initiations the Neophyte had to undergo most severe bodily trials, which Le Plongeon compares with certain descriptions in the Chaldean “Book of Enoch”. It is not, however, shown that in these Mysteries Art symbolism exists such as we shall find in Thibet and China and in Freemasonry. We learn elsewhere from some researches made at the instance of the Smithsonian Institute that these, or similar Mysteries, are yet preserved by the Zuni people and consist of twelve orders of priests, into some degrees of which Mr. Frank H. Cushing has recently obtained admission after undergoing severe bodily trials. Historical and religious analogies with Yucatan are to be found amongst the Japanese who represent the first seven gods by the same symbols as the Mayas, and Brother George Oliver sets forth that a Japanese candidate, in initiation into their Mysteries, represents the suns passage through the twelve Zodiacal signs.
It is singular that the Mayaux legends or Mythology should contain so much in common with Egypt, Asia, and India. Persia has the tradition of one brother slain by another. The Hindu “Ramayana” represents that the king of the monkey race, perhaps an inferior aboriginal tribe such as the Andamans, had two sons, Bali and Sougravia, each of whom desired the same wife, and Sougravia, by the aid of the divine Rama, treacherously slew his brother Bali. It is alleged, in confirmation of Solon s statement, that Atlantian emigrants settled in Egypt and Greece, that they equally settled in the Dekkan. Indeed, the “Ramayana” states that Maya, the magician and architect of the Davanas, took possession of South India and navigated the ocean from west to east and from the south to the north; the word Maya here meaning a dweller upon the sea.
In the Atlantic Islands, or mountain tops of Atlantis, there is a general belief that a system of secret Mysteries prevails, and this seems to have been established as a fact by several recent Masonic experiments. (“Canadian Craftsman”, xvii, No. 4; also A.Q.C.) The natives of Virginia have a society of Initiates designated Huseanawer. The mother prepares a funeral pyre for her son of whom a simulated sacrice is to be made, as in the case of Isaac, and during the preparation she weeps him as dead. A tree is cut down and a crown made from its boughs: the initiate is given a powerful narcotic by which he is thrown into a state of somnambulism, and after a protracted retirement he is looked upon by his tribe as a new man. Again, the negroes of Guinea have certain Mysteries called the Belly Paaro; the candidate is led into a wood where he is divested of all clothing and metals; here he passes five years in absolute seclusion; after this he is initiated into the most secret doctrines of the sect. (“Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries”. Jno. Hogg, I875, by Heckethorn.) The object of their worship, as with the Maoris, is Rangi and Papa, or the heavenly Father and the earthly Mother
Even in the Pacific islands, or the mountain tops of a great sunken continent which has been denominated Lemuria, there exists a system of religious Mysteries. Heckethorn mentions that at Tahiti and scattered over Polynesia, is a society called Areoiti, which has seven degrees of initiation, which none but the king may pass over all at once. One of their ceremonies is practised at the winter solstice, and it is a funereal ceremony resembling that in honour of Osiris, Bacchus and Adonis. The meaning underlying this initiation is the generative powers of nature, and laymen have to undergo severe bodily trials. (“Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries”. Jno. Hogg, I875, by Heckethorn.)
There are cave pictures in Australia of a race more ancient than the Bosjesmen, one of these caves has a robed figure with a rainbow round the head which the Rev. J. Matthew considers to be identical with the chief god of Sumatra. (“Lucifer”, xiv, 1894.) There are many general assertions that a system of signs identical with modern Freemasonry exists amongst the native Australians, and one such account appears in “Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.” (Vol. x. Bro. F. Jones.)
But the most precise account is a paper in the “New Zealand Craftsman” of 8 Feb., 1898, by Brother Henry Stowell, whose grandmother was a Maori. The paper deserves to be fully copied.
“The Maori in their traditions, “Fangitawhiti” (epic poems), and language show conclusively that ages ago there was at Hawaiki, a grand temple known as Wharekura, at which temple meetings were regularly held and presided over by Tohunga, or initiates of a very high order, and wherein was taught and practised a perfect system of principles in an esoteric form, with exhaustive and appropriate rituals, also symbols, signs, and passwords, and that these were kept and preserved on tables of stone, which latter were deposited in the temple. The ritual and symbols were entrusted by the Ariki-Ranji (divine and supreme head) to the various officers in order to properly carry out the ceremonials connected with these meetings, whereat only those others who were entitled to be present had the happiness of listening to the recitals, and of observing the uses of the higher symbols. Regarded from a Maori point of view this Masonry is neither more nor less than the relation of the main features of creation and the origin and history of the higher destiny of man, which relation was accompanied with appropriate symbols. TANE was the G.A.O.T.U., he may or may not be identical with the Chaldean Oannes. The language in which this wisdom religion was embodied is extremely archaic, but thanks to my having been taught in my youth by an aged Tohunga, and relative, some of the symbols and mysteries, I understand many of the allusions and am acquainted with various signs. A knowledge of astronomy being absolutely essential to a proper realisation of the principles of the order, its Adepts — Tohunga- Kokorangi — constantly taught in observatories its elements and phenomena, to those who were accepted for qualification.
“Under the Maori system the two main Pillars, together with their Chapters, were represented before the dome of the sky. These were divine. A subordinate pillar was the Pillar of the Earth ; at certain points the Nagana or centre was traced. These were two great circles which intersected and which had their corresponding circles. The square was taught upon four points of the visible universe. Moral teachings were more or less associated with the Figure of the Ripeka cross, the type of good and evil, or enlightenment and ignorance by two opposing lines. It appears that there is a universal tendency to restrict, thwart, or delimit its beneficial functions. Hence, “He waewae tapeka ta ta ara Ripeka.” ( A foot which diverges from the good or pure to the evil or impure path. ) The figure of the triangle, Tantora, formed the basis of, or for, the most elaborate calculations in connection with astronomy and geography.
“The term Mason, Masonry, Masonic, are used in the English sense and for convenience. Days and months were measured by successive phases of the moon, while the year was marked by the heliacal rising in June of the star Puanga, Rigel in Orion, due east, this being the star of the Maori new year, and the first sign of the Awahio-Rangi, or zodiac.
“I have no knowledge of the use of such a thing as the 24 inch gauge, but can vouch that calculations of length or distance were worked out with nice exactitude. The signs in use varied from those of the Europeans. Still in some important respects, so far as a mere M.M. is able to compare, there is astonishing agreement, and the agreement suggests “a variation on the European scale,” owing to the incorporation or blending therein, of the terms of the Oath. The ordinance of the Tapu sanctity was its (Masonic) very essence: any infringement thereof, or neglect of its observance, by whomsoever, resulted in sure and speedy death, which was the true penal sign, silent and awesome. Then again Speculative Masonry was not advanced or urged, and each one appears to have used his enlightenment for the purpose of furthering his knowledge along these ancient lines, which embraced the complete system, offering that fulness of happiness granted to mortals who were enabled to penetrate the very depths of nature, and by revelling in her mysteries attain the threshold of the divine.”
There are numerous other archaic legends which might have appeared in this chapter but which it will be more convenient to refer to hereafter by way of illustration. Those of Genesis, for instance, come within this category. The Adamic legend of Genesis has the appearance of being the esoteric caste mythology of a tribe which settled in the Caucasian highlands, holding the Aryan doctrine of divine incarnations, to which they gave the expression of a coming Messiah, or divine reincarnation, who was to redeem and rehabilitate their own fallen race alone, and we have seen that the serpent was equally an esoteric emblem in America. Analogous legends to those of Genesis appear also in Vedaic literature. A clergyman recently advanced in his book entitled the “Fall of Adam” that it allegorised the intercourse of the higher spiritual or Adamic man with the lower and soulless race of pre-Adamites, and as we are not bound down by the Rabinical chronology we may carry such a theory back to the “Moon” and “Sun” races of Thibet.
In the American Can we may have a coincidence with the Tartar title of Khan, and perhaps with the Biblical Cain. In the scriptural account it is Cain, the eldest son, who, like the Thibetians, offers a sacrifice of the fruits of the earth, slays his younger brother Abel who offers a sacrifice of blood, and who leaves no progeny. The continuance of a spiritually minded line devolves upon the third son, or race of Seth. It is after the marriage of these sons of God with the daughters of men that we find the union of the worldly arts of the line of Cain with the more spiritual line of Seth. According to the Talmud Lamech marries the two daughters of Keenan, to whom it assigns the stone tablets of prophecy; the progeny of these marriages become men of renown — Jabal, Jubal, Tubal Cainl, &c. In Egypt owing either to a racial inversion of the legend, which may have either been the production of some very old racial war, or later to mark their detestation of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, the priests made of the god Set, or Seth, a devil identical with Typhon who murdered his brother Osiris. There existed in Africa, contemporary with the beginning of Christianity, a sect of Abelites, and it is not improbable that the Syrian Baal, the Cretan Abelios, the Celtic Abellio, and the Greek Apollo, were modified versions of the Hebrew Hebel or Abel.
It is worth while to note that the Jewish Bible makes the line of Cain to be the first to build a city, which may mean a series of wooden huts analogous to those which originated the trabeated, or beam style of stone work, prevailing amongst the early Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans in their temples and coming down even to Christian times; found as well in the cave temples of India, which are richly and wonderfully carved to represent woodwork. After the flood it is the descendants of Ham who become the great builders, and Japhet is to “dwell in the Tents of Shem,” which tent is the prototype of the Pagodas of China, Persia, and Japan.
As these legendary accounts of an art which spread from a sunken continent are scarcely more than prehistoric tradition, we need not follow the subject further in this chapter; widely spread as these traditions are, they can scarcely be altogether baseless. Some confirmation has been found by scientific sea- soundings, and further corroboration is afforded in the accepted fact that all the Pacific islanders are of the same race, and speak dialects of the same language, and this at a distance from each other which is impassable to their small boats; all equally say that their forefathers dwelt in a land over which the waves of the ocean now sweep.
We are, for these various reasons, justified in a belief in the veritable existence of such continents, and, by the same parity of reasoning, as we find sacred and secret mysteries existing amongst them, in the Pacific, Atlantic, and in Australia, we are justified in supposing that these sacred schools are as old as the race that inhabited these continents. We see, however, that these mysteries have no architectural aims, and are a part of the conjecture with which we began this chapter, as to the relative position of religion and art. If the reader places no confidence in these traditions, until science has pronounced upon them, he can forget that he has read them, and pass on to what is more generally accepted.
In the following pages closer proof will be found of the existence of a system resembling Free Masonry, and though we have not a minute book to prove that primeval man invented Free Masonry, under a more ancient name, and then established Lodges in Tartary, Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Italy, Britain, etc., yet the fact that similar societies existed in all these countries is indisputable, and there is no doubt that other and more important links will yet be brought to light by a diligent perusal of old classical authors, by someone who has the intuitive ability to understand the language of Mystery.
II – PROTO-ARYAN CIVILISATION AND MYSTERIES.
Philologists seem to be fast arriving at the view that when the whole earth was of “one language and of one speech” it was a primitive monosyllabic or Turanian tongue. The word Turanian is most indefinite, for it is taken to include the small, dark, long-headed Dravidian race of India, which penetrated Britain before the Aryan Celt and of which the Basques of Spain are a survival; the long-headed white race of Scandinavian hunters; and the white, broad- headed Mongoloid, whom we chiefly term proto-Aryan, as an early branch of the Aryan race; a race which in prehistoric times spread from Lapland to Babylon, and from India to Egypt and Europe.
The modern discoveries of archaeologists, in the countries occupied in remote times by this once powerful proto-Aryan race, have scarcely yet had time to filter down into the ordinary Masonic channels, but they must in course of time considerably modify the views of older writers upon our Masonic Mysteries. It would seem from what can be gathered that we owe advanced building in stone and brick to this race, and the assimilation of their so-called Turanian speech is indicated by this, that, Monsieur Lenormant traces the remotely connected Proto-Median and Akkadian of Babylon to the Ugro-Altaic family of languages, traces the Aryan to the same Finnic race of the Ural mountains, and the anthropological evidence is as conclusive as the language of the Ugro-Altaic origin of the Aryan race. It may have taken tens of thousands of years for the development of the proto-Aryan into the Indo-Iranian tongue, Zend, Sanscrit, Pushtu, Baluchea, as well as the Aryo-European languages, including Greek, Latin, Sclavonic, Lettic, and Teutonic. From it also sprang, at an earlier period, the Celtic of Europe, and from it, by a probable mixture with a black or Hamitic speech, the Semitic tongues spoken in Assyria, Phoenicia, Arabia, and Palestine.
Even with the comparatively slight knowledge which we possess of the ancient Turanian and proto-Aryan speeches it may be taken for granted that a race which had founded a language which embraced certain roots equally found in Teutonic, Greek, Celtic, Semitic, and Sanscrit, and their cognate dialects, before separating into colonies, and which embraced terms in art, agriculture, jurisprudence, family life, religion, etc., had even then made progress in geometry, in the building of temples and houses, and architecture generally. In this chapter, however, we are dealing more particularly with an earlier phase of culture, but it is necessary to say some little of Aryan advancement.
A high state of civilisation was developed in the highlands of Europe and extended to other centres in Northern India which included Thibet. The Indian Vedas assign the centre of their culture to the Himalayan source of the Ganges, “the abode of the Gods.” The Persian Avesta seems to point to the northern plateau of Pamir. We have no certain information in regard to the departure of colonies from their parent home, but no doubt the causes were various. The continuous increase of population would, of itself, make it a necessity.
The Zend Avesta attributes their departure from their original home to climatic changes: Ahriman, the evil spirit, who is mentioned both in the Avesta and the Vedas, introduced cold. The nomadic habits of the people as breeders of cattle led them into Europe. In the Himalayan centre or that of the Hindu, a war arose between those who had assumed divine powers in virtue of their, orally acquired, knowledge of the sacred hymns, and the warrior or Maharajah class, who were subdued by a divine being who incarnated as Rama, upon which the priests allowed favourable terms and permitted the warriors to receive a limited amount of sacred knowledge, and to “hear” the Vedas, when collected in writing, read. A previous incarnation is alleged for the benefit of the “monkey race,” by which is perhaps meant some low-caste tribe, but that of Rama represents some prehistoric reformer of the Turanian culture, to whom a divine origin is assigned.
At the period when the advance into India began, some 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, a race existed under the name of Tchandalas, probably partly Aryan, and partly Hamitic and other conquered Turanian races. These migrated to other parts, and some are believed to have originated the Semitic tribes. Such of the Tchandalas as remained were treated with the greatest barbarity by the Rishis or ancient Brahmin rulers, and were compelled to submit to a slavery which reads like that of the Hebrews in Egypt. (“Mackenzies Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia,” also “Blavatsky s Secret Doctrine.”) There were ex-Brahmins amongst them, and a caste system was established amongst the tribes which the Rishis did their best to suppress.
It is not possible to give any reliable estimate of the centuries that elapsed before the reduction into writing of the ancient hymns, and the conversion of the rocks into temples of Cyclopian architecture. The late Baron Bunsen deemed that the date 4,000 B.C. might be a very suitable era for what we may term the “manifestation of light,” or the beginning of recorded history, and the desire to transmit the same upon monuments, in Egypt in hieroglyphics, in Chaldea upon slabs in the cunieform. The Iran and the Hindu had developed the Avesta and the Vedas; the Babylonian an epic upon the journey of the sun through the signs of the Zodiac; the Egyptian the Book of the Dead, and the books of Hermes. But the nomadic Aryans of Europe had not made the same progress, the Celt was the most advanced but used bronze tools until about 2,000 B.C. Hence the Esoteric claims deserve serious consideration. Their earliest buildings are subterranean caves wrought with infinite labour and perseverance. We should have liked to enlarge upon these wonderful cave temples wrought in solid rock but space forbids.
An interesting visit to some of these is recorded in the late H. P. Blavatsky s book entitled “The Caves and Jungles of Hindustan.” That of Elephanta is a threefold construction, and it is alleged that all castes, and even kings wrought with the chisel in its construction. Whilst the oldest cyclopean architecture is attributed in Europe to the Pelasgians, in India it is attributed to the Pandus who were a pre- Brahmin tribe, and Ferguson regards the analogy of this style with that of the Incas of Peru as one of the most remarkable facts of history. It was in these prehistoric times that the symbols of the two creative forces of nature developed, represented by crux-ansata, lithoi, or lingam, and the vesica piscis, or yoni. They are equally the signs of a dogma which lay at the root of all religions in regard to fire, not the fire burning upon the altar, but the fire which that symbolised and was termed “divine darkness,” a spiritual or magical fire, seen by gifted seers, of which the earthly symbols are the pyramids, the obelisk, and the church spires. (“The Rosicrucians,” Jennings.)
The oldest of the Turanian, or proto-Aryan, races had an organised priesthood of three grades, as in that of the Art school. It is true that we cannot now give proof that such a system is as ancient as humanity, but we may accept its extreme antiquity from the fact that in the most ancient historic times there was a widespread system of three degrees of Theosophy amongst people hopelessly separated.
The Finlanders from the most ancient times to the present day have had a magical system of three grades which are termed Tietajat (learned), Asaajat (intelligent), and Laulajat (incantators). The Babylonian Chasdim were termed Khartumim (conjurors), Chakamim (physicians), and Asaphim (theosophists). (“Chaldean Magic,” by Lenormant.)
There yet exists in India certain Kolarian and Dravidian tribes who possess a magical system similar to that of the Finnic and Babylonian races, and they practise a system of secret initiation which they claim has descended to them from a time more ancient than the invasion of their plateau in central India by the Aryans, a conquest occurring thousands of years ago, but we purposely abstain from following European dates as they are altogether unreliable. Their grades are Najo (witches and wizards), Deoni or Mati (wizards), and Bhagat (diviner). It is said that in the grade of Bhagat the Master priest goes through a part of the initiation alone with the aspirant, and that the ceremony is completed at night time with a corpse, near to some water.
Amongst these tribes are the Gonds, sprung from Dravidians, who in early times reached a high degree of culture; in Chanda are the ruins of a palace and town with a perfect network of underground passages, which have never been explored by Europeans, and which, tradition states, lead to a series of halls where secret conclaves were formerly held. (“The Kneph,” v, p. 40 See also Mr. E. D. Ewen s paper (who resided several years amongst these people) in “Five Years of Theosophy.”) Mr. James Ferguson, F.R.S., in a lecture read before the Bengal Institute of this country maintains that the original occupiers of India were a Turanian race of builders who were tree and serpent worshippers, and that the Pelasgian inhabitants of Greece possessed the same features, in each case before the Aryan invasions and conquest of these countries. The full comprehension of this is the key to much that is puzzling in the transmission of Masonry and the Mysteries. There are important distinctions between the Hindus and these aboriginal hill-tribes; the latter have no caste divisions, they eat flesh food and offer live victims in sacrifice to their gods; and are essentially either of a Mongolian or Turanian type, like the Burmese and Japanese.
The Median Magi, or sacerdotal class of the proto-Medes were originally a so- called Turanian priesthood. But at some remote period there arose in the region north of Bactria a monotheistic reformer whom his followers termed Zaradust, the first of the name, and who is probably the same prophet whom the Hindus term Parusha-Rama, and it is this reformed Median civilisation which constituted the religion of the most ancient Babylonians; and of the somewhat more modern Persians. It is clear that the race worked metals and built in brick and stone from their earliest migrations. In the time of Cyrus I. these Magi consisted of three classes, thus named by the learned German scholar Heeren — Harbed, or disciple; Mobed, or master; Destur-Mobed, or complete Master. These constituted a sacerdotal College over which presided a Rab-Mag, or chief magian. The word Magi, or Mahaji in Sanscrit, means great or wise. Their distinguishing attributes were the Costi or girdle; the Havan, or sacred cup; and the Barsom, or bundle of twigs grasped in the hand; a symbol not properly understood but supposed to represent staves that were employed in divination, but it is much more probable that it was a symbol of that union which was to give strength to their order. The cubical dice were said to be used by them for divinatory purposes. Aristotle asserts that this Magian pontificate was more ancient than the foundation of Egypt; and Plato, who had an exalted opinion of the purity of its doctrines, confirms this antiquity.
Hermeppius says that the primitive Zoroaster was initiated by one Azanaces 5,000 years before the Trojan war, or, as is supposed, 8,168 years ago; Endoxes says that he lived 6,000 years before the death of Plato, or 8,237 years ago. In its proper place we will take the rites of the Aryan Mysteries of Mythras. Heckethorn asserts that the Indian Gymnosophists were the disciples of the early Magi, and that these Magi had put forth 5,000 years before the Iliad was written the three grand poems of the Zend Avesta, the first ethical; the second military; and the third scientific. They taught the duality of nature as exemplified in light and darkness, heat and cold, summer and winter, good and evil, of which two principles, in the revolving cycles, the good would become paramount.
Ernest de Bunsen says that it is proved that the three grades of the Jewish Rabbinical school are an exact parallel of the three grades of the Magi; that it was a secret school of Scribes, its highest teaching embracing the doctrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit in man, and that Jesus was a Rabboni. The Babylonian Rabu corresponding with the Hebrew Rab, the Mobed with the Rabbi, and the Destur Mobed with the Rabban or Rabboni. The Persian Mazda is equally styled Ahmi yat Ahmi — I am that I am. (“Miscell. N. & Q.” (Gould, 1894), xii, p. 304.)
The British or Celtic Druids were a priesthood that had features common to the Eastern Magi, and were divided into three classes denominated Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Michaelet says that it is wonderful the analogy which the names of the gods of Ireland — Axire, Axceavis, Coismaoil, Cabir, bear to the Cabiri. (“Freemasons Mag.,” 1860, i, p. 166.) The evidence of Strabo is to the same effect, as he says that the British Druids practise the same religious rites as existed at Samothrace. They cause their ancient progenitor to exclaim: “I am a Druid, I am an architect, I am a prophet, I am a serpent.” We shall see that the Cabiric Rites were the prerogative of priests and architects, embodying the drama of a murdered god. There can be small doubt that the Irish legend of Gobham-Saer, the son of Turibi of the Strand, who was murdered with his 12 companions by 12 robbers, is a vulgarised exoteric reference to the murdered Cabir and the 12 signs of the Zodiac. O Brien says that he was a Guabhres or Cabiri, and that Saer has the signification of son of God. He advocates in his “Round Towers” the Phoenician origin of these buildings with their appropriation by later Christian Monks; often, as at Glendalough, seven small chapels, or altars, are attached. It is possible, as has been maintained, that north Europe was the centre whence the Orientals derived their legends, and that Chaldean, whence Culdeean, was as appropriate to the Druids as to the Babylonian, and that as the Essenians were Babylonians, the Culdees were Essenes, as held by the venerable Bede, and thus the Essenes, or Assidiana, were Culdees.
The chief British gods were Hu and Ceridwen, or the Ouranos and Ghe of the Cabiri; and it is worthy of mention that there are Druidical unhewn stones and temples in cruciform, the one in the island of Lewes consists of 12 stones each limb having three, and the subterranean of New Grange in Ireland is also cruciform. Higgins in his “Celtic Druids,” mentions in Scotland as prechristian, a crucifix on one side of which is a lamb, and on the other an elephant.
There is nothing very remarkable in the prechristian existence of such cruciform structures, in Italy it predates architecture, and the Rev. Baring Gould points out that there are in South Italy lake-dwellings of an immense antiquity where the cross-form is of greater antiquity than the bronze age. The cyclopean temple at Gazzo is built on the basis of a Latin cross, and hence it was a religious emblem of the Cabiri. It is found in India in the most ancient cave of Elephanta, and is equally an emblem in central America. There are also two prechristian caves in Ireland of this form. (See “Freemasons Magazine,” 1857. p. 276.) We mentioned its use by the Maori race.
Toland points out that the three divisions of the Druidical system which we have mentioned must not be taken as progressional degrees. They were three classes corresponding to Soothsayers, Physicians, and Prophets. The last, or the Druid class, had four degrees conferred at intervals of 3, 6, and 9 years. The Bards and Ovates were each divided into three classes with special functions. (“Toland,” quoting Jones.) Taliesin as an initiate exclaims — “Thrice was I born, now I know how to acquire all knowledge by meditation.” The emblem of the Druid was a vitrified egg, chased in gold, and hung from the neck, and which held up to the light shewed a sacred token; the “Serpents,” or Druids, prepared it.
It is generally accepted that the theology of these sacred Colleges, even in the most ancient times, taught the existence of one sole power or creator of the visible universe, though triplicated in His manifestations, and that from Him proceeded the minor gods, angels, and demi-gods. He, the one, was Dyaus in Sanscrit, Zeus in Greek, Tiu in Teutonic, the ancient inscriptions and books of the Egyptians place it beyond doubt; the Chinese, the Magi, Hindus, Hebrews, etc., all add confirmation, and various other proofs are adduced in the work entitled “Natural and Revealed Religion” of our brother the Chevalier Ramsay. It is immaterial by what name the prophet, or outteller, who revealed this doctrine whether Taut, Fohi; Zaradust, Rama; Enoch or Edris whose pupil Abram, or great-father, was; the doctrine of one God, uncreated, incorporeal, all-seeing, all-powerful, everywhere present, and dwelling incomprehensibly in his own unity, gleams out through the darkness of the ages. And though the doctrine admits of minor deities as agents of the Supreme the dogma of unity formed the background of all the ancient religious Mysteries, coupled with that of divine incarnations, and that indwelling holy spirit in men, which makes him equal with the minor gods.
The examples which we have given of an arcane society divided into degrees, so widely separated by locality, by language, and by manners, from data existing some thousands of years ago, unmistakably point to a much more ancient derivation from a common centre, unless we admit an intuitive need for some such system. We find equally the same widespread distribution of geometrical symbols intended to typify Theosophical truths, and embracing cosmogony and creation. It is held that each symbol represented a letter, a colour, a number and a sound, thus constituting an esoteric hieroglyphic understood by the Initiates of every country. As an example we might easily arrange a set of very ancient symbols forming little understood Masonic emblems, and equally carved by operative masons on the ancient ruins of Asia, India, and Egypt, and these might again be applied on the plan of the old Philosophers to the recondite mysteries of nature. Take the following as numerals
I, II or V. (equilateral triangle with apex to top, square. Pentagram. Hexagram. hexagram circumscribed. cube. cube circumscribed) 10. In mystic crosses of equal antiquity with all our other emblems we find the following forms, namely,
(Symbols: reverse swastika. T. Ankh. X. Latin cross. Earth. Latin cross composed of two transparent rectangles). each having special application to a dogma.
We have already made slight allusion to the Cabiri, and all authorities are agreed that the Mysteries practised under this name were allied with the Cyclopean Masonry and its builders, and that those Rites and Buildings, in all countries, were the religion and architecture of a primitive race which preceded the Aryan invasions of Media, Babylon, India, Greece, and Egypt. The primitive inhabitants of Babylon, whom it has been agreed to term Akkadian, were more nearly allied in blood, language, and religion, with the Finlanders, Mongolians, early Egyptians, proto-Medes, Pelasgi, Etruscans, perhaps also American Indians, all so-called Turanian, than they were with the Elamites, Ethiopians, Arabians, and other Semites, or with the Hindu, Persian, and other Aryan races, that appear later on in the pages of resuscitated history. Yet there are actual traces of speculative Freemasonry, intimately allied with the religious Mysteries, amongst these primitive proto-Aryans. A clear explanation of these particulars does not admit of being printed, but every intelligent Free-Mason will be able to read, what we may write, between the lines, and thus supply for himself what we may leave unexplained.
Recent discoveries go to prove that Palestine had its Cabiric or Magian Rites, and that long before the invasion of the “brigand Joshua,” the son of Nun, as an old inscription is said to term that scriptural warrior, Akkadian civilisation existed in Syria, and the legendary Cain, Abel, and Seth of Genesis, and their progeny, find their analogies in other of the religious Mysteries. But the Talmud or Mishna, which is a very ancient explanation of the Law, differs materially from “Genesis;” thus it is said that in the days of Cain s son Enoch, and in the days of Seth s son Enosh, the people made images of copper and wood to worship, and it is to Keenan the son of Enosh that the Talmud attributes the prophecies of the destruction of the world, which he wrote upon tablets of stone. Enoch is represented as a Hermit, and the word implies Initiation. Lamech when blind by age is said to shoot his progenitor Cain by the accident of an arrow, and further, in his grief, kills by accident his own son.
Hence the traditional Lament of Lamech in Genesis which has been supposed to be a veiled confession of Initiation. The scriptural Tubal-Cain who was son of Lamech by the daughter of the Sethite Keenan seems to be equally a Cabiric legend in the Crysor of Sanconiathon the Phoenician historian, who is supposed to have lived as a contemporary of King Solomon. Equally Tubal- Cain, and Crysor, is the Vulcan of Greek mythology. Sanconiathon says of this Crysor: — “Men worshipped him as a god after his death and they called him Diamachius, or the great inventor, and some say his brother invented the making of walls and bricks. After these things, of his race were born two young men, one of whom was called Technites or the artist, the other Geinos Autochthon or earth born, or generated from the earth itself. These men found out to mix stubble with the brick earth, and to dry the bricks so made in the sun.” (Cory s “Ancient Fragments,” 1876, p. 8.) Sanconiathon further states that Upsistos was deified after he had been torn in pieces by wild-beasts, and that he was the father of Ouranos who invented sculpture, and of Tautus who invented hieroglyphics, and represented the constellations by pictures; he says also that in the third generation two Pillars were erected which were dedicated to “Fire” and “Wind.”
According to F. von Schlegel there exists a tribe in Eastern Asia, in the mountains, that possesses an inverted history resembling the Cain and Abel legend, but with these people it is the youngest brother who out of envy at the success of his elder brother, in mining for gold and silver, drives him out of the fatherland into the East. This writer, in his “Philosophy of History” thinks that the wars of races, the giants and the Titans, may be traced in the Biblical legends, and he is inclined to identify the holy Sethite race with the seven holy Rishis of Brahminical tradition. He also supposes that the confession of Lamech may hint at the beginning of human sacrifice. As Cain s offering was the fruits of the earth, animal life ought to have been as sacred to him as to the Budists. As Cain was the eldest son Schlegels view would make him the prototype of the Turanians, whilst Seth would represent the prehistoric Aryan; and these races the Talmud would again reunite in the posterity of Lamech, which does actually point to the union of religion and art.
As a matter of fact the Babylonian, Phoenician, and Jewish legends of the invention of the arts can only be looked upon as an attempt to explain the remote origin of these, something invented to please the curious, and to point out the early period at which these were supposed to have successively originated; the Persians have similar legends applied to their own people. But we are not without some proof to shew that an esoteric Masonic system was known to these early races, from which proceeded the “hundred families” that founded the Chinese culture. Owing to the researches of Professors de Lacomperie, Douglas, and Ball, it has been established that the Bak tribes, which entered China about 4,000 years ago, had the archaic cuneiform character, and the customs of the tribes of Elam and Chaldea, which alone is sufficient to establish a community of race. The Yh-King, or Book of Changes, in its original form was about a sixth of its present extent and termed the Ku- wen, and is a vocabulary of the primitive cuneiform thus uniting with the other countries which used it. There can be no doubt that the primitive Mysteries were held in Groves, and that the Initiates, as in the Druidical Rites, were received “in the eye of day,” the trials being rather moral than physical, the latter being a later stage, when the schools had somewhat degenerated, and temples specially adapted for the physical proofs began to be built.
Before we enter upon the nature of the CABIRIC MYSTERIES, and the Architecture termed CYCLOPEAN, we will endeavour to prove that in the most ancient times there was in existence an actual Society such as we now term Freemasonry. We will take first the Chinese, who are the most primitive of civilised races, and still retain their monosyllabic language, represented by hieroglyphics of which each is the picture of a root-word, of such value that the characteristic meaning is understood throughout the Empire, even where the spoken language is mutually unintelligible. It is a culture concreted thousands of years ago amongst a race closely allied in language, religion, mythology, and astronomy with Akkadian Babylon. Moreover the archaic tablets of Thibet have mystical allusions in consonance with the Mysteries, but we will allude to these in a later chapter.
There occurred in the year 1879 in the District Grand Lodge of China a discussion upon the subject we have mentioned above, from which we learn that about 4,000 years ago this people had a symbolism identical with the Masonic Craft. An altar in form of a perfect cube was used to typify the earth, and this may be read in conjunction with what we wrote in our last chapter on the Maori (32) rites, the circle being an emblem of heaven, and “earth” and “heaven” in union were Cabiric deities. The N.E. and S.E. are relatively used to imply the beginning and conclusion of an object in view. One of the oldest words in the language is literally “square and compasses” and signifies right conduct. The skirret as an hieroglyphic signifies the origin of things. When the Emperor of a new dynasty succeeded he began the erection of a new temple under the oversight of a Grand Architect. Aprons were used which bore emblems denoting religious office – there is a plant, an axe, and another not clear. The Shu-King, which is one of the oldest books in the language, gives the representation of two jewels in jadestone, which is one of the hardest and most valuable of all stones and the most difficult to work; these two are the square and the plumb-rule.
The same book speaks of Chien jen, magistrates, which is literally “level men,” implying what is expected of them; and the three chief officers of State are called the San chai, the three houses or builders; and one of the most ancient names of deity is the “First Builder.” The Emperor Shun, about 3,000 years ago, had amongst his attributes the circle and rule; and the hammer in the hands of their kings was an emblem of authority. When a monarch died the emblems of authority were returned for the purpose of reinvestiture. (The “Masonic Magazine” (Kenning).) In Masonry this is done on election of a new Master.
We learn from the “Book of Odes” that when an Emperor sacrificed he divested himself of his Imperial robes, was barefooted and bareheaded and girt with a lambskin. At the spring festival, which has much in common with the rites of the Grecian Ceres, we see following the procession a boy with one foot bare and the other shod, but which they apply to the “yang” and “yin,” or the positive and negative principles of nature. Brother Chaloner Alabaster, from whom we copy some of these illustrations, says that this building symbolism was continued by the Chinese philosophers of the 5th century B.C. Thus we read in the “Great Learning” that “a man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him”; and the writer adds, “this is called the principle of acting on the square.” Other similar expressions are used by Confucius 481 B.C.; and his later follower Mencius says, “that a Master Mason, in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and square; ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the compasses and square.” (“Ars Quat. Cor.”, ii, p. 120, and iii, p. 14.) Every trade in Japan has a Guild, and they are said to have been derived from China, by way of Korea, 3,000 years ago.
At the present time we are not thoroughly informed whether a system identical in all respects with that of China existed in Babylon, but there are indications that such was the case, as well as in Egypt, and we have already pointed out that Yh-King is an Akkadian vocabulary of root-words. Mr. St. Chad Boscawen has afforded us a note, where he treats of the ancient Calneh, about 3,800 B.C. (“Modern Thought,” 1883.) ; in this article he represents
the Viceroy Gudea as Patesi, or sceptre-bearer, subservient to the King of Erech, and terms him the chief priest and architect as well, his palace indicating the art influence of Egypt. His statue represents him as seated and having the right arm and shoulder bare; on his knees is a tablet containing a plan, or what Modern Masons term a Tracing-board, of his palace or temple; the edge of this tablet is divided into a scale of 20 3/10 inches to the cubit, a measure corresponding with that used in Egypt. Brother W. H. Rylands deems that this cubit may have divided the plan into chequered squares though not shewn thereon. Pure copper images of the Cabiri have been disinterred at Calneh.
Very strong philological grounds have been shewn by Dr. Miller in his “Har- moad” for identifying the Chinese Masonic system with Babylon, and this must be read in the light of the remarks we have made thereon.
One of the earliest Akkadian Kings named Lik-baga was a pyramid builder and, like Melchisedek, a king and priest of the Most High; he uses as a title the term Pa-teshi, which is thus literally translated “Pa” — anoint, “te” — corner stone, “shi” — to strike; and the same term is used by his successors. Patasso is a hammer, and the term Patoeci was the habitual designation of the images of the gods of the Cabiric Mysteries. Lik-baga seems to have modified Akkadian theology and was the crowned architect and apostle of Sin (moon), Samas (sun), Bel, and Anu. Another term used by these kings, and applied by Nebuchadnezzar to the most ancient kings, is Pa-teshi tsi-ri, which is translated Sublime Master by Dr. Schrader; it is connected with the Hebrew Pat-tish, a hammer, or the Cabiric hammer in the hand of Tubal-Cain or the Greek Vulcan. With the Akkadians the god of copper-smiths had the same name as the god of ironworkers amongst the Laplanders, and the words for iron and copper are the same respectively. (“Chaldean Magic” — Lenormant.) It is, however, through the Aryan Sanskrit that we can more particularly trace the assimilation of Akkad to a building fraternity, for the word Ak means to pierce, Akra is a sharp point, Akri is corner, Akana is a stone, Aktan is the number eight or the angles which are in a cube.
Akman in Sanscrit is a stone and in Persian heaven, and as a cube symbolises the eight cosmogonical powers, the word comes to imply the whole heavens. In Greek, which is an Aryan tongue, the name of the father of Ouranos is Akmon, and Diodorus makes Ur, or Ouranos and Ops children of Akmon and parents of the Titans, who are again the Cabiri. Akmon is also an anvil, which means a meteorolite, from which iron was first made, for in Greek Sideros is iron and related to the Latin Sidus, a star. The word Ak in the Akkadian signifies to build or to make, hence we have ta-ak, tak, tag, a stone or mountain, and akka, a building temple or sanctuary; these significations further connect Akkad, or proto-Aryan, with the Hindus and their architecture.
Ak is also the monogram of Nabu who is Mercury, Marduk, whence Nimrod; Nabu is therefore Mercury, and the Hermes of Egypt, the revealing God. In Semitic Assyrian abn is stone, abni stones, banah (Heb. benah) is to build. The learned Alexander Wilder (Gould s “N. & Q.”, xiii, p. 296.) expresses an opinion that Nimrod, founder of Babylon, was of Tartar descent, in which language the word means “spotted,” and may point to the leopard skin in which the Assyrian priests of Dionnisi were clothed. If Nimrod personates Kronos, as some hold, he was in that case a Cabiri or king of the race of Cyclopean builders.
From all this it is argued, with much soundness, that the first kings were both priests and architects, or the Grand Masters of these, and of the class of Cabiri who were first workers in stone and brick, and afterwards in metals, and that they transmitted a traditional doctrine of the temple, based upon cosmogony and the creation of the world. (“Ars Quat. Cor.,” v, pt. 2.) It explains why Genesis assimilates the worldly arts with religion, and shews the high respect the Hebrew priests had for art, though deficient in practice. The Babylonians must have afforded information to Ezra who revised the Jewish Bible, and it may be pointed out that these people were builders in brick rather than stone, and hence that the practice of art would vary in a country with that in which stone was used.
CABIRIC MYSTERIES AND CYCLOPEAN WORK.
When we approach historic times we find that the actual Cabiric Mysteries were of Grecian continuation and perpetuated at Samothrace where they had been in existence, from a remote era, far into Christian times, and where they were held in great veneration, not only for their antiquity but for the purity of their doctrine. They are said to have retained much of their technique in the Chaldean language, and to have preserved much of the Masonic symbolism which we have seen in Chinese practise, for the aboriginal inhabitants of Greece, Pelasgians, were an allied race, and Dr. Petrie asserts that pre- Hellenic, or proto-Aryan Greeks, were in Egypt, either as friends or captives, 2,500 B.C., with a civilisation all their own. Barbarous wars arose, the Aryan Hellenes devastated the country, and during an era of oppression reduced the old inhabitants to subjection; we find them denominated Pelasgi with a succession of 26 kings followed by 7 priests. Egypt eventually sent them rulers who restored their country to prosperity, founded cities and gave them laws.
Upon this we learn that the Cabiric Mysteries were in practice at Samothrace, and that they were, or had been, a fraternity which combined art with religion. Herodotus says that Samothrace had these Mysteries from the Pelasgi, and that they taught the initiated by a sacred tradition, why the figure of Hermes, Mercury, or Casmillus was constructed in a peculiar manner, from which we gather that they used Phallic symbols as emblems of the generative powers of nature; and this historian, who wrote 450 B.C., tells us that the names of their gods were derived from Egypt, as anciently they used the general term “Disposers.”
The views of all authorities are in unison with those of Frederick von Schlegel, who says that this primitive people were the constructors of the Cyclopean buildings of Greece and Italy, being the original inhabitants who were conquered and overrun by the Aryan immigration of Deucalion, that they were a people who had the traits in common with those of many other countries, at a remote period. (“Philosophy of History,” p. 234.)
Before we consider their Mysteries we will say something of their architecture; a style which is of prehistoric antiquity. It was very massive, and built of irregular and well-bound blocks of immense size, so well knit that though without cement a knife blade would not enter the joints, and so placed that a large block might be withdrawn without endangering the structure. The French Institute, in 1804, traced about 150 towns which were in part, at least, Cyclopean, and 127 of these were in Europe. Strabo says that the builders were from Syria in Asia Minor, by which he means Assyria; the same writer mentions vast caverns in Argos which had been converted into a Labyrinth by the Cyclops; and here was a statue of the father of the gods, which had a third eye in the middle of the forehead, and which was said to have been brought from the palace of Priam at Troy, an Asiatic city intimately connected with Assyria.
Pliny states that in the island of Lemnos, the home of the Cabiric Mysteries, there was a Labyrinth of 150 columns, each stone of which might be moved by a child; hence we learn that they resembled the rocking stones of the Druids; and Dr. Daniel Clarke found a stone circle at the top of Mount Gargarus, where the gods, according to Homer, assembled at the siege of Troy. (“Anacalypsis.”) Pliny attributes the working of iron to their invention, and the first inhabitants of Sicily are said to be of this race. Achilles Statius, bishop of Alexandria, mentions a statue in a temple on Mount Cassius, between Syria and Egypt, which held a pomegranate in the hand; it is a temple which Sanconiathon deems to have been built by the descendants of the Cabiri. (Mackey s “Cyclo. Art. Pomegranate.”)
This peculiar Masonry is found upon the summits of mountains, a position in which Homer places the Cyclops and the Lastragons, and Theocritus the establishments of the old Pelasgi. As it demanded a large exertion of physical strength the later, but still ancient, Greeks attributed the work to giants who had an eye in the middle of the forehead as had Priam s statue of their deity. Mythology makes them sons of Neptune and Amphitrite, whom Jupiter overthrew and cast into Tartarus where they become the assistants of Vulcan; thus assigning a sea-pedigree to these workers in iron and stone, and typifying an enforced slavery by their Aryan conquerors. They are fabled to have made the sickle of the Greek Kronos or Saturn, whom the Latins made the god of agriculture, in whose reign a ship grounded at Samothrace, where the passengers settled and erected a temple for their Mysteries. It is further pretended that these Cyclops constructed for Jupiter a cubical altar of brass upon which the father of gods took his oath before attacking the Titans, and upon this altar was engraved the name of Deity. Three principal Cyclops are mentioned -Brontes, Steropes, and Paracmai. We see that like Hiram, who has credit for building the temple of Solomon, the Cyclopean Cabiri were not only skilled builders in stone but workers in brass and iron, a race subject to Vulcan, and that all this long preceded the introduction into Greece of a Masonry of flat and squared stones, which came into use about the time of the Egyptian colonisation, after the ages of barbarism occasioned by the Aryan wars.
Besides India, which we have mentioned in its cave temples, and Greece, other nations have this ancient style of Masonry, and Syria, under Babylonian influence, has many traces of it, older than the invasion of Joshua and the Abri, and it is quite possible that the Hebrew invaders had much of their special bias from the school of Melchisedek, King of Salem.
It has been shewn by Monsieur Perotti that some of the most ancient ruins in Palestine are Cyclopean, or as he terms them Pelasgian, and he instances some at Ephrata or Zelzah, in other places are later ruins of a mixed style, built compositely of polygonal and squared blocks; at Rama is a doorway resembling, on a small scale that of Atreus at Mycenae; (“Freemasons Mag.,” 1862, viii, p. 384.) Cyclopean ruins exist also at Bashan and Baalbec. The Rev. Brother Fosbrooke says: “The abacus of the gate of lions at Mycenae, which was built by the Cyclops, supports four balls or circles, which are again surrounded by a second abacus, similar to the first. They are supposed to be (39) derived from the worship of Mythras, the lion being his symbol. The triangular form of the stone had a special signification. The Cyclops were worshippers of fire, Vulcan, and the sun.”
Older and still more important than Mycenae is the recent discovery in Crete of the palace of Minos at Knossos, with its works of art, and its Dedalian labyrinth of passages and rooms, but more remarkable still tablets and records partly in hieroglyphics, and partly in alphabet.
In an article in the “Builder” in 1865, Monsieur Renan states that this style is the most ancient in the world, except it be the Pyramids, and he points out that Homer mentions the great strength of the walls of Tiryns and Mycenae in Argolis, the former of which is said to be 20 feet thick: the Etruscan style, he says, is derived from it, but when it had made a decided advance, as it indicates improved architectural knowledge. He also points out that wherever this Masonry is found there exists a tradition of an ancient race of giants, who have passed away or been destroyed, and he attributes the remains of this style in Palestine to the Anakim, Rephaim, and the Canaanitish tribes. (Ibid, 1865, xii, p. 146.)
“Britain.” The Cyclopean architecture of the British isles is prominent and may range from 4,500 to 1,500 years antiquity, (WEH NOTE: Carbon dated in modern times to be up to 8,000 years old as to wooden precursors.) and are well described by Toland as they existed 200 years ago. Numerous circles of stone were dedicated to the sun: that in the isle of Lewes has 12 obelisks and a 13th in the centre representing the rudder of a ship, and reached by a passage of double obelisks each of 19 stones with a 39th guarding the entrance of the avenue. We have here the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the Sun, and the Druid cycle of 19 years. At St. Burien in Cornwall is a temple of 19 stones, each 12 feet distant, and a 20th of greater height in the centre, this may refer to the 19 years cycle of 12 months. In these temples a large altar was erected near which stood the Cruimthear or priest, and adjacent are found prodigious stones which can be moved by a touch at the right place, whilst elsewhere they resist all the strength of man. Toland mentions one of these Cromleachs at Cruich, in Cavan, placed in the midst of 12 obelisks, covered with brass, on which stood statues of the gods, whilst the bowing-stone was covered with gold and silver.
The Circles of Stonehenge are 3,600 years old, according to the calculation of Professor Norman Lockyer, founded upon its orientation as a Sun-temple 1680 years B.C. This calculation is confirmed by the discovery in 1901, when making some repairs of the chippings from the two descriptions of stones, of which the two circles are composed, together with rude flint axes and hammers of the pre-bronze age, “i.e.”, 1500 to 2000 B.C.
In the face of the varied authorities we have quoted it is not possible to come to any other conclusion than that the Cyclops were the primitive builders and workers in metals, and that their descendants the Cabiri were until we approach Christian times a religious and operative brotherhood which then became entirely speculative. There is a mythological groundwork for the assimilation of the various nations that practised the Cyclopean style. Plutarch quotes Anticlides as affirming that Isis was the daughter of Prometheus, who as a revelator of arts was a Cabir, and wife to Dionysos or Bacchus, and Dionysius Halicarnassus says that Atlas left his habitation on Mount Caucasus and became King of Arcadia. Apollodorus affirms that this Atlas was son of Japhetus and brother to Prometheus. Pausanius informs us that the Arcadians were all Pelasgi, as were also the inhabitants of Argos, and that the Pelasgians had that name from a King Palagius. (Bishop Cumberland; “Origenes.”) Dionisu is Assyrian, and also Indian as Dionysos, whilst admittedly Egyptian as Bacchus; hence the Dionysian artificers of Greece may have sprang out of the Cabiri. Raol Rochette considers that the Cyclop Palaemonius, to whom a Sanctuary was raised, was the Tyrians Heracles. H. P. Blavatsky says that the -builders of the sacred columns at Gadir covered them with mysterious characters and figures, of which the same is still found on the walls of Ellora, that gigantic ruin of the temple of Visvakarman styled “the builder and artificer of the gods.” It is quite likely that the physical and superior strength of the Cyclops has a foundation in fact. Apart from the testimony of ancient writers, collected by men of the stamp of Grotius, in regard to the existence at one time of a race of giants, there has recently been discovered at Piedmont in Moravia the skeleton of a human family, side by side with the bones of the Mammoth, that of the man being of “extraordinary size.” At the Grotto of Rochers Rouges, Mentone, skeletons have been found under 29 feet of limestone stalagmite, which may be reckoned to represent 8,000 years, that of a male was 7ft. 9in. without head, and that of a female 6ft. 3in.
“Cabiric Mysteries.” In order to arrive at an idea of the Cabiric Mysteries and their several great gods, or powers, we must recognise their antiquity, and the fact that their chief constellation was the Great Bear, the seven stars. Of the Pleiades a seventh star is said to be lost, “the six present the seventh hidden.” We must also consider the most striking facts of nature, which led to the division of time into days, months, and years. The first measure of time is a contest between light and darkness, a day and a night, or what is now known to be a revolution of the earth round the sun. The next measure of time was the birth and death of the moon, or what we know as a monthly revolution of the moon round the earth. It would next be noted that the seven stars of the Great Bear makes a complete turn round in 365 days or thereabouts. The 13 lunar and 12 solar months in the annual birth and death of the sun is a later and more complicated calculation of a year, though it corresponds with the annual revolution of the seven stars round a polar centre, which was what the Cabiri plainly commemorated.
The Sun was the Semitic, rather than the Cabiric symbol, and may possibly be indicated in the archaic hymn of the Akkadian victory of Hea over the seven- headed serpent. Other changes of the symbolism succeeded and we have the seven gods applied to so many spheres, or to the planets, and finally anthropomorphised into seven gods of arts. We read (II “Kings” xvii., v. 30.) “The men Of Babylon made Succoth Benoth,” which is understood to be the image worship of the Pleiades. The late Doctor Walker Arnott asserted that none could comprehend Masonic ritual without a full knowledge of Hebrew astronomy. These considerations tend to prove the greater antiquity of the Cabiric system, as preceding the Mysteries that made a dying god of our solar orb; and it has also a higher scientific basis, as implying the origin of systems from that far distant central sun, round which all the globes revolve. It is on these natural phenomena, spiritualized in the Mysteries, that their ceremonies are founded. Apollodorus and Varro say that the Cabiri adored the heavens and earth under the names of Ouranos and Ghe as the creators of mankind: Hindu spirit and matter.
According to Sanconiathon and the Phoenicians, the Cabiri were the eight sons of Sadyk, of whom the youngest, named Eshmun or Akmon, or in the Greek version Cadmillus or Casmillus, was slain by the others. Misor, the brother of Sadyk, was father of Taut, and received the inheritance of Egypt, and the Cabiri record it, a claim that the most ancient inhabitants of Egypt were of this ritual. Of these eight, three were most noted, and were termed by the Greeks Axieros, Axiochersos, and Axiocheres, and as “xi” is but the Greek “chi” it has been suggested (Dr. Tytler, in “F.M. Mag.”) that these names may be transmuted into Chaldean as Ahea, Ashur, Ahea, which is equal to I am that I am. Mr. Edward C. King (“Akkadian Genesis,” p. 59; “Exodus” iii. v. I4; Ahih Ashr Ahih.) reads these words Aya, Asher, Aya, and when Theodoret asked a Jew the true pronunciation of the sacred name HB:YH YH, the Jew said “ya,” and wrote “aya,” for he was not permitted by his law to pronounce the sacred name. Equally in Masonry there is a Word which can be written but not pronounced, and there is a mode of uttering that word which cannot be written. Some writers suppose that the three Cabiri, or Corybantes, symbolise sun, moon, and earth, in the contest between which one is supposed to be slain in eclipse, and quote the words of Hesiod — “Stained with blood and falling by the hands of two celestial bodies.” One of the gods was named Eubulos, pronounced very similarly to three words used in “Ancient” Masonry, which had a reference to Solomon s temple, which all ancient writers admit was a type of the universe.
The slain Casmillus had the same signification as the Osirian sun-god, and in the Phoenician, Babylonian, and Egyptian books, and cosmogonies are some curious references which may typify circumcision, the Mythraic baptism of blood, and the Taurobolium or baptism of bull s blood, which is referred to in the Phrygian version of the Cabiric rites. Thus, on the authority of Philo Byblus, we have it in the legend of Kronos that he sheds his son s blood as a propitiation to his father Ouranos and circumcised his family, and from the words used it would seem that this was symbolically acted in the Mysteries. In another legend, El castrates his father Ouranos in order to fertilise the rivers, in which is found the first germ of life. Again Bel Merodach cuts open the dragon Tiamat, or chaos, from which he proceeds. In the Egyptian “Ritual of the Dead” it is said: “the blood is that of the sun as he goes along cutting himself.”
Masonic writers tell us that the Initiated symbolically embrued his hands in the blood of the slain Casmillus. These murdered gods, as in the case of Osiris and Adonis, usually suffer in the generative parts, indicative of the transfer of the life principle, and it is said mythologically that when the two other gods slew Casmillus they fled with a chest containing his genitals to Etruria, in which we have doubtless a notice of colonisation.
The Cabiric gods were held to be the instructors of mankind in all useful knowledge; magical rites, building, smelting and working in metals, shipbuilding, music, etc., and were denominated Technites or artificers. Sanconiathon says that Ouranos was the father of Sculptors, as was Hiram the father or Abiv of Masons, metal workers, carvers, and dyers, and in verity a Cabir. Faber considers that the term Fabri by which the Latins designated
Artificers in general is derived from Cabiri, and he also asserts that “all the most ancient remarkable buildings of Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor were ascribed to Cabirian or Cyclopean Masons.” (Faber, “Cab.” i. p. 35.)
As the rites also professed to instruct the candidate in incantations such as we know were used by the Akkadians of Babylon that alone would indicate identity of origin. The learned Hyde attributes the name Cabir to Gabri, Guebri, fire or sun worshippers; and as the slain god is named Akmon, which word also means a cube of eight angles, heaven or Ouranos, it is therefore equivalent to the Semitic Ur and Urim, and remotely to Hiram, whose father Josephus says was named Ur.
It is said that the Initiatory ceremony into the Mysteries of Samothrace lasted three days and was termed “Enthronement,” and that mystic dances representing the motions of the heavenly bodies were performed round the throne, which connects the rite with astronomy. A white-stone was presented to the Initiate as a symbol of membership. Hives of bees were preserved in the temple, and the interior cavern or Sanctuary contained a pyramidical chamber as its most sacred place. Heckethorn asserts that in the Phrygian branch of these Mysteries they had a pine tree cut to form a cross, with the figure of a man upon it, and the same thing is asserted of the British Druids. The tomb of Midas in Phrygia is adorned with the, equal-limbed cross, or the modern Greek form. Eusebius, who can see only the worst side of the Mysteries, writes of them in the same style as the modern secularist upon the scriptures. Ection, he says, founded the Samothracian Mysteries, and Venus sprang from the member of Uranus which was thrown into the sea, wherefore a lump of salt is the symbol of generation. These are what the Phrygians celebrate as the rites to Attys, Cybele, and the Corybantes. Certain signs were, “I have eaten out of the tambourine. I have drank out of the cymbal. I have carried the mystic salver. I have slipped into the bed.” Similar expressions are found amongst the Druids, and were known to the Eleusenian initiates. They are but allegories and not actual rites.
Clemens of Alexandria speaking of these Mysteries says: “Know that having killed their third brother they covered the head of the dead body with a purple cloth, crowned it (or encircled it with a chaplet), and carrying it on the point of a spear (or bearing it on a brazen shield), buried it under the roots of Olympus. The Mysteries are in short murders and funerals.” (“Ars Quat. Cor.” v., p. 173. “Exhort,” ch. ii., also “Eiusebius,” prep. “Gos.” c. iii., b. 2.) Where two gods murder a third the reference may be to two seasons and winter.
“Babylon.” We will now glance at the Babylonian contemporaries of these Cyclops or Cabiri. Berosus the Chaldean historian records that the civilisation of Babylon was derived from a god who was half man and half fish, and who rose each day out of the Erythrean sea, and Lepsius has expressed the opinion that the legend points to Egyptian sources. The faith of the old Akkadians was of a magical nature in which amulets, as in the Cabiric Mysteries, played a leading part. They adored the spirits of nature and the elements, whom they believed to be ruled by three great gods Anu the supreme; Hea the ruler of the earth from his heavenly boat; and Mulgi the lord of the underworld or Hades. Each of these had his feminine consort. Hea is the counterpart of the Hebrew Jehovah, he walks with, talks with, and instructs mankind; and a hymn, which is possibly the most ancient in the world, describes his power and might and his victory over the seven-headed serpent, a metaphor equally found in Lapland, Thibet, Egypt, India, Greece, and even Yucatan. These Akkadians were, like the Egyptians and Mayaux, pyramid builders, and the ruins of Babel or Borsippa is of this nature. It came to be called the temple of the Bit-zida or of the right hand, and there is an ancient cylinder which represents a seven- stepped pyramid, at the top of which is a colossal hand, and eight worshippers, corresponding to the Cabiric gods surround the pyramid in worship.
The locality of Babylon gave them in speculation two “Great Pillars,” the “Mount of the world,” in the northeast, or Ararat, which they also termed “the abode of the gods,” and which was to them what Meru was to the Aryans, and a corresponding mount in the south west, whence was the descent to the domain of Mulgi the ruler of the dead; which descent was alleged to be guarded by seven concentric walls, with one gate in each wall. All the great mountains of the East are represented as the residences of a spiritualised race.
At a remote period the priests had composed an epic in twelve books answering to the Zodiacal signs over which the sun-god journies — in Akkadian Isdhubhar, in Egyptian Heracles, in Tyrian Melcarth. It commences the first book or month with the siege of Ghizdubar or Isdhubhar in Erech – it is light which overcomes darkness. In the second and third the hero resorts for comfort to the prophet Heabani. In the fourth and fifth there is war, figuring the elemental storms. In the sixth and seventh we have the lives and disorders of the hero and Ishter, believed to refer to the moon s changes. Ishtar descends into Hades, like Ceres of Greece, to seek aid from Mulgi, and is divested of some portion of her apparel at each gate of the seven walls. In the eighth and ninth we have the wanderings of the hero and a Paradisical garden. In the tenth the hero is ferried over the Styx that he may be restored to health by Tamzi, the translated Sage. The eleventh is a similar account of the deluge to that in Genesis. The twelfth commemorates the death of Heabani.
In analogy with this sacred number seven, the tower of Babel had seven stories, and Herodotus informs us that Ecbatana in Media was guarded by seven concentric walls, each of which, as were the stories of Babel, was painted to represent one of the seven spheres or planets. The Mythraic Mysteries though proto-Median in their conception, were Aryan when we become historically acquainted with them, and they had seven caverns of Initiation approached by gates in a pyramid of seven landings, and the trials of Initiation are doubtlessly allegorised by the ancient Persian poet Ferdusi, in the Heft- Khan or labours of Rustam. In this the implication is obvious that the mythology was more ancient than the erections which symbolised it, old as these are in the world s history. The tower of Babel or Borsippa, “which had been left unfinished since the deluge,” was completed by Nebuchadnezzar with the addition of an eighth story “according to the original design”; this last consisted of a “cubical chamber” as a shrine for the god, the appointments being of gold.
The oldest temple in the world is said to have been discovered by excavators at Biaya in Central Babylonia. The walls of the tower were first uncovered and the summit cleared. The first inscription on the surface was brick stamped with the name Dungi of 2750 B.C. A little lower appeared a crumpled piece of gold with the name Param Sim who lived in 3750 B.C. (“Freemasons Chronicle,” 15 Aug., 1908.)
In his “Seven Great Monarchies,” Professor George Rawlinson terms the Tower of Babel the “Birs-i-Nimrod,” the ancient temple of Nebo at Borsippa. It was a perfect square of seven ascents or stages, 272 feet at base, each way, the four corners facing the Cardinal points, and the seven stages occupying a height of 156 feet, the highest of all was a perfect cube and the Sanctuary of the God. Rawlinson s arrangement of these is as follows:
STAGE. Basement, Second Stage,
Third ” Fourth ” Fifth ” Sixth ” Seventh ”
Orange, Blood Red,
Golden, Pale Yellow,
A similar symbolic plan existed in India, for we find Seven Courts of which the last, or central ones, have no canopy, but that of the heavens. In Egypt, the most ancient of the Pyramids, that of Saccarah, consisted of Seven Stages, the same thing equally existed in Mexico.
All the wonderful works wrought by the god Hea upon earth were performed by virtue of an omnific Word, which would seem to have been lost to the Magi, though the ancient priests of Egypt appear to have claimed that they possessed it, and they had a god “whose name is hidden.” The Jewish belief as to the power of the Ineffable name of their God JHVH — Yahvah, Yihvah, or as we, incorrectly, use it Jehovah, would seem to be based on these beliefs. Yahvah reads, He causes to bring forth.
“Assyria.” A complete fusion of the Akkadian and Semitic faiths had taken place before 2500 B.C., and the population had become known as Chaldean. Assyria, civilised from Babylon, rose into power, though its precise beginning has not been traced. About 1820 B.C., Samsi-Vul built at Assur a temple to Anu and Vul, and Iritak built one called the “House of Salvation.” Samsi-Vul also repaired the temple of Ishter then at Nineveh. About 1350 B.C. Budil built a palace at Assur which his successor Vul-Nerari I. enlarged and which his son Shalmaneser 1300 B.C. still further extended; he also restored the great temple called the “Mountain of the world”; he further built the new city of Caleh, about 18 miles from Nineveh, founded a palace at the latter place, and repaired the temple of Ishter there. His son Tugulti-Ninip assumed the title of “King of Nations, King of Sumar and Akkad, and conqueror of Karduniyas” (Babylon). The next great builder was Tiglutli-Pileser, 1120 B.C., he rebuilt the temple of Assur, after a lapse of 701 years and raised there two pyramidical towers; he also improved the palaces of Assur and Nineveh, and left his country one of the foremost monarchies of the world. His tablet, in the British Museum, represents him with a Maltese cross which hangs from the breast, and there is also one of another king having the like decoration.
There is a somewhat remarkable Assyrian confirmation of the antiquity of the Masonic system of consecration to be found in the inscriptions. When Cyrus King of Persia discovered the foundation of his early predecessor in Assyria, Assur-bani-pal, he says — “I laid the foundation and made firm the bricks; with beer, wine, oil, and honey.” (“Records of the Past,” iv, p. 171.) Other inscriptions mention oil, and the sacrifice of animals. The foundation cylinder of Naboniadus, a Babylonian King conquered by Cyrus, speaks of the discovery of the foundation-stone of the temple built by Naram-sin, son of Sargon of Akkadia the Semitic conqueror of Babylon 3,200 years earlier. Recent digging is said to carry Babylonian data to 8000 B.C.
Something of the nature of caste initiation must also have existed amongst the Augurs and Sacred Scribes. Professor Sayce in his “Hibbert Lectures” has to this effect — A tablet states that an Augur must be, “of pure lineage unblemished in hand or foot,” and speaks thus of the vision which is revealed to him before he is “initiated and instructed, in the presence of Samas and Rimmon, in the use of the book and stylus,” by “the Scribe, the instructed one, who keeps the oracle of the gods,” when he is made to descend into an artificial imitation of the lower world and there beholds “the altars amid the waters, the treasures of Anu, of Bel, and Hea, the tablets of the gods, the delivery of the oracle of heaven and earth, and the cedar tree, the beloved of the great gods, which their (50) hands have caused to grow.” It is thought that each sign of the Babylonian Zodiac had its special order of priests, in all twelve.
In very many countries the eternal stability and power of the deity was represented by a square block or cube stone. Maximus Tyrius speaking of the worship of some god by the Arabians says — “The statue that I saw of him was a square stone.” Phurnutus speaking of the figuration of Hermes or Mercury says “As the square figure betokens his solidity; so he wanted neither hands or feet to execute what he was commanded by Jove.” (Toland s “Druids.”)
Some approximation of the very ancient flourishing period of the Cabiric Mysteries may be formed upon consideration that the Nagon-wat of Cambodia contains Cabiric sculpture in its architecture; the fish-man or Dagon of Babylon, and equally with every nation, including the Mayas of America, the monkey god. No one now knows what people erected the place, but Blavatsky, who is good testimony on a point of this nature, maintains that whoever built Nagon-wat were of the same religion and race as those who built the ancient Pagodas, the Egyptian pyramids, and the ruins of Ellora, Copan, and Central America.
“Egypt”. If we now turn to Egypt we find it accepted by scholars that its earliest known population were allied with the Akkads of Babylon, by language and religion. Besides the affinity of the ancient Coptic to the Chinese and Chaldean speech, it is admitted that before the Osirian worship became general, and it is as old as Menes the first King of Egypt, there was an identity of religion; and that the seven gods of Memphis represented in the worship of Ptah — the potter who creates the world out of the mundane egg — and his minor gods, are identical with the gods of the Cabiri. The greater antiquity of Egypt would seem to be proved by the mutations of the methods of writing, for the Egyptians besides their Hieratic and Domatic alphabet, reserved the hieroglyphic system for sacred things; the Domatic was then used for secular matters, and the Hieratic for their sacred manuscripts. This latter alphabet they transmitted to Phoenicia, whence through Greece and Rome, in a gradually modified state, it forms the characters of our own times. But when the Akkadians settled in Babylon they were already possessed of the cuneiform alphabet, and although the exact locality where this was developed has not yet been settled, it is possible that they carried it with their language and religion by way of Bactria from their primitive home in the Caucasian highlands, or those of central Asia. The Egyptian Sesun, the Babylonian Nabu, the Akkadian and Aryan Ak, and the Chinese diagrams called the Kouas, introduced into the primitive Yh-King at a later period, all have the same relation and are equally represented by eight parallel lines in two fours.
The “Ritual of the Dead” or Manifestations of Light, contains allusions to the Cabiric constellation of the Great Bear or seven stars, who are equally the seven sons of Ptah; the seven spirits of Ra; the seven companions of King Arthur; the seven Hohgates of America; the seven Lumazi or leaders of the star flock of Assyria; they may also be applied to the seven Amashpands of Persia, the seven Rishis of India, and seven spirits that surround the throne of God. Mr. W. St. Chad Boscawen asserts that at a remote period, a close intercourse existed between Egypt and Chaldea, the point of junction of the two civilisations being the peninsula of Sinai. The old legends of Chaldea and the old hymns of Eridu which, on the evidence of silt, are assigned a period of 6,000 years B.C., betray a culture derived from a maritime people; Eridu, like Memphis, was called the “Holy City,” and in Chaldea we find a god named Asari and in Egypt Heseri or Osiris, whilst in India we have Iswari.
At the remote period of which we are writing we have no written account of the nature of the Mysteries practised either in Egypt or Chaldea, and we must judge the secret rites, by what we can ascertain of them at a later period; we know, however, that that which was applicable to the Cabiric gods of Greece and Chaldea was also applicable to the seven sons of Ptah at Memphis. Sanconiathon informs us that in the time of one of the most ancient hierophants, they had corrupted their Mysteries by mingling cosmogonical affections with the historical traditions; from which we see that before his time they had diverged from the Cabiric ritual. It is very noteworthy that Egypt was the most prosperous during the eras which followed the accession of Menes their first King. Most of the arts known at this day, and some which we do not know, are pictured in the earliest tombs, and these include gold mining and smelting, Cabiric claims, of which we accept Tubal-Cain as the father on Hebrew evidence.
It was the custom of the priestly caste to confer Initiation upon a new Pharaoh, as was the case in Babylon, and there are traces of art symbolism to be found in the earliest times. Thus the Cubit rule was the sacred symbol of Truth; and we are told by Diodorus that the ancient Hieratic alphabet, distinguished from the Domatic or common, was of this nature, as it made use of the tools of carpenters, and he instances the hatchet, pincers, mallet, chisel, and square. The most ancient ruins contain Masons Marks, such as the point within a circle, the triangle, the trowel, the tau, and triple-tau. We give here a part of the first chapter of the “Book of the Dead;” the work is of a composite character and commingles the Memphian theology of Ptah with that of the Theban Amen, and the Osirian theology. The copies also vary according to the social position of the dead for whose burial the copies were intended.
“I am a Priest in Abydos in the day that the earth rejoiceth,
I see the secret places of the winding region,
I ordain the festival of the spirit, the Lord of the abiding land,
I hear the watchword of the watchers over me, I am the Architect of the great barge of Sochais, (Ptah.)
Building it from the stocks (a temple Symbol.)
Oh! ye Liberators of Souls, ye Builders of the house of Osiris,
liberate the Soul of the Osirian (Name of deceased.)
He is with you in the house of Osiris, He sees as you see, hears as you hear, He stands as you stand, sits as you sit, O! ye that give meat and drink, To the souls built into the house of Osiris, (living stones.) Give seasonable food and drink to the Osirian (Name.) I do not compute my justification in many parts, My soul stands up square to the face of tbe Judge, It is found true on the earth.” (Guild Symbolism.)
Another passage says “As the sun died and rose again yesterday, so man dies and rises again.” There are many passages in the Ritual which clearly imply secret Initiation. The representations of the Judgment Hall of Osiris the living one, the Master of life, the Master of all, in all his creation, names, functions, diadems, ornaments, palaces, etc., is of a very impressive character, and has been incorporated with the Christianity of later times. In some of the papyrus MSS., both in hieroglyphic and hieratic characters, 3- 4,000 years old, the spirit appearing for justification stands between Isis and Nepthys pictured with the sign of a Fellow Freemason; in others he is holding up both arms, representing two squares; in this following the written statement that he stands “square” before his judge.
Each district of Egypt had its Trinity of Gods: Thebes, in the 14th century B.C. had the “hidden god,” Amen, “Maker of all things; Thou only one”; Muth (mother) Mother Nature; Khensu (the child): in the 4th century B.C. we have Amen or Khepura (creator); Tefunt (humidity); Shu (light). Abydos had Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Elephantine Khnum or Chnoumis; Anuka or Anocuis; and Hak. Heliopolis had Tum or Harmachis; Nebhetp; Horus. Memphis had Ptah by Merenphtah; Nefer; Atum.
Though this chapter has run to great length something must be said of the architecture of this extraordinary people. The oldest structures which remain are the (54) pyramids, and the most ancient of these is possibly 8,000 years old, and may be described as a mere cairn of stones. Next follows the great pyramid of Ghizeh, which has been termed a stone bible, the Masons might call it that wonderful religious, scientific, and astronomical Tracing-board. According to Herodotus it was built by Cheops, whom the priests held in detestation, as he had caused all the temples to be closed during its erection, its date variously estimated at 3324 to 4325 B.C. It is said that the architect was Khufu-ankh, an Osirian, who was buried near to it. Cheops was certainly an Osirian, whilst the priests were opposed to that worship. (“Egypt,” Wm. Oxley, p. 87.) All the pyramids had their official priests attached, and even in the earliest times fabulous sums were lavished upon these structures, and upon their temples. These latter were divided into three portions: 1, an outer court, not always roofed; 2, the body of the temple; 3, the Holy-place and the shrine of the god in whose honour the temple was built. The temple of Jerusalem was of analogous character. Archaeologists consider that the prehistorical nucleus was the holy-place, and that gradually other chambers began to be erected around it. The pyramid was the model upon which the builder acted, the walls sloping and narrowing upwards.
There are grave discrepancies amongst the learned in regard to the chronology of this nation, owing to disagreement as to whether certain
dynasties of kings were reigning contemporaneously; but the great pyramid of Ghizeh, whatever its real age, shews a marvellous knowledge of geometry, astronomy, and operative Masonry. The hardest granite has been chiselled with such mathematical accuracy that a knife blade will not enter the joints, and men of science suppose that they have discovered in its construction the evidence of a learning equal to that of the present day. The number 5, and its multiples, is the radical basis of its measurements; precisely as the Israelitish Tabernacle is set up with the like multiple of 5, whilst the Temple of Solomon works upon its exact double or 10. The pyramid is found to be an exact mathematical expression of the proportion which the diameter bears to its circumference, that is as 1 is to 3.1459(SIC). It is accurately oriented, that is its four sides are opposite the cardinal points; and it occurs that twice in each year, at a period of 14 days before the spring, and 14 days after the autumnal equinox, the sun for a short period seems to be resting upon the very apex of the pyramid, as if it was its pedestal. It is so constructed that five hundred million pyramid inches, or twenty million cubits, represent the polar axis of the earth. The height multiplied by ten to its ninth power gives the distance of the sun from the earth (about 92 1/2 million miles). If the length of each of its four base lines is divided by cubits of 25 inches it gives the exact length of a solar year, in days, hours, minutes, and seconds. The length in inches of the two diagonal lines, drawn across the base, gives exactly the number of years occupied in a full procession of the equinoxes, or 25,826 1/2 years. The entrance is so designed that it indicates the obliquity of the polar axis of the earth, and the stones of the Masonry above the entrance form the monogram of Osiris, it is a cube over which are two squares. The chambers are equally based upon intricate mathematical calculations, and various astronomical facts are symbolised in the arrangements of its several parts, but for these particulars the reader must consult some of the works which have been specially written on the subject. The coffre in the Kings Chamber is generally considered a “pastos” of Initiation, but is said also to constitute a standard of dry measures. Even a prophetical bearing is said to be found in its measurements, but as this is the least certain of these various uncertain correspondences we will not enter into it here.
Herodotus says that it took 300,000 workmen to build the structure in 30 years, and that one-third of the men and of the time were employed in making a causeway (56) for the blocks. Noting its splendid work, we may ask, if this pyramid is only 5,000 years old, of what age is Cyclopean work?
But the pyramid of Cheops has a much more important bearing on Speculative Freemasonry than anything that we have yet said; and though the secrecy of the priests of Egypt was absolute, yet is not altogether impenetrable. This secrecy was equally stringent at Memphis, Thebes, and Heliopolis, and when Pythagoras applied for initiation he was referred from one to the other. The architect of Cheops embodied the Osirian Mysteries in imperishable stone, as did also the builder of the Babylonian Borsippa, and the designer of the Persian cave of Mythras. And now for something of the Mysteries of Egypt, as represented by this pyramid. The entrance and its passage conform to the letter Y, or “two paths” of Pythagoras and the broad and narrow way of the Greek Mysteries. The descending path leads to an underground chamber, the floor of which is rough and unhewn, as is the rough Ashlar of a Freemason. The ascending passage leads first to a middle chamber named the Queen s, or that of our Lady Isis, and above that is the King s chamber with the empty sarcophagus of Osiris; over all are five secret chambers of small dimensions. Dr. Oliver asserts that the “vesica piscis” enters into the constructive design of the Queen s chamber. (“Freemasons Treasury,” p. 241.) The whole of the internal structure covers an all-important allegory. It has been recently shewn by Brother W. M. Adams, and having the general approval of Professor Maspero, that there is a relationship between the internal structure of the pyramid and the “Ritual of the Dead,” or as Maspero says, “both the one and the other have reference to an ideal house which Horus was conceived to have erected for his father Osiris,” and Adams points out that the Well, the hidden lintel, the north and south passages apply equally to the heavenly temple, and the earthly counterpart. It is in fact the embodiment, perhaps 6,000 years ago, of a speculative and operative Masonry consonant with the spiritual faith of Osiris.
The religious symbols of Egypt, according to Mr. William Oxleys work on Egypt, changed with the progress of the sun through the signs of the zodiac, an assertion confirmed by much evidence. The era of Osiris and Isis is mythical, yet they are represented as parents of the twins Horus and Harmachis. In the year 4,565 B.C. the sun entered Taurus, and the Bull became the emblem of Osiris. It entered Aries 2,410 B.C., and the Ram becomes the emblem of Amen at Thebes. It entered Pisces 255 B.C., and we have crocodile-shaped gods, and the fish is a Christian symbol. The Egyptians conveyed something of this nature to Herodotus, who records it in a curious fable: Heracles desired to behold the highest god, he being one of the 12 minor gods; at length to meet his prayers, the supreme one revealed himself clothed in the skin and with the head of a Ram. The late Godfrey Higgins supposes in his “Anacalypsis” that when the sun entered Taurus he found man a negro such as the black Budha, and when he entered Aries he found him still black but with aquiline nose and straight hair as in the handsome Chrishna.
The recent discoveries of Colonel Ram indicates that the Sphinx is one of the most ancient monuments of Egypt, as it was old in the days of Cheops, and there is a tablet which shows that it was repaired by Pharaoh Chephren. It represents, as facing the rising sun, the god Ra-Harmachis and has at its base several chambers hewn in the rock, the tombs of kings and priests devoted to the worship of Harmachis.
During the 5th dynasty of Kings several small temples were erected, as at Esneh, some pyramids, and an Osirian temple at Dendereh. There is an inscription of the 6th dynasty in the Ghizeh Museum, in which Una, a man of the people, describes how he had been sent by Pepi I. to cut, and then convey, a block of stone for the royal tomb; he details the mode in which he accomplished this, with much engineering skill, about 3,400 B.C., and styles himself “chief of the royal workmen.” Usertesen I., perhaps 3,000 B.C., laid the foundation of the temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, and assumes himself to be son of the double Harmachis; the same king built the front part of the temple of Karnak, which measures 1,200 feet by 348 feet; he also enlarged the temple of Ptah at Memphis. Professor Norman Lockyer, F.R.S., considers that as Karnak is oriented to receive the direct shaft of the sunlight at the season when it touched the horizon, opposite the temple gateway, that it was built 3,700 B.C.
The superintendence of Egyptian Craftsmen by higher officials is shewn in the rockcut temple of Rekhmara, as 3,400 years ago the Vizier of Thebes is represented with all his attendants, “inspecting all the handicrafts made in the temple of the house of Amen, and teaching each man his duty concerning his trade.” His inscription concludes: “I have left no evil deeds behind me, may I be declared just and true in the great judgment.” (Boscawen in “Globe,” Aug., 1900.)
A few centuries later the famous Labyrinth was erected; it represents the twelve Zodiacal signs, and the twelve great gods, and contains 3,000 chambers with a lofty carved pyramid as adjunct. As proof that the priests had a monotheistic creed we quote the following words from over the gate-way of the temple of Medinet-Abou: “It is He that has made all that is, and without Him nothing has been made.” The temple of Luxor is the largest upon earth, but space fails us to record a tithe of the mighty works of this wonderful race. The names of numerous architects are preserved and Brugsch, Leiblein, and Lepsius, give the names of thirty-four, some of whom were allied with the reigning Pharaohs. Commercial intercourse existed with China, as pottery, and other works of art, have been found in very ancient tombs.
There is the record of an Artist of the name of Iretsen, of about 2,800 B.C., in which he says: “I know the mystery of the divine Word; the ordinances of the religious festivals, and every rite performed therein, and I have never strayed from them. I know how to produce the form that issueth forth and cometh in, so that each member goes to its place. I know the contemplating eye, without a second, which affrights the wicked; also the posing of the arm that brings the hippopotamus low. I know the making of amulets, by which one may go and the fire will not give its flame, nor will the water destroy. I am an artist wise in his art, a man standing above all men by his learning.” One passage here can only refer to the egress and ingress of the soul in trance, as in the Yogism of India, and the amulets against fire and water would seem to refer to the trials of the Neophyte by fire and water in the Mysteries. But in our days very extraordinary tales are told about the priests of Japan, and other less civilised people, walking unharmed over hot coals. We wonder how this artist would interpret the following symbolic design upon an ancient monument? A lion holds in one paw a crux-ansata (Symbol: Ankh), and with the other takes the hand of a recumbent man, whose head is near an altar, as if the lion intended to raise the man; at the altar stands a god with the hailing sign of a Craftsman. (Vide Pike s “Morals and Dogma,” p. 80.)
The highest development of Egyptian civilisation was during the patriarchal times extending from the 4th to the 12th dynasty, say from 7,000 to 2,400 B.C., and before Egypt began to be affected by foreign influence. The kings had their “Court Architects,” the profession being held in such honour that this officer often mated with the royal family. During the whole period that we have named the highest positions of the State were open to intellect, and the humblest man might aspire to become a General, a Court Architect, or a royal Scribe: the Kings were the fathers of the people, and accessible to their subjects, and a successful soldier or architect might become, as the highest prize, a “Royal Companion,” or a “True royal Companion,” and be intimately associated with the King. (W. St. Chad Boscawen.)
Running contemporaneously with the Egyptian culture was that of the great Scytho-Hittite Kingdom, the equal of Egypt, in metals, buildings, and art, and Captain Conder points out that the point within a circle, (Symbol: Circle with point in center), was their phonetic symbol for “An,” or God; the five-pointed star, (Symbol: Pentagram), the symbol of “to,” which implies either down, or to descend, and that the cypriote symbol of two triangles joined at their apex, (symbol like “X” with the top and bottom chevrons closed to triangles), but without the bottom line, (symbol as last, but with the lower chevron left open), was the Hittite character for man or protection. (“Lucifer,” ix.)
A long period of historical darkness now supervenes, and it has been discovered that a race totally distinct from the Egyptians had taken possession of the highlands to the north of Thebes, between the 7th and 9th dynasty. They were a tall, powerful race, resembling the Lybian and Ammonite people, had wavy brown hair, prominent aquiline noses, and used flint axes and copper implements. They were accomplished potters, stone workers, and metallurgists. In a ritualistic sense they were cannibals, and broke the bones of human bodies to extract the marrow. Near to the home of this recently discovered race was Nubt, a town which was devoted to the worship of the execrated Set and which is mentioned in one of the Satires of Juvenal, as the origin of horrid wars, and cannibal orgies.
Following upon this, as if in some measure due to it, was the domination of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, who overran Egypt, between 2500 and 1600 B.C., perhaps dependent in part upon the ferment which arose in Central Asia when the Elamites invaded Babylon, and these Hyksos seem to have followed the religious views of the Semitic tribes, though some writers have thought that they were old believers who were opposed to the ritual of Osiris, which we shall mention in our next chapter as an Aryan ritual, the weight of evidence is altogether in favour of a foreign origin of the invaders. Manetho, an Egyptian historian who was employed by the Greek Ptolomies to investigate the annals of Egypt, asserts that the Hebrews were of this race. (Josephus, “Against Apion.”) Simplicius asserts that what Moses taught the Hebrews he had learned in the Mysteries. These Hyksos were at length expelled by a Theban of the name of Aahames and the Osirian temples were reopened.
Very recently the mummy of Menephtah was discovered at Luxor, and on examination at Cairo was held to be the Pharaoh who pursued the Israelites; he was the 2nd king of the 19th dynasty.
Thothmes III., about 1,600 B.C., relates the ceremony which he observed in laying a foundation-stone at Buto, but the tablet is imperfect. The first stroke of the hammer thereon appears to be intended to conjure the keeping out of the water; a document was deposited in the stone containing the names of all the great gods and goddesses, “and the people rejoiced.” There is also an inscription of this period on the Statue of Semut, in which he is styled: “First of the first, and Master of the works of all Masters of work.”
There are also Geometrical diagrams of this period indicating the knowledge of the square, and in the great pyramid there yet exists a workman s diagram indicating the method of making a right angle; the “vesica piscis” exists in a recess over the King s Chamber. Some of the drawings yet exist of a Canon of proportion for the construction of the human figure, which Vitruvius represents by this, the navel being the centre; and though from the earliest to the latest times, the Canon varied, the relative proportions were fixed by forming a chequered diagram of perfect squares. Clement of Alexandria says that the temples of Jerusalem and Egypt separated the congregation and the Sanctuary by a large curtain of four colours, drawn over five pillars, the one alluding to the cardinal points of the compass, the other to the elements. The Pyramids were worked from the centre by the angle 3, 4, 5. The Guilds say that this symbol (Neteru: Three vertical lines with a horizontal right angle line at the top of each one to right), indicates the presence of 3 G.M.M. s.
There followed upon this era the introduction into Egypt of a large amount of Babylonian influence, but to render this comprehensible some explanation is necessary. At some remote period races of conquering Cushites from Ethiopia, followed by Semites, settled in Elam, had planted themselves in Babylon. The first of them was probably a worshipper of the god Marduk, or Mercury who is also Thoth and Hermes, for the Biblical Nimrod is one with Marduk, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babel and Erech and (Ur in) Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. These new comers accepted the religion of the earlier Akkadians, whence we may assume either that there had arisen no great distinctions in the mode of worship, or that the latter had influence as a race of higher culture. The conquerors, however, changed the names of the gods to adapt them to their own Arya-Semitic tongue, and as astronomical terms are in that language the inference is drawn that that science was a Semitic development. (“Chaldean Magic,” Lenormant.) The chief gods of the assimilated race were Samas the sun-god; Sin the moon-god; and Yav “the inundator,” who is probably Hea of Akkad. They accepted the doctrine of the souls immortality. (“Records of the Past” translated hymn.)
The early Assyrian King Asir-nasir-pal claims all the diabolical conquests which he relates in his inscriptions from these gods, and proclaimed himself as the “exalter of Yav.” The Semitic names of Beth-Yakin and Yakin, as names of places and persons are found in these early inscriptions. The remains of this theology exists to-day amongst the Yezids of Asia, the sun is worshipped by its old name, and the moon and bull receive equal veneration amongst some of the tribes, and with the worship have been transmitted secret modes of recognition, which a writer who was acquainted with them terms Freemasons signs. (“Ars Quat. Cor.” iv. Yezids (Yarker).) It equally constitutes an argument for the possibility of the uninterrupted transmission of Freemasonry from century to century; and it is impossible to overlook the many striking points of similarity to the primitive Mysteries which it possesses; and the inference which we may draw from this is that an educated priesthood had added art and science to their curriculum, and that all temples yet continued to be erected under their supervision.
The Chaldean civilisation about 4,000 years ago dominated Syria, and its tongue became the diplomatic language of the known world, whilst commerce was maintained extensively between Egypt, Babylon, India, and China. About 1500 B.C. an Egyptian King of the name of Amenophis III., a worshipper of the Theban god Amen, married an Asiatic woman who surrounded the throne with her kindred, and a Babylon Scribe was established at the Court, for Chaldean legends were copied and sent to Egypt. Their son Amen-hotep adopted the Chaldean faith and changed his name to Khu-en-aten, withdrawing from Amen, then one of the oldest priesthoods in the world. He built in eight years the vast city of Tel-el-amarna, where for seventeen years he enforced the worship of the “Solar disc,” or its vitalising rays. It was in fact the worship of the sun s vital rays as the source of all vital life, power and force. Probably in some respects it was a restoration of the faith of the Hyksos but it terminated again with the death of the King. In the erection of his new city, Bek, the hereditary successor of a long line of Egyptian architects, is described as “the artist, the overseer of the sculptors, the teacher of the King himself.” His assistant, or what we should now term, his Deputy or Warden, was Potha, who is described as “Master of the Sculptors of the Queen,” by whom no doubt the Asiatic is meant. These valuable records have only recently been disinterred, and in the house of the Master, trial-pieces were found in various stages exemplifying the cutting of hieroglyphics, and as well, perfectly finished portraits and statues, without any admixture of foreign style, and which are equal to any work of the moderns. It is noteworthy that the ground plan of the tomb of the Queen of Amenophis III., about 1470 B.C., is a cross of the Latin form, and as Mr. William Oxley says, “exactly on the plan of a Christian church.”
The Ramiside dynasty, in which the priests of Amen came again into power, did much in the 14th century B.C. to adorn Egypt with stately buildings, and Beken-Khonsoo describes himself as the architect of Rameses II., “the friend of Amen,” and the restorer of Karnak, and Dr. Wm. Birch informs us that the twins Suti and Har were Mer-kat, architects, who had charge of Karnak. Rameses III. makes a record of the numerous temples which he restored. He built at Thebes a temple to Khons, of good hewn sandstone and black basalt, having gates whose folding doors were plated with gold and itself overlaid with electrum like the horizon of heaven. (“Records of the Past,” vi.)
It is unfortunate that we have so little that is authentic in regard to the rites of the Mysteries, though the doctrine is fully embodied in the “Ritual of the Dead,” we only begin to have details after they had been carried to Greece by Orpheus, Cadmus, and Cecrops in the 16th century B.C. All the Egyptian Kings were initiated into them, and are represented as adorned with very handsome aprons. There are also representations, in paintings, of scenes which may equally apply to the earthly Mysteries, or to the passage of the soul in the after life, which was in reality the object of the sacerdotal mysteries, and it was a firm custom in Egypt to adapt their whole life to their faith in the future, or to enact in their religious rites, that which they believed would follow on quitting the body.
In our next chapter we may be able to form a more solid opinion upon the changes made in the Cabiric Mysteries, which were clearly the most ancient of the great Mysteries, by the advanced Aryans, and as to the alleged changes made in ancient Egypt by the substitution of cosmogonical or natural effects, for such traditional history as that recorded by Sanconiathon, Berosus, etc., a natural consequence, for the Egyptians were undoubtedly a nation of mixed blood. They seem first to have been of the Negro or Hamitic type with a polytheistic creed, they saw God in all nature and in all forms. As proto-Aryans they developed greatly the arts and sciences. Lastly, reinforced by purer Aryans they became the Apostles of the conditional immortality of the human soul. During the thousand years rule of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, they were in constant contact with a monotheistic creed, but no sooner had they driven out these oppressors than the rites of the doctrine of immortality, under a Father, Mother, and Son, arose in their old splendour.
By way of closing this chapter it may be pointed out that we have first a series of Mysteries, which amongst people who, living in hot climates, had little need of art, and confined themselves rather to speculative views of the creation of the world and the relations that exist between heaven and earth. To these, in the next stage were added the whole circle of arts and science, the older Mysteries as to the creation of the world and the affinity between heaven and earth were retained, but a superior race of Cabiri added an improved architecture, agriculture, metallurgy, shipbuilding, and all the arts. The third stage which followed was the separation of the Mysteries of Religion and Art into two branches.
III – ARYAN CIVILISATION AND MYSTERIES.
In the long series of ages which it took to develop the Ugro-altaic monosyllabic language into proto-Aryan, and in the centuries which it took to convert the Aryo-European into Celitc, Latin, Sclavonic, Lettic, German; other branches into sub-dialects as, for instance, Indo-Aryan into Sanscrit, Persian, Greek, Armenian, Pushtu, Kurd, Baluchi, Hindustani; and again the Semitic speech into Babylonian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Arabic, etc., need we feel surprised if the Rites of the Theosophical and Art Mysteries underwent a variation also. Thus the primitive Mysteries known as Magian and Cabiric, were denominated Osirian amongst the Copts; Tammuz and Adonis amongst the Semites; Dionysian amongst the Assyrians and the Greeks; and applied to Bacchus amongst the Latins. Yet all had the same primitive origin in a remote Arcane School, and varied but by a gradual development in technique.
And notwithstanding such departures from an exact form of transmission, with the change of scene, in passing from one country to another by colonists, the social customs of Oriental nations are most unchanging. We have already instanced the practice to-day of Babylonian rites by the Yezids. The sacred springs and trees of the old worship are venerated with the ancient rites of music and the dance. The priests of Christianity may be seen practising their ceremonials with the serpent staff of Mercury or Esculapius in their hands; and also personating the High priest of Zeus of Vanessa. The ancient Artemis of the Lakes, the Ephesian Aphrodite who is Ishter in Chaldea, and Astarte in Phoenicia, has been succeeded by the Virgin of the Lakes, with a special society called the Takmorei which has consolidated into a species of Freemasonry termed the “Brotherhood of the Sign.” Even in this country many curious customs of the Druids have been preserved in the three kingdoms. And as Free Masonry can unquestionably be carried up to very ancient times in England, and, beyond, its legends into Oriental lands, what right can be adduced to condemn its traditions as altogether false? The sacred Mysteries spread with the various colonies into many lands and in the lapse of ages began to apply their traditional knowledge to their new home, under the supposition that their ancestors had occupied this residence in all time.
The late Lord Beaconsfield, in his “Lothair,” speaks of the MADRE NATURA as the oldest and the most powerful of the secret societies of Italy, whose mystic origin, in the idealised worship of nature, reaches the era of paganism, and which, he says, may have been founded by some of the despoiled professors of the ancient faith, which as time advanced has assumed many forms. Its tradition that one of the Popes, as Cardinal de Medici, became a member of the Fraternity is accredited upon some documentary grounds, and it accepted the allegorical interpretation which the Neo-Platonists had placed upon the Pagan creeds during the first Ages of Christianity.
It is necessary to say that in dealing with the chronology of the ancients we have no certain era which enables us to give dates with the least precision. We saw in our last chapter that from North Europe colonies spread over Asia, Arabia, and Chaldea, erecting some wonderful structures in their passage and introducing art into their new settlements. The Celts, Persians, and Greeks continued together a sufficient length of time to merit the title of true Aryans, but of the main branch the Hindu undoubtedly made the greatest progress in architecture, literature, and early civilisation. There is a record, which we will allude to later, that a whole army of pure Aryans entered Egypt. The cradle of the Hindu is traditionally held to be the high-table-land between Thibet and India in the region of the lake Mansurawara. Before their advance into India three chief peoples were in possession of that country: the Dravidians of the north west, who have some affinity with the aborigines of south and west Australia, use the boomerang as a weapon, and have the same words for I, thou, he, you, etc., these now use a language represented by Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kanarese, Tulu, Kudugu, Toda, Kota, Gond, Kandh, Urain, Rajmahal, etc. A second tribe was the Kolarians driven from the north-east against the Dravidian, and so broken up into Santals, Savars, Kurkus, Juangs, Hos, etc. A third race were the Tibeto-Burman tribes who have an affinity with the Mongolians. Lastly, and after the invasion of India, Scythic tribes, as the Jats or Getae, and the Ghakkars, secured a footing in the country; our Gypsies seem to spring from the Jat race.
As Aryan civilisation was but an advance upon what we have termed proto- Aryan, so also it follows that the art of building with squared and levelled stones, wrought by the use of square, level, and plumb was the gradual improvement upon the Cyclopean system of irregular blocks; and mingled with the most ancient level architecture of India, equally with various other countries, are walls which resemble the Cyclopean method of building; (“Philosophy of History.” and from this, and other circumstances, we may draw the conclusion that Aryan culture was the medium of advanced architecture. This improvement had birth in north India and one of the oldest cities was the Aryan colony of Balkh where are vast ruins, colossal images, of which the number of prominent figures, or recesses, amount to twelve thousand, in subterranean temples hewn out of the solid rock.
At a remote period there arose a contest for supremacy between the warrior and the priest, who had the oral hymns that now compose the Vedas; also termed the wars of the solar (warrior) and lunar (Brahmin) races. The priests or Brahmins obtained a victory over the Maharajahs who were of a different branch of the Aryan family, and were both warriors and agriculturists. An alliance was formed, and the warriors were permitted to receive a limited amount of religious instruction, and at a period later than the oldest Vedas, a system of hereditary caste was established in three chief divisions, the Brahmin, warrior, and artisan, which may be now considered three distinct Rites of the Mysteries.
It has long been thought that some of these ancient wars were the result of a dispute as to the relative power of the two forces of nature. In prehistoric times a system had spread over the world in which creative spirit was represented by the Phallus, and first or primordial matter by the Yoni, or the male and female organs of generation, but it is somewhat doubtful whether the most ancient hymns accepted these emblems; the emblems are older than any of the hymns when committed to writing, but the probability is that when the hymns were written they had not then been sectarianly adopted. Primordial matter, upon which the action of spirit is supposed to take place, is not ordinary matter as we designate it, but its originator; and it is a scientific fact, well known to the ancients, and embodied in the “Divine Poemander” of Hermes, that matter, such as we know it, cannot be destroyed, we can only change its form, and under all that we see lies this primordial matter, as the vehicle of spirit.
Both spirit and primordial matter are eternal, and in the recondite aspect of Aryan philosophy, all creation springs from the union of these two indestructible principles, which is Para-Brahm, or Deity without form. In Egypt the conjoint worship of the two active principles, or latent forces, is found emblemised in the crux ansata (Symbol: Ankh) which embraces both attributes; separately they appear also in the obelisk and the vesica-pisces, but also in various other emblems in all countries. In remote times sects arose that made a separate symbol of one or other of the principles.
It has been shewn by Dr. Inman (“Ancient Faiths in Ancient Names.”) that most Hebrew names have reference to the male principle. On the other hand the Greeks, who are designated Yavans in Hindu literature, with other tribes that it was said were expelled the Aryan home with them, were worshippers of that female nature, or principle of nature, which in Egypt was adored as Isis; in Babylon as Ishter; in Samothrace as Ghe; in Britain as Ceridwen; in Italy as Cybele; in Greece as Ceres; in Armenia as Anaitis; in Germany as Hertha; in Persia as Mythra; and we may even add, in Christian times as the Virgin Mary.
The learned Brother Dr. George Oliver, in his “History of Initiation,” professes to give the ceremonials of Initiation into the Brahminical Rites of Mahadeva, but as we know of no evidence of their accuracy we shall refrain from quoting the account. There is a very interesting legend in Porphyry, which he gives upon the authority of Bardesanes, an Initiate and Gnostic, who had it from the Brahmins. There was a very lofty mountain which had in it a cave of large dimensions. It contained a statue of 12 cubits with its arms extended in form of a cross, the face was half male and half female; on the right breast was represented the Sun, and on the left the Moon; the arms had figures of the sky, the ocean, mountains, rivers, plants, and animals; on the head of the figure was a god enthroned. Beyond this was a large extension of the cavern, guarded by a door from which issued a stream of water, but only the pure in mind could pass this door; but upon doing this they reached a pellucid fountain. The writer supposes that it is to this cavern of Initiation that Apollonius of Tyana alludes to the letters which he addressed to the Brahmins, where he is wont to say, “No! by the Tantalian water by which you Initiated me into your Mysteries.” The description of this cavern has some points very similar to the Peak cavern in Derbyshire, which Faber supposes was used by the Druids for like purposes. The late H. P. Blavatsky asserts that every ancient and modern Initiate takes the following oath: “And I swear to give up my life for the salvation of my brothers, which constitute the whole of mankind, if called upon, and to die in the defence of truth.”
A system of caste initiation does exist amongst the Hindus at this day. Thus a Brahmin youth is first invested with a sacred symbolic cord worn from the left shoulder to the right hip, which is done at about 8 years of age; for a Brahmin the thread is cotton; warriors of flax; traders of wool. As the Parsees are of Aryan race, a similar custom prevails amongst them; the cord in this case goes thrice round the waist. It is three yarns twisted into one thread, and three of such threads knotted into a circle, symbolising “one in three, and three in one”; it also signifies these conquests, over speech, thoughts, actions. The Hindu youth is from this time instructed in the Mysteries of the Vedas, and when he comes of age he is formally bound in the Goparam to the service of his temple and instructed in the science and higher Mysteries of his religion; it is practically analogous to Christian baptism, and confirmation. But the instruction of a Hindu is sometimes compared to a “nine-storied house,” and they speak mystically of nine spiritual grades, represented by nine jewels upon a string, or in the hands of a beggar. A Hindu Mason thus allegorises the practices of a Brahmin: “With the sacred Word of a Brahmin on his lips, the Yogi closes his eyes to the visible creation, that in abstraction he may erect the symbolic temple, looking heartfully upon his body as a temple with nine gates, governed by three principal officers, supported by three subordinate agents. The temple of Truth is thus built in the heart, without the sound of metal tool.” The symbol of a Pranayani Yogi, as an emblem of the prolongation of life beyond the ordinary time, is the 5 pointed star in a circle, (Symbol: Pentagram in a circle).
Then again there are degrees of Aspirants who are taught by Brahmins of different degrees of learning, and these again by ascetics or Mahatmas of different degrees of spiritual knowledge. The Buddhists of Thibet recognise four degrees of spiritual advancement; and amongst the Moslem sects of India, Persia, and Turkey, the system is sometimes of four, and with others of seven degrees. Much of this is spoken mystically and with secrecy, and has its counterparts in the esoteric side of Freemasonry.
There is a symbolic doctrine taught by the Brahmins to their disciples in respect to the construction of their temples, and given orally; their basic symbol is the equilateral triangle, the first corner represents “birth,” the next “death,” and the apex “immortality;” the four walls, floor, etc., are typical of their doctrinal teaching; the entrance must be either south or west so that the worshipper may face either the north where the gods are said to reside and whence knowledge comes, or the east whence rites and ceremonies are derived; the body of the temple represents our human body, and the central image, which has its emblem, much resembling the “Seals” of the Rosicrucians, symbolises our own “jivatma,” or immortal spirit, but the aspects or faces are only explained fully to competent Initiates. (“Mis. Notes and Queries,” x, p. 279.) This species of instruction has been equally applied to our own cathedrals. There is also supposed to be what we may call an invisible tyler, represented by a statue.
That the ancient Brahminical system of Initiation was fearfully secret is evidenced by the “Agrouchada Parikshai” or manual of Hindu caste-initiation, which makes death the penalty of indiscretion. Every initiate of the first class who betrays the secret instruction to members of other castes must have his tongue cut out, and suffer other mutilations. Again, it is said that: “every Initiate, to whatever grade he may belong, who reveals the great sacred formula must be put to death.” And, “any Initiate of the third class who reveals, before the prescribed time, to the Initiates of the second class, the superior truths, must be put to death.” Blavatsky states that if an aged Brahmin was tired of life he might give his own blood, in place of an animal sacrifice, to the disciple whom he was initiating. She makes no reference to her authority, but the act is probable enough.
We shall allude shortly to the Mysteries of Mythras, Dionysos, and Osiris, as systems practised by the Aryan race, but it must be borne in mind that the Hindus teach that the Persians and Greeks were of the warrior and agricultural caste, who were only allowed partial instruction in Vedaic learning, but it is possible that they branched from the parent stem before the establishment of caste, and others refused caste arrangement. The Maharajahs of India identify themselves with the legislation of Bacchus or Dionysos, whom the German savant, Heeren, believes to be the Parusha-Rama, or incarnated priest who aided the Brahmins. The basis of the Devanagari character of the Hindus, called the “Alphabet of the Gods,” is the square (symbol of a carpenter s square: a vertical line with horizontal line at top from left to apex only), termed “the pillar of knowledge entwined with the garland of thought.”
But besides the Initiatory ceremonies of Brahmins, and warriors, there has existed from remote times a succession of members of an Art Fraternity, using the investiture of the sacred thread, and with an Initiation of their own intended to embrace all castes. The god whom they recognise is Visvakarman, the great builder, or Architect of the Universe, and Lord of the Art Fraternity. Mythology says that he crucified his son Surya (the sun) upon his lathe, which is esoterically the Jain cross, (Symbol: Swastika), or four squares joined at the ends; and the Pagodas of Benares, and Mathura are built as an equal-limbed cross, as an many others, of which we mentioned some in our last chapter.
In a lecture of 1884 Bro. Nobin Chand Bural speaking of the existing Hindu sect of Visvakarma says that all description of Artizans observe the last day of the month Bakdra as a close holiday sacred to Visvakarma, and will not even touch a tool, and says: “Mr. Ferguson, the celebrated archaeologist, who is a good authority on these matters, connects the sect with some of the old temples abounding in those parts, and by reason of these temples bearing Masonic symbols and devices sculptured on their walls, competent authorities connect the sect with Masonry.”
When Jacolliot, the celebrated French savant and author, was studying the antiquities of India, he was informed by the priests of Benares, that, in very remote ages, “thousands of ages before our era,” he says, the Artisan caste formed two divisions the one of which adopted as its mark or sign the plumb- rule, and the other the level. They eventually united into one, in order the more effectually to resist the confederacy between the two higher castes; and all the great works of remote ages were executed by this confederacy. As this confederacy is evidently a mixed caste, and as the two higher castes, refused them equal recognition, it seems evident, that these builders were a mixture of Aryans and aborigines, who had their existence as a Fraternity before caste existed, and from the evidence adduced in our last chapter, and the splendour of their labour, a branch of the Cabiric fraternity.
A remnant of this confederacy was recently brought to light by a very ridiculous mistake of our Government in India by interpreting “mystical” language as “to the repair of their temple,” by Yogis, “literally.” It is located in Cochin where the “dynasty” is of Dravidian origin. They claim, in a pamphlet, equal right to the sacred cord with the Brahmins, and even dispute their authority, claiming that their privileges and special symbolic instructions were conceded by the Rishis who founded the Brahminical caste Initiation, in those remote ages when hereditary caste was first established. Whilst the Brahmins use “nature” symbols to embody divine truths, they express the esoteric truths of the Vedas by “art” symbols, plans, and measurements. (The reader should note this because it is the essential difference between Modern Free Masonry and the church.) All temples and even private houses are erected according to traditional symbolism, which conveys a secret and esoteric doctrine. An Anglo-Indian Officer who had the duty of inspecting the Guilds at the date of the Mutiny says they have all which Masonry possesses.
We have here an Art Society springing out of the old religious Mysteries but becoming by conquest an independent organisation, tolerated for its great services. Such were the Dionysian Artificers of Greece, whence originated the Roman Colleges of Artificers, and we shall assign good reasons for believing that it was this creation of caste that made Artists into a separate society.
Brother C. Purdon Clarke, who has had practical experience amongst these Master builders, confirms the general truth of these claims. (“Vide Ars Quat. Cor.,” vi, p. 99.) He says that the Hindu carpenters and masons, who are also carvers, constitute a body that claims peculiar privileges of divine origin, which, though often prejudicial to the Brahmins, were usually conceded. To these artizans belong 32, or as some reckon 64, of the Shastras of which they are the custodians. At the great temple of Madura, in 1881, whilst one of these Shastras were read out, an architect drew from the details the representation of one of their deities. The record seemed but a string of meaningless figures resembling a table of logarithms, but when these were marked down in off-set lines, on both sides of a centre stem, it produced a representation of Vishnu with his flute, standing upon one leg. He noticed that the centre stem was divided into 96 parts, and he further states that the Pagoda at Cochin in Travancore has a special room set apart for the temple architect, the walls being decorated with full size figures of temple furniture. All this seems to be an advance upon the chequer designs which were used in ancient Egypt. Ram Ras, in his work upon the building caste, says that jealous of the Brahmins and of trade competitions, they took care to conceal from the rest of the people the sacred volumes which have descended to them. The Shastra on civil architecture says that, “an architect should be conversant in all sciences, ever attentive to his vocations, generous, sincere, and devoid of enmity or jealousy.”
The late Brother Whymper states that the key-stone used in erections by the earliest Aryan builders was tau-shaped (symbol: A squared hollow “T” composed of two rectangles and shown by outline only) and that the wedge- shaped key-stone, though of old date, is of a more modern form. (Ibid. vi. ) According to the Vastu Shastra, the ancient Hindu temple consisted of seven courts, as at Srirangam and Mavalipuram, their seven walls referring allegorically to the seven essences of the human temple. In the centre of these courts was a raised seat without any covering. At entrance the worshippers had to undergo purification before a fire, kept burning for that purpose. The Goparams, or towers at the entrance, represent the mountain over which Deity presides, surrounded by seven classes of angels and purified beings. The palace of the King of Siam has seven roofs, and he only can occupy the highest stage.
If we rely upon the Hindu tradition, as we may, that the Persians and the Greeks were members of the Maharajah caste, coupled with what seems to be historical fact that certain parts of India refused caste laws, we find a reason for the special characteristics of the Mysteries, so far as applies to Brahmin governed countries but not therefore of general practice. It leads to this conclusion that in the Rites of Maha-deva we have the Brahmin caste; in the Mythraic, and their equivalents, we have the Maharajah caste; whilst in the followers of Visvakarman we have the Artizans, and this combination tends to prove the contentions of the last named, coupled with the evidence of the priests of Benares, that they were sanctioned when the warriors combined with the Brahmins to confine each profession in a close fold, and make hewers of wood, and drawers of water, of an ancient population that they conquered upon advancing into India. We should not expect under the rule of an old patriarchal government to find religion and art divorced, nor a body of Masons, practising a system of religion as a separate organisation. Native Mysteries, which followed the Cabiric system of religion and art in union, would be rendered subject by caste laws to the Brahmins, and socially reduced to an inferior position, and new bodies would arise on this basis.
“Persia.” The Magian system, as has already been observed, was not Persian but proto-Median, and as their civilisation preceded the Aryan it argues strongly that a Mystery of the nature of the Cabiric, which combined Theosophy, Science and Art, was of greater antiquity than a Mystery founded upon caste laws, and that the latter system simply modified the former according to the doctrines of their incarnate deity with separate rites so arranged as to preserve caste distinctions. The pontificate of the Magi, as it had been received from the first Zaradust, was the instructor of the Persians, but reformed in the time of Cyrus by a second Zoroaster, and these Mysteries eventually spread over the world and into several counties of Britain. Art has a similar tradition to India.
“Mythraic Mysteries.” It is believed that the Initiation of Mythras consisted of seven degrees. The first degree was “Soldier of Mythras,” Porphyry says that the second was that of the “Lion” Lion of Mythras; then followed the “Child of the Sun,” and we find Initiates termed “Eagles,” and “Hawks.” Herodotus asserts that Mythra is Urania; and Ouranos, the Hindu Varuna, was the highest god of Orpheus; Dionysius the Areopagite uses the term, “the threefold Mythras.”
During the Initiatory ceremony the candidate passed, as is also said of the Brahminical, through seven caverns, the last of which was embellished with the signs of the Zodiac. Celsus mentions that there was a great ladder of steps, with gates or portals on each, coloured to represent the seven planets as in the turrets of the tower of Babel, and the walls of Ecbatana, but Faber justly thinks that this ladder was a pyramid such as Babel itself. The Neophyte underwent 12 trials, the number of the Zodiacal signs, and during the reception was offered a crown on the point of a sword which he had to refuse, saying: “Mythras is my crown.” He was then offered a wreath which he cast down, saying: “My crown is in my God.” Justin Martyr says: “They take bread and a cup of water in the sacrifice of those that are Initiated and pronounce certain words over it.” (Faber i. p. 458.) Augustine: “The candidate received an engraved stone as a token of admission to the Fraternity.” (2 “John,” dis. 7.) Tertullian: “Mythras marks the forehead of his soldiers, celebrates the oblation of bread, introduces the image of a resurrection, and under the sword wreathes a crown”; he also speaks of a baptism and the promise of absolution on the confession of sins. (“De Proescriptione,” c. 40.) It is said that when Maxime the Ephesian Initiated the Emperor Julian, he used the following formula, on baptising him in blood: “By this blood I wash thee from thy sins. The word of the highest has entered unto thee, and his spirit henceforth will rest upon thee, “newly born.” The newly begotten son of the highest god. Thou art the son of Mythras.”
Bread and wine have been held to be the body and blood of Bacchus, and Mr. St. Chad Boscawen (1900) announces that he has just received from Egypt some old Gnostic papyri of the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. in which the names of Jesus, John, and Peter are said to be powerful. Over a cup or chalice these words appear in Greek: “This is not wine, this is the blood of Osiris,” and over a piece of bread: “This is not bread, this is the very body of Osiris.” It proves that the spirit of the Arcane Schools existed far into Christian times.
The European Temples of Mythras were an oblong square reached by a Pronas on the level, from which a few steps led to the actual temple. On each side of the entrance was a human figure, one of which holds a raised torch, and the other a torch reversed. Benches occupied the two sides, and at the further end was the Altar, and beyond it a statue of Mythras Tauroticus with the sun at the god s left hand, and the moon at his right hand.
M. Caumont in his magnificent work on the Mythraic Mysteries gives an example of the Mythraic sculpture at Chesterholm. It is a bordered triangular structure on which is sculptured at the top a small circle, below that an equal- limbed cross, over a semi-circle or crescent. Below that a cock, and at the corner a double circle with cross in centre. The god often appears holding a pair of scales. He quotes a text of St. Jerome to prove that the Rite had seven degrees and that the Mystae (Sacratus) took successively the names of Crow, Occult, Soldier, Persian, Courier of the Sun (Heleodromus), and Father. There are representations of four small loaves marked with the cross, representing no doubt the bread and water which they consecrated. The lion, he says, is an emblem of fire, to which water is inimical.
From two of the passages quoted above it would seem that a simulation of death preceded baptism, thus making it a symbol of the new birth, and hence it follows that Christian baptism is a version of this mystic rite of the Mysteries. In a report of Fermecius Maternus, read before Constantine, it was said that at the celebration of the festival of the Sun, which took place at the same period of time as the Jewish passover, a young ram was slain. The priests of Mythras offered bread and water to the worshippers whilst whispering, “Be of good courage, ye initiated in the Mysteries of the redeemed god, for we shall find redemption from our afflictions.”
There are Mythraic monuments which bear close resemblance to the symbolism of the “Apocalypse.” In some the god is represented in the act of slaying a bull, and he is crowned with a tiara on which is seven stars; in others he appears with a torch in each hand, whilst a flaming sword issues out of his mouth. Most of the figures of this god have a man on each side of him, one holding a torch flaming upwards, and the other in a reversed position. Mr. Ernest de Bunsen compares the offering of bread to the Haoma sacrifices of the undivided Aryan family, where the priests offered in a cup a piece of the holy plant and some round flat cakes, or draona, corresponding with the Christian wafers, but mystically alluding to the solar disc, and he further says that these Hota priests correspond with the seven soma priests of the Hindus, and that the Avesta has this address for the Mysteries: “Eat, ye men, this mayazda, ye who are worthy of the same by your purity and piety.” (“Mis. Notes and Queries” (Gould), xii, p. 238.)
After the revolt of the Persian tribe against the Brahmins, the former converted the Vedaic Ahriman into an evil being, or devil; and named other Vedaic gods as his followers; the Greek Ouranos is the Hindu Varuna and Mythras is associated with Ahura, as the Hindu sun-god is with Varuna.
“Arts.” The invented arts have their legends. Hushang the son of their first King Kiumers accidentally discovered fire and the blacksmiths art, further developed by Tahumers; then weaving was invented; his slaves the demons taught him letters. The next king was the wise Jemschid, in whose time military accoutrements were fabricated; he built in brick and gave laws, but lost his life at the hands of Zohak, a monstrous usurper of Arabia, but was avenged by Feridun of the Kainian race, one of whose sons slew the other. According to the poet Ferdusi (“Shah Namah.”) , who collected the annals of the Persian Kings close upon a thousand years ago, Jemschid erected the Artizans into a class by themselves, under a chief, that we should call Grand Master, giving them laws, which Jemschid himself interpreted:
“Selecting one from each, the task to guide, By rules of art, himself the rules applied.”
Brother C. P. Clarke informs us that the modern Persian Master-builder works out his ideas by a secret method, in which a plan is divided into equal chequered squares, of which each square represents either one or four square bricks such as are used in Persia. It is a miniature of one which is transferred to the floor of the Masters workroom, where the patterns are incised in a plaster of Paris groundwork ready to serve as a “mould” from which slabs may be cast. (“Ars Quat. Cor.”, vi, p. 99.) The system yet forms the floor-cloth of Free Masonry; it is still in secret practice in Persia and agrees with the square designs of old Egypt which served to fix a canon of proportion. The Guild Free Masonry says that Solomon s temple had squares of a cubit now represented on their carpet.
“Egypt.” The worship of Osiris had its centre at Abydos, and was probably the system of an Aryan colony, even if the first King Menes was not of that race. Kaluka Bhatta mentions an Aryan king named Manu Vena, who was driven out of India after a five days battle and led his army into Egypt. Georgius Sincellus tells us that in the early times of Amenophis an Indian colony immigrated to Egypt, but the worship of Osiris is very much older than Amenophis. The historian Heeren demonstrates that certain skulls of mummies resemble those of Bengalese, though this rather connects them with a pre-Aryan race of Indians, and a modern Indian regiment found in the god-ruins of Egypt, the deities of their own country, and Philostratus shews that commercial intercourse existed. There is, however, a perfect resemblance of priestly governance in Egypt with the laws prescribed by Manu for the Aryan priests; moreover the social habits, creed, and even minute questions of costume, are resemblances between Egypt and India that cannot be explained away. As in minor so also in questions of religious sacrifice, the cow, bull, and crocodile were sacred animals, but equally the bull was sacrificed, and the doctrine of Metampsychosis was held, all equally by both nations. Flinders Petrie has sanctioned the belief that King Menes is the Mythical Manu of India.
“The Mysteries.” The Egyptian Mysteries were celebrated in honour of Isis and Osiris, the former symbolised by the Moon, and the latter by the Sun. We have few authentic details, but we know that Isis corresponds with the Grecian Demeter and Latin Ceres, and Osiris with the Grecian Dionysos and Latin Bacchus. Iamblichus says that Amen represents the hidden force which brings all things forth to light; he is Ptah when he accomplishes all things with skill and truth; and Osiris as the good and beneficent god. Damascius writes: “Of the first principles the Egyptians said nothing, but celebrated it as a darkness beyond all intellectual conception, a thrice unknown darkness.” Jennings considers that the Mystic black and white banner of the Templars referred to this doctrine. Plutarch informs us that Isis was apparelled in clothing partly black and partly white to indicate a notion of the Deity, and that the dead were so clothed to shew that the idea remained with them. Dion Chrysostom says that the ceremonies of the Mysteries were an alternation of light and darkness. It is said that healing of the sick by sleeping in the temples was an actual fact, aided often by dreams, and was “not fable as amongst the Greeks, but actual fact.”
The Mysteries of Isis required of the candidate a lengthy purification and severe bodily trials. It was a representation of the trials of the soul in the future life, from which lessons for conduct in this life might be drawn. We shall see more of this in comparison with the Greek Mysteries, which were derived from the Egyptian.
In the drama of Osiris the legend relates how he was slain by his brother Typhon, in like manner as Bacchus was slain by the Titans, and his body thrown into the Nile. The river carried its burthen to Byblos and deposited it on a “tamarind” tree, which enclosed it in its growth. Isis travels about lamenting the loss of her husband, as did the Grecian Demeter and Latin Ceres lamenting the loss of her daughter Proserpine, and is at length led to the place where the body rests and which she recovers. After this Typhon seizes again the body, dismembers it, and scatters the pieces over the 26 nomes into which Egypt was divided. The sorrowing Isis now wanders about to collect the various pieces, and at length recovers all but the generative part, for which a substitute is made. Eventually the son Horus overthrows Typhon, and reigns in the place of Osiris.
A curious analogy with Masonry may here be noted: the sacred word of the Hebrews, JHVH, in that language signifies generation; in the Egyptian Mysteries it is the generative organ which is lost and a substitute made; in Masonry it is the word which is lost and a substitute which is given in its place. A level was recently found in the tomb of Semoteus, a King of the 20th dynasty. (Initiation, April, 1903, p. 39.)
In the natural aspect, followed by Plutarch, the allegory represents tropical heat and the fertilisation of the land by canals for the distribution of the Nile, which they represented by the sun, with a stream of water issuing from the mouth. In the second place Osiris is the sun, Isis the moon, Typhon is night, Nepthys twilight. Thus the sun sets in the west pursued by the moon, lost in the darkness of night, to rise again as Horus in the newborn sun. In another and higher aspect, Osiris and Isis symbolise spirit and matter, (Symbol: Venus), or the two forces. Isis is usually represented as a mother nursing her son Horus, and this simile is used by Grecian philosophers, who were always less reticent than the Copt, to symbolise primal matter; thus Oscellus terms it “mother nurse”; Plato, “the reception of all generation as its nurse”; and Aristotle, “a mother.” The “Aureus” attributed to Hermes makes use of this symbolism to reveal, and yet hide, the alchemical process. The true spiritual import, we must seek in the “Book of the Dead”, for the “Books of Hermes” are lost to us. Brother Malapert professes to find the ceremony of Initiation in the jewels, rituals, and sculpture deposited in the Louvre, certain of which are considered to shew that the approaching candidate, properly prepared, is taken charge of by his guide, and the purifications proceed, in regular order until the Neophyte is brought before the hierophant, who is seated upon his throne with the scales of justice before him. It is a Mystery of the cross as an emblem of eternal life, equally a Cabiric symbol, or still more ancient.
The Rev. Mr. C. W. Leadbeater has some very interesting remarks in regard to the ancient sacerdotal initiations, for the priests had their own Initiations to which they alone were admissible. He claims that the cross was the emblem of the descent into matter, and that, to represent this, the candidate was laid upon a cruciform bier, hollowed to suit the body of the candidate, wearied after a long preliminary ritual. His arms were loosely bound with cords, and he was then carried from the Hall of initiation into the Crypt, or lower vault of the temple, and placed upon a sarcophagus to represent actual burial. He remained thus for three entire days, whilst the tests of earth, water, air, and fire were applied to the divorced soul, as a practical experience of invulnerability. On the fourth day of the entombment he was brought forth and exposed to the first rays of the rising sun, and restored to natural life. He thus develops the Rubric of the hierophant: “Then shall the candidate be bound upon a wooden cross, he shall die, he shall be buried, and shall descend into the underworld; after the third day he shall be brought back from the dead, and shall be carried up into heaven to be the right hand of him from whom he came, having learned to guide (or rule) the living and the dead.”
There is a very ancient dirge, called the “Maneros”, which is supposed to have been chanted over the Neophyte. There are said to be some ancient mystical MSS. which speak of this trial as “the hard couches of those who are in travail in the act of giving birth to themselves”; that is “crucified before the sun.” Plutarch says that “when a man dies he goes through the same experiences as those who have their consciousness increased in the Mysteries. Thus in the terms GR:tau-epsilon-lambda-epsilon-upsilon-tau-alpha-nu and GR:tau- epsilon-lambda-epsilon-iota-sigma-theta-alpha-iota we have an exact correspondence, word to word and fact to fact.” It seems evident from this, and from other things that we shall mention in our next chapter, that Plutarch is alluding to the actual divorce of soul from the body, related to what may be an allegory which he recites, under the tale of a man named Aridaeus or Thespesius of Soli in Asia Minor, who apparently died from a fall, and after three days returned to his body, and detailed his experience of the exquisite sights which he beheld. (“Theos. rev.,” xxii, p. 232. Vide also “Secret Doctrine,” ii. p. 359.)
In the year 1898 an interesting discovery was made of the tomb of Amenophis II. It is entered by a steep inclined gallery terminating in a 26ft. well, having passed which the tomb is reached. In the first chamber was found the body of a man bound to a rich boat-like structure, his arms and feet are tied with cords, and his mouth gagged with a cloth, the breast and head have marks of wounds. In the second chamber were found the bodies of a man, woman, and child. The third is the tomb of the king, the roof is supported by massive square columns painted deep blue and studded with golden stars, the walls covered with paintings. At one end is the sandstone Sarcophagus, rose coloured, which enclosed the mummy with chaplets of flowers round the neck and feet. To the right is a small chamber in which other mummies of later kings have been placed. The floors of all the chambers are covered with such articles as statues, vases, wooden models of animals, and boats.
The Mysteries of the Latin Bacchus, who is Dionysos in Greece and Assyria, and Osiris in Egypt, are thus spoken of by Macrobius: “The images or statues of Bacchus, represent him sometimes as a young man, at other times with the beard of a mature man, and lastly with the wrinkles of old age. The differences relate to the sun, a tender child at the winter solstice, such as the Egyptians represent him on a certain day, when they bring forth from an obscure nook of their Sanctuary his infantine image, because the sun being then at the shortest, seems to be but a feeble infant gradually growing from this moment.”
The learned French writer Christian considers that the 22 symbolical designs of the Tarot cards embody the synthesis of the Egyptian Mysteries, and that they formed the decoration of a double row of 11 pillars through which the candidate for Initiation was led, and that these designs further correspond with the 22 characters of all primitive alphabets. (Vide “The Tarot,” by Papus.) Dr. Clarke finds the traditional characters of the ancient Mysteries in our modern pantomime. (Vol. iv, p. 459, quoted in Disraelis “Curiosities of Literature.”) He says that Harlequin is Mercury; Columbine is Psyche, or Soul; the old man is Charon, the ferryman over Styx; the clown is Momus, and he engraves the subject of an ancient vase, which, he says, represents Harlequin, Columbine, and Clown, as we see them on the stage. In further evidence of how such legends survive, in new dresses, Baring Gould has shown that the trials of St. George are but a transformation of the various martyrdoms and resurrections which were related to the weeping worshippers in the temples of Babylon and Assyria at the fate of Tammuz and Adonis; and that the dragon story in the life of St. George is but that of other dragon slayers in Semitic and Aryan Mythology. Maimonides mentions the work of Abn Washih as alluding to this. On the agricultural classes of the Mysteries there is a curious old Babylonian work translated by Chwolsohn about 35 years ago. Maimonides, who was physician of Saladin, “circa” 1200 A.D., speaks of it as “full of heathenish foolishness . . . preparation of talismans,” etc. Its title “Nabatheans” is derived from the god Nebo, and the Persian Yezids say that the sect went from Busrah to Syria, and that they believe in seven archangels or stars. The book is a difficult esoteric one, by an amanuensis named Qu-tamy, and precedes the era of Nebuchadnezzar.
We now come to what is more interesting to Free Masons, and to Geometry which is one of the mystic or esoteric keys of most sacred books. Geometry, as applied to land-measuring, had its origin in Egypt, and we quoted the authority of Diodorus that the sacred alphabet represented some of the implements of labour. In early times the superintendence of art was a priestly office. It is noteworthy that the tomb of the ancient King Osymandius has a ceiling of stars upon a blue ground the like of which is found in the Cathedrals of York, Canterbury, and Gloucester, truly there is nothing new under the sun. The tomb of an ancient Egyptian was recently opened by M. Maspero, and buried with the body were found the working tools of a Mason. Herodotus informs us that they prohibited burial in wool for the reason of which he refers to the rites of Orphic and Pythagoric initiation, thus confirming their affinity with Egypt. Cleopatra s needle was a comparatively modern re-erection by that Queen, at a time when the Roman building fraternities may have influenced Egypt; but at its base was found, when taken down for removal to America, various stones designedly laid in accordance with Masonic Symbolism, and upon a block, in form of a square, was placed a cube, or Ashlar, also a stone wrought from the purest limestone symbolising purity. (Vide “Egyptian Obelisks” (Weisse).) In the Osirian temple at Philae, re-erected on the site of a more ancient one, about 300 B.C., are found many interesting representations, such as the death and resurrection of Osiris, and also a cube opened out in the form of a Latin cross, with a man s head in the upper square.
A writer in the Indian “Freemasons Friend” maintains that the Copts have preserved, from their ancestors to the present day, much information upon Masonry which may be gathered from the Hajjar, or stone cutters. He also adds that Masons Marks are found upon the stones of buildings, as old even as the “well” of the great pyramid. There was a fine old stone in the possession of Consul John Green on which was the point within a circle, triple tau, sguare, five-pointed star, crux ansata, level, triangle, (symbols: circle with point in center, Royal-Arch triple tau [like a “T” striking the cross-bar of an “H”], inverted “L”, Pentagram, Ankh, upright sledge-hammer shape, triangle with dot in center). Outside the Rosetta-gate are, or were, some old granite remains and two statues of Isis and Osiris, on the base of each of which, as well as on the many stones around, are found the first, second, and fourth of the characters before-mentioned, (symbols: circle with point in center, triple-tau, Pentagram). On an old stone of red granite built into the Court-house of Rosetta amongst those we have mentioned, and others, are the tau, sloping ladder of three steps, trowel, (symbols: “T”, slanting elongate Roman numeral III, downward triangle with a handle on top). At Heliopolis the above marks are found, as well as others of a different character, eye, crook, two concentric demicircles, (symbols: oval on side with two horizontal lines issuing from ends, shape like a vertical line with a little “u” at top right, open eye with eyelid, shape like a rainbow with only two colors). (F. M. Mag., 1861, v, p. 487.) Amongst Masons Marks of the 12th dynasty, say 3,000-2,400 B.C., we find the svastica (symbol: Swastika), the equal-limbed cross (+), both plain and in a circle (Symbol: Circumscribed Greek cross), our five-pointed star (Symbol: Pentagram), open angles crossed like square and compasses, delta, letter H, &c., (symbols: +, circumscribed Greek cross, Pentagram, intersecting chevrons upright and inverted like the sigil of Saturn from the Kamia, Fire, “H”). (“A.Q.C.”, iii.) Guild Masonry tells us that semicircles denote an Arch Guild.
“Greece and Italy.” The Dionysian and Bacchic rites, through which we may better comprehend the Egyptian, were of two classes. In the first Ceres goes in search of Proserpine to Hades, as did Ishter when she sought her lover Isdhubar, Duzi, or Tamzi, these rites were in especial of an agricultural nature. In the higher Mysteries the Neophyte represented Bacchus. Plutarch says that Typhon revolted against Osiris, tore his body in pieces, mangled his limbs, scattered them abroad, and filled the earth with rage and violence. In like manner in those of Greece and Italy the rebel Titans tear in pieces the god Bacchus, and as these Titans were Cyclops it appears to mythologise the war of races. As we shall treat of these Mysteries more fully in our next chapter, we will only add here a few quotations as to their teaching. The Orphic verses apply these Mysteries to the sun, as known by many names:
“The sun, whom men call Dionysos, is a surname, One Zeus, one Aides, one Helios, one Dionysos.”
The Oracle of Apollo Clarius says: “Much it behoves that the wise should conceal the unsearchable orgies. But if thy judgment is weak, know that of gods who exist, the highest of all is Jao. He is Aides in winter; Zeus at the coming of spring-time; Helios in summer-heat; and in autumn graceful Jao.”
Macrobius says that it was an inviolable secret that the sun in the upper hemisphere is called Apollo; also that the ancients perceived a resemblance between the sun and the wolf, for as flocks disappear at the sight of the latter, so stars disappear before the sun.
As the Chaldean technique was used in the Cabiric Mysteries, so in these we are said to have a trace of Sanscrit. The words Konx Oumpax, was a formal dismissal, or as we might say, “go in peace”; the original is said to be identical with the words “Kanska om Paksha,” with which the Brahmins conclude some of their more important ceremonies. Le Plongeon finds the expression may be interpreted in Maya language, “go hence, scatter.”
We equally find a Theosophical and Art fraternity in the Dionysiacs of Greece, and the Persians were near kindred of the Hellenic Greeks; but according to Herodotus the descent was Egyptian, for he says that the Creek Dionysos and the Latin Bacchus is Osiris, and that the same rites are practised in both countries, but though they are known to him he is compelled to be silent. Yet Dionysos is the Assyrian Dionisia, the Phoenician Melcarth, and the Akkadian Izdhubar.
The art of building in flat stone blocks in contradistinction to Cyclopean Masonry is mentioned in our last chapter, and seems to have been adopted about the period when Egypt colonised the country, and as we know the perfection masonry had reached in Egypt ages before the 16th century B.C., we may reasonably conclude that they introduced the improved art, with the Dionysian Mysteries. At any rate we find not only the State Mysteries of Dionysos, but as in other cases mentioned, where caste Hellenes or Aryans had invaded the native population, an Art fraternity, under the same name, which above 3,000 years ago was designated the “Dionysian Artificers,” and which superseded the style of the Cabiri by an improved system.
This body executed all level work in Greece and the Asia Minor at the period, and were an Incorporated Society; there are many inscriptions in reference to them, and their existence is placed beyond doubt. Their organisation was identical with the later Roman Colleges, which again have their counterpart in English Guild Free Masonry. They are said to have rebuilt the temple of Heracles at Tyre. Herodotus states that the priests told him that the temple had existed for 2,300 years, and the old author enlarges upon two pillars which it contained, the one of gold, the other of emerald, which shone exceedingly at night, and which may emblemise the two pillars which Sanconiathon says were dedicated by men of the first ages to Fire and Wind.
In 1874 a peculiar discovery was made at Pompeii of a table in Mosaic work, which is now in the National Museum of Naples (No. 109,998). It is about a foot square and fixed in a strong wooden frame. The ground is of a greyish- green stone, in the centre is a human skull in white, grey, and black. Above the skull is a level, of coloured wood, the points of brass, and from the top point, by a white thread, is suspended a plumb-line. Below the skull is a wheel with six spokes, and on the upper rim of the wheel is a butterfly, the wings being edged with yellow and the eyes blue. Through the protraction of the plumb-line the skull, wings, and wheel, have the appearance of being halved. On the left is an upright spear, the bottom being of iron, and resting on the ground, from this there hangs, by a golden cord, a garment of scarlet and a purple robe. The symbol of a purple robe is worthy of note, as it corresponds with what Clemens said of the Cabiri, as quoted in our last chapter.
The Dionysian Mysteries passed into Phoenicia by way of Babylon, and thence entered Syria in dedication to the god Adonis, from Adonai Lord, passing to Persia, Cyprus and Athens; they continued in Syria until the fourth century A.D. As Adonis was the sun who dies to rise again, as in the other Mysteries using other names, so the symbolic representation was conducted by acting the death of an individual for whom lamentation was made; Proserpine and Venus contend for the body of the handsome god, and the difficulty is settled by a six months residence with each. In the drama the priest, after an interval, signified the resuscitation of the hero by exclaiming: “thanks be to god for out of pains salvation is come unto us.” The cries of grief were then changed for hymns and exclamations of joy. It is the ceremony of the weeping for Osiris by Isis, for Tammuz by Astarte, for Tamzi by Ishter, for Mahadeva by Sita, and that of which we read in the prophet Exekiel where he says: “behold I saw women weeping for Tammuz.” The Phrygians, who were a very ancient Armenian colony, had a similar ceremony in honour of Anach, or Annoch (Enoch), for whom they mourned and rejoiced at the end of the old year. The Apamean medals of this race clearly refer to Noah and the Cabiri, and represent thereon a boat holding eight persons, and the word No. This Noachian legend appears to commingle the heavenly boat of Hea with the eight Cabiri, the deluge tradition, and that of Persia, which says that their first king sent out colonies in pairs of all created things. The Cabiric Mysteries of Phrygia were in honour of Atys and Cybele, and their priests denominated Corybantes.
Professor Louis, a Jew, who lectured recently before the Society of Biblical Archaeology, advanced that there were Guilds of Artizans and Craftsmen amongst his forefathers. This is not surprising when we remember that the exponents of the law made it incumbent upon themselves to follow some handicraft, and the “Mishna” advocates the dignity of labour, in numerous passages, such as the following: “He who derives his livelihood from the labour of his hands is as great as he who fears God.”
In all the countries, mentioned in this chapter, the religious and Masonic emblems, and the symbols of Initiation that have come down to us are of the same special type, in all time. Amongst these may be named, the pentagon, the hexagon, the double triangles, the same in a circle and with a central point, the Jain cross of four squares, the equal-limbed cross, the lengthened cross, and crosses of other forms. At Chunar, near Benares, is found a triangle enclosing a rose. The 49 Hindu caste-marks are carved upon the stones of their ancient fanes; and we have the mystic picture of a god crucified in space.
In the case of Gautama Buddha who reformed the Buddha doctrine, or Jain religion, and sought to abolish caste, we have Masonic allegory in announcing to his disciples that he had obtained final beatitude, and the extinction of desire. He compares his body to a house, which the Great Architect will not re- erect:
“Through various transmigrations I must travel, if I do not discover The Buddha that I seek. Painful are repeated transmigrations! I have seen the Great Architect!
Thou shalt not build me another house. Thy rafters are broken, Thy roof-timbers scattered; My mind is detached,
I have obtained extinction of desire.”
The more humane worship and morality of the Aryans exercised an all- powerful influence upon the rest of the world. In the time of the elder Cyrus, or Khai-Khosru the Persian conqueror of Media, the State system was the Median Magism of the first Zaradust of Bactria. This Cyrus was the father of Cyaxarus or Ahashuerus, of Cambyses, and of Bardes. Cyaxarus on his father s death succeeded to the moiety of East Persia, and married Esther, or Atossa, so named after Ishter, the goddess who descended into Hades. Cambyses or Lohrasp was a half brother by the daughter of Astyages or Afrasaib King of Media, and inherited the other moiety; he conquered Egypt about 520 B.C., and having first slain his brother Bardes, and then destroyed Cyaxarus, married his widow Atossa, and so again united Media and Persia. His son Cyrus II. favoured the Magi and liberated the Jews; he conquered Babylon 518 B.C., and died without issue 506 B.C. The way was thus paved for Darius Hystaspes, or the son of Gustasp, of the Achaemenion or Royal race of Persia, had been Viceroy of Egypt 520 B.C., and who, on the death of the crazy Cambyses 518 B.C., would seem to have married his widow, in which case she would have been the wife of three kings; and the pretensions of Darius might thus originate, as he was not, by birth, entitled to the throne. There is a legend which says that seven princes entered into a confederacy, and agreed, on their journey, that whosoever s horse first neighed, at sight of the rising sun, should be King, and the lot fell to Darius. This prince was everywhere successful, but the contest ended in the destruction of the Magi, whose growing power had long been offensive to the Persian Mazdeans. An Armenian of the name of Aracus, and a Babylonian of the name of Nadintabelus, set themselves forth as descendants of the Ancient Kings of Babylon, but were defeated in the year 493 B.C. Darius records his numerous victories in mild language, upon the Behustan rock, and attributes his success to the grace of Ormuzd, in striking contrast to the bloodthirsty and fanatical boastings of the Kings of Assyria, and we cannot doubt that when Ezra the Chaldean, re-edited the Jewish Scriptures, they gained in the direction of humanity by this contact with the Aryans.
The destruction of the Magi was commemorated by a festival termed the Magaphonia; eventually, by careful management, the brotherhood made their way again to power, and Plato speaks of the system as the most pure of all religious schools, and there is no doubt that as Gnostic Christians and Islamites their succession has descended to our own times, and a form of the Magaphonia may be represented in the Mouharren, and similar festivals in honour of Houssein, or Ali. It would appear that after the successes of Darius his religious views as to Mazdeism may have undergone some change in favour of the Judeo-Magism of Media. He was succeeded by his son Cyaxarus III., or Xerxes, he and Darius his son were the first and second liberators of the Jews, and hence the originators of the second temple at Jerusalem.
In Egypt the Persians were succeeded by the Greek Ptolemies following upon the conquests of Alexander the Great, and these by the Roman Emperors and Consuls. Many sublime edifices were erected, including the building of Alexandria 332 B.C. The temple of Osiris at Philae was begun about 300 B.C., and building operations thereon continued for about two centuries, and here the Mysteries of Osiris were celebrated until late into Christian times. James Anderson, in his “Constitutions,” says that Euclid the geometrician, and Straton the philosopher, superintended the erection of several great edifices.
With the foundation of Alexandria, and the introduction therein of the recondite doctrines of the Greek philosophers, which they had gathered by ransacking the Mysteries of all other nations, Ptolemy I. resolved to make it the seat of occult worship, by establishing there the Mysteries of Serapis, which united with the Egyptian rites of Isis and Osiris the learning of the Greeks. To inaugurate this scheme he brought from Sinope in Pontus a statue of the god. The representations of this deity often accompany him with the three-headed Cerberus, combining a lion, a wolf, and a dog, whilst his body is wound round with a serpent. He typifies Osiris not only as an earthly king, but as a judge of the world of spirits. In the work of Mr. C. W. King, who writes on Gnosticism, is a sard of about the reign of Hadrian, which represents the god as seen by Macrobius, Isis standing before him, with her sistrum in her hand as if in supplication, whilst in her other hand is an ear of wheat: the legend is HE KURRA ISIS AGNE, immaculate is our Lady Isis. Erastosthenes, who lived 276-196 B.C., terms her the Celestial virgin.
Other inscriptions referring to Serapis are equally noteworthy; that on Raspes No. 1490 is EIS ZEUS SERAPIS AGION ONOMA SEBAS EOS ANATOLE CHTHON, translated, The one only Lord Serapis, the holy name, glory, light, the dayspring, the earth, often abreviated to GR:Sigma-Omega- Sigma. He is also called EIS ZOOS THEOS, the only living God. The “holy name” may be the Arcane I-A-O, which Clemens says was worn upon the person by Initiates.
Apuleius comments upon these Mysteries but does so very reticently. He informs us that he had been initiated into those of the Great goddess Isis, as representing nature; and that though ceremonials of Serapis differed therefrom that the doctrine was the same. Damaskios asserts that the god appeared in a visible, but superhuman form, to his worshippers at Alexandria. The Rite, as in other Mysteries, required a nine days fast and purification. Apuleius hints that the priests had other ceremonies, for he states that after Initiation into the Mysteries of Osiris he was made a Pastopheri of the temple and received into the College of Priests, exposing his bald head to the multitude, as a Catholic priest does his tonsure. In the “Virgin of tke World,” by Hermes, Isis informs her son Horus that there was a triple set of Mysteries. (1) “Initiating them in the arts, sciences, and the benefits of civilised life.” (2) “Religious representations and sacred Mysteries.” (3) “Prophet Initiation, so that the prophet who lifts his hands to the gods should be instructed in all things.” Hence it is necessary to keep in mind, both in antiquity and even in later and modern times, art, exoteric rites, and esoteric Initiation. Drummond expresses the opinion that the Chartomi, or superior priests of Egypt, alone possessed the full revelation, which they protected by a triple key of symbolic explanation. Bin Washih says (“Descent of Symb. Mas.” John Amrstrong, Liverpool, 1896.) that there were four classes of priests of Hermes (1) those of his male descendants, (2) the descendants of his brothers, (3) the descendants of his sisters or Easterns, (4) of the strangers who mingled with the family; and he gives a very interesting account of their alleged ceremonies.
The Eleusinian, Serapian, and Mythraic Mysteries were all very popular in Rome, and spread into all countries, practising their rites side by side with the aboriginal Mysteries, for the utmost tolerance existed amongst all the priests. All are known to have existed in Britain, flourishing generally until the 4th century of Christianity, and practised long after in secret.
Besides the State Mysteries, Alexandria became the centre whence radiated the Mystic schools, the Cabala, Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism, and Arcane Christianity. The Emperor Hadrian when Consul reports that there were no bishops of Christ, Chiefs of Synagogues, Theurgists, Diviners, who were not also worshippers of Serapis, implying a general recognition of Serapis as the personal God of the world, and that the living God is the same under many names. The learned Cardinal Henry Newman asserts that the Arcane Discipline of the early Alexandrian Church was the introduction of Platonism into Christianity; it was, however, that Platonism formed by the union of Greek thought with Egyptian Osirianism in the Mysteries of Serapis. Mr. C. W. King in his “Gnostics” says “there can be no doubt that the head of Serapis, marked as the face is by a grave and pensive majesty, supplied the first idea for the conventional portraits of the Saviour.” It is equally certain that the images of Isis and Horus continued to be manufactured, and were renamed as those of the Virgin and Child. Amongst the noted Christians of this period, who were Serapians and Christians or Members of the Arcane Discipline, were Origen and Ammonius Saccus, the catechists; the latter established a School in which he obligated his Disciples to secrecy. (Cardinal Newman.) It is known also that the early Christians used the Tau cross on their tombs. (“A.Q.C.”, v. p. 2.)
There seems even no doubt that the pre-Christian Rites had a Mystery of the Cross, and there is said to be an ancient painting in Egypt of a candidate laid upon a cruci-form bier. Justin Martyr observes that “the sign of the cross is impressed on all nature. There is scarcely a handicraftsman but uses the figure of it amongst the implements of his industry. It forms a part of man himself, as may be seen when he extends his arms in prayer.” And, apart from this, the Spiritual and consolatory faith breathed in the “Ritual of the Dead” is so much in consonance with the beliefs of the Christian, that it must convince the most hardened sceptic of the antiquity of the doctrine, if he even discredit them as articles of belief, and confirms the words of Augustine that Christianity existed from the beginning of the human race, until Christ came in the flesh.
It will form a fitting close to this chapter if we again point out that all ancient buildings contain a system of Masons Marks which were cut by the Masons to shew by whom the work was done. These are either symbols, emblems, or more or less the alphabet prevalent where the work was done. Of great antiquity in Egypt they are equally ancient in India. We find the symbols of these two ancient nations in use in Europe, side by side with Greek numerals, the Magical alphabet and Runic letters. That this custom has been handed down from remote ages to our own days as an organised form by which to ascertain the work of each member of an organised and united Fraternity, is one of the strongest arguments that can be used in favour of the equal antiquity, and faithful transmission of the organisation and ceremonies of modern Free Masonry which the reader will gather has so many points of resemblance to the ancient Mysteries; for there is ample evidence to shew that the Mark was a part of the acquisition of an accepted Mason (98) for centuries. But as there were various branches of the Mysteries, there must at one time have been various, varying Rites of Free Masonry.
The origin of Tally (Taille Fr.) Sticks is very ancient and they are yet used occasionally. The Celtic Ogham alphabet had a like origin. It consisted of notches cut at the corner of a square stone, or else from a stem-line. The letters B, L, F, S, N, are formed by cutting strokes at right angles to the stem- line on the right hand, and the letters H, D, T, C, Q, at right angles to the left. Thus a single stroke to the right is B, and to the left is H, two to the right is L, and the same number to the left is D. Three to one side is F, three to the other is T. Long strokes numbering from one to five, cutting the stem diagonally, expressed M, G, Ng, St, R, and short strokes, numbering from one to five, cutting across the stem at right angles give the vowels. The old Runic Staves for Calendars were somewhat similar. Strange symbols were used to mark the several festivals, but the days were indicated by notches. As Masons marks the Runic character is common. (“Chambers Journal,” 1897, p. 285. S. Baring Gould.)
The evidence of this chapter goes to prove, with what has gone before, that there was a system of Art Mysteries attached to the Sacerdotal Mysteries, and that they only became specifically operative by the introduction of caste laws, by Aryan invaders, and the necessities of the times.
IV – THE MYSTERIES IN RELATION TO PHILOSOPHY.
The chief difficulty in the minds of writers who have written upon the Mysteries and Freemasonry is owing to the varieties of names by which the former have been known in different nations, and the comparatively modern designation of the latter Society. But this difficulty disappears in a great measure when we recognise that the Rites are of great antiquity, derived from a primitive source, that they had all the same general principles and varied chiefly but in the technicalities and language of the country in which they were celebrated. We may safely admit that the general characteristics of the Mysteries were the same in all nations.
Thus in the course of ages, by national divergence in the mode of expressing thought, new names for the old Rites arose, and translations made into new tongues. The Assyrian Dionisu is the Greek Dionysos, the Latin Bacchus, and the Egyptian Osiris. In other cases the Mysteries were known by their place of conferment, or by the name of the Hierophant who introduced them. In other cases names varied according to the particular degree of the writer; thus it is said that Bacchus the Lord of the Cross and the pine-cone, becomes Iacchus in the mouth of an epoptae addressing him as Lord of the planet. Similarly we learn from Plutarch that Ishter, Demeter, Ceres, and Isis are all one, and represent living matter, or matter vivified by spirit, which is a doctrine of the Mystae, or first grade of Initiation. The higher spiritual birth of the twice-born is taught in the martyrdom of these gods. Each nation, however, gave to the Mysteries a tinge of its own culture, precisely as Osiris, Isis, and Horus, are counterparts of the two deific principles, and created forms, equally with the Christian Trinity of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Pausanius gives the name of Saotus or saviour to the Mystery-god, and he was designated Liberator, and GR:Upsilon-Eta-Sigma.
Varron, the most learned of the Latins, in his treatise “De Lingun Latina,” says, iv. p. 17: “The principal gods are Heaven and Earth. They are the same gods which in Egypt are named Serapis, Isis, and Harpocrates, which with Phoenicians are Thoth and Astarte, the same in Latin as Saturn and Ops (the earth). In effect the earth and the heavens are the sacred instruction of Samothrace, treated as the Great Gods.” That is they are the active and passive principles of nature, and belong to the earlier and less cultured life of the Greeks. Tertullian says that they raised three altars to the great gods that is the male and female principles became three in their progeny the oldest of trinities.
The ostensible hero of the Mysteries of Greece was the sun-god, and Martinus Capellus, in his hymn to the sun written in the fifth century, says:
“Thee, the dwellers on the Nile, adore as Serapis, And Memphis worships thee as Osiris. Thou art worshipped as Mithra, Dis, and cruel Typhon; In the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mythras, In Phrygia the beautiful Atys; And Lybia bows down to thee as Amon, Phoenician Byblos as Adonis; Thus the whole world adores thee under different names.”
Ausonius has verses to the like effect, adding Dionysos for India, and Liber for Italy:
“Hail! true image of the gods and thy father s face, Thou whose sacred name, surname, and omen,
Three letters that agree with the number 608.” (Vide Pike s “Morals and Dogma,” p. 587) YHS = 400 + 8 + 200 = 608. In Chaldee and Hebrew, Cham or Ham, heat, is also 608.
Although Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough, in his “Origines Gentium Antiquissmae” has set himself the impossible task of deriving all mankind from Noah within the period of the Rabinical chronology, he has many valuable quotations which tend toe elucidate the Mysteries. He quotes Herodotus as affirming in his Euterpe, for a known truth, that Ceres or Demeter is also Isis; Clemens Alexandrinus also affirms it, and proves it out of a book of Leon, who wrote the history of the Egyptian gods. Diodorus Siculus is cited by Eusebius as saying that Osiris is Dionysus or Bacchus, and that Isis is Demeter or Ceres; Diodorus makes Prometheus the crucified Cabric God to be contemporary with Osiris. Plutarch quotes Anticlides to prove that Osiris is the same person as Dionysus or Bacchus. Prometheus is said to be son of Japhetus, or Japhet, and Isis the wife of Osiris his daughter, as is also asserted by Anticlides. Another son of Japhetus, according to Apollodorus, was Atlas. Pausanius affirms the Prometheus and his son Aetnaus planted the Cabiric Mysteries in Boetia, but that they received this sacred depositum from Ceres. Much of this is mystical, but it all goes to prove what we began by saying, namely, that the Mysteries were all one, and varied only in the language.
Herodotus speaks of the celebration at night, in Egypt, of the sufferings of a god whose name is too sacred to be written. The Phoenician Mysteries, as we learn from Meursius, and Plutarch, exhibited the corpse of a young man strewn with flowers, for whom the women mourned, and for whom a tomb was erected. Macrobius says that in the Mysteries of Adonis there was a nine days fast and lamentation which was succeeded by hymns of joy in honour of the risen god. Fermecius informs us the similar rites were used in the Mythraic Mysteries. The Chevalier Ramsay affirms that this is the characteristic of all the Mysteries, and that of their traditional history, and is a prophesy of the coming of a suffering Messiah, who is symbolised by the sun. (“Nat. and Revd. Religion,” ii, p. 200.)
According to Herodotus the Mysteries entered Greece from Egypt, and from Greece they entered Italy; and he informs us in positive language that the Rites of the Egyptian Osiris and Latin Bacchus are the same, and were carried into Greece about 2,000 years before his time (450 B.C.) by Melampus, who either took them direct, or derived them from Cadmus and his Tyrian companions. The system of these which Orpheus propagated taught a divine trinity in unity, which, according to Damaskios, was represented by a Dragon with three heads, that of a bull, a lion, and between a god with wings of gold; these Rites, if we may rely on tradition, were devoted to music. Dionysius Halicarnassus says that the priests of Serapis chanted a hymn of seven vowels: the same had place in Greece, and there are representations of these seven heads, over each of which is seen one of the vowels.
All the Mysteries had three principal trials or baptisms, namely, by water, fire, and air; and there were three specially sacred emblems, the phallus, egg, and serpent, thus represented GR:Iota-Omicron-Phi. The two generative emblems were sacred in all the Mysteries.
The advantages gained by initiation into these Rites are thus set forth by various writers: They diffuse a spirit of unity and humanity wherever introduced; purify the soul from ignorance and pollution; secure the peculiar aid of the gods; the means of arriving at the perfection of virtue; the serene happiness of a holy life; the hope of a peaceful death and endless felicity; also a distinguished place in the Elysian fields; whilst those who have not participated in Initiation shall dwell after death in places of darkness and horror. (“Anacharsis” (Abbe Barthelemy, who gives the authors). v. p. 213.)
Porphyry gives the following as the precepts of the Mysteries: (1) Honour parents; (2) Venerate the Gods; (6) be Humane to animals. Plutarch (Laconic Apothegms of Lysander) to confess all wicked acts. The pre-Hebrew commandments termed the seven precepts of the Noachidae are: (1) Abstain from Idolatry; (2) Blaspheme not; (3) Do no murder; (4) Commit not Adultery; (5) Do not steal; (6) Administer justice; (7) Eat not flesh cut from the live animal.
The Rites of Eleusis in Greece are those of which we have the fullest particulars, and we shall therefore take them as the complement of all the others, and give as much as can be gathered from prejudiced and unprejudiced sources, poets, philosophers, and their bitter enemies the Christians. The Rite is said to have followed the Orphic doctrine, and to have been established about 1423 B.C., in the reign of Erectheus King of Athens, which city had previously been occupied by a colony from Egypt. Though best known, yet not the most ancient, the Eleusinia would seem to have constituted rather a democratic society than a Sacerdotal College, as if their intention was to absorb all the popularity of these institutions; to be followed, at a later period, by the appropriation, by minor schools of Philosophers, of all the knowledge to be gained in these Colleges. It is, however, noteworthy that the tradition of the ancient unity of King and Priest was preserved in the title of Basileus or King given to the Presiding officer; and Lysias says that it was his duty to offer up prayers, and to preserve morality. These Mysteries were at the same time essentially secret and sacred, embodying a scenic representation, in which all classes might participate except bastards and slaves, who were especially excluded by the action of Euclid, the Archon, or chief, in 402 B.C., and a different person from the later Geometrician. It is worthy of note that the old Constitutional Charges of Free Masons exclude the same persons.
Although the Cabiric Mysteries, like those of Egypt, preserved, at least in name, an idea of the worldly sciences, the Eleusinia would seem to have abandoned the pretensions to these, and only required that the Neophyte should in youth be liberally and appropriately educated. The time had arrived when art in Greece could be learned outside the Mysteries which constituted a holy drama, influencing the ancient theatre, and the “Mystery plays” of Christians. Mr. James Christie in his work upon the “Greek Vases” holds that phantasmal scenes in the Mysteries were shewn by transparencies, such as are yet used by the Chinese, Javanese, and Hindus. In symbol, he says, a ball of wool represents the thread of life not yet spun; gutta, fecundity; sesame, fertility; water, the creation of beings from that element; wine, the life; an olive leaf at the top of a vase, spirit; and a wavy line, water on which spirit acts.
There were Nine Archons, of whom the Chief was properly so called as the word means Commander, he had jurisdiction over all ecclesiastical and civil affairs, with the title of Eponymus. The second was Basileus or King, who superintended religious ceremonies, festivals, and Mysteries. The third was the Polemarchos, who had care of strangers and conduct of war. The other six were termed Thesmothetae, from two words “law,” and “I establish” they formed a tribunal for judging minor offences. All were elected by lot, were free of taxes, and on their Induction took an oath to administer justice impartially.
Certain noted persons, of whom Pythagoras was one of the earliest and most remarkable, travelled over the whole known world, in order to obtain Initiation in the Mysteries of the countries that he visited. The society which Pythagoras established, as well as others of later date, was the result of an attempt to combine in one common society the knowledge to be gained in all the Mysteries; curiously enough the same principle has been followed in Freemasonry. The Pythagorean Society may thus be considered the forerunner of the various Arcane Schools which followed its decay; it has the closest analogy with the Masonic Society, and whether we look upon this Craft as a primitive system, an ancient imitation of the Mysteries, or a slightly altered branch of the Cabiri, we may equally expect to find that there is the same doctrine, or the same wisdom religion which lay at the foundation of all the Arcane Mysteries; and this is what we shall find as we proceed; and at the same time it is one of the strongest proofs we can expect to have of the antiquity of Free-masonry.
We will now enquire into the general nature of the ceremonial of the Eleusinia as a fair representation of what was taught in these schools. They consisted of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries for which there was a general preparation or apprenticeship in the shape of “a preparation from youth in appropriate disciplines.” Between the conferment of these two sections there was a probation extending from one to five years. The drama went on parallel lines with the Egyptian “Ritual of the Dead,” which dwells upon the moral and spiritual qualities, which are necessary in this life, that the soul may obtain justification in a future state. The apocryphal book called the “Wisdom of Solomon” (c. 17) would seem to describe the Tartarean terrors of the Mysteries, applied to the plagues of Egypt.
The magnificent temple of Eleusis was lighted by a single window in the roof, and images of the sun, moon, and mercury were represented therein. Macrobius says that the temple of Bacchus at Thrace was also round and lighted also by a round window in the roof, by which to introduce the resplendent image of the sun. Proclus says that the proceedings were begun with a prayer in which “heaven” and “earth” were respectively invoked. In respect to the signs of the Zodiac the same writer informs us that six were considered male, and six female signs; and Porphyry assimilates the journey of the sun through these signs with the twelve labours of Hercules. The three chief hierophants of the Mysteries bore respectively the symbols of the sun, moon, and mercury; and as the Basileus represented the Demiurgos who fashions rude matter or chaos into created forms, so it was typified that the Basileus was to recreate the Neophyte or draw him from imperfect nature to a more refined state, or as Masons equally would say, with the philosophers, work him from the rough to the perfect Ashlar. The Stolistes, according to Clemens Alexandrinus regulated the education of the young, and bore as their emblem of authority the square rule; and the prophet had suspended at the neck an urn with the water of regeneration. (Oliver s “Landmarks,” i. p. 161.)
The ceremonial of Initiation began by a solemn proclamation (“Origen Adv Celsus,” iii. p. 59.) : “Let no one enter here whose hands are not clean, and whose tongue is not prudent.”
The candidate was also, as a preliminary, desired to confess his sins, or at least the greatest crime he had ever committed. He was required to bathe in the pure sea in face of the sun, and pour water on his head three times. Certain fasts were enjoined, after which the sacrifice of an animal was made. After two days the shows began with a procession, then followed for three days and three nights the mourning of Demeter for her daughter. After which a sacramental meal of cakes and liquor was partaken.
Prior to the Initiation there was an opening catechism as follows: The Hierophant demands: “Who are fit to be present at this ceremony?” To which the answer was: “Honest, good, and holy men.” The Hierophant then ordered: “Holy things for holy persons.” The Herald proclaimed: “Far hence the profane, the impious, all those polluted by sin.” For an uninitiated person to remain after this was death. Stobaeus quotes an ancient writer who says, that the first stage of Initiation “is a rude and fearful march through night and darkness,” but this over, “a divine light displays itself, and shining plains and flowery meads open on all hands before them. There they are entertained with hymns and dances, with the sublime doctrines of faithful knowledge, and with revered and holy visions.” The first portion was emblematical of the wanderings of the soul in the paths of error and the punishments it would thereby bring upon itself; and the second part represented the dispersion of the shades of night, before the brilliant sun of the Mysteries. Justin Martyr gives the oath of Initiation as follows: “So help me heaven, the work of God who is great and wise; so help me the Word of the Father which he spake when he established the whole universe in his wisdom.” Dion Chrysostom speaks of Mystic sounds and alternations of light and darkness, and the performance of Mystic dances in imitation of the movements of the planets round the sun. Plato in “Euthydemus” speaks of Mystic dances in the Corybantic (or Cabiric) Mysteries where the cradle of the young Bacchus was guarded with Mystic dance and music.
The following remarks of a Naasene, or Ophite Gnostic, on these Mysteries are given by Hippolytus, Martyr 235 A.D., and confirms other quotations we shall give from Virgil. He says that: “The Lesser Mysteries are those of Proserpine below and the path which leads to them is wide and spacious to conduct those who are perishing.” It is the truth which Chrishna the Hindu god taught to Arjuna, namely that those who give themselves up to worldly pleasures will be confined to the sphere of the earth and be reborn in such bodies as they have merited: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”; “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat; but straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it.” Apuleius in his account of his reception into the Isisic Mysteries, after being relieved of his brutish nature by eating roses, which was a flower sacred to Isis, proceeds to say that he approached the confines of Hades, having been borne through the elements, and that he saw the sun at midnight.
The Latin Virgil, a poet, Platonist, astrologer, and Geometrician, has some noteworthy passages which bear upon these details. Priam of Troy sent away his son Polydorus into Thrace, with a large treasure, and in order to obtain this his attendants murdered him. Aeneas, a Trojan Initiate and therefore a Cabir, happening, on reaching that part, to pull up a myrtle growing upon a hillock, discovered by the lamentations, which the plant is represented as magically making, the murdered body of Polydorus, upon which his remains are taken up and decently interred. The myrtle was a plant sacred in the Mysteries, and Virgil here speaks of the “secret rites of Cybele, mother of the gods”; and Cybele was the name for Ceres amongst the Phrygian Cabiri. Again when Queen Dido resorts to Magical arts to detain Aeneas from sailing: (Book iv.)
“A leavened cake in her devoted hands She holds, and next the highest altar stands; One tender foot was shod, the other bare, Girt was her gathered gown, and loose her hair.”
A maxim of Pythagoras was: “Sacrifice and adore unshod.” Ovid describes Medea as having arms, breast, and knees made bare; and Roman Postulants for religious and political offices, assumed an air of humility, with cloak and tunic ungirt, arm and breast bare, and feet slipshod. The “toga candida” is yet used in Masonry.
Another quotation from Pythagoras is this: “The path of vice and virtue resembles the letter “Y”; from the excellence of the sentiment it was termed the “Golden Branch,” of which the broad, left-hand line, symbolised the easy road to Tartarus, whilst the narrow right line represented the path to Elysium. Decius Magnus Ausonius, a poet of the fourth century says: “The Bough represents the dubious Y, or two paths of Pythagoras.” The sacred branch of the Mysteries varied in the different rites: the erica or heath was sacred to Osiris, the rose to Isis, the ivy to Dionysos, the myrtle to Ceres, the lettuce to Adonis, the lotus to Hindus, the mistletoe to Druids, the acacia to Jews, the palm to Christians.
Turn we now to Virgil s interesting book, which contains the account of the descent of Aeneas into Tartarus, and which undoubtedly embodies the drama of the Eleusinian representation of Hades and Elysium.
A Sybil, or prophetess, requires for the purpose to be undertaken, that Aeneas shall seek a Golden Branch which shoots from a small tree. It is the mistletoe of the Druids who were of this school, and styled the plant “pren” “puraur” or the tree of pure gold: it could only be cut by a pure, white-robed Druid with bare feet, and by using a golden sickle, it probably formed a part of the “brew of Ceridwen,” which was given to the Initiate to aid the gift of intuition; the Aryo-Celts were then in Italy. This Golden Branch was to serve Aeneas as a passport, but as the Sybil informs him of the death of a friend, a fact unknown to him, the body has first to be found; this done we have Lamentations:
“With groans and cries Misenius they deplore, Old Coryanus compassed “thrice” the crew, And dipped an “olive branch” in holy dew, Which thrice he sprinkled round, and thrice aloud Invoked the dead, and then dismissed the crowd.”
Virgil is careful to inform us that these were ancient Rites to the manes of the dead, and “Ancient,” or York, Masons of the last century, and even some in our day, used these Rites.
Aeneas now follows the Sybil to Tartarus, and Virgil describes the fearful scenes he witnessed by way of punishments inflicted upon those who left this life in an impure state. Arrived at the double path of the Branch:
“Before our further way the fates allow, Here must we fix on high the Golden-bough.” and: He now reaches the Elysian fields, where he finds his father Anchises, who proceeds to instruct him in divine things, with prophetic intimations as to his future.
Such was the nature of the Lesser Mysteries; the Greater were intended to shew the felicity of the soul, when purified from mortal passions, it was reborn to the realities of its spiritual nature. They are again an exemplification of the further teaching of Crishna to Arjuna, that he who worships good angels will go amongst them, but that he, who in thought and deed, joins himself to the Supreme Deity will enjoy an eternity of happiness: “Thou must be born again.” An Initiate to the Lesser Mysteries, or those of Ceres, had his place in the Vestibule of the Temple, beyond the sacred curtain was reserved for Initiates into the Greater Mysteries or those of Bacchus.
Preparation for the Greater Mysteries required a nine days fast and bathing in the river Ilyssus took place. The Mystic mundane egg of the Egyptians was a part of the symbolism, for Macrobius says: “Consult the Initiates of the Mysteries of Bacchus who honour with especial veneration the sacred egg.” Seneca defines Bacchus as the universal life that supports nature. We have mentioned the Druid egg. Brother George Oliver, D.D., quotes the Orphic fragments as follows: “In these Mysteries after the people had for a long time bewailed the loss of a particular person, he was at length supposed to be restored to life; upon this the priests used to address the people in these memorable words: Comfort yourselves all ye who have been partakers of the Mystery of the deity thus preserved; for we shall now enjoy some respite from our labours. To these were added the following remarkable words: I have escaped a great calamity and my lot is greatly mended. ” Julius Fermecius gives this in the lines following:
“Courage, ye Mystae; lo! our god is safe, And all our troubles speedily have end.”
But the same writer informs us that the Initiate “personated the God,” for he says: “In the solemn celebrations of the Mysteries all things had to be done which the youth either did, or suffered in his death.” The remarks of Hippolytus from the source previously mentioned, are more curious, as “These holy rites performed, they took their way, Where long extended plains of pleasure lay.”
they seem to proceed from an Initiate who is comparing the ceremony with the Christian Mysteries. The Naasene Gnostic is made to say:
“Those who are Initiated into the Lesser ought to pause and be admitted into the Greater and heavenly ones. Into these no unclean person shall enter For this is the Virgin who carries in her womb, and conceives, and brings forth a son, not animal, not corporeal, but blessed for evermore.” This Initiate, in the agricultural symbolism of Ceres, represents “an ear of corn reaped in silence.” The re-birth of the Neophyte was represented pantomimically, for he says that the hierophant vociferates: “by night in Eleusis beneath a huge fire August Brimo hath brought forth a consecrated son Brimus, ” words which no doubt typified both the sun and the initiate. The word Brimus signifies Powerful and was one of the designations of the Cabiric gods.
Yet after all the Lesser and Greater Mysteries were rather a popular version than a full revelation, we have hinted that there were three-fold interpretations of the Mysteries and what almost approached real death and not drama. Others existed of a more spiritual nature at various centres. Sopatius says that even the Epoptae had only a part of the secret. Theodoritos says that “all do not know what the hierophants know, the majority see only what is represented. ” “The last term of the Epoptae” expressed high initiation. It may aid us to recall that these Mystics held all nature to emanate from two principles, of which Persephone and Dionysos, or Ceres and Bacchus, are the allegory. The first is soul, the second spirit. Lactantius, (“Divine Institutions,” vii.) says: “Should anyone dare to deny the existence of souls after death, the Magician will soon convince him by making it appear.” Irenaeus, Clemens, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, all affirm the same thing. The Mysteries knew equally well with the Christians, that if the purified soul remained attached to spiritual things it would eventually purify itself, as the Alchemist purifies metals, and so attain immortal life.
We learn from various writers that the Mysteries had their secret signs of recognition. Apuleius mentions in his “Metamorphosis” that it was pointed out to him “in a dream” that he would recognise a certain priest by his walking as if with a lame ankle; in the “Apologia” we read: “If anyone happens to be present who has been initiated into the same Rites as myself, if he will give me the sign, he shall then be at liberty to hear what it is that I keep with so much care.” Plautus (“Miles Gloriosus,” iv, 3) has “Give me the sign if you are one of the Bacchae.” Iamblichus writes “Give not your right hand easily (that is, draw not towards you improper and uninitiated persons by giving them your right hand), for to such as have not been tried by repeated disciplines and doctrines, and have not proved themselves to participate in the Mysteries, by a quinquennial silence and other trials, the right hand ought not to be given.” Homer makes Achilles to greet Priam thus “The old man s right hand at the wrist he grasped, lest he should be alarmed in mind.”
Proclus advanced further and taught that there were Mystic passwords that could carry a person from one order of spiritual beings to another still higher, till reaching the absolutely divine. The Egyptians (“Book of the Dead.”) and Gnostics held the same view. Origen (“Contra Celsus.”) says: “There are names of a natural virtue, such as those used by the wise-men in Egypt, the Magi in Persia, and the Brachmans in India. Magic, as it is called, is no vain and chimerical art as the Stoics and Epicurians pretend; neither were the names of Sabaoth and Adonai, made for created beings, but appertain to a mysterious theology concerning the Creator; hence comes the virtue of other names, when placed in order, and pronounced according to the rules.”
The doctrine taught in regard to the nature of the soul in these Mysteries may be gathered from the Philosophers, but first we will see how they acquired the right to speak upon the subject. The Chevalier Ramsay (“Nat. and Revd. Religion.”) says that: “we may look upon the Pythagoric, the Platonic, and the Orphic theology as the same.” Proklos, who was master of the School at Athens about 450 A.D., in his “Theology of Plato” says that: “Pythagoras was first taught the orgies of the gods by Aglophemus; Plato next received a perfect knowledge of them from the Pythagorean and Orphic schools.”
The last named Rites were those upon which the Eleusinia were established. Proklos, in speaking of matter says, “Plato was also of the same opinion concerning matter because he is supposed to have followed Hermes and the Egyptian philosophers.” The philosophical schools, which followed the death of Plato, almost universally accepted him as their master, and he and Pythagoras had like veneration for the Chaldean and Magian teaching, and Ammanius Marcellenus (xxviii, 6.) teaches us that: “Platon, the greatest authority upon ancient doctrines, states that the Magian religion or Magia, known by the mystic name of MACH-AGISTIA, is the most uncorrupted form of worship in things divine, to the philosophy of which, in primitive times, Zoroastres made many additions, drawn from the Mysteries of the Chaldeans.” The Emperor Julian (“Oratio.” ) seems to have been of a similar opinion and says: “Were I to touch upon the initiations and the secret Mysteries which the Chaldeans Bacchised respecting the seven rayed god, lighting up the soul through him, I should say things unknown to the rabble, very unknown, but well known to the blessed Theurgists.”
We have, however, given such matters very fully in our previous chapters; the Egyptian Initiation of Plato is specially affirmed by several writers; and we may add here that the more closely philosophy approaches Cabiric rites, the more does it resemble Free Masonry.
There was, however, a refinement of the coarser part of the dramatic. “Aphanism” and “Euresis” the “concealment and the finding of the slain god” thus applied, in what follows.
As to the nature of the recondite teaching of the Arcane Mysteries we will now quote various writers who have given us hints upon their doctrine. Plutarch says: “As to what thou hearest others say, who persuade the many that the soul, when once freed from the body, neither suffers evil, nor is conscious, I know that thou art better grounded in the doctrines received by us from our ancestors, and in the sacred orgies of Dionysos, than to believe them, for the Mystic symbols are well known to us who belong to the Brotherhood.” Antoninus says: “Soul is all intelligence and a portion of the divinity.” Proklos: “Know the divinity that is in you, that you may know, the divine One, of whom the soul is a ray.” Heraclitus says of souls: “We live their death and die their life.”
That extraordinary man Apollonius of Tyana, who visited the Indians, entered the Mysteries of various nations, and reformed the Greeks, taught that both birth and death were equally an appearance, the first being the confinement of the “Real” in matter, and the second its release. Plotinus, who was a pupil of Ammonius Saccus, says: “for to be plunged into matter is to descend into Hades and there fall asleep,” and of the doctrine itself he tells us that it is “what is taught in the Mysteries, and that liberation from the bonds of the body is an ascent from the cavern, and a progression to the intellectual.” Macrobius (“Dream of Scipio.”) says that the first death is when the soul falls into the body “as a sepulchre,” and that “the second is the natural death.” (A translation by Brother W. W. Westcott has been recently printed.) Plato in his “Hippias” says: “The supreme Beauty consists in their resemblance to the divine sun, or light of all intelligence”; he also refers to Orpheus as terming our natural body GR:Sigma-iota-upsilon-mu-alpha (soma) or GR:Sigma-gamma-mu-alpha (sema), a sepulchre. Hierocles quotes the Chaldeans to the effect that, “the oracles called the etherial body, the thin and subtle vehicle or chariot of the soul,” Suidas tells us, out of Isidorus, a Spanish bishop of the sixth century, what is interesting to old Masons, especially as Isidore is quoted by the author of our old MSS. Constitutions called the “Cooke MS.,” that, “according to some philosophers, the soul has a luminous vehicle, called “star-like,” “sun-like,” and immortal, which luciform body is shut up in this terrestrial (body) as light is in a dark lantern.” Moderns would generally use the terms soul-body, and spirit, but Plato designates the former a “winged chariot.”
Here the reader may be reminded that a lantern in form of a five-pointed starlight, was formerly used by Masons, in the most solemn part of their ceremonies. There are portions of the “Divine Poemander” that must allude to Mystery-rites: “Hast thou not heard in the speeches, that from one soul of the universe are all those souls, which in all the world are tossed up and down and severally divided? Of these souls there are many changes, some into a more fortunate estate and some quite contrary; for they which are of creeping things are changed into those of watery things, living upon the land; and those of things living in the water to those of things living upon the land; and airy ones are changed into men; and human souls that lay hold of immortality are changed into daemons.” (“The Key,” iv, 23.) “The like also happeneth to them that go out of the body; for when the soul runs back into itself the spirit is contracted into the blood, and the soul into the spirit, but the mind being made pure and free from these cloathings, and being divine by nature, taking a fiery body rangeth abroad in every place, leaving the soul to judgment, and to the punishment it hath deserved.” (“Ibid,” 56.) Again, in the drama of the Mysteries: “Dost thou not see how many evils the wicked soul suffereth, roaring and crying out, I am burned, I am consumed, I know not what to say or do, I am devoured unhappy wretch, of the evils that compass and lay hold upon me, miserable that I am I neither see nor hear anything.” (Ibid, 70. (Reprints by R. H. Fryar, Bath, also by Dr. W. W. Westcott.))
It necessarily follows that to be entombed symbolically and raised therefrom, as was done in these Mysteries, was emblematically, if not actually, to be spiritualised or exalted out of the body. Coupled with this recondite teaching as regards the soul was the theory of REMINISCENCE. According to this mystic doctrine which was advocated by Plato, Origen, and some of the early Christian Bishops, as Synesius, all souls have pre-existence and have descended from the spiritual world into the earthly prison of the body, but some souls are more divinely advanced than others. Reminiscence is therefore that faculty of knowledge which the soul brings from its heavenly source, never entirely obscured, and when its faculties are stimulated, by discipline and a pious abandonment of the passions, is the cause of all civilising influences and discoveries. More than this, but we have said all that is necessary. Socrates, at his trial by the Areopagus at Athens, and to the hour of his death by hemlock, asserted the guidance of his Daemon, or tutelary spirit, and has the following placed to his credit by Plato in his “Republic:” “The eye of the soul, which is blinded and buried by other studies, is alone naturally adapted to be resuscitated and excited by the mathematical disciplines.” It is a repetition of the apothegm of the Persian Dervishes: “The man must die that the saint may be born”; it is the divinely illuminated eye of the Cabirian Cyclops, and the awakening or resuscitation of the consciousness of the divine image, implanted in the human soul.
As to the necessary Apprenticeship for even the Lesser Mysteries, we have some information in the writings of Theon of Smyrna, who was a disciple of Euclid, and an editor of his books. Theon is comparing the five liberal sciences as necessary for a mystically initiated philosopher with the five preparations for the Mysteries:
“Again it may be said that Philosophy is the Initiation into, and tradition of, real and true Mysteries; but of Initiation there are five parts. That which has the precedency indeed, and is the first, is Purification. For the Mysteries are not imparted to all who are willing to be initiated, but some persons are excluded by the voice of the Crier, such as those whose hands are not pure, and whose speech is inarticulate. It is also necessary that those who are not excluded from initiation should first undergo a certain purification; but the second thing, after purification, is the “Tradition” of the Mysteries. The third thing is denominated “Inspection.” And the fourth which is the end of inspection, is binding the head and placing on it “Crowns;” so that he who is initiated is now able to deliver to others the Mysteries which he has received; whether it be the Mysteries of a Torchbearer, or the Interpreter of the sacred ceremonies, or of some other Priesthood. But the fifth thing which results from these is the “Felicity” arising from being dear to the divinity and the associate of the gods. Conformably to these things likewise is the tradition of the political doctrines, and in the first place a certain purification is requisite, such as the exercise from youth in appropriate disciplines, for Empedocles says, it is necessary to be purified from defilements by drawing from five fountains in a vessel of unmingled brass.
But Platon says, that purification is to be derived from five disciplines, namely, Arithmetic, Geometry, Stereometry, Music, and Astronomy. The tradition, however, by philosophical, logical, political, and physical theories is similar to Initiation. But Platon denominates the occupation about intelligibles true beings; and ideas Epopteia or inspection; and the ability from what has been learned of leading others to the same theory must be considered analogous to binding the head, and being crowned; but the fifth, and most perfect thing, is the felicity produced from these, and, according to Platon, an assimilation as much as possible to God.”
So far Theon, and his essay is a most important comparison between the relative value of philosophy and the Mysteries; it might be worth while to ask ourselves, whether these “five” parts of Initiation, five sciences, and five fountains, have any relation to the mystic pentagon, (Symbol: Pentagram) and the Masonic five points of Fellowship, in the ancient aspect; for in these old times the Liberal arts and sciences were not seven, but five. We are informed by Diodorus that the Egyptians had an especial veneration for the number five, as they considered it to represent the Universe, because there were five elements earth, water, air, fire, and ether or spirit; and it is noteworthy that it was by these elements that the worthiness of the Neophyte was tested before Initiation. It is related that when the eminent Christian, Justin Martyr, applied for Initiation into the Society of Pythagoras, he was asked whether he had studied arithmetic, music, astronomy, and geometry, as these alone were capable of abstracting the soul from sensibles, and preparing it for intelligibles: as he could not reply affirmatively he was refused admission. (Oliver s “Pythagorean Triangle.” (John Hogg. London.)
We see from these extracts that the requirement of the Liberal arts and sciences were common to Theosophy and Philosophy, as they were of old to Freemasonry, and is a proof, to be added to many others, that these three had one, and the same origin, and were rites of the same Fellowship. Discipline was made to precede Initiation into the Mysteries in the same way that Freemasonry, having abandoned the teaching of the arts, and especially Geometry, now requires a certain amount of education from its candidates. The Lesser Mysteries were intended to teach the sciences which the Art Mysteries transmitted. The Greater Mysteries were essentially spiritual, embracing man s origin, rebirth or regeneration, and his final felicity, and this passed to Gnostics, Mystics, the Church, and the later Rosicrucians.
In explanation of the terms Inspection, and Seeing, Epoptae, which are frequently used by writers who comment upon the Mysteries, we will give some quotations to shew that the claim was actual and not metaphorical. Though not necessary to our subject, we may say, that Iamblichus in his letter upon the Mysteries, has left us in no doubt as to the significance of Epopteia or Inspection, and Autopsia or Seeing, for he repeats, over and over again in unmistakable language, paragraph after paragraph, the fact of the visible presence of supermundane beings at the celebration of the Theurgic rites. (“On the Mysteries,” par. ii, sec. iii to ix.) These particulars, were it necessary, are too long for insertion here, but he proceeds to define with care, the appearance, functions, qualities and the good effects of beholding the gods, defining archangels, angels, daemons or tutelary spirits, potentates or demi- gods, hero-gods, and souls, with all the authority of one who had beheld and studied all their qualities.
The means taken by these Philosophers for inducing the development of seership, was strict chastity and purity of life, accompanied by strict dietary, with fasts and prayer; principles adopted in all the sacerdotal Mysteries for superior Initiation. The following is recorded by Damaskios as to the appearance of the god in the Mysteries of Serapis: “In a manifestation which must not be revealed, there is seen on the walls of the temple a mass of light which appears at first at a very great distance. It is transformed, whilst unfolding itself, into a visage evidently divine and supernatural, by an aspect severe but with a touch of sweetness. Following the teachings of a mysterious religion, the Alexandrians honour it as Osiris or Adonis.” This appearance corresponds, in its description, with what was said of Serapis in our last chapter.
Porphyrios, circa 270 A.D. records in his “Life of Plotinos,” that that Philosopher in order to satisfy the curiosity of an Egyptian priest, repaired with him to the Temple of Isis in Rome, in order, as the most suitable place, to invoke his tutelary Daemon, which having done, a divine being made his appearance, apparently so much above the rank of the ordinary daemons as to greatly astonish the Egyptian. The eminent Platonist, Thomas Taylor, translates a passage of the “Phaidros” thus: “Likewise in consequence of this divine Initiation, we become spectators of entire, simple, immovable, and blessed visions, resident in a pure light, and were ourselves pure and immaculate, and liberated from the surrounding vestment which we denominate body, and to which we are bound, as an oyster to its shell.” Proklos, in his “Commentary” on the “Republic of Plato,” has these words: “In all Initiations and Mysteries, the gods exhibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of shapes, sometimes a formless light, shining from themselves, is thrown forth for contemplation, sometimes the luminosity is in a human figure, and sometimes it takes a different shape,” into all of which Iamblichus also particularly enters.
The wondrous works of Homer, “The blind old man of Scio s rocky isle,” are as full of the appearance of gods and angels to man, as the Jewish Scriptures. In book iv. of the “Odyssey,” in describing the descent of Ulysses into the Cimmerian Cavern, leading to the abode of souls, he asserts that the fumes of the blood of the victims offered in sacrifice, and slain for the purpose, were used by the shades of the dead to reanimate and strengthen their corporeal faculties. Moses says, “the blood is the life.” Pope thus words it, on the appearance of the prophet or seer, Tiresias:
“Eagre he quaft the gore, and then expres t Dark things to come, the counsels of his breast.”
Again, when Ulysses observes the wan and melancholy shade of his mother, Anticlea, standing aloof, Tiresias the Seer thus informs him:
“Know, to the spectre, that thy beverage s taste, The scenes of life renew, and actions past.”
And when the mother approaches her son s sacrifice: “When near Anticlea moved, and drank the blood, Straight all the mother in her soul awakes, And owning her Ulysses thus she speaks.”
St. Basil instructs us in this, that “the blood being evaporated by fire, and so attenuated, is taken into the substance of their body.” It is said that in the Eleusinian Mysteries the Initiate took the solemn oath required of him, standing upon the skins of the animals slain in sacrifice. The disgusting rites of the Taurobolium, said to have been practised in some of the Mysteries were of the nature described; and it is alleged that when the Aspirant was to receive this baptism of blood, he was put in a chamber, above which was another with the floor pierced with holes; in this a bull was slain and the Aspirant received the crimson stream upon him in the lower chamber. Prudentius has the following lines on the subject: (“Perieteranon,” v. p. 146; “Fragments of Initiation,” Bro. F. F. Schnitger.)
“All salute and adore him from afar Who is touched with this uncleanliness, And sullied with such recent sin-offering, Because the vile blood of the dead ox Has washed him who was hid in filthy caverns.”
The reader of these pages will no doubt remark that details of such matters have no reference to Freemasonry; that is so, but we were minded to shew of what the Mysteries consisted, and what they actually professed and practised. Nevertheless a large amount of affinity with Masonic rites, and its symbolism, will be found in this chapter by the attentive observer, and considerably more in the next.
The perfectly metaphysical mind of Plato eminently fitted him for an exponent of Mysteries which had reached him from remote ages, and it may be said that the Mysteries were Platonism, and that Platonism was the Mysteries, and in this sense we may aptly apply the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who says: “Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought.” “Plato is philosophy and philosophy Plato; at once the glory and the shame of mankind; since neither Saxon nor Roman have availed to add any ideas to his categories.” Plato himself holds that of the 5 orders of things (of which we have just written) only 4 can be taught to the generality of men.
V – PHILOSOPHY IN RELATION TO MASONIC RITES
We mentioned in our last chapter the introduction into the State Mysteries of an intellectual class who, as laymen, were destined to exercise great influence upon succeeding generations. The most notable was Pythagoras, who was by birth a Samian of the period of 570 B.C. He obtained initiation into the Mysteries of various countries, and consolidated all that he had thus learned into a school of his own, which he opened at Crotono in Magna Graecia. He conferred upon himself and pupils the title of Philosophers, or lovers of Wisdom, and Philosophy began to lay claim to all the Wisdom possessed by the Mysteries. It was the first of the Arcane Schools that sprang out of the State Mysteries, in the same way that private Lodges of Masons sprang out of the General Assemblies; and in the language of Masons, the School of Pythagoras would be termed a new Rite of the Mysteries, but Pythagoras went beyond speculation, in a Masonic direction, by his practical views upon the necessity of studying the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and though he flourished nearly two centuries before Plato, and nearly three centuries before the time of Euclid, he made Geometry the basic plan of all creation.
The Rite of Pythagoras was divided into three classes or grades, and Dr. George Oliver in his “History of Initiation,” makes the School or Academy of Plato, to consist equally of three degrees with Initiatory rites, but it is doubtful whether he had any better authority than will be found in this section; it is full of Masonic doctrine and symbolism which must be left for the reader to apply. The Pythagorean Rite was Exoteric or public in its teaching, and Esoteric or private in things intended for his Disciples, and a like rule was followed by the Egyptian priests. The first step of the Esoteric teaching was an Apprenticeship of five years of silence, which Iamblichus informs us might be abridged in cases of merit; the Aspirants were termed “Mathematici,” because the grade embodied instruction in the Liberal arts, and Hippolitus informs us that Deity was denominated “Grand Geometrician;” even as we saw that the Chinese termed Deity the “First Builder,” and the Indian Art fraternity the “Great or Divine Builder.” The brethren advanced to the second step were termed “Theorilici,” and here they were instructed in the elements of divine wisdom. Then followed the very select class of “Electi,” who were Perfect Masters. The School had a series of darkly-worded apothegms, as for instance, “Stir not the fire with a sword” be calm. “Abstain from beans” be chaste. It had also secret modes of recognition. Their brotherly-love was often exemplified in the most remarkable manner, and their devotion to the Society, and its laws, by the sacrifice of life itself. “The Master has said it,” was an all- sufficient guide in their conduct.
Ovid in his “Metamorphosis” has an essay upon Pythagoras and his doctrines: “Why dread such mere visions as death and Hades? Souls cannot die; they only leave one body to enter another, as I (Pythagoras) know by experience who was once Eupherbus, and recognised the shield I, in his person bore. Death is mere change; the breath goes forth from one body to enter another (be it human or animal) but beneath different shapes the soul remains substantially the same. Hence the horror of killing creatures, it may be, tenanted by kindred souls. But one may go further and say, that not souls alone, but all things shift and pass night and day, the hues of the sky and sun, and the shapes of the moon. The seasons, the year, changes in correspondence with the ages of man, Spring answering to youth, Summer to prime, Autumn to maturity, and Winter to old age.”
Porphyrios, who was a Tyrian of the name of Melek, informs us that the numerals of Pythagoras are hieroglyphic symbols, by which he explained all ideas concerning the nature of things, and hence of the nature of the symbols to which we have previously alluded. It is said that he taught the true Astronomy, termed “Mesouranios,” as typifying the sun in its relation to revolutions of the planetary bodies. Nor need we feel surprised at the knowledge which this implies, as the Vedas and Shastras of the Hindus indicate a conception that the earth was round and the planets in revolution, at least 2,000 B.C. (Vide “Isis Unveiled,” i, p. 10; also ii, p. 128.) Pythagoras was Initiated in Egypt after severe trials, and Porphyrios states that he was initiated in Babylon by Zarades, but it is doubtful whether this person or even Zoroaster were names of persons. Zar-ades may be interpreted by Na-zar-ad, vowed or separated, and Zar-ades may be a chief or Rab-mag, whilst Zoroaster may have been a Zara of Ishter, and Zerubabel the Zoro or Nazar of Babylon, a Nazarene and recoloniser of Jerusalem. (Vide “Isis Unveiled,” i, p. 10; also ii, p. 128.)
Pythagoras claimed that all things were created by Geometry and numbers, or as his follower Plato expresses it, “God perpetually Geometrises.” Censorinus thus develops his doctrine of the “Harmony of the spheres”: “Pythagoras asserted that the whole world is made according to musical proportion, and that the seven planets between heaven and earth have an harmonious motion and intervals, correspondent to the musical diastemes, and render various sounds according to their several heights, so consonant that they make the most sweet melody, but to us inaudible by reason of the greatness of the noise, which the narrow passage of our ear is not capable to receive.” Our old Masonic MSS. allege that Jabal discovered the musical notes by listening to the sound of the hammers of Tubal Cain, and tradition assigns the discovery to Pythagoras by the same chance.
The Greeks mention the visit of a man of the name of Abaris from the Hyperborean regions; he appeared at Athens carrying a bow and quiver, girt with a gilded belt, and a plaid round his body. He was a learned man, instructed in Greek, very judicious, and Toland shews him to have been a Druid from the Hebrides. Pythagoras had no reserve with him, nor the Druid with him, and they parted with mutual esteem. It is said metaphorically that Abaris shewed Pythagoras the sacred arrow which Apollo used against the Cyclops by which we are to understand Druidical astronomy, and magic or in Celtic “dry,” to which the Anglo-Saxons added craft, denominating Magic Drycraft.
Pythagorean Clubs or Schools were established at Crotona, Sybaris, Metapontum, Tarentum, and other places in Magna Graecia; and Cicero says that he died at Metapontum. The dates assigned to his birth vary from 608 and 570 B.C., and of his death 497 to 472 B.C.
The Philosopher Plato, who died at a great age in the year 347 B.C. was so much attached to Geometry, which the old Masonic Constitutions tell us was the original name of Masonry, that he wrote over his study: “Let none enter here who are ignorant of Geometry”; in his “Republic” he says that “Geometry rightly treated is the knowledge of the eternal”; and in “Timaeus” he says, that Pythagoras first brought Geometry to perfection; but Herodotus and Iamblichus say that Geometry was perfected in Egypt, owing to the necessity of surveying their lands after the overflow of the Nile; that is it had to be applied to the practical purpose of landmeasuring, and one of the probable derivations of the word Mason may be deduced from this use of Geometry.
The poet Chaucer, who was a Clerk of Works to the King and therefore in constant contact with Masons, uses the old word “Mase” to signify an artistic building, and “to mase” is to think out; and Krause observes that, in almost every tongue, m-t, m-s, metz, mess, masz, is used to define the boundaries of an object, and in general, to invent, to measure, to work according to measure. In Latin we have mansio, a day s journey, and Macerieo, a boundary wall, hence our word mansion. The term Mase has now passed out of use, but at the period when the word Macon arose was well understood.
Our ancient MSS. distinctly state that in early Saxon times the word was not in use and the Craft was designated Geometry; we may therefore seek the origin of the word in the Teutonic. In the “Somneri Dictionarium Saxonico- Latino-Anglicum,” Oxon. 1689, we have a word which covers what we seek Massa, or “Maca, par locius, censors, conjux, a peer, an equal, a companion, a mate.” It is therefore a term equally applicable either to the Society or the trade. The builders were Masons because they were Sociates and Fellows of Craft, and the trade was the same because the Sociates made and mated the stones to form a building. The word Massa, a table, a mate, indicates fellowship.
Brother Wm. S. Rockville has hazarded a derivation from the Coptic “Mai” to love, and “Son” a brother, which is quite applicable philologically, and he points out that the hieroglyphic of the first word is a sickle, plough, or scythe, and of the second a chisel, or a seal is used. (“Mis. Notes and Queries,” xi, p. 2; also “Freemason s Mag.” 1865.)
Geometry was the chief qualification for the Arcane Schools, as well as for Masonry, and the following which Plato gives in the “Philebos,” and perhaps derives from an older source, appears also in the Masonic MSS.: “All arts require Arithmetic, Mensuration, and Statics, all of which are comprehended in the Mathematical science, and are bounded by the principles which it contains, for the distribution of numbers, the variety of measures, and the difference of weights are known by this science.” But Proklos makes Geometry to be also the basis of religion, and confirms what was stated in our last chapter, for he says: “The mathematical disciplines were invented by the Pythagoreans, in order to be a reminiscence of divine concerns, at which through these, as SYMBOLS, they endeavour to arrive.”
Even at the present day Geometry and its diagrams are the technical language of Architects by which they convey their ideas to each other, and which they have inherited with the Craft of the ancient Masonic Society. It follows that architecture is the best school in which to study speculative geometry, and there must always have existed a close relationship between operative Masonry and Speculative Philosophy, based as the latter is, to a great extent, upon geometrical science. There must be a good reason why old Masonic MSS. couple all the sciences which go to form a liberal education; and though it may seem incongruous to couple grammar and logic, with qualifications necessary to build houses, we can give very ancient Greek evidence to prove its necessity and bearing. Ammonius Saccus says: “For in general the end of theory is the beginning of practice; and so reciprocally the end of practice the beginning of theory. Thus, for instance, an Architect, being ordered to build a house, says to himself, I am ordered to build a house; that is to say a certain defence to protect against the rains and the heats. But this cannot be without a roof or covering. ” From this point therefore he begins his theory. He proceeds and says, “But there can be no roof if there be no walls; and there can be no walls without some foundations; nor can there be laid foundations without opening the earth.” At this point the theory is at an end. Hence, therefore, commences the practice or action. For, first, he opens the earth, then lays the foundation, then raises the walls, and lastly puts on the roof which is the end of the action or practice, as the beginning of the practice was the end of the theory. And thus also the philosopher does; being willing to form a demonstration he says to himself: “I am willing to speak concerning demonstration. But inasmuch as demonstration is a scientific syllogism, it is impossible to say anything concerning it without first saying what is a syllogism; nor can we learn what is simply a syllogism without having first learned what is a proposition; for propositions are certain sentences; and it is a collection of such sentences that form a syllogism; so that without knowing propositions it is impossible to learn what is a syllogism, because it is out of these that a syllogism is compounded. Further than this, it is impossible to know a proposition without knowing nouns and verbs out of which is composed every species of sentence, or to know nouns and verbs without knowing sounds articulate or simple words, inasmuch as each of these is a sound articulate having a meaning. ” The same writer speaks of “the practical and the speculative part of Philosophy.” Plato in his “Republic,” makes Socrates to say: “It is indeed no contemptible matter, though a difficult one, to believe that through these particular sciences (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy) the soul has an organ purified and enlightened, which is destroyed and blinded by studies of other kinds; an organ better worth saving than a thousand eyes; inasmuch as truth becomes visible through this alone.”
An important part of the Mythologies of various peoples was founded upon TWO PILLARS, where the sciences were alleged to be written; and the old Masonic MSS. state that Hermes and Pythagoras respectively found the Pillars of stone and brick or “latres” upon which the antedeluvian sciences had been engraved. Iamblichus asserts that these two Pillars were preserved in the temple of Amen at Thebes, and Porphyrios, the Platonic philosopher, having addressed a letter of enquiry upon the Mysteries and their doctrine, to “Anebo the Egyptian Prophet,” probably of a fifth order of priests established by the Ptolemies in a Synod, is thus answered by Iamblichus in a letter entitled, “The Reply of Ab-Ammon the Master, to the Letter of Porphyrios to Anebo”:
“Hermes, the patron of learning, in ancient times, was rightly considered to be a god in whom the whole sacerdotal Order participated. The One who presides over true knowledge is one, and the same, everywhere. Our ancestors dedicated to him their wise discoveries, and named their respective treatises “Books of Hermes.” It would not be becoming that Pythagoras, Platon, Demokritos, Eudoxes, and many other of the old Greeks, should have been able to receive instruction from the Sacred Scribes of their time when you, our own contemporary holding sentiments like theirs, are disappointed in your endeavour by those now living, and styled Public Teachers. But if you press an enquiry after the method of the Philosophers, we will adjudicate it according to the ancient “Pillars of Hermes,” which Platon and Pythagoras have already recognised and combined with their own philosophical maxims The knowledge of the gods is innate and pertains to the very substance of our being. From the beginning it was one with its own source, and was co- existent with the inherent impulse of the soul to the supreme goodness.”
There is altogether much ambiguity and uncertainty as to the nature of these “Two Pillars,” but it is evident from the foregoing, that they were much more than a mere record of the worldly arts. They probably stood for two very ancient traditional Pillars, used in the primitive Mysteries, which were copied in the “Petroma” of the temples of the various Mysteries of the world, from which the sacred laws were read to the Initiate, as in the two tablets of Moses in the Jewish law. There was an ancient Babylonian tradition that these Two Tablets were buried by Xisithrus, the Chaldean Noah, beneath the foundation stone of the tower of Borsippa, or Babel. (A.Q.C., v, pt. 2 “Har-moad.”) Many kings sought for them in vain, until the time of Nabunahid, who professed, if we are to believe his inscription, to have discovered them. Josephus says that one of these Pillars existed in Syria, in his days. What he saw was probably a pillar recording some Egyptian conquest. Diodorus Siculus repeats a tradition that the Egyptians attributed to Thoth or Hermes the discovery of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, astrology, and the sciences; and as the “method of the philosophers,” referred to by Iamblichus, was to employ geometrical symbols as a method of teaching Theosophy, the “Pillars of Hermes” would appear to cover such reference in the quotation.
Manetho, the Egyptian priest who compiled the annals of his order for the Ptolemies, says: “The second Hermes, called Trismegistus, translated, or rather transcribed into vulgar alphabetical characters, what the first Hermes had wrote in hieroglyphical characters upon pillars of stone.” Hermes is the Greek name for the Egyptian Thoth, and this second of the name is believed to have been a Royal scribe of Menes the first King of Egypt, the first Thoth was a primitive traditional prophet, and the name, as Iamblichus has told us, of a god of Revelation.
The great Master of Geometry that followed Plato, after a lapse of about a century, was a Tyrian by birth of the name of Euclid, who opened an Academy of the Sciences at Alexandria under the Ptolemies. He was beyond doubt a Platonist, and described as such by Porphyrios in his “Life of Plotinos,” a philosopher born at Lykopolis in Egypt, 205 A.D. The words of Porphyrios are thus translated: “In the first class of the Platonists there were Euklides, Demokritos, and Proklinos who lived near Troy. Of those philosophers, therefore, who were authors some produced nothing more than a collection and transcription of the remains of the ancients, as Euklides, Demokritos, and Proklinos.” We see from this that Euclid did no more than reproduce what had existed from ancient times, and hence it is not without some show of authority that later scribes of the Masonic MSS. have substituted the name of Hermes for Euclid, as the author of the Constitutional Charges, and as a matter of fact Hermes was, in a sense, their remote originator. At this distant era there were only five liberal arts and sciences, and the assimilation of these to the five parts of the Mysteries was shewn in our last chapter. In the 11th century of our era these had been increased to seven, in two divisions, designated the “Trivium” which comprised grammar, rhetoric, and logic, and the “Quadrivium” which included arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
In what has gone before we have various illustrations of the use of the cross as a pre-Christian symbol in the religious Mysteries, and in these minor Arcane Schools of philosophy the symbolic cross is prominent. Aeschylus, the author of “Prometheus Bound,” relegates this Cabiric god to a similar punishment on Caucasus for stealing the fire of the gods with which to endow mankind, and he himself narrowly escaped death under a suspicion that he had revealed some of the mystic doctrine. Plato advances that the Logos, or second person of his trinity, had impressed himself upon the world in the shape of an (“X”), or St. Andrew s cross, as it is now termed; as this symbol is one of the forms used to express the union of two generative principles it may be Plato s secret way of expressing that.
The Indian Guilds say, as previously mentioned, that the Divine Builder crucified his son Surya (the Sun) upon his Lathe which is the Svastica (Symbol: Swastika) cross. All the Guilds, both ancient and modern, in one of the higher degrees, has a symbolic crucifixion at High XII. at noon, which is founded upon the laying of the Foundation stone of a Temple on the 5 Points, by 3, 4, 5, angle. But it goes far beyond this, as there was everywhere an actual sacrifice of human life to ensure safety to the building; and the assertion, traditional, of course, is that it occurred at the erection of Solomon s temple, and it certainly had place in our old English churches even. The temple of Solomon was a 3 to 1 structure, 60 x 20 cubits, the pyramids have a square basis, and therefore a Coptic Guild would lay down a perfect square. The Mysteries were no more than a Guild, and had equally the same rite. Vitruvius gives the (“X”) cross as a canon of proportion of the human figure, the centre of the cross being the navel of the body. This was in Egypt “where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev. xi. 8); a confession of Initiation, “crucified before the sun” as the Mystics say. Minucius Felix, a Christian, taunts the Romans themselves with the worship of wooden gods, and says: “Your victorious trophies not only represent a cross, but a cross with a man upon it.”
Various writers of the Platonic school treat of the “Perfect Man” in the light of embracing all the virtues which lead to happiness, but which are never found combined in one individual. It is in this ideal of a perfectly virtuous man that we must look for such works as the Egypto-Greek life of Pythagoras, the Greco- Roman life of Apollonius; and exemplified to the full in the Greco-Jewish life of Jesus of Nazareth. The 2nd and 3rd Books of the “Republic” of Plato teach that goodness to be apparent must be stripped of all adventitious circumstances, and that a really good man will find so much opposition in the world that “he will be scourged, tormented, bound, his eyes put out, and die by crucifixion after he has endured all these evils.” Again, “a good man will be tormented, furiously treated, have his hands cut off, his eyes put out, will be bound, condemned, and burnt.” Lactantius quotes Seneca as using similar language. Grotius, from whom we take our translation, considers that Plato writes prophetically, but, after the allusions made in previous chapters, we may be pardoned if we look upon them as applied to certain things in the Mysteries, which assigned a reason in the danger of making the Arcane doctrines too public.
The ancient Sybils, or inspired prophetesses of the Mysteries, have similar language. Augustine (De civ. Dei, lib. xviii, c. 23.) thus quotes the Erythrean Sybil: “He will fall into the hostile hands of the wicked; with poisonous spittle will they spit upon him, on his sacred back they will strike him; they will crown him with a crown of thorns; they will give him gall for food, and vinegar to drink five forms of trial. The Veil of the temple will be rent, and at midday there will be a darkness of three hours, and he will die, repose in sleep, and then in joyful light he will come again as at first.” One of these Sybils had the following Oracle to deliver:
“Then suddenly a sign for mortal men shall be, When out of Egypt s land a stone most fair shall come safeguarded.”
Celsus accuses the Christians of interpolating passages from these Oracles “without understanding their meaning,” from which we gather that they had a mystical reference. The veil that is rent is that of the Sacred Curtain of Apollo, and Virgil has ascribed to his patron the coming glories of the age of gold. In the temple of Philae in Egypt there is an old-time painting of a man laid upon a cruciform bier asleep, over him stand two persons who are pouring upon his head water in which appears the sacred tau-cross, whilst the sun s rays strike upon him; and it is evident that such an Initiate is represented by a cube opened out as a Latin cross, the top square having a man s head, in the same temple. We mentioned this species of crucifixion in our last chapter, where the Initiate was carried into the lower crypt of the temple. Socrates Scholasticus in referring to crosses found in the temple of Serapis, when it was sacked by the Christians, says: “The Christians contended that the cross belonged to the Master, Jesus Christ, which they also which understood these rites maintained; the Gentiles on the contrary maintaining that the cross was common both to Jesus Christ and Serapis.” An eminent Catholic divine says that the cross is “the hidden Mystery, a scandal to the Jews, and folly to the Gentiles, of which Paul writes.” Foucart mentions a treatise by a disciple of Pythagoras entitled, “The passing into the invisible world, or the Descent into Hades.”
In the ancient Mystery language of pre-Christian times, and with the Gnostics, and in the Arcane Discipline of the church, Chrestos meant a Disciple, whilst Christos was one anointed, purified, and accepted. Boeckhos, in “Corpus Inscriptionem,” shews that it was an epithet applied to the departed, or the saved and redeemed, of pre-Christian times, Aeschylus speaks of the Manteumata Pythocresta, or oracles of the Pythoness, in which Chrestos becomes the expounder of Oracles. Justin Martyr, in his Apology, speaks of Chrestians, and Lactantius (iv. c. 8) says that “it is only through ignorance that men call themselves Christians, instead of Chrestians.”
As the Mysteries had a symbolic death so had the Minor Arcane Schools, but the language of the latter has a very realistic character, and we will see what has been said on this subject; first quoting Hermias in his “Commentary on the Phaidros:” “The word GR:tau-epsilon-lambda-epsilon-tau-upsilon (telete) or Initiation was so denominated from rendering the soul perfect; the soul was therefore once perfect. But here it is divided, and is not able to energise wholly by itself. But it is necessary to know that Telete, Muesis, and Epopteia, differ from each other. Telete therefore is analogous to that which is preparatory to purifications. But Muesis, which is so called from closing the eyes, is more divine. For to close the eyes in Initiation is no longer to receive by sense those divine Mysteries, but with the pure soul itself, and Epopteia is to be established and become a spectator of the Mysteries.” Synesius in his treatise on “Providence,” as translated by Thomas Taylor, says: “You also who have been initiated in those Mysteries in which there are two pairs of eyes, and it is requisite that the pair which are beneath should be closed, when the pair which are above them perceive, and when the pair above are closed, those which are below should be opened.” This means that the spiritual eyes must be used for spiritual things.
Bishop Warburton, in his “Divine Legation,” quotes an ancient writer, preserved by Stobaeus, as saying: “The mind is affected in death, just as it is in the Grand Mysteries, and word answers to word, as thing to thing, for GR:tau- epsilon-lambda-epsilon-upsilon-tau-epsilon-iota-upsilon (teleuteiu) is to die and GR:tau-epsilon-lambda-epsilon-iota-sigma-theta-alpha-iota (teleisthai) is to be initiated.” By the word Grand is meant the Greater Mysteries which resemble the Master Mason. Plutarch has some passages which strikingly illustrate the doctrines of the Mysteries and the relation of these to Ceres and Persephone. This writer says: “Now of the deaths we die one makes man two out of three, and the other one out of two. The former is in the region and jurisdiction of Demeter, whence the name given in the Mysteries GR:tau- epsilon-lambda-epsilon-iota-upsilon, resembling that given to death GR:tau- epsilon-lambda-epsilon-iota-tau-alpha-epsilon. The Athenians also heretofore called the deceased sacred to Demeter. As to the other death it is in the Moon or region of Persephone.” The first separation is into what he terms “the Meadows of Hades,” situate between the earth and the moon, where the soul wanders for a more or less period, where it plucks the soul violently from the body, but Persephone mildly and in a long time disjoins the understanding from the soul”; that is separates the higher and lower self which is the second death, “as if they were returning from a wandering pilgrimage, or long exile, into their country, where they have a taste of joy, such as they principally receive who are initiated into sacred Mysteries, mixed with trouble, admiration, and each ones proper and peculiar hope.” This of course refers to actual death, the “three” being body, soul, and spirit, and the “two” soul and spirit. These quotations all apply rather to the State Mysteries than the Arcane Schools of Philosophy, but we have other passages.
The following is found in the “Auxiliaries” of Porphyrios (printed by Ficinus the restorer of the Platonic Academy at Rome in the 15th century): “Hence there is a two-fold death, the one universally known, by which the body is liberated from the soul; the other peculiar to philosophers, by which the soul is liberated from the body; nor does the one at all follow the other.” Celsus speaks of a Pagan priest who could voluntarily perform the separation of soul and body, “and lay like one dead void of life and sense.” (“Anatomy of Melancholy” (Burton).) The “Phedon” of Plato has several similar passages, of which, in order not to tire the reader, we will take but one: “Now we have shewn that in order to trace the truth or purity of anything, we should lay aside the body and only employ the soul to examine the objects we pursue.”
Mr. Robert Brown, in his “Great Dionysiac Myth,” says in allusion to the Hall of Arcane rites, or the “sekos,” a word literally meaning sheep-fold but which came to signify the interior of a temple: “Here, deeply excited and agitated by all they had gone through, ready to believe anything, and everything, in that state of abstinence which is, or is supposed to be, most favourable to the reception of supernatural displays, and their minds more or less affected by drugs, and their whole being permeated with the impression and expectation of the more- than-mortal, they were allowed to SEE.”
We have here to remember that the Mysteries required a long and protracted fast, and the passages that we have quoted state clearly enough that an ultra- natural state was produced. What in these times is called hypnotism, mesmerism, trance, was well known to the ancients. Proclos, quoting Clearchus “Treatise on Sleep,” mentions a wand with which the operator, upon gently striking a boy, drew his soul a distance from his body, for the purpose of proving that the body is without sensation when the soul is taken away, and, by means of his rod, he again restored the soul to the body. (Oliver s “Hist. Landmarks.” ii, p. 614.) The writings of the early Christian Fathers afford much testimony of the phenomena, and the Benedictine ceremony of covering the newly received Monk with a funereal pall, equally with a certain Masonic ceremony, is an exoteric reference to it. It is related by Hugh, a Monk of Saltery in Huntingdonshire, that a soldier of King Stephen of England visited “St. Patricks Hole,” in Donegal, and after a fast of nine days, as in the Mysteries, was laid in a kind of grave, where a view of Paradise was shewn to him, the whole of which account reads like a paraphrase of the descent of Aeneas into Tartarus and Elysium. It also resembles the relation in the Metamorphosis of Apuleius, of his initiation into the Mysteries of Isis and Serapis, and as the latter Mystery was introduced into the Christian Church, as the Arcane Discipline, and equally claimed supernatural appearances as a part of the faith, we need be at no loss to account for these relations. The Druses of Lebanon, on the testimony of Professor A. L. Rawson, who is himself an Initiate, require an interval of fasting, of more or less length according to circumstances, with a total fast on the day of Initiation, by which regimen a species of Epopteia is produced which the Professor terms mental illusion or sleep-waking (Letter in “Isis Unveiled,” ii, p. 313.) . The same phenomena is found in the Yogi, or “twice born,” and known in certain Rites of the Dervishes.
It is almost certain that certain rites of the Egyptians have passed to the Africans, and Heckethorn, and other writers, have shewn that there exists on that Continent, and in other places where the race has carried the Initiation, a society called the Almuseri, with secret rites similar to those of the Orphic and Cabiric Mysteries. The reception takes place once a year in a wood, and the candidate is supposed to die; at the appointed hour the Initiates surround the Neophyte and chant funereal songs. He is then carried to a temple erected for the purpose, and anointed with palm-oil; after forty days of this probation he is supposed to have obtained a new soul; and is greeted with hymns of joy, and conducted home. (“Secret Societies,” ii, p. 283.) We are informed that Freemasonic signs have been answered by the Kaffirs.
Galen (“Dogm. Hipoc. et Platon,” viii.) may be quoted here as to the existence of this doctrine of a soul which may be separated from the body: “The soul is an immaterial substance, which has a luciform, etherial body, for its first vehicle, by which as a medium it communicates with the gross etherial body.” The Chevalier Ramsay says: “It appears that the Platonists, Pythagoreans, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and all Orientals believed that souls had an etherial, aerial, and terrestrial vestment, or tabernacle; that the last named was put off by natural death, the second by a supernatural death, and the other retained for ever.”
The mathematical discipline, by aiding thought concentration, was intended to serve a similar purpose to that of the Hindu Yogism and of the Dervishes. Plutarch in his Symposiacs (Vol. viii, 2.) ascribes to Plato the words, “God is constantly a Geometer,” hence to immerse oneself in Geometrical thought, is to think with the mind of God. All the Platonists taught that the gradations of the spiritual world were arranged in Geometrical order, hence it is, “a science that takes men off from sensible objects, and makes them apply themselves to the spiritual and eternal nature, as a view of epopteia of the Arcane of initiation into holy rites.” Proklos makes this assertion of the Pythagoreans: “They perceived that the whole of what is called Muethsis is reminiscence, not externally inserted in souls, in the same manner as phantasms, from sensible objects, are impressed on the imagination; not adventitious like the knowledge resulting from opinion, but excited indeed from things apparent, and inwardly exerted from the reasoning power converted from itself. They likewise say that though reminiscence might be shewn from many particulars, yet it was evinced in a most eminent manner, as Platon also says, from the Mathematical discipline, for if any one, says he, is led to the diagrams he will, from them, easily prove that discipline is reminiscence.”
The science of Geometry was also used in a symbolical sense, for Socrates in the “Gorgias,” accusing Kallicles of an intemperate life, says to him: “You neglect Geometry and Geometric equality.” Zenocrates refused a candidate for Discipleship, saying to him: “Depart, for thou hast not the grip of philosophy.”
Of the nature of the SYMBOLS used in the Arcane Schools there is almost as little to be gathered in its books as is to be found in old Masonry, and they were evidently “close tyled.” We may fairly seek what we do not know respecting symbols, through what we do know of history, and to comprehend symbols we must study the old historical religions. The Masons, Rosicrucians, Templars, and Gnostics, all used the same class of symbols. The society of Druses in Syria, and the Sufi Dervishes of Persia and Turkey, admit themselves to follow the Platonic School, whether by inspiration from its writers or by descent from the old Mysteries, and from which each and all, in one form or another, derive their knowledge. We may also follow these religious symbols in the unchanged rites of India.
The basis of the Masonic Jewel of a Master in the Chair is an old Egyptian symbol, for Plutarch informs us that a triangle whose base is 4, perpendicular 3, and hypothenuse of 5 parts, the square of which is equal to the square of those sides containing the right angle, was an important emblem in Egypt, as a symbol of nature. The base figured Osiris, the perpendicular Isis, and the hypothenuse Horus; the originating and receptive principles, and the offspring of the two. It was the standard of their measures of extent, and was for modern centuries the traditional method by the application of which the stonemason tested the squareness of his plan (5 x 5 = 25; 4 x 4 and 3 x 3 = 25, the Guilds of both East and West employ the Rites to this day.)
Iamblichus (i. ix.) says: “Amongst those things which are everywhere set forth in the sacred dramas, some have a specific Arcane cause and higher meaning; others preserve the image of some idea beyond, as nature the genatrix develops certain specific formations from invisible principles; others are introduced from the sentiment of veneration, or for the purpose of illustrating something or rendering it familiar. Some enclose what is profitable to us, or in some way purify us, or set us free from our human frailties, or turn aside some other of the evils that are likely to befall us.”
We have already referred to the Pythagorean sentiment that “the path of vice and virtue resembles the letter Y,” and though the apothegm has been forgotten in Masonry, yet the “Golden branch” by which it was represented is still remembered. The letter (“Y”) is equally a symbol which the Chinese consecrated to the Deity. It has been suggested that as an emblem it is a square (symbol: a chevron with a right angle) placed over a plumb-rule, (symbol: vertical line). Hermes Trismegistus, or the Thrice-greatest, describes God as “an intelligible sphere, whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere,” and this language tends to confirm the remarks we have ventured as to the Two Pillars. Pherekydes Syros, who had the early education of Pythagoras, in his Hymn to Zeus, cited by Kircher (“Oed. Egyptae”) has the following noteworthy lines: “Jove is a circle, triangle, and square, Centre, and line, and all things, before all.”
Plato in his seventh “Epistle to Dion,” says expressly that he never will write anything explicitly upon these sublime speculations, but that there are three things through which science, the fourth, is necessarily produced, the fifth establishes that which is known and true. “Now take each of these desiring to learn what we have lately asserted, and think as follows concerning them all a circle is called something whose name is so expressed. For that which everywhere is equally distant from the extremes to the centre is the definition of that which we signify by the name of a round or circumference and a circle.
But the third is the circle which may be blotted out. But the fourth is science, and intellect, and true opinion about these. And the whole of this again must be established as one thing, which neither subsists in voice, nor in corporeal figures, but is inherent in soul.”
We have here an example of the way in which Plato employs Geometry to convey instruction, but in his second epistle to Dion, he employs concentric circles to discourse upon the divine triplicity of Agathos, Logos, and Psyche wisdom, mind, life Father, Word, Spirit. He says: “You inform me that the nature of the First has not been sufficiently revealed to you. I must write to you in riddles, in order if my letter should miscarry, either by sea or land, the reader may not understand it. All things are round about the king of all things, all things exist for his sake, and that is the cause of all excellent things. Around the second are the things secondary. Around the third are the third class of things. The human souls endeavour to learn the nature of these, looking for what is homogeneous with itself, and consequently imperfect, but in the King, and in these others which I have mentioned, it is not such. The greatest precaution is to be observed not to write, but to learn by word of mouth, for it is hardly possible for what is written not to come abroad. For which reason I have written nothing upon such topics; no such books of mine exist, nor ever shall.” Proklos in his Commentary upon this says: “The Demiurgos or creator is triple, and the three Intellects are the three Kings, He who exists, He who possesses, He who beholds.” Several writers give the following appropriate passage, on the authority of Suidas: “Thulis King of Egypt, thus went to the Oracle of Serapis: Thou who art the God of fire, and governest the course of the heavens, tell me the truth, was there ever, or will there ever be, one so powerful as myself? He was answered: first God, then the Word, and the Spirit, all united in one. Go hence, O! mortal, whose life is always uncertain. ” In going thence the priests carried out the implied threat by cutting the throat of the egotistic Thulis.
In the “Ethical” Fragments of Hierocles, who wrote towards the end of the second century and was a Pythagorean, the symbol of ten concentric circles is used to set forth our moral duties, and we have seen that the Chaldeans, Medes, and Persians, considered seven concentric circles as a sacred symbol, whilst still more ancient races that we have mentioned are said to have used three such. Hierocles says: “Each of us is, as it were circumscribed by many concentric circles, some of which are less, but others larger, and some comprehend, but others are comprehended, according to the different and unequal habitudes with respect to each other. For the first and most proximate circle is that which everyone describes about his own mind as a centre, in which circle the body, and whatever is assumed for the sake of the body is comprehended. For this is nearly the smallest circle, and almost touches the centre itself. The second from this, and which is at a greater distance from the centre, but comprehends the first circle, is that in which parents, brothers, wife and children are arranged. The third circle from the centre is that which contains uncles, aunts, grandfathers, grandmothers, and the children of brothers and sisters.” He then proceeds through six other circles: (4) relations, (5) the people, (6) tribes, (7) citizens, (8) villagers, (9) provincials, and concludes, (10) “But the outermost and greatest circle, and which comprehends all the other circles, is that of the whole human race.” In sentiment nothing can be more Masonic than this, but Augustine has a very apposite allusion to the symbolic point within a circle, and he had at one time been a Gnostic. He says: “As in a circle however large, there is a middle point, whither all converge, called by Geometricians the centre, and although the parts of the whole circumference may be divided innumerably, yet is there no other point, save that one, from which all measure equally, and which by a certain law of evenness hath the sovereignty over all. But if you leave this one point, whatever point you take, the greater number of lines you draw, the more everything is confused. So the soul is tossed to and fro by the very vastness of the things, and is crushed by a real destitution, in that its own nature compels it everywhere to seek one object, and the multiplication suffers it not.” (Oliver s “Symb. Dic.” Art. Point. &c.) The curious part of this is the involved verbiage, as if Augustine had in his mind, and sought to hide the secret method of finding a true square by the centre.
Lucian makes Cato to say that, “God makes himself known to all the world; He fills up the whole circle of the universe, but makes his particular abode in the centre, which is the soul of the just.” Another mode of illustrating this is used by the Rosicrucian Paracelsus, who says: “All numbers are multiples of one, all sciences converge to a common point, all wisdom comes out of one centre, and the number of wisdom is one. Those who love the luminous circle will be attracted to it, and their knowledge comes from God.”
Dionysius Thrax, an eminent grammarian, is quoted by Clemens Alexandrinus as saying, that some converse, “not only by speech but by symbols also.” This implies that there was an understood signification attached to the symbols. The same writer informs us that it was a custom of the Egyptians to hold a branch in the hand whilst in the act of adoration.
Aristotle says that, “He who bears the shocks of fortune valiantly and demeans himself uprightly, is truly good, and of a square posture without reproof.” (“Old York Lectures.”) The Zoroastrian Oracle declares, “the mind of the father decreed that all things should be divided into three”; which Plato geometrises thus: “God resembles a triangle which has three equal sides.” Xenocrates, the friend of Plato, assigned the equal triangle to gods, seeing that it is everywhere equal; the scalene to man seeing that it is unequal in its sides; the isosceles to daemons or tutelary spirits, because it is partly equal, and partly unequal in it properties, the daemons being placed between men and gods.
Proklos says that, “Knowledge has three degrees opinion, science, and illumination. The means, or instrument, of the first is reception, of the second dialectus, and of the third-intuition.” Diodorus of Sicily terms the “Sun” the architect of all nature, and thus we symbolise the Master Mason by that emblem. The square was one of the sacred emblems borne by the Stolistos of the ancient Mysteries. In the real Guild Masonry Man is the living stone and the tools and emblems are used to bring him to due proportions as in the actual stone.
But a very important symbol, philosophic and Masonic, and one which has been common to the world in all time is the cube. Pythagoras is said to have taught that, “the number eight or the octad is the first cube, that is to say, squared in all cases as a die; proceeding from its base the even number two; so is man four square or perfect.” Plato in his “Protagorus” causes that character to address Socrates in a quotation from Simonides, a man of Scio who flourished 556 B.C., “It is very difficult to become truly virtuous, and to be in virtue as a cube; that is to say that neither our carriage, our actions, or our thoughts, shall shake us, or even draw us from that state of mind.” It is the cubical stone of the Rosy Cross, which “sweats blood and water and suffers anguish of soul.”
The passages that we have quoted are a fair example of the moral geometry of antiquity. Those from Plato, for example, indicate the use to be made of geometrical diagrams in teaching science and Theosophy; that from Hierocles the use made of them in teaching morals; and that from Augustine may explain why a Master Mason may find his secrets by the centre. The quotation from Aristotle ought to remind a Mason of the day when he stood at the north-east corner; and that from Simonides of what is required of him in order to become a perfect Ashlar, and the more especially as we have shewn that this cube had the same signification in Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, and America, and that it is, therefore, one of the most primitive symbols. A Persian proverb is thus:
“O! square thyself for use; a stone that may Fit in the wall is not left in the way.”
The “Regius” Masonic MS. tells us, in the Master s first Article, how he is to regulate his conduct as a judge of work: “And as a jugge stond upright, And then thou dost to bothe good ryght.” Curiously enough the Egyptian “Ritual of the Dead,” quoted in our 2nd chapter, has a line symbolically identical.
There are numerous references to Symbols which are both Platonic and Masonic in the works of our learned Brother the late George Oliver, D.D., but unfortunately he does not often give references that will enable us to verify them. All the foregoing quotations have been taken from non-Masonic works, and may therefore be considered wholly unbiassed. The following are probably equally reliable, and are chiefly assigned by Oliver to the Pythagoreans, from which school Plato accepted much of his teachings. The “clasped hands” was a Pythagorean symbol. The divine essence was represented by a “quadrangle” or square, which implies order and regularity; it is found in Chinese books of great antiquity with the same meaning. The “right-angle” was the symbol of female deities, as Ceres, Vesta, Rhea. The “pyramid,” a valued symbol, referred to the divine triplicity. The “cube” was considered by the Hermesians as the symbol of truth, as the appearance is the same in every point of view. The “double-triangles,” “single triangles,” “five-pointed star,” “cross,” etc., have been used by all nations, in all time, and in common with “square and compasses,” “plumb,” “square,” “triangular-level,” etc., have figured as alphabetical characters.
The triple-tau (symbol of Triple-tau, like a “T” striking the cross-bar of an “H” from above) is given as the monogram of Hermes; and the letter P crossed, (symbol: “P” with a short horizontal line across the lower vertical) as the staff of Osiris. But the most widely spread, and most ancient of all symbols is the Svastica, Filfot, or Jain cross (Symbol: Swastika), formed of four squares joined at the ends, derived from the primaeval centre, and Cabiric. The five Platonic bodies are Masonic symbols, and in ancient Arcane Schools were held to teach that the world was made by God, “in thought and not in time,” and of the elements thus evolved, “fire” is a pyramid; “earth” a cube; “air” an octohedron; “water” an icosahedron; the “sphere of the universe” a dodecahedron. The “equilateral triangle,” the “square,” and the “equal hexagon” were considered the most perfect geometrical diagrams, and it was pointed out by Pythagoras that there exist no other forms whose multiples are competent to occupy the whole space about a given centre; and which can only be effected by six equilateral triangles, four squares, and three equal hexagons.
There are certain ancient symbols some of which have the appearance of Roman letters but are not really so, which are found sculptured on stones in Egypt and elsewhere, and found, in later times, in this country as Masons marks. The letter (“Y”) may be found placed on a reversed triangle (symbol: inverted equilateral triangle with small “Y” hitting upper base); we have the (X) cross; the reversed tau or level (“T” inverted); and doubled it may form a cross (+). There are the masculine and feminine symbols (“V”) and (“V” inverted), which united may form the (N) symbol, so often found as a Mason s mark, the same symbol is found on pre-Christian coins of Persia, in various angles; the (“V” inverted) and (W), the latter a double symbol; the (I) is phallic; the (“V” inverted) and (V) crossed or interlaced, as in the Masonic square and compasses. Another very ancient symbolic mark is two triangles (symbol: Two equilateral triangles, top inverted, lower upright and joined at vertices in center like an “X” with closed top an bottom) joined at the apex, which is still a sacred symbol in Thibet, Turkey, and India.
Our readers, who have carefully noted the symbols mentioned in our previous chapters, will have perceived that whilst many of the Arcane emblems have been continued in Free Masonry, throughout the centuries, others have been lost in the speculative system, but were preserved by the Guild and also as Masons marks; they must at one time have enclosed a recondite doctrine, which was common to both the sacerdotal, and art Colleges; and marks of this class, which go beyond mere monograms, admit of a mystic interpretation, which indicates a culte common to Theosophia and philosophic Geometry or Masonry; it happens that some of these symbols may be interpreted to contain the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls; the union of the spiritual and material nature in man, which enables him to live two lives the sensual and the spiritual, the Fall of Man as the Cabalists pretend being figured in the predominance of the former over the latter. Other emblems have reference to the divinity, and an example of the Masonic manner in which these may be made to convey instruction may be illustrated by the equilateral triangle. It has three points; a point has position only; a line has length only and terminates in two points; three lines of equal length at equal angles form an equilateral triangle, or the primary figure in geometry, and represents the trinity in unity, or Deity pervading all space, creator of all things animate and inanimate; doubled it represents the perfect godhead, and the male and female energies of nature. Or again, a “point” is the beginning of any active duty, the flowing of which point generates a “line;” a line is therefore either reward, duty, pleasure, or profit. A “right line” is a duty performed and pursued with constancy. The extension of a right line to generate a “surface” is therefore perfect duty. Better still is a passage from Macrobius in his “Commentary on Scipio s Dream”: “And as a line is generated from a point, and proceeds into length from an indivisable, so the soul, from its own point which is a monad, passes into the duad, which is its final extension.”
But the most remarkable of all the Arcane and architectural symbols is the vesica-pisces (symbol: an ellipse with major axis vertical, two vertical lines issuing at top and bottom), it was in use until our days, and Brother Conder (a member of the Masons Company) says that its formation was the diagram by which old operative Masons tested their squares. Proklos repeatedly refers to this figure, which he had seen in Egypt, and heard interpreted there; it often appears on temples, as well as modern churches, and is found especially on the throne of Osiris. In the Platonic system it is said to have constituted the sign of Epopts, the open hand being united at the finger-ends and the wrists touching each other. We mentioned in our third chapter the affinity of Philosophy with the Mysteries of Serapis, and the Arcane Discipline of the Christians. The Ptolemies, who had the Jewish Scriptures translated in the Septuagint, seem to have found a mode, or thoughtthey had, in the establishment of a fifth order of prophets, of harmonising all faiths in the mysteries of Serapis, and Clement, of Alexandria, informs us that the initiates of these Mysteries wore on their persons the mystic name I-ha-ho, the original of which appears to be IAO, which embodies the symbols of the two generative principles. It is further asserted that the before-mentioned sign of Epopts constituted that of the Arcane Discipline, coupled with the lettering of the word ICHTHUS, a fish, and the Pope s ring is that of the Fisherman. Oliver, quoting Kerrich, says that the vesica-pisces is the great secret of church architecture, and the determinator of all dimensions. (“Pythagorean Triangle” (Hogg).) It continues an equally important symbol amongst the Dervish sects.
We will now pass on to the use in the Platonic system of other symbols in which Masons are interested. Plato in his Philebos has a triad under the names of Bound, Infinite, and Mixed, and likewise a triad still more Masonic of Symmetry, Truth, and Beauty, which, he says, “are seated in the Vestibule of the good.” The Masonic pillars of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, are an analogy, and the divine triad of Agathos, Logos, and Psyche, if literally translated are a close approximation. He likewise prescribes the following moral qualities as essential in a student of Philosophy: “He must have a good memory, learn with facility, be magnificent, magnanimous, and be the friend and ally of Truth, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance; qualities which are equally made the essential points in a Freemason. Again, in the Phedon, which is a dialogue on the immortality of the soul, we find the following important passage, which he adduces on the authority of the most ancient Mysteries: “Wisdom is the only true and unalloyed coin, for which all others must be given in exchange, with that piece of money we purchase. Temperance, Justice, Fortitude, and Prudence, or wisdom itself, are not exchanged for passions but cleanse us of them.
And it is pretty evident that those who instituted the Purifications called by us Teletes, i.e., perfect expiations, were persons of no contemptible rank, but men of great genius, who, in the first ages, meant by such riddles to give us to know, that whoever enters the other world, without being Initiated and Purified, shall be hurled headlong into the vast abyss; and that whoever arrives there after due purgation and expiation shall be lodged in the apartments of the gods. For as the dispensors of these expiations say:
There are many who bear the Thyrsus, but few that are possessed of the spirit of God. Now those who are possessed, as I take it, are the true Philosophers.” So far Plato, and he may be put into other words “Many are called but few are chosen.” The Thyrsus here alluded to, as a badge of office in these Mysteries, was carried by the soldiers of Bacchus, Sabazios, or Dionysos; the Chevalier Ramsay says that it was twined with ivy, and very often had upon it a cross, and he compares the Greek conception of Bacchus, as god of the vintage, with the description of Messiah as given in Isaiah and the Apocalypse.
Porphyrios has a long description of the advantage of the four Cardinal virtues, but after the illustration of the Master Plato we may omit this. Stobaeus says of them pretty much what Masonry tells us. (“Eccl. Ethio,” p. 167.) The pagan Emperor Aurelius Antoninus, “circa” 145 A.D., has several passages on these virtues; in one he says: “If any man should conceive certain things as being really good, such as Prudence, Temperance, Justice, Fortitude, he would not after endure to listen to anything which was not in harmony with what is really good.” We wonder how many Masons have this feeling.
The doctrine of equality and brotherly love, which forms the base of the Masonic Institution, may be paralleled in the Arcane Schools with such passages as the following: “Alypios,” “Tell me, O! Philosopher, is the rich man unjust, or the heir of the unjust! “Iamblichus,” “That is not our method of disputing, O! illustrious man; no one is considered rich by us, even if he does possess external riches, unless he likewise has the virtues characteristic of a true philosopher.” That is the virtues which have been already mentioned; and brotherly-love is often enforced, but in the “Regius MS.” of the old Masonic Constitutions there is a passage which states that the Stewards of the Hall are to serve one another, “like sister and brother,” for which sentiment Platon s “Symposiom,” or Banquet of Life, may be consulted. Demokritus expresses the gist of this work in a few admirable words: “He who loves the goods of the soul will love things more divine, but he who loves the goods of its transient habitation will love things human.”
We may close this chapter with a few hints as to the changes which Christianity forced upon the ancient schools. Iamblichus phrases a Pythagorean dogma thus: “As the Lesser Mysteries are to be delivered before the Greater, thus also must discipline precede philosophy.” If the Lesser gave the title of Mystae, the Greater gave that of Epoptae, and if the passage means anything it must be this, that science and art, represented by Geometry, is the counterpart of the former, whilst philosophy is in relationship with Epoptae. Hence after the break-up of the State-Mysteries, we see a succession of two schools, closely related to each other the Craftsmen, or art school, and the Gnostics who know. Ragon (“Orthodoxie Maconique,” p. 44.) says: “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 hidden things, presented themselves before Laomedon the father of Priam to help him to build the city of Troy, that is to say, to establish the Trojan religion.” In other words to “build a city” is to establish a public culte, to “build a temple” is to found an Arcane School. The Mystae, or veiled, are they who see things as they appear; the Epoptae, or set apart, see things as they really are, that is they are Gnostics or knowing ones.
There is a passage in the “Prometheus” of Aeschylus, which seems to correspond with the adventures of Aeneas that we have related; and to advise the god that he was to look for an Initiate who would give peace to humanity: “To such labours look thou for no termination to thy pangs till a god shall appear, as thy substitute, willing to go down to gloomy Hades and to the murky depths around Tartarus.” Blavatsky observes, and we see no reason to disagree with her views, that when the Hierophants of the Mysteries saw that it was necessary to rebuild the sinking speculative edifice, the “Mystae” had committed to them the rebuilding of the “Upper-temple,” or exoteric part; whilst the “Epoptae” had the “Lower-temple,” the crypt or the esoteric portion; “for such were their respective appellations in antiquity, and are to this day.” Initiation was spoken of as a “walking into the temple,” and the “cleaning” or rebuilding of it referred to the body of an Initiate on his supreme trial.
The misfortunes which befell the establishment of Pythagoras at Crotono may possibly have had their origin in the jealousy of the State Mysteries, though the destruction of its building and its members is usually attributed to the anger of one Cylon who had been refused admittance. It is evident, however, that two centuries later the State Mysteries must have lost much of their exclusive power over the mind, when the Arcane Schools of Philosophy were permitted without check to assume the entire role of their doctrines.
The Emperor Galen, at a still later period, gave permission to Plotinos, to build a city by the name of Platonopolis, where the Philosophical system was to be taught, but this does not appear to have been carried out. It is, however, quite clear that the State Mysteries and the Arcane Schools taught the same truths, if in somewhat varied forms, and that these truths are equally represented in Masonry, which is as far as we desire to go in this chapter. It is quite possible that there are some trifling resemblances between Platonism and Masonry, which may have been introduced at a modern date, but it is utterly impossible that this can apply to the great mass of things which are in common, and we shall see more of this affinity, and in the ancient times of Masonry, as we proceed.
Before the reader advances to the next chapter he will be pleased to note, and to remember in regard to all which follows, that these five chapters afford ample evidence that the original “Mysteries” had now culminated in “three” classes, but varying only in profession and technique, in the several systems viz.: 1, “The Sacerdotal.” The drama refined into a temporary trance death. 2, “The Military.” The original drama of a murdered god. These two classes were suppressed by the Christian Emperors of Rome, but continued to be secretly practised by what one writer terms “strolling priests.” The third class learned to “close the lips,” which in the Greek is the equivalent of Mystery, and as Art was necessary to the Church they received protection. 3, “The Artizan.” A version of the last-named; entering India, China, and Babylon from the North, and Greece, Phoenicia, and Palestine by way of Egypt, at times, in India, imparting the Yogism of the first class. Our Saxon ancestors for these adopted the term Guild, which implies contribution of money.
VI – THE MYSTIC AND HERMETIC SCHOOLS IN CHRISTIAN TIMES.
With the close of our last chapter Philosophy had begun to play an important part upon the stage of ancient Mystery, and the old spiritual faith of Isis, Osiris and Horus, was becoming still more subtilised by the restless Greek at Alexandria, under the rule of the Ptolemies. Here was established a new, or fifth order of priests with the title of Prophets, and the Mysteries of Isis, Serapis, and Anubis became the favourite Arcani.
Ptolemy Philadelphus assembled a Council of Jews, alleged to be 70 in number, for the purpose of translating their scriptures into Greek, which version is yet known as the Septuagint. He also treated with Asoka in regard to the doctrine and progress of Buddhism. (Erest de Bunsen.) A wide eclectic school was to be established, under which the existing faiths might be assimilated, and the secret and sublime Mysteries of the School were those of Serapis. How this succeeded may be gathered from a letter of Hadrian, Emperor 118 A.D., to the Consul Servianus, preserved by Vopiscus (“Vita Saturnine.”) , in which we find the following, of the Egyptians: “They who worship Serapis are Christians, and such as are devoted to Serapis call themselves Bishops of Christ” (“another translation has it”): “those who call themselves Bishops of Christ are vowed to Serapis; there is no ruler of the Jewish Synagogue, no Samaritan, no priest of Christians, who is not an astrologer, a diviner, and a charlatan. Their Patriarch himself when he comes to Egypt is by some forced to adore Serapis, and by others Christ. They have all but one God, Him the Christians worship, Him the Jews, Him all the Egyptians, and those of all other nations.” (“Herodian s History” (J. Hart, 1749). p. 184.)
Between the years 300 B.C. and 300 A.D. Alexandria was the seething cauldron whence mystic learning spread over the world: Mysteries, Cabala, Theurgy, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Astrology, and even Christianity, for it is said that “out of Egypt I have called my son.” The philosophers termed themselves Philalethians, or Lovers of Truth; and the numerous societies which we shall mention in this chapter have much interest, but we must mention them in the briefest possible manner: in many cases successions exist to this day.
CABALISM. It is quite probable that this system of interpreting the Jewish Scriptures was a part of the instruction of the Beni-Hanabiim, or sons of the Prophets, alluded to in “Samuel.” According to Clemens Alexandrinus these Colleges consisted of classes designated Sons and Masters, and he observes that there were Novices amongst the Levites, and that Converts were divided into Exotericii or proselytes of the gate, and Trinisecti or proselytes of the covenant Perfecti. We are informed by the “Book of Esdras,” (“Esdras ii,” c. xiv, 8) that Ezra the Scribe dictated to five men, during a period of forty days, books to the number of 204, of which 70 last written, were to be hidden, or Apocryphal, and confined to the “wise amongst the people.” The gist of the Cabala is expressed in the words of Philo, who says that: “The law of Moses is like to a living creature whose body is the literal sense, but the soul is the more inward and hidden meaning, covered under the sense of the letter.” The Mystery is divided into “three veils,” and is said to have been delivered by Moses orally to the Levites and Elders, from whom it descended to the Rabbis. The two grand Pillars of the temple of Solomon were important symbols, and Franck says that upon entering the first veil we are in the Vestibule; in the second the Holy-place; and in the third the Sanctum Sanctorum. The ten Sephiroths, which represent the descent of creation from the Divine, are also divided into three classes which remain an indivisible trinity.
The first three express the intelligible first manifestations; the second triad the virtues or sensible world; the third, nature in its essence and active principles. As a system it admits of a perfect assimilation with the wisdom-religion of the old nations. It was prescribed in the “Mercaba,” and the Chaldean “Book of Numbers,” that the Neophyte was to be led to a secluded spot by an Ancient who whispered in his ear the great secret. The “Sepher Jezirah,” which it is argued from astrological allusions therein to be as old as Abraham, says: “Close thy mouth lest thou should speak of this, and thy heart lest thou should think aloud; and if thy heart has escaped thee bring it back to its place, for such is the object of our alliance.” The European Jews had an association called the “Order of Elijah,” which is said to be mentioned in the “Mishna” and “Gemara,” it had passwords, signs, and countersigns, and is believed to have been in existence in Poland and Saxony at a very early period. (“The Kneph” (Mackenzie), i, p. 28.) The Masonic Royal Arch Degree has drawn on the Cabala and Talmud, but periodical revisions have taken place.
ESSENES. This important mystic sect amongst the Jews has puzzled historians. It may have struck out a new path from the Cabalistic road, but the extreme veneration of its members for the sun is more characteristic of Chaldea, and of the existing Yezids. Jewish critics believe that they are the Assideans, Chasdim, or old believers allied with the Maccabees; they afterwards divided into two sects, or the practical, and contemplative members. Other writers consider that they were Egyptian priests, driven into Syria by the conquests of Cambyses of Persia, and Alexander the Great, and it is very probable that this may be partly correct, and that they may have included Jesus ben Panther, a nephew of Queen Salome, who after studying Egyptian Theurgy, and preaching to the people, was proclaimed for 40 days, and then stoned to death, and hung on a tree at Lyda, about the year 100 B.C.
The Essenes are said to have recognised eight (some say ten) spiritual stages of ascent to beatitude; and they had, like the Pythagoreans, a system of degrees with a probationary period between each. Their doctrines were delivered orally and they took an oath of Secrecy, Chastity, and Justice in all their dealings. When addressing their Chiefs they stood with their right hand below their chin, and the left let down by the side. As the Pythagoreans assembled in companies of ten, so also the Essenes considered that ten made a lawful assembly for divine worship, but this resemblance may derive from still older societies. The Roman Collegia and English Guild Masonry were ruled by tens and hundreds. Ernest de Bunsen, whom we mentioned in our second chapter, holds that amongst the Egyptian and Jewish Gnostics there was a twofold tradition which passed into Christianity, and that it had the doctrine of a spiritual development which transformed them into “living stones,” hence denominated “Banaim,” or builders, that is of a bodily temple, and therefore they neglected the material temple of Jerusalem.
A select class of the Essenes were termed “Therapeutae” who were healers, and dwelt in small cottages wherein was an inner shrine used for contemplative purposes. They kept the Sabbath, and, every seventh time seven, they had a special service with Mystic dances, such as we have referred to in the Mysteries. Philo says: “They have impulses of heavenly love by which they kindle, in all, the enthusiasm of the Corybantes, and the Bacchanalians, and are raised to that state of contemplation after which they aspire. This sect had its rise in Alexandria, before the Jews were very numerous, and spread exceedingly throughout Egypt.”
Eusebius, the Christian historian, has some curious remarks on the sect. He says: “Their doctrines are to be found among none but in the religion of Christians, according to the Gospel. Their meetings and the separate places of the men and women at their meetings, and the exercises performed by them, are still in use amongst us at the present day, equally at the festival of our Saviours passion it is highly probable that the ancient
Commentaries which they have are the very writings of the Apostles, and probably some expositions of the ancient Prophets, such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and many others of St. Paul s Epistles.” Josephus had personal knowledge of the sect, and makes mention of Books which were kept secret, referring to the “names of the Angels,” which may mean powers or attributes, and reappearing in the Arcane Discipline. We must remember also in connection with Eusebius mention of the Saviour s passion that the weeping for Adonis continued in Syria down to the fourth century A.D.
There can be no doubt that a Christianised form of the Mysteries was continued by the Monks, and we have the testimony of the Fathers to this effect, but we might expect that these would vary in the country where they were practised; thus we might expect to find the influence of Adonis in Syria, of Serapis in Egypt, Dionysos and Bacchus in Greece and Rome, and throughout the Roman Empire the influence of the rites of Mythras with the before named.
It would appear, however, that there were branches of the Essenes, and Therapeutae, who became actual Christians as Nazarenes, Ebionites, and Nabatheans, and the first term is yet in use in the East to designate Christians, who first took that name at Antioch. Theodoret says: “The Nazareens are Jews, honouring the anointed as a just man,” and using the Evangel according to Peter, portions of which were discovered a short time ago in Egypt, and a litle later fragments of the “Logia of the Lord.” The Ebionites were a portion of the sect, and had amongst them relatives of Jesus, and used the Gospel of Matthew, derived, it is believed, from the “Logia;” they dwelt in a region near the seat of the Adonisian Mysteries; they looked upon Jesus as assuming his apostleship at the descent of the Holy Spirit, and that his Messiahship would begin with his second coming. The Nabatheans were followers of the Baptist in Lebanon, and the Books of this Sect yet exist in Syria. Marcion, who left Rome, about 140 A.D., would seem to have followed the Gospel of Luke. Eusebius, St. Jerome, and Epiphanius have asserted that these sects were branches of the Essenes, and there is no doubt that several of the sects, which were eventually classed as Gnostic by the Church of Rome, proceeded from them. (Jones “Ecc. History.”) We will, for convenience, before proceeding with the Gnostics, take the secret system of Platonists who Christianised themselves.
ARCANE DISCIPLINE. This system was in vogue in the church of Christ between the first and fourth centuries of our era. For a clearer comprehension of the subject we must consider what has already been written in regard to the assimilation of Philosophy and the Mysteries, more especially the Serapian, and these to esoteric Christianity; that there is a great identity between these cannot be doubted; nor that Arcane Christianity was the essential adoption of Serapian rites. Tertullian, Origen, Cyril, Theodoret, Gregory, Chrysostom, and others, all allude to these Arcane things, in the precise terms in which the Philosophers spoke of the Mysteries. Basileus says that they kept their doctrines secret, their preaching was public; that is, it was esoteric, and exoteric, as the Philosophers held the Mysteries to be. Cardinal J. H. Newman holds that the Arcanum was the introduction of Platonism into the church of Egypt, and he mentions that Ammonius Saccus and Origen were Catechists of the Discipline, and that when the former established an eclectic school of his own he swore his disciples to secrecy. The historians are in doubt whether Ammonius forsook Christianity, or not, upon founding his School; but, in any case, such a man would give more than he received.
The grades of the System are given by some writers as follows: Catecomonoi or learners; Pistoi or faithful; Photozomenoi, illuminated or baptised; Memuemenoi or initiated; and Teleioumenoi or perfected. But Bishop Warburton, quoting Casaubon in his 16th exercise on the Annals of Baronius, gives the degrees as follows: Catharsis or purified; Myestis or initiated; and Teleosis or the end; but remember the relationship of “telete” to death. Casaubon says, “that which is called a symbol of faith is various in its kinds, and they serve as tokens or tests, by which the faithful may recognise each other.” Minucius Felix says that the Christians were known to each other by signs and tokens, which were a ready pass-port to friendship. (“Morals and Dogma” (Pike), p. 547.) Rufinus compared the use of pass-words to those given by a general to his army. Clemens says: “Let the engraving upon your ring be either a dove, emblem of the Holy-spirit; a palm-branch, peace; an anchor, hope; or a ship running, the church; or a fish.” A French writer on Masonry, stated last century that a copy of the Secret Constitutions was in the possession of some Monks on Mount Athos, as late as 1751, and that they were as old as 327 A.D. (“Mac. Adoniramite,” i, p. 69.) The church itself was divided into three portions; the Nave for the Catechumens, as was the Vestibule for initiates of the Lesser Mysteries; the Aisles for the Faithful; the Chancel for the Perfected.
When the Catechumen had completed his probation, which was usually of two years, he was apparently a Pistos or probationer, and had to fast for 21 days, as usual in the Mysteries; his shoes were removed and all his clothing with the exception of an undergarment, and with a lighted taper in his hand he was led into a room adjoining the church. Prior to Baptism, the aspirant, with his hand raised aloft, and face to the west, or place of darkness, thrice renounced the devil and all his works; then with his face to the east, or place of light, he thrice declared his belief in the doctrines he had been taught, and his intention to remain a soldier of Christ. The Exorcist thrice breathed upon him, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy-spirit, requiring all unclean spirits to depart from him. A prayer was offered that the element of water might be sanctified; and the operator breathed upon him, in expression of the Holy- spirit. After this he was anointed with oil as a wrestler in the faith; his forehead was signed with the cross, and salt tendered as emblem of divine wisdom; his ears were touched with the word Ephphatha “be opened,” his eyes anointed with clay. He was plunged three times in the water, in the name of each person of the Trinity. He assumed a new name, and was clothed in a pure white garment, and led amongst the Faithful; from whom he received the kiss of peace; but for seven days he had to go veiled. He could now attend service in the aisles as one of the Photozomenoi and was instructed in the full mystical meaning of the Lord s prayer, which he was enjoined to repeat thrice every night, as well he was instructed in the esoteric doctrines; this probably made him one of the Memuemenoi, that is those who are in the light.
The High-mass of the Eucharist was usually celebrated at Easter, or the festival of darkness and resurrection. In the Jewish equivalent whilst the fully initiated pronounced mentally the sacred name with the priest, the masses knew only the substituted word Adonai, chanted by the assistants. In the Church, the Deacons brought water for the Ministers to wash their hands, and the kiss of peace was passed round from the priest, the men and women to each other respectively. The priest offered thanks for the love represented by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Before entering the chancel the priest exclaimed: “Holy things for holy persons, ye Catechumens go forth.” Bread and wine were presented. Pliny states that in the Agapae, or Love feasts, all took a sacred oath to be faithful, reveal no secrets, do no wrong, nor steal, rob, violate a trust, nor commit any act of unchastity. The communicant was now one of the Teleioumenoi or Perfected. There are several points in this account that we have already related as ancient customs of the Mysteries.
No explanation is given of the reason for a long fast, and as this account is but a mystic form of the present exoteric ceremony, we may feel a strong doubt whether it covers all that was done, in the various grades of becoming a Christian. The New Testament repeatedly admits that Jesus had a secret or Mystical teaching, and something may be gathered from the Fathers. Clemens Alexandrinus, who wrote a century after Apostolic times, says: “But it will be an image to recall the architype of him who was struck with the Thyrsus but we profess not to explain secret things sufficiently; far from it, but only to recall them to memory.” Again he says: “And was it not this which the prophet meant, when he ordered unleavened cakes to be made, intimating that the truly sacred mystic word, respecting the unbegotten and his powers, ought to be concealed.” Origen, whom Socrates in his “Ecclesiastical History” terms the “Expositor of the mystical tradition of the Church,” and flourished 185-252 A.D., taught the pre-existence of souls, and on the evolution of man in his ascent to the divine source, he says: (“Contra Celsus,” B. i, ch. 7.)
“But that there should be certain doctrines not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric. Some of the hearers of Pythagoras were content with his “ipse dixit,” whilst others were taught in secret those doctrines which were not deemed fit to be communicated to profane and insufficiently prepared ears. Moreover all the Mysteries that are celebrated everywhere, throughout Greece, and barbarous countries, although held in secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain that he endeavours to calumniate the secret doctrine of Christianity, seeing he does not correctly understand its nature.” Again (“Ibid.” B. viii, c. 8.) “He would have us believe that we and the interpreters of the Mysteries equally teach the doctrine of eternal punishments.” Again, (“Ibid,” B. iii, c. 60.) “Whoever is pure let him be boldly initiated into the Mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and pure. He who acts as Initiator according to the precepts of Jesus, will say to those who have been purified in heart, he whose soul has for a long time been conscious of no evil, and especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the Word, let such an one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private to his genuine Disciples. ”
Again, (“Pref. Gos. John.”) “To the literal minded we teach the Gospel in the historic way, preaching Christ Jesus and him crucified; but to the proficient, fired with love of the divine wisdom we impart the Logos.” Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais, says that: “the truth must be kept secret, and the masses need a teaching proportioned to their imperfect reason.” Both the Mysteries and Arcane Christianity were clearly of opinion that more should not be given than the intellect could understand. It is a moot point how far architectural symbolism was in use by this School, some writers maintain that all these sects used building symbolism, and Christianity was strong in the Roman Colleges of Artificers. Oliver asserts that in the Catacombs of Rome, a cross was constructed of a square, level, and plumb-rule, in such manner that, if touched, it fell to pieces, and the detected fraternity were supposed to be studying architecture. A representation of the temple of Solomon was found in these subterraneans.
That the learned of these times did not ignore the use of Masonic symbolism is very certain, and St. Paul terms himself a “Master Builder,” who was engaged in erecting the new church, numerous passages of the same character occur, hints at initiation, which would lead us to believe that there was a Masonic character in the secret system of the Church. The apocryphal book called “The Vision of Hermas” compares the faithful to Perfect ashlars, “of a true die or square,” and the less holy to imperfect stones, and rough ashlars. In the so-called Apostolical Constitution, the church is compared to a ship, as it is in the Egyptian “Ritual of the Dead,” the Minister is Captain, the Deacons Mariners, the congregation are passengers. The Nave of the church is equally an allusion to the ark of the Mysteries.
We have some information upon the organisation of the Arcane Church in the “Stromata” of Clemens, in “Degrees of Glory in Heaven corresponding with the dignities of the church below”; but which is more fully explained by Dionysius the Areopagite; equally based upon heavenly and ecclesiastical hierarchies. In each it is 3 x 3 = 9 classes. In the first division we have Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; in the second, Dominions, Virtues, and Powers; in the third, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. In the earthly counterpart Jesus stands in relation to it as does the heavenly Father to the celestial Hierarchy. The first triplet is baptism, communion, and consecration of the chrism, representing purification, enlightening, and perfecting. Second, the orders of Deacon, Priest, and Bishop. Third, Monks, Members, and Catechumens. Here we have the Exoteric, Esoteric, and Divine church. The Lectures of the Order of Harodim Rosy Cross, which claim a Culdee Masonic origin, speak of these matters; and the Christian Mysteries, equally with the Platonists, speak of hylics, sepulchres, and the dead, as applying to those who are buried in worldly matters and things of sense. We have been more diffuse on this subject, for the reason that Christian churches could only have been built by Masons who possessed its arcanum.
There are two accounts which indicate in this country that either the history of the Arcane Discipline is not fully known, or in the other case that the Culdees had inherited a special Rite from their Druidical ancestors, a Rite which resembled that of the Mysteries of the Philosophers, and they should be considered together. The first Culdees had been Druids and St. Patrick is said to have been born at Dumbarton, and to have gone to Ireland in 432 A.D. St. Columba left Ireland with 12 companions in the 6th century, intending to found a Monastery at Icolmkil on an Island in the Hebrides. It was thought necessary, the legend says, following a widely-spread belief, that the structure should be sanctified by a living sacrifice, and Odrian offered himself for that purpose, and was buried alive; after a lapse of “three days” Columba thought he would like to have a look at his old friend, and uncovered him; upon which Odrian started up alive, and began his experience: he had learned the truth in the other world, there was no fall of man, no personal Christ, no personal devil, and no hell. The scandalised Columba ordered his friend to be covered up again, “that he blab no more.” This tale enshrines some of the alleged heresies of the Culdees for there were many others. It is further explained by the following account which we copy from Froissart, and Goughs additions to Camden. (“Britannia,” iii, p. 641.)
One Owen, or Tindal, a soldier of Stephen, King of England, repaired to the old Monastery of St. Patrick in Donegal, where was his “Purgatory.” He was prepared for his initiation by a nine days fast on bread and water, but which Matthew Paris says was originally a fast of 21 days, and as this fast is reported both of the Mysteries and the Arcane Discipline, it serves to connect the three accounts. Each day a procession was made round the place, three times the first seven days, and six times on the eighth, bathing each night in the lake, such processions and bathings being also a part of the ancient Mysteries. On the ninth day he observes a complete fast of 24 hours, with the exception of a little water, and was then conducted to the Chapel, “out of which all who enter do not return;” there was a deep well at one end. He then laid down in a sort of grave large enough to hold the body; the only light being from a single window of small dimensions, which looked out upon a field and a hall.
Here Owen was visited during the night by 15 persons, clothed in white, who warned him of the trials he would undergo. To these succeeded a troop of demons, who seemed to place him upon a burning pile, which he extinguished in the name of Christ. They then dragged him through scenes of torment, where the wicked suffer a variety of tortures, such as Virgil gives as common to Tartarus. Standing proof against these horrors Owen is taken in hand by two venerable persons, who favour him with a full view and description of Paradise, corresponding with that shown to Aeneas. After this Owen proceeds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and after visiting the Holy Sepulchre, returns to Ireland and labours at erecting the Abbey of Besmagoveisth. Trials were made of this cavern as late as the 15th century, as Froissart records that he had interviewed two soldiers, who had spent a night in the cave, but forgot their visions after leaving the place.
GNOSTICS. These sects are ancient, and Christian Gnosticism sprang out of sects more ancient than themselves. The word means “to know,” in opposition to mere theory, and has deep significance, equally with Veda, Wizard, Witch, all meaning a class “who know.” An extraordinary man, of the first ages of the Church, was Apollonius of Tyana; Theurgic powers, and many wonderful things are recorded of him: he was an initiate of various Rites, and visited the Indian Gymnosophists, after which he went about Greece reforming the Mysteries. As the Catholic Church uses the term Gnostic he can scarcely be considered one of them, but he was born about the same date as the Gospel Jesus and lived to be 100 years of age. The first Gnostic “of the Church” was Simon Magus, a contemporary of the Christian Apostles, who passed at Rome as “a great power of God,” that is an Aeon or Sephiroth, in the language of the Gnosis and Cabala. He was born at Gitta, in Samaria, and his Gnosis is couched in the symbolical language of the period. He was personally known to the Apostles, who clearly considered him a person to be reckoned with, although he would seem to have looked upon them favourably, and mildly asked Cephas “Pray for me.” Some of his enemies admit his honesty and single-mindedness.
He had numerous disciples, and was deeply learned in Oriental, Greek, and Jewish culture, as well as Theurgy. As an anatomist, he wrote upon the circulation of the blood, and the physical system of the female. The handle which he gave to his enemies consisted chiefly in this, that he reformed and married a beautiful harlot, who repaid him with her devotion, and whom he believed, whether rightly or wrongly, to be a reincarnation of Helen of Troy, doomed to such rebirth for her ancient sin with Priam. Irenaeus, who flourished in the second century, and was born 116 A.D., says that the Simonians had a priesthood of the Mysteries, and that such “Initiated priests” practised magic arts, and exorcisms. Simon had as disciples Menander, and Cerinthus, a Jewish Cabalist, and Dositheus was a contemporary; they looked upon the Creation in Genesis as consonant to the gestation of the foetus, and the temptation of Eve had a like characer, as well as the Garden of Eden. After this followed Saturninus of Antioch; Prodicus, 120 A.D.; Valentinian, an Egyptian, 130 A.D.; Ptolemy, and Marcion, 136 A.D. A few details follow.
“Carpocratians.” The founder of this Sect was Carpocrates of Alexandria. He would seem to have been a Disciple of Jehoshua ben Panther, previously mentioned, rather than the Gospel Jesus. It is not improbable that the older portions of the Jewish “Sepher Toldoth Jeshu” was a Gospel of Cabalistic Sects, and that Jesus ben Panther was an Essenian leader. The system of Carpocrates taught that Jesus derived the Mysteries of his religion from the temple of Isis in Egypt, where he had studied for six years, and that he taught them to his Apostles, who transmitted them to Carpocrates. The sect used Theurgic incantations, and had grips, signs, and words; symbols and degrees. His son Epiphanes wrote a work on his father s system, but died young. The sect is believed to have endured for some centuries. The Comte de Tromelin, in the Paris “Initiation” (Oct., 1902), says: “Hermes has as seat a cross between the four branches of which are written the four letters I.N.R.I., in that order. Is it not the grand Hermetic prediction of the Mages attendant on the Messiah?”
“Cerenthians.” These were apparently Essenian Gnostics, and made a distinction between the earthly Jesus and the Angel Messiah that united with the mortal man. Some leading German Savants are now agreed that the Apocalypse, from the 4th to 21st chapter, was the Gospel of the Sect, the remainder being of later date; in this they agree with the Presbyter Cajus of Rome, and Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, who, according to Eusebius, attributed the book to Cerinthus.
“Marcians.” Irenaeus gives an account of their ceremony of Initiation, but which the sect repudiated, but the nature of these details have some agreement with the modern Dervish sects; there is first a baptismal Invocation, a second to light, spirit, and life; followed by one to “angelic redemption,” by which the Neophyte became united to his Angel, finally a formula of “restitution,” or unity to the super-celestial power, to which the Neophyte responds in declaring his redemption by the name IAO. They gave numbers to the Aeons.
“Basilideans.” This sect was founded by Basilides of Alexandria, who was a disciple of Menander, a pupil of Simon Magus; but Clemens says that he claimed to have received his esoteric doctrines from Glaucus, a disciple of the Apostle Peter. The system had three grades the material, intellectual, and spiritual; and they had two allegorical statues, the one male and the other female. A quinquennial silence, as in the Mysteries, was exacted from the Disciples; and the doctrine seems to have many points of resemblance to that of the Ophites. It ran on the lines of Jewish Cabalism with a succession of Aeons, Emanations, and Sephiroth, over which an Archon, or Angelic- prince presided. They taught that Simon of Cyrene took the place of Jesus at the Crucifixion. Basilides was succeeded by his son Isidorus, and they say that Matthias communicated to them secret discourse, which being specially instructed, he heard from the Saviour. (Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies.”)
“Ophites.” The Ophites were an organised fraternity early in the 2nd century as it is said to have numbered Valentinian amongst its supporters, but Clemens attributes its foundation to Eucrates at the beginning of our era. It was very Osirian or Serapian, with Semitic names for the Coptic ones. In the “Ritual of the Dead,” which is of incalculable antiquity, there are certain chapters which refer to secrets of Initiation, which the translators have not mastered, and which have reference to the passwords required by the Guards of the heavenly temple or Amenti, from the aspiring soul, these are illustrated in the Ophite Ritual. To some extent the doctrine corresponds with that of the Mendaens, or followers of John the Baptist. Symbols to represent purity, life, spirit, fire have to be shewn to the Guards. We may imagine such to be the cube, tau-cross, pentagon, or other symbols. “The soul greets the first power saying: I come from thence pure, a portion of the light of the son and father. To prove this, the sign must be shewn, as well to every Archon, that the soul passes. To the principal Archon, Ildabaoth, is said, Greatest and seventh Archon of the Logos, sub-Archon of the Spirit, the through-father-and son, I offer to thee perfect work in this figure, the sign of life. The address to Jao is, – – To thee I now offer just the same sign figured in the spirit. Then going to the Sabaoth, Archon of the fifth permission, Lord Sabaoth, proclaimer of the law of the creation, perfected by thy kindness, by the power of the most mighty fifth number, let me pass.
See here the crime-clear sign of thy art, which has been passed by all the previous Archons, in the form of this sign, a body absolved by fire. After the soul has shewn this figure thrice it needs no further sign for the succeeding Archon, Aristophanes, but addresses him confidently, Let me pass, thou seest one Initiated. ” (“Originis Opera” de la Rue, i, p. 54.) These Seven Archons were represented in this System by animals Michael by a lion; Suriel by a bull; Raphael by a serpent; Gabriel by an eagle; Thoutabaoth by a bear; Eratsaoth by a dog; Ouriel by an ass; these names being Cabalistic equivalents of the Archons, Origen names the rulers thus: Adonai (sun); Jao (moon); Eloi; (Jupiter); Sabao (Mars); Orai (Venus); Astapohi (Mercury); Ildabaoth (Saturn). Ophite, or serpent symbolism, is ancient as the world, and one of the sacred alphabets represented the writhing curves of serpents.
“Naasene.” The Naasene were a branch of the Ophites, the name being derived from the Hebrew Naas, a serpent, and we have quoted the words of one of the sect in the last chapter. (Vide “A.Q.C.,” iii, p. 60.)
“Valentinians.” The five Gnostic words GR:Zeta-Alpha-Mu-Alpha Omega Zeta-Zeta-Alpha Rho-Alpha-Chi Alpha-Mu-Alpha Omega Zeta-Alpha-Iota, are translated: “The robe, the glorious robe of my strength,” and are said to have been on the shining garment of Jesus at his glorification; they are said to represent the five mystic powers of the reborn which become seven upon bodily death. Heraclian was a follower of this school, and wrote about 170 A.D. a Commentary upon the gospel of St. John s opening words.
“Bardisanians.” The founder of this sect was Bardaisan, a man of noble descent born at Edessa 155 A.D., and died 233 A.D. He was author of an Armenian history; a book on the Indian religions; a book of Hymns; another on the Marcionites; Book of laws of the Countries, concerning fate, freewill, and nature. A most beautiful hymn of his symbolises the Gnostic Initiation. Professor A. Bevan terms it a “Hymn of the Soul,” but the “Theosophical Review,” to which we are indebted for many hints on Gnosticism, terms it the “Hymn of the Robe of Glory.” His antagonists brought these charges against him: (1) he denied the resurrection of the body; (2) he held the theory of a “divine Mother,” and a “Father of life,” as the origin of the “Son of the living”; in other words the Gnostic doctrine of the concealed Logoi; (4) he believed in a number of lesser gods, such as the seven who are said to surround the throne. The subjects appear in the poem mentioned as the “King of Kings,” the “Queen of the East,” and the “Brother next in rank”; finally the lesser gods are the “Kings who obey the King of Kings.”
“Manicheans.” The most noted of the Gnostic sects was the Manichees, whom Herder ranks as a sect of the Persian Magi. The founder is said to have been a pupil of Scythianus, an Arab of the purest morality, who was contemporary with the Christian Apostles; he studied the Egyptian Philosophy and composed four books designated Chapters, Mysteries, Treasures, and Gospel. A disciple of this man, named Ferbulio, assumed the name of Buddha, it may be to imply reincarnation, and dying by accident, a widow with whom Ferbulio lodged, had a slave of the name of Cubricus educated, and gave him the four books, which he took into Persia, where he asumed the name of Mani, which means conversation; it is said that the King of Persia had him flayed alive with reeds. (Vide “Memoirs of Jacobinism” Barruel.) The entire tale looks like a fable of the enemies of the sect.
In addition to the class of Disciples, the sect had that of Auditors, who were permitted to hear the writings of Mani read and interpreted in a mystical form; a custom we saw followed by the Brahmins in dealing with the Warriors. The third grade was the Perfect, or Elect, who were the priestly order of the sect. From these last were chosen the Magistri, or Council, who were 12 in number, as in the Culdee system, with a 13th as President. When a Manichee passed over to orthodoxy in Rome, he was required to curse his late associates in the following terms, which implies a reference to the Sun-god of the Mysteries: “I curse those persons who say that Zarades, and Budas, and Christ, and Manichaes, and the Sun are all one and the same.” The Sun, Urim, and Mani, being the saviour symbol, and the old Mystery-god, under various names, a Sunday festival was observed in March, when funereal rites were celebrated. On this occasion the altar was adorned with great magnificence, and a splendidly decorated pulpit, ascended by five steps, was erected, before which all prostrated themselves.
This sect, in common with all the other Gnostics, had secret forms of recognition; Augustin says: “signa, oris, manum et finus,” which Barruel translates: “three, that of the word, the gripe, and of the breast.” Epiphanius, who had been a member, professes to give the mode by which they tested strangers tickling the palm of the hand with the finger. Augustine was at one time of his life a Manichee, but failing, for some reason, to obtain advancement, withdrew from the sect.
Synesius, Bishop of Cyrene, and a pupil and life-long friend of the unfortunate Hypatia, who was torn to pieces by a Christian mob before the very altar, continued a Platonist to the last; and he bitterly reproaches one of his friends for having lightly betrayed to uninitiated Auditors a part of the Secret doctrines of the Philosophers. The contest between the Roman Church and the Gnostics, broadly speaking, resolves itself into this: first, the historical Jesus, the Christ of the Church; and second, the ancient Crestos of the Serapian Culte, the good god, with a Spiritual Cristos to be developed within each Perfected Gnostic. The former view was that of Peter and the Judaising Christians; the latter that of Paul, Origen, and the British Culdees. The Arcane Discipline was the union of the two, in which the literal history was taught Exoterically, and the spiritual version Esoterically; in the end the Church sought to teach both Exoterically.
“Arcane Symbols.” A number of the peculiar symbols of the various sects have come down to us, but have not yet been properly classified by any writer. 1. Those with a cock s head upon the top, and the name Abraxas upon some of them: these may be Mythraic and Basilidean, as the cock was a Mythraic symbol; Abraxas is Basilidean. 2. Those with the head, or body of a lion, commonly inscribed “Mythras.” 3. Those with the figure or name of the Egyptian “Serapis.” 4. Those which have figures of sphynx, ape, scarib, asp, ibis, goat, crocodile, vulture, etc., all Egyptian symbols. 5. Those which have human figures and the names Jao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloi, Basilidean, Ophite, and Jewish sects. 6. Those with a costly monument, and the word “Abraxas,” Basilidean and perhaps Manichean. 7. One represented in the work of Chiffalet, which has upon it 7 stars, and a larger one above them, together with a pair of compasses, a square, and other geometrical emblems, perhaps Cabiric. 8. One in the British Museum engraved by Brother Wm. Hutchinson in his “Spirit of Masonry;” it is in the shape of an egg; on one side is a head which he interprets as the Ancient of Days or Great-workman; on the other side, sun, moon, five-pointed star, and a serpent; it has an inscription which he interprets: “The earth shall praise Thee, 1305.” 9. Representations of the eternal Father, with arms crossed on breast. 10. To these may be added numerous emblems from ancient gems, chiefly of Greek workmanship, some of which embrace Masonic signs, some with Pelicans, crosses of all shapes, squares, triangles, circles, point within a circle, etc. The Gnostics had great respect for the number seven (symbol, upright equilateral triangle floating above square) because it results from adding the side view of a square to those of a triangle, or the three principles and four elements, applied spiritually. In regard to the number seven we may quote Mr. T. Subba Row, (“Five Years of Theosophy.”) who says: “Algebraically the number of entities evolved from three primary causes is 2 cubed -1 is 8-1=7. Thus the seven rays are evolved out of three primary coloured rays, and the three primary colours exist with the four secondary colours. Similarly the three primary entities, which brought man into existence, exist in him with the four secondary arising from different combinations of the three primary entities.”
The real cause of the veneration of the Manichees for the reed, upon mats of which they affected to lie, is not very apparent, but it was everywhere a sacred symbol. In the ancient Finnish poem of the “Kalevala” the “virgin Mother of the north-land” conceives a heavenly child who is “hidden in the reeds and rushes.” The Hindu goddess Kartikeya was nourished amid reeds. Moses was saved in an ark of bulrushes; and a reed was put into the hand of Jesus, as a sceptre. As the plant grows upright out of water it may symbolise truth springing from sacred doctrine; but as the virgin mother is primal matter, that requires another key of interpretation.
The Gnostics adopted the Apostle John as their Patron; his symbol was the Eagle, or bird of the sun, which was the Sectarians sacred emblem; it is found in Egypt at the foot of the tau cross, and now on the jewel of a Rosy-cross Mason. The Gnostic tokens were a sectarian version of the older pagan “Tesserae hospitalis,” on which was the head of Zeus, and under the Roman Empire there was the “tesserae frumentaria,” which entitled to a public distribution of grain. (“Notes and Queries” (London, 14 Mch., 1874).) There was the white stone presented on Mythraic Initiation; and Clemens in his “Hortatory Address to the Heathen,” appears to allude to both sign and pass, and material token “nam equidem nullo unquam periculo compellar, “quae reticenda accepi hac ad profanos enuntiare.” Again, “Vel unius Liberi patris symmystae qui adestis, “scitis quid dani conditum celetis et ” tacite veneramini.” There can be no doubt that the Arcane Discipline had them as tokens of preparation for the Supper of the Lord; many, if not all, the Catholic confraternities present a token which is generally worn under the clothes from a ribbon. Some of the tokens yet preserved belonged to the Templars, and there are a quantity of Abbey tokens, which are struck in lead or pewter with the cross on one side, and on the obverse a variety of designs.
“Esoteric Budhism.” This living system has every appearance of great antiquity; its symbols are ideographs, interpretable in any language, and touch the Mysteries. It has two divisions, theory and practice, or the active and contemplative of the Essenes. The doctrine of the “heart,” as opposed to the “eye”; the secret path as opposed to the “open,” and is the seal of truth,” which leads to the growth of “the tree of knowledge,” or the “dragon tree,” which is the development of the “higher self.” The “Secret heart” has three halls, from which lead two Paths for the “Listener” and the “Exerciser.” The first is the four-fold Dhyana; the second is the seven noble gates of virtue opened by the “golden keys” of charity, harmony, patience, worldly indifference, persistence, until finally the initiate arrives at the attainment of supreme wisdom, by travelling the paths of hearing and seeing.
These paths may be compared with the seven Halls and Staircases of the Egyptian “Ritual of the Dead.” Similarly we have the “seven stepped Ladder” of the “Golden Precepts,” each step being an advance towards union with the divine, its rungs are of suffering and pain, its sides of love. To hear and see reaches the second stage of ascent, when the four senses blend, and pass into the inner sense; the fifth and sixth carry perfect renunciation and concentration of the “higher self”; on the seventh, “thyself and mind are like twins upon a line,” the “star” which is thy goal burns over head. (“Voice of the Silence,” transl. by H. P. Blavatsky.) Thibet like Thebes denotes Sacred Ark, and points to the high table-land of Thibet as a centre of the Mysteries.
“Arcane Schools.” The Gnostic Sects, Neo-Platonists, and the Mysteries, descended down the stream of time, with mutual forbearance and goodwill, until late on in the fourth century, when evil times come upon them. The Church was becoming powerful and intolerant, and there was no room left for the Mysteries of Mythras, Serapis, Bacchus, the Cabirs, Hirtha, Druids, or Gnostics; and the Church considered itself capable to absorb their teachings. The Emperors Valentinian, 372; Theodosius, 381; Theodosius II., 450, all forbade the assemblies of Gnostics, Platonists, and all other religious Mysteries, but this but led to greater secrecy and disguise, for Psellus tells us that the Eleusinian Mysteries continued to be practised at Athens in the 8th century, and were never entirely suppressed.
In the sixth century the Gnostics were put to the sword in Persia, but some embraced Islam, and transmitted their system amongst the Dervish sects. In 657 the Manichees had assumed the name of “Paulicians,” and it is said that in the course of three centuries one hundred thousand were put to death by the Romish Church, or at its instigation.
The name of “Cathari” succeeded and implies, as in the Discipline, purity. Some took the name of “Euckites,” others “Bogomiles,” “Albigensis,” and later “Lollards,” travelled over Europe, seeking proselytes, and continuing, either openly or secretly, until modern times. There was nothing offensive in the word Gnostic, it means knowing as opposed to believing. Clemens, in his “Stromata,” uses the word in orthdoxy thus: “Happy are they who have entered into Gnostic holiness.” Heckethorn says that in 1022 the Canons of Orleans were burnt for Manichaeism by King Robert; as Cathari they were persecuted in Italy 1150-1224, and were compelled to perform their Rites in woods and forests, like the Carbonari, and it is not improbable that the latter whose Mysteries represent the passion of Christ, is one of their branches.
“A further impregnable evidence of the derivation of Catharism from Manichaeism is furnished by the sacred thread and the garment which was worn by all the “Perfect” among the Cathari. This custom is too peculiar to have had an independent origin, and is manifestly the “Kosti” and “Saddarah,” the sacred thread and shirt the wearing of which was essential to all believers, and the use of which by both Zends and Brahmins shows that its origin is to be traced to the prehistoric period, anterior to the separation of those branches of the Aryan family. Among Cathari the wearing of the thread and vestment, was what was known amongst the Inquisitors as the “haereticus indutus” or “vestitus,” initiated into all the mysteries of the heresy.” (H. C. Lea, “Hist. of Inquisition of the Middle Ages” (i, p. 92). London, 1888.) This may be the origin of that consecrated Girdle, which was one of the charges brought against the Templars during their trials, 1311-13.
“Metempsychosis, and the pre-existence of the Soul was an integral part of the system.” (J. H. Blunt, “Dict. of Sects and Heresies,” London, 1891.) This statement is confirmed in numerous ways, and is even mystically stated in the Graal Poem of Wolfram von Eisenbach. The French writer Aroux quotes Pierre Cardinal the Troubadour, as to the veiled language of the Graal legend, which was of a nature of the Culdee secret symbolism. He says: “The ungent which heals all kinds of wounds, even the bites of the “venemous reptiles,” is in fact none other but the word of the gospel, so also the “golden vessel” in which it (the graal) is contained, adorned with most precious stones, is none other than the holy grail itself, or the book of the Gospels, as the Albigensis had adopted and translated it; the Golden book, the vessel containing the true light, visible only to the Initiated, to the Professors of the Gay Science.” We shall add later some account of these sects.
Early in the 12th century the celebrated St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux says of the Gnostics: “If you ask them of their faith nothing can be more Christian like; if you observe their conversation nothing can be more blameless, and what they speak they make good by their action. As to life and manners, he circumvents no man, overreaches no man, does violence to no man, he fasts much, eats not the bread of idleness, but works with his hands.” Another Roman writer says that the “Perfected” were divided into Bishops, Major, and Minor brothers, and Deacons, and that these abstained from animal food, and from women. It is related of the Waldenses, who were a branch of the Albigensis who may have preserved the Arcane Mysteries from their first reception of Christianity, that the Initiated assumed new names, and that when the Believer was on the point of death he was perfected thus: “They assembled in a dark room, closed on all sides, but illuminated by a great number of lights affixed to the walls; then the new Candidate was placed in the centre, when the presiding officer of the sect laid a book (probably St. Johns Gospel) on his head, and gave him the imposition of hands, at the same time reciting the Lord s prayer; saying also: Have pity on this imprisoned spirit. ”
The last a very Platonic formula. Saccho says, in speaking of the 13th century: “In many of the sects their secrets are by no means revealed.” Limborchi says: “They had also a peculiar manner of saluting each other, by embracing, putting their hands to both sides, and turning their heads three times to each shoulder, saying every time, Praise the Lord.” Of the Waldenses, who followed Peter Waldo, who was probably a Waldense, it is said that “those who are Perfect put in the upper part of the shoe, a Zabbata, a sort of escutcheon, as a sign, from which they are called Inzabbata.” This statement, referring as it does to the 13th century, seems to amount only to this, that they wore sandals or wooden shoes. The Rev. Henry Stebbing (1834) says that in the 14th century Pope Honorius III. “condemned to perpetual infamy the Cathari, Patarines, the Leonists, the Speronists, and the Arnoldists.”
VEHM GERICHTE. According to Abbe Trithemius, who wrote his “Polagraphia” about the year 1500, the Emperor Charlemagne instituted in 770 for Saxons of Westphalia, or the red earth, a Secret Tribunal, for the suppression of paganism and bad morals, “with secret laws, private signs, and a form of oath. . . . . using amongst themselves certain cyphers and alphabets which are now lost.” The original society was no doubt attached to the old pagan worship. A society very similar to the Holy Vehme was established at Castile and Leon, in Spain, in the year 1245, and designated the HERMANDAD. In the 1906 volume of Ars Quat. Cor. (page 31) I printed a paper on the Ritual of the Vehm Court of the year 1490. In this Ritual the Free Count is supposed to occupy the throne of Charlemagne, in the same way that the Master Mason is supposed to occupy the throne of Solomon, but the curious point is that, with a quite different object in view, it has all the formula of Guild Masonry. Bro. F. F. Schnitger informs me that the three sides of his father s house overlooked five of the old Friestules, or places of judgment, and that he has known people who participated in some of the last meetings of the Vehm; and his opinion is that Charlemagne, of whom hereafter we will say something as a builder, adapted the existing tribal jurisdiction to his ends, and that the Secret Tribunal is the jurisdiction of the ancient priests. The Association possesed two Courts an open one (offenes ding) and a secret one (Geheines Gerichte), and to the latter the Free or Initiated were only admitted. Their laws and signs are partially known, their words absolutely, and their Oath exists in a dozen documents.
ALCHEMISTS. The Alchemical Art is doubtless as old as other branches of science and is traceable in Egypt, China, and India, in the earliest times. Modern writers on Chemistry assert that it was practised by the Essenes and Cabalistic Jews. When it was suppressed in Egypt it still lived on in China, where the terms used correspond with those of the European Alchemists. In all countries it had three interpretations and three objects: the “Alkahest” or universal solvent; the “Lapis,” or stone or powder of transmutation; and the “Elixir,” or universal medicine. As a secret Mystery in which art and religion are combined it no doubt originated amongst a metallurgic people. Thus it is “physical,” as we have said; and “psychological” in its interpretation and as such allied to Gnosticism; and it is “moral” in its relation to humanity.
It aimed, in this sense, at converting the “lead” of the body, and the “silver” of the soul, into the “gold” of the spirit, and it is this meaning that Aristotle employs it when he says that all men have the Stone within them, and that its conversion is the labour of wise men. The Mystic Marriage of the Sun and Moon, in its spiritual and inoperative sense, is the Union of Soul and Spirit to form the Gnostic Crestos. The Hermetic system united all nature inasmuch as “that which is above is the same as that which is below.” When it descends to the mineral kingdom, and the vegetable, it finds in these the same three principles as in man, namely a visible body, a virtue or soul, and a spark of the spirit, termed salt, sulphur, and mercury, a divine triad (Symbol: Fire); whilst the four lower principles are earth, air, fire, water, (symbol: a square), but which in another phase represents the physical, psychic, mental, and spiritual plains of existence; which are again the fixed, unstable, and volatile. Professor Roberts Austin, C.B., F.R.S., in a Lecture on Metals, says that the Alchemists “recognised in metals the possession of attributes which closely resemble those of organisms . . .” and that, “the first Alchemists were Gnostics, and the old beliefs of Egypt are blended with those of Chaldea in the second and third centuries.” Alchemy and Masonry were early subsidiary schools of the Mysteries.
In its operations the Society held that as “all things proceed from the Will of one,” so all were again resolveable to first principles, and that metals might be separated, refined, and reunited; and they claimed that Moses was an Adept because he possessed the difficult process of reducing the golden calf to a powder. The “Aurea,” attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, is one of the oldest Arcane works on the subject, and couched in Egyptian Symbolism. The writings of Athenagoras have tracers of Alchemy and the Emperor Caligula is said to have experimented with red arsenick. Thoelden says: “Our ancestors united themselves again in the time of Valerius Diocletian in the year 284 A.D.” However that may be, this worthy in the year 296 was engaged in burning Christians, Gnostics and Alchemists with zealous indiscrimination, and equally all works on Alchemy and the Secret Sciences on which he could lay his vile hands. Colin MacKenzie (“Processes in Manufactures,” London, 1825.) says that, we find Alchemists amongst the Essenes, Cabalists, Manichaeans, the Hermits of Thebes, and the Gymnosophists of India. The Emperor Julian, who, though termed the apostate, was one of the purest Emperors Rome ever had, and apostate from the vices of men like Constantine, restored these Sciences. Zosimus the Panopolite has an express treatise on the “divine art of making gold and silver.” Cedrinus, 491, gives an example of a Magician who professed Alchemy. Morienus, who was a Hermit at Rome, learned the art of Transmutation and the Elixir, from Adsar, who was an Alexandrian and a Christian, and afterwards taught it to Calid, the son of Gezid the Second, who was Sultan of Egypt about the year 725 A.D.; the works of Morienus were translated from Arabic into Latin in 1182 A.D. Successors continued the Science; Geber, whose real name was Abou Moussa Djafar qualified as “al Sofi” the Wise, devoted his life, about 730 to Alchemy; he was born at Houran in Mesopotamia; and we owe to him the first mention of corrosive sublimate, red-oxide of mercury, nitric acid, and nitrate of silver. A Marcus Graecus is mentioned in the 13th century, nothing is known of him, though erroneously asserted, he is mentioned by the Arabian physician Mesue, and his M.S. contains the secret of gunpowder. (“Eph. Chambers nc.”) Alfarabi flourished later, at the beginning of the tenth century, and was considered the most learned man of the age. Avicenna, whose real name was Abu Cenna, another great Alchemist, was born at Bokara in 984 and died in 1036. After this time but few philosophers of note are mentioned by name in Arabia, and it now began to attract attention in Spain, into which country the Moors and Jews had introduced it.
Schools of the Arts, Sciences, and Magic were established at Toledo, Salamanca, Barcelona, and elsewhere, and to these drew Gerhard of Cremona, circa 1130; Arnold de Villanova, 1243; Roger Bacon, 1215; Albertus Magnus, 1270; Raymond Lulli, 1320, etc. (“Aureus,” preface (Fryar, Bath).) We will divide this notice for convenience, and continue it under the head of “Rosicrucianism,” it is an appropriate division because we have better and fuller evidence of its symbolism, much of it being identical with Masonry and Gnosticism, and doubtless derived, through Spain, from the House of Wisdom at Cairo. During the dominion of the Moors in Spain, the Jews enjoyed consideration, and numbered many of the most learned men of the time amongst their race; and proportionately held in estimation. After the fall of the Moorish power the Jews were persecuted, and in the 14th and 15th centuries under the name of “Maranos,” they met in great secrecy at Inns, disguised, using grips, signs, and passwords; the temple of Solomon was bound to have its prominent place, but it is unlikely unless in the Arch ritual that the Society could have any connection with Masonry whose broad and liberal platform is opposed to the exclusive nature of Judaism. (Vide “Freem. Mag.”, 1860, iii, p. 416.)
ISLAMITE MYSTICS. We have mentioned that Islamite Gnostics arose in Persia at an early period; and they claim to be as old as the time of the Prophet. It is said that their origin is the “Alli Allahis,” a continuation of the old sect of Medo-Persian Magi. The Sects are termed “Tariks” or Paths, for they are Pilgrims or travellers on the “urug” Or ascent, in which there are three “ourouens” the road, the stages, the goal.
At this time we have numerous sects of these Mystics, and it is claimed that Ali, who according to the Persian sect was the lawful successor of Mohamed, founded them by bestowing some article of his clothing when he established their orders; thus one sect claims to have received his “Tailji” or cap; another his “Khirka” or Mantle; another his “Kemei” or girdle; thus fixing a succession.
“Benai Ibraham.” Every reading Mason is aware that from the time of the original of the “Cooke” MS. Constitutions, say A.D. 1400, it has been handed down that the hunter King, Nimrod, was a Grand Master, and that Abraham, who is said to have fled from him, taught the Egyptians geometry. It is not worth while to attempt to refute the latter statement, as according to Biblical chronology Abraham was not in Egypt until about 1925 B.C., but it would be worth while to ascertain, if we could, what ancient writer, probably Oriental, is responsible for the Abrahamic origin of geometry in Egypt. I am aware, of what I have never yet seen mentioned by any Masonic writer, that amongst the Moslems, throughout the world, there is a very ancient Secret Society which claims to derive from the Koreish, or Guardians of the Kaaba, who were a superior Arab race and the descendants of Ishmael, and of which Mohammed was a scion. In the 1st and 2nd degrees of this system precisely the same assertions are made as in the MS. Constitutions of Masonry, whilst the 3rd degree is devoted to the erection of the Kaaba by Ibraham, Ismael, and Isaque, as the three presiding G.M.M. Sale, in his “Preliminary Observations” to his translation of “Al Koran” gives a full account of the legend as to Abraham s erection of a square temple similar to one destroyed in the deluge, the plans of which were etherially let down from Heaven on the prayer of Adam. I am inclined to give credit to the alleged great antiquity of these three degrees of the Sons of Ibraham, for two reasons, or rather three. In the first place Mohammed himself confirms the basis of the legend in treating of Abraham; in the second place the thirteenth century account of the erection on “Salvation Mount” of the square temple of San Graal, the plans being similarly heaven designed, is admittedly, by the writer himself, taken from Moslem sources; and, in the third place, I believe, with Ashmole, that the present system of Masonry was a thirteenth century reform of an older system. In 1872 the late Bro. Mackenzie organised the “Order of Ishmael,” of 36th Degree, the basis of which, he informed me, he had from an Arab in Paris, and in 1884 I was myself in relation with Prince Moustafa ben Ismael, ex-Prime Minister of Tunis, then in Paris. But Mackenzie s idea seems to have been that our Biblical legends were the transmission of the “Order of Ishmael,” of which the “Sons of Ibraham” were a very ancient branch, or, as he terms it, the oldest secret society in the world.
M. Edmond Demoulins in his work “Anglo-Saxon Superiority,” which has created an immense sensation in France, says that in all the Oases, or Deserts, under Moslem rule Secret Brotherhoods (Zalouahs) exist, and he quotes, in confirmation, M. L. Ponsard on ancient Egypt and Chaldea in prehistoric times. He says: “They have their passwords, their signs of recognition, and are ruled by an official hierarchy which starts from the Grand Master, or Khalif, and ends with such subaltern agents as the messengers, banner-bearers, guards, etc. There are general assemblies for the purpose of receiving instructions from the Khalif, or for the initiation of fresh members, or again to promote the rising of the population against some interior, or exterior foe. This variety of patriotism inspired the societies which formerly occupied the two large Oases of Assyria and Egypt, at least, during the first part of their history, which extends over the time when, recently issued from the Desert, they still were under the more or less domination of the Brotherhoods and priests of Ammon. Mahomet and his votaries also partook of this species of patriotism, and so did all the Societies started under the inspiration of Islam, whether in the Arabian Desert and the Sahara, or at their two extremities from Asia Minor to Spain.”
“Brothers of Purity.” This was an association of Arab philosophers seated at Bosra in the 10th century. They had forms of Initiation, and they wrote many works, which were afterwards much studied by the Spanish Jews. (“Royal Mas. Cyclo.,” K. R. H. Mackenzie.)
“House of Wisdom.” The Tarik of the House of Wisdom was founded at Cairo and had seven Initiatory degrees. According to von Hammer, who gives his Arabian authorities, Abdallah a Persian, living in the 9th century of the Christian era, accepted, what was the Gnostic doctrine, of the Aeons, or Sephiroths, or emanations of divinity, and applied the system to the successors of the Prophet of Arabia, upholding Ismael as the founder of his “Path,” and one of his descendants as the Seventh Imaum. This man created “Dais,” or Missionaries, for the propagation of the system, and was succeeded by his son and grandson. One of the name of Karmath brought the “Path” into repute. The Secret Institution was now seated at Cairo and termed the “Dar-al-hicmet,” translated Tent of Skill, or House of Wisdom, and Assemblies were held twice a week, when all the members appeared clothed in white. The members were advanced gradually through a series of Seven degrees, over which presided a “Dai-al-doat,” or Missionary of Missionaries. Their then Chief, Hakem-bi-emir- Illah increased these degrees to nine and erected, in 1004 A.D., a stately building which he abundantly furnished with mathematical instruments. In 1123 the Vizier Afdhal destroyed this building, but meetings continued elsewhere.
Corresponding with the seven (or nine) grades of the Society was a seven-fold gradation of officers: Sheik, or Grand Master; Dai-el-Keber, or Deputy; Dai, or Master; Refik, or Fellow; Fedavie, or Agent; Lassik, or Aspirant; Muemini, or Believer. The Initiate was successively taught that there had been 7 holy Imaums; that God had sent 7 Lawgivers, who in the interval of their appearance had each 7 Helpers, and that each of these had 12 Apostles. It would appear that in 1150 the Sultan of Egypt recognised the grades of the Society, for when a special rank was created for the learned Jewish physician Maimonides, it is added that “the enlightened men of the kingdom were divided into seven grades, each occupying a corresponding position near the throne”; (“The Talmud,” Polani, p. 226.) it is also a slight confirmation of what we have said respecting the Spanish affinity with the Egyptian. Sir John Maundeville, of St. Albans, served with the Sultan about 1320 and would seem to have been half converted to Islam; he relates that they denied the crucifixion of Jesus, and asserted that Judas was substituted in his place.
“Assassins.” Before the year 1090, one of the Dais of the House of Wisdom admitted an Aspirant of the name of Hassan Sabah, who thus details his conversion: “I had been reared, like my fathers, in the doctrine of the 12 Imaums, but I made the acquaintance of an Ishmaelite Rafeek named Emir Dhareb, with whom I knit fast the bonds of friendship. My opinion was that the tenets of the Ishmaelites resembled those of the Philosophers and that the Ruler of Egypt was a man who had been initiated into them.” Hassan goes on to relate that he finally gave his fealty to a Dai named Moomen, set out for Egypt, and was met on the frontier by the Dai-al-Doat. Hassan saw that the failure of the “House” as a political Society arose from the lack of a fortress, and set about to remedy this defect. He obtained by a cunning strategical purchase in the year 1090 the Castle of Alamoot. Here he founded the Society of “Assassins” in seven degrees, the Class of Fedavees being those devoted to the main object, the killing of the enemies of the order. At a later period the Society was dispersed, but yet exists in its seven degrees in India and other countries, under its old designation of “Ishmaelites.”
DRUZES. About the same period as the foundation of the “Assassins” a Dai of the name of Hamsa prevailed upon the Druzes of Lebanon to accept the Initiatory System of the House of Wisdom. These Syrian Mountaineers are a peculiar race who are probably of Phoenician descent; it is known that before the time of Hamsa they possessed secret Rites, Degrees, and modes of recognition. (“Vide Ars Quat. Cor.,” iv, Smith.) It was probably a phase of the Assyrian culte, such as is possessed by the Yezids, who worship sun, moon, and bull, and have signs of recognition. (Ibid, iv, Yarker.) From the time of Hamsa they have remained faithful conservators of the organisation received from him. The Sect recognises six degrees of which the three first are typified by the “three feet of the candlestick of the Inner Sanctuary which holds the five elements,” and these “three feet” are “the holy application, the opening, the phantom,” referring to mans inner and outer soul, and the body of matter.
The Ignorant are presided over by the Akkals or wise, and these are of three higher grades, which represent more advanced principles and developments. The members are sworn to absolute secrecy, and strictly observe their oath. They are known to have signs of recognition which are common to Freemasonry. (Ibid, iii.) They also profess to have some tradition relative to assistance rendered at the building of Solomon s temple, but this may only be one of their modes of hoodwinking the Cowan. Blavatsky, who was an Initiate of the Sect, informs us that the fundamental principles of Hamsa are chastity, honesty, meekness, and mercy; and that its basis is the old Ophite Gnosticism, which, in the most ancient times, claimed immense antiquity as the builders of the Draconian stone enclosures, scattered over the old world, and even America. The Society admits, like other Ishmaelite Mystics, an affinity with the Platonic philosophy, and festivals are held at which raisins and figs are eaten; which it is thought is one of the tests of membership; it reminds us that priest Cyril of Jerusalem (“Catech. Lec.,” vi, 23.) speaks of the “detestable ceremony of the fig.” The Aspirant before admission has to undergo a long fast, which is entire on the last day, and a species of trance vision is induced before the ceremony closes.
“Ainsarii.” The Ishmaelite Sect continued to exist after the destruction of the stronghold of the Old Man of the Mountain, as the Chief of the Assassins was termed. The most prominent of these is named the Ainsarii; they hold secret meetings for receptions and have signs, words, and a Catechism. Lyde, who has investigated this Sect, classes them with ancient Templars, and Modern Freemasons. (“The Asian Mystery,” Rev. C. L. Lyde.)
“Dervishes.” The various “Paths” of the Dervishes are very ancient and spread from branches in Persia and Egypt. Though their rites and doctrines vary from one another, the object of all is similar to each other and to Magian and Indian Yogism, namely, Union with the Deity. We will take the “Bektash” as typical of the others. In the 15th century, Bektash of Bokhara, received his “Mantle” from Ahmed Yesevee, who claimed descent from the father-in-law of Mohamed. On this he proceeded to establish a “Path,” consisting of seven nominal, but four essential degrees. These are magical in their nature, inasmuch as they aim at establishing an affinity between the Aspirant and the Sheik, from whom he is led, through the founder, and the Prophet, to Allah. Their Initiatory ceremony is shortly as follows. After a year s probation, during which the Aspirant is tested with false secrets a lamb is killed from which a cord is made for his neck, and a girdle of Initiation for his loins; he is led into a square chamber, and between two armed attendants, who present him as a slave who desires to know truth. He is led by the cord round his neck, and one of the axes used, or carried by these godfathers is in the writer s possession, bearing on one side the name of Ali and the other that of Mohamed.
He is then placed before a stone altar on which are twelve escallops. The Sheik, who is attended by eleven others, grips the hand of the Aspirant in a peculiar way, and administers the oath of the order, which is equivalent to the Monkish vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He is then informed that death awaits him if he betrays his order; and he makes his profession in.the following formula: “Mohamed is my Rheper (guide); Ali is my Murchid (director).” The Sheik then asks: “Do you accept me as your Murchid?” and upon an affirmative reply adds: “Then I accept you as my son.” He is invested with a girdle, on which are three knots, and receives an alabaster stone as token. The sign of recognition is that of the first degree in Masonry. Their grace is called the “Gulbend,” or “rose of fraternal love.” Amongst their important symbols are the double triangles (Symbol: Hexagram) and two triangles joined at the apex (symbol, like an “X” but with the top and bottom chevrons closed to equilateral triangles). One of their maxims is, “the man must die that the saint may be born.” (“The Dervishes,” J. P. Brown.)
As a Jewel they make use of a small marble cube with red spots to typify the blood of the martyred Ali. The Sects are not popular with the orthodox Turkish Mussulmans, but all branches swear to devote themselves to the interests of their order or Path with body and soul. The Jewel of another branch, in possession of the writer, has at the top a small green stone, and suspended from this by three silver chains, is a large sized bloodstone, oval; and from this again is suspended three other chains: the first three chains has two small silver discs, the second three has each a silver disc and two are double, in all making seven. The Mantle of the order has on each shoulder a representation of the Sword of Ali.
Amongst the immense number of operative Masons employed by the Saracens, there must have been a large number of such Initiates, but it is not intended by these details to absolutely identify Freemasonry with the Societies using the formula; but to shew the existence of certain ancient features in common with the Arcane Schools in various channels. Yet it is quite possible that the original Roman ritual of the Guild may have been modified by the addition of Solomonic legends preserved in the East, or on the other hand taken “en bloc” from the Jewish Guilds of Syria and Egypt, and the probability is that the Jews of Spain were in a position to hand on the Guild system, but we shall enter into this later.
TEMPLARS. The rule of the Templars resembled that of the Benedictines and Cistercians, and was drawn up by Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, some short time after their establishment in 1118. In it the prelate terms them “Valiant Maccabees”; they were to wear on their clothing and horses neither gold nor silver; not to have more than three horses each, because, as he says, they could not rival “the world renowned temple of Solomon,” on the site of which they had acquired a residence. The reception was a strictly secret one, which gave rise in 1310 to a shameful persecution. Before admission to the Chapter the Aspirant was thrice cautioned as to the rigorous trials that he would have in becoming a member, and asked if he firmly persisted in his demands to proceed, and if he responded in the affirmative he was admitted to the Reception.
In an old number of “Blackwood s Magazine” appears what professes to be the burial service of a Templar, no authority is given, but we know no reasons to deny its authenticity. It is a highly symbolical ceremony, at which the classes of Preceptors, Knights, and Servitors were present; and the Grand Master presided with an iron hammer in his hand, with which three knocks were struck upon an iron cross. The three classes had each an active part in the ceremony; and in answer to a question of the Grand Master: “Know ye for a truth that our brother is dead, and ripe for the long sleep of the grave?” A Serving-brother takes the hand of the corpse and answers: “The flesh cleaves not to the bone, nor the skin unto the flesh, he is dead.” After other questions seven knights advance to the corpse, and place their hands upon the head, eyes, face, mouth, heart, hand, and feet with a fervent blessing, and the corpse is then lowered into the grave. (“Vide Fre. Mag.,” 1864 p. 205; “Rosicrucian,” 1876. p. 75; A. Q. C., vi. The late Bro. Albert Pike revised the ceremony for the Kadosh burial service of the A. & A. Rite.)
It has been maintained by von Hammer, that the members of the Order were Initiates of the Cairo House of Wisdom, and the resemblance is peculiar, both had secret receptions, a similar government, and both used white and red in their clothing. That they had a secret reception is beyond doubt, and one of their maxims was that “secrecy is the soul of the order.” Authorities differ very much as to this secret reception; those who believe in the Gnostic heresy of the order, assert that such Initiation was adopted from the Saracens about years 1250-70, and which added to their old Reception, a degree of Professed wherein the cross was trodden underfoot; a girdle was given to the Initiated; he was taught an Enlightened Deism, and made a disciple of John the Baptist. If there was such a ceremony as indicated it would be as a test of obedience. The third grade, it is said, was for high Officers; a symbolic Gnostic cord was consecrated by the head of Baphometis, and presented to be worn under the clothes. Blavatsky says that the Nazarians of Persia have a tradition that they initiated the Templars. (“Isis Unveiled,” p. 232.)
The head here mentioned may allude to two words Baphe metios, or Baptism of Wisdom, and represent the head of John the Baptist; but de Quincey suggests that it is cabalistically composed in substituting B for P to refer to the Pope and Mahomet, whose tenets the later Rosicrucians designated “blasphemies of the East and West.” On the other hand the Secret Mysteries of the Templars are said to have been the Arcane Discipline, and to have referred to the faith of Christ. Philip le Bel, King of France, and Pope Clement V. combined in 1309 to suppress them, and in 1313 the latter dissolved them on the plea of Gnosticism, which would apply to any of these suppositions.
There was in the time of the plenitude of the Templars a peculiar Culdee legend travelling around termed the “Quest of the Sangrael;” it was supposed that there was a lost cup, which had contained the blood of the Saviour, that could only be found by a chaste Knight who journeyed in search of it. It had, if found, various magical properties, oracular answers to enquiries could be read thereon. Von Hammer professes to read the “Graal” upon certain old offertory dishes which he considers to have been Templar property, but his views have not been generally credited. There are yet certain ceremonies practised alluding to Joseph, Jesus, and Mary, said to have been of Culdee origin, that have a sober resemblance to the Quest. The Mystic tradition may hide the old blood baptism of the Mysteries. Eugene Aroux speaks very positively of an Albigensian and Templar connection with the legend, which is supposed to have some basis in the Gospel of Nicodemus. San Marte takes the same view and lays stress upon the use by the Templars, at the Lord s Supper of the opening words of St. John s Gospel. The Rev. Baring Gould gives credit to a Templar connection with the Mythos. Von Hammer says the poem of Titurel is nothing but an allegory of the Society of Templars and its doctrine and one with the Gnostic and Ophite symbols. This legend is a lengthy subject to write upon, but it is necessary to say something upon it.
The origin of the Graal legend is curious, romantic, and ancient. The Persians have a legend of a golden cup discovered in making the foundations of Persepolis which they named the “Goblet of the Sun”; we have also the Hermesian cup in the Poemander. There is also the Welsh legend of Peridur, which means “Companion of the Bowl.” Peridur enters a castle, and two young men enter a room, where he is seated, with a lance from which falls three gouts of blood, which the company seeing set up a lamentation; then enter two damsels, with a charger in which is a head swimming in blood, and the company utter a piercing wail. The bowl here is the Cauldron of Ceridwen, and the blood is the three drops of her brew that conferred intuition. In Hanover there is some Templar connection with a charger and the head of John the Baptist, to be mentioned later. Taliesen s poem of Bran the blessed mentions the bowl of Pheredur, which could restore the dead to life, “but those who were restored to life by it were not to speak lest they should divulge the mysteries of the vessel.” Bran sails to the “Island of Joy,” with 39 Companions.
M. Pauline de Paris mentions the “Liber Gradalis” of a British priest about 30 years after the death of Cadwallader. About the year 717 the priest had a vision of Christ, and of Joseph of Arimethea, who brought the cup to this country, with the blood of Christ.
These legends admit their indebtedness to the Moslem legends, and there can be no doubt as to what that legend is; it refers to the erection by Abraham of the Temple of Seth, which we refer to elsewhere, in which on the petition of Adam an etherial temple was let down in appearance to which Adam could direct his prayers.
The more modern version of the legend was compiled about 1189, under the title of “Sir Coules del Grail,” by Chretien de Troies. Saniber, prince of Cappadocia in the days of Vespasian, had three sons, who went eventually to Rome; and his great-great grandson Titur-el was the Graal King, and the pure and noble Knight. When dying the Graal King instructed his children in the mystery, and the Knights had explained to them the symbols, ceremonies, and the powers of the 12 precious stones. Shortly after we have the version of Guyot de Provens, who had been a monk with Bernard of Clairvaux, and visited Jerusalem about the year 1170; it was an elaborated version of the preceding, which the author as well as Guy de Provens attributed to the Arabian astrologer and philosopher Flegantan. This was translated into German about the year 1207 by Wolfram von Eschenbach, and would be known in 1248 when Conrad von Hochstetten laid the foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral. Later on another version was completed by Alfred von Scharfenberg. In the oldest account Titurel builds the Graal temple, but in this last version it is Parsifal, grandson of Titurel, who is selected to build a magnificent temple upon a design miraculously shown on curtains of light, and upon a mount called “Saviour s Mount” placed in the midst of a “square” wood, the temple itself was to be “round,” as are the Templar churches. The plan appears miraculously upon a stone, and indicated an inner Sanctuary to hold the Graal, which was to be guarded by chaste Temple, or Templar Knights, for both these forms are used in different MSS. The groining of the roof was to shew a lamb holding a red cross banner in its claws (a Templar standard). The Lecterns were to have carved Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, and their “wise saws”; and in one of these MSS. England is named in connection with four crowns, four virgin martyrs, and their legends. (“Freem. Quart. Mag.,” 1853; also “Canadian Craftsman,” 1892.) Besides the Glastonbury legend of this cup and the account of the Romances of King Arthur, another claim is made for a Sapphire cup in the monastery of Richeneau, Lake Constance, founded by Charles Martel in 725; there is also a third claim for a cup said to have been brought from the East by the Crusaders, and lodged at Genoa; it is now believed to be made of green glass.
A Benedictine Monk of St. Werburgh in Chester, where the Polychronicon was compiled, often quoted in Guild MSS., Hy. Bradshaw, who died in 1513, has some very similar ideas wherein he is describing the feast of King Ulpha given at the Abbey of Ely, when his daughter Werburge took the veil. The tale also runs on the line of the old Masonic Constitutions. The tapestry of cloth of gold and arras. The story of Adam, of his wife Eve, and how they were deceived was “goodly wrought.” Cain and Abel making their offering. Tubal and Tubal Cain were pourtrayed, “the inventours of Musike and Crafte.”
“Noe and his shyppe was made there curyously, Sendying forthe a raven which never came again, And how the dove returned with a branch hastily.”
Abraham was there on a mount to offer up Isaac. The 12 Sons of Jacob; Joseph sold into Egypt. Moses “wyse and bolde.” Our Lorde appearing in a bush on fire. The 10 plagues of Egypt embossed. The two tables given to Moses. Dathan and Abyrom “full youre.” Duke Josue leading the Israelites to the land of promise. Pharaoh and the Red Sea. King Saul and David and prudent Solomon. Rehobom, Hezekiah, and his generacion. “And so to the Machabees and dyvers other nacyons.” But over the highest dais, where three kings sat crowned, was represented the IX Angelical orders divided into III hierarchies. Holy! Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth. Three persons in one deity.
Then followed representatives of the Virgin, the 12 Apostles, and the 4 Evangelists teaching and preaching “the faythe of holy chyrche.” Martyrs followed, the Innocents, St. Stephen, St. Laurence, St. Vincent.
Virgins crowned, some with the lily, others with roses for their great victory. On the other side of the Hall were noble, ancient stories, Sampson, Hector of Troy, Noble Anthony, with many others. At the feast which followed each spake freely: “Knyghtes of theyr chivalry, of Crafts the common.” The evidence of Titurel speaks well for the Templars, yet it is possible that some of the Preceptories may have introduced Oriental Rites and Symbols. Von Hammer, confirmed by Hallam and other writers, states that in various Preceptories their most secret place (crypt) contains indecent emblems sculptured, without particularly describing these. It may be said that one of these is a female figure holding in each hand a staff, at the head of one of which is the sun, and on the other the moon, whilst at her feet is the five- pointed star and other symbols. This is Basilidean in its character and there are references to the Templars confirming a statement “by Sun and Moon.” Addison mentions a copper medallion, intended to be worn around the neck by a chain, and which was found in France; it consists of the double equilateral triangles interlaced, and enclosed within two circles, and in the centre is the lamb and banner of the Temple. Clavel, quoted by Oliver, (“Hist. Land.,” ii, p. 355.) says that in the 17th century there was discovered in the grave of a Templar in Germany, who died before the dissolution of the order, “a stone cube inscribed with the square and compasses, the pentalpha, the celestial sphere, a star of five points, and several other stars.” Eliphas Levi says that, “a box was found in the ruins of an old Commandery in which was a Baphometic figure. It had a bearded face with a woman s body. In one hand it held the sun, in the other the moon, by chains.” (Gould s N. & Q. xi. p. 188.) Von Hammer mentions Templar churches at Erfurt, Schoengraben, and Prague, as containing such emblems the square, level, triangle, compasses, compasses with quadrant, interlaced triangles, the flaming star, the Tau cross of Egypt. All such matter confirms the charge of Gnosticism, but such decoration may be due to the Masons who erected the Churches; and the symbolism equally with the Reception of a Templar have points of affinity.
The Templars were large builders, and Jacques de Molay alleged the zeal of his order in decorating churches on the process against him, 1310, hence the alleged connection of Templary and Freemasonry is bound to have a substratum of truth. A French version of the Compagnnonage asserts that, during a dispute, a section placed themselves under the patronage of Jacques de Molay, the Master who was roasted to death on an island in the Seine in 1314 by the vicious scoundrel Philip le Bel. Nicolai, quoted in “Acta Latamorum,” asserts that in Italy are several churches formerly belonging to the Templars, which have preserved the name “l eglise de la Mason,” as derived from the table Masa, a club, that is tyled by a Mace or club; but Paciandi considers the derivation to be from Magione, as the places were used for residences; there are some such in France as well as Italy. Besides the symbols already mentioned an old writer of the name of Assemani mentions a shield, on which is the lamb, the cup, and two crossed torches. The last was a Mythraic symbol, and the chalice or cup was a common symbol of the order. They used the cross patee, the equilimbed cross, the Latin cross, the patriarchal cross; in later times they adopted the Eagle as a symbol.
Recently a Lecture by Brother F. F. Schnitger has shown that most of the Charges of 1310 are explicable, by an evil construction being placed on ceremonies in use by the Masonic branch of the order last century. There is a body in France of which Philip of Orleans was the Grand Master in 1705, which claims to have continued the order; (Vide Ars Quat. Cor., iv, Yarker.) in Portugal it changed its name to Knights of Christ; in Scotland it preserved its name, owing to the wars that Bruce was conducting against England, and in Hungary it continued to exist in name.
Frater Ladislas de Malczovich, of Budapesth, has made a study of Templar history, tracing them in their Standards, Badges, and Seals, and divides these into three periods:
1. The “Beauseant,” of black and white, was the standard of the Hospitallers of St. John before the institution of the Temple Order, and are moreover their colours. But on the grant of a Red Cross they assumed the “Vexillum Belli,” a white standard charged with a red cross; and they then attached a secret Mystery to the old black and white standard, with a plain cross. In the third period they used the cross “patee,” in place of the plain cross.
There were also three periods in the Seals. The first was two Knights on one horse. This is superseded by the head of Christ crowned with thorns, and it has three stars placed triangularwise. The last Seal is found near the Order s dissolution, and is a single-headed eagle with wings expanded, upon a high rock, and looking heaven-wards; at the top is a small cross “patee” and two stars.
Of their crosses we find the following in use: the “patee;” the elongated cross; the patriarchal cross; also a plain equal-limbed cross with a lamb in the centre holding the red cross banner.
Armorially, they used the crossed torches, a chalice, and the Agnus Dei upon a shield. There are various instances in Sculpture which prove the importance of the Chalice symbol; in some cases Knights are represented as holding it aloft, and there is also a representation of two serving brethren with one arm round each other, whilst the right hand, in one figure, holds the chalice, and the other has a book under the arm, which is considered to allude to it, and to be one with the Chalice of the Graal.
1st Period: “Beauseant,” Black and White. “Seal”: Two Knights on one horse. Implying, death to infidels, friendship to Christians.
2nd Period: “Vexillum Belli,” White with plain red cross. “Seal”: Head of Christ. Implying, Soldiers of Christ fighting for the cross.
3rd Period: Standard, White with red cross patee. “Seal”: An Eagle. The independent and high flying policy of the Order.
The French Templars adopted a Gospel called the “Leviticon,” which they alleged was discovered in the Temple at Paris, with other things; and Heckethorn states that it was composed in the 15th century by a Greek Monk Nicephorus, who sought to combine Moslem tenets with Christianity.