The Lion in Freemasonry

The several allusions to the “king of beasts” that we encounter in our Masonic ritual are generally accepted as exclusively biblical. This is not, however, the fact.

The great significance of the Lion in all manner of symbolic associations dates from the first inception of the zodiacal system of measuring the heavens and timing the great astronomical cycles, which appointed the sign of a Lion, the fiercest and most redoubtable of beasts, as that of the summer solstice, the moment of the year’s most ardent solar vigor.

Speaking as astrologers are wont to express these things, the sign of the Lion is the “House of the Sun,” and the terms have thus come to be practically synonymous. It is interesting to Masons who carry the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” as one of the armorial quartering of their Royal Arch banner and on the seals of many Grand Lodges to know that the current Masonic date is arrived at by adding the number of years BCE (approximately, the true number being 399.5) at which the summer solstice entered the sign of the Lion to the year AD in which we happen to be.

The truest manner of carrying on the calendar is by means of the slow movement of the equinoctial points round the circle of the ecliptic, which accounts for every instant of time without the necessity of computing leap years and extra months; but in the course of time these points inevitably passed through and out of given signs into their neighbors’, which occasioned great confusion, as each time this occurred a disturbance of religious symbolisms with which people had been familiar for several thousand years ensued. In all the cases of which we have record such changes have been made the basis of new religious conceptions which have affected universal revolutions.

The change from the Lion to Crab in BCE 1835 was the occasion of the organization of the Israelites, the “Tropics” taking, thenceforth, the names of “Cancer” and “Capricorn,” and the next change, 2,160 years later, brought out the edict of Constantine the Great declaring Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, for this was the occasion of the great Council of Nice in AD 325.

The Hebrew name of the Lion especially relates to this periodical change; for it is ARIH or 1+200+10+5, equaling 216, the digits of 2160, which added together, make 9 or 3 times 3. The God of Israel was the mathematical center of the universe, the point within the circle of the ecliptic, which was supposed to be its outer edge, and His symbolism resided in the “four beasts,” which still constitute the arms of the fraternity,-the Lion, Eagle, Bull, and Man, referred to in the first chapter of Ezekiel.

Osiris being awakened by Anubis while his soul hovers above, about to return to the body. Note the bier in the form of a Lion.
Osiris being awakened by Anubis while his soul hovers above, about to return to the body. Note the bier in the form of a Lion.

These are the second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh signs, their numbers adding to 26, that of the “Great and Sacred Name” JHVH (Jehovah).

We have frequently had to refer to this number 216 in the course of these papers as the sum of the cubes of 3, 4 and 5 and of the number 6. It is the basis of the ancient names for “man” and “woman.”

“IshU and IshAH,” and is one of the most important numbers of the Hebrew Kabbalah, in the depths of which lie buried the nature secrets of which the Torah gives only the external hints.

The prevalence of this Lion-Eagle-Bull-Man symbol all over the ancient world is proof positive of the contention of the Israelites that at one time all the peoples of the earth worshiped the true God, but with the exception of themselves fell into idolatry. India, Persia, Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia, and Egypt all employed these figures in various ways, but especially that of the Lion, which, representing the Sun, was adopted as the symbol of divinely bestowed royalty.

The name of King Solomon, whose throne was approached through an avenue of 12 lions, was composed of the letters S-L-M-N, which as 60-30-10-50 represented the lion cube 2160. All of these things are parts of a huge puzzle which tended to show that no matter in what direction man went or under what aspect man studied the universe, the Great Architect, Jehovah, was always at the center of every situation.

Hailing the risen Horus. Masked Hierophants in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, from Tomb painting.
Hailing the risen Horus. Masked Hierophants in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, from Tomb painting.

Therefore the “Lion of Judah” is neither more nor less than the “Lion of JHVH;” for one has only to exchange one of the H’s, which is a 5, for DA or 4+1 to see that the word is the same.

In the great cosmic year drama of which we have been talking the fruitful principle of nature, slain by the vicissitudes of winter, must be raised to restored vigor and vitality, which is not attained until the young spring sun has attained the sign of the summer solstice.

From BCE 1835 Aries the lamb was the sign of the vernal equinox; while Cancer the crab was that of the summer solstice.

The Egyptians made much of this symbolism, because the rise of the Nile and the consequent fertility of their land occurred at the latter period.

Now on the circle of the ecliptic the spring equinox and the summer solstice are just 90 degrees apart. The Egyptians reckoned the speed of the sun at a degree a day ; although they lost five days and six hours thereby, which was overtaken at the end of the year. Just two weeks after the summer solstice the wonderful dog star Sirius, or Anubis as the Egyptians called it, first rose with the sun and at the same time the floodgates of the Nile were loosened. Adding 14 days to 90 gives 104.

Anyone who will take the trouble to examine a map of the heavens will see that the sign of the Crab lies just under the outstretched paw of Leo the lion, while the number 104 is four times 26, one of the most sacred of the old cabalistic formulas. Expressed in Jod’s, Ha’s, and V’s, the name of the power that gives new life to nature is JHVH HIH HVVH VI= . “Jehovah, who Overt, who art, and who ever shall be.”

The Secret Formula of the ancient Magi
The Secret Formula of the ancient Magi

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