Brother Tehuti Evans is a member of Redemption Lodge No. 24 MWPHGLDC. He is currently Secretary (and Past Master) of the David A. McWilliams Sr. Research and Education Lodge and also Grand Historian and Archivist for the Grand Lodge and Secretary and Keeper of the Seal and Archives for Jonathan Davis Consistory No. 1, ASSR,S.J., PHA.
Evans studied at Howard University, Federal City College, the University of the District of Columbia and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts where he pursued his doctoral studies.
Evans is a well traveled veteran of the Air Force where he was a military engineer and a decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Biography of Alonzo Tehuti Evans
In 1983, Evans was named the Washington Urban League’s Man of the year and promoted to Director of Employment and Training.
In 1984 brother Evans became Director of Operations for International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, (ITI) in Washington DC and in 1986 he became a educational consultant with KJ Associates of Silver Springs, Maryland.
Brother Evans was a founding member of the University of the District of Columbia Alumni Association in 1978 where he served as its Chairman of the Board of Directors 1979-86 and as a member of the Board of Trustee of the University of The District of Columbia from 1988 -1992.
Since 1993, He has worked with several Washington DC study groups out side of the campus environment, working to bring such African scholars as Doctors Ben, John Henry Clark, Dr. Van Sertima, Charles Finch, Francis Welsing, Neely Fuller, Tony Browder and many others to the greater Washington area for lectures and discussions on issues pertinent to African and African-American history and social development.
Brother Evans was The Dean of the School of Behavior and Social Sciences for the Washington Saturday College at Howard University from 1997-1999.
In 1995 Brother Evans was a co-founder of, and the resident scholar at The House of Khamit Book Store and Cultural Shop, which was located on historic Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC.
Brother Evans counts his tour of Egypt in 1998 with Dr Yosef ben-Jochatumn, the most preeminent Black scholar of Egyptian history, as one of his top life experiences. Saying of the tour, “Touring with a master scholar opens ones eyes unlike any other educational experience.”
Evans has lectured as a main presenter for the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization (ASCAC), as well as several mainstream American universities such as the University of Massachusetts, University of Maryland, Wayne State University, The University of Chicago, Morgan Slate University, Temple University and Howard University.
Among his current interests include serving as the Resident Agent and member of the Board of Directors for the Mignon L. I. Ford Foundation which he says is his most satisfying. The foundation is an Ethiopian/American organization committed to continuing the legacy of a great Family which migrated to Ethiopia in the 1920’s and established the first co-educational school for Ethiopian children.
Today Brother Evans is retired but still travels and lectures at schools, colleges, and community centers around the United States. He sits on the board of directors for the The Phylaxis Society.
How many of us understand what Hermetic thought is, beyond the idea of “hermetically sealed”?
Some time back I attended a lecture, presented by a lodge here in Southern California, by Dr. Stephan Hoeller, the Gnostic “Bishop” of Los Angeles. His title, I assure you, is not a pun or insult, but a very fitting description to a very intelligent man.
The lecture was on The Hermetic Foundations of the American Republic, which essentially suggested that the ideas and efforts of the founding fathers were the result of a broader subcurrent of the intelligentsia within society and whose ideas manifested themselves into the early documents and foundation of the American Republic.
But first, a note on Hermetic thought
A tradition of knowledge said to date into Ancient Egypt, Hermetic thought is associated with the god Thoth, who the Greeks later related to Hermes. Thoth’s title (one of many) was three times great, which the Greeks translated to Hermes Trismegistus or the thrice great Hermes, and who is believed to be the author of the Emerald Tablet, and Asclepius, within the hermetic texts.
It’s thought that Hermeticism flourished in ancient Alexandria, but moved underground and fell out of common knowledge with the fall of Rome and the onset of the middle ages.
The Renaissance brought about this resurgence of knowledge, including a rediscovery of Hermetic texts (see the Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation, with Notes and Introduction), brought to Europe by the Medici family from sources in Byzantium. What these texts contained were ancient ideas of wisdom that talked in detail about a dual nature to man and his pursuit to unify them. The two sides were made up of a human lower self that includes feelings, thoughts, sensation, and ego, the human traits we recognize today. The other half consisted of the spirit, that intangible, ineffable thing that gives us that higher conscience. Its efforts were to cultivate the conscious coming together of the initiates self with his spirit.
The idea within Hermetics was the joining of the two, the transformation of two separate elements into a new one. Some believe that Hermetic tradition survived the fall of Rome and the middle ages in the mystical field of Alchemy, which has existed in different forms for many centuries.
With the dawning of the Renaissance, so too brought the return of Hermetic thought which began to seep into Christian tradition. This movement was quickly stamped out by the doctrinal inquisition, which has since walled itself off from and philosophical idea of a personal God consciousness. Some examples of this era of sanitization of this transformative self, he suggests, could be seen in the extermination of both the Templars and Cathars in France. But again, the ideas did not die, nor were they eradicated. The Hermeticists moved underground into the “secret societies” of the age, two of those societies were the Rosicrucian’s and the other was Freemasonry.
One of the traits of Hermetic study was a progression of steps, or degrees, where the initiated would learn different aspects of the knowledge slowly to cultivate the eventual merger into the self, which was the physical and mental awakening of the God conscious, epitomized in the phrase “Know Thyself.”
So this unconscious cognition moved though Europe finding a receptive home in England where it was nurtured and incubated amidst revolution and religious freedom, away from the Catholic Church.
So what does this have to do with the foundation of America?
Many of the ideas, inherent in the fabric of our country within our constitution, have direct connections to the tenants of Hermetic thought. One such connection is the separation of Church and State. Hermetic tradition says that the individual chooses his path to the divine, and is not directed or influenced one way or another. Freedom of religion here is a direct extension of this idea, that the state is the vessel of the people and should not dictate one faith by presuming authority of one faith or another. The initiated must find his self and not be told where or what it is.
Public education is an extension of the Hermetic idea of finding the god consciousness, though the exploration of the physical universe. How does one attain this consciousness, by learning about their physical universe and its furthest reaches. Education creates the “divine metal” of the body, giving it its strength and resiliency.
And lastly, the three branches of government work in conjunction of opposites striving to find a balance for the good of the body, the ultimate attainment of the self.
The lecture made some interesting links and offered some tantalizing food for thought. Somewhere within our collective body of knowledge, behind the fog of memory, lay the history of Freemasonry.
Recently I attended a Festive Board of Jewel P. Lightfoot Lodge No 1283, Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM. The guest speaker DDGM John Tolbert made a passionate presentation on Hermeticism and Freemasonry using slides as illustrations. That made his presentation peppered with pictures which is what this article will look like. Jewel P. Lightfoot, the founder of this Lodge, had a marked interest in Hermeticism as you will see. This made the Presentation all the more personal to the members of this Lodge assembled. Tolbert was kind enough to allow me to reprint his presentation with his pictures which you will find below.
HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY AND FREEMASONRY by Brother John Tolbert
Have you ever wondered why all of the words and passwords that we use in our degrees are in Hebrew and that every prayer we use in our degrees are from the Old Testament?
Have you noticed that a Masonic Lodge room is full of diametrically opposed objects and symbols which represent polar concepts or ideas? Examples of these opposites are:
Square and Compasses
Rough and Perfect Ashlars
Jachin and Boaz / Wisdom and Strength
Terrestrial and Celestial Globes
Darkness to Light
Checkered Pavement / Black and White pavers
East and West…North and South
Death and Rebirth
Sun and Moon
Stepping off upon the right and left feet
Cowans and Eavesdroppers Ascending and Descending
Isn’t it interesting that Masons are encouraged from the very beginning to control their passions and to pursue a virtuous and pure life? It’s interesting, because the Greeks demanded the very same thing from their candidates before they were admitted into the Ancient Mystery Schools, and the School of Pythagoras (you can see a map of the school here).
After reading thousands of pages written by Masonic scholars, I am convinced that Freemasonry was not “invented” by the English (nor the Scots) in the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Yes, in the early eighteenth century, Freemasonry was developed into a regulated institution and rituals were developed from existing initiatory rites of operative Lodges, but something else was going on beneath the surface and intellectuals of the time could sense that there was more.
In the most recent issue of Heredom, the annual publication of the Scottish Rite Research Society, on page 61 (a paper about the 1738 anti-Masonic Papal Bull by Marsha Keith Schuchard) it reads:
“In January 1721, when the antiquarian William Stukeley (close friend of Newton and Desaguliers) determined to join the fraternity, “suspecting it to be the remains of the mysteries of the ancients…”
This illustrates that even from the first years of organized Freemasonry, educated men were recognizing something about Freemasonry that led them to believe that it was rooted in ancient philosophy and concepts.
The namesake of this Lodge, Jewel P. Lightfoot, speaks candidly to the Texas Mason concerning the mystical and spiritual aspects of the Craft. Please listen carefully to the following quote from the INTRODUCTORY in our current monitor, written by Lightfoot many decades ago.
“ The presence in the modern Masonic system, of many of the emblems, symbols and allegories of the ancient Temples of Initiation, as well as certain rites performed therein, has persuaded the most learned among Masonic scholars to conclude that Masonry is of very ancient origin, and is, in some aspects, the modern successor of, and heir to, the sublime Mysteries of the Temple of Solomon, and the Temples of India, Chaldea, Egypt, Greece, and Rome [I am certain that he was referring to the cult of Mithras], as well as the basic doctrine of the Essenes, Gnostics and other Mystic Orders“
With this single quote, Brother Lightfoot clearly asserts that Masonry contains remnants of the symbols and rites of the Ancient Mysteries and Masonry also contains the basic doctrines of known esoteric groups, which he terms, Mystic Orders.
This is precisely what the antiquarian William Stukeley had noticed in 1721; there were aspects of Freemasonry that seemed to have similarities to known rites and cults of the ancient world.
This presentation is specifically written to explore one well known stream of thought from the ancient world, broadly called Hermetic Philosophy, and its potential influence on the early progenitors of our Craft. Remember that Stukeley was a close friend of Newton and Desaguliers. John Theophilus Desaguliers is generally credited with the early development of our three degree system, he was the secretary / research assistant for Newton for twenty years, and he was also the third Grand Master of English Lodges.
NOTE – The association of Desaguliers with Isaac Newton is well worth researching; Newton was a practicing alchemist, obsessed with King Solomon’s Temple, and concealed his heretical religious views in enciphered writings, which were supposed to be burned at his death but were retained and translated in the twentieth century.
Hermetic Philosophy focuses around an entity called Hermes; this entity has also been named Thoth (Egyptians), Mercury (Romans), and Hermes Trismegistus or Hermes Thrice Great.
Thoth, Hermes, Hermes Trismegistus, may or may not have been just a single person, but the name and legend could have been inspired by some incredibly intelligent human (like Plato, Pythagoras, or Hypatia) who had such a capacity for knowledge, that their writings evolved into myth and legend, and sometimes converted into God forms. Plato is a perfect example of how one very intelligent person can have profound influence on entire civilizations, and the effects can last for centuries.
Most esoterically minded Masons are already aware of the great intellect of “Hermes” and his contributions of science and knowledge to mankind, but let’s examine how Hermetic Philosophy was evident in 15th-18th century literature, art, and direct Masonic connections. It is important to recall at this point that the typical European citizen had been enduring centuries of civil unrest, violent revolutions, constant wars, disease epidemics, cruel oppression from monarchs and religious authorities, public torture spectacles, and the raw uncertainty of life itself. In light of these long term social stresses, it is no wonder that a new, mysterious, and apparently ancient spirituality would capture the fascinations of intellectuals and develop into obsessions of looking for a better world, a pure un-corrupt religious experience, and a closer relationship to God. These are the allures of so-called Hermetic Philosophy.
The term Hermeticism, doesn’t really have a dogmatic or well defined definition, but in general, it includes the study of alchemy, gnostic spirituality, Kabbalah, theurgy, astrology, and other mystical approaches to relating the physical reality to the spiritual realm. Almost any occult science could be included under the Hermetic umbrella.
The following is a brief and certainly incomplete list of known references to the interest in Hermeticism in 15-18th century Europe.
1.Marsilio Ficino’s translation of what is now called the Corpus Hermeticum brought Hermes and the mysterious writings into the focus of philosophers and the ecclesiastic authorities. The Hermetic writings were interpreted as having predicted the coming of Christ and therefor acceptable; a beautiful marble floor panel in Siena Cathedral (1480s) in Italy depicts Hermes Trismegistus as being a contemporary of Moses.
2. Hermes was a central character in the Sloane (1646) manuscript Constitutions. Hermes discovers the two pillars, one of brick and one of marble, which contain the preserved wisdom and knowledge of the ancient masters.
3. Alchemy, being within the scope of Hermetic Philosophy is everywhere in Europe during this period. The Medici funded translations of ancient scrolls rescued from Byzantium revealed to the Western mind the concepts of alchemy. The Rosicrucian manifestos of the early 1600’s, likely written by Johanne Valentine Andreae and his associates, set off what is called a furor of interest in alchemy as well.
4. Giordano Bruno is travelling around Europe (the late 1500s) promoting controversial mathematical and astronomic theories; he is also promoting the Hermetic Art of Memory, which is not just a mnemonic strategy of memory, but a mystical technique. Bruno was burned at the stake in early 1600 for his heretical scientific and spiritual views.
5. William Shaw, the Master of Werks for James VI, declares in the Second Shaw Statutes (1599) that all craft fellows and prentices shall “Tak tryall of the art of memory”. William Fowler, a colleague of Shaw, had met with Bruno in London in the 1580s and it is feasible that this is how Shaw became exposed to the Hermetic Art of Memory.
6.Robert Cooper, the Grand archivist of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, makes many references to Hermeticism in his book Cracking the Freemasons Code. Brother Cooper asserts Hermeticism as being a component of Scottish Freemasonry in the 1500-1600s.
7. The interest in Alchemy, astrology, magick, and the Kabbalah are very evident in the circles of Royal Society members, and well known Masonic persons. Elias Ashmole, Isaac Newton, Thomas Vaughn, and others were known alchemists and studied occult subject matter; their personal libraries are evidence of these interests. John Byrom maintained a group of intellectually inclined Brothers who convened in an occasional gathering called the Cabala Club, and Lodges in London have minutes showing that papers were presented in Lodges about John Dee, Rosicrucians, and Jacob Boehme. Boehme’s visionary spiritual writings as well as John Dee’s books of angel magic and alchemy were of extreme interest to many intellectuals and free thinkers during this time period.
8. Kabbalah teacher Rabbi Leone Yahudahdi Modena, in 1680, lectured in London about Solomon’s Temple, Lawrence Dermott, the Grand Secretary of the Antients refers to the Rabbi, as Architect, Hebraist, and Brother.
9. Acception – There existed in the 1600’s an elite organization, which was closely associated with the London Mason’s Company, the operative organization of stone Masons. This elite and secretive group was called The Acception and only “accepted” very few members (one being Elias Ashmole); the cost of membership was very high, and one had to be highly educated and well respected. The early 20th century Masonic scholar and writer Reverend Castells, asserts that the name “The Acception” is synonymous to Kabbalah, which in Hebrew means “to receive.” Reverend Castells is convinced that “The Acception” was a purely speculative Masonic organization.
10. Medieval Kabbalists held Hermes in great veneration, no wonder, since he is considered (in some legends) as having given the Kabbalah to Moses. The Zohar contains phrases which closely parallel the well known Hermetic motto, “As above so below.” “Come and see: the world above and the world below are perfectly balanced.” (Zohar 2:176b) Kabbalah and Hermeticism share the all important mystical understanding of the balanced interrelations of heaven and earth.
Masonic tradition has had a rich application of the notion that it is imbued with a Hermetic philosophy with very little explanation of what that means. At no time, in the teachings of the fraternity, is a candidate or member handed a pamphlet, booklet or tract explaining what Hermetic has to do with masonry or how it pertains to the rituals of the degrees. Further, no philosophical or religious tradition is said to be the linchpin of Masonic teachings and the esoteric institution of which they have obligated themselves. The only glimpse of that teaching comes in the ritual use of the Bible as the Volume of the Sacred Law which can vary country to country, tradition to tradition, and initiate to initiate as the volume is suggested to be the book the candidate holds as holy.
The closest that this tradition of Masonry comes to teaching the meaning of the Hermetic art can be found in the teachings of the Scottish Rite, which for many years gave out to its members a large bound tome of Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma instructing the candidate to read it, as able, so as to better understand the degrees. But, because of its complexity, Morals and Dogma more often served as a door stop than a doorway to greater wisdom.
More recently, Pike’s 900 page manuscript of the occult sciences has been replaced with Rex Hutchens’s A Bridge to Light, which is a good and useful tool for the literal understanding of the degrees, yet still lacking in much greater depth than to suggest you, the reader, to go and research the greater meaning of the obtuse symbolism.
Perhaps this is an intentional lesson in resourcefulness for the true student, but for a greater understanding of the esoteric teachings it served as to great a bridge over the wisdom than as a path for the aspirant through the teachings.
Having followed the many paths of the esoteric science, one idea that repeatedly comes to the fore is that it is of a Hermetic philosophy. Pike uses the term liberally in Morals and Dogma saying in the 28th degree
The Hermetic Art is, therefore, at the same time a religion, a philosophy, and a natural science. As a religion, it is that of the Ancient Magi and the Initiates of all ages; as a philosophy, we may find its principles in the school of Alexandria and the theories of Pythagoras; as a science, we must inquire for its processes of Paracelsus, Nicholas Flamel, and Raymond Lulle.
So what exactly does the Hermetic Art mean to being a Mason?
The great teacher of the Hermetic Art is said to be Hermes Trismegistus better known as the Thrice Great Hermes of whom Pike makes a parallel to Grand Master Hiram in his third degree monograph.
Who is Hermes, and why would his teachings be of any importance to a third degree Master Mason?
Through this series on the Hermetic Arts, I will explore those questions and try to create an association between the principal Hermetic text and the Hermetic principals which have wound their way into many esoteric teachings, but in particular those of Freemasonry. To facilitate this understanding, we need to examine the principal Hermetic text from which the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus originate – Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius.
While some may construe its teaching as religious, we need make our focus on it as the source materials from which much of the Western Esoteric Mystery traditions have drawn their teachings. Yet, because of what it teaches, it would be impossible to interpret its writing without acknowledging it as religious text, complete with a creation myth, commandments of adherents, and ceremonies of inclusion for those who choose to devote themselves to its teachings, a practice that would be difficult to separate Freemasonry from in its religious practice of ceremonial ritual. Masonry, like most other mystery schools, has adopted aspects of the work, such as it has from other esoteric workings including tarot, magick, Kabbalah and of and New Thought ideas of life mastery. In this undertaking of exploring Hermetica, our focus need be on its teachings so as to better improve the human condition towards those we come into contact with, which is at the heart of the Hermetic philosophy.
While the text of Hermetica contains what its authors suggest are certain truths, I leave to you their validation and weight, when taken in consideration of your own belief traditions. In some instances, they may give you a path to better understanding your own beliefs or give you another way to look at what was before now an assumption of truth. Over time, it has been said that Hermetica held aspects of religious mythology, early millennial Hellenistic religious ideals, Neo-Platonism, Sufism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity but it is my belief that as the texts originated in an early period of the Common Era, their ideas stem from an older tradition that dates into late antiquity and perhaps the earliest of monotheistic Egyptian rituals of initiation and veneration. Evidence of origin is difficult at best except when you consider its origins by lineage which, as Free Masons, we can find some heraldry to them as its modern day companions in practice.
At various intervals, Freemasonry itself has been called a hermetic science with seldom a satisfying explanation of what that means. In part, the use of this type of language could be taken in scientific terms to imply a closed loop system of wisdom teachings – a self contained system, without influence or coloration to any other philosophical or religious tradition save what itself promulgates as the allegorical and symbolic lessons it teaches.
Yet, at various points in the Royal Art, of which Masonry has expounded itself as, includes moralistic teachings that, at their core, utilize Christian verse and meaning drawing upon Biblical allegories from the Great Book while introducing ideas from traditions that seem to spring from outside the age within which the Bible was conceived.
A few examples of this include the trans formative process in alchemy and the Jewish Mysticism of found in the Kabbalah which were later elaborated upon by writers of the great tradition of Free Masonry most notably in the works of Pike and Wilmshurst whom both injected their own ideas, by interpretation, into the tradition. So true is it with this undertaking that one must suspend the idea of what it is we believe the Great work of Freemasonry teaches to explore another possibility. From this exploration we can hopefully come to understand the later developments of the ancient idea of philosophical tradition not enclosed within itself – not as a hermetically sealed philosophy but a broader tradition of the philosophy (and perhaps religion) of Hermetica itself. It is through a close reading of the Hermetic texts and an analysis by which we can produce an exegesis through a juxtaposition of the philosophy that comes from Hermetica and the lessons taught in the degrees to find, if it exists, a harmony between the two and reach a firmer understanding of what being a Mason means and how it, perhaps, colors our underlying ideas of morality, truth and faith. Is the link between Hermetica and Freemasonry an accident that occurred in the attempt to mythologize a simple tradition of initiation and mystery play theatrics that has been carried forward religiously for centuries? Upon closer interpretation of Hermetica, this does not seem to be wholly the case.
Sadly, there is no direct evidence of its association or of any such intention other than to compare the rituals of masonry and some of the possible conclusions that may be drawn from them in parallel to the Hermetic writings, in particular in the three craft degrees. But, this is a speculative science, so then we must speculate and attempt to find parallels where we can. In the mean time, while we ponder the deep questions, of origin, source and meaning it is my hope that hope that we will discover a richness of tradition and possibly a new means to understand our own faith in a system of morality taught by symbolism and allegory. That discovery, I believe, comes in understanding the ancient text of Hermetica.
But, before we begin to examine the text of Hermetica, our first stop must need be with the well known Emerald Tablet, a codex of sorts said to codify the teachings of Hermes into a singular distillation of the main points of Hermetica itself.
As we progress ahead, you can be the judge of the Emerald Tablet’s points and their relevancy when compared to their supposed source material.
The tablet, as a translated work, can be found in its oldest documented source from the Kitab Sirr al-Asrar, The Book of the Secret of Secrets, which is a 12th century translation of a 10th century Arabic text which included subjects on many areas of interest to the contemporary mystery school student including ethics, astronomy, magic, and alchemy. Elements of the text are believed to have circulated well before their compilation into the Kitab by several hundred years.
This portion of the greater text is a compendium of advice for rulers, believed to be a letter from Aristotle to Alexander the Great. The work has had many translators over the centuries ultimately producing the work we read below.
The Emerald Tablet of Hermes – Contemporary Rendering of Latin text
[It is] true, without a lie, certain and most true,
That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.
And as all things were from the one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were born from the one, by means of adaptation.
Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the earth.
The father of the whole world [or “of all of the initiates”?] is here.
Its power is whole if it has been turned into earth.
You will separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dense, sweetly, with great skill.
It ascends from earth into heaven and again it descends to the earth, and receives the power of higher and of lower things.
Thus you will have the Glory of the whole world.
Therefore will all obscurity flee from you.
Of all strength this is true strength, because it will conquer all that is subtle, and penetrate all that is solid.
Thus was the world created.
From this were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the means. Therefore am I named Thrice-Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
It is finished, what I have said about the working[s] of the Sun.
Image: Thrice Great Hermes Trismegistus, pen and ink rendering, from original source material with adaptation.
The ancient Babylonians based zodiac signs on the constellation the sun was “in” on the day a person was born. During the ensuing millenniums, the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth “wobble” around its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars’ alignment.
“When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces,” said Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society.”
Its such a big story that ABC, NBC, and CBS ran the story in their morning programs, probably because its been reported that 31% of people believe in Astrology and that it has some connection to the events in their life.
Asclepius, Asklepios, Ophiuchus
In the change, is a new sign called Ophiuchus which is in the celestial equator, depicted as a man wrangling a serpent, who is thought to represent Asclepius the healer, who the hermeticists out there will recognize as the body of work in the Corpus Hermetica, from the book of Asclepius – To me this Asclepius is like the sun – “A Holy book of Hermes Trismegistus”. The work in this book explores the difference between the physical and metaphysical and their relationship to the soul and immortality.
Of the work, Yates in the work Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition says “… they were certainly not written in remotest antiquity by an all wise Egyptian priest, as the Renaissance believed, but by various unknown authors, all probably Greeks, and they contain popular Greek philosophy of the period, a mixture of Platonism and Stoicism, combined with some Jewish and probably some Persian influences.”
So, whats your sign now? The new dates are:
Capricorn: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 – March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18- May 13
Taurus: May 13- June 21
Gemini: June 21- July 20
Cancer: July 20- Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30- Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23- Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29- Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17- Jan. 20
But, Ophiuchus isn’t new and has existed in the Sidreal Zodiac, used by Hindu Jyotish astrologers. Western Astrology, what those 31% of American’s believe in, follows the seasons, to which Jeff Jawer, an astrologer with Tarot.com as quoted in the CNN blogsays”This story is born periodically as if someone has discovered some truth. It’s not news,” especially as the earth has been in motion for millenia.
“Astrology is geocentric. It relates life on Earth to the Earth’s environment, and seasons are the most dramatic effect, which is why we use the tropical zodiac,” said Jawer.
By Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., J.D., PH.D., M.A., 33º
ANCIENT MYSTERIES AND SYMBOLISM
With respect to the term “Mysteries”, no semi-educated mind can doubt that Symbols (especially Masonic symbols) were the Universal Language of Ancient Theology. For the Tutors of the Ancient World – in likeness with Nature – imparted their teachings by way of sight. The ancient sages of Persia, Egypt and Greece adopted the custom of surrounding their doctrines with enigmas difficult to interpret, illustrating men and women with imagery and parables that were more within their reach and knowledge.
So too were the Mysteries a succession of symbols, and the oral aspect of the same an explanation of their significance; in them were amalgamated sacred commentaries, ideas about Physics and Morals, theories about Creation, allegories about Nature, the relation between planets and elements, and all other conceptions regarding the relation between the Gods and mankind.
The word Mystery comes from the Greek word Musterion, which means: “Secret that must remain Occult” or “secret counsel of God”, hence the strict Silence that must be observed and our consequential familiarization with another term which is etymologically applied to everything related to Mysteries: “Mystic”, a word derived from the Greek “Mustikos” which is an adjective of “Mustes” or Initiates, a reason for which Mystic is considered a synonym of Initiate, and henceforth the essential “mysterious relation” between Initiations and Silent Secret Doctrines. In the most exterior sense, Mystery is that which should not be talked about, that which is prohibited to make known to the outsider. In a second more interior sense, the Mystery designates what is received in Silence, that about which no discussion should be had, for these are truths that by virtue of their supra-natural/rational nature, are above any discussion.
Finally, there is a third much more profound sense in which the Mystery is properly Inexpressible, it can only be contemplated in silence, and for that reason is incommunicable.
There exists an alliance between philosophical systems and symbols that are evident in monuments of all ages, and in the symbolic writings of the Parents of Nations that later came to be part of the rituals of Secret Mystic Societies. It was in this way that Patriarchs and Matriarchs alike expressed themselves through a constant series of invariable and uniform principles that form a harmonious and perfect conjunction which together define a ceremony of religious and cryptic nature that necessitates a preparation or initiation on the part of the individual who desires to comprehend them. Thus exist Lesser and Greater Mysteries, being the first ones those of symbolic nature and common use, those that comprise all that is related with the development of possibilities of the human condition and that culminate with what has been denominated Restoration of Primordial State; and these are nothing but the preparation for the Greater Mysteries, which appertain to the realization of supra-human states, taking the individual from the condition in which he/she was left in the Lesser Mysteries and conducting him/her through stages of spiritual order until the Supreme Identity. Hence the dominance of the Greater Mysteries over Metaphysical Knowledge. They are the most exalted and bring the initiate/adept closer to the occult truths of divinity. To characterize these two terms – Lesser and Greater Mysteries – we can utilize two geometric symbols: to the first we can assign a horizontal line, symbolical and representative of human dominion, which, in turn, serves as a base to the second: a vertical line allegorical of one’s ascension to the heavens, a supra-human realization identified with superior states.
Grand Relief of Eleusis: Demeter, Triptolemos, and Persephone
All the philosophers that illustrated antiquity were disciples of initiation, being the progress and foundation of the mysteries what, in those times, permitted mankind to free itself from superstitions. Only the Mysteries could liberate man and woman from barbarousness. From them are derived the doctrines of Sages of the likes of Zoroaster, Confucius, Plato and, of course, Hermes Trismegistus. Such is the vastness and timelessness of the Ancient Mysteries that fragments of them can be appreciated still influencing the various Rites of the modern Masonic Order. Some of the most important to date are the rites of Osiris in Egypt, those of Mithra in Persia, those of Adonis in Syria, those of Dionysius and Eleusis in Greece and those of the Druids among the Celts, to mention a few. In all the Mysteries can be found a common factor indicating a same origin: all initiations had a funereal aspect and were about a type of mystical death and resurrection alluding to a heroic personage or semi-god. Through the assimilation of the Mysteries the Candidate was instructed in the subordination of the Degrees, physical trials and tests of knowledge were given in the darkness of the night, the aspirant had to be solemnly and severely tried and entirely purified in order to attain Wisdom and Light. The Esoteric character of the mysteries remained preserved by way of mandates and oaths of secrecy whose violation was punished with death.
The legend of Osiris offered our fore-brothers and sisters their first glimpse of the Masonic Symbolism of Immortality, when Isis found a lush acacia tree over the grave of her dead husband Osiris. This imagery and concept was taken – much later – by the Jews, mainly due to their leaders Moses and Joseph who were both Egyptian Priests and Nobles. At some point, much later in time, the story of Hiram, the martyr-hero of the 3rd Degree, was created, emulating for posterity his allegorical death and resurrection in the persona of every initiate, and the rather timely and propitious symbolism of the sprig of acacia; In the mysteries of Mithra, Zoroaster secluded the initiates in lugubrious caverns, a striking ceremony that was later adopted by most Mystery Schools until it reached the Masonic ritual in the form of the Chamber of Reflection; The Eleusian initiation demanded that the aspirant remain stationary through various intervals of time, hence the Ages of Masonry; In the mysteries of India, the candidate journeyed three times describing a circle that stopped in the South, Symbolic Masonry has preserved these journeys or “travels’ in the form of Circumambulation; And way before our Brothers-Knights of the Order of the Temple came into existence, the Essenes conditioned the admission of all aspirants to the immediate surrender of their wealth to the Brotherhood and their works of charity.
In short, it is my opinion that, for all the aims and goals of our numerous rituals, symbols are of a great transcendence to the Masonic knowledge, compelling us to work in their internal mysteries seeking the Light in everyone of us and in those who surround us, always upholding our sacred principles of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality.
To conclude for the time being, I wish to proclaim that “Any day is good to fix things… including our lives”.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity!
By Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., J.D., PH.D., M.A., 33º
The Chamber of Reflection… After being told a few words of warning calling for the reconsideration on the steps he is about to take, mysterious words bearing a contrasting and intimidating message of discouragement, the young candidate, compelled by either Conviction or Curiosity, decides to ignore such “warnings”, and valiantly enters that “cavern-like” room on the day of his initiation into the Craft. He immediately finds himself in the middle of a gloomy and obscure scenario – a small table with a skull and crossed tibia, a lit candle, a sand clock about to stop, and a few suggestive wall inscriptions complementary of everything he was forewarned prior to stepping into such a perturbing enclosure. Truly, this is a chamber of reflection.
He cannot help feeling like an unfortunate detainee of ancient times, locked in a dungeon awaiting his sentence. On the small table there are also a cup of water, a small piece of bread, and some salt, which seem to be the only food that he is entitled to ingest for being imprisoned. He instinctively asks himself “Am I a Prisoner?”; “I have not done anything wrong”; “I came here of my own free will and they throw me in here”; “How long will they keep me?”; “I have no idea, but, I want to get out, I want to throw down the towel and surrender in the second round”; “I give up”; I can’t stand it any longer”; “What is this about?”; “Why did they lock me up?”; “Is this how they make Good Men better?”; “Is this what they mean by Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?”; “They are probably just having fun with me!”; “They have me in such a ridiculous and hopeless state!”; “One of my hands is tied, I’m barefooted, almost naked, without my belongings, and partially blind-folded!”; “My God, what’s next?”; “A ransom?”; “Am I being kidnapped?”; “Are all those sinister rumors about the Masons true?”…
… The young neophyte then recovers his briefly lost sanity, and focus his attention on some of the fluorescent phrases posted on the dark walls: “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, LEAVE”; “IF YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN, WITHDRAW”; “IF YOU CANNOT COPE, RENOUNCE”; All of the sudden, however, these intimidating and daring clauses give him the encouragement to continue on, to test himself, to confront and overcome his own fears, to subdue his vices, and to begin to truly know himself.
Suddenly, a man wearing a black robe hands him a paper with four (4) questions that he must answer in sixty (60) seconds. At that moment, the novice thinks – “Who, in my present state and condition, is going to answer this questionnaire correctly in one (1) minute?” – While reading the questions, he feels like a bucket of cold water has fallen upon him, slightly refreshing his already warm and confused mind. There are four (4) questions he must reflect upon: What is Man’s duty to God? Again, he thinks – “What, didn’t they say that, here, Religion is never discussed?” – He thinks for a moment and answers what he thinks is right. What is Man’s duty to Himself? “Dignity”, he replies. But, again, he cannot help to think – “What type of Dignity can I have or talk about, after being treated like a dirty rag?”. What is Man’s duty to his Fellow Beings? Without hesitation he replies – “Respect”. If your last hour arrived, what would be your Testament? This time, the young man’s face frowns and he thinks aloud – “A last will? “What are they going to do to me now?”; “I’m locked away in a room, I know nobody in this place, and I’m in the presence of human remains”; “Now, I truly feel uncomfortable!” – He stops, thinks again for a few seconds, and replies – “I’d give half of my holdings to my loved-ones, and the other half to people in need”.
He was given sixty (60) seconds, but, he feels as twenty (20) minutes have gone by; his anxiety begins to feel like asphyxia with an unmistakable sensation of claustrophobia. Suddenly, there is a distinct knock at the door, two or three different voices from without order him not to turn around, and, once more, he is completely blind-folded.
As he is taken away, he remembers reading a particular word with three points between each letter: V:.I:.T:.R:.I:.O:.L:. At that time, our young Initiate did not know its meaning, he probably even assumed that it was an unknown reference to God; But, in due time, he will encounter the latin phrase: “VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM”, which, semi-translated into English means: “VISIT THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH, THROUGH RECTIFICATION YOU SHALL FIND THE HIDDEN STONE”, and, then, he will realize that such word went hand in hand with everything he saw and read in that “cavern-like” chamber. Studying and analyzing further, he will find its significance, that of visiting and knowing his Inner Side/Nature, and submitting to a Self-Examination of Conscience with which he must reflect over his actions and deeds, and, thus, discover his Internal Self or Hidden Stone, the Philosophers Stone of the Alchemists, the Rough Ashlar of the Free-Mason.
The ancient Egyptian, Persian and Greek Sages adopted the custom of surrounding their teachings with enigmas that could only be contemplated in silence, and which expressed invariable and uniform principles that formed a perfect and harmonious ensemble that, at the same time, defined a ceremony of religious and secret nature needed for the Initiation and Training of all Priests and Priestesses who desired to unravel these enigmas. These enigmas comprise all that relates to the developing possibilities of the human state that culminate with that which has been called “Restoration of Primeval State”, and these are nothing more than a preparation for The Great Mysteries which appertain to the realization of the super-human states, and conduct the Initiate toward states of spiritual order until reaching the Supreme Identity. Thus, the new adept is brought closer to the hidden truths of the divine.
All the Philosophers of antiquity were disciples of an Initiation, being Progress and the Foundation of the Mysteries what enabled them to liberate themselves from the chaos of superstition. In those times, only the Mysteries could liberate Men from barbarousness. From these mysteries were derived the doctrines of Confucius, Zoroaster and Hermes Trismegistus. Such were the timeless characteristics of the Ancient Mysteries, that fragments of these teachings have reached Modern Freemasonry. These influences are found in the various different Rites of the Order. In all these mysteries we find a common factor indicating a same origin, the ceremonies of initiation were all funereal in character featuring a mystical death and resurrection, and the trials were conducted in the darkness of the night – the aspirant had to be examined, tried and purified in order to attain Wisdom and Light.
In the Mithraic-Zoroastrian mysteries, the neophyte was subject to a rigorous fasting and to a series of tests and trials, where the methods of exciting awe and fear varied ingeniously; all types of sounds and noises were simulated, the roaring of ferocious animals, the explosion of thunder, lightning, lashings with sticks, lamentations, screams of horror or pain, and the sensations of heat or cold were also implemented, by having him/her swim in rivers of strong current and walk through blazing areas. All these tests and trials lasted between twenty-four and eighty days, at the end of which the candidate was introduced in an real cavern. These initiation caverns were small in size, their walls and ceilings were painted with astral signs, and represented the world, the dual movement of the planets, and the passage of the souls through the celestial spheres. Once inside, the candidate was caused to walk through a ladder or bridge along which there were seven doors, each made of a different metal symbolizing the respective attributes of every planet. This Ladder was posteriorly adopted by the Jews and featured in the mythical dream of Jacob, and, presently, it is an indispensable symbol in a number of our Masonic Degrees. As the climax of the ceremony was nearing, the new adept was conducted to a larger room where he/she underwent some type of Baptism, and was finally prepared to receive the Seven Lessons that would constitute the completion of his/her Initiation. In due time, this particular ceremony began to be implemented by almost every Mystery School, until it made its way into Masonic Rituals in the form of “The Ante-Room” or “Chamber of Reflections”.
In the Higher Mysteries, celebrated in Elleusis during the month of September, these ceremonies lasted nine days, and were held in honor of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone. The Temple was divided in three parts: the “Megaron” or Sanctuary (corresponding to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple of Solomon), the “Anactoron” or Main Hall (equivalent to the place of collective prayer), and the Underground Chamber located right below the temple. The Infernal Regions and/or Punishment for the uninitiated impious one was symbolically represented by this Underground Chamber, and it was reminiscent of an episode in the drama of Demeter, Persephone and Pluto. Within the walls of this temple, the beliefs and teachings of a celestial life after death were earnestly imparted to their “Adoptae” or Accepted, and thus expanded to the more profound studies of Cosmogony and Anthropogenesis.
In the Druid Mysteries, almost entirely native to the regions of Britain and Gaul, their rituals, brought from Greece by Scandinavian route, required the Initiate to undergo much physical purification and mental preparation; their First Degree was conferred by inflicting a symbolical death on the aspirant, which, culminated in his/her attainment of the Third Degree or regeneration, at which point he/she was placed on a boat symbolizing his/her readiness to sail-off on life’s journey.
The formidable Egyptians, Mayans and Incas used to leave the Initiate alone, locked inside the actual funereal chamber of a pyramid, lying inside a coffin and surrounded by mummies and other lugubrious emblems, so that he/she could reflect on the steps about to be taken – that unless emerging triumphant, such failure could cost him/her the permanent loss of his/her freedom.
Following these ancient initiatic customs and traditions, divesting the candidate of all personal clothing and removing all minerals and metals from him, the Profane is caused to find himself alone with his own values before a first symbolical approximation that invites him to meditate over the vanities of existence, and warns him of mere curiosity as he seeks membership in our Order.
In modern Free-Masonry, the chamber of reflections is equivalent to the alchemical siphon, where the Recipient shall experience transmutation by means of the conjugation and regulating of his/her recondite energies. The Profane “descends to the Infernos”, he must die first, in order to “resuscitate” and attain the light of Initiation. There he shall leave the dealings of the exterior world, there will be an interior abstraction, like the original matrix, so that he can emerge from the depths of the earth (the chaotic dense matter) to the subtleness of the spirit.
This place is also representative of both Macrocosm and Microcosm, in other words, of the Universe and Man. In it, there are manifested four levels or superposed planes where the basic elements of Alchemy are found – earth, fire, water and air. The first level belongs to that of Fire, the primordial element for the work of transmutation; the second and third levels belong to those of Water and Earth – the transforming substances, and the fourth level belongs to the element of Air, the subtlety of gases related with transcendence.
It is particularly important to underline the use of certain phrases inscribed upon this chamber’s walls; these phrases bore messages such as: “IF MERE CURIOSITY HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE, LEAVE!”; “KNOW THYSELF!”; “DUST YOU ARE AND, AGAIN, DUST YOU SHALL BECOME!”; “TO DIE, YOU WERE BORN!”; “TO BETTER EMPLOY YOUR LIFE, THINK OF DEATH!”; “IF AVARICE GUIDES YOU, GO AWAY!”; IF YOU PAY HOMAGE TO HUMAN DISTINCTIONS, LEAVE, FOR HERE WE KNOW THEM NOT!”; “IF YOU FEAR TO BE REPRIMENDED OVER YOUR DEFECTS, DO NOT PROCEED!”; “IF YOU LIE, YOU SHALL BE EXPOSED!”; “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, WITHDRAW!”. These inscriptions are precisely inviting us to “visit the entrails of the earth”, in other words, to effectuate an introspection of our personalities, by being capable to “rectify”, to separate the dense from the subtle, and, thus, to find the “hidden stone” of the Philosophers, the True Philosophers Stone where the Profane’s real capacity for transmutation resides. For the Free-Mason, the transformation of Led or Rough Ashlar into Gold or Cubical Stone; the manner by which Man and Woman become the object of “The Great Work”.
The disorder and obscurity that prevail in the Chamber of Reflections, giving the appearance of a sepulchral cave, furnished with symbols of death and destruction – a skull and bones, is equivalent to being submerged in the center of the earth, from whence we came and ultimately shall return. Of all four elements that reign in Nature (Earth, Water, Air and Fire), Earth is the first that we must “overcome” during our Masonic Initiation. Our momentary stay in the Chamber of Reflections makes us remember the State of Ignorance in which we humans find ourselves, before knowing one fundamental principle of the Masonic Order: “YOU MUST DIE IN VICES, TO BE BORN IN VIRTUES!”; Or, like Joshua Ben Joseph, alias: “The Christ”, allegedly stated: “HE/SHE WHO IS NOT REBORN, WILL NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!”.
Just before stepping into the Ante-Room, we deposit our material valuables with our Bro:. Exp:. , in order to symbolically enter in a State of Original Purity, making effectual solely our True Values – Moral and Spiritual, glimpsing a new path-way, and disappearing our exterior bonds and considerations to be indefectibly open for a New State of Conscience. This, is the place where two worlds separate, the Profane and the Sacred; This is the critical point where Palingeness (Rebirth and/or Transformation) begins; The return to Life, by finding ourselves and self-divesting of our old personalities (egos and masks), recuperating our authentic being, which, in turn, shall conduct us to the True Initiation, to the Progressive Realization of our being, subjecting to examination our Will and Purpose of Advancement.
Being within that confinement, isolated between those dark walls, the Free-Mason-To-Be completes the strengthening and maturity of his soul, aided by the reflection upon that which surrounds him – the first symbols open to a Candidate’s view.
The ability to “reflect” is most necessary in a Free-Mason’s life! Reflection, per Philosophical Tenets, is the faculty of the human spirit through which the individual retreats and concentrates on him/herself to examine the phenomena subjected to his/her observation. Reflection is so important, that everyone who lacks the capacity of it, is totally incapable of comprehending the mission entrusted to him/her; he/she becomes toy and/or victim of his/her errors and/or passions – giving, instead, to the one who has developed it, an extraordinary superiority in intellectual and moral concepts. Reflection is a complex faculty, by which the active conscience illustrates and completes the Knowledge that the state of spontaneity had left in darkness and confusion.
The Man or Woman who reflects, bothers him/herself solely with matters that take place in the interior of his thoughts, finding him/herself forced to self-isolate from all exterior occurrences that besiege him/her, and to impede their access by suspending the function of the organs which perceive them. The Free-Mason who reflects, needs the retreat, the quietude, the darkness and the silence – to comprehend the phenomena of the spirit, and to clearly distinguish those invisible and impalpable objects concealed by light, and, which, only the silence of the night can reveal.
By proper use of Reflection, the Free-Mason is capable of perfectly distinguishing his thoughts, his ideas of Liberty, of Merit or Demerit. By aide of Reflection, the Free-Mason examines and judges his own actions, weights the consequences of the same, appreciates his moral character, and rejoices in discovering those noble qualities of the soul which, place him above all other creatures. Reflection teaches the Free-Mason the objective for which his glorious attributes call for, and lifts up the veil that concealed his destiny.
While in the Chamber of Reflections, the neophyte symbolically descends to the utmost dense and inferior; he finds himself in the darkness; he is in conflict with the duality of personalities – on one side, the material, composed of a physical body, and, on the other, the ethereal body, mind and emotions that he has constructed with his birth and with his particular circumstances; and, at a higher level, he faces the Elevated Personality, the Superior Individuality where he finds his true being, and shining right above it, is The Great Architect Of The Universe – so that before leaving the Ante Room, on his way to the Lodge Room, he can finally attain the Perfect Expression of the Spirit in the Physical Body.
Through the Ages, the Chamber of Reflection has represented the Initiate’s descend to the Infernos, the apparent death which precedes reincarnation, the re-encounter with a new life, and the Sun defeating the Autumnal Equinox, and rising victorious from its battle against darkness in the Equinox of Spring.
Brothers, a revision and additional embellishment of our Over-Simplified ritual, is most necessary, and way over-due. Our new Brethren must experience what some of us, unfortunately, did not. Our more philosophically and esoterically-inclined “New Breed” of members will cherish the experience of reflecting before seeing the Light. They will treasure the instant when called upon to reflect on their duties to God, to their fellow beings, and to themselves, just like our fore-brothers did, ages before there was even any grouping of four “Non-Operative Masonic Lodges” and their controversial merger into another “Grand Lodge” in England.
The ritualistic lessons of our Craft must be as vivid as possible. Our neophytes must go through the experience of being locked in that room, so that they may confront their own fears and demons. Fears and Demons that, perhaps, they are not aware of. The appreciation, skill, and habit of Reflection must be inculcated in the New Free-Mason beginning on the day of his Initiation. He must be taught to know himself better, to pay more attention to his vices and virtues, and to know the “true secret” on how to successfully polish his “rough ashlar”.
Now is the time for us to pause and “reflect”! … Many times, man fails to use the virtue of Reflection, and even goes through life without ever using it, until his final moment arrives; and, finally, he remembers that he has conscience, and meditates on what has been of his life up to that instant. We, as Free-Masons, should not make that mistake with the same frequency. Unlike the uncultivated, the Profane and Indiffferent Mason alike, we must look into ourselves, see through our Third Eyes, and think before acting.
Thanks to this “catacomb”, feeblemindedly omitted from our present rituals, we, Free-Masons, are what we are, and will be what we will be. In the Chamber of Reflection we are all reborn, and thus we learn to apply to our lives that wise adage that exhorts: “NEVER SAY WHAT YOU THINK, ALWAYS THINK WHAT YOU SAY!”
The pre-revolutionary condition and philosophy of illustration of the era, propitiated the strengthening of the Principle of Equality between a man and a woman, and so it came to pass that both genders became lawfully eligible for membership in the Craft.
To admit a Woman in Lodge, is more than “opening the doors of our Temples to the Lovelier Gender”. It is to interrogate our Inner Tribunal of Consciences over the Eligibility of Women for Induction, in other words, to reflect on their potentials and their undeniable intellectual and spiritual qualifications as human beings; Yet these reflections cannot be carried out in Lodge so directly and openly – it is preferable to induce them by making reference to the “High Priestesses” and “Female Initiates of Ancient Mysteries”, through whom it is tacitly presupposed therefore that Women are “thinking beings”.
In spite of the efforts of many Free-Masons to place women in conditions of Equality, the Official Masonry at the dawn of the XIX century, at best, accepts the Adoption but not the Initiation; this meaning that women may become “adoptive daughters” of Anderson, perhaps even “his sisters”, but never his equals.
Now, in the arts and written press of France, serious, noticeable, and rather loud public discussions over women joining Free-Masonry began to take place, and to become the habitual topic of debate in almost every social gathering of the period.
In general, we can state that the arrival of English-Styled Masonry in France caused problems, and provoked an uproar in the aristocratic-bourgeois sociability of Paris and other parliamentary capitals dominated in part by women. Since 1730, the year in which the first Feminine Masonic Lodge appeared, there were published a number of literary works that fervently manifested the discontent of Ladies who saw themselves marginalized by “Regular Masonry”. In fact, however, not a single one of those pamphlets and/or books was written by a woman; thus leading us to assert with much certainty, that “The Enchanting Gender” was not considered odd or foreign to the mobilization and activism of many Male Free-Masons who favored the admission of women to the Royal Art.
At the same time, we must be honest, and for the sake of historical accuracy mention that there were Male Masons whom, over-looking the fundamental principles of the Order, invited to their banquets, dance halls and post-official gatherings, numerous loose females, dancers and courtesans, with whom they committed excesses that brought forth a terrible loss of prestige to our Institution in the eyes of the government, the roman catholic clergy, and the society at large; However, since the legalization of Masonic Lodges of Adoption by the Grand Orient of France, there were countless Male Free-Masons who defended the Legitimate Right of Women to participate in Masonic labors; and these actions, of course, provoked an immediate reaction in their detractors. As every day went by, more and more, the arguments over Women in Free-Masonry became a personal dispute between members of the Craft in general – whether they be sympathizers or adversaries of Co-Masonry. Eventually, the debate, or, better stated, the war of ideas between the defenders of the “enchantment of women”, and those concerned-accusers who denounced the “dangers of their weaknesses”, created the propitious soil for the germination of what in due time came to be known as: The Global Feminist Movement.
STATE OF CO-MASONRY IN OUR DAYS
Masonic Organization in Mexico and Latin America:
Given the fact that during the last 150 years Co-Masonry has gained greater notoriety, relevance and power in the Masonic World at the south side of El Rio Grande in the American Continent, and most of Europe (with the exception of the so-called “United Kingdom”) has long embraced the spirit of True Universal Free-Masonry, I will focus this section of my article in that part of the Western Hemisphere where the most retrograde and deplorable conservative-religious societies still exist, Mexico, Colombia, and Latin America as a whole.
Despite having been duly constituted as Independent Secular Republics, and, as such, having earned their Freedom and Sovereignty among the nations of the world – through the leadership and struggles of Free-Masons precisely, Mexico and most Central and South American countries, have proven to be quite an on-going challenge for the Craft and, most particularly, for the aspirations of women.
For a very long time, in Mexico, Colombia, and other Ultra-Catholic/Patriarchal Latin American countries, the membership of women in Free-Masonry has been considered one of the greatest taboos that, more than anything else, divide rather than unify.
The equivocated interpretation and enforcement of the Landmarks, which, per the so-called “Regular Masonry,” bars women’s admission and equal participation in the Craft, not only ignores the role of Guilds of Women Spinners, Seamstresses, Weaveresses, Women Glass-Stainers/Cutters/Blowers, Sculptresses, Women Engravers, etc. in the Arts of Architecture and Construction, but, it also captures one of the fundamental prejudices of the Puritan English Society of the beginning of the XVIII century, to whom a woman was considered a “thing”, in the juridical meaning of the word, and, as such, she was legally deprived of any and all rights, except, of course, of those dispensated to her by her Master, or better stated, her “Proprietor.”
French Free-Masonry, sponsored in considerable measure by Opulent Ladies of the period, since its very official foundation in 1740, marks a pivotal moment in the consolidation of a more egalitarian society, by taking on the challenge of recognizing the rights of their compatriots of like gender, and with that the possibility of being initiated in a Masonic Lodge. To our contemporary dismay, unfortunately, the prejudices of “Victorian Morals” remain in force at the dawn of the Third Millennium, and they still are the principal cause of Discord and Disharmony among the different visions and bodies of Symbolical Masonry around the world.
Amidst this puritanical phase in Global Free-Masonry, a significant event took place in the less-suitable country, Mexico. Surprisingly and amazingly enough, by the standards of that period and society, the Mexican Masonic Organization, following the tradition of Vanguard Thinking which, since its official birth around the middle of the XIX century has been hoisted by “The Mexican National Rite,” has sponsored the formation of Bi-Gender Lodges, considering women in total equality of conditions, rights and capacities as those of their Male Brothers. There is also much respect to the autonomy, habits, and bylaws fomented among all different Lodges and Grand Orients or Jurisdictions, by recognizing and accepting with like enthusiasm the existence of Masonic Lodges which, are exclusively masculine or feminine.
Thus, in all the Lodges and Bodies amalgamated in the Mexican Masonic Organization, and particularly in the Grand Orients of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, the participation of women or men in The Order, is accepted – without being obligatory to Lodges that are purely masculine, or, exclusively feminine, respectively.
Moreover, in 1991, the Mexican Masonic Organization welcomed the official birth and constitution of the First Masonic Grand Lodge of Women of Mexico, also known as: “Grand Lodge of Insurgent Women”. Unlike a number of “Co-Masonic” and/or “Para-Masonic” Grand Jurisdictions of Latin America where women are recognized as “Lesser Sisters”, this unique Masonic Body has total recognition. and is endowed with absolute power and autonomy over its laws, decisions, and labors. In 1995, Argentina and Peru followed in their Mexican Brethren’s footsteps, by rejoicing in the emergence and formation of their respective Feminine Masonic Grand Lodges. Presently, with the exception of The Central American Isthmus, there are Co-Masonic and Feminine Grand Bodies in every country of Latin America.
CONCLUSION = GENDER IS IN EVERYTHING
“Gender is in everything; everything has a Masculine and Feminine Principle; Gender is manifested in all planes”, so teaches the ultimate of the Hermetic Laws. With this postulate, the “Thrice Wise Master” guides us through the different levels of Natural Evolution, observing in it how duality is fused into one, in order to create a new being.
This Principle, which relates to Procreation, also shows us the existence of centrifugal and centripetal impulses, which are the forces that support gravitation, be it at the level of minuscule particles, or, of immense Universes.
Of all the Cosmic Purposes, to engender Life is the most sacred and transcendental act. At the microscopic level, the force of attraction makes the negative corpuscles or electrons revolve around the positive-ones or protons. After their obligated courtship, they unite, and thus the creation of a new atom occurs. In the animal and human species the “dance of life” repeats itself with male spermatozoa being attracted by female ovules. When one of the male reproductive cells attains penetration, the miracle of conception takes place.
The same system of procreation reigns at the macro-cosmic levels. In the British Encyclopedia we find that
“… in remote times, the bombardment of comets to the earth could have had an important role in the formation of the atmosphere and the seas. Additionally, these comets could have supplied the organic molecules necessary for the development of life”.
The method of fertilization is then the same – be it electrons, sperm, or comets that fecundate protons, ovules or planets. In like manner, we must apply the Principle of Gender to “traveling” from the “known” to the “unknown” – supporting ourselves in the Principle of Correspondence: “As it is above so is below, and, as it is below so is above”. Only through such application of this Principle shall Free-Masons comprehend and harness its primordial significance and power.
So states Hermes Trismegistus:
The very creation of the Universe also obeys the Principle of Gender.
He adds further: “Gender is manifested in all planes.” This, my Brothers, means that all possibilities of creation – mental and spiritual – are governed by the same Universal Law or Principle. Until the luminous emergence of the “Thrice Greatest Master”, a little over five thousand years ago, this was an occult body of knowledge available only to the Great Sages and High Priests/Priestesses of Ancient Egypt. In it there also secrets of “High Magick”, for only the faithful implementation of this law can bring within our reach the key, with which to command the Sacred FIAT LUX by the power of the Wise.
Brethren, Co-Masonry is already part of our lives – whether we accept it or not; it is in our very Human Faculties; it is part of our natural mechanism, and, accordingly, part of our very Masonic Essence as “Individuals who were first made Masons in OUR HEARTS”. Even at more subtle levels, to procreate is the result of the union of opposites.
A Thought, which is activity and mobility, represents Masculine Polarity, while Emotions and Sentiments, as clear expressions of Receptivity and Repose, and incarnate the Feminine Principle.
In order to physically produce what we desire, we must unite these forces:
THOUGHT plus EMOTION equals MANIFESTATION.
Thus, all our individual and/or collective endeavors shall first be conceived in subtle planes. Then, if the Law/Principle of Correspondence allows, the Universe will support it/them and accommodate the circumstances of manifestation (Gestation Process), Once the necessary time has elapsed, we shall invariably see the materialization of that which we created.
Our membership is still declining, regardless of our Enthusiasm, Official Optimism, and the momentary “Increase” of alleged “quality brethren”. It is Time to open our Third Eyes and begin seeing!
THERE ARE PLENTY OF ELIGIBLE AND WORTHY WOMEN OUT THERE!
All it takes is Humility, Wisdom, and a Sense of Justice and Equality. Are we “Worthy Masons” not characterized by such Virtues?! Are we “Concerned Masons” not worried about the Future of our Institution?! Are we “Enlightened F-r-e-e-Masons” not the Children of Alchemy’s Hermaphrodite Being?! If you responded positively to these questions, there is no need for further disputes and/or discussions – there is only much Amelioration to bring into our Fraternity.
In short, Is Co-Masonry the Antidote?
I have no doubt!
Reprinted by permission of Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.