I found this piece on an old disc the other day. I wrote it as a piece of architecture to a, now, defunct Masonic Club here in Los Angeles – the Hermes Trismegistus Traditional Observance club in Culver City. It dates back to August 22, 2006, almost ten years to the day.
Reading through it, I thought it would be fun to share it again to see if it still holds it esoteric weight.
King Solomon’s Temple – A Symbol to Freemasonry
Solomon’s ancient temple was built a top Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem between 964 and 956 B.C.E. Its construction is chronicled in the First Book of Kings, which begins at the end of King David’s reign and the crowning of Solomon. As king, Solomon continues the task his father began which was to build the temple. The text tells us that God restricted David, having collected the materials to construct the temple, from building it because of the blood he shed at the conquering of Israel. Ultimately, Solomon completes work on the temple, which was built to house the Ark of the Covenant, and become “a glorious temple for which God was to dwell”. (1 Kings 8:13).
Chris Hodapp, in his manual Freemasons for Dummies, defines Solomon’s Temple as a representation of the individual Freemason, where both an individual man and the physical temple take “many years to build” as a “place suitable for the spirit of God to inhabit.” The work of a becoming a Freemason is, in my opinion, a metaphor to the construction of the temple. This definition is not far off the mark, but alone it says nothing of why this bold metaphor is used.
Through deeper explorations of this topic, I was lead to a broader understanding of the temple and its relevance to the Freemasonry we practice today. One path of that exploration led me to understand it from the perspective explored in the works of John Dee, Henry Cornelius Agrippa and Francesco Giorgi, each an important Renaissance philosopher.
In Dame Frances Yates text The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, she suggests that early Renaissance Cabalists felt the temple represented a definition of sacred geometry that was mirrored in the temple by reflecting a perfect and proportional measure made “in accordance with the unalterable laws of cosmic geometry.” These ideas formed from the work of Francesco Giorgi in De Harmonia Mundi, which drew in Vitruvian principals of Architecture and integrated the foundation of Christian Cabalism with the ideas from Hermetic study to create “connections between angelic hierarchies and planetary spheres” that [rose] “up happily through the stars to the angels hearing all the way those harmonies on each level of the creation imparted by the Creator to his universe, founded on number and numerical laws of proportion.”
These ideas are from an early Christian Cabala (c.1525), before the open appearance of Freemasonry, and Solomon’s temple, as we know it today. Building on the ides of Giorgi, Cornelius Agrippa explored the ideas of Alchemy, Hermetic, Neoplatonic and Cabalist thought, and wrote about them in his book De Occulta Philosophia (Three Books of Occult Philosophy), published in 1533. In this text, one important idea was that the universe was divided into three worlds (degrees), which consisted of an elemental world, a celestial world, and an intellectual world, each receiving influences from the one above it. The first world was believed governed by natural magic (element) and arranged substances “in accordance with the occult sympathies between them.” The second world is concerned with celestial magic that governed “how to attract and use the influences of the stars.” Agrippa himself calling it “a kind of magic mathematical magic because its operations depend on number.” The third world represented ceremonial magic “as directed toward the super celestial world of angelic spirits.” Beyond that, Agrippa says, is the divine itself. These ideas are not about the physical temple, but instead I see it representing an unseen or perhaps inner temple, the travel in what we call today the self.
This philosophy of this divine self, interacting with the magical principals I suggest, merged at that time into the then strong and intelligent stone mason guilds, blending their practical application of numbers and formulation with the exploration of the divine worlds that many worked to physically construct. These ideas were accepted and adopted into the early landmarks of Freemasonry where, I believe, that the temple was perceived as more than a representational place of being. Over time, as philosophy and understanding changed, much of the fraternity lost sight of why Solomon’s Temple was important, that it represented a more mystical and philosophical construct akin to Agrippa’s spheres. Its interpretation has, today, moved into a metaphorical position becoming a part of the metaphorical stage in which our craft is set. But by examining how the temple exists in our degrees today will see some of that connection to the Renaissance philosophy.
In modernity, King Solomon’s Temple, within Freemasonry, appears in each of the three degrees (or worlds) as different aspects within each degree. Within the first, it is represented as the ground floor, the allegorical entrance into the fraternity. The temple is not depicted as the complicated structure; instead it is as an unfinished edifice, which is implicit to the ritual. Like Agrippa’s first elemental sphere, the first degree of masonry is the initiate’s entry point into Freemasonry and its philosophy, giving the initiate the elemental components to start his formation, only the work is not the rough labor of the operative, but instead the work of the speculative.
The Second Degree makes use of the temples middle chamber, whose dual meaning represents the halfway point into the temple, and the halfway point of Freemasonry. But interestingly we are taught here that the second degree is the most important of the three degree, as it is here we are lead through the 15 steps from the ground floor to the middle chamber of King Solomon’s Temple, where we as masons are instructed on our “wages due and jewels.” The various adornments of the temple have a multifaceted meaning that is described in this degree, which again factor into the representation of the temple.
But what makes this degree so important to me is that it is not the middle chamber, but the odyssey across the three, five and seven steps to it that mark it as important. Across those steps we are taught about the three stages of human life, the five orders of architecture, and the seven liberal arts (amongst other things), and like Agrippa’s second sphere of celestial magic, its mathematical influence can be felt throughout.
This path is the important symbolic link to the temple, where our ritual goes so far to remind us that of the three degrees, the Fellowcraft is the one that applies “our knowledge to the discharge of our respective duties to God, our neighbor, and ourselves; so that when in old age, as Master Masons, we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent on a well spent life, and die in the hopes of a glorious immortality.” The importance being laid on the journey of a Fellowcraft.
The third degree, or the consequence of that well spent life, ultimately represents the Sanctum Sanctorum or, Holy of Holies, in King Solomon’s Temple. Mentioned at the end of the Fellowcraft, this is where the brother reflects on the “well spent life” by the rewards of his work. The symbolism here is that it is the deepest heart of the temple and the furthest attainment of a Freemason. It also is to represent the deepest penetration into the psyche of the man. This is also the pinnacle of the ritual without the further exploration of the additional rites. The Holy of the Holies is representational of the celestial realm defined by Agrippa, and is the closest sphere outside of the divine itself. It functions as the house of God, both literally in the constructed temple, and metaphorically within the newly raised Mason. This echoes the ideas mentioned by Giorgi and later expanded on by Agrippa and Dee. Dee’s further expansive ideas later went on to influence early Rosicrucian thought in a similar fashion.
Agrippa’s three worlds, I suggest, form (in part) the basis of the steps and the journey through King Solomon’s Temple through the degrees of Freemasonry. The presence of King Solomon’s Temple in ancient thought, from the earliest Old Testament writings to the pinnacle of renaissance occult philosophy has preserved it as an iconographic representation of the path to the divine. Solomon’s temple is not a solitary place in history, used as a simple metaphor in which to base an allegorical play. Instead, it is a link in early Christian Cabala and Hermetic thought, which is just as vital today, as it was then, to the tradition of Freemasonry. Still a metaphor but a more profound one whose importance is not often explored or represented in modern Masonic thought. Looking at the ideas of this renaissance philosophy, I believe that philosophy becomes squarely linked to the past, present, and future of Freemasonry and to King Solomon’s Temple.
Duncan, Malcom C., Duncan’s Ritual of Freemasonry. New York: Crown Publishers. 2005.
Hodapp, Christopher, Freemasons for Dummies. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2005.
The Holy Bible, NIV, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing. 1984.
MacNaulty, W. Kirk, A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol. London, Thames and Hudson. 1991.
Vitruvius, 10 Books on Architecture. Trans. Morgan, Morris Hickey. New York: Dover 1960.
Yates, Frances, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. London/New York: Routledge, 2003.
I have come across one of the most thought provoking articles in a long time. It’s not the same old hash but from a fellow Masonic writer Hank Kraychir who is a top rate Masonic researcher. His website, GnosisMasonry, has many wonderful and thoughtful articles on it. But this one strikes a cord that is so important to us all – OUR HISTORY.
So with permission from Brother Kraychir here is his wonderful article:
Dissecting The 1723 Constitutions Of Free-Masons; Dispelling Revisionist Myths.
A note from the author:
Please take your time reading and understanding this important article. I do not make my claims lightly, and I hope this article will lead others into researching this important topic further. I personally believe a hoax has occurred upon Freemasonry by revisionistpundits. I think it might have started out innocently enough, but it has gone on so long now that the 1717-1723 narrative claim has become fact within the minds of many within Freemasonry. In short, the document they claim proves the 1717 narrative does not support their positions. This article tells a different story than the one most Masons unjustifiably believe. To date, I believe this is the most important discovery I have made in my personal journey and research about Masonic history. I hope you enjoy reading this article, as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it ~/G|~
Pundits of the 1717-1723 narrative often refer to the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons as the document that proves their theory. And to be honest, since I was not familiar with the document, and had to rely on other writings and opinions, I had no response to the claim. That was until I was given an opportunity to buy a copy from Brother Michael Doxsee, who also sells other out-of-print Masonic books for those who might be interested in such things.
I took several weeks to read the book, and wrote notes along the way. The most obvious clue was found on the cover, which had two dates, “In the Year of Masonry-5723″ and “Anno Domini-1723,” (Anno Domini stands for A.D.). You see, as I will prove with words from the document, the authors of the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons held the position that they were upholding the ancient traditions passed down to them through Masonic history, its documents and traditions. The dates listed above prove they believed they held a lineage of some four thousand years. Now, I am not here to debate the validity of such a claim; rather, I hold the position that they only intended to continue with the traditions of the craft from the time period.
To further make my point, please consider the header page, which reads, “Printed by William Hunter, for John Senex at the Globe, and John Hooke at the Flower-deluce over against St. Dunstan’s Church, in fifth street.” So I beg the question, if John Hunter was the printer, who were John Senex and John Hooke in relationship to this book; and why do their names appear on the cover page and not James Anderson, who was mentioned way back on page 74, along with 60 other named individuals? These 61 names, including Anderson, are from the section entitled “Approbation.” The names listed, I assume, are in order of Masonic importance, only because they are not in alphabetical order, as one might presume. The word Approbation can be defined as, “an act of approving formally or officially.” Therefore, this was the final approval committee, which included Anderson.
Most interestingly, Anderson’s name was listed near the end of the page with the Roman Numeral XVII (17th out of 20 subsections that were listed) next to it. This ranking could lead to several speculations, of which that Anderson was simply a compiler, and performed some writings tasks, but was beholding to the views of other Masons; unlike his 1738 second edition, where he was much more involved, which would account for the major differences between the two Constitutions. This belief is confirmed by MasonicDictionary.com andThe Builder (1923):
“His own account of the work, as given in 1738, is that he was ordered to digest the Old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method by Montagu on 29th September, 1721, that on 27th December, Montagu appointed fourteen learned brothers to examine the MS., and that after they had approved it was ordered to be printed…”
After the header, a dedication section followed, which dedicated the book to the Right Worshipful Grand-Master, the Duke of Montagu, who served the previous year. The importance of the section, written by Deputy Grand-Master J.T. Desaguliers (not Anderson), was that great pains had been taken to make sure the document aligned with old Records, History and Chronology:
“I need not tell your GRACE what Pains our learned AUTHOR has taken in compiling and digesting this Book from the old Records, and how accurately he has compar’d and made every thing agreeable to History and Chronology so as to render these New CONSTITUTIONS a just and exact Account of Masonry from the Beginning of the World to your Grace’s MASTERSHIP still preserving all that was truly ancient and authentic in the old ones.”
Following the Dedication sectional, “The Constitution” section was displayed, which essentially started the History of Freemasonry; portions of which were presumably compiled and written by Anderson, and edited and approved by the committee of fourteen. On the very first page, it was written, “Collected from their general RECORDS, and their faithful TRADITIONS of many ages” (p. 1). Notice the two words RECORDS and TRADITIONS were capitalized; so what exactly were these early 18th century Masons trying to tell the brethren? Simply stated, that they painstakingly gathered the old Records and combined them with their ancient traditions when they formed the historical section of the Constitutions. Again, I must stress, as I will stress throughout the writing of this article, they did not believe they were forming anything new; rather, they believed they were upholding ancient traditions.
Furthermore, how important was this history to these early Masons? Well, lets take a look at what they had to say on the matter, “At the admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the Master or Warden shall begin, or order some other Brother to read as follows…” (p. 1). Therefore, every new Mason was read this particular history. Again, I know some Masons have written negatively about this historical section; however, I must remind every Mason reading this post, our Masonic history should not always be taken literally, which sadly some pundits of the 1723 Constitutions had sorely forgotten or neglected on purpose? Case in point, if a Mason still thinks the story of Hiram Abiff is an accurate tale than he or she has never been instructed in the use of Masonic allegory; or as Albert Pike wrote about Hiram Abiff:
“Whatever Hiram really was, he is the type, perhaps an imaginary type, to us, of humanity in its highest phase; an exemplar of what man may and should become, in the course of ages, in his progress toward the realization of his destiny; an individual gifted with a glorious intellect, a noble soul, a fine organization, and a perfectly balanced moral being; an earnest of what humanity may be, and what we believe it will hereafter be in God’s good time; the possibility of the race made real” (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 225).
As such, much of Masonic history is allegorical lessons based on historical events and people, which means these lessons have a deeper meaning, as Pike confirmed when he wrote about the ancient belief of using allegory to teach the mysteries:
“Nothing excites men’s curiosity so much as Mystery, concealing things which they desire to know: and nothing so much increases curiosity as obstacles that interpose to prevent them from indulging in the gratification of their desires… In this spirit of mystery they professed to imitate the Deity, who hides Himself from our senses, and conceals from us the springs by which He moves the Universe. They admitted that they concealed the highest truths under the veil of allegory, the more to excite the curiosity of men, and to urge them to investigation. The secrecy in which they buried their Mysteries, had that end. Those to whom they were confided, bound themselves, by the most fearful oaths, never to reveal them. They were not allowed even to speak of these important secrets with any others than the initiated; and the penalty of death was pronounced against any one indiscreet enough to reveal them, or found in the Temple without being an Initiate; and any one who had betrayed those secrets, was avoided by all, as excommunicated” (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 384).
So when it was written, “No doubt Adam taught his Sons Geometry, and the use of it, in the several Arts and Crafts convenient, at least, for those early Times…” (p. 2), what did this mean? The story of Adam and Eve is nothing but a metaphor for men and women in the beginning of creation by God. Yet, some have gone out of their way to claim Anderson and the committee of fourteen did not know what they were writing about when they began the history of Masonry with Adam. REALLY? David Stevenson surmised the issue of starting the document with Adam, when he wrote:
“Thus, whatever faults later generations have found, the book satisfied those who had commissioned it. Over half of it, the History, describes the Craft’s ancient and exalted past. Taken as history as judged by modern scholarly standards, Anderson’s account is clearly absurd, but in some respects the abuse heaped on it, and therefore on Anderson himself, is unjustified. There is little point in raging against him for starting withAdam and then wending his way through the Old Testament, for in his time that was the conventional mainstream of the past, not a bizarre aberration. Moreover beginning the story of Masonry with Adam was to be expected. Everything started with the Creation, so a history naturally started there. To do otherwise would have been unsatisfactory, a starting in the middle of a subject. Masonry should be traced back to Adam, just as dynastic history traced royal families and national histories their origins to Adam” (Stevenson, David, James Anderson: Man and Mason, p. 110-111).
I will not go into the details from this particular section, but I will state that Anderson and the committee of fourteen gave a basic understanding of Masonry from a biblical perspective, which included Adam, Noah, Moses, etc; and added to it by mentioning Mitzraim and the Magi (p. 5). There was also an emphasis on King Solomon and the building of his Temple, which would be expected.
Nevertheless, what I found most interesting was discovered on pages 11 and 12; which was the fact that the name Hiram was written, “But above all, he sent his namesake Hiram, or Huram, the most accomplish’d Mason on Earth*.” I mentioned this particular point, only because some have stated that the Legend of Hiram Abiif did not start until after 1717, or after the 1723 Constitution was written; again, to which I had no answer until reading the document itself. Well, one only had to follow the footnotes at the bottom of the pages to see that Anderson and the committee of fourteen were writing about both Hiram, the King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, which, by the way, tells an entirely different account than the one I was taught in Blue Lodge Masonry:
“*We read (2 Chron. ii. 13.) Hiram, King of Tyre, (called there Huram) in his letter to King SOLOMON, Says, I have sent a cunning Man, le Huram Abhi, not to be translated according to the vulgar Greek and Latin, Huram my Father, as if this Architect was King HIRAM”S father; for his discrition, ver. 14. refutes it, and the Original plainly imports, Huram of my Father’s, viz. the Chief Master-Mason of my father, King ABIBALUS; (who enlarg’d and beautify’d the City of Tyre, as ancient Histories inform us, whereby the Tyrians at this time were most expert in Masonry) tho’ some think HIRAM the king might call Hiram the Architect Father, as learned and skillful Men were wont to be call’d of the old Times, or as Joseph was call’d the Father of PHARAOH; and as the same Hiram is called Solomon’s FATHER, (2 Chron. iv. 16.) where tis said
Shelomoh lammelech Abhif Churam ghnafah,
Did Huram, his Father, make a King Solomon.
But the Difficulty is over at once, by allowing the Word Abif to be the Surname of Hiram the Mason, called also (Chap. ii. 13.) Hiram Abi, as here Hiram Abif; for being so amply describ’d, (Chap. ii. 14.) we may easily support his Surname would not be conceal’d: And this Reading makes the sense plain and compleat, viz. that HIRAM, King of Tyre, sent to King Solomon his Namesake HIRAM ABIF, the Prince of Architects,describ’d (1 Kings vii. 14.) to be a Widow’s Son of the Tribe of Naphtbali;and in (Chron: ii. 14.) the said King of Tyre calls him the Son of a Woman of the Daughters of Dan; and in both places, that his Father was a man ofTyre: which Difficulty is remov’d bysupporting his Mother was either of the Tribe of Dan, or of the Daughters of the City called Dan in the Tribe ofNaphthali, and his deceased Father had been Naphthalite, whence his mother was call’d a Widow of Naphthali; for his father is not call’d aTyrian by Descent, but a Man of Tyre by Habitation; or Obed Edom the Levite is call’d a Gittite by living among the Gittites, and the Apostle Paula Man of Tarsus. But supporting a Mistake in Transcribers, and that his Father was really a Tyrian by Blood, and his Mother only of the Tribe either of Dan or of Naphthali, that can be no Bar against allowing of his vast Capacity; for as his father was a Worker in Brass, so be himself wasfill’d with Wisdom and Understanding, and Cunning to work all works of Brass: And as King SOLOMON sent for him, so King HIRAM, in his letter to Solomon, says, And now I have sent a cunning Man endued with Understanding, skillful to work in Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron, Stone, Timber, Purple, Blue, fine Linnen and Crimson; also to grave any manner of Graving, and to find out every Device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning Men, and with the cunning Men of my Lord David thy Father. This divinely inspired Workmen maintain’d this Character in erecting the Temple, and working the Utensils thereof, far beyond the Performances of Aholiab and Bezaleel, being Also universally capable of all sorts of Masonry.”
So what can be learned by reading the above footnote? Well first off, there were a few spelling mistakes, which Masonic historians continually gripe about. My response is, “get over it!” As I have stated before in other writings on this blog, history is replete with examples of spelling errors, many of which had nothing to do with the author, but rather the printer of the publication. Printing a document was far more difficult to perform some 300 years ago than it is today; and any comparisons between the two are simply disingenuous, and not worthy of a Mason seeking a high moral character. Furthermore, many Masons have incorrectly claimed that the legend of Hiram Abiff did not occur prior to the modern era; however, after reading the above footnote, which covered almost two pages within the 1723 Constitutions, it is obvious Anderson and the committee of fourteen felt differently. Sadly, no degree ritual was included in the Constitutions, which would aid us greatly today in understanding this important legend. Nevertheless, it is obvious the writers of this document understood its importance and included, at length, the history of the legend and its importance to Masonry during this period. Also, their version of Hiram Abiff had several twists and turns of which I was not familiar with, some of which left me puzzled. Like, what was the actual relationship between King Hiram and Hiram Abiff; especially when they used of the words “namesake” and “Prince,” which would lead me to believe Hiram Abiff was of Royal Blood and a member of King Hiram’s family? I will not delve into this query any further, other than to say, the above footnote left more questions than answers.
It should also be mentioned that the historical section included countless references, which I considered unusual for the time period. I have read many Masonic documents and books that had been written over the last two to three hundred years; most of which included either no referencing material, or very few at all. This point should be greatly considered when discussing the validity of the document and the true intent of its authors. Here is a general list of references, with some notes included, particularly its length:
Page 1: One side date reference.
Page 2: One bottom reference, three lines long; referencing metal working of Tubal Cain, music of Jubal, etc.
Page 3: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, eight lines long. It made references to the Vestiges of Antiquity, Enoch, Vespasian the Emperor, etc.
Page 4: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, six lines long. It referenced Nimrod, Moses, Bacchus, etc.
Page 5: One side date reference.
Page 6: One bottom reference, seven lines long. References to the Quarries of Arabia, and the building of ancient Egyptian monuments to honor the Empire.
Page 7: Two side date references.
Page 8: One side date reference.
Page 9: Two side date references; and one bottom reference, six lines long. It referenced Sampson, the Philistines, Secrets to his wife, honour (honor) among Masons, etc.
Page 10: One bottom reference, fourteen lines long, or about a third of the page. Referenced King Solomon, number of workers building the Temple, Hiram, etc.
Page 11: One bottom reference, twenty-six lines long, or 80% of the page. referenced the relationship between King Hiram and Hiram Abiff.
Page 12: One bottom reference, twenty-one lines long, or about 60% of the page. This reference was a continuation of the relationship between King Hiram and Hiram Abiff.
Page 13: One side date reference.
Page 15: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, seventeen lines long, or about 50% of the page. Referenced the Temple of Diana, Dresiphon and Archiphrom, and other Temples in Greece, etc.
Page 16: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, seventeen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced the architecture of Grand Monarch Nebuchadnezzar, his gardens, palaces, etc.
Page 17: One bottom reference, twenty-three lines long, or 70% of the page. This is a continuation of page 16 reference, with additions on the tower of Babel, etc.
Page 18: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, twenty-two lines long, or 75% of the page. This is yet another continuation of pages 16 and 17, with additions of Solomon’s Temple, Great Babylon, Grand Cyrus in Persia, etc.
Page 19: One side date reference.
Page 20: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, seven lines long. Referenced the Grecians and their barbarism.
Page 21: Three side date references; and one bottom reference, ten lines long. Referenced Pythagoras traveling into Egypt, the Magi, Cambyles~King of Persia, etc.
Page 22: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, nine lines long. Referenced Anaxagoras, Oenopides, Beiso and many others.
Page 23: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, fourteen lines long, or 45% of the page. Referenced Alexandria, Julius Caesar, Siege of Troy, etc.
Page 24: Two side date references: and one bottom reference, five lines long. Referenced Eratosthenes, Conon, Apollonius, etc.
Page 26: One bottom reference, eighteen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced Phidias, Nemefis, Minerva at Athens, etc.
Page 27: One bottom reference, eight lines long. Referenced Menelaus, Claudius, Ptolomeus, etc.
Page 28: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, eleven lines long, or 40% of the page. Referenced Roman Colonies, Citadels, Bridges, Art, etc.
Page 29: One bottom reference, fifteen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced Saxon and Scottish Kings, and Grand Masters of earlier Lodges, Laws, Charges, Regulations, etc.
Page 30: Three side date references. Also, it was claimed that King Athelstan was “…prevail’d… to improve the CONSTITUTION of the English Lodges.”
Page 31: Two side date references; and one bottom reference, six lines long. Referenced William the Conqueror, Roger de Montgomery, Nobility and Clergy, etc.
Page 32: One side date reference.
Page 34: One bottom reference, twenty-two lines long, or 70% of the page. Referenced ancient manuscripts, Lodges and Masonry, etc.
Page 35: One bottom reference, seventeen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced “Tertio Henrici Sexti, Cap. 1. An. Dom. 1425.”
Page 36: One bottom reference, sixteen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced the battle between the clergy and the ancient brethren of Masonry.
Page 38: Two side date references; and one bottom reference, ten lines long. Referenced Queen Elizabeth and her jealousies with Masonry.
Page 40: One side date reference; and one bottom reference, seventeen lines long, or 50% of the page. Referenced Henricus Comes Danby, 1632.
Page 41: One bottom reference, five lines long. Referenced an ancient Royal Palace, Judges, etc.
Page 42: One bottom reference, thirty-four lines long, or 85% of the page. Referenced King Charles the II. Mr. Grinlin Gibbons, etc.
Page 43: One bottom reference, nineteen lines long, or 60% of the page. Referenced Archbishop Sheldon, Sir Christopher Wren, King Henry VII, etc.
Page 44: One bottom reference, five lines long. Referenced the Bishop of Salisbury, three knocks, etc.
Page 45: One bottom reference, seventeen lines long, or 60% of the page. This reference is a continuation of the earlier page.
Page 46: One bottom reference, twenty-even lines long, or 70% of the page. Referenced Roman influence on Great Britain, Inigo Jones, Sir Charles Hotham, etc.
Page 47: One bottom reference, twenty-one lines long, or 45% of the page. This reference is a continuation from the previous page.
Page 48: One bottom reference, twenty-three lines long or 70% of the page. This reference is a continuation from the two previous pages.
So what can be learned from this basic reference overview of the historical section? Well, first off, it’s obvious the authors took much more care in presenting their case than pundits of the book led me to believe. Again, I am not here to prove or disprove the accuracy of the historical claim; nevertheless, I now believe that Anderson and the committee of fourteen, as well as the 60 other signers of the document, attempted to back up their claim, and used hundreds of references to prove it, which I believe was unusual for the period. In many cases, the authors used more than half a page to back up their claim; how these obvious references were missed by earlier writers is beyond me. In fact, almost every page included some type of reference.
I highlighted several references above that stood out. Like on pages 29 and 30, which mentioned the fact that there were earlier Constitutions, Grand Masters, Lodges, Laws, Charges and Regulations. Simply stated, how can pundits make the claim that the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons proved that the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717, when the document itself claimed there were other Grand Lodges; and how can these pundits also claim that this document formed the first Constitution when the document claimed there were other Constitutions, and that they simply compiled from other ancient Constitutions, Documents, Laws, Charges and Regulations. In your author’s mind, any claims made about the date 1717 and the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons being the “first” is nothing but revisionism; it is an out and outright lie by revisionists with an agenda to disprove Masonic lineage!
The references listed also help support Anderson and the committee of fourteen’s assertion that Masonry started with the first records of recorded history; and evolved and immersed itself into and through many great cultures from the past. Most notably the Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks and in particularly the Romans, who left their mark on British culture before their departure from the island. This history has been well documented by other authors, including Joseph Newton, the author of The Builders (1914), which is a topic I wrote about previously on this blog.
Of particular interest, here are a few quotes, with my comments following, which further make my point:
Page 29: “No doubt several Saxon and Scottish Kings, with many of the Nobility, great Gentry, and Eminant Clergy, become Grand Masters of those early Lodges… which would also prompt them to enquire after the Laws, Charges, Regulations, Customs, and Usages, of the ancient Lodges… “
Comment: Here is a quote from the referenced section that mentioned other Grand Masters and previous Laws, Charges, Regulations, etc.
Page 30: “particularly by Charles Martell King of France, who according to the Old Records of Masons sent over several expert Crafts-men and learned Architects into England…”
Page 31: “for we read King EDWARD III. had an officer call’d the King’s Free-Masons…”
Comment: I have heard it time and time again that the term Freemason or Freemasonry began with the 1717 date and the writing of the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons; yet, the above quote proved the term was used much earlier. This again is proof of revisionism. The term itself may in fact have to do with a Mason being free to travel; and has nothing to do with the speculative overtones many pundits have proclaimed. Therefore, when someone tells you that there is a destination between the terms Masonry and Freemasonry based on the 1717-1723 dates, they are simply continuing and espousing a revisionist tale propagated to divide the Craft under a cover of lies.
Page 32: “yet King ATHELSTAN, (the Grandson of King ALFREDE the Great, a mighty Architect) the first anointed King of England… encourag’d many Masons from France… brought with them the Charges and Regulations of the Lodges preserved since the Roman times, who also prevail’d with the King to improve the CONSTITUTION of the English Lodges according to the Foreign model…”
Comment: And yet again, King Athelstan is a topic I have written about previously on this blog; however, also notice how the authors of the document mentioned that some Charges and Regulations came from France, and that other ones came from the time of the Roman empire. My question is, how would they know these were the same Charges and Regulations that came from Rome? They wouldn’t unless they had something to compare them with, like the ones in England. Also, notice the word CONSTITUTION was used with all capital letters! Do you think they were trying to say something? Like perhaps there was a previous Constitution. Yes!!! You see, according to Anderson and the committee of fourteen, the King only wanted to improve the Constitution, not create a new one.
Page 33: “and having brought with them all the writings and Records extant, some in Greek, some in Latin, some in French, and other languages, from the contents thereof that assembly did frame the CONSTITUTION and Charges of an English Lodge…”
Comment: Anderson and the committee of fourteen were writing about the period revolving around King Athelstan, who, according to the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons, used records that were compiled from other languages, notably Greek, Latin and French, to form a better or new Constitution. You want proof of Masonic lineage, here it is. A new Constitution was formed in Britain during the reign of King Athelstan using documents from Greece, Rome (Latin) and France. That would mean earlier Constitutions, Charges, Regulations and Customs were easily traced back to Greece; and since Greek was the primary scholarly language prior to the rise of Rome (Latin), this maybe further anecdotal proof that Masonic lineage goes back to Egypt or before? Although it was not mentioned by the authors, they were probably referencing the Ancient Collegia system.”
Page 38: “King James VI of Scotland… being a Mason King, reviv’d the English Lodges…”
Comment: First off, how could or would a King be a common Mason? You see, he would never be a member of a Masons guild; however, in a system of Operative and Speculative Masonry, a King could easily be a Mason King, but not the other way around. Therefore, any claim that modern Masonry simply copied the ancient traditions of workman guilds, is another false claim made by revisionists. Throughout the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons, Anderson and the committee of fourteen made no distinction about Masonry being nothing but an ancient science of both Operative and Speculative Masonry; just like our traditions teach us today.
This exercise could go on and on and on, but for the sake of time and space, I will simply conclude the historical section; and now proceed to the next section, “The Charges of a Free-Mason, Extracted from the Ancient Record of Lodges…,” which also holds several clues into the thinking of these early 18th century Freemasons.
Page 49: “The ancient Records of Lodges beyond Sea, and of those in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the Use of the Lodges in London: TO BE READ At the Making of NEW BRETHREN, or when the MASTER shall order it.”
Comment: This quote is supported by an earlier quote on page 33, which dealt with the old Records from France, Rome (Latin) and Greece; and the Records from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as the Records beyond the sea. Also, notice how it was a requirement to read these Charges to new brethren, just like in the historical section.
Page 50: “1. Concerning God and Religion… But thought in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves…”
Comment: A big distinction can be made at this point. The authors readily admit that the old Charges required a Mason to be a member of the faith of the particular country he resided in; however, they declared that it was now thought more expedient to simply remain silent about religion when residing in a country. This maybe one of the more progressive changes made in the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons; one in which they readily admitted to changing.
Page 50: “II. Of the CIVIL MAGISTRATE Supreme and Subordinate… A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers… for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much disposed to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer’d the Cavils of their Adversaries, and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity…”
Comment: We see the authors mentioned the “ancient Kings and Princes” in reference to civil authority; and that Masonry had always been injured because of war, despite being loyal to civil authority. My thoughts immediately hypothesized this to mean the enemies of the state, who thought that Masons were loyal only to the state, would consider them to be their enemies as well. This uneasy relationship between warring parties maybe the link to the rise and fall of Masonry throughout the history of man. Nevertheless, the most important point made is that the authors did not simply make this rule up; rather, they gathered it from the ancient records.
Page 51-52: “IV. Of MASTERS, WARDENS, Fellows, and Apprentices… These Rules and Governors, supreme and subordinate, of the ancient Lodge, are to be obey’d in their respective Stations by all the Brethren, according to the old Charges and Regulations…”
Comment: Again, we see the authors referring to the “ancient Lodge” and “old Charges and Regulations.” I have to say it again, Masons during this period were only adhering to the traditions from the old Charges ~ for the most part, they did not create new Charges, unless otherwise specified.
Page 57: “POSTSCRIPT. A worthy brother, learned in the law, has communicated to the Author (while this sheet was printing) the opinion of the great Judge Coke upon the act against Masons, 3 Hen. VI. Chap. 1. which is printed in this Book, page, 35, and which quotation the Author has compared with the original, Yiz:
COKE S INSTITUTES, 3D PART, FOL. 99.
The cause wherefore this offence was made felony, is for that the good course and effect of the statutes of laborers were thereby violated and broken. Now, (says my Lord Coke) all the statutes concerning laborers, before this act, and whereunto this act doth refer, are repealed by the statute of 5. Eliz. Cap. 4. whereby the cause and end of the making of this act, is taken away; and consequently this act is become of no force or effect: for cessante ratione Legis, cessat i’psa Lex: And the indictment of felony upon this statute must contain, that those Chapters and Congregations were to the violating and breaking of the good course and effect of the statutes of laborers; which now cannot be so alleged, because the statutes be repealed. Therefore, this would be put out of the charge of justices of peace, written by Master Lambert, p. 227.
This quotation confirms the tradition of old Masons, that this most learned Judge really belonged to the ancient Lodge, and was a faithful brother.”
Comment: The above post-scripted quote referred to the Sir Edward Coke ~ [Cook] ( 1 February 1552 – 3 September 1634) who they believed was a Free-Mason; and who also adhered to the traditions of old Masons and the ancient Lodge.
The General Regulations Constitution:
Page 58: “GENERAL REGULATIONS… And now, by the Command of our said Right Worshipful GRAND-MASTER MONTAGU, the Author of this book has compar’d them with, and reduc’d them to the ancient Records and immemorial Usages of the Fraternity, and digested them into this new method, with several proper Explications, for the Use of the Lodges in and about London and Westminster.”
Comment: Here we see Anderson and the committee of fourteen commenting on the General Regulations, not their History or their Charges, just the General regulations, which was a separate Constitution. This too dealt with the old Records, but they did take certain liberties with regard to a “new method” regarding General Regulations. I do hope the reader of this article can see the difference between each of these sections or Constitutions. No where in the history section or Constitution was this claim made.
Page 72: “Upon this the Deputy shall rehearse the Charges of a Master, and the GRAND-MASTER shall ask the candidate, saying, Do you submit to the Charges, as Masters have done in all ages?”
Comment: Take note of the highlighted section above, which referred to Masters in all ages; again I write, Masons during this period were only following the traditions from earlier periods.
Page 73: “APPROBATION… And WHEREAS the old Constitutions in England have been much interpolated, mangled and miserably corrupted, not only with false Spelling, but even with many false Facts and gross Errors in History and Chronology, through Length of Time, and Ignorance of Transcribers, in the dark illiterate Ages…”
Comment: Here we see the reason for the compilation of the new Constitutions, which was because the old Constitutions had become corrupted. I have heard the term new Constitutions used several times in the book; therefore, they referred to their work as a new Constitution not the “first” Constitutions, as many pundits of Masonic history have misapplied.
History of Masonry Songs:
Page 75-90: “THE MASTER’S SONG, OR THE HISTORY OF MASONRY… THE WARDEN’S SONG: OR ANOTHER HISTORY of MASONRY. COMPOS’D Since the most noble Prince PHILIP Duke of WHARTON was Chosen GRANDMASTER… THE FELLOW-CRAFTS SONG: By our Brother CHARLES DELAFAYE Esg;… THE Enter’d PRENTICES SONG. By our late BROTHER Mr. MATTHEW BIRKHEAD, deceas’d…”
Comment: For the sake of time and space, I combined the last music section into one segment. Needless to say, I could easily go on and on to make my point; but let me just write that the music within the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons only confirms what was written in earlier sections and by myself in this analysis. Which is, Anderson, the committee of fourteen and the other signers of this work felt deeply about maintaining the Masonic tradition of adhering to the old doctrine. In no way did they believe they were starting anything new, other than those issues explicitly written about; like in the General Regulations. These songs were written by a variety of Masons, which are listed above, including Anderson, who wrote “The Master’s Song.”
So what did I learn by dissecting the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons? Well, first and foremost, I learned that an improper revisionist agenda has been propagated against Masonry for decades, if not longer. When the 1717 fairy tale began is not certain? Yet, by dissecting the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons, the document these revisionist pundits claim proved their point that Freemasonry began in 1717, I learned their allegation is unsupportable. Throughout the document, the authors repeatedly wrote that they were simply compiling a new Constitutions, which was based on old Constitutions, and old Records; some of which came from France, Rome (Latin) and Greece. It can be easily assumed that the authors of the 1717 Constitutions of Free-Masons took great care in researching their historical roots. And during the discovery process they discovered many historical errors, which they readily admitted to and did their best to correct. In no way did these men take their work lightly; rather, they understood the gravity of the task and sought out all available information to help create a new, not a “first,” beginning for Masonry in England.
I learned that James Anderson was not the exclusive author of the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons; rather, he was simply the principle compiler of the document, who was accountable to a committee of fourteen other prominent Masons. And that the document was ultimately approved by at least 61 Masons total, including Anderson. Therefore, any abhorrent claims against Anderson must now be rethought. You see, pundits continually argue that Anderson, who by the way was a prominent minister, had an agenda of rewriting Masonic history and making money off of the book. Claims I believe have been falsely and disingenuously applied. In fact, it has never been proven that he personally benefited from his work regarding the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons, which took about fifteen years to sell out of all first printed copies before another printing was conducted in 1738. Needless to say, very little money could have been earned between these printing dates.
Furthermore, I learned that the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons was an adulterated version of the old Constitutions and other related documents. In fact, the most profound claim against the book was made shortly after its initial publication, which claimed that it did not go far enough in supporting previously viewed Masonic history. This belief stands in stark contrast to contemporary claims that say the document is nothing but unsupportable falsehoods, which were made by the authors to glorify Masonry in England that had been previously struggling for recognition.
Moreover, I learned that the document used the age-old instruction of allegory, like when it applied the Biblical account of Adam to start Masonic history; a point pundits claim proved the inaccuracy of the document. To strike out against this claim simply shows a lack of knowledge regarding the use of Masonic allegory; like the story of Hiram Abiff, which is simply a metaphor for a variety of lessons.
I also learned that the story of Hiram Abiff was actually included in the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons; an issue pundits claim was not added to Masonry until about 1730 or so. Now, I will readily admit it was not included in the general writings; however, it was included in the detailed reference for Hiram on pages 11 and 12, which could have been easily found by simply reading the references on both pages.
The 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons also detailed countless references, which I believe was unusual for the period, and a topic pundits neglected to credit. In truth, nearly every page from the historical section showed a reference; and in many cases showed several references that often took up more than half a page. The sad fact is, pundits of the document either showed outright scholarly neglect, or an outward bias, by forgetting to follow these important references. In short, the historical section clearly proved that the committee of fourteen and the 61 signers, including Anderson, of the document attempted to back up their claim with unusual scholarly references for the time. By following these references, I discovered that earlier Constitutions, Grand Masters, Lodges, Laws, Charges and Regulations existed. This is important, for you see, pundits continually claim there is simply no proof of earlier Constitutions, Grand Masters, Lodges, Laws, Charges and Regulations. Really? That is not what the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons continually wrote about and referenced. Simply stated, how can pundits make the claim that the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons proved the first Grand Lodge began in 1717, when the document itself wrote that there were other Grand Lodges; and how can these pundits also claim that this document formed the first Constitution when the document claimed they simply compiled from another (other) Constitutions and other ancient Documents, Laws, Charges and Regulations. In your author’s mind, any claims made about the 1717 date and the 1723 Constitutions of Free-Masons being the “first” is nothing but revisionism. In actual fact, such claims are an out and outright lie by revisionists with an agenda at disproving Masonic lineage!
The document also supports the works of other Masonic writers, like Joseph Newton, the author of The Builders (1914), who I wrote about previously on this blog. It also made mention of Masonic legends like Charles Martell, King of France and King Athelstan, King of England, and their efforts at promoting Masonry. I have heard it time and time again, that there is simply no proof that these two men were affiliated with Masonry. Really? Well, we now have the supreme document from the period that say’s otherwise. And one of the biggest discoveries came from page 33, which demonstrated that King Athelstan used records that came from France, Rome (Latin) and Greece to rewrite the Masonic Constitution during his reign.
Needless to say, I could add to this discussion at length; however, I think I have written enough to make my point in this article. But let it be said here, if you don’t believe my research, please purchase the book yourself and do your own research. And if you do, you will find the same findings I did, which stand in stark contrast to many of the revisionist fairy tales that have been propagated against Freemasonry for decades, if not for at least a century now. Thank you for reading ~/G\~
If Masonry had a patron saint in Hollywood, Nicolas Cage would be the guy.
I’ll admit, there are a lot of actors who in the past fit the bill including the stalwarts like John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Ernest Borgnine, Clark Gable, or Roy Rogers. Some amongst that list have been more vocal and out front about their affiliation, which is, in the end a personal choice.
No, I say patron saint to Masonry because Cage seems to have a track record of making movies in and around the subject matter that circles that of Freemasonry without any open connection to his affiliation with the fraternity.
Think of it as a parallel line of thought, or of art imitating life.
I don’t think the making of these films is to suggest that Cage or his producers are doing it intentionally. Hollywood films, as you’ve seen in the end of film credits, involve a lot of people with a degree of diversity from film to film. The common denominator in this scheme is types of roles played by Nicolas Cage himself.
Is he doing it intentionally or is there some cosmic push that’s at work directing Cage towards these roles?
This is just a quick list of films that, I think, could be argued as being pro-Masonic or at least positive towards Masonic tradition.
National Treasure 2004
The Wicker Man 2006
National Treasure: Book of Secrets 2007
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2010
Season of the Witch 2011
Now these are just a few of the 60+ films he’s stared since his silver screen debut in 1980, but in these six films, you can get a sense of a recurring theme.
National Treasure, released in 2004, we find Cage playing amateur historian and treasure hunter Benjamin Gates who after deciphering a secret code on the back of the U.S. constitution, stumbles on to the lost treasure of the Knights Templars, protected in modern times by the Freemasons, who we meet in agent Sandusky as played by Harvey Keitel.
The Wicker Man, a remake of the film of the same name from 1973, has Cage playing Edward Malus, an American policeman who goes on the search for his missing daughter, when he inadvertently finds himself in the middle of an English Wiccan/Pagan Society to become the Burning Wickerman himself at the end. The link to Masonry, though less obvious in the film, is that modern Wiccan/Paganism was founded by Freemason Gerald Gardner who popularized its reemergence in the 1950’s.
National Treasure 2 saw the return of Benjamin Gates on the trail of the Book of Secrets, which included mentions of the Scottish Rite’s Albert Pike, and the founding fathers. The pre-release advertising of the film leaned heavily on the Masonic connections of its predecessor, while this film itself focused on another “fraternity” the Knights of the Golden Circle. This films success has been successful enough to the talk of a National Treasure 3 in the future.
In Knowing, Cage played Professor Jonathan “John” Koestler, Astrophysicists by day and numerologist (read here gematria, the Hebrew system of words and phrases assigned by their numerical value as seen in the study of Kabbalah) by night that discovers the secret coming end times by decoding the written number sequences found in a 50 year old school time capsule.
Though less overt, the film plays up his ability to read the prophecy and down his ability to its inevitability.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from 2010, while a remake of the animated Disney film of the same name, held true to this same series where Cage played Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer trained by Merlin who’s magic is more akin to Alchemy and the power of the mind, a theme prevalent in many Rosicrucian circles and similar to the idea of the Kybalion, that everything is mental – the power of the mind. A strong theme in the film links the ideas of magick to modern physics and the science behind energy.
In the new film Season of the Witch, Cage plays Behman, a long standing (Templar?) Knight of the crusades who grows weary of the holy Catholic Church’s work in slaughtering innocent people, only to be pulled in to one last mission to save an innocent girl possessed by the spirit of a powerful demon. How to slay the demon and its ilk is a Latin reading of the “Wisdom of King Solomon”, a powerful spell that destroys witches and demons.
Again, this is only 10% of his on screen time, but its not terribly hard to see a pattern here of Knights Templars, Freemasons, Magick/Alchemy/Kabbalah, and King Solomon each of which are keys components to the study of Freemasonry.
Without a doubt, one could argue that just as much of his work is about quirky guys doing quirky things – from stealing cars in Gone in Sixty Seconds to stealing Diapers in Raising Arizona.
But none of his filmography follows the same pattern of the six films listed above, and even fewer actors in Hollywood have the same resume of cinema choices that parallel such a recurring theme, unless their character is reprising a role in a sequel. Harrison Ford comes to mind in the Indiana Jones franchise, but here again he is playing a reprisal of a character, not a different character with a recurring thematic undercurrent.
So how does all of this make Nicolas Cage the Silver Screen Saint of Freemasonry? Simply by continuing to play roles in films where he champions the ideas of the fraternity, even the more esoteric ideas, and by keeping it in a positive light.
Will every viewer of these films see the connection? Probably not, but for those with eyes to see, with so many loose connections its hard to miss the underlying current. The other possibility is that Cage has simply been typecast as the ‘guy’ who plays these roles so successfully at the box office that he has become the go to man for the everyman cinema esoteric.
Who knows, based on his resume, maybe we’ll see Cage in the role of Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of The Lost Symbol as its rumored that Tom Hanks may have scheduling conflicts.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn and spend a few evenings watching Cage in these movies and see if you don’t see some connection deeper than a square and compass on a ring or on the bumper of a car as with most Masonic mentions in movies. You might just see him as a patron saint of Masonry too.
The origin of the word is a Greek translation of Latin and it does reference exactly what you pointed out (that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens). First degree is also right, but wherein does the answer lie my brother?
Acheiropoieta also called “Icons Not Made by Hand” are a particular kind of icon which are alleged to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter, which are usually images of either Jesus or the Virgin Mary. The works are believed to be so wondrous and beautiful, that no mere man could have created them. The most notable examples are, in the Eastern church the Image of Edessa or Mandylion, and in the West, the Veil of Veronica and the Shroud of Turin. More importantly for western Masons is the Shroud of Turin (burial shroud or linen that purportedly has an image of Jesus Christ after crucifixion but before resurrection). What is really important is that it is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Reportedly, the shroud was one of the sacred relics that our Templar forebears kept as part of their treasure. (No wonder it is kept in a church dedicated to the memory of the Holy St. John the Baptist…) All of these icons have been known to heal miraculously. So why is there no emphasis on the Mandylion like there is for the Shroud of Turin?
So, to sum it all up, we as masons are to fashion our minds, as living stones to fit in that wondrous and beautiful spiritual building…that house not made with hands (human) eternal in the heavens! But where in the bible brother, does this particular part of our ritual come from? Surely it didn’t just crop up out of nowhere? We tell new initiates and our younger brothers that our Rule and Guide offers an explanation for everything in Masonic rituals and it does (Scroll down to see the answer below). Good job…
Mark 14:53-63 (King James Version)
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death ; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together . And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying , We heard him say , I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together . And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying , Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace , and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said , I am : and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith , What need we any further witnesses?
(This is more than Jesus talking about tearing down a physical temple, he was specifically talking about tearing down this body to prepare for that spiritual building, not made with hands eternal in the heavens)
2 Corinthians 5:1 (King James Version) – For we know that if the house of this tabernacle were dissolved , we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Remember, in Masonry there are always several layers. So the next puzzler is one question with multiple parts, each digging deeper than the last:
After being taught to wear your apron as an EA, what were you then asked? Why was there no metallic sound heard at the building of King Solomon’s Temple (it may have something to do with acheiropoieta from earlier today)? Why did King Solomon decree that no metallic sound would be heard during the building of the temple? Are there other biblical references (laws in the Old or New Testament) that King Solomon used to justify his actions? And finally, after you answer all of those questions, WHY is all of this important?
You will probably start in the ritual, but remember brothers, the ritual is just the beginning and will only get you the esoteric stuff. Let’s see how our ritual is grounded in the Rule and Guide (and for our Brothers who practice the faith of Islam, I have also researched this in the Qur’an and found the answers, so please help those of us who do not practice the “peaceful way” understand how this unfolds for you in your search).
by Adrian T. Taylor, Ph.D.
Founding Member of the David A. McWilliams, Sr. Research & Education Lodge
F&AM, PHA DC
In the text “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond,” this researcher took up the problem of the African/Egyptian origins of Freemasonry. In the latter text, a representative argument was reviewed, as portrayed by Lanier A. Watkins. In Bro. Watkin’s text, a variety of figures peculiar to members of the Craft were displayed, juxtaposed to similar figures found in ancient Egypt, as we can see in Figure 1.
Upon displaying similar figures, it was then contended by Bro. Watkins that “with sufficient evidence it is sensible to suggest that many of the signs used in our modern craft may have their origin in [a] much older African Culture.” Assessing the latter text, this researcher argued that “sufficient evidence” had been crafted to simply “suggest” that Freemasonry “may” have an African origin, given that anyone can effectively suggest anything, no matter a suggestion’s truth-value. Conversely, this researcher argued that “sufficient evidence” had not been crafted, on the latter grounds, for there to be a definitive/clear African Origins of Freemasonry, beyond a simple suggestion.
Essentially, this researcher argued that Bro. Watkin’s “suggestion” was too permissive, though consequential. Later, this researcher created a framework for what can count as “sufficient evidence,” to responsibly examine the question: Is there an African Origin of Freemasonry? Consequently, this researcher constructed Three Stations that needed to be circumambulated, that of (1) The Secret History Station, (2) The Generation of the Ritual Station, and (3) The Egyptian Meaning Station.
In this paper “The Generation of the Ritual Station” will be reviewed. It will be reviewed focused on tracing the generation of the third degree, in light of the purported similarities between the Legend of Hiram Abiff and the Legend of the Egyptian deity Osiris, as originally portrayed by the Greek, Plutarch (46 – 120 C.E.).
The Generation of the Ritual Station
Ritual and ceremony are nothing new to Freemasonry and society at large. Ritual and ceremony attempt to buttress and communicate shared values and experiences, over time. In the Craft, allusions to ritual and ceremony can be traced to the oldest Freemasonic document of record, the Regius Manuscript/poem. It was written circa 1390 C.E. and is sometimes referred to as the Halliwell manuscript, grouped with the Gothic Constitutions, which traces Freemasonry’s legendary/mythic origins to ancient Egypt. In society, ritual and ceremony are seemingly ubiquitous, ranging from the profane (putting on your Washington Redskins jersey before the big game against the Dallas Cowboys) to the profound (listening to the bride and groom at a wedding ceremony, pledge: “until death do us part!”).
Nonetheless, Freemasonry is distinguished by its “secret” initiatory ritual ceremonies which progress by degrees of instruction. Traditionally, secrets were kept for proprietary reasons (as vital trade secretes) by the operative stonemasons of Gothic Cathedrals and were communicated orally because much of Europe at that time was illiterate. Effectively, said ritual ceremonies have been participatory, morality plays, attempting to communicate the core values (e.g. faith, hope and charity) and virtues (e.g. brotherly love, relief and truth) of the Craft.
It is here, in the space of ritual and ceremony, where the problem of the African Origins of Freemasonry arises, particularly focused on the generation of the third degree. Some essentially see the Legend of Osiris dramatically reworked in the finished Legend of Hiram Abiff. To move beyond a simple suggestion on the African Origins of Freemasonry, towards a negotiation of “sufficient evidence,” we need to (1) trace the genealogy of the third degree, and (2) pay particular attention to the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers, who according to Dr. David Harris, a Mason, was the key generator of the third degree ritual.
The Genealogy of the Third Degree
When we assess the earliest, operative stonemason records of the Craft, we essentially find a rather straightforward singular ritual and ceremony. When a man was made a Mason, after, in some instances, at least seven years of apprenticeship, he was read a legendary history of the craft. Additionally, he was instructed to take an oath of fidelity, with his hands placed on the Bible, before he was recognized as a Fellow of the Craft or an operative Journeyman (both terms denoting a full Mason).
Based on the available evidence, we find that over time the ceremonies became more elaborate, and two degrees emerged. Rooted in British culture and custom, we can find the construction of instructive questions and answers to be committed to memory, new modes of recognition, the creation of terrible pledges of trustworthiness, the communication of various lectures informed by the Bible, and the creation of various symbolic rites.
As the Craft began to change from an operative labor guild (of stone builders) into a speculative society (of moral-character builders), the ceremonies and symbolism began to change. This gradual change was informed by the decline in palace and cathedral constructing. It was also a reflection of the renegotiation between faith, reason and the State, rooted in the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment. These changes were eventually reflected in the second degree. In time, more non-operative masons were freely “accepted” as members and began to replace/dominate the old stonemason guilds. According to most accounts, Elias Ashmole (hermeticist, alchemist and founding member of the Royal Society) is the first Free and Accepted “speculative” (or philosophical) Mason. In his diary, Ashmole recorded his “acceptance” into the Craft in 1646, at a tavern in Warrington, England.
Eventually, the Craft changed from a two degree system in 1717 (the first degree was for Entered Apprentices and the second degree was for Masters or Fellows of the Craft) to a three degree system, securely established by 1730 (the Entered Apprentice, and the Fellow Craft degrees, with the addition of a third degree, for the Master Mason). The latter transition from a two degree to a three degree system has been traced by recognizing that the Premier Grand Lodge of England only worked two degrees in 1717. This can also be traced by tracking “Two early manuscripts of 1711 and 1726 (Trinity College, Dublin MS. and Graham MS.), an expose of 1723 (A Mason’s Examination), and two minutes of 1725,” indicating that a third degree was being worked. Further, it was clearly established that three degrees were in use with the introduction of the bestselling expose of 1730, Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected.
According to Dr. Harrison, “The changes in ritual, the reorganization, and the centralisation [sic] that would be administered as a result of the new Grand Lodge eventually resulted in rebellion, most notably in York and with the creation of the rival ‘Antients’ [sic] in 1751,” only to be harmonized at the Union of 1813, as the United Grand Lodge of England.
Within this milieu, there are credible reports that one of the earliest depictions of the third degree was “performed as a play by an all-Masonic cast at the Philo Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini (Apollonian Society for Lovers of Music and Architecture) in London.” In this original play, we find that “it dramatically told two stories: the building of King Solomon’s Temple and the death of Noah, and with his death, the loss of his ‘secret knowledge.’” In a later edition of Dr. James Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738 we find that a “Noachidae was the first name of the Masons, according to some old tradition” meaning “sons of Noah.” For Anderson, his legendary conception of Noah was consequential insofar as Noah “was commanded and directed of God to build the great Ark” and that he and “his three Sons, JAPHET, SHEM, and HAM, all Masons true, brought with them over the Flood the [Masonic] Traditions and Arts of the Ante-deluvians.” This ongoing transition helped to facilitate the consummation of what we now know as Blue Lodge Freemasonry.
When the third degree ritual took its final form, in light of the contemporary debate about the nature of its origins, we know that the new ceremony featured a legend about a Grand Master Mason Hiram Abiff, a widow’s son—replacing, but combining many of the original elements from the Masonic legend of Noah. Assessing the accepted legend, we essentially find a narrative featuring Grand Masters, King Solomon of Israel, King Hiram of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, focused on the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. According to one amended account, from the Masonic Scholar Brent Morris,
King Solomon organized the works by skill for work efficiency. King Hiram furnished building supplies and workers for the Temple. Hiram Abiff was the master builder, responsible for all of the decorations of the Temple… Three Fellowcraft Masons were impatient to receive the Master Mason word, and tried to extort it from Hiram Abiff. He refused to reveal the secret and was murdered. The murderers hastily buried the body of Hiram outside the city and tried to escape. They were captured, returned to Solomon for judgment, and punished. The body of Hiram was found and reburied in a more dignified grave.
The allegorical meaning and/or allusions of the above mentioned legend are going to vary depending on the contingencies of a given evaluator. Yet, if we take the recent work of Dr. Harris seriously, focused on the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers,  we may be able to more responsibly ascertain what influenced the generation of the third degree—the degree where some contend that the Legends of Noah and Hiram Abiff were inspired by the Legend of Osiris.
The Dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers
According to Dr. David Harrison, in the text Genesis of Freemasonry, “most historians have neglected … the importance of the ritual, which was central to the history of Freemasonry and held the true meaning of the Craft.” Beyond any notions about what “the true meaning of the Craft” truly is, given the challenges of circumscribing symbolic speculations, his review of the dispensation of Dr. Theophilus Desaguliers, focused on the generation of the third degree is instructive. Assessing the work of Harrison, we clearly find that Desaguliers was “influenced by various sources.”
As has already been reviewed in this text, the ritual ceremonies of Freemasonry have emerged over time. Based on the documented evidence, the Craft first had one, two, and then three degrees of instruction—along with the proliferation of degrees in our times. More importantly, we can say that the latter degrees mirrored the social/political worlds in which they emerged, culminating in the transformative nature of the third degree.
In the social world of early to mid 18th century Britain, we can find a renegotiation between what can be framed as Classical and Modern traditions. This is reflected, in part, by the Classical traditions of the Bible, Stonemasons Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, alchemy, and hermeticism); and, in part, by the Early to Modern traditions of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment (rooted in Esoteric speculations, Reason and Science). As such, the Classical and Modern traditions, in conflict with each other during the dispensation of Early to Modern Europe, and even in our times, found a place to lodge, symbolically in Solomon’s Temple. Assessing the historical record, (Rev. Dr. James) Anderson and (Rev. Dr. John Theophilus) Desaguliers (both members of the Royal Society) are credited with transforming the latter conflict, playing significant roles in getting this work done through the creation of the Book of Constitutions (1723) and the generation of the third degree (1720s), respectively. Accordingly, the historical record demonstrates that “Desaguliers, with the assistance of Anderson, reconstructed the ritual with dramatic and theatrical flare.”
Further, we find that codifying third degree “ritual changes date to the early 1720s, and occur after Desaguliers visited the Lodge of Edinburgh that met at St. Mary’s Chapel.” A growing consensus of historians are contending that “elements of what was to become the Third Degree ritual were designed during this period, the changes perhaps being influenced by what Desaguliers had witnessed in the lodge in Scotland” and his collection of “Old Charges” and/or “Curious Writings.”
Little is known about the life of Desaguliers. In 1683, Desaguliers was born in France – during a time of political tumult and religious intolerance. Eventually, his family fled to England. It is reported that in the early 1700s he attended Oxford University, became a member, and eventual curator, of the Royal Society, and “quickly penetrated [Sir. Isaac] Newton’s circle” of natural philosophers (denoting early scientists). As such, we find that Desaguliers established a significant relationship with Newton, accepted as the keystone of the scientific revolution. Newton was also recognized as an Esotericist in his times given his translation of The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, and his “obsession” with measuring and discovering the “occult” mysteries of Solomon’s Temple. It is also reported that Newton became the godfather of one of Desaguliers’ children, and that Desaguliers’ “experiments even influenced some of Newton’s own ideas, such as the transmission of heat through a vacuum.”
As well as being an early scientist, Desaguliers became a Reverend (and Huguenot minister) with the Church of England. In his own life, eventually embodied in the confluence of influences on the generation of the third degree, we see that Nature’s God can be ascertained through Faith and Reason. Faith and Reason were not mutually excluded; they were essentially two different epistemologies that could be valued to secure more light. Moreover, records indicate that he was at the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of 1717. In 1719, he was the Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge, a position that surely solidified his place and respect in the Craft, informing the authority that he was granted to re-work the third degree. Before he died, apparently with little pomp and ceremony in 1744, it is reported that he served as Deputy Grand Master more than once.
Focused on Desaguliers’ dispensation, and the factors that contributed to the actual generation of the third degree, we find the renegotiation between the past and his working present. By this, we are referencing the dispensation of Desaguliers and his attempt to synthesize the Classical and Modern traditions, embodied within the third degree.
The Classical and Modern Traditions
There were a variety of streams at work during the dispensation of Desaguliers’ third degree work. One was the Classical Tradition, informed, in part, by the Bible, Stonemasons Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, hermeticism and alchemy). The other was the Modern Tradition, informed, in part, by all that came before it, and the light of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment.
Assessing the earliest records of the Modern Craft, Freemasonry’s Judeo-Christian foundations are clear. During the dispensation of Desaguliers, Protestant England was still in flux, religiously and politically. England was still recovering from the political and religious turmoil-warfare that followed from Henry the VIII’s decision to separate from the Church of Rome two centuries earlier. Within this space, Freemasons wanted to establish harmony. According to Masonic scholar Mark A. Tabbert, they “sought to avoid theological and political differences by subscribing to a viewpoint that supported a universal affirmation of man’s dependence on God, the existence of an afterlife, and the wisdom conveyed through Holy Scripture and evident in the designs of nature.” Henceforth, Masons pledged to support “that religion in which all men agree,” essentially Christianity, given the dispensation of which this passage emerged, “leaving their particular opinions to themselves.” Thus, Freemasonry is often framed as “a brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God.”
As has been reviewed, Freemasonry pulls from the operative Stonemasons Guilds of Medieval Europe. Assessing the nature and organization of the latter guilds, the literature suggests that they were “comprised of ‘laborers,’ who wrought the stone; ‘foremen,’ who supervised the work, and ‘architects,’ who were the master overseers.” These “Guilds oversaw a craftsman’s progress from apprentice to master, maintained the quality and ownership of the craft, and provided assistance to the brothers in time of need.” Further, “A stonemason’s ‘lodge’ was located at the site and was the place where mason gathered, received instruction and stored their tools.”
Historicizing the religious tolerance and respect for the State that we often find in the Craft, it becomes clear that it is rooted in the operative past. On the one hand, stonemasons built cathedrals for the Church, and on the other hand they built castles for the King. To maintain harmony, and regulate the order, the accepted history of the Craft suggests that stonemasons “drew up long lists of rules or ‘charges;’ that articulated their mythical history, established their local authority, and required the members to be faithful Christians and loyal subjects to the king.” To keep trade secrets and acknowledge rank, “hand signs and grips” were contrived, which allowed senior craftsmen to travel to “distant job sites.” As times and historical conditions changed, so too did the craft from an operative system to a speculative system, appealing to the metaphors of architecture.
During the dispensation of Desaguliers, an Esoteric tradition of magic, hermeticism and alchemy was also at work. Often, Esoteric matters are synonymous with the occult or “sinister” issues of deliberately hidden/veiled secrets. Allegations of “black” magic and the Craft are old. Confronting the reality that “Freemasonry is referred to as the Craft suggests” for Harrison, “a direct link to the craft guilds of the medieval period, yet elements of the ritual and the symbolism also hint at connections with the occult and particularly with witchcraft.” During Freemasonry’s formative years, allegations of “black” magic were addressed by James Anderson (Book of Constitutions, 1738) and Laurence Dermott (Ahiman Rezon, 1778). Anderson dealt with the allegation that Masons raised “the Devil in a Circle,” and Dermott recognized that “free masons were supposed to have a power to raise the Devil,” such that people were “forbid by the clergy to use the black art.”
Beyond said allegations, the work of Harrison displays some more than curious connections with the Craft and magic. For Harrison, there are connections between the following: “The ‘casting’ or ‘drawing’ of circles” used in early rituals; “the use of candles within the ritual, lit at the opening and blown out at the close of the lodge,” is thought to be “reminiscent of magic ceremonies, assisting in developing the atmosphere of the lodge room already charged with ambience created by the display of powerful symbolism and poetical ritual;” the reality that early lodges “met once a month during the time of the full moon,” like the ancient Druids; there are suspicious links recorded in 1586 of “Noah’s son Ham being linked to the black arts,” connected “to a gruesome story of necromancy;” and the prevalence of numerology, associated with “Masonic magical numbers, such as three, five, seven and 15.”
The search for “lost knowledge” was also on offer during the dispensation of Desaguliers. This theme was captured in the practices of hermeticism and alchemy, both tracing their roots to ancient Egypt. Those that were disposed to the latter practices were persecuted as magicians, as such, by the Catholic Church, tortured and burned at the stake, alongside the philosophers and scientists.
Beyond Desaguliers, the emergence of speculative Freemasonry is fundamentally connected to esoteric matters (i.e. hermeticism and alchemy) as portrayed by the interests of Elias Ashmole (the first Free and Accepted Mason of record). He is cited for his translation of The Hermetic Arcanum (or The secret work of the hermetic philosophy), and his defense of the Rosicrucians in the text Theatrum Chemicum Brittannicum. According to Harrison and other sources, we find that “he was an avid student of the occult, experimenting in many forms of what was termed magic, and rigorously researched number mysticism, alchemy and astrology.” Additionally, he was “involved in the Hermetic Arts, learning Hebrew in an attempt to further his studies in his search for lost knowledge.” Preceding Desaguliers, we find a foundational negotiation between the Classical and Modern traditions, given that it was Ashomle’s “study of the Old Science of alchemy and astrology, which inspired him to be a founding member of the Royal Society, which in turn would be a bastion for the New Science.”
During the dispensation of Desaguliers, Egypt was the eternal, attractive enigma, especially for Esotericists. Egypt was thought to be “the fount of all wisdom and the stronghold of hermetic lore.” However, the dispensation of Desaguliers was not unique. The fascination with Egypt started with the Greeks; was constitutive of the legendary founding of the Craft as portrayed by the Gothic Constitutions; and continues to this very day. People during the dispensation of Desaguliers learned about Egypt through existent texts/translations of the Greeks, and others, which informed hermeticism and alchemy (and its “imagined” institutional perpetuation via the Rosicrucians).
Though the hieroglyphs were not deciphered until 1822 by Jean-Francois Champollion, Egypt was not a complete enigma. Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe learned about Egypt through the works of Herodotus, Plato, Plutarch, Strabo, Diodorus, Iamblichus, Clement of Alexandra, Horapollo, Apuleius, and others; and texts like the tractate Asclepius, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the Rosicrucian text Fama Fraternitatis (The Rosicrucian Manuscripts). The latter texts kept the image of Egypt alive for the dispensation of Desaguliers, rooted in the mythos of hermeticism and alchemy.
For the Egyptians, Thoth (who the Egyptians called Tehuti) was mysteriously born in some accounts from the semen of the deities Horus and Set, containing within his being two warring elements. Thoth was typically symbolized by an ibis, a baboon, the head of an ibis on the body of a man, or as a human sage.
Thoth had many characteristics. In different dispensations, he was known as the deity of wisdom, inventor of writing/hieroglyphs, generator of sacred literature, superintendent of justice, inventor of the calendar, author of measurement, measurer of time, generator of rituals and sacred offerings, and inventor/practitioner of magic. In Egypt’s Hellenized (or Grecian) period (circa 332 B.C.E to 30 C.E.), his magical and/or “mysterious” elements became privileged, focused on easing one’s passage to the netherworld, such that it even became inappropriate to even speak his name.
After Alexander of Macedonia conquered Egypt in 332 B.C.E., Thoth became Hermes Trismegistus (thrice great), first portrayed by Akhmim in 240 C.E., though referred to as “twice great” around 570 B.C.E.
For the Greeks, Hermes was originally the “helpful messenger of the gods,” according to Ebeling. He had many attributes, from the god of community to the god of oratory. Similar to Thoth, “he conducted the souls of the dead in the netherworld… out of the shadowy realm and into the world above.” When he was merged with Thoth, he took on a new legend and attributes. He became the deity “of all wisdom, philosophy, and theology,” even teaching philosophy to the Greeks under his pseudepigrapha. He also became the deity of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” though there are grounds for a “hermetic lore” being rooted in Egypt.
Typically when people talk of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” they are appealing to notions of Egyptian secrets, sacred ritual, and ceremony—all attributed to Thoth. This brings us to “The Legend of Osiris,” and attendant ritual, ceremony and “mystery.”
Figure 4: Image of Horus (left), Osiris (center), and Isis/Hathor (right)
Assessing the nature of the legend, we find the following amended account by the British Museum:
Osiris was the king of the earth and Isis was the queen. Osiris was a good king, and he ruled over the earth for many years. However, everything was not well. Seth [or Set/Typhon] was jealous of Osiris because he wanted to be the ruler of the earth. He grew angrier and angrier until one day he killed Osiris. Osiris went down into the underworld and Seth remained on earth and became king. Osiris and Isis had one son called Horus. Horus battled against Seth and regained the throne. After that, Horus was the king of the earth and Osiris was the king of the underworld.
Ironically, at least during the Hellenized period of Egypt, if there were any secrets, they were out. The Legend of Osiris was public knowledge. As such, the “Egyptian Mysteries” were not so mysterious/secret. It was dramatically/symbolically depicted by Plutarch circa 100 C.E; viewed as a public morality play and seemingly derided by the Christian Minucius Felix circa 200 C.E.; and it was referenced as a three degree initiation ritual by Apuleius circa 200 C.E., though expressed cautiously. The words of Apuleius are instructive, given that his work appears to be the ancient foundation of Masonic ritual and ceremony:
Perhaps, curious reader, you may be eager to know what was then said and done [during the Mystery Initiation/s of Isis/Osiris]. I would tell you were it lawful for you to hear. But both the ears that heard those things and the tongues that told them would reap the evil results of their rashness. Still, however, kept in suspense, as you probably are, with religious longing, I will not torment you with long-protracted anxiety. Hear, therefore, but believe what is the truth. I approached the confines of death, and, having trod on the threshold of Proserpine, I returned there from, being borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with its brilliant light; and I approached the presence of the gods beneath and the gods above, and stood near and worshipped them. Behold, I have related to you things of which, though heard by you, you must necessarily remain ignorant.
In the passage above, we find Apuleius referencing a kind of dreadful death and “resurrection,” in this world, alluding to the immortality of the soul, in the next. Similar textual references can be found in Egypt, when tracing the travels of the sun god Ra and the tests of his companions in the netherworld by ferryman and the guardians of the gates.
Beyond ritual and ceremony, and the variety of texts that are attributed to Hermes, hermeticism was/is essentially a holistic-pantheistic philosophy, developed to communicate the following maxims: “That which is above is the same as that which is below;” and “all is part of one, or one is all.” Ritual ceremonies of initiation were contrived to make this ethos dramatically experiential, in Hellenized Egypt. Accordingly, this was the knowledge that was lost, which needed to be found. Informed by this “lost knowledge,” Ashmole, Newton (alchemist and purported Rosicrucian), Desaguliers and others in their dispensation, in the midst of the tensions between faith, reason and the State, would endeavor to recover and reconstruct the foundations for the idea that that there needn’t be any “false” distinctions between Man, Earth, and Cosmos. All is One, Spirit/Light.
Alchemy, rooted in spiritual transformation, through the metaphor of turning base metals into gold, is also traced to Egypt. It is important to account for given its practice during the dispensation of Desaguliers. According to the literature, it appears that alchemy “first flourished in Hellenistic Egypt in the first century.” It is an amalgamation of various philosophies, like the naturalist philosophy of Aristotle, the tenants of Stoicism, Gnostic doctrine, Babylonian astrological lore, “and motifs from Egyptian mythology, particularly the myth of Osiris.” The first recorded alchemical text is attributed to Zosimus. Valuing the hermetic doctrine, we find Zosimus communicating the following ethos:
In his Book on Immateriality, Hermes rejects magic [in opposition to Zoroaster] and says: ‘Pneumatic man, who has known himself, must neither achieve anything whatsoever with the help of magic, even if it is generally useful, nor must he defy necessity, but allow it to act according to its nature and its will. And he must now allow himself to be distracted along the way from his search for himself, to know God, and to understand the ineffable Trinity; and he must leave the filth subjected to him, that is, the body to Destiny, to do with it what it will.’
Later in the aforementioned text, laboratory experiments are on display for transforming base metals into finer substances. “But the spiritual side of alchemy predominates,” ultimately citing “the authority of Hermes Trismegistus.” As such, chemical metaphors are used to allude to “knowledge of self, God and nature.”
The latter realities were brought together, informed by the Scottish Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th Century, rooted in the Renaissance. The Renaissance, French for “rebirth,” was a period where Europe was effectively raised from the Dark Ages, imposed by ignorance, superstition and fear, into the light of the ancient world, as preserved by the Monastery, and the Moors from North Africa. It was at once a dispensation where “artistic, social, scientific, and political thought turned in new directions.”
In Eric Hornung’s text The Secret Lore of Egypt we find that the Renaissance becomes important because this renewed “encounter with Greek literature [e.g. Plutarch, Diodorus and Iamblichus], particularly in the framework of the Platonic Academy in Florence, awakened fresh interest in the classical accounts of Egypt and its superior wisdom.” Similarly, “There was a special focus on late antiquity, an epoch that was thoroughly imbued with Egypt, while classical antiquity remained in the shadows.” Overtime, “Renaissance Hermeticism quickly spread to England, where Thomas More wrote a biography of Pico della Mirandola and depicted a religion with expressly Hermetic traits in this Utopia (1516) and also propagated the idea of religious freedom.” These ideas were also foundationally advanced, and re-imagined in England, through the New Atlantis (1626) by Francis Bacon.
Rosicrucianism, rooted in Renaissance Hermeticism and alchemy, would also “spread to England,” committed to the “idea of religious freedom,” captured in the text Fama Fraternitatis. Though the founder (Christian Rosenkreutz) and the beginning of the order appear to be legendary, the following is clear about the Rosicrucians, for the purposes of this research: they emerged in the beginning of the 17th century; they are rooted in hermeticism and alchemy; they trace their legendary roots back to ancient Egypt; and according to the illuminating work of Hornung, “The New Order proved to be attractive to many Freemasons,” especially informed by their religious tolerance.
“During the religious and political wars that spread throughout Western Europe in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, intellectuals, artists, scientists and theologians were often forced to relocate in search of safety,” according to Tabbert. Britain became the destiny, in part, and “public taverns and coffeehouses became popular places for cultured gentlemen to gather for intelligent and social discourse.” This is the dispensation where men like “Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton and Elias Ashmole” got together to found the Royal Society, practice natural philosophy and “discover ways to gain personal improvement, bring order to society and understand the whole Universe,” in concert with faith.
The various elements that made up the Classical and Modern traditions came together in the biblical depiction of King Solomon’s Temple (I Kings and 2 Chronicles) for Desaguliers (and Anderson). During the dispensation of Desaguliers, many natural philosophers published treatises on its nature. It was contended by the likes of Newton, and others, that “the Temple’s architecture and ornaments held mathematical and geometrical keys to understanding the Nature of God and His creation.” Accordingly, Faith and Reason would be brought together for Desaguliers in the third degree ritual. Today, Solomon’s Temple is used as a symbol to unify the Craft, rooted in the Classical and Modern traditions, Faith and Reason.
Accosting the permissive suggestion of Bro. Watkins, that “sufficient evidence” was essentially at hand for an African Origins of Freemasonry, by displaying various figures from Egypt next to “similar” figures peculiar to members of the Craft, this researcher sought to create a more responsible framework to answer the question: Is there an African Origin of Freemasonry? Consequently, Three Stations of circumambulation were created for negotiation, (1) The Secret History Station, (2) The Generation of the Ritual Station, and (3) The Egyptian Meaning Station.
In this paper, “The Generation of the Ritual Station” was assessed. It was reviewed focused on tracing the generation of the third degree, in light of the purported similarities between the Legend of Hiram Abiff and the Legend of the Egyptian deity Osiris, as originally portrayed by the Greek, Plutarch. Establishing what can count as “sufficient evidence” for said question was the charge, beyond gross speculations. As such, the genealogy of the third degree was traced; and the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers was reviewed.
Upon reviewing the genealogy of the third degree, we found that it slowly emerged in Medieval Europe, from an operative one degree stonemason’s guild, to a speculative three degree system. Upon reviewing the dispensation of Desaguliers, we found that a variety of streams were at work. One was the Classical Tradition, informed, in part, by the Bible, Stonemason’s Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, hermeticism and alchemy). The other was the Modern Tradition, informed, in part, by all that came before it, and the light of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment.
In light of the above, we can conclude the following on the problem of the African Origin of Freemasonry, upon our encounter with “The Generation of the Ritual Station”:
There is no “smoking gun” for a direct or clearly conscious connection for Desaguliers’ third degree work and the Legend of Osiris.
Nevertheless, based on “sufficient evidence,” we can conclude the following:
The oldest recorded “resurrection” narrative is traced to Egypt, per Osiris.
The Western fascination and legendary depictions of Egypt started with the Greeks.
The oldest Freemasonic document of record, the Regius Manuscript, traces its legendary founding to Egypt.
Esotericism (magic, hermeticism and alchemy) interested early speculative Masons like Elias Ashmole, the first Free and Accepted Mason of record (demonstrated by his translation of The Hermetic Arcanum, and his defense of the Rosicrucians in the text Theatrum Chimicum Britannicum), and Desaguliers (as portrayed by the iterations of the third degree ritual and Desaguliers’ close relationship with the esotericist and scientist Sir Isaac Newton).
Hermeticism and alchemy trace their foundations to ancient Egypt.
During the dispensation of Desaguliers and Anderson, there were a variety of texts in existence traced to the Greco-Roman Period (e.g. Plutarch, Diodorus, Apuleius, Iamblichus), and others (like the tractate Asclepius, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the Rosicrucian text Fama Fraternitatis), that depicted various (legendary/mythical) conceptions of Egypt.
In the 17th century, the Rosicrucians, rooted in esoteric-Egyptian lore, proved to be attractive to many Freemasons.
Freemasons, along with many others, are still fascinated with Egypt.
Though disturbed, there are two more stations to cross if we want to secure More Light, focused on the problem of the African/Egyptian Origins of Freemasonry.
 See Dr. Adrian Taylor, “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond,” in The Phylaxis (Volume 36, Number 4, Winter 2009).
 See Taylor, “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond” for a reference to Lanier A. Watkins text “Origins, 1717 or Antiquity?”
 The meaning of the third degree ritual resurrection takes on a variety of different meanings, from faith in one’s word, the raising of Lazarus or Elijah, the eternal quest to find lost ancient/secret wisdom, the death and Resurrection of Christ, the dismembering and reassembling of Osiris, the immortality of the soul, the illusion of death, to the cycles of death and rebirth in nature itself, and beyond.
 See Erik Hornung (translated from German by David Lorton) The Secret Lore of Egypt (New York: Cornell University Press, 2001).
 See Anderson’s, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734) for a prime example of the Judeo-Christian roots of the Craft. In his text he frames the history-genealogy of Masonry squarely within the Biblical tradition.
 See Mark A. Tabbert, American Freemasons (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 18.
 See Hornung’s “Introduction.” And see Jan Assmann’s “Forward” in Florian Ebeling’s text (translated by Florian Ebeling) The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus (New York: Cornell University Press, 2007).
Join us for this episode as author Lon Milo DuQuette joined Masonic Central on Sunday, November 29th, 2009, to talk about magick, esoteric Freemasonry and the his masonic journey.
Within in Freemasonry, there are many titles and attributes bestowed upon its members, but few come to the table with the appellation of Magus. With a number of books having flowed from from his pen and a good many years of practice under an adept hand, Brother Lon Milo DuQuette is a stand-out example of bridging the esoteric with the obvious. Obvious at least to a few.
A Mason for many years, DuQuette has spent a substantial amount of time in the study of the realms of the tarot, Kabbalah, Thelema and Enochian Vision magic. Capturing the essence of DuQuette’s work, a quote from Aleister Crowley comes to mind in his saying,
“Magick was defined as the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with WILL.”
It’s that path in the conformity of will that led Masonic Brother DuQuette to his position within the Ordo Templi Orientis which itself has a rich history and modern day contribution to the occult practice.
In this episode, we explore the magical connections that Masonry may (or may not have) exist and what lessons we can find within the sage wisdom and teaching of the Masonic patriarch King Solomon.
No mere parlor tricks here. It is an excellent program of magical conversation, and delightful insights.