In this edition of Symbols and Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the subject of Riding the Goat.
Goat riding is one of those superstition that permeates most every corner of fraternal initiation. Not exclusively a Masonic institution, goat riding or making candidates “ride the goat” has been an aspect of hazing fueled initiation meant to scare and embarrass neophytes and initiates joining the institution. Yet, the practice seems to have a more succinct history involving ancient pagan practice and ritual.
The vulgar idea that “riding the goat” constitutes a part of the ceremonies of initiation in a Masonic Lodge has its real origin in the superstition of antiquity. The old Greeks and Romans portrayed their mystical god Pan in horns and hoof and shaggy hide, and called him “goat-footed.” When the demonology of the classics was adopted and modified by the early Christians, Pan gave way to Satan, who naturally inherited his attributes; so that to the common mind the Devil was represented by a he-goat, and his best known marks were the horns, the beard, and the cloven hoofs. Then came the witch stories of the Middle Ages, and the belief in the witch orgies, where, it was said, the Devil appeared riding on a goat. These orgies of the witches, where, amid fearfully blasphemous ceremonies, they practiced initiation into their Satanic Rites, became, to the vulgar and the illiterate, the type of the Masonic Mysteries; for, as Dr. Oliver says, it was in England a common belief that the Freemasons were accustomed in their Lodges “to raise the Devil.” So the “riding of the goat,” which was believed to be practiced by the witches, was transferred to the Freemasons; and the saying remains to this day although the belief has very long since died out.
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.
That secret portion of Masonry which is known only to the initiates as distinguished from exoteric Masonry, or monitorial, which is accessible to all who choose to read the manuals and published works of the Order. The words are from the Greek, εσωτερικός, internal, and εξωτερική, external, and were first used by Pythagoras, whose philosophy was divided into the exoteric, or that taught to all, and the esoteric, or that taught to a select few; and thus his disciples were divided into two classes, according to the degree of initiation to which the had attained, as being either fully admitted into the society, and invested with all the knowledge that the Master could communicate or as merely postulants, enjoying only the public instructions of the school, and awaiting the gradual reception of further knowledge. This double mode of instruction was borrowed by Pythagoras from the Egyptian priests, whose theology was of two kinds-the one exoteric, and addressed to the people in general; the other esoteric, and confined to a select number of the priests and to those who possessed, or were to possess, the regal power. And the mystical nature of this concealed doctrine was expressed in their symbolic language by the images of sphinxes placed at the entrance of their temples. Two centuries later, Aristotle adopted the system of Pythagoras, and, in the Lyceum at Athens, delivered in the morning to his select disciples his subtle and concealed doctrines concerning God Nature, and Life, and in the evening lectured on more elementary subjects to a promiscuous audience. These different lectures he called his Morning and his Evening Walk.
One of the greatest enigmas of contemporary Freemasonry, the Chamber of Reflection is a little-used aspect in the rituals of a newly made Mason. Yet, the symbolism of the Chamber has roots in Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and other occult traditions.
In the French and Scottish Rites, a small room adjoining the Lodge, in which, preparatory to initiation, the candidate is enclosed for the purpose of indulging in those serious meditations which its somber appearance and the gloomy emblems with which it is furnished are calculated to produce. It is also used in some of the advanced degrees for a similar purpose. Its employment is very appropriate, for, as Gädicke well observes,
It is only in solitude that we can deeply reflect upon our present or future undertakings, and blackness, darkness, or solitariness, is ever a symbol of death. A man who has undertaken a thing after mature reflection seldom turns back.
Manly P Hall, in his Secret Teachings of All Ages, writes of the use of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – beginning with the word VISITA and reading clockwise, the seven initial letters of the seven words inscribed in the outer circle read: VITRIOL. This is a very simple alchemical enigma but is a reminder that those studying works on Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, and Freemasonry should always be on the lookout for concealed meanings hidden either in Parables and allegories or in cryptic arrangements of numbers, letters, and words.
This follow up book to my 2010 project Masonic Traveler – Essays and Commentary is a different approach to understanding the importance and meaning behind the First Degree of Freemasonry.
Taking the approach from the Scottish (French) Rite degrees, this work explores the nuance of symbolic initiation lost in the contemporary system at work in much of the main-stream practice. By using the Scottish Rite First Degree, the meaning and process of the masonic initiation takes on new dimensions why compared to Albert Pike’s First Degree treatise in Morals and Dogma. It is that dimension that this work seeks to explore celebrating the art and history behind the initiation process.
The idea behind this work is that the degree, whether intentional or as a byproduct of revision and deconstruction, is a metaphorical entry point onto the Tree of Life from the mystical tradition of the Kabbalah. That, the first degree, when examined next to the works of other esoteric writers, becomes the foundation degree of initiation as it blossoms into a rich allegorical journey from chaos into order.
While not a tell-all expose into Freemasonry, the work, at a deeper level, is an attempt to understand what it means to BECOME a Freemason.
In this work are:
Two never before seen original poems by the author
Original Art envisioning the meaning of the initiation
Three explorations of the work
Notes to support the thesis
An interesting note, all aspects of the book from its creators hand. Not a pain stream or commercially published work, its creation is with an artisanal work as the product of a loving devotion to the medium and subject matter. Also interesting about the book is that this work is the first of three to round out three ineffable degrees of the fraternity taking us ever higher into the allegorical tree of life.
And, with this announcement I want to publicly thank those who invested in the work through Kickstarter. So, a big round of thinks to:
From Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of the All-Seeing Eye. Note, some links have been added as reference to the original quoted sources.
An important symbol of the Supreme Being, borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians appear to have derived its use from that natural inclination of figurative minds to select an organ as the symbol of the function which it is intended peculiarly to discharge. Thus, the foot was often adopted as the symbol of swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity. On the same principle, the open eye was selected as the symbol of watchfulness, and the eye of God as the symbol of Divine watchfulness and care of the universe. The use of the symbol in this sense is repeatedly to be found in the Hebrew writers. Thus, the Psalmist says
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry (Palms 34:15),
which explains a subsequent passage (Psalms 121.4), in which it is said:
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Then Moses said to the Lord 0 Lord dost thou sleep or not? The Lord said unto Moses, I never sleep: but take a cup and fill it with water. Then Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him. Then the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he slept, and the cup fell from his hand, and the water which was therein was spilled. Then Moses awoke from his sleep. Then said God to Moses, I declare by my power, and by my glory, that if I were to withdraw my providence from the heavens and the earth, for no longer a space of time than thou hast slept, they would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like as the cup fell from thy hand.
On the same principle, the Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open eye, and placed this hieroglyphic of him in all their temples. His symbolic name, on the monuments, was represented by the eye accompanying a throne, to which was sometimes added an abbreviated figure of the god, and sometimes what has been called a hatchet, but which may as correctly be supposed to be a representation of a square.
The All-Seeing Eye may then be considered as a symbol of God manifested in his omnipresence-his guardian and preserving character – to which Solomon alludes in the Book of Proverbs, 15.3, when he says:
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding (or, as in the Revised Version, keeping watch upon) the evil and the good.
William J Morris, in his Pocket Lexicon of Freemasonry, defines the All Seeing Eye as “an emblem found in every well-furnished lodge, and which is unnecessary further to explain.”
Yet, further explanation is necessary to detail the Eye of Providence that is so much in the parlance of the Masonic Lodge. While most American Lodges make use of the letter G to stand in as a representation deity, the All Seeing Eye, has that same function, perhaps with a more artistic flare.
Albert Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, writes this succinct observation on the meanings behind the eye in his entry for the All-Seeing Eye:
“An important symbol of the Supreme Being, borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians appear to have derived its use from that natural inclination of figurative minds to select an organ as the symbol of the function which it is intended peculiarly to discharge. Thus, the foot was often adopted as the symbol of swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity.
On the same principle, the open eye was selected as the symbol of watchfulness, and the eye of God as the symbol of Divine watchfulness and care of the universe. The use of the symbol in this sense is repeatedly to be found in the Hebrew writers. Thus, the Psalmist says:
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry, Psalms 34:15
which explains a subsequent passage in which it is said:
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. Psalms 121:4
In the Apocryphal Book of the Conversation of God with Moses on Mount Sinai, translated by the Rev. William T. Cureton from an Arabic manuscript of the fifteenth century, and published by the Philobiblon Society of London, the idea of the eternal watchfulness of God is thus beautifully allegorized (The full quote from Cureton’s work reads):
Then Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, what is thy meat and what is thy drink, and what thy clothing?
The most High God answered, My Meat is the tears of sinners when they weep over their sins; my drink is the repentance of those who repent of them; and my clothing is the praises of the angels, and the thanks givings of the souls of those who have escaped from their iniquities.
Then Moses said to the Lord, Oh Lord, doust thou sleep or not?
The Lord said unto Moses, I never sleep: but take a cup and fill it with water.
Then Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him.
Then the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he slept, and the cup fell from his hand, and the water which was therein was spilled.
Then Moses awoke from his sleep. Then said to God to Moses, I declare by my power, and my glory, that if I were to withdraw my providence from the heavens and the earth for no longer a space of time than thou hast slept, thy would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like as the cup fell from thy hand.
On the same principle, the Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open aye, and placed this hieroglyphic of him in all their Temples. His symbolic name, on the monuments, has represented by the eye accompanying a throne, to which was sometimes added an abbreviated figure of the god, and sometimes what has been called a hatchet, but which may as correctly be supposed to be a representation of a square.
The All-Seeing Eye may then be considered as a symbol of God manifested in his omnipresence – his guardian and preserving character – to which Solomon alludes in the Book of Proverbs (xv, 3), where he says:
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding (or, as in the Revised Version, keeping watch upon) the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3
The subject was not, it seems, defined sufficiently by Mackey, and became the subject of a Short Talk Bulletin in 1932, aptly titled The All Seeing Eye, and published by the Masonic Service Association of North America.
That Short Talk reads:
In the modern Masonic ritual the All-Seeing Eye is combined with the Sword, pointed at a Naked Heart; which latter emblem apparently came to American Freemasonry through Webb. The quotation from his Monitor (1797) is as follows:
The Sword pointing to a Naked Heart demonstrates that justice will sooner or later overtake us, and although our thoughts, words and actions may be hidden from the yes of man, yet the All Seeing Eye, whom the Sun, Moon and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the whole, and will reward us according to our merits.
The Sword and Naked Heart were probably adopted by Preston from early initiation ceremonies of the Continent, probably French, in which even today we find some degrees of some rites dressed with swords which are pointed at the candidate. But the essential part of this symbol, the All-Seeing eye, is hoary with antiquity, and, in one form or another, has been identified with early religions and mysteries from their beginnings.
It seems natural for men to personify his members in order to symbolize a virtue. The foot is universally a symbol of swiftness; the arm, of strength; the hand, of fidelity. The hand we extend to clasp that of a friend must be open, showing it contains no weapon; the knight of old removed his mailed gauntlet before offering his hand, to indicate that he greeted a friend from whom he feared no attack. From this we get our modern concept that it is good manners to remove a glove before shaking hands.
The eye was adopted early as a symbol of watchfulness, for reasons too obvious to set forth. By a natural transition, the watchful eye never slept, and which thus saw everything, speedily became the symbol of Deity.
Hear the Psalmist (XXXIV): “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”
Again (CXXI), “He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
A Proverb reads: “The yes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
Egypt symbolized her God and King, Osiris, by a open eye; it was in all the Temples, and is frequently found sculptured in stone together with a throne and a square, symbolic of Osiris, power and rectitude. One of the great curiosities of the world is the similarity, often identity, of ideas, inventions, discoveries, conceptions of peoples far removed, the one from the other, both in time and geographical location. The primitive loom, for instance, is strikingly similar in Egypt, India, South America, and Africa and among the Esquimaux (Eskimo). The Swastika (symbol made of four joined squares), often termed the oldest of symbols, is to be found literally all over the world. So is the point within a circle and the square as an emblem is found in early Egypt, Rome and China, to mention only three.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find so obvious a symbol as a watchful eye typifying Deity in the uttermost ends of the earth. That it was called the “All-Seeing Eye” in Vedic hymns a thousand years older than Christianity, and in a land as far as India from that we are wont to consider the cradle of Masonry, is a fact to make any student think.
Forty years ago the Reverend J.P. Oliver Minos drew Masonic attention to one of the Rig-Veda Hymns especially addressed to “Surya,” or the Sun:
Behold, the rays of dawn, like heralds, lead on high.
The Sun, that men may see the great all knowing God.
The Stars slink off like thieves, in company with Night, Before the All-Seeing Eye, whose beams reveal his presence, Gleaming like brilliant flames, to nation after nation.
You can read the full text of the Hymn to Surya at Sacred-Texts. And, it would seem that this is a the Hymn as it is performed.
The short talk continues:
“In the religions of India the eye is of high importance and prominence. Suva; one of the most important of the Gods of India, is pictured with three eyes, one more brilliant than the other two. Drawings are for sale in the market places of Benares and other Indian cities which visiting Masons often think are Masonic, merely because they portray the All-Seeing Eye. Indian religious devotees consider the peacock a sacred bird because of the resemblance of the feathers to an eye.
As a symbol of Deity the eye is a natural hieroglyph.
The connotation of sleeplessness, vision, knowledge is easily grasped by even a child-like intellect. But it is also, and for the same reason, a symbol of the sun; indeed, sun worship antedated almost all, if not all, other forms of worship.
The sun was worshiped by too many peoples in too many lands and ages to attempt to catalog here. Shamash was sun God to Assyrians, Merodach to the Chaldees, Ormuzd to the Persians, Ra to the Egyptians, Tezzatlipoca to the Mexicans, Helios to the Greeks and Sol to the Romans to mention only a few.
The sun is the source of a hundred myths; familiar is that of Helios, who drove his chariot daily across the sky. The Scandinavian God Sunna was in constant dread of being devoured by the wolf Fenris (symbol of the eclipse); Phaeton was the son of Phoebus, the sun, and stole his fathers chariot to drive across the heavens. Unable to control the fiery steeds, he came to near the earth and parched Libya into a land of barren sands, blackening the inhabitants of Africa and so heating that continent that it never recovered normal temperature! Had not Zeus transfixed him with a thunderbolt, he would have destroyed the world.
Modern poets and ancient have sung of the sun as thee eye of day; we recall:
The night has a thousand eyes and the day but one But the light of the whole world dies When the day is done.
Diogenes Laeritus thought of the sun as an incorruptible heavenly being when he wrote:
The sun, too shines into cesspools and is not polluted.
Dryden translated Ovid to read:
The glorious lamp of heaven, the radiant sun, Is nature’s eye.
Thou sun! Of this great world both eye and soul!
Freemasonry does not make of the eye a symbol of the sun. Her All- Seeing Eye is one emblem, her sun another, each with a distinct meaning. One of the Lesser Lights represents the sun; the sun shines out from between the legs of the compasses, opens sixty degrees on a quadrant, in the Past Master’s Jewel, all symbolic of the Masonic light which must come from the East from which comes all truth. It has been written:
The sun is the symbol of sovereignty, the hieroglyphic of royalty, it doth signify absolute authority,: By analogy, if the lodge is the symbol of the world, then the Master, who controls the time of opening and closing, may well have one of the Lesser Lights as his symbol. Mackey goes further to say that the Master is ‘himself’ a symbol of the rising sun , the Junior Warden of the sun at meridian, and the Senior Warden of the setting sun, just as the Mysteries of India the three chief priests symbolize Bramha, the rising sun, Siva, the meridian, and Vishnu the setting sun. In the Orphic mysteries the sun was thought to generate, as from an egg, and come forth with power to triplicate himself; triple power (such as is found in a Lodge under a Master, Senior and Junior Warden) is an idea as old as mythology, as may be seen in the trident of Neptune, the three-forked lightning of Jove, the three-headed Cerebus of Pluto.
See how fitly the sun, as a symbol of authority, the sun, as man’s earliest deity, and the sun, as origin of the eye as a symbol of God, can be united. In his Symbolic Language (1840) [Thomas] Wemyss wrote:
The sun may be considered to be an emblem of Divine truth because the sun, or the light of which it is the source, is not only manifest in itself, but makes other things manifest; so one truth detects, reveals and manifests another, as all truths are dependent on and connected with each other, more or less.
So does the Master make Masonic truth manifest to the brethren; so does the Great Architect manifest His Divine truth to all men. If it is further necessary to show a connection between eye and sun, sun and God, and thus eye and God; refer again to the passage from Webb, which couples the All-Seeing Eye with the sun, moon and stars. Sufficient has been said to make it evident that the All-Seeing Eye is not a modern symbol, or one lightly to be regarded or passed over in silence, merely because modern ritual makes comparatively little of it. Alas, many brethren are so ill-instructed in the ancient Craft that it is a matter of some wonder to them why officer’s aprons, when decorated with emblems so often have the All-Seeing Eye upon the flap; why that pregnant symbol is so frequently engraved upon working tools, or the square and compasses which lie upon the Altar.
Throughout the Craft emphasis is put upon the number three; three Light (greater and lesser); three steps on the Master’s carpet; three steps at the beginning of the Winding Stairs; three principal officers; three degrees; three due guards; etc. The number three is but another way of expressing the idea of a triangle, one of man’s earliest, if not the earliest symbol for Deity, inasmuch as it is the simplest closed figure (signifying endlessness) which can be formed with straight lines.
The emphasis upon three, then, is Freemasonry’s symbol of omneity of Deity — His being without beginning or ending.
The letter “G” as a symbol of Deity particularly speaks of the reverence we owe to the supreme architect; His Omni glory. Lodges are opened and closed with prayer, symbol of the loving omnipresence of the Great Architect; Freemasons believe that where two or three are gathered together in His name. There His is also, in the midst of them.
On our Altar lies His Holy Book, rule and guide of our faith, symbol of His Omnipotence, since in it are the prophecies and histories of the powers of the Most High.
The All-Seeing Eye is significant of His Omniscience; that the Supreme Architect sees all and knows all, even the hidden secrets of the human heart.
Here, indeed. is the kernel of the nut, the inner meaning of the symbol which has come down to us from so many diverse ages, so many religions, which has been interwoven with sun and pagan gods and myths, nature religion and many kinds of worship, which was old when Egypt was young and ancient when India was new.
The All-Seeing Eye is to Freemasons the cherished symbol not only of the power but of the mercy of God — since, as has been beautifully said to comfort us who cannot always do as we know we should, or even as we want — “to see all is to know all; to know all is to understand all; to understand all is to forgive all.”
Therefore the thinking Freemason has reverence for this symbol. He treats it not as one of many; rather as among those to be held in tenderest thought and most precious memory. The Sword pointing to the Naked Heart may thunder of justice, but the All-Seeing Eye whispers of justice tempered with complete understanding, which is man’s most lovely conception of Him who judges erring men.
That Osiris and Isis were the Sun and Moon, is attested by many ancient writers; by Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Lucian, Suidas, Macrobius, Martianus Capella, and others. His power was symbolized by an Eye over a Sceptre. The Sun was termed by the Greeks the Eye of Jupiter, and the Eye of the World; and his is the All-Seeing Eye in our Lodges. The oracle of Claros styled him King of the Stars and of the Eternal Fire, that en-genders the year and the seasons, dispenses rain and winds, and brings about daybreak and night. And Osiris was invoked as the God that resides in the Sun and is enveloped by his rays, the invisible and eternal force that modifies the sublunary world by means of the Sun.
Zeus was the Greek iteration of Jupiter, adopted later by the Romans.
Pike, elaborating further, says:
The Blazing Star in our Lodges, we have already said, represents Sirius, Anubis, or Mercury, Guardian and Guide of Souls. Our Ancient English brethren also considered it an emblem of the Sun. In the old Lectures they said: “The Blazing Star or Glory in the centre refers us to that Grand Luminary the Sun, which enlightens the Earth, and by its genial influence dispenses blessings to mankind.” It is also said in those lectures to be an emblem of Prudence. The word Prudentia means, in its original and fullest signification, Foresight: and accordingly the Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or the All-Seeing Eye, which to the Ancients was the Sun.
And, lastly, for what it’s worth, the All Seeing Eye has worked it’s way into the material culture, at least with some humor.
Jesuits, Illuminism, and the Royal Arch of Enoch with Robert W. Sullivan IV
Robert Sullivan is a newcomer in the world of Masonic scribes with his first work, The Royal Arch of Enoch, hitting the bookshelf late in 2012. What makes Sullivan’s work interesting is the degree of focus he puts on the Apocryphal figure of Enoch in the Masonic degrees, a figure that most, at best, consider briefly in their progress and, at worst, completely ignore all together. Sullivan’s work takes on the historic, esoteric, and political implications of including the biblical figure of Enoch in both the York and Scottish Rite and why that inclusion may not have been with the purest of Masonic intents but rather a happy accident of allegoric construction like so often happens in the secret traditions, including those of Freemasonry. I found the conversation to be extraordinary and I think you will too as we gain a bit more insight on the keeper of the lost word that is found anew, at least in part.
Greg Stewart (GS) – Before we delve too deeply into the subject matter, I’d love to start by finding out about you. Who is Robert Sullivan, how long have you been a Mason, and to what orders are you a member of?
Robert W. Sullivan (RS) On my website I describe myself as a philosopher, historian, antiquarian, jurist, theologian, writer, and lawyer. I am the only child of antique dealers and I was born on October 30, 1971 in Baltimore, Maryland. I graduated high school from Friends School of Baltimore (the oldest private school in Baltimore, founded in 1784) in June 1990 and attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania becoming a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha (Theta Pi, member #1199) fraternity. I earned my B.A. in History in 1995 having spent my entire junior year of college (1992-1993) abroad at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University, England studying European history and philosophy. While in Oxford I was a member of the Oxford Union, the Oxford University Conservative Association, and the Oxford Law Society. Upon returning to the United States in June 1993 I took a year off from Gettysburg College to serve as office director of the Washington International Studies Council located on Capitol Hill.
Prior to attending law school in the United States I spent the Michaelmas Term 1995 at Trinity College, Oxford University studying jurisprudence and international law. From 1997 to 2000 I attended Widener University School of Law, Delaware Campus, from where I received my Juris Doctorate.
I have been a Blue Lodge Mason since 1997 having joined Amicable-St. John’s Lodge #25 in Baltimore, Maryland. I became a 32 degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1999, Valley of Baltimore, Orient of Maryland.
GS – Thinking back, what induced you to originally want to become a mason?
RS – Since being a child I have always been interested in the mysterious and the unexplained. Growing up I always tuned into In Search Of hosted by Leonard Nimoy. My interest in Masonry had to do with its mystical origins and esoteric symbols, however I was primarily motivated to become a Mason to continue a family tradition; my Grandfather Robert W. Sullivan Jr. was a Freemason, his father-in-law, my Great Grandfather, Frederick J. Wheelehan was as a Past Master (former Worshipful Master) of Freedom Lodge #112.
GS – Did you realize your vision in your first few experiences of joining? (Did it live up to your expectations?) Or did you discover something else?
RS – Yes, the Masonic ritual experience was everything I imagined it would be, however, it was not until a couple years later that I truly understood the esoteric symbolism and the themes of Gnostic ascension that are contained in the third degree ritual. I had a much better understanding of the ritual after I finally read the works of the Masonic greats such as Albert Mackey, Manly P. Hall, and Albert Pike. After that I discovered the real meaning and purpose of Masonic ritual and its underlying occult philosophy.
GS – Gnostic Ascension, elaborate on that. What does the idea mean or look like to you?
RS – Gnostic ascensio [Ascension] is being brought from a state of symbolic death to a resurrected life or darkness to light which is the main theme of the third degree ritual. Once re-awakened, the candidate’s divine spark is ignited, their slumbering Prometheus is conscious, and the newly resurrected initiate is ready to effect positive change in his life and in society in general.
GS – What ultimately led to your crafting your book, The Royal Arch of Enoch?
RS – The research for the The Royal Arch of Enoch began back when I was an associate student at Oxford University in 1992-1993, however the true writing of this book began in 2005 on the old social networking site Myspace. I started posting blogs and uploading photos that reflected my research and much to my delight, was very positively received. I was then approached by a fellow Mason who had seen the page and encouraged me to memorialize the information. Since this was what I was planning on doing anyway, I began putting pen to paper writing and editing the book. The Royal Arch of Enoch: The Impact of Masonic Ritual, Philosophy, and Symbolism was completed and published in August 2012, approximately seven years later.
GS – For those who don’t know about Enoch, describe briefly who he was and why he bears symbolic significance to Freemasonry and more broadly to esoteric or occult circles.
RS – Enoch is one of two people in the Bible to never experience a physical death; the Prophet Elijah is the other. Enoch is taken into Heaven at Genesis 5:18-24 and the Book of Enoch (or I Enoch) documents Enoch’s interactions with both Arch-Angels and Fallen Angels the latter being known as the Watchers. He is important with Masonry because the High (or Haute) degree ritual that bears his name, the Royal Arch of Enoch, sees the recovery of the Tetragrammaton thus philosophically ending the “mission statement” of the Blue Lodge. Enoch’s corporeal travels in the afterlife are very esoteric in nature including the gleaning of knowledge from the Watchers which ultimately become the seven liberal arts and sciences (Medieval Quadrivium and Trivium). My book documents components of I Enoch being incorporated into the Royal Arch of Enoch high degree ceremonial which should not be occurring since the Book of Enoch was lost to Western Civilization from approximately 2-3 C.E. to 1821 when it was first translated into English. This historical anomaly and its influence upon material culture is the thrust of my book.
GS – Without giving too much away, why do you think this anomaly is important?
RS – My book is the first to document it; in other words, prior to the publishing of The Royal Arch of Enoch, this anomaly was unknown to historians in the East and West. The incorporation of the Book of Enoch into the degree ceremonial is a genuine mystery and it is this ritual in particular that has defined, among other things, the American national character. Carrying this Enochian iconography forward, The Royal Arch of Enoch also documents the symbolic restoration of the sun as the premier icon in all of Freemasonry and as the supreme emblem of imperial administration and religiosity lifted from the Ancient Mysteries, incorporated in the Abrahamic Faiths, and carried on in both blue lodge and high degree Masonry.
GS – It’s interesting to me that Enoch comes in tangentially in two different degrees in two different systems (York Rite and Scottish Rite). Why do you think that is (how did that happen)?
RS – Both the York Rite and Scottish Rite owe its origin to the premiere high degree system which was known as the Rite of Perfection. The twenty-five degree Rite of Perfection was developed by the Society of Jesus [aka the Jesuits] as part of the on-going Counter Reformation in an effort to undermine the English Monarchy and destroy the Protestant Church via subterfuge. The Rite of Perfection was mid-wifed piecemeal into the United States and a Temple of Perfection was established in Albany, New York by Henry Francken. The Lodge of Perfection is the forerunner to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite while T.S. Webb’s Illustrations of Freemasonry of 1797 bear all the hallmarks of Francken’s Lodge. Webb, of course, was the driving force behind the York or American Rite of Freemasonry.
GS – Do you think the two parallel one another in any way? What does one suggest that the other omits and vice versa? Do the two compliment one another?
RS – Yes, the two Rites parallel each other in that the Name of God or the Tetragrammaton is recovered. This is the “Lost Word” that goes missing in the Blue Lodge with the death of Hiram Abif. The two degrees have differences as well. For example, in the York Rite the Name of God is located on the Ark of the Covenant while in the Scottish Rite it is found on the Foundation Stone upon which the Ark once sat, so both Rites associate themselves with the Ark of the Covenant and by default the Decalogue and Hebrew Kabbalah.
GS – Can they be taken together, or do they exist as two separate tellings, unique unto themselves?
RS – Once a man becomes a third degree Master Mason, he is then eligible to join the York and Scottish Rites. He can join one, both, or neither – the decision is his. Since these two rites are not mutually exclusive, a person could receive the Royal Arch degree twice: once in the York Rite and once in the Scottish Rite. So in that sense an initiate can “take” the degrees in each separate haute degree system.
GS – I heard you say, in another interview talking about the book, that the degree is a re-telling of the Book of Enoch. I’m curious how so? Is it an interpretation of its existence (like acknowledging the BoE by the degrees existence) or could it be construed as a literal retelling?
RS – Although the ritual does not mention quotes or mention I Enoch per se, the ritual that bears Enoch’s name contains elements and components that come out of the pseudepigrapha. For example the Royal Arch ceremony parallels Enoch’s apotheosized ascension from the Book of Enoch thereby transforming the Masonic candidate into a sublime initiate (or parfait [French for “perfect”]) who, by beholding the name of deity as the emanation of all wisdom, becomes a symbolic god-like Enochian (or hermetic) divine figure in his own right. This degree under the T.S. Webb system was thus the premier and most sublime degree in Masonry. The movement of the essential elements of the Book of Enoch into the framework of the pre-history and paragon iconic myth of Freemasonry’s relationship to the broader world can be traced to the transformation of Enoch into a heavenly king. This king was not only a virtuous and wise Pythagorean ruler – an image that had fateful consequences for Freemasonry’s association with Illuminism: the means to the transformation of the world into a perfected Masonic Temple: a one world government – outwardly democratic yet inwardly ruled by an occult theocracy; and with the actual imagery of Pythagoras as the supreme Masonic initiate. The Masonic-Enochian Ritual utilizes the currency of platonic thought, notably that found in Plato’s own Timaeus, as the medium or method for the achievement of Pythagorean kingship with its array of symbolic effects transforming the candidate into a symbolic Enoch, Pythagoras, and Hermes Trismegistus. The Royal Arch of Enoch ritual, on a symbolic level, transforms the Masonic initiate into a divine, apotheosized monarch by beholding the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (or Wisdom) as an emanation of the Tetragrammaton; this concept comes directly out of the Book of Enoch. There are others, but I would refer one to read my book
GS – I have an idea what you mean, but if you can, define what you mean by an “…occult theocracy.”
RS – A society that is outwardly democratic yet inwardly ruled by hidden leaders or masters who rule behind the scenes without the consent of the populace. This can be seen in the early days of the Republic where DeWitt Clinton used high degree Freemasonry as a vehicle to formulate public policy across states’ lines without electoral consent.
GS – Interesting, by saying it represented a perfected temple, vis-à-vis a one world government, do you think that was the notion behind the degree or just an allegorical bonus to utilizing an Enocian theme?
RS – The degree was part of the original twenty-five degrees of the Rite of Perfection, and as the title suggests, by beholding the Tetragrammaton in the Royal Arch ritual the Masonic parfait becomes “perfected” and now can perfect or formulate society as a whole. This was the penultimate goal of what can best be defined as the Thomas Smith Webb-DeWitt Clinton-Salem Town ritual synthesis.
GS – Is one degree (York or Scottish) closer to that retelling?
RS – Not necessarily, but the placement of the Tetragrammaton on the Ark of the Covenant in the York Rite correctly associates the “Lost Word of a Master Mason” with Hebrew Kabbalah in keeping with Enochian and arcane mystical themes and concepts.
GS – Do you think it would have the same meaning if it were given immediately following the third degree?
RS – In some English “Antient” Lodges, the Royal Arch was given after the third degree. Today it is given as part of the higher degree systems and I think the ritual works much better that way.
GS – I’m curious, from the work you’ve done, do you find parallel passages in the Book of Enoch to support the ideas of both the Scottish and York Rite workings, or do you see them as fanciful extrapolations of an Apocryphal biblical figure?
RS – Neither, I see the hands of Counter Reformation Jesuits hard at work in the development of this ritual to undermine the Church of England and inject a heavy dose of Roman Catholicism into Freemasonry. Since the Council of Trent of 1545, the Jesuits have been charged with thwarting Protestantism. Since the formation of the Church of England by Henry VIII, England has been in the Jesuit’s crosshairs. The Spanish Armada of 1588, the Gunpowder Treason of Guy Fawkes, and the “Catholic” Rite of Perfection were all designed to put England under the yoke of Rome. This was the Jesuit’s modus operandi.
GS – So then do you suggest the degree is (was?) really a subversive conversion tool?
RS – The purpose original French-Jesuit Rite of Perfection was to Christianize Freemasonry and serve as a vehicle to restore the Catholic side of the Stuarts back to the Throne of England in violation of the Settlement Act of 1701. In that aspect one could say it was subversive. However, the high degrees flourished on the continent of Europe and by the time they reach the United States, the Jesuit influence and control over the degrees seems to have waned.
GS – What you’re suggesting sounds almost as if it’s the creation of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis or the embodiment of John Winthrop’s City upon a hill. Do you think these forbearers were thinking of that one world illuminism you mentioned with the Enocian arch degree?
RS – Yes, these works clearly anticipate a new “Order of the Ages.” One can add John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun, and Thomas More’s Utopia to that list.
GS – So with Enoch, are there other lessons we can pull from the texts about him that inform Masonry?
RS – Yes, in The Royal Arch of Enoch: The Impact of Masonic Ritual, Philosophy, and Symbolism I present evidence that the haute degree that bears the Biblical patriarch’s name is the defining template for the United States of America. This can be seen in the architecture and design of Washington, D.C., it can be found in the Masonic architecture of Baltimore, Maryland, and can be seen in the “rising sun” template of Union College of Schenectady New York which was first college established after the Revolution to offer degrees in civil engineering or operative masonry.
GS – What you’re suggesting sounds almost as if it’s the creation of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis or the embodiment of John Winthrop’s City upon a hill. Do you think these forbearers were thinking of that one world illuminism you mentioned with the Enocian arch degree?
GS – Do you see any parallel components between say the rituals of Masonry and the practice of Enochian or Solomonic magick?
RS – Yes and Yes. Naturally, Solomonic Magick, as discussed in the Testament of Solomon and Ars Goetia, documents 72 demons that Solomon commanded to construct the first Temple of God. Since the third degree Masonic ritual centers on the construction of Solomon’s temple the nexus is obvious. Further, the 72 demons symbolize a secret name of God, Shemhamphorasch, which is composed by 72 Hebrew letter groups. Again, here we have a “name of god” which is lost in the third degree ritual when Hiram dies and the word is lost yet recovered in the Royal Arch ceremonial which is reflecting Solomonic Magick.
With regard to Enochian Magick, if one is looking for a likely candidate to have possessed a secret copy of the Book of Enoch prior to its official discovery in the West, look no further than the inventor of Enochian Magick, Dr. John Dee. If a copy of I Enoch fell into Masonic circles Dee is a likely source for the copy and the evidence is compelling.
First, Dee’s sorcery, Enochian, is a way to summon angels and demons and is obviously named after the Biblical patriarch and reflects Enoch’s interaction with these ethereal beings.
Second, Dee had one of the largest libraries in Europe and was a purveyor of esoteric texts so a copy (or a detailed summary) could have been in his possession.
And third, and most interesting, is Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh, like Dee was involved with Sir Francis Walsingham’s spy-ring that protected Queen Elizabeth I and Raleigh actually mentions in his History of the World that the Book of Enoch contains an Astronomy/Astrology book which begs the question: How did Raleigh know this when the I Enoch was “officially” lost to history at the time. Where is Raleigh getting this information? The answer points in one direction and one direction only: Dr. John Dee.
GS – Do you think this idea of the name of God in the degree is a manifestation of Dee’s work with Enocian magic, or an older idea that we can find some parallels in say the Kabbalah or some other tradition?
RS – I would say it is kabalistic more than anything. In the Book of Enoch, Enoch beholds the Sephirotic Tree of Wisdom as an emanation of the name of God and the source of all wisdom.
GS – You mentioned earlier, and in other interviews for the book, the connection between the Jesuits and Higher degree Freemasonry. I’m curious, do you think that most of what we know or see as esoteric Masonry today comes out of this notion that mythologizing the Catholic experience was an inducement for those 17th century occultists to come back to the Catholic Church?
RS – I think that the high degrees are more mystical and occult laden than the Blue Lodge degrees and one can make an argument that the Jesuits were injecting the high degrees with mystical Roman Catholicism. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises are mystical in nature and the works of the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher are very hermetic and arcane leading some within the Society of Jesus to believe they were the real Rosicrucians. The high degree system was itself a Jesuit invention employing subterfuge and even espionage to secretly lure Protestants back to the Roman Church while serving as a vehicle to restore the Stuart Pretenders back to the throne of England violating the Act of Settlement of 1701.
GS – Do you think this is a point many Jesuits would agree with today? And, do you think they feel the same way?
RS – The Society of Jesus of 2014 would likely not be aware as this happened 300 years ago while the Jesuits were put out of business from about 1773-1815. Like Freemasonry, the Jesuits of today’s influence and power has been undercut, although the pendulum does appear to be swinging back towards the other direction for both groups. One has to bear in mind that the Jesuits of 1545 to 1773 were Europe’s version of the CIA while Ignatius of Loyola designed the order based on the mysticism of the Knights Templar and the arcane priesthoods of Egypt. The inner workings of the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, and Freemasonry are all based upon the occult machinations of the Society of Jesus.
GS – So, moving beyond The Royal Arch, one of my fascinations is the notion of esoteric Masonry. I’m curious your take on the subject. Do you think Masonry has a deeper esoteric, or even an occultic, side?
RS – Yes absolutely. Many of the symbols and rituals contain occult and hidden meaning. For example, the third degree Master Mason ritual is a retelling of the Egyptian Osirian Cycle where the candidate, portraying Hiram Abif, is killed and resurrected which reflects the murder of Osiris and his resurrection. In Christianity, the dying and resurrected “sun-man” character is, of course, Jesus Christ. Hiram Abif is surrounded with solar symbolisms; for example he is buried west of the temple representing the setting, dying sun. Twelve Fellowcrafts go looking for Hiram symbolizing the twelve houses of the zodiac looking for their lost solar ruler, and finally Hiram is raised from the grave with the “Strong Grip of the Lion’s Paw” which is an esoteric reference to the sign of Leo which is the sole house of the sun.
GS – How much of this, do you think, is just absorbed Christian Mysticism which is borrowed from these traditions or more broadly absorbed from their source?
RS – I believe it owes its origins to sources other than Christianity. Freemasonic symbols and rituals derive from the Ancient Mysteries (of Egypt, Eleusis), Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and Pythagoreanism among others while incorporating Judaic-Christian Biblical themes.
GS – Do you think there is a practice of esoteric Masonry still happening today?
RS – I do not know if I would call it a “practice”, but I believe there is a renewed interest in the esoteric side of the Craft. This seems to be the motivating factor that is influencing the younger generation to join Freemasonry. I definitely see a pendulum swinging back to the mystical side of the Craft where in the past the primary motivations to join a Blue Lodge was community involvement and/or family tradition.
GS – What’s next? What’s on the horizon for Robert Sullivan?
RS – I will be publishing my second book titled Cinema Symbolism: A Guide to Esoteric Imagery in Popular Movies in May/June 2014. This book is a continuation of the final chapter of The Royal Arch of Enoch where I discuss hidden occult, Masonic, Enochian, and solar symbolism in films such as The Ninth Gate, National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code, and Being There amongst others. I am currently writing its sequel, Cinema Symbolism II and I am writing my first work of fiction as well. I have also begun outlining another book on occult Freemasonry.
GS – That sounds interesting, the Ninth Gate is one of my favorite films. Do you think there is an intentional evocation of these themes by the film writers, directors and producers, or are they playing to some underlying zeitgeist?
RS – In some cases it is clearly intentional while in others it could be accidental. If it is accidental, concealed symbols in film appear by way of Carl Jung’s Collected Unconscious psychological mechanism which is a descendant of Plato’s Theory of Forms.
GS – And, I like to conclude with asking who, or what, has been your greatest Masonic influence? Who do you look up to and why?
RS – Albert Pike and Manly P. Hall have been the greatest Masonic influences upon me. I really enjoy their work and have learnt a lot of kabalistic and esoteric information from reading Morals and Dogma and The Secret Teachings of All Ages. In fact I modeled The Royal Arch of Enoch after both of these books. Although I may not “look up” to them, they are both by far the greatest Masonic influence upon me. As to Masons that I look up to, that would be George Washington for his sacrifice and commitment to something he believed in when others may have not shared his vision.
Robert, thanks so much for taking some time to talk about your work and the intricate connections of Enoch and the Haute Degrees of Freemasonry. You can read more about Robert W.SullivanIV on his website and you can find his book The Royal Arch of Enoch on Amazon.
Once, when thought came to me of the things that are and my thinking soared high and my bodily senses were restrained, like someone heavy with sleep from to much eating or toil of the body, an enormous being completely unbound in size seemed to appear to me and call my name and say to me: “What do you want to hear and see; what do you want to learn and know from your understanding?”
You whom we address in silence, the unspeakable, the unsayable, accept pure speech offerings from a heart and soul that reaches up to you.
Synopsis –This first section of Hermetica is, in essence, a creation mythology to provide an explanation on the creation of the physical world and its link to the philosophy of this teaching. The lesson comes through a discourse of meditations between Hermes Trismegistus and the creative force calling itself the mind of sovereignty, the one and only authority, represented by Poimandres, a force said to be with us everywhere. This emanation of sovereignty is described as a divine being unbound in size and said to be “an endless light, clear and joyful…a vision to be loved.”
In this vision of light, the story of creation unfolds within which it says darkness takes form to become in opposition to the all encompassing light. The darkness resembles the roiling of a snake becoming “something of a watery nature” producing a wailing roar as it coalesces. Out of this light and darkness, a fire breaks forth from the waters becoming suspended in the air between the dark water below and the endless light above, as a spirit from word so that only earth and water remained below. The fire was “stirred to hear by the spiritual word” of its creation which moved between them.
Poimandres explains that he, this endless aspect of light, is god which existed before the water and says that the word (fire) which separated the light from water was its emanation as a son (sun) as the light giving word from mind. This process, it says, occurs in man in that “what you see and hear is the ‘word of God’ but that our mind (thought) is the highest aspect of God; that together they are a union of life undivided and indivisible from one another, that they are one and the same aspect which is the principle of existence of beginning without end.
From this light were created craftsmen who were to be the creators of life which where made in the aspect of god in fire and spirit. These aspects of creation were “crafted in seven governors” who would make the “…sensible world in seven circles” governed by fate, which is to suppose an invisible force which governs their interactions.
The light, as Gods word, “made union with the seven craftsmen” creating life “‘bereft of reason’ so as to be mere nature,” wild and uncontrollable without mandate as they were the emanations of the mechanisms of fate by which they operate.
Another creation of the Mind of God was the son, its own child, who wished to make craftworks in the manner of the seven craftsmen but given all authority over the other craftworks. Nature would come to be the son of god’s bride together governing creation.
Poimandres explains that, because of this, mankind is two-fold – mortal in body but immortal in spirit (or essence the text using essential man), but still mortal and a subject of fate.
From the union of son and nature, nature gave birth to seven men who themselves were craftsmen representing the aspects of earth, water, fire, soul, mind, light, and life. This creation sundered the counsel of god rendering them into two twin aspects – one male and one female, who were charged with the task of propagating and create further giving them will to choose immortality or death through recognition of all that exists. From this choice man was given the ability to transcend his creation in light to be created again the text saying “Life and light are god and father…so if you learn that you are from light and life… you shall advance to life once again.”
It is in this recognition of creation that a resurrection, or reincarnation of sorts, takes place which is a process unseen and hidden to those who embrace the chaotic watery nature of envy, greed, violence, and irreverence. Enlightenment comes in the release of the “material body” which allows our “alteration” (transformation) to occur where our past manifestation “vanishes” to rise up and flow back to its source (light) eventually reaching out to a place that Poimandres calls the ‘ogdoad’ which is a nirvana like state of Heaven in union with the creating light. This ogdoad is the “final good for those who have received knowledge to be made God” achieved by enlightenment which comes from the leaving of “corruption” so as to “take a share in immortality.”
As an ancient religious text, it is very much a creation mythology which sets up a framework by which it puts the universe into operation striving to make sense of the life and creation going on around us. Tempered with the creation of life is its conduct which is relegated by Fate. The text begins with an emanation of light, balanced by darkness, represented in both the darkness appearing like the “roiling of a snake” into water separated physically (and spiritually) by the word (or breath) of god as represented in the boundary of fire. This layer of transformation gives us a glimpse of the alchemical process of transformation which is governed by fire and tempered for us to embrace or reject that which ultimately decides our outcome by fate. The acceptance of this outcome, which is not predicated on scripture or theological “beliefs”, is based on the principle of our acceptance of our origin and the necessity of our conduct to do, and be, good. This suggests a parallel in the teaching of the Golden Rule with the thought of its benefit to all who are bereft of “evil, wickedness, greed, and violence” which are the baser attributes evident in all men. From this practice, and an acknowledgement of origin, man walks in light and returns to it upon his calling from fate, a process Poimandres suggests governs as gate keeper at a distance, resorting to man’s demons as motivation to change lest they be, instead, trapped in the fire of transformation.
The outcome of this understanding comes from our desire to transcend the material universe and return to the source of light which is our metaphorical source of creation. To do this, man must evolve (learn) to transcend fate and slip into the “cosmic framework” which is, in essence, the good. To do this man must take on the nature of the eight craftsman (seven created by God, and one created as its son) and seek to emulate their desire and zeal to create, moving out of the roiling waters of chaos as he overcomes his lower nature breaking free of the seven circles of craftsman (and cycles of birth) so as to communicate to others this message to become a progeny of good. The goal of this process is to return back to the ogdoad which we must consider as the idea of a reunification with the Mind of god. This idea of the Mind of God as our source has existed for a time immemorial in that the ogdoad can be traced to the religious workings from the Old Kingdom in Egyptian antiquity where its religious practice was seen as the highest heaven within which Ra, Hathor, and Thoth were the pinnacle deities. We also find the idea of the ogdoad in Gnostic Christianity in the first century of the Common Era as proposed by the theologian Valentinus as the super celestial space above the 8 spheres of the heavens, literally as the heaven above heaven.
Interestingly, this first monograph of Hermetica gives us a link to the creation of the universe in seven spheres (the seed of life) and seven more in the craftsmen (the flower of life). In this symbolism, it gives us a link to the notions of creation in the seed, flower life that, if left to progress further it would be emblematic of the progression to the tree of life – from seed to fruit to tree. The seed and flower, said to construct a form of sacred geometry and give us the basis of forms from which we can create the platonic solids that are the building blocks of life it self.
Creation myths abound in the many world religions and this version in Hermetica is not unique within that patterning. One need but read the Biblical account of Genesis to see its striking similarities as attempting to establish some answer to the universal question of man – “why are we here” and “where did we come from?” Its essence is that mankind is created in both a form of good and evil represented in dark and light, a similar balance as found perhaps in the Chinese symbol of the yin and yang or even in the Masonic checkered flooring. Our responsibility is to transcend the baseness of that darkness as it is our inheritance from our watery origins, so as to seek and see the light as well as to teach others about its source to return to find our way back to our divine origins. The text speaks to our nature as being the sons (and daughters) of god, from his craftsman son. This, in turn, grants us the quality of being craftsman too; responsible for our own developing creation and the construction of the world around us so as to break away from the firm grip fate allowing us to slip into the cosmic framework within which we inhabit with the universe as creators. We need to seek to be craftsman and build a better firmament from which to find understanding.
All mankind has this capability, but perhaps not the means to see the being of Poimandres or to have the vision of Hermes of such a being without beginning or end, which is the raison d’être of this teaching so as to enable us learn and communicate these lessons to those we meet – which is the simple idea to be good and reverent which enables us to have the vision of a clear and joy filled light. To get there we must undergo the fire of transmutation, which is our quest as a craftsman for the knowledge of constructing for ourselves the space for understanding.
At the conclusion of this passage, the prayer is an important cleansing of the mind and an acknowledgement of our purpose. That prayer reads:
Holy is God, the father of all;
Holy is God, whose counsel is done by his own powers;
Holy is God, who wishes to be known and is known by his own people;
Holy are you, who by the word have constituted all things that are;
Holy are you, from whom all nature was born as image;
Holy are you, of whom nature has not made a like figure;
Holy are you, who are stronger than every power;
Holy are you, who surpass every excellence;
Holy are you, mightier than praises.
It is a good start to begin our path of crafting our journey to light and our quest for enlightenment.
So Mote It Be.
 The name Poimandres had an early understanding to mean “Man-Shepherd” (perhaps a shepherd of men). But, more recent understanding on its etymology suggests that the name is actually derived from the Egyptian phrase Peime-nte-rê meaning “Knowledge of Re” or “Understanding of Re” more commonly understood as the Egyptian creator deity of Ra.
Esoterica, anti-Masonry and the Scottish Rite with Grand Archivist and Historian
In this installment of Sojourners, noted author, editor, and translator Arturo de Hoyos takes some time to discuss anti-Masonry, esoterica, and his work and role as the Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in the Southern Jurisdiction.
His biography on Amazon reads that he is considered“America’s foremost scholar on the history, rituals, and symbolism of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and most other Masonic orders, rites, and systems,” a claim that readily becomes apparent in even just a few brief minutes of talking with him.
Greg Stewart (GS) – Br. de Hoyos, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. I’d like to start with the basics by asking how long have you been a Mason? Do you recall who or what ultimately induced you to become one?
Arturo de Hoyos (AdH) – I’ve been a Mason about 26 years. I was actually interested in joining earlier, but didn’t know any Masons. When I was a kid, I grew up in Utah. My parents are LDS and, when I was young, I was raised in their faith. Although I no longer share their religious views, I was intrigued when I learned that Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism was a Mason, as were many of its other early leaders.
As I began to investigate Masonry I was impressed with its principles, its unique system of morality, by its antiquity, legends and rituals. The notion of men meeting upon the level, uniting in a common good irrespective of nationality or creed appealed to me. A couple of years after moving to Texas I attended an open house at my local lodge (McAllen No. 1110), and asked for a petition. Remarkably, I was the only person to attend that night, but I’m glad they left the lights on, and I think it also paid off for them. At least I hope so!
GS – Did your experience live up to the expectations you had built up about it?
AdH – Joining definitely lived up to my expectations. I found the ritual very satisfying and the members of my mother lodge amazing. The secretary was a Past Grand Master and Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason, and we had the strongest lodge in the Rio GrandeValley.
My lodge has given Texas three Grand Masters, of whom we’re quite proud. We were frequently called upon to confer degrees in other lodges, and several of our members were expert ritualists. But it was more than that. There was a genuine comradery amongst the members, which I can honestly (and perhaps sadly) say I haven’t seen equaled in other lodges.
GS – How so?
Although I’ve certainly enjoyed my lodge experiences elsewhere, I felt that my mother lodge had a perfect balance.
Perhaps it’s an idealized reflection like one’s “first love,” but there was such a deep affection and friendship among the members, that we were willing to help each other at the drop of a hat. There was a warm spirit in the lodge, and a sense of pride that we had several members capable of conferring all the work and giving all the lectures. If someone was ill, we’d show up and help with whatever we could. It was like the The Lodge in Friendship Village, if you’re familiar with the book.
GS – Without a doubt your role with the Supreme Council speaks to your affinity with the material, but I’m curious what lead you into your role?
AdH – It’s pretty easy to get my position. You simply have to read everything on Masonry ever written, remember most of it, and then write about it.
I’m joking of course, but it was my fascination with everything Masonic that eventually got me here.
I am, first and foremost, a bibliophile. Once I joined I read everything I could get on Masonry, including things like Mackey’s and Coil’s encyclopedias, cover-to-cover. The first Masonic book I wrote was a response to anti-Masonry in which I revealed all the sources used in a sermon against the fraternity, and showed how the speaker was disingenuous.
Although the speaker didn’t reveal them all, I was familiar enough with Masonic literature, that I recognized his unreferenced sources, and knew what was taken out of context, and paraphrased or distorted.
GS – Do you remember who that preacher was and the sermon that you rebutted?
AdH – I do, The preacher which caused me to respond was Dr. Ron Carlson (d. 2011) [he] made a living selling anti-Masonic tapes, and giving anti-Masonic sermons, along with bashing other faiths which were not his brand of Christianity.
GS – The sermon was Freemasonry, Masonic Lodge and the Shriners Are Not Compatible with Biblical Christianity. Did Carlson ever respond to your book?
AdH – Carlson refused to debate me publicly, even though he was the one who made the offer.
GS – So then, how does one become a Grand Archivist and Historian in the Rite?
AdH – I have tried to learn about every aspect of Freemasonry: its history, symbolism, and ritual. I have tried to read and study something about the history and rituals of every Masonic organization on the planet, in order to understand how they are interrelated, and grasp their inner teachings. This is not an easy task, and my abilities as a polyglot were a great help. Stubbornness is also useful!
For about 20 years I’ve served on the board of the Scottish Rite Research Society, and had previously done some contract work for the Supreme Council over the years. I had also traveled to DC on my own and would spend days at a time researching in the library and archives when I was researching the origins of Morals and Dogma. I knew the library and archives so well that they’d actually call me in Texas to ask where something was located.
When the position opened, Bro. Kleinknecht called me and invited me to fly to Washington to discuss it. I accepted.
GS – Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?
AdH – Yes, I would. It’s involved a tremendous amount of work, but has been rewarding.
GS – Is there any one instance that would sum up your role as the Grand Archivist and Historian? Any good take aways from the experience?
AdH – I believe that my role is to preserve and disseminate Masonic light and knowledge. One of the things I’ve tried to do is publish and/or write books which I wish had existed when I was a younger Mason. It was well-nigh impossible to find some of the things I’ve published when I was younger.
What have I taken away? The satisfaction of knowing that I kept true to my obligation as a Past Master to share Masonic light and knowledge with my Brethren.
GS – So, I’d like to delve into an area that is a personal favorite of mine. Very often terms like occult, esoteric, mystical and so on get tossed around in the definitions of descriptions of Masonry. I’m curious, from your perspective, what do you see as the role of these esoteric aspects?
AdH – Some people see Freemasonry as the outer fraternity to an inner mystery. Certainly, some types of Freemasonry employ symbols common to the esoteric schools and to alchemy, but not all types of Freemasons do. There’s a question as to how, and whence it derived its esoteric symbolism.
Our Masonic forefathers were familiar with the interests of their day, and as well as the popular contemporary literature. Freemasonry is both eclectic and organic. It uses symbols to teach lessons in a way very similar to the books of Choice Emblemspublished throughout its formative years in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries.
These books assigned moral meanings to the square, compasses, skull and cross bones, pelican, and other familiar symbols. They taught virtues like constancy, zeal, brotherly-love, and even used the bee hive as an emblem of industry. I think we must have borrowed symbols from them as well as from alchemical texts, which I believe I demonstrated in an article I published 20 years ago on the Royal Arch word (The Mystery of the Royal Arch Word, Heredom, Vol 2., 1993)
But what role does it all play if our teachings don’t have any practical purpose? If they have none, they aren’t really of value. I think they are there to point us to further fields of study, as do other things mentioned in Masonry, like the orders of architecture, or the cardinal virtues.
Freemasonry states its truths, and points the way to education, admonishing us to learn the greatest mystery: who and what we are, and what our obligations are. Freemasonry is “occult” in the sense that its mysteries are hidden or concealed, which it the literal meaning of the word. I do believe that Masonic ritual conceals its truths in unique ways which are esoteric, but Masonry does not teach practical magic. It is not an occult school in that sense, as Pike makes clear in a couple of places.
GS – This may dive even deeper, but what do you see as some of the deeper meanings of Scottish Rite Masonry? Is it a subject that can easily be distilled down into a few sentences?
AdH – Scottish Rite Masonry is the intelligent advocate of the principles of an enlightened society. It advances the notion that we can create an empire of reason and wise morality, and its degrees provide practical examples, in symbolic form, of what is necessary to achieve this. It prompts us to consider ourselves as integral to the advancement of the human race, and challenges us to make ourselves fitting to the task. It teaches us that duty is the one great law of Masonry, and obligates us to its performance stressing that we must come to understand the great mystery of who and what we are: mortal in body, although immortal by the results of our actions.
GS – You’ve spent a great deal of time surrounded by Pike’s writings, ideas and ephemera. Do you have a sense of what he was ultimately trying to communicate in the body of all his work? Did what he was trying to say change over time and do you think his ideas work in the world today?
As he matured, [Pike] discarded some of the popular but unfounded notions on the origins of Masonry, and realized that Freemasonry’s practical value lay in its ability to transform lives for the better, but he believed it also assured us of a future existence after this life.
Pike’s ideas continue to be valuable today because human nature is the same. Technology is merely a tool for humans; it doesn’t modify who we are. Pike notions of Masonry inspire men to greatness.
His ritual revisions provide valuable teachings in a profound and simple way, which resonates with the thinking man who has overcome the notions and credulities of childhood.
GS – So, from the depths of the esoteric, I’d like to come back up and talk about the Supreme Council in general. I’m curious what you see as the greatest strengths of the Scottish Rite and how that compares with the strengths of lodge masonry? Do you see the two as different institutions on similar paths or one and the same occupying the same space?
AdH – In my view, the strength of the Supreme Council lies in its coherence and stability.
Unlike Grand Lodges, [the Scottish Rite’s] government does not change every year, or every couple of years which permits the Scottish Rite to set and follow its goals without fearing they’ll be discarded in twelve months.
Grand Lodges are necessary and useful, and not in any way a competition to the Scottish Rite. In fact, I believe that Scottish Rite adds value to the Blue Lodge by its coherence. The best Scottish Rite Masons I know are strong supporters of the Grand Lodges.
I agree with Pike when he said,
“Let us … always remember, that first of all and above all, we are Master Masons; and wherever we work and labor, calling ourselves Masons, let us work and labor to elevate and dignify Blue Masonry; for we owe to it all that we are in the Order; and whatever we may be elsewhere, we are always amenable to its law and its tribunals, and always concerned to maintain and magnify its honor and glory.”
GS – Is there any one artifact, work, item or book that you feel really stands out as a jewel in the crown of the Rite that readers might not have heard of before?
AdH – That’s tough. I believe that Esoterika is such a jewel.
Before I published it, almost no one knew that Pike had written a book on Blue Lodge symbolism, since there were only two handwritten copies in the world.
Of course, Morals and Dogma is a masterpiece of an anthology on comparative religion and philosophy. The 20 years I spent reverse-engineering the text, and the 4000 notes I put in my published annotated edition taught me a hell of a lot along the way. It’s quite remarkable when read with the notes, if I can flatter myself for a moment.
GS – One last question, who is the person who influenced you the most?
AdH – Masonically, it’s not Albert Pike.
I know that may surprise some people, but the Mason I respect most is Giles F. Yates (1799-1859), of Schenectady and Albany, who was once a member of our Supreme Council, but later transferred to the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction eventually becoming Grand Commander.
Yates was indefatigable. He revived Francken’s Lodge of Perfection, authored the first Scottish Rite Monitor, wrote the first ritual revisions of the Scottish Rite, wrote an etymological study of its secret words, and pushed J.J.J. Gourgas to revive the Scottish Rite in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction following the Morgan affair. He was an antiquarian, and built the Schenectady Lyceum and Academy which future President Chester A. Arthur attended. There’s much more I could say about Bro. Yates, but let me sum it up by saying he was an amazing man and Mason. His personal motto was “prodesse quam conspici” (accomplish rather than be conspicuous).
My thanks to brother de Hoyos for taking the time out of his busy schedule to spend some time as one of our Sojourners.
You can find more information on the Scottish Rite by visiting their website.